Stoeten Answers Griffin's Mail Bag – 02/05/11

Alright, so maybe I’ve been using Richard Griffin’s mail bag as a bit too much of a crutch this winter. But you know what? Credit to Griff and his readers: the questions he’s tackled have done a great job of covering the most interesting aspects of the off-season. So… let’s keep at it, shall we, with another dip into the ol’ mail bag that showed up earlier this week at the Toronto Star.

As always, I have not read any of Griffin’s answers. Also, if there’s a question you’d like me to answer, submit it to Griffin here, and maybe he’ll select it for a future mail bag. Fingers crossed!

Q. I love A.A’s moves. But c’mon you cannot tell me he did not make a mistake signing Edwin Encarnacion when he could have signed a much better bat in either Manny Ramirez or Vladimir Guerrero. I know you are going to say well those guys can’t play defence and A.A. wants to have guys who are not one dimensional and can run etc. But give me a break, these guys are much better hitters and both hit extremely well at Rogers Centre so their numbers would be incrementally better than Encarnacion as a DH/backup 1B.

Jason Sinnarajah, San Francisco

I think you might want to check your definition of “incremental” there Jason, but otherwise yes, you’re right, those guys have better track records, Manny still gets on base at a ridiculous rate, and the declining Vladdy had a 2010 at age 35 that would still be better than Encarnacion’s best year. I thought it would be fun as fuck to have Manny here, and even if they wanted to keep E5 at DH, Guererro could have been a great right-handed caddy for the left-hitting Adam Lind.

But– and here comes the off-season’s key refrain– to what end? I don’t think the Jays are willing to give up on Lind’s ability to hit lefties– quite the opposite, I think they want to see what he can do against them this year– and the $8-million he just received from Baltimore is far too much for a platoon DH, so the notion of Guererro in that role is certainly out. And yes, they likely would have got more production out of the DH spot by going with one of these guys over Encarnacion, but it’s not like the gap between them would make the difference between contention and non-contention.

That being the case, there are different concerns that need to be considered. Chief among them, I figure: how can the player aid in the long-term development of the club, and what kind of an asset can the player be turned into– either as a trade chip or with compensation picks.

It’s clear that Encarnacion appeals more than than the other two with regard to the first concern because he gives the club some flexibility to let Adam Lind to be worked in easily at first base. Now, I do wonder just how valuable the Jays really think that is, but given their emphasis last year on infield defence and helping their young pitchers stay in games, I suppose it’s at least possible that’s not complete bullshit.

As for the second concern, there’s enough pop in Encarnacion’s bat that he could make himself a movable piece at the trade deadline, especially if he ever remembers how to take walks like he did in Cincinnati. He could also possibly work his way up to Type-B status. Hypothetically, if he plays well enough to do so you won’t have any trouble offering him arbitration– it wouldn’t hurt to have him accept, and if he declines, you get a draft pick (assuming there are no changes to the CBA that impact the compensation process). On the other hand, a declining guy like Vlad or Manny could very well end up a Type-A or Type-B, but with too much risk of further drop-off to actually make an offer of arbitration feasible.

Does that make Encarnacion more valuable long-term? It’s a bit of a stretch– it’s hard to imagine Manny at $2-million not having more trade value than E5 at $2.5-million since, even though Manny’s SLG dropped over 200 points when he returned from the DL last year, his OBP was over .400– but I certainly think it’s safer to bet on Encarnacion improving on his 2010 numbers than it would to bet on Manny or Vlad. Throw in the stuff about Encarnacion’s versatility, and maybe even the fact that you know he doesn’t come in feeling entitled to play every day, and perhaps it makes sense. At least, that’s how I think they might see it. I’d still have loved to see Manny, personally, but I can’t go as far as calling it a mistake.

Q. Richard Stoeten. I keep hearing the Jays paid the Angels $5 Million in the Veron Wells trade but A.A. doesn’t admit to it. When will the 100% TRUTH come out on this? Doesn’t the commissioner’s office release that type of info or doesn’t it show up somewhere?

Scott Ross, Greenwood

The 100% TRUTH is that I couldn’t possibly give a fuck, and I’m not going to dignify this question by looking up whether or not it’s ever going to show up somewhere. The 100% TRUTH is, it doesn’t make a goddamn difference either way. The 100% TRUTH is, if you’re going to use all-caps with regard to this, like you’re demanding answers to some vital piece of information that the club is conspiring to suppress, you have a little too much fucking time on your hands.

Q. Hi Richard Stoeten. I enjoy your blogs. I also am a big fan of AA. Last summer, I bailed from Toronto and the G20. The Jays gave up their home series with Philly by having it at their park. Was any thought given to having the series in Montreal? If not, why not? It would make sense given that they have good fans in Montreal and the PR would be terrific. I think the Jays missed a great opportunity there.

Warren Viegas, Toronto

Warren, among fans Montreal was a thought that was out there– as was moving the series to Buffalo, or a number of other sites. All those ideas were more romantic than they were practical. The Big O, for example, would have needed some work before being ready for baseball again– and that costs money. Having the series in Philadelphia not only didn’t incur additional costs, the Jays managed to get a cut of those hefty gate receipts. Yes, maybe it was short-sighted from a business perspective, but I don’t know… it wouldn’t have looked good to have them try Montreal and play to Expos-like crowds either. They played it safe, the Phillies made some extra coin, and MLB agreed to do their best to ensure the Phils would come here in 2011– which they will, during Canada Day weekend– so I think it worked out about as well as we could have hoped.

Q. Describing Chad Jenkins as potential trade bait got me thinking. Two and a half questions:

1. Which Jays prospects would you not trade under pretty much any circumstances and which ones would you say you’d be willing to trade?

2. When will we see Anthony Gose and looking back, do you like the trade of Gose for Wallace?

Marc Oliver, Toronto

Marc, it’s a cliche, but there really aren’t any prospects I’d ever even consider labelling untouchable. I mean, wouldn’t you trade Kyle Drabek for Albert Pujols? (OK, actually, given Albert’s contract situation, maybe you wouldn’t, but you know what I mean.) Obviously I’d be really reluctant to give up the most highly regarded ones, but they could be had with the right return.

The Gose-Wallace question is the more interesting one. By most accounts Gose is still really, really
raw at the plate. Keith Law spoke about him on the Fan 590 last week and said that he plays a terrific centerfield already, but at the very least he’ll need to bring either his contact rate or his walk rate up considerably. The upside is still there, but he’s got a long way to go with the bat.

Wallace, though he’ll be competing for a starting role on the Astros, is no sure thing either. For one, Houston has made it clear that they could stick Carlos Lee at first base if Wallace struggles. His tepid .615 OPS in the majors would be cause for more concern if it hadn’t been over a small sample of 159 plate appearances, but there are still those who wonder about his power, his walks, and his strikeouts. I’ve even heard, though I forget where exactly, that some wonder if his giant legs and hips are just too bulky for him to properly rotate when swinging. Of course, it’s not like they appeared overnight, and he’s been a highly regarded prospect for a long time, so I don’t really know what to make of it, and I don’t think anybody else does either.

I do still see the Jays’ perspective on the deal, of course. All along I imagine they suspected that Adam Lind would be an option at first base– DH is a much easier position to fill via free agency, so it makes sense that the still-young Lind, a first baseman in college, would try it, and this has been rumbled about since way back in September 2008, if not earlier– and if they saw Wallace as ultimately more of an Overbay-like “doubles power” kind of hitter, which some do, it’s understandable that they determined he wasn’t in their long term plans, and it seemed reasonable to swing for the fences on a potential impact centerfielder.

Will fans be so understanding if Wallace nails it in Houston and Gose never amounts to anything? I doubt it– nor should they. And that’s an aspect of AA’s trade-happy style we seem to love so much that we’re one day going to have to deal with. Eventually one of these deals is going to blow up in his face– it’s just the nature of the business– and its going to start to erode the goodwill he’s built among fans. That’s no reason for the front office to not do a trade they think makes the club better, but still… it’s gonna happen. And I’m not saying I don’t like the deal, per se– the jury is still way out– but, as long as whatever the fuck it is that keeps souring organizations Wallace remains a mystery, I think there’s a reasonable-to-OK chance this winds up AA’s first big misfire.

Q. Hi Richard Stoeten: A question. Why not leave E.E. at third base? I know he makes errors on routine plays but we have also seen him make very difficult plays as well. There still are some capable free agent D.H.’s out there (how about Vladimir Guerrero?) that the Jays could acquire.

Marv Rose, Toronto

Vlad is off the market now, but you make a good point, actually. I understand the Jays not wanting to go with an infield that includes a very green Adam Lind at first, a poor defensive catcher in JP Arencibia, and our old friend E5. I also understand that the 95 games he played last year doesn’t make for a great sample size when considering defensive metrics, but it sure looks like Encarnacion was a much improved player last year. His Total Zone rating of -1 destroyed the -8 he put up in 2009, and his UZR of -1.5 was far better than his career norm. Granted, that still makes him below average in the field, but he hits well enough to compensate for it.

Honestly, I’d say that I wouldn’t at all be surprised to see Edwin play some third once the club gets a little more comfortable with Lind’s ability to handle first, but perhaps the club will try to avoid reminding fans that they had a reasonably capable 3B on the roster all along, which could have allowed them to do exactly what you suggest. Plus, in that scenario, who’s the designated hitter?

Fun fact: the Elias rankings, which determine whether a free agent is Type-A or Type-B, separate players by position, with the free agents among the top 20% of all players at their position being Type-A, and players in the 21-40 percent range being Type-B. A player’s “position” for the purposes of the rankings is where he’s played the most over the last two seasons. Encarnacion played all of his games at third last year, so– if I understand this all correctly– if they keep him from playing over 95 games at any one position next year, Elias will have him in the 2B-3B-SS pool, which should make it easier for him to attain Type-B status than if he was in the 1B-OF-DH group– and don’t think that’s not exactly what they intend to do.

Q. Probably been asked this already, but after Hawk, will there be another Expos cap in Cooperstown? Rock? Vlad? Walker? Pedro?

jonah_n Jonah N, via Twitter

It’s an interesting question, Jonah, because you have to wonder how keen MLB and the Hall are on bringing up the whole Expos debacle more than necessary. That said, I feel confident in saying that there will definitely be another Expos cap in Cooperstown. Tim Raines has seen his percentage of the vote jump by over 7% each of the last two years, and while he was only at 37.5% in the last round of voting, the argument for him is just so goddamned compelling to anyone with a lick of fucking sense in their head that I truly believe he’ll get there, especially as more progressive writers start to hit the 10 year mark in the BBWAA, which is when they begin to get get ballots.

Walker is pretty borderline to even get in– especially because of the Coors effect– but if he does, his best years were in Colorado and he played there longer, so I don’t think he wears an Expos cap. Pedro is even more clearly not going in as an Expo– only one of his best six seasons was in Montreal.

The real curious one will be Guererro. He wasn’t yet in Anaheim when the Angels won the World Series, so they don’t have that going for them– though being the key cog on playoff teams there might help. He played more games in Montreal (1004 to 846), more seasons (six full plus parts of two more, compared to just six in Anaheim), and he had more home runs, hits, and a better OPS and OPS+ in Montreal. He won an MVP with the Angels, which might tip the balance, but if it were up to me he’d definitely go in as an Expo, though it’s hardly as clear cut as Raines.

Q. Hello Richard Stoeten, I was wondering if you have heard anything about how many games are going to be broadcast on Sportsnet One?

Shawn Stirling, Burlington

Hey Shawn, no clue yet how many games the fucking greedheads at Rogers are going to use to blackmail Jays fans into subscribing to their shitty and completely unnecessary home of poker reruns, but if the number is more than zero, it’ll be too fucking many. Cogeco has picked up Sportsnet One, for those who want to pay for it, so I guess that’s a good thing, but I’m sure there will be a number of times this year when fans will be seething over this shit.

But hey, let’s give Rogers a break here, at least they’re not trying to pretend the Jays are anything but a pawn in their little “let’s become the most gigantic grotesque hated ubiquitous corporate fucking behemoth possible” game.

  • KellyGrubersBastardSon

    Stoeten, I found that site quite funny. You and James should lighten up and quite tossin’ each others salad. Lets not take things too serious for fuck sakes. It was just Wilner holding a dick and getting a soother. Quite accurate to be honest.

  • stoeten

    Wow, I didn’t know anyone had come out that strongly, but that’s the word, and I’d be really surprised if it didn’t happen– just too much money to be made by keeping other markets in the race for longer.

    From my understanding, I don’t think it would quite be a true extra playoff team, though. Rather, the two best non-division winners would play each other in a short “play-in” series to determine which one was the Wild Card, and then the playoffs would continue on as usual from there.

    That might be just one of a few possibilities out there, though.

  • KellyGrubersBastardSon

    That is absolutley awesome. Wow, shit would be certainly kicked up a few notches if they did it. What do you think about it?

  • KellyGrubersBastardSon

    Fuck off Stoeten. Quite being snobby, I originally posted that question. Maybe you should call this Drunk Snobby Jays Fans.

  • stoeten

    You’re probably right. I forget what Parkes and I were arguing with him about a while back, but the impression of dislike was strong. I think he said something about starting his blog partly because he hated us and how popular we were. Something like that. Which… that’s fine, but doesn’t exactly give me a warm fuzzy about him. He does some good work, too.

  • stoeten

    Sorry, uh… what did I do to upset you here?

  • KellyGrubersBastardSon

    Thats better. I was neglected as it was from Kelly. I like this site a lot. Dont EVER make it kind or gentle, or I’ll fuck off somewhere else to rant.

  • stoeten

    Because I didn’t respond to you, but to the response from someone else? I wouldn’t take it as a slight, champ. They all show up in the same order anyway.

  • KellyGrubersBastardSon

    Like I said, I am the Illigitimate son of Kelly Gruber, so Im a bit sensitive okay?

  • stoeten

    From what I’ve heard, there could very well be a lot of illegitimate sons of Kelly Gruber.

  • KellyGrubersBastardSon

    I like this Wild card add on because I worried that MLB might cast us off into the National League someday to even out the AL East. And you know they would never split up Bawwston and Zoo York because of the rivalry.

  • stoeten

    Hahahahaha. So I asked Parkes whether he could remember what the fuck we’d argued with 1 Blue Jays Way about a while back, and he just pointed me to guy’s most recent post. I totally take back anything remotely kind I had to say. What a fucking loser.

  • stoeten

    I don’t see the Jays ever moving to the NL– though I think it would be great if they did. The big concern about the Wild Card thing that I’d have is how it would add to the length of the playoffs as a whole. It’s rtidiculous to have World Series games in November, and adding to the playoffs wouldn’t help, but I’d like to believe they could get this thing in and cut down some time between games in other series and make it all work. There are too many off-days in the playoffs as it is, so it should be doable, but I don’ have much faith that they won’t find a way to fuck it up.

  • KellyGrubersBastardSon

    I gotta meet my brothas. Its gonna be on Mauri Pauvich next week : “The Grubers, a Dysfunctional Family Reunioun”

  • KellyGrubersBastardSon

    Ill check it out and see this madness. Maybe he works for Wilner.

  • KellyGrubersBastardSon

    Yup. Seems 1 Blue Jay Way is breaking the bloggers code of conduct and trashing his brotha’s of Baseball Bloggers world. Calling people douchebags outright like that isnt Cool Hand Luke. Its only cool if its about Mike Wilner, the New York Yankees and thier fans, The Phillies and their fans, and anything that is personally directed toward Alex Rodriguez. There is a guy that i might hate more than Wilner……………………………………………………….nahh.

  • KellyGrubersBastardSon

    I would loathe it if the Jays went to the National. I grew up on watching Kirk Gibby, Darryl Evans, Don Baylor, Chili Davis and Rob Deer mash balls outta site. I personally think its boring and would miss watching the Jays at Fenway and Yankee Stadium.

  • brentinKorea


    The link says it all.

  • brentinKorea

    1 Blue Jays Way doesn’t like DJFs? I’m interested; tell me more. ^^

  • Hurley

    Him and Parkes had a pissing match on Twitter about the designated “closer” role, and buddy at 1 Blue Jays Way supposedly met Parkes after that, then dropped the douche bomb on him in a recent post.

  • Garafraxaguy

    19 days until we can hear Jerry call a Jays game:

  • KellyGrubersBastardSon

    Y’all want a good laugh, watch this one. Some of you might have seen it before, but for the ones that havent, its a beaut. At 1:30, I giggled like a 13 year old girl at Justin Beiber concert.

  • therearenogoodnameslleft

    fuck that guy has too much time on his hands and he’s way too young to remembering those oldies but tony b was hilarious

  • Hansgruber

    give me my detonators

  • Rodneyking

    we need to stop this blog on blog violence. can’t we all just get along?

  • KellyGrubersBastardSon

    This guy is a fucking batting stance prodigy. Check him out on youtube, its bonkers funny. One of the best is a Will Clarke immitation on TWIB. He cracks players up too when he does when he does their stances in person.

    I loved the Ernie Whitt knee jerk too!

  • Tony Alonso

    that gcm1979 guy is a total fuckclown. he has a `blog`called `sniders web“, lack of apostrophe as noted. what a dumb fucking chimp.

  • TheBunk

    Adam Lind’s got parkes’s back

  • Tony Alonso

    haha lind wouldn`t even talk to those fucking morons. no wonder. rolling with `gc`. super cool dewd!

  • Radar

    Geeez Stoeten. What the fuck is this supposed to mean?
    “I’m not saying you’re wrong”
    Implying that I could be wrong or you agree that I’m right?Either way I wasn’t looking for your approval.
    “I’m definitely not saying Bautista’s swing didn’t change”
    So you agree it did change?Your point is?
    “but please, let’s not be so uncritical as to believe that because an athlete says its so, that means its so. “
    Just what in the fuck is your point here?That just because Jbau says he changed his hitting mechaniics we shouldn’t believe him?Okay let’s be the devils advocate and be skeptical of the athelete.He credits Murphy. Murphy says his mechanics were adjusted. Sports illustrated says his mechanics were adjusted and provided proof.So it isn’t just Bautista, it’s his coach and a reputable sports magazine that say so.In fact you said so, in your comment.
    So the only one who says he didn’t change his mechanics was WILNER.
    How is this being “uncritical”of the athelete?It is a statement of fact, not conjecture.

    Have you ever thought about taking a run at politics?You tend to agree and disagree inside the same sentence or paragraph. I could be wrong but again I could be not right, unless of course I was uncritical of the point you were trying to make and saying so may mean it is so.

    Fuck, I’m dizzy from going around in circles.

  • Bubbles

    what he’s saying is that if wilner says something it is fact, and if jbau says something well we can’t really believe it if it contradicts wilner.

  • Bubbles

    here’s another good article on the greedy cdn’s. it’s almost as if they want a cdn premium. some nice quotes from alex on who bears the risk in the draft.

  • bill

    i am 100% sure it’s brian tallet playing the piano in this commercial. 100%.

  • filthyrich

    Was hoping to see a Tony Fernandez HBP, but the swing was excellent.

  • Guest

    Liked this section:

    “In 2010, the Blue Jays drafted pitcher Noah Syndergaard 38th overall as compensation for losing Paxton and outfielder Kellen Sweeney 69th overall for Eliopoulos. Each signed for reported bonuses of US$600,000.

    In 13 innings over five appearances, the 18-year-old Syndergaard went 0-1 with a 2.70 ERA with Toronto’s Gulf Coast League rookie team.

    Sweeney, the 19-year-old younger brother of Oakland outfielder Ryan Sweeney, hit .267 with an impressive .450 on-base percentage in 16 games with the same team.

    Besides the money they have tucked away, those in the game also are moving forward with their careers.

    For now, Paxton and Eliopoulos are not — at least not inside the system — something Incaviglia said can only hurt his former player’s development.”

  • Fuck Rogers

    There are many options that are being discussed between the league and the PA. Anything from a reduced schedule of 150 games to a “win in” and you mentioned. Neither side likes the idea of a 1 game or 3 game series, as theyre too short.

  • Brian

    In all honesty, every playoff series could be considered ‘too short’. Baseball playoffs are arguably the most nonsensical setup in sports. You play 162 games in order to eliminate and even out the luck aspect of things yet the ‘champions’ are determined by 5 and 7 game series? It’s a crapshoot and the hottest team is your best bet.

  • djfanon

    Four best records from each league play (Balanced schedule please?) in seperate playoff mini leagues 5x or 7x against each team from the same league, top teams move onto the world series. Seeding determines who gets the extra home games.

    A team doesn’t get wiped due to bad luck as easily, with 15 or 21 total games played. Keeps the world series intense.

    I think it’d be fun, but to be fair playoffs now are fun too.

  • Alex Grady

    the playoff system would be fine as is if all three rounds were best of 7.

  • Fuck Rogers

    i dont think they could do that without reducing the regular season schedule by 8-12 games…

  • stoeten

    Fuckface, you’re out-thinking yourself here.

    “I’m not saying you’re wrong.”

    This means: I think you are right. (Tough, huh?)

    My point was, one of the pieces of “evidence” you were using to demonstrate that Bautista’s swing had changed was the fact that Bautista said so. You also tossed in the bit about the hitting coach getting credit from him for it. Well, of course someone in Bautista’s position is going to say pretty much exactly that– it doesn’t tell us anything.

    The videos (or pictures, whatever it was) of his swing being different: that’s great evidence, that’s why I said I wasn’t disagreeing with you. I’m just saying, don’t hold up athletes’ statements like the one Bautista made as though they actually mean anything.

  • stoeten

    You’re not possibly that dumb, are you?

  • stoeten

    No chance they go to 150 games. (Well, maybe a minute chance, but I can’t possibly see them ever doing such a thing.)

  • Chad

    Anyone see this, from Wilner?

    The Knights Who Say “We” – Plus A Mailbag

    2:15 PM Eastern

    Over my years of hosting The JaysTalk – can you believe I’m about to begin my 10th season in the big chair? – I haven’t had much patience with callers who refer to themselves as part of the Blue Jays. That is, those who say “we won the game” or “we sure got a big hit there” or “how do you think we’ll do tomorrow night?” My general response has been that we didn’t do anything, but the Blue Jays…… It’s because I feel that even though the team represents Toronto to a certain extent, and that fans feel as though it’s “their” team, ownership isn’t the same as membership. They can be “your Toronto Blue Jays”, but you’re not on the field with them.

    I still feel that way, but I’m going to be easier on the “we” crowd from now on. I read an article in this month’s edition of Psychology Today that references Ed Hirt, a professor of psychological sciences at Indiana University, and his theory of vicarious success. Evidently it’s scientific fact that “watching someone perform an action triggers mirror neurons, making the viewer feel, to an extent, that he (or she) is” performing the action. That die-hard fans “experience the same hormonal surges that the players do”.

    So, while I’m sure that no JaysTalk caller actually believes that they were the ones who were out on the field doing what it took to win a ballgame (I hope), I don’t want to offend any surging hormones, nor do I want to detract from anyone’s enjoyment of the game, the team and the season. So from now on, I won’t take issue with anyone referring to the Blue Jays as “we” – though I’m not going to be doing it.

    Poor Mike, giving in.

  • Garafraxaguy

    I say he “got told” by management.

  • Chad

    That is exactly what ran through my mind as well. And you’d be right. Some bloggers are going to be sure to argue against that: They will say that management has nothing to do with journalistic license (and that argument is simply wrong).

  • Garafraxaguy

    If I were in Jays management, I would have freaked out to hear that an employee was telling fans that they are “not part of the team”. I’m sure the marketing department went ape shit.

  • dm

    Anybody not following Kenny Powers on Twitter is missing out. Here are two faves:!/KFUCKING!/KFUCKING

    (and for Stoeten):!/KFUCKING

  • Garafraxaguy

    KP is my hero. “You’re fucking out!”

  • pete

    KLAW today on Brett Wallace:

    “Wallace had a slow start in 2010 and found himself traded (for the third time) shortly before the All-Star break, heading to Houston for center field prospect Anthony Gose. Wallace was in the big leagues shortly thereafter but struggled in 51 games. The way Wallace’s rise to the majors has stalled out has been a hot topic among scouts this winter, since at the time he was drafted the debate was over whether he could play any position well enough to keep him off DH, not whether he’d hit. But the new consensus is that Wallace can’t cover the inner half because he doesn’t fully rotate his back side through his swing, ceding the inside part of the plate to the pitcher, and that it’s not fixable. If anyone can help him, it’s new hitting coach Mike Barnett, who was hitting coach in Toronto while I was in the front office … but the industry has officially jumped off the Wallace bandwagon.”