Right Or Wrong: Mark Shapiro Has To Win Blue Jays Fans Back
Not very long ago Toronto Blue Jays fans were flocking in droves to the Rogers Centre with cash in hand to finally catch a glimpse of a winner in the 416. The Blue Jays were the hottest ticket in town as new fans young and old jumped on the proverbial bandwagon to see their new found heroes achieve baseball greatness.
The Blue Jays had swagger, were likable and best of all were a talented group on the field. Fans instantly fell in love with not only the likes of David Price and Josh Donaldson but also the young Canadian General Manager who orchestrated the post-season high that united a country.
In one quick blink, the season ended as the Blue Jays were bounced from the playoffs at the hands of eventual World Series champion Kansas City Royals. Once the initial sting subsided, fans grew anxious for the 2016 campaign and an opportunity to rekindle their new found love affection.
Unfortunately for many of the bandwagon bleacher bums they were not apprised that baseball is a business and there was a distinct possibility that the Blue Jays would be outbid for the services of David Price. They were also naive to the point that the Jays front office generally refrains from chasing the big free agent fish.
In two months, the fair weather fans new crush came crashing down when Alex Anthopoulos was strong-armed out the door, unwilling to play in the sandbox with the new President Mark Shapiro. Captain Canada was not going to be afforded the sandbox autonomy that former President Paul Beeston provided to Anthopoulos.
Shapiro addressed the media in a very much scripted business manner like lacking emotion and empathy for a country that just lost their first puppy. Shapiro knew full well a second offseason heartbreak was just around the corner for fans as he would not be involved in the David Price sweepstakes. Price would eventually get a stack of cash as high as the Green Monster from Dave Dombrowski and the Red Sox to take is services to Beantown.
Leading up to the Price signing the Jays would ink former hurler J.A. Happ to a three-year pact which sent a message to fans that the new brain-trust was going to Band-Aid the rotation with quantity of over quality. In defence of Happ he was one of the most dominant pitchers in the second half of the season with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
In the mix of all the Price drama, Shapiro would summons for his former cohort from Cleveland, naming Ross Atkins the new General Manager over the Jays interim GM Tony LaCava. Another slap in the face for some fans but a methodical strategy to ensure he retained the services of both men. No doubt Atkins has walked into a firestorm and will have some big shoes to fill.
Like clock-work the report surfaced that Anthopoulos had already began structuring a contract for Price and wanted to retain him. Then to add salt to the wound, Price’s agent went on the record saying Price wanted to stay in Toronto and was surprised he was never even offered a contract.
Blue Jays fans would recently learn that the services of Dioner Navarro and Mark Lowe would also be rendered elsewhere as both players latched on with new teams. The last image of both embedded in my brain will be Navarro smoking a stogie wearing a Toronto Police forage cap on the field and Lowe slamming beer facials on celebrating teammates narrowly missing their Chiclets.
There is some good with all the assumed bad, a ray of sunshine perhaps as the Jays did re-up with Marco Estrada on a team friendly deal. Seeing the boat loads of money being tossed at relievers and fringe starters, there is no question Estrada could have earned more on the open market. However, the native of Mexico made no bones about wanting to remain in Toronto and proved it by signing on the dotted line.
Right or wrong, Mark Shapiro cannot ignore the uncertainty lack of trust he has created surrounding this offseason.
Baseball is a business and right now Rogers and company are failing to see the ramifications it has created among the fan-base.