Another week, another Griff Bag! Aka Richard Griffin’s latest mail bag from over at the Toronto Star! Er… except that I haven’t actually done one of these for a couple of weeks, but why let that spoil a good opening line?
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-With the season in full swing and drawing to the crunch. I have a question regarding this offseason, the Jays have projected payroll of controlled/buyouts of 96 million. With the dominant starter still not there to stop the bleeding on a Jays team, would it be at all possible that the Jays are able to trade Buehrle (20 mill next season), and Dickey (12 mill next season) without including a bunch of cash going the other way? The reason I suggest this is that they could then replace those 2 starters with more proven, reliable starters, 1 of the following of ie Ervin Santana, James Shields, Jon Lester or Max Scherzer? Then sign a Jake Peavy, Brett Anderson, Josh Beckett, Justin Masterson, to be the 3 or 4 starter? I know it is Fantasy baseball talk here but wouldn’t one of those aforementioned pitchers be a better option then Buehrle for the same type of coin and the latter be better then Dickey?
Scott Cochrane, Niagara on the Lake
Uh… why would a team agree to take on Mark Buehrle at the full freight of $22-million for next season when they too could give up nothing and sign one of those guys that you mentioned? Where is the advantage for the other team? Is it that they may not be able to sign one of those guys themselves? Because that makes no sense — they have the money, and pretty much any team is as likely to sign a free agent pitcher as the Jays are if the money is there. So… ?
Dickey you’d have a better time giving away, but not seeing how $12-million on the free agent market gets you 200 virtually guaranteed innings of a former Cy Young pitcher with a sub-4.00 ERA in the AL East and a club option for 2016 at the same rate.
If you have an internal rotation option you believe in, or acquire a pitcher on the cheap, then maybe you take a bath on a portion of the last year of the Buehrle deal and repurpose those dollars into fixing the outfield, for example, but I’m pretty sure it’s a lot harder to make this team better while taking away Buehrle than all the armchair GM’s think.
With Jim Johnson recently signing in Detroit, this really shows that the Jays have their purse strings tightly wrapped. He would have been a good shot in the dark pick up, considering he is 31 and the Jays are looking for late inning help, he would have fit nicely in at the back end of the bullpen. Prior to this year he has had 100 plus saves in the AL East, why wasn’t he looked at for the Jays bullpen??
Scott Cochrane, Niagara on the Lake
Because he’s been terrible, because he has to want to come here, and because the Jays don’t have room to carry an experiment at the back of their bullpen — and if they did they don’t have the innings to give him to get himself straight anyway, which is exactly why Steve Delabar and Sergio Santos are in Buffalo.
Don’t know about you Griff, but after the recent ups and downs I am now in Doris day mode – ‘Que Sera Sera’. So a couple of non “are they going to make it” observations.
I don’t know if you caught Dave Bidini’s article in the Post about going to watch the Jays at the old Ex. For me it brought back a ton of memories of going there for the first time back in 1978 – including not realising why everyone (and there weren’t a lot) rushed to the back of the stands when the seagulls arrived. I still remember it as the time when I really fell in love with the game. Previous visits to Fenway with an uncle left me with a lifelong dislike of the fans and the stadium. Can you recall when you got the bug?
On a different note it’s a bit sad to see some of the ignorant and offensive stuff being written on fan Boards/comments etc about Paul Beeston. (Only a bean counter- no interest in the Jays doing well are some of the more printable ones). I know he has made as many mistakes as anyone involved with the club but he has had a long and at times very succesful association with the team. Any chance of an interview with him?
all the best
Yeah, yeah, Paul Beeston gives all the old folks a warm fuzzy because of his legacy of no one ever saying a bad word about him, built on his being drinking buddies with so much of the media. Or at least that’s what I assume.
Whatever the reason — be it that, or the local boy made good angle, the simple fact that he presided over the team during its glory years, or some combination thereof — while I’m sure he’s probably an awesome dude who has done some great things, the fact of the matter is, if you want a progressive, boundary-pushing organization that will seek out all paths great and small to gain a competitive edge on a league filling fast with progressive, boundary-pushing organizations, you don’t, in the year 2014, have Paul Beeston running it.
If you care less about the end result and more about installing a P.R. shield who’ll always have the company’s back and fosters goodwill among the core believers in the brand, then sure, he makes perfect sense.
That isn’t to say that I don’t think he wants the team to be good — that’s ridiculous, and I have a hard time believing you’ve found anybody half serious who would actually say so — and it isn’t anything personal, it’s just… his being in the position he’s in speaks more to what Rogers wants than we sometimes like to believe, I think. And what it says ain’t good, I don’t think, if you’re a fan who wants the Jays to be a team capable of running with the big-money, ultra-smart teams in their division — especially when they’re going to have large self-imposed budget constraints.
Hey, nostalgia, though, eh?
with the series almost done in Houston it seems the air was let out of the balloons rather quickly. With the no action on trade deadline the morale seems to be gone from the locker room. The inaction of the front office spoke loudly to the players, go out and play and do your jobs and we won’t be able to reinforce you. How in the world did AA not pick up Martin Prado?
You can’t fault AA for the inaction if it boils down to money but if the money was there and he didn’t take any then it is his fault. The east is at hand with 2 teams in the race, how did AA take no action?
Scott Cochrane, Niagara on the Lake
Weird. It’s almost like this kind of horseshit ends up looking dumb as fuck a few games later — like a baseball season has all kinds of ebbs and flows that make it unbelievably ridiculous to view things through the immediacy of misplaced “must win,” “season over,” and “this means something” prisms. And the worst thing is that people who hold these sorts of opinions don’t ever seem to notice how quickly the thing they thought two weeks ago became asinine.
Anywho, no, the inaction didn’t speak shit. The Prado thing would have likely blown whatever budget there might be to re-sign Cabrera. And for what? To add — as I’ve written before — a guy who is only barely an upgrade, if at all? He’s been below replacement level as a Yankee; his 86 wRC+ this year makes it a second straight decline year, and a third year of four in which he’s been league average or below at the plate; his most valuable defensive position is the one Brett Lawrie was about to come back take over at the time of the deadline; and he’s at his best against left-handed pitching, which the Jays already have the much cheaper Steve Tolleson and Danny Valencia to do almost as well. So can we please stop talking about Martin fucking Prado? Whine about something that makes sense to whine about if you have to be this sort of insufferable fan.
Can the AL East still be considered a weak division now that they have more wins than any other division in baseball? If the Jays don’t make the playoffs, and I think that they will, AA should not be fired at the end of the season. AA has towed the company line and refused to admit that he is under strict financial constraints from Rogers. He has done a great job of pulling players off of the scrap heap who have value. I don’t think that he will win a World Series that way but maybe an attendance bump from a competitive season and a decent run in the playoffs will loosen the Rogers purse strings a little more. Would a perennial contender not be a financial win for Rogers?
Matt Meisner, St. Catharines
I don’t know that straight wins really is the measure of what makes a division good or bad, but really it’s just semantic nonsense anyway. Maybe it’s wrong, but I don’t know… there are major flaws in all of the AL East teams, and less so in the A’s or Angels, I’d argue. Doesn’t really matter anyway, though, what the label is.
As to whether or not Anthopoulos should be fired, it really sometimes seems like we’re deep into J.P. Ricciardi territory here, where the G.M.’s greatest talent — better, even, than building a baseball team — is understanding how best to preserve his job. I happen to think that Anthopoulos isn’t nearly as cynical as his predecessor in how he operates — Ricciardi would, to his team’s detriment, avoid selling off pieces at the trade deadline in order to preserve his ability to sell false hope down the stretch, and I don’t think the same can be said of Alex — but he certainly is a good soldier for the company, and I bet, internal to the company, that goes a lot farther than whatever baseball acumen he possesses does. Ricciardi, once he saw the writing on the wall, started griping about Rogers and money, seemingly hoping that he might find support, or perhaps to somewhat preserve his reputation enough to land another job. Anthopoulos hasn’t yet shown he’s willing to do that, meaning he either knows too well that it won’t work, or that he doesn’t think the writing is yet on the wall. Maybe both.
And yes, a perennial contender would be a financial win for Rogers, one assumes, but not at any cost. They make plenty as it is, and… shit, you almost hope that there’s something in the cost/benefit analysis that keeps them from spending bigger or trying harder to make this situation better. Otherwise, what the fuck excuse is there?
Based on their recent performances, I’m wondering if it would make sense to transfer Todd Redmond to the starting rotation to replace Drew Hutcheson.
Let me start off by saying that I usually don’t get caught up in what’s being written in sports pages and what is said by players, although I do enjoy reading the opinions of yourself and others. After all when you think about it, baseball is just a game. It teaches you about competition and what it’s like to be a part of a team. I liked playing, watching my son and daughter play, watching the Expos and watch the Bluejays at every opportunity.
My rant – “ Blue Jay’s Jose Bautista disappointed team didn’t improve at deadline.” This one really sticks in my craw. Isn’t now the time to close your mouth and open your glove (last night’s game) instead of dissing on your team mates that have currently helped you to a six-game win streak? This guy is being paid more money then most people will see in 10 life times, he is supposed to be the team leader (yes, everyone does it differently). I can’t help but wonder how players like Danny Valencia, Nolan Reimold, Ryan Goins, Marcus Stroman, and Aaron Sanchez feel. Shouldn’t a real team leader stand behind his team mates and the hands that feed him? I would like to think a team leader might say to his team that management has the confidence in us to win with the players that we have now.
I would appreciate your opinion.
Bob Andrews, Brandon, Manitoba.
Yeah, they should to’lly strip ‘im ov the “C,” eh? Gotta give a-hunred pe’cent in the room an’ on the ice. Geh the fuck outta ‘ere wit that fuckin’ attituude, eh bud. Gimme a leadre like that Laurie kid, always playin’ like it’s game seven!
It’s interesting, and perhaps worrying, to see some of our key veterans vent their frustration about the inability to obtain help at the trade deadline. Not surprising though. This is such a hot/cold team this year and while Reimold/Valencia and the return of the injured bodes well for the offence, how is the starting pitching going to hold up without reinforcements? Dickey and Buerhle are solid and consistent, but old and neither is an ‘ace’. Who knows when their durability hits a road bump? Stroman is excellent, but presumably on an innings count. Hutchinson is becoming a worry and also on a count. And Happ is Happ. Morrow is coming back hopefully, and maybe he helps, but we’ve lost Rogers who had some decent starts last year and Hendricks (even though he got hit hard). But isn’t it blindingly obvious that we need starter help to make it to the post-season, or fingers crossed, deep into the post-season? I’m not saying we should/could have got Lester or Price, but I wonder if that’s the core of the player frustration. Do you think AA is going to pick up a starter in August and who potential targets/options might be?
Rob Brander, Sydney, Australia
It’s not obvious that they need a starter, no. It might become obvious, and if one of their current group gets hurt or hits the wall, yeah, they’ll want one — Sean Nolin currently seems to be next in line, unless they go to a Todd Redmond or Chad Jenkins. Maybe they’ll get fearful enough of continuing to rely on Hutchison that they make a move. Not sure it would have been fair or smart to move assets to make that switch a few weeks ago, and… OK, maybe now it is. Fortunately, like you say, trades can still be made in August.
The guys available are basically the same ones we talked about through all of July, minus the ones who don’t clear trade waivers.
Yeah… I don’t know…
LETTER FROM A FAN TO JAYS OWNERSHIP
Q-Dear Mr. Laurence,
I appreciate that you are likely walking into a difficult job, Rogers being one of the largest communications companies in the country, but I find your conduct regarding the Blue Jays to be quite disturbing.
So far, all I have heard (second hand through your representative management in the Blue Jays organization), that you are “interested in winning” and that the “resources are available” should they be needed. All evidence that has been presented recently however, is quite to the contrary.
In the last few days leading up to the trade deadline, I have heard nothing but reports (from the most reputable sources in baseball) that the Jays will not take on salary because they are “capped out”. Looking at the TV numbers and the gates recently (not to mention the MLB TV money), I can’t imaging that lack of revenue is an issue unless this shortfall is self imposed.
Can you explain to me why this is? I can only think from this that you do not consider the Blue Jays to be a legitimate business in your “Empire” because you would not and have not conducted your affairs anywhere close to the same way as this with your other units.
The NHL deal alone is evidence that you are cutthroat and aggressive in your normal affairs. When it comes to the Jays however, the desire is lacking. If Telus or Bell had managed to score a major competitive edge against you in the Telecom or Media department, you would make it a point to strike back as quickly as possible to regain the advantage. When Detroit or Oakland do it however, you allow it to happen with little more than a shrug.
As you can tell, I do NOT believe that AA is responsible for this lack of movement. If he has to take any more bullets for you, he’s going to need to come to work in a Kevlar vest. Reviewing the trades made for “Aces” (at the deadline), even conservatively, these deals would not have been stretches for the Jays to make if they were allowed.
You owe us an explanation…From Rogers DIRECTLY! Alex or Paul will NOT do in this case. We want to know why it is acceptable for you to be essentially punked by your competition and for you to have essentially no answer for your lack of action.
The team is performing remarkably well given the situation. We all know they can’t go too much further without help (this is not a “Miracle on Ice” situation here).
If the fan base truly understood your apparent lack of interest, your “investment” would drop off a cliff and you would have nothing to show for it but “content” for your channels, which seems to me to be your only present concern. You are not the Leafs…you know this can happen in this city very quickly.
As someone in accounting and finance myself, I understand the danger of “bottomlining” this type of operation. I only pray you realize the potential results of your actions before too much damage is done…to the team, the fan base, and your asset.
Thanks for you time,
Aww, feel better now, Alan?
OK. Now, let me get this straight: you’re surprised that there’s a difference between what the company says and what the reality is? Uh… this should probably just be assumed. Pay attention to what they do, not to what they say.
And yes, the amount of money that’s there is subject to a limit set internally… like every other MLB team. Maybe it’s lower than you’d like, but the idea that the Jays might not be considered a legitimate business within the Rogers empire is absurd. They’re an important piece of content for Sportsnet, and because of that relationship, which is entirely internal to the parent company, the equation is different than the examples you use. It’s certainly different than the example you use about the telecom industry — the cost/benefit isn’t nearly the same, nor is the potential for profit.
With a baseball team, the key is equity. Rogers bought the Jays for $120-million in 2000; Bloomberg valued the team at $950-million a year ago, and Forbes put their value at $610-million. The Jays haven’t sniffed the playoffs, yet the value of the asset has skyrocketed. There must be value in their being better, but enough to justify the cost of really making the effort to do so? Apparently not, judging by their actions.
That, I think, is all it is. If they saw massive untapped potential I have a hard time believing they wouldn’t be trying better to tap into it. And it’s certainly not just a microcosm of Rogers’ other operations.
The sentiment here is great and all, it’s just… let’s not be too naive. The aces that were dealt before July 31st certainly weren’t as feasibly attainable by the Jays as you believe (see below), and I think it’s already well understood that Rogers is a dispassionate — if not disinterested — owner, and nothing has fallen off a cliff. They’re doing just fine, in fact. The scary warning stuff simply won’t work — not when we’re talking about an asset possibly worth something like 800% more than what it was acquired for 14 years ago, especially when they spent many of those years finding some pretext or another to run it on a shoestring.
It is what it is.
A lot of people are saying how the Jays should’ve gone “all in” to get the players they need at the non-waiver deadline. Commentators like Zaun pointed out that their prospect cupboard is bare, which could be a reason why they couldn’t trade for players they need.
But I’m thinking: of course their cupboard’s bare! They traded away their most highly touted prospects two years ago (e.g. Justin Nicolino, Jake Marisnick, Adeiny Hechavarria, Travis D’Arnaud, Noah Syndergaard) to go all in for players like Buehrle, Reyes, and Dickey thinking they could make the playoffs last year. It takes time to develop the players to refill the cupboard, and there are only so many times you can go “all in” in a short time span. So why is there still surprise that the Blue Jays have no prospects to offer in trade?
I have no idea why that’s a surprise, Al. You’re absolutely right. And they certainly do have a tonne of talent at the lower levels, and that they obtained in June’s draft, those just aren’t the kinds of commodities that brought back the kind of talent on July 31st that Jays fans wanted to see. Maybe if they’d pooled a whole lot of them together, but even then it would have been tough to beat the big league talent acquired for guys like Jon Lester and David Price.
That said, obviously the talk about the cupboard being bare is off-base, idiot-empowering nonsense, too. Hey, but I guess it makes a good sound bite.
The basic premise of hitting is to hit the ball where the fielders aren’t. With that said, can you explain why there was a backlash against Rasmus for bunting when there was a shift against him? From what I understand, if he did a full swing and hit the ball down the 3B line it would be fine, but because he bunt the ball it’s somehow disrespectful? I thought it was a smart move by Rasmus and a great way to make the opposing team think twice about using the shift against him again. And if the opposing fielders choose to employ the shift and are practically giving you the entire left side of the infield, why don’t players bunt down the line for an easy single more often?
Justin, Richmond Hill
There was a backlash because, generally, baseball players and the unwritten rules of the game are fucking dumb.
I hope you are right when saying that standing pat at the deadline will not make the Jays weaker by way of the A’s getting stronger and the Sox going through a pitching trade frenzy that is likened to a version of “Black Friday”. The one thing that I have to consider in evaluating the quality of our front office namely AA, is how other GMs get deals done, and not necessarily the flashy deals.
Three trades that stand out to me as being level headed are the Price, Samardzija and Masterson trades. In order to evaluate the abilities of the front office to pull the trigger on a good trade, I need to frame the trades up with the relevant talent base from the Jays. I ask this as it seems they were level headed and not as one sided as most of the trade speculations with the Jays that would have to have involved at least one of our young arms. Can you provide a parallel to the Price trade with equivalent Jay talent?
That is what comparable talent would the Jays have parted with (based on what the Rays got) if they were to be involved? For example with the Masterson trade who in the jays minor league system would be comparable to James Ramsey?
Also, in your opinion which of the recent deals, specifically for Pitching help were level headed and which would you have like to see the Jays involved with?
I am glad to see, that the Jays are picking up steam again, I rather enjoyed reminiscing earlier this season with the SkyDome anniversary and early team success as it took me back to a time long gone when I was 15 and working at the Dome selling programs on its opening day, and the ongoing comparison of the current teams with the previous successful Jays. At this juncture of the season which of the previous teams would you still compare this squad to?
Thank you as always I genuinely feel that you are an integral part of maintaining the Jays fan base going.
The big O
For Price the Rays ended up with a young, controllable mid-rotation starter, a young, controllable infielder, and a very young shortstop prospect who, by some accounts, could now be the best player in their system. If you’re asking the Jays to match that package, it looks something like Hutchison, Lawrie, and someone like Franklin Barreto, Richard Urena, or Dawel Lugo. They’re having to play now without Lawrie anyway, and Price would likely have replaced Hutchison, so maybe the cost isn’t as crazy as some like to say, but it’s still pretty crazy — especially before Lawrie got hurt again, and especially because the $20-million or so Price will make next year (as opposed to the league minimum-ish Hutchison will get) would have constrained the club badly in trying to do anything else (like re-signing one of their free-agent-to-be outfielders).
As for Masterson? I don’t know how much of a prospect Ramsey is, but I don’t think it really matters. I’m not sure how much the 89-throwing, 5.94 ERA, Justin Masterson who has walked 5.24 batters for every nine innings he’s thrown, and has averaged a hair over five innings per start, is helping this team.
Last night we saw Aaron Sanchez’s fastball hit 99MPH, which is a filthy drastic change from Dickey’s 65 MPH knuckler (Gibby should always follow Dickey with Sanchez!). Some DJF blog commenters mentioned how the Skydome radar gun has always been “hot”, and that the actual speed may have been 2-3MPH slower… What is your opinion on the accuracy of radar guns in MLB today? What numbers can we trust?
Thanks, all the best,
Morgan Burton, Banff, Alberta
Trust the Pitch F/X, not the stadium gun. Per FanGraphs, the average on Sanchez’s fastball has been 97.3, though he tops out higher than that. Those who think he sits lower may be remembering scouting reports from before he moved to the bullpen. Most guys, when they know they’re in for just a short stint and don’t have to conserve their energy for a long outing, will throw a bit harder.