Process vs. Intuition

alex beardToday during new Blue Jays President Mark Shapiro’s introductory press conference, one point he made jumped out to me:

“General managers don’t make moves, they make recommendations,” Shapiro said. “If GM’s process is good, my job to approve the decision is easy.”

The key term here is process. Would Alex Anthopoulos like to go through a process or procedure to prove that every move he wants to make is a good one? Would he want to fight tooth and nail for every little manoeuvre, no matter how small, that he wanted to make? We all know what that’s like in our personal lives; trying to explain ourselves to someone always questioning our decisions. I’d get tired of that fast and it’s more clear to me now than ever why Alex did not accept his extension offer.

This whole situation smells of distrust. Why put a “process” in place if you have complete faith and trust in the person running the organization? Obviously Rogers didn’t and subsequently brought in Shapiro to run the business and baseball side.

What’s become clear in Alex’s evolution as a GM is that he has learned to trust his intuition. He followed process in hiring former manager John Farrell; he checked off all the boxes on his list. Farrell seemed like the right hire based on whatever such and such criteria Alex initially had for his first managerial hire, and made the decision based on what his brain told him was right. He later admitted that he didn’t follow his gut and obviously saw how that decision did not work out. He absolutely went with his gut later on to give current manager John Gibbons the reins and it turned out beautifully as we just witnessed this October.

Furthermore, last offseason Alex became acutely aware of the need for higher character guys in the clubhouse hence the need to sign Russell Martin and to trade for Josh Donaldson. How would you prove those decisions through process? The fact is that it isn’t always easy.

Additionally, Alex felt the need to supplement his roster this summer with some big acquisitions not the least of which was Troy Tulowitzki. Process, or using one’s logical mind to make rational decisions, said not to do the Tulo trade as the majority of his staff felt; that they needed pitching instead. But Anthopoulos felt otherwise. Yes it was to fix a mistake he made with acquiring Jose Reyes initially, but he recognized the need to fix it and improved the team and moved on. Low and behold, it worked out marvellously.

Then he just so happened to call Dave Dombrowski and inquired about David Price’s availability.  Coincidence? Right place, right time? I think not.

Through it all, Alex acquired Revere, Hawkins, Lowe, and Pennington because he knew he could reach the post-season with some key reinforcements. He had faith in his roster. Process wouldn’t have done that. Process would rather dictate and reason that you’d be giving up way too many young prospects. Process would tell you that you’d be mortgaging the future and that you’d be taking too much of a risk.

Process can kiss it. If a guy knows without a shadow of doubt what his intuition is telling him and trusts those feelings, then everyone better get out of his way and let him do what feels right.

We’ve lost a good one here in Anthopoulos my friends. Sure Shapiro said all the right things today, as expected. But you can’t replace an inner knowing that Alex had surely developed, with something of a more logical nature, like process.

Recapping a Vengeful Few Days


An angry mob of Jays fans await Mark Shapiro and Rogers.

I just got to work at 7:20 a.m. Thursday morning and got the notification on my phone around five minutes later. Alex was gone. I was like, “No way, this couldn’t be! Davidi must be wrong. How could this be possible?” Then more tweets stated the same. I was numb; totally in shock. I honestly didn’t know how I was to get through work that day. Somehow I managed with a rain cloud clinging over my head.

Turns out, the Toronto Star’s Richard Griffin was right when he wrote just the previous Monday how the thought something like this could be brewing. It was fear mongering, I thought. It couldn’t possibly be true because Alex just took this team to the playoffs! Then Michael Grange of Sportsnet wrote a similar yet more logical sentiment about when Rogers might have began talks with Mark Shapiro. In the end, Grange wondered how Rogers can tell Shapiro, “Sorry, Alex keeps control of baseball decisions.” If only that was an option. I know, wishful thinking on my part.

Here’s some more links on this story that I thought added to it:

Bruce Arthur of the Toronto Star says Rogers shouldn’t have even hired a baseball man to be its President. Doing so almost assuredly put the writing on the wall for Alex. And by losing Alex, Shapiro inherits a furious fan base.

Steve Simmons writes from the Toronto Sun saying Shapiro insulted Anthopoulos with a one year contract offer plus an option.

Bob Elliott also of the Sun gives Rogers and Shapiro a good mouthful! Good for Bob!

John Lott of the National Post writes how Alex took the high road refusing to reveal what led him out.

In Anthopoulos’ Monday end of season press conference, he said he’s gone about his usual business ranking lists of players he would target this offseason. It wouldn’t surprise me if David Price was number one on that list and Shapiro’s choice was different. This would speak to a difference in philosophy in how to run the future of this club.

In one of his numerous on-air interviews with Sportsnet590 (I think it was with Bob McCowan), Alex said that, “I’m a big chain of command guy.” That seemed like an oxymoron. If he’s fine with a chain of command, then stay. But to me, clearly he’s not okay with it. I can’t blame him though for not returning if he wouldn’t have full control on baseball decisions. He deserves that after what he’s done.

Cathal Kelly of The Globe and Mail shares perhaps the most enlightening tidbit. He had a private conversation with Alex back in mid-September where Alex revealed that he wasn’t sure if he’d be coming back. While he places a lot of misplaced blame on Shapiro, he’s correct in saying that Mark has to win or else this fan base will forever feel disappointed with him leading the ship.

Furthermore, Jon Heyman writes at CBS how Shapiro might have rubbed Alex the wrong way with some criticisms. I didn’t buy previous reports of a ‘scolding’ but perhaps there’s something to this. Maybe Shapiro deserves some blame after all.

Now yesterday, Edward Rogers told Shi Davidi regarding Alex, “His job had not changed at all. His direct manager will change, but his breadth of scope and responsibility had not changed. We had full confidence in him.”  Rogers added later, “…in his tenure as GM, every time he had made a request that went upstairs, it got approval. Every deal he brought forward the company has endorsed and supported him, and obviously with the season we just came off, he’d have stronger credibility with everyone.”

Except Ed, you didn’t give the money to Alex to sign Ervin Santana, did you? Players had to offer up money and take contract deferrals so they could sign him, which didn’t even end up happening. This above statement is also very telling in that it sounds like they didn’t trust Alex or believe in him enough to extend him much earlier. To Rogers, only now with a playoff appearance does he have credibility. Maybe if they didn’t leave him to finish off his last season under contract as a lame-duck GM, things might have been different. Where’s the vote of confidence? Who knows, maybe Alex still gets fired after 2015 if the team didn’t perform. At least then, he’d still presumably collect on any remaining length of contract signed giving him a blanket of security.

And Ed, don’t kid me on his role not changing. It’s clear now that Shapiro wouldn’t have taken this job if it wasn’t a promotion for him; that is, he needed to have final say on player personnel. You essentially offered Alex a demotion.

Again from Sportsnet, Shi Davidi also reported that one executive said, “The process in Cleveland was probably more collaborative than what Alex is used to.” I don’t really buy that one either. In Toronto, Alex was known as one to get opinions from everybody and draw a consensus from the whole group on staff. Ultimately, he would make the final call, as it seems he did with the Tulowitzki trade where, reportedly, the majority of staff opted not to proceed with it. Alex did it anyway because it improved the offense and defense at shortstop. The guy knew what he had to do to improve the team, fixed the mistake he made with Reyes, and had the balls to actually do it. And somehow, this guy is not our GM any more?!

So what happens now? I think it’s safe and sadly to assume that the Jays won’t be players for David Price, or Marco Estrada. Price will be too expensive if the Jays hold to their current budget, and Shapiro will probably want to collect a draft pick on Marco. How then is this new President going to win over fans?

Another factor to think about is payroll. According to reports and after making some presumptuous assertions (like non-tendering Ben Revere), Bluebird Banter thinks the Jays will have about $31.6 million to spend this offseason out of a budget near $140 million. This obviously begs the question: why is Rogers keeping payroll the same after record TV numbers and pulling in an estimated $82 million (estimate via Jays Journal) from their August to October run?

In the end, Shapiro and Rogers have some explaining to do! I, like so many others, are understandably extremely angry and upset. What goodwill the team had is gone just like that.

 Photo via @JHagholm1.

Weighing Post-season Expectations for the Blue Jays

AL East champsWith the Toronto Blue Jays having clinched the AL East this past week, I wanted to write an article explaining to Jays’ fans that we should have no expectations for the team in the post-season; we should just enjoy the ride and live in the moment. After all, this is the first time in 22 years that we’re experiencing playoff baseball and we should just enjoy it.

However, after watching the clinching game this past week and getting all excited that they finally did it, I got to thinking … Continue reading→

Surmising the Blue Jays Playoff Roster

pompeyWith the Blue Jays about to clinch the AL East division any game now, and possibly today in Baltimore, I’ve begun to think about who might make their playoff roster. The starting nine of Revere, Donaldson, Bautista, Encarnacion, hopefully Tulowitzki (he may actually return this series in Baltimore), Smoak,  Martin, Pillar, and Goins should be joined by a starting rotation of Price, Dickey, Stroman and then Estrada (5th overall in the AL in ERA; 2.78 ERA in 2nd half which is tied with Verlander for 2nd best for any starter having pitched greater than 80 innings) when you need a Game 4 starter.  Continue reading→

Book Review: Pat Jordan’s “A False Spring”

pat jordan BHC picture (2)Upon completion of my top 10 list of baseball literature, someone recommended to me that I read Pat Jordan’s book entitled, A False Spring, which was his real life account of the time he spent in the minor leagues between 1959-61 as a bonus baby prospect in the Milwaukee Braves organization.

Some refer to Jordan’s book as … Continue reading→

Drew Hutchison’s Road Troubles Go Back to 2014

TORONTO, CANADA - JUNE 8: Drew Hutchison #36 of the Toronto Blue Jays makes his way from the bullpen to the dugout before the start of MLB game action against the St. Louis Cardinals on June 8, 2014 at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

TORONTO, CANADA – JUNE 8: Drew Hutchison #36 of the Toronto Blue Jays makes his way from the bullpen to the dugout before the start of MLB game action against the St. Louis Cardinals on June 8, 2014 at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

So far in 2015, it’s been well documented the road struggles of Blue Jays’ starter, Drew Hutchison, who sports a .372 BA against opposing hitters on the road versus a minuscule .219 BA at Rogers Centre. The thing is though, it hasn’t just been a problem this year; this goes back to 2014.

For those that recall, Hutchison, rather curiously, had a hard time pitching at home early in ’14 …Continue reading→

How Often Are Top 50 Prospects Traded?

daniel-norris-1024Brandon Decker over at Beyond the Box Score wrote in March about trading top prospects for veteran starting pitchers and deduced that teams tend to over value their prospects when too often they don’t meet expectations. In fact, according to Baseball America which the article quotes, “nearly 70% of top 100 prospects fail, or can be considered busts.” So I undertook the initiative of checking which top prospects indeed were traded for current major league talent and… Continue reading→

Thinking Big To Help The Blue Jays

cueto (2)Grantland’s Jonah Keri wrote today of the Toronto Blue Jays’ season and of them being just two games above .500 despite the league’s best offense, “thank a terrible pitching staff, consisting of a phalanx of mediocre veterans and a bunch of kids who’ve been occasionally good and often terrible.” While that is a pretty honest and accurate description, they have had 19 quality starts out of the last 40 games… Continue reading→

Should Houston Astros Begin To Worry?

mccullers (2)The Houston Astros at 36-28 still lead the division by 2.5 games over the surging Texas Rangers which is still very good. There might be no reason to worry considering that more injuries could unceremoniously hit the Rangers at any moment in time, and the Angels sure aren’t on fire. The Mariners are still very much a mess and Oakland can’t seem to build any consistency with their own injured roster. However history says young teams … Continue reading→

Chris Archer Got Mike Trout This Time

archer (2)On June 2nd, Tampa Bay Rays’ pitcher, Chris Archer, set a career-high with 15 strikeouts in his 6-1 win over the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. What’s interesting is not so much that Archer struck out 15, it’s that he struck out Angels’ slugger, Mike Trout, three times! Let’s have a look … Continue reading→