griffbag

Another week, another Griff Bag! By which I, of course, mean another caustic hijacking of Richard Griffin’s latest mail bag from over at the Toronto Star. Happy hunting, 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 askrich@thestar.ca and maybe he’ll select it for a future mail bag. Fingers crossed!

Q. Hi Richard,

Great mailbag! I just got a few Jays personnel questions to ask you:

1. Should Lind be back? Would it be better to DH Melky instead? (not to risk injury playing the field).

2. Is Rasmus for real? Should the Jays sign him long term in the off-season? Problem is that Gose is not as good as I think he is, but Rasmus could become very expensive to retain.

3. Is this team a Alomar/Carter for McGriff/Fernandez blockbuster trade away from being a true contender again? I just worry that AA is just not that kind of GM that will do this kind of trade. Throughout his trade history, he loves to bargain hunt, and he will only make moves to plug holes in the roster (say 2B/LF) instead of shaking it up. I think this team needs a shake-up move.

Thanks,

James

1. In a perfect world, where money was no object, I don’t know that either Lind or Cabrera would be back. Carrying either one means taking on some risk, and if it were an either/or proposition, keeping Lind and finding him a platoon partner would probably make the most sense– he’s a solid-if-streaky bat against right-handed pitching, and he only costs $5-million, if you factor in the $2-million you’re paying anyway to buy him out.

But this isn’t a perfect world, and you’re going to have to eat even more money if you really want Cabrera’s deal off the books, so I’m not sure that’s the right path either– especially since at $8-million for one year, it’s really not a bad contract for a guy capable of what he’s shown he can produce, and a guy who was agile enough to spend the bulk of his time in centre in Kansas City in 2011. But he could also be worthless, or– like this year– worse.

So much depends on the health of his legs that I’m not sure we can even answer this one. He had an ankle problem in 2009 and a thigh issue in 2011, neither of which he missed games for, then in June 2012 missed four days with a thigh problem, so… it’s verging on chronic, but maybe can’t quite be characterized as such just yet. The PED issue, of course, complicates things.

Fortunately for the Jays, offensively they aren’t in nearly as dire straights as they are on the mound, so minimal offensive upgrades at second and behind the plate, and– fingers crossed– a full year of the Brett Lawrie we’ve seen in the second half, would make the idea of maintaining the status quo in left and at DH, with guys like Pillar and Gose around to pick up the outfield slack, reasonably palatable. If you think Melky can stay on the field, that is.

Even if not, how much more money can you really sink into those spots, considering the other needs?

2. Rasmus probably isn’t quite as good as his 2013 numbers will end up making him look, but he’ll be reasonably priced for another year, and we saw with the way Edwin Encarnacion was handled that Alex Anthopoulos isn’t afraid to negotiate in-season with a pending free agent. What he might lose in budget by waiting on Rasmus he’ll gain in certainty. Y’know, sort of like the way he didn’t go out this spring and try to undercut the blockbuster deal everyone expected Josh Johnson would be in line for about now. So, I don’t think you extend him this winter. And if you can work a deal that gets you back enough offence at a position of need and, say, a pitcher, maybe you don’t worry too much about packaging him in some kind of  major trade. That places a lot of import on Anthony Gose, though, with not much of a safety net behind him, so I don’t know about that.

3. Uh… the fuck? You recall any of the trades he made last winter?

And no, they don’t need an Alomar-Carter type trade in the slightest. Could happen. Could make them better. But there’s no reason for a shakeup just for the sake of it– and I’m not sure Anthony Gose is the equivalent of that deal’s John Olerud, which was such a crucial aspect that so often gets overlooked when fans get to daydreaming.

-

Q. Rich,

I suspect you will be getting a few similar questions this week, but I’d like to hear your thoughts on the play of Ryan Goins since getting called up to the big leagues. Is the sample size at this time incredibly small? Yes. Is his production likely to regress? Definitely. Nonetheless, it’s hard to argue that Goins isn’t making a case for himself, not just with his bat, but with his glove and professional demeanor. He seems to me what professional baseball analysts like to call a “baseball player.”

Do you think Goins has a chance to seriously challenge for the starting 2B job in 2014? Failing this, what about a backup infield position? This would likely mean taking the job that fan favourite Munenori Kawasaki is currently penciled in for. If I were to put my money on it now, I would guess that Goins will be starting either SS or 2B in Buffalo to begin next year. Whatever happens, it’s nice to see a promising prospect emerge from the Jays’ depleted farm system.

Dave, Toronto

It’s not fucking hard to argue at all. You just made the arguments: it’s a tiny sample size and major regression is inevitable. This is a guy who put up a .257/.311/.369 line at Buffalo this year, and who, in 2012 at New Hampshire, didn’t hit quite as well as Mike McDade, and hit just about as well as John Tolisano, both of whom were a year younger. Expecting him to suddenly be even a competent big league bat is nuttier than Mr. Peanut’s shit.

But yes, he’s played well defensively. I, too, expect him and Kawasaki to be in Buffalo come Opening Day. Nice depth pieces, to be sure.

-

Q. I just read your article about some Jays having to practise throws to the cut-off man and was, well, shocked that they hadn’t been doing that all year. Do they not do infield practice regularly, base running, bunting, blocking ground balls with their body, throwing to second etc.?

If this is how the team is being managed then there is trouble ahead in ’14. By the way why weren’t Lawrie, Reyes and Lind/Encarnacion practising as well? Not how it’s done, or is the manager too timid to ask? And does Gibbons really believe this team was prepared to play well but just didn’t play ‘good?’

Love your work,

Phoenix in Brockville

Exhibit A of why all the media talk about this sort of horseshit has done fans a disservice.

Griff noted in a column the other week– perhaps even a mail bag– that this kind of drill work fell out of fashion league-wide in the 90s, and Mike Wilner has said on the radio that the only teams he’s seen do it all year are Oakland (I believe just once) and Houston. So 27 other big league managers also are woefully deficient in this area, meaning… I don’t know… maybe save your righteous indignation for a topic on which you have a fucking clue.

-

Q. Richard,

Three questions: How much do the Blue Jays miss Brian ‘Butter’ Butterfield?

Secondly. after reading your interview with Jose Bautista, I was left wondering. Bautista leads, but do the followers follow? We have last year’s Yunel Escobar season-long behaviour which, admittedly, culminated while Bautista was away. But it was growing all season. We have this year’s accumulation of sub-par performances afield where concentration surely has to be part of the issue. Has Bautista been getting the guys out of the comfort of the clubhouse and into the early afternoon heat for practice? Ultimately, I’m asking if the leadership desire for improvement is floundering with the leaders or the troops who won’t listen?

Lastly, Mike Marshall remains outside the purview of MLB. Could the Jays’ organization benefit by at least talking to the man? As you outlined, the babying system is slowing down the process and/or delivering delicate arms primed for injury. Things have to change. Why not talk to Marshall and/or other systemic gurus who offer other ideas? Even Jack Morris, last night, mentioned he doesn’t understand long toss. Whether that is or isn’t part of the Jays’ program, I don’t know, but it is prevalent.

Gary M. Mugford, Brampton,

1. I’m a big fan of John Gibbons, but the almost pathological attention to detail, defensively, that came with Butterfield– and, in particular, his shifting schemes– is something I’ve never understood the Jays letting get away from them. Unlike so much about this game, setting up players in precisely the ideal position on the field provides value from nothing more than taking the effort to do it, and I don’t think the Jays have been nearly as particular about it without Butterfield.

2. Puke. Are we really so bored that we need to bother with the horseshit leadership narrative?

3. EVEN JACK MORRIS??!??!

Yeah, I definitely don’t think baseball has all the answers on the subject of pitcher health, so other ideas should be taken more seriously than they sometimes are. But you can’t really implement all kinds of major mechanical changes, top down, on an organization of guys who are only in the pros because of the success they’ve had pitching another way. It would be interesting– sort of like the idea of developing a knuckleball as a last resort that nobody seems to want to talk about anymore *COUGH*– to take prospects who are on the road to flaming out anyway and seeing how they respond to the kinds of ideas that guys like Marshall are preaching, but that’s about where it would have to start.

And, actually, with the weighted ball programs their pitchers have begun using, I think the Jays have been pretty progressive when it comes to this stuff lately. And really, I think that the issue of guys blowing out their arms seems more glaring than the reality is. Our perceptions aren’t helped by the fact that with expansion and the growing of bullpen sizes, the number of current big league pitching jobs is as high as it’s ever been. Add in the way we consume information, and a bit of selective memory we have about what was really going on in the past, and I think we’re not quite comparing apples to apples when we think about attrition rates now as compared to then. Pitchers have always injured their arms and probably always will– it’s just an unnatural, violent motion– but now it’s just so much harder to get by with diminished stuff, or to reinvent oneself.

-

Q-Hi Richard,

Ex-Jays’ skipper John Farrell has commented on differences between how the Jays and Red Sox approach scouting and/or player development. Help me out here: What was he trying to say? What’s your take on it? What’s Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos’s view?

J.A., Hong Kong

Pretty much already covered this.

-

Q. Hey Richard,

Disappointing season to say the least. Thought at this point in the year I’d be asking questions surrounding Blue Jays playoff pitching matchups and how deep they might get into the post-season. Oh well, there’s always next year, and speaking of next year, I was looking at one writer’s “Free Agent Power Rankings” for the 2013 off-season. He’s got #1-4 in order

2B Robinson Cano . . . CF Jacoby Ellsbury . . . C Brian McCann . . . SP Matt Garza

Looking at those top four guys, do you think AA asks Rogers to open up the pocket books so he can go after one or two of them . . . maybe in our wildest hopes and dreams all four? I know that is probably never going to happen, but I also never thought I’d see Jose Reyes as a Blue Jay. Second base upgrade is a need. AA also, as you mentioned, needs to decide on what to do with Arencibia at catcher, the Jays need to (again) revamp/fix the rotation and Garza is an option. As well they will probably need to replace Melky Cabrera in the outfield depending on his health and the combination of losing Rajai Davis along with youngsters Anthony Gose/Kevin Pillar/Moises Sierra maybe not ready for a full-time role.

In short do you think are any of those four pending free agents likely to be calling Rogers Centre “home” next season? Do they fit AA’s plan?

Matthew Sookram, North Bay, Ont.

I can’t imagine Cano coming here, or Rogers being willing to pay the astronomical price to make it happen, and… actually that probably goes for any of the three names you give that make sense– i.e. not Ellsbury– though I agree that the Jays should definitely be making a big push. Now is not the time for Rogers to decide to be half in– not after starting the process of committing big dollars last year, not after all the high talk about wins translating to dollars, and not with new national US TV money now in play.
-

Q. Hi Richard,

I’d like to point everyone who wants to fire John Gibbons (and even those who don’t) towards Bruce Bochy out in San Francisco. In his 19 years managing the Padres and Giants, Bochy has been manager of the year once, top 3 in voting another 4 times. He has three pennants and 2 World Series titles. However, he’s also finished last in his division 5 times, three times with less than 70 wins and has a career won/loss record under 500. With pretty much the same team as last year, the WS winners are now one of the worst in baseball. It seems to me that give any manager a good team and enough time he’s going to have a similar up and down career.

That’s the rant, the question is what do the Jays do with Gibbons? Fire him now and snap up Charlie Manual, wait until after the season and see who’s out there to replace him, or give him another year? Which brings me to ‘Who is out there if they do fire Gibbons?’

Brian

Alex has already answered this one: Gubbons is coming back, as he absolutely should– precisely for the kinds of reasons you outlined. Judging a manager on his win-loss record makes no more sense than judging a pitcher on his. We’ve finally, seemingly, beaten the ridiculousness out of the troglodytes on the latter point, but too often– and too often because of lazy narrative– the former pervades, slathered with smug dogshit like saying “results” over and over as though that alone should be proof enough of anything.

Ugh.

-

Q. Good afternoon, Richard,

First an opinion then my question.

Double A normally chooses his words for public consumption quite well. With his recent support of Gibby I believe that he has done so again. I read that he said that “Gibby will start spring training with us . . . .” Similar words were mentioned by the GM back in 1989 in support of Jimy Williams but after 36 games he was gone and the rest as they say is history.

I believe that Gibby will have a very short leash next spring and that his fate will be decided at that time especially if things are not going well. In the meantime reporters and sports radio hosts will have to find something else to talk about. (How about ball hockey?)

Now a baseball 101 question. What is the actual role of a “bench coach” at the major league level really all about? We see how Joe Maddon and his guy are always watching the game side by side and seemingly discussing each and every play etc. Then again we never see some of the bench coaches on the other teams at all, and I understand that Detroit does not even have such a coach. So as a ‘coach’ yourself perhaps you can also let us know how you value such a position at the major league level or at any level?

Regards,

Paul in North Bay, Ont.

Pass.

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Q. Dear Mr. Richard,

Svutlana have utmost respect for you and read your column with eagerness that verge on unseemly. Today you entertain questions about Mr John Gibbon and show remarkable restraint. Svutlana no pretend for understand nuance of baseballs, however when see Mr Gibbon in dugout with body language that say he be stoner who wait for pizza delivery, this language get pick up by camera, Blue Jay players and everybody who watch on television include Svutlana who say for self, “What for f…?” Apologize me profuse for suggest profanities, but apparent Mr Gibbon have roll two-year contract that make him able for act like lame duck but never be pay like one. It seem for me that John Farrell look more like lead man than John Gibbon and in age of high definition this unfortunate mean a lot. It be like Flintstone, Mr Richard. John Farrell be Dash Riprock that take chisel jaw, apple pie words and upright posture and go for Boston Red Sox and Toronto Blue Jay get stuck with Barney Rubble. Feel me too much for you for endure this most disappoint baseball season, but maybe you see much humour in it like Svutlana do. Warm regard you too much!

Svutlana

SO HE DECIDED TO MOVE THE COW TO KING STREET!!!

Comments (39)

  1. AS, what’s your view about calling up Ricky Romero? Seems cruel to me. If he bombs again, he’s done. Why not leave him be, to work on whatever he needs to work on, and see if he gets it right? Why put him to the test now, in the Rogers Centre, or away, in the big leagues? In other words, what’s the rush? It’s not as if we need him now – or anyone else for that matter. Seems like a project that’s destined to fail.

    • He wanted it pretty badly, I’d think, so I don’t think cruel is right. Some folks– Blair, in particular– have been saying he’s done with the organization and doesn’t want to be back and probably won’t be. Maybe this is a gesture of good will?

      I don’t know. At this point my money would be on him being fucked anyway. If he can look OK against some September lineups and maybe fooling someone into taking on even a little of that money, why not? If he continues to make it clear that he’s not big league calibre, and the organization can’t get rid of him and keeps him in the minors again next year, what can he say?

  2. I was originally shocked that the Star had printed what was so clearly NOT an email from an English language leaner. Then I read Griffin’s response.

    Thank God they saw though that. What for fuck?

    • Exactly

    • You know, I never thought of it from his perspective. If I were him, I guess I’d want it too.
      Here’s hoping he does well.

    • That letter was written by a woman I took a standup comedy class with. I’m positive of it. Svutlana was her “character.” The sentence structure and everything is the exact same. I had no idea she liked baseball.

  3. ‘He seems to me what professional baseball analysts like to call a “baseball player.”’

    Quote of the fucking year right there.

    Works on so many levels. Say it in your head. Say it like it’s just your run-of-the mill statement. Say it while doing the air quote things with your hands. Say it like you’ve just had a eureka moment. Say it like it’s some conspiracy spun by the media elite professional baseball analysts.
    Fucking awesome.

  4. Ryan Goins is a baseball player.

  5. Completely off topic from this post but I had a dream last night and the blue Jays were playing this weekend in Vancouver one night and a city called Santos Lo viste the other. I swear…

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