Monday, October 5, 2009

Appease and Thank You

Oh right. The Jays fired J.P. this weekend. How could I forget. Was it the right move? It was certainly inevitable, so what difference does it make arguing? I do, however, take umbrage with the way it was handled and what it means for the future of this team.

I've hardly been shy with my feelings on Paul Beeston. Most Jays writers seem to love him, and that I get. All signs point to him treating them like actual human beings and his schlubby, shambolic everyman persona makes him relatable and likely sympathetic. Despite my harsh words as the firing was announced I doubt I'd take a hard stance in a face to face setting. If he were here right now I'm sure he'd politely decline my mother's offer of Bagel Bits while praising her for giving her son the opportunity to bang away at her computer with his cloven hooves. My mother and I would blush and make excuses and allowances without recognizing the serious pull Beeston has in corner offices all over North America.

That said, two things appear to colour every decision Beeton's made and they do nothing to endear him to me.
  1. I get the distinct impression Paul Beeston doesn't think too highly of the baseball fans in this city.
  2. I also get the distinct impression Paul Beeston doesn't think there is any chance of building a winner in Toronto.

These two things are clearly related but one is worse than the other. I get the sense Beeston realized building a winner in Toronto was impossible on or around Day One of his second stint in Toronto. Everything he's done sinks of him delivering a very specific message to the suits at Rogers: "we can't win but I can certainly make you money."

The events of this weekend only solidify this in my mind. People coming down on the sentimental manager? Protect his unsullied reputation and fire the wildly unpopular GM two days before the season ends! That quickly quashed any discussion of Cito's future, didn't it?

And what forward-thinking young man will you hire to take over as GM? I'm sure this new man provides the fresh vision and unique outlook required to steer his moribund franchise in the right direction, right? Oh, it's a long-serving lieutenant of the old guy! Why inject new blood or start fresh when you can milk the "good Canadian boy finally reaches the apex through hard work and good Canadian perserverance" story as the season winds down.

Each and every move a cynical play at sentimentality, calculated & designed to distract the fanbase from the futility of their pursuit without turning them off completely. Goodwill money looks the same as hope money but it comes much cheaper. Cut the payroll, lay off staff, all the while counting on our worst Canadian instincts of flag-waving and heritage stroking.

It isn't that I believe Alex Anthopolous will do a poor job or is undeserving of his promotion. But are to believe he is some front office savant, held down under J.P.'s oppressive thumb all this time? Once HE calls the shots, things will be different? Somehow I doubt it. It's taken Beeston nearly one full year to find a replacement president, yet he spent all of 0 minutes scouring the world for his next GM? Horseshit.

This isn't the time nor the situation for more of the same. They need to think completely outside the box because not matter how much Rogers is willing to spend, the box will always be too small. So here is my idea:

Another retread GM with mixed results in another market won't do. Best case scenario with an experienced baseball hand; he/she (somehow) improves on JP's draft record, fixes the injury woes and the team suddenly (magically?) improves their situational hitting. Why not just take the $120 million bucks and put it down on 17 at Rama?

Like any smart mid-sized corporation, the Jays need to eschew the MBAbots that swept through front offices over the last decade. Like the wise companies, they need a fresh outlook and unique skillsets. Hire an MFA with a design background and a Computer Science/analytical type. Lock them both in a room with Tom Tango and don't let anybody out until they've changed the world.

They need to fire from completely new angles because the Yankees and Rays defenses are too strong. Innovate or wither on the vine. Do something. Just don't sell the same shitty cake made by the same short-order cook. Just do something I won't expect.


  1. Music to my ears, Drew. Beeston has escaped way too much scrutiny despite the mounds of bullshit from his mouth in the last year.

    -First all the 2010 talk and false hope when he replaced Godfrey.

    -Promising to pay over-slot ("the gloves are off") in February, and then cheaping out over relatively little on signing day in August. He handled the Paxton negotiations himself and backed out over relative chump change.

    -Selling false hope about the payroll last winter ("we can spend up to Boston's level if we want") and then backing away from that with the classic "if we can't spend 120, we might as well spend 80".

    -His search for the next President has taken a year now and we still don't know what their guidelines are for the selection process. We keep getting vague reminders like "we're getting close" and "we'll be naming one soon".

    -Meanwhile there's all the "we need to match payroll with revenues" talk. Through all that, he wasted a year of rebuilding by keeping JP on board to do all his dirty work and take all the public blame and ridicule. Instead of the false hope of the mythical 2010 season, they should've fired JP last year and started the rebuilding process last winter, being up front about it.

    -He claims to have had an open door with the players but none of the players went to him to voice their concerns. Now he's surprised to hear of a "mutiny".

    And now he has seemingly rushed through the GM search to promote AA with the not-so interim GM tag, ahead of LaCava at that, because...he's Canadian. I mean, what other reason is there. AA has been involved with every one of those infamous JP contracts and yet we're supposed to believe it's a new day?

    At least with Godfrey, the team had some kind of direction. At least with JP, the team had a well-respected talent-evaluator.

  2. Just because AA worked under J.P. Ricciardi doesn't mean he arrives void of his own ideas. We've all worked under somebody. That doesn't mean that I echo the sentiments of my boss and how he runs the ship. So why make that conclusion about AA? By all accounts he's one smart cat; he wouldn't have ended up in this position if he wasn't.

    It's all about direction. If the plan was to fire Ricciardi if the Jays didn't make the playoffs in 2008, ownership should have stuck to that plan. Instead, they got caught up in Cito Madness like the rest of us, and Ricciardi's job was saved for one directionless year, which we knew would result in 75-80 wins. It gave Beeston, whom I agree has gotten a free pass, to do what he needed to do (nothing).

    It's the direction that has to change under AA. Give him the keys, and let's see what he can do.

    I simply don't think it's as simple as saying "AA worked under Ricciardi; he's no good."

  3. I'm not saying he's no good, I'm saying no matter how good he is, he's not good enough. If he's nominally better than JP, where does that leave the Jays? Fucked all the same.

    They need someone much better and much stranger. Just hoping and praying while throwing money at a Jason Bay is meaningless, no matter how nice he is to the ink stained wretches.

  4. I still don't quite understand who you're vouching for. If the Jays plucked a 32-year-old MBAbot from another organization, a guy who worked his way up from unpaid intern to the top, what would your reaction be? As long as he comes from another organization, he's strange; so that will work?

  5. Your love of the Blue Jays as evidenced by your angry/depressed ranting is something to be proud of. You really care. Don't let go of hope yet Drew...

  6. Nope. No MBAs from anywhere. Spend more money on scouting and pull some guy with no baseball experience and a completely different background. No retreads, real fresh blood. Flip the script.

  7. So you're saying I should be the new general manager of the Toronto Blue Jays...

  8. You're completely right on the firing from new angles thing, but do you actually believe there's a chance of that?

    I don't, not for a second.

    We're getting shitty retreads.

  9. Also, since I like to make judgements based on first impressions, does Anthopolous seem like an outside the box thinker, or a man of vision?

    Fuck no. He doesn't seem like the ballsy original thinker type at all... in fact, even though we know better now, that's closer to the image JP projected on his arrival.


  10. Good post. Everything this management is doing has the familiar smell of bullshit

  11. I agree. Most Jays fans are stupid.

  12. Jesus, man. What you're calling for is so radical it's ridiculous to expect or hope for it without any sort of evidence that that kind of person is coming, or on the verge of coming. Consider that you're basically calling for what we of the Judeo-Christian tradition call "the messiah".

    It's hard to say what A.A. will be like without any action so far on his part--according to that article the Drunks posted recently he was a good lieutenant with his own ideas about running a baseball club, which doesn't necessarily mean he's going to be a kind of Ricciardi+ or Ricciardi-. He could be another guy entirely. But who can say for sure one way or another? Not me, and unless you've got some insider information you aren't sharing, probably not you either.

    It's too soon to call for a prophet. I agree with you mostly, and I think you are the most insightful of all the Blue Jays bloggers, but you've got to watch yourself right now because you're treading awfully close to the edge of the cliff that bottoms out into the gorge that is Richard Griffin.

    Careful! Tease the idea of this math guy out a bit more, maybe even work on it yourself, before you keep referring to it as your image of "Utopia". Without a real definition, it will swallow you whole.

  13. I'm not entierly in disagreement with the observation that there's a disturbing correlation between the second coming of Beeston and the wheels coming well and truly off of this organization....BUT....

    Everything I read about AA from people who are in a position to know excites me.

    In the absence of some revelation which changes my mind, I am 110% pleased with the choice for the new GM and am very excited to watch him work (assuming the possibility that he isn't handcuffed by ownership and is free to act as he sees fit)

    That said, he implied on the Fan today that "everyone will be evaluated" so my HOPE is that the next president nudges Cito out the door because in my heart, i don't believe Alex REALLY thinks Cito did a good job. I think there's a back room conspiracy to not embarrass Beeston's good friend.

    By the way, both Doc and Hill seem less than gleeful about JP's exit and, frankly, I value there opinion about a trillion times more than I do Griffin's and the legion of armchair experts who burned the candle for JP's head.

    Here's looking forward to the day JP takes over another franchise and leads them into the playoffs.

  14. I recognize it is radical, but I really think that is what's required. The Sox have an adroit GM (Theo), a mad scientist (Bill James) and endless riches. To compete with that it take more than just a smart guy like AA.

    I don't think I'm hoping for a Messiah, I think everybody else is. Just like a regressive church, they're staring at each other wondering who among them is the One, assuming he must already be in the room.

    I read a lot of Richard Florida and Dan Pink and quasi-business guys of their ilk. Interestingly enough, I found a pitch-perfect quote on today that summarizes exactly what I'm getting at.

    “A study of the top fifty game-changing innovations over a hundred-year period showed that nearly 80 percent of those innovations were sparked by someone whose primary expertise was outside the field in which the innovation breakthrough took place.”

    Change the game.

  15. But can you necessarily predict that or plan for it? Maybe some of those innovations happen by accident, though you could perhaps try and foster them in the right environment. I like the idea of getting together a brain trust of guys from radically different fields to try and help the Jays... but you can't really rag on management when they don't do that, I think. It's just too unorthodox. And even if they do do it, who's to say the final outcome will be one that you like? We could just end up with a novel way of failing. If the Jays spearhead this, maybe they only start the movement and someone else capitalises on it. That's a selfish concern, but a real one.


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