Posted by: Asher Roth | November 8, 2009

Some Commentary on the BIG NEWS

Right now, having read the news story (and Pete’s fine post seen below), I can’t help but feel like a character out of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Not a primary character, but one of those two kids on Magrathea that invent a computer (Deep Thought) that has the capabilities of calculating the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything. When they ask the question, they are told to return for the answer, in 7.5 million years. Of course, they do so, and they discover, with much dismay and frustration, that the answer is, simply, 42.

This has to mirror what Jays fans are feeling right now. After a week of news stories out, hyping up the fact that GM Alex Anthopoulos is coming up with this big, huge, special plan, we are now left with some enlightening news: that he has a plan! And get this! His plan is to build a team that can consistently win 95+ games a year, through scouting and development, and through BUILDING.

Also, this just in: The world is round.

Much like Deep Thought’s answer, the frustration is not caused by there being no answer at all. The frustration derives from the complete and utter lack of depth in the answer.

Now I’m not sure if this is testament to just how ridiculous the mainstream sports media has become, in terms of blowing stories out of proportion and creating news out of dust, or if Anthopoulos was just testing the media’s reaction to his words, a la Richard Heene (Balloon Boy debacle), by building anticipation for a news story, then not delivering on it. Either way, I’m already skeptical.

Anthopoulos (or Double-A, as he shall now be referred to) failed to tell us anything we didn’t already know. I would like to meet the general manager of any major franchise that DOESN’T say that he’s committed to winning. Wow, an MLB GM who promises consistent 95+ win seasons, AND in the AL East no less. We better plan the parade now. And the other part of the news, that he’s doing it through scouting and development – first off, wasn’t that JP’s initial plan too? And second, the only way this would have been SIGNIFICANT, INTERESTING, or NEW, would be if we were told that Rogers is tripling the team’s payroll, or that fans can expect a straight-up trade: Vernon Wells and Lyle Overbay for Albert Pujols. Or, more realistically, SOME SHORT-TERM GOALS WITH A TINY BIT OF DETAIL. I’m pretty sure that anybody that calls themselves a Jays fan already knew what they found out about Double-A’s plan.

So why the anticipation? Why, when asked in the middle of the week, did he say that he’s VERY CLOSE to finalizing his plan? Couldn’t he have just told us, the day he was hired, that his plan was to slowly strengthen the team’s foundation? Why force Jays fans to devote any more time to over-analyzing just how awful the team is going to be this year? Aren’t we all doing this enough already?

Well, I think we can all assume that there is more to this plan than we have been told. After all, the Jays must have some pretty broad aspirations, after picking up Sean Henn, and scouting John Halama. Double-A’s ambition is certainly riding high, with this Overbay-for-Snyder rumour. Oh yes, folks, it’s going to be a long, depressing off-season for Jays fans to endure. I know I’ve already set up the spare-room in my house with candles to prepare for the candle-lit vigil to mourn the team’s imminent loss of Doc Halladay.

But with the lack of news brought about by our esteemed GM’s plan, we are once again forced to ask ourselves a question that will likely become somewhat of a theme this coming year (and no, it’s not “which major-leaguer has better numbers than Vernon Wells THIS week”… though it’s in the making, as well):

Why is Cito Gaston returning as skipper?

Why would a man his age, and with his resume, waste his time managing a bottom-feeder with no immediate hope of success; especially when he has made it clear that no matter what, this will be his last season. I can’t think of a more depressing way to conclude a managing career.

Or better yet, why would the team want him? Ok, so I’m sure I wasn’t the only delusional homer last spring who looked at the team’s hot start, and all the articles out comparing the team to the 1989 team when Cito first took over as manager, and kinda sorta started to believe in miracles. Back then, there was blind hope. Now, there’s nothing even resembling hope for next season.

But the team has a plan: to build up its prospects. So, naturally, a GOOD idea is to develop youth with a manager who is notorious for favouring veterans. They’re going to develop young pitchers properly with a manager who is known for pushing starters to go that extra inning, get that extra out; despite the team’s growing graveyard of wasted and/or spoiled, young pitching talent (Chacin, Marcum, McGowan, Litsch, Janssen…)

Don’t get me wrong, because I do like Cito Gaston, but he is not a good fit for the team right now. So if Double-A really has a plan in action, then having Cito as manager this season does not inspire much confidence in said plan. In fact, the 2010 chapter of said plan appears to be entitled “Wait and See”. They’re merely hitting the pause button this season, since things are really going to change when a new manager comes in in 2011.

So, what’s the answer to Double-A’s ultimate question of success, a championship, and everything? Frankly, I’m not too sure.

But I can guarantee that it’s not “43”.

AMGRCito Gaston

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