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 don’t show up until Wednesday! …
About Last Night
Dustin McGowan may have saved his job in the rotation last night, only to have the bullpen make a fairly convincing case for why he should lose it and return to their midst. That’s maybe unfair (and probably not the way it’s going to shake out anyway), given how strongly McGowan finished and how few hits he gave up — even if his outing was hardly perfect, despite the nifty line — but the roster construction on this club continues to be an absolute mess, and as much as I think it’s understandable to be trying to keep nice depth pieces around for the stretch run, there isn’t going to be a stretch run if the club keeps bleeding away games like they did last night.
Now, obviously when a bullpen blows up, the reasons behind it are complicated. It’s partly John Gibbons — though I fully understand him wanting to get McGowan out of there when he did, trying to preserve a positive outcome for his struggling starter, and wanting to get Santos (who I still have all the time in the world for, FYI) in when he did, etc. — it’s partly the pitchers themselves, and it’s partly dumb luck. But having an eight-man bullpen in which fully half of the relievers — Rogers, Redmond, Happ, and Jenkins — are unusable outside of garbage time is flat out absurd.
An eight-man ’pen in it’s own right is bad enough — though somewhat close to understandable here, given the starters’ problems getting deep into games — but the Jays have reached the point where whatever value they’re hoping to get out of the arms they’re saving from waiver limbo is being pretty heavily offset by not having a Wagner instead of a Jenkins, a McGowan instead of a Rogers, and a Janssen (or, until he comes back, a whoever) instead of a Happ. I wouldn’t even necessarily say it’s that dumb that they’ve tried to get away with it for so long, but it sure will become mighty fucking dumb mighty fucking quickly if they let it continue.
Let them go. Alex. Shit, there are a number of guys (in addition to Marcus Stroman, obviously) doing pretty decently in Buffalo’s rotation right now, and they’re not a whole lot less sexy as late-season depth pieces than the guys currently wasting away on the active roster — and maybe not even worse at all.
None of this is to say that some of the blowups of late would have been avoided with better management of the bodies back there — sometimes these things just happen — but I’m still sure that the cost-benefit in terms of the marginal value of clinging to certain out-of-options guys for dear life has, pretty clearly, started to turn sour. Maybe I’m being the overly emotional knee-jerk type of fuck-o fan that I often lament around here, but for fuck sakes, let’s see a real bullpen and a real bench, please, and if we have to deal with the consequences of not having Esmil fucking Rogers and Moises fucking Sierra later on in the year, at least we won’t have pissed away as much marginal value in the meantime, right?
Alex Anthopoulos was a guest on Buster Olney’s Baseball Tonight Podcast late last week, and while he didn’t offer us anything that we didn’t already know, he sure was good at stating the obvious about his club when asked about what needs improving.
For us right now, we like our four spots in the rotation. The fifth spot, we’ve got McGowan in there right now. J.A. Happ is obviously a guy that could step in and be a starter for us, as well. Second base, defensively it’s outstanding from Ryan Goins, but from an offensive standpoint we certainly could upgrade there. And then apart from that we feel like we’re a pretty good club. The bullpen has been a strength. We’ve had really a rough week here in the ‘pen, but overall it’s been a strength for us, and getting Janssen back — probably in about a week — will certainly help. But for us I’d say one more starter, second baseman that would maybe add a little more offence are probably the two things that would jump out.
Hey, so you mean the things that have been blindingly obvious for at least eight months???
Ugh. And… I mean… obviously it’s more complicated than just whining about it makes it sound, but jeez.
And I’m sure you need not be reminded that Chris Getz started at second base last night for the Jays, with Dustin McGowan getting the start on the mound, pitching with an insulin pump in order to combat the fatigue he’s felt set in around the 60-pitch mark in his previous starts so far. Ugh.
Interesting stuff being allegedly whispered in the direction of Toronto Sports Media this week about what went on over the winter with the Jays:
Many Rogers insiders are telling me that at least in the inner circle and at company functions those close to the action are admitting that the Blue Jays weren’t given access to the incremental funds they would have liked due to tough times the parent company is enduring.
A couple of folks are telling me that Paul Beeston himself is admitting the same thing.
Seems like a thing that totally happened, but actually my favourite part of the post comes before that bit. “There was lots of speculation over the winter that the driver for the crickets out of Blue Jays land was a tightening of the purse strings at HQ,” we’re told. “However, many of the same ‘it’s early’ voices from last season tried to quash that story.”
What an incredible attempt at a slight! How dare those “it’s early” people attempt to invalidate my asinine histrionics by pointing out how incredibly long a season is and how much is possible still even at the most negative ebb! (Y’know, like a club sitting at 13-24 crawling back by mid-June to over .500 and finding themselves even with a club that eventually made the playoffs! In other words: the club absolutely demonstrating that the over-the top pessimism of April and May was too early, and yet apparently anybody having said so was some slag to be mocked for his pissing on the negativity parade.)
But yes, I certainly looked at the original report with a heftily skeptical eye — as one absolutely should with unsubstantiated whispers like these, especially exceptionally vague ones (especially ones that come from yours truly, I should add!) — and came up with all kinds of reasons why it would make zero sense for Rogers to pull back from their investment in the Jays. And, of course, it did make zero sense. Yet they did it anyway.
As I said of TSM at the time, “there have been instances where the writer there actually did seem to have something resembling inside information from within the city’s sports media towers– enough that I can’t dismiss what he says entirely out of hand.” But as for that particular whisper, I concluded: “Slashed payroll? I’ll believe it when I see it.”
Well, I saw it. I believe it.
Being Frank About Francisco
Interesting comment from Mike Wilner on a recent edition of JaysTalk, as he says he thinks that, when Adam Lind went down, Juan Francisco might have got the call ahead of Dan Johnson — who, you’ll remember, performed so well this spring — because the club wants to keep Johnson around for the stretch run. Francisco, on the other hand, is a fairly redundant piece with fellow righty-masher Lind around, especially given that in his career he’s produced an OBP of .303 over 803 plate appearances in the majors, and just a .317 OBP over more than 2,600 in the minors. People sure love the power — and it does help make him about a league average hitter in terms of wOBA and wRC+ — but man… there has been a lot of talk connecting his name with guys like Bautista and Encarnacion that I’ve seen, and to me that’s not only nuts, but it denigrates the astounding transformations those two guys made. Plus, it misses the fact that they showed that they each had the kind of keen eye needed to take walks at an above average rate before they got here. Francisco? Not so much. Would love to see it be a thing, but let’s not go nuts.
Lastly, Thank Fuck This Thing I Wrote After Saturday’s Loss Isn’t What We’re Still Talking About…
Seriously, what a foul atmosphere we were dealing with following the Jays’ fourth straight loss back on the weekend — worse, even, than where we’re at following last night’s disaster. So… here’s something I wrote then, and while I could almost certainly save it for when we inevitably run into this kind of painful nonsense again (maybe after a loss tonight?), let’s just have at it now…
Here we are again, just like every single other year — be it at 10-21 in 2013, or 27-14 in 2009 — with Jays fans (not all of them, mind you, but enough of them to drown out the many silent voices of the sane) headed for the deep end, yelling and screaming and spraying piss in all directions in a manic, flailing, attention-screaming leap into utter incoherence brought on by their apparent failure to have learned the lessons of all the other baseball seasons they’ve supposedly watched. Granted, being Jays fans, for most of their lives the creeping feeling of impending doom at every apparent wrong turn made by the club has more-or-less been right — a fact you’ll be reminded of frequently by these jackaninnies, presumably barely able to keep the drool from spilling from their bottom lips as they tell you about twenty years with no playoffs, as though the failings of the Gord Ash and J.P. Ricciardi eras have anything to do with anything right now. The thing is, nobody on the sane side of the door to the fucking padded room is trying to tell anybody that there’s nothing to be concerned about with this club, or nothing that doesn’t need to be rectified damn quickly if they want to keep their heads above water, or that “it’s early … and they’re still going to be great.” Yet I get fuckwits calling me an apologist, a Kool-Aid drinker, a “Wilner,” because I refuse to validate their overly-emotional piss-poor knee-jerk reactions.
It’s annoying. Though, yes, I suppose it comes with the territory. And yes, addressing these crackpots not only gets old real fast, but also makes their voices seem even louder than I think they really are. It’s just… every single year. Every. Single. Year. And how difficult is it to grasp that grand pronouncements today about how awful and desperate the team is — meaningless regurgitated negativity-posing-as-cleverness garbage like “20 years of this,” or “can’t lose a game like that” — are as impossibly dumb as ones from a week ago — a damn week ago! — about how good things were looking after a road trip in which the club, by all rights, should have gone 7-2?
I’m no Pollyanna. I wrote in March about this season likely being yet another “grim ritual march to mid-season irrelevance,” for fuck sakes, and if we’re being honest, that probably still is what we’re going to eventually end up staring at, given the construction of the roster. There was always the possibility of things working out really well, though, too, and absolutely nothing about that outlook has changed. The Jays were 10-21 last May 31st, and even though they fell off the map in the second half, they did claw their way back to 38-36 and just three games back of the second Wild Card spot, tied with a Cleveland club that made the playoffs. If they can do that, then what in the holy fuck is anybody going on about with the downpour of negativity?
Maybe, as usual, I’m overstating it. But… yeah, there are problems. Yeah, you’re allowed to be pissed off when the Jays lose. Yeah, the team may not be on their way to the World Series. But most of us knew that all along and are happy just to enjoy the ride and see where it takes us. Especially since I’m pretty sure there’s a word for the type of fan who spends most of his energy racing to be the first to plant his flag in the pretend-notion that he knows the season is doomed: it’s called being a fucking shithead.