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griffbag

Another week, another Griff Bag, as Richard Griffin tackles a new series of questions from his readers over at the Toronto Star, and… holy shit, I just re-read them. Ugh.

As always, I have not read any of Griffin’s answers.

If there’s a question you’d like me to answer, email it to askrich@thestar.ca and maybe he’ll select it for a future mail bag. Fingers crossed!

Q. Hey Griffin Stoeten,

So considering that Ricky Romero seems to still be struggling (I base this purely on Star coverage), why not send him down to Buffalo for the start of the season and keep Happ as the 5th starter?

Thanks, keep up the good work!

Nicholas Dodd, Montreal

Well, despite the insistence so far from the club that they won’t send Romero to Buffalo, there’s no reason to actually believe they’ll follow through on it if he continues to look absolutely 2012 atrocious. If they did, it would be worth giving a shit about, but– remembering what happened with Brett Cecil last year, when they similarly insisted he’d be part of the rotation, until they realized he couldn’t– until they actually do something stupid, I’m going to go ahead and give them the benefit of the doubt.

Frankly, even if they do take a struggling Romero north, it’s not like they’re forced to keep him there, and it’s not like there aren’t plausible reasons to believe he’s the better player to let prove he can’t do the job. He certainly was much better than J.A. Happ until some point midway through last year, and the fact that Happ has been clear in his preference, and has pitched a shade better than Dave Bush this spring, are hardly compelling reasons to make a change. It all comes down to Romero, and the Jays are entirely right to keep on assuming that he’s going to put it all together– whether they, or we, believe he really will or not.

He’s earned that respect, in my view, and as for the “what have you done for me lately?” arguments, it’s not like anyone actually disagrees on the key point in all this: if Romero sucks he shouldn’t be in the Majors. The only disagreement anyone has here is on the timing of the possible switch, and I think the Jays are right in showing faith in Romero and recognizing that it will be a whole lot more uncomfortable a thing to send him down than it would Happ– or to bring him back up if he gets his act together while Happ is keeping his head above water as the club’s fifth starter. And that’s assuming that they aren’t just saying the safe thing publicly while having much more heated discussion internally.

Ultimately, whichever path they choose, the result will be pretty much the same– the better of the two will find his way to the rotation with minimal damage done to the club’s long-term outlook. So… what the hell are we even talking about this for? Can we please just put the issue to bed? Please? Seriously???

No, eh? Well, OK then…

 

Q. Hi Richard Stoeten,

I have been watching the spring training activity when I can and I cannot say that Romero is doing all that much better compared to last year, albeit it is only early in spring training. His control has been off and when he walks someone or they get a hit, you just see how the wheels fall off when the next guy steps into the box. That said, Happ seems to be doing that much better with his control and game management up until now. All things being equal, what are the chances that Romero goes to Buffalo for a spell to see if he can find his control and mojo with Happ starting in the number five slot?

Sincerely,

Dean Germano, Redding, CA.

I don’t think the chances are particularly high. Maybe if Romero comes out in his final spring starts and keeps on falling behind every hitter that he faces that will change, but there’s still no reason to believe he’s going to start the year in Buffalo just yet– much like there’s no reason to actually believe the “wheels fall off” narrative.

I get that he hasn’t been good, but there’s no need to make up things to make him sound worse. I mean, none of this happened behind closed doors or without game data being made available online, and if you remember, or take a cursory look at the play-by-play, that particular narrative crumbles pretty quickly. He followed both first inning walks on Friday with strikeouts. In the second inning he retired the two batters immediately following Jhonny Peralta’s home run. He had a rough third, but struck out Miguel Cabrera in the process and induced a Victor Martinez double play as well. So, it’s certainly not like he gave up a couple of hits and completely lost the plot. Like… at all. It was ugly, but it wasn’t that.

 

Q. Hi Richard Stoeten

Is the media making more, for the sake of a good story, of the J.A. Happ “I’m a major league starter” situation than it is? Or is Happ not the team player we hoped he was? I know he’s bummed that he’s not in the rotation. But it’s inevitable that he’ll get his chances this year.

And I’d have to imagine that a strong performance and a great attitude, in whatever role he’s placed, on a team of this calibre will only pay off for him next year and beyond. Worse case scenario this year is that he has to take one for a potential championship team.

Matthew McKean, Ottawa

Loved you in Spinal Tap, but… yeah, we’re not quite on the same page when it comes to this stuff. The media is certainly not making a story out of the things Happ says. They’re newsworthy, and reporters wouldn’t be doing their jobs if they didn’t print what he said. I do, however, wonder about how his statements have sometimes been shaded– or left unshaded, allowing fans to fill in certain gaps for themselves, which has led to much of the negativity and consternation.

I’m of the belief that you can read Happ’s comments a couple of ways, and lately I’ve tended to give him the benefit of the doubt more than when it first came up. I can’t fault him for being honest about his disappointment, and frankly, I’m not sure his situation with the media would be any more comfortable if he flat out lied about it– wouldn’t they just keep prodding around for cracks in the facade if that were the case? And it’s not like he’s been unprofessional. He hasn’t called out Romero’s performance, he hasn’t shit on the organization for breaking promises, he hasn’t insisted publicly that he won’t report to Buffalo or that he’s demanding a trade. All he’s really said is that he thinks he’s a Major League starter, that he’s doing his best to accept his lot, but that he’s going to meet with the GM about the situation, and whatever comes of that conversation will be kept behind closed doors.

You can act like saying those things is a horrible affront to the club, and fill yourself with righteous indignation about this punk who can’t keep his mouth shut, but they also can come off like pretty honest answers from a guy with a lot of self belief, a lot of money riding on his last crack at arbitration next winter, and a track record that includes only 55 minor league innings since September of 2008.

He could speak differently, I suppose– certainly in a way that wouldn’t rub fans and their quaint beliefs about being a “team player” the wrong way– but I don’t think there’s an attitude issue there. Not in the way that I’ve read it.

 

Q. Hi Richard Stoeten,

Long time reader, first time e-mail. I’ll keep it short. As I’ve been watching the start to spring training and following some of the players and how they are coming along (trying not to read too much into spring play), I’ve been asking myself just how much leash will they give Romero this year if his pitching struggles of last year fall over into his starts this year? J.A. Happ seems to be pitching pretty well in spring and has been commanding the ball pretty well. If Romero struggles early in the year, how many starts do you think he gets before they consider bringing up Happ to replace him in the starting 5 should he not make the team as the long reliever?

Thanks,

Jason

I don’t think there’s a point in giving a number right now. It all depends on how good Happ looks and how bad Romero looks. But it’s not going to be a terribly long leash– the Jays aren’t stupid, or that beholden to Romero if he’s atrocious.

 

Q. Hey Griff Stoet,

Long time reader, long time Blue Jays fan. Been bleeding blue ever since I was 3 years old, when it was baseball fever in Toronto with the 1985 division championship. Probably watched “Sky High” (The Story of the 1989 Toronto Blue Jays) over 3,000 times as a kid. Anyway, hope you can get around to this one (it would be my first to make it on the mailbag).

Maybe it’s just my imagination, but I feel like there’s a lot of coverage this spring about Happ and his “uncertain” situation. From the tone of a lot of the articles, I get the sense that he’s very unhappy about being in Toronto and not starting. How much of this is J.A. being truly unhappy, or is there an element of a media spin that’s making a story out of it, perhaps one that’s bigger than it actually is?

Secondly, what percentage of a pitcher’s performance is impacted by a catcher’s ability to call a game?

Thanks Griff Stoet,

John, Ottawa

Ugh.

 

Q. Hi Richard Stoeten,

Back in the day, I remember the team cheer being: “Let’s Go Blue Jays, Let’s Go” clap, clap..

Now it’s the New York style: (faster cadence) “Let’s Go Blue Jays Clap, clap. . . . Clap, clap, clap.”

During which year did the fans switch over?

How and why did it happen?

However much one despises Yankee fans, you have to respect their enthusiasm and I wish our crowds had a tenth of their gusto.

But do we really need to copy them?

Eric

New York owns that style of chant? We’re copying them? Somebody actually gives a shit about this???

 

Q. Hi Richard Stoeten,

I enjoy your mailbag columns. Please keep ’em coming.

My question for you is this: What are the chances that Anthony Gose will stick with the Jays? The numbers suggest he’s having a good spring, but is he doomed to start the year in Triple-A?

Ken in Kingston

p.s. Reyes and Cano are playing together in the WBC. . . . Wouldn’t they be a nice DP combo next season in Toronto?

Yeah… there is pretty much zero reason to bring Anthony Gose north with the Jays in April. His approach at the plate is still a work in progress, and as much as he’s impressed with the bat this spring– because we already know he can do everything else– we need to remember what Spring Training is, how the pitchers approach it, and how little the results matter. Early in the spring, most guys are trying to just get the feel for their fastball, establishing their command of it, and building off of that. Even at this stage, about two weeks from Opening Day, we had Brandon Morrow saying over the weekend that his slider wasn’t working too well, so he kept on throwing it in the hope of getting a better feel. A guy like Gose– or anybody, really– is more likely to have success against pitchers throwing flat sliders or working exclusively with fastballs and changeups, as many will do early in camp. The gameplans change when the games start to mean more, and the validity of his spring results go up in smoke.

Now, that isn’t to say that he’s not a fine player, that the results this month and in September of last year may not be “real,” that he doesn’t have a future here, or that Colby Rasmus won’t have a relatively short leash– Gose certainly doesn’t need to hit as much as Rasmus, given the way the rest of their tools play– but he’ll benefit from more time in Triple-A, especially in a city and a league that’s much closer to sea level than Vegas and PCL, and the Jays will benefit from getting a long look at what they can get out of Colby before making the switch. And even then, it might be Bonifacio who takes over.

 

Q. Hi Richard Stoeten,

Can you envision a realistic situation where the Blue Jays acquire Roy Halladay, either by this year’s trade deadline, or as a free agent in the off-season? And just how much will the Astros and their fans have to suffer this year? Are we talking a historic number of losses?

Thanks, Richard Stoeten! Take care.

Francesco

Nothing’s impossible, but no, and… maybe. The Astros are bad and in a far tougher division than last year, but… it’s baseball. Look at the WBC, and Italy’s run this year in particular, for examples of how the more talented roster doesn’t automatically win every game. They’ll fall ass backwards into more wins than the 42 needed to keep them from surpassing the modern day record, I suspect. Barely. Maybe.

As for Halladay, please just… no. There might be a point at which it makes sense for the club, and for him, and it would be a nice thing, even, but until then… no. Please no. Just… stop. We’ve got a great team to watch, so let’s damn well enjoy it and stop pining for the ghosts of the previous shitty decade and a half. If it happens it happens.

 

Q. Mr. Richard Stoeten,

Assuming the AL plays out during the season as it looks on paper and the Jays are contenders and the Twins are looking at 90+ losses, what does it take to get Justin Morneau into a Jays uniform? The prospect cupboard looks pretty bare and I’m assuming the Twins would want ready-for-MLB quality talent in return.

Thanks,

Patrick, Toronto

Good lord.

Comments (63)

  1. that was the hardest set of mailbag questions I’ve ever had to read.

    • Spaz,

      Do you think the mailbag questions would have been easier to read if Rickey Romero outpitched J.A. Happ this spring? On that note, do you think Happ would be Happier if he was on a major league team come opening day? Do you think Roy Halladay is a good fit for this team? Can we come up with a new non-new-york cheer?

  2. After every question I was like “Wait…another one about Romero/Happ? Didn’t he just answer this?”

    • You should email Griff and ask him if he’s answered that question before. Did you answer your own question? What do you think of the new ballpark food? How tough is it to get a beer on opening day?

  3. Bring back Halladay? Bring Morneau to the team? People are such dipshits. The top priority of a fan should be to win a championship. Are these people even Blue Jays fans are just dopes who want a Blue Jays roster filled with Canadians and an old Roy Halladay that wins 70 games or a team loaded with Americans and Dominicans that actually makes the playoffs. I can’t believe the amount of idiots care about bring Canadians to the team and bringing back Halladay. These fans are fuctards and should only have one desire which is to win. Fuck!

    • It’s not just the Canadians/Halladay things. It’s total impatience. I heard some guy call McCown last week and briefly mention how he was upset Prince Fielder wasn’t on this team (thankfully McCown ignored that point). I nearly threw something at my radio.

      You know what I call it? Maple Leafs Syndrome. These are all Leafs fans that are conditioned to complain, complain, complain about how shitty the hockey team has been, and then even when things go right they go out of their way to find some random shit to complain about, because success is foreign. Failure and complaints are all they know. Fucking Leafs.

      • WTF is this ^ ^ ?

        • For the last 20 years the Leafs have given me much more to cheer about than the Jays. That doesn’t say much for the sorry state of pro sports in Toronto, but until this season I think “Jays Syndrome ” has been more appropriate lately.

    • I want Votto on the team … although his Canadianness just happens to be secondary to the fact he’s awesome at honkball

  4. Sweet Jesus, worst mailbag ever, although I love how it hit on all of Stoeten’s favorite topics: Romero vs Happ, bringing back Halladay, and maple boners.

    The clapping question was the best of the bunch…

    Is it April yet????

    PS GO DOMINICAN!!!

  5. how bout a stoeten bag?

  6. Stoet

    If you don’t want us fighting over happ and rr, why do you keep bringit up? Just skip those ones with a simpe, no, of ugh like you did on the last one of the bunch….

    Just saying

    Other then this one, the mail bag is my fav post of djf.

    • Fuck me, my spelling is just terrible!

    • Well, that really wouldn’t make for much of a post would it?

      • So your saying that the post was good as is…..a blank post would have been better then keeping this fight going, although, dont think it will end until RR is pitching perfect games and Happ is getting smoked in AAA.

  7. I was hoping that this would be the q’s from today’s chat… but only because I wanted to see your response to the q “Do you read Stoeten?”

  8. Now I’m convinced Griff is picking his mailbag questions to troll you Stoeten.

  9. I’m pretty sure people inquiring about Morneau are thinking well beyond “maple boners”

    Face palm all you like, the guy is a former fucking MVP.

  10. Man toronto fans are just retarted, bring back Halladay, really? Morneau to Jays? The maillbag was probably toughest to read. Also its not just bjs from toronto that are stupid, raps, and leafs are some of the dumbiest in sports. Booing ur own player, and chanting lets go bjs at ice game when team is not performing is not right!

    • Good lord is this post ever dumb. You’re from Boston aren’t you?

      I don’t usually respond to trolls but this is laughable.

      Time for a Looper List:

      1. Chanting “ok blue jays” at Leafs games is not right? So you don’t think that’s a strong message to Leafs management that the paying customers are fed up with the direction of the team and want a fix like AA somehow managed? AA turned the team around in 3 years in a sport where it’s a lot more difficult to build a quality team. Jesus, in baseball a much higher percentage of first round drafted players never make the majors and if they do it can take 5 years. AA took over a team that was destroyed by previous management. It’s not an exageration to say the turnaround is nothing short of miraculous. The fans chanting for Jays is not just a slight to the Leafs (though it is) but a compliment to the Jays and demonstrates the excitement in the city for the team.
      The other way to voice their displeasure is to stop going to the games, but that’s not realistic so this is effective.
      I’d even say the Jays chant is the best chant I’ve ever heard at a Leafs game.

      2. Booing your own players is. I grant you I can’t stand this attitude of kicking people when they’re down but do you really think this is exclusive to Toronto? Are you kidding? In Philadelphia they go to the Christmas parade to boo Santa Claus. In other cities, players get booed and run out of town. Saying Toronto fans are dumb shows you have no clue what it’s like in other cities. I wish we didn’t boo our own guys (unless deserved for being an ass) but to say this is just a Toronto thing is ignorant.

      3. You used the term “retarded”. You sir, are an authority for commenting on the dumbness of others. No doubt you’re an expert.
      I’m not even an uptight language police guy but I don’t like your post so added this to the list.

      4. Bitching about wanting to bring in Morneau. You might be right, but after watching him in WBC it seems his concussion symptoms have finally gone and he could be in line for a great year. If you could get him for peanuts in a Twins salary dump then Canadian or not, he could be an improvement over Lind. The guy is 31 or 32, and trying to come back from a concussion. Not impossible he returns to near 2008 MVP status.

      5. Commenting on a blog dedicated to the fans of Toronto and calling them names indicates you have a very small penis.

      Suck it Farrell!

    • Though I will admit the way you spell dumbest made me laugh.
      If only you meant to do that.

      • I actually googled “dumbiest” to see if that’s ever used and the search result directed me to a You tube video.
        An officer confiscated pot from someone, then took the ‘evidence” home and made pot brownies with his wife.
        The video is the news report playing the officers 911 call about how he and his wife overdosed on brownies. He said something like “I think we’re dead. We overdosed. Time is moving so slowly, Send rescue. I’m pretty sure we’re dead.”
        Needless to say, he’s no longer a police officer.

        LOL, that is the dumbiest.

    • I just read you post again.
      I thought you were serious at first, then you called it an “ice game”.

      Ok, now I get it.
      Never mind. LOL, well done. Funny stuff.

  11. I am glad to see patients with rr and a short leash. Giving rr the chance to return to #3 ability and if he cant there are many options now and whey guys like hutch and drabek are available in december. Not mention romero is a few years younger than happster.

  12. No more copying Yankees fans? I guess that means no more spitting on fans cheering for the opposing team, or throwing batteries, or being an all-around douche bag all-game long yelling out to “Jeeeeetah!”

    Because y’know, Jays’ fans really copy those Bronx Boneheads…

  13. Best Worst Mailbag yet.

    The Mailbag has become self-aware.

    Griffin is fakeposting under a username, but whom?!

  14. Every team with a two-syllable name has used a variation of “Let’s Go Team-Name, clap, clap, clap clap clap” for about 30 years now. The Yankees certainly didn’t invent it, it’s just an old, simple cheerleader cheer.

    Jesus Christ what a mailbag.

    • I blame the drummer outside of the dome for the change in cheering, you know who I’m talking about. ***Points drum stick at random jays fan*** shouts “Let’s Go Blue Jays” ***Lays down repetative drum beat*** Although he’s more of a magician than a drummer, everytime I walk past him $5 ends up going missing from my wallet….

  15. I prefer the underdog angle but I’m not sure why the media is so light on the Jays, Jim Callis just put out his predictions with the Jays finishing 4th in the East and out of the playoffs.

    • Smasher that was for 2012 – he also stated Santos was the best pick up in the same post

    • I’ve never read Callis before, but he seems like a smug asshole. Have you read his three-year projections? Sounds like a fun idea, but the certainty with which he predicts the future in three years is totally insane. It’s all about tone, and you get the sense that he really thinks he’ll be right, that if anything happens otherwise it’s not his fault. He also didn’t link to the projections he’d made in 2010 even after a reader asked him, though he did provide a rentative summary. I mean, isn’t part of the fun of doing projections so far in advance getting to see how wildly wrong you were?

      Look at his face, he’s dead inside

  16. $50 says after Stoeten finished answering these he let out a deep sigh and walked to the nearest bar to drink away the pain. Can we all just agree to let the Romero/Happ thing play out on the field and have faith that the Ninja and Gibby will do what’s best for the team???

  17. On Happ/Romero: I’m happy to see Ricky start the year here, but on a (sort of) short leash. My biggest concern about Ricky is that it seems to take him less than 2 innings to implode, and that’s the garbage part of things. If it’s helpful to demote him to Buffalo and have him succeed against AAA kids, at least just to get a few good outings under his belt, I don’t see any harm in that at all. I just don’t think Happ is a savior of any kind – he’s a #5 pitcher.

    On Halladay – Good Lord, indeed. Okay – if Ricky sucks this year and they get Johnson resigned, Doc is probably a damn fine #5. But, let’s not pretend that he’s the difference between the 2013 team and a World Series.

    On Morneau – Isn’t he a free agent next year with no restrictions? If we need a DH, and Adam Lind sucks again, I don’t see the harm in signing him to a 1-2 year deal at low dollars. Other than that though, all I can say is this – if he were American, no one would give a shit.

    Other – No one seems to be talking Josh Johnson. Let’s sign him. Imagine having Dickey/Morrow/Buerhle/Johnson as the top 4 in your rotation for at least 3 more years. *DROOL*

    • Why do you want doc? It looked like he’s finally not tha t good anymore

    • @ Julius:

      “I don’t see the harm in signing him to a 1-2 year deal at low dollars.”

      Morneau made 14 mill last year and will make 14 mill this year. How low do you think he’ll sign for? Especially since he seems to be over his concussion symptoms?

  18. Michael McKean.

    Not Matthew.

  19. My sister proposed I might probably like that web page. He appeared to be solely proper. The following release truly manufactured my own evening. You are unable to imagine what amount time I had used in this details! Thank you so much!

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