Once again 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 — which yesterday’s off-day totally counts as part of, right? — that usually ends up being about anything but, and always make me regret not just putting these all into separate posts that go up over the course of the day…
Detroit RoboCop City
Holy shit, it’s RoboCop day in Detroit, and while I’m sure there are Detroiters rolling their eyes at their city becoming a living joke through the prism of its shiny new statue of a fictional cybernetic-humanoid-defending-their-post-apocalyptic-hellscape — not that anybody around here would know anything about rolling our eyes at our city being turned into a living joke (certainly not because of anything some bozo we elected did) — I’m pretty sure it’s kind of awesome that the Jays will be part of it. Y’know, in an entirely dumb way.
And, of yes, they’ll be part of it. “RoboCop” will be throwing out the first pitch at tonight’s game at Comerica Park. Gus Burns of the Detroit Free Press gives us the background, and a brief itinerary. (Sadly, John Lott gives us a preview, and it’s not the classic Peter Weller RoboCop — booooooo!!!)
Not awesome, though? Facing the fucking Tigers. Sanchez, Porcello, Verlander. That’s who the Jays are up against this week, with only Drew Hutchison, R.A. Dickey, and J.A. Happ behind them trying to keep the opposing scoreline from getting too crooked. On an extra couple days of rest, Hutchison will hopefully look more like himself, but shitty as it is to say about our nominal ace, the other two are total wild cards. And speaking of cards, once they get through this set, it’s straight back across the Ambassador Bridge and up the 401 to host St. Louis on the weekend. Or… I’m sure its only the reporters who’ll be driving, but still: Ugh. Tough little spot in the schedule, huh?
But this remains a pretty cool moment, too. If you’ve started allowing yourself to think of this team maybe even playing in the playoffs, you’re probably thinking these next two series should prove a rather interesting test. And I can’t say that you’d be wrong for doing either. Should be a very interesting week — and one that we don’t need to feel dread about, necessarily, either. The park will help the Jays’ flyball-heavy pitchers, and if the Jays’ torrid offence can make James Shields look human, as they did last week, I wouldn’t even put it past them to do the same for the Tigers. And the Cardinals, assuming their starting five holds up the way it’s currently scheduled, won’t be sending Adam Wainwright or Michael Wacha to the hill at Rogers Centre, with their three-four-five starters (the not-unformidable Lance Lynn, Shelby Miller, and Jaime Garcia) in line to take on Marcus Stroman, Mark Buehrle and Drew Hutchison.
That’ll play. And add in the fact that the Cards will be playing their final three games of 20 straight days without an off-day — and a stretch of 31 days with only one day off (plus one postponement) — and things may not be quite as bad as you’re dreading! And then early next week they get the Twins, and a chance to keep building a cushion before a road trip that takes them to Baltimore, the Bronx, and Cincinnati.
Gose Is Cooked?
Look. A ten game sample doesn’t mean anything, I know. But on the other hand, a ten game sample doesn’t mean anything.
What do I mean?
Over the first ten games he appeared in this season, Anthony Gose put up a slash line of .304/.484/.435. He had a 168 wRC+, a wOBA of .418, and he’d walked seven times in 32 plate appearances!
Since then he has appeared in ten additional games. In his second set of ten games he slashed .231/.259/.231, making for a wRC+ of 34, and a .224 wOBA. In 28 plate appearances he’s walked only once.
Do we remember Ryan Goins? DO YOU SEE WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU FIND A STRANGER IN THE ALPS???!?
I want Anthony Gose to be good as badly as the next guy, believe me. I understand that there’s value in his speed and his defence and that he doesn’t even have to hit all that much to be a really valuable guy. I get that, most likely, we’re going to see him and Kevin Pillar platooning in centre for the Jays next year, and I’m somewhat OK with that. I think. But — thanks in no small part to the constant fellating he receives from the TV broadcast, I suspect — it seems like a lot of fans haven’t noticed how quickly his numbers have been falling. And the thing is, they’re not just falling into some mysterious abyss, they’re regressing towards the sort of production you’d expect from a guy who had a .303 wOBA in Buffalo this year, over 124 plate appearances, and a .304 wOBA over 443 plate appearances last year.
Surely the numbers will go up from where they’ve been over the last ten games, and maybe he’ll still eventually “find himself” as a major league hitter, but what he did in Buffalo, and what he’s done since the hot start, is more real than whatever invented bullshit we hear about him suddenly maturing by putting on a big league uniform, or being bored with triple-A, or figuring out how to bunt, or whatever it’s supposed to be. Again, I know it’s just ten games, but I’ll take the set of ten that looks like what we’d expect to see, not the ten that looks like what we all desperately want to see — myself included.
I should probably say something about the pitching over the weekend, but I’m not sure there’s a tonne to say. Buehrle buehrled, Happ happ’d (but did a fine enough job saving the bullpen), Hendriks got sent down (rightly, unfortunately), Stroman we all know about and can only hope for more of the same, and Dickey… well… his velocity was there. Same story, though: the big inning hurts him. The Jays should have won that game, still, though, which is entirely amazing. Think about it. They’re one errant Jose Reyes throw from being 17-3 over their last twenty games. One errant throw from having just one loss in thirteen games. Which totally isn’t to say that 16-4 over twenty, and 11-2 over thirteen won’t entirely fucking do.
One guy whose small sample success is slowly turning legitimate, though, is Juan Francisco. Yes, the walk rate is declining, but slowly, and there remain good signs about his selectivity. It remains impossible to call what we’re seeing “real,” but there’s reason for optimism that it could be. Shi Davidi points out these in an excellent profile over at Sportsnet, where the stats stuff isn’t even necessarily the most interesting part. “I made him sign here because I knew he’d get an opportunity to play,” Edwin Encarnacion says of his friend and off-season training partner (along with Robinson Cano, and their coach, Luis Mercedes). “He had a couple more teams he could sign with but we are very close, so he listens a lot to me.” So… yeah, Encarnacion might be awesome. (Hey, and he was just named, unsurprisingly, the AL Player Of The Month for May, too!)
Bob Elliott tweeted last night that a scout told him that talks are about to heat up between the Jays and Cubs on Jeff Samardzija. I replied that the Jays don’t have the prospects. Maybe they’ll pull it off, but guys in A-ball just don’t move the needle much, guys in Triple-A have no value, Stroman and Hutchison are on the big league roster, and the only chip in Double-A is the struggling Aaron Sanchez. And that’s not to say that there’s anything wrong with Sanchez. Maybe an offer centred around him and some lower level pieces gets it done, but Baltimore could certainly beat it. Boston could certainly beat it. A lot of teams could, frankly, which — if they’re going to do anything on that front — means more of those low level guys would have to be added in order to make it happen, which then really depletes the system (especially if the Jays don’t get one of their high draft picks signed, pushing that influx of talent back another year, which unfortunately is now a possibility we can’t discount). I just don’t see it happening. It makes more sense for the Jays to do exactly what Alex Anthopoulos has said he’d rather do: get a true rental. That maybe doesn’t move the needle either, but with the way the Jays are hitting, perhaps a Jason Hammel is all you need. Either way, I’m guessing it’s about all they can get.
An announcement from the Jays that they’ll be celebrating the 25th anniversary of the SkyDome, for some reason, before Friday’s game against St. Louis. Jimmy Key with throw out the ceremonial first pitch to Ernie Whitt, Cito Gaston will exchange the lineup card (I’ll even cheer him), and the still-awesomely-named original SkyDome mascot, Domer, will be there too. And, for some fucking reason, Mr. Glass Tiger himself, Alan Frew. The actual anniversary of the Dome’s opening to the public, however, is today — which, of course, was celebrated back then at the bizarre, cringe-worthy gala you’ll see a clip of below. Back in September we took a look at what the SkyDome could have looked like, unearthing some weirdo images of the rejected proposals submitted by the competing architectural firms. Definitely have a look.