* Manager John Gibbons, GM Alex Anthopoulos and president Paul Beeston, who received a standing ovation, sit atop the third base dugout at the Rogers Centre at the 14th annual Blue Jays State of the Franchise event for season's ticket holders. ....
By Bob Elliott
OK, let’s take a roll call.
Sitting left to right were Gibbons, general manager Alex Anthopulos, president Paul Beeston and Gibbons atop the third base dugout in the green comfy chairs at the 14th annual Blue Jays state of the union Thursday night.
No one was sure of the cast until Jan. 27.
That’s when after 51 days of a Rogers Communications presidential search Rogers ended its silence: Beeston was returning for one more year.
Edward Rogers was quoted classifying the search “rumors” in the press release. Chicago White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf, his aide Kenny Williams and Baltimore Orioles GM Dan Duquette said they were fact.
Since questions from the season’s ticket holders are now sanitized like batting practice fastballs, we thought we’d be a man of the people and ask the paying public what the Jays need more to end their 21-year post-season drought?
Do they have $6 million left to spend? Or $8 million? Or the $25 to pay for the underground parking?
A closer or a starter?
Should they trade for Jonathan Paplebon, 39-for-43 in save opportunities for the Philadelphia Phillies ... Maybe sign a free agent Francisco Rodriguez, 44-for-49 with the Milwaukee Brewers or Rafael Soriano, 32-for-39 with the Washington Nationals. Dr sign free agent starter James Shields, 14-8, 3.21 with the American League champ Kansas City Royals.
Larry Rose, Thornhill, a day one season ticket holder: a closer.
“They need a horse but not Paplebon. I don’t like him. If you get someone else it would force Sanchez to stay in the rotation.”
Elliot Rose, Thornhill: a closer.
“Rodriguez. Keep Sanchez in the rotation. The thing the Blue Jays have to take advantage of this season. Boston’s not as good. The Yankees aren’t as good. It’s the final year of the GM’s contract. This is the time.”
Steven Junger, Toronto, long-time season’s ticket holder: a closer.
“I don’t like Paplebon, Rodriguez I like, but he can be wild. I don’t really have the answer, but I know it is a deficiency.”
John Belcher, Scarborough, season’s ticket holder since 1978: a starter.
“Mark Buehrle and R.A. Dickey are dependable. We want someone like a Roy Halladay -- where you know what is going to happen. I’m not an expert, but the crowd certainly seemed to like Shields (cheering when John Gibbons mentioned his name).”
Gina Below, Toronto: a starter.
“We need a starter. Anyone can close. Who? Well, since Clayton Kershaw isn’t available ... Shields would be good he has good numbers in this building and against the AL East (44-42, 3.79 lifetime ERA, 41-35, 3.58 since 2008). I wish he had done better in the post season.”
Peter Wright, Oakville, fan since 1977: a closer.
“Paplebon. Even though I don’t like him.”
Vera Puckrin, season’s ticket holder for nine years, a regular the last few years with Devlyn, 4 1/2: a starter.
“Our starters are good but they need to be more consistent.”
Carrie Talbot, fan since 1988, a season ticket holder the past decade: a closer.
“They’re depending on Sanchez after they traded J.A. Happ. The problem is all our guys who don’t spent a full year at triple-A break down: Kyle Drabek, Drew Hutchison. They should let Sanchez spent the season at Buffalo. If they go for a closer it should be Rodriguez.”
Gail Batt, Oshawa a season ticket holder since 1996: a starter.
“Shields is consistent. He’s better than what we have. If we added Shields it would allow them to use Sanchez in the bullpen.”
Brendan Horrigan, 24, from Toronto wearing his Robbie Alomar jersey: a closer.
“I like Sanchez but he’s going to have an innings cap on him. They should have him pitch, then send him to the minors and bring him back in September. Anthopoulos has having do-or-die seasons: the Marlins trade. He’s putting all his cards on the table ... this might be his last year. I’d sign Soriano.”
Matthew Smith, 44, Toronto, of Jones Lang LaSalle real estate and son-in-law of John Vivash, a season’s ticket holder since day one: a starter.
“I read he’s come down is his asking price, he’s down to four years now. There are only a few real closers anyway.”
Campbell Smith, 12, North Toronto shortstop: a closer.
So in our unofficial, highly scientific poll the greater need is a closer, although I think it’s a starter.
Doesn’t matter what we think it’s what Rogers thinks. Will they give the Blue Jays the cash?
Like Al Leiter said on MLB Network “the Blue Jays are on the precipice of being great again when every free agent wanted to go there."
They need another piece.
Tickets: What’s the most important thing to a season ticket holder?
Beside the product on the field and the eventual outcome of a game?
Well, the tickets themselves of course.
And with the Blue Jays heading down a brand new road -- digital ticketing -- fans are not pleased. Rather than traditional cardboard-like ticket, season ticket holders have been instructed to access their ducats online and with mobile apps ... and then hit the print button.
“I share my tickets with a lot of my friends, why should I spend my ink, my paper to print them? I’d rather just give the hard copy tickets to a friend,” asked one day one season ticket holder before the 14th annual state of the union before.
“My health isn’t the best, I have enough trouble getting here to the games rather than running around to pick up more office supplies,” said another.
Some fans want to keep the original ticket as souvenirs as well.
While president Paul Beeston received a standing ovation when he arrived CFO Stephen Brooks was booed when he left after explaining how what the Jays were doing was along the same lines as the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Boston Red Sox.
“Look in the program,” said one fan sarcastically, “it’s as easy as Step 1, Step 2, Step 3 and Step 4. I can’t follow all those arrows. And no, I am no computer savvy. I didn’t think I had to ... all I want to do is pay and come to the game.”
It will be the most difficult for groups of fans who split season’s tickets according to fans.
“I don’t like printing my boarding pass before I fly, that’s what this is going be like ... a hassle,” said another.