Another week (albeit a week like no other in recent memory), another Griff Bag — aka Richard Griffin’s mail bag from over at the Toronto Star — which, of course, means its time for another caustic hijacking of whatever insanity has been running through Griff’s readers’ brains. So let’s get to it!
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!
What do you think is of more value to this Jays team right now: Gose’s speed in CF and on the base paths or Rasmus’ bat? To me that’s what the choice boils down to and after the Texas series I’m leaning towards Gose’s speed. Also, while Navarro is a heads-and-tails improvement over JPA, I’ve been underwhelmed by him so far. We seem to be in competent hands when Thole and Kratz share catching duties. I know Navarro was AA’s big off-season acquisition, but would you trade Navarro and/or Rasmus in exchange for upgrades at SP and 2B?
Matthew McKean, Ottawa
Without question the more valuable of the two is Rasmus. It maybe doesn’t feel like that sometimes. That’s because there are elements of the game that give us visceral responses as fans that can be indelibly imprinted on our minds — a stolen base and a great catch on the good side, for example, a strikeout on the bad — where Gose excels and Rasmus doesn’t. Gose is a weapon, to be sure. The game-changing tools are still as loud as when the Jays salivated over him as a Phillies prospect. And when he’s hitting as well as he is right now, in a microscopic sample size, it’s easy to get carried away dreaming on all the good that he brings. But over the long run, you’re going to be much, much better off with Rasmus. He may not steal the bases and there are some catches he may not make, but the differences between the two bats, over time, ought to be enormous enough to offset all the value Gose provides elsewhere and then some.
That’s maybe tough to swallow when looking at Rasmus being hurt, and just barely above a league-average hitter through his first 143 plate appearances of the season – .222/.266/.489 (104 wRC+) — but Gose only just barely posted a greater wRC+ in his year playing in the extreme hitting environment of Las Vegas (106 wRC+), and hasn’t come close to it above double-A ball. It’s been a nice couple weeks for him so far, but we can’t let our perceptions change based on such tiny samples.
Think of it this way: Juan Francisco is only just over 100 plate appearances now — 60 more than Gose — and there is no reason to think what we’re seeing from him is for real.
Same thing goes for the catchers. Yes, Navarro has been disappointing, especially in terms of his lack of power (though the fact that he’s been hurting may have an impact on that), but we’re talking about 50-odd terrific PA from Thole that we can’t possibly expect to keep up, and a very Arencibia-like all-power, no-OBP thing from Kratz. There could probably be a little more opportunity for the other catchers, but in no way should the Jays be thinking about moving their best pieces at that position or in centre.
That doesn’t mean it can’t change, though. But let’s remember the one thing few fans — and some media folks! — seem to be unable to grasp these days: the only teams who might have interest in free-agent-to-be Rasmus are ones that need him for the stretch run, and are stupidly unlikely to be willing to part with the kind of pitching the Jays covet. It’s just not going to happen — and no, the team acquiring him does not receive a compensation pick when he leaves next winter.
Could the Jays find a three-way deal that sends Colby to a club that had some prospects they might be able to add to ones of their own in order to get a pitcher? Because that might not be the craziest idea… it just isn’t nearly the clearest option yet, either.
Q-Isn’t it now time to make the move for Samardzija? The Jays are one top pitcher away from the post season for the first time in 20 years. I think an offer of Stroman and any 2 additional prospects from the Jays system (other than Sanchez) that the Cubs want would get a deal done.
The Jays would have Samardzija for at least this season and next and would get at least a 1st round pick if he cannot be resigned after 2015. In addition to this season’s chance to win, our rotation next season could be formidable 1 through 5 with Samardzija, Buehrle, Hutchison, Sanchez and Dickey. Potentially a 65 to 70 win rotation…
Rob Landau, Toronto
The Jays are one top pitcher away from the post season??? You wouldn’t maybe say that the Jays are one top pitcher, one hundred and eleven games, continued health, continued production, and the continued faltering of their division-mates away from a playoff berth?
I absolutely get the desire here, but let’s not go nuts. Yes, the Jays could use another pitcher, and a Samardzija in particular would look great here, but why the hell do you possibly think that your proposed deal — impossibly vague as it is with its inclusion of “prospects” — would get it done? Chicago doesn’t have a need to sell off the player for any price but the one that works best for them right now. There aren’t a lot of suitors to bid up the cost right now — a fact that Jays fans, I think, recognize, but see it as a reason to make something happen quickly, rather than a reason why they absolutely can’t.
Sure, the Cubs won’t always have all the leverage — another club might put a star pitcher on the block and undercut the market for Samardzija, for example, or the deadline itself may approach and begin to force their hand — and they are risking injury to this most valuable commodity of theirs every time that Samardzija goes out and pitches, but right now they don’t have to do anything they don’t want to do, nor should they.
But yes, the Jays should be considering this and figuring out the best possible way to make the acquisition of a front line pitcher happen. I mean, I’m not sure why you’re talking in pitcher wins or penciling Sanchez into next year’s rotation already, but yes.
Just an observation:
It’s nice to see the players talking, joking, smiling and generally having fun amongst themselves.
Looks like gelling.
Nothing like winning, eh?
Bill Cooper, Kingston
You mean the kind of stuff they were doing last year that made people lose their fucking minds because they were unprofessional no-win losers just happy to be in the big leagues and lacking entirely in a desire to win? Yeah, that stuff is fine. Nothing like winning, though. You’re right. Funny how it’s really just our perception that changes, eh? The jelling stuff is always utter bullshit.
I am wondering if you can walk us through the day by day of a starting pitcher on the days between starts – beginning with the day after.
Simon Elliott, Toronto
Q-Kevin Pillar hit well reasonably well at Buffalo for the first five weeks of the International League season: .305/.344/.461 in 141 at bats. (Admittedly not a lot of power, especially if he plays left, but that’s not my question.) With the Jays, Pillar has been completely over matched against major league pitchers: .143/.143/.214 as I type this. How can we best explain such massive differences between AAA and MLB performances, both for Mr. Pillar and in general terms?
I remember that in the days of his Baseball Abstract that Bill James had a formula for projecting how a minor league hitter would perform in the majors. (Darned if I can find the formula, however.) Has it become more difficult to project major league hitting performance than it was twenty-five years ago?
Thanks for your attention.
John Thompson, New Westminster, BC
I don’t think it was ever easy to project major league performance, to be honest. And the thing about Pillar is, not only have his overall numbers changed quite a bit since you wrote this, he’s actually killing left-handed pitching. The sample size is too tiny to mean anything, but he’s got a wRC+ of 202 in the split over 15 PA (.467/.467/.600). He should stay up as the club’s fourth outfielder when Rasmus comes back. He should also never see a right-handed pitcher — though… even saying that may be a little much. He wasn’t awful against them in the minors.
Regardless, it’s almost as like talking about a massive difference between his big league and minor league performance after seeing such a tiny sample of what he can do is, y’know, kinda dumb.
I’m a Canadian living in Panama now and for years have been reading your articles on the Blue Jays. I’ve always enjoyed them. Regarding the article, “Alex Anthopoulos’ trade history says be careful what you wish for”, one trade you forgot to mention was the one made on December 6, 2011 with the Chicago White Sox – Sergio Santos for Nestor Molina.
The ironic part was that Sergio was previously part of the Blue Jay organization back in 2006 when he came along with Troy Glaus (trade with Arizona) for Miguel Batista and Orlando Hudson. Back then, he played shortstop. The funny thing is that he came back to the Jay organization as a relief pitcher. While he has yet to meet his full potential and remain injury free, I can’t help but wonder why Jays management did not see his pitching abilities back when he was first with the organization. Do you think he has what it takes to be an effective reliever? Do you think the trade for Molina will come back and haunt the Jays? Thanks!
Uh, I’m sure the Jays organization saw the potential to bring serious heat in his arm, but he was a shortstop. The choice to go to the mound was made after he left the organization, as a last resort — a way to remain in the game after it became clear he wasn’t going to make it as an infielder. And as much as saves are a terrible stat, his 30 save season with the White Sox in 2011 suggests that he certainly can be a hell of a lot more than merely effective. He throws hard and his slider is nasty as shit. When he’s on and healthy it’s a thing of beauty, he just happens to not be on and healthy much.
Since Nestor Molina has just 4.0 innings above double-A, and is now into a fourth season at that level, and sucks (7.08 ERA, 5.58 FIP), I’m going to go ahead and say that no, no it will not come back to haunt them.
I am a fan of Colby Rasmus and Anthony Gose. I am assuming their defensive skills are close. Looking into the future I am wondering at what point does Colby’s HR’s, RBI’s, strikeouts and cost to the team get surpassed by (hopefully) Anthony’s OBP, stolen base ability, speed, and cost to the team. If the present roster continues to hit, Anthony is almost like a second leadoff hitter provided the OB percentage is around 350. Colby won’t come cheap. Neither will newcomers to the starting rotation. Richard from Edmonton.
I mostly answered this at the top but, um… holy shit, a .350 on-base for Gose? In the major leagues? Very unlikely to ever see that happen. And I’m not sure how so many people seem to have forgotten — except, I guess, that they’re unable to see beyond the tiny, insignificant sample of games most recent in their minds — that Gose has major problems with strikeouts, too. Not that, y’know, it doesn’t take a pretty deep trip up ones own asshole to get so hung up on the Rasmus strikeout thing, as though that type of out is really all that much worse than any other.
That all said, I do tend to agree with you that once you factor in cost, and what else can potentially be done with the money it would take to re-sign Rasmus, you almost have to go with Anthony Gose next year — or a platoon consisting of him an Kevin Pillar. But I really only feel safe in saying that now, as Juan Francisco appears to be a real thing. If Juanfran turns into a pumpkin at some point, though, the lineup starts looking awful thin without Colby in it. That might change the equation again. That is, assuming the money is even there for the “keep Rasmus long-term” side of this conversation to be taken seriously.