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Today was the final episode of the season of the Fan 590′s Baseball Central– because it’s making way for hockey talk, since, y’know, NHL rookie camps are open, so we’d better talk about who’s going to end up as the top defence pairing for the Abbotsford Heat, right?– and as an outstanding send-off hosts Dirk Hayhurst and Sam Cosentino spoke to Jose Bautista.

I normally find player interviews pretty astonishingly boring– even, frankly, when it’s someone clever enough to not merely spew out steaming bowls of bland soup, media-trained-to-death– but Bautista today offered what seemed like a pretty honest assessment of the team dynamic that many feel hampered the Jays in 2013.

Of course, I’m surely being naive if I don’t suspect that this isn’t maybe exactly the kind of media-trained goo that I just railed against– it is too close to exactly what you’d think disillusioned fans certain of their armchair assessments want to hear– but it’s worth taking a look at nonetheless.

Asked about leadership and what, if anything, needs to be changed with respect to how the Jays conduct themselves, Bautista said this:

At times we  to be a little more vocal among ourselves, with some of the stuff that’s been going on in games, and to get on each other a little bit. Not necessarily to discipline each other, but to kind of make sure that we’re on the same page as a team, and we’re all pulling the same rope, the intensity level is there, and we’re all looking to have that outlook as a team that we’ve got to play together as a group.

I think at times we kind of just let things go by for a week or two where– maybe you need to just hit a ground ball to get a runner over, maybe you need to focus a little bit more, because a guy’s a little wild, and take a couple pitches, you know? And that doesn’t have to come from the coaching staff– as players and Major Leaguers we’ve got to do that ourselves. But at times we were a little bit reckless, I guess, when it comes to playing as a unit, and not necessarily– and I’m not saying we were playing selfishly, but it looked like we were all trying to do everything and come through for the team as individuals instead of playing with a better group effort.

I mean, it’s pretty easy to have figured all that out after the fact– and, frankly, as you might expect, I’m not really sure I believe it really matters a whole lot. But it’s at least nice to hear him identify and speak assuredly about what a lot of people thought were some pretty clear problems with the club this year. To have the most important on-field representative of the team demonstrate that he doesn’t have his head up his ass, even if he’s just telling folks what they want to hear, seems to me to be in no way negative.

The conversation continued, as Hayhurst asked if maybe the fact that it was such a veteran-laden club created an environment where players didn’t want to discipline themselves too harshly.

Bautista disagreed:

We’re all teammates and we can’t feel bad if another teammate says something to us. And that goes– I put myself number one on that list. If I have Brett Lawrie or J.P. Arencibia or Melky Cabrera say something to me– that I should have maybe run a little harder after I hit that pop-up, and they know I’m frustrated– I can’t feel bad if they tell me. That’s the nature of the game. We’re all out there as a team so we’ve got to stay on each other to make sure we’re focused and we don’t deter from the goal, which is winning the most games that we can.

So… everybody good, then?

No?

Well, he tried.

He also said exactly the right things when he was inex-fucking-plicably asked about the wholly media-created speculation that he might be a player the Jays are looking to move this winter– because, y’know, some kind of laughably absurd dream scenario is going to come along, in which a club loses its mind and wants to trade a front line starter and then some for a 33-year-old slugger, with declining trends in wOBA and ISO, who has only played in 210 of his club’s last 324 games.

“I feel committed and grateful to this organization, and this is where I want to be,” said amid his reply to the question. ”I still feel that the core of our club is going to be intact, and we still have that ability to compete and be in the playoffs.”

Call me crazy, but me too. Uh… I think.

Comments (42)

  1. Andrew Stoeten; Optimist.

  2. This should be required reading (listening) for Wilner and the like.
    The psychology of the game can affect performances and individual play can affect team play.
    We all start with statistical information to analyze but factors that are unmeasurable,affect the outcome.
    Classic case of the sum of the parts don’t always equal the expected result.
    Certainly injuries,outliers and regression can explain some of it but not all.

    Good post Stoeten.
    I concur that with you that the core can compete.

    IMHO
    That 2013 was part of the learning process and that maybe the experience will bring out the true potenial of the Jays,as a team, in 2014.

    • um ya they still need to improve their starting pitching a ton, unfortunately that doesn’t fit into some leadership/teamwork narrative.

    • Just because someone says it matters doesn’t mean it actually matters, Radar. It’s bullshit.

      • The only reasoning I’ve ever seen for why that stuff matters so much is because some players say it matter and the ol’ “You’ve never played the game so you wouldn’t know!”

        • I will never understand why sabermetricians assume that because something can’t be quantified, that it doesn’t exist.

          I’ll say it again. Leadership matters in EVERY SINGLE THING we do in the world. If we have a good leader, we all know our place, we know what to do. We know what we don’t have to do – we understand that there are things that are NOT our responsibility.

          Somebody somebody SOMEBODY explain to me logically why you think baseball players are exempt from this rule.

          • I think the reason people scoff whenever someone brings up leadership is because it’s usually only brought up to conveniently support the narrative people are trying to create. Maybe it’s asinine to say that it doesn’t exist, that people aren’t affected by their surroundings in the workplace, but I don’t think it’s reasonable to suggest that it’s the difference between a top-10 and a bottom-10 team.

            What I can’t past is the case of Mark DeRosa. He’s a guy who people praised for his leadership, yet the Nats let him walk and the Jays picked him up for less than $1 million this year. If leadership and chemistry are such important factors, why doesn’t the compensation reflect that? If the front office, coaches and players constantly claim that these are qualities that a winning baseball team needs, why don’t managers and mascots like DeRosa and Kawasaki get even a tenth of the compensation that talented players like Bautista and Encarnacion get?

          • Andrew needs to read Godel’s Incompleteness Theorem. It’s a mathematical proof that basically shows that it’s Impossible to prove everything that’s true using logic.

      • Yup Stoeten.
        Just because the players that play the game, the managers who manage the game, the coaches who coach the game, the front office execs who administer the game say it matters,etc, say it matters,they must all be full of bullshit.
        But all the fantasy leaguers and the stat heads know more?
        Even the mighty Hayhurst asks the question
        “if maybe the fact that it was such a veteran-laden club created an environment where players didn’t want to discipline themselves too harshly.”
        So Hayhurst is full of shit when he asks about the clubhouse environment affecting the players?
        Gotta disagree with ya Stoeten.I know that surprises you.LOL

      • Well Stoeten, “Someone” doesn’t say it — a player says it, and it’s the same thing that the coaches, managers and other players say as well. If you’re calling bullshit then you’re claiming superior insight to the guys who do this for a living.

        If it’s just ME saying it then yeah, maybe I’m full of shit, but it’s not. If the people in a position to know things are the ones saying it, then you’ve got to come up with a better counter-argument than calling bullshit just because you can’t find corroboration to what’s being claimed.

        If cops, lawyers and judges all present a common front on the topic of criminal behavior, yelling “bullshit” isn’t very compelling as a comeback. Maybe the cops & etc are lying, misguided, or promoting an agenda, but disagreeing with subject matter experts requires more than demanding that THEY prove to YOU that they know what they’re talking about.

        My $0.02

  3. Who exactly comprises the “core of this team” that is still in great shape (and under multiyear control) according to many including Stoeten, Wilner and Bautista????
    Edwin and Reyes are obvious but Bautista (with diminishing returns), Lawrie (with SSS of only last month and half)…. That’s at best 4 out of 9 position players and we havent even got to the pitching (worst part of team) yet. Can someone please clarify how the Core of the team is still good? PLEASE

    • I don’t think you know what a core is– maybe look it up.

      Encarnacion, Reyes, Lawrie, Bautista, Rasmus, Morrow, Buehrle, Dickey and the bullpen. Fine core. Don’t be dumb.

    • Ahh, I see from your history that you’re a troll.

      Adios!

      • Troll? Mmm, I dunno… trolling takes a marginal amount of tact…. I think Ol’DD here is just immeasurably DUMB!

  4. I just hope that the Jays havent turned into the mush team that no matter which player they acquire, sign or draft , they turn ice cold and cant perform. ( Dicky, Cabrera, JJ, Thole, Bonifacio, Izturis, Coco Cordero, B-Magic Oliver, J . Reyes) Even Buerle has regressed rather then move forward.

    Lets get some luck on our side by building the farm correctly .

    • That’s not really a thing.

      • Even if it feels like it sometimes…. ugh.

      • How has Buerhle regressed? We’re you expecting a 34 year old to “move forward” as you said and become a Cy Young calibre pitcher? Other than a slow start, Mark has been exactly as advertised.

    • “I just hope that the Jays havent turned into the mush team that no matter which player they acquire, sign or draft , they turn ice cold and cant perform.”

      When you say something as dumb as this, I’m curious what exactly you mean by “the Jays”. Do you mean our dome and fans? Our trainers? Some bad aura over the city? What exactly is a “Jay” and how does it affect professional athletes exactly?

      • In my opinion, this is how i feel , and statistics and results clearly show that it seems every time we acquire a player via trade or free agent signing they under perform.
        I gave examples of players who’s statistics and willingness to do their everyday job has regressed. You gave examples of imaginary supersticions.

        • Like Oliver last year? Or Rasmus this year? or Mark Buerhle this year? Or EE? Or Bautista?

        • “You gave examples of imaginary supersticions.”

          No YOU did. You are saying some imaginary thing called “the Jays” makes free agents suck. I’m asking YOU to delineate what the fuck a Jay is in this context.

    • ….how exactly has Buehrle regressed?

  5. Moving forward , I feel that AA Ninja status has been modified to Below average GM status. Makes you wonder sometimes why AA is the lowest paid GM in baseball.

    Lets hope he can put together some creative trades.
    I feel that if we signed Prince Fielder we would of ahd the most dangerous line up in the MLB.

    • Edwin costs 1/10th what Fielder costs and has a higher OPS the last 2 years.

      You are an idiot.

      • Adding Fielder to a line – up which includes EE + Bautista would be dangerous in my opinion. Anyone stating otherwise still thinks defense wins games not offense.
        Renew your bus pass this month?

    • Can you not be fucking dumb, please.

    • I don’t feel another shake up is going to help this team. As everyone noted the core is still pretty solid. Lawrie, Reyes, Edwin, Rasmus, and Bautista on offense.

      I don’t think Davis has been a disaster in LF and he may come at a team discount, and we haven’t seen the best of Cabrera yet. I think LF will be fine.

      2B has been a hole but both in house options of Izturis or Kawasaki are playable. It’s not like Izturis is overpaid, and as much as team chemistry is discredited, Kawasaki does seem to provide something in that department. plus rewarding a player for working the count is refreshing on this team.

      C is a problem in my opinion but you’re not going to improve on JP in the off-season, so its up to others to convince him that OPS does actually matter a little bit more than he thinks.

      As far as the rotation, its going to be fine as well. Dickey has been much better after resetting his expectations, Buehrle has actually been consistent as we expected, Morrow will be back, and I figure Johnson will be back for one more season is gonna be much improved. He is not this bad. The team is missing an ace but I think they may have 4 number two’s so its not a complete disaster.

      This year has been a mess but the whole team was new and knowing your role is an important part of playing as a unit. Let’s let this unit figure it out for one more year before talking about dealing from our core. Just my three cents.

      • I feel like if he could just will his OPS to be better, he would. It may improve if his plate discipline improves with age, but it may not.

  6. Will this FO have the balls to land Tanaka? I’d like to see star level talent brought in for dollars alone for once.

    • After the 2013 spending spree and lack of results, I’m going to say that Anthopoulos’ balls are in Beeston’s manpurse when it comes to more excessive spending this winter. Just my discreditable speculation.

      The payroll likely won’t go down, but I can’t see it going up.

  7. IMO this is still a very good ball club. Dont give up people, sometimes it takes time to gel as a team. Going through this rough season may give them a little extra motivation to come out with a strong start next season. If they are last place and in trouble next June/July, then start making wholesale changes and rebuild..again (sigh).

    1st off, they really need to sort out a new solid everyday defensive catcher. and platoon Arencibia cuz he has a good bat with pop and that can come in extremely handy. Get one top end starter (tanaka, garza, santana?). Lose Lind, add one of the young outfielders to the everyday mix..share DH time for the Melky, Bautista, EE. Keep Derosa on the bench. (good infield utility) The only other thing is 2b. this is where they need to have a legitimate competition in Spring Training between Izturis, Goins, and Kawasaki. Best glove with highest OBP. wins. 3b is locked i think its time to watch Lawrie become a star. The kid is what 22? His play of late has been fantastic..bat and especially glove..if he can carry that over next season, hes Longoria over there. haha

    If there is one non-player factor that the organization could change it would be get rid of the god damn astro turf.. You gotta think they would get an extra 10 or so wins from not losing so many guys to injury and it would do wonders for their defense.

    Anyone have comparisons to the defense stats home vs. away or turf vs. grass.. i would be interested to see that.

  8. I agree. I’ve always thought and said that I think this team had way too much going on this season and before to compete. And even though they annoyed the shit outta me for large chunks of the season I still think next year should be better on almost all fronts. Except catcher. I don’t care if they have to resurrect Darren Fletcher, JPA should not be our everyday catcher.

  9. Abbotsford Heat., that’s fantastic. If Consentino hadn’t come along and ruined what was once pretty terrific banter between Blair and Hayhurst I’d probably be more upset than I am.

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