griffbag

Another week, another Griff Bag — aka Richard Griffin’s latest mail bag from over at the Toronto Star — and… I… uh… here it is? Whatever, you know the drill!

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!

Q-Hi Richard Stoeten

Hope everything is well with you. I guess I have a quick question.

With the promotion for Sanchez (to AAA-Buffalo)…What are the teams plans for him? Big league this season or are they just wanting him to get 100 innings or so at the next level?

Thanks,

Jeff Amos, Head Coach, Badlands Baseball Academy

Whoa! Is this an actual, sensible Griff Bag question? No silliness about a trade showcase? Nothing about Sanchez immediately replacing R.A. Dickey, or whichever starter we’ve decided this week isn’t good enough?

I like.

As for the answer, I have no inside knowledge, but it would seem to be a little of both. John Gibbons has come out and said that he thinks Sanchez is an arm that can help the club at some point, though in what capacity is hard to say. Aaron is already over 70 innings on the season, and last year threw just 110, including his time in the Arizona Fall League. To expect him to help the club as a starter down the stretch, then, is simply unrealistic, as he’ll reach his innings cap far too soon for it to be worth re-jigging the rotation. Could he make the odd big league spot start in order to give the club’s other youngsters, Drew Hutchison and Marcus Stroman, a rest as they each deal with their own innings limitations? I think so, and I think if all goes well he could be an intriguing weapon out of the bullpen for the club in the later months of the season.

Mostly, though, I tend to believe it’s a developmental thing. The thinking goes that Sanchez can get by so easily on raw stuff with lower-level hitters who are overmatched, despite his well-understood control issues. So it likely serves him well to face more advanced hitters, where he really will have to pitch more. Of course, it’s not like I’ve been watching his New Hampshire starts myself, so take that with a grain of salt, but it seems a reasonable enough theory, I think. The move could even be the club’s way of forcing their star prospect to see the need to make changes that they want him to make and he’s been otherwise reluctant to, given his relative success so far — but that’s just spitballing, too. It certainly does seem like a bit of a rush to have him out of Double-A so soon, but through the developmental prism, I think you can see why well enough. As we saw in his first taste of Triple-A action, it’s going to be a challenge for him at times, and that’s OK.

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Q-Hi Richard Stoeten,

I’m not sure what impact a bullpen coach has, but everyone speaks so highly of Pat Hentgen’s influence. Has his absence this year been a possible reason for the bullpen’s struggles?

Thanks for your thoughts on this.

Marie Turcotte

Has the bullpen struggled this year?

If you want to argue that it has, fair enough, but I’d suggest that the fact that Bob Stanley, and not Hentgen, is sitting down there is proooooobably not the reason Sergio Santos has been hurt, Steve Delabar’s velocity has been down and his control spotty, or that Dustin McGowan spent the first several weeks of the year in the rotation. I don’t know exactly how much, good or bad, we can attribute to a bullpen coach, but he ain’t fuckin’ magic, and as much as everyone — those in the organization and otherwise — seems to think Hentgen is pretty much the greatest guy, it sometimes seems like a lot of fans want to ascribe such magical powers to him because he’s Pat effing Hentgen. Not to say the coaches do nothing — that certainly isn’t true — but it seems to me the success or failure is much more about the players themselves.

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Q-Hi Richard Stoeten,

I’m not sure if this is a mailbag worthy question/comment but something dawned on me today. Thanks for your mailbag, bullpen, etc. I’ve been a long time reader.

Having in depth conversations – most recently with local Tigers fans – about how Toronto is a band wagon type of city and will never have true fans I realized that I was born into being a Blue Jays fan. I can remember games at Exhibition Stadium and going to the Dome on opening week but those memories scarily make me realize I was 12 when the Jays won their first World Series. I never chose to be a Blue Jays fan but grew up playing hardball and have always followed the Jays.

I’m realizing that the first generation of children of Blue Jays fans are now having kids making what will be the second generation of fans. The first of the multi-generational fans are now seeing games. Is it safe to say that teams like Boston and New York have such strong fan bases because they would now be into multiple generations of die-hard fans? I never really thought about it before but one day I’ll drag my kids out to see (by then) the 3rd oldest stadium in baseball and pay $20 for a beer.

Thanks, Jim

PS: I expect my grandchildren to see natural grass in the Dome

It seems reasonable enough, but let’s not give the fans in those cities too much credit. Back in 1992 — which would be their eleventh straight season without making the playoffs — the Yankees drew just 1.75-million fans, or just over 21,000 a night in a stadium that held over 56,000. It’s a low water mark that the Jays’ attendance has only slipped below once in the last decade. You have to go back a little farther to see real dismal numbers for the Red Sox, but hoo boy, there was plenty of room to be found at Fenway Park in the early 80s. They drew just 1.06-million — 13,000 a night! — in 1981 [Note to self: 1981 was a strike year -- thanks "Statis Pro"!] under 2-million in 1980, and didn’t crack that mark again until their ALCS year of 1986. Though, keep in mind, through 1985, this was a franchise that had been to the playoffs all of three times — all losses — since nineteen-freaking-nineteen. Something about a curse?

There’s nothing like a good decade or more of futility to shake the foundations of what now appear to be the most rock solid of fan bases. When you get right down to it, fans of those teams are no better than we are. The passed down memories of better times might be something of an advantage when it comes to getting fans to want to come rediscover a team they’ve left to wallow in futility, but ultimately it’s the standings that matter most.

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Q-Hi Richard Stoeten,

I noticed that Kyle Drabek seems to have disappeared off the Jays radar but is leading Buffalo in innings pitched. Is this because he is not the same pitcher he was before the injury or is he just flying under the radar? Also in terms of starting pitchers, who would be the Jays starters 6 through 9 at this point in the season should they need to plug someone into the rotation?

John, Toronto

Drabek has certainly been far off my radar, John, as the reports on him since his return from a second Tommy John surgery haven’t been great, nor have the numbers. I must admit that I don’t know where his velocity has been lately, but when he briefly (and terribly) returned to the majors in a bullpen role at the end of last season, it actually wasn’t terribly far down from the levels he was at when in 2010 we were so excited for by promise (93.8 in 2010, 93.0 in 2013), but the fact that he was being used as a reliever certainly inflated the number. As a starter he’s likely — again, his star has fallen so much that I’m totally not sure! — a couple ticks below that. Perhaps as a result, his command has been a bit better since his return from surgery than Jays fans will remember it — he’s issued just 23 walks in 70.2 innings, and only eight over his last seven starts (41.0 IP) — but that hasn’t exactly been helping him a whole lot. The big strikeout numbers — which in reality only ever existed in one, short, 61.2 inning stint in the Florida State League back in 2009 — are gone. He’s punched out 52 batters over those 70.2 innings for Buffalo this year, on his way to a 4.46 ERA and a 4.85 FIP. BABIP hasn’t helped him, giving up 1.4 home runs per nine innings hasn’t helped him, and there’s certainly still something there to make one think he still has a chance to be some kind of a useful piece somewhere — he’s only just 26, after all — but if the stuff really has taken a step backwards due to injury, he’s unfortunately just another guy.

As for the six through nine starters currently, I believe that John Gibbons has said that Todd Redmond will get the next chance, if they need an injury replacement or a spot starters, but that was before Aaron Sanchez was called up. Sanchez needs to show he can have success in the International League, though, before he’s going to get his name called, so for now I’d think he’s behind Redmond, Liam Hendriks, and Sean Nolin. That can change fast, though. Drabek might even be the ninth guy on the depth chart, but I’m honestly just guessing.

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Q-Hi Richard Stoeten,

In a recent game, the stats for Kevin Pillar showed a batting average of .250 and an on base percentage of .243. It seems intuitively obvious that the latter cannot be less than the former. Can you explain how that could be possible?

Phil Ford, Ottawa

Mostly it’s because Pillar can’t take a walk to save his damn life. That, coupled with the fact that he had one sacrifice fly, is at the root of what’s going on here.

Batting average and on-base percentage use different denominators (at-bats for BA, plate appearances for OBP), and the thing about sacrifice flies is, they aren’t counted for one — a player making a sac fly isn’t charged with having made an “at-bat,” in much the same way that walks aren’t considered as at-bats — but they are counted for the other. A sac fly is scored as a plate appearance.

The numbers have changed slightly since you submitted this question, but the phenomenon is still in effect (because Pillar continued to not take walks). Before being sent down Pillar had nine hits and zero walks in 38 plate appearances, which makes for a .237 OBP. But because of that sacrifice fly, he had one fewer at-bat than he did plate appearance. So to calculate his batting average you take his nine hits and divide by his 37 at-bats, which makes for a slightly-better-but-still-bad-especially-with-zero-fucking-walks batting average of .243.

Pro tip: Just ignore batting average and this all goes away. (Maybe make an exception to check out Tony Gwynn’s insane career numbers, though, today. RIP.)

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Comments (71)

  1. Holy shit most sensible one ever

  2. RIP Tony Gwynn

    • Such a shame, he was so young. A decade younger than my dad.

    • He would’ve hit .400 in ’94 without the strike – why – because Im NostraFuckingDomus

    • Gwynn’s strikeout numbers are ridiculous… Only 15 k’s in 577 pa in 1995. Mark Reynolds and Adam Dunn have made careers regardless of doing that on a weekly basis, and even Mike Trout has had bad stretches where he does that in 7 games.

    • In an era of juiced up gorillas, here was a chubby squat guy making pitchers his bitch season after season. One of the good guys. Glad that Captain Video lived long enough to see his plaque in Cooperstown.

  3. so looks like there’s a chance james shields wont be coming here,
    kc wont stop winning.

    • I’m not sure any starters are coming here.

      • I was thinking to myself, if the jays made the playoffs, how would they position their rotation?
        you’d have to think buerhle would get the first start, but then who? dickey/hutch?
        maybe stroman?

        • IF Morrow is back healthy some heat between Buerhle and Dickey would be a nice change-up, but if not his street cred would demand RAD either start game 1 or 2, but it’s a tad premature, no?

        • Start Hutchinson on the road.

  4. “How can OBP be less than BA?” has been one of my favourite baseball trivia questions for a while.

    Also good is “How can a team to hit two singles, one double, and three triples in an inning and still not score a run?”

    • Do the triples get caught stealing home or what?

    • about 100 different ways.

      But 1 is Triple – picked off
      tripple – picked off
      tripple
      double – guy on third pulls hamstring on first stride and has to retreat to third
      infield single – third and second stay put
      single to 4,5 gap that hits the runner – ruled interference – runner is out but scored as a single

    • That’s a good one! I’m trying to wrap my brain around it and I just can’t. How can a team do that?

    • This is cool, I’ve never heard it before. I think the two triples have to come first and either get picked off or caught stealing home. Then the last triple. Then the double (the runner on third doesn’t advance). Then the first single (the runner on third is the worst baserunner ever and still doesn’t advance).

      Still can’t see how to fit that last single, though. It’s a force situation, so there’s no way for the single to count, someone to be out, and no one to score.

      • On a batted ball that hits one of the baserunners, the runner is called out for interference, but the ball is considered dead and the batter is awarded first base (moot if there are two outs, but it still counts as a single).

      • see explanation above for complete explanation but whenever a runner is struck with a ball in play the runner is out BUT the batter gets a hit. Theoretically you could do this 3 times in an inning have 4 hits in a row and be out of the inning

        • I think you could achieve this without runner’s interference. Same scenario: Bases loaded, 2 outs, in need of a single without a run. Runners on first and second take off on 3-2 count, and and it’s a shot up the middle, a diving stop by shortstop. SS has no play but the speedy runner coming from first overruns second base and is tagged out between 2nd and 3rd before the plodding runner coming in from 3rd base crosses home.

  5. It’s disappointing how far Drabek (and maybe Sanchez, despite the promotion) has fallen, but if Hutchison keeps pitching well, and Stroman continues to be something positive as well, that’s not bad for a team that has no handle on player development. I can live with that.

    • Interesting that you point to two successful home-grown Jays pitchers while mentioning your near baseless assertion about the team having no handle on development.

      • I meant that as a reference to John Farrell’s comments from last year, which I think are complete and utter nonsense. I guess the sarcasm didn’t really translate there.

  6. Jesus, all of those questions were …. good. Sensible, worth asking and worth being answered. I’m shocked.

    • It’s not as much fun, is it?

      I’m assuming they were all submitted by DJF posters, wanting Andrew to give his answers.

  7. Off topic but was Bautista not safe at home? I only had video (no sound) at a bar and it looked like he made the most ninja slide ever and was safe.

  8. Well that was boring. No offense to you or Griff, Stoeten, but I think we can all agree that these mailbags are infinitely more entertaining when the questions are bat shit crazy/astoundingly moronic.

  9. Ok, to make up for this mailbag’s complete lack of idiocy, I’ll ask some questions:

    Gose had a nice bunt single the other day, so why not trade him to the Cubs for Samardjiza straight up?

    Both RA Dickey and Mark Buerhle have slow fastballs so I’m thinking they should do Delabar’s weighted ball training to get up into the 90′s then trade them for Price and Zobrist. Your thoughts?

  10. Baseball can be so fuckin weird sometimes, which I love (OBP > BA), but my favorite oddity to surface lately is pitchers who pinch run.

    Remember when ERIK FUCKIN KRATZ ran for Navarro last week? Someone asked who would be a faster runner from the pen. Hutchison and Santos (if healthy) were both suggested. It’s more of an NL thing, I was able to find this article on Cliff Lee AND Kyle Hendrick pinch running in a game last year, and guess what? THEY BOTH GOT PICKED OFF!

    How crazy is that?

  11. Because this is always fun. Win percentages needed for the remainder of the season by ALE teams to reach 90 wins. June 16th dreams.

    Toronto: 538.46
    New York: 585.10
    Baltimore: 585.10
    Boston: 634.40
    Tampa: 684.78

    • Math is AWESOME.

    • Yeah Im guessing theres a divide by 10 missing there

    • Have watched the Red Sox a bit of late and one thing that stands out is just how much they miss Jacoby Ellsbury. Grady Sizemore in cf just ain’t cutting it. Jake Peavey doesn’t look so hot either. Truth be told, with the injuries and lack of decent players on the market who could help, I doubt they put it together this year. Not that I give a fuck how much they suffer, but it’s nice to know that we knew John Farrell before and after he was a genius.

      • The Sox outfield is a bit of a horror-show. I agree, they miss Ellsbury. Given the age of some of their players I’m not surprised they are having a rough time. They were mostly winning when Pedroia and Ortiz were in their prime. I loathe both of those guys but they are great players, now sadly, on the downside of their careers.

        However, like you, I’m not shedding any tears for Mr Farrell.

        • I’m really nervous about the quality of their farm system, though. Prospects and all that, but they look like they could have replacements for their core stars on the way. At which point lazy journos will be declaring Farrell a genius again.

          • At the end of the day, prospects are just that until they make it in the big leagues. Back when the Jays made the Halladay trade, the received Drabek, D’Arnaud and Michael Taylor in return. Taylor was flipped for Brett Wallace because the A’s were enamored with Taylor and he was a local product that the A’s thought would be a big star and help sell tickets Wallace has since been released by Houston and I’m not sure if he caught on anywhere. Taylor was waived in spring training. He passed through waivers and was assigned to Oakland’s AAA affiliate. The A’s finally gave up on him this past weekend and he was traded to the White Sox. Of course we traded Brett Wallace for Anthony Gose and unless D’Arnaud quits getting hurt or puts it all together, to this point the best player involved in the package for Halladay is Gose and he wasn’t even in the original trade.

      • I think it’s a number of factors, but going from having Ellsbury to getting nothing from Bradley Jr. and Sizemore is definitely one of the most important ones. It also doesn’t help that they got the absolute best-case scenario with Buchholz last year, and are getting the exact opposite from him this year. The differences aren’t as extreme, but there’s also been a lot of regression from Doubront, Nava, Carp, Victorino, Peavy and even Pedroia and Ortiz this year.

  12. I remember going to games at Tiger Stadium as a kid. Late eighties/early 90s. And there all of about 5,000 people at those games. So the Tigers fans that guy was talking to might have been on their bandwagon for a while now, but a lot franchises go through it.

  13. Tony Gywnn died.
    Holy shit. What an awesome player.

  14. When is Morrow due to come back? I keep forgetting about him…

  15. The Tiger fans that are accusing Toronto of being bandwagon jumpers might want to check the attendance for some of the Tigers lean years. Having lived in Windsor all my life and been to a tonne of games at both Tiger stadium and Comerica park, I can tell you could shoot a cannon through there some nights and not hit anybody

  16. Steroids were such a pervasive thing in the later 1990′s – it appears even Tony Gwynn fell victim to the competitive temptation. I hadn’t looked at his stats in many years, but starting in his age 37 year in 1997, he put up power #’s that were way out of sample for his career. Like Bonds, it certainly doesn’t wipe out the epic nature of his career (may have hit .400 in 1994 if no strike), but to me it speaks volumes as to how pervasive PED’s likely were for that 4-5 year stretch at least. He, along with Wade Boggs, were my two favorite guys to watch hit as a kid, even as I hated the Red Sox and was agnostic on the Padres. It actually saddens on this solemn day to see the obvious evidence.

  17. So who saw me make a ridiculous finger-helped smile during the game broadcast from Baltimore on Thursday evening?

    Yeah, that was me.

  18. It’s not like batting average DOESN’T matter. Hitting is one of the five “tools” that scouts report on. A hit can drive in a run, which a walk cannot.

    Granted I’d rather have a guy with a .370 OBP than a guy with a .290 batting average. But it’s not like batting average *doesn’t matter*

  19. Indeed, nice questions for a change.

    Quick clarification: 1981 was the strike year, so the Red Sox attendance math is off a little in the one answer – closer to 20,000 per night, which is a lot of Massholes to be sure.

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