Another week, another Griff Bag — aka Richard Griffin’s latest mail bag from over at the Toronto Star — and… hold on, the Jays have been kick-fuckin’-ass for the better part of a month and this is what we’re talking about??? Yeesh.
If there’s a question you’d like me to answer, unless it’s about fucking Ricky Romero and J.P. Arencibia, submit it to Griffin here, and maybe he’ll select it for a future mail bag. Fingers crossed!
Rather than come up with ways to improve the team I think I am just going to enjoy the one we have right now for a little while. I don’t know about you but I always have a feeling that when good players are on a genuinely successful team they consistently up their play to the highest level. As opposed to playing down to their comfort level on a struggler. They are starting to beat good teams and look like the real deal.
Anyway I was thinking about JP Arencibia–I don’t wish him any ill will (I still remember the excitement of his debut) but boy he has hit the skids. I was wondering why some talented players (Halladay, Aaron Hill, Encarnacion and Bonifacio) can get their careers back on track after a trade/ spell in the minors etc and others like Russ Adams, JP, and Ricky Romero etc just sink.
Should the Jays make a deal to eat some salary and get Romero off the books? Or is the plan to hope he turns into a kind of long project like McGowan?
As for JP should someone sit him down and kindly tell him to put his catcher’s mitt away and maybe convert himself into an Adam Lind type of player. A lot of DH and a little 1st base?
All the best
Frank Taker, Prescott, ON
Uh… you can’t exactly “eat” Romero’s salary and consider him “off the books,” for one. But honestly… whatever. You’re not magically finding someone who’ll actually take on more than approximately nothing of what’s still owed him, so it’s pretty fucking pointless to bother even thinking about any of this. I mean, I’d love to see Romero actually figure himself out at some point, and I’m all ears to hear about the fucking fantasy world in which some team actually wants to pay to acquire him at this point, but maybe think for a second like you’re another team, with its own budget, and what you’d do — except laugh — if the Blue Jays called you up and suggested you take on Ricky Romero and pay for the privilege of doing so.
I’m sorry, but he’s fucked. At least until he stops being fucked.
And Arencibia as a DH or first baseman? How in the living fuck would that be possible? The offensive bar at catcher — which, FYI, he already can’t clear — is about as low as it gets for any position. How could he convert to a position where the expectations are even higher and be viable? I mean, he could make the switch, but he’d twice as useless as he already is. It’s not a solution.
As for why some players can weather their troubles and some can’t, I suppose the bullshit narrative way to look at it would be that there’s some personal or mental issue common to the guys who can’t hack it, but I’d suggest that the reality is more that in baseball the margins for error are just so razor thin. A little bit of lost bat speed or velocity on a fastball can be all the difference between great and washout. Every case is different, obviously, and maybe this isn’t a satisfactory answer for you, but the elite level of the game is difficult to a degree that those of us simply observing really can’t comprehend. Many very, very talented players haven’t been able to reach the level of a Halladay or an Encarnacion. That’s hardly a failing.
I’m wondering if pitchers talk to each other after a game to discuss what worked or didn’t with a particular lineup, or do they just keep to themselves, their own routines and styles? I would imagine some info would help, but at the same time you wouldn’t want to get out of your comfort zone based on what another pitcher is doing.
Umm… they could talk, I suppose, and I’m sure they do to an extent, but it’s not exactly like teams are game-planning via word-of-mouth like it’s nineteen-fucking-forty-six. There are advanced scouts, there’s video, and through those kinds of methods a club can pull together information on an opponent that can be tailored to best utilize the strengths of pitcher’s repertoire.
And, honestly, think about it a little bit. What can R.A. Dickey, Mark Buehrle, and Marcus Stroman really tell each other about a lineup, for example? One’s strictly fastball-knuckleball guy, one’s a soft-tossing left-hander (who won’t face the same lineup as the others, because of opponents’ platoon issues), and the other is a hard-throwing righty. One could tell the other two the key he found some sort of key to dominating a lineup, but how much good would it do? It’s not like all pitchers are capable of attacking hitters in the same way, so maybe they make conversation with each other and discuss what’s working on a particular night with their rotation brethren — especially so if two guys are somewhat similar, I suppose — but where is the value they’re going to get out of a thing like that? I’m not seeing it. Not at the big league level, at least. Not with the other tools at their disposal.
I think the Jays should groom McGowan as a setup man, that would eventually take Jansen’s role as the closer. If McGowan’s stuff is as nasty as everyone says this might be the best role for him.
OK. Aren’t they? Or… I don’t know. He’s a late-inning, high-leverage reliever. Not really seeing where or how there’s an issue here.
This is an era of uniform uniformity in every accessory a player wears from power necklaces to wristbands on down to their shoes. So what’s up with Juan Francisco’s fluorescent green elbow wrap? Thought players couldn’t wear anything that stood out from the team colour scheme. Just curious. Maybe you can ask those old clubbies Jeff Ross and Kevin Malloy.
Jeffrey Marcil, Hong Kong
Two questions that may have the same answer (i.e., because no one wants to upset the fans):
First, why has spectator interference become acceptable? (I seem to recall seeing fans escorted out of the stadium when they interfered with a ball in play.)
Second, why does Rogers (Sportsnet) continue to employ the un-domesticated Greg Zaun? (I do love his critical comments on all things Blue Jays.)
Bill Cooper, Kingston
On the first one, I think you’re right — at least in a way. I’m not sure if the increased preponderance of interference — or at least what seems like it might be that — is because anyone thinks it’s acceptable, or that it’s because fans don’t like being told not to do it, per se. But I can imagine that it’s probably not very good for business — or at least not believed to be very good for business — to actively be throwing paying customers out of the building. Is it warranted to kick someone out for interfering with a ball in play? I think so — though not, mind you, when it’s a kid. And should the club (and, presumably, the league) do a better job of reminding patrons of how to behave when a catchable ball is coming their way? Of course. But it happens everywhere — not just here — and as dumb as it is how excited people get for souvenir baseballs sometimes… I dunno. It’s life. It’s OK, I guess.
As for the second one, does preserving the air of objectivity ring a bell? People love the shtick, and it sure can’t hurt, optics wise, to have a “straight-shooter” who has been instructed to “be honest, be opinionated, as I tend to be, and to be fair,” but to “not attack ‘The Man.’ ” Of course, ultimately the difference between the positives and the negatives he brings need to balance out within the trusty ol’ Rogers cost-benefit analysis, but as is the case with the shitheel the Fan 590 has been dancing with of late when it comes to their morning show, apparently they do. And really, that’s how I try to think of it. There is a lot of value he can bring to a broadcast, too, I think, when he sticks to the nuts-and-bolts kind of stuff. When he strays elsewhere, I dunno… some people like it, I guess, and I’d prefer Rogers not endorse so heartily what often is the blatantly dumbing down of the discourse, but it’s their loss. I don’t really watch that stuff anyway — and I’d bet you have a mute button, too.
Enjoyed your column on EE. (And the “1959 Twins” was a simple typo – May ’59 instead of ‘May 69.)
The question: Am I wrong to suggest that no Dominican who plays for a team based in Canada — not EE, not Bats, not the Melkster, not Reyes — will ever get the attention from the media who cover MLB that an American player on a U.S.-based team will get?
And the strike zones that the MLB umps — all of whom are Americans — call for the Dominican Jays are as large as the strike zones Japanese umps call for Gaijin players in the Japanese leagues.
John Thompson, New Westminster, BC
Yes, you are wrong. Or if there is a hint of you being right, it’s because of economics, and not whatever perceived slight you want to turn us into victims over.
No, the strike zones are not any different from anyone else’s.
I understand that it may be a lot to ask for, but it seems pretty reasonable to expect that in the year 2014 there would be no racist team names in the major leagues. Since Cleveland insists on keeping it’s name, what do think it will take for them to change there name?
It may not be much but it would be nice if Rogers/ the blue jays would take the moral high ground and remove all Cleveland logos and references in there broadcast. Maybe if enough teams refuse to broadcast there logo and team name we can see change.
Phil from Winnipeg
I don’t use the name here, as a form of silent protest, and am all for others following suit. I have a hard time believing that fellow team owners would make such an overt gesture — or that they could do so silently — but it would be the right thing to do, in my view. Individual media members can certainly work around it pretty easily while still being able to do their jobs, which is something I’d like to see more of. But, at the same time, I’m not going to say I have all the answers here or that I know enough to speak on anyone’s behalf on the issue. I just try to do what I feel seems appropriate.