Another week, another Griff Bag! Aka Richard Griffin’s latest mail bag from over at the Toronto Star!
And… holy shit, it’s garbage clown central in there this week, what with it being published before the current four-game streak. Which… I know what you’re thinking. Sounds like par for the course, right? Well hold onto your panties, Ron.
If there’s a question you’d like me to answer, provided you’re OK with me calling you a garbage clown, submit it to Griffin here, and maybe he’ll select it for a future mail bag. Fingers crossed!
Richard Stoeten -
You had mentioned several times that Alex Anthopoulos has done a good job stocking/restocking talent at the lower levels implying that somehow that can save his job. I question whether this accomplishment alone qualifies him as a major league GM.
In two major trades, he has completely missed on his target – what he calls centerpiece – Josh Johnson and R.A. Dickey. He has also handcuffed the organization based on the salaries he took on in Buehrle and Reyes. Yes they are contributing and fun-to-watch players, but their salaries has handicapped the organization in other areas. Perhaps I am one of the few in supporting Rogers for limiting more increase in salary. To me, it’s an issue of accountability. Ownership agreed to significantly increase salary at the time of the Miami/NY trades based on certain deliverables. Not only did AA not deliver, he went to ask for more money (Santana and possibly deals at the non-waiver trade deadline) I think Rogers is simply holding AA to what he promised he’d deliver – Do what you said you were going to do. I see AA as a director of player personnel kind of a talent, not a major league GM; at least not at this stage of his career given that he is still young. Your thoughts?
Uh… well then I suppose it’s fortunate for Anthopoulos that restocking the lower levels of the minors is hardly the only good thing he’s done.
But yes, Anthopoulos blew the Josh Johnson portion of the Marlins trade. I hardly think you can call him the centerpiece of it — he was bringing Buehrle on for three years, after all, and Reyes for five, while Johnson was only here for one — but clearly little about that trade has worked out the way anybody has hoped. The Dickey deal, I think, gets unfairly knocked — and I’m guilty of it too, sometimes — because people forget that built into the high price the Jays paid was the fact that they were getting a very good, manageable contract in the deal, too. He has only shown 2012 form in flashes since, but $30-million for three years of a reigning Cy-Young-winning innings-eater is a pretty tremendous proposition, even for an exorbitant cost (though with Travis d’Arnaud possibly moving out from behind the plate due to repeated concussion problems, perhaps it’s not as big as many think), and even though it has clearly not worked out the way anybody had hoped, either.
Yes, Yan Gomes was a big miss, and Mike Napoli for Frank Francisco was defensible because of compensation picks and Napoli’s impending free agency, but looks awful. However, on the other hand, the contracts for Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion are master strokes, as was getting out from under the Vernon Wells deal. Some of the drafting has looked quite good so far, even though the club has missed a bunch there too, and has focussed on guys who remain a good distance yet away from the big leagues. Also, had he not had a tumour on his spine in the first year of the deal, I suspect the Melky contract would be looking like a pretty damn savvy move, as well.
There is plenty to like, in other words.
Moving on, your talk about deliverables and payroll is an interesting theory — and yes, one that would be pretty damning for Anthopoulos if it were true. But it requires, I think, too gigantic a leap to take terribly seriously.
The whole organization was aglow in the spring that followed the big acquisitions of November and December 2012, and the atmosphere of coronation certainly makes it seem at least plausible that you’re right, and that Anthopoulos and Beeston understood they’d be screwed — left with absolutely no financial flexibility — if things went south, but simply felt there was no way it could fail. But we have no idea. And for a group that had so prioritized flexibility in everything they had said and done in the years preceding — and an organization that was still awfully thin below the surface and knew the damage a single injury to a key player could do to a club (in 2012, Jose Bautista had just five plate appearances after July 16th; the Jays were 28-44 from that date on) — it’s especially ridiculous to be certain that they took such a big risk knowing full well the ultimate consequences of their actions. Almost as absurd as the idea that anybody would have been crazy enough to promise anything in terms of on-field success. (Though it’s still not in the stratosphere of absurdity that saying “I see AA as a director of player personnel kind of talent, not a major league GM” is).
Yes, maybe that’s how it happened, but I think it could just as easily be the case that the confluence of the terrible year and the change at the top of Rogers’ corporate structure made ownership rethink the benefit of sending more money into the coffers of an enterprise with a proven model of succeeding on the cheap. Not succeeding on the field, mind you, but in terms of providing cheap content for the Sportsnet networks, generating ad money, generating revenue sharing money (which they’re no longer eligible for), getting a big payout from MLB because of deals with US TV networks, and watching franchise equity grow tremendously (last year Bloomberg valued the Jays at almost a billion dollars; Rogers bought the team for $120-million in 2000). The do-just-enough, penny-pinching, $70-million-payroll Jays of most of the last 15 years have done pretty well for the evil empire that controls them, and have done so by risking a whole hell of a lot less capital than they did in each of the last two seasons.
So one at least hopes Anthopoulos and Beeston wouldn’t have been so risky to have not believed this could happened — though one also hopes the front office would use every single possible tool at its disposal (i.e. hefty investment and belief in their analytics department) when it comes to these sorts of crucial questions of player evaluation, and I’m not sure we have a good answer on that one, either — but at this point it’s not like it matters so much how we got here as it does that we are here and need to find a way out. Yet, you’re right: if Anthopoulos and Beeston had more a hand in handcuffing themselves than we can yet reasonably believe — if they were too cavalier about the possibility that ownership would so emphatically stop them from increasing their payroll — then maybe they’re not the right men for the job. If they continue, let’s at least hope they’ve learned the fucking lesson.
Well here we are again Griff—a little later in the season than usual but same result. A side with some talent but not much grit and at times a comical lack of brain power. It will be interesting to see who goes and stays—any pretence that this is a side that should be kept together disappeared weeks ago, (as did the coffee mornings early season optimism). I think that AA and John Gibbons should be the first to exit, responsibility for failure should always start at the top. I’ve always liked Gibby for his honesty but when it was necessary to get players to adjust they either ignored him or the message didn’t get through. Lack of authority is a killer for managers.
AA has made some terrible decisions starting with the big trade. Forgive me for putting on my ‘Sage of Prescott’ hat but I did say at the time that bringing over a bunch of flashy NLers who all starred on perennial losing teams was not going to work. With the exception of Mark Buehrle they turned out to be the gang that couldn’t hit, catch or throw straight. They only thing they lead the Division in was funny handshakes and Mr Muscles demonstrations. Then we have had the constant parade of waiver duds, all touted as assets. The worst thing about this is that the young players (Gose, Goins, Pillar, Jenkins etc) were constantly shuffled back and forward to Buffalo. Given no chance to work their way through mistakes. You can add the failure to add experienced players with pedigree at the All Star and inexplicably trundling out the likes of Reimold, Francisco, Valencia etc to save the day. It all adds up to a GM with poor player perception. Talking a lot doesn’t necessarily mean knowing a lot.
Finally the plusses: Melky Cabrera, EE, Adam Lind, Captain Jose Bautista, Brett Lawrie, Hutchison, Stroman, Happ and Sanchez. That’s your nucleus now lets get some management who can do something with it.
Sorry about the rant
Griff Stoet but it’s been one of those weeks.
Frank Taker, Prescott
Holy shitballs, Frank. I ought to print out your letter and put it on my fridge as a monument to every blisteringly ridiculous thought a Jays fan could possibly squeeze into one single addled mind.
I mean… not only are you pretending that you can see grit, but you’re also pretending it wins baseball games??!? And the stuff about the “comical lack of brain power”? Holy shitting frustrated fucking nonsense, man! Hilarious! Ohhhh, and then get set to torch the whole operation like a child breaking his favourite toy in a fit of pique. Can’t possibly keep this group together! (Dumb.) Fire the GM and manager! (Dumb). Pretend you can divine a lack of authority through your TV set and that there’s some kind of massive communication problem everybody else is utterly blind to. (Dumb!) Act like the “NL guys” thing and the “perennial losing teams” thing is, a) real, and b) not the dumbest fucking thing imaginable. (Dumb!) Say “flashy” with zero concept of how it comes off like a racist dog whistle, and gripe about handshakes like they’re being done by those damn kids stomping all over your precious lawn! (ahhhhhhhhh-Dumb!!!) Pretend playing worse players more would have helped, then ignore the actual help the club got from guys at the bottom of the roster because it doesn’t serve your point! (Dumb! Dumb!)
It’s truly breathtaking. The Lake Louise of late-season-2014 crybaby Jays fan insanity. Bravo.
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