Rogers President and CEO discusses future of the Jays

After yet another disappointing season by the Toronto Blue Jays, Rogers Media president and CEO Tony Viner says the owners knew it was time for a change. 

Management wasted no time, shuffling the deck in the front office by firing general manager J.P. Ricciardi and installing Montreal native Alex Anthopoulos on Oct. 4.

Viner joined Bob McCown on the Fan 590 Wednesday and discussed what may be in store for the future of the ball club.

“This has been a tough year, there’s no question about that,” said Viner, who has served as President and CEO for 10 years.

Nadir Mohamed [president of Rogers Communications Inc.] and I told Alex and [Jays interim president and CEO Paul Beeston] we want a plan they think they can execute that will lead us towards a winning ballclub.”

Amongst the low lights this season was a 75-87 record, a nine-game losing streak after establishing a 27-14 mark to start the year, and injuries to pitchers Jesse Litsch, Shaun Marcum, Dustin McGowan and Scott Richmond amongst others.

Rogers and the Jays will formulate a three-year plan to strengthen the team’s lineup and bring more people to the Rogers Centre to watch them in action.

“Our goal is to become a winning ball club as quickly as we can,” Viner said.

“We assume that if we sign say C.C. Sabathia, that will increase our revenues, but we know frankly, the thing that will drive revenues more than anything is to have a winning team.”

Highlighting the list of expiring contracts in 2010 is star pitcher Roy Halladay, who has stressed his desire to be on a winning squad.

First baseman Lyle Overbay and closer Scott Downs will also be entering the final year of their contracts.

Spending money will be crucial to success, and it is important to have someone on board who can realize how the team’s performance can affect how people see the Rogers brand, said Viner.

He believes Mohamed understands this. 

“Nadir is all about making sure that every part of the company works together for the greater good,” Viner said.

“He runs this multi-billion dollar company and investors say to him how are the Blue Jays doing? I think he understands how closely the brand and the team are aligned and he knows how the sports business works.”

After guiding the Jays to back-to-back World Series titles in 1992 and 93, Beeston was rehired as interim president and CEO last October.

A replacement has not yet been found, andViner hopes to remove the interim tag and keep Beeston on board permanently.

“I’d love to have him as president of the ball club going forward, but there are other excellent candidates we have,” Viner said.

“Before I make an offer to anyone else, I will ask Paul one last time if he would reconsider his position. He’s awfully caught up in it and is enthusiastic about Alex [Anthopoulos] and the prospects on the team, so I’m not giving up hope.”