Late as usual, 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!
Your mailbag rocks. Please do it regularly. Rather frustrating when I try to look for it on Fridays and came out emptyhanded. Questions:
1-The current Washington Nationals team, any leftover from the Expos era, whether they are players or management?
2-What so good about Bryce Harper? 19-year-old playing every day?! Who would you compare him to?
3-If you have to point your finger, who will you blame for the current Jays’ mediocrity? AA’s bad assessment of the AL East state? Farrell’s lack of experience? Lack of leadership/maturity amongst players? It seems like they lost something from last year.
4-When JP was in charge, he tried to trade Rios for either Lincecum or Cain. I think he would still be around if he were able to get that done, agree? Was this rumour real or not? Supposed Rios did live up to his potential (5 tools), would you still make that trade — an all-star fielder for an all-star pitcher?
5-What is so good about Buster Posey? Is our d’Arnaud as good? How can he earn respect of his pitchers being so young? And batting cleanup too? He is no I-Rod, no?
Thomas Lam, Richmond Hill
Shit… so many questions off the hop. Let me see…
1) Roger Bernadina was signed by the Expos and is still playing for Washington, so yes, there are some holdovers, but I have no idea, in terms of the management side, though I wouldn’t expect a whole lot. The Nats even have their own Henry Rodriguez, which is such a soft gag I’m sure Griff must have used it.
2) Not bad, huh? Age matters, and as impressive as Brett Lawrie was tearing up the Majors last year at 21, when he was 19, as Harper is, he started the year in A-ball. Now, as we’ve seen with Lawrie, a hot start doesn’t always mean it’s smooth sailing from here, but holy shit, Harper’s a tremendous talent.
3) They haven’t lost anything, it’s just not that easy to make meaningful headway in the AL East and the Jays felt their best approach this winter was to keep thinking long-term at the expense of the short. They weren’t wrong, but that doesn’t mean it’s not frustrating to watch them now and think of what could have been.
4) Obviously, knowing what we know now, you’d go back and make that trade– whether it be Cain or Lincecum– in a heartbeat. Most do believe that it was a real thing– and I know that I’ve personally suspected that it’s falling apart is one of the reasons Alex Anthopoulos likes to be so careful with the media– but we really don’t know. More importantly, I think, is to not get too fucking gloat-y on this notion about Rios and his failure to live up to potential. He’s had a pair of 5 win seasons, per FanGraphs, two more above 3.5, and he’s been above average with the bat in five of the last seven seasons, while usually playing pretty good defence in the overall, and mostly in centre since moving to Chicago. He’s put up 2.77 WAR per 150 games played in his career. You could do a whole lot worse.
5) Posey had a four win season as a rookie, and sports a career wOBA of .353. If he had enough plate appearances to qualify for the leaderboard, that mark would put him fifth among MLB catchers over the last three seasons, ahead of Brian McCann, Alex Avila, and Carlos Santana. So… he’s an above average offensive catcher, which is what they say of d’Arnaud too, but I have no idea just how close they are, and it’s way far beyond me to try and say that d’Arnaud might ever be able to find himself in such company. I don’t mind pointing out, however, that JP Arencibia and his .297 wOBA would rank third-last on the same list, ahead of only Kurt Suzuki and Miguel Olivo.
As for Posey hitting cleanup, who the hell else on that team were they going to ask to do it? And the notion of a catcher being too young or failing to command the appropriate respect is, I think, completely, ridiculously overblow. Posey and Santana have both done it recently with no problems.
Maybe you can explain AA’s thinking… I can understand wanting to give Cooper an extended audition…but keeping McCoy over Gomes seems to go the other way. Rajai over Vladdy still feels strange to me, and I really don’t understand keeping Omar at .215 rather than bringing up a SS/2nd base of the future. We seem to be rebuilding, sorta, kinda, but not really! What’s going on?
Peter Thomson, Elizabeth City, NC
Well, Hechavarria needs to play every day, so there’s no point bringing him up to sit on the bench behind Johnson and Escobar. McCoy was kept, it seems, for his positional versatility, and… it’s hard to care much there, not only because Gomes came back rather quickly anyway, but because we’re totally talking about a pair of bench bats. Right now Davis, I shit you fucking not, is hitting better than Vlad did last season in Baltimore, and not by a little bit, either– Davis has a .347 wOBA, a 119 wRC+ and a .777 OPS, compared to .318, 95, and .733 for Vladdy with the O’s. And even if that weren’t true, it’s not like anyone not absolutely insane was ever going to trot Guerrero back into the field, so Davis wasn’t impacting him anyway.
I’m with you on Vizquel. His presence is… novel.
So now that the Jays season is over, who do they trade for prospects? I’m thinking anyone on a one-year deal, like Johnson, Oliver, Encarnacion, etc. Also CoCo if anyone bites (the number of GMs that believe in former closers is incredible), but I’m thinking he’d have to be waived. Though you could consider using him as an innings eater to save our young arms and get us a higher draft pick.
Rob B., Oshawa
Oh for fuck sakes. I don’t know what’s more insufferable– that you actually think the Jays’ season is over, or that you just so casually say as much. Or perhaps it’s the Cordero shit, as though he’s no longer in any way even fucking serviceable– though I’ll totally grant you too much of his work this year has been of the astonishinhly fugly variety– or that it’s not amazingly absurd to suggest changing his role in some kind of thunderingly fucking dull-headed tank nation scheme.
If they can’t keep themselves in it over the next six weeks, all the one-year guys become available, unless they can and want to re-sign Johnson and Encarnacion– both of whom I’d be totally fine with keeping.
What really happened with Guerrero? Is this good, bad or insignificant?
Chris M., Collingwood
Although the Jays are still in tight contention for a wild-card, one gets the ominous feeling from watching them the past three weeks that their fortunes are on the decline. I’m not sure with an under-performing Romero and Drabek, injuries to Morrow and Santos, with only Hutchinson really performing as expected or better, this staff can really contend. We also have question marks at 1B/DH (bye bye Vladdy) and LF which remain unanswered. How do you envision Anthopoulos addressing these issues over both the short- (deadline) and long-term (end of season)?
Brian Campbell, Ottawa
Things haven’t exactly been peachy for the Jays, no, but it’s far too early to pack it in, even with problems in the rotation having compounded since you wrote your letter to
Over the short term, though, I don’t know there’s a whole lot to do, other than to hang on and see how things play out. They could add a shitbag for cheap, but I can’t imagine Anthopoulos doing anything dramatic to impact the short-term outlook for the club, unless such a move simultaneously helps them in the long run. It just wouldn’t be prudent.
Looking more towards the end of the season, I imagine we’ll see Travis d’Arnaud come up at some point, and Adeiny Hechavarria in September, or sooner if another middle infielder is moved– though I still just don’t really see how he’s going to provide more value than Escobar already does– and Snider again at some point, quite possibly. Beyond that, who the hell could really say? Over the winter they’ll have to figure out the middle infield situation, decide if Snider did well enough in the second half to negate the need to find a left fielder, they’ll have to figure out whether and what it will take to keep Encarnacion, will look to add more Big League calibre pitching by moving prospects, Arencibia, and possibly Hechavarria or Thames or Snider, they’ll revamp the bullpen once again on the cheap, and if someone will take their money, maybe even sign somebody– though the other stuff probably has to be taken care of first before they’re a desirable destination, so maybe Anthopoulos will look to position himself better that way before July 31st.
As much as I hate to see Morrow out for an extended period of time the curious conspiracy theorist in me is intrigued by the reaction of Ownership and Management in the next coming days and weeks. To me it seems like two roads can be taken, you ramp up any plans of bringing in Major league talent to the roster in order to stay competitive in the AL East Race or you start preparing your talking points for the end of the season along the lines of ‘we battled inconsistency all year and the Morrow injury really put us back….yadda yadda, etc etc.’
My point being it is one thing to pass on a talent like Prince Fielder this past offseason when the asking price turned out to be understandably unreasonable but it is quite another to pass on pursuing pitching talent like Matt Garza, Ryan Dempster, and/or Wandy Rodriguez when your team is above .500 and 4 games out of first place in the standings midseason. Do you think this situation will lead to some insight into the collective minds of management and Rogers or am I reading too much into it? Getting back to my inner conspiracy theorist, If ownership resembled a Mark Cuban, Maverick type, who runs his team with a passion to win, we think we know what path would be taken while an owner constantly checking balance sheets and quarterly profit margins they might see this as just the excuse they need not to take on salary to stay competitive. Your thoughts? Derek from the East Coast
Derek Andrews, Fredericton
Like most conspiracy theories, that’s pretty insanely fucking ridiculous, Derek. If the Jays don’t make a move for short-term pitching help, it will be because the cost is too great and the benefit too small. That’s it.
I’m really beginning to wonder the authenticity in Paul Beeston’s statement that he expects the Blue Jays to make the playoffs at least three times over the next five years. The fact of the matter is that it is becoming quite clear that Rogers is not willing to make the commitment to make this team a contender. Take for instance the Blue Jays silly stance on the fact that they will not go beyond their own self imposed player value. Because of this, they did not trade for market value for Mat Latos. They will not sign free agents beyond 5 years, and hence the loss of Prince Fielder. They will not go beyond their own value on signing international free agents and thus have lost out on Aroldis Chapman and Yu Darvish. Imagine if Rogers had opened up their vault, and in a perfect world added Fielder, Darvish, and Chapman to this year’s roster. All the cost would have been is money, and in each case, the Jays could have had all three. The irony of it all is that all these three players would have fit the exact needs of the current Blue Jays roster: a power hitting first baseman, a starting pitcher, and an elite closer.
I’ve always felt that the biggest curse to Blue Jays fans is the success of Tampa Bay Rays. Since they have shown that they can win on a very tight budget, I begin to wonder if Rogers is thinking the same thing, and will continue to rein in their millions of Rogers customers dollars.
Zaki Ameen, Milton
Yeah… unfortunately, there’s this thing called reality.
Yes, Beeston is clearly full of shit when he makes grand claims about how many playoff experiences to expect, but that’s his job. The trade for Latos would have cost a shit-tonne in terms of prospects, and would have only brought back Mat fucking Latos, so there’s really no faulting the Jays for not paying a steeper price than what Cincinnati did. The 5-year rule would be dumber if there was any reason to believe that the Jays won’t break it if necessary, and Prince Fielder got a crazily large contract that would be crippling to the club on the back-end if at some point Rogers decided it no longer made business sense to keep gifting money to the Jays– which is what they would be required to do in your pay-everyone-everything scenario, which is completely unfeasible in the first place. And who knows when the down-value back-end of that deal is going to start, with Fielder’s body type.
Yes, the Jays missed on Chapman. Darvish too, but that’s a lot of money for a guy who, right now, sure is allowing a lot of baserunners. He’s got tremendous stuff, but it’s way too early to start chastising the Jays for that one, too.
Of course those moves would have made the 2012 Jays a better team, it’s just… yeah, that whole reality thing.
Q-Jays fan, temporarily living in Chicago for the summer. What’s the latest on Santos??
Omair Rana, Chicago
Santos suffered a setback in his rehab a couple weeks ago, and there’s still no timetable for his return– at least, that was the last I’d read. He’s going to be an important bullpen arm for them for a long time, so they’re not rushing anything.
Q-The Blue Jays have a pretty good team this year, is the rest of the league afraid there might be a repeat of the 1992-93, with the all bad calls against the Jays, are the umpires making sure that does not happen?
Shirley McArthure, Niagara Falls
Q-When will Farrell pull the plug on Cordero? He’s had a great career, but he’s just not effective now. Yet Farrell has consistently gone to Cordero over Frasor in important situations. Cordero made sense when Santos first went down. But we’ve now seen that he doesn’t have it anymore. Do you agree that Cordero should be moved down the depth chart? Personally, I’d consider cutting him loose and bringing up a kid. I was at one of the Boston games and the whole section groaned when Cordero got up in the bullpen. The natives are getting restless.
Kevin Siena, Toronto
I know this letter is a little stale, but holy fuck. I mean, yes, Farrell has overused and misused Cordero– there is no doubt about that. And it’s undeniable that there have been a lot of outings– too many outings– in which he hasn’t been good. But the vast fucking chasm between how actually bad he’s been and the perception of people who are ready to fucking cut him remains absolutely fucking staggering. Shit, I mean, since his blow-up in Oakland on May 8th, even with a couple of Arencibia-aided turds, he’s pitched to a 2.12 ERA and held opponents to a .687 OPS.
Sure, that’s a small sample size with an arbitrary starting point, but that’s astonishingly far from the loss-waiting-to-happen perception fans have of him. He’s given up runs in four of his last 21 appearances, and earned runs in just three. Do I really have to explain that that’s not DFA material? Is the turnaround of Frank Francisco last year really so fucking difficult to remember? Or the usefulness of Octavio Dotel as a trade chip?
I’m not claiming Cordero has been good or is about to morph into the guy he was a few years ago, just asking for a little goddamned perspective.
I wanted to get your thoughts on Wandy Rodriguez. I personally think he would be a great fit as a No. 3 starter behind Romero and Morrow. He’s a guy who can give you close to 200 IP, hasn’t had an ERA over 3.60 in the last 5 seasons and is under team control through 2014. He will most likely be available come trade deadline day if he’s not traded before then. What do you think the Jays would have to give up for him? In addition, what are some other names Jays fans should keep their eye on leading up to the July 31st trade deadline as a potential starting pitcher? Finally, IF they do manage to bring in another starter who do you think gets sent down/moved to the pen? Thanks! Keep up the great work!
Josh Cymbalista, Thornhill
I think “great” fit is a stretch, Josh. He’d be OK. But expensive– he’d be owed some fraction of his $10-million salary this year, plus $13-million for 2013, and a club option for that amount the year after, with a $2.5-million buyout, according to Cot’s. He’s already lost a tick on his fastball– down to 89.2 mph this year, from it’s 90.2 peak in 2009– and he’s struck out 8% fewer batters faced this year than he did in 2009.
That said, he’s OK, can eat some innings, and it’s a manageable cost. If there’s nothing better, fuck… sure.
Matt Garza, though, is much better– though, naturally, costlier. Beyond that, you hear names of guys who will be free agents next winter– Greinke, Hamels, Ryan Dempster– but I can’t see the Jays giving up assets for a two-month rental. If we know anything about Anthopoulos, if he makes a deal, it will probably for someone we haven’t heard of.
I enjoy the mailbag. It is my understanding that there are pay restrictions in place for the first year of a minor-league contract but after that the system is open. If this is correct, and with the new penalties in place for teams that exceed the MLB draft signing bonus, is there any indication that the Blue Jays or other teams may try to entice those hard-to-sign draft picks (like Anthony Alford) by paying them on the back end by offering rich minor league contracts.
Aaron Asee, Toronto
I forget where, but I heard this subject come up with regard to Alford elsewhere, and I believe MLB monitors these contracts, and can penalize teams who violate the system– or perhaps they can render the contract invalid. I don’t totally know, to be honest, and I wouldn’t put it past clubs to already be looking into ways to game the system, given what we’ve already seen from the draft selection process itself.
What do you make of the withering of Brian Jeroloman ? He is performing (?) atrociously at New Hampshire. And, why on earth did the Jays sign Koby Clemens, given the logjam of genuine first base prospects in AAA and AA? Thank you.
Thea Varley, Toronto
These are organizational filler guys. Meh.
Yesterday, my wife and I, retirees, watched the Jays nose under the .500 water line for the first time, and I suspect this bunch of deck chair shufflers will accelerate to the bottom, on merit.
We went to watch Strasburg pitch in any event, knowing he’d bury this weak Toronto bunch. It was a lovely sunny day, at least, and the beer (at $10 !) was cold. On two occasions we tried to buy food: the lineup for all food was approximately 15 minutes long, even during play, so we contented ourselves with the beer. Only one harried server worked each food counter. Isn’t this mediocre organization smart enough to anticipate more customers on a day when the opposing pitcher is named Strasburg?
Must we be subjected to ear-piercing, gawd-awful “music” between each batter? Is the younger generation that bored? Do we require a command to “Make Noise” from the scoreboard? Our ears are still ringing. Doesn’t this club need to create premium seating (not club boxes) for fans who want to watch the game away from the diaper changers (yes!), fans who arrive in the third inning, and the constant movement to the concession stands by the children and the grossly obese? Aren’t we tired of AA’s flanneling speeches that admit nothing? Doesn’t he need to (quickly as possible ) package the likes of Drabek, Arencibia, Escobar, etc. onto another dull-witted organization? Are these enough questions? Thank You,
Selby Martin, Toronto
Must local children insist on trampling their grubby feet across your freshly manicured lawn?!??!
The problem at Strasburg’s start, Selby, wasn’t so much the fact that fans flocked to see the Nationals’ phenom, but the fact that it was a school day, so the Dome was full of screaming kids. And apparently kids fucking love hot dogs, because I was there too and the food lines were absolutely ridiculous. I suppose you’re right that I shouldn’t be so nonchalant about Rogers’ complete fucking ineptitude when it comes to running the stadium they bought for a song, but this kind of shit happens so often that you just get really used to it.
And I totally agree that the in-game screaming-at-us is almost as absolutely insufferable as the wave.
But… you’re really that fucking put out by people having to go to the concession stand, or– heaven forbid– bringing children or being hefty? The fuck?
Worse still, what do you have against Escobar?