Casey Janssen pitched a clean ninth– the first time the Jays have received one in a save situation all season– as Brandon Morrow dropped the ground ball act, and three maligned hitters powered the Jays over the A’s to salvage a spit in their mini-series, and a split of their west coast swing, that tonight takes them back to the interior of the continent, as they visit Minnesota.

It’s a pretty fucking rosy, borderline disingenuous thing to say, but before the road trip began– and before the first two spectacular games against against the Angels, and a close loss in the third– I’m pretty sure we’d have taken a .500 record heading into Minnesota. So, as long as we can keep out of our heads how the three losses went down– especially the first one in Oakland– and how the filth being tossed by Morrow and Alvarez in Anaheim made it seem like the Jays had a real shot at having an actual winning trip out west for once, it really hasn’t gone so badly.

Better– and perhaps more ingenuous– still is how, while he’s hardly perfect, the Jays have a manager who is at least eventually able to come around to the side of common goddamn sense when it comes to some of the screamingly obvious problems with the way he’s been running the club. And, let’s be honest, if he reacted as hastily as fans they’re entitled to have him do, there’d be a new closer after every blow save, and massive changes in the lineup every week. So I get that Farrell has to walk the fine line between showing faith in his players, not creating an atmosphere where everybody is looking over their shoulder after every bad day, and doing right by the rest of the team by getting shitbags out of positions where they’re costing games and runs.

That Lind “responded” to the demotion with a two-hit performance, including the key two-run blast, and that Arencibia “responded” to being pinch hit for by Omar effing Vizquel with one of his own– and shit, perhaps even Encarnacion “responded” to no longer having to wonder why he kept finding himself hitting behind the worst regular 1B/DH in baseball two years running– and that Janssen showed hints of having the Clozer Mentality is kinda immaterial to me, and anybody who doesn’t get caught up in superstitious After School Special narrative bullshit. If being angry, or having faith shown in you, actually literally leads directly to success, then… um… I don’t know, because it fucking doesn’t!

But it worked, and more importantly than a single result, the Jays are setup for success better today than they were with Cordero closing and Lind batting cleanup.

Sure, for Cordero and Lind to have been in those positions anyway– the notion of starting the year with a clean slate, and the manager making decisions based on this year’s performance alone, ignoring the wealth of data from 2011 that these guys are not what their reputations said they were– was a little bit goddamn absurd, and it makes hard to actually give the team credit for fixing it with a straight face, but… sometimes that’s just the pace at which baseball works.

Maybe it shouldn’t be, but making these kinds of decisions is a little more complicated than it seems when we’re all in the throes of an involuntary emotional wretching after yet another sporting clusterfuck. Maybe I’m being way too understanding here, but getting it kinda right eventually is at least better than not ever getting it right at all.

 

Image Ezra Shaw/Getty.

Comments (64)

  1. If they win any fewer than 5 games in Minny, I’m gonna be pissed.

  2. I’d like to see some research done to see how much “carry over” there is from the last half of one season to the next. Presumably there are complicating factors, like fatigue and injury, that may push results downward, so to see the correlation would be interesting.

  3. There has been some improvements from Farrell about line-up and in-game decisions this year as apposed to last. I’m giving him a pass so far. He’s done a great job with letting Butterfield do his thing defensively.

    • I’m can’t agree that Farrell has improved. I’d chalked last year up to a learning curve. I agree with Stote’s point that in baseball, big lineup and bullpen role changes happen at a particular pace and can forgive how long it’s taken to move Lind down and Cordero out of the Clozer role, but I’m deeply dissatisfied with his in-game management. His L/R fixation will soon become a big limitation, if it isn’t already.

    • He really hasn’t improved all that much. It maybe appears he has because there’s no Corey Patterson’s sucking up useless AB’s, or no Rajai Davis’ in the outfield on a regular basis.

      The one area I will concede improvement is the base stealing, but that too could be attributes to a lack of Corey Patterson and his retarded baserunning.

  4. Moving Thames to the 5 spot shows a lot of faith in him- and solidifies the situation in LF and with the LH hitters in general. Good news if you’re a Thames fan- not such good news if you’re a Travis Snider fan. Now if you’re a Blue Jay fan, you’ve got to be a bit happy by the hitting of our young LFer. Might we possibly have something on our hands other than the 4th OF/bench bat ‘ceiling’ that so many are willing to limit him to?

    Call me crazy (or at least subjective)- but Lind has looked better recently at the dish. Perhaps the next significant roster move will be to clear some clutter out of the bullpen and package it with some minor leaguers for a more important piece. This team badly needs a RH bat so that it can properly platoon in LF, DH, and 1B.

    • Eric Thames is a singles hitting left fielder. He has 2 homers in 93 at bats, a 715 OPS and a 93 OPS+. He hasn’t solidified anything, and the fact he’s batting 5th says more about Farrell wanting to have L/R balance and that Rasmus and Lind haven’t hit that well this season.

      It means absolutely nothing in the Snider/Thames battle, since Thames has done nothing to own the left field job. Being not as below average in terms of hitting as Lind/Rasmus doesn’t mean that Thames has done a good job.

      And that’s without even mentioning the defence, which has been horrible. Altogether you’ve got a guy who’s performed below average, and is nearly as big an issue on this team as Lind is.

      Long story short – All Thames has proved is that he shouldn’t be starting for a major league team. His OPS this season is worse than Snider’s career OPS lol.

      • Like it or not Mark- Thames’ role with the team has just grown. He’s now viewed as the top LH bat for the middle of the order. Currently the easiest way for LH AAA bats (Snider or Cooper) to get on the team is for Lind to continue to falter and shifting the 1B/DH spots.

        OPS is fine for analyzing large chunks of data (400 PA)- but it can sway drastically in under 100 ABs. As much as you may not like it, Thames has been pretty good at the dish this year. He’s been having good ABs in the last few weeks, and his numbers should improve after his early struggles.

        The defense has been a mess, but has improved in the recent series’. Still has a puss arm though. You have to remember though- Snider was not a good OFer in his first few seasons in the show. You have to invest time into young players and be patient.

        • totally disagree… because he has been less awful than someone else should not mean he is now entrenched in LF/5th spot in the lineup. I give it until mid-June before Snider is back up here getting his 400-500 at bats (which should have happened in the last 2 or 3 years) and Thames is patrolling LF in Vegas, where he can learn how to field properly

        • Eric Thames and Adam Lind are tied for the worst Blue Jay according to Fangraphs WAR: http://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?pos=all&stats=bat&lg=all&qual=0&type=8&season=2012&month=0&season1=2012&ind=0&team=14&rost=0&age=0

          Let’s chill with the Thames ball-washing, ok?

          • Thames ball-washing? I’m confident that quite the opposite tends to happen around these parts.

          • His position on the fwar list is due solely to their dubious defensive stats (not that Thames is a good defender)… and where he bats in the line-up does make him any better or worse of a defensive player.

        • The top LH bat on the team is clearly Kelly Johnson, but because of his on base skills the Jays have him in the leadoff spot. Which I guess isn’t the end of the world, but let’s not make it sound like Thames is the best LH bat on the team.

          You can still evaluate players using OPS regardless of the sample size, you just have to look at the K:BB, the power, and their career numbers to determine if it’s a realistic evaluation of their true talent level. The only difference between this year and last year is that Thames isn’t hitting for power. But even if he was hitting as “well” as he was hitting last year (which was ever so slightly above league average), that’s still below average for a corner OF.

          Eric Thames has NOT been good over the last week. He’s 5/28 (179 BA) with absolutely no power. In fact, you have to go back to April 27th to find his first multi hit game. So let’s not pretend that Thames has been good over the past week or two.

          Snider was a much better outfielder than Thames was. And Thames defence has gotten worse, not better. Have you noticed he has to dive at half the plays that aren’t right at him? That’s because he’s slow, takes poor routes, and is basically a DH pretending to be an OF. This isn’t a matter of a young guy needing experience, it’s a guy who doesn’t have the skills to be a successful corner outfielder on a winning team.

          I like Thames, and I think he has his uses. Being a left fielder is not one of them.

    • thame is hitting better than lawrie stats wise, but once again farrel removes the round peg from the square hole and now puts it in the triangle hole. thames has no business batting 5th, an rbi position when he clearly has shown he can’t drive in runs. The guy that should have been put there was arencibia.

      since when is it a crime to move guys around in the order? in fact farrell himself has proven that keeping guys static results in worse hitting than moving them around.

    • The team “badly needs” to be able to platoon at 3 positions?? Are you nuts?? I think having a regular starter at all three positions that can hit right and left handed pitching might be better…

      • Hey, I’d rather have 9 all-stars that can play every last game of the season. But the Jays are not the Yankees and that won’t be a reality. Unless you’re advocating starting Lind against LHP?

        I’d be fine with Lind and Thames (or Snider) only starting against RHP. But Rajai Davis and Ben Francisco against LHP leaves a lot to be desired. You can see why the team had interest in Beltran in the off-season.

  5. really, why was it so bloody difficult to even move lind down 1 or 2 spots when he ALREADY was doing it vs lefthanders?

    and why was it even necessary to announce cordero as the closer since he’s not even going to be here next year? why not just say “we don’t have a closer” and use whoever matches up best?

    the job of the manager is to win games and not placate veterans. by doing so he’s already lost us a few games. since he was already planning to make these moves he should have done it when it was obvious before losing games, not after losing in such hideous fashion.

  6. Stoeten, I love the blog and place great value in the majority of your insight – I don’t wish to engage in a verbal dispute. However, I do think you are continuously ignoring an important aspect of sport when you make comments such as

    ‘ If being angry, or having faith shown in you, actually literally leads directly to success, then… um… I don’t know, because it fucking doesn’t!’

    The psychology of sport is an important aspect of the game, this is widely known and accepted (anyone who has played a sport at a high level would not dispute this). DJF frequently mocks baseball statistics like the RBI and age-old terms such as ‘clutch’.

    Baseball players are not robots, to think that their mindset in key situations allows them to succeed more than other players/other situations – and that an eagerness to ‘prove someone wrong’ would not have a factor in results is in my opinion really short-sighted and below the level of great observation DJF usually shows.

    Just my two cents.

    • Now you’ve gone and done it.
      Prepare for the storm.

      I agree with you by the way.

    • Well I guess the proof will come in time. Has he been swinging over off speed stuff, and swinging and missing mostly everything down and in, due to pressure of hitting 4th, or because he’s shitty and doesn’t know how not to.

    • Prediction: Back-pedalling or silence. No concessions.

    • You aren’t alone Chris. While the majority on DJF tend to view things like they are video games- there are some who believe there are human factors that play. They cannot be quantified and made into pretty graphs so that the 9-5 bloggers can make snotty comments about being smarter and drunker than you.

      Exhibit A: 2012 Boston Red Sox are playing piss poor ball under a manager who has called out veterans and made a mess out of the clubhouse (bring back beer and video games!)

      Exhibit B: Cito Gaston. The guy simply instills a confidence in players and has played a major part in transformations to some players’ careers. He’s as extreme a people manager as you get- not platooning or pinch hitting LHB vs. LHP because he doesn’t want them to think they can’t hit lefties.

      • I agree with the idea that there is an impact on performance because of psychological effects. However, what I disagree with is anyone who can sit there and say “such and such a move had a positive impact on the players psyche, or such and such a move had a negative impact on players psyche”. If something is not quantifiable, it means that you can not make any assertions about whether or not it has any positive or negative impacts on performance. Making vague statements that “player X wants to prove the coach wrong” or “player Y had confidence instilled in him by the coach so he performed better” or “player Z caused player A to suck because he is a clubhouse cancer” is just as ridiculous as statements that say there is no psychology in sports.

        Also, your examples suck.

        Boston is not doing well because they have a lot of money tied up in injured players, and don’t have the financial resources to mask those problems by buying more players (see the Scutaro trade as an example).

        Cito Gaston as an extreme people manager? As long as you’re a veteran, I suppose. Just look to Travis Snider and Shawn Green for how much of a “people” manager Cito Gaston was.

        • @ No

          After you get past Snider and Green,why don’t you continue the list?
          Because you can’t.
          Talk to Bautista,Alomar or any of the hundreds of players who played for Cito.They all have a great amount of respect for him and the way they were treated.
          You can critisize many things about Cito but too many players have praised him,even after they left the game.

          • I’m not interested in a debate about the virtues of Cito. But using him as a major component of a rant about the ability of fans to tell whether a manager “instills confidence” in players on the team is absolute bullshit. He did not do that with Green, nor did he do it with Snider. More examples? Fuck you. You only gave 2 examples, and only 1 of those examples is not complete nonsense (Alomar was a great player before and after Toronto). Maybe you’re right, and Cito was able to get the most out of a lot of players. I don’t know, and the thing is, neither do you. All this pop-psychology from armchair quarter-backs is just people talking out of their ass to make them feel like they know something they obviously have no way of knowing.

          • @ No

            By reading the interviews of players and how much cito influenced them.
            So I do know.
            Before you shoot off your mouth,educate yourself.
            Unless you think all those players are patronizing Cito,especially when they don’t need to.
            As far as Alomar goes,Listen to his hall of fame speach.
            You might learn something.
            Until then, keep your pretentious opinion to yourself.
            You must be new here.

        • I agree this is impossible to quantify, i have no problem with that assertion. The issue is this blog continues to ignore an important part of what makes baseball great.

          Sometimes logic can be applied beyond numbers. DJF was more than happy to point out that Yunel and Rasmus coming to a more accepting multi-cultural clubhouse likely resulted in better play – they felt welcome and at home-

          How is that any different than, JP feeling extra determined to show Farrell he made a mistake.

          The answer is, its not

      • The 2012 Red Sox are a pretty shitty team right now. Yes they have injuries but they aren’t that great healthy. With the injuries their offense is full of scrubs. Their defense is bad. The pitching staff is a disaster.

        They might finish behind the Orioles.

    • I think the point is it is a factor but not like the media likes to pretend.

      The difference between a struggling hitter and a hitter doing well is about 2 hits… a week.

      That Lind moved down and got a home run was at best .02% tied to the mystic powers of being demoted in the batting order. Then add .031% because he jacked off right handed last night and .01% because he had a no-wipe poop yesterday morning.

      Overall yes we all want him lower in the order and I suspect he is more comfortable there and I bet he will do better overall over the course of the whole season. I wish him well.

      • I beg to differ with your measurements. The no-wipe poop, by my estimation, would subtract from performance rather than add to it. Except maybe if he was on base, then all the fidgeting and picking could distract the opposing pitcher.

        And nobody suggested that the demotion made a ball go over the fence. Obviously it is more complicated than that, and you even imply as much in your comment. Imagine if you were perfoming horribly at your job (relative to your peers), in one of the most important roles on your team, for the whole world to see. I can’t see too many major leaguers having thick enough skin to not let that affect their thought process or job performance more than 0.02% one way or the other.

    • I agree Chris, to an extent. The great divide between the new and old schools is that virtues like guts, grit, and knowinghowtowin are all qualitative – they’re unitless phenomena and can’t be measured against benchmarks or fed into spreadsheets.

      THIS unfortunately means that any hack beat writer can wax eloquent all they want about their favourite player with astoundingly grotesque bias and harlequin levels of romance.

      Human elements absolutely exist and affect outcomes in sport. Just not a much, or as little, as many say.

  7. The patience-approach which the team has shown to Lind through his troubles is the same patience-approach which the team showed to EE last season through his horrific start to the season. Seriously, where would the team be this year without EE’s bat in the lineup had they cut bait on him last year?

    The point being that sometimes the patience-approach pays off big time, while other times it does not. While in Lind’s case it may very well be that the team was wrong to ever believe that he could return to 2009-form, I don’t think that we can say that the team was necessarily wrong in their process of showing some patience with him…. That said, I am glad that they have finally made the move

    • the same patient approach of keeping EE at third did not work. keeping lind at 4 did not work. how is it not being patient when the guy is still in the lineup? he still has to hit.

      what I find mind boggling is why was farrell so concerned about lind’s feelings but showed no concern when he pinch hit for JPA? and why is JP batting 9th when stiffs like rasmus can’t hit?

      • Speaking of feelings, nevermind my feelings, but what about the feelings of the guys on base in front of Lind or the guys up after him, or the starting pitcher, or the bull pen?

        • What about the feelings of those who think love is better than anger, hope better than fear, and winning better than losing?

  8. “If being angry, or having faith shown in you, actually literally leads directly to success, then… um… I don’t know, because it fucking doesn’t!”

    I don’t think it’s easy to measure, but I don’t think it’s wrong to say that anger or comfort or any range of emotion could have an impact on performance. Suggesting it doesn’t have any impact whatsoever pretty much suggests that something like sports psychology is pseudo-science. If there’s one thing you can take from Dirk Hayhurst’s books it’s just how much the mental side plays a part in his own performance. He is an exception? It’s anecdotal but it still provides some interesting insight.

    I know that all of this frowned upon in the modern world of baseball statistics but I also think that given that emotion has an impact in other sports (it’s been studied at the academic level and there are a number of journals focused specifically on sports psychology), why is baseball an exception? A quick google search didn’t bring up anything baseball-specific so if anyone has any insight then it’d be interesting to read.

    • I know it sounds like a douchy comment.Not meant to be directed at you.

      But the best study i’ve seen is actually playing and coaching the game,especially at a high level.
      Or failing to do that,talk to the people who have been there.
      It’s eye opening to see what they have to say about their decision making in regards to in game strategy and individual performances.
      Stats are an important part but there’s another part of the game to be considered.

      • Not a douchey comment at all, so no worries.

        I played hockey at a high level and have seen first hand how something like benching a player or tearing into him can have an impact (positive or negative), so that’s why I’m genuinely interested in why baseball would be an exception. Seems like things like concentration or physiological responses to anxiety (whether it’s tightening the grip on the bat, increasing blood pressure, etc) should be affected. Or perhaps some players get an adrenalin rush from it, and we know what adrenalin can do to people.

        • Managers do bench and rip into players in baseball. But if they do so less, I’m sure it’s because it’s a grinding season so much longer than most others and true talent level tends to show itself over the long haul.

      • I think you’re generalizing too much.

        I played at a fairly high level, and for SOME guys, the mental aspect can hamper their performance (whether it be their playing time/role, spot in the lineup, girlfriend dumping them, whatever), but this would usually be over a SSS period.

        Then there are other guys, who day to day struggles would have little to no impact on at all. Extrapolating my experience, I would think that more professionals would fall into this camp. For most players, there’s always some kind of obstacle in the way, and if you make it to the majors, you’ve likely figured out how to keep your performance consistent and overcome these obstacles to be reasonably successful.

  9. So let me get this straight. Lind hoorayyyy! JPA hoorayyyy! Farrell hoorayyyy! Janssen hoorayyyy!

    Talk about small sample sizes…

    • Ummm that’s not really what I took from the post at all. More like, “way to not suck for that one game, keep it up please!”

  10. I remember 2 years ago there was discussion of how dependent the Jays offence was on the HR – looks like it is back. The Jays are a middle of the pack OBP team, but they are 7th in runs scored and 6th in HRs (actually only 2 HRs away from being 4th). The most glaring stat for Jays offence – last (LAST) in doubles. 44 on the season while the obviously skewed Fenway group have 84. The flawed Detroit team is tied with the Jays for that dubious honour.

    PS. Doesn’t Buck like to say he likes doubles more than HRs – keeps the line moving, puts more strain on the pitcher. Well, preach away Buck, this team can’t hit doubles.

    • They cant hit doubles nor can they take a walk. What they can do though is strikeout or hit groundballs and/or hit into double plays. They hit very few line drives which is needed for extra base hits.

  11. Now that the lineup issue pertaining to the #4 hitter has been addressed and Farrell has shown that he can move #1 and #2 around, when does the clamour to consider moving the #3 hitter to another slot in the order start?

  12. So Ruben Amaro admits that if the Phillies keep playing the way they are, they will be sellers come July. While I don’t think the Phillies will sell since they are unlikely to be well out of contention, I think we are getting close to an important time in Jays history.

    The re-acquisition of Roy Halladay.

    Now, I don’t think it’s going to happen this summer…but I think it’s possible within the next 2 years.

    This is assuming that Halladay doesn’t fall of a cliff…whether or not his velocity is decreasing or is just an early season blip…if anyone can be an ace at a lower velocity it’s Doc.

    We know that Doc never wanted to leave if the Jays were contenders. We know the reason he chose Philly and would not re-sign in TO is because he wanted to win a ring. Well, due to Amaro’s screwups, it is looking more and more like it won’t happen in Philly.

    Add Roy Halladay to the Jays rotation (even subtracting someone like Drabek, for example) and the Jays are as good as anyone in the division with two more major/relatively easy holes (1B/LF) to upgrade.

    As for the cost, the Jays certainly have the pieces. Heck, they could just give back Drabek, Gose & D’arnaud, although that might be an overpay by the time reacquiring Doc becomes a possibility.

    Mark my words. This will happen.

    • mark my words, you’re an idiot

    • There’s almost no way the Jays trade back Halladay. I do believe he will finish his career with the Jays – more of a swan song type of return rather than being relied upon – but it will happen when he hits free agency.

      Also, trading back Gose, Drabek, and d’Arnaud for Halladay is the stupidest idea I’ve read on here in a month, and stupid ideas are quite common on this site. He’s not even worth two of those pieces at this point.

      • You don’t make the trade of Drabek and Gose for Halladay today? For someone talking all high and mighty, you are saying some pretty dumb shit.

        • Sure, let’s trade two high ceiling prospects for an aging starter who is losing velocity and has one more full year left on his contract.

          For someone who talks about someone else being dumb as shit, you really are dumb as shit.

          • He may be losing velocity…but I’d want a greater sample size before establishing whether it’s real or just Doc easing into the season. While his peripherals aren’t as dominant as usual, he’s still pitching like an ace.

            And if he is “declining”, it’s a decline from a hall of fame cyborg into someone who may very well still be a top 5 pitcher in baseball.

            And would I trade Drabek & Gose for Doc right now? Hell yes I would. And so would most non-prospect pornographers who actually want to win and not just be praised by Baseball America.

      • Agreed with the certainty that he will be back someday, with that someday probably being 2014.

    • Weren’t Aaron Hill and John MacDonald supposedly (if the media is to believed) interested in returning to the Jays during this offseason? Where are they now?

      • Nobody wanted Hill back and I never heard him wanting to come back. Johnny Mac couldn’t afford to turn down a 2 year deal which the Jays wouldn’t offer.

    • I’d love Doc back for a victory lap too but lets not pretend getting him this season is going to make this group of players WS contenders. Let him play out his contract and let this team grow for another 1.5 years and if he’s interested in helping to lead a team to the promised land in 2014 we can sign him then without giving back any assets. He will still be a great starter then, even if he’s not quite the best in the game anymore. If Andy Petitte can do what he’s done then Doc can easily be a successful MLB starter until 40 if he’s interested.

  13. Yup. looks like the nut jobs were out in full force today. Halladay coming back to the Jays. pfft, you sure as hell don’t trade for him. As for last night and small sample size…it sounds like some people here that a lot around these parts…doh! John Farrell has to manage people, not machines, and sometimes you have to fiddle with your team to get them to rise to the occasion.

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