Sometimes a baseball team is in a position where it should make moves for the short term. Sometimes it’s in a position where it should make moves for the long term. Sometimes it can do either or both.
Right now the Toronto Blue Jays should be making moves for the short term. See, most of their best players are getting up there in age. They’re going to be relying heavily on RF Jose Bautista (34), 1B Edwin Encarnacion (32), SS Jose Reyes (32), C Russell Martin (32), SP R.A. Dickey (40), and SP Mark Buehrle (36). That’s a lot of guys past their prime. They’re still good, mind you, or at least they were last year and there’s reason to believe they will be again this year. The point is not that these guys aren’t good.
But they won’t be good for too much longer. It’s a rare baseball player who’s still good at 33 years of age.*
So, if the Jays are going to win with these guys, it had better be pretty soon.
And the Jays do want to win with these guys.
So it had better be pretty soon. Like, this year, preferably.
Therefore they should be making some moves that will pay off this year, as opposed to a few years from now.
But that’s not what they’re doing.
– They’re turning centre field over to Dalton Pompey (22), who looks good, but who knows if he’s going to be able to put it together in 2015? He might need a year or two to acclimate to the major leagues.
– They solved their second base problem by trading for Devon Travis (24), who probably won’t be ready for the major leagues by the start of the 2015 season, and will get by as best they can with Maicer Izturis and Steve Tolleson and Munenori Kawasaki and Ryan Goins and Ramon Santiago until then.
– They’re going to be using some combination of Marcus Stroman (24), Drew Hutchison (24), Daniel Norris (22), and Aaron Sanchez (22) to play key roles on the pitching staff. They all looked good last year, but young pitchers will break your heart.
These are all long-term moves. They’re moves that you make because you expect them to work out well in a year or two, but not necessarily right away. But necessarily-right-away is exactly what the Jays need right now.
They need to win this year. Not because the manager and general manager are worried about their job security; that’s their problem. But because the clock is ticking on their strongest assets. This is not the year to try to get by with prospects and spare parts.
(Note: of course it’s true that veterans can let you down just as badly as young players. Their performances are somewhat more predictable in the short run, though, and you take what edges you can get.)
* Let me put it this way. Here’s a list of everybody who’s ever played for the Jays who’s going to be exactly 33 in the 2015 season (according to seasonal ages on Baseball Reference):
Only fourteen guys; I thought it would be more. Oh well. Anyway, of those fourteen, only five still have major league careers: Hill, still a regular but it looks like he’s on the downside; Janssen, still a closer but starting to show some cracks; Johnson, clearly on the downside; McGowan, who hasn’t signed with anyone at the moment and whose future is unclear; Quiroz, a bench player who had two major league at bats last year.
Of the rest, some of them are never-weres, but there are also some good players there. Guys who couldn’t make it to where Bautista, Dickey, and Buehrle are now. So, great for Bautista, Dickey, and Buehrle, but with every year it makes it a little more likely that they won’t be able to do it again the next year.
This is the club that Reyes, Encarnacion, and Martin are joining in 2016.
I’ve been trying to put together a big blogpost on the Toronto Blue Jays for quite a while now, but I’ve been having a hard time finding the handle. I’ve got too many thoughts about them to write one single thing about. So maybe what I’ll do is, I’ll write about them separately and keep the whole thing manageable. And maybe I’ll be able to keep that up for a while.
There are rumours floating around that the Blue Jays are looking for a new president to replace their current president, Paul Beeston. Apparently Ed Rogers, who is part of the Jays ownership group, has been talking to the Baltimore Orioles about hiring away the Orioles’ general manager, Dan Duquette, who has a very plausible resume for a job like this. This is, to me, a sideshow, a detail that I’m only writing about so that I can clear it away and make room for the stuff that really matters.
I mean, what does the team president do anyway? I imagine he or she must do something, but is it anything I can see from where I am? Should I understand what he or she does? I don’t know that I should.
Beeston has a long history with the Jays. He was the team president, or co-general-manager with Pat Gillick, throughout the team’s early years, up until the late 1990s. Then he was president of Major League Baseball for a few years. Then, a while ago, the Jays were looking for a team president and hired Beeston to find someone who’d be good. Beeston did a thorough search of his own glove compartment and ended up hiring himself for the job, which he has held since 2008. But he’s getting up there in age and it’s probably time to bring someone else in anyway.
There has been criticism of how the Jays organization has been handling this. Apparently they haven’t been going through the proper channels to try to recruit Duquette or whoever. Plus, they haven’t shown Beeston enough respect. The line is, after everything Beeston has done for the team, he deserves to depart with more dignity than this.
I don’t think a lot of that argument. This is baseball. Who gets to go out on their own terms? Not a lot of people. George Bell, Jim Clancy, Ernie Whitt, Willie Upshaw, Lloyd Moseby, John Olerud… their exits were quick and unceremonious. I don’t see what Beeston has that they don’t. Anyway, he’ll be fine; he doesn’t need anybody’s tears.
The Jays don’t need him anyway. Sure, he was there for the team’s glory years from ’83-’93, and he can have his share of credit for that, but he was also there from ’94-’97, when they were kind of a garbage dump, and they haven’t been much better from ’08 to ’14.
Not that I expect Duquette or anybody else to make a difference in that respect. First, as stated above, I don’t know whether any president makes that kind of difference to a baseball team. And, second, the Jays organization isn’t good at hiring people; so much so that the mere fact that they want Duquette makes me suspect that he’s not the man for the job.
See, when it comes to hiring people for important jobs, the Jays are kind of shy. They don’t like to make new friends. They’d rather give the job to people who’ve already done that kind of work for them, and if they can’t do that, they’ll give it to whoever happens to be hanging around the office. And when they get tired of that and reach outside the organization to do a proper interviewing process on some external candidates, they tend to pick the wrong guy anyway. Look at who’s there now:
President: Paul Beeston. Former employee who hired himself for the job.
General Manager: Alex Anthopoulos. Was the assistant to the previous general manager, J.P. Ricciardi, when he got fired.
Manager: John Gibbons. Was the Jays manager before; they brought him back because they needed someone and he was available.
Now, Duquette has never worked for the Jays before, so that’s a little unusual for someone they’re pursuing. If they do end up making him their president, he’ll be an external hire in much the same way that J.P. Ricciardi was for the general manager’s role, or that Tim Johnson or Jim Fregosi was for the manager’s job.
Then there’s the issue of what kind of compensation the Jays will have to send to the Orioles in return for prying Duquette away from them. Apparently the Orioles are asking for the moon. Most people who have two brain cells firing know that you don’t send anybody really good to the other team in return for hiring away a non-player. But nobody’s quite sure if Ed Rogers knows it, and that’s a scary thought. Imagine the Orioles asking for Jose Bautista or Daniel Norris or someone in return for Duquette. I’m just making that up, of course, but the point is that Ed Rogers is coming across like quite the loose cannon and who knows what’s going on.
To sum up:
– Paul Beeston being shown the door: not an issue.
– Who specifically replaces Beeston: probably doesn’t matter.
– Paul Beeston’s dignity: not an issue.
– Compensation to the Orioles: better not be an issue.
– Jays’ ownership: unpredictable and not in the good way.
Next time: trades and free agent signings.
I haven’t posted here much because I’ve run into some hiccups in my writing. I’m still doing it, but not as regularly as I’d like. I wonder if anyone would object if I started using this space to express some of my thoughts on the Toronto Blue Jays, about whom I haven’t blogged in years.
I haven’t updated this website in quite a while. I am still writing. Not as often as I’d like, but I am still writing.
Here’s something that I realized recently. And for all I know, I’m the only one who’s realized it. I did search the web to see if this was a well-known thing, but found nothing.
It has to do with James Thurber’s fantasy novel The 13 Clocks. The 13 Clocks has been somewhat in the news recently, thanks to Neil Gaiman’s laudable efforts to bring attention to it and get it back into print. I first heard of the book, I dunno, a bunch of years ago and tracked down a copy at a library discard store. I liked it but I don’t know if I had reread it since that first time before just recently.
When I heard about Gaiman’s crusade, I thought to myself, I should read that again. So I read it to my son as bedtime reading. Now, there’s one part… hold on.
There’s one part where Zorn, the hero of the story, and his friend the Golux have to collect a bunch of gems in a really short time. They’ve heard of a woman named Hagga who cries gemstones, so they figure they should go to her. They use this magical rose that they have to find their way to her, but when they get there, they can’t get her to cry. She’s all cried out because everybody wants her gems.
The good news is, tears of laughter produce gems too. They don’t last as long as the cried kind but Zorn doesn’t mind that. So they try to get her to laugh. This doesn’t work well either, and it looks like they’ve failed. And then, suddenly, Hagga starts laughing like crazy for no particular reason and cries jewels all over the place. Zorn and the Golux collect up the gemstones and thank her and take off out of there.
So, when I read it, I thought that that was pretty weak. They need her to laugh, and she doesn’t, and then all of a sudden she does? Inexplicably? Because of nothing that Zorn or the Golux did? That’s no way to tell a story. So why did Hagga laugh?
But! Then I noticed the last paragraph of that chapter, after Zorn and the Golux have left:
Inside the hut, something red and larger than a ruby glowed among the jewels and Hagga picked it up. “A rose,” she said. “They must have dropped it.”
Obviously this is the magical rose they used to find her in the first place; that part is no problem. The key thing here is, “dropping a rose” is a euphemism for farting. And in the world of The 13 Clocks, the boundaries between the metaphorical and the actual are pretty blurry. So maybe that’s what Hagga was laughing at! Maybe Thurber had the plot of his fairy tale, and the fates of Zorn of Zorna, Princess Saralinda, and the evil duke, all depend on his own fart joke.
Does this hold water for anybody?
I’d really like to know what Neil Gaiman thinks about it. Oh well…