Another week, another dip into the ol’ mail bag, as we’re about to embark on a journey together, hijacking the latest edition of Richard Griffin’s mail bag from over at the Toronto Star. Hold me.
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!
I understand that Roy Halladay is a free agent this offseason. Provided he gets back to form (or at least close to it), thoughts on him coming back next year in a Blue Jays uniform?
Yeah, not happening.
I get the pipe dream, because Halladay was a boss when he was here, but I think he’s quite comfortable in Philly, I think that club’s decision not to sell off parts at the trade deadline signals that they’re not embarking on any kind of major rebuilding project in the next 365 days (even though they likely should), and I just don’t see the sense for the Jays in going and adding another major question mark to their rotation picture. And, again, that’s only a possibility if Halladay actually wants to go anywhere. The fact that the Jays hold their Spring Training close to Doc’s home makes them a quasi-realistic possibility, but… sorry, I fully expect him to be back in Philadelphia. And that should be totally fine by Jays fans. Cut the cord!
One game note moment I noticed at Wednesday’s series finale in Seattle. In the sixth, bases loaded lefty (Charlie Furbush) was brought in to face Adam Lind and Colby Rasmus. I know Lind was having a good game and just homered the previous at-bat but with the Jays down two why not bring in a right-handed bat off the bench? Rajai Davis, for example. It seems Lind while still performing well overall, and although I do not have the stats to back it up, hasn’t been doing so great against lefties of late.
I know it’s relatively early in the game and your bench is that much shorter with JPA and Melky out, but I think that was the turning point where Gibby could have won it. The lack of a move there completely took away from a fun game to watch, and from other good moves like the Boni bunt.
Regarding JPA’ s injury, I know everyone has been riding him of late about his performance on and off the field, and it has been blatantly suggested by yourself, and others, that a change in batterymate for the likes of JJ may do the trick to turn things around. That is why this “Melky type knee injury”, e.g. one that cannot be clearly fortified, and JPA’s comments post game regarding the injury make it seem like this was his way of sulking. To the effect “if they think Thole can do it well let’s see what he can do.” I think this is just a mental breakdown and confidence issue with JPA and he needs to work on the team attitude, that seems to be missing from most of this team. He needs to find that chemistry with his pitchers and that seems to be missing. It is unfortunate that he has been written off and is now playing himself into that slot. What is your take on this current JPA development?
Enjoy your stuff keep it coming,
On Gibby, the issue for me is not splitting those two up in the first place. Like you say, making the switch in the sixth is pretty damn early, and it sets up more second guessing later in the game, if Rajai ended up in a key situation against a right-hander– who he is no better against than Lind is versus lefties. So… just avoid the issue by splitting up the lefties, right?
I suspect that Gibbons doesn’t want to mess with the success of Colby Rasmus by moving him to a more appropriate spot in the order– like second– and he seems to have caved to the wishes of Jose Bautista, who prefers hitting third, and has stopped having the slugger hit second– because, y’know, if you have the chance to give Maicer Izturis the second-most at-bats on your team, you’ve gotta do it, right?
I scoff, but I think Bautista’s bristling demonstrates how difficult it can be to push back against deeply ingrained orthodoxies on this sort of stuff. What shouldn’t be difficult, though, is not finding a way to put yourself in the situation the Jays found themselves in on Wednesday in the sixth, you’re right.
The Arencibia stuff you put forth, however, is garbage. His issue is simple: he’s not a very good hitter or defensive catcher. All the peripheral stuff related to his wagging tongue is unfortunate, but as down as I am on him, it doesn’t suggest to me he is sulking or not a good teammate– not that we could have an idea of that stuff anyway. That said, I don’t think for a second he’s not trying or working hard to be better, I just don’t know if he has it in him. And it’s too bad, too, because there’s a reason why he was so well liked before things went so badly off the rails this year– starting from his horseshit insistence at the Winter Meetings that he’d been given some kind of assurance that he was going to be the Jays starting catcher and wasn’t going to be dealt. He can be a likeable enough guy, it’s just… you can’t regress at the plate for the second straight year when your effing high water mark was being 22nd-best of the 26 catchers with more than 300 plate appearances by wRC+, and 25th-best by fWAR. Quality catching isn’t easy to come by, but I think/hope the Jays have reached the point where they understand he needs to be somebody else’s problem.
In the last several games, I’ve noticed the Blue Jays hitting a lot more singles, do you think they have cut their swings back and started to focus more on contact and putting the ball in play rather than swinging for the fences on each at-bat?
I do not.
My question is about Dustin McGowan’s most recent oblique injury. Now, I don’t want to insinuate that he isn’t really hurt, but it seems awfully convenient that a bullpen arm without options got injured the day or so before the club was forced to bring Santos back up, thus having to make a decision on sending either McGowan or Perez through waivers.
Do you think that the cards just happened to fall in the Jays “favour” or is there more to it? If McGowan didn’t get hurt, what do you think their next move would have been?
I think it would be hard to ever discount an injury to McGowan, sadly, and there’s no harm in being cautious with him at this point. And it’s not like he’s entirely at the Jays’ mercy on this. I’m pretty sure he could file a grievance against the club if he was being placed on the DL while completely healthy.
A quick trip to Google didn’t turn up much in the way of a precedent for that kind of grievance, but I suspect that’s because the team doctor has to sign off on all DL filings sent to the commissioner’s office. I suppose that doesn’t mean the process couldn’t be corrupted, but… I don’t know. I don’t put much stock in it. It’s McGowan– any injury is pretty believable, even a fortuitously-timed one.
I’m wondering if you have any thoughts on why the vast majority of players caught up in the recent drug suspensions are Hispanic. Thinking back over the past few seasons, there have been very few North American born players attached to these discussions. I don’t wish to paint all Hispanic players with one brush but I wonder if the pressure coming from poor countries is just too much for them? Do they truly understand what these substances are and that they are illegal? If this is a problem with Hispanic players, what steps can the league reasonably take to fight PED use and not come off as culturally insensitive?
Thanks. Love the mailbag.
I think the “not being culturally insensitive” boat sailed when you basically openly wondered if the players you speak of were capable of understanding what they’re doing. And not wanting to join you on that boat by indulging your misconception, let me quote this for you from the (admittedly not super-reliable) Wikipedia page listing players suspended for PEDs since MLB began doing so in 2004:
“Of the 67 players suspended, 29 were from the United States, 20 from the Dominican Republic, 11 from Venezuela, three from Cuba, two each from Puerto Rico, and Mexico, and one each from Australia, Colombia, Japan, and Spain.”
So… vast majority?
Q. I got 2 questions for ya
1) What purpose is there of keeping Darren Oliver on the roster past the deadline? It is his last season, why not send him to a contender for whatever? I think he deserves that respect.
2) I was wonder how Jesse Litsch and Cooper are recovering from the injuries?
Longtime Mailbag Follower
Kurtis Dunlop, Moose Jaw Sask
1) I hear you on this, but I also don’t think the Jays should have gifted him to some contender for next to nothing. Especially since they can still likely deal him in August, though… with some of his recent performances, I’m not sure how coveted he’s going to be. Ugh.
2) There hasn’t been much news on either of those guys since the Jays cut ties with them over the winter (actually Litsch elected free agency rather than accepting being out righted off the roster), though Litsch’s Twitter bio says he’s still fighting to get back onto a big league mound “four surgeries later.” It would be a great story if he could, and the same goes for Cooper, whose back injury was termed as “career threatening” when he and the Jays parted ways. The odds are stacked against both of them, unfortunately.
As AA’s time in Toronto goes on I like I suspect many others are beginning to cast our eyes on the Jays GM in a very unfavorable light. My question to you though is what others in the baseball world think of him. For instance Gord Ash when he was fired managed to get an assistant GM gig but nothing else. If AA was fired at the end of this year would other teams jump at the chance to hire him? I suspect this will be the first and only GM job he will ever have.
There are only 30 big league GM jobs in the fucking world, so the odds of anyone getting a second crack are slim to begin with– though, guess what? There are rumblings that old J.P. Ricciardi could take over the Mets one day. Bet you wouldn’t have thought he’d ever be in line for a job again, eh? So… maybe you’re not quite as keen to the inner workings of baseball front offices as you think.
It wouldn’t be a slight if Alex didn’t ever reach that pinnacle again, and it certainly wouldn’t be validation of the hate a certain subset of unthinking, pissy fans has about him at this particular moment in time. Nobody with half a brain is looking at him in a wholly unfavourable light just yet.
My son, 11, is a left-handed shortstop. He plays AA ball in Barrie. He has played this position the last three years and, in my view and his coach’s view, excels at the position. Recently, however, some people have remarked that he will have to change positions soon if he continues to play at a rep level, such as to the outfield or first base. Why are there no left-handed shortstops in professional baseball? Are there not advantages to being left-handed at SS, such as the natural motion of fielding a ball, coming across second base, and throwing to first?
Thanks Richard. I love the mailbag.
Being a lefty would give an advantage going in that direction, I suppose, but how often does a shortstop have to make that play? Especially relative to plays where his handedness put him at a disadvantage, like trying to get his feet in position to make a proper throw after ranging to his right. At least a right-hander, when going behind the bag, is moving in the right direction and has a short throw– a lefty going the other way is in a much more awkward position, wouldn’t you say? So… moving up the ranks, as it becomes more and more paramount to make that play as quickly as possible, I can understand why we left-handers end up getting weeded out, or not bothered with in the first place.
Assuming he doesn’t go 10-0 in August and September, what would you do with Josh Johnson after this season? I really don’t know what to think.
Matthew McKean, Ottawa
I’d make him a qualifying offer. It may be a slight overpay, but at least by tying a compensation draft pick around his neck you ensure he stays. That’s a good thing. I know fans don’t want to believe it, and I know some go straight into ear-plugged histrionics when you try to tell them what they’ve seen isn’t representative, but I’m sorry, he’s far better than we’ve seen.
Q. I always enjoy your reporting. Yankees manager Joe Girardi matter of factly spit in face of the commish, and baseball when he glibly dismissed the suspension of his star cheat by announcing the disgraced A Rod would be in a Yankee uniform the night of the day he was turfed for being a ne’er do well.
Who is now the bigger cheat, A Rod, or the Yankees? Who spits more in the face of baseball, and the fan? Sure ARod has “the right” to an appeal. If he loses it, I suggest doubling his sentence. Girardi has a responsibility to put the game before himself, before the “revered” Yankees, and certainly before the scallywag likes of A Rod.
San Fran handled it right last year (with Melky). They have the (World Series) proof to show for it.
Absolute nonsense, and based on your acknowledgement of the fact that A-Rod is entitled to due process, you know it’s horseshit. Can the huffing and puffing and attempting to reduce a thoroughly complicated issue to the most narrow thing possible. What evidence against Rodriguez have you seen, exactly? Oh that’s right, fucking none of it. So why the scare quotes around “the right,” as though it shouldn’t exist? Just because you say so? Sounds like more of a scumbag thought than anything Girardi has done by not going above and beyond, refusing to play A-Rod, and surely getting a grievance from the players union in the process. The Giants played Melky until the day his suspension was announced, and the notion that they’re any more honourable because they didn’t put him on the playoff roster is laughable. Girardi has no choice, A-Rod is exercising his collectively bargained rights, and frankly, it would seem that based on the precedents set by the suspensions to Melky and Ryan Braun, who both also obstructed the investigations into their actions, A-Rod will see his punishment lightened, rather than made more harsh. Of course, we don’t know for sure because we don’t know what the evidence against him is, but be ready for it. Don’t want you falling off that high horse when the time comes to pointlessly blow another gasket on the matter.
Big fan of the mail bag/columns. I, like many Jays fans, have been disappointed by Adam Lind’s performance of late. He seems to be regressing back to the hitter we’ve grown accustomed to the last couple of years. However, I find it striking that he is still one of the Jay’s most effective hitters against RHP (.905 OPS in 260 ABs), while one of the worst against LHP (.553 OPS in 75 ABs).
Conversely, Rajai Davis is sporting a .906 OPS in 79 ABs against LHP, and a pitiful .532 OPS in 120 ABs against RHP. I would think that anyone who can read numbers would platoon them at DH, or at the very least keep them out of the lineup against all but the worst leftie/rightie starters.
What are your thoughts on this?
I agree with pretty much everything here, save for putting an apostrophe in what should be “Jays” (ugh). That said, I should also point out the fact that the injury to Melky Cabrera complicates the issue of having a straight DH platoon featuring Lind and Davis right at the moment. But yes, that should have been the plan all along– and it sort of was until a small sample of Lind against left handers convinced ol’ Gibbers to give Lind a shot being the everyday guy. And it worked OK for a while, but the more the data builds, the stronger the case gets that we believed in all along: Lind can’t hit lefties. And that’s problematic, I think, because as useful as platoons can be, carrying a guy who can only play at first base and can’t hit right-handed pitching isn’t really the best use of a roster spot– and going the platoon route will also create complications, as noted in a question above, with regard to when to pinch hit. I’d be thrilled to see the Jays solidify the DH spot with a guy like Kendrys Morales, for example– a switch hitting free agent who I think would do well in the Dome’s hitter friendly environment. It’s just a whole lot easier to not have to worry about the platoon splits. But if you’re better off using the types of resources it would take to get a Morales elsewhere, you could do a lot worse than Lind and someone like Davis–though I suspect there’s a good chance he’ll leave via free agency this winter– provided they’re used properly.
As always I love the mailbag and all of your work. I’d be interested in your thoughts on the following suggestion to improve the fan experience at the Rogers Centre . . . Move the bullpens to the foul territory, reduce the height of the outfield fence slightly and install another small tier of seats just beyond the fence in what is now the bullpen. I think there is enough room all around, although I admit I have no idea how the fans could access the new seats. The new configuration would result in some exciting ‘over the wall’ catches as well as bring the fans even closer to the game. Another positive is that it will allow the fans to see the bullpen warmups. I suspect the pitchers hate warming up in foul territory but if it is better for the fans . . .
Jason MacDonald, Amherst
Uh… well, I’m not sure pitchers would appreciate making the stadium even more home run friendly, even by such a small amount. And I’m not sure if the bullpens would fit in foul territory– also: isn’t that setup kinda tacky? And slightly more dangerous? Not a big fan of foul territory bullpens, personally. Aaaaand until they replace the felt-over-concrete turf, I think lowering the fences would make the dome Ground Rule Double city.
So… yeah, I don’t know about all that. Plus, the stadium is probably already about ten thousand seats too heavy as it is, so I’m not sure about adding even more. Over the wall catches are fun, sure, but… yeah, no.
I would like to hear your opinion on whether you think that AA will let Gibbons go as manager at the end of the season. I, like many other devoted Blue Jays fans were shocked and dismayed when the announcement came that Gibbons, after a previously lackluster term as manager was re-hired.
If I were running a business and needed to hire a manager, I would look for strong leadership qualities, proven track record, extensive knowledge in the field, as well as superior communications skills — the soft skills that will ultimately lead to success. I know I am not part of the interview team, but it has always seemed that Gibbons possesses none of the above qualities. He seems to let the players do whatever they want, and there is never any accountability for poor play. The starting pitchers are horrible, the team rarely hits with runners in scoring position, and I have never seen so many errors . . . both physical as well as mental. They have major difficulties with many of the fundamental baseball skills, like base running, bunting, hitting behind runners, and hitting the cutoff man. I wonder aloud if Gibbons ever holds any practices or team meetings to address these issues?
I also know that Gibbons cannot play the game for his players, but knowing how many veteran players on this team have underachieved and are way below their career numbers speaks volumes. There has to be reasons why Gibbons could not find another MLB manager’s job after his initial firing, which should have rang out loud and clear to AA.
I look forward to hearing your response.
Be honest, you sent this email with magic, right? Because while you’re obviously some kind of all-seeing management wizard, there’s no way I buy that you’re capable of turning on a computer, let alone getting an email sent to the right place.
I enjoy the opportunity to respond to the Blue Jays dilemma — they were not ready when they came out of spring training — their defence was terrible — their pitching was terrible and their hitting was terrible — they are in last place as they have been most of the year — they had five members of the team included on the all-star team (that includes Gibbond) — they have not been ready since the first game of the year — that is the managers fault!!! Why doesn’t someone say that — Gibbons fault — fire him!!!!!
Brad Hill, Kingston, Ont.
If you’re just going to parrot something you hear on the radio, why choose literally the dumbest bullshit going? Like… maybe take two seconds to think about how little sense it makes.
The Jays are done this season. The least that they can do is to play some half decent ball for the fans who so strongly support them not only at home but in every baseball game away from home — whether you see a lot of Jays jerseys, caps etc. Playing like losers will only end up in a team losing games — some of them very winnable ones.
Colby Rasmus is a good player but he has to learn the fine art of anticipation in centre field like Devon White, the gazelle who effortlessly caught almost impossible balls that at first seemed well out of his reach. I think that players should strive for a level of excellence and not settle for mediocre playing.
Looking forward to see what AA carries forward from this team into next year’s one and what he brings in to round off the current talents of the 2013 team.
Any ideas as to where weaknesses need to be filled in?
Tony D’Souza, Toronto.
Thanks Vince Lom-fucking-bardi, but what are you talking about??? They should totally lose games and embrace mediocrity!
Rosie Stoeten & Richard Stoeten,
Just a quick comment that applies to both Rosie’s article last week about John Gibbons and Richard’s response to a mailbag question about him. It seems like his aw-shucks Southern charm has won over the media, which is giving him a free pass from true objective scrutiny. He is likeable and probably a good person, but is a rather lousy baseball manager.
The only fundamentals the Jays seem to have worked on are ridiculous handshakes — which is fine if you are a winner but rather annoying on a loser.
Anyhow, to say Gibbons has no control over the team’s performance is inaccurate. He doesn’t have control over everything but what he has control over — ensuring good team fundamentals reeks of a minor league manager’s handling of it. This is not shocking as that’s what Gibbons is — a minor-league manager who has charmed you into thinking he’s a good manager.
Compare him to a Francona, Girardi, Leyland and there’s no contest. Further, a good manager brings out the BEST in his players, yet he brings out nothing. Look what Girardi has done to motivate his depleted line-up and Gibbons has done the opposite.
So please present a more well-rounded critique of him in the future as it makes no sense to invest so much money in the team and then put in place a manager who makes it look like an effort to walk to the mound. And in fairness, I will say he’s managed the bullpen quite well, and has managed tough personalities like Lawrie, but the fundamentals speak for themselves.
If you honestly think 30-year-old big league millionaires who’ve played organized ball for at least the last twenty years of their lives are waiting for their manager to teach them fundamentals each spring, I don’t know what to tell you except that you’re failing at fucking life. If you think a manager infantilizing pros who have a shit-tonne more power within the organization than he does, or showing up the front office by benching guys who are on multi-million dollar contracts is a tenable strategy in 2013 pro sports, you’re dreaming.
It’s really, really easy to rage at ghosts, and I bet it really feels fucking good, too. Maybe just try making sense next time. Hint: pretending that Francona, Girardi and Leyland have magic powers ain’t doing it.
Q. If he isn’t going to the Hall of Fame why shouldn’t he make it all about the money? If I was a pro athlete and had the opportunity to make 25-30 million a year and I had to take the juice to get there or I don’t do the juice and I make 3-4 million a year I would do the juice in a New York Yankee minute.
I find it amusing that sports writers fawn all over these guys when they are hitting 40 homers a year but turn on them like a pack of hyenas when they screw up if you can call taking a banned substance so you can make that kinda mega dough screwing up. After all sports is big business that’s how you are making your living you and thousands of others. The Hall of Fame is nice but me I would rather retire with 200 million in the bank it could make me forget baseball in a big hurry.
Like… you understand that lots of awful players took these substances and stayed awful, right?