Don’t worry, there’s nothing about this idiot in here. Looks like he’s having thoughts, though!
We’re really getting down to it now, as only seven games remain in this Toronto Blue Jays season. All seven of the remaining games are at home, with four against the Mariners and then three with Baltimore, and two of them — Thursday’s tilt with Seattle and Saturday’s with the O’s — have 4 PM start times. Hopefully people actually show up and maybe encourage the club to reconsider the dearth of such contests on next year’s schedule (because 4 PM games are awesome, FYI).
Of course, the one with Baltimore was moved from it’s original 1:07 PM slot because — I think I’ve got this right, but I can’t for the life of me find a link to confirm — FOX decided not to include it among the national games it was going to carry at that time, but because FOX’s deal give its national games exclusivity (i.e. no other games can be shown at the same time their national games are on), in order to be on local TV in Baltimore it needed to be moved. Which is to say: it’s not as though the Jays are intentionally experimenting with start times to see what the response is. And the 4 PM start against the Mariners is just a getaway day thing — it’s the last day of a brutal three city road trip for Seattle, which went from Anaheim, to Houston, and now here — and obviously for TV purposes, a weekday game starting at 10 AM Seattle time isn’t going to fly, hence the late afternoon start here.
And why am I talking about this, you ask? Because holy piss, have the Jays ever taken to going out with a whimper. Winners of only two of the ten games they’ve played since sweeping the Cubs, the club… well… it’s been bad. And if you’re the Mariners, even being half a continent away from home and at the end of a really long road trip, you’re probably not feeling too intimidated by the notion of the Jays being spoilers, with the second Wild Card spot just a game-and-a-half back for Seattle.
If for no other reason, I want the Jays to be spoilers just to render Jeff Blair’s trolling vis-à-vis James Paxton and unsigned draft picks in his piece from this morning at Sportsnet – in which he at least acknowledges that the compensation pick for missing on Paxton (the Canadian who, sadly, has been outstanding for the Mariners through 90 big league innings over the past two seasons, posting a 1.91 ERA, albeit with a FIP and xFIP more than a full run higher) was Noah Syndergaard, though doesn’t mention that Tyler Beede begat Marcus Stroman, or that there are a whole lot higher hopes for Jeff Hoffman than there would have been on Phil Bickford.
The lighthearted-ish reminder of Paxton’s existence, and success (and passport, and original draft status) isn’t remotely the most frustrating thing about Blair’s piece, though. It’s not through any fault of the author’s, but that comes in the next bit, where he talks about the Jays’ reported plans to have Ryan Goins play in the Dominican Republic this winter.
Blair rightly suggests that Goins showing up in Dunedin next February as a fully formed hitter would be a miracle, but comes a little too close to validating this dog of an idea — even if he kinda doesn’t.
In 1998, after hitting .220 in 83 games, Montreal Expos manager Felipe Alou sat down Jose Vidro and told him to play winter ball and come into camp in shape ready to win a job — or else. Alou wouldn’t even guarantee the switch-hitting Vidro a bench job. Point taken: Vidro played all winter in his native Puerto Rico and, in 1999, hit .304 as a regular before going on to a career that saw him earn three all-star selections and finish with a .298 career average over 1,418 games.
Don’t worry, Blair hasn’t gone insane. He continues:
It’s true that at his worst, Vidro was at least three times the hitter of Goins. But he was also about a third of the athlete. All Goins needs to do is become less of an easy out to play a role in 2015 – at the very least, a bench-player capable of spelling off Jose Reyes at shortstop. Playing winter ball is no longer viewed as a cure-all, but in Goins’ case it might be a start.
Knowing the Vidro example, one could say that Goins showing up in Dunedin next February as a fully formed hitter of any sort could be one of those “stranger things have happened” sort of miracles, only… I’m pretty sure Vidro’s “transformation” was a whole lot less strange than the Jays actually getting anything offensively out of Goins would be.
Vidro was two-and-a-half years younger at that point than Goins is — 1998 was his age 23 season; this year for Goins is age 26 — and in Triple-A that year (playing for Ottawa!) he slashed .289/.361/.391, which followed a terrific .323/.370/.523 stint there the year before, as a 22-year-old. Vidro didn’t have great success in Double-A, but on the levels either side of it he consistently put up very good on-base numbers, with slowly developing power, all while being young for the levels he was at.
Goins, on the other hand, has shown a little in terms of on-base skill in the minors, but it has mostly been driven by BABIP and an ability to take walks at an average-ish rate, which he’s come nowhere near duplicating at the big league level. Yes, the big league samples are small, but they’re fugly as fuck – .212/.231/.297 in 296 PA, or a wRC+ of 39 (100 is average, don’t forget — Colby Rasmus, Brett Lawrie, and Dioner Navarro are all almost exactly at that mark, while Bautista and Encarnacion are above 150).
And yes, there are some spots — quite a few even — on Goins’ minor league track record that can almost make you think he could be something bordering on passable. He put up a hopelessly hollow .284/.337/.353 line this year in Buffalo, for example, albeit driven by a .342 BABIP. In fact, his career line in over 2500 minor league plate appearances is .275/.331/.373. Shit, with the outstanding defence he brings you almost understand why the club would continue to hope he might show something with the bat, but it’s not actually like that line is particularly good. If he could come close to duplicating it in the majors — a tall order, especially when we’re not talking about a still-developing prospect, but a guy who is going to turn 27 in February — it’s really not far off from what Munenori Kawasaki has done over the last two seasons (.247/.328/.307).
Is that — is Goins’ best case scenario — actually good enough? Maybe barely? But how can they possibly keep waiting for it? How can they possibly go into another season without an obviously better option?
If they’re at all serious, they simply can’t.
- In case you missed my post-game post on Friday, I’m not terribly thrilled with the prospect of Anthony Gose and Kevin Pillar manning centre next season either, for obvious reasons.
- Shi Davidi reported at Sportsnet on Sunday that Marcus Stroman’s suspension has been reduced from six games to five — because baseball would prefer to wait until a much uglier incident happens before they actually get serious about head hunting. “A bullpen game, likely started by Todd Redmond, is expected to cover Stroman’s next scheduled turn,” Davidi writes. At least this means Stroman will be able to assume his rightful place at, or near, the top of the Jays’ rotation come next April, rather than taking the fourth game of the season, or something, because he was serving the remainder of his suspension. Meh.
- MLB’s PR team tweets that a committee has been setup to study the pace of the game. That works.
- Lastly, if you can get past the annoying autoplay when you click the link, and the even worse scoffing from Dave Perkins about the root of the Jays’ problems being in their fundamentals and inability to make a proper relay throw (seriously), there was some interesting talk on Prime Time Sports on Friday about whether Paul Beeston, Alex Anthopoulos, and John Gibbons will return for 2015 — the round table generally agreed that they all would, which I tend to agree with — and, not for the first time, with the notion that Beeston might have eyes for the vacant MLSE presidency. Enjoy that, Leafs fans! (I’d have written more about this, but apparently I needed to spend the majority of this post pointing to the obvious about Ryan Goins).
- Lastly, not Jays-related, but friend of the blog Ben Johnson has written about how Labatt is planning an expensive, intentionally misleading ad campaign for Shock Top. In fact, that’s the title of his post at Ben’s Beer Blog. Read it.