Alex taking a page out of the Expos notebook

For those of us who were around to experience it, the Expos scouting department was able to leave all other departments in the dust when it came to churning out prospects. Pedro Martinez, Larry Walker, Vladimir Guerrero, Grady Sizemore, Brandon Phillips, ect.. ect... there are so many players that the Expos were able to identify earlier than other teams that it allowed them to be competitive despite a minute MLB budget. The reason: the scouts were happy, numerous, and able to spend appropriate time on each prospect to properly evaluate his potential.

This article gives me hope that Alex will be successful in maintaining a constant stream of prospects in the system that will allow the Jays to remain cheap, competitive, and enable them to beat the big teams without spending over $100 million. Stated by Alex himself "If we can get the best in scouting and the best in player and development, ultimately that will result in better players and a better product on the field. That being said, we're also going to move toward restructuring the way we do our pro scouting and the way we do our amateur scouting." However, the most important thing he mentions is "We're going to have new layers of scouts. We're going to really be doing some things that haven't been done in the past with other organizations." Alex got his start with the Expos, watched and learned how they were able to get a good handle on so many prospects, and is implementing many of those lessons learned to the Jays scouting system.

His plan, in point form, is as follows:

1. Heighten the number of scouts (close to double) in the following ways;
a. Will have a staff of 21 pro scouts who will work directly with Alex himself, up from 10;
b. Domestically (U.S. and Canada), he is adding a layer of Regional cross-checkers and National cross-checkers that will supervise and maintain the focus of area scouts and provide area scouts with more time off. Matt Briggs, Dan Cholowsky, and Tom Burns have already been transferred into the Regional cross-checker role, as they were previously area scouts for the Jays. In total, there will be a total of 5 Regional cross-checkers, and 3 National cross-checkers.
c. All scouts will get more time off and better benefits overall, as well as a raise to keep them as some of the best paid in all of MLB. Scouts are notoriously disloyal because they are constantly poached by other teams in return for small raises or incentives, therefore Alex is hoping to stem these losses and build a team that is both loyal and more dedicated to ensuring the Jays system becomes the best in MLB. Brilliant;
d. The number of area scouts will grow from 14 to 25. This means that each scout who was previously responsible for up to 5 States will now be responsible for 2 or 3. It means more time spent talking to their families, coaches, and getting to know them more effectively. It also means less travelling or wasted time, and closer relationships with locals in each community. Trust will increase with coaching staffs, and assessments will be more thorough. Add to this the fact that Regional and National cross-checkers will provide them with a conduit to Alex without the need for them to travel to Toronto to do it themselves, and you've got a much more effective system.

Overall, I absolutely think that Alex has hit the nail on the head here. Sure, he could try to buy whoever is supposed to be the best International FA out there, or spend a ton of money on bonuses, but the real value lies in those players who don't know that their potential is so high and that cost a small amount of cash as a result. If they don't expect much, and turn out to be stars, you've got one hell of a great investment. If this move costs Alex 5 million to enact, and results in 3-10 players being found that otherwise may have been overlooked, that's a ton better return on investment than what the Red Sox have gotten for their investment in Dice K or what the Yankees gave up to buy Kevin Brown and Jarret Wright. I certainly hope this move works out and that opinions will flow up regardless of how Regional and National cross-checkers feel about a scout's opinion. If communication is effective and high quality scouts are drawn by this new system, the Jays may finally be able to build a dynasty of their own. One that I, for one, would love to follow as they grow into icons.

Here's to hoping that this move is the start of a journey to our next World Series win!

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