It’s Monday, and it’s about damn time! After a relatively long hiatus, Richard Griffin has once again given us the gift of mail bag, taking questions from his readers over at the Toronto Star.
And really, who needs a preamble, amiright? Let’s get to the hijacking!
As always, I have not read any of Griffin’s answers. If there’s a question you’d like me to answer, submit it to Griffin here, and maybe he’ll select it for a future mail bag. Fingers crossed!
It has been quite the season for the Blue Jays. At this point, they are pretty much where they were expected to be, even though they took a different route to get here (no one expected an improved Bautista and no one expected the bullpen to struggle so mightily in late-game situations). While this is the year to see what we have going forward, I can’t help but think we would be in a pennant race right now if A.A. pushed hard to re-sign Scott Downs and if he decided to keep Marcum. I understand Lawrie represents the future, but it seems to me that Marcum could have represented both the present and the future. I’m excited about Lawrie, no doubt, but in your opinion could Marcum in the rotation (5-7 more wins than Jo-Jo) and Downs in the pen (4-7 less blown saves) put us in a “win now” and a “win later” situation? Thanks again, Richard. I appreciate it.
Andrew I., Dartmouth
Would the Jays been in a better position in this year’s standings with a full year of Shaun Marcum in the rotation instead of one big league series from Brett Lawrie, and Scott Downs in the bullpen all year? It’s kinda impossible to disagree. But would having those two players have somehow vaulted the Jays into contention? Come the fuck on.
For starters– though maybe this is an indictment of fWAR more than anything else– FanGraphs doesn’t think there’s a tremendous gap between what Marcum and Reyes have offered, with Jo-Jo having been worth 0.7 WAR this season, and Marcum 1.8 WAR.
Baseball Reference has Jo-Jo at -0.5 WAR during his time with the Jays, and Marcum at 2.6 WAR in Milwaukee, which… that kinda feels a little more accurate, doesn’t it?
Regardless, it fucking kills me that some Jays fans might seriously exchange a few games of a doomed pennant race RIGHT FUCKING NOW for six years of Brett Lawrie.
Pining for the Jays to try and knock off at least two considerably better division rivals armed with only a pair of extra seasons of Marcum and the chance to pay $5-million a season for 60 innings of middle-relief (albiet very good middle relief? It’s the worst kind of false-hoping, short-sighted Leaf-fan we just gotta make it in and then anything can happen, eh? insanity.
Sorry if that doesn’t offer the kind of instant gratification some fans are staggeringly desperate for, but unless they’re six-years-old, they probably need to just suck it the fuck up already.
I’m sure you’ve been getting a lot of questions about Travis Snider this week. It looks like his Blue Jay career may be over with the addition of Rasmus. I remember being surprised when he first came up, do you think he was rushed to the majors? Was it a matter of Ricciardi trying prove his draft picks were major league stuff?
Grant P., Guelph
Classic Griffbait, Grant. Beautifully done. But please, let’s stop this “Snider’s Blue Jays career may be over” horseshit.
OK, fine, if the guy can’t hit any better in the Majors than he did in his last 11 games here (.136/.136/.159/.295), he’s completely fucked.
Aaaaand if he hits the way he did in the 13 games prior to that (.357/.356/.625/.981), he’s a Hall of Famer. So what’s your point? Why is one two-week sample any more predictive than the other? Is it because there are plenty of entitled negative fuck Jays fans who tend to be goddamned short-sighted morons? Yes. Yes it is.
As to your point about Ricciardi rushing Snider to the majors– deliciously Griffbait-y as it is– I agree. There’s a reason we occasionally called him PR Ricciardi: the way I view the end of that era, if I’m generalizing wildly, is that JP, presumably as an extension of Paul Godfrey’s demands, ended up being better at keeping his job than he was at building a team that could win in the AL East. He cynically created false hope– making free agent splashes when he was expected to, and when he probably didn’t have the core of players to justify building around; refusing to be a seller at the trade deadline, in favour of milking attendance; and, occasionally, trying to demonstrate that his farm system could bear more fruit than media and scouting services gave credit for. And if that last cynical ploy created a windfall of attention, excitement and moved a few tickets? Well… that’s not so bad, is it?
Of course, some of JP’s high picks didn’t get close enough to be considered for a rush job. Snider, however, came along at the perfect time for the organization to make use of an immense talent rocketing through the system. That isn’t to say there wasn’t merit to the call-up, or that it’s posed an impassable obstacle for him, but… uh… yeah… I think it was a little quick.
A thought about the fallout from Brett Lawrie’s call up…My theory is that AA wants to keep Encarnacion in the lineup because his (waiver) trade value is only rising during his current hot streak. Someone might need a solid bat off the bench for a playoff run, or to add a piece in the offseason. I think AA’s comment about E-5 having a club option for next year is a subtle effort to boost his stock even further. Am I way off base?
I don’t think you’re way off base, but not quite right either. With the way he’s been hitting, the small amount of salary still owed him this season, and his reasonable team option, I’d be surprised if he made it through waivers. True, if another club claimed him the Jays could still trade him there, but it’s not exactly a sellers’ market when you can only deal to one team, and I think the Jays would much rather let him chase Type-B free agent status, while keeping him in the fold as a cheap DH or bench bat option for 2012. Even if he doesn’t net a draft pick, look around the league at the calibre of some of the guys getting DH at-bats these days– this isn’t your father’s 2003, and an Edwin hitting like this, or some combination of him and Eric Thames, might totally play.
First of all love the blog. My question comes down to the pitching after seeing the bullpen blow 2 saves last night and then taking a look at some alarming pitching stats. The Jays are 23rd in ERA (4.22) 25th in WHIP (1.37) 7th in most Runs given up with 510 and 22nd in Opp BA (.260) and converting 23 saves out of 42. In my opinion we have 2 starters maybe 3 depending on if Cecil can continue like he has since coming back from the minors. So we need at least one solid starter coming in and hopefully one coming from the minors, like Drabek, Alvarez. In the bullpen right now Janssen is the one who I hold the highest, Camp can be there as well the rest is nothing special, I think we need to revamp the bullpen to have any chance to contend in 2012. What is your take on the Jays pitching?
Alexander T., Malma, Sweden
I think you’re basically right, Alex, but I wouldn’t go sounding the alarm bells or anything. A lot of the stats you quote need context: that the club was experimenting with starters like Drabek, Reyes and Villanueva (and now Mills and Alvarez), a using relievers as trade- and draft pick-bait.
Going forward, Romero and Morrow are a very good pair of starters to start a rotation with. From there, yes, it’s murky– Cecil, Drabek and Alvarez could each be fantastic, but can’t exactly be relied on to not be overwhelmed. But it’s not exactly like the Yankees haven’t succeeded with unreliable pitchers behind CC Sabathia– that’s kind of the nature of the the back-end of rotations. Still, Anthoupoulos could add a veteran, innings-eating arm– either through free agency or through trade– to add some stability to the middle of the rotation. But honestly, with the pitchers mentioned, plus Litsch, Mills, Perez, Villanueva and– yes– even McGowan, you could be forgiven for assuming a guy or three will step up.
As for the bullpen, yes, Janssen looks like a keeper back there (Camp, however, might still be a Type- B free agent– if he manages to get his season back on track in the last two months– in which case he’ll definitely be gone). A couple of the potential starters I just mentioned will slot in there– I’d certainly be more comfortable with Villanueva not having to go through a lineup more than once a turn, and the club seems to see Litsch in the ‘pen, and Perez too for the time being. Otherwise… I know Jays fans are going to hate hearing this, but I think they’ll employ much the same strategy they did last winter, scooping up decent-enough, reasonably-priced veterans who project as Type-Bs and might just have a great season in them.
Relief pitcher is a volatile position, and while many Jays fans probably think the strategy couldn’t have possibly gone worse this year– and if we only think of on-field performance, they may be right– we can’t forget that signing Dotel and re-signing Frasor helped bring brought back Rasmus, and that there still may be high-end draft picks in the cards for Rauch and Francisco. And once they’re in win-now mode they’ll be less beholden to the draft pick strategy and will be able to deploy relievers a little more sensibly. Uhh… one hopes.
Q-Brett Lawrie is finally come up. I suppose it’s way too early to start the parade route, but with expectations sky high for Lawrie I wanted to ask you what a good first year would be for him. I’d be happy if he made less than 10 errors at third and had an OPS of .750.
Jason S., San Francisco
Jason, I admire the shit out of your restraint. A .750 OPS is pretty conservative, because he certainly has the talent to be 100 points higher.
You’re right, though. There’s no more reason to believe that it’ll click for him right away than there was with *ahem* Travis Snider. Except maybe… y’know… that there’s something about this guy that really does make you feel it will be different.
Call me a hysterical optimist, I don’t care. I wanna believe he’s gonna be fucking gangbusters.
With Thursday’s meltdown in the bullpen was just the summation of the season for the Jays bullpen. The Jays had leads in two innings in the 10th and 11th, both of which were squandered by the bullpen. How much more can Jays fans take these late inning losses, what is it now 18 or 20 blown saves? If A.A. had started the season out with a top-of-the-line closer where would the Jays be right now in contention for a wild card? Even with winning 15 of those blown saves the Jays would be in contention. Why was this not addressed either at the trade deadline or earlier in the season? I am a very strong Jays fan but these blown saves are easily fixed aren’t they?
Scott C., Niagara on the Lake
Duuuuuuuuuude. Every team blows saves, the Jays actually won at least one of the games in which a save was blown, and there was at least one more game where they had more than one blown save. You can’t just take a club’s blow saves total, turn most of them into wins and say they’d have been that much better if not for the goddamn bullpen. For shit sakes, this team batted Corey Patterson second for a third of the year! And Juan Rivera! And Aaron Hill has been in the lineup the whole damn time! And there were like 20 Jo-Jo Reyes starts! And a bunch of shit ones from Cecil and Drabek early on!
People… they just weren’t very good. Certainly not in the league of Boston and New York, regardless of whateverthefuck the bullpen did.
Q-Any word on whether the Jays are going to be in on the Yu Darvish sweepstakes? It would be a great way to show fans that the Jays are ready to spend some cash on the team by over-spending to get him. It may also bring more fans to the Rogers Centre, bring more electricity to home games.
Leif M., Vancouver
It’s an interesting question Leif. I’m sure they’ll kick the tires, maybe even show some interest but my suspicion is that there will be other teams who’ll outbid them. And frankly, as intriguing a possibility as Darvish presents, the Jays are probably better off letting someone else assume all that risk. No, Darvish isn’t Dice-K, and no, it’s not fair to lump all players from one country in with one another, but you’ve still gotta be worried about how the talent will translate, especially when looking at how much Boston has sunk into a guy whose trip to the DL earlier this year probably made them do cartwheels.
The Bautista contract definitely shows us that Alex isn’t afraid to take a risk when he feels he’s done his homework, and his regret over Aroldis Chapman may suggest he’s not necessarily going to be so gun-shy when it comes to acquiring a guy who’s yet to hit his peak, but… I just get the feeling it’s not going to be them.
Of course, I base that on absolutely nothing.
Enjoy reading your blog, and always enjoy your Q & A session. When do the Blue Jays have until to sign the picks from the 2011 draft? Should we be worried that we have only signed 3 of our top 10 draft picks? I was excited when we took some high ceiling players with risk then to draft “safe” picks. However, we need to sign more than we have. When should we start getting worried? Lovin’ the way the Jays are playin’ ball now. Thanks for your time.
Andrew S., Alberta
The signing deadline is August 15th, and for some reason MLB thinks that if teams don’t announce that they’ve signed a guy over-slot until the last minute, it will somehow discourage other teams from signing guys over-slot. So… there’s nothing to be worried about– although, Keith Law seems to be getting the feeling that the Jays used some of their picks on backup plans, so don’t expect them to sign absolutely everybody.
Q-Now that the trade deadline has passed, and the closer situation still seems “fuzzy”, at least from my couch, what do you see as the plan in this area? Who are the potential free agents that might come into play this offseason? Within our own system, I noticed that Dustin McGowan may be back in September — a potential closer audition? He is certainly mentally tough, coming back from injuries. And prior to injury, his stuff was awesome – but it may not be anymore.As always, appreciate your thoughts!
Jon E., Woodstock
The team believes that the Strange Animal, Dustin Mc-Lawrence-Gowan will respond better to getting regular work– i.e. In the rotation– than the intermittent usage that comes with being n the bullpen. So he’s out. As far as going out and spending on a capital “c” closer? No. Just no.
Does nobody seriously fucking pissing-well remember BJ Ryan? Seriously?
You’re the man and my main source of insight into the Jays. Where has the mailbag been? Hope to get a new one soon. I figure I might as well get a question too. With the promise of the Jays competing with the likes of NYY and the BoSox in 2012, do the Jays have enough pieces now where they can go out and get a big price/big talent bat or another starting pitcher via free agency to put together the final pieces? Also, is Bautista’s injured ankle effecting his power at the plate? It seems he’s not hitting as many home runs as we’re used to.
Shan M., Detroit – Toronto native
Yes, and I don’t know.
Sorry, I’m getting fucking tired here.
Long time reader of the column. I love it! I look forward to Fridays so that I have something to read at work. Anyways enough brown nosing for me.What are your thoughts on the Rasmus trade? are the Jays projecting that Gose will take longer than expected to make the big jump? How will this move affect Snider or Thames? Anyways I look forward to your insight. Cheers,
Adam Meger, Niagara Falls
The Rasmus trade really had nothing to do with Gose, as far as I’m concerned. He’s very young, and they knew when he was acquired that he was going to be a few years away, if he was even ever going to be able to hit enough to be a big leaguer. The Jays control Rasmus for three years after this one, and if they have to decide at some point in 2013 whether to lock him up long-term or to hand the position over to Gose, that’s a great problem for the club to have.
As for Snider or Thames, it doesn’t really change anything– unless you were banking on Snider remodelling himself as a centrefielder. Once Bautista was locked up long-term, those two were always going to have to battle it out in left– along with Adam Loewen (though… let’s be serious, not really) and whoever else they may bring in this winter– because they’re not capable enough defensively to handle centre. (Though, were the Rasmus deal not made, I’d be all for giving Snider a loooong look.)
Not only does Brian Tallet have a pretty gaudy ERA this season, it seems he is on the disabled list due to an injury sustained through violent sneezing (not exactly Glenallen Hill’s spider nightmares, but still an embarrassing way to injure yourself). Apparently tests in his rehab have revealed some sort of kidney problem. Is Tallet okay? Is he likely to pitch for us anytime soon?
David W., Toronto
The kidney thing sounds familiar, but I’ll level with you: I moved last week and the internet isn’t setup at home just yet, so right now I’m working offline, then walking over to a spot on the sidewalk in front of a neighbour’s place that has an open network so I can post it. [Note: Pure class! Also: I'm doing it on the iPad, so if there are any weird words in here that I missed, I blame the damn autocorrect]
What all this means is that, at the moment, I can’t confirm the health stuff on Tallet. I certainly hope it’s not true and that everything is OK. He’s a character and had some runs here where he was quite effective, and I like the guy. That said, he was a throw-in to the deal– Anthopoulos wanted Rasmus, and everybody else was secondary. He might throw a couple innings here down the stretch, but he’s not really anything going forward.