Blue Jays swing-and-miss with Dombrowski reveals strategy


The Toronto Blue Jays have landed Mark Shapiro of the Cleveland Indians as their incoming president and CEO following the departure of Paul Beeston. By all accounts, the Blue Jays are welcoming a high-quality baseball man who is well respected across the injury, but according to Bob Elliot of the Toronto Sun, Shapiro was not option ‘A’.

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This isn’t groundbreaking news, but the detail behind Toronto’s pursuit of former Detroit Tigers’ general manager Dave Dombrowski offers us some insight into what Shapiro’s role should be going forward. After meeting with Edward Rogers and Guy Laurence, the new CEO of Rogers Communications, it was Dombrowski who decided against taking the job in Toronto as it would entail little work in terms of player personnel and baseball management.

As Elliot writes, the Blue Jays presidency “…was more about making marketing and business decisions than making baseball decisions, according to people in the industry.” This suggests that Shapiro will be a businessman who dabbles in baseball, and not the other way around.

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If Toronto is to sustain their success over the next several seasons, which seems likely given their positional core and wealth of young pitching, the potential for revenue will go far beyond anything Toronto has seen in the past two decades. Rogers recognizes this, I can assure you. The strings of sellout crowds over the past month and a half, paired with jerseys and hats flying off shelves at a record rate, are money-producers. Therein lies Shapiro’s primary order of business.

The Rogers Centre is also poised to undergo a significant change, with the hope of having grass installed by 2018 (though I’ll remain uneasy until I see a shovel in the ground). This, and all other stadium renovations to the concrete convertible, will see Shapiro heavily involved.

This setup would allow for Alex Anthopoulos to operate freely as general manager, which may not have been the primary goal six months ago. After a season that has seen him become a favorite for Executive of the Year, however, Rogers should be comfortable throwing the keys to Anthopoulos on the baseball side. This is all assuming that Rogers takes care of his contract very soon, but let’s not jinx anything.

In moving from Dombrowski to Shapiro, the Jays are not settling. They are not accepting a lesser option, just a different one, and one who embraces the unique guidelines of this role. After the ink dries on one more high-profile contract, the Blue Jays will be strong from top to bottom.

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