When the Toronto Blue Jays field its most anticipated team in decades this spring, few fans will spare a thought for Nadir Mohamed.
But the chief executive officer of Rogers Communications Inc. has been instrumental in retooling the team since ascending to the company’s top job in 2009, patiently cutting the cheques needed to rebuild its minor-league system while also showing a willingness to spend a little to land key players.
But the executive doesn’t spend a lot of time talking about his company’s Major League Baseball team, preferring to leave the task to the club’s president Paul Beeston and the other people associated with the company’s baseball operations.
“I have this philosophy that owners are always maligned but never given credit,” said Beeston, alluding to long-standing criticisms that Rogers wasn’t willing to spend enough money to field a winning team.
“But when everyone was looking for instant gratifications and a lot of wins, Nadir had the patience to see it through.”
Beeston said the chief executive officer was actively involved in discussions around every aspect of the team’s operations – and credits him for rapidly approving the deal with which the Jays handed home-run leader Jose Bautista to a five-year, $65-million contract heading into the 2011 season.
“When it could have gone to arbitration he stepped up to the plate and said we should sign him,” Beeston said. “Look, he’s not a baseball person so he doesn’t know about things like comparables.
“But at the same time, he could talk about how we might structure things to make it work.”
He said Nadir was also actively involved with the team through the winter, freeing up the tens of millions of dollars needed to sign a rash of new players – including Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey – that now have the team being talked about as serious playoff contenders for the first time in recent history.
What he lacks in baseball knowledge, Beeston said, he makes up for in business acumen.
“I’ve marched into his office with [general manager] Alex Anthopoulos to explain why we want a player and all that, and he’s always got such insightful questions,” Beeston said.
While there’s good possibility of a winning season in Mohamed’s last year at Rogers, Beeston said he hopes the company’s next chief executive officer will show the same patience and willingness to spend time with the Jays’ management so the gains made under Mohamed don’t prove elusive.
“It’d be nice to let him go out on top,” Beeston said.
“I’ve seen other situations where owners thought they had all the answers, but he likes to listen. And I can tell you he’s been integral – he’s been as much a part of the transformation that happened in the off season as anyone in the organization.”