Archive for the ‘Griff Bag’ Category

griffbag

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

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

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

Q. Hey Richard Stoeten,

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

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

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

Zak K., London, ON

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

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

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

-

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griffbag

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

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

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

Q. Hi Griff Stoet,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Would love to hear your thoughts on my thoughts.

Howard A., North York

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

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

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

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griffbag

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

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

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

Q. Richard Stoeten,

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

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

Hugh

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

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

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

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

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

-

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griffbag

Another week, another Griff Bag! By which I, of course, mean another caustic hijacking of Richard Griffin’s latest mail bag from over at the Toronto Star. Happy hunting, me!

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

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

Q. Hi Richard,

Great mailbag! I just got a few Jays personnel questions to ask you:

1. Should Lind be back? Would it be better to DH Melky instead? (not to risk injury playing the field).

2. Is Rasmus for real? Should the Jays sign him long term in the off-season? Problem is that Gose is not as good as I think he is, but Rasmus could become very expensive to retain.

3. Is this team a Alomar/Carter for McGriff/Fernandez blockbuster trade away from being a true contender again? I just worry that AA is just not that kind of GM that will do this kind of trade. Throughout his trade history, he loves to bargain hunt, and he will only make moves to plug holes in the roster (say 2B/LF) instead of shaking it up. I think this team needs a shake-up move.

Thanks,

James

1. In a perfect world, where money was no object, I don’t know that either Lind or Cabrera would be back. Carrying either one means taking on some risk, and if it were an either/or proposition, keeping Lind and finding him a platoon partner would probably make the most sense– he’s a solid-if-streaky bat against right-handed pitching, and he only costs $5-million, if you factor in the $2-million you’re paying anyway to buy him out.

But this isn’t a perfect world, and you’re going to have to eat even more money if you really want Cabrera’s deal off the books, so I’m not sure that’s the right path either– especially since at $8-million for one year, it’s really not a bad contract for a guy capable of what he’s shown he can produce, and a guy who was agile enough to spend the bulk of his time in centre in Kansas City in 2011. But he could also be worthless, or– like this year– worse.

So much depends on the health of his legs that I’m not sure we can even answer this one. He had an ankle problem in 2009 and a thigh issue in 2011, neither of which he missed games for, then in June 2012 missed four days with a thigh problem, so… it’s verging on chronic, but maybe can’t quite be characterized as such just yet. The PED issue, of course, complicates things.

Fortunately for the Jays, offensively they aren’t in nearly as dire straights as they are on the mound, so minimal offensive upgrades at second and behind the plate, and– fingers crossed– a full year of the Brett Lawrie we’ve seen in the second half, would make the idea of maintaining the status quo in left and at DH, with guys like Pillar and Gose around to pick up the outfield slack, reasonably palatable. If you think Melky can stay on the field, that is.

Even if not, how much more money can you really sink into those spots, considering the other needs?

2. Rasmus probably isn’t quite as good as his 2013 numbers will end up making him look, but he’ll be reasonably priced for another year, and we saw with the way Edwin Encarnacion was handled that Alex Anthopoulos isn’t afraid to negotiate in-season with a pending free agent. What he might lose in budget by waiting on Rasmus he’ll gain in certainty. Y’know, sort of like the way he didn’t go out this spring and try to undercut the blockbuster deal everyone expected Josh Johnson would be in line for about now. So, I don’t think you extend him this winter. And if you can work a deal that gets you back enough offence at a position of need and, say, a pitcher, maybe you don’t worry too much about packaging him in some kind of  major trade. That places a lot of import on Anthony Gose, though, with not much of a safety net behind him, so I don’t know about that.

3. Uh… the fuck? You recall any of the trades he made last winter?

And no, they don’t need an Alomar-Carter type trade in the slightest. Could happen. Could make them better. But there’s no reason for a shakeup just for the sake of it– and I’m not sure Anthony Gose is the equivalent of that deal’s John Olerud, which was such a crucial aspect that so often gets overlooked when fans get to daydreaming.

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griffbag

This week’s Griff Bag– i.e. Richard Griffin’s mail bag over at the Toronto Star– was a study in extremes, with some quite excellent questions, and some astoundingly infuriating ones (including one I thought might totally be racist!), balanced out by a healthy serving of mush. Not all that different from most weeks, actually, but for some reason I just didn’t have the wherewithal to mash my keyboard into a pulp in a hulk-like diatribe furor, so… one sentence or less is all you get!

Frankly, it’s more than at least a couple of these questions deserved.

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

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

Q. Hi Richard Stoeten

After last week’s mailbag perhaps I could give a little bit of support (and perspective) to those who want John Gibbons out.

1. To those who wanted a big name perhaps it’s worth remembering that wishing for Terry Francona, Joe Torre, Joe Maddon etc was simply fantasy baseball. They were either not available or not interested. That leaves you with a whole bunch of guys named ‘Who.’ Tony Pena? A complete bust at Kansas. Charlie Manuel? Even folksier than Gibby and 20 years older. Buck Showalter, the two-year wonder? The list goes on.

3. It’s maybe worth remembering that Francona spent 4 seasons under .500 at Philly before getting it right. Joe Torre even worse at the Mets. Jim Leyland in 11 years at the Pirates probably only got them anywhere near once or maybe twice. All bad teams? Sure but what do you think the Jays have been plunking out? The best team in the East is managed by the same guy who was pathetic in Toronto even before he saw the Holy Grail.

So is Gibby as good as these guys? I have no idea but I can’t think of one thing that he did, or didn’t do that would have made one jot of difference to this season. So just for once can we stick with a guy and find out now the pieces are finally coming together. He has total respect for his players, the fans and the game. He treats them as men and if these guys are good enough the Jays will win because of how they perform. And because the manager stayed out of the way and let them play their game.

Thanks again, Griff

Frank Taker, Prescott, Ont.

Bang on, but what happened to number two?

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griffbag

Another week, another dip into the ol’ mail bag, as we’re about to embark on a journey together, hijacking the latest edition of Richard Griffin’s mail bag from over at the Toronto Star. Hold me.

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

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

Q. Hi Richard Stoeten,

This might be one of those pointless ‘what if’ questions (and I’ll get hammered by DJF I’m sure), but I’m curious to get your opinion on what the state and future of the Jays might have been if the Florida and Dickey trades had not been made in the off season. There would have been some tinkering with the lineup of course, but would we have been in a better position going into 2014 if they had never happened? I was really buying into the build for the future concept, but also bought into the trades.

Rob Brander, Sydney, Australia

Certainly not a question anyone around here would bash, Rob, because the answer is exactly the key to understanding why they Jays did what they did last winter.

Thing is, the guys the Jays gave up in those trades, while terrific prospects to varying degrees, for the most part cannot be expected to be impact MLB players until after Jose Bautista’s contract expires, after Edwin Encarnacion’s contract expires, and after Colby Rasmus, Brandon Morrow, Ricky Romero, and Adam Lind all hit free agency. There may be some overlap in 2015, or because of additional option years on some of those deals, but, for example, Noah Syndergaard is only 20, and has pitched just 114 innings this year, so even if he does make a big league rotation next year– and, out of Spring Training, that’s hardly a guarantee– he’s not going to be able to put in a full workload as a starter anyway. He’s looking like he could be a terrific piece beyond that, but I think it’s safe to say it would have taken some exceptional circumstances for him to be a difference-making arm for the Jays in either his age 22 or age 23 seasons. Meanwhile, Justin Nicolino is 21 and has struggled since moving up to Double-A at mid-season, and Adeiny Hechavarria reached the Majors this year hitting about as poorly as advertised.

Travis d’Arnaud and Jake Marisnick are closer to providing value at the big league level, but had he remained in the Jays system, Marisnick would next year be battling with Anthony Gose and Kevin Pillar to maybe win a roster spot in the outfield, depending on what happens with Melky Cabrera (assuming he’s even still on the roster in this hypothetical). Of course, given how poorly J.P. Arencibia has played this year, Travis d’Arnaud is the one who really hurts, but again, that’s one of those prospects who might be a really impactful guy– if he can stay on the field– and that’s more likely to be in Bautista’s age 34 season of 2015.

Why does Bautista’s age and contract status matter so much? It’s not just him, but he was the club’s most important player and also the one farthest along the aging curve. By the time you’ll be starting to maybe, if you’re lucky, see truly impactful seasons from the prospects dealt away, Bautista will either be in a pretty solid decline, or heading towards one last big free agent payday. Encarnacion will be 33 in 2016, himself, and without those two guys at the height of their powers you’re relying a lot then on the development of the kids. It might have worked, and the team certainly could have dealt the likes of Jose, Edwin, Morrow and Rasmus along the way for other, younger pieces to help the full-on Cubs-like rebuild, but those folks who were once pencilling in Travis Snider, Anthony Gose and Kyle Drabek for stardom right about now know that’s hardly an exact science. Neither is building a team through trades, obviously, but the route the Jays have taken has at given them a much better shot in the near term, with Bautista and Encarnacion in better places age-wise, innings eaters in Buehrle and Dickey helping the rotation, and their other core pieces still here– plus they’ll have financial flexibility following 2015, with big dollars only guaranteed to Jose Reyes beyond that point, especially given the new commitment from an ownership that finally has been forced to see winning, not its slice of the revenue sharing pie, as the most savvy method of doing business.

Had it not have been for the deals of last winter the lineup going forward would still look pretty alright on paper, but maintaining the status quo in the rotation would mean something like Morrow-Happ-Hutchison-Drabek-Redmond, with Romero, Rogers, and eventually Nolin and Stroman as depth. Not a lot of hope there.

Sure, the Jays appear to have made a pretty giant misstep in terms of when and how they spent their money and so much of their prospect capital– Mat Latos, Gio Gonzalez or Yu Darvish would go a long way right now towards making that rotation look downright respectable– but that doesn’t mean at all that the cupboard is now bare, and in the meantime the club will have a couple of years to really make a push. Now it’s just… hopefully the next two chances at that don’t go as feebly as this year’s try has.

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griffbag

Another week, another dip into the ol’ mail bag, as we’re about to embark on a journey together, hijacking the latest edition of Richard Griffin’s mail bag from over at the Toronto Star. Hold me.

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

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

Q. Richard Stoeten,

I understand that Roy Halladay is a free agent this offseason. Provided he gets back to form (or at least close to it), thoughts on him coming back next year in a Blue Jays uniform?

LK

Yeah, not happening.

I get the pipe dream, because Halladay was a boss when he was here, but I think he’s quite comfortable in Philly, I think that club’s decision not to sell off parts at the trade deadline signals that they’re not embarking on any kind of major rebuilding project in the next 365 days (even though they likely should), and I just don’t see the sense for the Jays in going and adding another major question mark to their rotation picture. And, again, that’s only a possibility if Halladay actually wants to go anywhere. The fact that the Jays hold their Spring Training close to Doc’s home makes them a quasi-realistic possibility, but… sorry, I fully expect him to be back in Philadelphia. And that should be totally fine by Jays fans. Cut the cord!

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