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Do the Jays have an unlimited payroll?

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Jon Lester
Jon Lester
Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

Is it possible that the Blue Jays have a potentially unlimited payroll this season? Bob McCown seems to think so.

Yesterday, on Prime Time Sports, Bob McCown said this (well not exactly this, blame a late night and a rather large glass of wine for transcription errors):

Blue Jays payroll will go up this year, how much is unclear. There may not be a real limit to it. There is a real sense that the new CEO of Rogers Communications, Guy Lawrence, I'm making some assumptions here, I don't want to say like it is a fact. But it seems as if he recognizes the potential importance to the corporation of the Blue Jays, perhaps more than the previous administrator. And also understands that the Blue Jays could be a conduit in improving the image of this company.

Some have suggested, not I, that Rogers is among the most disliked corporations in the country and it is understandable, because we get services from Rogers and anytime something goes wrong with those things we feel as though that's who we have to blame.

Let's face it, Rogers is a big big company. So it is understandable. But I think this CEO is trying to address that. (He) understands that one of the ways that you curry favor with your clientele is with a product like the Toronto Blue Jays.

Nobody has told me, that exactly, but the inference had been there, that if there is a deal on the table that would take the Jays beyond the increased they've already budgeted for. There is a confidence level that there would be no issue whatsoever. Like the Jon Lester deal. What I'm told about Lester is that money isn't the issue. Blue Jays are prepared to pay him market value, what he is looking for. It's years, he wants 7 years.

While McCown isn't saying there is no limit to the payroll (or at least I don't think that's what he is trying to say), he is saying that if the payroll is up against the limit that the Rogers sets and another deal presents itself, the Jays could still make the deal. If they can make the case that the player is a game changer.

He's saying that the new lead dog of Rogers understands that  I hate Rogers, you hate Rogers, everyone hates Rogers. Yes, I have a Rogers cell phone, yes I watch hockey on Rogers sports channels (and Rogers non sports channels) and yes, Rogers owns my favorite sports team, but I hate them.

Rogers can't win. They double the team payroll and they are still called cheap. No matter how much the Jays spend this year, people are going to say they should have spent more.

But, McCown thinks that, the new Rogers CEO figures that the way to improve Rogers image with you, me and everyone else, is to allow the Jays to spend enough to buy a winner. I don't know if that's really true. I mean, yeah, if Rogers buys a winner, I'll think better of them, but is the percentage of Jays fans in the general population large enough to make that big a difference to the country's feelings about Rogers Corp.

Is Lester the difference between playoffs and another year of being on the outside looking in? I don't know. Signing him can't hurt. It does seems that the reason we won't be signing Lester isn't dollars, it is years. Course if we are thinking we can ignore payroll limits, maybe we can ignore the stupid 5 year limit too. Not that the 5-year limit is all that bad in the abstract, with most players it is a good idea not to go more than 5 years, but then all teams think that you shouldn't go more than 5 years with most players. The thing is that most teams trust themselves to know which players that are worth more than 5 years. Sometimes they will be wrong, but then sometimes you'll be wrong not to go more than 5 years. If you don't trust your instincts, if you have to make rules to protect yourself from yourself, maybe you shouldn't be running a baseball team.

It does worry me that, we get a new CEO, and suddenly the team is allowed to spend. Next year? Maybe there is a new CEO and maybe he well take a dim view to the idea that team can spend as much as they like. It would be nice if Rogers could keep to the same philosophy, in regards to the Jays,  from year to year, we'd be much better off. One year we can add several high priced players, the next we have to pass the hat when we want to sign one more guy.

Anyway, as a Blue Jays fan, who would love to see the Jays make the playoffs again, I'm all for loosening the purse strings. Sign Lester. Find a left field who could fit with Bautista and Encarnacion to make us a strong offensive team again. Fix the bullpen. Do what it takes to fix all the holes.

As a realist, I know a business needs to set limits, but maybe the Jays could push the limits a little bit. Rogers doesn't need the Jays to make a profit every year. Spending more money won't guarantee a winner, but it can't hurt.