Do the Blue Jays Have to Spend to Contend?
|Image courtesy of Sportsnet.ca|
“You have to spend to contend” – if you asked some baseball minds out there, I’m sure they might echo these sentiments. But if you asked Alex Anthopoulos, he’d likely say quite the opposite.
Lately, I’ve been reminded of a few remarks by Paul Beeston from the past few State of the Franchise meetings. On numerous occasions, Beeston has hinted the money is there if the club wants to boost payroll.
At the time, I bought Beeston’s promises hook, line and sinker. When he said the Blue Jays are trying to build a sustainable winning team, I believed him. And when he said the Blue Jays could possibly spend upwards of $120 million in payroll, I bought it.
However, the million dollar question is “when will that time ever come?”
The truth of the matter is the Toronto Blue Jays currently have the fourth longest playoff drought in Major League Baseball. And if the Washington Nationals and Pittsburgh Pirates hold onto their respective positions, that will leave the Blue Jays with the second longest playoff drought.
And it’s not as though the front office hasn’t opened up the purse strings at all since 1993. According to Business Insider, the Toronto Blue Jays have spent a total of $1.067 billion dollars in payroll since their last playoff appearance.
|Image courtesy of BusinessInsider.com|
When all this information is taken into account, one can easily see why Blue Jays fans (or any Toronto sports fan for that matter) have an insatiable thirst for the playoffs; because it’s been 19 years since the Blue Jays played October baseball.
The thing about the Alex Anthopoulos regime is I’ve always felt like he’s always had a plan and this team was at least building towards something. But what’s the point of constantly building towards a goal if there is no end game?
Not that I have put my blind faith in AA, but for the most part the vision has been fairly clear. Even though it wasn’t revealed to the fanbase, at least Alex had an idea about what he was doing in where he wanted to take the club.
If there ever was a trade or signing that didn’t quite jive, I just kept telling myself “it’s all part of the plan”. But now after the Travis Snider trade, I feel like the vision to turn this club into a contender is murkier than ever.
Was it really the wisest idea to trade away an asset that the team spent the past four seasons building up, only to receive a bullpen arm in return? Brad Lincoln could very well turn out to be a great reliever, but at best he’s still a reliever.
It’s shrewd moves like that and the 10-player trade with the Astros which really don’t make much sense from the outside looking in. How exactly do those moves help improve the Blue Jays roster in the short and long term?
Another issue that could be inciting the villagers to revolt is of course, the ownership. As one of the wealthiest companies to own an MLB franchise, Rogers definitely has the cash to spend. So if the money is in the bank, why are the Blue Jays seemingly hoarding payroll?
I’m not one to advocate spending money just for the sake of spending it. We all know what happened during the 2005 offseason; the front office ramped up the payroll from $45.3 million to $71.9 million. And while expectations skyrocketed, the results remained relatively the same.
With this regime of the Blue Jays, we’ve become accustomed to this Tampa Bay Rays style “lean and mean” payroll. Prospects are more highly coveted than ever, and it seems like the words “free agent” have become the equivalent of dirty words.
I get that the Blue Jays aren’t one, two, three or maybe even four pieces away from contention. They could have blown their pocketbook and signed Prince Fielder, Yu Darvish, Carlos Beltran … and that still might not be enough to get them into the playoffs.
As ridiculous as it sounds, when a team signs a player to a multi-year contract, to me that signals that the organization wants to win. When they trade a player like Travis Snider, it feels more like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.
Much like Blue Jays blogging cohort The Ack, I’m beginning to question where exactly the Alex Anthopoulos and the Toronto Blue Jays are going.
If all of this truly is part of the plan, then I sincerely apologize. It’s just that Alex Anthopoulos is so incredibly secretive that fans often have to write their own narrative for the future of the team because AA plays things so close to his chest.
When your favourite team hasn’t played in the postseason for 18 years,
thinks can look pretty bleak at times. I mean, I was nine years old the
last time the Blue Jays made the playoffs … those days almost seem
like a distant memory by now.
So do the Blue Jays have to spend to contend in the American League East? I don’t think they need to go broke and sign all the best free agents out there by any means, but throw the fans a bone every once in a while.
Paul Beeston, Alex Anthopoulos and the Blue Jays front office don’t
to justify their existence by spending money frivolously. After all,
$10 million or $20 million is a drop in the bucket for a billion dollar
Paul Beeston can only dangle the $120 million dollar payroll carrot out in front of fans for so long before they start to lose interest. I understand that he was trying to instill a sense of hope, but it was counterproductive by throwing out that arbitrary number and then not spending it.
Ultimately, I don’t really care which method the Blue Jays use to get themselves to the playoffs. Whether Alex Anthopoulos wants to build from the ground up and create a sustainable winner, or whether he wants to go broke and get the best players on the market, I have no preference.
So long as it gets the Toronto Blue Jays back to the playoffs and hopefully another World Series victory, that’s all that matters to me. It doesn’t matter how the Blue Jays get there, it just matters that they get there.