griffbag

Another week, another Griff Bag — aka Richard Griffin’s latest mail bag from over at the Toronto Star — except, that is, when I miss a week, so today we’re going to get two! And… I… uh… here it is? Or, here’s the first one, at least. Stay tuned for another dip into the ol’ Griff Bag after lunch!

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,

Munenori Kawasaki has been playing great baseball since he got called up. He’s playing great defence, his average is up, he’s had some key RBIs, he’s going deep into counts, and drawing walks. Has Kevin Seitzer been working with him to make some adjustments? Given that he’s also a great clubhouse presence and fan favourite, do you think he has a chance of holding on to the starting second base role for the rest of the season?

Isaac (from New York)

I think the chance of Kawasaki holding onto the second base spot for the entirety of the season is something close to zero. Or… actually, it’s literally zero, because he’s not even really the second baseman. He’s got a .596 OPS against left-handed pitching, so as soon as Brett Lawrie is back — provided that none of the infield improvements the Jays desperately need materialize — the club will go back to a platoon featuring someone like Juan Francisco at third against right-handers, and Lawrie at second, then Lawrie at third against left-handers, with Tolleson playing second. And that’s exactly the way it should be.

Whatever silly ideas we’re supposed to have about what a great clubhouse presence Kawasaki is, or whatever magic hand Kevin Seitzer has wielded (if anyone actually really thinks that after the last six weeks), mean about as much to whether he should play or not as the fact that he’s a fan favourite: i.e. not remotely at fucking all. Just as last year, he’s functioning exactly how you want him: as depth. He’s simply not good enough to be a big league regular on a team with playoff aspirations. Nice story and all that, but be serious.

 

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Q-I am a loyal toronto blue jays fan from Sarnia, ON, commenting on how lucky the organizAtion is to have Kevin Seitzer as part of the Coaching staff. His presence is so out there, it is a joy to be part of his enthusiasm and always expert guidance to every player, every At bat, always. He is a constant presence with his notes and encouragement to each player in every game. I find his dedication, to be reason to see that our blue jay hitters will succeed and our season will be a success because,of Kevin’s expertise and dedication. Welcome Kevin, you are a treasure!

Karen Davidson, fan extraordinaire!

I guess if those are the glasses you want to view it through, um… go nuts? Emphasis on… well… sure, whatever, I guess.

 

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Q-Hi Richard Stoeten,

Have there been any discussions on moving Brandon Morrow to the bullpen when/if he returns from the disabled list? I understand he along with Dustin McGowan are both type-1 diabetics and McGowan was recently moved to the bullpen due to fatigue issues possibly related to type-1. Could Morrow’s injury woes be related to type-1 as well and if so perhaps a move to the bullpen would allow him to go all out in shorter bursts (1/2 innings a game). I know his option years are coming up so this might be a good time to see if the move pays off with the current starting 5 pitching relatively well with the occasional inconsistency from Happ, Dickey and Hutchison.

Neil Mohammed

I’m sure the bullpen is a possibility being considered for Morrow, should he return to health. Perhaps the possibility, given the way the rest of the rotation is pitching at the moment — though, of course, that can quickly change. And yes, the trouble both pitchers have had with injuries may well be connected to their conditions. I don’t know near enough about diabetes to try to draw any conclusions, but my understanding is that recovery time would be an issue, at the very least.

Thing about Morrow’s “option years,” though, is that the only option the club has on him is for next season, and the cost will be $10-million versus a $500K buyout. So… unless he’s somehow able to come back by the end of this season, earn a spot in the rotation, and pitch as well as he has when at his best for an extended string of starts, it’s very hard to see the club actually picking that option up.

 

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Q-Dear Richard Stoeten,

When will management consider locking up Drew Hutchinson and Marcus Stroman?

Thank you,

Donnie

When it becomes remotely necessary, one imagines. Which, of course, it isn’t yet. At earliest, Stroman won’t reach free agency until after the 2020 season. He’ll get more expensive through arbitration eventually — just like Ricky Romero was going to! — but he’s still way cheap and under team control cheaply for far too long for them to worry about locking him up any time soon.

Hutchison’s situation is a little bit different. He was on the big league DL as he rehabbed from Tommy John in 2012 and 2013, so he accrued service time from the day he was hurt until he was activated and optioned in the second half of last year. He entered 2014 with one year and 128 days of service, which may eventually put him in line to be a Super Two, but either way, the Jays control his rights until the end of the 2018 season, at least.

So… yeah, again, let’s be serious.

 

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Q-Hi Richard Stoeten,

Presuming the Jays can and do acquire a starting pitcher that will provide an upgrade to the staff, I would have a difficult time choosing who to remove. In my mind, Buehrle stays for sure, as does Hutchison. Stroman may be their best pitcher right now so he stays. Happ seems to be improving and should stay. Dickey may have the most potential of them all, but somehow always manages to loose, then have an excuse (not to mention a look on his face like he doesn’t want to be on the mound). I know AA sold the farm to get him and he has a team friendly contract, but right now he is a mid-rotation starter with potential for more. If someone better than all the current five were acquired today, whom would you remove from the rotation?

Thanks for the Mail Bag, Bullpen, live chats and all the articles. I love your work.

Jason MacDonald, Amherst, NS

Seemed like an interesting question until the horseshit about the look on Dickey’s face.

But OK, I’ll answer, just because it turns out that I’m not going to validate whatever negative thing you want me to: right now I’d probably go to a six-man rotation for a couple of turns, just to see if any change that needs to be made makes itself obvious. Then I’d have to think that either Happ is the first to go, or Stroman goes to the bullpen for a bit, just to suppress his innings and extend his season, or Hutchison does, if he continues to struggle. Buehrle and Dickey are not going to be considered options for removal if the club actually does go out and upgrade on the rotation.

 

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Q-Richard Stoeten,

As the Jays lead in the AL East has now disappeared, I’m wondering if you agree with my analysis that the major problem with the team’s slide after the red-hot month of May is more to do with scoring runs than starting pitching. At the beginning of the season, it seems the consensus was the they would put lots of runs on the board but that the pitching was suspect. The performance up to the end of May seemed to bear out the scoring perspective. Since then, although the starting pitching has been fairly decent, the hitting in clutch situations has been generally abysmal and the bullpen has been nowhere near the reliable group last year. To me, to much of the offense depends on the long ball and not enough on scratching out runs with smart hitting.

Two obvious problems to me seem to be centre field and second base. Neither Colby Rasmus nor Anthony Gose seem to have the consistent offensive performance that is required of an outfielder, with Rasmus still having trouble with anything other than the fast ball and Gose refusing to use his god-given speed to bunt more often. At second base, as popular as Kawasaki is, he is not the answer either defensively or offensively. Another infield problem to me is Reyes, who instead of trying to make the simple throw to first base, always seems to want to make the spectacular off-balance throw with the result that many of his throws end up short hopping the first baseman and has led to a number of errors.

I worry that with all the talk about needing additional starting pitching that the team will give up some of their minor league or young pitchers who have a bright future to get a possible short term pitcher who is not a significant upgrade on the current roster…..when I see the real problem as lack of run support. Do you agree or disagree??

Hugh Sampson

Yes, I agree that the lack of runs of late has been the big issue. Yes, it seemed in May that this was a team that could score a lot of runs — because when healthy it is. But no, the problem has nothing to do with a lack of “clutch” or “smart” hitting, because those are just terms that, at their core, make the assumption that players can choose when they get hits, which is ridiculous.

Yes, Rasmus has struggled, and yes, so has Gose — though no matter how often people want to regurgitate Gregg Zaun nonsense, it’s certainly not because he’s “refusing” to bunt — but no, Reyes isn’t missing throws because he’s more worried more about making a spectacular play than getting an out.

Yes, I agree that offence should be the priority, but let’s maybe be a little bit fucking serious here, OK?

 

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Q-Hello,

I’ve been a baseball fan since the early 1950′s when we kids were members of the “Simpson’s Junior Leafs” fan club (membership cost us 25 cents a year – and we got 75% discounts for bleacher seats in the “Fleet Street Flats”, for any/all games). In all these years of watching baseball, I’ve witnessed many changes. Some I agree with; some I don’t.

However, no change is as concerning to me, as a Jays fan, than the ever growing tendency of the club(?) or the Manager(?) playing by statistics and not in the raw way the game has always been played – and it shows, in my humble opinion, the Manager’s apparently complete lack of confidence in the players but full confidence in computer stats.

For example, if a pitcher is good enough to play in the majors, why are they (for example Mark Buehrle), being regularly pulled by the manager if they give up a hit in the 6th inning or later – especially when they’ve been pitching a great game up to that point??

Or, how about the pitch count. A young pitcher, such as Marcus Stroman, comes on board and is pitching a great game only to be pulled, mid-inning, because his pitch count has reached a certain level (this often results in the bull-pen blowing the game on him).

And how about the daily lineup. It uses to be that a player made the team in Spring Training and, unless he was seriously injured or completely fell apart, he wasn’t replaced. He showed his gratitude, and earned the team’s and fan’s support and respect by continually getting better as the season progressed.

This past weekend, rather than let these professional players play, the team brought up a number of minor league players – - because they were going to be facing left handed pitchers – and the computer stats said their Major League players weren’t good enough to hit lefthanders – and we all know the results of that folly. My observations show that these tendencies are more prominent with the Blue Jays than other MLB clubs. Am I correct?? I suspect that several things have happened to this team in June because of the many player changes – and pitchers not being permitted to pitch:

1-players lose their edge and become discouraged/frustrated because, as good as they’ve been playing, they can still be benched (such as what happened to Melky Cabrera on Sunday). Jose Reyes was quoted to say as much just this past week (and the frustration caused by these sudden “moves”, which surfaced/spilled out from Pillar this past week, caused his demotion).

2-pitcher’s lose their confidence when their Manager shows that he doesn’t have any confidence in them and that their abilities are constantly judged on not what they can do but how many pitches they throw.

All this to ask: Am I reading more into how the players are treated now as opposed to the past?? If so, how do the fans and the Media make these concerns known to management in the hopes that they will change their ways?? Perhaps management, within the entire organization, should be encouraged to take Business Management courses that are designed to show how good businesses succeed (and the Blue Jays are a business) – - through good working relationships between the employee and management – - and not by a using computer print-outs and statistics to decide how/when the players will play and if/when the player will receive the respect they’ve worked so hard to earn)??

Thanks

Ted

Striving to make better-informed decisions, whether through technology or any other means, isn’t something to be fucking derided. This is insanity.

 

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Q-Griff Stoet,

With the silly season upon us where everyone has an opinion on who the Jays should go out and get, I can’t resist the urge to throw in my slightly informed opinion: Having watched all but two Jays games this year, I believe that 2b is their greatest need. It is a black hole both offensively and defensively.

I have heard a great number of 2b from Utley to Beckham being thrown around as possibilities, but, I think the best 2b I have seen this year is Jose Altuve in Houston. He is very quietly putting up a great year, has great skills in the field and at the plate and is controllable for three more years. I think that he could possibly be dealt since Houston is still 3 years away and they desperately need pitching, which we have at the lower levels (three years away).

Lastly, the pitcher who I love, is just as dominant as Price and is controllable for 4 very reasonable years is Chris Sale. Could a package of Sanchez, Norris, and Pompey pry him (with Beckham too?) from the ChiSox? Is it an overpay for a dominant LH starter that he is?

Thanks again for the work you do!

Frank

You’ve identified some seriously good players, but I don’t think either is available exactly because their teams see the same value in them as you do for the Jays.

 

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Comments (46)

  1. Karen Davidson is invited to watch the games with me whenever she wants.

    You are a treasure, Karen.

  2. Anyone else read Karen Davidson’s letter as total sarcasm?

    I think I just have trouble believing anyone can like any coach that much.

  3. I was hoping Ted would get ripped to shreds much more than he was.

    • Ted’s letter – of course I totally disagree with, but I think that’s a great sample of the problem between old times and the new stats guys.
      If he was being all Zauny, ya rip him. But he seems to be generally interested, and confused, at the new state of baseball. It’s such easy knee-jerk to call him an old bastard and make fun of him, but it’s a perfect situation to actually give him rational responses.

      You can’t do that with all, but the gap’s not going to be bridged with insults. He’s a guy who’s prob never had a chance to look at baseball from any other point of view. Give him some pointers, he’ll still prob disagree, but at least we weren’t the closed minded ones.

      • Ignoring part of his response he had a legitimate point about the manager having confidence in the players etc. Whatever value that has is debatable. Ted was likely a big cito gaston fan. In that context there may be more to the game than the stats bear out

    • The second I read that second paragraph, I started anticipating a long, epic tear-down. C’mon Stoeten!

    • …and i tied an onion to my belt, which was the style at the time.

    • I thought for sure it was going to go off the rails in a racist direction. I would have lost that bet.

  4. Ted who hates computers is hilarious. If a team were actually dumb enough to do what he wanted, or somehow put a guy like him in as manager, they’d throw out all analysis of things as basic as spray charts and pitching matchups and would tank badly. If such an attitude were adopted widely, one team would wisely hang on to statistical analysis and mop the floor with the other teams.

  5. Honestly, I’m not sure if I’d trade Sanchez, Norris or Pompey for a single player – unless you think a Price or Shields is coming our way.
    The Jays have been exposed as a team with multiple deficiencies – and even when everyone’s healthy, those deficiencies shine throw. They have to address their infield by getting either a full-time, quality second baseman or a third baseman….and that might let Lawrie settle down at whatever base they need him to play.
    Mostly, it’s hunker down and try to get everyone healthy – and hope that they can revert back to the form they displayed in May. In this division, another run like May’s run could put them right back on track WITHOUT selling off more valuable parts.

    • Agreed – that’s what gets me the most about the Jays talk crowd and the trade talk. We’re more than 1 pc away, so why destroy the future to fill one hole, and leave us no way to fill the other 2 or 3?
      Then in 2 yrs, when this team turns over, we have no youth to build it and have 6 or 7 holes.

  6. That was flat out painful to read.

  7. Imagine being so fucking good at baseball, that at the highest possible level, you could select times you were going to have intelligent at bats.

    • Im sure people much more intelligent than me have looked at this, but thinking logically you can at least see a few differences between batting in ‘clutch’ and ‘non-clutch’ situations. Pitcher is coming out of the stretch, and is likely to pitch you differently if there are runners on. A lazy fly ball with nobody on is worthless, but with a man on 3rd is valuable, ground ball with runners on 1st/3rd and 1 out hurts more than with nobody on, etc.

      Im not saying players should be able to just hit better in higher leverage situations because they ‘want it more’ or have a ‘killer instinct’ or whatever, but it seems to me it would require a slightly different approach than a regular AB, and therefore there is an empirical difference between ‘clutch’ and ‘non-clutch’ hitting, and it stands to reason that some players may be better at adjusting to these situations than others.

      • I agree with this. There are more situations too. A runner on first usually means the 1B is holding him on and there may be a hole on the right side. Infielders playing in gives them less time to react to a hard hit ball.

        Again im not saying a player will choose to have more intelligent at bats in certain situations, but an intelligent hitter may try to react more to defensive positioning (a la Bautista hitting singles to the right side with teams playing the shift against him). It all still shows up as a hit in the stat sheet.

  8. If they don’t make a move for an infielder, wouldn’t Lawrie at third, and a Kawasaki/Tolleson platoon at second be better than anything involving Juan Francisco?

    • I think so yeah,
      keep him as a legitimate bench bat threat,
      a fill in once a week to keep guys fresh.
      i’d like to see them pick up an outfielder who could crush lefties, and on those days maybe dh melky, or slide jose to center for the day and give rasmus the day off

    • Depends on if Francisco starts hitting again. There’s no question his seasonal numbers make him a 3b and Lawrie at 2b a better proposition, even granting Fat Juan can’t field. But if the league as caught up to him (and it sure looks like it has), then the Kawasaki/Tolleson platoon, sad as it might be, is prob. the better bet.

  9. There’s no way Ted is real…

  10. What would it take for the jays to acquire Ian Kennedy and Houston street? One of Norris/Sanchez/Pompey and a lower level lottery ticket?

  11. I think they should trade Buehrle,Dickey, and some bull pen pieces. Try to dump Rasmus on somebody. Try to trade Reyes. Then with all the $ off the books…sign Melky and go after free agents in the winter. Build around JB,EE,Lawrie and the young pitchers. Just my opinion.

    • Nope

    • @Tony – Zero chance this happens but after thinking about it, it wouldn’t be a bad way to go. Save all your prospects and gain a couple new prospects (which could fill some holes or become trade bait at a later date). Save a huge amount of money to refit the team in 2015 around the core of JB, EE and CJ. Then use said money to bring in free agents. As David mentions, it doesn’t work if you can’t sign anyone, but I’d vote for your plan.

      • Free agents or trades. You fellas know what I mean. I know T.O. And artificial turf is a factor. I just feel that they need some fixing and trying away their prospects now may not be enough. I watch every game and I’m hoping for a turnaround this season but I’m not sure deadline deals will guarantee that. AA should focus on the core…admit that the big trades have not really worked the way he liked and make adjustments. They could contend in 2015 if the right moves are made

      • are you suggesting that casey janssen is a core piece of the team

  12. We have to assume that Kawasaki will get the rest of July/beginning of August starting at 2B v. RHP until Lawrie gets back, and if he can continue playing like he has, then there’s no reason to think they would play Francisco instead. We would prefer a Kawasaki/Tolleson platoon over Tolleson/Francisco, no?

  13. Come on AA! Take some business management courses! Good god…

  14. I agree with Ted to an extent. Micromanagement annoys the hell out if me. But, then again, the only educational book I’ve read on the game is Leonard Koppett’s The Thinking Fan’s Guide to Baseball.
    I get that this is how the game is managed these days but is it really laughable to consider nurturing a player’s skill and confidence, even when the games matter?
    Sonewhere along the line, such a soul lifting, romantic game has been somewhat dehumanized.
    Anyway, it’s all good. Though I would be disappointed to find out that the Blue Jays do the sending up and down, by a large margin, more than any other team in the league.

  15. it is amazing how dumb some Toronto Star readers are. it makes me weep for humanity.

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