The Shapkins Defender – Shapiro Speaks

Welcome to The Shapkins Defender, where I inhale your toxic screeds and spit out the fresh oxygen of optimism, like a tree that kind of understands WAR. (Just don’t ask me to explain it.)

For this edition, Mark Shapiro has come out into the light, joining the At The Letters podcast. If you are interested, the full podcast is worth a listen. Or if you don’t have the time, Ian Hunter already did a summary for Blue Jays Nation.

But Shapiro speaking is also fodder for the trolls, who are fodder for me! This link has 203 comments on it, as of this writing. And I masochistically waded through that feculent swamp to find a few truffles because… I love you.

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Let’s get to it!

I’m back on this side of the pond N. America, the sheep still sheeping? Saw this the other day..The Rays in 2016 68 and 82…. 2017 80 82…. 2018 90 72….. 2019 96 66. Yup keep believing in the “rebuild”!!!! LOL. Shine boxes please go get them!– Steve Montana

Hey Shatkins shhh look what Tampa gets done when the front office tries! – Steve Montana

These were two comments by the same guy, back-to-back. What’s odd is that he seems to have a firm understanding of the rebuilding process and that it takes a few years. He lays out the trajectory of the Rays getting better and better over the last four seasons. But he seems to think that Tampa are trying but “Shatkins” are not?

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Real galaxy brain stuff! What’s great is that the first year he uses, 2016, the Rays had 68 wins. The 2019 Blue Jays had almost the exact same record, tallying 67 wins. If the Jays can get on a similar trajectory, they’ll be hovering around .500 in 2020 and then be a 90-win team in 2021. I know that’s a big if, but they’ve got some good kids on the team! The 2016 Rays, they had Kiermaier and Snell but just about everybody else on that team was subsequently traded. Not exactly loaded with foundational pieces.

So, why are the Rays better than the Jays now? Could it be that the Rays started their rebuild while the Jays were in the playoffs and are therefore a few years ahead on their timeline? Nah! It’s gotta be because Shatkins aren’t trying!

Also, Steve, buddy, quoting Frank Vincent’s character in Goodfellas? Did you watch that whole movie?

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Shapiro no plan other than to cut payroll raise ticket prices. When shappy came in he never spent near the cap. Nothing but lies the old spin that they will spend when competitive is a lie. – Firegibbyandwalker

This one, I mostly wanted to share for the screen name. Seems like an open-minded character, and not at all like a sad, bilious curmudgeon who loathes whoever is in front of them.

A few people responded to this person, pointing out that, in the early part of this decade, AA continually said that the payroll would go up once the team was competitive. And then it did! It’s almost as though Rogers is a big corporation that is willing to spend money as long as it thinks it has confidence in a decent ROI.

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I know that the Jays are a huge market team and should have payrolls in line with the other big spenders such as the Red Sox, Cubs, Yankees and Dodgers. But if they don’t, that’s on Rogers, not Shapiro. He can only spend what Rogers gives him. And I think it’s smart of him to build up a decent team of young players so that he can go to Rogers and justify a higher payroll when the time is right.

It’s simple, Get rid of the fool’s. – PeteJake

I usually think it’s in poor taste to make fun of someone’s grammar. But the ironing here was a little too delicious to pass up.

I have as many World Series rings as Shapiro does. I must be a genius, too. – Jimmy Cain

And I was the last MLB hitter to bat .400, going .406 for the Boston Red Sox in 1941. (Ted Williams never won a World Series either, you see.)

Anyway, I don’t want to come down too hard on people for getting cranky. I understand that people get frustrated when their team is bad. But no team is good every year. Even the Yankees are bad from time to time. (Or for almost an entire decade! Remember the ‘80s?) So, when your favourite team goes through an inevitable downturn, what do you want from them then?

What I like about this regime is that they’ve at least provided a glimmer of hope about the future to make the bleakness of the present a bit more tolerable. They seem to have turned a fallow farm system into a healthy player development pipeline that will provide steady streams of Major League calibre players for years to come. Or at least they’re trying to. There’s no guarantee they will succeed. But it’s a worthwhile effort. You can’t build an entire team by spending money on free agents. Even high payroll teams put a focus on their player development systems. And I think Shapiro and his colleagues realized that, upon their arrival in 2015, the Jays were far behind the rest of the league in this department.

If you want to spend your days frothing at the mouth because you’re convinced that these guys running the team are hapless morons, I can’t stop you. But the way I look at it is it’s like we’re on a plane together. And the pilot keeps telling us we’ll be at a beautiful tropical island soon. And it’s an island he’s been to before. I’ve seen pictures of him there! But you’re using every bit of turbulence as an excuse to go running and screaming that the plane has been hijacked. And my point is that maybe, just maybe, if you take a few deep breaths and have a snack, we’ll both enjoy the journey a little more.

If you want to come over to my seat on the plane and convince me that the plane has indeed been hijacked, send your hot takes, diatribes, harangues, tirades and jeremiads to me at [email protected] or @darraghfilm on Twitter, or just leave a comment below.