griffbag

Another week, another Griff Bag, another hijacking. Sound about right? Because there’s a new slice of read-submitted insanity up at the Toronto Star, and… like… what else do you really want us to do here on a Monday morning? Try to come to grips with decent pitching performances from Chad Jenkins and Ramon Ortiz? A Triple-A disaster for Ricky Romero? Emilio Bonifacio perhaps not being terrible?

Fuck that. Let’s just let Griff’s readers get under the ol’ skin and watch the magic happen.

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. I have watched the J.A. Happ injury (on Tuesday) over and over again on the networks and one of the biggest questions I have is in regards to the umpires. These are people who make calls in minutiae on a minute by minute basis which will affect the outcome of a game, but when it came to a decision that may have affected someone’s life . . . they chose to do nothing until someone had run 180 feet. Will the umpires be disciplined in any way? Thanks,

Jeff

I believe it was John Gibbons who said that he didn’t blame the umpires because, like everybody else, they were stunned by what had happened to Happ. While maybe that’s just him saying the “right” thing, it seems entirely plausible to me, and so, while I think you’re absolutely right that play should have been stopped as soon as Happ was hit, and that getting him medical attention needs to be the priority, I’m not sure any kind of discipline is necessary for the umpires. Like, I haven’t looked into it, but I can’t imagine that they’re standing by their call to not halt play as soon as possible.

 

Q. Hello Richard Stoeten,

What in your expert opinion are the factors that will turn around the ongoing woes of this Blue Jays team that so very many fans had such high hopes for?

Best regards.

Tony D’Souza, Toronto

Time. Health.

 

Q. Hi Richard Stoeten,

I was reading an article in the Star after Monday’s opener in Tampa, where a reporter asks J.P. (Arencibia) why he wasn’t starting instead of Henry (Blanco). Apparently, he was annoyed at being asked this question. My point is maybe you’re not starting because of not paying attention on the base path the game before or maybe missing a pitch that is charged as “wild” to your starter.

Bob Andrews, Brandon, MB

Uh… no, it was actually because they wanted to try to get a hopelessly struggling Mark Buehrle going and thought maybe a different catcher would do the trick. When it didn’t, and Buehrle was pulled from the game, Blanco came out and Arencibia went back in. Some punishment, huh?

Which isn’t to say that I think Arencibia is terrific by any means, but there’s no need to invent anything, or to zero in on specific moments and imbue them with grand significance, if you want to have a conversation about whether or not he’s adequate. Hint: the .246 on-base and two walks through 142 plate appearances is probably a decent place to start. In fact, only Jeff Keppinger, among 175 other qualified MLB hitters, has walked at a lower rate so far. And among the 17 catchers with over 900 plate appearances since the start of 2011, Arencibia is last in on-base, 15th in wOBA and wRC+, and miles behind in fielding, in terms of UZR, as well. Fun!

 

Q. Hey Rich Stoet.

Great job on the mailbag and the bullpen. Here’s my question. Ok. Maybe it’s a silly question, but I don’t know. Why is a foul tip only an out with 2 strikes?

Thanks.

Dan Frook, Fergus Ontario

Same reason it was three weeks ago.

 

Q. Hello Mr. Griffin Stoeten,

This is a non- Jays question, for the most part, although they have been involved (on the wrong end) of a few lopsided games this year: Is there an unwritten rule about hitting when your team has a big lead late in the game? If your team is up 10 runs in the 8th are you more likely to swing at the first pitch? Do players attempt to “go yard” during these at-bats? Is taking a walk frowned upon? What are some of the general unwritten rules of baseball when your team has an insurmountable lead?

All the best,

Morgan Burton

Banff, Alberta

Griffin probably nailed this one, so I’ll just direct you to whatever he said.

 

Q. How is it that in your most recent Bullpen column you can list all of the things going wrong with players on the Jays, admit they’re not problems created by decisions made by John Gibbons, and then somehow still blame him for them?

Kevin, Toronto

Wilful ignorance?

 

Q. Getting straight to the point, what are your thoughts on why the Jays seem to keep misdiagnosing their players? Off the top of my head this year alone I am thinking of Lawrie, Bautista, now Josh Johnson. We are told one day they’re absolutely fine, no worries, then shortly after it is revealed the player is missing multiple games. Is it intentional deception by the club? Blissful ignorance? An incompetent medical staff? I can understand that diagnosing an injury is not always black and white but if there’s some uncertainty, why not just say “We don’t know yet how long the player will be out”. Why say he’s fine when he’s clearly not? I don’t get it.

Brett, Moncton

Already answered this one.

 

Q. Dear Richard Stoeten,

I usually write via your mailbag site, but my computer hasn’t featured an e-mail reply box for awhile. Has AA never heard of Steve Blass? Poor Ricky Romero is done, as I said to you last fall. It seems obvious to everyone but the Jays. How much longer must we listen to Ricky talk about how well he’s throwing, except for the walks, hits and runs he’s allowing? How much longer must we hear AA, Dane Johnson et al talk about how his mechanics just need a tweak? What’s the matter with these people ?

Selby Martin, Toronto

Congratu-fucking-lations for the pretend insight you had last year, and for still crowing about it now, with all the personal appeal of an unpopped zit. I’m glad you have someone to cheer against, just so you can feel like the fucking mush brain that has surely failed you so many times before every once in a while still offers a faint signal of something that isn’t monumentally dull, but if I may offer some advice, next time you want to put on the charade of actual knowledge, try making it on a point on which it’s actually remotely plausible that you could have had some genuine insight. Posturing like you have a fucking clue because your coin-flip of a hunch looks, for the moment, like there might be something to it doesn’t make it any less of a joke that you thought you knew Romero was finished then, or that you think you can see the future now.

What’s the matter with these people? I dunno, maybe they’re not ridiculous negative suckholes who think they have all the answers the minute the stink mule in their heads stops braying long enough for a thought to shit its way out.

 

Q. Hi Richard Stoeten,

I recently found my Expos youth cap and my Zellers Expos baseball cards. Looking back it seems Montreal was Canada’s team until the mid 80s, but when the Blue Jays came on and the Hawk and Gary Carter left nationally the Expos were not seen in the media as much even though they still had good teams and good players. Was Canada just too small to support 2 teams nationally who played in the same time zone? Do you foresee Canada ever getting another team with another media conglomerate needing summer programming to support offerings like TSN Ocho? Or is Zellers more likely to make a comeback at this point?

John, Toronto

Interesting points, John, but I wouldn’t say that the Expos’ demise had a whole lot to do with Canada’s inability to support more than one team. Sure, the movement of a lot of corporate dollars from Montreal to Toronto over the course of the 70s and 80s shifted the economic landscape of both cities, but that was only part of the reason that things went south– literally– for the Expos. Stadium issues, ownership issues, and a dreadfully slumping Canadian dollar in the early 2000s all contributed, as did the strike of 1994, of course. By that time, you’re right, the Expos were no longer the highest profile team in the country, but that shift seems, to me, to have had the most to do with which team was winning at the time. And I definitely remember all kinds of coverage of both the Jays and Expos available here in the Toronto market from the late-80s through the mid-90s at least.

So… to me that isn’t the issue– wasn’t the issue– and wouldn’t be an issue should Montreal get another chance to host a big league baseball club. I wouldn’t hold my breath for that to happen though. As much of an appetite for it that there may be in the city, getting a relocated franchise, or an expansion franchise– rarely as those things come around in the first place– will be especially difficult for a market where it has so recently failed. Maybe there will be a time where, like Washington D.C., enough years will have passed for Montreal to again seem viable– that the market is so big is certainly a plus– but they’ll need a new, properly-located stadium, and there are a lot of other factors working against them. I won’t say it will never happen, but for the time being, it would be very, very surprising.

Comments (66)

  1. My first mailbag question – and Stoeten redirects! :P

    • I’ll save you the trouble:

      A. There is no unwritten rule regarding an individual batter’s behaviour at the plate when his team has a huge lead in late innings, other than not bunting or no hit-and-run, which, as we found out in the Mexico Canada brouhaha at the WBC, is not received well, either when the bunt is for a sacrifice or a base hit. Other than that, the act of a hitter working a pitcher for a base-on-balls is considered a part of the game and is very acceptable, as is swinging for the fences.
      Baseball is a one-on-one challenge between the pitcher and hitter and that does not change. Nobody asks a player to just roll over and give up his own at-bat because his team is up big.
      The unwritten rules of big-league sportsmanship are basically aimed at stopping run-creating managerial decisions, like bunting, hit-and-run and against stealing second or third base. Even if a runner at first base is not being held on, a team is expected not to take that open base uncontested with a huge lead. The question becomes what is a big enough lead. I would suggest that a six-run lead, or more, after seven innings is around the right number, or eight-plus after six. Other may suggest other numbers, like Mexico believing a six-run Canadian lead in the seventh was enough. The difference is that in the WBC format, runs and run differential come into play as an important tie-breaker, so Chris Robinson’s bunt single with a 9-3 lead must be viewed in that specific tournament-rules light

  2. Just when I thought you were dialing it in, you unleashed full blogger fury on poor Selby. I hope he gets better!

  3. Does a popped zit have more or less appeal than a unpopped one?

  4. You pretty much nailed the Expos demise.

  5. “What’s the matter with these people? I dunno, maybe they’re not ridiculous negative suckholes who think they have all the answers the minute the stink mule in their heads stops braying long enough for a thought to shit its way out.” – Words could not come from a bigger hypocrite.

  6. “… who think they have all the answers the minute the stink mule in their heads stops braying long enough for a thought to shit its way out.”

    Really. Fucking. Good.

  7. POWERED BY COORS LIGHT…LOL

    STOETEN, YER A WHORE!

  8. There is a lot of shit talking about Aaron Cibia. I get it, hes not the greatest defensive catcher, though I doubt he is all that much below average. He does strike out a tonne and never walks. I fully agree his eye needs to be much better.
    But one thing that he does do well and that isn’t reflected in WBA and +RC is that he occasionally gets a clutch hit, which is more than can be said for most of our lineup.
    Yesterday he goes 0-5 with 3ks and we win 12-4. If he would have walked twice there it makes no difference. Off the top of my head he has won two games for us this season (out of 14 total wins) with big hits. This has gotta be worth something, no? Is there a high leverage at bat average stat? I’m sure that would be a good one for him.

    • I’m sure most of the cognoscenti here will foam at the mouth for the “clutch” reference, but Mark Simon on Baseball Today last year had a piece on hittiers producing RBI above the average rate (or having a higher avg with RiSP, whatever it was). Arencibia was one of the batters he mentioned at the time. In fact, in one of the few games I managed to see live a couple of years ago, he hit a go-ahead (or game-tying) RBI single late in the game.

      The question, of course, is just because he has been “clutch” in the past, is this evidence that he will continue to be “clutch” in the future?

    • Puke. Arencibia has a knack for getting hits that people remember (his debut, his recent homerun) while quietly collecting 0-fors the rest of the time. Baseball reference has a tidy collection of ‘Clutch’ stats. Also here are his ‘leverage’ based stats.
      http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/split.cgi?id=arencjp01&year=&t=b#lever

      Crazy high Babip in high leverage situations.

    • 2013 JP

      low leverage: .271/.282/.543, .351 wOBA, 5 HR, 29.6% K
      medium leverage: .185/.214/.370, .253 wOBA, 3 HR, 33.9% K
      high leverage: .200/.200/.533, .306 wOBA, 1 HR, 55.3% K

      bases empty: .236/.253/.449, .301 wOBA, 5 HR, 36.3% K
      men on base: .220/.235/.520, .319 wOBA, 4 HR, 29.4% K
      men in scoring: .160/.160/.360, .219 wOBA, 1 HR, 40% K

      rest of the numbers
      http://www.fangraphs.com/statsplits.aspx?playerid=697&position=C&season=2013

      • aaaaaannd…we’re done here.

      • wow, those are some damning numbers

        do us a solid and pull up the sames for colby

        • They don’t mean anything more than the supposedly great career clutch ones do (I say supposedly because I haven’t looked, because none of this means anything). The samples are just too small.

          • I wouldn’t claim that JP is or isn’t a clutch hitter, but simply that he has performed at a feast-or-famine level in high-leverage situations. When being outscored on average, you want inconsistent offence in high-leverage situations to maximise wins. When outscoring on average, you want consistent offence in high-leverage situations to maximise wins. This makes JP useful on worse teams and more limiting on better teams, broadly speaking.

        • 2013 Colby

          low leverage: .250/.344/.518, .371 wOBA, 4 HR, 39.1 K%
          medium leverage: .234/.294/.404, .306 wOBA, 2 HR, 39.2 K%
          high leverage: .143/.200/.143, .164 wOBA, 0 HR, 60 K%

          bases empty: .222/.317/.403, .319 wOBA, 3 HR, 40.2 K%
          men on base: .244/.292/.467, .328 wOBA, 3 HR, 43.8 K%
          men in scoring: .333/.400/.556, .413 wOBA, 2 HR, 46.7 K%
          *notice HR do not total 6 as men on base & men in scoring overlap

          rest of the numbers
          http://www.fangraphs.com/statsplits.aspx?playerid=9893&position=OF&season=2013

    • I would like like to know how many runs Aaron Cibia has allowed due to pass balls, or to errors throwing to first or second or third, or you know running in on a throw to home make it an shorter hop than it needs to be so it then goes of his shinguards and into the dugout. Is anyone tracking that? My guess would be 8-10 runs already this year.

  9. I feel like the jays have a very real shot at a mini-sweep of the giants.
    we have our two best pitchers going and the lineup probably feel’s pretty confident right now, and they’ll be rested.

    • Hope your right.
      Every other team in the ALE is above .500.
      The Jays ,of course , are 9 games below.

    • I’m not sure I could name our “two best pitchers” off the top of my head at the moment…

      • casey jansen & …wait, what was the question?

      • Let’s see, there’s Janssen, then there’s… uh…..

        • as i understand it, we’ll be throwing dickey and then morrow.
          that means a 70 mph dancing ball followed by 97 mph paint

          • which has worked great so far this year….

            • the point would be in my opinion they’re the two starters on our staff that give us the highest probability of a win. If you’re ready to write them off because the performance hasn’t been where we’d hoped up to this point, you should probably stop following a baseball blog

  10. Sean Nolin made his second start of the year. Pitched six innings, only gave up 4 hits and had 8 strikeouts for the win.

    I think we’ll see this guy slingin in the Dome before September.

  11. What was wrong with Selby’s point here? He questioned the guidance and throwing program that Romero was on and was tired of the tweaking excuses. How is that being a negative suckhole? There was no stupid Blow Up the Team, Cut Romero right now, Let Him Rot in the Minors for a Year comment. Stoeten we’ve argued about this before and you still are preaching the corporate Jays lingo and yet not provided your thoughts on how Romero was handled or should have been handled.

    You told everyone they were clueless who questioned Romero’s quick promotion and now we are being negative suckholes for saying we told you so? What do you want here? We’re trying to stop upbeat about the guy but to me there’s nothing wrong with passionate fans being upset with something like this.

    What is wrong with a fan just asking the Jays to say Ricky Romero needs to show consistency with his mechanics and delivery and we are going to keep him in the minors to work on things until he can show this?

    • “I usually write via your mailbag site, but my computer hasn’t featured an e-mail reply box for awhile.”

      That was his first terrible sentence. From there it got markedly worse.

      What you are acting like he said and what he said are two different things. EVERYONE at this point agrees he is gone and shouldn’t be back until he has completely turned things around. We don’t all feel the need to shove it in other people’s faces that we “knew this all along” as if his random guess at a rather binary outcome means something.

    • Sons handled this one. Read the question again, Tom. And read what I write sometimes, too. I didn’t call “anyone who questioned Romero’s quick promotion” clueless, I shit on the people who were acting like they KNEW it was too soon, when there was absolutely nothing for them to base that on.

      • Maybe you should read what you write as well Stoeten

        I commented on the quick promotion the Thursday before Ricky’s Friday start against SEA indicating it was too soon. I based it on his poor mechanics and results going back from last year into Spring Training and that “1″! start at A ball was not enough to justify the callup.

        You haven’t called people clueless on this subject? You responded to my comment with “That would be a great analysis if you had a clue”.

        While I’m not personally watching Ricky’s progress, you have to admit there also isn’t much there to base Ricky’s callup either. And I’m sorry “sons” but comments get thrown back in people’s faces all the time on this blog, a lot of the time by Stoeten. And quite frankly, that’s what I love about it and that’s why I read it frequenty. So please don’t patronize me for siding with -I Told You- So on this one.

        • But you don’t have a clue, thats the thing dude. So what if you “called it”? He could have just as easily have had a great game – either way one random start has a lot of luck to it. When you called it, you had a 50/50 shot of being right and whether you had any legit insight or not (you didnt) it wouldnt matter because my grandma had the same exact chance of being right and she the most she knows about baseball is that she thinks Buck Martinez is hot for his age. Sersiously you talk about mechanics and whenever I hear about mechanics from anyone who has’nt at least played college ball I gotta take it with a grain of salt – a huge one. I guarentee you 90% of anyone talking about mechanics is only quoting someone else because most people – me included – have no clue how to watch a pitcher to tell if his delivery is repeatable or if his back leg is to high or whatever, who the fuck knows? Anyways his so called shitty mechanics got him to the big leages as an openinday starter, an Ace and an Allstar (i think) so whatever, I am of the opinion that people are idiots and theres only one thing wrong with Ricky and thats mental – but I base that on what i heard Dick Hayhurst say, and my ability to do a little criticle thinking – something appearently beyond you – and I really have no fucking clue – really its just something to talk about. Maybe he gets it together maybe he doesnt – my predicition would be worthless – but i’ll tell you this. its unlikey he forgot how to pitch. Then again I remember people saying he was very lucky stats wise and that regression was likely, so what the fuck do I know? Well since I dont’ get paid for this, im going to say nothing; just like you.

        • @Tom – I have no problem with what you said. I have a problem with people whining about “how dumb AA is that he did such and such when I knew back in the fall that blah blah blah”.

          You can offer up your opinion and you can even pick things apart using hindsight. It’s when you (or Selby or anyone) act like you have the answer when all you have is an opinion, that’s when it is annoying.

        • I commented on the quick promotion the Thursday before Ricky’s Friday start against SEA indicating it was too soon. I based it on his poor mechanics and results going back from last year into Spring Training and that “1″! start at A ball was not enough to justify the callup.

          You haven’t called people clueless on this subject? You responded to my comment with “That would be a great analysis if you had a clue”.

          You absolutely were clueless, though. Literally. A belief about whether or not it was too soon, having not seen him in the Majors at the time, having not seen his A-ball start, and not having any clue about the previous five weeks of work he’d put in– basing it solely on 2012 and Spring– is worthless. There was no way for anybody in your position to know, and just because your hunch appears to have been right doesn’t mean you can pretend you had some kind of insight there. This is what I explained to the reader in the mail bag as well.

          I did not once say that it WAS the right time to call Romero up, because like everybody else, I had no idea. The people whose opinions I pushed back against were the ones insisting they knew one way or the other when there was a very clear lack of information.

      • And honesty that was the best answer to a question I have ever seen in my life. I teach college students and I wish I was allowed to answer questions like this.

        • Jesus Christ you guys gotta stop this level of baseball experience bullshit when questioning people’s opinions. Again, these are opinions and this is a blog. The 2 go hand in hand. Are we going to pull baseball playing experience rank everytime someone questions a Jays roster decision?

          I love AA, I hope he stays on for a VERY long time. I have never said I want him gone, ever. Does that mean he makes the right decision all the time? Hell no, nor does any GM for that matter. Should we cut him some slack for calling up Ricky? Ya probably, but I’m arguing that Ricky’s track record would not justify a 50% chance he succeeded.

          “It’s when you act like you have the answer when all you have is an opinion, that’s when it is annoying”. I think this could probably apply to over half of the comments on this blog.

          • I support Tom, and I think 90% of fans, uneducated or not, extensive playing expierance or not, all thought the same thing when they heard Ricky was getting the call up,”Wow, that was fast.”

            • That’s an entirely different thing, though, than what I’ve ever said anything about– assuming that’s what we’re still mostly talking about here.

              “Wow, that was fast” – a statement of surprise.
              “Wow, that was fast, WHAT A MISTAKE” – a statement of supposed knowledge based on nothing.

              • @ Stoeten. Good comments about the Expos. Warren Cromartie is tying to bring the team back. TVA Sports which is owned by Quebecor (Pierre Peladeau) . Quebecor is the equivalent of Rogers.

                They broadcast Jays games.

                I think its possible that they would be the owners of the team so they could get summer content.

                Unfortunately, Loria gave up the land rights to a perfect location in downtown Montreal many years ago near the Montreal Bell Centre.

            • @Wiener.

              +1. I was surprised that they brought back Ricky that quickly after 1 A Ball Start.

              Stoeten & the other guy on the podcast alluded to a theory that the Jays are trying to teach Ricky Romero a lesson.
              There were no reports of Ricky pitching in game situations throughout April. Why was this happening?

              Was Ricky not feeling well enough to pitch against live batters?

              Ricky survived 3 innings against the Mariners. 4th inning was a mess. Next game, he barely gets 1 hitter out. He gets bombed in AAA.
              There is a pattern there.

              Ricky should stay in Buffalo until further notice.

  12. The Expos were screwed after the referendum came out so close. Corporations moved operations to safer locales and the club was left with a depressed economy. Even if the ’94 team won the WS, they still would have moved that club.

    • @Darth. That’s mostly true.

      A World Series Win in 1994 would have prevented the most of the fire sale for 1995. The team came back in 1996 & was in the wild card hunt till the last weekend.

      The current Premier’s husband was a part owner of the team through a Quebec pension fund.

      There was a good book by Claude Brochu on the subject

    • Also, Quebec is becoming a black hole when it comes to business; businesses don’t want to deal with troglodyte attitudes towards English or with the corruption issues that exist there. And, in sports, when you lose business, you lose franchises.

  13. There was a report a few years ago by an independent organization analyzing the suitability of various cities around North America to host an MLB team. I believe there were 20 cities on the list, and Montreal was in the Top 10. However, MLB has looked most recently at places like San Juan Puerto Rico, San Antonio Texas, and places like Richmond Virginia and Portland Oregon as relocation/expansion options (additionally, San Antonio was where Jeffrey Loria was threatening to move the Marlins, I believe). In terms of international expansion, MLB may go to Puerto Rico or Mexico before they ever expand/relocate to Canada, but I think Montreal would be a good place for a team at some point.

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