An article from the Canadian Press was posted on TSN that discussed one of new Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos's unique strategies. This Spring Training, he, Tony LaCava, Cito Gaston, and then either hitting coach Dwayne Murphy or pitching coach Bruce Walton sat down with each player in camp to discuss their expectations for the player, the player's role, expected playing time and other similar issues. The goal of these meetings was to promote clubhouse communication (an issue in the past), and to ensure that no player would be blindsided by any decisions that were made during the year.
Having met many members of the Blue Jays front office and scouting department, I may be a little biased, but I think that although time-consuming, this is an excellent strategy. As recent developments in baseball operations have show, baseball is a business. That is why guys like Anthopolous and Andrew Friedman are GM's. With this in mind, think back to any office job you have had. Did you have performance reviews where you sat down with your boss to discuss your past performance, goals for the year, and a career path? Of course you did, so why should baseball be any different? Baseball players are just like any other employee, albeit very valuable ones, so it is worth the boss's time to sit down with each employee and develop an action plan for the upcoming year. The players obviously appreciate it as well.
"From my standpoint it's a very professional and great thing. The game's difficult enough as it is. And not knowing what's going on, when you go home it can really make you worry about things. It takes a lot of doubt and takes a lot of worry away."
"I think it's great. I've heard a lot of good feedback from the players, whether it'd good or bad, they just liked knowing what they're going to do.
"It sounds like a really good thing. They haven't done that (before), at least not at a sit down."
Now the Blue Jays are not going to compete on talent alone, at least not in 2010, so it is little things like this that will make a difference. I am as a big of subscriber to the statistical movement as anybody, but it is often forgotten that these guys are human too. Communication and chemistry are important components of a baseball team. Anthopoulos and the rest of the Blue Jays staff obviously have a firm grasp of this, and a renewed focus on scouting and player development should help the team become competitive again in the AL East. Let's just hope that the fans remain on board during this learning period.