Once again it’s a day later than I’d like it to be, but if you’ve already taken a look at the questions in this week’s Griff Bag– aka Richard Griffin’s mail bag from over at the Toronto Star– once again you must know that I wouldn’t be able to resist taking a crack. So here it is: a most caustic hijacking of all the insanity that dribbled out of the brains of Griff’s readership.
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!
Love the mailbag. Thought I’d throw you a few ideas for 2014 and get your thoughts as to whether they would help the Jays:
1. Is it in his contract that Bautista MUST bat 3rd? I think EE has surpassed him and should bat 3rd with Bautista 4th.
2. I think platooning is the way to go for the Jays rather than get full-time players in the positions that need to be upgraded. How about a Gose/Pillar or Sierra Platoon in LF? Further, when Gose is playing, he’s in CF with Rasmus moving to LF.
3. I think both Arencibia and Thole have to be upgraded. A platoon here might work as well with two solid defensive catchers who have opposite splits against LH and RH pitchers. Maybe one of them is A.J. Jimenez. Sounds like defensively he’s major league ready. Let’s give him a chance. The bar is pretty low right now offensively.
4. Goins could be the man at 2B. Doesn’t have to set the world on fire with his bat, just play solid defence and bat .250. If he isn’t the starting 2B, I think he has a role as backup infielder.
5. Much as everyone loves him, I really don’t think Kawasaki is good enough to have a spot on the roster except as injury fill-in.
6. McGowan as starting pitcher for as long as he can. Then replace him with Drabek/Drew Hutchison/Sean Nolin/Stroman/Chad Jenkins for remainder of the season after they get further “seasoning” in Buffalo.
7. If they are out of contention by Sept. 1, then promote Aaron Sanchez and see what he’s got, sink or swim. I agree with you, the Jays do baby their pitching prospects too much. Has Sanchez ever reached 100 innings in a season yet? At 20 years old he should be able to do more and learn more.
8. Get Mottola to work full-time with Gose to shorten his swing and hit better. This should be a priority in the off-season similar to what he did with Rasmus.
Would love to hear your thoughts on my thoughts.
Howard A., North York
Holy smokes, Howard, thanks for getting off of Santa’s lap for long enough to let at least a few of the other kids have a turn, but… [deep breath]… OK, let’s see what I can do here.
1. Because his season was cut short by injury, it turns out that Bautista had more plate appearances in the second spot in the lineup in 2013 than he did hitting third– 271 to 257 was his final tally– so, as… um… “great” a line as you’ve got yourself there with the contract thing, it doesn’t really hold up. And yes, Encarnacion has been the more productive of the two Jays sluggers in each of the last two seasons, but it doesn’t really matter that much, as far as the order is concerned. The club certainly shouldn’t feel beholden to an outdated view of lineup construction, and that’s what the traditional insistence on having your best hitters go three and four is. Its better to get more at-bats to your best hitters, so having Bautista hit second, with no better option around, made a whole lot of sense.
2. I agree with your last bit, about Gose playing in centre if he and Rasmus are in the same outfield– though in deference to the veteran, I’m not sure I believe that would actually happen (and I can understand why). The platoon thing, though, can’t really be overused, because of the finite number of spots there are on the roster. Regarding left field, as ugly as it was to watch Melky this year, I think the Jays would be smart to believe the removal of the tumour from his lower spine area will cure a lot of what was ailing him, knowing that if, after a couple of months, he doesn’t show signs of improving, they can get by with either Gose or Pillar– or a combination, if they can find space– and shuffle things around elsewhere. For me, if you’re going to have a platoon, I think you’re best to keep the switch-hitting Melky in left and find a dance partner for Adam Lind, who– as I noted yesterday– has been a near-elite hitter against right-handed pitching this year (for whatever little that’s worth).
3. For a team with the playoff aspirations the Jays have, I just don’t know if it’s tenable to go with a rookie catcher with no safety net. And if you’re bringing in a veteran, can-play-everyday safety net anyway, then why not find someone good enough to straight-up make him the starter? Like you said, the bar is set very low, both offensively and defensively, and that way you have Jimenez– who has only played 85 times above A-ball, and sports just a .283/.324/.396 slash line as a minor leaguer– waiting in the wings instead of having the all the responsibility.
That said, while Arencibia has indeed set the bar very low– this season he’ll become one of just the third negative fWAR player since 1995 who qualified for the batting title while playing over 50% of his games behind the plate– he’s durable as hell. That’s a skill he probably doesn’t get enough credit for, and even just a bounceback to the 2012 version of himself would be a very nice improvement (1.6 wins, per FanGraphs). That isn’t to argue for keeping him– an offence-first catcher having a major regression at the plate at age 27, then getting his back up about it in his dealings with the media, truly leaves a sour taste in one’s mouth, especially after the club demonstrated their (wholly misplaced) confidence in him by dealing not just heir apparent Travis d’Arnaud, but Carlos Perez (and John Buck, and Yan Gomes!) as well, over the past year– but it’s to simply point out that improving is easier said than done. The bar is set low across the league at the position, and the difficulty in finding a sure-thing in terms of tangible improvement– instead of simply, say, plugging in someone like Josh Thole– I think is overlooked a lot of the time by fans, myself included, when it comes to this whole discussion. But yes, the Jays need to do better behind the plate. On that there is no question.
4. The defence provided by Goins in his brief cameo has been, at times, otherworldly, sure. But let’s not go nuts. A backup? OK. Maybe. But the thing about him starting wasn’t even a conversation worth having back when he came in and hit in eight straight games to start his Blue Jays career. I mean, this is a guy who OPS’d .679 in Buffalo– where the pitchers are more Ricky Romero, Dave Bush, Ramon Ortiz and Aaron Laffey than they are C.C. Sabathia, David Price, and Clay Buchholz– and whose big league line now sits at a terrifyingly bad .250/.261/.309. I wouldn’t say he’s that bad, necessarily, but he’s not nearly as good as he looked when he first started turning heads, either. Frankly, I think all of the club’s positional contingencies– like Goins, Gose, Thole, Kawasaki, Pillar, Izturis, etc.– are uninspiring enough at the plate that I don’t believe you can honestly, intentionally carry a bat as bad as Goins’ will be, let alone as many as three of them, as some fans would attempt to suggest. Goins showed us how much better this club would look with a real defender at second base, but that doesn’t mean he’s the only guy who can make plays there. There are lots of those out there– some with real bats, even.
5. I absolutely love the at-bats he takes, but I can’t disagree. He’s a very nice depth piece, and you can’t not love the guy, but even the great walk rate (FanGraphs has him listed as a shortstop, and has his 11.8 BB% leading all shortstops in MLB with more than 250 plate appearances) can’t save what’s lacking with the stick. Unfortunately.
6. Uh… not really on board with this one. I could live with a genuine ol’ Spring Training competition for the fifth spot between the likes of McGowan, Stroman, Nolin, Drabek, Hutchison, Romero, Rogers, Happ, and Redmond, but I’m not crazy enough to think that all those guys are still going to be here come mid-February. Nor do I think, if they are, that the club should be risking putting the kind of stress on McGowan’s arm that starting will require unless they really, really believe he’s head and shoulders above the rest and going to be able to stay healthy. Maybe he is and maybe they do! But it sure hasn’t really sounded like it.
7. Sanchez spent some time hurt this year, threw 86.1 innings, and will reportedly pitch in the Arizona Fall League as well. They’re slowly building up his innings thrown, year by year. I understand having a well-reasoned skepticism about how clubs handle their pitchers, and just how much evidence there is of an actual benefit, but not when it’s just, “Fuck it, let’s throw him to the wolves and see what happens.” His 2014 season, his pace of development, and his health should dictate what the Jays do in a year’s time. Period.
8. “Hey Anthony! Hit better!” I mean, I guess I get what you’re saying here, but it’s not like Mottola can work with Gose to the exclusion of all others, but sure, the club’s attempts to translate Gose’s raw tools at the plate should be a continuing priority. It’s just… Gose has now had 2,993 plate appearances in pro ball, and while it’s true that he’s still quite young (turned 23 last month), that’s a lot of at-bats without having figured this whole hitting thing out. And to have them deciding to rework such a prominent element of his swing at this stage? Not sure that’s a great sign. Of course, guys like Rasmus, Lind, Encarnacion, Lawrie and Bautista have all still been making changes, to great effect, at much later points in their development, so I’m certainly not saying to write him off just yet either.
The Jays don’t seem to have a lot of MLB depth with any of their position players. But for the starting rotation, as bad as it has been this year, will have many MLB ready candidates entering the 2014 season. What should the Jays do to the following pitchers: Marcus Stroman, Esmil Rogers, Dustin McGowan, Kyle Drabek, Drew Hutchison, Ricky Romero? Should they be used as trade bait, bullpen, depth players? In order to acquire MLB production, you have to give up MLB production, or prospects that have very high upside. Should the Jays use the remaining innings this season to build up trade value for some of the aforementioned pitchers?
I don’t know if using the remaining innings to build up their value would do a whole lot of good. Teams have a pretty good idea who these guys are, for the most part, with the exception of the guys who haven’t been healthy. So maybe you’d see Drabek and Hutchison get some extra work, if the club was interested in trading them, but I’m not sure that they would be. For one, I don’t know if you’re going to get full value for them coming off Tommy John– that’s a hard deal for a club to sell to their fanbase, I’d think– and for two, if the last two seasons are any indication, you very well might need them. I mean, not those two in particular, to the exclusion of all of the others, but since your list could also include Sean Nolin, Todd Redmond and J.A. Happ among the guys fighting for that one (or two… but hopefullly one) back-end spot, I think the Jays can still do what they need to do on the trade market with a little bit of surplus pitching without having to deal Hutchison or Drabek for a post-Tommy John discount.
Move a couple that way, move a couple to the bullpen, put the best of the bunch in the rotation, and stash some in Buffalo. Sound right?
Great mailbag! I just got a few Jays personnel questions to ask you:
1. Should Adam Lind be back next year? Would it be better to DH Melky Cabrera instead? (not to risk injury playing the field)
2. Is Colby Rasmus for real? Should the Jays sign him long term in the off-season? Problem is that Anthony 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 am 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.
1. I wrote about that yesterday, as noted above, but to put it briefly, yes, I think they should keep Lind. I think the stuff about Melky’s back tumour effecting him this season is plausible enough, and I think the club has better internal options should he fail in left field again than they do if they get rid of Lind, move Cabrera to DH, and then wind up having him fail anyway.
2. I think there is plenty of reason to believe– his higher-than-usual BABIP, in particular, as well as his career high HR/FB%, and highs in both UZR and DRS, despite playing the fewest innings of his career– that Rasmus isn’t going to just pick up next spring where he left off this season and continue being that guy forever. I think it would be foolish not to expect a little regression, but at 4.3 WAR by both Baseball Reference and FanGraphs, through just 113 games, you’ll take a little regression and still be plenty happy. Frankly, he could be an unmitigated disaster again and still provide value through his defence and positional adjustment, but my sense is that whatever he tinkered with this year with his swing seems to have paid off. Maybe that’s hopeless optimism– a look at his plate discipline data doesn’t show much difference from the guy he’s always been, save for small drops in the amount that he swings and the amount he makes contact– or maybe it’s confirmation bias– he was always supposed to be good, right?– but he’s looked pretty damn comfortable at the plate all year, for whatever that’s worth. I think he was the club’s wire-to-wire leader in fWAR, give or take a few games at the start of April maybe, so… yeah, Colby’s alright by me.
That said, maybe you trade him. Maybe you really believe in those red flags about his numbers, but I think that would require a lot more belief in Anthony Gose than the Jays currently have– as demonstrated by the fact that it was Kevin Pillar who first got the call when all of the Jays’ outfielders started to pull up lame. There’s only one year left on Colby’s deal, but I think he’d get you a whole lot more than the talk radio chatter might suggest. Then again, though the similarities aren’t terribly strong, Alex Rios, who had a year and a bit left (at a heftier price, granted) when he was moved from the White Sox to Texas, netted something like the Rangers’ 20th best prospect, so… maybe I’m overstating Colby’s value a bit much.
And maybe that’s a good thing, because the Jays definitely have a decision to make on him– though not necessarily as soon as this winter. Alex Anthopoulos has been deflecting questions about extending his players for quite a while now, insisting that the club has the means to pay a little extra in exchange for not having to take as big a gamble as is required when inking guys early. If they could go into 2012 with Edwin Encarnacion headed towards free agency and still manage to eventually get a deal done, surely they can do the same with Colby. That’s what I’d figure their plan is, at least.
3. I’m sorry, were you in a coma last winter?
I have a couple of gripes about managers generally.
The 100 pitch limit is the first one. Sunday’s game against the Twins is a good example. Both starting pitchers are throwing shutouts through 7 innings. The Twins guy (Matt Albers) has thrown 97 pitches and given up 4 hits and no walks. He is replaced by a guy who gives up 3 hits and 2 runs and loses the game. Rogers has pitched 7.2 for the Jays, allowing 3 hits and 1 walk on 93 pitches. He is replaced by Cecil who comes in because the next two batters are left-handed. Cecil faces one batter who gets a hit. Why not leave both pitchers in until they show signs of tiring, which neither did?
The second gripe is the lefty/righty obsession. In the above example, Cecil comes in to face scheduled left-handed batters. The first gets a hit anyway. The Twin counter with a right-handed pinch hitter and the Jays counter that with a Delabar, a right-hander. At least that move worked. To me, all of this reeks of over-managing and acting like a robot and it really slows the game down.
Phil Ford, Ottawa
You must be one hell of a gambler.
Q. Hi Richard,
Hard to think of this season as anything but a disappointment, but being a baseball fan is always about optimism. My favorite song from my wasted youth was ‘Reasons To Be Cheerful Part 2’ by Ian Dury and the Blockheads. So in that spirit perhaps for a change we could discuss what went right this year. My own highlights:
1. Seeing Brett Lawrie turning into a terrific 3rd baseman. He suddenly seems to be enjoying playing as opposed to fighting with himself (and everyone else around him). Seeing him in the dugout being BFF’s with Adam Lind gives you hope that team spirit is finally arriving.
2. Buehrle and Dickey finally living up to their reps and stats.
3. Edwin (surely this year’s MVP) turning into great hitter and good 1st base.
4. Reyes, as good a shortstop as we have had in a couple of years.
5. DeRosa and Kawasaki, only bench guys but always ready to play when called on. (Shades of Johnny Mac).
6. Esmil Rogers showing he can be a genuine 5th starter
7. Ryan Goins a genuine prospect.
Suddenly I’ve got a good feeling about next season
Anything bring a smile to your face?
Frank Taker, Prescott, ON
I like the optimism, Frank! I mean, I think there’s definitely some work to be done and some faces to be changed before the Jays can call themselves contenders again, but you’re absolutely right– apart, unfortunately, from the thing about Goins being a genuine prospect– that there are a lot of good pieces on this roster, and in your thinking that they’re not as far away as the hopelessly negative suckholes seem to always want to believe. The obvious upgrades– catcher, platoon DH, second base, and in the rotation– will go a very, very long way towards making next year a whole lot better. Some health would be nice, too!
As for other things to be optimistic about… Colby Rasmus had a terrific season, a healthy Sergio Santos is an awesome thing, and as disappointing as it’s been, the crowds this year and the excitement that has surrounded the team has been terrific, and only just gives us a taste of what’s to come as they move on to more and more successful season– and I really do believe those are coming. The Jays have a bunch of talent in the low minors, they have a couple more high draft picks coming in a very good draft next year, which works nicely with a big league roster built for 2014 and 2015. They also have an owner who seems more committed to building a winner than ever– and not out of some phony marketing department benevolence, but through their own financial self-interest. They’ll have a payroll at least near $130-million in 2014, and yet by 2016 the amount they have committed to salary drops to just $27-million, allowing the team the assets to continue to evolve and extend their best homegrown talent, and to be players on the free agent market, all while the talent pipeline that too many people seem to think they blew up last winter starts to fill in all the gaps. Yes, I really still believe in Alex’s original vision, you just need to take a step back every once in a while to see it.
You make some interesting points about Alex Anthopolous’s deal for J.A Happ etc.
One AA deal that everyone seems to overlook is the giving away of Yan Gomes to Cleveland, as a throw-in, as part of the Esmil Rogers trade. As we speak, while everyone is bemoaning Arencibia’s lack of OBP and many strikeouts, Gomes is hitting .303, with an OBP of .355 and 10 home runs. I have heard the Cleveland radio crew praising his game calling as well. Could be one that got away!
All the best,
The loss of Gomes stings doubly, actually– not just because the Jays are going to find themselves looking for a catcher over the winter, but because they also could use a lefty-mashing platoon partner for Adam Lind, and Gomes this year has a .400 wOBA against left-handers. But I think the sting is mitigated a little bit on a couple fronts.
First, I don’t think anybody saw this coming. OK, maybe Cleveland. And credit to them for doing so, and a black mark against the Jays for not, but it ought to be telling that he was involved in such a relatively minor transaction– as what appeared to be something of a throw-in piece– and that the Jays only started Gomes nine times at catcher last season when he was in the Majors. He didn’t even catch 50% of his games at Las Vegas last year either, as Travis d’Arnaud took the bulk of the starts when healthy.
He just wasn’t highly regarded behind the plate. At FanGraphs, when he was promoted last summer, Marc Hulet said he had the ceiling of “a platoon/part time player,” and called his defence “average-at-best” both behind the plate and at both corner infield spots.
Frankly, it’s possible that Gomes is still that player. I haven’t seen him enough or read enough about him to speak with confidence about what might have changed, besides the clothes, over the last calendar year, but Hulet does give him marks for the work ethic that turned a 10th round draft pick into what he called a legitimate big leaguer, so maybe there’s something in that. Still, though, the second mitigating circumstance is the fact that he’s got a BABIP that looks maybe a little bit high– more than 80 points higher than in his cameo with the Jays last year (it’s more in line with some of the figures he put up in the minors, though I wouldn’t be comfortable saying that’s particularly indicative). He has, however, cut down on his strikeouts considerably, as compared to the small sample of data we have on his time in Toronto, so perhaps I’m trying to hard to imagine him as the same hitter we saw when he’s really not.
He still doesn’t walk, though, and he’s still a guy whose wOBA in Las Vegas last year was below that of Eric Thames and Travis d’Arnaud, and well below that of Travis Snider and Adam Lind– more in line with the likes of Luke Hughes and David Cooper. So… I’m not sold yet, on just this year’s 273 strategically placed plate appearances. But I don’t want to run the guy down, either.
Good on him if he succeeds– and combined with the 111 PA from last year, as a Major Leaguer he’s sporting a .340 wOBA as a guy who people say looks like he might be able to catch every day. That’s pretty damn good, and he doesn’t have to do near that to keep himself employed for a long time– as we’ve seen in our current catching situation. I mean, I don’t want to act too much like the Jays shouldn’t feel like they ought to have learned a real hard lesson with this one– it definitely hurts.
Enjoy your insights into the game and hope you’ll comment on these topics.
In the wonderfully multicultural Toronto where I grew up, you would think the city’s professional baseball team would be a leader in initiatives reflecting that status. And yet on a team filled with some of the best Spanish-speaking players in baseball, and in a league where almost all teams provide Spanish radio broadcasts, the Jays don’t. It seems they’re missing a chance to expand their profile in Latin America (and in turn attract free agents).
Buffalo’s first year seemed to be a big success. Any thoughts on the dynamics of this relationship in Year 1 and moving forward, including the growing use of A-list pitching prospects playing AAA rather than further down the chain.
I’ve lost track of Damaso Garcia. I hesitate to ask but how is he doing?
Cheers from Norfolk VA,
I’m not sure the Jays are all that focussed on expanding their profile in Latin America in that way, and I’m just not sure that the city has enough Spanish-speaking people for a broadcast in Spanish to be viable, financially. If it was workable, though, why not?
As for Buffalo, both the Bisons and the Jays seem pretty happy about it– though I suspect Bisons fans weren’t exactly thrilled when the Jays all got hurt and their team lost a bunch of key players just as they were hoping to make a playoff push. But I’d figure most people understand the nature of the relationship, and all indicators so far are that it’s going great. It’s such a perfect natural partnership that I suspect the Jays are going to remain quite conscious of not fucking it up too badly.
Enjoy your writing. Have been wondering recently if as a stopgap measure (before grass) there’d be any advantage to adopting the dirt infield style they use in Tampa instead of just the dirt cut-outs around the bases and homeplate at Roger’s Centre.
Regards from another Expos fan (did you notice Lawrie shake hands with Wallach when LA was in town before the first game? Nice to see)
Tom Wright, Guelph, ON
I’m not entirely sure of this one, but I would suspect that maybe drainage would be an issue with having an all-dirt infield? The grounds crew does water the mound and the cut-outs, so maybe when they talk of Rogers Centre not having drainage, they mean that it doesn’t have enough to have an entire grass surface being watered, but that it does exist for the water that gets put onto the cut-outs and the mound. I’m just guessing, though. But if that’s the case, then there’s your reason why they couldn’t add more dirt– there’s nowhere between bases for the water to go.
I’d like to see a column about the immaturity of many Blue Jays. Childish behaviour seems a basic ingredient of today’s soft, slovenly players, perhaps one reason why they haven’t learned baseball 101, i.e., hitting the cutoff man, etc.
Is there anything more insulting to fans than the perpetual wild-eyed jackal grin of Jose Reyes? Last week he was picked off first, and was then shown in the dugout laughing it up as usual. Losses, a last place team — none of it worries this multimillionaire. And what’s with all the coloured beads and the wardrobe of gloves
I’d have liked to see Reyes and the other stumps that comprise the Sissyball era face pitchers like Drysdale, Gibson, Marichal and others; they’d have spent a lot of time sitting on their overstuffed pants pockets.
Thanks for your time.
Selby Martin, Toronto
Believe it or not, a lot of times when I hijack one of Griff’s mail bags I actually pull a few punches, not wanting to be too much of an unbelievable dick to anyone who might come upon some other asshole answering a question they sent out of genuine curiosity to someone completely different. But you know what, Selby? Fuck this bullshit question, fuck you, and fuck your fucking geriatric opinions.
We’re kind of conditioned to take it easy on crazy old people– which there is zero chance you’re not– and their “hilarious” borderline racism and inability to give a fuck about a modern world that has whizzed by them faster than they can fill their catheter bag, but… holy shit, man, who deserves that “courtesy” when it means being allowed to feel OK about sending vicious drivel like this out into world? Count me out. This is garbage. Grow up.
In retrospect, how would you judge the trade of Esmil Rogers for Mike Aviles and Yan Gomes? Rogers has been excellent in some starts and bad in others and he’s been mediocre overall. Aviles would have been an excellent fill in at SS when Reyes was injured and he is an upgrade over Mune Kawasaki. Gomes has now pretty much become the everyday catcher for Terry Francona’s team and having watched a few games recently, he is a very solid catcher; miles ahead of JP or Josh Thole. Oh and Gomes is hitting almost .300 with an .852 OPS. The trade didn’t make sense to me at the time and this season has really solidified my thoughts. I really didn’t like the fact that AA essentially put all his eggs in one basket in JP by trading away 3 solid catching prospects in Travis D’Arnaud, Gomes, and Carlos Perez in the matter of about 6-7 months.
Anthopoulos did certainly put his eggs in the wrong basket in retrospect, but… seriously? You expect me to believe that you saw, in the five starts Yan Gomes made behind the plate for the 2012 Jays, while hitting .204/.264/.367 in 111 plate appearances, mostly as a corner infielder, the seeds of something going awry? Really? Seriously?
And as I said above, let’s not go nuts about 273 well-selected plate appearances and high defensive value from Gomes. I mean, by that standard you must really be sold on Colby Rasmus after his 446 PA, right?
As for Aviles, he has provided less value, by FanGraphs’ WAR, in just over 100 more plate appearances than Kawasaki. His defence this year has not been well-regarded by the metrics, and his .290 wOBA is pretty much the same as Munenori’s .288. Sure, if it’s basically either-or you’d probably still want to keep him, since it would have meant keeping Gomes, especially since the Jays ended up trading d’Arnaud, too. But again, come on.
And there’s a third come on! Because… really? We’re dismayed about Carlos Perez at this point? The guy who hit .271/.332/.356 in the minors this year? Including .269/.328/.345 at Triple-A in Oklahoma City of the PCL, where his .672 OPS placed him 12th among teammates with more than 200 plate appearances? Who was topped in OPS by former Jays prospect Brett Wallace by .280 points?
Yeah, yeah, at 22 he’s young for the level, and it was his first crack, and the offensive bar at his position is much lower than it is for a guy like Wallace, but… come on.
I’m not trying to try to pretty up the Jays’ catching picture here– it still fucking sucks– but seriously, come on.
I have yet another mailbag thought. I think the Jays are getting a bad rap about not developing players. You see, it’s not that they don’t develop players, it’s that they never give them a chance and trade them off. Right now I think they are seriously in danger of becoming a very old team in 2014. Encarnacion/ Bautista/Reyes/Lind/Dickey/Buehrle are all in their 30s and they are the Jays best players. At some point even championship teams work in new blood.
Who do you think is the most ready of the AAA players now on the team who could step in and help? My vote goes to Moises Sierra and since he may be the most ready, perhaps that makes Bautista expendable to get some help at the other positions. My vote would be a catcher of high pedigree for Bautista. Is this doable? Who will be the Jays of 2017 and beyond if we don’t work in young talent?
Howard Adler, North York
Uh… Sierra is a disaster when it comes to fundamental things like taking routes to the ball, running the bases, and anything else that involves not making mental errors, and at Buffalo this year put up a 103 wRC+ with a 3.9 BB%– equal to that of J.P. effing Arencibia! So… actually giving him regular time in the Majors? No thanks.
And pretending like he can replace Bautista??!? That’s nutty.
Thing is, yes, the Jays’ poor reputation for developing talent is partly because they’ve traded away guys who are now at the big league level or close to it– Jake Marisnick, Adeiny Hechavarria, Henderson Alvarez, Noah Syndergaard, Travis d’Arnaud, Asher Wojciechowski, Carlos Perez– and yes, they’ve made themselves a bit of an old team in the process. But that’s entirely by design. And trying to dump on them for it misses the very crucial fact that, as soon as Alex Anthopoulos took the reins, the club’s draft philosophy became extremely focused on high schoolers– not to mention that they began investing far more into international amateur free agents.
AA’s first draft was 2010, and he took a large number of 17- and 18-year-olds, like Aaron Sanchez and Noah Syndergaard, who both pitched the bulk of this season as 20-year-olds, and who will both likely start next season in Double-A. Some from that draft class are older than those two, but none were as talented, and few have advanced as far. And, of course, the high schoolers from Alex’s other drafts are a year each behind them. There are a lot of long-term project guys still at the lower levels, which is exactly where you’d expect them to be– not some indicator of a system that is broken.