Thursday, October 29, 2009

Old Habits Die Hard

The Jays baseball operations brass sit around a sterile office deep inside Fortress Rogers. Tim Hortons cups are strewn across the bland table, a large board full of player names and positions holds a prominent role on the wall.

Tony LeCava: ...and the value of those two draft picks certainly offsets the on-field production of a 34 year old, based on these age-regression numbers. I say we let him walk.

Alex Anthopolous: Fuckin' eh? I don't know if I'm ready to walk away quite yet, the short stop market is a real gong show. Anybody got anything else, let's take our attention elsewheres, eh?

TLC: Hmmmm, I dunno. Not much going on before the series ends, you know?

AA: Shit guy, we must feed the Beest. Let's show him we haven't just been trading offices and parking spots. You got anything for me? Gimmie something and I'll buy you Burrito Boys.

TLC: Uhhh, shit. Uh, the Orioles left this lefty reliever unprotected. Sean Henn is his name.

AA: [shifts uncomfortably in his seat] I dunno, seems like simple roster filler.

TLC: That is precisely what he is. Wholly unremarkable. Pretty much passed over.

AA: [twitches] We....should....move....onnnn....

TLC: Are you okay? All the color is draining from your face.

AA: [sweating profusely] That's colour, jackass. Didn't you get the memo? Anyway........I think we should pass and establish our own itden-

[Alex Anthopolous appears to black out momentarily, his eyes glaze over and roll back in his head]

AA: [Bursts from his chair, vomits, and unleashes a blood-curdling scream] AAAAAIIIIIEEEE, just sign him! Bring him in!!! No Beeston jail can hold me! I NEED MORE LEFT HANDED RELIEVERS!!!!!

[Anthopolous passes out in his chair]

TLC: Fine whatever. I'm going to turf Barrett, you know? Oh like it matters. [Sighs deeply] Why won't Cashman return my calls? Wake up, I want a damn burrito.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

We're Saved

Paul Beeston has been named the full-time President and CEO of the Toronto Blue Jays. Praise be unto the Beest.

Interesting tidbits about Paul Beeston: he spent the last year looking for a successor, which is why the Jays did nothing but shed salary under his stewardship. He righted the ticketing ship while interviewing candidates from all over North America and anointing the sores on the feet of Toronto's street urchins.

Beeston is most famous of lording over the Toronto Blue Jays during the glory years, deftly moving massive contracts around, hiring 3 month mercenaries and getting out while the getting was good.

Also interesting: any good we see on the field or in the offices over the next 2 years will be do to Beeston's benevolent hand. All bad decisions or negativity are due exclusively to JP's poisonous influence.

New GM Alex Anthopolous and Beeston look forward to many long nights at the office (IN TORONTO MOST IMPORTANTLY), expressing fondness for David Suzuki, laughing at Red Green, eating ketchup chips, and drinking Moosehead while popping Tylenol 222s for fun. Later they'll make some baseball decisions, but not before a rousing game of Sorry!

Pesky Hairs Refuse to Split

A good post at Batters Box got me thinking about the Jays continued failings in late innings, close games, or other such settings for inevitable heartbreak. The tenets of Blue Jays baseball under JP were clear, the bulk of which I agree with. Except one: the value of utility players.

The Jays seem to love guys they can plug into multiple positions with little or no notice. This does seem attractive and potentially valuable, but only to an extent. One thing you've seen here before is me pining for better use of all 25 roster spots. This is especially difficult under Cito, that doesn't mean it isn't important. The 2009 Jays weren't a great team, but at times they featured three guys (Johnny Mac, Joe Inglett, Jose Bautitsa) that could jump in and play any number of positions on the diamond. Not only does this give the team flexibility, it's a skill that comes cheaply. To make my point even more bluntly; the Jays keep these jacks of all trades around because they're cheap, not because they make winning games easier.

A popular thought making its way around the baseball world these days isn't all that new, its just expressed in modern terms. You'd rather have one 6 WAR player than two 3 WAR guys. That hold true at the ass-end of the bench, too. The Jays kept guys like Bautista, MacDonald, and Inglett (when healthy) around to perform a myriad of tasks at replacement level rather than employ one proper fourth outfielder. Sending Travis Snider in as a defensive replacement for Adam Lind is technically an upgrade, but going from "negligent" to "unfortunate" doesn't really help the team.

The Jays seem to lack specialists, guys that can come in and make the most of a late inning opportunity. There is something to be said for the team actually possessing the assets but if the manager is loath to use them&mdash inserting Overbay once the left-handed starter's gone or using Randy Ruiz in the reverse setting&mdash then there isn't much point.

Coming up with a list of names that will help fully flesh out a big league roster is easy (rosterbation - a victimless crime!) but getting them to fit into a real, live 25 man roster is not. The Jays seem to not have the same set of options that their divisional rivals have. Shit, a guy like Hinske would really help this team (power off the bench, corner outfield postions? FML).

I recognize these aren't the players that will make or break the Jays in 2010 or beyond. But meaningful contributions from bench and role players IS a key aspect of successful baseball teams. The Yankees, Red Sox, and Rays didn't make the World Series because Eric Hinske was on their team, but having a guy on their bench with specific skills and abilities helps a a lot more than a guy willing to run to any spot on the field. The Jays need production from guys (to go along with production from their marquee players, that is a given) like this if they hope to compete with teams that aren't forced to wring value out of every dollar spent.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Sporting News to Adam Lind: Try Being Older

Not pictured: Lind's bigwheelThe venerable Sporting News announced their American League All Star team amidst little fanfare or shits given. The former staple of North American sports fans' bathrooms and place I used to play fantasy sports quickly announced their irrelevance by naming Hideki Matsui as their all-AL Designated Hitter.

An understandable choice, considering Adam Lind merely bested Matsui in home runs, doubles, RBI, runs scored, plate appearances, intentional walks, average, on base, slugging, OPS, wOBA, batting average with RISP, OBI% (rate of runners on base driven in) runs above average, isolated power, leverage-neutral win probability, wins above replacement, VORP, and meters gaily skipped.

Matsui did best Lind in walks, walk rate, K/BB, hat size, porn collected above replacement, games missed due to injury, AARP contributions, bats stared at intently, goldfish tended, sandals worn, panties purchased from vending machines, and games played in front of Sporting News editors.

To be fair the good people of TSN, they DID elect Aaron Hill to the team for second base, which is awesome. Hill lead American League second sackers in a host of categories yet one could argue Hill is less deserving of inclusion than Adam Lind. So you win some and you lose some. Consider this a major win as it prevented weasel-faced ratman Dustin Pedroia from one more second of undeserved attention.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Navel Gazing Announcements and Self Pity

Just a couple things before I throw myself fully into back peddling mode. First, I'm no longer the Weekend Editor at Walkoff Walk. I've eased into the role of semi-regular contributor like an old man into a hot bath. I contributed during the week all year but my weekend output was spotty, but now you can find me posting something over there most days. My post today, in fact, was linked on the front page of So there! Friend of GROF J from 3:10 to Joba is the new weekend guy, do check him and Walkoff Walk out. Especially if you like baseball, children dressed as animals and/or money, and metahumor.

Secondly, I participated in the Blogger Nine Innings series for the New York Daily News's "Touching Base" blog. It was fun. It may seem that I joked about kidnapping Evan Longoria and bringing him to Canada, but I was deadly serious. You get the stained rug, I'll get the getaway car and valid alibi.

New Yankee Workshop

Okay, so I made a somewhat rash statement about hating on the Yankees. It isn't that I like the Yankees but, over time, I've begun to "root" for the Yankees. Not the Yankees as much as The Better Team. I want The Better Team to win, all the time.

For as long as I've done this, I've beat the "Jays are a good team" drum. They get unlucky, they face long odds, blah blah, you know the song and you do the dance too. I've gone to some length to show appreciation for how good a team, on paper or in practice, I think the Jays built. I've only scratched the surface of rooting out their isolated or situational shortcomings that keep the Jays in third, or fourth, or generally out of shouting distance of playoff berths and Meaningful Baseball.

I see teams like the Twins and I see dumb luck. I see the benefit of circumstance. And I resent it.

I resent "shitty" teams get to play one game playoffs and division series and months of meaningful baseball that fills the building while the Jays, and we fans, don't. We don't get that. We get a concrete tomb made worse by the bizarre string of misfortune and bad timing that is all so far out of our control and our understanding that if fuels this wild resentment and hatred, not of the Yankees and Red Sox who spend money and run their organization free of fiscal and karmic restraint. I can't hate them for doing their job, I can only hate those that don't do their job as well but reap rewards.

I resent the scorn heaped upon the players and officials doomed to one of sports' most futile pursuits and the praise directed at those that couldn't do it at "the highest level", the place the Jays must conduct their business every day.

I want the Yankees or the best team to win because the Jays are (or have been) on of the best teams and they don't. I'm glad the Phillies made the World Series because they too are one of the Best Teams.

I know this runs against the original Davey V Goliath sports trope, but I'm a broken man. I don't want to become as bitter as the beat grunts who long only for a good story, good baseball and good management is a good enough story for me. And that is what I'd like to encourage in AA and the Blue Jays brass: good management. Have a plan and see it through. Make adjustments that don't leave you grasping for a new plan after the last one failed.

Again, I'm not rooting for the asteroid or anything like that, I just wish for just desserts. Maybe one day it will be our turn to eat.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Iron Age

It is only October 20th and yet the annual "offseason straw-grasp" is already in full swing in the blogosphere. New GM Alex Anthopolous's recent comments regarding the teams non-specific interest in resigning Marco Scutaro caused a few waves. Some considered them a waste of time, others thought they were a clear indication of AA's intent to to retain Scutaro.

I've said all along that I'm against resigning Scutaro. He did a terrific job; first as a utility guy then as the everyday shortstop. That J.P. acquired him for a song and paid him very little (just over $1.5 mil for 2009, less than Johnny Mac!) is very much icing on the cake. Scutaro did well to turn himself into a good leadoff man and an excellent fielding shortsto///////RECORD SCRATCH!!!!!!!!

Remember how we all raved over Scutaro's defense this year, how impressive he both looked and rated in the various metrics? A funny thing happened on the way to a silk glove: Marco Scutaro ran out of gas. Not only did Scutaro's offence go south as the season wore on, his defense did the very same.

Consider this post I wrote on August 5th. The content of the post doesn't look at Macro Scutaro's defensive runs: 16. Meaning his UZR on August 5th was 16.0 runs. Looking at his final season numbers we see a frightening total: 0.3 Over the final two months (6 weeks before his injury) Marco Scutaro played 16 runs below average.

Brian Joseph of Baseball Digest Daily compiled all defensive numbers for shortstops around the same time in August for his excellent Digging in the Dirt series. At that time Scutaro sported a UZR/150 of 7.0 (finished 0.1), a RZR of .825 (finished .799) with 48 out of zone plays (finished with 61) and so on and so forth.

I don't point this out to disparage Scutaro, more than anything I was shocked to see how far his defensive numbers fell. I also recognized this numbers aren't infallible, but they do represent a decline. A significant one, especially as it relates to signing an aging player to a multi-year contract. As each year passes, Scutaro will break down earlier and earlier. There is no guarantee he will ever rediscover his range or his legs as the innings mount.

One option, one I wouldn't oppose, is making Scutaro the everyday third baseman. Though his range declined, Scutaro remained incredibly sure-handed, making few errors on the balls he fielded (other than a few in high leverage situations) and fewer throwing errors. Offensively his skills are decidedly "old player" meaning Cito could slot him in at the top of the order and expect pretty similar production (just not EVERY day Cito, give the man a rest.

Would Scutaro agree to be the third baseman if other offers to play short every day exist? I don't know, though the lure of natural grass is just about enough to get anyone out of town. Hopefully the Jays recognize how "profit" they've already made off Scutaro and don't flush it all down the toilet on an aging player during his decline phase.

Playoff Thoughts

I remember seeing Demi Moore on Letterman years ago. She was an aging but still hot human then, not a Scientologist cyborg. She mentioned how she and her then-husband Bruce Willis sent out Christmas cards that featured Demi dressed up in some slutty elf costume sitting on Santa's knee. While you and I would consider it odd to send tarted up pictures of ourselves to our friends and family, Hollywood starlets in the middle of losing their looks think nothing of it.

At any rate, when relating this tale to the viewing audience, Moore let slip an awesome quote of Dave's that opened a window into his deviant soul. You see the Willis/Moore's are so famous that they had David Letterman play Santa in their family photos. As Demi Moore sat on Dave's lap, she claims he whispered in her ear "I never thought I'd be this close to movie star ass."

The power of movie star ass should never be understated. Whether or not your consider Kate Hudson a movie star is up for debate. "Skinny girl with notable parentage who made one good movie and now cashes cheques for appearing in as many high-paying romcom commercials as she can before her looks go" ass doesn't have quite the same ring to it, but A Rod owes her huge either way. I'm sure he figured he'd be close to movie star ass growing up, but now that he's living the dream, he can't be stopped.

Apparently movie star ass is good for what ails you, as Alex Rodriquez suddenly morphed into an animal. Or, he returned to his actual level of production in the playoffs. His home run Saturday night was pretty awesome, until you realize how shitty Brian Fuentes is. A truly terrible, terrible 0-2 pitch. One for the ages.

Don't Let Your Hatred of the Yankees Turn You Into an Idiot

As I liveblogged the game on Saturday night; the calls/whines of Yankee conspiracy grew out of control and, if I'm being honest, pretty pathetic. Of all the major sports, baseball would be the most difficult to rig. Especially if you're talking about base umpires. The cries reached a fever pitch during the Erick Aybar phantom tag/neighbourhood play controversy. The video showed, in my mind, Aybar made zero effort to tag the bag.

The complaints that "they always let that go, the Yankees get all the calls" may seem to have some merit, especially if you already see it that way. But let's all admit one thing: if video showed Jeter the same distance from the bag in a similar situation, we'd all be losing our mind crying over how "he didn't touch the base!!!" The neighbourhood play is one thing, petty hand-wringing is another. Just enjoy the playoffs, root for the Angels if you like being lied to, and have a good time. Save your blind Yankee rage for the summer.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Trouble in the Henhouse!

On the heels of my earlier mission to discover the perfect facepalm, I thought it a good time to examine the relationship between WAR and wins a little further. As far as a simple man such as myself can go, that is.

Is WAR really a better indicator of team success than Pythagorean record? It would seem so, on the surface. Neither measure is perfect, but they must come close to predicting/indicating the true talent of a team. Let's see. My wasted morning at work lies below (click to embiggen):

2009 MLB Wins versus Pythag Wins
You see the R squared is 0.6818, or a reasonable connection between WAR wins and actual wins. The Jays and Rays are the real outliers here, badly missing their projected win totals. Notice the Yankees and Red Sox bang on the line.

Does it seem as though the bad teams (or at least, the worse teams) are further from the line to you? Does this speak to luck being the only, true differentiator between the wide swath of mediocre teams in baseball?

What about Pythag record? What is the relationship like here?

2009 MLB Wins versus Pythag Wins
Well shit. As much as I wanted WAR to be the more accurate of the two; it just isn't so in 2009. Pythag has a much stronger C.O.D. and it, every so slightly, breaks my heart.

Does this mean I'm going to become of an Amish Luddite and swear off technology and its awful minions? Hardly. I still think WAR is a great tool for evaluating individual players but in the team setting it breaks down slightly. Despite our best attempts, it is a human game. Timing is everything, and that is okay.

As for our fateful Blue Jays, king kommenter SP (who also suggested the two divisions thing a while back) made a great and salient point in the comments of the previous post:
As for the luck thing. It still boggles the mind. How can they be so monumentally unlucky 4 straight years? This stuff is supposed to correct itself over time, right?

It's not like things haven't changed either. The bad luck has persisted through 2 very different coaching regimes, 3 hitting coaches, with good to great pitching, defense, and fielding in each of those years.
What do we do? The Rays had extreme bad luck this year, one season after outperforming their Pythag (by 4) but nailed their true talent wins (96.9 WAR and 97 total wins)? I don't have that answer, but I'm going to try and find out.

What kind of things did the Jays and Rays have in common this year? What was different between the 08 and 09 Rays? Stay tuned, as they say.

All WAR data courtesy of Fangraphs and Pythag stuff via Baseball Reference. Doing the Lord's work

Now and Zen

Obviously there is plenty going on in the baseball world and zero going on in Blue Jays world. Zero outside of, as the Tao smartly points out, AA doing the identical thing to J.P. (firing/shaking up scouts) without a peep emanating from the local slam gang.

A popular past-time here in the land of milk, honey, and schadenfraude seems to be one of two things:
  1. Laughing at the Red Sox or
  2. Lamenting the Twins.
There is only so much of the former I can take without it becoming a little perverse. Too bad for the Red Sox fans, I guess they'll have to drown their sorrows in the two World Series titles in the past five years, the historic ballpark, the pre-punched tickets to the playoffs next year yadda yadda yadda. The other topic, however, I'm more than willing to dive into.

The Twins, you won't be surprised to hear me say, were awful. Terrible. Their inclusion in the post season was nothing more than a tragedy. While some trot them out as baseball's be all and end all, one cannot get away from the fact that they suck. Well they don't suck, but they aren't good.

I could go on and on about their easy schedule and their adjusted records and blah blah, but you've heard that a million times before. How about a different approach to define the cosmic screw job that is the Toronto Blue Jays: let's use WAR.

I've used WAR and its component stats all year and with good reason: it is by far the most comprehensive way to evaluate the talent on the field. Hopefully, it all comes out in the wash. Why not use it on a team-wide scale (with a hat tip to U.S.S Mariner) for the Jays?

Screw You Pythagoras, you tease-ass trickThe Jays won 75 games, this you know. The Jays were "expected" to win between 82 and 85 games, depending on you calculated it using their runs scored and the strength of their opponents. Does WAR support that? Would this be another stat to prove that the luck the Jays so desperately need continues to allude them?

In a word: yes. If you combine the WAR of all Jays batters and pitchers, you get a grand total of 39.1 wins above replacement. 20.9 for the pitchers, 18.2 for the hitters. We know, thanks to smart people like Tom Tango, that a team of replacement level players (good AAA guys that are freely available) would win about 46 games in 2009. Add'em together and you get 85.1 wins. Shit.

The Twins, the playoff bound role models for all to see, got 21.8 wins from their offense and 16.4 wins from their pitching. That's 38.2 WAR, making a total of 84.2 total wins and making my day completely ruined.

This type of disparity gets your GM run out of some towns yet put up on a pedestal in others. I will note two things before we proceed: the Jays figures don't tell the whole story as the team was markedly different at the end of the season compared to the beginning. That said, the late-season runs by Vernon Wells and Jose Bautista made their seasons look much better than they did in August. Vernon ended the season a hair below replacement level; all for the low low price of one zillion dollars!

The other thing I would like to note is the 2008 Toronto Blue Jays finished the season with 86 total wins. Their WAR-adjusted total? 90. 90 fucking wins! Replacement level in 2008 was slightly higher (47.4 wins) yet the Jays, on the strength of their insane pitching (26.3 WAR) amassed 42.6 WAR. That is nuts. I think we can say the 2008 Jays are among the better Blue Jays teams of all time. We can say because I just did, that doesn't make it true. (Ed Note: I think I'll actually do this another time. Just looking quickly, I see the 2006 Jays were a 93.7 win team! Eep!)

Where am I going with all this? Realignment! The only answer remaining, the one least likely to ever occur! What? How could that be? Why doesn't baseball adapt the ingenious ideal (that I first came across in the DFJ transcription of a Keith Law chat) of two big divisions with two wild cards from wherever? Surely in the name of all that is collusion the owners want to please their customers, don't they? Of course they don't.

Who do you think would oppose this move the most? The owners of the Jays, Orioles, and Rays would fight tooth and nail to avoid this. The value of 9 home dates with the Red Sox and Yankees CANNOT be overstated. You think the Jays or Rays want less of that with more weeknight dates against the Royals and a slightly increased possibility of the playoffs in return? Fuck no, they don't.

An alignment of this type would expose the fraudulent Twins and their shitty division mates, but it surely wouldn't help the Jays. Even during the aforementioned 2006 season, the Jays coulda/shoulda won 93.7 games, the damn Twins WAR'd 93.4. So there'd the Jays would be again, hoping against hope to string some lucky wins together with a chance at grabbing the remaining non-Red Socked wildcard spot. Sigh.

As for fixing the everpresent disparity between the Jays actual win total and their projected one? Just hit like crazy in the clutch like the Twins! Who cares how unsustainable it is or how inaccurate it is of the team, just follow their lead! Fill your team with one superduper start, two decent power bats and dozens of shitty singles hitters! Just hit single after single because your luck will never ru...oh, right.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Importance of Giving Thanks

Give thanks any way you can. Sometimes you visit a soup kitchen, sometimes you sponsor Roy Halladay's Pitch F/X entries on Brooks Baseball.Net. Nerds need love too. Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Red Flag Fridays!

While the playoffs heat up for some lucky fans and the covetous eyes of the also-rans dart across the free agent lists, I figured it attempt to throw some cold water on some of the scarier whispers I've heard.

Jeff Blair took time away from glaring at babies and building a shrine to Saint Joe Strummer to announce his presidency of the Orlando Cabrera fan club. Frighteningly enough, Blair points to new Jays GM A.A. Milne as the driving force behind the rumored "sign and trade" that may have been in the works this past winter. While getting around the Type A draft pick sacrifice would be a deft bit of business, I'll reiterate what I said in March: fuck no to O Cab. As much as I enjoy aging me-first malcontents that don't get on base, I think I'll pass. You can talk about winners all you want, but showing up the umpire in a one-game playoff because you don't like a strike one call is horseshit. Doubly so when you KNOW he won't throw you out because of the situation.

Remember when I said "fuck no" to Jason Bay last month? Well the much-smarter people at U.S.S. Mariner chimed in and offered their own "fuck no" to the local boy that is Canadian lives in the area and hits for power.

Some of the reasons he doesn't work in Seattle don't apply here (his bad defense won't be made to look worse as in gigantic Safeco Field) but the rest applies. Age. Decline Phase. Old Player Skills. Too much money for too many years. Enough.

Image courtesy of Flikr user /sizemore/. Topical!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Two Great Tastes that Taste Great Together

For the sake of a little levity and because I'm obsessed; how about some Fun with Google Street View!

View Larger Map

Good family fun at ye olde ballyard!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Appease and Thank You

Oh right. The Jays fired J.P. this weekend. How could I forget. Was it the right move? It was certainly inevitable, so what difference does it make arguing? I do, however, take umbrage with the way it was handled and what it means for the future of this team.

I've hardly been shy with my feelings on Paul Beeston. Most Jays writers seem to love him, and that I get. All signs point to him treating them like actual human beings and his schlubby, shambolic everyman persona makes him relatable and likely sympathetic. Despite my harsh words as the firing was announced I doubt I'd take a hard stance in a face to face setting. If he were here right now I'm sure he'd politely decline my mother's offer of Bagel Bits while praising her for giving her son the opportunity to bang away at her computer with his cloven hooves. My mother and I would blush and make excuses and allowances without recognizing the serious pull Beeston has in corner offices all over North America.

That said, two things appear to colour every decision Beeton's made and they do nothing to endear him to me.
  1. I get the distinct impression Paul Beeston doesn't think too highly of the baseball fans in this city.
  2. I also get the distinct impression Paul Beeston doesn't think there is any chance of building a winner in Toronto.

These two things are clearly related but one is worse than the other. I get the sense Beeston realized building a winner in Toronto was impossible on or around Day One of his second stint in Toronto. Everything he's done sinks of him delivering a very specific message to the suits at Rogers: "we can't win but I can certainly make you money."

The events of this weekend only solidify this in my mind. People coming down on the sentimental manager? Protect his unsullied reputation and fire the wildly unpopular GM two days before the season ends! That quickly quashed any discussion of Cito's future, didn't it?

And what forward-thinking young man will you hire to take over as GM? I'm sure this new man provides the fresh vision and unique outlook required to steer his moribund franchise in the right direction, right? Oh, it's a long-serving lieutenant of the old guy! Why inject new blood or start fresh when you can milk the "good Canadian boy finally reaches the apex through hard work and good Canadian perserverance" story as the season winds down.

Each and every move a cynical play at sentimentality, calculated & designed to distract the fanbase from the futility of their pursuit without turning them off completely. Goodwill money looks the same as hope money but it comes much cheaper. Cut the payroll, lay off staff, all the while counting on our worst Canadian instincts of flag-waving and heritage stroking.

It isn't that I believe Alex Anthopolous will do a poor job or is undeserving of his promotion. But are to believe he is some front office savant, held down under J.P.'s oppressive thumb all this time? Once HE calls the shots, things will be different? Somehow I doubt it. It's taken Beeston nearly one full year to find a replacement president, yet he spent all of 0 minutes scouring the world for his next GM? Horseshit.

This isn't the time nor the situation for more of the same. They need to think completely outside the box because not matter how much Rogers is willing to spend, the box will always be too small. So here is my idea:

Another retread GM with mixed results in another market won't do. Best case scenario with an experienced baseball hand; he/she (somehow) improves on JP's draft record, fixes the injury woes and the team suddenly (magically?) improves their situational hitting. Why not just take the $120 million bucks and put it down on 17 at Rama?

Like any smart mid-sized corporation, the Jays need to eschew the MBAbots that swept through front offices over the last decade. Like the wise companies, they need a fresh outlook and unique skillsets. Hire an MFA with a design background and a Computer Science/analytical type. Lock them both in a room with Tom Tango and don't let anybody out until they've changed the world.

They need to fire from completely new angles because the Yankees and Rays defenses are too strong. Innovate or wither on the vine. Do something. Just don't sell the same shitty cake made by the same short-order cook. Just do something I won't expect.

Sunday, October 4, 2009


Why oh why Brandon League, why did you have to leave such a bitter taste in my mouth for the next 5 months? Not because you cost the Jays a game that meant less than nothing, but because you exhausted the goodwill I spent ALL SEASON building up for you. Nobody else gives a good god damn about you Brandon League, but I've convinced myself and at least one of my dozen readers that you are the second coming! You didn't have a superduper year, but you made The Step which precedes The Leap you are going to make next year as you head into free agency!

Now Brandon, they call it "Fielding Indepedent Pitching" for a reason, it's based on the components rates and averages you produce that help create outs. Low walks? Yup, you got it. Ground balls? Yup, you generate them. Strike outs? You piled up this year. Home runs? You manage to only give them up at the exact worst moment! Basically, this evaluative stat gives you the benefit of the doubt, working under the assumption that the guys behind you are boobs. What this stat can't do for you, Brandon, is account for your own errors. Nor can it TEACH YOU TO THROW THE BALL TO FIRST BASE LIKE A MAN. Sigh.

Friday, October 2, 2009

I Can't Believe It's Not Butter

Managing this team from this day forward. Clearly a wise tactician and man who has the support of the players, there is no reason for the Citocharade to continue one minute longer. I'm referring, of course, to the Rosenweasel report over mutiny in the Jays clubhouse. Wilner supported the sentiment on-air &mdash if not the strong tone &mdash stating numerous uniformed players approached him over the last week to express their disapproval. For me, this uprising stems from one thing and one thing only: Millar.

Players are no different than you or I, they are generally self-interested only. In a vocation where one man has the power to impact your year-to-year earnings so dramatically, the players see Randy Ruiz perform at high level only to receive more pine time in exchange. They see their boss flagrantly playing favorites and they hate it. They (presumably) see their increasingly negative and bitter manager shit down the throat of a 21 year old kid, a player that manager appears to resent penciling into the lineup everyday due to an order from on high. They see a manager with zero faith in two mid twenties outfielders, to the point that he'd rather put a 37 year old player at third base for the first time in seven years.

They see that shit and they get fed up. Quickly. Just as we in the peanut gallery have been fed up since, well, forever. That they go crawling to the Rosenelf is a shame, but it had to come out some time.

So vote for Butter! He made Marco Scutaro millions of dollars and turned guys Johnny Mac into a local legend. He survived one regime change, no reason he can't stick around through the next one.

Roy Halladay - Self Saboteur

Roy Halladay single handedly killed his trade value this week.

After his perfunctory plunking of The Only Swinging Dick in the Sox lineup Wednesday night, Roy Halladay elevated his status among Blue Jays fans from "legend" to "demigod." I don't think I am overstating it when I say the love-in has reached "epic swoonfest." Combine his three hit mastery of the flaccid minor league bats (and Rocco, who went 1-3), Halladay is now, from a consumer confidence standpoint, utterly untradeable. The streets will run run red with front office blood if the living embodiment of all that is good and mighty and just in the world is shipped out for a crateful of arms.

By the by, as my man Rob Iracane pointed out today as we addressed the Walkoff Walk urinals, we shouldn't discount Halladay's effortless dismissal of the Lesser Sox while we all heap copious praise on Zack Grienke. I'm still firmly in the Zack for Cy camp, but have you SEEN the Twins??? I liveblogged last night's game and let me tell you, they are fucking terrible. Awful. They miss Morneau like Jeter misses his 2006 MVP trophy. That they played playoff baseball with the Tigers this week is a travesty. A travesty! Good thing The Zombie will set it all right by carving up the shitty Twins lineup like Millar at a low rent steakhouse.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Lindependence Day!

Let me make two quick apologies: firstly to you the dear reader for subjecting you to such a cheesy and predictable title and submitting this post a day late. I know one day is forever in internet time but I hope you'll bare with me. And secondly to Adam Lind, whom I've shamefully ignored this season.

There is no good excuse for the lack of credit given to Adam Lind, both here and the greater Blue Jays universe. I haven't used the "Adam Lind" tag since APRIL, for crying out loud. During the offseason Lind was a forgotten man after a quiet ending to 2008 and the emergence of Travis Snider, who took up all the hope space in my thoughthole.

Last year, as Lind wiled away in Syracuse, we at Ghostrunner on First dubbed him the OPS EXPRESS. We waited with baited breath for him to arrive on the scene and save the day. And that he did, until he slumped through the second half. We weren't alone in expressing some skepticism over Lind's credentials.

The numbers in 2009 speak for themselves, his .932 OPS and .394 wOBA are impressive in ways I'm not quiet comfortable with. That he's gone unmentioned around here says a lot about the way I think about baseball and players and I don't think I'm alone. We take the here and now for granted while coveting the youth and future, hoping they're the answer to all our prayers. Adam Lind as been that and MORE, a fuck load more. He exceeded any and all projections in 2009 while continuing to provide hope for the future.

Where does that hope come from? This. Adam Lind's Hit Tracker profile. Lind uses all fields with power. He takes what you throw him and mashes it at will. Let's take a look at the pitches he saw Tuesday and what he did with them.

In the first inning he waits on a curveball and drives it to deep center. Next he rides a 94 mph fastball out to center again. Finally he spins on a slider inside, yanking it down the line for cheapy. (Video of all three here.) Pure hitting mastery. What a pro. If I had code-crunching skills I'd do a graph like those found at the bottom of this amazing post, but I have no such R skills and the only guy who could probably help me is having computer meltdown challenges. So my breathless praise will have to do.

Update: I'm asleep at wheel it would seem. Dave Allen created the very graph I longed for today at Fangraphs. Check it out here. Plate coverage like a motherfucker.

Displays like this will keep my faith in Adam Lind. He won't hit 35+ every year but he is a true master at the plate. Sure, he runs like a 8 year at recess and plays the field like a drunk on a unicycle, but he can hit like no other. Well some others, but nobody we've seen around here since Carlos Delgado. The power to all fields, the quick bat. Yum. I promise I won't overlook you ever again Mr. Lind.

Thanks to the usual victims of my theft Daylife, Brooks Baseball, Fangraphs, and Hit Tracker Online