Alright, time to get back to the business of the floundering team and… whatever the hell is going on with it. It’s this week’s edition of the Griff Bag– our weekly-ish hijacking of Richard Griffin’s latest mailbag from over at the Toronto Star. And our weekly-ish variation on the same lame preamble.
As always, I have not read any of Griffin’s answers. Except, y’know, the one I quoted in a post yesterday.
If there’s a question you’d like me to answer, email it to firstname.lastname@example.org and maybe he’ll select it for a future mail bag. Fingers crossed!
This baseball season has to be the most frustrating and disappointing in memory. I like many other fans drank the “Kool Aid” and bought into the AA rebuild. He took a huge gamble and failed miserably. The experts (you included) said both the Yankees and Red Sox will be rebuilding therefore this is the Jays year. We all know in what place both of these teams reside today.
Do you think the Jays will limp, stumble and play brain dead baseball for the rest of the season or do you think some drastic , owner induced “fix” may be implemented ? I was looking forward to attending more games this year than last, but I’ve got to be honest I’m second -guessing spending my money on a team that seems not to care. Those lame, excuse filled post game autopsies of every Jay loss by John Gibbons are also very frustrating to watch. His southern drawl and laid back demeanor portray a country club atmosphere and his team plays like it.
Thanks, now I feel better.
Brian Runciman, Oakville
You know in what place both of those teams reside today? You mean June 11th? Which– and this is fucking news to me– is apparently now the last day of the season?
Seriously, Brian, what a steaming load of shit this is. John Gibbons talks with a southern accent so therefore he must be running a fucking country club where behind closed doors the fat cat players and him light cigars with $100 bills as they laugh and laugh about taking money from the saps who drank the Kool-Aid? Fuck your shitty attitude, and your wilful ignorance of Gibbers’ anger at Brett Lawrie during the non-sac-fly incident and the big knock on him when he was hired– that he was a hot head who fought with his players– that animates it. And fuck the notion that they’re limping, stumbling, and playing “brain dead baseball.” It was way sloppy earlier, for sure, but for a number of weeks now it’s been the starting pitching that’s failed them, not whatever bullshit concerns that bring out the shit-eating-grins in insufferable fans who think they know better about fundamentals.
And fuck the notion that anybody should have seen Vernon Wells and Lyle Overbay carrying the Yankees for a month, too.
You don’t have to like what’s happened on the field so far for the Jays, but don’t fucking piss in my mouth and tell me it’s raining.
Anthopoulos has only “failed miserably” if you’ve already insanely decided that the outcomes we’ve seen so far are a true reflection of the roster he’s assembled. Sure, it’s almost certainly going to be a disappointing season for the club, but there’s this little thing called nuance that people usually try to grasp before making thunderously fucking dull-headed blanket statements like that. A drastic, owner-induced fix? Why??? What the fuck are you talking about???
In a recent post-game interview following a less than stellar start at an open-roofed Rogers Centre, R.A. Dickey mentioned that he’d have preferred the roof closed on that particular night. He said the organization knows his preferences, but it’s up to them to decide whether the top is open or shut.
We’ve talked in this space and in the live chat about the non-sensical decision to keep Blanco over Thole on the big league team. And these things now have me wondering whether Dickey’s not being treated with the kind of respect he deserves and/or whether the Jays aren’t doing enough to provide him with every opportunity and the ideal circumstances to win?
I realize these aren’t make or break factors, but his age, experience, and his knuckleball make him an anomaly and I’d be inclined to cater to him. It’s not like he’s asking for a bowl full of red M&Ms, purple toilet paper, and a dozen bottles of green tea. We want to win and keep our star players happy. Am I reading too much into this?
Matthew McKean, Ottawa
You mean the part where you made up a bunch of shit about what R.A. Dickey wants and how he’s being disrespected, and then pretended that whoever catches him actually matters? Yeah, you’re reading a little too much into it.
Richard Stoeten -
Great stuff in your blog and columns, loved your write-up on Brett Lawrie’s latest tantrum. You and most other parents will recognize in Lawrie’s “death stare” an element of the child who makes a mistake and immediately shouts at whoever’s nearest: “That’s your fault!” He’s obviously extremely immature and unable to accept failure.
My questions: Is J.P Arencibia’s increasingly obvious game-calling weakness a key factor in the pitching staff’s under-performance? Was Travis D’Arnaud deemed to have better chops in this regard? I always wondered why the Jays had a huge reluctance to trade him when J.P was in the fold but maybe now we’re seeing one big reason.
Dave Finn, St. John’s
One, so fucking what if Brett Lawrie did something immature? This nonsense has become like the way fans pretend they’re simply aghast that the front office might say one thing and wind up doing the other, as though they’re all a bunch of FILTHY LIARS and not that it’s, y’know, something that totally just happens and, in this little thing reality, is just not close to a big fucking deal.
Two, you just drop a steaming load of nonsense like “Arencibia’s increasingly obvious game-calling weakness” as though it’s fucking self-evident? I can’t even.
Three, no, the reluctance to trade d’Arnaud was probably mostly due to the fact that J.P. Arencibia isn’t very good– not at game calling, but at… um… everything. Except power! Can’t forget that he’ll hit 20- or 30-odd mistakes a year over the. Whoopty fuck!
Probably a question better put to Elias Stats, or perhaps covered in todays game summary so consider me embarrassed if this is the case. Blue Jays as a team in today’s 4-0 shutout of the Giants, went an entire game without a strikeout. This would be impressive if it were just Colby Rasmus. How rare is it for a team to avoid even a single strike out?
Yeah, it probably is a better question for someone like Elias, or Baseball Reference… or Google. It’s rare, but I have no idea how rare. Especially crazy, though, given that the club has two guys with 146 strikeouts combined through just 62 games– though, granted Arencibia didn’t play in that one.
I may be totally off here, but it seems that Gibbons has come up with an interesting albeit taxing (especially when you have 17 inning games) way to overcome the annual starting pitching injury problem. Using 4 or more relievers each going 2 innings and a closer, may just be the answer as it seems to keep the opponents offence out of sync. The combinations are endless, you can play with the left righty combos, specialty pitch combination, to keep the whole lineup off balance. Essentially have a pitching lineup much the same as a batting lineup.
The question is has anyone every used such an approach, how did such an experiment fair? Do you think such an approach is at all viable in the long run, in terms of injury, arm/manpower? Can pitchers work efficiently on 2 days rest on a consistent basis assuming low pitch count per outing?
I enjoy reading your insight into the game.
I believe baseball is unique in that a spectator can legally and directly affect the outcome of a game. I’m talking about the high and foul flyball that lands in the first few rows of seats and is reachable by a defender. I don’t know the rule book text, but common knowledge seems to indicate that the fan has as much right to try and catch the ball as the fielder. If this is true, it seems a good fan in this situation would try to jostle the opposing defender a little. Is this acceptable? I know we Torontonians are too polite and usually give the opposing player some space, but are there other parks where it’s known that you’ll have a hard time going into the crowd for a catch?
Jays fans are probably too busy trying to think which opposing players’ names they recognize so they can boo them for no reason. Yeah, they could jostle a bit better, I figure.
Q-Brett Cecil seems to have regained his 2010 form. His numbers say he’s better. Why not move him back to the starting rotation?
Eduard Guerra, Sudbury
Well, I think it’s that you’d just hate to mess with the success he’s had in relief, and also because part of the reason he’s been able to do so well is because of the switch. Because he’s being used in shorter stints, he doesn’t need to conserve energy as much and can throw with max effort, meaning the velocity increase is slightly deceptive. He’s also changed his repertoire, according to the Pitch F/X data, ditching the slider he threw 20% of the time back in 2011, and cutting his changeup usage down to less than 6% (having thrown only two to left-handers), though it also made up 20% of his pitches thrown just two seasons ago. This year he’s thrown his curve 32% of the time– up from 5-6% in 2010 and ’11– and otherwise works with a cutter, sinker and four-seamer. How would he do at trying to turn over a lineup multiple times without that slider and change? Could he keep the good aspects of what he’s done while working those offerings back in? I guess I don’t really know– but yeah… it’s kind of tempting to think about, given how well he’s pitched, isn’t it?
Love the mailbag. I have a few questions for you, if you have the time and inclination to answer them.
First, could you explain minor league rosters to me? Are minor rosters 25 man? When a player gets called up, where does the minor league team fill the new vacancy from? When a player rehabs, where does the guy go who’s spot the rehabber takes?
Second, How much more rope does JPA get? He has power, but that’s about it. He can’t really hit well outside of that, he can’t take a walk, and his defence is spotty, at best. Does the club try to deal him at some point – and would anybody really be interested in him?
Third, I’ve always loved Brandon Morrow. To me, he’s seemed like he has / had the ability to throw a no-hitter for the Jays, and it really sucks to see him injured again. I wish he was healthy – don’t you wish he was health?
Fourth, do you ever read Stoten’s answers to your mailbag?
Tim, St. Catharines
First, what am I, Google? Second, I think he lost a good chunk of it when Josh Thole came up. Third, yeah, I wish he was health. Fourth, never heard of him.
I read your last mailbag with interest. I think people forget that you actually see what is going on in the clubhouse and they should respect the fact you go beyond what most sports journos report…and that you are entitled to your own opinion. Keep it up! My question is this : why is Brett Lawrie not hitting? Are the Jays concerned?
Rob Brander, Sydney, Australia
The Jays would have to be concerned, I think, because as much as you might be able to give Lawrie a little bit of leeway after he essentially missed all of Spring Training, it’s not like he hit last year, either. And it’s so strange, because everybody thought that the bat would be the least of his troubles.
I think the club’s hitting coach, Chad Mottola, said it about as good as possible in a recent Q&A with Dan Laurila of FanGraphs.
“He’s a high-strung guy who has a lot of movement, pre-pitch. That’s something I’d like to eventually cut down, but at the same time, I can’t take that all away from him, because he’ll have that stuck feeling where he can’t pull the trigger the same way he’s been doing his whole life,” Mottola explained. “He’s got a lot going on in his pre-load that we’d like to settle down, but that’s something that can take years. If he’s competing at the big-league level, and I want to ask for changes mechanically… I can’t get him un-athletic at the same time.”
For now, when healthy, it sounds like they’re going to keep his glove in the lineup, and guiding him to slowly make the adjustments that he needs, rather than some kind of complete and drastic overhaul. Sounds about right to me.
Thank you for the timely and incisive article on the relief pitchers especially the focus on Cecil. They have worked themselves into being both ‘effective and consistent’, two words that have been elusive or evaded by other units of the team this season. Cecil’s enlightened mindset about what defines success in a team sport shows a wisdom and Zen quality well beyond his years that invariably has influenced his ready ability to adapt and be effective right from the get go of the season. When I read his comments I thought we had his age wrong. That is billboard material for not only sports but also for other forms of work and life endeavours. He makes the old maxim ‘there is no I in team’ relevant. I remember watching him in ‘Awful April’ and how focused, balanced and energized he was each time on the mound. It read difference maker. It was a ‘relief’ to see him being quite a relief … pitcher given the absence of relief from what was going on elsewhere on the team. With his mindset he should be able to weather the season well.
Wild Card Walkaway – Your wording about a wild card comeback position avoided delusion by your added words , “sometime in the future” . However, referencing who are actually in a wild card hunt it goes beyond their own division. It is actually worse then when I wrote this time last month about the need to change managers – The Cito Gaston Case.
The Blue Jays are done and so should be their manager if not for the GM’s attachment to his out of box retro choice, team play aside. We will see how this plays out in fan attendance and revenue over what will be a long slow Summer once again.
As you know, baseball is a business first and foremost and the GM who put out huge amounts of money to secure this roster has been willing to put significant fan revenue at risk or lets be real, loss, makes no business sense and will make next season an even higher end pressurized one to produce and if not there will be a player sale if not a semi fire sale at some point to unload payrolls.
“Outstanding” …. ? – I remember, he was asked by Maloney a couple of weeks how he thought Gibbons was doing and he aid” outstanding” – really? It sounds more like a self defense response or ‘” I am trying to convince my self this is working out still”. Maybe a contextualized response like ” he is doing the best he can under the circumstances”.
Rankings – Your ranking list is both informative and underlines the disparity of just how under performing the Jays have been based on expectations of so much added talent, it made the koole aide so strong that intoxicated most so that negative or doubting factors were missed. After the suffering of 20 years, Spring heresy would not be acceptable or tolerated by most.
NL Central – good work on both the focus and content. As to the Cardinals lets face it every year most of the MLB writes down or off the Cardinals who simply in turn quietly go about their business of finding ways to win games and series. and remain in contention and Post season play as their prairie roots would define. They remain one of if not the best story of baseball in even just this century as well as sports in general from both a sustainability and a success factor… Jays take note.
Of course, other teams have aided and abetted them, like the Jays giving them Carpenter, one of the worst moves of their organization but no need to review that failure form the past when there is one unfolding in front of us right now.
Admit it, you wrote the first draft of this on the wall of your padded room, right?
While it seems that the experiment of moving Melky Cabrera to the leadoff spot and Bautista to second in the order has generally been a success, do you think it’s time to move Arencibia further down and move Lind to the cleanup spot with Rasmus batting 5th? JP has been been putting a lot of rally killing whiffs recently.
Against right-handers, Lind has definitely earned his way into the cleanup spot– which feels extremely weird to say, but it’s true. Not sure I wouldn’t still split up the lefties and have Arencibia between Lind and Rasmus against right-handers, though, at least until Lawrie gets back. Against lefties, I don’t mind Arencibia up a bit higher though, and Rajai Davis in the lineup for Lind somewhere. So… yeah.
Q-My name is Rabbi Zev Icyk.
Bob Elliot wrote an article about me just before the Jays made the big trade in November. I am 25, 6’2 180, newly married, played college baseball in the states for three years (I pitched and threw a no hitter), born and raised in Toronto, know the game of baseball inside and out, and am poised and determined to become the next manager of the Jays. If Anthopoulos would have made the right choice for manager back in November, the Jays would not be in the predicament they are currently in. It is because of the lack of motivation and brotherhood that is in the clubhouse that has caused this 23-33 start, and this problem must be fixed.
In my five years of college I have compiled a 3.7 GPA while playing college ball and being an observant Jew (a very demanding workload). I know what the Jays need and I will provide the motivation and leadership that will bring us to where Anthopoulos wants us to be. I am a passionate, intelligent, full of energy, and positive young man that has the drive to lead the Jays back to the top. When Gibbons gets fired this week or next, please call me.
If you think it’s a “lack of motivation and brotherhood” that caused the club’s poor start, maybe try starting with little league.