New week, New Thread

Monday, February 05 2018 @ 01:23 PM EST

Contributed by: John Northey

Things are quiet right now both here in Jay land and in MLB as a whole. Lots of free agents, thus lots of chatter. Very little Jays orientated outside of many here and elsewhere going 'Why is Rogers so cheap, just spend the cash'.

Every year we have these 'Rogers is cheap' 'Interbrew is cheap' and way back pre-internet 'Labatt's is cheap'. Outside of 92/93 the Jays haven't been #1 in payroll and there is a reason. I did a check a few months back trying to find the 'sweet spot' for maximizing Jays revenue and it appears to be low 90's for wins. IE: on edge of playoffs or just in but no need for a super-team or playoff success (92/93 again the only examples of total success).

Realistically you should only expect 1 WS win per 30 years with 30 teams in the league if all was equal. It isn't. The Dodger and Yankees and Cubs all have resources beyond any other clubs range. They have millions of die-hard fans who support them win or lose plus millions more 'bandwagon' fans. The Jays can't afford to suck for years (ala the Cubs at many points in their history and the Yankees in the early 90's) as we saw attendance and even more important TV ratings collapse so badly that the Jays almost hit the point of needing to pay to get games on the air as darts could get as high a rating. Ick. Medicore is almost as bad. Just sub 80 wins and the crowds vanish.

There is a reason for the current management team to keep the Jays as a 85 or so win team - If they want to have happy team owners they need 2+ million a year in atendance and Good solid ratings. If they crack 90 wins then you get 3 million and very good ratings. Playoffs and you pack the house and ratings higher than anything but playoff/Olympic hockey.

Thus the Jays want that top 10 payroll but not a top 5 as that goes to a battle for 95+ wins which is past the sweet spot and declining returns. Make the playoffs and bandwagon fans are happy. Win it all and you get bonus but not tons of bonus as once the bandwagon fans are here that is all you need for big profits. Getting those non-baseball fans into it requires a super-team with tons of hype and the cost of that is getting into silly range.

Now, are the Jays playoff contenders? Yes. Are they strong ones? No. Thus the need for more improvement. Watching the budget makes sense as I'm sure owners are prepping for a strike in a few years and for a lawsuit over collusion which, win or lose, will be expensive. The Jays have an old park now (1989 was a looong time ago - nearly 30 years - newer parks are now being replaced) and a city council/province/nation with zero interest in paying for a new one. Rogers needs to factor that in too.

So lets be real. While I'd love them to sign Darvish and trade for a big hitting outfielder the smart move is to find cheap starters for the 5th hole, keep investing in scouting and international free agents, and try to improve the training kids get in the system so the Jays have a steady stream of quality kids coming up - cheap, controllable, easy to trade kids. Right now we have one ready for the majors (maybe) in Alford. Look to sign Vlad and Bo if they are for real long term right away. Accept that anyone over 30 will leave as they hit free agency if they are star level unless a great deal can be done quickly (ala Bautista & Encarnacion). Don't expect any more 2013 Marlin deals. Although I wouldn't be shocked by another deal ala the Tulo one in mid-season of a contending year if the Jays miss the playoffs for 2 or 3 more years.

Big contracts / decisions coming up - Stroman, Sanchez, Osuna, Pillar, Travis are all hitting 2nd year or later of arbitration
Free Agents post 2018: Donaldson, Estrada, Happ, Pearce, Loup
Free Agents post 2019: Carrera, Martin, Morales
Free Agents post 2020: Tulo (option), Stroman, Osuna, Pillar, Sanchez, Travis

So who do you look at extending, and for how much now?