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A look at JP Ricciardi from Jeff Blair.  A pretty good & fair article.



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timpinder - Saturday, March 29 2008 @ 10:30 AM EDT (#181639) #

That was a good article, but I can't believe McLeod has the Rays ahead of both the Yankees and Jays!

Blair mentioned this a couple of days ago, and now it's being echoed in the Toronto Sun, that the contract talks with Rios have reached a stalemate:
http://torontosun.com/Sports/Baseball/2008/03/29/5136561-sun.html

The disappointing news keeps coming.  If it doesn't get done by tomorrow it will be on hold until next year.  If Rios breaks out this year and/or is an All-Star again, it will make signing him to an extension even harder.

Oh, and Stairs has arthritis in his hip and it hurts when he runs.  Keeping Stewart over Johnson is starting to look like a good move now, in my opinion.  He may see significant at-bats against righties.  Could we see a DH platoon if Stairs' hip continues to bother him when he runs?

And could we please have some good news? 

 

timpinder - Saturday, March 29 2008 @ 10:34 AM EDT (#181640) #

Also, Burnett allowed 7 runs in 6 innings with for more walks in his last minor league game yesterday (from Blair's blog).

Good news?  Anyone?

 

greenfrog - Saturday, March 29 2008 @ 10:42 AM EDT (#181641) #
A good article. Pretty much all of his points have been discussed on this site over the last couple of years.

I was happy to see some critical analysis of the team's drafting approach (e.g., unlike the Yankees and Red Sox, the Jays refuse to pay higher-than-slot bonuses, which has cost them some premier prospects). However, I would have liked to see more discussion of the team's policy of avoiding high school players--a near-ideological policy until 2006 that has really hurt the organization.

One thing that bothers me about Ricciardi and Godfrey is their endless supply of rationalizations and excuses. For once, it would be nice to hear them take unequivocal responsibility for the team's performance--past, present and future.

John Northey - Saturday, March 29 2008 @ 10:48 AM EDT (#181642) #
From the above article...
  • "We only have so much money to spend," Godfrey said. "The only time we've increased the scouting payroll is 2007 and we did that because we had a lot of picks because of the free agents we lost."
  • When the Blue Jays sit in their boardroom for the June draft, they see two lists of amateur players ones they can afford and others they can't.
  • The Blue Jays zealously adhere to the concept of slotting, the process by which the commissioner's office provides teams with a recommendation regarding the signing bonus a player can receive in the June draft.
  • Godfrey speculates that the club's payroll won't change much. That means the Blue Jays have consigned themselves once again to baseball's version of middle-class hell, just as they were in the bad old days of Interbrew ownership. It's just the numbers have changed.

All I can say is ARRRRRRRRRGGHHHH! 

Ted Rogers is going the Harold Ballard direction.  Figure out how to do the minimum to draw the fans while pocketing as much as you can.  Just one increase in scouting over the past 7+ years despite the fact that is the best place to put your cash, despite the fact that MLB saw its overall revenues double, despite the fact the Jays saw the Canadian dollar rise non-stop during that time frame.  The article also points out how the Jays are sticking with payrolls that are consistently just below the average level of non-NY/Boston teams that make the playoffs. 

Once again those of us cheering on a Toronto team have a cheap owner who wants to line their pockets rather than provide a winning team.  The average revenue in MLB is $200 million.  Toronto is a top 10, possibly a top 5, market depending on method of measurement and has full control of a tv market of over 30 million people.  Yet somehow they continue to claim middle class status.  Yet somehow the media keeps printing lies about $70 million losses.  Yet we keep going and cheering them on.

Sigh.  No one said being a fan was logical or sensible.  If they win I will not be thanking Rogers, I'll be thanking JP, Gibbons, Halladay and the rest of the players all of whom did it with a hand tied behind their back by Rogers.
ayjackson - Saturday, March 29 2008 @ 12:03 PM EDT (#181644) #
I will not criticize Rogers' board for the way the Jays are financed.  It is a public company.  It has a legal responsibility to its shareholders to maximize profit.  Public companies and Sports Franchise ownership rarely works.  I think every English Football team that went through a period as a PLC (on the LSE) has ended up in Administration.  I know my beloved Leeds United is wallowing away in DIvision Three as a result.  Other storied Franchises such as Sheffield Wednesday and Nottingham Forest have been wallowing away in the lower divisions since their public ownership too.  It is an extremely difficult proposition to survive as such.  I don't know how you can sit back and pretend to know the finances of the team.  No mention of the 20% drop in viewership on RSN either.  With respect, I think it's time to give it a rest and let the Board of Directors at Rogers run their company the way they see fit.
westcoast dude - Saturday, March 29 2008 @ 12:16 PM EDT (#181645) #
Perhaps the global credit crunch has impacted the Rios contract extension. It may seem far-fetched, but the commercial paper market has seized up, subject to the Fed monetizing more subprime slime on Monday to get many entities through to the end of the fiscal year next week. This is no longer the same world market that enabled the extravagant Thomas contract, but JP's defining moment may be what he does about it.
Shane - Saturday, March 29 2008 @ 12:33 PM EDT (#181646) #

One thing that bothers me about Ricciardi and Godfrey is their endless supply of rationalizations and excuses.

Absolutely. They should have started a patent years ago,  AL East 3rd place Inc.  Ricciardi can't build much of a club through the draft would seem to fact, six years in. And because he can't draft or through scouting acquire young pre-arb star frontline players he has to sign them as FA's or trade for them quickly bringing the payroll to the limits of  a $100 million leaving no room left to add anymore stars. Where can you go from here? What do you do when you can't sign the best FA talent because of finacial limitations and your self imposed stubborn limitations keep you from drafting the best players when you competition does both. It's ridiculous to spend $100 million on annual payroll, and whatever it is they normally spend on the June draft, and not add an additional, say $5 million to go over slot and sign their own whoever (Maybin, Chamberlain, LaPorta etc.) annually - though likely this has much to do with Godfrey's servient relationship to Selig. If you look at the past six years, and see that for what it really is, and then read the quotes from this piece and it's a grim look into the future. But, the future was becoming abundantly clear by 2003, 2004 anyway.

VBF - Saturday, March 29 2008 @ 12:34 PM EDT (#181647) #
The Jays with the increase to salaries this year, are closing in on the 100 million payroll mark.

The Yankees, Red Sox, Mets, Angels, White Sox, and Dodgers are the other teams with payrolls above 100 million. The Cubs, Giants, Orioles (yikes), Tigers and Cardinals all had payrolls of 90-99 million dollars last year.  I would expect the O's, Giants and Cardinals to drop, and the Tigers, Angels, Dodgers, and Mets to increase for 2008.

The Red Sox and Yankees can spend all they want, but you gotta think that if you're going to spend 100 million on salaries, you'd see the playoffs at the very least once.





ChicagoJaysFan - Saturday, March 29 2008 @ 12:45 PM EDT (#181648) #
All I can say is ARRRRRRRRRGGHHHH! 

Ted Rogers is going the Harold Ballard direction.  Figure out how to do the minimum to draw the fans while pocketing as much as you can.  Just one increase in scouting over the past 7+ years despite the fact that is the best place to put your cash, despite the fact that MLB saw its overall revenues double, despite the fact the Jays saw the Canadian dollar rise non-stop during that time frame.  The article also points out how the Jays are sticking with payrolls that are consistently just below the average level of non-NY/Boston teams that make the playoffs. 

Once again those of us cheering on a Toronto team have a cheap owner who wants to line their pockets rather than provide a winning team.  The average revenue in MLB is $200 million.  Toronto is a top 10, possibly a top 5, market depending on method of measurement and has full control of a tv market of over 30 million people.  Yet somehow they continue to claim middle class status.  Yet somehow the media keeps printing lies about $70 million losses.  Yet we keep going and cheering them on.


Unless of course you use, you know, the method of measurement that Forbes does.  They have Toronto as the 10th worst market in baseball (worth $113 MM) in their Baseball Sportsmoney edition this year.  Everything you've ever mentioned about the Toronto baseball market is based on figures 15 years old and out of line with what leading publications (i.e. Forbes) find through their research.  Similarly, the Jays definitely pass the duck test as well for market size.
CaramonLS - Saturday, March 29 2008 @ 01:03 PM EDT (#181651) #
Blair brings up some good points, but the article does miss the mark in some cases.  It could have been a heck of a lot more scathing for the Jays. 

To put it simply, the Jays are victims of poor money management.  As Blair mentions, overslotting is the key to success - somehow the Jays have a problem with this, but they will toss money at Ohka, Zambrano, Thomson and alike when they could have significantly upgraded their pitching prospect stable.

timpinder - Saturday, March 29 2008 @ 02:18 PM EDT (#181657) #

I know some people are tired of hearing Ricciardi and Godfrey mention it, but it is absolutely true that they're at a huge disadvantage playing in the AL East. 

Poor money management?  How about Igawa, Pavano, Wright, Giambi, and Farnsworth, to name a few?  By the end of this year, maybe next, I'll bet Posada and Rivera will be on that list too.  The Yankees, however, can just spend their mistakes away.  The Jays can't.

CaramonLS - Saturday, March 29 2008 @ 02:33 PM EDT (#181659) #
Tim, I didn't say the Yankees were any better at it than the Jays, but they can cover up their mistakes without much problem.  The Jays cannot.
timpinder - Saturday, March 29 2008 @ 03:17 PM EDT (#181661) #
Agreed, and I do wish that the Jays would get the best possible prospects available, whether that means paying out of slot or not.
the mick - Saturday, March 29 2008 @ 03:42 PM EDT (#181663) #
The quote that really irked me was:

"Look, it's not what kind of farm system you have or how many prospects you have, it's what you do at the major-league level," Ricciardi said.

While it's true - to a degree - what kind of farm system you have and how many prospects you have give a GM the freedom to make moves to improve their team through trading for established or rising stars (see: Seattle Mariners and Erik Bedard) and being able to improve your team at the major-league level through good drafting.  The Jays seem to be spinning their wheels, neither rebuilding through youth (because they don't have the prospects) nor succeeding at the major-league level.  The sidebar in the paper edition was worth noting that of GM's with the same Ricciardi, the Jays are the only team who haven't made the playoffs.  I know, I know, the A.L. East is a big obstacle but the Jays seem to be spinning their wheels.

Dave Till - Saturday, March 29 2008 @ 06:36 PM EDT (#181666) #
I have always wondered: how much luck is involved in draft picking? It's clear that, under J.P.'s tenure, the Jays haven't done well with their farm system: right now, the only real prospect they have is Snider. Lots of teams are doing better.

But could anyone have predicted that Russ Adams would top out at AAA, or that Gabe Gross would, or that Josh Phelps would? (Phelps, you may recall, was once on the cover of Baseball Prospectus, since they assumed he was one of the game's bright young stars.)  When a player looks good in the low minors but crashes and burns at a higher level, it can really mess up a team's development plan - I'm convinced that J.P. picked Romero over Tulowitzki because he already had Adams, Hill and Hudson in the system at the time of that draft. Is J.P.'s problem just that he isn't lucky enough?

And the Jays have been hit by a double whammy: not only are they in the same division as the AL East's twin 800-pound gorillas, but they have to play them more too, thanks to baseball's quaint decision to have teams play "divisional rivals" more often. (The Jays' natural rival, geographically, is Detroit - but they're in a different division.)  This gives teams in weaker divisions an advantage in the wild-card race.

As was pointed out in the article, the Jays' payroll is lower than that of the gorillas mentioned above. You can't really expect a general manager to achieve greater success with less money; battles tend to be won by the army with the strongest weapons. While it might be time to punt J.P., the new guy will face the same expectations and the same problems.

(By the way: I think it's too early to pick the Rays second. They're getting better, but they'll probably only get to about the 80 to 85-win level. It's relatively easy to go from awful to so-so; getting over that hump, particularly in this division, will be a daunting challenge.)
Thomas - Saturday, March 29 2008 @ 06:45 PM EDT (#181667) #
I'm convinced that J.P. picked Romero over Tulowitzki because he already had Adams, Hill and Hudson in the system at the time of that draft.

Well, based on what I've read that's partly true. It seems JP believed Romero was the better pick than Tulowitzki and helped justify that decision by the fact he had Hill, Adams and Hudson. However, Law has written that JP overruled the consensus of the scouting department that Tulowitzki was the better player based on his first-hand evaluations, as well.

Either way, it's still a mistake by JP. I don't think a team should ever draft for positional need in the first few rounds (with catcher being the only possible exception, and even then I don't like drafting for a position). A team should take the best player on the board and worry about ramifications down the road. Drafting for organizational needs is fine in the eighth or tenth round, but not in the first couple of rounds. Having Hill, Adams and Hudson in the system doesn't excuse JP's decision.

Shane - Saturday, March 29 2008 @ 07:13 PM EDT (#181673) #

From the Toronto Sun October 23, 2007

"Two Jays scouts visited my house," Tulowitzki, the Colorado Rockies shortstop, said in the Coors Field clubhouse the other day. "On draft day it was apparent they wanted pitching."

Romero went sixth overall to the Jays and Tulowitzki went seventh to the Rockies. Romero was 3-6 with a 4.89 earned run average in 18 starts at double-A New Hampshire.

"The larger part of our group wanted Tulowitzki over Romero," said one former Jays scout. "The GM was adamant. Russ Adams could play short. We didn't need a shortstop."  

The failure not to draft Tulowitzki is not because Russ Adams was in the organization, it's due to Ricciardi's continued delusion that Russ Adams was the answer. If Russ Adams had been Gord Ash's draft selection, Tulowitzki would be maning shortstop on opening day at Yankee Stadium.

Dave Till - Saturday, March 29 2008 @ 07:17 PM EDT (#181674) #
I don't think a team should ever draft for positional need in the first few rounds (with catcher being the only possible exception, and even then I don't like drafting for a position). A team should take the best player on the board and worry about ramifications down the road.

You may well be right. It depends on whether the team can get equivalent talent in a trade when it comes time to break the logjam at a particular position.

Not knowing any more than I do, I'd say that the only way this works is if the team can trade its incumbent to make room for a prospect (as the Jays did with Hudson). If a team has two prospects for one position, one will be stalled at a lower level of the minors, and I'd be surprised if the team could get fair value for either of them in a deal. But I will happily defer to the wisdom of those more experienced than me in these matters. :-)
Dave Till - Saturday, March 29 2008 @ 07:21 PM EDT (#181676) #
And one more:

The failure not to draft Tulowitzki is not because Russ Adams was in the organization, it's due to Ricciardi's continued delusion that Russ Adams was the answer.

The 2005 version of Russ Adams still looked like he might become a major-league shortstop. He hit .302 in a brief trial in 2004; while his average was down in 2005, he was starting to show a little power (27 doubles, 8 home runs), was 11-for-13 in stolen bases, and drew 50 walks in 481 at-bats. That's not bad for a 24-year-old shortstop.

Had Romero developed, and Tulowitzki stalled - which was a possibility at the time - J.P. would have looked smart. Hindsight is 20-20.

VBF - Saturday, March 29 2008 @ 07:29 PM EDT (#181677) #
While I do agree with Keith Law in the sense that if JP was going to pay his scouts money to do their jobs he need not meddle, I will say that by draft day, they did, if I recall correctly, have Hill and Adams at shortstop, Adams having a great first half to the season and Hill exploding onto the scene playing third in place of the injured Koskie.

And while I do agree in the philosophy of drafting the best possible player (as JP said when he drafted Hill), I can understand the argument of drafting Romero. If I fault Ricciardi, it would be if he hadn't done his homework on Romero enough to overrule his staff. I think it's possible, but no one can really comment on that besides those scouts in that room.

It sure is a shame but perhaps there is some closure in the fact that the team of scouts know what they're doing and that maybe Ricciardi learned his lesson the hard way.

Now let's put together a nice basket of money for the long awaited return of the O-Dog and a shift of Hill to shortstop.
timpinder - Saturday, March 29 2008 @ 07:47 PM EDT (#181679) #

The Romero pick has been beaten to death, and it's still way too early to pass judgement since he could still be the #2 or #3 starter he was originally projected to be.  Don't believe me, surf the net and read some of the scouting reports from the time (or even now).  Three average-plus major league pitches, plus command, and left-handed.  At the time, the Jays were going after players who could make it to the majors quickly (for better or worse).  As just a 21 year old in A+ in 2006, Romero was flying with a 2.47 ERA, 9.41 K9, 7.41 H9 and 1.06 WHIP.  He looked great and was a highly regarded prospect.  Injuries and last year's blip of lost control is but a bump in the road.  It happens (see Halladay, Carpenter and Escobar).  I think that's the luck that was mentioned.  Marcum, Janssen, Cecil, Hill, Litsch, Lind, Snider, Peterson (Accardo), Bush and Jackson (Overbay), all look good right now, but Snider might flop and Purcey might become Randy Johnson incarnate.  Who knows?  A lot of it is luck, but a lot of it is just too early to tell.  Proponents of Ash are quick to mention Halladay, Rios and Wells, but I don't often hear mention of Gross, Negron, Lawrence or Lopez.

Ricciardi's made some mistakes and some good moves, but overall I'd say he's been average.  To focus just on a single pick isn't fair.  His 2007 draft will probably define his era as GM one way or the other, with a lot of high-ceiling highschool picks.  We'll see, but we'll have to wait several years.

Shane - Saturday, March 29 2008 @ 08:34 PM EDT (#181685) #

I think it's possible, but no one can really comment on that besides those scouts in that room.

Right. And two of them have. Law and the annymous scout that spoke to Elliot last October. And as Keith Law recently said:

The GM (Ricciardi) substituted his own evaluations, based on one observation for each player and a flawed one at that for Tulowitzki, who was just coming off of a wrist injury. Several of us made the case for Tulowitzki over Romero, myself included, but Ricciardi is not one to change his mind, and I always thought he rather enjoyed digging in his heels when anyone questioned a decision.

And..."To focus just on a single pick isn't fair." Absolutely. But, I think the whole Adams/Romero/Tulowitzki draft day episode is excellent insight into some of the unfortuante aspects of J.P. and his abilities and personality.

John Northey - Saturday, March 29 2008 @ 10:01 PM EDT (#181687) #
ayjackson - why not criticize Rogers?  Given we are fans of the Jays, given we spend money going to games and buy products advertised on their games on tv, given we support the team in many ways why shouldn't we complain when they decide to pocket profits rather than spend them on the team?

Yes, like all companies, Rogers has the right to do whatever the heck they want with their money.  Just like Alberta can pump out tons of pollution from the oil sands.  Just like you have the right to buy cigarettes and booze if you wish regardless of the health effects on yourself.  All are legal, all are considered acceptable by societies standards, and all can be complained about by those who care about what happens to the Jays, to the environment, and to you.

As to public companies and sports ownership, wasn't Labatt's a public company back in the 80's?  That worked pretty darn good for the Jays I'd say.  Weren't the Brewers owned by a private individual who led them to a decade of sub-500 ball and just one playoff appearance in over 30 years?  Didn't work too good for them.  The type of ownership isn't the biggest factor.  It is the intelligence and ability of that ownership to see beyond the short term balance sheet and to look at the long term that decides where the team goes.  The Jays ownership showed some foresight back in the early part of this decade by picking a person to run the team and then giving that person a steadily increasing payroll with minimal interference.  The problem now is they are (through Godfrey) insisting on doing stuff that is counter productive long term (not going over slot in the draft) and locking in stone budgets in US dollars when (they regularly state) most revenues are Canadian dollars. 

As per ChicagoJaysFan complaining I only use 15 year old figures...
  • Today our dollar is higher than it has been at any point in the Blue Jays lifetime.  By a factor of 9%+ vs the peak reached in the early 90's of 89 cents (that would be based on a 97 cent dollar).
  • The team, for the first time in its history, owns its own stadium thus gets 100% of the revenue any extra fans bring in.
  • The team, for the past 7 years, owns the TV station that shows the majority of its games thus getting the majority of increased revenue from increased viewership, or the majority of the loss from any decline in viewership
  • The Toronto area is one of the healthiest in MLB when it comes to local fans not going bankrupt as the US credit crisis hasn't hit Ontario yet and, while manufacturing jobs are being lost, Ontario still is adding more jobs than it is losing vs a lot of areas of the US
  • The Jays are sharing a market with a hockey team that has missed the playoffs for 3 years in a row and a basketball team that looked on the rise last year but is fading this year and could easily be knocked out in the first round yet again while for football they share with a CFL team.  Nuff said.
  • Toronto is still in the top 10 for US/Canada for population and is growing
  • The Jays do have exclusive control of the Canadian TV market as per MLB rules - by far the largest potential viewership market in MLB
Given those CURRENT facts the Jays have a very, very strong incentive to be competitive and the ability to capitalize far faster on any improvement in baseball attendance or viewership than virtually any other team in baseball.  Anyone who is looking to maximize profit would be doing everything they could to figure out how to win and if it means spending a bit more on draft day (as the Tigers, in a much smaller and poorer market, do) then so be it.  Following the Harold Ballard method of sucking in the profits while hoping a team that is just shy of the playoffs year in year out will keep the fans coming in is not the best method to maximize profit long term.

The Jays just wasted over a decade floating on the goodwill of the previous decade.  Sitting back and treading water (which is what they are doing budget wise) is not the way to move back to the top.  If they get lucky and one or both of Boston and NY blow it this year then it works out.  If they get unlucky and Tampa Bay jumps ahead of the Jays (as many expect) then watch out as the fans disappear quickly unless MLB shifts to a 16 team playoff system ala the NHL and NBA.

The Jays should be fighting hard (and I suspect they are) for that 16 team playoff structure, or at least a 10 team method (2 wild cards per league who have a one game winner goes on game).  They should be scouting areas other teams aren't strong in, like they did in the 80's with the Dominican.  They should be drafting the best talent available regardless of price as an extra $5 million draft day can be worth tens of millions years later.  That would be a long term success strategy that would maximize profits long term.  Going cheap on draft day is NOT the way.
timpinder - Saturday, March 29 2008 @ 10:48 PM EDT (#181688) #

Nice post John.  I agree with just about everything.  Toronto is the 4th largest media market in North America and the 5th largest metropolitan area in North America (after New York, LA, Chicago and Mexico City).  New York can support two teams, LA can support two teams, Chicago can support two teams, and those 6 teams have 6 of the top 7 payrolls in baseball!  Toronto most certainly can have one very successful and profitable team.  Rogers has the money and controls the product, the facility and the media.  They need to get the fans interested and to do that, they need to win.  A trip to the playoffs would bring people back to the "ballpark" and get the viewers watching the games at home.  I'll watch every game even if they're losing, so will most people who care enough about baseball to frequent this domain, but most Toronto baseball "fans" are a finicky bunch.  If the Jays are losing, they just won't show up at the park or watch the games on TV.  If the Jays are winning, they'll show up in droves (in band wagons, but they'll be there at least, and some will stay).  To win though, they need to spend money on players, whether it be on free agents or paying out of slot in the draft.  At least they finally seem to be making an effort to keep their best players, which is a step in the right direction.

One thing that I think hurts the Jays attendance, though, is the Roger's Center.  It's an entertainment center, not a ballpark.  And I also suspect that the television ratings went down last year in part because of the Jays' anemic offence.  It was very frustrating to watch them last year, and I think that teams that slug are more exciting to watch than teams that emphasize pitching and defense.

Dave Till - Saturday, March 29 2008 @ 11:20 PM EDT (#181690) #
timpinder, I'm not sure whether you're advocating a natural grass ballpark in place of the Rogers Centre. But I thought I'd state the case for the defense.

In my opinion, a baseball-only natural grass park is not feasible in Toronto. For the reason why, look outside: do you see any natural grass out there right now? Mostly, we've got the white stuff on the ground.

Admittedly, it's been a late winter and a long winter, but grass doesn't even reliably start growing in Toronto until at least a week into April. And lawns are mushy and soggy until May. An outdoor park would probably require a roof or some really sophisticated heating or something. Which would be pricey.

I'm old enough to remember going to games at Exhibition Stadium on a regular basis, and night games in Toronto in April or early May weren't exactly enjoyable experiences. I used to have to wear about five sweaters and a winter jacket when the temperature dropped to single digits, and my fingers were too cold to hold a pen to keep score.

I can't help but think that any gain in attendance from getting to sit in a natural-grass park on a warm summer night - which is a wonderful thing to do - would be offset by the loss in attendance in April and September. And the Rogers Centre has no rainouts. (I still remember planning to see a weekend of baseball in Detroit years ago, only to have it rain the entire weekend. Blah.)

One final thought on J.P.: if you're going to blame him for Romero, you have to give him credit for Aaron Hill. The Jays picked him 13th in the draft, and right now he may very well be the best player picked in the first round. (Delmon Young might become wonderful, and Markakis is pretty good, but I don't think I'd trade Hill for either of them right now.) You win some, you lose some.
timpinder - Saturday, March 29 2008 @ 11:43 PM EDT (#181691) #

It's not just the grass, though Cellular, Comerica, Miller Park, Wrigley and Jacobs field don't seem to have a problem with very similar climate.  You can have a stadium that's not multi-use, that's built just for baseball, that also has a retractable roof.  Roger's Center is just boring and has a cold feel.  It's the perfectly symetrical dimensions of the field, there's no water falls or rock piles, no gardens or grass, no night skyline to see (except the tip of the CN tower and the top floors of a couple of condos), and even with the roof open I feel like I'm in a big concrete bowl.  I'm 1.5 hours from Toronto and about 2 hours from Detroit, and we caught the Tigers and Mets at Comerica this summer.  It's just such a beautiful ballpark and I really enjoyed the atmosphere (even though the city itself certainly doesn't touch Toronto).  I'm a huge Jays fan, but I'm just being honest, I think Toronto has one of the worst stadiums in the majors. 

 

VBF - Sunday, March 30 2008 @ 12:53 AM EDT (#181693) #
Right. And two of them have. Law and the annymous scout that spoke to Elliot last October. And as Keith Law recently said:

Well, the issue stands whether Ricciardi was in a position to overrule them. If the guy put in a ton of time to make sure Romero was the man, thats one thing. Nobody knows how much time he invested in scouting Romero, and if he did a half assed job compared to his scouts, he certainly was in no position to do what he did.

In two years the Rogers Centre will be the last multi-use facility and the oldest park in the majors that doesn't have a deep historical feel. *Everybody* and their friggin aunt will have a brand new stadium to show off to their fans. I wouldn't be surprised if in five years the discussions about a new stadium pop up. Unfortunately during this time, the Bills will have ended their 1 real game per year contract with the T-Dot and I could totally see Rogers getting in on an NFL stadium. In which case, a baseball stadium (unless the team has won a few pennants) probably waits another ten years.

I personally don't mind the Dome, it's no PNC Park but it works. I think real grass could go a long way but apparantly there's no way they could install a drainage system. Which is too bad; the RC will look quite out of date when the Metrodome,  Network Associates, Dolphin Stadium, The Trop, Shea, and RFK get demolished in a couple years.



Ryan Day - Sunday, March 30 2008 @ 03:17 AM EDT (#181695) #
The interesting thing about the Romero/Tulowitzki decision is that it has nothing at all to do with the usual complaints leveled against Ricciardi. It wasn't about high school or college. It wasn't about budget and slot money. It was based on an evaluation of talent.

It was a bad decision, sure. But not because the philosophy behind it was somehow wrong. (And for that matter, I'd say drafting Tulowitzki ahead of Jay Bruce, was also a bad decision.)
Thomas - Sunday, March 30 2008 @ 05:50 AM EDT (#181696) #
Not knowing any more than I do, I'd say that the only way this works is if the team can trade its incumbent to make room for a prospect (as the Jays did with Hudson). If a team has two prospects for one position, one will be stalled at a lower level of the minors, and I'd be surprised if the team could get fair value for either of them in a deal. But I will happily defer to the wisdom of those more experienced than me in these matters. :-)

I sort of agree with that, in that a team will usually be able to get better value for the established player than the prospect. But, if a prospect has established himself at a a relatively high level, say Double-A or Triple-A, I do think a GM will be able to get a reasonable return for him. Look at Kevin Kouzmanoff. The Padres traded Josh Barfield to get him. Remember at the time Barfield wasn't the guy who struggled badly in 2007, but was a rookie major league second baseman with good defense who hit .280/.318/.423 as a rookie in PETCO, which depresses offense. The Indians hardly gave Kouzmanoff away for nothing.

However, the bigger issue is that the athletic kids usually play shortstop (or center) at HS or in college. The presence of Adams and Hill in the system did not guarantee that they would be able to play SS in the majors. Matt Stairs came up as a 2B. Gary Sheffield as a SS. There are hundreds of examples like this of players who could play one position in college, but couldn't play it adequately in the majors. And as it turned out, Adams can't play SS in the majors. Hill probably can play it adequately, but is a much better defensive 2B. And even if they could all play SS, there's nothing to stop the team moving one to 3B or 2B. Prospects can almost always slide down the defensive spectrum with relative ease. And many are forced to slide down the spectrum from the position that you drafted them at. To use the fact that you have Adams and Hill as SS already as reason not to draft another SS is, in my mind, a bad decision.

Dave Till - Sunday, March 30 2008 @ 09:14 AM EDT (#181697) #
The presence of Adams and Hill in the system did not guarantee that they would be able to play SS in the majors.

For sure. But, again: at the time of the Tulowitzki draft, Adams and Hill hadn't shown that they couldn't handle the position.

Hill still could play short, if he had to, even now - it's not that he is a bad shortstop, it's just that he is an awesome second baseman. And had Adams kept hitting, the Jays probably would have been able to live with his fielding - especially with McDonald as a backup for late-inning defense.

I think it all boils down to bad timing. Had it been one year later, the Jays would have seen more of a need for a shortstop, and would likely have drafted Tulowitzki.
Dave Till - Sunday, March 30 2008 @ 09:40 AM EDT (#181698) #
It's not just the grass, though Cellular, Comerica, Miller Park, Wrigley and Jacobs field don't seem to have a problem with very similar climate.  You can have a stadium that's not multi-use, that's built just for baseball, that also has a retractable roof.

Good point about grass fields in other northern locations. I'd be curious to see how the people who run Miller Park keep the grass in shape in April. Perhaps it's a solved problem.

I don't think Rogers wants to build a baseball-only ballpark with private funds, and there's no chance that the city of Toronto will kick in any money to build a new park. The city is, basically, close to broke. And I'd rather see Rogers spend money on ballplayers than a new park.

For what it's worth, I kind of like the Rogers Centre (or "Ted's Shed", as I like to call it). The sight lines are mostly good - if you're in the 500 level right-field seats, you can't see the left-field corner, but that's about it. (And those seats are virtually never sold anyway.) And the Centre brings back memories of happy times long past.

One more factor: where would they put a new ballpark? The Exhibition grounds now have BMO Field on them, and most of the other available land downtown is being occupied by condos. The only options in the city are Downsview and the Portlands district - and I believe there are environmental issues with the latter (lots of old toxic waste problems). And there would be a *lot* of disgruntled fans if they built a new park outside the city limits; many of us don't have cars!
timpinder - Sunday, March 30 2008 @ 11:03 AM EDT (#181703) #

I agree, they'd have to build it in Toronto.  I know they've had problems with the Senators in Ottawa, they don't sell out because it's a 30 minute drive to the rink.  I don't know Toronto so I don't have any suggestions.  However, if they get an NFL team they'll need to build it somewhere.  Could they tear down Roger's Centre and put a football stadium and ballpark at the same location?  I suppose there wouldn't be enough room.  I don't know, it's not that bad I guess.  I just love going to real ballparks, even small parks like Knology and CanWest park in Winnipeg (beautiful park).  That's part of the experience for me.  To be honest, I mostly only go to Roger's Centre to support the team, as silly as that sounds.  I'm just as happy watching the games on HDTV at home.

John Northey - Sunday, March 30 2008 @ 11:05 AM EDT (#181704) #
I remember when the dome was being built my dad was angry about it being downtown Toronto as that would be a royal pain for those of us driving in for a game.  He was hoping for a suburban location.  In the end the downtown location was ideal and suburbia is not viewed as a good spot anymore.

As to Rogers building a new park - why on earth would they?  They own the dome, but not the land it is on - the land is leased from the City of Toronto and Canada Lands Co. for $900k a year through 2088 with a requirement for the land to have a stadium on it.  Thus building a new park anywhere but where the dome is would be making their current stadium a big convention centre/monster truck pull location only.  Especially if the NFL comes full-time to Toronto (the dome isn't big enough for an NFL team long term). 

Now, an outdoor stadium for both the NFL and MLB could be done with natural grass but that would be asking for trouble as all of us above a certain age remember old Exhibition Stadium and what a mess that was with fake grass.  Plus most areas have decided to build stadiums for each sports team rather than multi-use stadiums, which seems a waste of resources to me but if cities are willing to pay so be it.

Would the city of Toronto pay a chunk of the cost?  At the moment I doubt it as the NFL has everyone starry eyed and MLB has the drug cloud (which is so silly when you think about it).  Toronto city council loves to blow money, but even they have a limit and one waste...er...investment into a stadium is all they could take at a time I suspect.

Our best hope for an outdoor park is for the NFL to come to town, get a new park, then in 10-20 years the Jays could play a couple of seasons at the NFL park while the dome is torn down and rebuilt with real grass.  Thus no new park until 2030+
ayjackson - Sunday, March 30 2008 @ 11:27 AM EDT (#181707) #

ayjackson - why not criticize Rogers?

I don't have the financial information to be critical of the way he runs that corporation.  I have noticed though, that it's a tricky day and age for corporate stewardship.

VBF - Sunday, March 30 2008 @ 12:42 PM EDT (#181710) #

One more factor: where would they put a new ballpark?

I first think of the Cherry Beach location. It's an area of the city they've tried to develop for decades and a new stadium by the water would draw all sorts of business to the area and strengthen the waterfront to the east.

And if David Miller gets his bridge to the airport, perhaps the site of Hanlan's Point Stadium for nostalgic purposes, though there would be a lineup of angry island people fighting that.

There's litte pockets to land to the east of downtown that could be developed. A little bandbox of a park could be fun.

But I really don't see this happening for a long time if ever. The best thing Rogers could do is do what they did to Angels Stadium in Anaheim. Take out a few seats, add some glass to the sides of the stadium and figure out something with the concrete. Godfrey said that they'd like to host the ASG at some point in the next few years, I imagine he knows what it will take to win that bid.

 

Shane - Sunday, March 30 2008 @ 01:02 PM EDT (#181712) #

I think it all boils down to bad timing. Had it been one year later, the Jays would have seen more of a need for a shortstop, and would likely have drafted Tulowitzki.

Perhaps that could have unfolded that way Dave. But, that completely discounts the possibility of J.P. Ricciardi's strong personality playing a part in the non selection. He loathes to be criticized, and seemingly never admits to shortcomings big or small. If there's anyone who believes that the Ricciardi we've witnessed for seven years now, would have drafted a shortstop for the third time in his first four years as GM, thus admitting some disappointment in Adams development, i'd be surprised. Defensively, Adams always had the scouting community unconvinced he could be successful as a pro shortstop, and his development was obviously still unimpressive to the rest of the baseball world because the non selection of Tulowitzki baffled the baseball community as has been documented since draft day.

 

Pistol - Sunday, March 30 2008 @ 01:04 PM EDT (#181713) #

From SI's baseball preview this week, featuring Tulo:

The Blue Jays had Russ Adams, 24, playing shortstop, and Aaron Hill, 23, a converted shortstop, as a utilityman.  "We thought we had the position covered," says JP Ricciardi, Toronto's GM.  One thing we thought about was, we can't get pitching unless we drafted it.  It wasn't as if free agents were knocking down our door"

.....All the things you saw in Tulowitzki as a everyday player, you saw in (Romero) as a pitcher.  And being lefthanded was huge."

Says Boston GM Theo Epstein, "I thought Romero was as sure a bet as any college pitcher"

"Totally my call," Ricciardi says.  "Right now we made the wrong choice."..... Romero hasn't come as fast as the other guys but its really only his third year.  We still like him."

Dewey - Sunday, March 30 2008 @ 01:15 PM EDT (#181714) #
Downsview actually makes a lot of sense for a site for a new stadium, especially as the subway extension to Vaughan will be completed by the time a new stadium is.  It's a huge site.  And convenient for downtowners as well as people from the suburbs.
Shane - Sunday, March 30 2008 @ 01:25 PM EDT (#181715) #
Very refreshing. So I guess drafting for need and over-drafting have'nt worked out so well. The apparent need being #3/#4 quality starting pitchers over starting shortstops.
parrot11 - Sunday, March 30 2008 @ 01:32 PM EDT (#181716) #

I don't want to get too off topic with this Tulowitzki discussion, but JP and his staff had 2 years to evaluate Hill and 3 years for Adams and determine that neither guy could stick at SS. That is just bad scouting.

Anyway getting to the nuts and bolts of the article. I don't blame Ted Rogers because I think that $90-100M payroll is more than enough to compete. Instead, I lay all the blame on Ricciardi's shoulders and to a lesser degree Paul Godfrey who should have already fired him. At the time of their big payroll bump they increased their payroll for what ended up being $50M, while their average win total went from 78 wins to 85 wins. That seems like a pretty poor return on your investment. JP invested his money in guys with big question marks in Thomas (who has had lengthy injury issues), Ryan (who people had long stated had very poor mechanics), Burnett (who has yet been able to stay healthy), and Glaus/Rolen (who had significant injury concerns). Meanwhile, in the draft he has gone low risk and gotten a low return as well. The draft is one of the few areas that he should have been able to gamble on, namely because that gamble is low cost and yield very big returns. The extra $5M/yr spent on the draft would have yielded huge dividends and would allow them not to spent millions on utility players and injury risk players. The reason that the Jays will not make the playoffs under JP is a mismanagement of the funds that he was given.

John Northey - Sunday, March 30 2008 @ 01:59 PM EDT (#181717) #
parrott11 has a very, very good point.  JP and gang should've pushed for more into the budget for drafting/scouting/amateur free agents rather than the millions for the payroll.  Now, they might have and were told (ala Ash a decade or so ago) to get fannies in the seats today.  Regardless, as far as free agents go the Jays have had their issues under JP as many have documented (Koskie was a bust, AJ mixed bag, BJ 1 good 1 non-existent year 3 to go, Thomas good so far but appears overpriced, Stairs a big win, ...).   Adams and Hill were not viewed as shortstops by many long term thus poor decision making there to not go for Tulowitzki (to beat a dead horse yet again). 

The key now is what next.  Snider going to A ball suggests JP isn't panicking as this means Snider won't be in Toronto until '09 at the earliest and probably not until '10.  A panic move would've been to push too hard in an effort to look good before JP's contract runs out (ie: see, I drafted a star).  We'll see where it goes.  Can't be as bad as the Leafs :) 

timpinder - Sunday, March 30 2008 @ 02:41 PM EDT (#181719) #

In Ricciardi's defense, he has an average budget, whether or not Roger's can afford more.  He has to go after guys like Rolen, Burnett, and Thomas, and hope he catches lightning in a bottle.  There was absolutely no way Toronto was going to win a bidding war for A-Rod.  No way next year the Jays are getting Sabathia, Teixeira or Dunn, either.  Our best hope is that Thomas doesn't reach 376 at-bats and the Jays spend the money on Furcal.  Otherwise, without a budget increase from Ted, the Jays will be going back to Johnny Mac as the starting SS next year.  The financial limitations are real.  Teams with budgets like the Jays have to try to retain their internally developed premium players and go after guys who have high ceilings but for whatever reason are coming on the cheap (usually after off-years or injuries), to fill holes.  One area I absolutely agree with, though, is that more money needs to spent on the draft.  I am pleased to see that the Jays have been signing international free agents like Fuenmayor, that could prove to be money well spent too. 

ANationalAcrobat - Sunday, March 30 2008 @ 02:44 PM EDT (#181720) #
Our best hope is that Thomas doesn't reach 376 at-bats and the Jays spend the money on Furcal.

Interesting point. Thomas' vesting option certainly figures to be one of the most interesting storylines of '08 for the Jays.

parrot11 - Sunday, March 30 2008 @ 02:52 PM EDT (#181721) #
If the Blue Jays cut Thomas before he reaches his PA threshold for his option year kicking in, does that mean that they don't have to pick up the option? Or is that vesting option just a way for a team to protect itself in case of an injury and they would still be forced to fork over that money?
cascando - Sunday, March 30 2008 @ 04:28 PM EDT (#181723) #

It seems that everyone wants Thomas not to meet the PA threshold, whereas a month ago, many were calling for a big year from him.  How much weight are we putting on a bad spring?  If he puts up numbers similar to last year, or gets off to a better start and comes close to his 2006, he'll be entirely worth the risk at $10 million in 2009.

The man hit .306/.378/.524 in the 2nd half last year.  I put more stock in that than in 40 poor spring training AB.

Mike Green - Sunday, March 30 2008 @ 04:38 PM EDT (#181727) #
I hope that Thomas has two good 450-550 PA seasons at ages 40 and 41.  He is a great hitter, but even the great ones rarely put together two straight good years in their 40s. 
Ryan Day - Sunday, March 30 2008 @ 05:27 PM EDT (#181728) #
If you're looking for good omens, this guy had a pretty nice season when he was 40.
vw_fan17 - Sunday, March 30 2008 @ 07:25 PM EDT (#181729) #
Nice post John.  I agree with just about everything.  Toronto is the 4th largest media market in North America and the 5th largest metropolitan area in North America (after New York, LA, Chicago and Mexico City).


Hi Tim. Just curious how you're defining "metropolitan" area. According to Wikipedia (I know, not necessarily 100% perfect, but should be ok for population numbers), the "Bay Area" where I happen to reside now had 7.2M people as of the 2006 census, whereas GTA has/had 5.1M. Or are you including the "Golden Horseshoe"? FWIW, Wikipedia has a list of "largest US metropolitan areas", and if we add in Mexico City, GTA doesn't crack the top 10.. As of 2006/2007:
Mexico City (20M?), NY, LA, CHI, DAL, PHI, HOU, MIA, WSH, ATL metropolitan areas all have > 5.1M population.. That's 10, and doesn't include the Bay Area (the list has SF/Oak/Fremont as one metro, SJ/Sunnyvale as another - combined > 6M).

Was just curious, so I looked at a few numbers, and didn't see where you got yours from..

Links: Metro Areas    GTA

VW
timpinder - Sunday, March 30 2008 @ 09:20 PM EDT (#181730) #

Census Canada and U.S. census studies are not compatible.  For example, the U.S. considers Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington one metropolitan area.  Atlantic City is included with Philadelphia's metropolitan area even though it's separated by miles of farm land.  It's the same story with Washington-Baltimore, Tampa Bay-St.Petersburg, etc.  Conversely, in Canada, even though Oshawa and Hamilton are connected by a single urban area, they're not included by census Canada as a single metropolitan area and would be over 9 million if they were (from en.wikipedia).

According to UN urban area criteria, Toronto is the 5th largest city in North America after Mexico City, New York, LA and Chicago.

I'm not very good with the links, but here's a couple:
http://www.worldatlas.com/citypops.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_urban_areas_by_population

Since we're talking about baseball I would argue that, as Canada's only team, the Jays have an even larger market than the GTA.

92-93 - Monday, March 31 2008 @ 06:54 AM EDT (#181735) #
I agree with Dewey. All that empty land north of Yorkdale which I think is called Downsview Airport seems like an ideal spot for a baseball field. There's good highway access there for people coming from all areas of the city. There's subway stations at Wilson and a newly built Downsview station. Plenty of land too for parking and the likes. After watching the baseball game last night and seeing the gorgeous new stadium in Washington one can only dream.
ChicagoJaysFan - Monday, March 31 2008 @ 09:36 PM EDT (#181809) #
John,

You've obviously made up your mind, so I'm not going to try and convince you otherwise - I gave up on that a long time ago. 

My comment was directed at the incredibly strong (and proven wrong through evidence of Forbes) statement that Toronto is a top 10, possibly a top 5, market depending on method of measurement.  Clearly, depending on how you measure it, Toronto can quite easily be a bottom 10 market.

Not only has Forbes defined the Toronto market as such, pretty much anyone that has purchased a baseball team in the last 15 years has defined the Toronto market thusly through their own purchase decisions.


cascando - Monday, March 31 2008 @ 10:01 PM EDT (#181814) #

I'll just say when you're talking about market size, there are many factors other than population.

If you're in the foam-front, mesh-back hat business, you're better off plying your trade south of the 401 in Oshawa than in downtown Toronto--even if the latter has 10 times the population.  It's a cultural thing.  And I think the same is true of baseball.  Toronto might have great market potential when the team is a perennial championship contender, but there are smaller US cities that will always support a team, no matter how bad they are.

This is also why the GTA should get another NHL team, but that's an entirely different discussion. 

 

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