Well here’s something that probably should turn into a regular feature, and maybe is finally starting to: a collection of thoughts on what went on over the weekend that aren’t really about the weekend — especially when they’re delayed because… well… just because (and because Monday was an off-day, so as long as I can get these done before the first game of the new week, we’re golden, right?)…
I ranted enough about the Jays’ unfortunate bullpen meltdown on Thursday — and newsflash: if you weren’t being the kind of hyperventilating child that I was addressing, um… I wasn’t addressing you — that there didn’t really seem to be any sort of need to do so again following Friday’s near-meltdown and Sunday’s disaster. Yes, it’s an awful, frustrating, and awful frustrating way to watch the team lose a game and to have the three hours you’ve invested in go up in a puff of smoke (or, at least on Thursday, in a puff of dirt from three feet in front of the plate, where Santos kept bouncing pitches), but it happens.
I know that’s never a satisfying answer for everybody, but this here isn’t a satisfying game. The best of the supremely best of the very fucking best only get a hit a little more than three times out of ten. If a pitcher is allowing fewer than a run every three innings, he’s doing extremely well. The tricky thing is, I suppose, is reconciling that with the fact that our team’s failure means their opponents’ success. It’s maybe not quite so simple as saying, “get used to failure, for fuck sakes!” But… actually it’s pretty close.
That isn’t to suggest we can’t take anything from what happened in those two games, but in the overly emotional afterglow it seems that a lot of people have a really, really hard time not blowing things way out of proportion. That’s only natural, but I certainly feel like it serves me well to remember such things. I mean, someone in the comments was having a fit on Thursday that John Gibbons had only Steve Delabar, Sergio Santos, and J.A. Happ in the bullpen at the start of the eighth, and others, of course, felt he saved too many bullets by not removing Aaron “eleven unintentional walks over 100 innings prior to this season” Loup, even though a left-hander was coming up. Hard for him to win, eh?
Obviously, it’s not wrong to quibble with the decisions, but I can’t comprehend not giving a whole lot of rope to a manager on this stuff — just as I can’t comprehend being the kind of person who acts like he knows a move has to be made when there are obvious pros and cons all over the place, or who acts like strike-throwing is mostly a matter of effort, determination, force of will, and not the end product of a biomechanical action that is simultaneously both delicate — always on the brink of going awry — and violent as all fuck.
Baseball is hard.
Would have been nice if the club went 7-2 on the road trip, though, yes.
I hate saying that there are two hugely important upcoming starts on the schedule for R.A. Dickey — one tonight against Miguel Gonzalez and a tough Baltimore lineup, and another on Sunday, at home against the Red Sox and Jon Lester — because I don’t actually believe that’s the case. You’ll hear it enough today and in the days leading up to Sunday, I’m sure, but Dickey could implode in both games and there would still be entirely plausible reason not to worry. By then — should his season reach such an ugly ebb — Dickey will have had one terrific start and five duds, or so the story will go. Of course, that’s not really the case. It seems an exercise in excuse-making, I know, but we need to remember that the velocity has looked pretty good — though the fact that his last outing more closely approximated Opening Day is somewhat worrying — that the knuckleball has danced reasonably well, and that earlier exits from his starts against Houston and Minnesota may have gone a long way towards making us feel like he’s been just OK, rather than an utter disaster, given that the three-run fifth and the five-run seventh in his last two starts are now entirely hung on him and his bloated 6.29 ERA.
That’s not to put it on John Gibbons any more than it is to suggest that he’s been good. He hasn’t, and he’s got to figure out a way to get guys swinging more and earlier in their at-bats — and hopefully at more pitches outside of the zone, given that the 22.1% rate his pitches outside the zone have been swung at is well down from the 34% he posted in 2012, and the 30.7% last year — but it could look a whole lot better had things gone just slightly differently. He shouldn’t be coddled like an ace and allowed to face guys for a third time when he clearly is labouring — which, so far, has been often, as batters are I-shit-you-not hitting .440/.533/.680 when seeing him for a third time in one game — but even two more disasters won’t change the fact that this is a Cy Young winner who was excellent once he returned to health — and full velocity — in the second half last year, posting a 3.56 ERA, 4.15 FIP, and holding opponents to a .309 wOBA after the All-Star break. His current wOBA allowed is .354 (and .440 with men on base!).
In other words, this is not who he is — or, at least, not who he has been, and we haven’t seen near enough to say something has dramatically changed. Hopefully he comes out and starts putting these sort of questions to rest from here on — and what a hell of a thing that would be for this club! — but even if he continues to look like he hasn’t quite put it together, that’s OK. There is a lot of reason to believe that patience here will be rewarded.
In terms of how they’re going to drive the insufferable conversation about this team, whether we like it or not, most likely they are hugely important starts. Are they in reality? Not in my view, Uh… not that that makes me actually comfortable with what we’ve seen so far.
And the rest…
Can’t deny it’s a pretty big homestand that the Jays are about to begin, though, eh? Or… well… it’d be fucking nice for it not to be a disaster, at least.
Last night’s second edition of Pitch Talks was a hell of a good time, with some great stories from Dan Shulman, Mike Wilner, Dave Bidini and Meredith Rogers, and great beer from Left Field Brewery. Be sure to hit up the next one, which takes place in early June, featuring Richard Griffin, among others! Kudos to Tallboys Craft Beer House for putting it on.
Robert MacLeod of the Globe and Mail has a nifty piece today on the Jays and their gloves — including Brett Lawrie “the energetic Canadian known as a ‘dirt bag’ – a player who will not hesitate to get his uniform dirty. Nor his glove, it turns out – his Mizuno-made gamer is entering its third season and looks it.” Equipment manufacturer Wilson released a video with some Jays players talking about the gloves the use, and what they look for in one, back following their annual spring “Glove Day.”
You’d sort of like to hear new Rogers head Guy Laurence talk about how important the Blue Jays are to the company, but… nope. Not in this Globe and Mail report, at least. Hockey, on the other hand? Apparently that’s huge for them.
I don’t really have to make a Joey Jeremiah joke on the occasion of the Jays claiming Darrin “Pat” Mastroianni from the Twins, do I? Because they did today. Kenny Wilson was D’d FA to make room.
Rays pitcher Josh Lueke is a rapist. Pass it on. (Also: read this excellent piece from Stacey May Fowles at Deadspin on why reminding people of that fact is so important.)