griffbag

What’s this? A second straight week where we’ve been treated to a fresh edition of Richard Griffin’s mail bag over at the Toronto Star??? Welp. I’d better get to hijacking that.

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!

Hi Richard Stoeten

I was wondering if Gibby’s recent frustration is in part directed at AA? You’re right about his ranking as a manager (not the best, not the worst) but I like him for his honesty and at least attempting to treat these guys as adults. Despite some bloopers of his own, doesn’t failure of the Jays to be well above .500 lay with AA’s failure to address or recognize the following:?

-Given his lack of a bat, Goins was always destined to go back to the minors. So why no suitable back up if Maicer Izturis went down? Replacing a light hitter with another light hitter (Getz) who didn’t even have Goins defensive ability was plain goofy.

-Given the obvious pitching weaknesses why no experienced starter picked up to fill in. I don’t mean a stud Cy Young –just someone competent. It meant replacing a guy who couldn’t get out of 5 innings (Morrow) with a dud (Happ) who can’t get out of 4.

-Why wasn’t the bullpen refreshed? With a few exceptions bullpen pitchers don’t carry one good season over to the next. Janssen and Cecil yes, Loup, Delabar, Santos etc., no. Given the fact they had already decided to start McGowan using his loss as some kind of excuse for a weak bullpen is plain rubbish.

At least the batting is keeping us in it and hopefully this doesn’t slowly start to turn into a return to 2013.

all the best
Frank T., Prescott, ON

No, no, and no.

1) I’m not going to disagree with you that the decision to hope for Goins to transform into a completely different player over the course of the off-season was ill-conceived, but that — and the subsequent collection of replacement level guys the Jays brought in hoping to take the reins at the position before Juan Francisco forced them to play Brett Lawrie there — has had what, exactly, to do with why they aren’t father above .500? I’m going to go with pretty close to nothing. They haven’t helped the team a lot — the Jays second basemen have been about replacement level so far — but they’ve hardly killed them.

2) Now, if you’d said not getting a full-fledged starter — an Ervin Santana — so that Dustin McGowan didn’t have to be thrown into the rotation by default at the end of Spring Training, you might have had a point. The McGowan experiment was a noble, hopeful one, and pragmatic given the options available, but Alex — and Rogers — should have absolutely done better. But picking on Morrow and Happ? Huh? Morrow was going to be in the rotation no matter what, as he absolutely should have been. The fact that he didn’t perform before he hit the DL certainly did hurt the team, but that’s worked out about as well as it possibly could have, frankly. Happ isn’t nearly as bad as so many negative fools want so desperately to believe, and it’s created a spot that’s going to eventually be assumed by Marcus Stroman — who, fingers crossed, is close to as good a pitcher as was available this winter, and who was already in the organization and ready. Yes, starting pitching — particularly the inability of starters to get deep into games — and the failure to address it has been a big part of the reason the record hasn’t been better, but not in the way you’re suggesting.

3) The bullpen, and the uncharacteristic blow-ups they suffered in the weeks while Casey Janssen was out, has had a lot to do with why the Jays failed to separate themselves from the rest of the AL East in the early going, yes. But key word: uncharacteristic. They’re absolutely fine. Pretending you understand the volatility of relievers on one hand and then calling it a weak bullpen after just over a quarter of the season is a much horseshit as the ridiculous woe-is-me “hopefully this doesn’t slowly start to turn into a return to 2013″ garbage. Come on.

 

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Q-Hi Richard Stoeten,

I was watching a close call being reviewed – and possibly botched – at first and noticed an oddity in the review rules. Possibly. Like in hockey or football, in tight plays the “call on the field” marks the baseline against which evidence must prove that the call was wrong.

In cases where the umpire calls “out”, if the review is inconclusive then the call on the field stands.

But this seems to go against the “tie goes to the runner” tradition – by rules 6.05 (j), 7.01, and 7.08 (e) – which boils down to an inconclusive judgement going in favour of the runner.

When reviewing close plays at first, shouldn’t the video have to conclusively show that the runner was out in absolute terms, rather than simply resorting to the “call on the field”? In other words, should the call be “safe” unless proven otherwise?

Thanks,

Mark

I guess so?

Replay has just been implemented so stupidly in general that I can’t possibly get worked up at nitpicking on a detail like this.

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Q-Mr. Griffin Stoeten,

Do you happen to know how John Bateman got the nickname “Chick?”

Thanks,

Ken Webster

Nope.

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Q-An interesting question: do you keep Juan Francisco at 3rd, keep his bat in the lineup and put Lawrie at 2nd? Reyes can cover a lot of ground at SS now that he is rounding back into form and Lawrie is competent defensively no matter where he plays. You get another strong bat in there and perhaps make the team stronger?

Marshall Auerback

No question that’s what you do, at least for as long as Francisco is hitting. Shit, if he keeps it up there’s no reason not to make the move a more permanent one, regardless of Lawrie’s silly protestations — which, smartly, he rather quickly backed down from. The thing about that is, of course, Francisco has only been hitting on this new level for 102 PA so far — well below the known mirage that was Lawrie’s 171 PA debut in 2011, for example. That doesn’t mean Francisco isn’t going to be able to sustain this — the high strikeout rate and steadily declining walk rate are red flags, though, along with the monstrous BABIP and HR/FB — but it should at least give pause to anyone being willfully dumb enough to think they’ve “seen enough” to start thinking about trading him, or Adam Lind, or any number of moves that require belief in the illusion (on the part of the Jays or anybody else) that surely now this must be permanent.

It could be, and the Jays need to ride it while they can, but it’s just far too early to tell.

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Q-Hi Richard Stoeten,

I wonder what your opinion is of Lawrie at 2nd and Francisco at 3rd. Francisco is no Lawrie physically but so far, in a limited audition, no errors and lots of production. I realise he sees himself as a 3rd baseman but could Lawrie be the long sought answer at 2nd?

Also, regarding Stroman – is starting at AAA better for his development than pitching regularly in relief against major league players with the Jays? I wonder if his presence puts positive pressure on the other starters to perform better.

Thanks for your thoughts.

D’Arcy Draper, Peterborough

As I said above, I do think Lawrie could be a long-term solution at second base for this club, even if it’s a bit of a waste of his arm strength. I have no problem with that move at all.

As for Stroman, I think you can make the case that having him get regular innings out of the bullpen would be at least as good a thing for his development — and the managing of his innings — as starting for Buffalo. The fact is, though, as I wrote the other day, he had slid down the relief pecking order a bit, and wasn’t in position to get regular-enough innings to justify the keeping him there accumulating service time that might make him more expensive in the long run, while simultaneously making him less and less ready to step into a rotation void by virtue of not being fully stretched out.

Even if he was, in some way, putting positive pressure on others, it was still the right move to demote him. And it’s not like he’s not exerting just as much pressure from Buffalo, right?

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Q-Hi Richard Stoeten,

I understand that innings pitched is an important barometer of pitcher effectiveness. But wouldn’t pitches thrown per inning be a more useful and accurate gauge of how a pitcher performs?

To me, less pitches equals shorter innings. And short innings should, in theory, translate to more innings thrown as a whole. And shouldn’t quality of innings be just as important as quantity?

Do you know if such a stat is even tracked?

Thanks. Enjoy the blog.

Moe in Hamilton

Does such a stat even need to be tracked? It’s just pitches thrown divided by innings pitched, both of which are tracked, right?

As for it’s usefulness… I don’t know. For one, since most pitchers are on limited to a pitch count of around 100, we can generally work out how effective they were pretty decently without it — if they went deep into a ballgame, they were running into innings in which they wasted a tonne of pitches. More importantly, you’ve got to throw pitches to get strikeouts. A guy throwing a bunch of clean innings simply relying on the defence behind him doesn’t necessarily tell us much about a pitcher’s quality — though, I suppose, neither does the total number of innings he threw. Really, as with all stats, it’s more important to be looking at all the relevant angles, rather than trying to come up with a single, comprehensive, black-and-white number.

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Q-Alex Anthopoulos is supposed to be a brilliant baseball mind but a good deal of the evidence from his tenure as the Blue Jays’ general manager doesn’t really stack up well for him. The team’s win total fell down each year since the first season he took over in 2010 (before increasing by one last year), despite the fact that the payroll has increased substantially under his tenure. Players he’s traded (Yan Gomes, Mike Napoli) have gone on to successful seasons with other teams while players he acquired didn’t really have much impact. If what R.A. Dickey showed us last year and in his first start of this year continues, dealing Noah Syndergaard and Travis d’Arnaud for him will surely go down as one of the worst trades in Jays’ history. It’s easy to forget as well that the two best players on the team (Bautista and Encarnacion) were actually acquired under the previous general manager. Plus there’s the situation that happened earlier this year with Ervin Santana. When are we going to see the results of this brilliance? What exactly am I missing here?

–Mark, Ottawa

Reality is what you’re missing, you negative twit. The team’s win total in the first years of his tenure is utterly inconsequential — he wasn’t trying to win, so holding the lack of wins against him is just self-serving of the argument you’ve already decided you want to make and are working backwards to dumbly justify.

Gomes was a misstep, but one that no one saw differently at the time (and one that came when there were still two catchers on the depth chart ahead of him, and a third one coming fast). Napoli was a mistake, too, but mitigated immensely by the fact that Frank Francisco was only ever acquired in the first place as a means to nabbing a draft pick (and doing so a year sooner), and that Napoli was going to walk via free agency before this team was going to be good anyway. Dickey has been far better than you’re giving credit for, and the jury is still way out on the pieces given up for him. Bautista was signed to a risky, and ultimately outstanding contract by Anthopoulos, and the Jays saw enough in Encarnacion after justifiably letting him go, to re-acquire him — so, no, he isn’t quite an acquisition of the previous GM, really. And the Santana thing, while certainly bungled, might have resolved a whole lot sooner had ownership not pulled the financial rug out from under the club.

Furthermore, this team has a shot right now, and there’s no reason yet to think we won’t be in for a very, very fun summer here. Maybe time to give the gaping negative suckhole shit a rest, huh?

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Q-Hi -

This is a mailbag question. Notwithstanding all the team injuries last season I didn’t get the impression that Gibbons was a particularly good manager either so please explain why it is that AA thinks he will be better this year than he was last, especially when he now has a less talented team than he did last year? Righly or wrongly it seemed to me that by keeping him management was tacitly acknowledging that the team won’t be better than in 2013 and they simply couldn’t be bothered trying to find someone new. Thanks for your insights.

Eleanor Pakozdi. Port Colborne, ON

You might be right, Eleanor, if we lived in a world where managers were magical talismen who by sheer force of their existence turn losers into winners, lost boys into consistent performing men, a room full of underperforming sulks into a well-oiled, committed, winning machine. But that’s all stuff of lazy sportswriter fantasies of a bygone age. Gibbons was a fine manager last year, in spite of results he had very little control over, and he’s a fine manager again this year. There was never a reason to change managers, despite what certain hockey cretins who now pen columns in defence of fucking useless Randy Carlyle would have then told you.

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Comments (49)

  1. Usually if a pitcher is pitching well, and efficiently, he stays in the game. IF he’s pitching like shit and getting shelled he comes out of the game. I love IP as a stat.

    • there is the odd case of a pitcher getting shelled in the first few innings but staying in the game till the 7th regardless to save the bullpen… that actually seemed like cc sabathia’s specialty last year. get rocked. settle down a bit pitch part way through 7 have teamates slap a couple bloop homers to right, win ballgame. but yeah. usually the guys pitching in the 7the, 8th or 9th have had good to great nights.

  2. Stoets,

    Riccardi admitted he acquired Bautista because of the persistence of a young, up and coming assistant GM, known today to us as AA

    so, he is responsible for Bautista to the Jays

    take that negatively minded Jays trolls

    • Ricciardi still had final say. Not giving AA credit there.

      • Yeah, if you start doling out credit to scouts, assistants, advisors and such, where does it end? GM is (supposedly) the captain.

  3. “Maybe time to give the gaping negative suckhole shit a rest, huh?” is a nice touch. I’m going to try to remember this the next time my douchey roommate says something like “6 run lead, here comes the big meltdown”. Just shut your f#cking mouth, you tw*t.

  4. Everyone should remember how excited we were at the results of the Halladay trade before they shit all over AA for the Dickey thing.

    Having said that, Dickey is undoubtably one of my least favorite Blue Jays in a long time. I don’t know whether it’s the irritable way he looks unhittable for 5 innings then turns into Josh Towers in the sixth or if it’s the excuses or if I’m just using him as a placeholder for all of last year’s disappointment but fuck I hate watching that guy play and listening to him talk.

    I wouldn’t even mind that he’s pitching like a #3 if he could just go 7 sometimes without completely collapsing. When we got him I remember thinking that even if he wasn’t great, at least you could count on him for 200+ serviceable innings a-la Buehrle.

    O well pardon my negativity. Playoffs 2014!

  5. You’re so right. Randy Carlyle is totally fucking useless. Damien Cox is a fucktard.

  6. Who is Randy Carlyle?

  7. Drew to the Sox

  8. Tie does not go to the runner, and that’s not what the rules say.

    • I questioned that as well. I always believed that there are no ties in baseball? The guy quotes some rules that I’m too lazy to confirm.

      • I was too.

        • I’m not sure how interested in this people are, but it seems to me that the rules contradict themselves.

          Here’s rule 7.01 – “A runner acquires the right to an unoccupied base when he touches it before he is out.” In other words, runner must get to the base first, theoretical tie goes to the fielder. Here’s rule 6.05 (j) – “A batter is out when, after a third strike or after he hits a fair ball, he or first base is tagged before he touches first base” In other words, fielder must get to the base before the runner, theoretical tie goes to the runner. Rule 7.09 (e) seems to once again favour the fielder, declaring a runner out “when he fails to reach the next base before a fielder tags him or the base…”

          For his part, Tim McClelland says that the “tie” goes to the fielder. I think there’s ambiguity and nobody really knows. Unless I’m really misreading rule 6.05, in which case all evidence says tie goes to the fielder, fuck the schoolyard rules I swore by as a kid.

          Also . . . I got my info on the rules from … bleacher report. Shudder.

  9. Holy fuck. People.

  10. I just get the sense from watching him in interviews that AA has his shit together.

    You don’t get the vibe of delusional arrogance, he rationalizes what he has to say to you without assuming that you’ll accept what he says as fact because of how great he is.

    Then when you see him make moves, even if they don’t pan out, there’s always a justifiable reason to have made it at the time. You never see him make a move and go ‘WTF was he thinking???’

    There’s so many shitty sports executives out there, people need to be thankful we aren’t captive to one.

    • Complete agreement here.

      Sure, many of the moves AA has made have not worked out. But at the time he made them, they made sense. We’re in the same city as the Toronto Maple Leafs. Do we really want to fire a GM whose moves make sense, and risk getting a GM whose moves make absolutely no sense whatsoever?

    • Not thinking what the hell is he doing and whether moves are rational is not a good gauge for value of the gm. The team success in the standings is. Everyone says dombrowski is so bad and points to his seemingly irrational moves yet the tigers team is great year after year

  11. Aaron “I’m no monster” Cibia sent down to AAA today

  12. Meanwhile, JP sent to AAA by the Rangers. I can only assume it was all the media’s fault down there.

  13. griff’s recurring faint praise for Gibbons (not the worst!) is based on . . . nothing so far as i can tell. good on you for setting that straight.

  14. What a sorry sack of letters this week. DJF should have their own questions for Stoeten to answer, rather than go through this circle-jerk routine with Griffin.

    QUESTION ONE:

    Stoeten, where is the best Jays bar in town? I am looking for a place with big TVs, decent food, busty servers, ice cold beer and knowledgeable/positive fans?

    Most sincerely,
    Yahoo from Alberta

    • I’m going to guess the answer to this is Opera Bob’s. I’d probably rather go there than a closed-roof game with someone other than Dickey, Hutch or Buehrle on the mound.

      -From a fellow Albertan who has not yet had the pleasure of attending a soirée at Opera Bob’s.

      • Aren’t we all from Alberta these days…

      • Problem is, the insufferably long NHL playoffs drag on and on and a lot of bars, even good baseball bars still devote TV’s to hockey. They seem to think that the first 40 Jays games don’t matter as long as “Tim Horton’s National Pastime”, with its’ American dominated standings are still in play.
        A couple of weeks ago I was in the Bloor/Spadina area for a function, ducked out for a beer and a couple of innings, and no bars within a 4 block radius had the Jays on. All hockey.
        Moral of the story? Don’t hang out in the Bloor/Spadina area.

    • I’ve been to Opera Bob’s, couple of years ago for the opener, that 16 inning game in Cleveland, but got hammered pretty quick and ducked out early, seems to hit most of these criteria…

  15. People like Frank T. seem so fucking miserable I wonder why they even follow baseball.

    It’s supposed to be FUN.

  16. Unrelated, but this item on MLB today about “new metrics” might be of interest.
    http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article/mlb/track-to-the-future-baseballs-new-metrics?ymd=20140520&content_id=76057208&vkey=news_mlb

    This sort of data is soon going to be available at every position for every game.
    When it is, it has to change how player are evaluated, does it not?
    And maybe it changes how WAR is calculated.

    • Some of these sabremetrics are pretty dumb. I still loathe WAR since it seems to me to be little more than an exercise in imagination.

    • *slow jerk
      Stuff all over the screen drives me crazy(ie pitch speed, location), all that is is quantifying what you already watched. I listened to a game on the radio the other day and it was awesome.

  17. Play the fuck out of who ever you’re willing to trade to create value and then trade for a starter. Okay? Thanks.

  18. Speaking of hockey, fukin sportnet has Junior hockey on all the stations tonite ( Jays on Sn1). I think we really must be a bunch of neanderthals at times, especially if you listen to the talking heads on TSN and sportsnet who want to talk hockey 364 days a year. ENUFFFFF, dammit.
    FORWARD SOVIET

    • In what is a weird decision, apparently the Jays are also on SN360. Now, I have a ridiculous cable package so I get all of the above, but do people get 360 but not SN1? That’s the only reason to put the Jays on those two channels right?

      PS. How’s the merlot tonight Stik?

      • Hey Fitzy:
        Ran out of wine on the long week end and dropped coin at the casino today so…..have to settle for a 6 pack of Ol Milwaukee-can you imagine-sheesh

    • You think it’s bad now… wait until the $4 billion dollar non-stop NHL contract kicks in…

  19. What a bunch of fucking pieces of fucking shit fucking fuck titties!!!!!!!!!

    Sportsnet honestly has 18 year olds playing goddamn hockey over the Jays opening a huge series in Boston?

    The rage this instill in me is probably not healthy, but seriously………

  20. Francisco is a bonus, house money. Do you move him as part of a deal for quality 2B or SP? It’s obvious Jays have enough offense, but still need a quality starter. The move would force Lawrie back at 3B (where he belongs) and without a 2B coming back, force Tolleson/Goins platoon at 2B.

  21. Always disappointed when there are no mailbag entries from Selby Martin.

  22. ‘How did John Bateman get the nickname “Chick”?’

    Just guessing, but going by standard baseball mentality.. he’s either really good looking, or
    really ugly, so he’s either deservedly or sarcastically ‘Chick bait, man’.

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