Sometimes, silence can be deafening. And after several days without hearing from the Blue Jays front office after Alex Anthopoulos’ sudden and unexpected departure, people began to wonder.
People began to worry and fret whether this team was in trouble after one of its brightest employees decided to up and leave out of nowhere. The Jays’ GM walked away after the club put forth one of its best single-season efforts in over 20 years.
But today, the silence came to an end. Mark Shapiro officially introduced himself as the brand new president and CEO of the Toronto Blue Jays. And in doing so, I think he quelled a lot of fears from the Toronto Blue Jays fan base.
He spent most of his time fielding questions about Alex Anthopoulos, but Mark Shapiro did give some definitive answers on what to expect with the Blue Jays, as well as a few insights into his philosophies and strategies as the Blue Jays’ president.
Short vs. Long Term
Here’s the underlying tone I got from the entire press conference; Mark Shapiro is a long term success kind of guy.
Shapiro isn’t all about making flashy trades or “going for it”; which is a big change of pace from what transpired during the 2015 season. Mark Shapiro wants to restock the farm system and continue to make the Toronto Blue Jays a sustainable winner.
While Shapiro denied the reports that he scolded Anthopoulos for dealing away many of the organization’s top prospects this past year, Shapiro kind of echoed the original sentiment that he wasn’t exactly pleased with how AA went about building the Blue Jays’ short term success.
“In every decision, there’s a balance. There’s risk/reward; there’s short term/long term. In this case, clearly the short term benefit of those trades is absolutely apparent and was tremendous.
At the same point, there are challenges with trading players and those challenges I think need to become part of long term strategy.
When Alex and I talked, we spent time talking about the short term benefit as well as the long term challenges that would need to be addressed by the organization moving forward.”
Mark Shapiro was wise to publicly praise the gutsy trades orchestrated by Alex Anthopoulos, but I couldn’t help but notice his compliment also came with a caveat.
There may not be any truth to the “scolding” report, but to me there seems to be credence pointing towards Shapiro’s focus on the distant future of the Blue Jays success rather than the immediate impact of blockbuster trades.
John Gibbons Will Be Back
Plain and simple, John Gibbons will be back to manage the Blue Jays in 2016. With Gibby’s ship very closely connected to Alex Anthopoulos’, there were rumblings that John Gibbons could also be gone as well.
There was some thought given to the possibility of bringing Terry Francona aboard as the new manager (since Francona has an opt-out clause), but it sounds like Mark Shapiro and the Blue Jays will give John Gibbons every opportunity to manage the Toronto Blue Jays in the short term.
Focus on the Farm System
One of the things Mark Shapiro placed a great deal of focus on during his days with the Cleveland Indians was drafting and developing. Again, Shapiro spoke at length about the importance of having a solid minor league system in place.
“If you want to have a championship organization that can sustain success regardless of market or payroll, then you’ve got a healthy, vibrant farm system.
Sometimes, that’s to make trades like that were just made; sometimes, that’s to build as the core of your foundation moving forward. We’ll have an obsessive focus on winning and building a strong farm system.”
And here’s where they may be bit of foreshadowing as to what we can expect in the coming months; Mark Shapiro placed an emphasis on “upper level talent”.
It’s still a good farm system, but again … every farm system needs to be better. Upper level talent will be a focus.”
The “Five-Year Policy” is Gone
At long last, the universally panned “five-year policy” has been abolished. The policy itself was a roadblock instilled by Paul Beeston to control spending, but really it was always just a convenient excuse not to sign players.
But when asked about long-term contracts, here’s what Shapiro said:
“I don’t believe in absolutes. I think in the right situation and the right circumstance, I could foresee a seven-year deal”.
That’s not to say Mark Shapiro will immediately ink David Price to a six or seven-year contract, it’s good to know those limitations are no longer in place.
“The Resources Will Be There”
Mark Shapiro was asked numerous questions about payroll and also many of their pending free agents like David Price and Marco Estrada, and Shapiro assured the masses that “the resources would be there”.
It’s a bit of a vague answer and also something fans and players were assured of in previous years (see the 2014 trade deadline), but I guess we’ll have to wait and see whether Mark Shapiro is true to his word.
Image via Getty Images/Bernard Weil/Toronto Star