Mark Shapiro: One Eye On Today, One Eye On The Future
I will never forget when Radiohead’s “Kid A” came out, it was something that I had never heard before. It was sort of like my generation’s “Dark Side Of The Moon”. I used to drive around Niagara aimlessly with my best friend, Matt, listening to it and staring off into nomad land.
We were young at the time, I guess, still in that journey to discover who the fuck we were phase, I dunno. There really wasn’t much to discover, it was just that we were in that free thinking age where you’re on the cusp to joining the inevitable grind that you pray to escape by becoming some sort of writer, or something other than the status quo – or, at least, that’s what I would think during those drifting days. But there really is no escape, even if you make your rock n' roll dreams come true.
I was in my 2nd year of University at the time, of course, majoring in English. It's the degree that leads you to a career in teaching - or serving tables in some hipster restaurant or corporate chain.
I remember this one time while we were driving around DeCew Falls listening to that album - or possibly Wu-Tang Clan’s ‘The W’, which was a pretty fuckin’ fine piece of work (to be honest, I can’t remember what we were listening to) - when we pulled down a dirt road that was blocked by the presence of thirteen turkey vultures. They just stood there looking at us. We counted them. Thirteen. Our senses may have been altered at the time by some kind of funny stuff, but it scared the fuckin’ shit out of us. These big creatures. Thirteen of them. We thought it was a curse – or at least we did in that moment, but it wasn't - it was just cool, that's all.
And the reason I’m sharing this story is because, I think, many people look at Mark ShapIro and Ross Atkins as turkey vultures - here to just fuck everything up. And, believe me, if you think this way, you’re wrong.
They are not big scary turkey vultures here to curse this organization, it’s quite the opposite. As we know they inherited a very depleted farm system, which was well worth the memories that came from its diminution in value. But they are here to rebuild the system, while trying to field a team that can compete in the now.
It’s a very tricky path that they are walking, but you have to trust in what they are going to do. It is rather remarkable what they were able to get from having some financial flex and Drew Hutchison. They creatively - with some crafty sense and nifty kind of thinking - acquired the services of Liriano for half of the 2016 and ’17 season, catching prospect Reese McGuire who was drafted in the first round (14th) of the 2013 MLB June Amateur Draft – not bad at all, and Harold Ramirez who has had a promising year down in New Hampshire too.
So that’s Drew Hutchinson + Financial Flex for Liriano, and two prospects. Now, this is smart business. And what I really find fascination is what they were then able to do again with a little financial flex and Liriano, and that was, of course, acquiring Aoki (for a short stint) and Teoscar Hernandez.
And the reason I’m focusing on these two trades is because it should show Blue Jays fans the astute baseball men that Mark ShapIro and Ross Atkins really are. At the end of the day, they traded Drew Hutchison for one year of Liriano's services, a few weeks of Aoki, Teoscar Hernandez, Reese McGuire, and Harold Ramirez. All of this came from one move with Drew Hutchison. Drew. Hutchison. (There is a link to Fan Graphs if you're interested in seeing how he did in AAA this season)
So whatever happens in the offseason this year, especially now that the Josh Donaldson rumour song is playing in the air again – just trust them. If they end up moving JD, then they are doing so to improve this team and not dismantle it and burn it down to the ground, but please sign him. Sign. Him. That'd be cool.
Now, listen these two men aren’t perfect, and they are going to sign contracts that don’t look like they are going to work out * cough *, Kendrys Morales, but they are here to build this organization to compete. So are they a couple of turkey vultures, no they’re not. But they might just be the guys who know how to act in the moment, while still looking at the future – or as ShapIro put it in a recent interview, “ … the reality is that your job is to have one eye on today and one eye on the future.” And isn’t that the reality for many of us, it sure beats driving around aimlessly like nomads – how I miss those days.