Now that the Toronto Blue Jays have finished their season, I would like to send the following open letter to General Manager Alex Anthopoulos and President Paul Beeston.
Dear Mr. Beeston and Mr. Anthopoulos:
I am writing to you at a time that I’m sure is as bittersweet for you as it is for me. The season wasn’t supposed to end this way, was it? The playoffs dreams of late May became nightmares by August. But September has certainly given everyone hope for the future, as the youngsters have proven their value on the field. I’m sure you have lots of meetings to hold, and decisions to evaluating, but I hope you will take a few minutes to hear what I have to say.
First of all, I am a fan of you both. Paul, we’ve met a few times in the past, back in the “glory days” of the franchise. You were a class act then, taking the time for a teenage fan, and you are still highly regarded by everyone today. I don’t believe anyone could ever question your passion for the Toronto Blue Jays, and their success. You have tried to be up front with the fans, as much as you can be, about money, philosophies towards contracts and signing players, and even about your future.
That future is something that worries me a bit. The rumours suggest you may leave the Blue Jays for greener pastures, possibly back to the Major League Baseball offices in New York. If this is true, you will be greatly missed. However, I hope the decision will be made quickly, for the good of the franchise. Changes at the top, as you well know, often trickle down, and a new president may want a new GM. If that happens, it all needs to get done before the free agency period opens so the franchise can go out and get the players they need, and be able to assure those players of stability in the front office.
Whatever you decide, I am confident you will go forward and be successful. Thank you for all you have done for the Toronto Blue Jays, present and past.
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Alex, perhaps this letter is more for you than Paul. You are the “wonder kid”. The fairy tale GM, who started in ticket sales and rocketed to the front office in Toronto, establishing yourself as a crafty businessman along the way. It is no secret that you are thorough, methodical and focused. Your fellow executives have said you are “in on everything”, and we have no reason to doubt that. Despite not always making a deal, you have done your due diligence in trying to make something happen. Perhaps that five year deal rule needs to be reconsidered, though.
We all doubted you when you wouldn’t move some of the organization’s young talent to grab established veterans that might help us make a run this year. Having watching Dalton Pompey, Daniel Norris, Aaron Sanchez and Marcus Stroman, among others, let me be the first to publicly say we were wrong. These guys are proving they ready, growing up into major league players right before our eyes. It would have been a tragic error to move any one of these guys this year. So, good for you. You resisted public pressure, even pressure from within the locker room, and did what you thought was right. And it was.
But gentlemen, back to the season that wasn’t supposed to end this way. How could this have happened? The hitting was about what we expected. The top half of the order, when healthy, was strong; the lower half didn’t do much at all. The starting pitching that everyone thought was so terrible in Spring Training, turned out to be a diamond in the rough. They were far superior to anyone’s wildest dreams. Now, you are faced with the wonderful problem of having too many qualified starters. Didn’t see that one coming!
Jul 23, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays relief pitcherAaron Sanchez
(41) pitches against Boston Red Sox in the 6th inning at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Peter Llewellyn-USA TODAY Sports
Clearly, someone could be traded (maybe one of the big contracts – R.A. Dickey or Mark Buehrle?) for, say, a second baseman? You know that has to be addressed this year, right? Last off-season, you said it was a priority, but couldn’t make a deal. It has to happen this year. The only alternative available, is moving Brett Lawrie over to second and getting a third baseman. Juan Francisco, Steve Tolleson, Danny Valencia (we need to keep him!) and Ryan Goins are not going to be enough for another season.
And what about the bullpen? That was supposed to be a strength this year, too. Now, you are faced with losing Casey Jansen (not a bad thing, in my opinion), and moving Sanchez to the rotation, creating more holes. This definitely has to be fixed. If the starting rotation is going to get younger, as it appears it might, a strong pen is going to be even more critical in helping those guys feel confident about leaving a game and not pressing too hard.
Another key area to improve, in my eyes, is the DH spot. It might be time to let Adam Lind find another home. He has been a good player during his time in Toronto, but we need more production than he gives us in that position, and someone capable of hitting every day, against both right- and left-handed pitching. Edwin Encarnacion can handle first base regularly (Valencia can back him up), so Lind is stuck at that DH spot hitting for average against right-handers, but not really producing runs or generating power like a DH should.
All of this will take work, time and money. I know you will do the work, and put in the time. Will Rogers put up the money? Paul, you tell us they will, and Alex has said the same. We will take you at your word. Clearly, expiring contracts, buy-outs and trades could help to free up some dollars. There will plenty to re-sign Melky Cabrera, and several other key pieces that can fill the holes between Jose Bautista and the other core players, and the youngsters that have proven they are ready to be in the big leagues.
So, gentlemen, as I thank you for all you have done for the Toronto Blue Jays, I also want to encourage you to deal with some of these key decisions as early in the off-season as possible. Many fans, myself included, are frustrated with the way the season went, but this last home stand, in particular, has given them hope for next year, and beyond. You need to ride that wave of enthusiasm and keep fans excited as they are forced to watch another post-season that doesn’t involve our Blue Jays.
Thank you for taking the time out of your busy day to read this. I hope that readers will comment and share their thoughts below, giving you even more input from Toronto Blue Jays’ fans.
Sincerely, Jon Empringham