I’m not suggesting that what Stroman said about the lack of veteran leadership doesn’t hold any validity. I’m sure the presence of veterans players to sort of balance out the amount of inexperience the team currently has would be beneficial. It’s not what he is saying that’s the issue. The issue is the setting in which he is saying it.
I have absolutely no issue with Stroman questioning the decisions that the front office has made for this season to them and behind closed doors. I do have an issue with Stroman calling them out through the media. That type of behavior is simply unacceptable and shows a lack of maturity. Say what you will about the unwritten rules of baseball and how the game is changing, but there is something to be said of keeping things behind the curtain. By doing so, things are far less likely to be misconstrued or misinterpreted.
If Stroman doesn’t like how the organization is running the team and/or the product that they are putting on the field, then by all means - let them know! Vocalize that displeasure with the same passion that fans are familiar with while he’s pitching on the mound. But do so privately.
What Stroman should understand by now is that calling the brass out via media scrums will not improve the relationship that they have. It will not make the organization reflect on the decisions that they have made this off-season and, therefore, change course on their plans for the team and its future. It will not make them reflect on how they are navigating the speed in which they offer Stroman a contract extension (if at all). It will not make them reflect on how they are performing their duties in their respective positions and, therefore, adjust.
The only thing it will do is (further) drive a wedge between the two parties.
It didn’t take long for GM Ross Atkins to respond to Stroman’s displeasure regarding a contract extension. When asked about the status of an extension, Atkins respond -
"Any negotiation, any discussion, I'm not going to comment on. We've had lengthy discussions with Marcus' representation. ... I'm excited to have Marcus Stroman as a Toronto Blue Jay, extremely excited about his health, the way he has performed thus far, the way he looks, his energy has been awesome in the clubhouse."
And that’s just the thing. Things such as contract negotiations and/or the status of such negotiations should be handled privately. No good can come when these things are aired out publicly and to the media. Contract negotiations, if there are even any at this point (which, by now, I don’t think there are), are typically a give-and-take type of deal for both parties involved. Given the lack of consistent success from players that are currently under long-term deals - especially on the tail-end of them - it doesn’t surprise me that organizations are becoming more reluctant to offer them.
Yes, signing a player like Bryce Harper would be absolutely amazing for the trajectory of the team. It gives me goosebumps just thinking about having a Harper/Guerrero Jr. pairing at the three/four spots of a lineup. It would undoubtedly be incredible to see. But having said that, I understand why the Jays don’t see the sense in signing any player to what is rumored to be Harper’s asking price. Even though I personally think the Jays should do it, I certainly understand why they won’t. The track record just isn’t in the favor of the club. This is, after all, a business.
Again, you can think that part of what makes the game entertaining is the hot stove aspect in the off-season, and I don’t disagree. I’m simply stating that such blockbuster contracts are becoming more infrequent with the rise of sabermetrics. Front offices are becoming more reluctant to put the future of their teams in financial jeopardy for the sake of a big splash signing, even if it would solidify the club’s near-term outlook for a playoff run. Simply put, teams are becoming more frugal.
So for Stroman to sort of take the mantel and express his displeasure in how the front office of the Blue Jays is and ought to be running the team in a public setting is not only ill-advised, but also a bit out of his depth. If he thinks that the team needs more veteran leadership, then be that veteran leadership! Take the mantle and show the youth of this team how to conduct themselves as professionals. Demonstrate that there is an appropriate time and place to air your grievances to those that run the team and that by doing so via the media will only land you either a) in hot water or b) on the trade block (or both!). If he loves the city of Toronto and embodies it, then he shouldn’t put his tenure as a Blue Jay on the line by publicly bashing the organization and how they are operated.
Either way, I don’t see the relationship between the Jays and Stroman lasting much longer.
Again, the issue isn’t the accuracy of what Stroman said about the Jays. He isn’t incorrect in his suggestions; in fact, I agree with most of it. The issue is the setting in which the statements were made. The distinction is extremely important and something that I hope doesn’t become a trend for him.
When healthy, Stroman has the ability to be a phenomenal pitcher. His personality is gripping and has a unique opportunity to lead this core of young players by example, both on and off the diamond. Thus, it would be a shame if he got labeled with the “attitude problem” sticker, if he hasn’t already, thereby hindering potential opportunities at such an early stage in his career.