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