Archive for the ‘Griff Bag’ Category

griffbag
Another week, another Griff Bag — aka Richard Griffin’s latest mail bag from over at the Toronto Star — and… I… uh… here it is? Whatever, you know the drill!

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-Richard Stoeten,

With Jeff Francoeur sitting in the minor leagues with the Padres organization and has an opt out clause for a major league contract, why wouldn’t the Jays look at signing him for their 4th outfielder position vs. calling up and down their minor league guys? Francoeur has struggled the past few seasons but thrived in 2011 when Seitzer was his batting coach in KC.

Francoeur would be used to playing every 3-4 days which must be tough for young guys to succeed at doing i.e. Gose, Pillar etc. With the signing of Francoeur it wouldn’t cost prospects just dollars, why wouldn’t they at least give Francour a chance? And by the way he hits lefty’s well. Thanks,

Scott Cochrane, Niagara on the Lake

Because he’s terrible.

 

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Q-Richard Stoeten,

Has Anthony Alford given up football so that he can concentrate solely on baseball? I see he started in Vancouver and has been promoted to Lansing. Looks like he can be a good one.

Thanks

Mike, Windsor, Ont

He hasn’t yet, but he isn’t a top-end NFL prospect, he’s no longer a quarterback — he redshirted last year and moved to defensive back after a transfer to Ole Miss following a poor 2012 at Southern Miss — and according to Charlie Caskey of the Vancouver Sun, this year was given encouraging words about baseball on the Jays’ behalf from Tim Raines and Fred McGriff. Even if it isn’t his first love, you’re right that it makes too much sense that he’ll give up football for baseball sooner than later — he’s missing so much development time in some very crucial years for a young, raw hitter who just needs reps — and hopefully he makes the right decision soon. I suspect he will — especially since someone was telling me, as I mentioned in a post yesterday, that he quickly tweeted-then-deleted a response to a fan telling him to choose baseball that allegedly suggested he may do so sooner than later. Fingers crossed.

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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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griffbag

Another week, another Griff Bag — aka Richard Griffin’s latest mail bag from over at the Toronto Star — and… I… uh… here it is? Whatever, you know the drill!

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-Richard Stoeten,

This might come as a little bit of a surprise from me, as I have a penchant, need to suggest making trades, but this year I totally feel that the opposite should happen with the Jays.

I really do hope that AA doesn’t make a rash decision and trade away their prospects in the hope of making the playoffs, the last time the Jays truly made runs at the east title it took eight-plus seasons of competitive baseball, the Jays this time around are in Year 2 of their “window”.

If any trades should be made they should be from their current major league roster, much like the 1990 trade of McGriff and Fernandez for RBI man Carter and a little known second base prospect Alomar. The reason I feel this way is that the current group of Jays has enough talent to compete but not the make up to truly take the next step in becoming a perennial contender.

I hope that AA doesn’t make the decision to trade the likes of Stroman, Sanchez, Nolin, etc, just to keep the window open for another season or two. If AA keeps those assets that the rest of the league covet the Jays can stay on top the east for more then a 3-year window.

Do you think that the Jays should make a trade not unlike the 1990 one?

Thank you,

Scott Cochrane, Niagara on the Lake

I hear this kind of talk a lot, but no matter how many times I do, it never actually manages to make any sense. Keeping prospects makes a whole lot of sense in the abstract, but not so much when you actually think about what sort of shape the club is in going forward, and how much — and when — the prospects you’re talking about are going to be able to help them.

I’m not advocating trading everybody, but yes, the Blue Jays should be seizing the opportunity that’s in front of them in 2014 by making trades that help them in the near term. Absolutely.

In addition to having a core of top players already well on the wrong side of 30, the 2015 Jays will either lose potential free agents Colby Rasmus, Melky Cabrera, Casey Janssen, and Brandon Morrow, or will need to use a lot more of their budget than they currently do in order to keep them. Add in a hefty raise to Jose Reyes — his back-loaded deal goes from $16-million to $22-million — and you’re going to have a tough time not downgrading in at least a couple spots, in addition to some natural decline you’d expect from the aging Reyes-Bautista-Encarnacion-Dickey-Buehrle core.

I’d talk here about making a 1990-style trade, but there just really isn’t a comparison. There is no John Olerud waiting in the wings to make an expensive piece like Fred McGriff expendable here. Even if there were, to do a massive deal like that on the fly, in-season, would be extremly tough, if not impossible.

So it’s not difficult to see pretty clearly what they are and where they’re going. And while I’m not saying they’re doomed beyond this year, contrary to whatever it is you’re drinking, the picture really isn’t getting any rosier than it is now — it doesn’t help that the Red Sox already have an outstanding group of prospects in or near the majors, and that the Yankees are the Yankees, with a not-insignificant amount coming off their books — and Aaron Sanchez, Dan Norris, Dalton Pompey, and the guys they have in the lower minors simply aren’t likely to be big enough MLB contributors during the time that the core of this team is under contract and still at their peak to change that. There isn’t a next generation of Blue Jays ready to step fully formed into the lineup over the next couple of years, and while part of that is exactly because Alex Anthopoulos has dealt a number of prospects, it doesn’t mean he needs to be deathly afraid of doing so again, if that’s what the situation warrants.

Again, it doesn’t mean they ought to trade anything and everything, but it would be an awfully bitter pill to swallow if the Jays didn’t do quite enough at this trade deadline because instead they wanted to keep prospects who ultimately most likely will not pan out anyway, and even if they do, won’t be significant contributors until the Jays are a far more ordinary team than the one that now boasts a pair of the top ten hitters in baseball, one of the best bats against RHP, and two dynamic table-setters at the top of the lineup.

I do know how important prospects are, but I don’t think fans making suggestions like this quite appreciate how good what the team has now is — nor do they seem to appreciate how difficult it will be to get back here in the future, no matter how they play it. The idea that by dealing more prospects the Jays would be blowing up the pipeline that will supply them with the MLB-ready talent they need in the next year or so, in other words, is a total fallacy. The fact that the guys they do have won’t likely be contributors so soon doesn’t necessarily mean they have no value to the club, but weighed against what the pieces the club acquires can bring to this year’s run, to next year’s, and to the budget-driving revenue that will be gained by a genuine pennant race and maybe even some playoff gate money? All that, to me, would seem to serve 2015 and 2016 better than do dreams of a couple of big talents producing enough big league value as they’re just getting their feet wet and helping this team when it’s in a much less advantageous position than it is now– especially if the Jays make the right choices on the ones they deal away.

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griffbag

Another week, another Griff Bag — aka Richard Griffin’s latest mail bag from over at the Toronto Star — and… I… uh… here it is? Whatever, you know the drill!

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

Hope everything is well with you. I guess I have a quick question.

With the promotion for Sanchez (to AAA-Buffalo)…What are the teams plans for him? Big league this season or are they just wanting him to get 100 innings or so at the next level?

Thanks,

Jeff Amos, Head Coach, Badlands Baseball Academy

Whoa! Is this an actual, sensible Griff Bag question? No silliness about a trade showcase? Nothing about Sanchez immediately replacing R.A. Dickey, or whichever starter we’ve decided this week isn’t good enough?

I like.

As for the answer, I have no inside knowledge, but it would seem to be a little of both. John Gibbons has come out and said that he thinks Sanchez is an arm that can help the club at some point, though in what capacity is hard to say. Aaron is already over 70 innings on the season, and last year threw just 110, including his time in the Arizona Fall League. To expect him to help the club as a starter down the stretch, then, is simply unrealistic, as he’ll reach his innings cap far too soon for it to be worth re-jigging the rotation. Could he make the odd big league spot start in order to give the club’s other youngsters, Drew Hutchison and Marcus Stroman, a rest as they each deal with their own innings limitations? I think so, and I think if all goes well he could be an intriguing weapon out of the bullpen for the club in the later months of the season.

Mostly, though, I tend to believe it’s a developmental thing. The thinking goes that Sanchez can get by so easily on raw stuff with lower-level hitters who are overmatched, despite his well-understood control issues. So it likely serves him well to face more advanced hitters, where he really will have to pitch more. Of course, it’s not like I’ve been watching his New Hampshire starts myself, so take that with a grain of salt, but it seems a reasonable enough theory, I think. The move could even be the club’s way of forcing their star prospect to see the need to make changes that they want him to make and he’s been otherwise reluctant to, given his relative success so far — but that’s just spitballing, too. It certainly does seem like a bit of a rush to have him out of Double-A so soon, but through the developmental prism, I think you can see why well enough. As we saw in his first taste of Triple-A action, it’s going to be a challenge for him at times, and that’s OK.

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griffbag

Another week, another Griff Bag — aka Richard Griffin’s latest mail bag from over at the Toronto Star — and… hold on, the Jays have been kick-fuckin’-ass for the better part of a month and this is what we’re talking about??? Yeesh.

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,

Rather than come up with ways to improve the team I think I am just going to enjoy the one we have right now for a little while. I don’t know about you but I always have a feeling that when good players are on a genuinely successful team they consistently up their play to the highest level. As opposed to playing down to their comfort level on a struggler. They are starting to beat good teams and look like the real deal.

Anyway I was thinking about JP Arencibia–I don’t wish him any ill will (I still remember the excitement of his debut) but boy he has hit the skids. I was wondering why some talented players (Halladay, Aaron Hill, Encarnacion and Bonifacio) can get their careers back on track after a trade/ spell in the minors etc and others like Russ Adams, JP, and Ricky Romero etc just sink.

Should the Jays make a deal to eat some salary and get Romero off the books? Or is the plan to hope he turns into a kind of long project like McGowan?

As for JP should someone sit him down and kindly tell him to put his catcher’s mitt away and maybe convert himself into an Adam Lind type of player. A lot of DH and a little 1st base?

All the best

Frank Taker, Prescott, ON

Uh… you can’t exactly “eat” Romero’s salary and consider him “off the books,” for one. But honestly… whatever. You’re not magically finding someone who’ll actually take on more than approximately nothing of what’s still owed him, so it’s pretty fucking pointless to bother even thinking about any of this. I mean, I’d love to see Romero actually figure himself out at some point, and I’m all ears to hear about the fucking fantasy world in which some team actually wants to pay to acquire him at this point, but maybe think for a second like you’re another team, with its own budget, and what you’d do — except laugh — if the Blue Jays called you up and suggested you take on Ricky Romero and pay for the privilege of doing so.

It’s absurd.

I’m sorry, but he’s fucked. At least until he stops being fucked.

And Arencibia as a DH or first baseman? How in the living fuck would that be possible? The offensive bar at catcher — which, FYI, he already can’t clear — is about as low as it gets for any position. How could he convert to a position where the expectations are even higher and be viable? I mean, he could make the switch, but he’d twice as useless as he already is. It’s not a solution.

As for why some players can weather their troubles and some can’t, I suppose the bullshit narrative way to look at it would be that there’s some personal or mental issue common to the guys who can’t hack it, but I’d suggest that the reality is more that in baseball the margins for error are just so razor thin. A little bit of lost bat speed or velocity on a fastball can be all the difference between great and washout. Every case is different, obviously, and maybe this isn’t a satisfactory answer for you, but the elite level of the game is difficult to a degree that those of us simply observing really can’t comprehend. Many very, very talented players haven’t been able to reach the level of a Halladay or an Encarnacion. That’s hardly a failing.

griffbag

It’s here! The readers. The myths they believe. The legendarily ridiculous questions. Yes, it’s time for another Griff Bag — aka my latest hijacking of Richard Griffin’s mail bag from over at the Toronto Star! So let’s do it to it!

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:

By letting go of (Jeremy) Jeffress, (Moises) Sierra, and (Esmil) Rogers, it seemed that the Jays finally committed to fielding the best team rather than retaining assets. I realize Rasmus is a different calibre of player, but with what Gose has brought, especially during Wednesday’s walk-off game, can the team possibly put Rasmus back at CF? His only upside is his power, but this line up clearly doesn’t need it. It needs Gose’s speed. What do you foresee happening when Rasmus is ready to come off the DL?

Matthew McKean, Ottawa

I cannot possibly fucking fathom this sort of thinking. Not just the stuff about Gose being a better piece than Rasmus, or the team needing his speed more, or the assumption that the club doesn’t need any more power — all of which are absurd, of course — but also the checking off of supposed attributes and then simply adding the check marks to determine who is the supposedly more useful player.

It’s almost like you have a conclusion that you want to come to, and are working backwards to find ways to get there. That’s even almost understandable, I guess, because it’s pretty much the only way to figure Gose is better than Rasmus.

Yes, Gose is a fantastic defender in centre, and a better one than Rasmus. Yes, he’s good on the basepaths, steals bases, can occasionally bunt for hits, sometimes forces errors from the defence with his speed, and does a whole bunch of things either better than Rasmus or that he wholly doesn’t. But for fuck sakes, no, Colby’s only upside is not power.

Granted, Rasmus has had some awful years with the bat, so it’s hard to even argue that he is something specific. We really don’t know what he is. Last year, though, in the overall, he was the third most valuable centre fielder in the American League, and the sixth most valuable in baseball. And that’s just it: in the overall.

You’ll get all kinds of narrative-driven garbage about certain pieces fitting better than others, and maybe if there’s anythin to that it even works to Gose’s advantage slightly too. But the differences between the two players aren’t just binary “differences,” there are degrees of difference between the different aspects of their games, and those degrees are crucial. Gose is certainly a better base stealer, but otherwise? He’s a better defender and baserunner, but not by that much — certainly not by anything close to as much better Rasmus is as a hitter, at least when he’s going at his best.

And isn’t that funny? I’m actually acknowledging that the Rasmus we saw last year might not be the Rasmus who’ll show up again this time around. Admittedly, that might make the comparison a bit tighter. Colby’s a tough one to read because his performance has been so volatile — shit, he could probably still play himself into compensation pick limbo, if he’s not careful — and if you’re anywhere close to halfway serious about having an opinion on this, you need to account for those kinds of things.

But is Gose really that tough to read?

This year with the Jays Gose has walked 13.3% of the time and struck out 20.0% of the time. (.379 OBP in 60 PA)
This year with Buffalo Gose walked 10.5% of the time and struck out 24.8% of the time. (.317 OBP in 124 PA)
Last year with the Jays Gose walked 3.3% of the time and struck out 24.2% of the time. (.283 OBP in 153 PA)
Last year with Buffalo Gose walked 8.6% of the time and struck out 27.3% of the time. (.316 OBP in 443 PA)
In 2012 with the Jays Gose walked 9.0% of the time and struck out 31.2% of the time. (.303 OBP in 189 PA)
In 2012 in Las Vegas Gose walked 10.2% of the time and struck out 21.1% of the time. (.366 OBP in 479 PA)

Weird how the one that massively sticks out in a positive way is both the smallest and most recent sample of the bunch, huh? (It’s also the sample in which he’s been most shielded from left-handed pitching, FYI).

It would be great if this really were a new Gose that we’re seeing. It would be great, too, if Juan Francisco is as good as his last month has made him look, and if all the Jays’ other sluggers really do stay hot and healthy and render Colby’s power an excess. But Buck and Pat yammering on about some supposed new display of selectivity, or slobbering over Gose’s game-changing speed, doesn’t make those things any more real.

Can the team possibly put Rasmus back at CF? Absolutely they can and they should and they will. He’s far more likely the better player in the overall.

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griffbag

Another week (albeit a week like no other in recent memory), another Griff Bag — aka Richard Griffin’s mail bag from over at the Toronto Star — which, of course, means its time for another caustic hijacking of whatever insanity has been running through Griff’s readers’ brains. So let’s get to it!

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:

What do you think is of more value to this Jays team right now: Gose’s speed in CF and on the base paths or Rasmus’ bat? To me that’s what the choice boils down to and after the Texas series I’m leaning towards Gose’s speed. Also, while Navarro is a heads-and-tails improvement over JPA, I’ve been underwhelmed by him so far. We seem to be in competent hands when Thole and Kratz share catching duties. I know Navarro was AA’s big off-season acquisition, but would you trade Navarro and/or Rasmus in exchange for upgrades at SP and 2B?

Matthew McKean, Ottawa

Without question the more valuable of the two is Rasmus. It maybe doesn’t feel like that sometimes. That’s because there are elements of the game that give us visceral responses as fans that can be indelibly imprinted on our minds — a stolen base and a great catch on the good side, for example, a strikeout on the bad — where Gose excels and Rasmus doesn’t. Gose is a weapon, to be sure. The game-changing tools are still as loud as when the Jays salivated over him as a Phillies prospect. And when he’s hitting as well as he is right now, in a microscopic sample size, it’s easy to get carried away dreaming on all the good that he brings. But over the long run, you’re going to be much, much better off with Rasmus. He may not steal the bases and there are some catches he may not make, but the differences between the two bats, over time, ought to be enormous enough to offset all the value Gose provides elsewhere and then some.

That’s maybe tough to swallow when looking at Rasmus being hurt, and just barely above a league-average hitter through his first 143 plate appearances of the season – .222/.266/.489 (104 wRC+) — but Gose only just barely posted a greater wRC+ in his year playing in the extreme hitting environment of Las Vegas (106 wRC+), and hasn’t come close to it above double-A ball. It’s been a nice couple weeks for him so far, but we can’t let our perceptions change based on such tiny samples.

Think of it this way: Juan Francisco is only just over 100 plate appearances now — 60 more than Gose — and there is no reason to think what we’re seeing from him is for real.

Same thing goes for the catchers. Yes, Navarro has been disappointing, especially in terms of his lack of power (though the fact that he’s been hurting may have an impact on that), but we’re talking about 50-odd terrific PA from Thole that we can’t possibly expect to keep up, and a very Arencibia-like all-power, no-OBP thing from Kratz. There could probably be a little more opportunity for the other catchers, but in no way should the Jays be thinking about moving their best pieces at that position or in centre.

That doesn’t mean it can’t change, though. But let’s remember the one thing few fans — and some media folks! — seem to be unable to grasp these days: the only teams who might have interest in free-agent-to-be Rasmus are ones that need him for the stretch run, and are stupidly unlikely to be willing to part with the kind of pitching the Jays covet. It’s just not going to happen — and no, the team acquiring him does not receive a compensation pick when he leaves next winter.

Could the Jays find a three-way deal that sends Colby to a club that had some prospects they might be able to add to ones of their own in order to get a pitcher? Because that might not be the craziest idea… it just isn’t nearly the clearest option yet, either.

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