Archive for the ‘Year In Review’ Category

jayslockers

Shi Davidi has an interesting, informative piece up today at Sportsnet which has been titled, presumably by an editor, “Lack of trust impacted 2014 Blue Jays all season.” It’s certainly something that’s going to get people talking, even if Shi himself is careful not to overstate the impact of the human element on a not-great team playing not-great baseball.

In fact, if one were so inclined, as much as anything it can be read as an indictment of Rogers and the way the budget for this club has been so badly mismanaged either by a front office who left themselves absolutely no room to breathe after the big additions prior to 2013, or an ownership group failing to recognize how suffocating it is to have made such a quick about face with respect to payroll.

The Ervin Santana mess is a put forth as a catalyst for the trust issues that plagued the club in this doomed season, but it’s framed, essentially, as a failure of ownership. “Had the Blue Jays not needed to muddle through the various layers needed to pull off the [deferral] scheme –negotiating a contract with the right-hander, earning union approval on compensation for the players, gaining the green light from ownership – Santana would have been theirs long before Kris Medlen suffered the elbow injury that prompted the Atlanta Braves to act,” he explains.

We’re also told about the now-infamous remarks from higher ups — reported elsewhere as being uttered by Edward Rogers III himself — at a team function, when “the players received what they interpreted as a promise of money for a contender at the deadline if needed.” When the time came, of course, the money was nowhere to be found. And as much as we can all agree that it’s probably a good thing that the Jays didn’t trade any of the young pitching depth that materialized for them this year, maybe if they hadn’t so ineptly handled the Santana situation — if they had been given the resources to do it right and he actually wound up in their rotation — they could have been comfortable enough with their depth to do so, putting themselves that much farther ahead and eliminating this layer of distrust.

Later in that same section of the piece Shi brings up the example of Martin Prado, who “would have cost the Blue Jays nothing but a token prospect and money, and while at $27 million for the rest of 2014 plus the next two years he’s expensive for what he is, the versatile infielder would have provided a needed upgrade at second base or third base plus strong roster depth in the seasons to come. The New York Yankees picked him up instead.”

We had a lot of discussion about Prado around here at the time, and though I was not entirely sold on him as a player — and, believe it or not, a little vocal about that — ultimately the issue was what it always seems to be with this organization. On August 1st, I wrote a piece titled Let’s Think About What Happened At The Deadline and addressed it:

The Yankees getting Martin Prado (and the $3.67-million he’s owed this year, plus $22-million for the next two, plus a $1-million trade bonus) certainly is a move where the mythical financial resources Alex Anthopoulos always insists that he has — as he did again Thursday, speaking with reporters in a post-deadline conference call — may have come into play. But let’s maybe sit back and think about all this for a moment.

Let’s think about Prado and the money he’d add to what’s strongly presumed to be an already tight 2015 budget, which to this point hasn’t yet found room to accommodate a Melky Cabrera extension. Let’s think about potentially blowing the ability to resign Melky in order to take on the age-31 and 32 seasons of a right-handed 3B/LF whose last four seasons by wRC+ have looked like this: 89, 117, 104, 81. Let’s think about a guy whose best defensive position is already manned by Brett Lawrie, and a guy whose value is strongest against left-handed pitching, where the Jays are already quite strong with the much cheaper Steve Tolleson and Danny Valencia.

Prado was a guy who made perfect sense for a team like the Yankees — a team that consistently has the resources to go out and fix the sorts of mistakes that are utterly inevitable in this business — and little sense for the Blue Jays, who need to be far more mindful of their resources and of cost-benefit analyses.

That predicament is what also necessitates all the scrap heap moves that Alex Anthopoulos frequently makes. It’s not that “he has no plan” or whatever bunk fans want to invent to justify how crazy it makes them when the club takes a simple flyer on a guy, it’s that he doesn’t have the resources to go get a Prado, so he has to constantly try to spin straw into gold.

This, according to another section of Davidi’s piece, has implications in the clubhouse, as well.

“Anthopoulos was understandably grinding to find every incremental gain he could, but by so frequently shuffling out player A for player B – like going from Kevin Pillar to Brad Glenn to Cole Gillespie to Nolan Reimold only to eventually end up back at Pillar; or bringing in Brad Mills to get pounded – all he did was leave guys looking over their shoulders, unsure of their status,” he explains. “True, they were being given opportunities, but they were often of the swim-or-sink variety.”

I don’t doubt this is true, but let’s not miss the forest for the trees here. Is the problem Shi is talking about really the shaky trust of ballplayers impacting their performance because they’re constantly having to look over their shoulders, or is it that the Blue Jays had little other option but to field the likes of Pillar, Glenn, Gillespie, Reimold, and Mills?

Is it that the players felt betrayed by the lack of trade deadline activity, or was it that the front office didn’t have the resources to make anything but small, cash-neutral moves?

Is it that the players felt uneasy and disgruntled because ownership wasn’t committed to winning, or was it that ownership wasn’t committed to winning?

The tidbits from within the room are plenty interesting. The intangible, human element stuff will always create passionate discussion because it’s impossible for anyone to say just how much impact such things actually have on a team or a player’s performance. But as cute a device it might for a piece like this, painting the 2014 Jays’ problems as being anywhere near rooted in issues of trust and psychology would completely miss the mark.

Fortunately, I don’t think that’s really quite what Shi is doing here at all. I think that, apart from the piece’s title, he’s being appropriately cautious and evenhanded in how he addresses all the intangible stuff and how entirely peripheral it really is. But I also think there are a lot of people who aren’t going to see that way.

 

Image via Best Of Toronto. Consider this your Playoff Post.

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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boogaloo

Start with the important stuff and get all super cereal about it? Don’t make me larf. We’re kicking off this week-ish of half-assed year-in-review posts in the best and least self-congratulatory way possible: with a case of the zanies! Or, in English, with a look back at the best of a bunch of stupid/fun shit we posted to help lift our spirits over the course of a dismal season on the field for the Jays.

Shall we?

Pre-Season

Zaun VDayMore relevant now than ever, back in January friend of the blog Ben Johnson pushed back at the then-burgeoning Yes We Canseco movement as he looked into whether the former Blue Jay– and noted author!– Jose Canseco could actually, realistically make good on his many Twitter threats to take a run at the seat of the potentially displaced “Rod” Ford and become Toronto’s next mayor. Hilarious, right? Except for how, y’know, this now sounds about a kabillion times less embarrassing for the city than the current sludge.

Colby curled.

The Zubes helped make February just a little brighter for all of us with a set of hilarious Jays-themed Valentine’s Day cards (with special appearance from Dat Ass), and followed up with even more of them later that same week.

Mark Behar treated us to a Ricciardi-era Jays-themed comic that never was.

Not long after the Jays got together in Florida for the start of Spring Training, they all got their official photos taken, so I had some fun with picture day, and then returned later with some more half-assed ones.

Jose Reyes danced with the Dunedin grounds crew, and R.A. Dickey tweeted a pic of him as a kid, playing for the Blue Jays in full-on ca. 1986 pullovers. Ahh, optimism.

March wasn’t even over yet, but Dave Burrows was already sick of the Jays’ insufferable advertising campaign.

Meanwhile, Vernon Wells decided to go ahead and torch whatever remained of the sympathy Jays fans might have for him by telling New York reporters that he could hardly hide his smile at becoming a Yankee, saying that he had quietly been a fan of theirs all along.

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