This week’s Griff Bag– i.e. Richard Griffin’s mail bag over at the Toronto Star– was a study in extremes, with some quite excellent questions, and some astoundingly infuriating ones (including one I thought might totally be racist!), balanced out by a healthy serving of mush. Not all that different from most weeks, actually, but for some reason I just didn’t have the wherewithal to mash my keyboard into a pulp in a hulk-like diatribe furor, so… one sentence or less is all you get!
Frankly, it’s more than at least a couple of these questions deserved.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org and maybe he’ll select it for a future mail bag. Fingers crossed!
After last week’s mailbag perhaps I could give a little bit of support (and perspective) to those who want John Gibbons out.
1. To those who wanted a big name perhaps it’s worth remembering that wishing for Terry Francona, Joe Torre, Joe Maddon etc was simply fantasy baseball. They were either not available or not interested. That leaves you with a whole bunch of guys named ‘Who.’ Tony Pena? A complete bust at Kansas. Charlie Manuel? Even folksier than Gibby and 20 years older. Buck Showalter, the two-year wonder? The list goes on.
3. It’s maybe worth remembering that Francona spent 4 seasons under .500 at Philly before getting it right. Joe Torre even worse at the Mets. Jim Leyland in 11 years at the Pirates probably only got them anywhere near once or maybe twice. All bad teams? Sure but what do you think the Jays have been plunking out? The best team in the East is managed by the same guy who was pathetic in Toronto even before he saw the Holy Grail.
So is Gibby as good as these guys? I have no idea but I can’t think of one thing that he did, or didn’t do that would have made one jot of difference to this season. So just for once can we stick with a guy and find out now the pieces are finally coming together. He has total respect for his players, the fans and the game. He treats them as men and if these guys are good enough the Jays will win because of how they perform. And because the manager stayed out of the way and let them play their game.
Thanks again, Griff
Frank Taker, Prescott, Ont.
Bang on, but what happened to number two?
Love the mailbag. I just want to join the chorus calling for Gibbons to go. I see a lot of people defending him by suggesting that he isn’t the one hitting or pitching, so he isn’t the problem. It seems there has to be more to managing than the fundamentals. The Jays could be compared to this season’s Dodgers. In late June the Jays actually had a better record than the Dodgers, a team loaded with talent and for whom the same high expectations were in place. The Dodgers’ owners apparently read the riot act to Don Mattingly and he has managed to turn the team around.
They’ve faced injuries, but he has not been afraid to ruffle feathers by sitting veterans, and making the sorts of lineup changes necessary to win games. I watched him the other night. He spends the game on the dugout stairs, leaning over the railing, talking to his players — simply seeming like he cares about what is going on. Gibby on the other hand spends most of the game slumped in the corner chewing whatever it is he’s chewing, and looking like he’d rather be elsewhere. He leaves pitchers in too long (he basically admitted that in talking about Happ’s first game back), doesn’t seem to think about his lineup (you’ve previously noted his leaving two left-handers batting back to back), and his calls to the bullpen seem to inevitably backfire and he seems ill-prepared to make the necessary changes by having someone else ready to step in. Surely a manager with his head in the game has got to be able to get more from his team than one with his head in the clouds, or wherever it is that Gibby’s head is at.
Holy fucking thunderously dull-headed confirmation bias.
First off, thank you, I love your column and it is the only way to get insider news for the loyal Jays fans stateside. I have been a Jays fan since the beginning. I remember watching the very first snowy game on TV. Thinking back I am feeling this is the most disappointing Jays squad ever. Sure the early years were lean but expectations were low. Can you think of a more underachieving squad than the 2013 Jays? Given that fact, what are the chances that we cut the John Gibbons rehire experiment after this year and do you think there is any interest in a proven winner like Charlie Manuel?
Joe in Orlando
The proven winner who just got fired for not being magically able to turn dog shit into apple pie???
I always enjoy your baseball columns, despite my disappointment with the Jays this year. They remind me of the Bosox a couple seasons back, when everyone thought they had a World Series bound team after a few big signings. Do you think that the Jays are in a similar situation? The Sox are winning with the basic core guys they had that year, after lots of juggling, so maybe the Jays can be in the same position in coming seasons if they juggle correctly, regards,
Lee Heinonen, Sprucedale, Ont.
Were you able to pick up any reaction from the players to the Bonifacio trade?
Matthew McKean, Ottawa
Obviously I don’t talk to players, but I’m not sure I care for what you may be thinking of insinuating.
Am I the only person who had a problem with the home run trot of Alfonso Soriano in Wednesday’s game? It’s OK to celebrate but the finger pointing thing was disrespectful to the Jays and if I was playing, I would have clearly shouted at him to tone it down.
Secondly, when will Gibby be fired? It should happen because this team has clearly underperformed and the injury excuse can only go so far. I say bring back Cito because these guys had some of their best years when he managed the team. In fact, he preached aggressiveness and I watched Lind take a pitch that was clearly a strike and could be mashed somewhere. Instead he took it (like most Jays) and ended up walking. I would like to see the Jays be a bit more aggressive at the plate.
Keep the mailbag coming.
Anton Forde, Freeport, Bahamas
I don’t mind a bit of flair, though I might have shouted at Soriano if I was playing, too, but hold on a second here– more aggressive??!?!??
It appears that the Blue Jays bullpen which has been praised as the one aspect of the Jays that was solid, is proving to be not so solid after all with their abject failure the last two games i.e. the first game against Boston where Sergio Santos (who has hardly played in two years) and Aaron Loup each gave up two runs that caused the Jays to lose that game. Then last night the all-star Brett Cecil gave up a two-run home run that tied the game. It was Rajai Davis’s hits and speedy running that won the game for the Jays. What’s up with the bullpen? Have they too decided to pack it in? There are not too many games left in this season, one would expect this under-achieving team to show some fight. Happy to see Brett Lawrie who hit the winning single last night, playing great baseball.
Tony D’Souza, Toronto
I wager they’re overworked given how awful the starters have been for most of the year.
Q. Do you think that Bautista’s recent move to the DL is just his coy way of quitting on the team? Prior to the move, he seemed to suddenly come down with a phantom injury that now sets him up for maybe not playing again this year. Nice way to mail it in Jose. I personally feel that Jose is the poster boy for a number of uncoachable players on the current Jays squad that have contributed to the dysfunction we’ve had to witness all season. I also find it extremely offensive having to watch the ridiculous celebrations on the bench of a team that is going nowhere when a guy hits a solo shot that turns a 4-0 game into 4-1.
Absolute vile horse shit.
Maybe there were no takers, but seeing Darren Oliver lose the game for the Jays against the Yankees frustrated me a bit. At this stage of a lost season, why wasn’t a Santos or another reliever who has a future with the team not gaining some valuable experience in the ninth? I know he has been a good veteran voice for the bullpen over the past two years but I can’t understand why the GM wouldn’t trade this guy at this point for an asset of any kind to help restock the depleted farm system. Did Antholopous hold on to Oliver because he believed the Jays were still in it? Enlighten me on what he could have been thinking to not trade Oliver.
Love the bag!
Aaron Hickey, Sydney, Australia
He didn’t want to give a gift to some lucky team offering nothing, or give the impression he could be pushed around.
Love the mailbag and your other Jays articles — never miss one. I have a question about second base. Rajai Davis was drafted as a ssecond baseman. I assume there is a reason why we haven’t seen him there. However, he hits for better average that Izturis and can steal bases. If the Lawrie second base experiment made sense, wouldn’t you look at Davis?
D’Arcy Draper, Peterborough, Ont.
Lots of guys move off their original positions, usually after it becomes clear they’re not going to be capable of playing there in the Majors.