Amidst an off-season of discontent amongst his fanbase, Paul Beeston concedes the Blue Jays could have done a better job of managing expectations.
So on Monday night in Toronto when the Blue Jays president and CEO suggested the team should make the playoffs two-to-three times over the next five years, he not only managed to raise expectations again, but eyebrows as well including those of his GM Alex Anthopoulos.
Beeston’s statement came in response to a pointed question from a fan during the Q&A portion of Monday’s state of the franchise event at Rogers Centre for season-ticket holders.
A fan asked Beeston what the team will have accomplished five years from now.
“As we go forward, I think you’re going to see that by five years from now, we better, surely, be in post-season,” he replied. “I won’t be as so bold as to predict we’re going to win the World Series, but that’s the goal.
“It could start this year, it may start next year, but I’ll tell you in the next five years, I’d expect that we would be (in the playoffs) two-to-three times.”
The response was a welcome dose of candour to the Blue Jays faithful in attendance, some of whom had acknowledged their “passion had turned to anger,” this off-season over the club’s inability to add a star players such as Prince Fielder or Yu Darvish.
Earlier, Beeston, Anthopoulos and manager John Farrell began the evening by repeating their oft-cited mantra of needing to build the team the “right way,” and the dangerous temptations that come with wanting to “fast-forward” the process.
During his two-year helm as GM, Anthopoulos has been loath to put a timeframe on winning, so after his boss went ahead and offered one, the Montreal native cracked that Beeston might be “fast-forwarding things,” himself.
But during a scrum with reporters following the event, Anthopoulos denied Beeston’s comments came as a surprise to him.
“Paul’s only known winning,” he said in reference to Beeston’s time with the club during its back-to-back World Series wins in the early ’90s. “And really that’s what Paul should expect out of me and everybody else. I think I was just being smart with him a little bit. He didn’t throw me for a loop at all. That’s why we’re here, to talk about winning and do it as fast as we can and the right way.”
During his own post-event scrum, Beeston stood by his earlier comments.
“Yeah, I think that’s what you have to be looking at,” he said. “I think Rogers has made the investment, I think the farm system is coming the way that we want it to come.”
In reference to rising expectations, Beeston acknowledged the Blue Jays’ tight-lipped policy on player personnel matters might not sit well with some anxious fans, but it’s to the club’s benefit.
“Would you like to be more forthcoming and more outright? I think anybody would,” he said. “But the reality is, it’s probably worked for (Anthopoulos) and worked for us.”
According to Anthopoulos, the 900 people in attendance on Monday was more than double the turnout for the previous two events and he cited that and a larger media presence as evidence that interest in the team is only growing.
Farrell said Blue Jays’ fans growing impatience has not gone unnoticed internally .
“The pushback from the public and frustration, we were talking about it before we came down here,” he said. “Yes, we empathize with it, but we feel like it’s a positive because people are paying attention. They want what we want and we go to every length that we can to do it in a smart fashion.”
Smart. The right way. Fast forwarding.
Blue Jays fans have heard these terms before and they’re likely going to hear them again.
What they hadn’t heard before Monday is when Beeston expects the organization to stop using them so often.