bjays1977: Hi Mr. Beeston, thanks for chatting with us. Tom Verducci recently wrote an article where he detailed an MLB plan for realignment. What are your thoughts on this? Any truth? Could the Blue Jays ever be moved to a different division with Cleveland and Detroit?
Paul Beeston: It's a very good question and the Commissioner of Baseball has set up a Committee to look at and address this. It is not something that has had any great discussion other than the fact that it is an issue to be discussed at future meetings. Whether the Blue Jays are moved to another division, we will be happy if we are still aligned in a division with New York and Boston.
bitterbob: What ever happened to Adeinis Hechavarria? We heard a lot about him two weeks ago, but it seems like it's dead? Did he not clear customs?
Paul Beeston: We had a lot of interest in the Cuban shortstop. We still have interest in the Cuban shortstop. We do not have anything finalized and as of right now and he is still in Mexico. When there is something to announce and it is finalized it will result in a press release.
fun34690: Paul, its great to have you back! The Vernon Wells deal really frustrates me. Will the Blue Jays go back to the policy of only doing four years ... max?
Paul Beeston: Personally, I've always believed in short-term contracts. Four-year contracts are the extent of what we will do. That is always subject to change. Short-term contracts always allow for flexibility. On the other hand, should you be able to obtain options on the players service past those four years, that is something that you would look at.
goher56: How do we know Rogers is committed to making the Blue Jays a winner? I feel like they may sell the team. What can you say to change my mind?
Paul Beeston: That is a good question. In talking with the Rogers family and Nadir Mohammed the CEO of Rogers, they have indicated that they are in it for the long term. The best example of how they operate is that they have given us all that we have asked for to move the ball club forward. Whether it is pursuing Chapman and the $24 million we were able to offer to sign him.
In respect to adding additional scouts and additional dollars to increase personnel on the development side of the farm system, they have given us those dollars. There is no indication they have given us that they want to sell and have provided us with the resources to move forward and build a championship team. They have been totally supportive and our responsibility is to keep them informed so that we operate on a no-surprise basis. It is my personal opinion that the baseball fans of Toronto and of the Blue Jays are fortunate to have the Rogers as owners.
gunit3456: Paul, what do you consider a successful year for the team in 2010? Is it a number of wins? Is it signing so many Draft picks?
Paul Beeston: There is a number of ways to success in 2010. Obviously, the most wins that we can get is a measure of a successful season. But we are a young club and we will measure our success on the improvement of the young talent within the organization. Whether it is at the Major League level or the Minor League level. It is foolish for us to set a target of the number of games we expect to win -- we expect to play hard, we expect to compete, we expect to be aggressive and our long term goal is to bring a championship to this city.
We are excited about the potential of drafting nine players in the first three rounds, which will add to the young players obtained in the offseason through trades. We think the future is bright -- 2010 will be exciting and we hope you agree.
bctheway: Mr. Beeston, I live out in Vancouver. Could you ever see the day when you guys come out here to play a game again? I think that's why there are not as many Jays fans out here as there use to be. You guys have kind of left us out.
Paul Beeston: We are looking at playing games in Vancouver and indeed across the country in future years. As you may recall, we played our last games of Spring Training in Vancouver in previous years. We have also played in Ottawa, Calgary and St. John, New Brunswick. It is a goal of the organization to Canadianize on a more formal basis and implicit in that is playing games across the country. We look forward to starting that at the earliest possible time and we are anxious to get back to Vancouver as soon as it can be arranged.
badger81: I was a little disappointed that ticket prices were raised this season given the expectations of the team's performance this year. What was the rationale to raising ticket prices?
Paul Beeston: Ticket prices were raised on a marginal basis and not for all seats. Our goal is to put that money back in the organization. Whether that be money for scouting, development or major league salaries. What we are trying to do is bring a championship back to this city and that requires dollars. Nobody likes to see the price increase. But if we spend it wisely we believe that we are fulfilling the aspirations of the fans to see quality baseball entertainment that will lead to a championship.
jayyersa: What role will you play in pick in the new manager? Is that Alex Anthopoulos' call or is that something that you will play an active part in helping select?
Paul Beeston: The new manager will be chosen predominantly on the recommendation of Alex Anthopoulos and his baseball assistants. He will obviously bring it to both myself, who will talk to the Rogers people, so that everyone will have the opportunity to opine. However, this is Alex's responsibility and I would suggest to you that it is one of the key decisions that he will make so early in his career. I know he is thinking about this matter and he has kept me informed about what attributes and characteristics he is looking for in a Manager for 2011.
wereto2: Why in the world are you guys playing in Las Vegas? What about Ottawa? Buffalo?
Paul Beeston: We are in Las Vegas as a result of MLB allocation rules of farm systems. There are 30 Triple-A farm teams -- we ended up in Las Vegas, which is much further west than we would like to be. In some point in time it is our intention to bring the team back east ... specifically the northeast. The good thing about Vegas though is that they have a great ownership group that we enjoy working with and they are sensitive to the needs of the Major League club. Your point on geography is well made and at some point in the future I suppose this could change although it is not contemplated in the immediate future.
utheman12: Paul, I always hear people saying that Roy Halladay was the best player this organization has ever developed. Do you agree with that? I think people are forgetting about Dave Stieb and Tony Fernandez
Paul Beeston: Dave Stieb and Tony Fernandez were superb players. Roy Halladay may not be the best player we ever developed but is the equal of what Tony and Dave brought to the organization. In short, I think it is fair to say that we never developed a better player, but that is not to undermine any of the other great players that the Blue Jays developed over the years.
dizzle4: There was a story that the late-June series vs. Philly, where Roy Halladay would be returning to town, may have to be moved due to the G20 Summit. Do you have any information on that? It would be a big bummer for the fans if that, of all series, was moved.
Paul Beeston: It is not our intention to move the series against the Phillies in the final weekend of June. We are currently working with the Metropolitan Toronto Police and RCMP who are in charge of security to determine the effect that the G20 will have on our games. Nothing is definitive at the present time as to which direction we will be going but meetings will happen in the very near future where we will be able to determine how this series will be played. It is not contemplated at the present time that the series will be moved but we do know that the G20 is happening right next door to Rogers Centre and many logistical problems will have to be considered. We are fortunate that the RCMP and Metro PD are working with us to ensure that we can play our games and get our fans into the stadium.
due2illnes: Hi, Paul. Do you think that Toronto will ever build a baseball-only, open-air stadium for the Blue Jays?
Paul Beeston: I do not believe that a baseball-only, open-air stadium will be built in the foreseeable future. We are fortunate that Rogers Centre is downtown and that is has a retractable roof. When it is open it is an open-air stadium unlike others that just seem to have a hole in the roof. Perhaps sometime 25-30 years from now and the stadium there may be considerations for a new stadium. Whether that stadium is multi-purpose, baseball-only, it is not likely to change the climate in Toronto and a retractable roof gives us the advantage of having the best of both worlds.
buytra: You seem to be very excited about Mr. Anthopoulos, do you see any similarities between him and Pat Gillick? When did you know Alex was going to be the guy for the job?
Paul Beeston: The similarities between Pat and Alex in some respects are almost frightening. Both are smart. Both are intelligent. Both are inquisitive. And, both seek others' counsel. Neither are ever off the phone except for when they are having meetings which seems to be on a regular basis. Neither seems to have all of the answers and their work ethic of working 365 days a year is remarkably similar. With respect to when Alex showed that he had the potential of being a GM, it was almost evident from the first weeks and months that I met him. He thought differently, he through strategically, he thought of the bigger picture and of sustainability with respect to the direction of the ballclub.
If we had not made him the GM over the next two or three years there is no question in my mind that he would have been the GM with another team in another city. his reputation was continuing to grow and baseball people who were exposed to him could not understand how he could be so mature and knowledgeable at a young age.
hughyou: Mr. Beeston! I love your "back and forth" with Bob [McCown] on Prime Time Sports. It's fun to hear you guys chat, as you can tell there is a lot of mutual respect between you to. Do you feel that in this day and age, sports execs have lost a little bit of the fun?
Paul Beeston: In some respects it has become more of a business than a sport, but we can never forget that it is a sport and sport business and we are all fortunate to be here.
When one understands that it is a game that we are involved in and games are intended to be fun and that those people are fortunate to be involved either in the game or around the game get together it is an opportunity to not take yourself too seriously. Bob is a good foil for all of the sport executives in this country. He keeps you honest but at the same time has a delightful way about him -- on most occasions -- which makes it enjoyable.
jimdawson: Hey Paul, besides putting more emphasis on scouting what else have you done in the Minors to develop prospects?
Paul Beeston: We have added six new development personnel but most importantly we added two senior people, Mel Didier and Mel Queen, who not only will work with the prospects but will also work in helping the instructors. Whether they be pitching coaches, hitting coaches, base running coaches, managers, their collective 100 years in the game allows them to bring a unique perspective. At the same time, we are considering whether we expand the farm system to add an additional club and although nothing has been determined there we are looking at everything with the intentions of giving all of our prospects the necessary tools so that they can reach their potential.
toronto75: Hi, Paul. What are your thoughts on the new turf? Why did you replace it and what are your expectations?
Paul Beeston: We replaced the new turf this year in an effort to reduce the number of seams that existed in the old system. The old system had approximately 1,500 trays that resulted in too many seams on the field. The new system will have 100 rolls and reduce a number of those seams. in addition, the improvement in the quality of turf over the years has enabled this to be the next generation which is a better generation. From a operational point of view we hope to be able to cut the conversion in half from what it was with the old system. We put in a half diamond of this new turf in our Florida complex. The players, coaches and Cito last year together with the Tampa Bay Rays manager, staff and players took ground balls on this new turf and gave the turf their endorsement.
flyingjay: Mr. Beeston, my father's birthday is coming up. Could you recommend a good cigar to buy for him? I believe you are the man to ask. :)
Paul Beeston: You could either buy him a Monte Cristo or a Cohiba, and you will not go wrong!!!
Paul Beeston: Thanks for chatting. Great questions. I hope that you enjoy a great season of Blue Jays baseball. We think that we are going in the right direction and we hope that you do to. I hope that you will join Alex Anthopoulos at 1 p.m. ET on April 12 for the next chat.