In his latest, epic Bullpen post from earlier in the week over at the Toronto Star, Richard Griffin gives us a little bit of a teasing, offering a mini-mail bag in order to tide us all over until he posts a brand-spanking-new full-on whenever the hell that’s going to be. It’s only a couple of questions long, but so what? I’m up for a little hijacking– who’s with me???
If there’s a question you’d like me to answer, submit it to Griffin here, and maybe he’ll select it for a future mail bag. Fingers crossed!
Well the leaves are falling and it looks like it’s going to be a good world series but, as far as the Jays are concerned, it’s time to haul out the big foam finger (Senators as opposed to Miley Cyrus) and take the pins out of the Arencibia bobble head doll for another year.
Listening to AA it was a little concerning to get the impression that he seemed to think one more starter was all that was needed to make a difference next year. Is he starting to get overly hooked on the return of the injured plus thinking Happ and Redmond are the answer?
Morrow is good but doesn’t look like a guy with the stamina to be a stud for a full season, plus even minor injuries seem to throw him off of his game. Drabek has always promised more than he has delivered and who knows what Hutchison is going to turn out to be. As a starter Happ would be a great long relief in the bullpen and it’s really time to thank Ricky, cut him a big check and say goodbye. Dickey and Rogers would be the only two I would hold onto.
The defense is starting to look a lot better. There are some quality guys (when they are all healthy) in most positions except the catching. Maybe splitting time with a good veteran would finally get Arencibia to see that it’s about his lack of technique not the media.
Another big decision will be whether Goins is ready for everyday, his play in the field is good but his hitting needs work. I don’t think another season in Buffalo is going to hurt. Perhaps a genuine Gold Glove second basemen would be a better fit for the immediate future?
Don’t you think the positions of Gose and Rasmus will be decided on whether Rajai goes? I still prefer Rasmus in centre but Gose could be a real upgrade out in left.
Finally Griff, a thank you to yourself, and my fellow correspondents, for making the mailbag such an interesting, entertaining and occasionally wacky read this year.
Hasta la Vista
Frank Taker, Prescott
Ugh. OK, I guess we should take these in order.
- First of all, the media members who posture like they’re actually taking statements like the ones Alex Anthopoulos made in his end-of-season scrum at face value are doing you a disservice. The GM may be more open these days than he once was, but he’s not going to tear a strip into his players and force himself into a position where he’s going to have to backpedal in order to get fair value for them.
Saying that the club needs one starter covers the obvious. Telling a world that knows you already have Dickey, Buehrle, and Morrow that you need two starters makes a bit of a negative statement about Marcus Stroman, Kyle Drabek, Drew Hutchison, J.A. Happ, Ricky Romero, Esmil Rogers, Todd Redmond, Sean Nolin, and whoever else might be vying for a back end gig, doesn’t it? And since it’s likely from this pool of strength that the Jays are going to hope to find a deal for a catcher or a second baseman– if not a pitcher, as well– why do anything to subvert its value? Why, as certain reporters would hilariously demand, say that you don’t think those guys are good enough or reliable enough to pencil into your rotation, just as you’re about to go and try to sell other teams on the notion that they could work in theirs?
The same basic principle is the reason it’s OK that Anthopoulos hasn’t been throwing J.P. Arencibia under the bus by name, either. Don’t worry about him or Happ being relied on.
- Secondly, the question of Brandon Morrow’s durability is another issue on which I think the media is failing the fans by lazily dumbing down the discourse without actually looking into any data on it. It certainly feels like Morrow has made less than 71% of his expected starts since he joined the Blue Jays rotation, but that’s about what the number is.
True, in particular, the last two seasons haven’t been great, health-wise, and I could never say that there aren’t always going to be question marks on him until he puts in two or three full workloads in a row, but that’s no reason to skew things as badly as some people have let them become. Morrow made 26 straight starts before the Jays shut him down due to his innings limit in 2010. He came back the next season and, after a bit of an issue at Spring Training, made 30 straight starts from April 23rd until the end of the season, and then made thirteen more starts before the oblique issue felled him in 2012– coming back, you may recall, and not missing a start after getting hit in the shin with a line drive– and then making eight more after he returned.
- Lastly, I don’t think you’ve quite got a handle on where the club’s defence is at. Melky Cabrera is owed $8-million for next year, and coming off the spinal tumour, it’s not likely he’s going anywhere. Maybe the Jays move him to DH by moving Adam Lind somewhere else, but I’m not sure whether Alex Anthopoulos– no matter how burned he feels he’s been this season when it comes to his own undervaluing of defence– is really going to overcorrect by that much. You’re not wrong that the outfield defence sure would look good that way, and with the trend game-wide heading in the direction of run prevention, maybe he’s more ready to embrace it than I am. But while the defence is there, the offensive floors for Gose and Goins are low. They could do reasonably well, or they could be absolute black holes at the bottom of the lineup, with not much behind them in terms of depth. If they are depth, I think the club is better off, assuming that you can get someone a little more well-rounded– maybe not as great defensively, but with a little more bat.
That said, as I noted earlier in the week in my Bronson Arroyo post, if you’re bringing in someone like that, who is a pitch-to-contact guy, along with Mark Buehrle, carrying Goins starts to make more sense.
Rajai I think would be a great player to bring back, especially because of how he can platoon with Lind at DH, but I don’t know if he’s going to jump at the opportunity to be a fourth outfielder and platoon DH, and his being here keeps Gose off the team– which may make sense anyway, given that he’s still very young, and still could use more work at the plate.
I just saw the Dodgers walk Reed Johnson to load the bases in order to face Jason Heyward, the superior hitter of the two. Heyward proceeded to get a 2-run single. My question is, is there too much stock placed in lefty-lefty or righty-righty matchups? If it was me, I’d rather pitch to a utility player such as Johnson instead of Heyward any day.
Justin, Richmond Hill
Keith Law said something interesting in a recent chat about this, suggesting that he didn’t mind the old school thinking that suggests not getting too caught up in lefty-righty match-ups, but thinking more about it in terms of stuff. A guy with a “slider speed” bat is going to struggle with a guy who throws gas, regardless of his handedness, and a guy who struggles to pick up off-speed stuff is probably not best matched up with a fastball-heavy guy, even if the platoon matchup isn’t the “correct” on.
That said, you still need to pay attention to platoon splits. When Johnson was here in Toronto he was a perfect platoon partner for exactly the reason Diamond Don did what he did: while in the overall his numbers scream “utility guy,” he really does have quite a pronounced split. In his last 328 plate appearances against left-handers, dating back to the start of 2011, Johnson has posted a .339 wOBA. For Heyward, over 496 PA in that same span, the wOBA is .294.
Then again, if you look at their splits for just this season, Heyward has a pretty big advantage– albeit in a small sample, especially for Johnson. Because of that, you may be entirely right that Mattingly wasn’t using sound data to back up his decision. I’d probably tend towards using a bigger sample, though, which would tend to agree with Mattingly’s decision (Johnson has been better against LHP in both the two- and three-year samples), but it’s not like there’s a definite right and wrong on this. Mattingly may have been looking at micro-splits involving specific pitcher-batter matchups, or looking at how the Braves hitters had fared against certain pitcher types, or he may have felt there was something he’d seen in Heyward that he though could be exploited by a same-side pitcher.
Not knowing all the data makes it hard to skewer the manager, but the fact that over the bigger sample Johnson has been better certainly makes it understandable. I certainly wouldn’t agree with the idea that it’s as simple as “always pitch to the utility guy,” but you are right that mindlessly playing lefty-lefty, righty-righty isn’t the right way either.