Archive for the ‘Griff Bag’ Category

griffbag

Hey! It… uh… it’s a Griff Bag!

That is, our traditional, caustic, foul-mouthed hijacking of Richard Griffin’s latest mail bag over at the Toronto Star. Because… um… why not?

If there’s a question you’d like me to answer, submit it to Griffin here, and maybe he’ll select it for a future mail bag. Fingers crossed!

Q-Professor Griff Stoet,
Do you believe the Jays are in rebuild mode if they are not in contention at the all-star break?

I don’t mean completely, but position players like Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, Adam Lind, Colby Rasmus, Melky Cabrera and Brett Lawrie could all be dealt for younger guys and prospects close to MLB ready.

Even with Jose Reyes’ contract he has value to teams right now. Dealing some of these guys smartly, in line with our prospects already coming up, could put the Blue Jays in a good spot for 2015-16.

Trust me, it’s depressing for me to write this, but not as depressing as this off season has been.

It’s actually almost an exciting idea for me now.

Diego from Toronto.

You… don’t mean completely??? How the fuck does trading all of those guys not amount to a not-complete rebuild? Brett Lawrie won’t be a free agent until after 2017. Bautista, Dickey, Lind, and Encarnacion have below-market deals with options that can keep them here until after 2016. I mean, I understand that it might be an idea to move a bunch of players at the deadline this July if the club is out of it, but the kind of complete overhaul you’re talking about just isn’t necessarily realistic.

Those guys can still be tremendous building blocks — along with Jose Reyes, who is signed through 2017 at minimum — of a very, very good club, even as they age.

That doesn’t mean that the Jays have to keep them, but it certainly doesn’t mean they need to deal them or can’t make them part of the next phase that this club enters, either.

More realistic trade possibilities? Well… Rasmus and Cabrera are set to be free agents at the end of this season, but even dealing them would be complicated — Melky still has major questions to be answered about how healthy he is post-tumour, and how good his is post-PEDs, while Colby, if he plays well enough to maintain trade value and isn’t re-signed, will likely warrant a qualifying offer next winter, meaning that whatever the Jays get for him has to be at least as valuable as the draft pick they’d lose out on getting if he moves elsewhere. And if Melky keeps playing as well as he has this spring, the qualifying offer could certainly be a consideration for him, too.

In other words, as tempting as fans find it to fantasize about how the club might blow this all apart, it’s just not quite so simple. Plus, it’s not like it’s the core guys aren’t holding up their end of the bargain — it’s not like the core “doesn’t work,” it’s that the club hasn’t been able to build the right group of players around them. And this year, as thin as the roster looks on the surface and as hard as it is to feel confident in the health of guys like Brandon Morrow and Dustin McGowan, upon whom so many of the team’s early-season hopes rest, it’s not like it’s impossible that it works really, really well, either.

Regardless, while there might be some potential moves to made to better setup the club for the future, the full scale cathartic rebuild being hoped for by negative suckholes who don’t even like baseball and just want an instant gratification World Series probably isn’t in the cards. Nor should it be.

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griffbag

There may have been one or two editions of the ol’ Griff Bag to have been released already this spring, and I might even take a look at those this week, but on Friday over at the Toronto Star, Richard Griffin offered us a new batch of dispatches from the lunatic fringe, and I’m thinking it’s best we just dive back in with a caustic little hijacking of his latest. Shall we???

If there’s a question you’d like me to answer, submit it to Griffin here, and maybe he’ll select it for a future mail bag. Fingers crossed!

Q. Hi Richard Stoeten,

Huge fan of the column.

I’m down here in Dunedin, and in certain quarters around the stadium today you really could hear the negativity. I know Toronto sports fans are primed to go that way, but as disappointing as this off-season has seen there are always those other narratives in baseball. The thing that comes absolutely out of nowhere. And because it’s either search for some optimism or just go crazy now, my question is this: Are there any Jays that you think have the possibility of turning in a Hail Mary this season? If so, who, why, and what should we be looking for?

Denis McGrath, Toronto

You’re not wrong, Denis. The off-season has been an absolute gut-punch exactly because the Jays are so close and so talented as it is, and because we only allowed ourselves to give this organization so much goodwill and so much excitement a year ago on the condition that they wouldn’t do precisely what they’ve now done. All the prospect talent dealt away was accepted by the fans because we were told it was being done in what was to be a good faith effort to contend for multiple years, which they’ve now slithered away from, leaving nothing behind but shed skins that once spoke about “relentlessly pursuing improving the team in the off-season,” needing to address the rotation, and “If we don’t win this year, we win next year, and if we don’t win next year, we win the year after.”

It leaves a bitter, bitter taste in the mouth of anyone who ever actually — almost assuredly dumbly — believed anything these people said, or defended the trades of last winter on the grounds that they signaled things would actually get better, commitments would actually be honoured, and purse strings wouldn’t be suddenly tightened as they were back at the end of J.P. Ricciardi’s tenure. But yes, there will still be a lot that’s great to watch in 2014, and there are a number of players who could surprise and push this team to higher heights than many of us gutted by the winter may be ready to believe just yet. The offence is already going to be a blast, and I especially think that Melky Cabrera, if healthy, will be a whole lot closer to the guy Jays fans first dreamed on than the one that they actually saw in 2013. I also think Drew Hutchison and Marcus Stroman have the ability to be extremely good young pitchers for this club, provided expectations haven’t already been twisted out of proportion by the hype from a desperate front office. There was even talk on Monday —  from Buck Martinez on Prime Time Sports, apparently — that Aaron Sanchez could genuinely be a strong, contributing part of this team. I think that’s a little insanely presumptuous — Jose Fernandez he is not — but a legitimate, sustained step forward in terms of command could definitely put him on the map, especially if the front office gets frantic to save their own skins, or if there is a massive offloading of expensive big league talent come July.

Hey, and that wretched business should at least be interesting to watch, too, should it come to all that! Ugh.

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griffbag

In his latest, epic Bullpen post from earlier in the week over at the Toronto Star, Richard Griffin gives us a little bit of a teasing, offering a mini-mail bag in order to tide us all over until he posts a brand-spanking-new full-on whenever the hell that’s going to be. It’s only a couple of questions long, but so what? I’m up for a little hijacking– who’s with me???

If there’s a question you’d like me to answer, submit it to Griffin here, and maybe he’ll select it for a future mail bag. Fingers crossed!

Q: Hi Richard Stoeten,

Well the leaves are falling and it looks like it’s going to be a good world series but, as far as the Jays are concerned, it’s time to haul out the big foam finger (Senators as opposed to Miley Cyrus) and take the pins out of the Arencibia bobble head doll for another year.

Listening to AA it was a little concerning to get the impression that he seemed to think one more starter was all that was needed to make a difference next year. Is he starting to get overly hooked on the return of the injured plus thinking Happ and Redmond are the answer?

Morrow is good but doesn’t look like a guy with the stamina to be a stud for a full season, plus even minor injuries seem to throw him off of his game. Drabek has always promised more than he has delivered and who knows what Hutchison is going to turn out to be. As a starter Happ would be a great long relief in the bullpen and it’s really time to thank Ricky, cut him a big check and say goodbye. Dickey and Rogers would be the only two I would hold onto.

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griffbag

Richard Griffin didn’t post a new mail bag back on Friday, which was not wholly unsurprising, seeing as he’ll usually start doing it a bit less frequently this time of year, if memory serves. Also not wholly surprising? I didn’t actually get around to hijacking the last one he posted over at the Toronto Star, so we still have an unmolested Griff Bag to dip into this morning! Er…

As always, I have not read any of Griffin’s answers.

If there’s a question you’d like me to answer, email it to askrich@thestar.ca and maybe he’ll select it for a future mail bag. Fingers crossed!

Q. Hi Richard Stoeten,

As we see this unbelievably disappointing season grind to its close I thought I’d write and ask your opinion on my ideas for what promises to be another interesting off-season for AA.

My personal plan would be:

1. Give a qualifying offer to Josh Johnson, he’ll surely accept it. I expect a bounce-back season for him based on his career high HR:FB rate, LOB% and BABIP in 2013 that both must surely regress to career norms (they are all in the bottom 10 of all pitchers in baseball in 2013). In my opinion there’s no such thing as a bad one year deal so why not give it a shot?

2. Sign (Masahiro) Tanaka from Japan. I’ve obviously never seen him play, aside from YouTube clips, but all reports say he’ll slot in as a good number 2/3 and to get him for “just” money would be perfect for where the Jays are right now.

3. Release JPA and sign Jose Molina. Jose is no worse with the bat (both are worse than league average) but Molina makes up for his poor bat with his very good defense.

4. Re-sign Davis and pick up Lind’s option then platoon them at DH.

5. Trade for Howie Kendrick from Angels, send them Janssen and Stroman or Janssen, Cecil and a lesser prospect.

This has the obvious drawback of sending the payroll north of $160M putting them firmly in the top 5 in all of baseball but AA has to go all in at this point in my opinion.

Matt

That’s actually a pretty solid plan, Matt. I can quibble with it a little, but I think you’ve basically hit on the target areas and tried to maximize the use of your resources without giving the farm system too big of a hit. The quibbles:

1. It won’t take a deal as big as a qualifying offer to get Johnson back, and his agent has already admitted that. He’s also said that he thinks his client has unfinished business in Toronto, that he likes it here, and would like to be back if the club is willing to make a fair offer– and since he also said that they’re only interested in a one-year deal in order to build Johnson’s value back up, and since the recent operation the pitcher had on his throwing elbow sounds like it could explain what went so horribly wrong this year, I think you totally make something work. Just not at $14-million.

2. I think the way the posting system is currently setup is very favourable to the Jays– and even if rumoured changes take place before Tanaka is posted, it still severely limits the number of clubs the Jays would need to out-woo. So there is a lot to like about the possibility, even if there are worries about how many innings he’s thrown in his career and how well his stuff will translate to the Majors. But keeping Johnson and signing another pitcher sounds about right to me.

3. Molina was a little better with the bat than Arencibia, yes, but it’s not like “a little better than J.P.” is close to acceptable. And while Molina has a good defensive reputation, even the Rays only gave him about a half-year’s worth of plate appearances in each of the last two seasons, so… he’s not a starter. And he’s not the only defence-first catcher who’ll be available– and others might even be able to do more with the bat. I kinda talked myself into Dioner Navarro last week, I think. I don’t know if that’s the right move or not, but yes, the position desperately needs to be addressed.

4. Unfortunately I don’t think Davis would do this. I would guess he wants the opportunity to be more than just a fourth outfielder and platoon DH, but I agree that such versatility fits the Jays very well. Mark DeRosa has versatility too, though, and hit left-handers nicely this year, plus his option is dirt cheap. If he ends up being Lind’s lesser half, I think that’s probably OK.

5. Kendrick is 30 years old, his defensive numbers seem to be trending in the wrong direction, and he’s expensive– in terms of both money owed and the cost to acquire him in a trade. But I’m not terribly opposed to this. It’s an above average bat at a spot where the Jays’ other current option is Ryan Goins, so that’s a plus. I’d like to see them hold on to Stroman if they can, but the pieces just seem to fit with the Angels needing pitching depth and the Jays– scary as it is to contemplate dealing some of their depth away– may have no choice. I’d be OK with a little less offence and a little more youth and defence, but unfortunately I think Goins isn’t quite at the level of a “little” less offence. If the makeup of the pitching staff was such that you needed an absolute vacuum there, though, the option gets a little more palatable.

As you mention, it would take a pretty hefty commitment from ownership to get things like this done, but it sure would take the wind out of everybody’s sails if Rogers got scared off at this point. I don’t think it’s as out of the question as a lot of others might that they’ll keep pushing to be as good as they can, and will allow the club the payroll flexibility to do so, though I base that– of course– on absolutely nothing.

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griffbag

On time for once, here we are! Happy Monday! It’s time for your weekly edition of the ol Griff Bag– aka my caustic hijacking of all the insanity that dribbled out of the brains of the readership of Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star. Taste it.

As always, I have not read any of Griffin’s answers.

If there’s a question you’d like me to answer, email it to askrich@thestar.ca and maybe he’ll select it for a future mail bag. Fingers crossed!

Q. Hey Richard Stoeten,

What do you think about the Blue Jays signing Robinson Cano this offseason?

I know the style of contract he might receive this offseason isn’t usually what the Blue Jays look for on the market, but I think if it’s viewed as a long-term investment it could solve a lot of the problems currently facing the club. First off, the presence of a player like Cano is desperately needed on this ball club. Secondly, the price of signing Cano (rumoured to be upwards of $200 million) would be costly to the payroll the next couple seasons. However this should be a reasonable expense because, with other big contracts coming off the books after 2015, the cost of Cano wouldn’t be as big of a burden going forward into the later years of the contract. Last, but certainly not least, to sign Cano for the Jays is to steal him away from the Yankees.

But what do you think? Would it be wise for the Blue Jays the present a convincing offer to Robinson Cano this offseason?

Zak K., London, ON

The presence? Good lord. Yeah, Cano is a great player, and yes, the Jays need a second baseman, and it would be terrific to pry him away from the Yankees. But… uh… don’t you think you’re maybe being a little bit flippant about the $200-million investment you’re suggesting? Rogers’ pockets may be infinitely deep, but that doesn’t mean the Jays’ payroll is, and as great as any $100- or $200-million player would look on our fugly little carpet– y’know, unless he’s Josh Hamilton, or Albert Pujols, or… actually I might be worried about anybody over 30 (as Cano is)– it’s hard to see it making the kind of business sense you expect. That is, unless there’s some kind of commitment from Rogers to keep payroll a lot higher than it currently is.

That’s because, while the Jays do indeed have money coming off the books following 2015, there will still be players to pay– Brett Lawrie and Colby Rasmus may end up with healthy extensions, for example. Shit, there’s no reason to think that Brandon Morrow, Edwin Encarnacion, or even Jose Bautista, are necessarily on their last contracts here, given that they’ll be heading into their age 30, 33, and 35 seasons respectively when the decisions on picking up their option years arise.

In a perfect world, sure, go after Cano, why the hell not? But even if it were possible to land him– and, realistically, I’d say that’s very remote– I just don’t know. I mean, any kind of giant contract like that, I just don’t know. Beyond just the obvious ones, like Hamilton and Pujols, how’s Adrian Gonzalez doing? Or Matt Kemp? Or Prince Fielder? Even Justin Verlander may have slipped just enough, if he can’t bounce back, to make his new extension a seriously ugly deal. Of course, those guys are all helping their teams now, so maybe it’s worth it, but I would certainly fear that Rogers would have no qualms making a monster deal an albatross by clamping down on payroll elsewhere down the line.

-

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griffbag

Once again it’s a day later than I’d like it to be, but if you’ve already taken a look at the questions in this week’s Griff Bag– aka Richard Griffin’s mail bag from over at the Toronto Staronce again you must know that I wouldn’t be able to resist taking a crack. So here it is: a most caustic hijacking of all the insanity that dribbled out of the brains of Griff’s readership.

As always, I have not read any of Griffin’s answers.

If there’s a question you’d like me to answer, email it to askrich@thestar.ca and maybe he’ll select it for a future mail bag. Fingers crossed!

Q. Hi Griff Stoet,

Love the mailbag. Thought I’d throw you a few ideas for 2014 and get your thoughts as to whether they would help the Jays:

1. Is it in his contract that Bautista MUST bat 3rd? I think EE has surpassed him and should bat 3rd with Bautista 4th.

2. I think platooning is the way to go for the Jays rather than get full-time players in the positions that need to be upgraded. How about a Gose/Pillar or Sierra Platoon in LF? Further, when Gose is playing, he’s in CF with Rasmus moving to LF.

3. I think both Arencibia and Thole have to be upgraded. A platoon here might work as well with two solid defensive catchers who have opposite splits against LH and RH pitchers. Maybe one of them is A.J. Jimenez. Sounds like defensively he’s major league ready. Let’s give him a chance. The bar is pretty low right now offensively.

4. Goins could be the man at 2B. Doesn’t have to set the world on fire with his bat, just play solid defence and bat .250. If he isn’t the starting 2B, I think he has a role as backup infielder.

5. Much as everyone loves him, I really don’t think Kawasaki is good enough to have a spot on the roster except as injury fill-in.

6. McGowan as starting pitcher for as long as he can. Then replace him with Drabek/Drew Hutchison/Sean Nolin/Stroman/Chad Jenkins for remainder of the season after they get further “seasoning” in Buffalo.

7. If they are out of contention by Sept. 1, then promote Aaron Sanchez and see what he’s got, sink or swim. I agree with you, the Jays do baby their pitching prospects too much. Has Sanchez ever reached 100 innings in a season yet? At 20 years old he should be able to do more and learn more.

8. Get Mottola to work full-time with Gose to shorten his swing and hit better. This should be a priority in the off-season similar to what he did with Rasmus.

Would love to hear your thoughts on my thoughts.

Howard A., North York

Holy smokes, Howard, thanks for getting off of Santa’s lap for long enough to let at least a few of the other kids have a turn, but… [deep breath]… OK, let’s see what I can do here.

1. Because his season was cut short by injury, it turns out that Bautista had more plate appearances in the second spot in the lineup in 2013 than he did hitting third– 271 to 257 was his final tally– so, as… um… “great” a line as you’ve got yourself there with the contract thing, it doesn’t really hold up. And yes, Encarnacion has been the more productive of the two Jays sluggers in each of the last two seasons, but it doesn’t really matter that much, as far as the order is concerned. The club certainly shouldn’t feel beholden to an outdated view of lineup construction, and that’s what the traditional insistence on having your best hitters go three and four is. Its better to get more at-bats to your best hitters, so having Bautista hit second, with no better option around, made a whole lot of sense.

2. I agree with your last bit, about Gose playing in centre if he and Rasmus are in the same outfield– though in deference to the veteran, I’m not sure I believe that would actually happen (and I can understand why). The platoon thing, though, can’t really be overused, because of the finite number of spots there are on the roster. Regarding left field, as ugly as it was to watch Melky this year, I think the Jays would be smart to believe the removal of the tumour from his lower spine area will cure a lot of what was ailing him, knowing that if, after a couple of months, he doesn’t show signs of improving, they can get by with either Gose or Pillar– or a combination, if they can find space– and shuffle things around elsewhere. For me, if you’re going to have a platoon, I think you’re best to keep the switch-hitting Melky in left and find a dance partner for Adam Lind, who– as I noted yesterday– has been a near-elite hitter against right-handed pitching this year (for whatever little that’s worth).

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griffbag

It’s a day later than I’d like it to be, but if you’ve already taken a look at the questions in this week’s Griff Bag– aka Richard Griffin’s mail bag from over at the Toronto Star– you must know that I wouldn’t be able to resist taking a crack. So here it is: a most caustic hijacking of all the insanity that dribbled out of the brains of Griff’s readership.

As always, I have not read any of Griffin’s answers.

If there’s a question you’d like me to answer, email it to askrich@thestar.ca and maybe he’ll select it for a future mail bag. Fingers crossed!

Q. Richard Stoeten,

I’d be very interested in your take on J.P. Arencibia.

In my opinion, he needs to be replaced as the first-string catcher if the Jays are to be serious contenders in 2014. Among his problems are a large number of passed balls, his many-off target throws to second base to catch base stealers, his perceived inability to call a good game, his lack of being able to frame pitches, and his very low batting average, particularly for his position. The only plus I can give him is his home run total but, unlike Edwin Encarnacion who not only hits with power but also for a reasonable average, JP is strictly a one-trick pony.

Hugh

I don’t disagree that the Jays need to do better than Arencibia, but… uh… not really for any of those reasons. Or, at the very least, not for those reasons beyond the far more damaging fact that he’s an effing out machine.

Arencibia’s on-base percentage has somehow regressed from the piss poor .282 he posted in his first season as a starter, to this year’s .239– the lowest mark among any qualified hitter in baseball by 20 points, and lower than the third-worst qualified mark by 30 points!

In fact, to give some further perspective, if the season ended today, Arencibia’s OBP would be the worst by any qualified hitter since 1995… by nine points. Since 1933, only two qualified hitters– of over ten fucking thousand– have finished a season with a lower OBP than Arencibia currently has.

I know it feels like people have been piling on the guy a little much, but he’s literally been historically bad. And the 20 home runs and inadequate defence just isn’t making up for that.

Yes, they need to upgrade at the position. Badly.

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