I interviewed Mark Shapiro in December and I told him that many Jays fans feel like Vlad should be on the Opening Day roster, but understand the nature of the business. Here’s what he had to say:
I’ll tell you that is something that I never said in any interview, or any of the hundred conversations about Vladdy and his development here. Honest to God, service time has never once been a conversation…never once even been uttered in those conversations. The challenge in a player like Vladdy is like we had with Manny Ramirez in Cleveland, which is one aspect of his tool set is so advanced and it’s clearly Major League ready now. But, the other areas of his game – the rest of his skill-set, ya know, while still advanced for a 19 year old, is not Major League ready.
Now, clearly we get what’s going on here, and we know that Shapiro can’t say anything that’s going to lead to future service-time-grievance issues when it comes to Vlad. But, when Ross comes out and says:
GM Ross Atkins: Vlad Guerrero Jr. is not a Major League player right now…
… not yet. pic.twitter.com/ydqZdvXFro
— MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM (@MLBNetworkRadio) February 26, 2019
It just, kind of, ya know, doesn’t sound as good as what Mark said. I interrupted Shapiro while he was talking about Vlad and told him that ‘some fans don’t believe’ him. Mark spoke with some serious conviction. He pounded his fist on the table we were sitting at, as he made each point (true story):
But, that’s just because there’s not as much, ya know, dynamic for them to kind of focus on right now. So, there’s a thirst and a desire: the nature of being a fan is immediacy. It’s right now, this moment. We are trying to ensure that he has the best foundation for him to be the best player possible because once you get to the Major Leagues it’s extremely difficult to develop.
(Ed. Ross probably should have taken some of this material into his recent interview).
It’s not about development. It’s about survival. It’s about production and it’s about your earnings, putting up numbers for arbitration and not about development. And we are open-minded about it being April 1st, ya know, it could be April 1st. It’s still a dynamic conversation that we’re having, so we’re not thinking about service time or we wouldn’t be considering April 1st as a potential date. But, we still are going to make the best decision to prepare him to be the best major league player not just the best major league hitter that he can possibly be.
And now they’re not considering April 1st as a potential date because Ross doesn’t see Vlad as a major league player?! Anywho…
Now, Ross could’ve taken a different approach – that’s for sure. I guess, I just don’t understand the whole Vladdy-is-only-19 angle because this is what he had to say about an 18-year-old Elvis Luciano:
Ross Atkins seems to sincerely believe that Rule 5 pick Elvis Luciano can be on the #BlueJays MLB roster this season in a unique bullpen role (with long-term starting upside).
Luciano is not old enough to order a light beer, making that outcome… bold.
— Keegan Matheson (@KeeganMatheson) December 13, 2018
#BlueJays GM Ross Atkins on Elvis Luciano:
"Our hope is that he’s facing Aaron Judge and facing some of the better hitters in the game. What an incredible challenge that would be, and we’d love to see that happen."
— Keegan Matheson (@KeeganMatheson) December 13, 2018
When it comes to Vlad, we all understand that Ross has to say the things that he says, but maybe he should pick better words from the bullshit tree next time. I mean, the Jays do have a couple talented writers working for them in Carson Cistulli and and the maverick Richard Griffin, so they could craft up some sort of script to help him out during these thicc Vladdy times.
Maybe something like this: We really like the way Vlad is progressing, but we really want to have a closer look at Drury at third base.
Or maybe something like this: We’re definitely watching Vlad closely this Spring Training and I’d be elated to see him on the Opening Day roster. But, I think that maybe the best thing for him might be to spend some time with our great coaching staff in Buffalo.
I dunno – anything is better than the ‘I don’t see him as a major league player. He’s 19.’ thing.
Now, all the people out there, who think it’s okay to hold down players like Acuña or Vladdy because ‘every’ team is doing it, should really think about just how shitty it is for the player involved, baseball, and the fans. It might be the way ‘EVERY’ team operates, but it doesn’t make it right.
It’s the way EVERY team moves. Check out what your buddy AA did last year with Acuna. https://t.co/hu4omcSj3k
— Jeff Blair (@SNJeffBlair) February 26, 2019
Also, since I’m kind of – sort of – ranting here because I haven’t had a dumb cigarette in 8 days: wouldn’t the best way for an organization to conduct business be to pay the player when it’s time to pay him? If you’re a front office that wants to develop a good relationship with its future players, what kind of message does it send them when you manipulate service time?
You can think it’s cool to hold Vlad down in April because ‘why lose a year of service time for him to play meaningless baseball for 3 weeks’, but that’s just dumb. The Jays can have Vlad for as long as they want if they pay him when the time comes to pay him, it’s really that simple. The organization should field the best 25-players on Opening Day, and Vlad is the best player in the entire organization and he’s only 19 (turning 20 in March).