Tampa Bay just signed slugging first baseman Carlos Pena to a one-year contract for $7.25 million. In the eyes of Jays fans, this is another transaction that will make people ask, “why not Toronto?”
Alex Anthopoulos has been running the club for approximately 2.5 years and for the first time is beginning to hear the rumblings of impatient fans.
All teams in the AL East have made significant improvements. The Yankees just traded for a possible No. 1 starter in Michael Pineda. They also gave up a future franchise superstar in Jesus Montero. The Red Sox, still rife with a powerhouse lineup, lost their All-Star closer, Jonathan Papelbon, but replaced him by trading for Oakland Athletics closer Andrew Bailey.
The Jays did make some waves by trading for Sergio Santos in exchange for Nestor Molina and added journeyman reliever Darren Oliver. They also brought back reliable late-inning reliever Jason Frasor. These transactions will strengthen the Jays' already solid 'pen. Except perception is reality, and right now the reality in Toronto is that the Jays have not done enough to make a difference.
With one of the premier sluggers in Jose Bautista leading the way as team captain and Ricky Romero, the Jays' ace, as the face of the franchise, this team is relying on the promise and talent of multiple players to lead it back to the playoffs. Brandon Morrow, Brett Cecil, Colby Rasmus, J.P. Arencibia, Eric Thames and Adam Lind will be key.
At baseball's winter meetings, the buzz surrounding Yu Darvish was that the Jays were serious contenders in signing him. It turned out they lost out to the Texas Rangers and their $51.7 million bid. At the same time, the AL West has turned into a mirror image of the East with the Angels and Rangers throwing around substantial amounts of money. Albert Pujols ($254 million) and C.J. Wilson ($77.5 million) joining the Angels.
Perception is reality and right now the status quo is average and fourth place.
With the big three in the AL East wheeling and dealing, it does become frustrating to the fans and viewers at home when they can almost guarantee where this team will finish next season. I, for one, feel that way. I wrote many times last year that Toronto was in a position to contend for the wild-card spot, but things changed dramatically and the hope for that has been washed away.
I don’t say this as a fan who is angry that the hometown team hasn’t made the playoffs in almost 20 years. It comes from someone who knows baseball and gets frustrated when I read something like this from the National Post.
“But if you want to be impatient, here’s what you need to be impatient with. Rogers Communications, the Jays owner, has clearly given this team specific payroll parameters, and they won’t move much until the revenues move first, and Anthopoulos can’t do much to control either one. All he can do is this: he can scrimp and save and wheedle his way to a team so good that when he goes to his bosses and asks for the money to make a good team a contender, he has pushed the parameters of what Rogers will give. That’s it.”
Instead of getting annoyed and frustrated with the state of your team, maybe there is nothing to get upset about. Baseball is a business, right? And if a business is not making any money, you cut costs until you create the right formula.
Perception is reality. In this case, it’s dead on.
Devon is the founder of The GM’s Perspective