Stoeten Answers Griffin's Mail Bag – 02/10/11

Ahhh, I knew there was a reason I whipped up that little link post yesterday: because a new Griff bag was coming down the pike, and it would have looked especially lazy of me to have a pair of these posts back-to-back. Of course, I still would have done it, it just would have looked kinda shitty of me…

Anyway, here we go with a new batch of questions from Griff’s readers, via his latest mail bag at the Toronto Star.

As always, I have not read any of Griffin’s answers. Except… actually I heard that he actually endorsed the fucking ridiculous notion that the Jays acquiring Michael Young wouldn’t be incredibly fucking dumb. So, I read that one– but don’t worry, I don’t think there was ever much chance his answer was going to influence.

Oh, and 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. Hey Richard Stoeten. Last year, the Brandon Morrow-Jose Molina combo really worked well. Do you think the Jays will continue to use them together, or do you think the Jays will try to use J.P. Arencibia with Morrow? Thanks.

Nathan Zaltsman, San Francisco, CA

Am I the only one who notices that Griff fields a lot of questions from San Francisco? Odd. Anyway Nathan, it’s actually an interesting question. Since Aaron Cibia is “the future,” or at least the “near future,” you’d think that they’d want to have him get comfortable with all the pitchers. You’d also figure that, sooner or later, Morrow will have to stop using Molina as a crutch and actually find some success with another guy behind the plate. So, I guess my answer to your question is, no, they’ll probably try to mix it up.

Of course, if there’s a massive discrepancy between the success Morrow has with one or the other, it wouldn’t surprise me to see them go back to the “personal catcher” situation they had last year, but I don’t see why they’d aim for it off the hop.

Q. Hey Richard Stoeten. First of all, thanks for the continuing enlightment of our beloved Jays! Looking forward to another mailbag season. That being said my question pertains to the HoF induction ceremony. I know it is a ways away, but a couple of buddies and I will be heading down to show our support of Robbie and Pat. We have booked our room already (thankfully as it was a mess) but we were wondering: As HoF induction rookies, what should we plan on doing and being ready for? Any pointers you could provide us on how to make the most of this weekend would be much appreciated. Thanks!

Isaac V., Toronto

Pass.

Q. Is it by design or is it mere coincidence that the team seems to be heading in a younger and “by extension” more fleet-footed direction? With the off-season pick-ups of Corey Patterson and Rajai Davis and the departure of Vernon Wells the ball club appears to be re-defining itself (at least on paper, anyway). I like these moves that A.A. has made, in bringing in some speedsters, hopefully to help electrify the Jays’ running game. Are the Jays, through these moves, consciously trying to change their image and in-game style, from being a notoriously base-to-base ball club to more of a heart-and-hustle team? If so, then I’m one of those who are all for it.

Darrell Holtze, Guelph

Oh, for fuck sakes, just stop. More of a heart-and-hustle team?

I’d hate to pass on back-to-back questions, but what the fuck am I supposed to say to someone who appears to have missed the last decade of baseball analysis? Yes, stolen bases are great if you can consistently take them at a decent enough rate. And yes, the Jays seem to be focussing on athleticism, especially in the middle of the diamond. But that’s not at all just about stealing bases– and maybe I’m wrong, but I’d like to believe steals are just the gravy on that pie.

Major League front offices have advanced far beyond this kind of thinking, despite the fact that they may still put this kind of a spin on some of their moves. They understand the value of base stealing, and when push comes to shove, it pretty easily outweighed by things like the ability to get on base or hit for power. Sure, Corey Patterson can steal a base or two, but his career on-base is a vomitous .292– and that’s why he’s a fifth outfielder and not even worth discussing. Steals are a great weapon for Rajai Davis, and they certainly increase his value, but don’t think for a second that the Jays overvalue that aspect of his game because of some grand philosophical shift, or that they wouldn’t replace him in a heartbeat with a slower guy with a much better bat who would, in the overall, give them a better chance to win games– that is the kind of player they’re looking for.

Note to Travis Snider: don’t go getting any ideas.

Q. After reading your article about Delgado’s attempt at a comeback, do you think the jays would be interested in services? He would fit AA mold of a DH/1B player and it would be great for the fans and for the organization if Carlos finishes up his career with the team that he spent 11 arduous years with.

Matthew Lee, Toronto

I’m not big on cynical nostalgia plays, but it’s a nice idea, I guess, and you’re right that a healthy Delgado could be a fit with what the Jays say they’re trying to do. But… it’s also an idea that has a chance to end really awkwardly– think Ken Griffey Jr.’s swan song in Seattle. And, as I was saying in last week’s mail bag, I think the Jays might be serious about trying to turn Edwin Encarnacion into an asset. If that’s true, it means they’ll have to play him, and that wouldn’t leave much opportunity for Carlos.

Q. Ricky Romero looks to be a lock to be the Jays opening day starter. I seem to recall that not so long ago (2006-2008) there was a perception that Romero was a failed prospect (I say perception because Romero was ranked in the top 10 Jays prospects in 2006/2007/2008). Perhaps the idea that drafting the “soft-tossin’ lefty” was mistake was due to his injury issues, a guy named Troy Tulowitzki, or a dislike of the man who drafted him. Question: Who do you view as an underrated Jays prospect who may still surprise, David Cooper, Kevin Ahrens, Justin Jackson?

Michael Spratt, Ottawa

It was always ridiculous and completely premature to shit on JP Ricciardi for the Romero pick, but that was never going to stop the whiny fucks of this town from doing it. The fact that Tulowitzki almost instantly emerged as an elite shortstop while Ricciardi was still waiting on his 2002 top pick Russ Adams to fill the club’s gaping hole at short (and figure out how not to sail his throws into the first goddamned row), coupled with Romero’s struggles in his early days as a pro, made it that much easier. Nobody would say that the Jays wouldn’t still go back and take Tulo, but the shitting-on Ricciardi took while Romero was in the minors was, like most of the shitting-on Ricciardi took, largely the product of assholes with axes to grind and huge segments of the fanbase that were too fucking lazy not to just regurgitate the nonsense without actually thinking about it. (I mean, riddle me this, fuckfaces, how many times was Saint Pat Gillick ragged
on for still living in Toronto while he was running the Baltimore Orioles?)

As for a prospect from your list who may surprise, well… I’m not going to pretend this is my area of expertise, but I’ll go with Justin Jackson. Bluebird Banter sums up his 2010 season here, and while it’s not that impressive, the stuff about his walk rate is encouraging, he’s still younger than we think (22), and by my recollection, his fielding is quite good. Cooper might be a safer bet to get to the majors at some point, but if Jackson can get healthy and figure out a way to get anything out of his bat, maybe he could be something. Big ifs, of course, and I really don’t know what the fuck I’m talking about– except that I know I’m not exactly hopeful of any of these guys at this point.

Q. Since the L.A. Angels missed out on all of the big time free agents, do the Jays get L.A’s first round pick #17 overall for signing Scott Downs? Thanks in advance.

Terry Giffen, Minesing

The Angels’ pick is protected, because they finished in the bottom half of the standings, so the Jays will get their second-rounder. You’re right that their pick is 17th overall, but ahead of them are some compensation picks for unsigned players out of last year’s draft, which has pushed them back to 17th.

Q. Is it just me, or has this been a disappointing off-season? We don’t make any serious upgrades, missing out on Dan Uggla and Zack Greinke. We have no (willing) 3rd baseman. We create payroll flexibility and the money is pocketed. By the way, is there a Guinness world record for the most former closers on one team? Five must be getting pretty close.

Frank S., Toronto

It’s not just you, Frank. There are many other people who can’t think their way out of a fucking paper bag and still fail to understand just what the fuck the Jays are doing here, no matter how many times it gets spelled out for them.

But hey, at least you also make the dickheadish assumption that the money saved on Wells is being pocketed, as though it couldn’t, y’know, be used down the road or on things other than the 25-man roster.

Q. Good afternoon Richard Stoeten. What do you think about Michael Young for one or two years at 3rd base for the Jays pending Brett Lawrie’s arrival? Maybe he wouldn’t agree to a short term deal, but 91 RBIs would be nice from that position for the Jays. Is .950 FPCT too low for a 3rd baseman? Encarnacion was .932 in 2010. I can’t figure who they could offer in trade, a reliever perhaps plus Encarnacion (?), however, spring training hasn’t started so how do you decide who are the keepers? Thanks for a great column. Look forward to it every week.

D’Arcy Draper

I think it’s just about the worst fucking idea in the world, D’Arcy. I mentioned it in my post yesterday, and I really don’t want to be redundant– especially since Parkes and GROF covered it so well– but I suppose I should say, um… RBIs? Fielding percentage? WHAT FUCKING YEAR IS THIS?

Ugh.

I’ll also say this: Last year Encarnacion was a better fielder (-2.3 UZR/150 to Young’s -5.8), and a better hitter (.339 wOBA/110 wRC+ to Young’s .335 and 104), at an eighth of the cost. So… yeah, can we please make this nonsense stop.

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.

Stoeten Answers Griffin's Mail Bag – 01/31/11

After a week of being far too lazy (as usual), and after having missed the last one, I finally kinda feel like I’ve caught up on most of the stuff going on with the Jays at the moment– so it seems like the right time to dip again into Richard Griffin’s mail bag from over 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. Much has been made of the budgetary implications of the Vernon Wells deal for the Jays. However, the Jays have a lot of draft picks this year, and signing them appears to be a priority for A.A. What is the team’s budget for signing its draft picks, and is the team going to use the Wells savings to partially offset the cost of signing its picks? If they plow a ton of money into signing all their picks, then I can tolerate their spending less on the major league club.
John Zingaro,
Caledon

John, I couldn’t tell you what the specific draft budget is, but you can rest assured that they’re going to do exactly what you suggest here. To give you an oversimplified explanation of what I think we’re witnessing, I expect them to operate like Tampa– which they’ve begun doing over the last year-and-a-half– until the club gets to the point where they feel they can generate enough revenue to sustain moving to a Boston-like model. There is a ceiling to the Tampa market that is far below Boston’s, and far below Toronto’s theoretical ceiling, which forces them to operate on a shoestring budget. Boston is similarly strong when it comes to drafting and developing talent, but the Sox can keep their payroll high, can retain their star players, and can afford to make mistakes with their money. That’s not because a benevolent ownership has been willing to piss away money on a hope and a prayer, but because they squeeze every possible dollar out of their park, because of a wealth of TV revenue, and because they’ve cultivated a strong pipeline of talent to complement their purely financial acquisitions, which ensures they’ll always be competitive or will have the pieces to trade to keep them competitive. The Jays can get there, and with prudent investments– and now a bunch of “team generated” money in the form of the Wells savings– should be able to shortcut the process a little, but I don’t expect Rogers to put the cart before the horse. Didn’t they already try that with the last GM?

Q. Hi Richard Stoeten. What do you think John Farrell is thinking? The team has traded its opening day pitcher and all star centre fielder from last year.
Frank Corea,
Kamloops

Probably something like, “Fucking awesome! This winter we put ourselves in a great position to be much better long-term, my pitching staff probably won’t even be much worse off than last year thanks to the prospects we have coming up, and now I don’t have to worry about upsetting our ‘star’ by having to explain to him why it’s best he doesn’t play CF anymore, and why he has no business being in the middle of our lineup! Tits! Big fucking beautiful tits!”

(Note: I’m working from the assumption that John Farrell really likes tits.)

Q. Hey Richard Stoeten. Does Brett Lawrie actually have a shot of making the team this year? I would imagine a lineup with Lawrie at 2B, Hill at 3B and Bautista in right is better than the alternative which would include Juan Rivera in the OF as an everyday player. Has A.A. hinted at anything?
Cornelius T,

Haliburton

First off, you’ll never convince me that anybody named Cornelius actually lives in Haliburton. Never. Second, I truly don’t understand what everybody’s preoccupation with rushing Brett Lawrie is. I don’t think the Jays are going to hold him back– its not they won’t be able to find a spot for him if he forces their hand– but a lot of people seem to be OK with the notion of just handing him a Major League job right now, before the club has even had a chance to work closely with him. It’s not going to happen. And it probably shouldn’t happen. In fact, it’s probably fucking crazy. Yes, he was one of the best players in the AA Southern League last year, but he was also one of the youngest. Yes, he’s a talent, but… for shit, people, most think Travis Snider was rushed and he didn’t reach the majors until the end of his third season as a pro– Lawrie has only had two. He looks like he’ll be a good one (once he finds a position) and I understand wanting to reap some immediate return on the Marcum deal, but let’s simmer the fuck down a little bit here, OK?

Q. In light of the recent Frank Francisco deal, can you shed some light on who goes where in the Jays bullpen. This acquisition coupled with the signings of Octavio Dotel and Jon Rauch really look like A.A. has no confidence in some of the cheaper, younger Jays (Casey Janssen, David Purcey, Zach Stewart, Shawn Camp, and even Jason Frasor) stepping up and grabbing the ninth inning role.
Jason Sinnarajah,
San Francisco

Jason, yeah, probably, but I don’t think that assessment is quite right. For one, part of the appeal of guys like Rauch, Dotel and Francisco is that they each have solid chances to bring the Jays compensation picks if they leave the club at the end of the season having declined the Jays’ offer of arbitration. Anthopoulos has been keen to exploit MLB’s compensation rules, and while all three guys might not turn into picks, I understand the thinking there, and I don’t think it’s necessarily a reflection of the club’s opinion of the other relievers. For two, it’s not like these guys are Mariano Rivera. I mean, if a Janssen or a Purcey is lights out and deserves the opportunity to move up the pecking order, I don’t think the Jays are beholden so much to Octavio effing Dotel that they can’t let it happen.

Q. Hi Richard Stoeten. I’m sure you’ll have lots of questions or comments about Vernon Wells this week, but I’ll add one more, just for fun. I have a sneaking suspicion that Vernon will have an enormous year for the Angels, and that may reflect playing the season on grass rather than turf. My question: How do you think the artificial turf at SkyDome (ok, Rogers Centre) has affected Vernon over the past couple of years, and will it make a difference?
Bryan Willis,
Vancouver

I don’t think it makes a difference, and I know there’s no possible way we could say it did anyway. I mean, Vernon went from being one of the absolute worst regular players in baseball in 2009 (7th lowest WAR among all 154 qualified) to being one of the best CFs in the game in 2010 (9th by WAR among CFs), and he spent both those years playing on the same turf. So… if anything changes, I don’t see any reason to think the turf makes a difference.

I should add, I truly hope Vernon has a monster year this year– that would change nothing about how fantastic this trade has been for the club, and I hope (though I don’t exactly expect) most fans would understand that.

Q. Two Questions:
1. With the Napoli trade how would you handle the catching position for 2011?
2. I thought Chad Jenkins was being groomed for the closer position, am I wrong or have they changed their minds?
Marc Oliver, />Toronto

Two Answers:
1. JP Arencibia and Jose Molina will be the club’s catchers, and that’s fine. It might be nice if they had a third option somewhere, which was why Napoli seemed a fit for the brief moment he was here, but this is also the PCL MVP we’re talk about, and a season in which the club is willing to experience some ups and downs. They might as well give him a shot.
2. You’re probably thinking of Zach Stewart, but in either case, the prevailing philosophy seems to be that if a guy can potentially start, keep him as a starter until he proves he can’t do it (see: Purcey, David). Makes sense, no?

Q. Griff Stote – what a trade!!
AA is the toast of the town and must be building quite the reputation. While I applaud the move, what is concerning is the potential for a porous defense this year. Is Rajai the answer in CF or is AA going to tinker some more?
Mauro Cavazzon,
Markham

Mauro, I hate to single you out for this, because you’re hardly the only one who does it, but… holy fuck, why does it matter??? Rajai Davis is neither “the answer” in CF, nor is Anthopoulos necessarily going to tinker, because… Davis should be fine until they either find someone better or some of their prospects develop. “Fine” is all they’re really looking for. Davis is a stopgap– albeit one with a very intriguing upside in the form of the 91 bases he’s stolen over the last two years, and the very solid .305/.360/.423/.784 line he put up in 2009. Maybe he becomes the leadoff threat and centrefielder they’re looking for, but if he doesn’t, it’s not like they’ve invested so much in him that they can’t easily go another way.

Q. Hey Richard Stoeten,
Is there a lesson to be learned regarding Lawrie’s introduction to the Blue Jays from the time past Expos’ decision on then prospect Michael Barrett? The Expos had a decision to make with Jose Vidro, keep him at second or move him to third. Barrett would assume the open spot. The Expos kept Vidro at second and sent Barrett to third, where Barrett failed defensively. Would it be safer to play Lawrie at second instead of third?
Marcus Heinrichs,
Stouffville

I’m not sure I exactly follow. Yes, Barrett failed at third and ultimately became a catcher, but… did that destroy his career or something? I know he had some awful years in Montreal as a young player, but are you suggesting the positional uncertainty had something to do with it? I just don’t buy it. No, it’s probably not the best idea to constantly be moving a player around the diamond, but the Jays need to play Lawrie in the spot where he’s got the best chance to succeed– they can’t be afraid to move him to a position where he better serves the club. Many think his future is ultimately going to be in the outfield, and I don’t expect a transition like that will be an issue– and don’t forget, he came up as a catcher and was moved to second at the start of 2009, so… I completely don’t see the worry here.

Q. Is there any truth to the Jays seeking Vlad Guerrero for DH this year? Or even Albert Pujols or Prince Fielder for next season? It is sounding like a Paul Molitor type of signing when the Jays were going for it in the early ’90s. Thanks for all your insight.
Phil McCloskey,

Orangeville

The Jays don’t appear to be in the market for Guererro, half because of his cost, half because they seem content with giving Edwin Encarnacion a try, and half because they want a DH who can spell Adam Lind at first base if necessary. As for Pujols or Fielder, it’s a nice fantasy, and it doesn’t hurt that typical suitors like the Yankees and Red Sox are already set at the position. Buuuuuut, being set at short didn’t stop the Yankees from getting A-Rod, and I’d be fucking stunned if St. Louis somehow fucks it up with Pujols– and I’d be triply stunned if there was the slightest chance he’d come to Canada.

Fielder makes a little more sense, but since they say he’ll be looking for a deal in the $200-million neighbourhood, I don’t fucking see it. That’s a lot of money over a long time for a guy with a body that you can’t possibly expect to age well. He’s a great fucking hitter– the kind of hitter you need if you’re going to compete with the Yankees and the Red Sox– and an AL team will have the advantage of being able to stick him at DH, but… jesus, that’s a lot of money. A lot can change from now until he hits free agency (if he even does), but I certainly wouldn’t be betting on it.

Also let’s not forget that the Jays had started getting good in 1983, and it wasn’t until 1992 that they really started bolstering their their largely home-grown and traded-for club with elite free agents like Jack Morris and Dave Winfield. Of course, that was a vastly different era of free agency, and I’m not saying I expect it to be nine years before the team signs a truly elite free agent again, but as easy as it is to point to a move like the acquisition of Molitor as setting up the team’s early-90s success, a less flashy but hugely important ingredient was Beeston and Gillick’s ability to build from within throughout the mid-80s. I wouldn’t be so quick to overlook that aspect of the club’s original run of success, or how the current front office may be looking to it for inspiration.

Stoeten Answers Richard Griffin's Mail Bag (Again!)

Eric Chavez? Fuentes or Rauch? The Rays loading up on draft picks? Jim Thome going for cheap? Kevin Gregg’s preposterousness? The Fan590’s ridiculous belief that anyone but their on-air people are going to start calling it “Sportsnet Radio The Fan 590″?

Nah. Fuck it, let’s take a dip into Griff’s mail bag…

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: Hi Richard Stoeten, I hear Adam Lind recently went down to Dunedin to work on his first base fielding skills. Is there any word on how that’s going? I think it’s a huge move for the Jays if they can get him out of the DH spot. What do you think fans should expect to see from him at 1B?

David O’Grady,

Kitchener

Hey David, Lind most certainly did go down to Florida early to start putting in some work at first base. He acknowledges that he’s still a work in progress– particularly his footwork– but also says that he hasn’t ever had any proper instruction at the position, despite playing it in college, so there’s hope that he can be turned from passable to adequate, or perhaps even better. He won’t be Lyle Overbay, that’s for sure, and there are bound to be a few groaners along the way, but if he can be locked-in at first long-term it allows the Jays to go out and sign a pure bat to DH, without worrying about whether the guy can play in the field– and that’s kinda ideal, given the way the DH market works.

Q: I have to ask you about all the talk about needing Bautista’s strong arm in right field. I understand that having a strong arm in right is a huge benefit not just for the runners he throws out, but all the times that a runner decides not to take second or third for fear of being thrown out. I see why you wouldn’t want to waste his arm by sticking him at first base, but it seems to me that having a strong arm at third base is also a pretty nice weapon to have. Is it really that much of a difference having him in right field instead of third?

Michael Santos,

Toronto

Jesus, this mail bag isn’t exactly getting off to a rowsing start, is it? Because, yeah, I agree with you– not that there’s really a giant difference. Third base is ahead of right field on the defensive spectrum, and right now the Jays don’t have anyone else who could play it as well as Bautista (maybe Hill, but if they move him they don’t have a second baseman), so it’s a no-brainer to have him at third for the time being.

Of course, if he winds up staying long-term, he’s going to have Brett Lawrie breathing down his neck at third sooner or later (sooner if you’re Brett Lawrie, later if you’re anybody else)– and that’s going to create an interesting situation in the outfield, with one of Wells, Snider or Bautista probably having to be moved or move to DH once guys like Jake Marisnick and Anthony Gose start pressing for jobs. Not that that’s a bad problem to have.

As for 2011, things could still change– I keep mentioning Felipe Lopez, at least as a hedge in case the unplayable 2008 version of Rajai Davis shows up, as a free agent third base option who is still out there, can hit leadoff and might net a draft pick if all goes well.

Q: Richard Stoeten, I know the off-season is only half over. The Jays have been fairly quiet in terms of player acquisition. Do you expect any significant moves? We’ve had more roster subtractions than solid additions. With the current roster, what would our projected be, and how does that compare to other AL East teams? BTW, how do the prospects that the Rays received for Garza compare to what was received for Marcum (their stats were very similar last year)?

Frank S,

Toronto

Frank, I really don’t see the Jays doing anything significant between now and the start of spring training, but who the fuck could possibly know? I mean, has there been a single move Anthopoulos has made that hasn’t been completely off the radar until they were sending out press releases? So… maybe there’s something still simmering, but generally all the real big moves have been made by this point in the season.

And yeah, the roster has lost more than its gained on paper, and the club is probably in line to take a bit of a step back from last year’s win total, and certainly don’t appear to be playoff calibre– but, of course, that’s not necessarily a bad thing, and it’s probably not going to be as bad as a lot of people think. Kyle Drabek is unlikely to provide the same value as Shaun Marcum, but add in that you’d expect to see more of the second-half 2010 version Brandon Morrow than the first-half, and that the fifth starter spot won’t be as bad, it’s not that much of a step back. The bullpen probably won’t be as good– but they’ll probably be deployed better, they won’t have anyone nearly as bad as Brian Tallet was, and there are enough decent arms they’ve collected to figure a few are going to have a good year– and the losses of John Buck, Lyle Overbay and Fred Lewis… um… do I even need to explain why those aren’t going to be so difficult to overcome?

The Garza question is an interesting one, but I think– and this is hardly an original thought, Keith Law, for one, was on this tack in a recent clip on the Fan590– it’s difficult to say because of how well the pieces fit for the Rays. They needed to make room for Jeremy Hellickson in the rotation, they got a future shortstop (for when Reid Brignac gets too expensive, Law says), a fourth OF they can use right away, and an interesting piece in Robinson Chirinos, who could work as a catcher or infielder and has hit a shit-tonne in the minors the last couple years (though at 26 last year he was kinda old for Double-A). I’d definitely take Brett Lawrie over any of the prospects the Rays got for Garza, but the Rays may have helped themselves more in the overall. Given the philosophies of both teams at moment, I’d have a hard time calling one deal better than the other.

Q: Hey Richard, with Roberto Alomar recently being inducted into the Hall of Fame, I had a quick question: I know the Jays have many players on the level of excellence, but are any numbers actually retired? And if not, do the Jays plan to retire Alomar’s?

Nathan Zaltsman,

San Francisco

Nathan, my understanding is that none of the Jays’ numbers are technically retired– aside from Jackie Robinson’s 42, which is retired throughout baseball, except for players like Mariano Rivera (he may, in fact, be the only one) who wore the number before MLB’s decision to retire it and have been allowed to keep it– and I don’t expect that to change just because Alomar is going to enter the Hall. Personally, I don’t really care either way about it. I know Robbie Alomar was a great player, and seeing Edwin Encarnacion in his number 12 doesn’t take anything away from that.

Q: What do you think about the chances for Fred McGriff making the Hall of Fame? He was a quiet player, never complained, never held out, always did his job. Really when you look at all the teams he played with, he was always the one providing the protection in the lineup.

Brendan Fy
ke,

Kingston

Fred McGriff is a really interesting case, and with a gun to my head I’d probably be inclined to have him in there– but that may simply be due to nostalgia. He’s considered borderline partly because of the offensive explosion that happened in the latter half of his career, which made his numbers look small by comparison. He’s also considered borderline, though, because he is borderline.

He was a premier slugger from 1988 to 1994, placing in the top 10 in MVP voting six times over those nine seasons– however, he did so while never hitting more than 37 HR in a season.

As he stepped into his 30s and lost a bit of pop (he had seven straight seasons over 30 home runs before 1994– including that strike-shortened year– then didn’t reach 33 once over the next nine seasons) baseball’s offensive numbers exploded. By comparison his career numbers– which according to Baseball Reference’s similarity scores, most resembled Hall of Fame calibre players Willie McCovey, Willie Stargell, Jeff Bagwell, Frank Thomas, Carlos Delgado, Billy Williams, Gary Sheffield, Andres Galarraga, Eddie Mathews and Jim Thome– he appeared to be in a tier below many of his contemporaries.

And this was kind of true– on the current ballot are fellow first basemen Jeff Bagwell, Mark McGwire and Rafaelo Palmeiro, two of whom have clearly better career numbers, and one (Palmeiro) who’s a toss up with McGriff, but who played longer. Of course, those guys carry baggage in the minds of some voters that McGriff doesn’t, but that doesn’t seem to help ol’ Freddie, whose vote totals actually decreased this year.

Even so, there are about 150 position players in the Hall of Fame, and according to Baseball Reference, McGriff ranks 123rd in offensive WAR, 194th in OBP, 80th in SLG, 84th in OPS, 26th in HR, 119th in OPS+, 45th in Runs Created, and… you get the picture. By some metrics he should by all rights be in, by others he’s just on the outside. If you’re a Small Hall guy, I understand keeping him out, if not, there’s definite merit to his case. I wouldn’t be surprised if he eventually gets in, but I’d place my bet on it being by way of the Veterans Committee, not the writers.

Q: This one’s about everyone’s favourite Jay, Johnny Mac. At some point in the near future, he will probably retire (hopefully as a Blue Jay). Do you know if he would have any interest in staying with the organization in a coaching role (i.e. infield instructor)? He’s beloved by the fans and in the clubhouse. Moreover, the infielders really seem to look up to him (esp. Hill) when it comes to fielding. Maybe he’s our next Butterfield…

Austin N,

Toronto

We kinda have the current Butterfield already, so I think having Johnny Mac as an infield instructor at the big league level would be a little bit redundant, but I wouldn’t at all be surprised to see him move into coaching or into another roll with the organization once he decides that it’s time to hang up his glove. Of course, I have no fucking idea.

Q: Hey Richard, just wanna get your opinions on a couple of players. Do you see Manny Ramirez a good fit for the Jays given that they do need a power hitter at DH and the fact that his presence will help generate more ticket sales! Also, do you think Brett Lawrie is good enough to get a spot for 2B/3B?

Jess,

North Vancouver

Ugh. Jess. Again with the ticket sales stuff? I understand it’s an easy presumption to make, but it’s just never been true that a single player has tangibly impacted ticket sales in this city– unless you want to count the one-off return of AJ Burnett I suppose. I’ll give you that adding Manny to the club might generate more interest from the TV networks and writers– and more outside interest– because Manny is always a story in his own right, but I don’t imagine his contract would pay for itself in additional ticket sales or anything (unless he returns to mid-00s form somehow), and I’m pleased as a pig in shit that the club doesn’t seem to be interested in such cynical ploys. He could help the team for 2011, for sure, and you’d hate to go have one of those years like 2008 where you rue the fact that the club went the Brevin Mencherson route instead of finding a proper DH (cough Barry Bonds cough) when it looked like they were only a power bat away from making some real noise, but I suspect– and I’m not sure why I am, given how he was placed on waivers in the middle of last season, and again this winter, but I am– that the club is content to go forward with Edwin Encarnacion in the role.

Writing that out, of course, it kind of sounds fucking stupid, doesn’t it? Especially since I was poking about the Elias rankings last week, and I’m pretty sure that Encarnacion would be very hard pressed to get himself to type-B level heading into next winter. But the Jays have also said that they want someone who can spell Adam Lind at first base if that experiment doesn’t work out.

I don’t know, maybe the more the Jays see of Lind doing work down in Florida, the more comfortable they’ll be with handing him the keys to first and making a move like this– Manny doesn’t have many other realistic options, and Jim Thome just set the market pretty low with his $3-million plus incentives one-year deal with the Twins. I’d love to see it, but I’m not going to bother getting my hopes up– nor should you.

As for Lawrie, I think the only person who thinks Brett Lawrie is going to be here in 2011 is Brett Lawrie. I believe he’s got a great future ahead of him, but he’ll probably start in the minors.

Q: What’s the story with Accardo? it seems to me that the Jays have given him a raw deal. The trading of Marcum really bothers me. I had the feeling that he was the leader of the young starting pitchers. They appeared to be really close and I am concerned that the remaining guys are going to be upset.

Frank Brown,

Thornhill

Frank, forgive me for shitting on your sixth sense for understanding the dynamic of a clubhouse that you’ve never set foot in, but I don’t understand how the fuck you could possibly think that all of the young pitchers now are going to fall apart just because Shaun Marcum isn’t sitting on the bench waiting for them between innings. Teammates come and go constantly in sports– they’re used to it. Let’s not pretend they’re fragile-ego’d fucking children, OK?

As for Accardo, yeah, maybe he got a raw deal. Probably, even. He also could have pitched better– I mean, I seriously hope nobody is thinking that the 2007 version of Accardo has been toiling in the minors for two years just because he pissed someone with the Jays off. He pitched better than some of the guys who were called up ahead of him, though, and for that he has legitimate grounds to be upset. But from a fan’s perspective… meh. At least him and Kevin Gregg will now be able to bitch about the Jays while they’ve got their thumbs up their asses all summer in Baltimore’s ‘pen.

Q: Hi Richard, love the bloggage. You mentioned in (last week’s) blog that Dave Parker’s name will be removed from next year’s HOF ballot. In my estimation, Parker had an awesome, HOF calibre career. Consider he had over 2700 hits, 339 HR, and almost 1500 RBIs plus played great defense. In your years covering the Expos, what did you think of the Cobra?

Mark Horton,

Barrie

The Cobra’s era was a little before my time, apart from his brief stint on the ’91 Jays (which I actually don’t really remember) and his role as a bit player on the ’88 Oakland A’s Bash Brothers team. But looking at the numbers, guy was a fucking great player– a surefire Hall of Famer– for five years at the end of the seventies, then he kinda fell off a cliff for five years before resurrecting his career with a couple of solid seas
ons in Cincinnati.

Had he played anywhere close to even half his previous level during those five years in the cocaine wilderness, he’d probably be in for sure. Fuck, his peak may have been so great that maybe he should be in anyway– his top six years are fairly spectacular– but I just don’t think he was good enough for long enough.

Of course, I’d probably put him in the Hall for this pic alone.

Stoeten Answers Richard Griffin's Mail Bag: 2011!

Hey! Here’s something to talk about: the latest Richard Griffin mail bag from over at the Toronto Star. I keep missing every other one of these– hopefully the fact that I’ve managed to hit this one on the same day that it was published bodes well for my staying on top of subsequent ones… um… I guess.

Anyway, I just finished answering the fucker, so I don’t really have much left in me for a goddamn preamble. Le’s get to it!

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: Appreciate your blunt comment on the signing of Octavio Dotel. He and Carlos Villanueva are a couple of journeyman punching bags. How will our precious young starting talent deal with a bullpen that constantly turns seven fine innings into losses in the eighth and ninth? Please tell me AA isn’t turning into JPR. No, we’ve not been promised a contender in 2011, but without Lyle Overbay, John Buck and Shaun Marcum, I doubt we’ll see a .500 season barring miracles.
Selby Martin,
Toronto

Holy fuck. Well done Selby, it’s rare to see such a fucking shitload of nonsense squeezed into just a few brief lines.

Dotel and Villanueva aren’t punching bags, champ– Dotel is still very effective against right-handers, and while Villanueva walks too many, his strikeout rate is fantastic and his poor 2010 ERA was belied by a high BABIP, possibly due to Milwaukee’s fielding butchery, and his FIP was above league average. And I can’t fucking fathom how someone could actually think the bullpen is going to fall of such a cliff without Scott Downs, Brian Tallet (who I guarantee was worse last year than any Jays reliever will be in 2011) and Kevin fucking Gregg, that it starts destroying the confidence of young pitchers despite those pitchers actually pitching well.

And how the fuck do you figure, evoking Ricciardi here? At least find a less painfully obvious code for “I don’t like this but I am too completely intellectually bankrupt to provide a reason why.” And, you know, its funny, you act like the loss of Scott Downs will send the bullpen into a flaming fucking death spiral, yet you piss on not only the guy who acquired him, but the precise kind of acquisition that unearthed him.

Oh, but it’s dire, Selby. It’s fucking dire. So yes, let’s all pray for the miracle of the .500 record. That’ll make everything right again with the world, won’t it?

Q: Hey Richard, I was reading a question in your last blog about Jim Thome. While he obviously can’t play much defence anymore, wouldn’t he have been good for drawing fans to the stadium, because he is very near to 600 home runs? Also, just a quick question, what exactly happens in a free agent’s physical exam?
Thank you
Nathan Zaltsman,
San Francisco

No idea about the physical exam, but as for Thome… meh. The notion of players bringing fans to the park is so ridiculously overblown that it’s hard for me to even muster a comment about it anymore. Fans didn’t come out any more to see Halladay (save for his last home start and the Burnett duel) or Clemens, or… anybody, really.

OK, maybe for Bautista’s chase of 50 homers a bit, but I don’t remember it when Frank Thomas was chasing 500, and honestly, I’d prefer the team not be so goddamn cynical about which players they value. They’re doing just fine as it is…

Q: What is the difference between how the Jays are being run and how the Expos were run in the ’80s? Groom prospects for six years then lose them to higher paying organizations. Fill the gaps with veteran role players on the cheap and hope that all of the young talent can come together for one or two years and challenge for a playoff spot before you lose them to free agency and start over again. Meanwhile attendance drops and drops as fans lose interest and realize that their Jays are nothing more than a glorified farm team for the Yanks, Bosox, Phillies, Dodgers, etc.
David Burns,
London

The difference is that one of those things actually happened, and the other is just some premature doomsday bullshit spouted by a hysterical twat who needs to simmer the fuck down.

No, the Jays didn’t go out and throw crazy money around this winter. But there are sound reasons for that, and there are also plenty of examples of Rogers not being the kind of cheap fucks you’re trying to paint them as– paying for the Halladay deal, the money spent on the draft, on the scouting system, on internationals like Hechavarria and Cardona, and… uhhhh, how about on the Romero extension there, pissy pants? Fuck sakes.

Q: Hello Richard. Do you know if Edwin Encarnacion started implementing the same hitting approach as Jose Bautista last year? Both showed a significant change to their groundball to flyball ratio (Bautista’s being dramatically different). Given Encarnacion’s apparent opportunity for regular plate appearances, do you see a breakout 40+hr season for him ala Bautista’s 2010? Also, is Bautista a very good low ball hitter? One would think pitchers would’ve just started busting him low or low and outside once it was clear he was intent on hitting the ball in the air every time.
Craig Hirota,
Oakville

Oh, dude. Do I really have to go looking stuff up here? Not exactly my bag, there, but here’s what I can say: I really can’t figure on E5.. er… E3 getting to 40 home runs, but I’m not sure I’m basing that on anything particularly logical, apart from the fact that he can never seem to stay healthy. I have no idea about his approach, relative to Bautista’s, but I have a hard time talking about a player’s “approach” as though it means something absolute. Every player is different, in terms of his swing mechanics and his strengths and weaknesses as a hitter– and I think the changtes in that had more to do with Bautista’s success last year than anything else. It’s not like Encarnacion is being made into a clone of Bautista, mechanically, and it’s not like a player with the same game plan in an at bat as Bautista is going to have the same kind of success he did in 2010.

Are they both pull hitters with power whose flyball rates went up? Sure. Could Edwin have a nice year, power wise, with 600 or so plate appearance? Yeah, I think he could be a lot better at the plate than a lot of people give him credit for– granted, it’s not exactly like he’s shown all that much since he’s been here, beyond the ability to drill the occasional mistake into the seats– especially if he can get his on-base up above the fugly as fuck .305 he threw down last year. But I wouldn’t go nuts and start thinking that what happened with Bautista is due to some kind of magic formula that the Jays (and only the Jays) are capable of applying to similar hitters to similar effect.

Q: A question about the HOF rather than the Jays: I read an article about Rafael Palmeiro’s chances, in which the writer said he was a four-time all-star. I looked it up, four all-star games, one as a DH. Any idea what the fewest all-star appearances by a HOF is, especially one with those kind of stats? With those career stats, why was he left off the roster so often? Anyone else of his calibre remotely in that situation whom you can recall?
Nick Martin,<
br />Winnipeg

Topical! Bert Blyleven, who you may have heard was just elected, had only two All-Star appearances on his resume, and yet he was able to make it to the Hall mostly because it was recognized by enough people (eventu-fucking-ally) that he was a whole lot better than people remembered or thought at the time, and that things like All-Star selections and Cy Young votes are a faulty way to gauge who was great because of the ways that player evaluation has evolved and gotten better. For example, Blyleven was 14-12 in 1977, leading the AL in WHIP and coming second in ERA, he was top 10 in strikeouts, complete games and K/BB, tied for second in shutouts, second in H/9, and fourth in WAR for pitchers. We now know which of those stats best represents his individual performance, but back then a thing like his win total was held against him– he wasn’t on the All-Star team, and didn’t get a single vote for the Cy Young (there ended up being six AL pitchers with 18 or more wins that year).

Palmeiro is a bit different. You’ll hear people point out that he was more of a stat accumulator than a great player, and in his case, his lack of All-Star selections in a testament to that. During his peak in the mid-90s to early-2000s he was competing for All-Star spots at first base in the AL with the likes of Frank Thomas, Mo Vaughn, Tino Martinez, Carlos Delgado, Mike Sweeney, John Olerud and Jason Giambi, and more often than not fell short– though likely this was sometimes due to the rule that each team needs to be represented at the All-Star game. Palmeiro was very good for a very long time, but very often there were better players than him at his position.

Q: Richard,

With the Royals trading Greinke and stocking up with more young talent. Do you think A.A. has approached them on the availabilty of Alex Gordon and one of their young first base prospect Butler, Kila Ka’aihue and Eric Hosmer, with the Jays lacking a true 1st and 3rd base prospect in the minors what would a package of Gordon and one of the 1st base prospects cost the Jays?
Scott Cochrane,
Niagara on the Lake

Ugh. I truly don’t comprehend the obsession some Jays fans have over failed Royals prospect Alex Gordon. It’s a nice little fantasy that he could be had for dirt cheap and then realize his potential the second he switches uniforms, but it’s not very realistic. Besides, between the majors and minors in 2010 he played only 16 games at third. Aaaaand it’s very possible that the Jays already have their future third baseman in Brett Lawrie (or Aaron Hill, if Lawrie moves to second, or Jose Bautista, if he stays and if the Jays prefer Lawrie in the outfield). It’s really not as pressing an issue as you make it.

Neither is first base. I mean, the Jays have committed to taking a long look at Adam Lind there this year– no thanks to ex-manager Fuckface McSenile, who did the organization a major disservice by not playing him there last year. (Note: thinking along the lines of Brunt’s nutcracker question that I mentioned in yesterday’s post, maybe someone should ask Anthopoulos how the game plan would have changed this off-season if Gaston had actually played Lind at first, and they felt comfortable that he could handle it– Cito cost us Manny, that’s what I figure.)

Wouldn’t it be nice if it turned out that Lind can play the position passably enough that next winter they’ll be in the market for a King Hell DH bat, rather than keeping Lind there and adding a guy like Butler or one of KC’s other prospects? Don’t answer! Of course it would– especially since all you have to give up to get that DH is money, not prospects.

So, in response to your actual question, which was about what Gordon and a first base prospect would cost the Jays, I guess my answer is, I couldn’t possibly give a shit. And neither should you.

Q: I see that the Yankees were hit with an $18 million dollar luxury tax. Is that like NATO dues where the U.S. says yeah, yeah, we owe but they don’t pay? Is there a due date on that tax? Where does the luxury tax money go? Does it get shared with the “have not” teams? I wouldn’t mind a bit of it myself (good glove, no hit).Thanks Richard.
Ditch Dickinson,
Toronto

Hey Ditch, um… there’s this really awesome thing called the internet– I assume you’ve heard of it, because you’re on it– where you can actually look up the information that you want, rather than emailing a question to your favourite writer’s mail bag, then waiting a week or two in the hopes that he answers it. Here, let me Google that for you.

Q: Just wondering what you think of the following free agents that can potentially help the Jays and won’t cost a great deal. Since Jose Bautista prefers staying at his RF position, why not consider a veteran guy who got some power/versatility like Pedro Feliz? Also, should the Jays give Canadian Jeff Francis a shot? He’s not going to cost much right? Lastly, for the Closer role, should they bring back Miguel Batista? He’s had decent numbers last season.
Raku Ri,
Vancouver

I’ve said before that I would like to see the Jays hedge their Rajai Davis bet with a guy like Felipe Lopez, who can play third, lead off, and very possibly will bring about a draft pick next winter. Pedro Feliz? Uh… yeah, this team is right-handed enough as it is, and that says nothing of his career .288 on-base. Let’s not mistake last year’s no-OBP power surge as the philosophy this team actually wants to employ– they need more guys who can get on base, so Lopez makes way more sense.

As for Francis, his FIP last year actually showed he was a bit better than his ERA might indicate, but he’s a health risk, I’ve seen Keith Law say that he doesn’t think he’d be a good fit for the AL East– and I certainly don’t doubt that– and I’d much rather see some of the young players get the chance anyway. Let’s see what they’ve got with Litsch or Stewart or Rzepczynski in the fifth starters spot– maybe they build some trade value, or give you enough confidence to move someone else. And Batshitista? I completely didn’t hate on him the way a lot of fans did, but… I really don’t know why. Ugh. Pass. (The bullpen, believe it or not, is fine.)