Archive for the ‘Griff Bag’ Category


Another week, another Griff Bag! Aka Richard Griffin’s latest mail bag from over at the Toronto Star! On time and everything!

Uh… almost.

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

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,

I was just wondering why Kendall Graveman did not show up on any top 25 prospect lists for the Blue Jays. I did not even see him on the revised list that came out later in the season.



Graveman didn’t show up on any of those lists, quite simply, because he wasn’t really a prospect. Frankly, he may still not really be a prospect, though that depends on your definition, and whether he’s able to sustain his success going forward.

There are thousands of minor league ballplayers, and the vast majority of them aren’t really considered prospects — as in, they’re org. guys — players not considered capable of actually making any sort of impact at the big league level, but there to fill roles at the various levels of the organization as they doggedly work to try to upend the projections, catch a break, or find a way to make it “click” and get themselves noticed.

That’s essentially what happened this season for Graveman, as he discovered — accidentally, as John Lott of the National Post explained back in August — a grip for a cutter that he was able to use to tremendous success as he blazed through the Jays’ minor league system. But his story isn’t quite so simple as that. Graveman was old for the levels he began at, so his meteoric rise needs to be taken with a grain of salt. And his status coming out of the draft is somewhat misleading as well: he was an eighth round pick, but 2013, after MLB had imposed limits on draft spending, including a set pool for their picks in the top ten rounds, which caused some teams — like the Jays — to circumvent the new rules by taking college seniors, who, in their last year of draft eligibility, have limited negotiating leverage. Graveman, in other words, was selected because he’d accept a bonus much smaller than the slot value of the pick used to select him — he accepted a $5,000 bonus, despite the pick having a slot value of $150,000.

Of course, that doesn’t mean they would pick just anybody. As a senior at Mississippi State, Graveman pitched for a team that were runners-up in the 2013 College World Series, and was the highest drafted pitcher from that club. But in terms of being a prospect? He was fringy. His velocity wasn’t seen as great — his fastball has averaged 93 so far in his brief big league career, though a large part of that number being higher than expected is surely the fact that he’s pitching out of the bullpen — and without the cutter that seems to have turned him into a groundball machine, there wasn’t a whole lot to dream on. Certainly not as much as some of the serious big-armed young prospects the Jays boast at the minor league levels, and so that’s why the evaluators compiling those lists — and the scouts and various members of organizations they trade notes with — didn’t pay him much mind.

One can only hope that the changes he’s made are for real, and he’s one of the guys who can inspire all those others to keep pushing.

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Another week, another Griff Bag! Aka Richard Griffin’s latest mail bag from over at the Toronto Star! On time and everything!


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,

I have my doubts on whether Brandon Morrow can ever be healthy for a full season as a starter. However, we only have to look to Dustin McGowan to see how well his body holds up coming out of the bullpen. My question is, with Morrow’s stuff, is he the Jays’ closer of the future?

Dr. Justin

Richmond Hill, ON

Morrow wants to start — and why shouldn’t he? He stands to make a whole lot more money in his career if he’s a starter than if he’s a reliever, and there’s probably going to be a team that will give him an opportunity — something the Jays, seemingly with too many starters for too few spots as it is, given the fact that Dan Norris and Aaron Sanchez ought to both join the rotation in 2015, can’t. Their only way to keep him, it therefore seems, would be to pick up his $10-million club option.

It will cost them $1-million if they don’t pick it up, but still, adding $9-millions to the payroll just for sixty-odd innings? Good as we may think Morrow is, there are very, very few pitchers you’d contemplate paying so much for so little. Add in his injury history. Add in the fact that everyone expects the team will be limited in its ability to add to payroll. And add in the fact that they’ll be searching for multiple bullpen pieces, given the questionable status of Steve Delabar, the loss of Neil Wagner and Sergio Santos, the potential departure of Casey Janssen, and potentially even the loss of Dustin McGowan — who, if we’re being honest, probably hasn’t been good enough to justify picking up his own $4-million option — and spending all that money on Morrow alone looks, frankly, crazy as fuck.

If this was a team with more budget room or looking for one last bullpen piece it might be a worthwhile gamble — Morrow still has a whole lot of talent, to be sure — but it isn’t. That money can be better spent elsewhere.



Q-Mr. Griffin Stoeten,

As much as you do say that the Jays have the money to sign Melky Cabrera (and I do want him to stay in Toronto), and I was a big backer of the man coming here, I do not see that happening.

Reason 1: Weak outfield free agent market. You yourself have said that other outfielders include (Nelson) Cruz, (Torii) Hunter & (Alex) Rios. Cruz has done very well in Baltimore and with what they have built there it would be strange for him to leave as he is having massive success there. Hunter though is going to be 40 during the next season, and while he has played well his .275 average is good but his on base percentage is lower than Cruz and with age creeping in who knows how he will hold up, and as such Melky is ten years younger. Rios has cooled down a little but is hitting a very respectable .280 and has been durable, doesn’t have the power Melky has which isn’t terrible considering you aren’t looking for power from the 2-hole, but would he want to actually come back to the city that chased him away? I don’t think so.

Reason 2: Winning. This team in the two years Melky has been here has not been a winner and it seems like the management group does not know how to construct a team as you have a top 4 of very good to excellent hitters, but after that you lack much in the lineup as proven all year. 163 home runs, but 87 of them have come from EE, Bats, Reyes & Melky. This would mean you would need an overhaul of the bottom 5 (except Navarro, but a better backup catcher would be needed).

Reason 3: Pre-existing Financial Commitments. The Jays have already tied up $94MM in guaranteed money in just 8 players for next year and 1 of those players is Rickey Romero, so you have just 7 roster players out of 26 signed. Considering the team payroll this year is $137MM and between the two years Rogers has spent $250MM for no playoff spots you can’t assume they will increase payroll.

Reason 4: Poor Drafting Record. The Jays while having some of the best young talented arms in all of baseball have at the opposite end of the spectrum failed miserably at drafting position players. Currently the only position players that were in the minors on August 31 who would be considered real prospects were Dalton Pompey, Anthony Gose, A.J. Jimenez. Gose & Jimenez are both 24 and it is time for them to prove that they are major league players or if they are going to be just backups/bench players in baseball. Last year was Yan Gomes breakout year into a starting role and he was 25, if you aren’t a major league every day player by 25, chances are you won’t be (Yan Gomes WAR is 4.1, better than all Jays but JBats). After those 3 players there isn’t anyone below 25 in AAA or AA and that is a failure of Alex A to draft position players and as such when we have an injury you have NOTHING to replace it with. How come people complain the Leafs don’t build through the draft but the Jays are allowed to get away with it.

As such these are 4 excellent reasons why Melky would not necessarily sign back with us as he is valuable to many other teams in baseball, especially ones who have a chance to win soon which he would be more interested in doing as the way this team has been put together shows that it is not a winner.

Ian Serota

I’ll actually answer this, but first a disclaimer: this is a serious fucking load of garbage clown idiocy. To wit:

1) Why are you talking about the weak market as a reason why the Jays won’t re-sign Melky and then seemingly discussing why the Jays may or may not be interested in certain guys? This was one of your two not completely shitty points, and you totally blew it. The fact is, the dearth of other good free agent outfielders is definitely working against the Jays. Plenty of teams will have strong interest in a guy like Melky, though that will be mitigated by his P.E.D. suspension in 2012, and by the fact that the Jays will make him a qualifying offer, meaning the team that signs him will be forced to give up their highest unprotected draft pick to do so. How that has anything to do with crying about Alex Rios not wanting to come back is beyond me.

2) This is utter stupidity and not at all a factor.

3) Most people are assuming that the Jays will be in the $140-million range again, which — after the expected free agent losses and arbitration raises — gives them something close to the $15-million it’s hoped it will take to re-sign Cabrera. Moving Mark Buehrle and getting a team to take on a whole bunch of his salary would add even more to the potential payroll for the club — assuming Rogers allows them to keep the savings — but yes, this is a major factor why he may not return. Coupled with number one, it’s the biggest factor.

4) More stupidity. Yes, the Jays do not have a wealth of position prospects knocking at the door — though Gose, Pillar, and Pompey are certainly not nothing — but before you call that a failure, maybe try understanding in the slightest what the fuck you’re talking about. The reality is, that was by design. Anthopoulos long ago made the decision that it was more important for him to acquire pitching than hitting, under the belief that it is easier to acquire hitters by other means. Quibble with that notion if you want, but don’t be an asshole and scream “poor draft record.” Alex’s first draft as GM was in 2010, and it was at that point that the Jays truly started focussing in on high school players, and pitchers in particular. What you see among the big talents in the Jays’ minor league system, therefore, is exactly what you’d expect: a lot of young players, most of them pitchers. But even if he had been drafting more position players, consider this: a high school draftee from 2010 is now around just 22 years old. Aaron Sanchez is one of them, and he’s just now reaching the big leagues, and one of the youngest pitchers in the majors. To repeat: a prototypical guy from A.A.’s first draft is now an exceptionally young big leaguer. Hey, but let’s whine about where all the other, younger draftees, from even more recent drafts are — because that’s not dumb. Hey, and while we’re at it let’s be garbage clowns and whine about Yan Gomes, too.

And this has what to do with Cabrera coming back? Besides jack shit all, I mean.

That all said, there is definitely a very big chance that the Jays won’t be able to resign Cabrera, and it’s entirely related to money and the market for him. It’s not clear how that will develop. The Jays are surely hoping that the P.E.D. thing and the qualifying offer suppress the market enough that they can make a competitive offer given their budget limitations. But on the pessimistic side, a guy like Shin-Soo Choo, who last winter signed a seven-year, $130-million deal with Texas, is an interesting, if imperfect comp.

Choo declined the qualifying offer given to him by the Reds, so the Rangers gave up a high pick to get him, in addition to the massive contract. He was also a year older last winter than Cabrera is now, and similarly is a poor defensive outfielder, but a terrific bat, even while being a liability against left-handed pitching. There are general similarities between the two players, and so that is the contract Cabrera’s agent is surely looking at as his best case scenario, and one that I don’t think the Jays would come close to matching — and I don’t think anyone would blame them if they didn’t.

There are definitely differences between the two players that suggest it’s fanciful for Cabrera’s agent to be dreaming on a similar deal, though too. Choo had avoided the DL for the two seasons heading into his free agency; he certainly seems to have a body type that screams longevity more than Cabrera’s does *COUGH*; Melky has two significantly below replacement level seasons in the last five years on his resume, one because of a spinal tumour, one in his pre-P.E.D. season in Atlanta where he was reportedly badly out of shape; Choo had always shown an above average ability to get on base, but in his walk year he produced an elite walk rate of over 15%, leading to a .423 on-base (Melky’s walk year OBP is just .351); while the defensive metrics like neither player, the Reds thought Choo was good enough to play centrefield regularly in 2013, which might reflect better on him in the field (even though it was crazy); Choo’s career ISO (.171) is 42 points higher than Cabrera’s (.129); and Choo has been a significantly better player by both versions of WAR.

To expand on that last point, over their five season heading into free agency Choo nearly doubled Cabrera’s rWAR total (20.7 to 11.5). Make if four years — taking away a very good season from Choo and a bad one from Cabrera — and Choo still has the advantage by over three wins (15.2 to 11.9). Fangraphs’ version of the metric tells a similar story: Cabrera has produced 8.5 wins over five seasons, and (removing his awful 2010 in Atlanta) 10 wins over the last four; for Choo, as he headed into free agency, it was 19.6 and 14.8. Change the endpoints and the story stays about the same.

So… add all that to the fact that Melky has the P.E.D. issue looming over him, and that Choo’s contract already looks like a pretty big mistake from Jon Daniels , and I don’t see a team getting anywhere near that level with Cabrera, even if the market for outfielders is weak. Only time will tell, though. And the bigger point is that those market-based things are the sorts of factors that will determine whether the Jays will be able to bring him back, not whatever litany of whiny irrelevant nonsense some garbage clown wants to try to shoehorn into a half-assed argument about why he’d be unwilling to do so.


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Another week, another Griff Bag! Aka Richard Griffin’s latest mail bag from over at the Toronto Star! And this time around, we’ve got one that took me less time to write than any Griff Bag I can remember. Probably means some real probing, thought-provoking, quality questions in here, right? Right???

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 the A’s (Jon Lester) and the Tigers (David Price) pulling off two of the biggest trades at the deadlines, they are also two teams that are underachieving in a big ways since the trade deadline. There’s some talk that the dynamics of these big trades have been changing in terms of the number of teams that are actively engaging/pursuing these kinds of big-names/blockbuster trades.

There is a possibility that GMs will be even more reluctant to pull these kinds of trades in the future. What are you thoughts?

And a quick one – Given what Alvarez has done this year with the Marlins (before he went on DL), would you take him over Buehrle on your staff? Nobody on the Jays staff is even close to a sub-3 ERA with 160 IP…

John, Southern Cali

1) I think teams will continue to make trades that make sense for them on the field, and that the talk about upsetting dynamics is mostly just silliness. Not everything that happens needs to be explained by some ethereal force. The A’s stopped hitting and got poor play from their backups, and in Detroit, J.D. Martinez went in the tank, and injury to pieces in the bullpen made them hilariously woeful back there again. Their poor runs, in terms of wins and losses since the deadline, have had almost nothing to do with the players they added or the ones they gave up.

2) This year, and on talent alone? No. Factoring in the contract and you’d easily to take Alvarez, but his 2.88 ERA in the NL East, where he gets to face a pitcher or a pinch hitter every nine batters, isn’t much better than Buehrle’s 3.34 in the AL East, and their FIPs are about the same. Alvarez has an edge in xFIP, but by fWAR, Buehrle has been more than a full win better than Alvarez — Dickey has been better, too, for what it’s worth.

Baseball Reference’s version of WAR suggests they’ve provided about the same amount of value (with Dickey lagging behind in that case), so… there maybe is no one easy answer. It is definitely not quite so simple as looking at ERA, though. But again, all things considered, Alvarez certainly is the better piece to have.

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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!

Q-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?

John Cheng

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.



Q-Hi Richard Stoeten

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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Another week, another Griff Bag! Aka Richard Griffin’s latest mail bag from over at the Toronto Star! On time and everything!


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 Stoet,

The Jays are playing listlessly and ever since the trade deadline came and went without the owners doing anything to improve the team that was performing quite well without some key players like Edwin Encarnacion, Adam Lind and Brett Lawrie – have given up hope and the grit that they had and it is now a case of “Roger, it’s all over and out” (I should make that plural).

I wish that some group or company with the money and the love for the game purchases the team and the ball-park that the current owners got for a song, from them. All the very best to the Blue Jays team that has shown courage and great performance in so many games – thank you guys.

Have a great weekend Rich Stoet.

Tony in Toronto

Thanks, team, for your courage and spirit for all those games before you packed it in like a bunch of spoiled children with two months to go!

What a load. You want to cry about Rogers? Fine. But don’t make shit up. Whatever listlessness you want to pretend you’re seeing is just coincidence. They’ve played poorly. They’re not sulking and letting it show in their play on the field — or if they’re so unprofessional and collectively out of their minds as to be actually doing so, you sure as fuck aren’t able to divine it through your TV.

Come on.

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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.


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.)



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?


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.



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.)




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.

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