If you’re a regular reader, you’re probably well aware that the term “long read” is sort of a misnomer here on DJF mountain, but I suspect that you know what I mean when I use it. Occasionally we dive just a little bit deeper into a topic than usual, and sometimes, frankly, it seems as though our efforts disappear a little too quickly into the ether.
I get that. It’s a product of the medium we work in, which otherwise has many, many advantages and great aspects– one of which is the fact that I can do things like collecting up all of the most interesting, re-readable ones (or, at least, the ones that either best stoked my narcissism or impressed me from my colleagues), and posting them after an apporpriate time has passed. Say a year, or maybe a year and almost-two-and-a-half-weeks or something. *COUGH*
And, lo and behold, here are a bunch of them for the year that just passed (um, almost-two-and-a-half-weeks back). The year in DJF Longreads for 2012…
The Off-Season Turns The Corner - 1/26
Making sense of the off-season as it became truly apparent that the Jays, once again, wouldn’t be big spenders on the free agent market.
Fans have been discouraged by this off-season, often failing to grasp how little fruit we’ve yet seen borne by Anthopoulos’s labours, while the Geoff Bakers of the world asininely scoff from their high horses about bloggers defending their clubs’ decisions to stay the course. But while Baker may be right about Rogers’ crass, cynical cheapness on the whole, given the reality Alex Anthopoulos is forced to operate in, the best course of action he could have taken– for the sake of his own job, and by extension the franchise– is this. The Jays may not be contenders in 2012, but fans should take an immense amount of comfort in the fact that they’ll continue to load up in their preparation for unleashing hell on the American League in the following seasons.
Today In Morons: The Five Tools - 1/31
If you ever needed someone to teach a course on how to be hopelessly, epically wrong, this is your guy.
Yes, Rogers has money. Yes, they make money on the Jays. Yes, you want them to spend it. Problem is, you want them to spend it in some kind of fantasy world vacuum where money goes in and a great baseball team comes out the other side and nobody has to worry about what happens if Anthopoulos Ricciardis the money into bad assets and Rogers won’t let spending spiral out of control to fix it.
Tweet Emotion: Thoughts On Posting Yesterday’s Lawrie Pic - 2/8
Brett Lawrie gives a thumbs up to an ass crack, hand-wringing ensues.
After the pedestal Rogers’ marketing team rushed to place Lawrie on this summer, after the paeans from Lawrie-worshipping members of Canada’s Langley-based Little League World Series entrant and Michael Grange’s exultation in a Sportsnet piece that “there are role models and there are living, fire-breathing, tattooed examples of exactly what you want to be when you go to bed at night clutching your baseball glove,” isn’t there maybe something more to consider here?
That Of Which We Do Not Speak - 4/23 – by Drew Fairservice
Putting to words the concerns about how Brett Lawrie just didn’t look right at the plate.
It is a dangerous game, elevating Lawrie beyond his achievements. If (a big if) he doesn’t figure it out, somebody will notice. At some point the struggles will overshadow the mythology and the inevitable sophomore slumps will become apparent to even the most ardently maple-bonered.
How McGowan’s Injury Could Cost Jays -4/27 – by Dustin Parkes
Examining the ways in which the sudden, but unsurprising, ill health of Dustin McGowan impacted the club.
In no way is criticism directed at Dustin McGowan the pitcher meant as a slight against him as a human being. I understand that as fans we haven’t been given much in the way of chances to show our appreciation for his efforts, at least not in the same fashion as we are for the rest of the roster, but believe me, even prior to the contract extension, the Blue Jays have done right by McGowan, signing him in each of his arbitration years and picking up the bill on his rehab, when non-tendering him while he dealt with his myriad of injuries would have been perfectly acceptable.
The Thing About Relievers - 5/2 – by Drew Fairservice
The Jays vaunted “super ‘pen” begins to completely unravel, as bullpens sometimes tend to do.
There is no easy way to fix what is wrong with the Blue Jays bullpen. They just need to keep pitching. The home runs will slow down and the eventual return of Sergio Santos slots Cordero back down into the safety of lower leveraged situations. Farrell already came out and said Cordero is “still his guy” for the ninth inning. Managing to the save is bad. The bullpen as whole isn’t pitching well enough that one guy deserves to take the job from Cordero, sadly.
Late-inning losses (or wins that become losses only to become wins again) sting. They linger. They don’t go away. The volatility of relief pitching matters not when you watch your team gag away wins. But it is a real thing. Shit happens. Shit happens when you pitch an inning at a time with everything on the line.
Dustin Parkes’ 26th Dream - 5/4 – by Dustin Parkes
The story of a young boy named Adam Lind, and a whole lot of rope.
I had a dream last night. That’s not all together uncommon. Human beings have dreams. What is uncommon, at least for me, is that my dream last night should be so vivid in my memory this morning. I’m not one to remember my dreams, which is pretty great for my friends, because they never have to tolerate boring stories about my dreams.
So, please understand that it’s rare for me to write about my dreams. In fact, it’s only the 26th dream that I’ve ever remembered in my life, and it’s the first I’ve ever bothered to share with anyone else. That’s partly why I ask that you indulge me here with reading about my 26th dream.
What Price Encadwin? - 5/24 – by Drew Fairservice
Trying to decipher what the market would hold for Edwin Encarnacion
Short of some GM losing his fool mind and shoving a truckload of cash in front of EE, the Jays should be able to ink Encarnacion at a pretty respectable price. It comes down to comfort level: the Jays known EE well and remain very high on his skills, sticking with Encarnacion through ups and downs. How many years get it done? How many years are they (or you, dear reader) comfortable with, keeping the potential outfield logjam/inevitable move of Jose Bautista to first/DH at the front of our minds?
J.P. Arencibia Is Not A Valid First Baseman Or Designated Hitter - 5/30 – by Dustin Parkes
Crushing the myth that the Jays could simply move their incumbent catcher elsewhere in order to make room for top prospect Travis d’Arnaud.
The problem, which I suppose is a good one to have, is how to break D’Arnaud into the role for which he’s been anointed while also ensuring that Arencibia’s trade value isn’t diminished by decreased playing time. Both Goldstein in the article linked to above, and FOX Sports’ resident Detroit Tigers super fan Jon Paul Morosi on Twitter, suggest that the incumbent catcher can play first base in the absence of anything remotely resembling a contributing offensive force at the position on the team’s roster.
I would counter such suggestions with the following statement: No, he can’t.
How The Blue Jays Are Gaming The System - 6/6 – by Dustin Parkes
A look at the Jays’ strategy under the newfangled draft rules.
The 2012 MLB Rule IV draft will most likely be seen as a failure. Prior to the draft, we discussed on multiple occasions how the new rules put in place to limit spending on signing bonuses were supposedly a means of ensure the most talented players were drafted first. Instead, it’s opened the door for organizations to take advantage of a lack of leverage given to college seniors, while attempting to allocate the majority of their spending limits to their first few draft picks.
The Rebirth Of Colby Rasmus - 6/12 – by Drew Fairservice
A look at the magical return to form of Colby Rasmus, which we hoped– in vain, it turned out– would finally and forever last.
Whatever the reasons behind the change, it is certainly working for the red-hot Colby Rasmus. He probably won’t keep clipping along with an OPS just under 1.000 but if moving up in the box helps him stave off another prolonged slump, good on him and hitting coach Dwayne Murphy for finding a solution that seems to have unlocked the dormant power in Rasmus’ bat.
Horses For Courses - 6/28 – by Drew Fairservice
Imploring fans not to kill Dwayne Murphy for his dislike of advanced stats by trying to understand what little they have to do with his actual job.
When Dwayne Murphy and Colby Rasmus worked to correct some problems in Rasmus’ swing and approach, they surely looked at film and, possibly, some visualizations of trends pitchers followed to retire the Blue Jays centerfielder. Dwayne Murphy didn’t look at Rasmus’ wOBA and say “hmm, this is bad. You should hit more doubles, it will really help your numbers increase.” They recognized a pattern (exposed on pitches away, leaving Rasmus vulnerable to backfoot sliders and the like) and addressed it via a taller posture and a move closer to the plate. Viola! Outside corner reclaimed, inside half retaken by force.
Taking The Long View – 7/4
Looking beyond the trade deadline to an “optimistic” potential roster for 2013.
Of course, any of those pitchers could find themselves in another organization before Opening Day rolls around– or even by the end of this month– as it becomes more and more clear that Anthopoulos has to make a deal for at least one additional mid-rotation-or-better starter. With the talent he has floating around the fringes of the team’s core he could conceivably make two. It certainly wouldn’t hurt a 2013 club that could be a serious contender with Morrow, Romero and a very strong lineup core– provided Edwin Encarnacion sticks around.
Quit Playing Games With My Heart - 7/6 – by Archi Zuber
Missing Travis Snider while he rots in Las Vegas, all that potential of his still unfulfilled.
I know this is silly and that I shouldn’t feel this way, but I do. I know that the key to talking about baseball on the internet and avoiding scorn is to be as sane and as logical as one can and to provide statistical evidence of your claims but sometimes I get tired of being sane and logical and playing by the numbers. Sometimes I just want the 240lb kid who hits one-handed home runs into the upper deck back in my life.
I just want Travis Snider back. Is that so wrong?
On Francisco Cordero - 7/6
Hoping for better from fans understandably frustrated by the reliever’s performance.
Put simply: it sucks to not just hate-on, but to, en masse, try and pulverize the very soul of a person whose personality we know nothing of, who is simply trying his best to do his job, and whose only wronging of us has been that he happens to not be very good at baseball. And, hoo boy, Francisco Cordero is not very good at baseball.
The Time Is Now For Anthopoulos To Deal - 7/16
Insisting that the Jays must being a new phase of team-building: acquiring MLB-calibre assets.
The asking prices are reportedly high right now, but the arms are there in the Jays’ system to replace what they may have to give up, and with so much of the core of the team finally appearing as though it’s really here, the time to start pushing clubs around with the prospect capital Alex has built up is now. There’s simply no reason for it to not be a fantastic next six months in the player acquisition department, and a time in which the braying from the insufferably impatient sectors of the fan base could finally, finally be given a long rest.
The Shift Keeps Paying Dividends - 7/16 – by Drew Fairservice
Breaking down the Jays’ shifty defensive ways, as the club continued paying very close attention to positioning.
The Jays shifting tendencies spilled a lot of ink early in the season. What once was an oddity is now standard operating procedure for numerous teams around the league. While the novelty may have worn off, the impact of a more sophisticated approach to defense continues to pay off, saving the Blue Jays runs and keeping miles off their young pitchers’ odometers. How long until hitters make their adjustments to this type of defensive trickery?
Tackling The Myth Of AA’s Stealth - 7/19
Deconstructing the myth that any Jays-related rumor in the Anthopoulos era is without merit.
It’s undeniable that, at least since the Halladay trade, the Jays’ involvement in deals that are imminent hasn’t become day-to-day fodder for the rumour mill. The total silence that Alex Anthopoulos insists upon seems to serve its purpose in that regard. But the notion that these rumblings aren’t worth following at all– whatever giant grains of salt may be required– or don’t provide any value or insight into the club’s plan of attack, or– worse still– should be taken prima facie as false, because of the ridiculous maxim that says nothing we hear could possibly have any basis in fact, is beyond wrongheaded.
Oh Happ-y Day: The Obligatory Trade Reaction Post - 7/20
Trying to make sense of the most boring ten-player trade in the history of ever.
In a small way– because let’s not overstate the importance of the deal– the Jays are acting like they believe this year and next actually matter. Beyond that, Anthopoulos appears to be starting to get his feet wet in terms of turning the mountain of prospect capital he’s built up over the last three years into actual, unsexy, nuts-and-bolts serviceable contributors at the Major League level. It’s a good thing.
Snider Dealt to the Pirates for Brad Lincoln (No, Really) - 7/31
The Great White Hope’s time finally, unexpectedly comes.
Yes, we all wanted to believe this was finally the time when he was going to put it all together, but if we think about it honestly– or look at the strikeout and walk rates he put up in the short time he was here– we can acknowledge that there was a very real possibility that he wouldn’t. And if he didn’t earn that job, and left the club looking for a contingency plan, a better option, or staring at the very real prospect of losing him for nothing on waivers if they ever needed to send him down, his value would have taken a considerable hit.
You’re Allowed To Care About Travis Snider - 7/31 – by Archi Zuber
Avoiding the cold-hearted logic and calculated rationales in order to lament the end of Snider’s Blue Jays career.
I can’t help but to look at the atmosphere around the team now and see Snider’s imprint on it. It seems like the whole team is made up for free-swingin’, ‘look at how much fun they’re having!’ guys that were absolutely nowhere to be found when he was called up. In 2008, we had a hardass in Scott Rolen, the laissez faire Alex Rios, the soon-to-be-depressed Vernon Wells, and an inhuman robot designed to kill on the mound every 5 days. Snider was the one I could cling to and say “That’s how I think I’d act in this situation”. He was having fun, dancing, interacting with fans on the internet and living the dream of playing major league baseball. It’s easy to take for granted now that we’ve got Brett Lawrie and JP Arencibia and Jose Bautista and all the other smilin’ good guys making youtube videos with our names in them, but for better or for worse, Snider was the one who introduced the information era in Toronto.
2 0 1 2 - 8/8
Underestimating Rogers while sifting through the wreckage of a season already completely broken by early August.
While obviously Rogers has enough money to outspend anyone, or to take the hit on contracts that are hardly close to crippling in the baseball economy, to expect the kind of massive investment in the club required to kickstart a new golden age is hopelessly naive of not only the layers of corporate murk required to push through in order to make such a thing happen, but of how Alex Anthopoulos almost certainly sold his vision in order to get the job, as well.
Five Radical-ish Things The Jays Ought To Do With What’s Left Of 2012 - 8/9
Groping around for unorthodox ways to save what was left of the season.
Sure, Lind could be a useful bench bat and insurance for Edwin Encarnacion and whatever the club decides to do at DH, but I’d much rather the club rid themselves of the temptation and show us that they’re not so insane as to believe that a month in Vegas woke the sleeping “real” Lind from his 1300 plate appearance-long nap. As with Aaron Hill last year, we’re long beyond the point where it would hurt in the slightest to see him go turn his career around in new environs. And after seeing what passed as “opportunity” for Travis Snider, I just cannot fathom how Lind’s rope isn’t at its end.
Sometimes You Eat The Delabar… - 8/31 – by Drew Fairservice
Something of a mea culpa after the astonishing success of deadline acquisition Steve Delabar.
It’s a funny thing, writing and speaking about baseball on the Internet. You aren’t allowed to be wrong even though you often will be. When the Blue Jays acquired Steve Delabar from the Seattle Mariners for Eric Thames, your intrepid DFJ podcasters were nearly unanimous in our scorn for the deal. Our collective distaste for Delabar stemmed from the curiously large number of home runs he surrenders. A problem he miraculously fixed since joining the Blue Jays, making our initial anger seem silly (with the benefit of hindsight, of course.)
Beating On, Boats Against The Current - 9/5
Tackling the suffocating negativity surrounding the team and its fans in the wake of a brutal second half.
The fact is, we don’t know how far the club is willing to go, financially, this winter, in order to take the next step with this roster, but it’s absolutely not without recent historical precedent that they could spend, and it’s infinitely more ridiculous– from a business standpoint for Rogers, and based on the evidence of non-payroll spending we’ve already seen– to believe someone’s shitted-out conspiracy theory about perpetual mediocrity and a revolving door of excuses.
Unfortunately, in this climate of all encompassing shitting pissing negativity over anything and everything, people do believe such garbage– and that’s pretty fucking sad. Especially because it’s just so laughably unnecessary, distracting, and so corrosive to anything resembling discourse that anyone feels the need to invent shit to be upset about this franchise for. And because it tends to force people into camps on one extreme or the other– you’re either one of these shit heads who has absolutely nothing good to say, or you’re being a worthless, hopelessly optimistic apologist.
Clubhouse Culture, Phone Troubles, And More Escobar Fallout - 9/20
Just when you think things couldn’t have gotten worse…
Sure, Escobar has been in North America long enough to have damn well known better, but I’m sorry, if forced to decide whether I believe he is a hate-filled swine with full comprehension of our cultural standards who wrote a message of intentional bigotry on his face, or a pampered athlete who, when here, has lived mostly in a bubble that’s kept him disconnected from our evolving social graces, I can’t help but kinda believe the latter.
Trade Talk: Which Jays Have We Seen The Last Of? - 10/18
Looking at the potential trade candidates on the Jays’ big league roster.
When it comes to the possibility of significant roster turnover, it’s hard not to pick up where we left off a year ago this time, when we thought anything was possible, and something truly significant was surely on the horizon. Hardened by a calendar year in which the only “non-relief” “contributors”– both terms used rather loosely– added to the MLB roster were Aaron Laffey, Jesse Chavez, JA Happ, Ben Francisco, Jeff Mathis and Yorvit Torrealba, and understanding how the trick Anthopoulos needs to pull has grown in degree of difficulty after a year of injury and regression, a lot of fans seem to have stopped letting their minds race too quickly at ideas of seeing a multitude of new faces on the roster next year.
There are prospects to deal, free agents to sign and changes to be made, to be sure. But the sense I’ve got is that, with a few obvious exceptions, fans seem to figure that most of the players under team control and on the current roster will be here next April.
Is that really so? Could it possibly be so?
The Farrell Saga Ends, Means Little - 10/22
Surveying the wreckage of the Jays’ coaching staff after the departure of John Farrell.
There’s an elephant in the room whenever anyone lets shit dribble out of their mouth about how harmful this is to the Jays’ brand, or what a public relations disaster it must be: the fact that the transactions that will take place– or fail to take place– the next two months are so infinitely more crucial to the team and the brand that there is no earthly way a poorly-received end to the Farrell saga registers even a blip on the radar of most fans by the time all is said and done.
Jays Steal Miami’s Soul (Pending League Approval) - 11/14
Reviewing The Trade and the new era of Jays baseball it immediately ushered in.
Surely somewhere there’s a parallel universe where this trade doesn’t magically appear, and the Jays ended up dealing for Gavin Floyd, signing a couple low-end rotation options, getting Beltran’d by the guys they really wanted and limping into next year on false hope. It’d be a real comfortable place, I think. And maybe, in a way that I didn’t want to admit to myself, seemed all too inevitable.
Tonight feels more than anything like a real chance to break free of that for a long time. We have a real team. Real owners. Real optimism. And the only thing that’s kinda hard to believe is that it’s really for us.
How To Interact With, Learn About, And Cheer For The New Jays - 11/14 – by Archi Zuber
An in-depth look at the pieces coming back to Toronto in the wake of The Trade, and how to love them.
Appropriate Opening Day Rogers Centre crowd response: A slowly building rumble that doubles as a realization that the trade actually happened and that the entire season is ahead of us, a warm summer full of possibility and what might be. After he takes the first pitch (a ball), a nice mix of the murmur of people elbowing their friends and saying “This is the guy” and a small ‘Jo-se Rey-yes clap-clap clapclapclap’ chant should suffice.
Got Melk? - 11/16
More November giddiness, as they Jays add Melky Cabrera to the equation.
To a free agent like Cabrera, having a shot at being a part of a fantastic, winning team matters. Playing in a very hitter-friendly park in your first season post-PED-suspension surely doesn’t hurt either, but it’s not nearly so easy to envision Cabrera agreeing to join the Jays had it not been for the reinforcements brought in this week, and the commitment ownership has shown. That’s precisely why Alex Anthopoulos had his back against the wall this winter, before he pulled a Marlins fire sale out of his ass.
Do’s And Don’ts While Waiting For “The Trade” To Be Official - 11/16 – by Archi Zuber
Pretty much exactly what the title says, only more hilarious.
DON’T – Go back to focusing on your job. You’re under appreciated. Are you really going to let “The Man” make you push pencils around while the Jays possibly make franchise-altering moves? Come on. If the boss comes by and tries to give you a hard time, give them the “John Farrell returning to Toronto” treatment and then end it with a “Lo Viste?” to the rest of the office. Everyone will think twice about bothering you until this gets sorted out.
The Gibbons Love-In - 11/21
Reflections on a love-in of a press conference and the reappearance of our long, lost Gibbers.
It truly was a remarkable love-in, with Gibbons at the centre of it, somehow convincingly painted as being all things to all men: a warm, intelligent, funny, human, good-natured disciplinarian who takes no shit but can work with anyone, is an excellent evaluator of talent, manages progressively with tactics, and told the media horde that his “dream job” was the one he was in last year, managing at Double-A in his hometown of San Antonio.
“It didn’t go too well,” he explained of his now former gig. “And I left that one for this one– that ought to tell you something.”
Gift Giving Ideas For The Blue Jays In Your Life - 12/13 – by Archi Zuber
Having trouble figuring out what to get your favourite Blue Jay for Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, etc.? We’re here to help.
Ricky Romero – As we saw last year, pitching with an empty heart can be tough on bros, bros. For our incumbent Opening Day starter, nothing would be better than tickets to the 2013 Miss USA pageant. For scouting purposes.
A Sense That The Dickey Deal Is Happening And Is Good - 12/15
Coming to terms with the RA Dickey trade, even as it becomes clearer that the price is going to be steep.
Cy Young-calibre talent becomes available to this franchise so incredibly rarely, and it can be such a difference-maker right now, given the career arcs of the Jays’ core players, that as much as it hurts to see them seemingly about to part with d’Arnaud– as much as we’d much prefer it if JP Arencibia could be “the cost of doing business” instead (again: he can’t, which is precisely why we’re here)– and as much as Dickey maybe isn’t quite a “Cy Young pitcher” in the Justin Verlander sense, this would be a tremendous, tremendous pick-up for the Jays, especially outside of the sometimes-too-cute vacuum of cost control, prospect fawning, and dollars-per-WAR.
Image ripped off from Longreads.com. Posts written by yours truly unless otherwise noted, which you’ve surely figured out by now.