Read the methodology behind the ratings here. Remember that the grading scale is 20-80, with 50 representing league average.
#30 – Baltimore
#29 – Houston
#28 – Oakland
#27 – Pittsburgh
#26 – San Diego
#25 – Minnesota
#24 – Chicago AL
#23 – Seattle
#22 – Kansas City
#21 – Cleveland
#20 – New York Mets
#19 – Los Angeles Dodgers
#18 – Colorado
#17 — Miami
#16 — Diamondbacks
#15 — Cincinnati
#14 — Cubs
#13 — Milwaukee
#12 — San Francisco
#11 — Washington
#10 — Tampa Bay
Toronto’s 2011 Ranking: 8th
2012 Outlook: 52 (15th)
Playing in the American League East division has its pluses and its minuses. The main plus is the strong competition. The key minus is… the strong competition. Both the Toronto Blue Jays and the Tampa Bay Rays organizations stand to benefit from the new playoff format, which includes an additional wild card slot. The wild card winner has resided in the AL East every year since 2003 with the exception of 2006.
Although Toronto was rumored to have been involved in the chase for every young pitcher on the trading block this past off-season – such as Gio Gonzalez and Mat Latos – the club made very few (significant) changes to the 25-man roster, outside of the bullpen which added Sergio Santos, Francisco Cordero, Darren Oliver and Jason Frasor.
The lineup will look virtually the same in 2012 and the club will hope for a bounce-back years from first baseman Adam Lind and second baseman Kelly Johnson, as well as continued developments from sophomores including catcher J.P. Arencibia and left-fielder Eric Thames. The starting rotation has some question marks as Brett Cecil will look to rediscover his missing velocity or further learn to pitch without it. The highly-touted young hurler Kyle Drabek will look to make the necessary adjustments after getting hitting around during his rookie campaign. Improvements to the lower two-fifths of the rotation are essential if the club hopes to compete for one of the two American League wild cards.
2013+ Outlook: 60 (5th, tied)
Fans may be frustrated with the current direction of the organization, but Toronto has one of the brightest futures in the game. I recently ranked Toronto’s farm system as the second best in the game, sandwiched between San Diego and Tampa Bay. The organization has incredible depth in the system, including power arms and up-the-middle talents.
The organization will, unfortunately, have to make some adjustments to its . The new financial restraints added to amateur talent acquisitions – both through the draft and through the international market – will impact the organization immensely as it had one of the largest budgets in both areas. Toronto went for the gusto last year with a number of big name international signings that included Roberto Osuna, Dawel Lugo, Wuilmer Becerra, and Jesus Gonzalez.
The 2011 amateur draft held some drama for the Jays when it was unable to come to terms with top pick Tyler Beede, who instead followed through on his commitment to Vanderbilt University (where he’s struggled). Despite that hiccup, the organization still gave out 14 bonuses of $250,000 or more and finished with one of the highest overall draft budgets. Some scouts felt prep left-hander Daniel Norris, signed for $2 million as the 74th overall pick, was a more desirable prospect than Beede.
Financial Resources: 50 (14th, tied)
The Toronto Blue Jays are owned by Rogers Communications, one of the largest telecommunications companies in Canada. Rogers purchased the Blue Jays in 2000 (for $137 million) and also bought the retractable-domed stadium in 2004 – previously known as the SkyDome – and renamed it The Rogers Centre. Rogers also now owns a 24-7 sports television station known as Rogers SportsNet (which has now branched out to a variety of stations known as SportsNet East, West, etc), as well as a radio network known as The FAN590. All 162 games can now be found on SportsNet TV and The FAN590 radio, giving Rogers complete control of Jays’ television and radio exploits. According to Forbes, the television rights fee paid to the Jays from SportsNet (both owned by Rogers) doubled in price in 2011.
According to Forbes Magazine, the Blue Jays are currently valued at $413 million, 25th out of the 30 Major League Baseball teams but up almost $80 million over the ’10 estimate. The Jays’ estimated revenue sits at $188 million, up from $163 million in the previous year. With no other direct competition – and the entire country at its finger tips – as well as one of the lowest payrolls in baseball, the Jays organization should be flush with cash if/when the organization serious about competing for the playoffs. During the organization’s heyday in the early 1990s, Toronto had the largest payroll in all of Major League Baseball.
Baseball Operations: 64 (2nd, tied)
First-time General Manager Alex Anthopoulos is now entering his third full season after taking over from previous GM J.P. Ricciardi in October of 2009. A fairly new face to the baseball front office, although he apprenticed under Ricciardi as an assistant-GM, Anthopoulos has surrounded himself with intelligent baseball people such as Jay Sartori and Dana Brown. Vice President of Baseball Operations and Assistant-GM Tony LaCava is widely considered a surefire future general manager and he actually turned down the opportunity to take that role with the Baltimore Orioles this past off-season. Former general managers Jim Beattie and Ed Lynch were hired as MLB scouts.
Speaking of the scouting department, Toronto has beefed up its scouting ranks in recent years and now boasts the largest department in baseball. The organization did suffer one big blow, though, when Director of Latin American Operations Marco Paddy left the organization to oversee a similar role with the Chicago White Sox. Paddy was responsible for overseeing many of Toronto’s big-ticket Latin America acquisitions. Toronto brought in Ismael Cruz, formerly of the New York Mets, to fill the role. Another former general manager, Chuck LaMar, was brought in as Special Assistant to Amateur Scouting. Along with the strong scouting department, Toronto also utilizes a video scouting department and employs statistical analysts such as Joe Sheehan, formerly of the website BaseballAnalysts.com.
Overall: 54 (9th)
The Toronto Blue Jays organization has most of the pieces necessary to not only field a playoff-caliber team but to also build a dynasty if it plays its cards well. The minor league system is strong and should be able to sustain a steady stream of talent, although the new restraints on acquiring amateur talent will offer a challenge to the club. The organization also has stable ownership and, theoretically, the money necessary to acquire some star talent to supplement those currently on the 25-man roster.
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