Friday, January 28, 2011

The State of the Franchise Recap


By
Image courtesy of BlueJays.com
Let me begin by saying a huge thank you to none other than Captain Latte for inviting me to the Blue Jays State of the Franchise meeting.

I myself am not fortunate to be a season ticket holder, but it was great to crash the party and pretend like I was one for one evening.

They called it the "State of the Franchise" but essentially it's a shareholder meeting where the shareholders are season ticket holders. It's purpose is to get everyone excited about the upcoming season and it did exactly that.

What was said by Alex Anthopoulos and Paul Beeston was a lot of what we've heard in the past about building a winning franchise, but last evening those things were said with such strong conviction that I got goosebumps.

First it was Paul Beeston on putting together a winner:
"We're not here to be a competitive baseball team. We're here to win the World Series. And we're here to win the World Series on a sustainable basis. How long that's going to take, I'm not sure. But I do know one thing; we're absolutely headed in the right direction."
In his introduction, Alex Anthopoulos echoed the same sentiment as Paul Beeston when he spoke on getting the Blue Jays back to their winning ways:
"We want to get this there as fast as we can. What we won't do is shortcut it, because when we do get there, it's not going to stop, it's going to be a freight train that's going to keep going."
In contrast to J.P. Ricciardi's "5 year plan", Paul Beeston and Alex Anthopoulos didn't fill us up with empty promises of making the playoffs. They did however convey the Blue Jays want to build a sustainable winner, something I would hearken back to the Blue Jays of the late eighties that were always in contention.

As a former pitching coach, John Farrell touched on the starting pitching staff and had nothing but good things to say. One notable thing he mentioned was Brandon Morrow would likely only be stretched out another 20-25 innings this year (which would put him somewhere around a 170 inning cap).

Farrell has already mentioned in previous interviews about how he wants to step up the running game for the Blue Jays, and he talked about what it was like to face the Blue Jays last season:
"In preparing against this team, it was one that seemed to be one dimensional and a little predictable. I'd like us to become a much more aggressive team on the basepaths. That doesn't mean we're going to try to make Jose Molina a base stealer.

But it does mean that there are opportunities where we can turn guys loose ... to make us that much more unpredictable so as an opposition in preparing against us, there are multiple ways we can beat that team. We can't sit back and wait on the home run only."
Despite AA's reputation as a calculated assassin, Anthopoulos reiterated that when doing trades with other General Managers, in the end he wants both teams to emerge as winners. He doesn't want to "fleece" other teams because that could burn bridges in the future:
"From a trade standpoint, the win/win component is important because I only have 29 people to deal with. I know it's a cliche to say, but if somebody wins a trade, somebody's going to lose.

That's ultimately going to cut off the hand that feeds both ways, so you do want both trades to work out and you want for both teams to get what they want out of the trade.

You're going to need to continue to have that dialogue, and I've seen it as well, there's not a good relationship and that's another trade partner you've cut off and you never know when you might need that trade partner going forward."
J.P. Arencibia's name was brought up a few times, and I got the impression the Blue Jays are ready to roll with JPA behind the plate this year 100 percent. AA had some strong words for anyone suggesting the team isn't committed to J.P. Arencibia moving forward:
"We really don't want to get in the way of J.P. Arencibia because we do believe he's an important component of this team. He's been in Las Vegas two years in the row ... he has nothing more to prove down there. He needs to get an opportunity to play up here."
Regarding last year's catching situation, somebody had the stones to ask why J.P. Arencibia didn't receive more playing time in the latter part of the 2010 season. Alex Anthopoulos' answer was that he simply gave his word to John Buck that the catching job was his:
"When John Buck was signed to a one year deal, the promise was made to him that he'd be an everyday player from start to finish."
Following that, AA opened up about the way Blue Jays do business with players and how they are working to distinguish themselves as a respectable ball club with a great reputation around the league. It's a distinction that Alex Anthopoulos is very adamant on building to not only maintain players, but attract new ones as well:
"From a negotiating standpoint, your word is paramount. It's something that we won't break ... in the long run that's what this organization is going to be about. When we give our word to someone assigning a player, that's part of our brand.

I cannot tell you how many times we've been able to acquire players, get them to waive no-trades or things like that because of the way we handle ourselves. People in the game are starting to realize the way that the Toronto Blue Jays operate, they're men of their word."
I'm sure you heard by now that the special guest in attendance was none other than Roberto Alomar. It was great to have him there and the Blue Jays paid tribute by showing a very special video montage of his storied career. Robbie was also very gracious to sign baseballs for everyone.

By the time I left the Rogers Centre around 10:00pm, he was still signing baseballs which he started signing around 9:00pm. That was very generous of him and I think a little unexpected on the part of the PR staff there, who had to quickly scramble find hundreds of baseballs.

Of course no evening like this would be complete without a little bit of comic relief. After about a 3-4 preamble leading up to his question, somebody asked John Farrell if he though Manny Ramirez would be a good fit for the Blue Jays.

I guess this older gentleman doesn't check MLB Trade Rumors as furiously as most of us do, as he was completely unaware that Manny had signed with the Tampa Bay Rays already.

And then there was a strange case of mistaken identity when one woman questioned the character of Juan Rivera since it was reported he stole Derek Jeter's glove from back in his days with the Yankees. Sam Cosentino promptly corrected her saying it was Ruben Rivera she was referring to.

All in all, it was a very positive experience and it's a damn shame that all fans couldn't attend the State of the Franchise because I feel this is something that every Blue Jays fan should have access to.

Needless to say, when you hear the President, General Manager, and new Manager speak so highly about this team, it's easy to get excited about where the Blue Jays are going in 2011 and beyond.

16 comments:

  1. Thanks for posting this. Great to hear a bit of a different take on what the night was like.

    I'm curious, did Alomar just up and announce that he was going to sign balls for everyone? Is that what led to the staff scrambling? It doesn't surprise me at all that he did that for the fans in attendance. This passed summer when he was inducted into the Canadian Hall, he and his wife went to the Boston Pizza in Stratford for her birthday dinner on the Thursday night before the Saturday inductions. When I left he had been taking photos with fans and signing autographs for about 30 minutes, and there was still a line. He didn't rush anyone, and was very personable.

    I'm very happy that Robbie will be doing the same thing in Cooperstown this summer.

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  2. Ball Fan, I think that's the case. You could see the look of panic in the PR girl's face after Robbie announced he was going to sign baseballs for everyone there.

    Like I said, I left around 10pm and he was still there signing balls for people. Just like yours, I've heard of other instances where Robbie ensures everybody gets a chance, even if it takes hours. Great guy.

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  3. Ian, gotta thank you for the post and quotes, too.

    Love that picture; Beeston and Anthopoulos both look badass.

    I can't wait for the Rajai Davis era to begin. Speed! It's all very exciting. Also, very interesting comments re: Buck. We were all quick to shit all over Cito in regards to J.P. sitting on the bench all of September, but clearly that was the plan all the way upstairs, too.

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  4. Nav, my pleasure sir. Now that we know AA had a gentleman's agreement with John Buck, my stance on what happened with JPA has changed a bit.

    I respect that Anthopoulos kept his word to John Buck, but I wish Cito didn't keep leading us on that Arencibia was going to get some playing time when the plan all along was to get Buck the most playing time.

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  5. Great recap, Ian! I love seeing how others view a night like this.

    Every year, I head into the event thinking, "OK... so what are they going to try to sell me this year?", cynical as ever. And yet, without fail, every year, I end up buying most of it - especially since Beeston came back. I either have no spine, and am as gullible as they come, or they're really damn convincing. (Or, there really is such a positive energy around this team right now that it makes it easy to believe their optimism.)

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  6. I like that AA is making the organization that player can trust and hold them to their words. But it still makes me wonder what the heck happened between the team and Accardo (not that he would have made a big difference on the team).

    It's something that will remain unknown to the fans.

    However, the future is definitely looking bright for the team.

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  7. That was an excellent post and a great recap of that event. Sounds like you Jays fans are in great hands. Good luck and thanks for sharing your experience in such a well written piece.

    Does Toronto have any bad writers? Doesn't appear to be the case.

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  8. E, I'm in the same boat as you and am usually very easily swayed. But I've never heard AA or Beeston speak with so much confidence about where the team is going, that's what I was so impressed with.

    Dan, I think in retrospect the Blue Jays would've handled the Jeremy Accardo situation a little differently. Sounds like Jeremy got the short end of the stick, and I don't blame him for being bitter.

    William, thanks so much for the kind words. I'd agree with you - we're very fortunate to have such a great community of knowledgeable and passionate Blue Jays writers and bloggers. If something happens in Blue Jays land, you can be sure that somebody has it covered.

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  9. Great work Ian!

    The comments about Buck lead me to believe that a similar promise has been made to Edwin Encarnacion this year.

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  10. Peter, The Man with the Golden Arm from 1 Blue Jays Way said that very same thing about Encarnacion.

    He suspects the Blue Jays made a gentlemen's agreement promising EE that he would play every day (either at first base or DH).

    With this new information, the Mike Napoli trade suddenly makes much more sense because Anthopoulos didn't want to break his word to Encarnacion.

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  11. William, I am a terrible Blue Jays blogger, but one hell of a drinker!

    Wow, last night is still cloudy. My friends still think I'm nuts for not getting a ball from Alomar. I think I caught him off guard, as well.

    Great meeting you last night, as well as all of the other bloggers, STHers and tweeps last night.
    Another note, talked with Arash Madani and Jeff Blair last night. Both very personable. Arash actually came up to us and started talking sports. Truely a stand up guy.
    I was very surprised by how well Sam Cosentino did. Pretty great guy to talk to. And his g/f is smokin' hot!

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  12. GCM1979, I say there's nothing wrong with just wanting a handshake from Roberto Alomar. That'll be a great story to tell for years to come. I did see Arash there but didn't even notice Jeff Blair was there was well. And I'd agree that Sam Cosentino did a great job, excellent introductions of Alomar, Farrell, Beeston and Anthopoulos.

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  13. Two questions, you think Buster Onley is right saying the jays maybe a 3rd team on a chone figgins trade, and second Francisco, and Nap both signed arbitration. Jays saved a cool 1.8 million by flipping Nap.

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  14. PSmith, I honestly think the Blue Jays being involved in that trade is all just speculation on Olney's part.

    One of the plus sides I noticed about the Napoli/Francisco deal was that Frankie was going to fetch less in arbitration than Napoli was. Another effective cost-cutting measure!

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