The Toronto Blue Jays have put a great deal of emphasis on giving themselves competitive advantages, but they draw the line
Since Mark Shapiro took over the Toronto Blue Jays, we’ve been hearing about a lot of initiatives designed to give the organization a boost in order to provide ‘waves of talent’ and to build a consistent winner. Over the last few seasons, the reviews about the efforts have been mixed, at best. However, we are now starting to see things turn around with the rebuild looking less like a long term project.
The Blue Jays front office will tell you that they’ve put a lot of effort into revamping their approach to physical training. They created a High Performance department in order to develop a consistent way of doing things from the bottom of the organization to the top. Focusing on physical training to nutrition, the club has looked to go about business differently. Rather than simply bulking up, the club wanted guys to focus on flexibility, etc. Of course, their idea of training may have come in conflict with some high profile players, but overall, the front office believes their new, consistent approach will give them an advantage over the competition.
The Blue Jays committed to a massive renovation project to update their spring training facilities.
The approximately $100 million commitment will see the fan experience improved down in sunny Dunedin, but where the club feels it will gain a competitive advantage is in the player development complex. They will include: “3 new full fields, making 6 total (1 being synthetic turf). There will also be 5-bay and 7-bay batting cages, two 10-pack gang mounds and a new half field added to the complex. The Clubhouse/Administration building will be a total of 110,000 sq. ft. More amenities include: 10,000 sq. ft. weight room, 8 locker rooms, 2 dining rooms, and 2 training rooms, 3 Sports Labs, 2 Fuel Bars, Movement Studio and Barber, Variable depth pool, plunge pools and sauna, Classroom, Large Conference Rooms, several huddle rooms & call rooms.”
While it would be great if the minor league players got to enjoy the new clubhouse, etc throughout their season, we cannot deny the energy being put into the facilities. This, combined with their analytical approach to the game of baseball, will create what the team feels is a competitive edge.
The Blue Jays have also expanded their search for talent. We’ve seen them be successful in their attempts at shopping in Japan. With Shun Yamaguchi signed this offseason, we’re seeing the club pay more attention to the Pacific Rim when looking for talent. Shapiro recently spoke to Shi Davidi and touched on his team’s efforts in Asia:
“We cannot overlook any opportunity to find talent, whether that’s amateur players, whether it’s professional trades, whether it’s international free agents – we can’t have a weak link. We do have more and more information that allows us to do that better, I think, than we had in the past.”
When Mark Shapiro first took over the Toronto Blue Jays, we had heard how things were going to be different. Perhaps, what frustrated some fans was that the plans that were in the works would not directly impact the major league on field product and certainly not right away. But, here we are a few years later and things are starting to pay off. The Blue Jays have put a lot of effort into giving themselves an advantage on a number of fronts. But, they draw the line, showing that they won’t do ANYTHING to win.
In the same piece from Shi Davidi (linked above), Shapiro speaks about the Houston Astros and their cheating. More specifically, Shapiro was asked about how the Blue Jays look to avoid the use of technology to gain an advantage in a way that may break the rules. His response sends a very clear message:
“[W]hat I would hope is that we’ve created an environment clearly defined by a set of values, and that people here understand that it’s not just win at all costs, that there is a code for how we conduct ourselves, how we treat people and the level of professionalism with which we carry out our jobs. We’ve painstakingly defined that identity over the last three, four or five years, from the way we’ve identified players, the way we’ve acquired, the way we develop players and the way we try to put thought into our major-league environment.”
We have seen the club rid themselves of players they felt did not reflect the “values” of the Blue Jays organization as part of the “painstaking” efforts. From popular names like Marcus Stroman to Roberto Osuna to Josh Donaldson, the club has shed themselves of what they felt may have been character issues. Of course, this is not to suggest that any of those players were cheating, but it highlights the effort Toronto has put into the way they go about day to day business.
It is for that reason that it is very clear the Toronto Blue Jays draw the line with their attempts at gaining competitive edges. Incorporating a more analytical approach, increasing money and research into training, revamping facilities and shopping in new talent pools have led the Blue Jays to look for improvements. They look to be willing to do a number of things to win. However, they draw the line at cheating; at playing with the wrong kind of character.
*Featured Image Courtesy Of DaveMe Images. Prints Available For Purchase.
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Shaun Doyle is a long time Blue Jays fan and writer! He decided to put those things together and create Jays From the Couch. Shaun is the host of Jays From the Couch Radio, which is highly ranked in iTunes, and he has appeared on TV and radio spots.