What, you thought these were going away?
Better late than never, it’s time for me to take a dip into [read: hijack and shit on] the ol’ Griff Bag– as in, Richard Griffin’s mail bag from earlier in the week, over at the Toronto Star. Just like the good old days, right?
As always, I have not read any of his 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!
I am getting quite angry at the fans who are mad that the Jays didn’t spend like the Yankees or the Red Sox this offseason. Why should Alex Anthopoulos let the way the Yanks and BoSox do business affect the way he does his? Let them give out the 8- to 10-year contracts, I don’t care. AA has done a magnificent job getting high-ceiling players and building a strong young core for the future. It worked for Tampa Bay. Let New York and Boston knock each other out. They won’t see us coming.
Darryl Mulder, Vineland
Um… well… sure, that’s a positive way to look at it– and you’re absolutely right about the fantastic job Anthopoulos has done in acquiring high-ceiling players, but holy shit, you don’t really want to be dealing with razor thin margins for error like they are in Tampa, do you? The Yankees and the Red Sox have the money– and the willingness to spend– to cover over their mistakes. It sure would be fucking nice, and it’s a setup the Jays ought to strive for. Acting like Tampa while they’re on the way to that point? Absolutely, I’m all for it.
Q-It’s hard to believe that Anthopoulos has only been at the helm for two years, isn’t it? It feels like so much longer. Perhaps we’ve been rushing him just a bit? It took Gillick how long to make the playoffs? it took Dombrowski how long to make the playoffs with the Tigers? (and they didn’t have to compete in the AL East), surely we can cut Alex a little bit of slack?
Rob Buckler, Oshawa
I think a lot of it had to do with what an uncomfortably long time Ricciardi was allowed to exist as essentially a lame duck. But you’re right, the bad old days of the end of Ricciardi’s tenure do seem quite distant, fortunately.
And when it comes to patience, you’re bang on. Dombrowski’s first playoff season with the Tigers was his fifth with the club, and Gillick took even longer to build the Jays. He’s doing just about everything right, only not at the pace we’d like. I suspect he’d tell you that it simply isn’t possible to do both– though it’d probably be a bit easier if Rogers hadn’t been so demonstrative in their refusal to throw good money after bad at the end of the Ricciardi era. If Anthopoulos tells them it’s time to ramp up spending, he’d better be sure he’s going to get results, because he just can’t assume that there will be more money to fix any problems if he doesn’t.
My problem with your some of your comments about the Jays’ offseason moves are in the implication that AA losing out on trade bids for Latos/Gonzalez/Pineda and the posting for Darvish mean that he didn’t understand or underestimated the market. In the case of the trades, first you need to have the players that that team desires (which Alex can’t control). And in all the cases, it seems to me the issue is that Alex made the determination “this is what that player is worth TO US” more so than their market value. If someone else is willing to pay more, that’s fine. But you’ve implied Alex should adjust his approach, and to me, if he’s determined a player is not worth the asking price, he shouldn’t adjust just because other GMs have lost their minds.
Mark Acheson, London
I cannot possibly disagree. Especially when you’re talking about a club, the Jays, who are more in “accumulating assets” mode than “acquiring the final piece” mode. If everything on the big league roster was in place and the club didn’t feel like it would have to lean so much on it’s rising minor league talent so much in the coming years, I think they’d view those deals a lot differently. Taking San Diego’s desired pieces out of the equation, the reason the Reds gave up the farm for Mat Latos and the Jays didn’t was because they had to add a frontline starter, the Jays wanted to.
Q-”As for the outfield configuration of the ballpark, maybe the Jays could change the current cookie-cutter feel by adding something to make the stadium more immediately identifiable as downtown Toronto. Maybe they could build a high-rise condo in centre field. Easily your funniest comment in 2012! (VERY funny)
Bill L, Toronto
The Toronto condo industry – building future slums today!!!
Q-Why is it you think AA should have pursued high-priced free agents this winter when it likely would not have been enough to push the Jays into the playoffs? Can we call J. P. Ricciardi and ask him how that worked for him?
Kyle Todt, Waterloo
Though I can’t deny that part of me didn’t feel a little sick to my stomach watching Yu Darvish in his first action of the spring earlier this week. I mean… so many barriers that prevent– have prevented– the Jays from signing major free agents just didn’t exist in that situation. Fuuuuuuuuccccckkkk.
With the first three rotation slots filled by Ricky Romero, Brandon Morrow, and Brett Cecil. Who do you see taking the final two slots? I know it’s still early to make such a prediction, but with the tremendous upside Kyle Drabek has and the material Dustin McGowan has along with Farrell’s support. I know Henderson Alvarez and Drew Hutchison are also strong contenders for the slots too.
Anthony Simms, Toronto
Whoa, camel! I think Henderson Alvarez may actually have a tighter grip on his job than Brett Cecil does. And McGowan, because he’s out of options and still possesses tantalizing stuff, is a lock to break camp with the team as well– as long as he isn’t on the DL.
So there’s your five. But frankly, the configuration of the rotation coming out of camp doesn’t actually matter a whole hell of a lot, the way I see it. Of utmost importance is how the Jays manage the amount of rope each pitcher is given throughout the season. Ricky Romero is the only guy you can rely on– for sure– to hit 200 innings this year, though I think Morrow has an excellent chance of that too, so the Jays are going to need more than just five starters over the course of the season. It’s when they chose to pull the plug on those who are struggling and which minor leaguers they replace them with that could very well make or break the season. The roster is just not quite talented enough to give away too many wins– as they did last year with Jo-Jo Reyes– and still expect to potentially contend.
Is this the last season for a AAA franchise in Las Vegas, Nev.? This was a poor option, but really the only option as the BJs wore out their welcome in Syracuse. Has not having a better AAA option hampered the development of the kids coming up?
Dean Germano, Redding, CA
Indeed, Deaner, this is the last season of the Jays’ agreement with the 51s– though that doesn’t guarantee that they won’t again be the last ones standing in the game of musical chairs and get stuck there again. And no, it’s not a good situation, for a number of reasons, especially because it makes it that much harder to gauge their players’ performance because of all kinds of crazy ballpark effect, and because it’s just such a fucking awful environment to pitch in.
Could it be argued that it’s hindered the development of some prospects? I’m not sure. I don’t really think so, mainly because triple-A clubs are essentially just taxi squads for the big leagues at this point, and a lot of the developmental stuff takes place at lower levels. But you can’t help but think of a guy like Kyle Drabek last year and wonder if getting the shit knocked out of his balls in Vegas was really the best thing. That said, they could have sent him to New Hampshire if they really wanted to. And is a half season– and probably another half season again this year– in Vegas really going to have such a dramatic impact on his career? If it does, I’d suspect there were deeper problems to begin with.
But yes, they really do need to get the hell out of there.
Q-I’m really digging it. Definitely a Modern spin on the Retro logo. Trying to give it an edgier look without Going TOO hard like the futuristic angry bird we’ve had for the last few years. I’m also really digging the Strength of the Blue. It’s Rich like the pride of Toronto. Furthermore, even greater emphasis on the leaf. Not being afraid to let you know that we’re from Canada and we’re proud.
Mary Jo, St. Stephens
I’ll disagree on the ridiculously large and mis-positioned maple leaf, but that isn’t to say I don’t think it’s just about fucking perfect, and a bazillion times better than whatever old shit they used to wear that I’ve already blocked out of my memory.
Q-Listening to the Expos in 1982 one of Dave van Horne’s most common phrases seemed to be ‘…just out of Speier’s reach and into centre field’. A good shortstop unfortunately past his best. Do you think there’s a danger that the Jays will play Vizquel and suffer similar consequences?
Tony Bullen, Crail, Scotland
I’m not a huge believer in keeping a guy around just for his intangibles, but if Omar Vizquel is good enough to trade for Carl Yastrzemski’s rookie card, he’s good enough for me. And I see what the Jays are doing here, and I don’t think there’s much chance he sees a whole lot of action, as he’s simply filling the John McDonald role, while having the added bonus of being a veteran, hugely-respected mentor. It’s tempting to add in something about his presence being especially important to the club’s Latino players, but… come on. You don’t need to be of any particular nationality to know who Vizquel is and want to learn from him. Though his ability to communicate in the native tongue of guys like Yunel Escobar and Adeiny Hechavarria, who aren’t yet terribly comfortable speaking English, can’t hurt.
But if he can’t field, he won’t make the club, so your worries are seriously unfounded. I’m pulling for him– it’ll be a treat to watch him up close, even this far past his prime.
Great to see Tony Fernandez back in the game, but why is it with the Rangers and what’s he going to do for them as a “special assistant”? As one of just five players in the Jays hall of fame (oops…”level of excellence”), seems to me he ought to have had a standing invitation to work with the team if/when he wanted to get back in the game. Did the Jays drop the ball here or does Tony have a special relationship with someone over at the Rangers?
Jab Along, Hong Kong
I dunno. The Jays can’t employ every ex-player I guess– even great, beloved ones like Tony. Suggesting they dropped the ball seems a little harsh. It’s not like there was some kind of mad rush across the league to secure his unfathomably valuable services. And I’ve never heard a thing about a rift between him and the Jays. I wouldn’t be concerned. Cool that he’s back in the game at the big league level in some capacity, though.