Ten Stray Thoughts On A Friday

It’s Friday. Congratulations. You made it through another week of soul suffocating duties and meaningless obligations to make it this point: mere hours away from the warm embrace of weekend freedom. While your bosses, teachers, partners and everyone else may not appreciate your efforts this week, ol’ Dustin Parkes (in the third person!) knows exactly what you’ve been going through.

The last few hours of your work week have been winding down with all the urgency of a grandma in a walker. Give that metaphoric nana a quick shot of Geritol by checking out the latest edition of Ten Stray Thoughts On A Friday.

Doing Things The Right Way

I was pretty close to calling this stray thought, “Today In Genius” because for as much credit as we give the Toronto Blue Jays on this blog, it’s usually for their ongoing assembly of a competitive baseball team. We sometimes forget that there are actual human beings running the operations of the ball club and going out on the field of play. And that those people are subject to motivations and distractions just like anyone else.

In acquiring Colby Rasmus this week, the team also attained a potential problem in his reportedly interfering father, Tony Rasmus. While the senior Rasmus disputes the hinted at claims from Tony LaRussa regarding his involvement in his son’s approach at the plate, judging by his media blitz shortly after the trade, it’s likely not unfair to infer that he takes a hands on approach with offering advice to his offspring.

By inviting Colby’s dad to work with them in instructing their son, the Blue Jays eliminate this potential drawback by ensuring that the father is on the same page as the club’s hitting instructors. The humble attitude from John Farrell which allows him to remain open to the suggestions of someone who likely knows Rasmus better than most, is the complete opposite approach of Tony LaRussa’s my-way-or-the-highway routine in St. Louis, which obviously hasn’t resonated with Rasmus this season.

This strategy is the epitome of recognizing a potential problem and turning it into an opportunity for growth and success. Well done, Blue Jays. Not just in acquiring Rasmus, but in setting up an opportunity for him to succeed.

The Decider

If you’re still wondering if there was a clear winner in the Blue Jays / Cardinals trade, this might be of interest to you: Corey Patterson is scheduled to lead off tonight for the St. Louis Cardinals. Corey Patterson, of career .292 on base percentage fame, is leading off for the St. Louis Cardinals. The St. Louis Cardinals. The one and a half games back in the NL Central St. Louis Cardinals.

It reminds me of this long, slow reveal from McCovey Chronicles (just replace Aaron Rowand with Patterson):

The Trade Deadline

To me, this year’s lead up to the trade deadline has been more exciting than normal. I don’t know if it’s like that for everyone or if it’s just a matter of me reading about more closely this year than in previous seasons. Either way, it got me thinking about how much I enjoy the rumours, intrigue and speculation that this time of year brings.

Over the last few years, I’ve come to enjoy the competition on the management side of sports just as much as I enjoy what actually takes place on the field. It’s an additional element to baseball that gives me an intellectual pleasure, much like watching a great play might give me an emotional pleasure.

Gonads

I know it’s juvenile, but . . .

Thanks to Tim at Gifulmination, as always.

Aubrey Huff And The Due Theory

Aubrey Huff has been terrible this season for the San Francisco Giants. On November 23rd, less than a month after winning the World Series, Giants GM Brian Sabean signed Huff to a two year deal worth $20 million with a team option for an additional $10 million in 2013. Eight months later, only three regular players in all of baseball have a worse WAR. Bad idea.

To put things into perspective, Corey Patterson, a player who was signed to a Minor League contract at the beginning of the season has given his teams more value this season than Huff. How can a player go from getting on base more than 38% of the time to less than 30% in one year?

Looking at his plate discipline numbers and his individual pitch charts, it appears as though Huff is swinging at more pitches away and out of the zone, but hardly an increased amount that justifies the complete drop off that has occurred, not only in his ability to get on base, but also hit for any power whatsoever. That could suggest a loss of bat speed, but it still wouldn’t justify Huff’s walk rate going from 12.4% in 2010 to 7.7% in 2011.

It’s tempting to embrace the due theory for Huff, which suggests that after several bad results, eventually a good result will come. It’s how gamblers lose a lot of money in sports betting. And it’s probably the only reason (and I use the term loosely) that Bruce Bochy continues to put Huff in his lineup, much to the detriment of Brandon Belt’s playing time, who would very easily be at least the fourth best Giants batter in the lineup.

However, at 34 years of age, a decline is inevitable. And while the root of Huff’s struggles remain unclear, if the Giants are going to continue to put him in the lineup at the expense of both overall fielding and hitting, they have to at least work on his approach and get him swinging at better pitches again. While that might not solve all of the problems facing Huff this year, encouraging the left handed hitter to take a pitch now and again, should at least contribute to him not being the fourth worst player in baseball.

On Carlos Beltran

Sticking with the mass of West Coast likability that is San Francisco Giants, in assembling all of the different takes on the Zack Wheeler for Carlos Beltran trade yesterday, I didn’t really offer my own two cents.

Wheeler is a lot to give up for a player who, at best, will only play 56 regular season games for your organization. However, the offensive impotence of San Francisco’s offense needed to be addressed in some manner, and if that’s the cost of acquiring the most offensive option available, it’s pretty hard to justify not pulling the trigger. Even more so when you look at how good and how young the starting pitching is already.

I think I’ll take it a step further. The San Francisco Giants are the only team that should have made this trade, and that has nothing to do with Carlos Beltran using a no trade clause to go where he wanted to all along. This team needed what Beltran offers more than it will need what Wheeler will one day give.

Shameless Self Promotion

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A few more things:

  • As you may have heard, I’ve been doing some writing for Baseball Prospectus, covering the American League East. This week, I wrote about the Toronto Blue Jays and how the acquisition of Colby Rasmus is a signal of intent from the organization. It’s a collection of thoughts on what could potentially make the Blue Jays a dominating force in their division. I know it sounds like typical homer shilling, but I think it’s a fair piece that finishes by asking what would happen if the Jays decide to go after a free agent or two this offseason, and turn their intent into reality. And also, word clouds.
  • At The Score, we’ve started a new radio show called The Bloggers where a rotating panel of blog editors and writers basically rip off TSN’s The Reporters (which is definitely a rip off of ESPN’s The Sports Reporters) and discuss some of the subjects that they’ve written about this past week. This week we talked about baseball for most of the second half of the show, touching on the Blue Jays penchant for acquiring players at a reduced cost because they’ve fallen out of favour with their previous organizations. We also talked about umpiring, video replay, and if “the human element” has a place in baseball.
  • The Score has decided to nominate me for a sports media award. I hate people begging for votes and all that stuff, but if you enjoy what you read here, and you have a couple of minutes, a little bit of support would probably make me look good to my bosses.

Colby Rasmus Is A Game Changer

I didn’t go so far as to say it in my Baseball Prospectus piece, but the more I think about it, the more I begin to wonder if acquiring Colby Rasmus doesn’t justify the pursuit of a big name free agent this offseason for the Blue Jays. My main problem with Toronto spending money on Prince Fielder was that the team isn’t one player away from competing with the Rays, Red Sox or Yankees.

I’m growing closer and closer to believing that if not one more player of Fielder’s ilk, certainly adding Fielder, an improvement at second base and something better at the back end of the rotation (which can probably be found in the organization) at least puts the team into the elite of the division’s stratosphere.

Popular Players

Yesterday’s five most popular player profiles at Baseball Reference were:

  1. Hideki Irabu
  2. Carlos Beltran
  3. Colby Rasmus
  4. Kosuke Fukudome
  5. Carlos Quentin

Over at FanGraphs, the last 24 hours has seen the player profiles visited the most:

  1. Hunter Pence
  2. Ubaldo Jiminez
  3. Domonic Brown
  4. Tim Lincecum
  5. Carlos Beltran

MLB In Montreal

I don’t take pleasure in pissing on anyone’s dream. Wow. I can’t even write that with a straight face. Let me rephrase: I don’t take pleasure in pissing on the dreams of anyone from Montreal because I love that city too much, and I still feel a sense of shame that my favourite team didn’t stand in solidarity with the Expos when it came time to vote it, as we knew and loved it, out of existence.

However, Major League Baseball will not be coming back to La Belle Province. And unfortunately, here’s why:

  • I don’t believe Montreal is capable of finding $300 million in financing;
  • No citizen of the city, province or country would embrace the idea of a publicly funded stadium; and
  • As Jonah Keri suggests here, there’s no way that Major League Baseball would place a team back in a location that triggered the only relocation in the last 40 years.

Montreal, I love you, but any pursuit of this will just break our hearts.

Comments (23)

  1. Colby + Tony = The Rasmii?

  2. Moves to make for a contender in 2012:

    Trade Drabek, Thames, and prospect not named Gose or D’Arnaud for U. Jiminez.

    Sign Jose Reyes. Move Escobar to 2B. E5 at DH.

    Boom. Done.

  3. That’s exactly not the move I had in mind.

  4. I’m not paying $4.95 for BP, so I’m going to assume Garold has summed up EXACTLY what you had in mind.

  5. The Rasmus/LaRussa kerfuffle has got me thinking about the role of MLB managers. It seems to me that managers have only a small impact on winning and losing over a 162 game season. Am I right in this?

    So this being the case, an organization focused on player development, like the Jays, would prefer a manager that is a really good person manager, over someone who makes all of the right in-game moves.

    The success of this approach is obviously difficult to evaluate statistically. But from a management perspective, the GM can probably evaluate this by having candid interviews with the players to ensure that they are comfortable.

    Farrell seems out of his element sometimes with his weird in-game and batting order decisions, but i have gotten the impression so far that he is a good people manager. Just my observation, i could be totally off-base though since conflicts tend to be hidden and then explode at the media at some breaking point.

  6. Are we two or three pieces away from contending?

    My gut says no just because during the Ricciardi years that was the philosophy and it never panned out.

  7. I will just go on remembering Dawson,Raines,Walker,Alou,Valentine,Cromartie,Staub,Alou,Oliver,Carter,Wallach,Spier,D.Martinez,P.Martinez,Gullickson,and I will try to forget Rick Monday and 1994.Man I miss the Expos.

  8. Moves to make for a contender in 2012:

    Provide magical substance taken by Jose Bautista to the rest of the Jays!

  9. What do you think of trading for Andrew Bailey?

    Maybe a PTBNL and cash for Andrew Bailey. Or maybe Cooper and some cash.

    Now normally, I hate the idea of trading for a reliever, and especially those in pitchers ball parks. But Bailey wont be a free agent for another 3 more seasons after this season, he is young, he is cheap, he has an amazing WHIP, a great FIP, he doesn’t walk batters, his strikeout rate is high (despite Oakland normally having a lower strikeout rate due to larger foul territory), and he wont come at a big cost.

    I just think if the Jays can get Bailey cheap, he would be a great fit.

  10. Good to see that you’ve finally come around on spending some money on the MLB roster in 2012. When you’ve got this many talented, cost-controlled players, why not supplement them with a FA signing or two? The Jays have a tremendous opportunity here. I think if they add an elite bat like Fielder, improve 2B with a guy better than the black hole currently occupying it, and add another good SP, they’re right there with the best teams in baseball.

    Oh, and that Rowand thing is great, hadn’t seen that.

  11. Garold, if we’re trying to contend in 2012, it would be best not to give the DH role to a career .784 OPS hitter with a history of being very inconsistent. I suspect Encarnacion may be on the way out in a few days, anyway, as somebody has to go to make room for Lawrie.

    I’ve been on the Kelly Johnson bandwagon for a while at 2B, but what does everyone think of bringing Marco Scutaro back as a stopgap there (assuming Boston declines his option)?

  12. @Fullmer

    Easier said than done. I think maybe 8 teams can say if they add Fielder, get a solid 2B and add another good SP that they will be amongst the best. It is a hard task to do.

    I guess easier said than done. But, if any GM can do it, AA can.

    First, Fielder will follow the money and with teams like the Cubs wanting him, you will have to outbid teams with big payrolls. Something like 7-years and $140 million.

    To upgrade at 2B, I don’t really see anyone who can be available. Someone over at DJF mentioned Han-Ram and moving him or Escobar over, but Hanley will cost too much. I don’t see any free agents I like, and the trade market for 2B is pretty bare (but maybe the Rays will deal Zobrist? Or Omar Infante wont be bad)

    For SP, I would love to see Ubaldo come to Toronto, but fear he will cost too much. Maybe they can get him for Litsch/JPA + Gose + Cooper + Cash, but the asking price for him is equivalent to what the Jays got for Halladay. Ubaldo is no Halladay.

  13. @Fuller

    I would actually love to see Marco back. He would be a great player for the Jays next season. Maybe a 1-year $5 million deal, with a team friendly option.

    He is gonna be a Type-B free agent, but Hill is also a type-B free agent, there will be no harm.

  14. Any chance Marcum would come back? I thought I read that Milwaukee didn’t want to give him a long-term deal. Did he leave on bad terms?

  15. Marcum has one more year of arbitration left.

  16. Garold, I would do that trade in a second but I’m not really sure why the Rockies would take Thames considering they already have Carlos Gonzalez in LF and he really isn’t a RF. They also seem to have Smith, Blackmon and Fowler in the OF. I was thinking Cooper could potentially replace Helton but he has about $10 Million left on his contract for the next 2 years.

    Either way I would much rather add a 2/3 (obviously I would prefer a #1 but there probably aren’t many available) Starter than Fielder/Reyes for $20+ Million a year and potentially Pujols for $30 Mil/year.

    Yeah I don’t really think that there are any good 2B available so as long as they can play D then whatever just bat them 9th.

  17. Two (fairly) quick thoughts (I am only allotted three per day so I best stay sitting down after this):

    1) Last night’s line up was chock full of studs from top to bottom. When you have Snyder and JPA hitting 8th and 9th that has to be intimidating. Right here and right now I would rather have Jose at 3rd and Thames in right field than JB in right field and Lawrie at 3rd. Just sayin’.

    2) I would agree Mr. Parkes about a big-name free agent signing to put them over the top next year if… Romero, Morrow, and Cecil were 3, 4, and 5 in the rotation (and actually pitched up to expectations for the FULL year). Put it this way- to compete in the AL East Toronto has to beat the Yankees and if we line up Ricky with CC and Brandon with AJ… I don’t like our chances. For what it is worth, of course.

    Definitely looking forward to tonight’s game.

  18. i think they need to keep batista at third base, trade Hill, and move brett lawrie back to second,

  19. Something somewhat shocking that I noticed yesterday: the Jays are FOURTH in runs scored in the American League this year. Fourth. And we did that with Corey Patterson batting second; now we’ve replaced him with Colby Rasmus, and with Lawrie set to come up not-as-soon-as-we’d-like-but-still-soon-enough, well, that sounds pretty damn sweet, doesn’t it?

  20. There are a hell of a lot of people in Montreal who want baseball back. They wouldn’t settled for a triple-A team, they would accept a publicly funded stadium. There is enough money to own a team but nobody has come forward yet who is willing to build a stadium. And MLB despite trying three times to make a Washington team work will not move a team back here so soon after a failure.

  21. yu darvish + Prince = PLAYOFFS!!!!!

  22. and montreal’s getting an independant baseball team within the next couple of years, it’ll be financed in part by Eric Gagné, they’ve already had meetings about it this year

  23. the public subsidizes everything else in quebec, why not a baseball team?

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