Over the past week the Toronto Blue Jays experienced both ends of baseball’s competitive cycle, starting at the bottom by taking two of three from the Baltimore Orioles before avoiding a sweep by the now-we’re-here Houston Astros. As you no doubt have picked up on, at the moment they’re far more like the former, aspiring to one day be like the latter. Much work and more pain stands between now and then, if they get there at all, and a key part of the process, both internally and externally, is trust.
The Blue Jays, as a front office, must have conviction that what they’re doing now will pay off in two or three years. The players must believe that amid the current lumps they’re being developed in a fashion that will one day carry them to success. Fans and corporate partners need to have faith that their investments of time and money will be rewarded down the road.
Everyone needs to trust that this rebuild will one day actually work.
"For us it was about communication," Astros GM Jeff Luhnow said during an interview in his suite before Sunday’s 12-0 Blue Jays win. "We had a plan, we communicated it to all the stakeholders, including fans, corporate sponsors, the internal stakeholders, media, everybody else and then we had ways of measuring whether or not our plan was making progress.
"And it didn’t involve wins at the major-league level because we knew that was going to be a while. It did involve how we felt about our pipeline of players, how we felt about our scouting department, our player development department, things we could measure that we felt would ultimately lead to success in the big-leagues."
The Astros, you may recall, lost a barbarous total of 324 games from 2011-2013. Luhnow came over from the St. Louis Cardinals on Dec. 8, 2011 to try and turn the franchise around. "We didn’t really have a choice," he said of delving deeper into the abyss over the next two seasons. Among his earliest hires was Mike Elias, who initially came over from the Cardinals as a special assistant to the GM, later becoming director of amateur scouting and, eventually, an assistant general manager, scouting and player development.