Archive for the ‘Griff Bag’ Category

I’m surprised his readers found anything to talk about this week *COUGH* but apparently they did, because here we’ve got yet another Griff Bag– aka Richard Griffin’s reader mail bag from over at the Toronto Star. So… commence hijacking!

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-Hello Richard Stoeten,

A Toronto sports fan who is excited for the new baseball season to start. Looking for your opinion around the catching position for the Jays, assuming Alex has yet to do anything by the time you read this, I wonder which combo will give the Jays the best chance of contending? While Travis D’Arnaud has lots of upside, he has zero experience in the big leagues, catcher is such an important role for a team, I wonder if trading J.P. Arencibia gives the Jays the best chance to compete.

Thank you for your time.

Ivan Yung, Mississauga

I run into this sentiment a lot, and I still don’t fully understand why people want to give so much credit to Arencibia for gaining experience over two seasons. Sure, it’s not that there isn’t value in knowing a club’s pitchers, or being a catcher who has gone through the Major League wringer a couple of times already, but playing the “experience” card here is, in my view, mostly a way to sidestep some crucial questions about his bat and defence.

And it’s not a particularly compelling way to sidestep those questions either. Two fifths of the Jays’ rotation next year will be new. Because of injuries to both, Arencibia has only caught J.A. Happ for three innings. He’s also been limited to only about a month working with Steve Delabar, Brad Lincoln, Aaron Loup, Sergio Santos, and hasn’t caught Esmil Rogers at all. So if you think that aspect of the experience factor matters above all else, it’s probably time to think again.

Sure, Arencibia’s weak defence has improved steadily with  experience, but many already view Travis d’Arnaud as a plus defender behind the plate (scouting reports seem somewhat divided on that), and his bat has certainly looked better than JP’s if you compare the numbers from their age 22 seasons at Double-A New Hampshire, and at 23 in Las Vegas. Arencibia had his offensive breakout when repeating Triple-A, yet d’Arnaud, a year younger and seeing the level for the first time, had a better wOBA in his injury-shortened 2012.

There are concerns on d’Arnaud, to be sure– the injuries, a lack of walks, a lot of strikeouts, and perhaps also a pair of really high BABIP numbers over the past two seasons– but it’s not like the bar has been set terribly high. And while the Jays’ recent moves may allow them the luxury of keeping both, letting d’Arnaud force the club’s hand when ready– and I don’t think anyone would tell you that, in a vacuum, that isn’t the ideal setup– the roster still has holes to be filled. If they decide a catcher needs to be dealt to do so, when push comes to shove, I desperately want it to be Arencibia on the move.

Experience be damned. Small hit while d’Arnaud gets his feet wet be damned. Concerns about d’Arnaud’s myraid unconnected injuries be damned. He’s the all-around talent.

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At the Toronto Star, Richard Griffin announces that he won’t be filing his epic Bullpen column this week, and teases us with promises (again) of a late-week mail bag– and tosses a few Qs & As into the post for good measure! A mini-Griff Bag, so naturally, I’m going to go ahead and hijack 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. Hey Griff Stoet!

Any chance we can lobby the MLB to start next season a little bit early? I can’t wait!

I’d like to get your take on a couple players that I think would fit perfectly into our lineup for next season: Nick Swisher and David Ortiz. The mutual respect and friendship of Big Papi and Jose Bautista has been well documented and boy, does our lineup look a lot better with him in the DH spot behind EE than with Lind or a fourth outfielder.

Truthfully, Ortiz is old and maybe not an everyday player even as a DH and maybe EE is better off just DH’ing some nights; this is where Swisher comes in! His regular spot can be in LF and on nights that Ortiz takes off and EE DH’s, Swish comes in to play 1st and Rajai fills LF. Seems like a well functioning lineup for once!

Now of course, this all works until someone goes down with an injury and then we’re back into the 2012 version of the Toronto Blue Jays, but hey, it’s the off-season, we’re allowed to dream!

Richard Colton, Kingston

I think getting a big, left-handed bat, like that of David Ortiz, would be fucking fantastic for the Jays, Richard, but it’s one of those things that I couldn’t possibly believe might happen until I actually see it. There seemed like maybe a chance he’d bolt if Bobby Valentine stayed– assuming, dumb as it would be to do so, that the media’s narrative about the clubhouse troubles there was true– but without Bobby V., without a bunch of hefty contracts on the Red Sox’ payroll, and with Papi being, along with Pedroia, the faces of the franchise, I have a really hard time seeing him going anywhere. Reportedly, Ortiz and the Sox are already in talks to re-up for next year, and despite the many concerns about the aging, injured slugger, I think it fucking sucks, because it would be ridiculously fun to have him here, and I hope the Jays jump at the chance if he actually tests the open market.

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In his latest, epic Bullpen post over at the Toronto Star, Richard Griffin gives us a little bit of a teasing, offering a mini-mail bag in order to tide us all over until he posts a brand-spanking-new full-on one later in the week, and since I’m constantly on the lookout for something to keep me from working more on a majorly depressing year-in-review post that I’ve decided, for some reason, is necessary, let’s get to the hijacking!

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. Richard Stoeten,

I am reviewing a psychology article called The Perils of Perfection in Sports. I keep thinking of Ricky Romero. He was like Atlas with the world on his shoulders this season. I remember when one of the starters (?) was injured, Romero volunteered to start the next game when he had pitched the day before. Richard, do you think that since he was considered the Jay’s “ace-starter” that he put too much on his own shoulders? Or could he have felt pressure from the coaches or fans? I think the shoes that he had to fill were too big for him to mentally handle this year. Your thoughts?

Susan Roberts, Sarnia

While I think it would be entirely foolish to understate the mental aspects of the game that contributed to Romero’s poor performance this season, there seems to be a tendency to do the opposite and dramatically overstate that element.

I suspect that tendency comes from a bit of an inflated belief in Romero’s true ability, especially after a 2011 in which he wildly out-pitched his advanced, fielding-independent numbers– a 2.92 ERA, but a 4.20 FIP, 3.80 xFIP, 4.12 tERA and 3.78 SIERA– and managed to have a top 10 strand rate in all of baseball.

Compared to that guy– compared to a guy people actually thought was better than Brandon Morrow– this season’s Romero looks like a total, unmitigated fucking catastrophe. The reality is probably a little more muted– just a very bad year for a pitcher who perhaps surprisingly appeared to have conquered his problems with the walk, which famously plagued him during his minor league days.

And sure, some of the issues with command are probably mental, but there are unquestionably other factors as well.

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Stoeten Hijacks A GriffChat!

Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star missed his regularly scheduled mail bag feature at the end of last week, which was a rather disappointing thing for me, seeing as I’d believed it was his intention to keep shoving his bag in our faces ever year from here out. So imagine my excitement when I found out that, rather than having to wait a whole extra week to skewer his readers, he was holding a live chat yesterday at noon, which I’m so totally going to hijack (as always, without having read Griff’s answers). Starting… now!

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Report card for John Farrell?

I can’t give him anything but a solid D. Not because of the record, not because of the reported issues with the clubhouse or repeated mistakes– since that stuff gets so overblown in a year like this when the finger pointing gets so ramped up, and because it was a young team by design that got crazily younger through injury– but because some of his in-game tactics have just been so eminently questionable. I still think there’s room for him to improve– and that it’ll simply feel like he’s improved next year, by virtue of having a better club– but there’s no way to go higher after this disasterpiece of a fucking year.

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Even if the game means nothing in the big scheme of things, you can’t fault the Jays for celebrating getting a win like [Monday's]. Looking at it as a single game, seperate from the season at large, one can understand the exeuberance and joy.

I guess?

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I’m surprised his readers found anything to talk about this week *COUGH* but apparently they did, because here we’ve got yet another Griff Bag– aka Richard Griffin’s reader mail bag from over at the Toronto Star. Commence hijacking!

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,

As a former PR director, what do you think of the way the Escobar press conference was handled?

 Why not release Escobar? It sends a message and dumps the contract of a player who just sabotaged his own trade value.

Nigel Tufnel, Toronto

Well, first let’s just say, it’s like, how much more black could this season be? And the answer is none. None more black.

But let’s not go entirely fucking nuts here. Yes, the press conference smelled the glove, and it was like the participants turned the mixed messaging dial up to eleven, which helped nobody, but I think releasing Escobar kind of entirely misses the point. I’ll put this as succinctly as I can, because I think I’ve said more than enough about this issue by now, but almost as appalling as the phrase itself that Escobar wrote is the fact that he saw so little wrong with it. The Jays had to make the choice: do they punish him as a hateful bigot, in which case releasing him would be warranted, or do they punish him as somebody with horrible judgement who needs to be educated as to why such language is so hurtful. It’s easy to insist that ought to have been self-evident, but you don’t have to look far back into our own culture’s past to understand it’s more complicated than that, or to envision a time where too many of us would have also though such words relatively benign.

Yes, it requires some benefit of the doubt to be given to Escobar, but I don’t think that’s unreasonable given what we’ve heard from many Latino players and figures in the game, and ultimately, I think the Jays were right in interpreting this as a moment to forward education and awareness, and that a knee-jerk reaction wouldn’t have served anybody, unless it had been far more evident that Escobar’s words were hate-driven, or there wasn’t such linguistic and cultural ambiguity on the subject.

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Could it really and truly be? Back-to-back weeks? Yes, it could be! After such a ridiculously long time in the desert, it seems we’ve come upon two oases in quick succession, as hot-ish off the presses, we’ve got another Griff Bag– aka Richard Griffin’s reader mail bag from over at the Toronto Star. Commence hijacking!

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. Maybe the Jays should let (John) Farrell go (to the Red Sox) and hire your old buddy, Tito (Francona). That would certainly add an additional level of spice to the division, wouldn’t it?

Francona was a great manager, has played in Canada and is well liked up here, so might be a good replacement. But if AA is genuinely committed to Farrell, then he MUST extend him right after the season. It makes the Jays look like a Mickey Mouse organization if their staff are always treated as the managerial equivalent of training wheels for a so-called big league franchise like Boston. It demeans the organization, the city and the fans, in my opinion. Thoughts?

Always love your column.

Marshall, Toronto

What? Um… how the hell have the Jays been any kind of training ground for other organizations, exactly? Name me the last Jays manager to have managed anywhere else at the big league level after leaving Toronto– was it Jimy fucking Williams? IT WAS! I JUST LOOKED!

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It’s been such an impossibly long time since the last one that I was starting to worry that maybe Richard Griffin had given up on our favourite feature, perhaps to focus on his new, infinitely long Bullpen column, but the fears about the Griff Bag’s demise have been greatly exaggerated, as he’s got a brand new one up, 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, submit it to Griffin here, and maybe he’ll select it for a future mail bag. Fingers crossed!

Q-Richard Stoeten,

My problem all year long has been the use of the 25-man roster. Why 13 pitchers which seriously depletes your bench strength? Then on Sept. 1, they recall two more pitchers when the rosters expanded! With no bench strength, the playoffs will be a dream only. You can’t just play the same eight (players) game-in and game-out — you’re just looking at someone breaking down.

Dave Mulholland, Toronto

Well, on Friday the Jays called up five players five players, three of whom (Brett Lawrie, JP Arencibia, and Yan Gomes) will strengthen the bench, so maybe that’s precisely what you’re looking for?

But, look, I get that the bench is important, and I haven’t agreed very often with the Jays’ usage of it this year– particularly the 70 man bullpen they’ve generally employed– but “with no bench strength, the playoffs will be a dream only”??? Seriously?

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