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In the Big Leagues Now


I report to J.P. Ricciardi, the general manager of the Toronto Blue Jays. I'm responsible for statistical evaluation, as well as ongoing market analysis and basic information-gathering for the team. Since starting this job in 2001, I've gained several informal responsibilities, including selected scouting work, contract negotiations (actual negotiations, plus support for our assistant general manager, who handles the major negotiations), and providing support to the marketing and sales groups.

Some of my more unusual tasks have included delivering an impromptu speech to employees from one of our main corporate sponsors, appearing on a Toronto radio station to discuss the state of our farm system (our minor leagues), and representing the Blue Jays at a press conference in Taipei to announce the signing of a Taiwanese pitcher, Chi-Hung Cheng.

We have six affiliate teams in minor leagues in much smaller U.S. cities and towns, plus a team in the Dominican Republic. We own all the rights to more than 200 players on those rosters, paying their salaries, employing their coaches, and overseeing their development. The goal is to develop players who will be able to play for our team, or to trade for big-league help.

My days vary greatly depending on whether we're in season or spring training. The days around the draft, trading deadlines, and other off-season deadlines also alters the flow of work. Here's an example of a typical midsummer, post-draft day in baseball:

9:00 a.m. -- A quick read of the major baseball stories and a conversation with J.P., who splits his time between Toronto and Worcester, Mass. We usually discuss any player moves we need to make and review the previous night's minor-league results. I share the responsibility for pointing out opportunities to J.P. and helping him evaluate our strategic options.

9:30 a.m. -- I call Tony Lacava, one of my peers, to hear about a minor-league game he attended the previous night. We also discuss possible trades, prospects in our system, and our upcoming scouting schedules.

10:00 a.m. -- Read articles and scan specialized baseball Web sites in search of ways to improve our on-field talent or to evaluate how moves by other teams affect our strategy.

11:00 a.m. -- More phone calls, starting with the agent for Cheng, who represents our first foray into Taiwan's baseball market. I also speak with Jon Lalonde, our scouting director, to exchange weekend reports, as well as a director of Taiwan's baseball federation. Check this evening's scheduled starting pitchers in the Cape Cod League and map out my plan for the night.

11:45 a.m. -- Jon calls to say that our second pick from this June's draft has agreed to our terms. This is good news, since the player will get to pitch in the minors for us during the last month of the season.

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