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Biz of Baseball Organizational Report - Toronto Blue Jays PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Devon Teeple   
Wednesday, 02 April 2008 23:00

Blue Jays Orgainzational ReportWith www.bizofbaseball.com expanding and branching out into new content areas, we have decided to add an additional category under our MLB News section called Organization Reports. An Organizational Report will give a detailed look into a team, through their corporate affairs, finances, lineups and farm hands. Today we look at the Toronto Blue Jays.

While Devon Teeple is the longest standing staff member of the Business of Sports Network as a researcher, this is his first published work. Please, welcome Devon. - Maury Brown

The Toronto Blue Jays are located in Toronto Ontario Canada, with a population of 5,113,149[1]. The Blue Jays have been part of the Eastern Division of Major League Baseball’s American League since its inaugural year of 1977 as an expansion franchise with it home stadium being Exhibition Stadium[2]. In 1989, the team was moved into what was then the Skydome. The Skydome was the first of its kind when opened, being the first full functional retractable roof stadium, which allowed sporting events to be played indoors, and outdoors.

Opening ceremonies took place on June 3, 1989 with over 60,000 people witnessing the event. The first game took place two days later on June 5, 1989, with an attendance mark of over 50,000. The stadium was renamed The Rogers Centre after the purchase of the stadium by Rogers Communications in 2005. The Rogers Center has many eye-opening features besides the retractable roof. It has over 350 rooms, 70 of which have a overtop view of the playing field. Along with “Windows/Hard Rock Café” restaurant, you know this from the times Carlos Delgado hit homeruns off it! The pitchers mound is lowered hydraulically when the field is need for football purposes. This allows the local CFL Football Team Toronto Argonauts use of the field. It is also the home of the annual International Bowl and most recently the second home to Buffalo Bill football games. In 2004, the Astroturf was replaced with Field turf.


[1] It is located on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario. With over 2.5 million residents, it is the fifth-most populous municipality in North America.[5] Toronto is at the heart of the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), and is part of a densely-populated region in south-central Ontario known as the Golden Horseshoe which is home to 8.1 million residents.[6][7][8] The census metropolitan area (CMA) had a population of 5,113,149,[1] and the Greater Toronto Area had a population of 5,555,912 in the 2006 Census. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toronto

[2] Exhibition Stadium (in full, Canadian National Exhibition Stadium or CNE Stadium) was a stadium that formerly stood on the Exhibition Place grounds in Toronto, Ontario. Originally built for Canadian football and other events, the stadium was reconfigured in the mid-1970s, and served as the home of the Toronto Blue Jays Major League Baseball team from 1977-1989. It also served as the home of the Toronto Argonauts Canadian Football League team from 1959-1988. The stadium hosted the Grey Cup game twelve times over a 24-year period.

Exhibition Stadium was actually the fourth stadium to be built on the site since 1879. The covered north-side grandstand was constructed in 1948, followed by a south bleacher section for football in 1959. When converted for football in 1959, the stadium seated 33,150. [1]

The stadium was rebuilt again in the 1970s to allow the expansion Toronto Blue Jays to play there, with additional seating opposite the covered grandstand now in left field on the first base side and curving around to the third base side. It was the only major league stadium where the bleachers were covered but the main grandstand was not. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exhibition_Stadium

Select Read More to see the rest of the Blue Jays organizational report, and leave your comments

In the “Glory Years” of the team between “1987-1993”, attendance skyrocketed during that period, [1] with its peak years being 1991-1993 with an unheard of average attendance of 4,029,264.[2]  Most recently, attendance has suffered for a few reasons. The strike of ’94, the declining quality of the team and the declining value of the Canadian dollar.[3]

It is estimated that during the peak of Toronto’s success the team lost between $35 million and $40 million on the currency exchange alone. According to Paul Godfrey, Blue Jays President and CEO, 35 percent of revenue comes from the US dollar and 65 percent from the Canadian economy.[4] In the past year, the Canadian dollar has surpassed the American counterpart by 17 percent. In the “loonies” toughest years from 2002-2006 MLB commissioner gave Paul Godfrey and the Jays $5 million US dollars from his discretionary funds to help the team. The Ted Rogers and Rogers Communication has not made a profit since taking over ownership, the soaring “loonie” does help the situation. From 2005, the team’s payroll has gone up nearly from 50 million in ’05 up to 80 million in ’07.

With the every increasing exposure the internet brings along with global media and marketing, the Blue Jays are attempting to capitalize on the market that engulfs them. Paid attendance during the 2007 season was 2,360,756 and a positive 6-year increase in attendance of almost 44%.[5] In 2007, the Blue Jays added the third National Broadcast Partner, Canada Broadcasting Company[6], and are now scheduled to broadcast 20 games in the 200 season. In 2007, the average television audience reached approximately 312,000, about 44.6 million total.

Along with CBC, the Blue Jays media outlets range from local radio stations to national sports programs like “Rogers Sportsnet”[7], and The Sports Network (TSN). Over 143 Blue Jay games are televised through Canada’s two most watched sports networks in Canada.

With increased exposure because of the internet and online media, Major League Baseball Advanced Media reports that in-season traffic on www.bluejays.com has increased 46% in 2006. Other distinguished advertisers that are increasing mainstays include the following, TD Canada Trust, General Motors of Canada, IBM, Labatt Breweries of Canada, HSBC, MasterCard, MBNA, Nikon Canada, and Pizza Pizza.

With respect to the team on the field this year, they team does have numerous positives, but with positives, come negatives.

The Starting Rotation is the strong point of the team. With Perennial CY Young Candidate Roy Halladay, A.J. Burnett, and rising star Dustin McGowan, this gives the Jays a formidable trio of starters comparable to any in the American League as well as the National League. What is very concerning about the three above-mentioned starters is two of the three are consistently plagued by injuries and the Blue Jays do not have proven support in case of injury.

With the possibility of losing Burnett to an opt-out clause next winter J.P. Ricciardi, is willing to entertain trade offers for the aforementioned pitcher. Burnett, who signed a 55 million contract in the winter of ’05, is scheduled to receive $12 million in the years of 2008, 2009, 2010.

The surprise of the rotation was AA callup Jesse Litsch who posted a 7-9 record and a 3.81 ERA. Along with another surprise Shaun Marcum (12-6, 4.13) the starting rotation of Jays combined to go 57-40 with a 3.89 ERA last season, fourth in the American League and the pitching staff as a whole ranked second in ERA. Where does the issue lay? It begins and ends in the bullpen. Closer BJ Ryan does not appear to be ready as of yet after recovering from the elbow injury last season. This of course means Jeremy Accardo in once again placed in to closer role where he was 30 for 35 in save situations last season. Casey Janssen, who was main contributor in the bullpen last year with 24 holds and 6 saves in 70 appearances, is now injured for the remainder of the season with a torn Labrum. He in turn is replaced by Brandon League, who missed most of last season with muscle issues in the back of his throwing shoulder.

The lineup is an area that does concern me. Off-season moves, that are healthy cogs to keep the wheels turning, but with some that do ask the question “Was that a feasible decision”?

The departure of former leadoff man Reed Johnson was released with the newly acquired Shannon Stewart back in the mix, which looks like a platooned role with aging veteran Matt Stairs in left.

To replace a leadoff man a new one was acquired in always reliable-hardnosed, 2006 World Series MVP David Eckstein. With a career .351 OBP his numbers are somewhat similar to the player he is replacing at the top of the order. Throw in Shannon Stewart who is familiar to the same lineup spot, and the numbers do compare quite nicely.

Eckstein

 

G

AB

R

H

2B

3B

HR

RBI

TB

BB

SO

SB

CS

OBP

SLG

AVG

2007

117

434

58

134

23

0

3

31

166

24

22

10

1

.356

.382

.309

Career

965

3772

556

1079

161

18

30

285

1366

279

305

110

42

.351

.362

.286

 Johnson

 

G

AB

R

H

2B

3B

HR

RBI

TB

BB

SO

SB

CS

OBP

SLG

AVG

2008

No Major League Stats Available

Career

610

2083

319

585

114

14

42

234

853

119

384

28

16

.342

.410

.281

Stewart

 

G

AB

R

H

2B

3B

HR

RBI

TB

BB

SO

SB

CS

OBP

SLG

AVG

2007

146

576

79

167

22

1

12

48

227

47

60

11

3

.345

.394

.290

Career

1334

5399

839

1611

311

39

114

566

2342

482

666

193

70

.362

.434

.298

Yet what the Blue Jays, in theory have done with the release of Reed Johnson, is save themselves and the club $500,000 by signing Shannon Stewart.

About the Eckstein signing, one thing is concerning. The Blue Jays were a very good defensive team last season with a .984 fielding percentage. A major factor in that was the up-the-middle presence of John McDonald, Aaron Hill, and Vernon Wells. An upgrade in offence is obvious with Eckstein, but he is now playing on turf. Playing in St. Louis and on natural grass, this hid Eckstein’s shortcomings with his range and arm, those attributes will be noticeable with the balls that get through, and you could see McDonald being used more on the later part of the season based purely on defense.

The rest of the lineup is similar to last year, a healthy Vernon Wells Lyle Overbay should produce more offence than last year, But do take notice that Frank Thomas’ age and injuries are creeping up on him. He will get you 25 home runs and 95 RBI’s but his numbers last years were a noticeable decline from his comeback year in ’06.

Scott Rolen is another off-season acquisition that looks good on paper, but still has concerns. The deal made perfect sense. Rolen was unhappy in St. Louis and Glaus was unhappy in Toronto. The only drawback is the injury bug; the shoulder injuries that have plagued Rolen for the past few seasons, and things have already started shaky, with Rolen breaking his finger in spring training. You can replace intangibles such as veteran player with unquestionable leadership.

Two of the Jays youngest stars one emerging as potential repeat All-Star Alex Rios, and second baseman Aaron Hill round out the rest of the Jays players. Rios garnered national attention last season with his homerun derby display at the All-Star game is a five tool player who used the whole field and turns on the inside fastball with power. Aaron Hill is developing into an extremely reliable second baseman with a strong arm completing the double play and is dangerous against left handed pitching, batting .317.

With respect to what the Jays Minor League system is like. Of the top 100 prospects this year, the Jays only have one, #7 Travis Snider. This does not mean that the farm system is dried up. The Pitching as stated previously is what kept them in last season despite a lagging offence. Toronto had seven of the 88 picks in last year’s draft, compensating for the losses of Ted Lilly and Justin Speier. Most notably their picks were on key defensive positions that could shore them up in the future; third baseman Kevin Ahrens (16th overall), catcher J.P. Arencibia (21st), shortstop Justin Jackson (45th) and second baseman John Tolisano (85th). Currently, on the verge is Adam Lind the highly regarded number ranked prospect in the system from a year ago, struggled at times but did pick it up in the during his September call-up.

What does this all mean? An improved team, mean increased revenue. A soaring Canadian dollar means more of an advantage for the team’s operators. Changes were made this past off-season, to improve leadership, improve an attitude, and bring a winner back to the city of Toronto.

With the use of statistics and Sabremetrics in the game of baseball and being used by a vast array of teams in the game of baseball, it seems as though the Jays are stuck between a rock and a hard place. (The Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees). Those two teams more specifically the Red Sox are enjoying the success of Bill James and the Stats world, the Yankees are following suit. The Jays have a student of the Sabremetrics game and former employee (J.P. Ricciardi) with the team that was highlighted in the “Moneyball” book, the Oakland Athletics. It seems though; the teams above the Jays have the benefit of all the information and all the money. Would the Jays dominate the East with a payroll hovering around $200,000,000, maybe so, but in the 2008 American League East, it looks like it is another third place finish.


[4] About 35 percent of our revenues come in U.S. dollars and 65 percent come in Canadian dollars," Godfrey told CNBC. "So when the (Canadian) dollar was the other way--it was as high as $1.61 Canadian to the dollar American, the cost to the ball club was astronomical. We were by far the largest losing baseball team in the major leagues. With the "loonie" improved, so does our bottom line. In fact, every time the Canadian dollar goes up one cent relative to the U.S. dollar, our bottom line improves by about $730,000 Canadian." http://www.cnbc.com/id/21899512/

[6] http://www.cbc.ca/

[7] Rogers Sportsnet is a leading Canadian sports company that operates four distinct cable channels, a national high-definition channel and a news and information web site, sportsnet.ca. Founded in 1998, Rogers Sportsnet has been owned by Rogers Media since 2001. Sportsnet.ca was launched in 1998.

Rogers Sportsnet provides distinct and entertaining sports programming on four channels: Sportsnet East (Quebec and Atlantic Provinces), Sportsnet Ontario, Sportsnet West (Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, Nunavut and Northwest Territories), and Sportsnet Pacific (British Columbia and Yukon). It also offers high definition programming on Sportsnet HD. Complete programming information can be found here.

Rogers Sportsnet broadcasts more NHL hockey featuring Canadian clubs than any other broadcaster. In addition, it is a rights holder for the Toronto Blue Jays and Toronto Raptors (Ontario Region), and also carries National Lacrosse League, Canadian Hockey League (including the Memorial Cup), and the American Hockey League. Rogers Sportsnet is a member of a consortium that won Canadian broadcast rights for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver and the 2012 Summer Games in London.

Sportsnet Connected, the network's news arm, provides regional, national and international sports coverage. Its lineup of on-air talent includes some of Canada's most respected sports journalists.

Sportsnet.ca is a market leader in providing sports news, information and entertainment on the Internet. It offers around-the clock coverage of national and international sports news, as well as expert commentary and opinion, video, photographs, and up-to-the minute results and statistics. Comprehensive event coverage is complemented by a complete suite of interactive features, including forums, blogs, and a variety of interactive games and contests. http://www.sportsnet.ca/pressroom/about/


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Devon Teeple is a staff member of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey.. He can be contacted through the Author Profiles page
 
 
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