Archive for the ‘Griff Bag’ Category

griffbag

Another week, another mail bag, and… actually, OK, so maybe it’s been a while since we had a right proper Griff Bag hijacking around here. Sorry about that, but things were actually happening around this team… for a while. Now that we’re back to the ol’ dispiriting status quo of the dog days, I’m sure I’ll have more time to deal with the inanities of Griff’s readers– like I did this week! So strap in! Time to get our hands dirty with Richard Griffin’s latest mailbag from over at the Toronto Star.

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 reading your interview with Carlos Delgado, the first thing that came to my mind was what a great bench coach he would make! It seems like Demarlo Hale is in the mix every off season for manager’s position, do you believe there would be any interest from Delgado to take that position? I would love to see him teach his brand of professionalism!

Ridley Wetton, London

Uh… really? I mean, I get that Delgado was a great player and talks a good game, but how is this sort of thing remotely on anyone’s radar? Just kinda utterly pointless, if you ask me.

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Q. After attending Saturday’s game and seeing the situational execution difference between TB and Toronto with the bases loaded and no one out, I got to wondering. From your observations, is the Jays failure to execute on offence (absent the HR) in key situations like this due primarily to coaching philosophy (players aren’t asked to alter their approach in such situations), player stubbornness (players refuse to alter their approach in such situations), or player performance (players are trying to alter their approach in such situations, but are failing to execute).

I realize it’s a fine line, but if I hear one more time that you can’t ask a home run hitter to try to hit the ball to the right side or cut down on their swing to get a sacrifice fly when needed I might be sick . . .

Sean East, Baden, Ont.

I guess I’d have to say that it’s due to what you’re calling coaching, but don’t confuse that with me saying that it’s due to bad coaching. The Rays have scored the sixth-most runs in all of baseball. The Jays, who have played one fewer game, rank seventh. So… it’s not exactly like the Rays are some kind of run-producing juggernaut, is it? Especially considering the fact that, as a team, they have a three point advantage on Jays hitters in wOBA and ten points by wRC+.

It’s frustrating to watch some times, to be sure, but so is having the team give up outs, or to alter their approach so as to pass up on an opportunity for a big inning in order to scratch out a run– unless that’s all the situation really calls for. John Gibbons is generally averse to small ball tactics, and that’s part of the reason why he’s kinda the best.

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griffbag

Another week, another mail bag, and… actually not a whole hell of a lot to go nuts about. Hell, in this one I even make some kind of tepid, half-hearted defence of J.P. Arencibia. So strap in! As it’s once again time for me to hijack Richard Griffin’s latest (read: six-day-old) mail bag from over at the Toronto Star!

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,

How much is Gibbons to blame for the Jays’ crappy start? He seems like a nice guy and all, but I can think of at least five games he’s cost the Jays because he refuses to implement a bunt, steal, or advance the runners in some way.

Marc Losier, San Francisco, California

About as much blame as he deserves credit for the fact that they’re now going  pretty well– which I bet in your mind isn’t a whole hell of a lot, right? Like… seriously, how long do we really have to do this for? Giving away outs is a horrible idea, so the less Gibbons does it– unless the right part of the lineup is up and it’s really late and really close– the better off the team is. Say no to small ball.

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griffbag

Alright, time to get back to the business of the floundering team and… whatever the hell is going on with it. It’s this week’s edition of the Griff Bag– our weekly-ish hijacking of Richard Griffin’s latest mailbag from over at the Toronto Star. And our weekly-ish variation on the same lame preamble.

As always, I have not read any of Griffin’s answers. Except, y’know, the one I quoted in a post yesterday.

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,

This baseball season has to be the most frustrating and
 disappointing in memory. I like many other fans drank the “Kool Aid” and 
bought into the AA rebuild. He took a huge gamble and failed miserably. The
 experts (you included) said both the Yankees and Red Sox will be rebuilding 
therefore this is the Jays year. We all know in what place both of these
 teams reside today.

Do you think the Jays will limp, stumble and play 
brain dead baseball for the rest of the season or do you think some drastic
, owner induced “fix” may be implemented ? I was looking forward to attending
 more games this year than last, but I’ve got to be honest I’m second
-guessing spending my money on a team that seems not to care. Those lame, 
excuse filled post game autopsies of every Jay loss by John Gibbons are 
also very frustrating to watch. His southern drawl and laid back demeanor 
portray a country club atmosphere and his team plays like it.


Thanks, now I feel better.




Brian Runciman, Oakville

You know in what place both of those teams reside today? You mean June 11th? Which– and this is fucking news to me– is apparently now the last day of the season?

Seriously, Brian, what a steaming load of shit this is. John Gibbons talks with a southern accent so therefore he must be running a fucking country club where behind closed doors the fat cat players and him light cigars with $100 bills as they laugh and laugh about taking money from the saps who drank the Kool-Aid? Fuck your shitty attitude, and your wilful ignorance of Gibbers’ anger at Brett Lawrie during the non-sac-fly incident and the big knock on him when he was hired– that he was a hot head who fought with his players– that animates it. And fuck the notion that they’re limping, stumbling, and playing “brain dead baseball.” It was way sloppy earlier, for sure, but for a number of weeks now it’s been the starting pitching that’s failed them, not whatever bullshit concerns that bring out the shit-eating-grins in insufferable fans who think they know better about fundamentals.

And fuck the notion that anybody should have seen Vernon Wells and Lyle Overbay carrying the Yankees for a month, too.

You don’t have to like what’s happened on the field so far for the Jays, but don’t fucking piss in my mouth and tell me it’s raining.

Anthopoulos has only “failed miserably” if you’ve already insanely decided that the outcomes we’ve seen so far are a true reflection of the roster he’s assembled. Sure, it’s almost certainly going to be a disappointing season for the club, but there’s this little thing called nuance that people usually try to grasp before making thunderously fucking dull-headed blanket statements like that. A drastic, owner-induced fix? Why??? What the fuck are you talking about???

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griffbag

Alright, time to get back to the business of the floundering team and… whatever the hell is going on with it. It’s this week’s edition of the Griff Bag– our weekly-ish hijacking of Richard Griffin’s latest mailbag from over at the Toronto Star.

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,

I’m starting to think that all of these injuries to Jays pitchers over the last couple years are more than just bad luck and coincidence. It seems like every day there is a new health problem with a Jays hurler. And the way they have handled their young arms (Kyle Drabek, Drew Hutchison and now Sean Nolin and Ricky Romero) is clearly not working. Do you think we should start blaming coaching and the training staff? Or is this just a long string of bad luck?

It’s especially upsetting as the offence finally looks like it’s turned the corner. Anyways, keep up the good work. Even though I’m on the West Coast, I read your column regularly and am a big fan.

All the best.

David Puterman, Vancouver

Well… you can’t just say, “No, everything is fine,” because the injuries the Jays have suffered over the last two seasons are certainly alarming and should be investigated– as the team says they already have, following last year– but who can you conceivably think the coaching or training staff has contributed to the troubles of this year?

The team currently has nine pitchers on either the 15- or 60-day DL, with Josh Johnson and Ramon Ortiz having flipped places today: Drabek, Hutchison and Luis Perez were hurt last year, Johnson, Dustin McGowan and Sergio Santos have long-standing arm problems (two of whom brought them from other organizations, while the other has been here since the Gord effing Ash era), Ortiz and Darren Oliver are ancient, Brandon Morrow frustrates us every year with injuries, and J.A. Happ was the victim of a freak accident. Yeah, the situation is upsetting, and it would feel much better to know where to point fingers or to identify clearly what needs to be changed, but I just don’t see it. I honestly think it is just a pretty good run of shit luck.

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griffbag

Another week, another Griff Bag, another hijacking. Sound about right? Because there’s a new slice of read-submitted insanity up at the Toronto Star, and… much like last week… what else do you really want us to do here on a the first morning of the week? Try to come to grips with how awful the Jays have looked against the effing Yankees this season?

Fuck that. Let’s just let Griff’s readers get under the ol’ skin and watch the magic happen (or not happen, as the case may be).

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,

Been reading your column/blog for years, enjoyed it immensely.

Question for the mailbag:

Is the decline of Ricky Romero unprecedented? In the sense that within the span of two seasons he went from having a 15-win/2.92ERA season in 2011 and in 2013 he has struggled in Single-A Dunedin and after two starts in Buffalo he seems to be overmatched in AAA ball.

How can someone so fundamentally lose the skills and talents that got them to the position to get a $30-million contract as a professional athlete. I know we’ve seen pitchers somewhat unexpectedly fall apart before but it’s mainly been relievers (Gagne, Axford, BJ Ryan, etc).

From a 15-win season to being barely able to strike the kids in A-ball out is mind blowing.

Thanks,

Mike

The Romero thing is undeniably weird, though not unprecedented. The old timers will remind you of Steve Blass, who had five better-than-decent seasons with the Pirates in the late 60s and early 70s, then suddenly, inexplicably  forgot how to throw strikes. Recently there have been valuable pitchers like Rick Ankiel, Dontrelle Willis, and Jonathan Sanchez– all of them, like Romero, left-handers, oddly enough– who lost the ability to throw strikes. Granted, that isn’t a huge group for Romero to have seemingly found himself in, but this king of thing does happen (and while Ricky’s ERA and win totals are impressive, those just aren’t good enough metrics to base saying he was better than any of that group on).

Has it really happened to the Jays’ one-time ace, though? For me it’s still too early to tell. Yes, the early returns have been ugly, and I know a lot of fuckfaces out there want desperately for validation of their ignorant knee-jerk thoughts from various points along the way that Romero is finished, but it really is still only less than 20 innings across all levels in 2013.

Plus a brutal Spring Training.

Plus a full season as one of the worst pitchers in all of baseball.

Plus an entire career of not being able to get lefties out, which has probably got to be the biggest concern of all, actually. I don’t think coincidentally, in Romero’s best season, 2010, he faced the lowest single-season percentage of left-handed batters of his career, and had his most success against lefties, though they still hit him to the tune of a .343 wOBA. Twenty-five per cent of the batters he faced that year were lefties, but by the time of his dreadful 2012, the rate had climbed to 32%. Couple that increase with the .390 wOBA left-handers posted against him– which actually isn’t terribly out of line with his career rate, as from 2009 to 2011 lefties put up a .363 wOBA– and you have all the makings of the disaster that we saw.

So, for all the talk about mechanics or confidence, the fact is, regardless of whether he can throw strikes, with the book being out on him, it actually doesn’t sound entirely implausible, assuming that clubs other than the Rays employ managers competent enough to have noticed the splits, that his days as a useful big leaguer truly are over.

But the mechanics, for whatever it’s worth, are new right now, Romero did pitch in 2012 with an elbow that required surgery, and he’s struggled with command problems once before, spending three seasons at Double-A– mostly while being labelled a gigantic J.P. Ricciardi bust– from 2006 to 2008, before turning into a very productive big leaguer.

The Jays owe him $15.6-million for the next two years, plus whatever remains of this year’s $7.5-million, so he’s going to get all the time he’ll need to try and figure himself out. No, he can’t even get minor league hitters out right now, but I would certainly hesitate to just assume that it’s always going to be that way. Time will tell, but even if he does regain the ability to throw strikes, you sort of have to think that his issues against left-handed hitters, now even better known, will make it very difficult to return to the form we once saw.

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griffbag

Another week, another Griff Bag, another hijacking. Sound about right? Because there’s a new slice of read-submitted insanity up at the Toronto Star, and… like… what else do you really want us to do here on a Monday morning? Try to come to grips with decent pitching performances from Chad Jenkins and Ramon Ortiz? A Triple-A disaster for Ricky Romero? Emilio Bonifacio perhaps not being terrible?

Fuck that. Let’s just let Griff’s readers get under the ol’ skin and watch the magic happen.

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. I have watched the J.A. Happ injury (on Tuesday) over and over again on the networks and one of the biggest questions I have is in regards to the umpires. These are people who make calls in minutiae on a minute by minute basis which will affect the outcome of a game, but when it came to a decision that may have affected someone’s life . . . they chose to do nothing until someone had run 180 feet. Will the umpires be disciplined in any way? Thanks,

Jeff

I believe it was John Gibbons who said that he didn’t blame the umpires because, like everybody else, they were stunned by what had happened to Happ. While maybe that’s just him saying the “right” thing, it seems entirely plausible to me, and so, while I think you’re absolutely right that play should have been stopped as soon as Happ was hit, and that getting him medical attention needs to be the priority, I’m not sure any kind of discipline is necessary for the umpires. Like, I haven’t looked into it, but I can’t imagine that they’re standing by their call to not halt play as soon as possible.

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griffbag

It’s been two weeks since we last had an appearance from ol’ Griff and his mail bag. Two dismal, dispiriting weeks that I’m sure are probably going to make it so that, in hijacking his latest one, posted Friday over at the Toronto Star, I’m going to need all my willpower to retain my sanity. Let’s find out if I make it through, shall we?

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,

What are your thoughts on Josh Johnson so far? With the way he’s been pitching to date (not horrible, but not even close to the domination from spring training) and now with his injury, I think we’ll keep seeing his market value drop unless he starts to pick it up; In my opinion it would be the perfect time for AA to take advantage of this and sign him to an extension, something team-friendly before he hits free agency (as he did with Happ). I just can’t see AA trading him by July if they are in the hunt (which they fully expect to be), and letting him go this fall means you’re opening up the fifth rotation spot to an acquisition, or one of Romero, Drabek, and Hutchison — and this is bad.

John

Uh… yeah, I completely don’t get this. He’s not pitched well, can’t seem to throw breaking balls for strikes, is dead last among 311 pitchers with more than 10 innings pitched this season in percentage of pitches thrown in the zone (per the adjusted, Baseball Info Solutions data at FanGraphs), now he’s hurt, so… sign him up?

How does that make sense, exactly?

No, the risk on locking the club into Johnson for years and major dollars remains extreme, which is why I fully expect the Jays to continue to see how it plays out– to hope for the kind of production that can get them back in the race, to be OK with someone else paying him a monstrous amount of money next year, if it comes to that, or to trade him in July if it comes to that. I’m not sure why you think Alex Anthopoulos would be so hellbent on avoiding such a deal– or, frankly, what you’ve seen so far that makes you think it’s such a massive step down to Ricky Romero or Drew Hutchison. I think Johnson at his best certainly would make it one, but we haven’t seen it yet. Romero was great last year in spring, too, so… I need to see more before I think this extension business, given the still-astronomical cost, isn’t kinda crazy.

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