Archive for the ‘The Long View’ Category

djflongreads

If you’re a regular reader, you’re probably well aware that the term “long read” is sort of a misnomer here on DJF mountain, but I suspect that you know what I mean when I use it. Occasionally we dive just a little bit deeper into a topic than usual, and sometimes, frankly, it seems as though our efforts disappear a little too quickly into the ether.

I get that. It’s a product of the medium we work in, which otherwise has many, many advantages and great aspects– one of which is the fact that I can do things like collecting up all of the most interesting, re-readable pieces we’ve written over the course of a year (or, at least, the ones that either best stoked my narcissism or impressed me from my colleagues), and re-post them after an appropriate time has passed. Say a year, or maybe a year and almost-two-and-a-half-weeks or something. *COUGH*

And, lo and behold, here are a bunch of them for the year that just passed (um, almost-two-and-a-half-weeks back). The year in DJF Longreads for 2012…

Romero’s Late Mechanical Change Signals Concern – 3/20
By the third week of March, the Jays seemed finally to acknowledge what fans had noticed all spring: something still wasn’t right with Ricky Romero. And I… uh… noticed them noticing.

I’m not saying I’d prefer the club to be deceptive– “it’s not a lie if we know the truth” and all that old noise– but if the only good that will come from making it known that these changes are taking place is that it will make it easier to excuse another poor performance, what does it say about the organization’s belief that Romero is going to pitch well? And what does it say about their continued insistence that he’s going north with this club, come hell or high water?

 

Season Opening Prediction Conniptions – 4/1
Probably the post I quoted from more often than any other in 2013… because, in my defence of certain prognostications that insufficiently trumpeted the Jays’ chances, I actually acknowledged that Boston might not suck.

Even the Red Sox– who will hit, especially in their ballpark, with Pedroia, Napoli, Gomes against lefties, and full health from Ellsbury and (eventually) Ortiz– need only for Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz to regain their form of two years ago in order to be a club capable of winning the division themselves, really. It’s a tall order, but I suppose the point I’m trying to make is, so is having Dickey pick up where he left off in 2012, keeping Johnson on the path to regaining his dominance, getting a healthy season from Brandon Morrow, and keeping the regression demons at bay when it comes to Mark Buehrle.

 

Dear John… – 4/5
An open letter to John Farrell on the occasion of his return to Toronto.

When the shit really started hitting the fan you could have pointed to the Jays’ openly stated reluctance to talk about a contract extension with you. You could have mentioned Boston’s setting up of your son’s radiation treatment while you were in the Jays’ employ. You could have pointed out that the club had the power to keep you if they really wanted to– as they did the year before. They didn’t want you, either, John. Maybe not as much as you didn’t want them, but enough to have used it to paint yourself in a better light. And you sure as fuck could have not said “dream job,” or “If you recall, I was traded,” John. That kind of delusional, arrogant attempt to brush aside legitimate questions about what appears to have been a duplicitous, long-considered, orchestrated exit just makes you kinda look like a fuckface.

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farrelllook

Thanks to some comments from John Farrell that hit the internet on Wednesday, questions about the Jays’ player development structure– an impossibly easy topic for any fucking idiot to spout a hopelessly uninformed opinion on at this stage of a lost season– have abounded. And I don’t mean Farrell by “any idiot,” since he’s one of the few people with some kind of actual insight into how the Jays’ front office thinks and how the organization operates in the depths of its minor league system. What am referring to, though, is much of what dribbled out of my speakers during what seemed like hours of discussion on the subject yesterday on the Fan 590.

Good lord.

To refresh your memory, here are the comments, via Evan Drelich of MassLive.com:

“We can have a seminar on this question — not just because it’s Toronto and Boston,” Farrell said. “There are very distinct differences and it starts, I think it starts, at the top. And the reason I say that: I found Toronto to be a scouting-based organization, which to me is on one plane, one-dimensional. You’re looking at tools. Here, it’s a player-development based system. It’s the paths of the individuals that are running the organization. And that’s not to be critical.

“We all know that there’s three different veins in this game that people advance (through): baseball operations, scouting, player development. Well, in the player-development vein, you’re going to look at things in three dimensions: mentally, physically, fundamentally to address and develop people, or develop an organization. I think as a scouting base, you go out and you evaluate the physical tools. And that’s kind of where it ends, or that’s the look at that time. That was my experience, that was my opinion.”

What jumps out, of course, is that he mentions fundamentals (we think), and the Jays are bad at those, right??? And just where are all of these developed players anyway!!

Well, guess what? We can actually think about these things– to an extent.

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Reality Check

bautistaencarnacin

As many caveats as may be applicable, ultimately, blame for the 2013 Blue Jays season needs to be laid at the feet of the front office and GM Alex Anthoupoulos. On that point there can be no doubt, dangerous as it may be to admit as much in the company of the hopelessly negative who will dull-headedly insist on the existence of a direct relationship between the club’s record and AA’s fitness for his post. If one is actually interested in being reasonable, however, I’d say that about the worst gripe you can make about the job he did over the winter was the way he ignored red flags, and– in particular– the way he splashed prospects and money around on players with major question marks hanging over them, which have almost uniformly been answered in the negative.

Though… that’s a little unfair, I think, as Mark Buehrle and Jose Reyes have been almost exactly as advertised. Without question, though, the GM whiffed on– or perhaps the circumstances simply conspired against– the seasons that were forthcoming from Josh Johnson, Melky Cabrera, R.A. Dickey, and to a lesser extent, Emilio Bonifacio, and Maicer Izturis.

Even Reyes, freak injury as it was, managed to get hurt– yet another red flag that was ignored and swept up in last winter’s wave of positivity.

“Alex should have known!” the sour fans surely bellow in their minds, oblivious to the fact that their insistence on the matter essentially means they believe baseball’s landscape is populated with a vast number of sure things, and Anthoupoulos gravely chose to take bad risks, believing too much in his own ability to evaluate talent.

Horse apples!

Don’t believe me? Let’s play a game. How would you feel about your chances if your team was in this situation coming into this season year:

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maicerfields

My suggestions here won’t be quite as delicious as the one made the other week by Jon Hale of the Mockingbird, who figures J.P. Arencibia can improve his on-base by simply never swinging when the count is full, but there has been a lot of good debate on Twitter of late about just what the Blue Jays can do to improve themselves next year, especially given the obvious fact that– as I noted among my Assorted Weekend Thoughts yesterday– the Jays have had absolute black holes at four positions on the diamond this year, ranking last in MLB in wins above replacement for catchers and second basemen, 27th of 30 teams when it comes to third basemen, and 25th for left field.

They also ranked 27th in WAR for starting pitchers, though elsewhere things are brighter: 10th for relievers, 3rd at first base, 11th at shortstop, 4th in right field, 6th in centre, and 1st at DH.

Of course, some of these rankings are a little wonky [read: horribly imprecise]– they include all the value provided by the guys who’ve regularly taken turns at each position, rather than just the value provided while they were playing at the position, meaning Adam Lind and Edwin Encarnacion’s WAR totals are simply combined to create the figure for both 1B and DH– but apart from those two positions (where they should probably be knocked down at least a couple of spots in the rankings for each), they generally pass the smell test, I’d say. Meaning, then, that the Jays mostly really need a whole lot more out of C, 2B, 3B, and LF.

Which… obviously.

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St. Louis Cardinals v Chicago Cubs

The All-Star break is finally upon us, and when the Jays resume play against the Rays at Rogers Centre on Friday– with Esmil Rogers, mind-bendingly their best starter, on the hill– they’ll be looking to improve on a 45-49 record that currently has them all but out of the playoff conversation. Remaining in the season are just 68 games, over which the Jays would need to go 46-22 to wind up with 91 wins– two shy of the 93 that it took to earn both American League Wild Card berths last season, but a nearly comfortable-ish amount more than the 89-90 wins the league’s fifth-best club picked up in the few years previous.

To do so would require the club playing .676 baseball for the next two-and-a-half months– which is exactly the level they played at through their best, can’t get any better than this six weeks of the first half, going 25-12 starting on May 10th and culminating in the eleventh win of their streak back on June 23rd.

The Rays, who were behind the Jays in the standings when the streak was in full effect, now sit at 55-41– a living reminder that things can change fast. On the other hand, though, Tampa could play .500 ball over their remaining 66 games and still get to 88 wins– just a win behind the pace Baltimore is currently on, and still ahead of the Yankees and Cleveland at their paces. The Jays, to reach 88, would need to go 43-25. In other words, they’d have to play .632 from here out– a better clip than anyone in baseball has so far– and they’d still almost certainly wind up falling just short.

Any reason to think they’re capable of doing that, as constituted, or even with help via the trade market, is pretty far fetched.

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lineupBarves

After much scuttlebutt and popular sentiment that may have suggested the contrary, John Lott of the National Post tweeted out this nicely framed (sorry, Shi) shot of the Jays’ lineup card for tonight’s game against Barves, showing that Brett Lawrie is indeed in the lineup again for the Jays.

It’s mildly surprising, of course, given that Lawrie could have easily been told to sit following last night’s death stare at Adam Lind and Luis Rivera at third base, after his fly out to shallow right field.

Richard Griffin said today in the Toronto Star that “It may be the most disgraceful exhibition of me-first mentality I can recall in 40 years around the major-league game,” figuring that “it will be a long time before Jays’ young star will ever convince anyone about his desire to contribute on the field ‘for the team’.”

I dunno… maybe?

There’s obviously no defending Lawrie– he’s either being either hopelessly dumb or hopelessly selfish– but it seemed to me like it was handled pretty well (read: awesomely) in the dugout immediately afterward.

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If you’re a regular reader, you’re probably well aware that the term “long read” is sort of a misnomer here on DJF mountain, but I suspect that you know what I mean when I use it. Occasionally we dive just a little bit deeper into a topic than usual, and sometimes, frankly, it seems as though our efforts disappear a little too quickly into the ether.

I get that. It’s a product of the medium we work in, which otherwise has many, many advantages and great aspects– one of which is the fact that I can do things like collecting up all of the most interesting, re-readable ones (or, at least, the ones that either best stoked my narcissism or impressed me from my colleagues), and posting them after an apporpriate time has passed. Say a year, or maybe a year and almost-two-and-a-half-weeks or something. *COUGH*

And, lo and behold, here are a bunch of them for the year that just passed (um, almost-two-and-a-half-weeks back). The year in DJF Longreads for 2012…

 

The Off-Season Turns The Corner - 1/26
Making sense of the off-season as it became truly apparent that the Jays, once again, wouldn’t be big spenders on the free agent market.

Fans have been discouraged by this off-season, often failing to grasp how little fruit we’ve yet seen borne by Anthopoulos’s labours, while the Geoff Bakers of the world asininely scoff from their high horses about bloggers defending their clubs’ decisions to stay the course. But while Baker may be right about Rogers’ crass, cynical cheapness on the whole, given the reality Alex Anthopoulos is forced to operate in, the best course of action he could have taken– for the sake of his own job, and by extension the franchise– is this. The Jays may not be contenders in 2012, but fans should take an immense amount of comfort in the fact that they’ll continue to load up in their preparation for unleashing hell on the American League in the following seasons.

 

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