griffbag

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 askrich@thestar.ca and maybe he’ll select it for a future mail bag. Fingers crossed!

Q. Hi Richard Stoeten

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.

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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.

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Q. Hi Richard Stoeten:

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.

Reevo

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.

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Q. Hi, Richard Stoeten

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?

Thanks,

Dave

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?

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Q. Hi Richard Stoeten,

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?

Any thoughts?

Thanks and regards.

Tony D’Souza

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?

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Q. Hi Griff Stoet,

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.

Cheers,

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.

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Q. Hi Richard Stoeten.

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!!!

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Q. Hi Richard Stoeten,

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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)
  3. 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.

Dave

Trier, Germany

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.

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Q. Hi Richard Stoeten,

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

Sigh.

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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?

Oliver

Pass.

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Q. Hi Richard Stoeten,

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?

Thanks Frank

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.

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Q. Richard Stoeten,

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.

Gary Teeling

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.

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Q. Dear Mr. Griffin Stoeten:

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.

Cheers,

Blaise MacLean

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.

Comments (52)

  1. “and other non-performing players should be got (rid) of and soon.” For the life of me, I can’t understand why he put “rid” in parentheses. If someone knows, please tell me. For some reason, it is driving me crazy!

    • I thought maybe that was an edit from Griff.

      • Yep, that makes good sense. Thanks.

      • If Griff put them in there, he would use square brackets, which indicate that someone beside the writer has altered the text. So I think either Grif made an unforgivable editorial error, or the writer is incompetent. If its Griff, he out to be immediately designated for assignment and his editor fired.

        Signed,
        Long Time Griffen Mailbag Contributer

  2. These Griff bags seem to be getting worse! If these are the questions selected, I can’t imagine the ones that he passes on. Do you think that this is actually representative of the Star’s readership, or do you think he just selects questions that seem to be geared towards the most basic of baseball fans? A little mix of basic and more advanced might be nice. This stuff is terrible.

    • He said in a mailbag a couple years back that he does not choose the questions. A Toronto Star staffer sifts through all the email queries and selects them for him.

      • Of course, I agree the chosen questions are often pretty bad. It’s just griffin does not have a hand in that… so either the staffer is choosing the bad questions, or the vast majority of questions are just bad and he has little variety to choose from. Based on what we see on the Blue Jays talk, I think it’s the latter.

      • DJF commenters need to organize and in turn bum-rush the questions.
        Anybody out there want to organize? Cuz I’m waaay too fuckin’ lazy for that kinda output.

        • Listen to Jays talk once. You will quickly see the talent that call themselves Jays fans. I thank the lord every day that there are insightful people on this site to speak with or I would be very down about the cognitive state of Canada.

  3. I guess it’s a good call to pass on that PEDs vs. gambling question. Just don’t know where to start on that. It’s not apples to apples, it’s kind of like comparing apple soup to deep fried apples. Neither make sense, making them especially difficult to judge against each other.

    • Thanks. I thought I might get shit for that. It’s just… the punishments for PEDs were collectively bargained, so it’s not quite the same as Bud Selig making a moral judgement that one is worse than the other. And the stuff about athletes working too hard to lose on purpose? It’s not necessarily about just losing, for one, and for two, there have been all kinds of match fixing scandals involving players. Usually millionaire pros would have less incentive than amateurs, internationals, and less wealthy athletes, but it totally happens. And the stuff about taking Rose at face value about betting only on his team to win? I don’t know why we’d do that. And is that to suggest we think Rose bet every night on his team to win, because unless he did that, whenever he didn’t bet on his team to win, wasn’t that a pretty big signal that he thought they were going to lose?

      Plus, the rules about gambling are pretty clearly posted in every Major- and Minor League clubhouse, with the bit about the lifetime punishment included.

      Rose knew the punishment for his crime, and A-Rod and Braun knew theirs, and they were pretty well defined by the league (apart from the extra games Braun got for lying, or whatever), so… maybe he’s right and they don’t reflect the damage done to the game the way they should, but they are what they are? And I certainly wouldn’t support a first-time permanent banning from the game for a positive drug test, because that stuff’s all so murky as to where the line is drawn as to what constitutes a banned substance, how much it actually does anything, and occasionally (at least when users make it their defence) how it entered their system.

      So… yeah… I don’t know about that one.

      • I was talking about this last night. I for one am entirely in favour of a lifetime ban for use of banned substances, but I think that there should be due process around it. For example, if a player intends to begin using a supplement not already approved by the MLB, he has to get it approved by the MLB. They then add that supplement to the approved substances list. Same goes for prescription meds and the like, though there would obviously have to be some anonymity on that one for privacy reasons. The fact is, the MLB is a multi-billion dollar business and the players are its biggest asset. Why not subject them to a bit of a burdensome process whereas they have to get all substances – outside of what could reasonably be considered the norm – approved and added to an ever-evolving list of approved substances? Is it too cumbersome? It has to be less cumbersome than these damn investigations. Obviously this would have to be accompanied by regular urine tests and the like as well. But I think that is an entirely reasonable process to impose on players, and nullifies the excuse of “I didn’t know what I was putting in my body”.

      • Haha now you’ve given that question more of a response than you did most of the others.

  4. The same old argument. What proof do you have that things like “chemistry” and “clutch” don’t exist?

    Anyone who claims that batting in clutch situations isn’t harder is ignoring human nature. Anyone who claims it isn’t harder to perform well in an unpleasant atmosphere is ALSO ignoring human nature.

    You’re free to disagree, but you have ZERO factual evidence that I’m wrong.

    • The burden of proof can’t just be on one side though. We don’t have anything statistically relevant to argue the contrary, either.

    • Clutch we know doesn’t exist as a skill because virtually nobody in the history of the game has a statistically significant difference between his stats in the clutch and his stats otherwise. As Wilner likes to put it, you can’t choose when you get your hits, and if you could, guys would be a whole lot better at this game. There are clutch moments and clutch plays, but there aren’t clutch players who are able to will their game to be better when it counts the most. Certainly not at the big league level– I’m not saying that the guy on your softball team might not get his head in the game a little more when it matters, but guys who can’t hack it in pressure situations are weeded out long before they reach the majors, because every at-bat, in the scope of trying to make a career of playing this sport, is a massively pressure filled situation, and these guys face all kinds of pressures all the time. Clutch situations in games are just not different enough to need to bother inventing this stuff, except that people have this thing where they can’t comprehend random variance as an explanation, and need some kind of unifying theory to explain things.

      As for the atmosphere stuff, again, guys who can’t play with good or bad teammates around them, good or bad coaches around them, will be weeded out long before we’d ever need to talk about them, because it would be a miracle for them to make the big leagues going their whole lives without ever playing in a bad atmosphere– or, for that matter, without facing pressure. There are also, at this level, such massive incentives financially that this kind of stuff about players needing to be coddled and loved in order to inspire them is pretty fanciful stuff.

      Whatever human nature you’re referring to here is simply not in the picture on a big league roster the way you want to portray it. It wouldn’t make sense if it were. And you have ZERO factual evidence that I’m wrong, whereas I can point to countless players with no statistically significant variation in their clutch/non-clutch stats, and countless players whose performances were not altered by playing with bad teammates and good ones, in good situations and bad, with bad coaches and good ones, or in any significant way by it. They may say they think they can identify these external forces as having some kind of impact on them, but there’s not a lot of reason to believe that it isn’t mostly just superstition.

      • This is the best phrased argument I’ve seen for the “anti-clutch” house, so credit to you before I respond.

        I understand what you’re saying. But to put it into perspective, I’m a professional stage actor for a living. My job is to go in front of 300ish people everyday and be entertaining. There is a certain amount of pressure that I have to deal with everyday. But then, there is opening night. On opening nights, we do the same show, but the critics and the bosses and your peers are all there. The result is that we ALL perform with more adrenaline. The difference is that some of us get more focused with adrenaline, and some of us get “wilder” or “crazier” (i.e. less focused).

        Now lord knows acting and baseball are two very different beasts, and stage acting in Toronto isn’t exactly “world class” the way MLB ballplayers are, but they can both involve a certain amount of “clutch”, which I define as one’s ability to respond to an adrenaline rush.

        I can’t find the “team clutch statistics” anywhere (neither BBR nor ESPN have them, and it’s almost bedtime), so I guess I just have to ask rhetorical questions. If the Blue Jays shitty season is all luck, why aren’t other teams affected by the same luck?

        Why haven’t the Yankees had a losing season since the strike? For many years they were The Best Team, the way the Blue Jays supposedly were this season. Why hasn’t it happened to them?

        Why haven’t the Rays had a losing season since 2008?

        Do you think this team AS IS is capable of going twenty two games over .500 next year?

        or…What was Bobby Valentine’s impact on the Red Sox last year?

        • Yeah i’m probably late on this so no one will see it, but that response deserved to be a full post, if not a paid and published article somewhere where most people reading it wouldnt already agree with you. One thing you might want to add if you do flesh it out is something about confirmation bias – clearly Michael Jordan didn’t hit every buzzer beating 3 pointer he ever took, but you tend to remember the ones he hit and forget pretty quickly about the duds.

      • Or…

        2012 was EXTREMELY unlucky for the Jays, in that everybody who approached a mound got hurt.

        2013 is now EXTREMELY unlucky for the Jays, in that everybody who approached a mound sucks (or got hurt)

        At what point does it become a systemic problem? When is it appropriate to start questioning organizational philosophy? This is baseless of course, but…honestly, doesn’t it seem odd to have consecutive years where the pitching has been THIS unlucky.

        • It certainly does seem weird and worth investigating, but without anything to actually base it on, we can’t just assume it’s systemic, can we?

          • Its kind of hilarious people always say why don’t other teams get unlucky? Well, they do, you just kinda notice it more when its your home team. For instance, its yes its unlucky the Jays have had such starting pitching, but its only luck up to a certain point and the rest of it is the general manager and his scouts. They took calculated risks and they didn’t pan out. There is nothing really all that mystical about it. Bring in Dickey. 38 years old coming off 3 great seasons, but regression happens in athletes usually a lot younger than Dickey. So its risky. I like the move, and i’d do it again, but it was never 100%. Johnson. No reason he couldnt have been better. Can’t blame anyone on this. Burhle, hes 100. Not that he’s been horrible. Morrow – great potential, huge injury history. Romero. coming off a bizarre collapse.
            So, taken alone each one is worth the risk, but together – and of course this is retrospect – it looks like they’d have to have gotten crazy lucky to make it work. However, its all risk reward and part of it is luck, part of it is they should have at least got one sure thing, but then again, they aren’t stupid so clearly they tried and Dicky was the best they could do.

            The real question is why spend 100 million on an almost awesome team and then cap it, when for an extra 30 million you could have a much better chance of recouping your investment.

            • I still think it’s premature to call what’s happened to Dickey obvious regression of a 39-year-old. He’ll find it.

      • I’ve heard this argument a lot: Nobody has been significantly better (statistically) in “clutch” situations over the course of a career.

        I’ll take your word on that. But I’m curious:

        Are there not a lot of players who are significantly worse in “clutch” situations?

        This is a genuine question, because I have no idea. But I’d suspect that maybe being “clutch” might mean that you’re able to perform to your usual levels under pressure, where many, many others would wither and fade.

        • You might be interested in having a poke around Fangraphs, who keep a Clutch stat of their own that’s pretty easy to understand (once you’re in the stats tables, it’s under the Win Probability tab):
          http://www.fangraphs.com/library/misc/clutch/
          The summary says that they found it’s not a predictive stat/consistent over seasons but I haven’t read too much about it myself.

    • I also have no factual evidence that leprechauns aren’t real.

      It is equally harder to pitch in high leverage situations, which negates your human nature “argument”.

      I would argue that overall, it’s slightly easier to hit in clutch situations than average situations, because there are runners on base in most clutch situations, which favors the hitter.

      And while I’m not going to do your research for you, there’s a ton of evidence out there that the concept of “clutch” is complete nonsense.

      The chemistry thing – it probably is worth something, but nowhere near as much as people pretend it is. It obviously can’t be quantified in any reliable way, and is usually caused by success, not the other way around.

      • Noone is claiming that leprechauns are real.

        As for my human nature “argument”, I never said it was harder to hit or pitch. It’s not. It’s equally difficult. My argument is that certain players are better “equipped” to deal with the pressure and adrenaline of the moment.

        And your argument about chemistry is baseless. My argument about chemistry is based on personal experience. Neither of us would sway a jury, but at least my argument is based on SOMETHING.

  5. Assuming Izturis plays to his career norms next year, is an upgrade at 2B critical?

    • I wouldn’t think so. Starting pitching should be the main focus, and I suppose catcher – though honestly, as useless as JP is, with even average starting pitching, and the offensive capabilities of the 1-6 guys (hell, even 1-7 or 8 if Izturis keeps it up or if Lawrie eventually pans out) I really don’t see even THAT being that big of an issue.

  6. “because it would be a miracle for them to make the big leagues going their whole lives without ever playing in a bad atmosphere– or, for that matter, without facing pressure. ”

    That is actually not true. Most big leaguers were the BEST in high school BEST in college etc so they were always better than the competition and so faced little failure coming up. The first time a big leaguer actually faces failure is, you guessed it, in the MLB. That’s the only time they start facing players that are better than they are.

    Just ask travis snider or brett wallace or adam lind when did they actually start failing at baseball or facing pressure.

  7. Anytime anyone uses the phrase “silent majority” seriously in any context, that’s when you know they’re a complete fucking asshole.

    • Also true of people who describe a baseball team as a “side”; people who do that should be condemned to watch an infinite zero zero tie game for their sins.

  8. Actually, Gibbons is not particularly averse to small-ball. He’s middle of the pack. On offense, the Jays are roughly league average in sac bunts and stolen base attempts. That’s about where they were last year with Farrell. (I know, it sure seemed like they did a lot more of it last year.) Farrell’s 2011 team used the one-run strategies somewhat less than that and the 2010 team used them as little as possible. Gibbons also hands out a few more intentional walks than most managers, which is consistent with his first term. Sometimes that’s trying to prevent one run, sometimes it’s trying to prevent a big inning

  9. To be fair, I definitely think there is some merit to the NL/AL pitcher thing. Not that they’re all doomed but in general it does seem to be a lot harder to go NL -> AL than vice versa. Even some of the examples you gave indicate that; the big unit, for instance, was definitely great on Seattle but didn’t become an unstoppable juggernaut of death until he went to Arizona at age 35. Roy Halladay was an alltime great in Toronto, but almost unequivocally posted his two best seasons at 33-34 with the Phillies.

    And my opinion isn’t even due to prejudice against NL teams or the joke rules (okay maybe a little). For most of the 2000s talent used to flow primarily in one direction – of the highest spending teams at least 75% were usually AL teams. In addition, lots more AL parks are bandboxes than is true of the NL.

    There’s no reason to think that Dickey and Johnson are doomed to suck, but I think it’s fair to say that they lost some statistical boost from not playing in the NL anymore.

    • On Halladay, let me amend that because I forgot his Cy Young season in ’03 even though WAR still thinks he was better in those Phillies years

    • AL East is a bit tougher for pitchers to come into because all the teams are pretty good and the parks are a joke.

    • Sure, you have to readjust the numbers for facing pitchers, but the other stuff I don’t think it’s quite accurate.

  10. Goddamn west coast swings. The kids have been fed and watered and nearly ready for bed. Just the right time for me to turn on the ballgame and chill out for a bit and…

    Oh damn.

  11. It’s always sucked watching your shitty sports team but fuck me the internet takes it to another level of hell. I had to stop reading half way through… fuck!

  12. 2 questions from Tony D’Souza???

  13. “John Gibbons is generally averse to small ball tactics, and that’s part of the reason why he’s kinda the best.”

    Even after the past week and those two Brett Lawrie bunt attempts?

  14. I normally love the Griffin mailbag piece, but dear god, I couldn’t get past the Germany question; it just became too much stupidity for my feeble brain to handle. Seriously, the manager stuff is insufferable. How many winning seasons had Francona had before 2004? Or, Joe Girardi, who had his one (losing) season in Florida, managed the Yanks to their first missed playoff appearance since the strike, and then magically (after his team spent 8 billion on CC, Tex, and AJ) learned how to win. Or, , who had one World Series appearance, but a career losing record when he won his first title. It’s nonsense. Managers win because of the talent on the field, and at the start of the season, the Jays had 3 talented pitchers who reasonably could have been expected (although, each had large red flags) to put up “ace” type seasons: Dickey, Morrow, and Johnson. And what have those three done? ERAs of 4.86, 5.63, and 6.08 respectively. Six point oh eight. Whatever else a team does and doesn’t do (and admittedly, there’s been a lot of horrific play), if your three best pitchers become absolute, total shitbags, well even the great Joe Torre (only one pennant before being hired by the Yanks, 14 years earlier)couldnt manage to construct a winning season from that.

  15. Tony D’Souza’s questions were also answered by Griff’s mailbag on Sept 14, 2012, April 19, 2013, June 7, 2013, June 14, 2013, and in the recent post. ALLof his questions are of the ass-clown variety. Either Griff gets no questions, or this guy is Griff’s pseudonym…

  16. My impression of Stoeten:

    uhhhhh really……..ok…….uhhhhh whatever….uhhhh yeah………..

    He types how my 14 year old daughter talks.

  17. The thought that day in, day out, year in, year out, one would have to answer these same questions again and again and again, with no reply, no matter how insightful, ever stemming the endless tide of fan-spewed nonsense … that gives me no end of respect for baseball journalists.

    Either respect, or wonder that they don’t just go and work making widgets in a factory or something, where the work might be a bit less repetitive.

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  19. There may not be clutch hitters, but there are definitely non clutch hitters, guys who can’t hit under pressure and choke.

  20. you mean players that just suck?

  21. I hate clutch hitters. Those bums aren’t trying hard enough in low leverage situations. Send ‘em down.

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