TORONTO - Toronto Blue Jays head honcho Paul Beeston told season ticket holders on Thursday he came back to the club to win a World Series and nothing less.
He may have been preaching to the choir — and a very small choir at that with less than 400 at the Rogers Centre for a night of free beer, snacks and cheerleading.
Advertised as the 2011 State of the Franchise address, Beeston recalled the glory days — bringing out Roberto Alomar to stoke the faithful’s fire — of the 1992-93 World Series teams.
“We are not here to just play competitive baseball,” Beeston said. “We are here to win the World Series and to be in it consistently.”
Beeston talked about building a team that would make “Toronto and all of Canada” proud.
“The players have bought into what we are doing,” he said.
He used the example of both Shaun Marcum and Vernon Wells — two players the Jays traded away to stock up on futures and provide financial flexibility — as players who were sad to leave because they saw the potential in the Jays’ dugout.
“Shaun and Vernon didn’t want to leave,” he said. “They saw what we wanted to do here”
Beeston cautioned, however, that it won’t be all lollipops and roses as the team changes direction from a perennial also-ran to a contender.
“It will be a tough climb, but it is a climb we can make,” he said. “We are not about the past, we are about the present and the future.”
But even Beeston and Alomar couldn’t convince some in attendance that the next trip to the fall classic was only a 162 games or so away.
Mike Doucher, a season ticket holder since 1981 has been in the stands for those glory years and too many not so glorious years since.
“We lost Roy Halladay and Vernon Wells,” the Oakville native said. “That to me looks like a step back. If we want to win a World Series you have to have stars to win.”
Doucher said that like many sports fans in Toronto, he is growing increasingly frustrated at rebuilding effort after rebuilding effort resulting in nothing.
“Everybody rebuilds in Toronto,” he said. “I’m a Leaf fan too and you wait and you wait and you wait. It seems you just get near to the top and you start rebuilding again.”
Doucher, however, still wears his Blue Jays logo on his sleeve and was willing to listen as general manger Alex Anthopoulos explained his plan for the team’s umpteenth new blueprint.
“I think Anthopoulos is a young guy with good ideas and I think he works well with Beeston,” he said.
“I’d like to think that he and Beeston can pull something off here in the next few years.”
What Doucher doesn’t have is any respect for former GM J.P. Ricciardi.
“As far as I’m concerned, J.P. Ricciardi put the team back many, many years,” he said. “I was glad to see him go.”
Anthopoulos took to the microphone in an attempt to assure fans like Doucher that addition by subtraction — trading Wells and Marcum — was the right thing to do for this team.
Loaded with prospects
“Prospects are the life blood of this organization,” he said. “It is a hard decision to trade anyone away, let alone players like Vernon and Shaun, players who didn’t to leave, but it made sense to us.”
Anthopoulos emphasized that both trades will work in the Jays’ favour in the future.
“In Major League Baseball if you want to go in the right direction you have to have top prospects and we feel we have them in our organization,” he said, citing the likes of Deck McGuire, 21, Anthony Gose, 20 and Brett Lawrie, 21.