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.