Alright, I’ve had it. I’ve been jonesing for a mail bag to answer for weeks now, and if Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star isn’t going to provide me with one, BlueJays.com’s Gregor Chisholm certainly is. And while Gregor’s readers aren’t quite at Griffin-reader levels of ridiculousness, I think we’ve got lots to work with here.
As always, I have not read any of Gregor’s answers. If there’s a question you’d like me to answer, submit it to Gregor in his post and maybe he’ll select it for a future mail bag. Fingers crossed!
If the Blue Jays and Brewers were allowed to redo the Brett Lawrie for Shaun Marcum trade, do you think both teams would agree to it?
– Alson L.
The Jays would absolutely do the deal again now. I’m not sure if you noticed, but Brett Lawrie hit like a fucking horse on fire this season [note: horses become surprisingly good at wielding clubs when set on fire-- try it!] and Marcum is a free agent after next year. No question, the Jays got what they wanted and parted with a very nice pitcher who, ultimately, couldn’t provide the kind of value to them that he could to a win-now club like Milwaukee.
The Brewers’ perspective might be different now, especially after the way their season ended and Shaun Marcum’s role in that shipwreck, but I would hope that it isn’t. I would hope that they had understood well enough when they made the trade that this– maybe not Marcum’s changeup completely falling to shit, but the team failing in their ultimate goal– was a distinct possibility. If they felt the reasons to make the trade were sound enough when they pulled the trigger last winter, they should have no regrets and no reason not to do it again.
Might there be some pangs of regret in that front office, though? Oh ya. Major ones. And with the benefit of hindsight, how could you not want to have a mulligan on that one?
Would the Blue Jays and Cardinals still make the blockbuster trade that brought Colby Rasmus to Toronto if they could do it all over again?
– Keith B., Victoria, British Columbia
Absolutely. Why the hell wouldn’t they? I mean… please don’t tell me you’re implying the Jays should have anything close to anything possibly resembling an iota of regret for giving up a young back-end starter, decent young relief arm, a couple of free agent relievers (and the compensation picks that may– or now may not– go with them) and Corey Patterson for him. Please.
I understand that the kinds of fans who aren’t aware that any team exists except for the Jays and whoever they’re playing on a given night– let alone a whole other league of teams– and who only know as much about Rasmus as they saw in 140 plate appearances at the end of the summer are having a hard time understanding this, but the kid is talented. Very talented. The ceiling for him is high, and it’s within reach in the very short term. No, the Jays didn’t merely give up spare parts– two high picks, potentially, and a couple of decent young arms isn’t nothing– but they’ve extracted a lot of value from a club desperate for a quick fix and who had soured on an excellent prospect. Nothing to regret here.
The Cards, on the other hand, are in the World Series, and if they want to believe this deal was the catalyst, while I don’t necessarily agree– and I certainly don’t think they could have bolstered their bullpen without giving up Rasmus– more power to them. They’d do it again for sure.
Now that Aaron Hill and John McDonald have tasted postseason baseball, do you think that either one — or both — will really come back to the Blue Jays next season?
– Joe I., Toronto, Ontario
What, you think that they had to experience the post season to figure out it’s better to play to packed houses for a good team than in front of tepid crowds on a perennial also-ran?
I love Johnny Mac as much as the next guy, but honestly, who cares if they don’t come back? Aaron Hill’s outstanding six weeks in the desert isn’t enough to make me think he’s suddenly figured it all back out after two years in the shit-sack wilderness, and as lovable and versatile as McDonald is, there are lots of guys who can offer what he can on the field– and as lauded as his intangibles may be, I don’t think you fill up a roster spot with a mentor. You want him as a coach, hire him as a coach.
For the record, though, I suspect McDonald does come back– in some capacity, be it on field or not– while the Jays take my view and don’t touch Hill, even if he does hit the open market.
When healthy, Casey Janssen has proven to be one of the most reliable bullpen pitchers in the American League. Why isn’t he being given any consideration as the closer for the 2012 Blue Jays?
– Geoff M., Kitchener, Ontario
He’s proved what now?
Look, I like Janssen. He had a fantastic 2011, posting the best strikeout and second-best walk rate of his career– not to mention a career best ERA, if you’re into that sort of thing. And for the first time he had reverse splits, going ape goof on left-handers, posting a 2.28 FIP against them– almost two “runs” higher than his career 4.16 FIP against them– and was dramatically better against right-handers as well (2.64 in 2011 versus 3.84 over his career).
It’s a testament to the work he’s done coming back from major shoulder surgery, and the strides he’s continued to make as a major leaguer– I certainly never figured he’d be able to strike out 8.57 batters per nine innings– and I’d love to believe that these aren’t outliers and that he’s going to be about as good as he was in 2011 going forward. But he certainly hasn’t proved it in any meaningful sense of the word. At least not in my view.
That said, I don’t know why he wouldn’t get some consideration as the closer, if the Jays’ efforts to find a reasonably-priced solution from outside the organization prove fruitless. I’m not sure where the notion that he wouldn’t has come from, but I do suspect that someone with more of a track record will be acquired and will get the role– which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. If Janssen can continue to pitch the way he did 2011– especially if he maintains those reverse splits– he’ll be an important bullpen cog and will probably see a lot of action in high-leverage situations.
Nothing wrong with that.
Has there been any thought to having Lawrie move back to second base?
– Bob S., Toronto
Obviously I’m not privy to the discussions that go on within the Anthopoulos cone of silence, but I’m still going to go ahead and say no. The Jays didn’t move Lawrie off second base on a whim. They scouted him when he played there in the Brewers system in 2010, and they surely learned even more about him this year.
I can mostly only guess at their motivation, but if I do say so myself, they’re pretty fucking educated guesses. For starters, look at him. Lawrie is 21, built like a brick shithouse, and probably only going to get bigger. His defence at third came much better than advertised [read: feared], but even more agility and lateral movement is needed at second, and not only is Lawrie not starting from the best place in that regard, you have to expect that he’ll get worse as he gets bulkier, not to mention older. Add in the premium that Anthopoulos has seemingly put on athleticism up the middle of the diamond– at least when drafting and signing international free agents– and it makes a switch of Lawrie back to second base sound like something that’s seriously not ever going to happen, no matter how many times Jays fans ask the goddamnned question.
Given that J.P. Arencibia has established himself as a big league hitter, is there any thought given to moving him to another position to avoid a career-threatening injury, as in the case of Buster Posey?
– Kevin N., Ottawa
Hang on. What?
He’s est-whatted himself? He what-stablished who?
I’m sorry. I never wanted to be the leader of the anti-Arencibia brigade. I understand that he’s likable and hits home runs, and I don’t want to make it sound like this young player has no potential to get better still. But… for fucking serious???
Making an out 71.8% of the time is not good. All the home runs in the world isn’t going to change that.
Or… OK, all the home runs in the world actually might change that, but 23 in almost 500 plate appearances won’t. And as impressed as I am on one hand with a massive section of our fan base, who actually have grasped that JPA can be a productive player despite the .219 batting average, on the other hand, I think we’re still not quite getting it.
Arencibia has a powerful bat and room to become better at getting on base. Not a lot of catchers can say that. But the notion that he’s any kind of fantastic player is, I’m sorry, just wrong.
To give some perspective: Adam Lind had a terrible season this year. He posted the worst of wOBA of any qualified American League first baseman, just scraping ahead of Aubrey Huff and Juan “technically a first baseman, apparently” Rivera to avoid being worst in the Majors.
Adam Lind also happened to be a better hitter in 2011 than JP Arencibia, topping him in home runs, average, on-base, slugging, wOBA and wRC+.
So… no, I don’t think JP’s bat will play at another position.
Do you think Jose Molina will re-sign with the Blue Jays for the 2012 season?
– Ryan F., Pickering, Ontario
No sir, I do not. Mostly because the Jays absolutely do not fucking want him.
That’s no knock on Molina, who had a beyond fine season as JP Arencibia’s backup. It’s just, as a Type-B free agent, Molina will bring the Jays a sandwich round draft pick as compensation for when they “lose” him to another team. As nice a job as Molina has done for the Jays, he ain’t worth that.
Now, if MLB and the Players’ Union can get their on-going collective bargaining agreement talks wrapped up in time to implement changes to the compensation system during this winter’s free agency period– as the players would like to do, according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports– maybe that changes. With a young catcher like Arencibia, and another on the way in Travis d’Arnaud, a veteran backup like Molina seems a nice option… just not if it means passing up on a high draft pick to keep him.
With starting pitching being the main concern, especially one that consistently eats up innings, why don’t the Blue Jays make a run at trading for Felix Hernandez?
– Vince P., Hamilton, Ontario
I know his name comes up a lot, but I’m not really sure what makes anybody think that the Mariners are ready to trade Felix Hernandez, or that it won’t take an epic fucking boatload to acquire him. Not that the Jays shouldn’t try, but– believe it or not– Felix is under contract for the next three years, and even though the M’s offence is an abomination unto the magical space daddy, with him and Pineda and the fact that they play in the AL West, it’s not exactly inconceivable that their fortunes turn around before the deal is up.
In fact, I think it’s actually more likely they turn the corner than it is they decide to move Felix this winter. In a year’s time, if things aren’t looking up, maybe then it makes more sense. But the Mariners had a payroll over $117-million in 2008, according to Cot’s– they don’t exactly need to behave like the Rays, and there’s no Yonder Alonso just waiting to step in and take his place. It’s too soon for them to start worrying about losing Felix for nothing, I think, and his name being out there probably has more to do with the fantasies of other teams than it does the reality in Seattle. At least at the moment.