By Bob Elliott
SAN DIEGO _ To paraphrase Mark Twain reports of the demise of Blue Jays’ Paul Beeston from the exalted office of president are greatly exaggerated.
For a guy who hasn’t been to the winter meetings representing the Blue Jays since the mid 1990s, it was Beeston’s name — not free agents Jon Lester, Max Scherzer and James Shields — creating a stir in the lobby at the Manchester Grand Hyatt as executives, managers and scouts checked in for the start of every team’s let’s-get-better get together.
Rogers Communications is actively seeking a replacement for Beeston, discussing Baltimore Orioles general manager Dan Duquette and former Chicago White Sox GM Kenny Williams having been internally as successors, according to an ESPN report.
Beeston is not going any where we’re told.
Beeston will be the president for the 2015 season we’re told.
Could Rogers be looking for a successor for Beeston, 69, when he retires?
Would they hire former Jays outfielder Williams and then show his base-running highlights on the Jumbotron at his press conference as bowls over third base coach John McLaren to score as New York Yankee Mel Hall laid injured in left field.?
Duquette has four years remaining on his contract with the Orioles.
“I’m here to represent the Orioles,” said Duquette walking through the Grand Hyatt Lobby. “I work for the Orioles. I have a contract and I have always honored my contract.”
Baltimore owner Peter Angelos would want compensation to allow Duquette to leave. The Jays would not part with — one of — Duane Ward, David Wells or Todd Stottlemyre to hire Lou Piniella from the New York Yankees in 1989 before Cito Gaston was hired? Would they give up a player for a president?
Williams told the Chicago Tribune he was denied an opportunity to interview with the Blue Jays, the issue was “not new” and “that ship has sailed.”
Other reaction and questions from executives and GMs:
“Let me get this straight Rogers gave Beeston approval to over pay on Russell Martin (five-year $82 million) and then gave him the green light to trade Brett Lawrie while going around asking for permission to interview someone to take Beeston’s place? Does that even make sense?”
“I’m surprised those TV people even know who Kenny Williams and Dan Duquette are. What about Mario Lemieux … isn’t he a president somewhere in hockey?
“With all due respect to Kenny Williams and Dan Duquette for the great jobs they did as GMs with their respective teams, neither would be on my top 10 list to be a club president. What about quality guys Doug Melvin (Milwaukee Brewers GM), Ned Colletti (former Los Angeles Dodgers GM) or Gerry Hunsicker (ex-Houston Astros GM)? Their search committee needs some help.”
“I did hear Beeston turned down an extension, but that he wants to stay and work on his terms.”
“Is this because Beeston and Jerry Reinsdorf (White Sox owner) backed Red Sox Tom Werner as commissioner against Rob Manfred?”
“So was Beeston fired or is he retiring?”
“Beeston had a wonderful relationship with Nadir Mohammed (who used to run Rogers), how does he gets along with this new guy (Guy Laurence)?”
“Is Beeston retiring or was he fired?”
“Why not just borrow a GM from the Dodgers and make him president?”
Former Tampa Bay Rays general manager Andrew Friedman is the new Dodgers GM, former LA GM Colletti is an advisor to president Stan Kasten, Josh Byrnes, one-time Arizona Diamondbacks and San Diego Padres GM is the vice president of baseball operations and Sudbury-born Farhan Zaidi left the Oakland A’s to become the Dodger GM.
One former GM, Bobby Cox, who used to run the Atlanta Braves before becoming a Hall of Fame manager, said he was not interested.
“I love Toronto, but no way would I take that job” said Cox, a dear friend of Beeston’s from his Jays days.
After Paul Godfrey left as president and CEO, Rogers asked Beeston to be the interim president as he searched for a new boss. At the time the mandate was three fold: run the ball club, the recently-purchased Rogers Centre and help bring the Buffalo Bills to Toronto.
Two of the names Beeston came up that surfaced were Keli McGregor, of St. Lambert, Que. who ran the Colorado Rockies and had a football background plus John McDonough, who spent two decades with the Chicago Cubs before leaving to become president of the Chicago Blackhawks.
Beeston found himself as the man for the job — after McGregor turned it down — sources say it was on the 14th fairway, while others say it was on the eighth green.
General manager Alex Anthopoulos said the talk about president Beeston’s departure should not affect any dealings that the Jays have with free agents.
“I don’t remember any players asking about the boss whether it was Paul Godfrey, J.P. Ricciardi or Paul Beeston, they look at the team and at the roster,” said Anthopoulos. “They never really cared who was in the office.”
He has been with the Jays 33 of the past 38 years, leaving to become the CEO of Major League Baseball from 1997-2002.
Although he had an office in the commissioner’s office in New York, Beeston maintained another one when the SkyDome opened in 1989 … even after Terry Zuk of Labatt told him he’d have to vacate in 1999.
We’re told Beeston will at 1 Blue Jays Way for another year.
Phone calls to Rogers un-Communications were not returned.