Paul Beeston says it’s time for his team to “take it to the next level.”
The Toronto Blue Jays president joined Jeff Blair and Paul Jones on Prime Time Sports Thursday where he said the club’s rebuilding phase is over and it’s time to reward the fans and Blue Jays players and help turn the team into a consistent playoff contender.
“Alex (Anthopoulos) has done a great job building up the farm system, Beeston said. “The future, I’d like to think, is now. We’ve got to get ready this year and get ready for next year too.
“We now have to put the Blue Jays — for their fans and for the team itself — I think, we got to show them we’re committed to winning and this off-season, it’s going to be very important for us to go out and be aggressive and improve the team and give us a chance to win.
He hinted the organization could be willing to raise payroll if it would help turn the Blue Jays into a more competitive ballclub.
“It’s not going down. To the degree it goes up will depend on what is available. Don’t think there is anyone who doesn’t think we’ll be taking it to the next level. We won’t be crazy with 10-12-13 year contracts. We think we’re close right now.”
Despite the team’s recent skid, Beeston said the team plans to be very aggressive in the winter to help boost the current roster, which has needs in the starting rotation and elsewhere.
“We are at a point right now where we have got to make a move,” he said. “We’ve got to be aggressive. We have got to put ourselves in a position to have a chance for next year. I think we have to be in the trade market and free agent market. We will get Bautista, Lind, Arenicibia, Lawrie back. We have got the nucleus where we want to be and we’ve got to add it.”
Beeston added the team’s top priority remains increasing the performance on the field as television ratings and attendance have taken positive steps forward this season.
Beeston said the Blue Jays need to add experienced players who can help the team quickly become a playoff contender.
“We actually believed we had a good team this year. Then we hit that skid with the injuries and pitching and then position players went down and quite frankly we were a bit shy from an experience point of view, not a talent point of view, and so as we go into next year we have a lot of players that have experiences.”
One of the team’s biggest current issues is the performance of Ricky Romero.
Despite Romero’s slide, Beeston is confident he can regain his form and believes he will be key member of the team’s rotation in 2013.
“If we had solution, we would address it,” Beeston explained. “We hope it’s just a bad four months but at the end of the day we’re counting on Ricky for next year. Terrific career so far –velocity is there, it’s the location. Ricky has a lot of pride and we’re certainly counting on him for the future. We just hope this is a bit of an aberration and it won’t be the first pitcher like that.”
Entering play Friday, The Blue Jays currently have a 56-68 record and sit in fifth place in the AL East standings. They have not made the playoffs since winning the World Series in 1993.