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Thursday Bantering: Shapiro, Dunedin, etc

And some Harold Reynolds too!

MLB: Spring Training-Pittsburgh Pirates at Toronto Blue Jays Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Less than a week before Christmas, and it’s a particularly quiet period of the baseball calendar so there’s not many Blue Jays things to discuss. The Jays unveiled more yesterday on their plans in Dunedin and Mark Shapiro did some talking, which we’ll get to in a big. But first...

This isn’t my usual gig (I tend more towards 1,800 word posts), but I feel compelled to draw attention to and highlight an important recent development in sabermetric commentary courtesy MLB Network analyst extraordinaire (and BBB’s most trusted expert) Harold Reynolds:

Now, we shouldn’t be too hard on Harold for not being at the cutting edge — after all, slugging percentage has not only been an official stat since 1923 (in the NL; 1946 in the AL).

Getting back to our beloved Cyanocitta cristata bromia, they unveiled plans for their updated Spring Training complex in Dunedin. President Shapiro believes the US$80-million retrofit ($60-million or 75% funded by various levels of Florida governments) will give the Jays the best facilities in baseball and a competitive advantage. Not that he can really say otherwise, so we’ll see how it all works out, theoretically in time for March 2020.

They’re also doing some minor work on the Rogers Centre, highlighted by a new roof (I wonder why...). But nothing major to announce yet, other than reinforcing once again that while grass may have come to the Great White North, it won’t be coming to the former Skydome. It turns out it would cost millions, maybe into the tens of million, so it sounds like a good idea to abandon Beeston’s folly.

In that same piece, Nicholson-Smith quotes Shapiro as saying that payroll “could theoretically match” the levels of the past three years (the $160-million or so range) which to be frank sounds absurd. It seems like he’s more talking potential payroll capacity, which is irrelevant to 2019. Nicholson-Smith suggests $120-130 million as a more likely range, though there’s no quotes so it’s unclear if he’s just speculating or passing along real intel.

Finally, Shapiro hopes fans will trust the process (where have we heard that before?) and is unfazed by criticism. That’s fine for now, but in a couple years that line won’t work. Relatedly, they’re expecting attendance to be flattish if down a little after it fell to 2.3-million from an AL leading 3.2-million in 2017. That seems a little optimistic to me.

Around MLB, things were similarly quiet. Matt Harvey signed with the Angels on a one year deal worth a guaranteed $11-million plus incentives. They drafted him in the third round of the 2007 draft and offered him a $1-million bonus but he spurned them to attend UNC.

Perhaps more significantly, MLB reached a long overdue agreement with the Cuban Baseball Federation (CBF) on a posting system that will roughly mirror the system for Japanese and Korean players. This should normalize what had been a very seedy process of Cuban players getting to MLB, to say nothing of the huge risks to players and their families. Though if I’m reading it properly, it seems like it gives a lot of control to the CBF, as they get to decide whether players are posted and players who instead defect will be subject to waiting penalties. But then the posting systems gives a lot of control to Japanese and Korean teams (though those players eventually can become free agents).

Maybe today’s the day something happens...but probably not.