What Did You Say, Keith Pelley?

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On Wednesday night, immediately after the Blue Jays won their 9th straight ball game, Keith Pelley, the President of Rogers Media, the division responsible for the Toronto Blue Jays, tweeted the following:

Me, being a little pissed off that the man who has been in charge of stopping the Blue Jays from landing numerous players via free agency and trades these past few years was basking in the glory of his team, while pretending that all was fine, decided to do a little bit of trolling.

Then things got real. I wasn’t expecting a response. The President of Rogers Media should know better than to respond to somebody who was so obviously trolling him. But, alas, he did. And, well, his response was interesting.

You see, nobody knows what Keith meant by “why????”. There are two options here:

1) Why could mean “Why do we need to acquire more players, the team is awesome as is!”

or it could mean…

2) Why spend?

Now, lets give Mr. Pelley the benefit of the doubt, and assume he was asking the 1st question. This is a natural reaction to a winning streak like this, and we could also assume he isn’t actually naive enough to believe that a team with J.A. Happ and Liam Hendriks in their rotation can go far in the playoffs. If he is, well, then we have a problem.

So, in response to his “Why????”, I tweeted the following:

I stated the obvious in talking about Hendriks, and then made it clear that if he honestly thought that his company did not have to give money to Alex Anthopoulos to improve this team, that he didn’t owe it to the fans who have suffered through 21 years of broken promises and crappy teams to do everything in his power to give this city a winner, then something is wrong.

Pelley then responded to that last part of the tweet with two words. He did not respond to my follow up after this.

You see, this means a lot.

Back in March, reports surfaced from multiple beat writers that were then later confirmed by some players that 5 Blue Jays were willing to defer salary so the club would be able to sign Ervin Santana. Rogers, the multi-billion dollar company that makes a killing off of the Blue Jays by getting 162 nights of live sports for way, way, way below market value, was unwilling to increase the Blue Jays payroll beyond the $136 Million or so that it was already at. Rogers thought they could half ass it, knowing that more likely than not the Blue Jays were going to play badly in 2014, and a rebuilding project would ensue. Rogers was glad to just cut ties with the spending they OK’d in the winter of 2012, knowing all to well that another sub .500 year would result in another 5-7 years of Blue Jays mediocrity while some GM would sell the city on promise.

So, when Keith Pelley says that Alex Anthopoulos does not need to borrow from his players if he wants to increase payroll, because Rogers doesn’t have the balls to do the right thing and pony up some cash, it could mean a couple of things.

Rogers realizes how they made a mistake in the off-season by not letting Anthopoulos do his job, as the Blue Jays TV numbers are through the roof, and their attendance will be as well if this continues into the summer months, when school is out and people are more likely to head down to the dome to enjoy a ballgame. Knowing this now, they have decided that if Alex wants, he can go ahead and trade for a big money player, and they won’t restrict him to the budget he was given this past winter. They have seen the light, and decided that they are willing to add money, as evidenced in the tweet below. Note the date on the tweet.

But, if this is true, why does Alex Anthopoulos feel the need to speak to Peter Gammons and say they are tapped out, and will not be able to spend this July in a trade? WHY WILL THEY NOT BE SPENDING THEIR ENTIRE DRAFT BUDGET? 

This likely scenario, the one where the Blue Jays still do not have money to spend, leads us to this…

Keith Pelley pulled a New York Mets and lied to us all. Keith Pelley might have just given the fans one gigantic middle finger. He might have just denied the confirmed reports from March. Rogers could still be limiting Anthopoulos’ spending, and yet Pelley has no problem telling us that he could spend at will.

The Blue Jays are winning, but we shouldn’t let the winning distract us from the fact that KeithPelley and Rogers are not good owners. Far from that, actually. This team needs reinforcements, and Rogers must allow Anthopoulos to spend for him to get them. If they don’t? Well, why do they own a baseball team if it isn’t in the pursuit of a championship?  Furthermore, why did Keith Pelley feel the need to respond to a tweet from a troll? What good can come out of that?

  • Formerly the Smasher

    Or, the winning streak and increased viewership has caused him to see the light and things have changed in the short time since AA spoke to Gammons. A little unlikely, but if this is not the case he has entirely exposed himself to a huge backlash and public shitstorm when clever folks like you can prove he openly lied after the draft and trade deadlines come and go.

  • bluejays79

    If they don’t spend their budget, and we don’t acquire any SP after the deadline, He’s gonna get it on twitter. So he better find money somehow. Rogers is a fucking joke.

  • bob l.

    give the guy some credit for not over paying for santana or jiminez. does anybody really belive that either of those pitchers would be much better than happ as the 5th starter. i can’t stand happ and am still holding out for mcgowan to get back into the rotation. but even if you think santana would be better, do you want him stopping stroman , nolin, sanchez or norris (or even mcguire) from making the rotation? hell no! thank you, mr. pelley. keep spending wisely.

    • Gideon Turk

      When you want to contend, you must overpay. If it weren’t for such a strict budget, overpaying would not be an issue, ever. And yes, Santana or Jimenez are both better pitchers than Happ. Much better. And yes, I do want him stopping Stroman, Nolin, Sanchez, Norris, and McGuire from making the rotation, because the way arms are falling these days, depth is very important, so having a solid farm system is key to a winner.

      • bob l.

        you must overpay, wisely. those 2 pitchers are no better than a 3 or 4 starter at best and wanted ace money. happ sucks, but he is better bang for the buck. remember baseball is a business.

        • Ewan Ross

          If you think 14M on a 1 yr deal is “ace” money you’re crazy.

          Santana got a contract worthy of him being a #3 due to commitment rather than overall cost

          • bob l.

            let’s take the eye test. did santana ever strike fear into you when you saw the jays were facing him? probably not.

          • NP_TO

            I think you’re ignoring what happened in the off-season, Bob. At the end of last season, Alex acknowledged that we needed a quality starter, a second baseman and catcher.

            As spring training approached, there were only a few select free agent starters (who would reasonably make the Jays’ rotation), one of which was Santana – but he was looking for a high-dollar, long-term deal. When his price came down to what one would reasonably expect to pay a middle-of-the-rotation starter on a one year deal, we didn’t execute. Look at what Santana has done for the Braves so far. The “proof is the pudding”, as they say.

            Time to eat some humble pie and move on to the next argument :-)

          • bob l.

            santana started the season shutting out the high powered mets (sarcasm), he then faced another great team the Phillies (nd) then beat the mets again and then another win against the reds (4 runs in 6.2 inning). his era at that time 1.95. THEN had a nd against Miami and beat the hapless cubs . era still under 2.00. FINALLY in his last 3 starts he got hammered by the cards. brewers and the red sox and now his era is over 4!! and he only faced one. count them , one al team. LET ME KNOW HOW THAT PIE TASTES. NEXT!

          • NP_TO

            My pie tastes pretty good. It’s the Steak and Stout pie from The Brick Street Bakery. Check it out – it’s delicious.

            Despite his last starts, according to Fangraphs, Santana’s current WAR, FIP and x-FIP would rank him in the top 3 of the Jays’ starters. And his ZIPS and Steamer projections for 2014 continue to be in the top 3. So, I’ll take Santana over Happ, McGowan and the other choices the Jays have.

            I think we are in agreement that the Jays need a quality starter to help maintain this magical run we are all enjoying. I’ve heard this repeatedly on the radio shows over the last few days (Jonah Keri of Grantland, etc.). We disagree on what we should pay for him. That’s all.

            The last two games have generated the highest Jays audience this season (800,000+) on Sportsnet, even though they are up against the Stanley Cup semi-finals. We need to capitalize on this momentum, and strengthen our team for the long-awaited playoff run! More investment = better returns.

        • NP_TO

          I can’t believe you are taking this position, Bob. Yes, baseball is a business. However, we had an opportunity to leverage a reasonable deal for a quality starting pitcher (Santana for 1 year/$14 million – equal to a QO) into increased revenues (team in contention = more eyeballs on Sportsnet and bums in seats). If you can’t make a decision like this because you’ve maxed your budget, you are not a very good businessman!

          • bob l.

            17000 in attendance last night for a team that had won 8 in a row including 5 at home. the hottest team in baseball is not drawing. i’m not taking the side of management , but you have to place yourself in their position. last year they took on much more payroll and had a disastorous season. if you were running the club would you spend money after that? you need to do it wisely. the a’s and rays are doing just fine without breaking the bank.

          • Ewan Ross

            Last year, they took on payroll and had the largest attendance spike in the league, and a sizable TV ratings bump.

            In addition they got 20M in increased National TV revenue, as well as a sizeable annual increase in their digital rights.

            They spent money last year, and it came right back.

          • bob l.

            did not know that. good point. also, I believe the jays are the only team in the 4 major American sports in which the ownership owns the team, the building and the tv contract. so they should have plenty of money to spend.

          • Ewan Ross

            I believe that’s the case with the Yankees (they own the majority of YES at the very least). There are other teams who own their own RSN (regional sports network), like the Red Sox, but its not free and clear,

            The bigger point, which I make every time this comes up (and I need to put in an article again soon, so I can expound on it) is that Rogers is not only being given TV content by the Jays at below market prices, they are getting it without having to give a commitment 10, 15 or even 25 years into the future, like you saw FOX do with the Dodgers. No one knows what this industry will look like in even 5 years (speaking about television), and by not having that locked in contract they defer boatloads of risk.

      • bob l.

        if you look at the career numbers of happ, santana and jiminez you will see that they are very similar. the 2 latter have more innings per season. and when the young guys i mentioned come up or get hurt there is another wave coming with osuna, graveman, tirado and cardona. keep building the farm system . that’s the way to a winning team of more than one year.

        • Gideon Turk

          No, they aren’t similar at all. http://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?pos=all&stats=pit&lg=all&qual=0&type=8&season=2014&month=0&season1=2005&ind=0&team=0&rost=0&age=0&filter=&players=3374,3200,7410

          It’s crazy that you think that the guys you mentioned originally could pitch as well as Santana or Jimenez right now, and even crazier to suggest a bunch of guys in A ball and below as you just did are ready.

          • bob l.

            did you look at their stats? they are very similar . point 2, they are not ready now but when the first wave moves up the second wave will be ready in 2-3 years after. the jays don’t need dead weight like ubaldo or Santana stopping what appears to be a very bright future.

          • Ewan Ross

            How does signing someone to a one year contract, stop a bright future?

            It would’ve stopped Dustin McGowan being in the rotation to start the year, and JA Happ from being there now.

          • bob l.

            ewan you make great sense. I think the jays thought they had a solid 3 with buerlhe, morrow and dickie. Hutchison looked fantastic in spring traing (and still looks good). that leaves one spot open. happ ( I hate him) for the money they were paying him was a better “deal” than signing those other 2 (Santana and ubaldo). as far as McGowan goes, his extension he signed 3 years ago was a complete steal for the jays. to pay that little to a guy with top of the rotation stuff was awesome. and I would much rather have dustin than the 2 the jays did not sign.

  • KingKat

    People should keep in mind that AA doesn’t answer to Pelley. He answers to Beeston. That may be a part of the problem.

  • JMark

    Great piece! It is, of course, all posturing – we’ll only know the truth when we look back on it – but I love the pressure your item puts on Rogers. ‘Cause you’re right. It should also be recognized that AA put everything at risk with the trades last year, especially Synegaard and D’Arnaud for Dickey, so he’ll be hesitant to trade the last of the three young stars, to be remembered forever as the man who traded away the future – unless they win. The Santana thing really hurt – he’s been described as a true #1, and cost no talent. But I wonder what the deferred salaries would have done to the dynamic in the group. Another reason I like you’re calling Rogers on it. They should be embarrassed. Way to go.

  • Will Musto

    Mets fan here. Pelley is full of it. Lashing out on Twitter won’t help. Just pray your payroll doesn’t drop below 100MM… :(

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  • Keith

    The only other explanation is that AA is lying about the payroll parameters in the hopes of reducing acquisition costs

  • dan

    Blue Jays are 10th in the league at 132 million in total player salary.. top teams like Oakland, Milwaukee, Atlanta, Colorado and even now Miami, have ranging payrolls from 45-110 million. Yes, in our division we need money to compete with New York, Boston, Tampa, and Baltimore, but we keep overpaying for players, and continue to blame ownership for not allocating the correct funds. Brandon Morrow is making 8 million, Maicer Izturis is making 3 million, Esmil Rogers is making 2 million, Sergio Santos is making 4 million, JA Happ is making 5 million. Even Vetrans like RA Dickey (12 Million) and Mark Buehrle (19 Million) are overpaid at their age. These contracts have screwed the jays. With one of the most talented offences in the league, the blue jays need to make sound trades for pitchers with good contracts and build their pitching staff. Adding millions and picking up an average pitcher isn’t what the jays need to compete for a world series, we need to use our resources (youth), as well as a couple veteran’s (with salary) to lure a team into a deal that would provide the jays with a number 1 quality starting pitcher. Once we have that then the jays will compete

  • NP_TO

    Hey Gideon, looks like Keith Pelley wants to close off the discussion. Here’s his response on Twitter :


    Check out the funny responses to this “final” tweet.