With the Winter Meetings in full swing, I missed last week’s Griff Bag, but fear not! Griff is back in the mail bag groove, filing a fresh one for us to enjoy (read: hijack) on Monday afternoon over at the Toronto Star. So… let’s get to it!
As always, I have not read any of Griffin’s answers.
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!
I understand AA’s wish to keep Jeff Mathis as a defensive catcher and someone to manage the young pitchers, but I’m also wondering if people aren’t underestimating John Buck. Most of the knock on him seems to be (a) payroll, and (b) his low batting average. The payroll is irrelevant at this point — it is what it is and was part of the deal. As for the batting average, I believe I read that the Marlins’ new stadium is more of a pitcher’s park than the Rogers Centre. If that’s true, then we might see Buck once again have a career year, or was he just not making contact at all?
The other thing I’d like to ask about is R.A. Dickey. Given AA’s inscrutability, and that the Jays are rumoured to be interested, that would seem to negate the possibility, but it seems to me that having a knuckleballer in the mix to screw with batters’ timing would be great, do you think AA would be interested in trading with the Mets? I mean Dickey is 38, but knucklers also tend to have longer careers. Finally, any thoughts on Canada’s chances at the Baseball Classic?
Thanks for the insights, as always.
Richard Worzel, Toronto
I’d suggest you not go nuts here, Richard, and that it’s not quite reasonable to believe we could see a career year from a 32-year-old catcher whose production has declined in each of the two seasons since his 2010 peak, but I do think you’re on the right track by looking at his home park for the last two seasons.
Buck was much better on the road in 2012 (a .299 wOBA, compared to .269 at home), and while that wasn’t the case his first season in Miami, the new ballpark, according to the park factor data at StatCorner, was even more pitcher-friendly than the old one, with a HR factor for RHB of 84 (100 is neutral, Rogers Centre was 118), and a tangible but not-quite-so-staggering divergence on doubles and triples, as well.
Buck has learned (or, at the very least, has been again allowed) to take a walk during his time in Miami (he walked in 12.3% of his plate appearances last year, compared to 3.7% in 2010), and on the road in 2012 produced an ISO that’s not too far off his 2010 number.
That power wasn’t there (home or road) in 2011, so we need a pretty big grain of salt to take that information with, but for me, there’s certainly a chance he surprises people with how much better he looks in a better offensive environment– especially if he has any kind of BABIP bounce, up from his career low .284 last year.
As for the Dickey stuff, I think there genuinely is something to it. I know we’re supposed to believe that if we’re hearing it, it isn’t true, but that’s an awfully convenient trope for Alex Anthopoulos more than it is anything resembling reality. I mean, the Halladay stuff was getting leaked like crazy as that deal was happening, the Farrell stuff got leaked like crazy, The Trade with the Marlins was all public knowledge long before it was official, and there are all kinds of other examples of that old saw simply not holding up.
That said, the asking price for Dickey being what we’ve been led to believe it is, and his contract demands to the Mets being as reasonable as they are, I have a hard time seeing them actually dealing him– or, perhaps better put, another team offering the prospects necessary to make a trade worth New York’s while.
That said, I’m not terribly concerned about Dickey’s aging, given that he’s only looking for a short deal, and I’d be all for the Jays finding a way to get him. But six years of MLB control of someone like Travis d’Arnaud or Anthony Gose– who I likened, somewhat hackily, to Michael Bourn in a post yesterday– just seems like far too much. And with the Mets wanting more than just one elite prospect? I don’t think the Jays are that desperate to take the risk that Dickey comes here, signs an extension, succeeds in the AL East, doesn’t age at the normal rate for pitchers, that JP Arencibia is able to catch anything he throws, and that the prospects don’t come back to haunt them. There are reasons to think each one of those things is possible, but all of them? I dunno.
WBC: I think Canada can make a nice run. Mexico isn’t as strong as you might think, and we’ve got to beat Italy this time, right? Right??? Canada shouldn’t have much trouble getting out of the group, but after that it’s going to be tough. Should be fun, though! There is definitely enough Major League talent on Canada’s roster to make it interesting– assuming guys are allowed by their teams to play, because the roster gets thin pretty quick beyond the top tier.
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