Ross Atkins had to go on the radio and say that Vlad Jr. isn’t MLB ready

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:

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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).

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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:

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.

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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.

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?

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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).

  • Guzman's Jheri Curl

    “They can have Vlad for as long as they want….if they pay him when the time comes…its really that simple”

    No it’s not.

    Who knows what budget this team will be under 2025? What will the rest of the payroll look like then? What if the yanks or nats offer him $350M USD…would Rogers top that? Even if they’d match, can you point a gun to Vlads head and force him to accept your offer?

    Vladdy will be a better baseball player at 22+ than he will be now. The team will be better. They are in the business of trying to win championships, not please fans or media during rebuilds.

    • GrumblePup

      “Who knows what budget this team will be under 2025? What will the rest of the payroll look like then?”

      Uhh… dude. The statement was “if they pay him when the time comes”. That doesn’t mean “let’s set a price right now and then no matter what happens in the future, he’s going to sign with the Jays for that price regardless of what external factors there are.”
      Instead what it means is “If the Jays want to keep him, all they have to do is pay him the amount of money that will keep him here.”

      The Jays offer him $250M, but the Yankees offer him $300M. If the Jays want to keep him, all they have to do is find the number that keeps him here. Do the Jays just have to match the Yankees? Maybe Vlad really likes Toronto, and he’d stay for $275M. Or maybe he’s always kind of wanted to play for the Yankees, but if the Jays offer him $310M he’ll stay.

      Whatever the budget or payroll in 2025 is doesn’t matter either. It doesn’t change the sentiment of the statement. If the Jays don’t have the budget,then they can’t pay him when the time comes, so he won’t stay. But if they do have the budget, and they want him to stay, then all they have to do is pay him when the time comes.

      Like, come on man, that’s not a hard concept to grasp.

      • Guzman's Jheri Curl

        The point I’m really making is that this is complex and dynamic. Throwing toys and suggesting he should start the season on the Jays cause we can “simply” buck up and pay him in 5 years is too basic of a take. If the Jays win the World Series in his last year before FA you will be grateful. Hopefully all of this a non issue and the Jays buy out the last 3 years of his arb with an extension that keeps him here until 28-30yo!

  • Guzman's Jheri Curl

    What Atkins said was dumb though. Totally grabbed the wrong turd from the BS tree. Hopefully there are enough other storylines on the Jays to distract from this dying horse.

  • Oz Rob

    No question Atkins shit the bed with that comment. What was he thinking? Is he perhaps unwell? Should he have a brain scan? It’s not unlike what he said about Tulo. Unless of course….he’s right and Vlad Jr becomes the biggest bust since…um, Morganna?

  • El Cabeza

    The GM who I’ve never heard say anything of substance about anyone (except for Tulo), all of a sudden forgets how to say nothing in 50 words and claims the #1 prospect in MLB isn’t ready?