Still here on the train, and Griff posted a Mail Bag over at the Toronto Star. Let’s see if I can’t bang this the fuck out, shall we?
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!
Q : Hi
Like a lot of fans, I guess, trying to work out ways we are not going to win this year sometimes seems the dominant Jays theme at this time of the year. Strange thing is, they announced the 25-man (roster) as we sat around having coffee and we all suddenly turned into optimists again. Nothing to do with the names even, just everything seems a little better than last season.
I don’t know whether you agree or not but the consensus was that defence and offence looked good. Even though it may well turn out a bust, seeing Dustin McGowan start is a bit special. And the team seems to have lost the sourness of last year. I know great players make great teams, but sometimes it’s intangible things like chemistry, break out years, etc that wins championships
Talking of special, I don’t know whose idea it was to stage the games in Montreal, but pin a medal on him. it’s a fantastic idea. No disrespect to the Jays, but memories of the Expos sure lingers on and for all of us who were fans during that time it’s a great pre-season starter.
Look forward to reading about a winning the pennant in your column next fall Griff. Until then…Go Jays
— Frank Taker, Prescott, Ont.
Fuck that noise about intangibles, Frank, it’s about current health, and about the ability to dream on the arms of guys like McGowan and Morrow and Hutchison, rather than Redmond and Rogers and Happ, alongside the dependable, if not downright potentially excellent-ish Dickey and Buehrle, that makes the whole thing feel pretty good right now. We’re kidding ourselves, surely, but this is the time of year for it — and also to get caught up in feel-good things like that and the whole Expos nostalgia trip that we’re allowing ourselves to indulge in — so… fuck it. Let’s just go with it. Shit, maybe even Goins really will be able to play enough defence to make up for his bat.
Plus, failing all else, it’s hard not to feel good about our chances of drinking a beer in the sun very, very soon.
Q : Hello Prof.
Is it true that this spring training has been taken a lot more seriously than last? It seems that way at least when considering that pitchers have been stretched out. Unfortunately, yet once more pitching remains the Jays weak spot, as much as we try to stretch the blanket of pitching talent we currently have on roster it seems that it is still too short of a blanket to sufficiently provide cover for a winning season.
Do you think there are any quality arms that are available via trade? By quality I mean a proven/solid front of the rotation (#2-3). If so, what would we have to give up? What kind of pitcher could we get for a package including Lind and Rasmus and one or more of our many depth (#6-10) rotation guys? Do you agree that if one or both (Lind, Rasmus) have a decent start we flip them for a pitcher?
BTW how is Josh Jonson doing in SD?
Thank you as always, I hope that Montreal will be a nice blast from the past.
They sure have constructed a narrative about being more serious this spring to combat the narrative about not being serious enough last spring, haven’t they?
Not going to dignify the Lind and Rasmus nonsense with a response. Johnson is hurt, believe it or not.
Q : Hi
I take back my question from last week about packaging McGowan off in a trade. I was feeling desperate. Still am. But with this week’s news that he’ll be starting the home opener, I can’t think of a better feel-good story to start the season. Especially after such an uninspiring off season. Please wish him all the best for all of us.
— Matthew McKean, Ottawa
AND WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG???
Q : Well
Richard Stoeten, here we go again. A knuckle baller, a junk baller and 3 injury prone pitchers! Jays were in the cat-bird seat to sign free agent pitching. None signed.
McGowan, great story, hope he does well. Jays are not convinced, never seriously stretched him out. No options you make the team Redmond, Rogers, Jeffries. Wagner, Kratz, Sanchez gone but not for long. Happ 5m, Romero 7m, Izsteris 3m, Sierra can’t hold his attention long enough to play the field. New hitting coach has got his work cut out with Thole. Cross our fingers with Goins. Rogers has more money than God. What gives and how long a life span does AA have this year? Tell me I’m crazy. Thanks.
— Dave V, Thomasburg, Ont.
Dave, if you’re going to be an asshole, at least have the common courtesy of not being wrong as fuck.
Q : Hey
In a previous mailbag you mentioned that there are a lot of things to look forward to for when the Jays visit Montreal. Despite those things, I can’t understand how the MLB can arrange regular season games halfway around the world in Australia, but only manage to schedule pre-season games in Montreal. If Montreal plans to sell out the Big O for 2 games, why not let them play some regular season games and really try to make a push for an MLB team in Montreal by demonstrating a strong fan base. Also, wanted to know if you’ve got your hands on a copy of Jonah Keri’s new book about the Montreal Expos, aptly titled, “Up, Up, & Away”.
I cannot possibly understand the point of this suggestion. The games this weekend will approximate regular season games and will show the city’s appetite for baseball quite well. The Jays should give away home dates for what, exactly?
Making overseas games count ensures that teams will actually play the stars that the fans are paying to see and MLB needs to help bring the game to new markets. Not necessary here.
Q : Dear
The 2014 season portends excitement in the same way an avalanche does.
Two aged, five-hundred-at-best pitchers, and a whole lot of dreck. Expect the usual brownouts from Lind (is he looking for the lead in Deliverance 2?) and the dullard Rasmus. The grinning, overrated clown Reyes, is already injured. By mid-May this bunch will be deep underwater; the excuses and enmity will flow like beer at a frat party.
A smart owner would soon dismiss AA and the mysterious Beeston man ASAP, give a blank cheque to someone like Pat Gillick — who I am sure wouldn’t want the job — who can trade off the so-called stars for top prospects (yes, I know, it isn’t just that easy). This team needs to make a conscious decision to suffer a couple of Astros-like seasons until the farm system is replenished.
Put me down for 69 wins.
— Selby Martin, Toronto
I mean this in the nicest possible way, but die already, Selby. You’ll be happier.
Q : With all the hand-wringing over who will fill the fifth spot in the rotation this year, I find it surprising that nobody has looked to the Jays’ Class A affiliate for a possible solution. The way that they split games between the starters seemed to be highly effective for the kids on limited innings. Why not apply the same thing to McGowan and Esmil Rogers? It might get tricky if the starter runs into trouble early, but if they’re both prepared to throw 4-5 innings every fifth game day, it could ease management’s minds about durability and stamina, respectively. If we’re going to carry an 8-man bullpen anyway, why not take advantage of it?
— Mike, Toronto
Because it’s stupid?
That works* for what they want to do with all the arms they have in the minors where the win-loss record doesn’t mean a hell of a lot and the roster spots aren’t so precious. Wasting a long man by only having him prepared to throw on a particular day? Not exactly smart roster use. Fuck, the Jays have a tough enough time as it is not carrying eight relievers, and this sure as shit wouldn’t help end that nonsense. It’s not like you’d be guaranteeing a day of rest for the other guys in the bullpen — you think they wouldn’t still play the late-inning matchup game or want to bring in a closer who is… I dunno… better than Esmil Rogers???
Make McGowan a starter. Use the bullpen as is fit. Simple.
* Some will tell you, actually, that it’s fucking dumb to do this in the minors, too, because you’re trying to develop pitchers, yet not allowing them to turn over a lineup two and three times.