Searching In Vain For A Culprit

Cleveland Indians v Toronto Blue Jays

Baseball is a funny game sometimes– almost as funny as its fans. The Jays wasted an excellent Josh Johnson start, losing 4-3 to the White Sox on Tuesday night, in a game where John Gibbons’ debatable, yet defensible, decisions are being blamed in many quarters for the defeat. Indeed, baseball games are often won or lost on the margins– on nearly imperceptible inches and either-or decisions with slim differences between possible outcomes.

What gets me sometimes, though, is how hung up we get on one instance or another being the misstep, the spot we can place the blame for defeat, when no such point really actually exists. In tonight’s game, for example, looming over every late-game decision that John Gibbons made, is the fact that his club– his lineup, which benefited from his argued-against decision to bat J.P. Arencibia third– could only score two runs on Dylan Axelrod, a 27-year-old 30th round pick with 79 career innings in the big leagues, who put up both a FIP and an ERA above five last year, and whose fastball so far in 2013 has averaged less than 88.

The Jays’ first run allowed was the result of a pitch in the dirt that J.P. Arencibia couldn’t handle, while Josh Johnson was in the process of striking out Hector Gimenez. The home side could have caught a big break in the fifth, when after a lead-off Colby Rasmus walk, Maicer Izturis hit a ball down the first base line that may have had eyes for a double… had it not landed in Paul Konerko’s Adam Dunn’s glove.

Yet for all the weirdness that came before it, the loss was all John Gibbons’ fault, if you ask some.

The manager was the one who took the hot bat out of the hands of Colby Rasmus, pinch hitting Rajai Davis for him to lead off the seventh, trying to get something going off the left-handed Hector Santiago. Rasmus had a .250 wOBA against lefties last season, compared to a .340 for Davis, so the thinking behind it is pretty plain– yet the move, I thought, was debatable. I argued at the time that there was a chance that the spot came up again, against a right-hander, in which case Davis wouldn’t be the ideal bat for the situation. There were also defensive concerns, placing Emilio Bonifacio in centre instead of Rasmus, and concerns with the fact that even if Davis had managed to get on base, he’d have been doing so with Izturis, Kawasaki and Bonifacio due up behind him.

I’m not sure there really is a “right” answer on this one, frankly. Maybe it sure looks like there was one in hindsight, but the poor results of the Davis at-bat came about through good process, and the question becomes murkier still when you add in the fact that the major perceived backfiring of Gibbons’ stratagem– Bonifacio’s misplay of Dayan Viciedo’s double in the ninth– doesn’t look, in reality, nearly as bad as incensed, self-righteous fans wanted to make it at the time.

“Rasmus would have had that!”

I was told this over and over on Twitter, and over and over I insisted– even though I could easily have skewered Gibbons and gloated (much like I think I am now, in a different way, right?) about having been right to question Rasmus’ removal in the seventh– that from where I was sitting, just behind third base, it sure as fuck didn’t look to me like anybody was going to get the rocket off Viciedo’s bat that carried far and fast out to deep left-centre.

That too is debatable, of course. Maybe Rasmus would have got to the ball– he sure as shit wouldn’t have taken such a brutally fucking ugly route as Bonifacio did– and maybe he’d have positioned himself deeper in centre, or got a better read off the bat. Nobody can say for sure, but in looking at the GIF below, I can say that a lot of people have a lot more respect for Rasmus as a fielder than they let on.

Still convinced it’s routine?

I’m not. So, for me, I’m going to chalk it up as one of those things that just happened– one of those damned-if-he-did, damned-if-he-didn’t moments that every manager faces on a daily basis. So too would have been the decision to go to Casey Janssen to start the ninth inning, following Steve Delabar’s twelve-pitch three-up, three-down eighth, I think– though I probably would have preferred Gibbons to go the other way there, too.

Can I kill the manager for it, though? Can I lay blame at his feet for what amounts to little more than the results of a couple rolls of the dice? Not when I can see the rationale behind the things he did in the way that I can– that’s a tremendous development compared to some of the ghosts we’ve seen decisions sacrificed to in this city over the years. And certainly not on a night when a depleted offence could muster no more than a pair of solo home runs off a guy below Gavin fucking Floyd on a club’s starting pitching depth chart.

It’s just baseball. You don’t have to like losing, but it’s going to happen. And when it does, while it’s real easy to look to the place where the result broke the wrong way through thin margins for error, that occurrence alone isn’t necessarily enough to single one person out to be blamed for defeat. I guess that’s what managers are there for, but I just have a hard time swallowing it after a game like that.

Comments (121)

  1. nice having a solid run through the rotation.

  2. Well said. The thing I question is Gibby’s preference for Bonifacio in center and Rajai in right without Colby. He chose that alignment Sunday when Rasmus sat as well. Neither have much of an arm out there and Rajai is no defensive savant, but he also kind of sort of has a clue out there in center (just barely). I would think you’d want the guy with better range in center (no, it’s not lost on me how sad it is that we’re talking about a guy with LESS range than Rajai freakin Davis) when their arms are more or less interchangeable. Not that that would have changed anything tonight, I just think it’s the better play going forward.

  3. I think Colby would have been close, he made that great catch in KC, and another one similar to that in this series already (ranging back on an angle to his left)….but the ball tonight was hit a little sharper and with a lower trajectory..who knows.

  4. Very nicely written. An intelligent, rational piece on decision-making, exposing and rejecting the hindsight bias that (annoyingly) permeates most sports journalism.

    • How many times at the end of games last year was Rajai Davis the hero? He would get on base, steal 2nd and 3rd and then get knocked home.

      Hitting in baseball is hard. Even the best are out 7 times out of 10.

      Yet Colby was having a hot night and Gibby made the statistically correct play that didn’t work out.

      And yeah, Bonifacio sucks right now. He wasn’t supposed to be an everyday player. He is defensively supposed to be good in centre field and I am not sure whether Rasmus reaches that ball.

      And while you can blame Davis for the poor throw to the plate, only Bautista makes that play. It’s not like Davis is the everyday right fielder. And Davis was actually quite good at assists towards the end of the season last year when he was regularly in LF.

      The fact is that the offense failed to score 3 runs on the inexperienced White Sox pitcher. Blame the whole lineup on that. But what did you expect with Reyes and Bautista out of the lineup and Lawrie playing his first game? Kawasaki’s numbers was .167 last year in Seattle… don’t expect much out of him. And Lind’s, Rasmus’ and Edwin’s bats right now are inconsistent at best.

      I thought Delabar was out there for a long time too, but he had given up 1 ER so far in the year (that from a long performance). I would have agreed to replace him when he gave up the two walks (both of the ball 4s were very close) and bring in Loup or Oliver.

      • I was thinking the same thing about Davis having a better throw from LF, but that may be selective memory on my part.

        • The best HIT 3/10 times, but are only out 6/10 times. That extra 1/10 is the different between the Jays winning and losing right now. JPA can’t seem to take a walk right now, and Bonifacio is striking out way too much to be a lead-off hitter.

  5. Even with 3 number 9 hitters behind him a single by Davis could very easily net a run without the ball leaving the infield for the rest of the inning, so i get it.

    I just thought the move was premature, and I said at the time, that the upgrade in offence for one at bat doesn’t make up for the downgrade in defense for the rest of the game. Whether or not Rasmus can make that catch, the point remains the same.

    It’s not the end of the world, Gibby’s not a bad manager, and Delabar got squeezed on a couple calls. But what’s the fun of Game Threats and Twitters if we can’t discuss the game as it happens? I think it’s a good time.

    • Agree that it was premature. This move is fine to make in the 9th when you need to score or lose the game, but in the 7th, there’s no defending it, it’s a mistake.

      Rasmus has been a bright spot in the Jays’ shaky defense this year and fielding your worst possible outfield defense when there’s still at least two more innings for the other team to hit is a bad decision.

      Also, it shows how terrible Rajai’s arm is that the Sox were willing to send the lumbering Konerko home on the sac fly. Even with his weak arm if that throw is anywhere near the plate Konerko is out easily. My point is that even though Bonifacio’s outfield throws to the plate have been terrible, his arm can’t be worse than Rajai’s and if he’s still in RF because Colby’s in CF, that extra run might not have scored.

      You can always argue that in hindsight it’s easy to criticize the manager, but this is one of the few moves I’ve seen in a game where it’s such a glaring mistake before the results of the decision are even known.

      • Rajai’s problem might be also that he very seldom plays RF. He made some very nice throw outs from LF last year.

  6. “The Jays’ first run allowed was the result of a pitch in the dirt that J.P. Arencibia couldn’t handle,” stands out as an unfair statement in an otherwise fair article. Don’t scapegoat J.P. for a pitch that only a brick wall could stop.

  7. It’s very interesting, because despite John Gibbons’s very old school demeanor and way of carrying himself, he actually is making decisions that no old school manager would ever make. It’s weird though because they are the wrong decisions. In a tie-game with no one on base in the 7th inning. It seems like he got too caught up in what the best statistical decision was for that moment and lost sight of the big picture. I know it’s not easy to make decisions in games but this is just crazy when you think that your team will definitely have two. I know you like Gibbons a lot but it wasn’t a decision that was just rooted in bad results. It was a decision rooted in a bad process. Pinch hitting so early in a tie-game, with a shaky replacement for Rasmus in center field. Watching it live I thought Rasmus woulda had a good shot at it, but I replayed it a few times and now I’m not so sure. You’re right, it is by no means routine, but whether Rasmus would have gotten to it or not doesn’t matter, because this just isn’t the right decision.

    I actually think this is the 2nd time that this has happened this year where Gibbons has gone with the decision that would be good for the moment from an advanced statistics perspective. He did it when he took out Dickey early. I was on the fence about that, I know Dickey sure wasn’t.

    I just think if decisions keep being made like this it is somewhat concerning. Farrell was a very meh decision maker just generally I thought. Also, if John Gibbons is the man choosing his 3rd base coach, I sure hope Luis Rivera gets better as well. He’s been a train wreck there with very poor situation decisions. I just hope that’s not an extension of the decision making of John Gibbons.

    It’s early. This is a one time decision that, in my opinion, is indefensible. It’s the wrong decision clearly, no matter what resulted. Sometimes managers make the wrong decision though. However, if this is the beginning of a trend that we’re seeing, it’s a bit concerning. I’m not saying it is, but so far I haven’t been impressed.

  8. One aspect you didn’t mention is with the Jays continued 3 man bench(albeit due to Bautista’s back/ear) we had to stick with Adam Lind on first representing the tying run in the bottom of the 9th. Like you Stoeten i dont really hate any of the decisions tonight but i can tell you without the benefit of hindsight that as soon as he pinch hit for Colby i was thinking it would have been nice to have the option to pinch run at some point in the late innings of a game that was currently tied 2-2.

    • Yup Davis could have pinch run. Rasmus might have made the catch. Rasmus can’t have looked worse at the plate against that pitcher than Davis did. Not to mention Davis’ throw to home being off by 10′. Brutal throw.

      The reason people are jumping on this move is that every outcome it produced was the worst possible.

      Shit happens. Not trying to knock Gibbons. Just saying I hope he will consider these things going forward. What seemed a good idea, clearly was not.

  9. I don’t know, im starting to get tired of watching Bonifacio play anywhere on the field. His defence doesn’t carry his shitty bat.

  10. Great article.

    On the topic of searching for a culprit… You can see why having a guy like Casper Wells on the bench last night would have helped.

    Davis has speed, Boni is versatile, but both of them look below average in the outfield. It is frustrating to watch in a close game.

    AA figure out a 7 man bullpen! As RonCo used to say on late night infomercials: Set it and forget it!

  11. What I don’t get is we have the extra reliever (with supposedly 4 stud starting pitchers) and Delabar is left out too long for a second inning when clearly he wasn’t as sharp in the 2nd inning as the 1st. After the lead-off walk, I would have pulled him then – not waited 4 batters in.

    • There is no extra reliever anymore. Janssen and Oliver (and Santos) need to be used judiciously because of health concerns. This is a 7 man pen that is stretched thinner than most.

  12. When AA made the big trade I kept hearing that Bonifacio was the hidden gem in the deal. A multi position player with a decent bat. After watching him I have to disagree. Bonifacio is a brutal defender, he drops balls, can’t throw and plays the outfield like a fucking pee wee.

    I can stomach him at second base but I hope a never see him playing centre field again.

  13. I’m glad the Jays have a manager who’s willing to pinch-hit for Lind, Rasmus, etc. when they’re at a disadvantage, but I don’t think this was the best time to do it – the marginal advantage (minimal, with the bases empty and weak hitters due up) was not worth depleting the bench at a less than optimal time and leading to an outfield of Bonifacio/Davis for 2 innings in a close game – if Bautista was in the lineup and manning rightfield, maybe, but not in this case. Davis would have been better used to pinch-run for Lind in the 9th – and no, you can’t predict the future, but with a shortened bench you have to pick your spots more judiciously and this situation wasn’t screaming out for intervention

    • Exactly, why pinch hit then? They were tied not losing and you take out your best centre fielder, it’s just puzzling. Even if they had won I would have wondered the same thing and about why Delabar stayed in to face so many batters.

  14. I don’t think Rasmus would have had that. It was a low line drive rocket. I think you have to blame the offense on this one. Hard to get excited about an offense with Boner in the lead off slot. .225 OBP so far this year. Lots of other holes as well. We need Reyes and Bautista back!

  15. “had it not landed in Paul Konerko’s glove.”

    Should read Adam Dunn–Paulie was DH last night

  16. Debatable if Rasmus catches that ball or if someone other than Davis throws the runner out at the plate. It doesnt matter. Bottom line is, I along with many fans disagreed with Gibbons management of the game. end of story.

    • Anyone with an average MLB arm throws out the runner at the plate there. Even noodle-armed Rajai would’ve had the runner after bouncing the ball in if he had thrown it on target.

    • No, it doesn’t matter. However, what does matter is that you are free to disagree, but that doesn’t mean Gibby’s actions were not entirely justifiable, and it doesn’t make you right because of the result. That is pretty much the point of the article – there are often several “right” choices in a lot of these decisions (meaning justifiable choices), and as long as Gibbons continues to at least choose one of the “right” choices rather than obviously wrong choices, this team will be much better off then they were last year.

  17. Is there a way to measure, using the available stats, the relative value of the pinch hit compared with the increase in defensive risk. In other words, did pinch hitting for Colby add more probability of win than the risk is created on the defensive end or on other potential negative outcomes?

    Or maybe I’m not saying it right. Or maybe it’s there in the chart already. I don’t know.

  18. I agree with everything you said about isolating one decision in the game and how silly it is to blame that for a loss, but the bottom line is that it was a move that is really hard to defend considering that spot was going to come up again in the 9th if you didn’t take a lead. If the Jays did take the lead, they were automatically sacrificing their outfield defense and downgrading in 2 positions. The minimal offensive upgrade wasn’t worth handcuffing the manager later in the game.

    “Bonifacio’s misplay of Dayan Viciedo’s double in the ninth– doesn’t look, in reality, nearly as bad as incensed, self-righteous fans wanted to make it at the time.
    “Rasmus would have had that!” I was told this over and over on Twitter, and over and over I insisted– even though I could easily have skewered Gibbons and gloated (much like I think I am now, in a different way, right?) about having been right to question Rasmus’ removal in the seventh– that from where I was sitting, just behind third base, it sure as fuck didn’t look to me like anybody was going to get the rocket off Viciedo’s bat that carried far and fast out to deep left-centre.”

    I was at the game and I don’t think the GIF does a good job of showing how poor Bonifacio’s instincts were on the ball. When it was hit he took his first steps in instead of back. I think Rasmus catches that ball, but it really doesn’t matter. What’s a bigger concern is that Bonifacio is god awful defensively but the front office seems obsessed with him, so it’s likely we’re going to continue to see him effectively start for this team even though efforts should be made to hide his glove as much as possible.

    • Very well said. I feel like this post from Stoeten is a reactionary one in response to idiots writing off Gibby already. I can acknowledge it wasn’t my favorite decision, and still feel like Gibby is just fine.

      It just seems so silly to replace Rasmus in that situation, a guy who is 2 for 2 on the day and 3 for 3 dating back to the night before where he slammed a double off of a lefty. Not only that, but replacing him with a guy who hasn’t shown any signs of being an effective hitter this year and who will potentially be a liability defensively the rest of the game.

      Its over and I guess we should move on…. just a tough pill to swallow.

      • You like what he says because it verifies what you think, I’d argue.

        I said that I didn’t agree with either the decision to pinch hit for Rasmus or to bring back Delabar in the ninth, so I don’t know how I come off as writing a reactionary post.

        And Ari, you see 99% of Bonifacio’s play in the GIF, and I’m just not seeing it the way you are– though we can all agree, it was a disgustingly bad route.

        • People seem to have turned Cletus into Willie Mays. Rasmus would have taken a better route..but to be sure, he would have started MORE SHALLOW and he often doesnt get the greatest jumps, but takes a while to get his long strides into gear. I think its pretty certain he would not have gotten to that ball.

  19. Gibby pinch hit for a guy with a 40% K-rate so far this year. How dare he. Doesn’t he know getting two hits in your previous two at-bats guarantees you a hit in your next. For shame.

  20. I would have caught that ball. No problem.

  21. Wilner makes a good point that the more questionable decision was why Jansen did not pitch the 9th after he warmed up in the bottom of the 8th. It’s questionable because it goes against what Gibbons has done in the past in similar situations, where it’s logical to get your closer in in a tied game at home. So Delabar pitching a 2nd inning was odd … and he’s a lot more to blame for what happened than Rajai or Bonifacio.

  22. I think that Gibby did exactly what he should do in pinch hitting Davis who is far superior over his career versus LHP (.289/.348/.415) than Rasmus (.207/.286/.344). In fact, this is exactly the type of move that most people around here have been wishing for years that the Blue Jays’ managers would make… and now that they finally have a manager who bases his in-game managerial decisions upon the established stats, people are complaining because the manager didn’t stick with the player who happened to have two hits in his previous two at-bats against a RHP. Give me a break.

    • You’re ignoring the context. It was a tie game in the 7th inning, and the move backfired in the worst possible way, with Davis batting in the 9th against a righty and Lind being the tying run at 1st. Hindsight and all that, but the extra base or two Davis may have provided as a pinch-runner in that situation would have been invaluable. It’s also hard to imagine anyone messing up the throw home any worse than Rajai did.

      Not pulling Delabar in his 2nd inning of work, after two leadoff walks, seems like the more questionable decision though.

    • Though it’s true that people have been wanting that type of move to occur for some time now, I would suggest that those same people have some justification with not liking this particular move. There was still a lot of game left, and the minimal offensive upgrade of Davis over Rasmus in that situation was not worth the fairly significant decrease in defense in the later innings, nor the decrease in offense if/when Rasmus was to get an AB later on against Reed. And all of this especially with such an abysmal offensive charge after Davis in the event that he got on. A good decision? No, I don’t think so. Defensible? I would have to say yes.

      But things happen in games and decisions have to be made. If Davis got on and scored, Gibby would have looked like a genius. As Stoeten says, it’s a game of margins. What are you going to do?

  23. Nobody is disuputing that Rajai was a better hitting option than Colby in the 7th – it is likely that Derosa or Blanco would have also been better options against the lefty if you want to argue that way.

    The problem is that Davis is a much more valuable weapon as a pinch runner than he is as a pinch hitter. If you have Davis on your bench, he should be reserved for a situation when you have a slow runner on base and need speed on the basepaths to try and get a critical run. If you want a bench player that is used exclusively as a pinch hitter against lefties than you can do much better than Rajai.

    While lots went wrong after the substitution, can you imagine if Lawrie, Davis (or Rasmus), or Izturis had hit a gapper in the 9th with Lind running from first? I think Gibby is lucky Lind was stranded at first or the backlash would have been that much worse.

  24. Maybe if Delebar didn’t walk the first 2 we win…. either way Cleatus > Rajai in the field and slightly better at bat, but you know, gotta do the splitz

  25. I think Rasmus would have had that ball. That route Boner took was just ugly, and his reaction was a little slow. However, no one could have predicted that Viceido would have smoked that ball to CF, or that Delabar would have fallen 3-1 to him in the first place (I think it was 3-1).

    While it’s debatable pinch-hitting Rasmus for Davis was a good move, it was the correct one. With a .300 wOBA and 88 wRC+ in 2011 also against lefties, he simply can’t touch them.

    Shit happens people. If the offense could have laid off the 50 high fastballs Axelrod threw on purpose, maybe they would have scored a few more runs.

  26. Davidi made a good point on “the non catch” and Rasmus’ ability to catch it… When Colby is out there the glove is on his other hand and he would have had to reach across his body to get it. Makes it that much more difficult (assuming original positioning is unchanged).

  27. So the concensus is that any time you have a player on the bench with better splits against the pitcher on the mound than the guy due up to bat, it is a good move to pinch hit?

  28. there is no reason to pull Colby Rasmus for Raja Davis… not ever… lets stop making excuses for this team… it’s early yes, they’ll get better… probably… but bad management decisions are bad management decisions, and i don’t care how talented you are.. those are the games that cost you wins that you wish you had when you’re 2 or 3 back in September…

  29. Bonifacio looks like he’s battling a gale-force wind blowing directly from the left field foul pole. So ugly.

    To be honest, it seems to me that this column is more of an overreaction than anything it’s responding to. Many of us thought at the time that the move was questionable. It came back to haunt in exactly the ways we feared (arguably a misplay in CF; Rajai coming up against a righty in a key spot in the ninth). As a result, we were pissed. It’s a natural reaction, and part of being a fan.

    It’s also natural (even if it’s wrong) to complain more about managerial decisions than physical misplays, because we delude ourselves into thinking we could do better than the manager, while obviously we could never do a better job than even the shittiest players.

    On the other hand, if anyone is using the decision as a basis to call for Gibby’s firing, then they’re idiots and this sort of column is absolutely justified.

    • They are calling for Gibby’s head (the leaf fan’s) and they are idiots.

      I also didn’t like the move at the time but also can’t fault him. It was statistically the right thing to do. With the short bench it’s a harder decision as you would have loved to pinch hit (or at least run) for Lind in the 9th.

      Either way, Toronto sports fans are acting like assholes again.

  30. I defended the decision at the time, and in retrospect I’m still probably 50/50 on it, but I think I understand it. He’s taking a gamble in the seventh inning that getting a baserunner on (and Rajai has a better chance statistically of becoming a baserunner against LHP) will result in a lead, which he can then turn over to the bullpen for six outs. If the gamble works, the whole issue of how the bottom of the ninth shakes out is moot, because they never have to play it.

    It’s a gamble upon a gamble, I suppose — first, that they’ll get a lead, and second, that the bullpen can hold it. By making the riskier first gamble, it shows how confident he is in the less risky second gamble.

    The whole thing is complicated by the short bench, too, which remains a bigger problem in its own right.

  31. Casper wells would’ve be useful here

  32. Rasmus has a higher probability of catching that ball. He gets really good reads IMO. But at the end of the day what we have established in Boni is a mediocore LF/2B AT BEST. Let Rasmus play 162 games hit 210 with 30 hrs…fuck it.

    And

    Gose would have caught it said the troll.

  33. Gibby manages to keep and maintain leads. It works both ways. He had his best middle reliever, Santos, warmed up and ready to go in the 5th inning of a 5-4 game with runners on and Happ on the ropes last Friday. Happ got out of it, but I thought it was an inspired move and the closest we’ll ever see to the use of a relief ace in modern times.

  34. “…when after a lead-off Colby Rasmus walk, Maicer Izturis hit a ball down the first base line that may have had eyes for a double… had it not landed in Paul Konerko’s glove.”

    Minor detail: Dunn was at first last night and made that catch.

    This is a very fair post. I think sometimes we need to realize that baseball is a very difficult game to play and to manage. Gibby made some decisions that of course are being scrutinized, but he’s somewhat hamstrung by the roster that he has to work with. Adjustments will be made and I’m sure we will be lauding Gibby for some excellent managerial moves soon enough.

  35. I think what it all boils down to is run production. More often than not, 3 runs is not going to be enough to win the ballgame. When runs are this scarce, the margin of error is paper-thin. Thus all the micromanaging about pinch-hitting Rasmus, moving Bonifacio to CF, etc.

    Some people want to make Gibbons the scapegoat, but he was just playing the percentages. Any sane manager (aside from Farrell) would do the very same thing.

    If people want a scapegoat, blame the starting lineup for hitting .193 as a team with runners in scoring position.

  36. So is this some sort of admission that a manager’s decisions CAN influence the game?
    That you can argue for or against, any of those decisions?
    That you can make the right call and lose the game or make the wrong call and lose the game?
    Welcome to baseball.
    Sorta like life itself.

  37. The reason why the ball looks uncatchable is because bono missed it by 50 feet. The guy is flat out horrible at every position. It reminds me of corey patterson. All the blame lies on AA for trading for this useless guy. 16 k’s vs 1 BB and 0 SB. That is what you call overmatched. This guy should be in A ball.

    There is no way this guy lasts the season let alone a few more weeks. You can’t be throwing away games like this because AA doesn’t want to look foolish. I would much rather have mike mccoy on this team. At least I now he won’t embarass himself.

    • Bonafacio was supposed to be the hidden gem in the trade.

    • Well, he also has about 4 doubles on balls that would’ve been singles for just about anybody else, including Rajai. And he’s facing a bunch of pitchers he hasn’t seen before. And small sample size, etc.

      Yeah, he sometimes looks bad in the outfield. He should not be playing CF. But his speed makes up for his poor routes most of the time. He didn’t play much last season due to injury. And again, small sample size.

      It’s too early to consign Bonifacio to the rubbish heap of history.

  38. Is having Lawrie go for the sac fly with Edwin on 3rd and Lind on 1st with none out in the bottom of the ninth the right call? I know most innings you take that guaranteed run, but when you know you need two, why not have him swing away? An extra base hit possibly scores Lind or at least moves him to third, a single cashes the run anyway, and then you’d have two men on none out instead of one man on 1 out. And even if you leave Edwin stranded at third, losing by 2 is just as bad as losing by 1.

    • Don’t think Lawrie was ‘going’ for the sac fly, pretty sure he was trying for a base hit. Though I agree the high fives in the dugout on a job well done were a little odd as the run coming in from third was absolutely useless.

      • @ ODB

        You’re kidding right?

        • Kidding about what? It’s the same as if it was a 1-run game with a runner on 1st and nobody out. Does a fly-out warrant high fives? I’m not a WPA expert, but pretty sure Lawrie’s -0.242 WPA for the game was a result of that unsuccessful at-bat. Not ripping him, just saying that it was not a favourable result whatsoever.

          • @ ODB

            yes, a sac fly in that situation is productive and does warrant high fives

            • Obviously I’m missing something here. How exactly does Lawrie’s sac fly improve the chance that the Jays tie the game?

            • Not sure I agree with the original post (I don’t give a shit if Lawrie’s teammates felt compelled to high five him), but no, a sacrifice fly in that situation is absolutely not productive.

              Down by 2 in the ninth with two men on, the only run that matters is the second one. Giving up an out to score the first while failing to advance the second runner is exactly as useful/useless as a strikeout.

          • Yup, I’m sure the players were thinking of WPA percentages.
            They scored a run and you expect the guys in the dugout to sit on their hands.
            It was odd?
            Honest to God, I have no idea what you see when you watch a game.
            Guess you can hardly wait for robot baseball.
            I blame games like MLB 13.
            Un fucking believable

            • RADAR basically sums it up….He didn’t GIDP so there’s something to high five him about….he JUST missed crushing it, there’s something to high five about….There’s no way that that runner that was on third can become an out, there’s something to high five about.

              and most importantly, when Brett Lawrie wants a high five, you better give one to him!

              • Ah, ok, now I get it. As long as you try your best, that’s what counts. Didn’t know that was the perspective I’m supposed to use when watching the Jays lose.

            • I was simply using WPA as a tangible number illustrating that the sac fly was a negative result, geez.

              You saying that losing 4-3 is better than losing 4-2? Or even better, though the result was bad for the team, it was great for the player (1st RBI of the year – fucking-A!)?

              My point is quite obvious and indisputable, IMO.

              • I guess they’ll have to post the ‘Guidelines for Appropriate High Five Distribution’ in the dugout….its a thick read

                • Ok fine, I’ll concede that it was not ‘odd’ – they were just being good teammates. On the other hand, as a fan, my reaction to that play was “Fuck!!!”.

                  Better?

                  • My reaction was also fuck, because he just missed it, as well as the fact that the Colby’s spot in the order was next, and it was a RHP on the mound.

                  • Much better.
                    So you admit that your statement is no longer “quite obvious and indisputable” and is more based on your emotion as a fan,not neccessarily based on logic.
                    No problem.

              • You think it’s odd that a player is congratulated for driving in a run while the team is still losing?
                And your point is “quite obvious and indisputable”?
                Your arrogance is only exceded by your lack of understanding of what it’s like to play on a team.

                • Thanks for continuing to argue and try to insult me after I had conceded – who’s the asshole here?

                  My point that not advancing the game-tying runner on first is a poor result is indisputable, it has nothing to do with arrogance. That was all I was trying to say.

                  You PMSing? If so, my bad.

                  • @ ODB:

                    The comment you are looking at was written at 12:34pm. Read RADAR’s comment from 12:44pm, and then you will understand that he is NOT carrying on the argument.

                    I know, the structure of the comments section on this site can be confusing sometimes.

                    • I get that, but my concession comment was also at 12:14. Either way, stupid argument over a stupid remark.

                  • Am I PMSing?
                    No.
                    I sometimes I am the resident asshole.
                    It’s a character flaw that I live with.

      • Probably just shotgunned a Red Bull and thought he could burn a hole through the roof of the dome. Hadn’t considered it wasn’t intentional, but that explains it.

    • I don’t think you necessarily “try for the sac fly”. I think the objective there is to drive the ball deep to the outfield with the outcome hopefully being either a homerun or base hit.

      If the ball is hit deep enough and is caught, it becomes a sac fly.

  39. The pinch hit was the move that I thought I wanted until I saw Rajai get to the plate, and then I immediately thought, “oh shit, who’s our pinch-runner now?” and “oh shit, who’s our CF now?” One advantage Rasmus has on that ball is that it’s on his glove hand side, but it may have one of those dive-and-miss plays.

    I’m starting to wonder why Bonifacio has been seeing such regular action. The defense is BAD, the bat isn’t much better, so why is Rajai not getting the regular ABs and Boni being held back for PR duty?

  40. Anecdotally, the Jays seem to be leading the damn league in hard linedrive outs. Last night was no exception.

    Scientifically, they are 26th in BABIP.

    If a couple of those line drives miss gloves, they are probably above .500.

  41. My only question was if you’re going to pinch hit for Rasmus lefty for righty, why not do it with Kawasaki instead? Defensively, Rasmus is just as important as Kawasaki defensively. All other decisions I didn’t really question.

    But hey, as Mike Wilner always says – All this wouldn’t have happened because of the Time/Space Continuum blah blah blah.

  42. it doesn’t matter what if, whatever happened happened. the point is that managers (Gibby) should keep things SIMPLE…don’t over think something that doesn’t need over thinking. it will usually lead to bad things, and last night it did. theres NO REASON to replace Rasmus with Rajai, even if Rasmus is facing a lefty. who cares. leave him in there and let him take his cuts, if he strikes out so be it (Rajai struck out anyways). Its been a common theme with the Jays this year, that is thinking way too much/not keeping it simple and just playnig the game like it should be played.

  43. I think that there is an element of responsibility here that falls on Anthopoulos. I’ve been a big fan of him over the years he’s had the keys, but Bonifacio has shown little to prove that he and Davis aren’t basically the exact same player: weak glove, weaker arm, weak hitter, very very fast. There is a redundancy on this team with those two guys, as neither one is a good enough fielder to be playing CF, and neither one belongs in a corner outfield spot because of their weak bat.

    Anthony Gose, for the record, is probably marginally more valuable than one or both of them, as his defense is unquestionably better, his arm is better, though his bat is (probably) weaker. Nevertheless, for concerns of his playing time and service clock, he doesn’t belong. AA should be looking to bring in a reasonable corner outfielder with a stronger bat that Bonifacio/Davis along with his SS solution. Until then, expect Gibbons to be forced to PH with the inferior overall redundant players when he feels that the situation warrants it.

  44. like honestly some people love extended stats, and thats cool. they’re great for some things..but the game is played on the field, and sometimes the game just needs to be played as it should…nice and simple. no need to micro manage because in the end, it will hurt u more times than it will help u, as we saw last night. like really…sabermetric stats should be secondary, to help enhance your decision making, not be the primary basis for making a decision. thats what pisses me off about extended/in depth sabermetrics.

    • Davis is simply a better hitter than Rasmus against lefties. That is a fact and it has been supported with years of actual, real life, experience. The debate is simply about whether that was the right time to PH for Rasmus considering all of the factors everyone is discussing above. Obviously, in this particular case, it didn’t work out. But in an alternate universe Rajai singles, steals second, and scores. Or the fly ball hangs in the air a bit longer and ANYONE playing CF (including Bonafacio) catches it. And if everything works out for the Jays can you justify the Davis PH for Rasmus? Of course. It’s probably a non-issue and no one is talking about it today. The decision is the same, the outcome changes.

      And this is why baseball is so much fun to watch and analyze.

  45. This debate will be ended by how soon we see Cletus pinch hit for by Davis. If it doesn’t happen again soon, it’ll be a tacit admission by Gibbers that he really screwed the pooch.

  46. Anyone who thinks pinch hitting Rajai for Colby was a terrible move, your a moron, please stick to hockey.
    Did it not work out last night? Yes, but blaming the game on Gibbons is borderline retarded when he did something that gave the team a better chance to win last night, but it didn’t work out. Stop being results oriented in a short sample size you fuckin retards.

    • and why do you think pinch hitting rajai for colby is a good move? you take your best defensive outfielder out of the game, and you bring your best pinch runner into the game as a pinch hitter. you are also taking power out of your lineup in a tight game, a guy whos alreaday gone deep…yeah i understand he hasn’t been great against lefties and he was facing a lefty but whup-dee-do, let him hit instead of yanking him and possibly hurting his confidence. this is an example of thinking way too much, yeah its a small sample size but it back fired horrendously and you can’t deny that. or maybe you can, whatever. bottom line is yeah Gibby has to make the right moves to give his team a better chance to win, but this is just micro managing to the max- leave the kid in there, let him swing the bat, show some confidence in him. and i don’t really care what woba, pta, wpa, or whatever “stat” is in favor of that move, it was ridiculous…keep it simple, the games played on the field not on a fuckin spread sheet.

      • You can also think of it in these terms:

        1)Gibbons was planning on using Davis as a PR if Colby got on base in a tie game late.
        2)Since Colby was facing a lefty, Davis had a better chance of getting on base anyway.

        Hence, the pinch-hit.

      • lol stick 2 hockey

        • oh yeah? you think you’re a more knowledgeable baseball fan than i am, based on what? i get the extended stats, i just don’t believe as much emphasis should be placed on them, and thats my opinion. you could explain your your reasoning why you feel how you feel, or you can be an uneducated douchebag and say stupid shit like “stick to hockey” or “anyone who thinks he shouldn’t have pinch hit for Colby is a moron”, thats up to you. and you chose to do the latter, which is cool, and proves you’re a fuckin idiot.

          stats and numbers don’t always tell the whole story boys, nor can they be relied upon all the time. so yeah i’ll stick to hockey, i’ll stick to baseball, and maybe i’ll stick my foot up your ass and you can tell me what the contact % and OPS+ of that is

  47. Any MLB CF makes that catch all day long….

  48. I’ve always quietly read the posts written on here and for the most part agreed with what I’ve read. I have to say though yesterday’s loss is largely on Gibbons. To say otherwise is ridiculous. Hopefully he’ll help win us a couple in the near future. Seems that those who bark the loudest in these comments, are the ones who add the least. I’ll be the first to give Gibbons props too when he pulls the right strings too.

    • “to say otherwise is ridiculous”… totally the sign of a well-reasoned, rational argument.

  49. Farrell made one amazing move and that was to take Butterfield with him. The guy made consistantly good calls on holding or sending people in addition to coaching infielders and setting defences. He made (makes) Farrell look better than he is and Farrell was at least smart enough to know that.

    Butterfield would have taken Boni aside by now and coached his infield deficiencies away.

  50. It’s pretty simple. He really only had one bench option bullet. He fired it on a platoon split in the 7th.

    Santiago has been nasty. No way Cleatus has a shot against that reliever at the plate, at least Davis maybe could have done something considering his split history. At home, go for the win, right?

    Remember, this isn’t chess, where one could actually calculate was the effect of one move will actually mean later mathematically. At times, you have to go with what you you feel is your best chance (based on logic of course).

    Gibby decided to try and get a deciding run in the 7th, the cost was defence and a pinch running option later in the game. This is generally a quick footed team so the pinch running is mitigated. As for the defence, Davis’s had the power on the throw home, but was off line, and for the “Cleatus would have caught that” bunch, maybe, but there was a higher chance that he would have done nothing against Santiago.

    I can live with it.

    • ps I’m just happy we’re talking about baseball moves, instead of prospect porn, type b value, and trade bait.

      These are good problems (if they really are) to have.

      Book it!

  51. This biggest argument against pinch hitting for Rasmus to lead off the 7th was that behind him were Izturis, Kawasaki and Bonifacio, not that his turn in the order might come up again later.

    Yes, he would have a pretty good chance coming up again in the 9th, but you have weigh it against improving the odds of scoring in the 7th. (And, at the very least, you have to discount the second possible at bat by the likelihood of getting it.) With the bottom of the order due up afterwards, it’s hard to imagine Davis would dramatically increase the odds of scoring a run over Rasmus. Then you’d need weigh the importance of difference in defensive strength. After the fact, it seems clear that if any fielder on the team had a shot at making that catch, it would be Rasmus. However, before the fact, can you really say that you’ll need the extra range for certain later in the game?

    It seems to me to be a pretty close wash, strategically speaking. It’s hard to fault Gibby, but it’s hard to say that he took a smart risk.

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