Andrew Stoeten

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Oh, hello. Apologize for the inactivity over the last day or so, but I got just a little bit robbed the other night and am currently a touch low on computers on which to… y’know… work. Things will be back to normal soon, though, so don’t fret.

In the meantime, I want to thank everybody who came out to last night’s Pitch Talks event, which may entirely have been my favourite yet — and not just for the continued spread of the term “garbage clown.” From Shi Davidi outlining J.P. Ricciardi’s terrible drafts as the reason the Jays seem perpetually thin in terms of depth, to Sid Seixeiro lamenting that the one-shot, payroll-increasing, can’t-say-no Marlins trade came around at the wrong moment for this organization and its GM, to Jeremy Taggart slaying the crowd and hilariously telling of his tryout with the Atlanta Braves (!), to Stacey May Fowles, Jenn Smith, and Erin Valois debating the merits of baseball’s replay challenge system, it was a night full of great baseball talk, and… y’know… beer (from the outstanding Left Field Brewery). And it was great putting faces to names and meeting people I’d only known through the internet, like David Shemie and Slappy Shalom — but not RADAR, even though he was apparently there!!

I’d add everyone’s Twitter handle to all that, but I’m writing this on my phone and… well… do you have any idea what a pain in the ass that would be?

What I will add, however, is what the title of this post refers to: my spot yesterday morning on TSN Radio 1050 here in Toronto.

Have a listen!

Now that was a fine game of mid-afternoon baseball for a… uh… a… what is this? A Wednesday?

Anyway, that’s more fucking like it, eh Jays? A right proper offensive outburst to distract from the August version of Jays pitching still giving up too many runs, and our learning about the franchise trying to force the Creighton Blue Jays to change their logo, and their history of being frivolously protecting their brand (trying, along with the Rays, to stop a pizza place called Ray Jay’s, and trademark filings against Jay-Z!), and the Enarnacion’s Parrot shirt stuff, and the club’s social media being apparently outsourced to some MLB drone (who accidentally updated the Rangers score on the Jays’ Twitter feed), to that thing some player said to Arash Madani yesterday, which I still haven’t written about, but probably will, even though it’s kinda dumb.

Yep, just a good ol’ solid win to end an abysmal road trip and set up a huge fight for playoff positioning on the upcoming home stand, with opportunities abound, even though it’s the Rays, Red Sox, and Yankees coming in. The Jays then go to Tampa, go to Boston, then host the Cubs and the Rays before beginning their two week push against the teams ahead of them (at Baltimore, at New York, vs. Seattle, vs. Baltimore) as the season comes to a close.

They’re still not licked yet. The names are scary and the teams are maybe better than their records show, but the Jays certainly have seven very winnable series coming up, with the three games against the Yankees being the only ones (barring a strong run from Tampa) in which they’ll see a team with a record above .500. It’s a small consolation, but if back in the spring you had told me this is where they’d be at this point (and… y’know… probably didn’t tell me the specific teams they were about to play, only their records) I would sure as fuck have taken it in a heartbeat.

Four games (the amount behind the Jays currently sit in the Wild Card race) can evaporate fast. Shit, so can the 8.5 they now trail the Orioles by.

Ask the Jays.

dickeythrows

Ugh. Win one already.

chart (11)

The window of time left in the season to make up for mounting losses is closing quickly for the Jays.

I’ll talk about what was said to Arash Madani in a separate post, and so, other than that first sentence, what more is there even to say?

Woof.

happsterbackground

Yep. Reaaaaally going to want to start winning some of these games here. A nice little hot stretch starting right now would do wonders for how exciting things could get in September — and it still might not even matter, given the way that some of the teams around them have played of late.

There should be zero belief in anybody’s mind that on talent the Jays truly are, as Megan Robinson notes, the MLB-worst 4-11 team, outscored 81-46, that they’ve been so far in August. But that doesn’t mean they’re due for a good stretch and to find some equilibrium, either.

It might happen, and they sure could use it happening, but most likely they’ll play out the string as the just-above-.500 team that they’ve been all year. Yet that still could keep things exciting: playing merely at the .512 clip they’ve played this year for the final 37 games would give the Jays 19 more wins — they’d finish at 83-79. Not great, but they’d need only to turn a few extra losses into wins to get themselves real close to legitimately being in the conversation.

In other words, not only is someone saying now that it’s over a garbage clown, they’re also simply wrong.

Scuttlebutt

The NL is dumb, so Adam Lind sits tonight, while Juan Francisco is in at third.

A sign that the Jays maybe aren’t full-on desperate-desperate? No Encarnacion or Bautista at third. It’s got to be a temptation, but I completely understand not doing it — and I suspect there are as many aghast that Francisco is playing as there would be at the thought of risking either of those two out of position, which ought to be telling.

Just spitballin’ here, but this series could be Juan Francisco’s last hurrah. I doubt it — they’re so close now to when rosters expand — but Ryan Goins will be eligible to return on the weekend, and you might want to go defence-first with the roster spot. They should probably at least consider it, though Danny Valencia against RHP may be the least bad of all worlds anyway.

Giving JuanFran a chance against the team that released him this spring might just be the spark that gets him going again, thought someone somewhere. Probably.

Today in #GibbyTheBest, Brendan Kennedy tweets that John Gibbons said that Melky Cabrera took it upon himself to bunt in the first inning of Sunday’s loss, adding, “Sometimes when you play for one run, that’s all you get. We might’ve scored those five or six.” (No, he’s not blaming Melky for the loss.)

In case you missed it, those of you in Toronto are all invited to come for a little DJF drink-up tonight at Opera Bob’s — 1112 Dundas St. W (@ Ossington) — as we watch the Jays and Brewers clash in Milwaukee in an 8:10 PM start. And if you follow @OperaBob‘s on Twitter, you already know that there will be ballpark dogs, nachos (or, if you prefer — and I do — ‘chos), as well as $5 pints. Nails much?

Next game(s): Tomorrow, 2:10 PM ET @ Milwaukee

For those of you who’ll be out and about, be sure to follow all the action on your phone with theScore app.

And now, the lineups… 

Toronto Blue Jays

SS Jose Reyes (S)
LF Melky Cabrera (S)
RF Jose Bautista (R)
1B Edwin Encarnacion (R)
C Dioner Navarro (S)
CF Colby Rasmus (L)
3B Juan Francisco (L)
2B Munenori Kawasaki (L)
LHP J.A. Happ (L)

Milwaukee Brewers

CF Carlos Gomez (R)
1B Jonathan Lucroy (R)
RF Ryan Braun (R)
3B Aramis Ramirez (R)
LF Khris Davis (R)
2B Rickie Weeks (R)
C Martin Maldanado (R)
SS Jean Segura (R)
RHP Mike Fiers (R)

 

BlueJaysSS

I… uh…

Yeah… nope. I have no idea right here.

I mean, sure, I suppose that if you want to illustrate the immense speed at which you think the Jays season is hurtling towards the ground, you’re going to need some indication of movement in your drawing. But to do that, and have the maple leaf being displaced by what preeeeeeety clearly looks like the symbol of the military wing of Hitler’s Nazi party? That’s… something. And precisely the editorial cartoon image the Toronto Sun crowed about this morning on Twitter, and presumably published within its pages.

I’m not suggesting it’s intentional or that anything is actually meant by it or anything — mostly because I can’t imagine what any possible suggestion might be. Just weird is all. And probably not imperceptible to the Sun’s target football and porno and books about war demographic, which sort of makes it doubly strange.

I dunno. The Tao of Stieb offers a slightly less horrifying interpretation.

griffbag

Another week another Griff Bag? Not exactly, as there was no Griff Bag to speak of over at the Toronto Star back on Friday. However! In the Griffmeister’s latest Bullpen post for the Star he promises a full one will return this week, and unleashes a mini mail bag on us, and so… y’know… let’s have at it!

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 Rich,

When the Yankees saw that they needed a second baseman, they went out and got one – when they were in need of a third baseman, they spent money and brought one in. In both cases, excellent players. Some teams spend money to build an “A” class team while others, i.e. “Bean Counters” make all sorts of excuses. What a shame. Injuries are also the cause of the Jays inability to play as they did in May – they have had some bad luck in that area. Melky is, in my opinon, undoubtedly the best player that the Jays have and I hope that they bring him back for a few years.

Regards.

Tony in Toronto.

Is “bean counter” really supposed to pass as an insult around now? Really?? I mean, just parroting such an impotent gibe really takes away the impact of the one thing you said that made the faintest hint of sense. Yeah, the Yankees spend large, and as much as any organization in the game, the on-field product is at the top of their corporate pyramid, while Rogers — probably dumbly — doesn’t see the benefit in assigning special status to the baseball aspect of their business (certainly not the way they have with live hockey rights). The Yankees seem to believe in winning as the prime driver of their bottom line, and spending as a means to that end, while the Jays are locked into a very different corporate structure where that just doesn’t seem possible for them, even though that’s precisely what they did in the most successful, on- and off-field, era of the club’s history. It is what it is, but it totally fucking sucks, yes.

Ah… but then there’s the rest of it. Chase Headley maybe plays excellent defence, but an excellent player? Maybe once, and maybe he can be again one day, but that’s not a label I’m about to slap on a guy whose 92 wRC+ on the season leaves him tied for 117th among 153 qualified big league hitters this season with the likes of Billy Hamilton, Alcides Escobar, and Dioner Navarro. Martin Prado, by the way, ranks 131st on that list, and has been abysmal since moving to the Bronx (while Utley has merely been league average).

Sure, injuries have played a part in the Jays’ inability to repeat their May performance, but it hasn’t been everything: Mark Buehrle and Drew Hutchison haven’t quite been the same, and it doesn’t help that on May 18th Juan Francisco was sporting a wRC+ of 175, and since then he’s put up a mark of 72.

And while you’re right that re-signing Melky is something to be optimistic for — and would be a sign that ownership is at least half-serious about winning — he’s undoubtedly the best player on the club? Uh… look right. (No, no, keep going.)

 

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Q-Dear Mr. Griffin,

In your 8-8-14 Mailbag answer to Al from Toronto, you listed Ryan Goins among “the fresh group on the way to fill the upper farm system void.” Was this a slip of your fingers on the keyboard, or do you really consider Goins to be a prospect? He’s already 26 YO and as I type this has 245 ML PAs over two seasons. His slash line is .227/.247/.309. His OPS is .556. He has 54 Ks and 6 BB. Why should a fan have any optimism that Mr. Goins has a Major League future?

Thanks,

John Thompson, New Westminster, BC

Well, he’s got a hell of a glove, and you can never say never, but honestly? I’m with you. Which isn’t to say he has no value. He could be something like a Munenori Kawasaki with less bat and more glove, I suppose. Mune has batted .279/.328/.320 this season in the Majors, while Goins has put up a .282/.335/.340 in Buffalo, both with BABIPs higher than you’d think would be sustainable. So… yeah, it’s not much. Glove and bat seem to even out to pretty much replacement level, as far as I can tell.

 

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Q-Mr. Griffin,

On Thursday night, August 8, I attended the Jays v. Orioles game at the Rogers Centre. I witnessed the following incident that I believe is indicative of why many fans don’t attend many, if any, games at the stadium. I’ll be thinking twice before I go again.

While the pitching for both teams was great, the game seemed to lack excitement and the crowd (smaller than I had expected for such a matchup) was pretty laid back; I might even say it was dead. I was seated along the third-base line, in section 128. Down a couple of rows, in the section to my left, a fan was standing up from time to time during the game, cheering and trying to rouse others around him to make some noise. I can’t say how much he was standing throughout the game as I was generally watching the field. Apparently, one or more people seated behind him must have complained that he should sit down as he was blocking their view. I can understand that, though if they had stood to cheer it wouldn’t have been a problem. Personally, I find the wave, with hands flapping in front of me blocking my view of the field, pretty annoying. At the beginning of the ninth — NINTH — inning, an usher came by and asked him to sit. He refused. I’ll add here that at no time did I hear him yell anything inappropriate, such as foul language. He also did not appear to be intoxicated.

The usher then went to get security. A couple of security guys came down, with one or two outs at the time, and again asked him to sit. Several (I think four) police arrived on the scene. Now things really became nasty and distracting. They sought to remove him from the stadium. They were intent on throwing him out as the bottom of the ninth inning was starting, for heaven’s sake. He sat, grabbing the sides of his chair, as many of us in the vicinity began chanting “let him stay; let him stay.” In the end, just before the game ended, they were able to pin his arms behind his back, cuff him, and virtually drag him out in obvious pain from the pinning of his arms.

In sum, it seems they want to treat the Rogers Centre like a church. Even if anyone could agree with their actions, why do this as the game appeared to be ending (sure, the Jays could have tied it up and then perhaps a decision might need to be made)? In my view, and I think many around me would agree, they used excessive force to remove a fan who was cheering on his team and trying to get others around him to get more into the game. There is a lot wrong with the Rogers Centre (prices for beverages and food for starters and that awful “turf”), but this treatment of fans who actually get excited strikes me as the greatest reason to stay away.

A Fan of Yours,

Richard Wertheim

I was there the night before, and I must say, I’m surprised you found the crowd laid back. But the other stuff? Sadly I don’t find that terribly surprising at all — from the irritating fan not giving two shits about the people around him, to the absolute overreaction from the stadium staff and police.

While I do particularly despise wave-starters — especially those who won’t take no for an answer — and tend to think that if you’re the only person standing up, you should probably just sit the fuck down. But somebody has got to be the first one to start standing, so even I can accept there’s a little bit of leeway here. And even still, four cops? Come on.

Add this to the stories I heard about people not being allowed to move into vacant seats during the 19-inning game in the following series — even vacant ones in the same pricing tier! — and yeah… more victories for the fun police. (Though, to be fair, my interactions with Rogers Centre staff have always been pretty good, so maybe don’t be too hard on them.)

 

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