Griffin interview: Jays president Paul Beeston unplugged
The following is the transcript of a far-reaching interview with Jays' president Paul Beeston that took place in his office on Thursday, October 6 at the Rogers Centre. He speaks candidly about his attitude on free-agents like Cliff Lee last year and Rich Gossage back in the day and whether they would ever decide to come to Toronto, his attitudes on winning, on his own contract, on the Jays' positioning across Canada and on his own young Jays players in the current clubhouse.
Richard Griffin: We've talked about it a little bit, but watching the playoffs with all the ex-Jays playing and the Jays still not having reached the playoffs, are you happy for those guys?
Paul Beeston: You have to be happy for them. I mean all those decisions were made by Alex and the baseball people with an effort to improve our baseball team. Look at Shaun Marcum, you can sit back and say to yourself, we wouldn't have Brett Lawrie. The thought was that he would be a core piece for us. We might have some pitching, but we didn't have the position players, so you're happy for Marcum
You're happy, happy for John McDonald and for Aaron Hill. But, you know, from our point of view, I think that Alex had determined that he wanted to make a move with Aaron. He goes there and plays as well as he does. You don't cheer against those guys. You don't cheer against guys that are good guys that work hard for you. You don't cheer against them, you kind of cheer for them.
Doc, you know what Doc was going to be. Doc was going to be the horse wherever he went. The fact that he went to Philadelphia, you take some kind of pride that he was in the organization and learned here. What would happen if they'd all been here right now? We still might not be in the playoffs and yet we might be in the World Series. You'll never know the answer to that question. But you can only look at it through the point of view where we are in a better position. We believe that we're in a better position than we were before we made all those trades. So I don't look at it that way.
RG: The fact of Doc was that he wanted to go somewhere else and...
PB: Doc wanted to go. Doc made it quite clear that that he was not signing here at the end of the 2010 season.
RG: So to believe that if you had Halladay and Marcum and Romero and those guys that's not based on reality.
PB: That's not based on reality. Doc made it quite clear that he wasn't going to be around at the end of the 2010 season so he would not have been here. Certainly we could have Marcum then we wouldn't have Lawrie. We have to give up somebody to get somebody. Yes, we think he has a big future, but to get a person like that who was a first-round draft choice that has this potential at 20-years-old, you had to give up something and the feeling was that we had to give up Shaun Marcum and hopefully it will work out and these players will be good at the same time, so it was all pieces. Was it tough? Yes. But you said yourself, what if we had Halladay; what if Marcum was pitching the way he pitched this year? What if we had Ricky Romero the way that he's going? What if we bring up Henderson Alvarez two months earlier and he pitched like he pitched the last three months. You've got the foundation of a pretty good rotation there.
RG: When you walk into the Rogers headquarter building do you get those same questions, because they're not baseball fans, thy're just sort of...
PB: No, but they know what's going on. We don't operate on a surprise basis with them. When there's something that's coming up I make sure that the senior people at Rogers know. Trading Roy Halladay was not an easy thing to do because he was an iconic figure, number one, but I think more importantly than that, he was the face of the franchise. Rogers has to be aware of what we're doing and we've had complete and total support from them. The good thing about working for them is they've never once said to us, no you can't do that.
RG: Does that make you and Alex the same type of team as you and Pat Gillick were in the '80s, that he pretty much needs you to represent what he's doing but it's basically your decisions.
PB: I think in a lot of ways, but our relationship with Alex right now it's a lot different. We were doing those pieces before with Labatt's. Labatt's really knew what was going on. Their CEO was a huge baseball fan, Peter Widdrington. We had Peter Hardy here. There were no surprises back then. I think I learned that from Mr. Hardy. Make sure...if you think something's for real, some trades going down or we're going to sign somebody, if we're going to spend $10 million on Hechavarria, or we're going to sign Chapman for $25 million, or we're going to look at somebody, make sure that that it is at least floated up there. Are we in the right pew here, so that we're not going to be bringing this to you at the last minute. Bautista's probably the best example. Whether it was the right deal or the wrong deal, it was our deal, it was Alex's deal. We knew we were going to be paying somewhere in the $65-70 million range, the $60-70 million range and that was it. Those numbers you make sure they're not surprised by when it's getting close to it, so you know, “Here's what we told you before. Here's what it's come down to and here's the decision that has to be made. We're going to make this five-year commitment and it's going to be $65 million. Are you okay?” Because I think they have the right to sign off on that. They have never said no. That is the good part about working with them.
RG: It seems like you want to be here when this thing finally comes to fruition. The rumour is that you re-upped through 2015. Is there anything to that?
PB: Look, I know nothing about that. I heard that rumour but I have not re-upped to anything. I have not talked to anybody or done anything. I'm happy working with these guys, because they're a good group of guys. The two luckiest guys in the world are (sr. assistant and original Jays' employee) Howie (Starkman) and me. We're veterans. We're working with a group of young guys that let us have fun too.
RG: And you already have your ring.
PB: And I have my ring, that's exactly right. But, no, I'm being very serious when I say that. I couldn't be more serious. But we'll look at that at some point in time, but no, abosolutely not. I have not re-upped. I have not re-upped to anything. I saw that at some point and said that's the first I ever heard of it. Why would it only be to 2015. We'll have won a couple of times by then. They don't want to win three in a row? (laughs)
RG: Remember, you wouldn't ever sign a pitcher for more than three years. (Jimmy Key left for the Yankees because of that)
PB: (laughs) That's right. We can't change the rules. So, no. There's no extension.
RG: You're not a guy who shoots from the hip in terms of saying something that's not well thought out. At the fan get-together in February tou talked on the mic about the possibility that this organization could spend up to $120 million on payroll. Obviously that was well thought out and that you weren't just off-the-cuff. But you weren't talking about direct, major league team payroll? I mean you included draft bonuses, international free agency. Is that how you approached it at that time or is it...
PB: No, we're talking salaries. We're talking salaries. I was talking about the 40-man roster.
RG: In terms of being well thought out is that something that when this team is ready to win, with the pieces in place, that you go to Rogers and say, “We need to add this piece to win.” Is that when you're going to do it.
PB: I don't know when we're ging to do it. It could be this year. It could be next year. It's going to be when it's the right deal that's going to put us over the top. But we're going to get our salaries up there just by adding an extra year for all of these players. Each year that they become eligible for arbitration, there's more money. So, we are actually going to be increasing our salaries this year dramatically from where we were. The money we took from when we were a $100 million payroll a few years ago, we ploughed that back. We didn't put that into some type of a savings plan. We ploughed it back into adding extra development people, to adding extra scouts and signing more in the amateur free agent market. We were $3-4 million in (amateur) free agents before. We're spending $15 million on free agents now, when you add all the numbers up. I'm talking ($120M in) salaries and I still believe once we do that, and we saw it this year, I believe there will be a much better buzz about the team. There was much more interest in the team and we know that from the point if view of getting the fans in here that we can make it economically sensible and that's what we're going to have to be. We're not trying to do this thing on a one-year, one-off basis. We're trying to do it on a sustainable basis and I think that the model works, the business plan works, but it's the timing of when you're going to do that.
RG: What can you say about attendance...fans look in and even media and people are going, “Oh look, from four years ago, they were over 2-million fans and now they're down to 1.8.” We talked about it before, the fact that you told me when you came back that you could see this was going to be a viable contender for years to come, which is what you're taking about now. You wanted to get rid of all the (giveaway) ticket deals before that happened so nobody would say, “Oh great. Now that you're good you're taking the deals away from us. As a business plan, as a popular sports entertainment, what can you say about the fact that it's not quite the dramatic drop in tickets, in fan interest that it looks like in just plain numbers. There's a lot of corporate tickets back then that didn't represent bodies in seats.
PB: That's right. I guess the easy answer to that was to say...I don't know what's on the record or what's off the record and that's the problem.
RG: I don't want you to throw anybody under the bus.
PB: That's the problem.
RG: But then, isn't it easy to say that it was corporate and it didn't represent reality.
PB: It was corporate. And you can see it this year. From the fans that were coming out and the games that we went over 30,000, the number of dates where we were over 40,000. The two or three that we virtually sold out. You talk Doc, you talk Robbie. Those were four special days, but the fans came back then. The revenue that we generated this year, the plan is working. I think we set the prices and the prices haven't increased since I've been here. But revenue continues to grow. Interest continues to grow in the team as measured by radio and television ratings. We're very, very pleased with the direction that we're going. Would we like it to be faster? We'd definitely like it to be faster. We could make it faster. How can we make it faster? By playing meaningful games in September. But we're not there yet. That doesn't mean that we're not where we want to be. Because we knew this was going to be a tough climb.
RG: When you take things away from people there's going to be a reaction. And I heard reactions about how the Toronto Star plan had changed, discount this and discount that had changed. I said it's not me call the Jays. But did they? Did you hear all those same complaints and responses and did you respond to them in a way to ease people into the new reality of Jays ticket pricing.
PB: Yes. Well, sure we did. We told them what we were doing. We told them why we were doing it. And more importantly than that we honoured our word by saying that by doing what we're doing and by getting the money that we're putting the money into a system that we're hoping is going to give you what you really want which is a championship team. So, it's one thing to say we're going to do this and take it away and be damned with you, but, no, we're setting ourselves up so that we have a business model that the fans can still pay their money, still see their games, still get their perqs, but more important than that, the money that we're getting we're investing in the team. The money that we invest in the team is going to give them hopefully a sustainable winner, because that's what it's all about.
RG: The four or five games, the sold-out events, because they were more than just games. You talked about when the place was jammed and the people were alive. When you walked into the press box or when you walked out and saw this scene, what's your impression of what that does to and for your fan-base in terms of remembering the glory days of this stadium.
PB: It's not about the glory days, but it gives them a good experience for that game. They say, “Boy, this was fun. They showed up to play. They did what they did with a sense of style, a sense of class. But more important than that, the games were good games and I'm coming back to one or two more because it's a good experience.” The stadium was full, there's a vibration to the stadium, the fans enjoy it. You don't have to win the game, but if you play an exciting game where they can actually say this was money that's well spent, this was good entertainment. It's what you need and that's what will happen as we start to get good.
RG: So you're not asking them to remember the glory days. You're asking them to remember that experience they just had and the next one they're coming to.
PB: Absolutely. We're not selling the past, we're selling the future. But we're not going to forget our past. Robbie? What were you going to do with Robbie? Robbie went to the Hall-of-Fame. He did everything for the Blue Jays that we could ask him to do to represent us well.
RG: He was the Kelly Gruber of this summer.
PB: (laughs) Exactly. But, you know, it's not the past that we're talking about right now. But that doesn't mean we're going to forget our past. That's maybe a reflection of what we could be in the future. But that's 20 years ago. What we'd like to do is have another 10 years of being a competitive baseball team where we're playing the final week and it means something and hopefully it leads to the playoffs and then hopefully the playoffs can lead to the World Series. Because that's the goal. That's the one vision. One World Series and it's not going to be easy and it's not going to be simple and it's not going to be quick, but I think we've expedited it a little bit and in-between we're playing exciting baseball.
RG: Alex at his end of season get-together with media stated the obvious in certain areas, that you need a frontline pitcher, a guy at the back-end of the bullpen, a hitter, the usual stuff, but in terms of Rogers, is there any feeling that this Japanese kid (Yu Darvish) could open a new market for them. I don't want you to go out and alert every other team that you're going to be posting very high for this guy, but it's an opportunity in an Asian-heavy GTA...
PB: I can answer it this way. I think those people at Rogers who never heard of him before, now know this player is in existence.
RG: And he's part Iranian too. You could go after that segment.
PB: (laughs) We'd be the team of the world. We have not given (Rogers ownership) any indication that we're ready to spend those (extra payroll) dollars right now until we're ready to spend them wisely. The best example I can give you is last year. I get these letters, I get these calls, why didn't we go after Cliff Lee. We could go after Cliff Lee, but Cliff Lee ain't coming here and you and I know that. Now, had we been in the playoffs the year before and we go to Cliff Lee and say you're the final piece. I think we've got something to sell. We've got good ownership, we've got a great young general manager, we've got a great manager, we've got a good future and more important, we've got a city and a country. The things that we sold before when we were bringing in those other players that other teams wanted is still here. This is a great selling point. What we don't have to sell right now is the history of winning, or even being close to being in the post-season. Would he have entertained us? Well, I'll tell you what. My bet would be, and I'd given you long odds, that he'd have taken dinner with us. He'd have taken a meeting with us. He might even have kept us into it if he thought our dollars were that good, but in the end...Rich Gossage of San Diego. He wasn't coming. Rich could tell you the story. We met and met. “I don't think you should be embarassed by that offer.” We were dealing with (agent) Jerry Kapstein. Then we'd go up a little bit, we'd go up a little bit. The bottom line of it was they weren't really coming here.
RG: There was Reggie jackson having dinner at Charles Bronfman's house (in '76). Then the next day he's on the streets of Manhattan with the Boss waving to his people (with the same agent as Gossage).
PB: Exactly. Where I want to be is where you can go out and do your Reggie Jackson and have Reggie Jackson actually have to think about not signing here like Jack Morris did or like Dave Winfield did or like Paul Molitor did or like Gary Lavelle back in those days. We had a shot, even with those big players. We had a shot because we had something to sell. It was Toronto. You got to understand. This is a huge tool for us, this city and in a lot of ways the stadium and in a lot of ways, strangely enough the division. Playing, what do you play, you play 18 games, which is 12-13% of your games in Yankee Stadium or Boston and the same number here. It's a great environment.
RG: The fact of Cliff Lee, again. Apparently his wife had a lot to do with it...
PB: I'm presuming I can mention Cliff Lee now that he's signed. (laughs)
RG: Yeah, yeah.
PB: I don't think I'm tampering when I say that, but we could have gone after him, but he wasn't coming here.
RG: But with (Lee's) wife being involved and with more players presenting that family-oriented front, is this organization getting back to that Peter Hardy, family-first thing where this whole clubhouse is full of kids that love being a part of this organization.
PB: I think so and I think you saw it last year when Shaun Marcum left and cried. He didn't want to leave. He wanted to be part of it. He could see what's coming. The advantage we've got, we've got the great communicator. They've always talked about that being Ronald Reagan, but I'll tell you what, Alex talks to every one of those guys. They know exactly where he stands and whether it's through e-mail, whether it's on the phone or whether it's eyeball-to-eyeball, you'll see him go for a day and just meet with a few players on the road just because he wants to tell them what's happening and how things are going. So I think that he's built up this loyalty to the team, loyalty to the organization and as it's coming through, because the real key to this organization is the future of the farm system and we've got some talent down there. What we could have done a few years ago is the reverse of the Roy Halladay deal, we didn't have the talent to make the trip to come back here when Halladay said he wanted to come to Toronto. We now know from the teams that want to approach us for players that we've got some talent. It's not just catching, it's pitching and position players. And there's some real players there that other teams are interested in and eventually you're going to have to move. Did we want to move Zach Stewart? Probably not, but whether we wanted Rasmus or not, that was all part of it. We had those pieces and yet we kept the rest of that pitching staff. Whether it be Jenkins and McGuire or whether it be Hutchison or Alvarez. Then you go further down from that and now you're seeing a real flow of players. The Lansing team had a lot of talent. The New Hampshire team had a lot of talent. The Dunedin team had some good talent and both of the half-season A teams were good.
RG: But there is starting to be that interest from other teams for your talent.
RG: And it's very deep, especially pitching-wise and even outfield. You have a ton of those guys too. But if Alex gets to the winter meetings and the opportunity presents itself and a trade is made for one of those missing major-league pieces, is that going to accelerate the process?
PB: Absolutely. Absolutely. Isn't that the position you want to be in? That's exactly the position you want to be in. Then it's tough to make some decisions. You better not screw up. But, that's the tough decision. This is no different than the decision, why could you trade Fred McGriff? Because you had John Olerud. I said we'renot going to talk about the past, but these are the ones that I'm familiar with. Why could we trade Alfredo Griffin? Because we had Tony Fernandez. These guys were pushing. You want that, whatever the position could be. So you've got (Adeiny) Hechavarria. I've only seen him at spring training, but the fact of the matter is everyone says defensively he can play here as well as anybody in the major leagues right now at shortstop. He's still got to have that experience down there.
RG: Is that why it was important to maintain the flexibility of payroll before you're ready...not to keep adding just because you were in the AL East?
PB: Absolutely. Because it would have made no sense, it made no sense for us to just keep on increasing our payroll for players – and I don't mean to malign any of them – that are “B” free agents just so that we could have names. If we have “A” free agents that's a different story. Now you're talking something completely different. But my feeling is and will always continue to be that the mobility of the best free agents is always to contending teams and until we prove we're there, we're not going to get those. So, what's the right way of doing it that way. We still have your fill-ins, because you don't want to knock the Dotels or the Rauchs and your Frank Franciscos and the year before that Kevin Gregg, that type of guy. But you want those premier guys. You've got to be in the position at that point in time to be able to offer them a winning franchise.
RG: But you're saying also that you want those Type A's, but you'd rather have them become Type A's in your organization than sign those from somewhere else.
PB: Ideally, but...
RG: Then you're handing out compensation draft picks, which is against what Alex is all about.
PB: That's the best of both worlds, but sometimes you have to change. We have that luxury right now as we're rebuilding that thing. We're deep. But times change. Then you have to change your policies. Because I don't think that any of those policies of constructing a team can be so firm that when the circumstances change you don't look at it and say I've got to change the way I'm doing my business.
RG: The AL East. The Red Sox fold and get rid of their manager. They're talking about the GM maybe being given permission to look elsewhere. The Yankees, you look at Jeter, you look at Posada, you look at guys getting older. The Rays are an up and coming team, but they don't have the financial wherewithal to develop their players and then keep them. Do you see an opening in this division?
PB: Yeah. Absolutely. An opening not in the sense that it's just going to be handed to us, not one of those openings, but the answer is I do see an opportunity and I do see the gap closing and I do see us as an improving ballclub. When I say we're cautiously optimistic, I really don't mean I'm cautiously optimistic. I'm very optimistic about the direction he's taking this thing. Alex is obviously the guy who's got the focus that he has and the ability to actually implement what he wants us to do. To the best that I can reflect on this he hasn't made any real major mistake at this time in any of the decisions that he's done. And in-between that he's picked up all these draft choices that unfortunately if they stay with us aren't really going to manifest themselves until 2014-15. But they may turn into something that next year he can trade. Because there's some teams that are looking to get their salaries down, that are looking for the best young minor-league players, we're going to have them. So we can say 'Bingo. We want this guy. We could be the guy that goes after the Greinke's, goes after the Marcum's, or goes after whoever is being traded because we're going to have what I would consider a full minor league system.
RG: I don't know if you've looked specifically at it, but do you look at a situation like the '08 Rays and they reached a point where they filled in with Cliff Floyd and they filled in with free agent guys and won, but they don't have the sustainability that this organization has because of ownership and fan base. I mean, once you reach that '08 Rays level, do you feel like you can sustain it...and that's Alex's goal.
PB: Absolutely, 100-percent. There's not a question. I think we'll be able to financially bring in the money that's going to sustain a $120 million payroll. With our big market, we have a big stadium, we have a big television area. We do have the ability to draw the money. What we have to do is have the fans have a reason to come to the ballpark, watch us on television, tune in the radio and talk about us, wear the jersey, do the whole thing. You've been around here long enough, you've been around all this summer and it may be just me, but people that could have been nice to me before but weren't about the team that are friends, all of a sudden knew what we did last night. There was a following that was developing. I just see it. I can tell myself. Howie can tell you this the same thing in terms of the number of ticket requests that I get. It's a key. If you're not getting ticket requests you've got a problem. If the scalpers can't get rid of their tickets...scalpers actually are a good barometer of how you're doing. If the scalpers are doing well, you're doing well. But we have the opportunity here. We've just got to get back to the 3-million people. Then we can play with the big boys.
RG: Starting in the off-season with the Winter Tour, the Caravan or whatever you call it, and with TVA coming in for 50 games (in French to Quebec) or whatever they did television-wise...
PB: Yeah, 11, but 60 next year, you're right, but they didn't start 'til September...
RG: Is that...when you say you have a big market, is that counting Canada and are you reaching that point where coast-to-coast there's getting to be that interest even though it's not a World Series team?
PB: Yeah, there's no doubt about it. The way you measure it, in all honesty, is by your television ratings. You can see where they're watching it out west and what they're doing. Putting the (Short-A) team out in Vancouver which actually won the championship, they sold out, except for the final game which they won. They sold out the last eight games, we're talking 7,000 people going to see an A-ball game. Most players will go through there and 1-2-3 of them will actually make the major leagues and they'll be players that those fans saw play out there, so there's going to be that interest. The fact that we had the Caravan....equally important is the Caravan going out west -- you saw the television coverage – was the clinics we held across the country. There were 10 clinics. They started in Vancouver, they went to Halifax, they went to Montreal...
RG: And they were all identifiable with the Jays?
PB: Well sure, because they were all Jays guys. Duane Ward led them. They always had the old players there and every one of them was sold out with a waiting list. And Robbie went to a couple of them. Actually I think he might have gone to three of them. I think he went to Winnipeg, went to London, he definitely went here and he definitely went to Vancouver. It's the best thing. You have a Hall-of-Famer there. You had the players. Moseby was there, Barfield was there, Rance Mulliniks was there, Ward-o was there for all of them. It actually shows where the interest is. I don't think it's just the fact that we're doing it. I think it's the number of Canadian ballplayers that are playing in the major leagues right now. Think about it. There are big names that are Canadian ballplayers that are having an impact. All you have to do is look at Milwaukee. I mean Milwaukee's got three guys. They got three Canadians.
RG: Kottaras, Green and ...
RG: And a GM and an assistant GM.
PB: No, but if you start looking at the players. Obviously until Morneau had that unfortunate accident, the Twins had one of the better players in the game, a former MVP. And it's there. You've got Russell Martin catching for the Yankees. That's all part of it too. I saw that interview with Axford saying, no one ever recognized me before when I was back in Simcoe. But there are a lot of players and we have a lot coming through our system right now. So, I think it's an exciting time.
RG: Where I noticed it this summer in particular was when you talk about the interest all over, was when I got here in '95, you'd go on the road and there'd be 15-20-30 people around the hotel from Toronto or from Canada. But this year I'd be at the airport and I'd see a lot of people getting on flights to go follow the team. This more than any year since '95-'96...
PB: So it's coming. It's a slow build. That's what I'm saying. But why do I feel this way? I think the team is young and people can identify with them. I think this team has got two stars, two of the better players in the game, one a pitcher in Romero, the other in Bautista. Now you're starting to fill it out. They can see what Lawrie can be. They can see what Arencibia can be. They can see what we've got in Lind. Escobar, we had some injuries, but, you know I hate to mention injuries. Because you know what? Every team has injuries. We are not unique. In this day and age guys are, “Oh man, I've got a sore knee. I can't play.” That's everybody. That's every team now. Look at Boston. Boston was decimated by injuries friom what they thought they had.
RG: But that's where the teams with large payrolls can fill in because their injuries are replaced with guys that are similar. Here you spent much of the early summer with McCoy, Johnny Mac, Jayson Nix and Molina as your bench players. But, speaking of the young players, what do you think of the social networks, Twitter. I think that your guys on Twitter are probably as charming as any group of athletes out there. Sometimes they go a little far...
PB: Let's hope they stay that way. That could spoil you.
RG: But don't you think that that also helps reach out to a younger fan base.
PB: It does. These guys are great in the community. These guys are...we don't have bad players. Our players are very generous with their time. I always find the odd one, but even the player who is generous with his time has the odd occasion where he's going to upset someone, didn't give the autograph, wouldn't stand for a photo, wouldn't do that sort of thing, but it's rare. This is a pretty good group of guys, but they are technologically, what do you call them..social-media friendly. They do use it. They're getting involved and they're having fun. Did you see the picture in the paper on the Leafs.
RG: Uh, no.
PB: Well, okay, see this is in your paper.
RG: Well my subscription ran out.
PB: (leafs through paper) ...but it's young guys. They like them. (finds Go Leafs ad) If it was me I'd have had them in hockey uniforms, four blue jerseys or something, but it still looks good. They got their hats on backwards. They got their sticks. They like doing it. They actually like doing it.
RG: There's a lot of hockey talk going on in that clubhouse. Because athletes from different sports are able to reach out to each other through social media.
PB: That's the kind of direction and I think the fans can appreciate that. I think at the very end of the day, these guys are proud to be on a Canadian team. We don't have any problem getting guys to go on the Caravan this year. We didn't really have any problems last year.
RG: It was something new so they were sort of hesitant, but now word of mouth has said...
PB: This can be fun. This can be a good week. They treat you well. The fans receive you well. I still remember hearing all the comments about what was happening out in Calgary and Vancouver. They went to hockey games. There were lineups to sign (autographs). Each one of them did their job. A couple of them read the weather. Calgary lost the game and Calgary had all these guys into the clubhouse after the game. That's big stuff. But the fact that in that one little thing where Arencibia is talking about going in the “five-hole” and “top shelf” aftyer a win, it was fantastic. We've got Drew Doughty who wears our cap everywhere. If Drew Doughty is the face of the NHL at some point in time and the (signing) press conference he had the Blue Jay cap on and at the Olympics too. The point I'm making, I guess, is that in a lot of ways these players are media friendly. These guys there's not those airs to them. It's a pretty good clubhouse. But I think you have to give that credit to Alex. Alex is the one that's kind of created this because he's a friendly guy. He's an approachable guy.
RG: One more thing on Alex. You talk about not being able to get a Cliff Lee here or whatever...
PB: We didn't try though. Could we have? I'm saying it's a waste of time. He ain't coming.
RG: But in the meantime and the goodwill may accumulate over years, you get Vernon Wells sending a Cartier watch to Alex with a handwritten note. You don't think he's talking if somebody asks him about the Jays situation, he's going to say...
PB: That's the spot to go. You don't think Marcum...a guys dioesn't cry going out of here and then not do it. I've not read a negative comment from John McDonald or Aaron Hill. I haven't heard too much about what Roy was saying. But he was on a different mission at that point in time. But what I will say is that constant communication...I remember when he first took over the job and said “I'm going to meet with every player at spring training. He met with 60 guys. He had Cito and he met with 60 guys. I've never heard of that before. He sat with 60 guys, with everybody for 10-15 minutes and said this is what you can expect. You're here because you're a guest. Here's when you'll probably be cut down to go to minor-league camp, whether you're going to be in New Hampshire, whether you're going to be in Florida. He let everyone know exactly where they were. I think that's remarkable. He's not one of those guys that hangs around the dugout without a purpose. He hangs around with a purpose. He doesn't hang around the clubhouse without a purpose. He hangs with a purpose. He's not there just to be seen. He'll pull guys aside and he's very impulsive in the way of, “Let's get it done,” why wait. He has no trouble making a decision and he has no trouble delivering the hard news when it has to be delivered.