Archive for the ‘Griff Bag’ Category


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.


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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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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What’s this? A second straight week where we’ve been treated to a fresh edition of Richard Griffin’s mail bag over at the Toronto Star??? Welp. I’d better get to hijacking that.

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!

Hi Richard Stoeten

I was wondering if Gibby’s recent frustration is in part directed at AA? You’re right about his ranking as a manager (not the best, not the worst) but I like him for his honesty and at least attempting to treat these guys as adults. Despite some bloopers of his own, doesn’t failure of the Jays to be well above .500 lay with AA’s failure to address or recognize the following:?

-Given his lack of a bat, Goins was always destined to go back to the minors. So why no suitable back up if Maicer Izturis went down? Replacing a light hitter with another light hitter (Getz) who didn’t even have Goins defensive ability was plain goofy.

-Given the obvious pitching weaknesses why no experienced starter picked up to fill in. I don’t mean a stud Cy Young –just someone competent. It meant replacing a guy who couldn’t get out of 5 innings (Morrow) with a dud (Happ) who can’t get out of 4.

-Why wasn’t the bullpen refreshed? With a few exceptions bullpen pitchers don’t carry one good season over to the next. Janssen and Cecil yes, Loup, Delabar, Santos etc., no. Given the fact they had already decided to start McGowan using his loss as some kind of excuse for a weak bullpen is plain rubbish.

At least the batting is keeping us in it and hopefully this doesn’t slowly start to turn into a return to 2013.

all the best
Frank T., Prescott, ON

No, no, and no.

1) I’m not going to disagree with you that the decision to hope for Goins to transform into a completely different player over the course of the off-season was ill-conceived, but that — and the subsequent collection of replacement level guys the Jays brought in hoping to take the reins at the position before Juan Francisco forced them to play Brett Lawrie there — has had what, exactly, to do with why they aren’t father above .500? I’m going to go with pretty close to nothing. They haven’t helped the team a lot — the Jays second basemen have been about replacement level so far — but they’ve hardly killed them.

2) Now, if you’d said not getting a full-fledged starter — an Ervin Santana — so that Dustin McGowan didn’t have to be thrown into the rotation by default at the end of Spring Training, you might have had a point. The McGowan experiment was a noble, hopeful one, and pragmatic given the options available, but Alex — and Rogers — should have absolutely done better. But picking on Morrow and Happ? Huh? Morrow was going to be in the rotation no matter what, as he absolutely should have been. The fact that he didn’t perform before he hit the DL certainly did hurt the team, but that’s worked out about as well as it possibly could have, frankly. Happ isn’t nearly as bad as so many negative fools want so desperately to believe, and it’s created a spot that’s going to eventually be assumed by Marcus Stroman — who, fingers crossed, is close to as good a pitcher as was available this winter, and who was already in the organization and ready. Yes, starting pitching — particularly the inability of starters to get deep into games — and the failure to address it has been a big part of the reason the record hasn’t been better, but not in the way you’re suggesting.

3) The bullpen, and the uncharacteristic blow-ups they suffered in the weeks while Casey Janssen was out, has had a lot to do with why the Jays failed to separate themselves from the rest of the AL East in the early going, yes. But key word: uncharacteristic. They’re absolutely fine. Pretending you understand the volatility of relievers on one hand and then calling it a weak bullpen after just over a quarter of the season is a much horseshit as the ridiculous woe-is-me “hopefully this doesn’t slowly start to turn into a return to 2013″ garbage. Come on.

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It’s baaaaaaack!

Richard Griffin has brought the ol’ Griff Bag out of hiatus, posting a new one back on Friday at the Toronto Star, and so my caustic hijacking of it returns as well!

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

Are we finally seeing the Jays team we should have had last year?

It’s pretty much the same group of players, but now we have production from behind the plate and 2B, and call-ups from triple-A like Francisco are useful. All the team needs is the bullpen to return to its normal self and Lawrie to piece it together and a play-off spot could be there for the taking.

If the team is still in contention next month, what about adding Stephen Drew when he loses his draft-pick compensation status, and trading for another starter, like David Cone in 92?


Paul (from the UK)

Holy shit, actual optimism in a Griff Bag question? Is that even allowed?

And while I wouldn’t hold my breath on the Stephen Drew thing — with their first two picks protected, and the 50th pick (and the attached pool money) all they’d have to surrender, it’s far more likely that contract demands, not the pick, is the issue — the other stuff sounds pretty reasonable. A whole lot still has to go right, but the division is there for the taking. We can see that the lineup can hit. We can see that defence isn’t nearly the issue it appeared to be at times last year. We can see how the bullpen is better than it has performed so far, and especially could take off with Casey Janssen back. We can see how the rotation might stabilize, especially once Marcus Stroman supplants J.A. Happ — and how eventually bringing in a starter and moving either Stroman or McGowan to the bullpen would help.

Don’t go scrapping your October vacation plans just yet, but they’re hanging in there, and there is more than enough talent on this club — and there have been more than enough issues with their division rivals — to think that they really can make a good run.

Would it have been better that they separated themselves from the pack while the other teams were spinning their wheels? Sure. But there is lots of reason to think that we haven’t seen the best of this club yet.

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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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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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