Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Diversion ... What are the Jays Talking About?

I am pretty sure Ross Atkins has a tough job. I don't want to pretend that I could run a baseball team let alone create a winning one. Ross Atkins is the GM of the Toronto Blue Jays and what makes his job difficult is three things:
  • He's not really a GM. Instead he reports to an activist team president (Mark Shapiro) who really makes all key decisions. Hence, he is more like an Assistant GM. He has a position but not a lot of power.
  • He is presiding over a team that is not very good. This is no secret. 
  • He has to be upbeat and, most particularly, he has to avoid throwing any particular players or coaches under the bus all the while proclaiming confidence in a team that is not competitive and, hence, cannot really inspire confidence.
This just can't be easy to do. As I listened to Atkins talk about the supposed upside to the trade deadline for the Jays yesterday, however, I had a feeling that I'd entered a sort of Trumpian world where white was black, yes was no, a bizarre world where appearance and reality were different sides of the same coin.

For instance, Atkins explained that the Jays had learnt a lot from discussions at the trade deadline. Really? What did they learn and why didn't they know it before hand? I sure hope that the people who run this team aren't learning things about their own organization or players in other organizations that they'd like to obtain at the trade deadline. Is that not what a scouting and analytics staff is for? How could anyone think that this could be a positive take away from trade deadline talks with other teams: we have learned things? Is that not what you are actually paid to know before hand? Think about this. If you had to learn about, say, other teams' prospects ... how would you have known before that date about the players who might help your organization? If you don't know who you want to trade for ... how can you make a trade?

Atkins also expressed confidence in the Jays and stated that he believed that they had secured some good players in their two minor deals. Maybe ... but the truth is that this none of the players the Jays obtained are top drawer prospects and that is likely an accurate reflection of what the Jays were trading. They simply did not have anyone on the block who could attract top prospects from other teams. So, is this what they learned? That a player they obtained is actually better than others think and, if so, why not make that point and tell us how?

As to confidence in the Jays ... OK, I get it.  It is likely bad form to shoot down players or coaches one has on your employ right now. And, I would not do it, but has anyone actually thought about the opposite? What does expressing confidence in a team that is sub .500 and has such obvious problems suggest about the people running the team?

The Jays have obvious problems. Why not say "look, we are going to address these problems" rather than saying "we have confidence in our team and its direction?" After all, its direction is losing. The team is getting worse; not better.

I will confess that I did not expect much at the trade deadline because, frankly, there was not much to expect. The Jays had few pieces that they could trade and what they could trade was not going to attract a lot of attention. Still, one might expect something other than we learned and we have confidence to be the lessons from the year so far. I am not at all certain that Trumpian disinformation helps the Jays either. 
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