It’s over a week late, but so what? No, we haven’t got a fresh new Griff Bag in our hands, but you’re still about to get a taste of caustic hijacking of his most recent, which… actually… sounds kind of disgusting, flavour-wise. But I’m sure it’s all good, as it’s time for me to answer Richard Griffin’s mail bag from over at the Toronto Star!
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!
I recently read an article speculating about a trade of Edwin Encarnacion by the deadline for a maximum return while he’s swinging one of the league’s hottest bats.
There also seems to be a lot of online chatter about how the Jays will find a place in the line up for both J.P. Arencibia and Travis d’Arnaud for as early as next year, if not by the end of the season.
So here’s the question, what are your thoughts on the likelihood of the Jays easing d’Arnaud into the catching role next year by having JP and d’Arnaud split their time between catching and DH’ing? Perhaps J.P. catches about 100 games, having some off days and DH’ing the rest while having d’Arnaud catches about 60 games and DH’s the majority of the rest of games? While the team may not wish to put a rookie into the DH role, it allows for d’Arnaud to ease into the catching role while keeping both of their bats in the lineup. Perhaps in the possible absence of EE’s bat and rather than making a big free agent splash to sign a DH, or re-sign EE, this could be a low cost option to allow for money to be spent on a starter or other area of need.
Robert Lynch, Ottawa
The thing about that plan, Robert, is that it assumes Arencibia’s bat is one that needs to be kept in the lineup. The truth is, it’s really not. He hits well for a catcher, but that’s about exactly where it fucking ends. So, if you go with some kind of a plan to keep both him and d’Arnaud in the lineup, you’d be doing so at the expense of carrying on the roster a better DH than the rookie d’Arnaud– which shouldn’t be difficult to find– and a better-hitting catcher than Arencibia, which you already probably have in d’Arnaud.
True, it might be good to bring d’Arnaud along slowly behind the plate, but giving two-ninths of your plate appearances to a pair of catchers– one a rookie and the other with a career wOBA of .304– does a massive disservice to your lineup. It’s just not an acceptable position for a club with pretenses of being a contender to go into a season in. Add in the fact that Arencibia could likely be packaged in a trade for some much-needed immediate rotation help and it makes it an even worse idea.
In fact, if there was any time in which to enact such a plan, it’s now. Or at least if not right this fucking second, at some point this season. I mean, with full-time at-bats currently going to some combination of David Cooper, Yan Gomes and perhaps eventually the ghost of Vlad Guerrero, the Jays don’t have a whole lot to lose by going the d’Arnaud route– and depending on what sorts of moves are in store as the trade deadline approaches, I wouldn’t be surprised to see it come to fruition.
I used to live in Toronto area and became a Blue Jays fan. Still I follow what is happening with the team. It looks to me the pitching staff is not very strong in left-handed pitching. I can see a prospect in Dunedin, named Sean Nolin who is 22-years-old, big guy and has pretty good numbers. My question is how much chance has he to pitch in the majors and how far along is he. The other question: What happened to Daniel Norris?
Elek Vaszko, Budapest, Hungary
Nolin is having a terrific year in Dunedin, as far as I can tell from the numbers, and I think there’s a strong chance that he pitches in the Majors in some capacity eventually. The next step up for him will be Double-A New Hampshire, which is where the Jays have pulled several pitchers from since… well, since their Triple-A team moved to Las Vegas. I’m not saying that his arrival is imminent or anything, or that he’s ever going to be able to establish himself in Toronto– because there’s a lot of talent already here, and a lot coming up behind him, including another lefty, Justin Nicolino– but he’s more than just a warm body, by the looks of it.
As for your other lefty, Norris hasn’t disappeared, he’s just slated to pitch in short season ball– quite possibly with Vancouver– and as such has been in Extended Spring Training to this point. He’ll be making his pro debut, finally, rather soon.
Q-Trying to get my head around recent dealings with reliever Ryota Igarashi. Called up. One poor outing. Demoted. Claimed on waivers by Yankees. Granted he failed in a previous ML stint and he didn’t pitch well this time BUT he apparently throws in the high 90s and has been lights out in a Triple-A hitters’ park in a hitters’ league. I realize injuries etc. have started a carousel, but isn’t AA’s approach to this player short-sighted? There is nothing in the short-term position player quandary that couldn’t be fixed short term by the Thames-McCoy switch. Maybe Laffey and Chavez provide more short-term versatility but at the cost of what could be a dominant late-inning reliever — something the Jays could certainly use. Love what AA has done with the franchise but I certainly don’t fathom this . The Yankees aren’t giving him a shot for nothing. What are your thoughts?
Eric Emerson, Roslin
You’re not wrong in nitpicking these roster moves, I don’t think, but I think you’re just talking about such an inconsequential player that it’s hard to get too worked up about it. That said, I can’t deny that I think they could have easily done more to keep an interesting arm in the system, and I suppose it would be horseshit of me to laugh the notion off on Igarashi after having been somewhat *COUGH* irritated by the money pissed in Dustin McGowan’s direction.
Q-Lind, Gomes, Cooper, Igarashi, Laffey, Chavez,etc. I’m curious as to the rules regarding call-ups or ‘sent downs’ (I’m assuming there are guidelines). How many call-ups is a team allowed? Does it depend upon contracts, injuries, etc?
Jan Bortoski, Belleville
Oh man, um… I’m sure Griff answers this one capably. There are some rules and shit.
Talk about a roller coaster! Still, I’m loving it and imagining what it will be like as all this pitching talent matures. On to the question: Perhaps a silly one, but I keep seeing all these players (and coaches!) eating mountains of sunflower seeds. When Rasmus comes to the plate he has a huge wad of them in his cheek. Several players do. They seem to work on shelling them and spitting the seeds as they go along. Seems like they put half a package in their mouths at one time. Two-part question … Is this a uniquely ‘baseball’ skill to split, swallow and spit the seeds and shells? And isn’t there a danger of someone falling and choking–they are athletes engaged in strenuous activities.
Bryan Willis, Vancouver
Q-Could you please explain the mandatory option year affixed to Adeiny H’s rookie contract? Did he negotiate that he must be placed on the 40-man roster at the start of 2012, was it required that he reside there or have the Jays lose him in a rule 5 (or similar) draft, or was it simply the Jays choice?
Mel Norton, Burlington
The fuck am I, Google?
Have you noticed any empty beer cans or fried chicken containers in the Jays’ clubhouse? It seems that they have a disciplinary problem that’s spilling all over the field, particularly in the direction of umpires. Rogers won’t want it spreading into the box office. Is this the proverbial Litmus test for Farrell – to tame the so-called ‘passion’ and play disciplined baseball?
Chris McKee, Collingwood
Oh, fuck off.
Wow, this is easy!
After seeing the Jays get schooled by the Rangers I believe all the major trouble areas for the Jays were exposed. Everywhere except for defence. By your next mailbag the Jays will be under .500 All the hoopla and the hype has now settled into reality. I’d like your thoughts on this matter. One major question I have that I’ve tried to ask you before was about Thames (.243/3HR/11RBI/9BB) and his lacklustre defence. How much longer do you believe the Jays will give him. Clearly he’s a waste of a roster spot. Also does it concern you that the Jays top two hitters are hitting just over .270? (EE, Lawrie)
Kam H., Richmond Hill
Thames is gone, so there’s your answer to that. The bigger question is, though, who the fuck still looks at batting average? And what, exactly, was this hoopla and hype you felt so strung along by? Was it perhaps the same kind of self-created noise that had you preposterously certain that the Jays were about to slip into abject terribleness?
The circumstances seem perfect: The Minnesota Twins are a horrible, small-market team with a huge commitment to a resurgent Canadian Player (Morneau) who plays at a position where another player to whom they owe even more money (Mauer) may soon have to play. The Blue Jays need a power hitting corner infielder, are in the race, and would surely love to add another member of the Baseball Canada commercials to the clubhouse. So Richard, is there any possibility of a Morneau to Blue Jays trade this year?
Cory Snyder, Cambridge, ON
Health is a big question, but Morneau’s an intriguing piece for the Twins to move and would fill big needs for the Jays in the lineup and on the field, while not having a crippling contract, even in the worst case. Still, these kinds of questions make me maple puke in my fucking maple mouth, because… let’s not pretend that the salivation for this particular solution, and the willingness to overlook potential red flags, isn’t coloured by the birthplace listed on the back of his baseball card. Which, again, isn’t to say I’m not intrigued by the fit– or that I don’t have a soft spot for Morneau myself– but… I’m real fucking glad the people running the club continually say they keep their analysis of potential deals away from players’ passports– because that’s exactly as it should be.
When the DH rule came in, I was against it. I preferred the National League style of play, the strategy involved in that league was more intricate. However, I find that a split league of DH and no DH is not a good idea. Obviously, with the money invested by the AL in developing players for the DH role it appears they will never give that position up. Although I prefer no DH, I would rather both leagues use it for the sake of continuity. Besides, this game has changed so much now that using a DH is no longer so radical – heck, most fans today have grown up with the DH. What are your thoughts overall on the DH?
Kevin Layman, St. John’s
The way the NL plays is cute and quaint and is fun in maybe the same kind of way that a sloppy game of NCAA basketball is, but it’s nearly the last league left out there where pitchers still hit, and that’s because they’re, as a general rule, fucking terrible at it. I mean, for as much fun and additional strategy is supposedly added to the game, you get a shit-tonne of additional outs, which I don’t think serves anybody. That isn’t to say that I’d get all militant about having the NL switch, because, like I say, it’s quaint, but I don’t see the need for it and would live very easily without it.
Q-Sorry Richard but I can’t let this one go. What did Baltimore do right in the off-season that the Jays didn’t do? We keep getting told to wait for next year, year after year, and then we will challenge for first. We keep getting told that our players have to develop, be patient. We have a lot of new players, still waiting. And yet the O’s jump from finishing last place every year to first place, all at once, over the off-season. If the Jays had picked up a couple of those veteran players…..
Bruce Hutchison, Winnipeg
Are you for seriously fucking serious, Bruce? What Baltimore did right was get off to a hot start that’s completely unsustainable based on the talent they have on their club– just like Cleveland did last year, and the Jays did in 2009. I mean, who even looks at the standings at this point in the season, let alone tries to make any grand inferences from them? Um… but if you do want to look at standings right now, how the hell can you do so and still suggest that the Jays aren’t capable of challenging for first? Four games back with 101 to go, and hardly any different back when you penned this question? How is that insurmountable, precisely?
Stuff the attitude until it’s not ridiculous to assume anything about today’s standings means a damn thing maybe, eh?
Wonderful column — much appreciated. My question relates to the situation recently where the Jays are away and batting first in the inning, We are in the ninth inning with the score tied — the Jays send their “closer” Janssen to pitch. Would it not be better to hold Janssen in reserve until they scored a run, as it was, Janssen pitched a good inning, but was done. To me, I think the Jays wasted their “closer” this game. What am I missing.
William Scott, Fenelon Falls
It’s pretty simple, Bill. Yes, it’s unfortunate to have used up your (theoretical) best reliever, forcing the club to play out the game with lesser pitchers. But it’s a far bigger mistake to lose an extra-inning game with your best reliever sitting unused in the bullpen, isn’t it?
Let’s assume that Alvarez, Drabek and Hutchison continue to pitch well during the season and start to pile up innings. Given the trend to limit young starters’ overall innings pitched, what do you see the Blue Jays doing with these three? Who would they replace them with and what would happen if we were in a playoff position?
Rob Brander, Sydney, Australia
Theoretically this is something that could become an issue later in the season, as Drew Hutchison pitched 149.1 innings in total last year, Henderson Alvarez threw 160, and Kyle Drabek had 153.2. This year they’ve used up seventy-odd innings each, with caps– presuming a 20% increase in workload– at around 170-180 innings, so they could likely get through to September, especially by skipping the odd start, or going to a six-man rotation by adding a call-up to the late season rotation. But yeah… if the Jays are sniffing the post-season, it could become an issue. My immediate suspicion, however, is that if they do somehow manage to hang around in the race, it’ll be with some form of outside-the-organization pitching help having got them there. If that’s the case, it’s not really an issue.
And even if it becomes an issue, it’s not the worst problem in the world to have, is it?