On the same day that news arrives about the passing of team owner Ted Rogers (which news I will let my Canadian co-authors speak to) comes THIS disturbing report that the Jays have laid off 20 front office workers - many if not all from the sales department.
Now, at first blush my reaction was "Twenty? Big deal." But the article goes on note that it was the biggest single lay-off by a sports franchise ever.
A note of caution - the reporter here is Marty York who's reputation for accuracy rivals JP's reputation for honesty. I don't think he could possibly get wrong the fact that there WERE layoffs...but the bit about it being the biggest ever - or that little nugget about the Christmas party being canceled - harder to believe.
That said, IF all this IS true, I can't think of any spin to put on this that sounds good for the major league team. I suppose it's good news for Travis Snider and you young starting pitchers but otherwise - I'm out of answers. We can rationalize all we want about why the economy shouldn't cause the Jays much difficulty given the profitability of Rogers Communications overall...but...you can't really dispute the fact that it looks like they are going into a cost-cutting mode. One of the laid off workers noted, the combined salaries of all these people "wouldn't even make half of what Burnett would get for one year". In fact, it's worse than that. Pay each of those people $100K a year (which is likely more than they actually make) and figure that much again for the benefits and such that go along with employing a person (again, too much) and you still come up with less than the Jays paid David Eckstien in 2008 - less than a third of what AJ made.
In reality, these people MIGHT have cost the Jays $2 million a year, max. If times are indeed that hard for the Jays, then all bets are off when it comes to the team on the field.
Hold me...I'm a'scared...
Update: it comes to my attention that Jordan Bastian has a new article up looking forward to the winter meetings in which he quotes Paul Beeston thusly:
"We're not going down to [a payroll of] $40 or $50 million," Beeston said. "It's either status quo or you're going to add to it. If we don't get [Burnett], we're not pulling back. We're not going to be selling players."
Unlike JP, Beeston doesn't have a reputation for intentionally misleading the public. Let's hope he's as good as his word again and the suits don't make a liar our of him.