Could it really and truly be? Back-to-back weeks? Yes, it could be! After such a ridiculously long time in the desert, it seems we’ve come upon two oases in quick succession, as hot-ish off the presses, we’ve got another Griff Bag– aka Richard Griffin’s reader mail bag from over at the Toronto Star. Commence hijacking!
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!
Q. Maybe the Jays should let (John) Farrell go (to the Red Sox) and hire your old buddy, Tito (Francona). That would certainly add an additional level of spice to the division, wouldn’t it?
Francona was a great manager, has played in Canada and is well liked up here, so might be a good replacement. But if AA is genuinely committed to Farrell, then he MUST extend him right after the season. It makes the Jays look like a Mickey Mouse organization if their staff are always treated as the managerial equivalent of training wheels for a so-called big league franchise like Boston. It demeans the organization, the city and the fans, in my opinion. Thoughts?
Always love your column.
What? Um… how the hell have the Jays been any kind of training ground for other organizations, exactly? Name me the last Jays manager to have managed anywhere else at the big league level after leaving Toronto– was it Jimy fucking Williams? IT WAS! I JUST LOOKED!
I’m pretty sure that’s a) fucking insane, and b) exactly the opposite of the picture you’re trying to paint here. And I’m also pretty sure Alex Anthopoulos is entirely right when he says that, in sports, non-player contracts are about setting the terms of remuneration, and that’s about it.
Sure, teams are more reluctant to move on from staff members they’re locked into paying for years down the line, but it’s rarely an impediment if someone’s employment is deemed no longer tenable– Boston’s cutting bait on Francona and (eventually) Bobby Valentine are clear examples of that. Extending Farrell this winter wouldn’t make him any more or less likely to be fired, or any more or less likely to want to jump ship. And it’s not like Boston is going to hire a placeholder guy for one year, in order to wait out the end of Farrell’s contract, so… what exactly is the issue here? The Jays should see how next year goes and proceed accordingly.
Q. With the N.Y. Mets apparently ending their affiliation with the Buffalo Bisons after this season, wouldn’t it make perfect sense for the Jays to move their Triple A team there from Vegas?
All everyone both inside and outside the organization talk about is how you can’t measure hitters or pitchers in Vegas because of the park and/or altitude so why not move them to a beautiful ballpark an hour and a half away and just over the border so we southern Ontarians can go see them. I’m sure their attendance would improve dramatically.
Rick Fokken, Port Colborne
Fokken, eh! Pretty sure this is going to happen, just because it’s so mutually beneficial. And while it should help the Bisons, who didn’t get much geographic benefit from being a Mets affiliate, I’m not sure how dramatic the impact on attendance will be. At least in theory, it does increase the size of the potential market. It doesn’t hurt that in the next few years there should be some king hell prospects coming through the ranks to go check out, either. Or so we’ve been led to believe. But will people from this side of the border show up once the novelty wears off? I’m not so sure it’s a slam dunk.
I have a question regarding injuries to players. When a player is injured and requires surgery, who covers the cost of the surgery and the rehab? I imagine the team takes care of it, but what if the player in question was minor-leaguer or an aging veteran with a questionable future with the club. Can the team discharge itself of their responsibility?
Randy Fisher, Toronto
I’ve never seen it in writing, but I can say with damn certainty that if a player is on the club’s roster, the club– or their insurance– is paying for whatever surgeries are required.
I really enjoy your mailbag and want to take the opportunity to ask you about Ricky Romero. Everyone seems flummoxed about his terrible year but I am just wondering what the process is trying to figure out what has gone wrong. Can’t the Jays simply analyze film footage of his delivery last year frame by frame and compare it to this year’s delivery frame by frame and get him to correct whatever he is doing differently. Obviously this might be hard to do on a consistent basis but some of his starts this year it seems like he has no clue from start to finish.
Patrick Mulholland, Stettler, Alta
Um… that sort of thing is easy enough for anybody with a computer to do, and those who’ve done it don’t really see any tangible difference in his mechanics. The Jays work with video constantly, so… I’m pretty sure they’ve already had a look. And, I mean, if fixing it were that simple, don’t you think they would have done it by now?
I’m wondering what you think of the idea of bringing up RHP Sean O’Sullivan to finish the season with Toronto, in the wake of J.A. Happ’s season-ending injury. The Jays had a plan of using six starters for the remainder of the season, but Happ is now unavailable, and O’Sullivan, a former big-leaguer who is only 25, had a very nice run with AAA Las Vegas since joining that club mid-season. Thanks for your great coverage again this season!!
Frank Dixon, Kingston, ON
To what end, exactly, are you suggesting the Jays bring O’Sullivan up? Like… I don’t want to jump to conclusions, but you cannot fucking possibly be suggesting he’s anything close to a viable starting option going forward for the club, can you?
Q. What is significance of the different colored rope necklaces that some players wear.
John Felker, Osoyoos
Depends on the colour. I think black means they’re into S&M, red is fisting, dark blue is anal, light blue is oral, yellow is watersports, brown is coprophilia, green means he’s a hustler, grey is bondage, purple is piercing, and orange means “anything, anywhere, anytime (but not necessarily anyone).” Or, at least, that’s what Al Pacino led me to believe in Cruising.
It’s probably unfair to judge John Farrell’s performance after such an injury-filled season. But since we haven’t exactly improved under his stewardship, it’s easier to remain unattached and listen to the rumours that he’s bound for Boston. In other words, Farrell’s not what’s wrong with the Blue Jays, but it wouldn’t be heartbreaking if he left. The out-with-the-old-in-with-the-small, move-the-runners-along kind of baseball has yet to fully materialize and I wonder whether a different kind of manager might have more luck. Which brings me to my question: Omar Vizquel has expressed an interest in managing after this season. He won’t be, like previous Jays’ managers, a former catcher, pitcher, or swing for the fence kind of player. Rather, he plays the kind of baseball that next year’s team might be well suited for. Plus, he’s essentially had a year-long, in the dug-out interview. What would players and Blue Jays’ brass think of giving Vizquel a shot, if Farrell ends up heading back to Boston?
Matthew McKean, Ottawa
Oh good fucking lord, who cares?
I have no fucking idea, nor is it anything close to anything I would ever consider for a second contemplating. But, to pick out the one, narrow part of your question that I find at all interesting in the slightest, I do agree that it probably to a large extent comes down to bad luck, the way Farrell’s tactics haven’t been able to manufacture runs this year. And I say that despite the fact that I disagree with those tactics on principle quite often. Thing is, it’s really hard to judge how he’d run a healthy team, and I think that some of the wastefulness we’ve seen in the course of his aggressiveness this year is likely a response how shitty his team has been and how difficult it’s been scoring runs, especially since Bautista has been out.
That said, I wasn’t enamored of his work last year, either, and I certainly won’t rule out a more full-throated shitting-on of him down the line, as we continue to get a better sense of who he is as a manager.
I was at the Jays disaster sitting in left field and watching (Rajai) Davis — more interested in watching the planes of the Air Show — and now many balls did he not even try for with some energy? Then shortstop did not help Romero in the disaster inning. They all (most) make big money under big money contracts and get that big money whether they play well, or try or just mail it in. There is no performance rewards except for the odd contract e.g. making all star Team; winning MVP etc. Have you even thought about, or had discussions on, or has the industry ever considered Performance Based Compensation? You may have a $10 million dollar contract and get paid it no matter how you stink up the joint but what if players were paid a base salary calculated based on the number of years on the Majors. eg — Rookie gets based of $250,000. Then all second year players get a base of $500,000, Third year players get $700,000 etc. like in business where there are base salaries and then performance bonuses. You put in extra effort and huge achievements you get bonuses. You do the minimum and mail it if you get your base. In other words you play the game and perform your position like a professional you get rewarded above your base contract. You just mail it in you still get good bucks but you get what you are worth. An average producer. Baseball has stats about stats so maintaining all of this would not be too difficult — most probably available. With performance-based compensation you would not see such lacklustre performances like I saw by some of the Jays. Fans deserve better. Has this concept ever been thought of or discussed at the higher up levels (forget the union)?
K D Butler, Toronto
It has probably not been thought of or discussed before… because it is INSANE.
Q. Hi Mr.
Watched the game a couple of weeks ago and saw the Expos fans out in good numbers. I immediately thought of you. Wanted to know if the mailbag was cancelled for the rest of the season much like the Jays’ playoff chances? I submitted a question last week and wanted to submit another. (What is the hold up with the Jays offering Carlos Villanueva a team friendly contract i.e. 4 years with the last two years as option at maybe $3-4 million per year?)
Anton S. Forde, Toronto
The hold up is the fact that the Jays, quite rightly, worry about his ability to pitch a full season’s worth of innings as a starter. So why sign a guy now, with starts still left, when your main concern is his durability? Is that not the kind of situation where you want to gather as much data as possible before you make your decision?
And even if Villanueva maintains his current level of performance through the end of the season, it’s still no lock that it would be prudent for the Jays to sign him and guarantee him the spot in the rotation that he desires– especially since I think it will cost more than you suggest, too.
Your evaluation of JF and the situation is dead-on and I think if all parties in management have their brains on, they’re on it like flies to pine tar. What an opportunity! Once the smoke clears, AA will trade Farrell (I wonder who they’d be willing to give up?) and snatch Tito from limbo.
Rod Salloum, Vancouver
What’s all the fuss? Why don’t we trade John to Boston, get back some pitching, and then hire Tito to manage here? Tito would look great in the Blue. Has anyone asked Alex about Tito?
Dave Ritchie, Toronto
Alex has a manager under contract, Dave, so I can tell you pretty goddamn easy what he’d say.
As for the trade scenarios, you seem to be forgetting that the Red Sox aren’t complete fucking idiots. It’s rather delusional to start dreaming on legitimate, game-changing talent coming the other way in exchange for a manager. It’s just so extraordinarily unlikely.
Sure, if the Sox do lose their minds and offer something of real value, then you do it without thinking twice, and take a look at Francona, if he’s still available, or one of the many internal candidates available. But why anybody is frothing at the mouth over this possibility is beyond baffling. I mean, you could dream up any number of ridiculously lopsided trade scenarios– it’s not like they’re ever actually going to happen.
Q. Good morning
The Jays speak about doing a lot to build up a contending team “they will spend, over-spend etc.,” first you have to open the purse strings before you can reach in to get money out — perhaps spend a little to fix the retracting roof of the Rogers Centre that refused to close last night. Then do some serious work scouting and bring in good, solid baseball players who can form the pieces that are necessary to contend. The young chap at 3rd is unable to stop anything headed his way and Rajai Davis — may be good in stealing bases but he is no good in anticipating where the ball is going to come down and is either way ahead and has to turn and chase it down when he is too late and then he is crawling around trying to get to the ball. Oh boy, do the Jays need a good left-fielder — quick on his feet who can patrol his territory well and has a strong and accurate arm and good with the bat — Rajai has a habit of chasing balls outside the strike zone and getting struck out. The Jays have lost 2 of three games to the O’s and look lifeless with no desire to play. This is a team that should be putting up a fight as spoilers and showing their fans that they are a team, irrespective of all the injuries, to the end. Have a good day.
Tony D’Souza, Toronto
Rajai Davis is a fourth outfielder, so who cares? To everything else: what the fuck are you possibly talking about?
After just reading about your travel exploits getting to Jays games, I’m pretty sure that there must be times when you end up watching them on TV. So, perhaps you have a perspective on SportsNet’s “Pirates of the Caribbean” theme music — new for this season, and hopefully only this season. For some reason that I cannot understand, it is always so loud and broadcast over top of the commentary that it is not possible to hear anyone speaking. I figured they would have figured that out by this point in the season, but it has not changed. My 20 cents worth.
Bryan Willis, Vancouver
THAT is your problem with the broadcast?
I read with interest the AL/NL pitcher comparison, but what about the fielding? Seems to me that the NL must have some sluggers that are not really the best fielders in the world but are there for their bats only. While I realize that it’s a stretch to figure out, this lack of fielding skills must have SOME kind of result.
Peter Thomson, Elizabeth City, N.C.
Um… I realize you used a question mark in there at some point, but you “question” is reading a whole more a lot like a statement, to me. Yes, there are a number of newfangled defensive metrics that, with enough data, give you a pretty good idea of who is a quality fielder and who isn’t. Some of them are in the National League.
Q. I have a trade suggestion: How about John Farrell, Colby Rasmus and Kelly Johnson for Jon Lester, Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia. Also maybe throw in Adam Lind for Mauro Gomez. Then go after Francona. ?????
Frank Brown, Thornhill
Not sure if that one will go through. Are you playing on Beginner, Amateur, Pro, or All-Star?