Another week, another mail bag, and… actually, OK, so maybe it’s been a while since we had a right proper Griff Bag hijacking around here. Sorry about that, but things were actually happening around this team… for a while. Now that we’re back to the ol’ dispiriting status quo of the dog days, I’m sure I’ll have more time to deal with the inanities of Griff’s readers– like I did this week! So strap in! Time to get our hands dirty with Richard Griffin’s latest mailbag from over at the Toronto Star.
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 email@example.com and maybe he’ll select it for a future mail bag. Fingers crossed!
After reading your interview with Carlos Delgado, the first thing that came to my mind was what a great bench coach he would make! It seems like Demarlo Hale is in the mix every off season for manager’s position, do you believe there would be any interest from Delgado to take that position? I would love to see him teach his brand of professionalism!
Ridley Wetton, London
Uh… really? I mean, I get that Delgado was a great player and talks a good game, but how is this sort of thing remotely on anyone’s radar? Just kinda utterly pointless, if you ask me.
Q. After attending Saturday’s game and seeing the situational execution difference between TB and Toronto with the bases loaded and no one out, I got to wondering. From your observations, is the Jays failure to execute on offence (absent the HR) in key situations like this due primarily to coaching philosophy (players aren’t asked to alter their approach in such situations), player stubbornness (players refuse to alter their approach in such situations), or player performance (players are trying to alter their approach in such situations, but are failing to execute).
I realize it’s a fine line, but if I hear one more time that you can’t ask a home run hitter to try to hit the ball to the right side or cut down on their swing to get a sacrifice fly when needed I might be sick . . .
Sean East, Baden, Ont.
I guess I’d have to say that it’s due to what you’re calling coaching, but don’t confuse that with me saying that it’s due to bad coaching. The Rays have scored the sixth-most runs in all of baseball. The Jays, who have played one fewer game, rank seventh. So… it’s not exactly like the Rays are some kind of run-producing juggernaut, is it? Especially considering the fact that, as a team, they have a three point advantage on Jays hitters in wOBA and ten points by wRC+.
It’s frustrating to watch some times, to be sure, but so is having the team give up outs, or to alter their approach so as to pass up on an opportunity for a big inning in order to scratch out a run– unless that’s all the situation really calls for. John Gibbons is generally averse to small ball tactics, and that’s part of the reason why he’s kinda the best.
I just wanted to know whether the “spitball” is allowed again. If not, it amazes me how many times I see pitchers (a) licking their fingers and ostensibly wiping them off — and in most cases, not wiping them off or (b) wiping their sweaty foreheads before throwing the next pitch. Another thing that amazes me is that the umpires seem to be ignoring all of this.
I do remember that there was talk a long time ago that the pitchers were only allowed to wipe the sweat off their brows or “supposedly’ blow on their fingers and “supposedly” wipe them off when they were not on the rubber. I am an 85-year former ballplayer, and remember that when the “spitball” was outlawed, only couple of pitchers such as Burleigh Grimes were allowed to use it.
The pitch is outlawed, but you’re right, MLB definitely doesn’t take the issue terribly seriously. Alex Sanabia of the Marlins was caught spitting on a ball earlier this year and wasn’t punished. Famously in this city, Clay Buchholz was called out by Dirk Hayhurst and Jack Morris for having a substance on his arm, which he later claimed to be sunscreen and rosin. Other guys certainly seem to chronically run their fingers through their sweaty, greasy hair before throwing, or find others substances to load up with– the legality of which is murky, but most of the time it would seem to be more about getting a grip on the ball, and not about changing it’s aerodynamics. At least, that seems to be what MLB thinks, as rarely is anyone suspended for doctoring the ball these days. I can buy it, but… sure, if someone wanted to crusade about it, I’d give what they were saying a listen.
I have noticed on TV, that the bench seems to be segregated Am I correct and do you see this as a detractor to team chemistry?
Cowichan Valley B.C.
You may be correct about the Spanish-speaking guys sitting together more often than not, but how is that different than most teams, and also… uh… so?
What will it take to make this Jays’ team play as a team? They cannot keep depending on just the two big bats — all have to contribute. They should take a lesson from the Rays who know how to play the game and play it well. Why are the pitching and hitting coaches not getting involved in getting their players to adjust to other teams ability to see, learn and adjust to our pitchers’ pitches or our hitters’ weaknesses? Does this look like this season is done and over for the Jays of 2013?
Thanks and regards.
I will never be able to comprehend this kind of stuff.
Look, I know the year has been frustrating and I guess it’s not very satisfying to hear that the club isn’t riddled with glaringly obvious problems that the incompetent boobs running it are too blind or dumb to bother fixing, but the Jays problem this year has been starting pitching. It is pointless and not close to constructive to invent anything more. The margins for error, due to the poor starting pitching, have been so thin this year that it magnifies all the other failures, but the reality is that they’re completely common to this sport– to good teams in this sport. That isn’t to say that the Jays are perfect apart from the rotation, but holy pissing fuck, it’s not close to as bad as it looks– and it certainly isn’t down to coaching or chemistry. Those are always the first things people point to when they can’t actually point to something tangible. Let’s not, thanks.
Obviously they could use an upgrade at second base and behind the plate, and their left field defence leaves a lot to be desired, but beyond those issues– all of which they could have weathered– the reason they’ve played so poorly is the starting pitching. Period.
And as for the coaches not magically fixing it, uh… you think they’re not trying?
Does firing John Gibbons at this point in the season make any sense? Would you do it? Part of me thinks something — anything!! — needs to be done to try to inject some life into this team. But another part of me thinks that no matter how you shuffled and re-shuffled the lineup, the rotation, the bullpen and so forth, it’s hard to imagine the results being dramatically different for this team — and I say this as a true believer at the start of the season who remains stubbornly hopeful looking ahead.
Timothy Anderson, Copenhagen
It does not, and I would not.
Not only does it not really matter at this point anyway– the Jays are cooked in 2013– but there has been nothing to suggest Gibbons ought to be fired, unless for some bizarre reason you’re going to blame him for hurting Brandon Morrow, then dressing up like Josh Johnson and R.A. Dickey and going out there and pitching like fucking shit.
I love reading your usually insightful articles and blog. As a baseball fan for over 50 years I can understand that things have changed. Players take curtain calls for hitting a sac fly nowadays. However I wonder if you would comment on the antics of the Jays that have irked many longtime fans. That is their annoying and in my mind juvenile and unprofessional HR celebrations. A team this bad and with such poor fundamental fielding and batting skills should not be doing this. I feel this team is the most unlikeable Jays team possibly ever, full of whiners, complainers and selfish players and giving the distinct impression that they just care much.
I would have thought as the team buried itself in the basement that this bush league mentality would stop but there it was again last night. Bautista and his cohort of Lawrie and others dancing and hand shaking in lovely choreographed steps after an early inning home run. The Dodgers come all the way back and hit a dramatic eighth inning HR and do nothing more than the usual high fives in the dugout. Bautista you would think as the “leader” should be the one to stop this but since he is the main one doing it, it should be the manager but he seems oblivious or afraid to speak up.
What are you views on this and what do the silent majority of Jays feel about this, are they in any way embarrassed by it but don’t speak up or do they all think it’s great? I also noticed Buehrle last night sitting beside Oliver and laughing after Oliver had given up 4 runs to blow the game. Funny stuff I guess. Does no one on the team care at all about how embarrassingly bad they are?
Ken in Kingston
Yeah! How dare they not mope around like they’re at a fucking funeral! Don’t they know how badly I want them to win and how little I comprehend the way a baseball season works! And the antics! Why, in my day, ball players were colourless automatons who, in an amphetamine haze, stared at the ground whenever they homered, then went out and got pissface drunk every night and slept around on their wives. Is that really too much to ask of these coddled modern millionaires? They get paid all this money for playing a game, can’t they at least look like they’re having a miserable time doing it??? GET OFF MY LAWN!!!
As someone who is living abroad and has watched parts of almost every game this season I would like to hear what your view is as to why the Jays are disappointing this season.
My thoughts are as follows:
- The manager — I think spending this kind of money and then not getting a manager who has successfully led his teams to postseason success was a grave mistake. Yes, sometimes teams need to learn how to win by not doing exactly that but one has to have someone at the helm with a track record. Gibbons has never won anything, anywhere.
- Having only 4/5 consistent bats in the order (I count Rasmus as one of these). The rest are light-hitting high strikeout kinds of players (ok, Colby is that too but has improved of late)
- Trusting on NL pitchers in the AL East. Often does not seem to work well.
Given my first point — Would you fire gibbons and see if that lights a fire?
Looking forward to your thoughts.
Good lord. What magical powers do you honesty think a manager has? And he’s never won anything? If you’re going to be irate and shitty at least have the common decency not to be hopelessly wrong: Gibbons managed the Kingsport Mets to the Appalachian League championship in 1995, winning that league’s manager of the year award– an award he’d win in the Double-A Eastern League in 1998. And he played a handful of games in August and September for the World Champion 1986 Mets, too.
OK, so maybe it’s not the greatest CV, but it’s not like it matters an iota. I’m sorry, but unless he’s been the one stepping on the hill to start games, the manager is so far from being the Jays’ biggest problem it’s laughable.
And the bats? The Jays aren’t a great offence, but with the seventh-most runs scored in baseball, we’re really going to pretend that’s the issue??
Hey! And the NL pitcher nonsense!
I can’t say anything but that the seasons of Dickey and Johnson have been horrific, but this little trope about guys in the NL being the red headed step children of pitcher, uh… because Hiroki Kiroda, Ryan Dempster, Jason Hammel last year, A.J. Burnett and Pedro Martinez all were awful? Anibal Sanchez and Max Scherzer sure are lucky they wound up in the Central and not the East, or they’d get eaten alive? Bud Norris? Sure has been terrible making the switch from AL to NL with the Astros, right? And Esmil Rogers played four seasons with Colorado, and a half-season with Cleveland before coming here, and now sports a 3.47 ERA in the AL compared to 6.77 on the Senior Circuit. Brutal! Josh Beckett in his heyday? Jarrod Parker last year? Kevin Millwood? Edwin Jackson? Javier Vazquez? Dan Haren? Curt Schilling? Randy Johnson?
Oh, but no, that NL pitcher stuff is totally not complete horseshit.
I think that the Jays should get rid of all of those big salaried players and concentrate on looking for young energetic, eager and hungry players from Cuba, the Dominican Republic and even our own country, Canada — I have seen some teams with absolutely amazing young players who perform day after day unlike our players who take big swings at just about everything instead of trying to bring players on base home, this is a repeated scenario and it is most disappointing.
I think that Josh Johnson, Darren Oliver who gave up four runs in last night’s loss and has not been himself this year (he was actually reluctant to sign on to play this year) and other non-performing players should be got (rid) of and soon. J.P. should go back to catching school, too many balls get through, he is not properly positioned to block them — he is not good at his work and a fluky hitter at best.
Sad that the Jays traded some great catchers only recently that they got in trades, to the benefit of other teams. Lind who was hitting everything and everyone, is not for some reason. Not sure how much of this unbelievable unprofessional performances of this team can be blamed on the pitching or hitting coaches. This has been a most disappointing year. Can’t blame AA, he tried to put together a winning team —- and it did not work for some reason.
Have a great day Richard — sorry I am a diehard Jays fan but this year’s performance sickens me.
Tony D’Souza, Toronto
Q. I’m a little confused about why guys like Braun and A-Rod are not facing the prospect of a lifetime ban. Did Pete Rose really damage the game so much more than these clowns? If you accept his claim that he only bet in favour of his team, the discrepancy in punishment seems ridiculous, but even if you are skeptical it is still hard to believe he caused more harm than the drug users. Considering the level of dedication it takes to become a professional athlete I struggle to imagine that any amount of money, split 25 or 40 ways (plus coaching staff), would be enough to convince them to deliberately lose a game. So who is wrong? The Pete Rose persecutors or the PED coddlers?
Really enjoyed seeing Carlos Delgado get his name up on the Level of Excellence boards. One statement he made should be nailed up in the Jays locker room: “It wasn’t always pretty but we found the way to get it done.” Unfortunately what followed was master-class by the Jays on how not to get it done. Given the hapless record against AL East teams, don’t you think the season is pretty much done?
However I also think that there is the making of a side here. Reyes, Bautista, Encarnacion, Cabrera and Rasmus are a solid cornerstone. Brett Lawrie, if he is given time, will be a Gold Glove at second or third. He needs to turn his power into doubles and triples but he has talent. The rotation will settle down when Morrow, Happ, Drabek and maybe Ricky are back and hopefully R.A. Dickey stays around.
Who do you think will go? Personally I think Adam Lind, who is having a good season can’t wait to move and perhaps Mark Buerhle isn’t exactly enjoying life here either. As for Arencibia, he is the weakest catcher we have had in many a year. I would try to get him to move to DH and maybe try a little 1st base. If not, move him on. There are plenty of better guys in his position. We also have a closer we can trade in either Janssen or Santos. In fact, don’t you think McGowan looks like he has the stuff to close?
Carlos Delgado was absolutely incredible to watch, but… uh… what exactly did his Jays teams ever “get done”? Like, I guess that it’s a nice thing to say, but its pretty meaningless.
As for the roster, I share much of your optimism, but Arencibia as a first baseman or DH? If he can’t hit well enough to stay behind the plate, he sure as shit isn’t going to hit well enough for positions where the bar for offence is much, much higher.
With the bottom half of the order performing so miserably, do you think it’s time to shake up the top of the order ? My suggestion would be Reyes, Rasmus, Cabrera, Bautista, Encarnacion, Lind, Izturis, Arencibia, Lawrie. Bottom 3 still weak but better than the bottom 5 weak as is with the current lineup. Something has to be done with the batting order as it looks like there will be no help from the starting rotation. This year is now officially a writeoff and this season has become a dagger to the heart for Jays fans. So much hope, so little accomplished. Certainly not AA’s fault as we all believed this would be a team that could have won it all. Seeing as we still have a great leadoff man, a potent 1-2 punch in Jose and Edwin and a great bullpen, how would you re-organize the team for next year with the rest of the scrubs we are stuck with? Should we still have faith for the future? I’m not getting any younger.
Non-pitchers hitting seven through nine in American League lineups this year have produced a .243/.302/.378 line, for an OPS of .680. The OPS for the Jays’ seven through nine hitters is just eleven points below that average, at .669, which is right about in line with the Orioles and A’s, and ahead of the Royals and Yankees, all of whom have better records than the Jays do. It is, in fact, pretty typical production from those spots in the order, which isn’t to say that Anthopoulos shouldn’t strive to make it better, but this is pretty much what the bottom third of an order in Major League Baseball in 2013 looks like.
As for reorganizing the club, it starts with the starters and figuring out who will get better, and who the fuck can be moved for someone that would be a better fit. Beyond that, upgrades at second, behind the plate, and maybe even in left– at the very least defensively– would seem to be in order.
Q. Dear Mr.
I enjoy your writing and commentary very much. Thanks for the insight.
I have a question about the selection of pitchers for the all-star teams. One group of people who, it would seem to me, would know a lot about who are the best pitchers are the umpires. They see them every day, frequently and see them over a period of time. They know what they can throw, probably can tell who can best set up a batter . . . all that stuff. After all, they really are not as blind as we sometimes accuse them of being, right? Has anyone ever thought about seeking umpire input as to all-star pitching selection? Just curious.
I’d think that the umpires wouldn’t want to involve themselves in any way that makes it look like they’re playing favourites, but OK, it’s an interesting idea.