Archive for the ‘Griff Bag’ Category

griffbag

A dispiriting three weeks into the season and finally our spirits are lifted. No, certainly not by a weekend of baseball, but by the return of the Griff Bag, as Richard Griffin has a brand new one up over at the Toronto Star. So let’s do it to 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. Hi Rich Stoet,

I agree with you 100 per cent and was surprised at the move to put Rajai Davis in to bat for Colby Rasmus — it made no sense to me at all. It is sad to see a hitter who is hot sitting while another player who is kind of streaky being brought in to bat in his place.

I think that it takes a bit of time for a team to jell specially the pitchers who have to pitch in cold weather at the beginning of the season, but among the new players that I am disappointed in are the outfielders who don’t have strong arms nor do they throw like Jose Bautista — their throws have for the most part hardly got to the catcher and are usually wide of the mark.

I am looking to see Melky Cabrera’s bat come alive. As for Emilio Bonifacio, he may be able to play at different positions but he is not good with the bat, and does not have a strong or accurate arm. I do hope and look forward to a quick return of shortstop Jose Reyes, who is one of the bright lights of this 2013 season.

I wish the Blue Jays much success this year and look forward to seeing some contending style baseball. Sorry I did not have a question instead of comments.

Regards,

Tony D’Souza, Toronto

Yeah… not a lot of guys can throw like Bautista, Bonifacio has indeed been a disappointment, the pinch hit wasn’t a great idea, and contending baseball sure will be fun. Uh… yeah.

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griffbag

Another week, another Griff Bag, as Richard Griffin tackles a new series of questions from his readers over at the Toronto Star, and… holy shit, I just re-read them. Ugh.

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 Griffin Stoeten,

So considering that Ricky Romero seems to still be struggling (I base this purely on Star coverage), why not send him down to Buffalo for the start of the season and keep Happ as the 5th starter?

Thanks, keep up the good work!

Nicholas Dodd, Montreal

Well, despite the insistence so far from the club that they won’t send Romero to Buffalo, there’s no reason to actually believe they’ll follow through on it if he continues to look absolutely 2012 atrocious. If they did, it would be worth giving a shit about, but– remembering what happened with Brett Cecil last year, when they similarly insisted he’d be part of the rotation, until they realized he couldn’t– until they actually do something stupid, I’m going to go ahead and give them the benefit of the doubt.

Frankly, even if they do take a struggling Romero north, it’s not like they’re forced to keep him there, and it’s not like there aren’t plausible reasons to believe he’s the better player to let prove he can’t do the job. He certainly was much better than J.A. Happ until some point midway through last year, and the fact that Happ has been clear in his preference, and has pitched a shade better than Dave Bush this spring, are hardly compelling reasons to make a change. It all comes down to Romero, and the Jays are entirely right to keep on assuming that he’s going to put it all together– whether they, or we, believe he really will or not.

He’s earned that respect, in my view, and as for the “what have you done for me lately?” arguments, it’s not like anyone actually disagrees on the key point in all this: if Romero sucks he shouldn’t be in the Majors. The only disagreement anyone has here is on the timing of the possible switch, and I think the Jays are right in showing faith in Romero and recognizing that it will be a whole lot more uncomfortable a thing to send him down than it would Happ– or to bring him back up if he gets his act together while Happ is keeping his head above water as the club’s fifth starter. And that’s assuming that they aren’t just saying the safe thing publicly while having much more heated discussion internally.

Ultimately, whichever path they choose, the result will be pretty much the same– the better of the two will find his way to the rotation with minimal damage done to the club’s long-term outlook. So… what the hell are we even talking about this for? Can we please just put the issue to bed? Please? Seriously???

No, eh? Well, OK then…

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griffbag

Baseball is in full swing-ish, and apparently so is Richard Griffin when it comes to answering questions from his readers over at the Toronto Star, because once again back on Friday we had ourselves a fresh Griff Bag to hijack. Nails much?

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 would have to happen this year for Canada to win the WBC? If not this year, then when?

Tyler W, Toronto

Uh… I dunno…they’d have to find some half-decent players less willing to embarrassingly proffer the kind of lame excuses Ryan Dempster and Russell Martin have allowed themselves to use? Or maybe they’ll just have to wait for Jameson Taillon to get a bit older (yet not be quite good enough to get asked to play for the States), and guys like James Paxton to figure it out. Wouldn’t hurt to change the timing of the tournament, either. Like, why not do it in October, schedule it in the gaps between playoff series’, and feature only guys on non-playoff teams? Sure, some players would opt out due to fear of overuse, and MLB might not want their big showcase overshadowed, but I think organizations would much less fearful of injury, and it would make for a much, much better tournament.

Truthfully, though, in this kind of short tournament, anything can seriously happen. I mean, a 98-win MLB club still loses four of every ten games, so… shit happens in this sport. Some damn pitching and some participation from the best the country has to offer would help, but there’s always a shot. Just look at how achingly close they were to getting past Team USA, or how they beat them in ’06 and came close in ’09, or how the Mexican team that Canada beat the piss out of (literally and figuratively) also beat the States.

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griffbag

Now we’re talking! After a several week break through the least interesting part of the winter, Richard Griffin has resumed answering reader questions over in his Mail Bag at the Toronto Star, meaning that I figure it’s high time I get to hijacking what he’s been asked and start providing some especially more caustic answers of my own.

Good? Good.

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 Griff Stoet,

If the Blue Jays want to field the best possible roster, regardless of options, wouldn’t it be logical to give the long-relief role to J.A. Happ? Brett Cecil has had year after year to try and win a spot on the big league team when the team wasn’t competitive. I don’t know if it’s worth hoping Cecil has a good year as a reliever in the bigs when the only positive sample available is last year’s September, when the quality of the opponent wasn’t that great.

Happ can still be the sixth starter from the ’pen, could log four emergency innings if the need arises, and can get stretched out after that. I’d much rather have the Major League proven Happ than the unproven, shaken up, can’t-outsmart-righties Squints.

Casey Janssen, Sergio Santos, Darren Oliver, Steve Delabar, Esmil Rogers, ?? and ?? Who fills out those question marks, in your opinion? Who deserves those spots (if the answer is different)? I would have loved to see Marcus Stroman up, but I guess I have to wait until the beginning of the year.

Love the coverage, Griff! Keep em’ coming!

Alex H, Toronto.

Uh… why the hell would the Jays want to field the best possible 25-man roster on April 2nd, regardless of options? Honestly. I mean, I get why they might want to say a thing like that, for the sake of the guys competing for jobs in camp, but they’d have to be serious fucking idiots if they actually meant it.

Asset management is a crucial part of the job that Alex Anthopoulos is paid to do, and fortunately for all of us he surely understands that the World Series isn’t won on Opening Day, and that sometimes it better serves the organization to carry the lesser of two players on the big league roster for a little while, in order to keep them both in the organization, or to manipulate the service time of one. In the case of the Jays’ bullpen, injuries will happen, poor performance will happen, and when it does, we’ll all be happier to have Aaron Loup or Brad Lincoln– or whichever with-options arms the odd men out end up being– in Buffalo, rather than having exposed guys like Cecil, Rogers and Jeffress to waivers at the end of camp, lost them to other organizations, and found ourselves faced with the prospect of going that much deeper into their system for the next piece of depth.

Which isn’t to suggest that it will be an easy decision or that you always hold onto the guys who are out of options– obviously there’s a difficult calculation to be made– but I’d suspect that’s the way the Jays are leaning, especially since you don’t give Cecil nearly enough credit for some very strong numbers against left-handed hitters.

As for who takes your final two bullpen spots, I have no idea. I guess maybe Cecil– even if Loup is slightly better– and a right-hander? Sure… why not. Certainly not Stroman– not just because of the suspension, but because the Jays seem like they’d rather wait for him to fail as a starter before they switch him to relief. Or at least, I think that’s what’s been out there from them on him. I hope it has been. It should be.

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With no Griff Bag on the immediate horizon, and not a whole hell of a lot else going on, I think it’s probably about time we take a dip into the Griff Bag’s infinitely less bent cousin, Gregor Chisholm’s latest Inbox at BlueJays.com.

As always, I have not read any of Gregor’s answers. If there’s a question you’d like me to answer, submit it to Gregor in his post and maybe he’ll select it for a future mail bag. Fingers crossed!

Which Blue Jays prospects do you see being able to make the next step this year and contribute at the big league level?
— Tim S., Calgary, Alberta

If you want to use a particularly strict definition of prospects, actually, I don’t see any. And I certainly hope there won’t be any, otherwise it will have meant something has gone quite terriblywrong, because the Jays just don’t have a lot of rookie-eligible players sniffing around for jobs on the Major League roster.

Sure, Aaron Loup should make the club and contribute out of the ‘pen, but he lost his eligibility by being on the roster for as long as he was last season, and it’s the same story for Anthony Gose, David Cooper and Moises Sierra, all of whom could see some time in a not-entirely-catastrophic season. But are those guys still prospects? I wouldn’t say so.

The same goes for Chad Jenkins, as well, though he’ll be hard pressed to get to the Majors regardless, with J.A. Happ, Brad Lincoln, and Justin Germano likely ahead of him on the Triple-A depth chart.

Beyond that group, you don’t see a whole lot of contributors. Marcus Stroman could succeed in a relief role at the big league level, but his 50-game PED suspension will eat into his season, and Alex Anthopoulos has said recently that he’d like him to continue developing as a starter.

Otherwise, everybody seems to like Sean Nolin, who Anthopoulos has said will begin the year at New Hampshire (and be on an innings limit). Nolin pitched 15 innings there at the end of last season, giving up just two earned runs, nine hits, six walks, while striking out 18 over three starts. If Happ and Lincoln end up in use in the Majors, certainly he could force his way up the depth chart, but it’s still a bit early for that. And it doesn’t get any easier thanks to the innings limit and the fact that Drew Hutchison and Kyle Drabek will be making their way back mid-season. Plus, with the club’s Triple-A affiliate finally out of Las Vegas, and the big league rotation full, there’s no need to rush guys the way they have in years past.

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Spring Training keeps inching closer, and while news items worth paying attention to are scarce, there’s one thing that’s sure to get us through these dark weeks: the Griff Bag. And Richard Griffin has got a fresh one up, over at the Toronto Star, which means that it’s time for me to crack it open and feast on the goo inside.

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!

Q. Hi Richard Stoeten,

I have a question about R.A Dickey’s longevity as a 38-year-old who is signed into his 40s. It seems to be established fact that knuckleballers can pitch longer than conventional pitchers because they’re throwing less hard and the pitch puts less strain on the arm. I was wondering, however, if that rule necessarily applies to Dickey. I ask for two reasons. First, he was a conventional pitcher for a long time before switching to the knuckleball. Is it possible that all those years put enough strain on his arm to reduce his longevity, despite having now switched? Second, because he throws his knuckleball harder than the average knuckleball pitcher, could that additionally limit his longevity? I’m not concerned about him significantly declining next season — I just wonder if he could possibly play as long as a guy like Tim Wakefield, for example. Thanks!

Jack Newman, Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina

Anything is certainly possible– with any pitcher, really– when it comes to injuries. Dickey is maybe a little bit different, given that he doesn’t have an ulnar collateral ligament in his arm, so he at least can’t tear that– which would require Tommy John surgery to repair– but obviously no one can have any idea what the future may bring. That said, you’ve certainly pinpointed some reasons why the notion that Dickey may pitch as long as a guy like Wakefield did is a little far fetched, yet I’m not sure if there’s too much need for concern about old wear and tear coming back to haunt him down the road.

Obviously I’m no doctor, but it sort of stands to reason that he’s helped by relying on a pitch that, hard as it is relative to other knuckleballs, doesn’t require max effort. Plus, in his pre-knuckle days his fastball would sit at 88-89 and he would throw that hard about 60% of the time, whereas now his heater is more at 83-84 and was only thrown 14% of the time in 2012. Physically, it means less stress on his body and less strain to recover from in the first place. You’d think that whatever damage may have been done previously has long been recovered from, or is much less likely to be aggravated by this new approach. But then again, what the fuck do I know?

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New year (uh… eleven days ago), new Griff Bag, as Richard Griffin helps tide us over through a slow-ish January by diving into some (read: a metric fuck-tonne of) questions from his readers over at the Toronto Star– which means that it’s time for me to crack it open and feast on the goo inside.

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!

Q. Hi Richard Stoeten,

Back when all the Dickey trade rumours were flying around, I was wondering about what the Winter Tour meant from a player personnel standpoint. A couple of players that came up in trade rumours (Anthony Gose, J.P. Arencibia) are taking part in the Winter Tour and I was curious if a player being included in the Winter Tour meant that they were “safe” from a trade standpoint. I know it’s a bit far fetched — why would AA turn down a trade just because the player had agreed to do some publicity? — but is there some link between the Winter Tour and a player’s value to the club?

Thanks,

Mike W, Toronto

Yeah… no. It means sweet fuck all.

Vernon Wells hit stops on the 2011 Winter Tour less than two weeks before he was dealt. Do you think Alex Anthopoulos hesitated for a nanosecond when Tony Reagins and his offer to eat that ridiculous contract came a-callin’?

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