Beeston appointed Jays' interim CEO

Beeston appointed Jays' interim CEO

The Blue Jays have again looked to their past to help map out their future. On Tuesday, Toronto announced that Paul Beeston has been appointed the chief executive officer of the club on an interim basis.

Effective immediately, Beeston will assist in the daily operations for the ballclub, with the support of Paul Godfrey, who is stepping down as president and CEO at the end of the calendar year. Beeston will also aid in the search for a permanent replacement for Godfrey and hopes to find a successor before the 2009 season arrives.

"Make no mistake, I'm not here to work full time," Beeston said during a press conference on Tuesday. "I don't expect to be there for Spring Training. I would hope that even before that we would have somebody in place."

It's a familiar role for Beeston, who was the first employee of the Toronto Blue Jays in 1976 and eventually was named the president and CEO of the team in 1991. Beeston held that role until leaving to become the chief operating officer of Major League Baseball in 1997 -- a job he held for six years.

This time around, though, Beeston -- elevated to the team's Level of Excellence prior to the 2008 home opener in Toronto -- doesn't plan on assisting the Blue Jays for more than a few winter months. That aspect was integral in his decision to return to the club in his former role.

"I have a great deal of loyalty toward the Blue Jays," Beeston said. "The Blue Jays have been a life of mine. I've been around them, really, since the beginning. If I could help out, and it wasn't on a long-term basis, then I was prepared to do it."

Tony Viner, the president and CEO of Rogers Media, said that Beeston was brought on board to help lighten the offseason work load for Godfrey, who announced his decision to resign on Sept. 29. Beeston and Godfrey will both assist general manager J.P. Ricciardi in planning for the 2009 season.

"Ultimately, we didn't think it was fair to Paul Godfrey," Viner said, "to keep him here until Dec. 31, making decisions that are going to affect next year. That's very tough to ask of someone when they've made the announcement [to resign]."

Turning to Beeston fell in line with a recent trend by the Jays, who pulled Cito Gaston out of an 11-year absence from managing and re-hired him as a replacement for former manager John Gibbons in June. Gaston and Beeston were both in the fold when the Jays captured consecutive World Series titles from 1992-93.

Among the tasks at hand, Beeston -- a vice president of business operations, executive vice president of business, and president and COO for the Blue Jays at various points in his career -- indicated that he would talk to Ricciardi about pitcher A.J. Burnett's contract situation.

Burnett has the ability to opt out of his contract in order to become a free agent this winter. The Blue Jays plan on offering Burnett an extension in an attempt to convince the pitcher to stay in Toronto. Beeston said he'd be willing to negotiate with Burnett, if that's what Ricciardi wanted.

As far as finding a new president, Beeston shrugged off what could be seen as a daunting task.

"There's six billion people in the world," Beeston said. "We'll find somebody."

Ideally, Beeston and Viner said they'd find someone with a strong background in both baseball and business.

"You want the right person, you want a strong person," Beeston said. "You'd like to be able to get yourself somebody that you could see here for a long time, somebody that is loyal to the ballclub -- not to a person."

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.