For quite a number of weeks, Jeff Blair of the Globe and Mail and the Fan 590 has been going on like a broken record about the possibility of the Jays dealing Jose Bautista this winter. I don’t think I’ve ever heard him say that he necessarily thinks the club should do it, but he’s certainly willing to provoke the conversation, and in implying that doing so maybe shouldn’t be quite as tough a move to swallow as most of us would think.

This morning he found an ally on the subject, chatting on his Fan 590 program with Jays radio voice Jerry Howarth, and leading the club’s most recognizable broadcaster into openly questioning what he saw from the club’s ostensible leader this season. And nearly as interesting as that, Blair did so by telling us about conversations he had with teammates who were similarly less than enamoured with the right fielder’s attitude.

Here’s the idiot-empowering exchange, which occurred in the first segment of the ten o’clock hour of Blair’s show:

Blair: I got the sense from talking to a couple of players in the last two weeks that they’d kind of had enough. I didn’t have anybody say the guy’s an ass or anything like that, but I had a couple players tell me it got to be a distraction. One player in particular said– you know what, it got to be a distraction, I’m just going to leave it at that.

Howarth: Here’s what I saw: that, where the leadership went from being positive to being negative. And then that negative attitude– especially with umpires, and his continual complaining, and giving up at-bats. And one time, with a runner at first base and one out, hitting a fly ball to right field, and he turned and walked back to the third base dugout. What is going on here?? Here’s what happened: Jose Reyes, a good kid, a four-time All-Star, he started to complain about the umpiring because of who? Jose Bautista. When Bautista wasn’t there, the last month-and-a-half, that allowed Jose Reyes and Edwin Encarnacion to emerge as leaders. That’s what you want in 2014. And if Bautista can give you something– a piece that you don’t have right now– do it, because the other leaders are in place, and all they need is that opening to take and run with it, and I can see them doing that.

You know what else happened when Bautista wasn’t there for the last month and a half? The club lost the production of a player who, by league- and park-adjusted wRC+, hit about exactly as well as Giancarlo Stanton, Evan Longoria, Buster Posey, and other elite hitters among the top 20 or 30 in baseball this year.

Hey, but he sure pissed off those umpires, right? Which, you know, really impacted how they did their jobs while he was in the game, and led to him only having the tenth best walk rate among qualified hitters in all of baseball, and just missing out– by a tenth of a percentage point– on topping his career low strikeout rate, set last year.

The pissing off of the umpires really impacted Reyes, too! Last year in Miami, before Bautista set him down the path toward evil with his negative leadership, Reyes put up a .287/.347/.433 line, and this year it was .296/.353/.427. CURSE YOU, BAUTISTA!!!

In all seriousness, though, giving up at-bats– which Bautista appeared to maybe do at least once, but hardly any more than that– is fairly inexcusable. Yet… all of this is who Bautista has always been. This isn’t a new development at all– we’ve talked about it for years, and the notion that his leadership, with regard to the complaining, suddenly became different is patently false. And where is the evidence of this supposed influence anyhow? Brett Lawrie, who so many in years past breathlessly worried about falling under the influence of Bautista, played much more in control this season, from what I saw. The lone ejection for Jose Reyes came after grumpy ol’ Bautista’s final game of the year.

The comments from teammates will certainly not stop people from overblowing this stuff, but I think those with the tendency to do so should consider that some would perceive the complete opposite of what Howarth is saying: that Bautista is passionate and hates losing, while Reyes jokes around after losses and is therefore not leadership material.

I don’t think either side is right, frankly, but that’s entirely because I just don’t give a shit about this stuff or think that it at all matters. And if you really want to try to draw some tenuous connection between Bautista’s perceived leadership qualities and the on-the-field failings of this club, good luck with that.

It’s not like the Jays didn’t know exactly what Bautista was all about when they chose to build their entire thing around his contract, what’s left of his peak years, and his personality in the clubhouse. It’s not like Roy Halladay wasn’t a loss-hating distant automaton, supposedly, and yet still is revered (perhaps wishfully, by fans) as a leader. It’s not like Dave Stieb and Jack Morris weren’t prickly fucks, yet still a couple of the most respected players on the best Jays teams ever. I dunno, it’s almost like people have their own personalities and it’s kind of ridiculous the way we assume players on a team will magically, over time, adopt the persona of their supposed leader. And even if they did, whatever is supposedly so detrimental to winning about how Bautista operates is still pretty unclear, no matter how many people think his complaints about umpiring are some kind of smoking gun.

Because, y’know, this:

That would be the great Miguel Cabrera who Twins beat writer LaVelle E. Neal III is referring to. So… yeah, can we maybe just stop having to have this damn conversation every few months?

Comments (177)

  1. Narratives are the best.

    Have all of these people forgotten last year? Bautista went down with his wrist injury in the middle of the summer and wasn’t with the team, and naturally the team played terribly and people started talking about turmoil in the clubhouse, no leadership, blah, blah, blah, etc.

    Bautista was back for a few days when he re-injured (or aggravated) his wrist, but really didn’t return to being around the team and travelling with them until sometime in September. When he did, it was treated like the knight in shining armor returning to ‘lead’ and be the hero. Of course, being September, the team played a bit better and everyone talked about how the team needed Bautista’s leadership around.

    • Yep.

    • The other thing about narratives is that they’re stories based on a selective approach to reality. From what I can see, this talk about Bautista’s supposed lack of “leadership” implies some ambiguous cause-effect relationship between Jose’s whining about strikes and all the injuries, underperformance and depth issues that deep-sixed this season. But there’s no proof to that, nothing.

      But on the other hand, there’s also this assumption that Bautista was out of line for complaining about the strike zone, when in fact he’s had more balls called than strikes than almost anyone else in the MLB.

      (Andrew, I think I read that in an article you once linked to on this page, but I don’t remember who wrote it)

      • @0noggin – I believe it was a Shi Dividi piece from Sportsnet. Also, you are absolutely correct in your comments. It’s just lazy reporting to me. These people need stories and will make up and distort whatever it is to support it.

  2. I recall Howarth saying at some point earlier this year that Bautista was the best leader the Blue Jays have ever had. Presumably this was before “the leadership went from being positive to being negative” – whatever that means.

  3. This shit makes me want to pull my hair out. Jeff Blair has to be up there with the worst of the puck heads we have to endure in this city. He’s worse than a puckhead because he’s really just a Leafs guy — he can’t even be a puckhead in a generic sense.
    Bautista is who is he — which is an outstanding baseball player with a prickly temper. If you think the Jose Reyes — probably one of the best professionals we’ve had in this city since Roy Halladay — is such a little bitch that he watches one guy whine and then decides he should too, then you think even less of pro athletes than I do.

    You know who else was a bit of a bitch? George Bell. And he was fucking awesome.
    Jeff Blair can kiss my purple butt.

    • Blair is so a baseball guy it isn’t even funny.

      • I should restate — he writes/talks baseball in the vernacular and affect of Toronto hockey. My opinion.

      • I liked Blair a lot more when he was just a writer, and not a radio/TV personality.

        • …and the way Blair starts a sentence with a sigh, ugh.

          • I think Blair is definitely a baseball guy. On a day where the Leafs just won their season opener and play another game tonight he spent over half the show talking about baseball. I’m a Blair fan and appreciate the fact that he offers a break from all the hockey talk on the fan.

  4. Well written post Stoeten.It gives food for thought.

    • +1

      Will Howarth criticized for his comments?

      • I think Stoeten just did that.

        While I think Howarth has a solid insight into the team dynamic and certainly has the experience to analyze the situation, Stoeten presents a valid counterpoint.
        Interesting he mentions Halladay, rumor had it, that at the time Halladay left,certain players were happy because the tension was gone from the locker room.

        • While I agree with everything written in defense of Jose, the Howarth conversation was in context of “We need at least two solid pitchers (not named JJ) and we need to give up something to get something. So who of EE, Jose, or Rasmus would you trade”. It didn’t start off as straight up Jose bashing.

          To answer that question, in my opinion, EE is probably too valuable, Rasmus is probably not enough, and Jose probably gets you a very good pitcher. The rest of the augument is bullshit for justifying the trade.

  5. Perhaps some of this is due to Bautista’s culture or ethnicity — and some kind of a gap that people are unable or unwilling to overcome. No question with that contract and ability, Bautista is the best RF option for the Jays if they are to contend next year. Pretty sure AA has to see it that way too. Let’s hope for a healthy 2014 for Joey Bats.

    • I absolutely agree. Like with Yunel-gate, we have a bunch of white people projecting their mores and ideas onto another culture.

  6. So, who are our best trade options when trying to fill our rotation, catcher and second base holes? Not being facetious here. I know we have depth in the bullpen but I don’t think we have THAT much depth there.

    • Can upgrade pitching through free agency, and don’t need huge upgrades at the other spots.

      • I really do hope that the Jays use free agency a bit more than usual this year. It just seems like a far wiser avenue for them than trades, I think.

        • I haven’t been following the Tanaka situation. Does anyone feel that’s a legitimate possibility?

        • But isn’t the problem that the Jays have to overpay in order to sign free agents unless they are a reclamation project?

          • @Tom W
            You mean overpay like they are too Beurhle and Reyes?

            Last year’s trades (probably bar Dickey), didn’t really save us any money, in fact we took some bad contracts, I rather we pay 20mil/year to someone we have singled out in FA then lumped together in a trade.

      • I wish you’d stop saying this. What good and realistic upgrade is there on the FA market? You landed on Burnett early on, but that doesn’t seem realistic. Arroyo? Feldman? Garza? Jimenez? Lincecum? Nolasco? One of the Santanas? (Are you still doing a thing on potential targets?) None are very confidence-inspiring. I suppose Nolasco could be counted on to pitch a lot of innings.

    • In terms of trade bait, I’d be surprised if Janssen is back next year and Santos isn’t our closer. Also, I can’t imagine JPA is back as our starting catcher. That’s a combination of my hopes and trying to decipher AA’s recent interviews. I’d rather trade Gose then Colby (especially if AA can mange a decent extension) and there’s a few other prospects that seem to have a higher perceived value (granted this is based entirely on other people’s opinions).

      Personally I like the depth of FA catchers (incl. Bello) and could see the Jays with Ruiz or AJ. My guess is that the SP or 2b options (I can’t imagine Goins as anything more then a utility guy) will probably be addressed by trades given the FA market but you never know if AA takes a flier on a guy that lingers on the market due to qualifying (like Loshe last year) or age/health (like Hallyday, Carpenter or Santana).

      It will be interesting to see what budget Rogers grants as some high-priced talent might be available – like Kinsler making room for Profar in Texas.

      • Goins has proven he can play plus defense
        and play plus defense on turf.
        Not many guys can say that.

        Not everyone who can play decent defense of grass
        can handle the much quicker speed of turf.
        Some guy named Bonifacio comes to mind.

        Back in the day, when Toronto, Min, K.C. Phi, Pit, Hou, Mon, Cinci
        and maybe some others all had artificial turf,
        scouts could get a reading on which guys could handle it.
        Much more difficult today with only two turf fields in the majors.

        If Goins can hit his I.Q. and if he’s the only weak bat in the lineup,
        I’m good with him being the primary second baseman.

  7. People that are negative, especially if things are going bad, are like a cancer. It infects the others around you after a while. I see validity to the above conversation.

    Coming from Howard, he’s salt of the fuckin earth. That’s means something.

    I’m not with you on this one Beard.

    • How do you replace his production then?

    • Coming from Howard, he’s salt of the fuckin earth

      If you don’t think Jerry has an agenda you’re fucking kidding yourself.

      • Seriously Drew?
        This is all part of Howarth’s “agenda”?
        That’s a reach.

      • What sort of agenda would Jerry have that it benifits him if JB leaves?

      • Wow. I didn’t know Jerry was scheming to conquer the world with Dr. Evil.

        Replacing Bautista? Nearly impossible. But, like I’ve said before, it’s pitching, pitching and pitching. The A’s, Indians, and Pirates don’t have any Bautista’s, but the have consistancy with run production and pitching.

        Bautista’s been a whiny bitch from day one. It’s about team, not me, and evidently others players pick up on it.

        • Pandora’s box, Fairservice.

          I agree with Drew entirely, though. But like I said on Twitter, Jerry’s a sacred cow, so this is how people are going to react when you question him.

          • Jerry may be a sacred cow,Stoeten but he’s not above questioning his conclusions.
            What Drew is suggesting is that Jerry has an agenda,a purpose other than stating his opinion.
            I would like to know what Drew think’s Howarth’s agenda actually is.What alternative motive he has.What benefit is derived by Howarth and his agenda?

            • Something resembling coldness between Jerry and Wilner is fairly audible on air, think that has anything to do with the relationship between Jerry and Cito, perhaps?

              I’m just speculating, but what if Jerry’s tight with a few umpires? Or someone else who he feels has been wronged by Bautista, or that doesn’t have a great relationship with him? I have no idea if that’s the case, but if the Cito thing could be true, it could follow that the other stuff might be.

              But again, this is how people react when it’s a sacred cow being questioned. I’m not surprised.

              • It’s amazing how you pull shit out of your ass.
                Your guess and it is a guess,is that Jerry’s tight with some umpires and they aren’t happy with Jose’s antics so Jerry is now promoting to trade Bautista.

                And the coldness between Jerry and Wilner is Cito based?
                Sorry I see it as a clash of styles of analysis.Nothing to do with Cito
                And I say that as Wilner is getting much better at his play by play.
                But his insistence at including every saber stat with a player, may more the reason.
                That clashes with old school style of announcing that Jerry provides.
                I actually enjoy Wilner bringing another dimension to the broadcast.
                Another factor maybe Wilner’s own ego when it comes to analysis and a disrespect to another’s opinion not founded on his own beliefs.
                I think Wilners trying to be more personable and friendly,kudos for him adapting, but I’ve heard him pushing Jack’s buttons also.Hard guy to respect if he doesn’t respect you.

                • Radar, you’re talking to me about pulling stuff out of my ass, give your history and what you just completely pulled out of your ass in that comment? Seriously?

                  • If your gonna speculate and form an opinion, then I think you could extend the same courtesy.
                    I base mine on recollection of certain exchanges between Wilner and Howarth/Morris.
                    Sorry, but I think that Jerry holding a grudge against Mike because of a 3 year old exchange with Cito is a bit of a stretch.
                    That is unless you have definitive knowledge that you either can or cannot talk about.
                    Mike can be a bit abrasive and arrogant when quoting the stats.

                    • Radar, maybe you should be asking what Drew’s agenda could possibly be.

                    • Drew’s Agenda: Stir up some shit, sit back and be entertained.

                    • Why the hell my comments just get randomly placed anywhere? Is it an iphone thing? Fucking ios 7 shit?

                    • I thought about asking what Drew’s agenda could be but
                      1) Still trying to figure out any sense of what might be Howarths agenda ( as Drew suggests)
                      2) Drew doesn’t seem to want to respond to his claim.
                      3) Doesn’t really matter cause you’d respond for him and I’m not interested in you reading Drew’s mind.
                      4)Starting to realize that Drew was just trolling for attention by saying something that has no basis.
                      5) I realize that I’m never gonna get a straight answer from Drew himself.

                    • Yes, we all know how Drew likes to troll for attention.

                      Keep on pretending you don’t know that the answer is he doesn’t have one. I know how hard it is with sacred cows, but you’ll get there.

                    • Moo!

                  • okay stoeten, i love this blog and you’re a good writer and very entertaining and i have a special place in my heart for drew, but this is some heavy-duty ass-pulling, the kind you normally don’t put up with.

                    jerry doesn’t like wilner probably because wilner is a stubborn know-it-all who has too many “inside jokes” which don’t go over well on a broadcast. i have no idea if that’s true really.

                    i do like wilner myself though.

                    • If I knew anything definitively about such things, I definitely wouldn’t say it.

              • I doubt anyone’s reading this thread by now, but Stoeten, you probably are. There are 2 sacred cows here. One is set up by the Bautista fans, one by the group supporting Jerry Howarth. You pays your money you takes your choice. Everything you said about taking on ‘sacred cows’ could equally apply to Bautista. He’s a baseball player not a god. He may be an amazing baseball player and he may also be an amazing asshole. The 2 things are not mutually exclusive.

            • I want to damn well know this too! :)

              Drew, you know something we don’t? Or have you said too much already?


      • So by implication, you’re suggesting his “hello friends” greeting is insincere? He doesn’t really think I’m his friend? Dammit!! Anyway, Blair’s inherent crankiness mixed with a large dose of pompous bullshit makes his columns entertaining but I don’t think it translates particularly well to his radio work. It’s comes across as a bit tumescent if you know what I mean. He does have a way of getting Wilner going though, which is always a plus.

        • The amount of pulling-stuff-out-of-asses is extraordinary.

          I’ve not listened to every game Jerry Howarth calls but it seems to me that in general he goes easy on the team although of late he’s been getting a bit testy. Could be an outcrop of having to tell everyone over and over again that the Jays have lost yet another game via lousy hitting, poor defence and dire pitching. That kind of thing can wear on an announcer. That having been said, we have no reason to think what he told Blair was anything other than the facts as he sees them. As has been noted above, Jerry Howarth isn’t gonna be shilling for Booster Juice and he surely isn’t gonna be playing right field. If Bautista stays or goes he won’t make any difference to his position whatsoever. The only personal thing I can think of is that Jerry made some crack about Bautista on air and #19 there went and complained to Jerry’s boss. That could piss someone off and ‘lead’ him to say something derogatory on-air. But that’s the only agenda I can come up with here.

          As for Bautista, the calling balls and strikes thing should been stopped much earlier. Umps don’t like to be shown up and they have a tendency to exact payback from the team. Which they are in a position to do. Bautista really didn’t help anyone with the display. I don’t care that he was frustrated and he’s a gamer and he’s passionate and bla bla bla. I don’t care if Miguel Cabrera does it as well. Bautista should have kept it buttoned and it didn’t help his team that he didn’t.

    • I am with Gruber on this as well. Jerry is one of the most positive guys around the Blue Jays media. His comments on Bautisa and Lind said a lot and he travels with the team.

      Did anyone on see Brandon Phillips come out after the game last and put the lose on him. That is leadership people. I would like to hear some of the Jays do that. I could be wrong, but RA Dickey seems to be the only one to say was not a good year.

      I would love to get a guy like Brandon Phillips, Russell Martin and Nick Swisher on team with the current guys and see what happens.

    • Jays icon and HOFer Tom Cheek and Jerry were not necessarily best buds.

      I like Jerry and his calls, for the most part, as I listen to way more games than I watch. But he certainly has his flaws.

      Hard to say he is the salt of the earth.

      I thought Tom was the salt of the earth.

  8. I do think that things like “leadership” and “culture” CAN provide marginal improvements to a team’s overall performance.

    Would the supposed improvement of leadership and culture make up for the subtraction of Bautista’s talent? Absolutely not.

    *IF* his “antics” are causing problems with certain players on the team, then perhaps some of his peers should speak with him about it, rather than a manager or general manager.

    • What antics? Arguing with an ump? They all do that – we’re only discussing frequency. Who cares if he argues a bit more than the average? Not running out a fly ball? Yeah I hate seeing that as a wannabee player, but let’s face it, plenty of them do that at some point.

  9. OT if we’re cheering against unbalanced schedule beneficiaries, then go Rays. Didn’t the Indians run roughshod over the Twins and White Sox this year.

  10. For Mr. Positivity Jerry Howarth to rip a player in public, there is something wrong that needs to be addressed. You don’t just sweep it under the rug.

    That said, you only deal Bautista if get a heck of an offer. He’s no longer int he same league as Miggy, but he’s still a damn fine player. For example, if Texas were willing to offer a package of Profar and a decent starter, the Jays would be wise to take it.

  11. Just get rid of umpires calling balls and strikes. No excuses anymore.

  12. I think it’s time we quit giving the Boston media a hard time. These jokers did their best to run the best SS in the AL by fWAR out of town last year, now they have Bats in their sights? Thanks for helping out brosefs, I can’t wait to cheer for the shitty, gritty team, you’re pushing for.

  13. I like Reyes & Encarnacion’s leadership as well. Bautista just has to get used to the fact that the world is bigger than him, that’s all

    It’s tough to transform from the only thing there is into a selfless team player; Iit all depends on how much these guys want to win. That’s why aging vets are great pick-ups, because their egos have settled to a place where they realize the opportunity they have and just want to win the championship & let the rest take care of itself (see Boston Celtics 2008, even Miami Heat 2013). Players got to sacrifice some things for the greater good.

    Unfortunately it takes some losing to figure that out, hopefully this year has been some bitter medicine

  14. And here is the ridiculous undercurrent behind the trade Bautista talk finally coming into the open.

    Blair has been taking shots at Jose for months like this and Howarth was even insinuating it at the end of the season there too (There was one moment particularly when Bautista was blamed by Jerry for Reyes getting ejected).

    Why does this city’s media do this to their best players?

    • I will say this really isn’t something particular to Toronto media, though. When things go to shit everywhere, the best players are often targeted and baseless narratives are created to explain what those players are doing wrong.

    • There seems to be a correlation with the media doing this to the best of the city’s players and those players being not exactly media darlings. I wonder how accessible Bautista is to some members of the media?

      • Who knows? Drew would probably be in a better position to answer that question than anybody here, as he’s dealt with Bautista and observed his conduct with other media members.

        I can’t speak to whether Bautista deserves any of the shit he gets, but it does seem like it doesn’t take much to get them to turn on you. All it took with Jose was a bit of a decline in production from his absurd 2011. This is the same city, after all, that attacked Mats Sundin for over a decade as a guy who couldn’t lead almost entirely because his team lacked talent.

  15. I think, after two injury-shortened (but still good) seasons, he’s worth more to us on the team than he is as a trade piece.

    Hindsight is 20/20 and we all know now that Bautista’s trade value was highest going into the 2012 season. Most people would have called AA crazy to deal him then, and they would have been absolutely correct.

    Keep him, spend some dough on FA pitching and pray that everyone stays healthy and has a career average (or better) season. That should be enough to get us where we need to be.

  16. Know what was a bigger distraction? Being pumped as contenders and shitting the bed from day one. Shut up and play better baseball unnamed sources.

  17. I thought a player’s “character” was a big thing for AA? If this was an actual issue, it’s the kind of thing that has made dump a player in the past. right?

    Reference the Yunel Escobar eye black controversy and how AA dumped him on the Marlins, even though Miami didn’t want him {or specifically his salary}. He would have been a great choice to play 2B for the Jays this year, hey?

    • Escobar would have been an even better choice to play SS. He’s a far superior defensive player to Reyes. Reyes would have been the one to move to 2B if they had both (one would assume and hope).

      As it stands now, the Rays are getting a heck of a deal with him.

      • I don’t think you bring Reyes in and ask him to move to 2B. With Escobar’s eye black gaffe, the Jays would have been in a position to ask him to move to 2B. If he puts up a fuss, at least the Jays had more control as to where he ended up via trade, rather than dumping him on Miami and having him end up back in the AL East.

        And while it is not ideal (with Escobar being the better SS), it has happened before (see Jeter, Derek).

        Hindsight though. Speaking of which – it’s really sad that 2013 had me wishing the Jays kept Jeff Mathis (how sad is that?).

        • If you want to prevent runs and win baseball games, the best approach to doing that would have been keeping Yunel Escobar and moving Jose Reyes to 2B. Defensively, it’s a much better formation.

          Now I grant that such a situation would have been unlikely, but that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t make sense.

      • that right there could have made quite a difference … and you below, JM … he DID NOT do THAT … and those homophobic media guys in Toronto who played that weak angle up to the skies. Sheeeiiitt! It is miles from “You are a Mary” to f_____t and even further to n____r … get a grip folks. That there was a tragedy for the team. The chicken-shit fan who brought it out in spite of his own realization that MAYBE this would turn out badly. I wonder how he looks to himself in a mirror these days.

        Ditto all of this for the PEDophobes.

    • Would you want him on your team if he wrote the n-word in his eye black? I think he’s a moral degenerate and I’m glad he’s gone.

      Both Joses though, they both need to stay and keep being their awesome selves.

      • If he’s a good baseball player that provides good value to a team at a reasonable price, yes, I’d want him on my team. If you want a model of how this can work, check out the Rays this season.

        And this discussion has been had before, but I also think it’s quite ridiculous for anybody to be calling Yunel Escobar is a “moral degenerate” because he wrote a derogatory term on his eyeblack as a clubhouse joke. Are Edwin Encarnacion and Omar Vizquel also moral degenerates because they defended him and his use of the phrase? The guy is simply ignorant and a product of a macho culture that prevails not only in baseball, but in all professional sports.

  18. So just out of curiousity i was adding up some baseball-reference WAR from the Tradess AA made in the last year or so, marlins, dickey, delebar, Happ, lincoln, santos, rogers/gomes, etc. Obviously this doesnt count all the players that haven’t played in the majors, which is alot of the value given away. For 20123 it ends up about equal, for players traded away against players brought in, but I’m more cuirous how this will look in 2014. Also I would be curious how the WAR would have changed this year if they stood pat with last years roster, so then guy like mathis and a bit of Darnaud taking games away from JPA, escobar and kelley johnson instead of reyes/kawsaki and the shit platter at 2b. But I ended up not adding this up, as I should probably be working instead.

  19. What a shitty year. I wish we won more games. Hey, I know, let’s blame one of the players most responsible for winning games.

  20. If another play on the team said it was a distraction to him, then, guess what….it WAS a distraction whether it should have been or not.

    Would such a “distraction” warrant him to be traded for anything short of full value? No.

    But lets at least acknowledge that we know less about leadership and all that BS than players who are actually on the team.

    • Exactly.

    • I don’t think we get a lot of context for the comment, so it’s hard to swallow it so whole hog for me. Lots of guys with lots of opinions in the room, and it only takes one to make it sound like it’s a much bigger thing that it was.

  21. This is a ridiculous post.

    Is Jeff Blair lying about players losing respect for Jose?

    And what on gods green earth is Howarths agenda?

    Maybe its actually time for Bautista to go.

  22. The more I read that conversation, the more it all materializes for me. Jose looked like a cranky sum bitch. Even when things are going well. If your team leader sets the tone in the club house and in the dugout like that, you feel like you are walking on eggshells. You know what happens when you walk on eggshells, you don’t feel comfortable.

    We have all played on teams where a certain shifty culture prevails. I hated it. Then you play on other teams where you feel you can be yourself. I really believe there is merit to this.

    By the way, I saw the Pirates in Spring Training, and my jaw dropped at how loose and fun these guys were.

    Chemistry, it’s alive and well……….. just look at teams playing in the playoffs.

    I’d take two journeyman, established pitchers for Jose in a heartbeat. Doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate what’s he’s done, but hey, it’s business too.

  23. Anybody who have played competitive team sports (at any level) would know that it takes more than just stats to win championships. Just look at our Blue Jays this past season. What I have witnessed from afar is that Bautista did not have the qualities that you would want from a team leader (incessant bitching about the strike zone, showing up umpires, etc). Edwin Encarnacion’s demeanor and approach to the game is that of a true leader.Always calm, and never outwardly shows up the umpires (even when the call goes against him).

    But then again, there are fans that think the numbers alone bring championships.

    • @Ed……………you get it my friend.

    • Talent is far more important, but you’re 100% right. Saying attitude, chemistry and leadership mean nothing is just as dumb as saying they mean everything.

      • True.

        I just look at a paltry hitting lineup like the A’s.

        The put up enough runs though, but play as a team and stay consistent.

        And the pitching……

        So, I would say they even lean a little more towards chemistry…

    • No, it takes talent and max effort. Everything else just feels like it matters.

      • It’s just hilarious the twists and turns people make to try to make it seem like they have any clue about this stuff, or think that it matters. Vernon Wells was the quiet type, but not a leader. Edwin Encarnacion is the quiet type– huge leader! Bautista is a noisy distraction with his complaining and not a leader. Every single other person ever to act like this: passionate leader.

        Oh, but they can pretend they have any idea how much I’ve played anything, and that whatever warped perceptions they were too dumb to figure out were warped while playing rec league hockey when they were 17 are totally exactly proof that ghosts exist.

  24. this ‘leadership’ stuff is just noise… but I honestly think they should consider trading bautista. his ops+ the last 4 years 2010-164, 2011-182, 2012-138, 2013-132… I’ m starting to think his perceived value may exceed his actual value. sure looks like the decline phase is starting…

    make no mistake this team is built to win now… so you’d have be able to add a couple guys that could help now from RF, 2B, C, SP… I wouldn’t be dumping bautista for the sake of dumping him… but if the right offer came along I would give it serious consideration.

  25. On what fucking planet is Bautista the problem with this team.? He wins baseball games for the Jays. He doesn’t have to do that AND be the best leader guy in the clubhouse AND play nice with the umps. It’s Bautista’s fault the pitching sucked, the defense was mediocre at best and a bunch of guys got hurt? Trading him would be an utterly dumb move unless another team wants to overpay a ton for him. I’m starting to understand the problems people have with the idea of chemistry.

  26. I could give a fuck about attitude and leadership, it has no influence over wins and losses. You trade Bautista because he is declining not because he’s an asshole. Talent wins not attitude, and if you can get a package of players with a Profar type headliner in it with some pitching, you have to seriously consider it.

  27. Wow, interesting. Jeff Blair can say what he likes but Jerry Howarth is part of the team. And it’s not like this is his first year in radio. In general he’s careful what he says about all of them. I can’t believe he all of a sudden gets ‘lead’ into saying stuff like that. So I think Bautista gets traded this off-season. Or at least dangled around. The issue of clubhouse chemistry gets argued about all the time. The Sox must have had wonderful chemistry a couple of years ago when they all felt relaxed enough to guzzle fried chicken and wings in the clubhouse during the games. But they went to shit anyway.

    Griffin mentioned a couple of days ago that Gibbons had alluded to ‘tension in the clubhouse during the first half of the season’. I couldn’t find any other reference to him saying that so if any of you guys have it please let me know what he actually said. For my part if Bautista stays and hits well, good. If he’s dealt for something that really helps us, also good.

  28. Andrew whatever the reasoning behind this article, Jeff Blair doesn’t understand the definition of the word leadership. It has been my experiences in life that the greatest leaders in history were both positive and negative. The positive when you agreed with them and negative when not agreeing, that is simple enough. When two unnamed and anonymous players talk to Blair then its typical media bluff and not worth the paper it is written on.
    When media people quote unnamed sources then the red flag should be flown. Anything written or spoken of in the media without a name to it is complete and absolute baloney.

    Had the teammates been named it would permit further discussion on the subject and without that, his article is complete fiction. Also the teammates would be on the next bus out of town courtesy of the Blue Jays.

  29. I do recall Jeff Blair writing at the end of last season for Jays fans to expect 2 of the “Lansing 3″ pitchers to be gone via trade. Argue all you want about his Bautista predictions, but he has shown in the past to be somewhat connected to what the Jays strategists are thinking. Whether they actually do anything is another matter.

  30. Bautista is a whiny, petulant baby. Anyone could see this. Does it matter in the grand scheme of things? Probably not. Am I pretty much sick of watching his act? Yup.

    I’d trade him for 2 very good pieces or 3 good pieces. Plenty of holes to fill and possibly plenty of decline on the way from Jose.

    He’s great, no argument, but it’s tough to be a big fan of his.

    • I found myself having a hard time being a fan of any of the Lord Vista flashing exhibitionists.

      I certainly liked De Ro and Reyes a lot.

      Funny how that connection is important to us the fans.

    • JB should be traded no later than next year’s trade deadline. I would take two excellent players for him. I think Texas would be a good trading partner or the DBacks based on mutual needs.

  31. Will somebody (Stoeten?) please explain to me why you think baseball players, unlike the rest of the world, are unaffected by leadership?

    • Because!!!!!

    • Check the archives.

      • The only real explanation I’ve heard in response to this is “we can’t quantify it”.
        Baseball players travel with each other, eat with each other and room with each other. They sometimes coach each other, and in some cases, compete for each others’ jobs.
        We have no way of knowing 100% whether players feel resentment towards Bautista, but if Blair has a source who says as much (and we have no reason to call him a liar), then this is a big enough problem for a guy to talk to A SPORTS TALK SHOW HOST about, and therefore probably an issue in the clubhouse.
        I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. It’s SO naive to write off “leadership”, “clutch” and all the other unquantifiable intangibles that stat geeks tend to ridicule.

        • Then you haven’t really been paying attention.

          Leadership is a thing, it just cannot possibly exist in the way that people suggest it does, so it gets ridiculed when people pretend this nebulous word is a fair stand in for some kind of catch-all winner-building magic.

          Clutch deserves the ridicule. It’s been proven to not statistically exist. There are clutch moments, of course, but not clutch players who are able to make themselves better in any kind of statistically significant way when the stakes are higher. If they could choose when they get their hits, you’d see it pretty plainly. Coming from a starting point that this kind of stuff deserves to be taken serious puts everything else you say deeper into question.

          As for the person speaking to Blair, look at the words again, for one. There are certainly ways to see it having been taken out of context.

          For two, even if the context is right, you’re talking about one person. That doesn’t indicate a problem in the clubhouse, it indicates a problem that one person has with a certain, specific, not-as-frequent-as-you-think behaviour (he was specifically referring to the complaining with umpires).

          • The words were “it came to be a distraction”, and he said it to a member of the media. That’s a BIG step. I mean maybe it was Moises Sierra who wanted the RF job, but that’s kind of a stretch.
            For a player to talk TO THE MEDIA about a guy being a distraction, logic tells me it is a BIG problem.

  32. So, I’ve never posted on here before, but have read it for years.

    Anyways, this may not be any better than Blair’s unnamed sources because I’m now an unnamed source, but I knew a girl, quite well, who was very tight with Omar Vizquel during his time here. He once told her that a) Escobar was in fact not at all homophobic (surprise, surprise), and b) Bautista is a big asshole.

    So, that’s an ex-Jay, at least!? As Stoeten said, not like it’s suddenly a new issue.

  33. Lawrie is more under control because of Mark DeRosa.
    CHeck it – who’s he stand next to? Who’d he run, grinning, to when we walked off?

    Even as a L4 ump, I don’t buy that a pro club is distracted by one guy. Maybe the 18/19 year-olds that I see would do so, and I WOULD like to see Jose calm down since he can’t do anything about the umps anyways, I think Jerry’s getting cranky in his old age, and I’ve always wondered about Blair’s logic.

    I DO think that the time will never be better to max Batista’s return, but I sure won’t be upset to see him still in Jay blue next year.

  34. For the supposed ‘well-loved nice-guy’ that Jerry Howarth is, he sure does like stirring up shit of a speculative nature.

    My 2 cents: I think Bautista is perhaps miscast as “THE” leader of the team, but he certainly seems like he is “A” leader, and a good one. Anyway, who else have they got to lead?

    Way more importantly, how easy would it be to find a 5-win right fielder at his price? The return on any hypothetical trade would have to be overwhelming.

    • JB should be traded no later than next year’s trade deadline. I would take two excellent players for him. I think Texas would be a good trading partner or the DBacks based on mutual needs.

  35. I hear all this and people say that a guy who is always in a and mood can cast a shadow over a team is true… when the team is LOSING

    I’ve been on teams with people who have a “prickly” demeanor and I really disliked playing on their team, but when we starting winning, those qualities seemed to be lessened. I actually didn’t mind them to a certain extent. When we won championships, hell they were my best friends for a few days after.

    So hell when your expectations are high and you suck up the joint, people are gonna get annoyed with those people who are not the friendliness, plus while those assholes on my team annoyed the shit out of me and other teammates, if they played well, and we played well, everything seemed to be better between everyone


    Winning solves a lot of perceived team building problems

    • Or building a team properly solves a lot of winning problems.

      • What is this “building a team properly” even supposed to mean? It is so fucking stupid.

        • Building a team is the main job of a General Manager. Employing the right combination of players and coaches to win as many games as possible.
          Stat nerds say things like “leadership doesn’t matter” and “chemistry doesn’t matter”. In what other profession is this the case?
          Follow up question: In what other profession does one travel with, eat with and often room with his coworkers?

          • It’s a very individualized sport, you understand.

            Oh, wait. You completely don’t.

            • That’s ridiculous.
              Golf is an individualized sport much more so than baseball. But most golfers will tell you that caddies and swing coaches make a HUGE difference.
              Tennis players have coaches and practice partners.
              Baseball players do EVERYTHING together except hit. But you can bet your bottom dollar that what happens in real life affects what happens at the plate.

            • this is complete bullshit.

              maybe you should play on a rec team sometime and get a sense of how much success relies on team aspects in this sport.

              • my response was direct to stotes. the game is very very much NOT an individual sport.

              • Aww, your think you know me and you think your rec league experience gives you some kind of insight. Adorable.

                It’s a very, very individualized sport. This is too obvious to even have to argue. Yes, there are some very basic teamwork aspects to it, and of course coaching and leadership do make differences to some degree (but thanks for the attempt at the strawman argument anyway, zigman). The amount to which, though, as always, is getting dramatically overblown here. It`s about talent. Period. You’re arguing about marginal, marginal things in the grand scheme. Sorry if you’ve swallowed too many cliches that tell you otherwise.

                • Honestly, the only thing I want is for you to acknowledge that your assumptions (that the perceived leadership problems are being overblown) are JUST AS UNFOUNDED and pieced together as the other assumptions (that the Blue Jays have chemistry/leadership problems).
                  The only difference to the two different assumptions is that one of them has witness support..

                • enjoy continuing to wonder why talent loaded teams don’t win and why teams with marginal payrolls seem to get the most out of middle talent players…or even for that matter why teams like the yankees can dig up a bunch of zombies over and over and get the most out of them.

  36. If trading Bautista for something is part of a series of moves that makes this team better, then fine go for it. But the ‘he has a bad attitude/isnt a leader’ narrative is so stupid. He’s an elite power hitter with an amazing arm, under a great contract. Guys like him don’t grow on trees.

  37. Winning. Fixes. Everything.

  38. I think there’s two processes at work here.

    1. The need to remove easy narratives like ‘lack of leadership’ from the game is real. Bad journalists go to that stuff as a first resort.
    2. But the Klaws and Stoetens also need to remember that *just because leadership can’t be quantified, doesn’t mean it isn’t real*.

    This was typified this week by the argument between Klaw and Hayhurst about ‘momentum’. I hate the momentum concept – it is such a crock from the point of view of analysis of the game. But at the same time, I totally accept a former player’s perspective that the game gets easier when you’re in a winning streak. I’m sure it does. You cannot take human nature out of the game, albeit bad psychology is about 9000% more prevalent in baseball analysis that it should be.

    I don’t have much time for Blair, but Howarth I give some credence to. He has access the rest of us don’t have. Can a player’s personality disrupt a clubhouse? I bet it can, and we all know from team environments that one douchebag can make a team a living nightmare. Does that mean you MUST trade him, regardless of how productive he is? Absolutely not. Barry Bonds was the biggest fuckwit of all time, and single-handedly made the WORLD SERIES RUNNER UP Giants’ clubhouse an unpleasant place to be for everybody. Yeah – big problem.

    People like Hayhurst and Wilner will also point out that NOBODY knows what goes on in the clubhouse, except the players. So everything we say that isn’t based on statistics is guesswork. But that doesn’t mean that personality politics isn’t having a massive effect.

    The more important point might be – what’s more important, a hitter or pitcher? There’s a case for trading Bautista because he’s a piece that can get a good player in return, and he’s perhaps the most disposable of the three hitters who can command serious amounts in return.

  39. I don’t care if Bautista’s leadership is in question. I just wish he’d stop tweeting those lame “motivational” sports quotes…

  40. A team’s best players are always its leaders. That’s just how it is. They’re the guys the rest of the team watches. They’re the guys who make the most money, which is what always guarantees respect in the clubhouse. Always. It’s one of those things where I think it has the potential to do more harm in a bad situation than the reverse – if your best player is an asshole who plays hard only when he feels like it, someone more interested in his own numbers than the team’s success. If that’s your best player, you are totally screwed. But that’s not Bautista. Despite occasional lapses, he plays hard, and plays for the team. He’s just intense to the point where it can be irritating. So he’s in the same general mold as Youkilis or Paul O’Neill. Probably not as bad as those guys. Neither of whom seemed to cripple their teams (granted, while both were good and important players, neither was the team’s Big Star and Unquestioned Best Player, as Bautista has been around here.)

    • Bingo…Everyone (in the media) yakked about his heart and his intensity…but Paul O’Neill was reviled as one of the biggest assholes in baseball, and even his own teammates wouldn’t piss on him if he was on fire.

      • And yet his teams won because he was a good baseball player and for the most part all this stuff doesn’t matter.

        Chief, who we have on the podcast sometimes (though not lately, as he’s in a new role at theScore), was a clubbie for years and has all kinds of stories about the characters who come and go in a clubhouse, none of which I’m at liberty to tell. What I can say is that the perception people have of the dynamic seems pretty silly, which I think is true of some of the media stuff too, based on talking to Drew about all the time he spends down at the park.

        Saying that, unfortunately, sounds too much like the “you don’t have access so you can’t know” kind of shit that would drive me nuts when this blog started, but much of that was with people who wanted to lord it over the peasants who they felt were unworthy of challenging their opinions. So… hopefully I’m not doing that. But maybe it explains some of the disconnect.

  41. You can’t be universally disliked and be on winning teams in baseball it just can’t happen. That’s why guys like Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth Ted Williams, Pete Rose, Ricky Henderson, Frank Thomas, Jeff Kent, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens never amounted to much. Give me 25 Joey Coras any day!!!!!

    • Your point is correct, but the list of guys you iliustrate it with – half of them never won a championship in their careers. Which actually works against the point you’re trying to make.

  42. The only “distraction” is the distraction caused by the media when Bautista barks at an umpire.
    Yeah, yeah…he shouldn’t do it, it reflects poorly blah, blah blah…I get it. I don’t think the players really give a flying fuck – it happens, and it’s over. The media and the fanboys and the talking heads now all sit around for hours and hash this over and over again, ad infinitum.
    JBats has been a superlative player here for his tenure. He’s not done a thing to embarrass this team or Toronto, in the way of being an asshole at 3am in a nightclub. He hasn’t beat on his wife. No drunk driving. No handguns. No gang/posse bullshit. Fine, the guy barks at an ump on occasion for being a blind son-of-a-bitch. Big effin’ deal.

  43. I agree with Jerry. I noticed it and you could see at times that the other players were glaring at JB on his return to the dugout. I’m not Jerry, just a nobody but I could see and I know others saw it. It’s not the media making this up. My premise is this: Did the Jays or any of the other 29 MLB teams know what came from Pittsburgh in JB? Potential yes but nothing like a slugging star the past 3-4 years. Now, I see a guy who’s only focus is to pull everything, out of the park preferably. I see a complainer. I see a guy that let the success go to his head a little bit. Jerry is right, EE and Reyes emerged as leaders and AA should move JB IF he can get significant pieces for him. JB is getting older and his production will continue to decrease most likely…it will still likely be good but the pieces you get to contend, seriously contend, depending on that haul, should make the TEAM stronger and that’s the whole point in my humble opinion.

  44. yeah, people can fuck off about this already. Bautista is a beast!

  45. when the Blue Jays starting pitchers get their act together and the Jays start winning the clubhouse will be super happy and nobody will talk about this bullshit. The Jays didn’t suck this year because of Bautista, it was mainly because of starting pitching and defense.

    • +1

      Also, the Jays need to bring in a veteran Catcher like Ruiz or AJ that should settle the starters down and just play.

    • So then we ask…why have Blue Jays pitchers pitched SO terribly for the last two years?

      *shrugs* You see a guy like Romero, he pitches like crap, he refuses to make mechanical adjustments and then talks to the media about how “he deserves to be with the major league club”.
      This sense of entitlement is shared by many guys on the team (*coughArencibiacough*), and at the TOP of the “sense of entitlement” chain is our “leader” Jose Bautista.
      It’s armchair psychology at its best, but you’re no more right in saying it’s incorrect than I am in noticing it. At least there’s evidence for my claim.

      • What a load of garbage. These leaps in logic and blatant working backwards from your pre-existing belief to make tenuous pieces fit make armchair psychology look like rocket science.

        • I’m probably not making my point clear.
          My point isn’t that Jose is a problem. I have no way of knowing that. My point is that Jose MIGHT be a problem, and it’s arrogant for you or anybody to ASSUME otherwise in the face of sources.
          I think they should trade him more because his value is in decline IF the pieces are right.

          • and other GMs wouldn’t factor in his declining value and will give us an awesome young star player in return?

          • and GMs from other teams never read the news either I guess….

            • Well that’s interesting, if (as you say) Jose Bautista is hurting his trade value with his umpire antics, what does that tell you?

      • dude, you’re just making shit up because you have an axe to grind on Bautista for some reason. why do you hate Bautista so much?

        do you seriously think Bautista moulded Romero’s and Arencibia’s personality’s into what they are today? holy fuck that is ridiculous.

  46. stoeten – this was one of your best pieces, and i appreciate your responses. deeply surprised Howarth would wade into this territory, but he’s clearly wrong. i am a major Jose supporter – his personal history and perseverance is all i need to be behind him.

  47. maybe this has already been mentioned…but it would be highly interesting to know what players they had conversations with about this.

    i’m going to go out on a limb and say that one of the fuckers that said this about bautista is none other than shitty mc shitpants JPA. because he probably got a fucking earful from JB about how fucking much he fucking sucks.

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