A Flawed System?

Today it was announced the the Texas Rangers, not the Toronto Blue Jays won the bidding on Yu Darvish for a posting fee of $51.7 million. With many people around the baseball world projecting that the Blue Jays would be the winning team in the posting extravaganza, it got many many Jays fans excited for Darvish in Toronto only to be disappointed by the official reports. This brings up the question do the Jays really need to do this to us the fans? Do their policies need to be such that they hype up players only for hopes to be crushed?

When J.P. Ricciardi passed on the torch to Alex Anthopoulos in 2009 there was a new mindset and a new system put in place. This system has been effective over the past couple of years, but one piece has come to the forefront this offseason. This piece of the system being the Blue Jays front office’s insistence on not commenting on any players on the market.

On one hand this system creates mystery and allows the Jays front office team to operate without the public eye to unhinge any ongoing negotiations. But on the other hand as we have seen this offseason the lack of comments on players just creates rumours of the Jays being linked to practically every player on the market.
By even just a quick look at the Blue Jays feed on MLB Trade Rumors it shows that the Jays were linked to Carlos Beltran, Mat Latos, Dontrelle Willis, Prince Fielder, Darren Oliver, Gio Gonzalez, and those are only in the past week. Some teams are lucky to get linked to that many players in an entire offseason, yet alone in a week.
Some may point to the fact that the Jays have an incredibly large scouting staff as the reasoning, and I’m sure that is some of it, but with the Jays generally being a tight lipped organization it sure seems like some of this is being made up. Especially considering that generally the players that the Jays are linked to don’t end up going to the Jays and the ones that aren’t do.
Take Sergio Santos for example, prior to the deal between the White Sox and Blue Jays there was literally no leak or rumour of him not only going to the Jays, but of him even being a trade candidate at all. The last post on Sergio Santos’ feed on MLBTR before the trade came 2 months prior was talking about the team friendly extension that he signed with the team in September.
So how is this bad you may ask well as we have seen with Yu Darvish this past week and presumably Prince Fielder in the future, the Jays become linked to these big name players by a couple sources, then those sources talk to other sources and soon enough everybody knows. Once that situation comes about we end up with all the Jays blogs (myself included) and radio shows talking up Darvish getting the fans all excited that maybe Rogers is going to open up their checkbooks and sign a big name player. The excitement itself is great, it creates interest in the Jays and brings new fans to the sport.

The problem however is the after, as in what happens after we find out that often the Jays aren’t the ones getting the big name player, they’re the team waiting on the side in rebuilding mode. Granted the rebuilding part is good, it means the Jays are trying to create a contender for years to come, a statement the Blue Jays front office stands by, but if the current process is potentially turning away fans, doesn’t there need to be change?

Via CBC.ca

It is a debatable point as on one side you would think that to win the Jays need to make trades and that often requires privacy. But on the other and to win the Jays also need money and fans and by doing what they’re doing they are turning fans away. We always hear the sentiment that when the Jays start winning the fans will come back to the games, but could the Jays be digging themselves into a hole they can’t get out of?

While listening to Jays Talk with Mike Wilner shortly after the Darvish announcement you start to hear what the casual fans think. As flawed as some of their opinions may be, they still make  up a majority percentage of the fan base and will have a large opinion as such. On the same show another point is brought up about how the Jays never led anyone on during the Darvish process and that is the same thing you can say about any negotiations, because the Jays simply don’t say anything and that is precisely the problem. They don’t even say when they aren’t interested in players because even if they don’t like a player it could possibly taint future negotiations.

In thought that seems like a good idea because the Jays help themselves by not tainting player negotiations and help fans by not leading them on. The problem is that in practice being that by not saying anything rather than not leading fans on, instead the Jays leave it up to a whole bunch of reports from “anonymous sources” to dictate the Blue Jays front office’s views on players. The Jays give their fans really no parameters as to what their interests in players or even types of players are.

With all that said don’t take this as me trashing the Blue Jays front office, I don’t mind the current system and I like the direction the Jays are taking. But something to think about with the current system is the toll that the fan base is taking. Anyways, since the Jays now won’t get the chance to sign Darvish, here’s to hoping they have a great rest of the offseason.