Blue Jays mailbag: Baseball moves to clean its own house with drug announcement
Baseball has clearly taken the next step towards cleaning up its own house. It’s only the timing of Thursday’s announcement that could be questioned by the cynics.
Major League Baseball and the MLBPA in 2013 will jointly institute the most comprehensive program in pro sports in blood-testing for human growth hormone. Was it a coincidence that the commissioner Bud Selig and the union chief Michael Weiner emerged the day after the Hall of Fame firestorm, nobody voted in from the first steroid era ballot, to make the announcement that there will be a program with built-in penalties in time for this season.
Sure, the timing seems an attempt to head off controversy and re-direct public attention. It seems a little slick, but that should not be the point. If that’s the biggest complaint, then baseball is a winner. The fact is that the announcement was made following the first day of an ownership meeting in Arizona that had long been scheduled.
Baseball, for years, has been chided by its critics for the legitimate perception of keeping its drug program seemingly one step behind the technology of the cheaters. Baseball was always playing catch-up. Critics were forever quoting officials from the World Anti-Doping Agency in Montreal and comparing baseball’s measures to the Olympics. But in this Thursday announcement, with a season of experimental blood-testing under its belt as a guideline of how it might work, even WADA is impressed with the new teeth that baseball now has when it comes to HGH testing.
Selig has long promised this day since being slapped down by the U.S. Congress on Capitol Hill on March 17, 2005. It was important that he has joined hands with the union to try and keep government off its back. For years the union objected to the idea of mandatory testing, well, just because it was something ownership wanted and it could be used as a bargaining chip. But when the government became involved, when the Mitchell Report suggested the extent of the abuse, when the majority of clean MLB players told the union that they wanted testing, the wheels were set in motion.
Baseball quietly threw millions of dollars into HGH blood research at a prominent West Coast university to find a foolproof blood-testing method. If baseball and the union had jumped in back in 2005 with existing growth hormone testing, that was not close to 100 per cent, the disputed results would only have served to muddy the waters and stain the game’s integrity further. Now more accurate testing is available and MLB and the union are in agreement. In addition, there will be at WADA headquarters in Montreal a running history of players and their testosterone history. Don’t look for any more 70-home run seasons, but enjoy the game as it was meant to be played.
On to the mailbag.
Q. Hi Richard,
Back when all the Dickey trade rumours were flying around, I was wondering about what the Winter Tour meant from a player personnel standpoint. A couple of players that came up in trade rumours (Anthony Gose, J.P. Arencibia) are taking part in the Winter Tour and I was curious if a player being included in the Winter Tour meant that they were “safe” from a trade standpoint. I know it’s a bit far fetched — why would AA turn down a trade just because the player had agreed to do some publicity? — but is there some link between the Winter Tour and a player’s value to the club???
Mike W, Toronto
A. The winter tour and a particular player’s participation in no way will protect him from imminent trade, if it’s a solid baseball move and best for the team. Gose, for example, made an impact with fans in his brief time with the Jays and is simply an outgoing young man and an exciting talent. Last off-season he travelled to play in Venezuela after the Arizona Fall League and was unavailable for winter tour duty. This year he was available so he volunteered. As for Arencibia, an honurary Canadian, he travelled on a road trip on his own to Edmonton earlier in the winter and loves participating in any team-building projects the Jays throw at him. He’s Captain Canada and a huge hockey fan, which, of course does not hurt his value to the Jays, but the fact, also, is the Mets insisted on Travis d’Arnaud in the trade for R.A. Dickey while the Jays did not in any way want to move Gose in the same deal.
Q. Am I the only one not happy with the NHL coming back? I am very concerned the playoffs will cut into my Blue Jays coverage this spring. Anyways Mr. Griffin, enjoy your articles as always.
My question is while everyone is talking about the Blue Jays starting rotation and rightfully so, am I a fool to think the offence is going to be that much better as well. Reyes and even a non-juiced Cabrera seem to huge upgrades over Escobar and Snider/Thames/Davis . . . Do you think we have a World Series calibre offence . . .
Chris McMillan, Marsville
A. All things being equal, the offence is as solid as it has been since the World Series years 1992-93. The concerns are with Jose Bautista’s injured wrist, if Edwin Encarnacion can continue his steady upward trending as a consistent major-league power hitter, whether Melky Cabrera off the juice is still a solid line-drive hitter, if Jose Reyes going from the NL to the AL will struggle early like so many before him changing leagues, whether Arencibia can harness that line-drive stroke to right and right-centre that makes him more than a one-dimensional hitter, whether Maicer Izturis or Emilio Bonifacio can handle second base with decent pop at the plate and whether Brett Lawrie and Colby Rasmus can take the next step towards being consistent offensive threats. Then there’s always the DH.
Q. Hi Richard,
Enjoyed the article on R.A. Dickey and totally agree he is going to be fun to watch and to listen to. At the other end of the rotation, given Romero’s struggles is he definitely going to take the fifth spot? For sure J.A. Happ isn’t a future Cy Young candidate but he certainly looked better than Ricky in the home stretch.??
Frank Taker, Prescott
A. Romero is solid in the rotation. He has guaranteed money in a long-term deal with the Jays that ensures he will get a full shot at re-establishing himself in the rotation. There are a variety of factors that are encouraging for Ricky with regard to being able to bounce back. He has been surgically repaired from the nagging physical issues of last season, including both knees. He has Mark Buehrle, a fellow lefty who throws strikes and works quickly with confidence to lean on, plus Dickey, a man who has gone through much adversity of his own and come out the other side. Romero doesn’t need to lead.
The Happ issue will be one to pay attention to at spring training. He did show in his brief time with the Jays last year that he is capable and can be a starter in the AL. If he has the patience to stay with the Jays at the start of the year and does not ask for a trade from GM Alex Anthopoulos, then he will surely get his opportunities to start due to injuries, as well as being a left-hander out of the pen.
After reading your Ryan Freel column, I am wondering if you have re-considered your opinion on home plate collisions. It seems to me that allowing players to launch themselves at full speed into catchers at home plate is a recipe for disaster. Isn’t it time to change the rules so that only a regular slide is permitted on a play at home (or any other base, for that matter)??
On an unrelated matter, now that Jays fans are talking World Series again, we need to establish the list of the most significant hits in Jays history: So, isn’t Ed Sprague’s Game 2 homer against the Braves in 1992 more significant than Roberto Alomar’s Game 4 homer against Dennis Eckersley? Sprague’s homer comes in the 9th inning, with the Jays down 1 in the game, down 1 in the series, with one out while pinch-hitting on the road against Jeff Reardon in only his third AB of that post season.
Alan G, Toronto
A. I have not changed my mind with regard to regulating home plate collisions. You make it sound like players launching themselves into catchers is a regular occurrence. The thing about collisions at the plate is that because of the fact that catchers are protected by gear and the fact that home plate is so important, catchers are encouraged to block the plate and hold the baseline even before the ball gets to them. Umpires allow it because it’s the way it’s always been. If you now insist that a player must slide at all times and if the baseline is being effectively blocked, then you are saying that he slides into the shinpads, the ball arrives and he is tagged out. If a catcher is blocking your path to the plate you must either go around him or through him. The catcher is expecting contact, although sometimes it’s an imperfect storm of timing with ball and runner arriving at exactly the same time. Most times, it’s not like a defenceless football receiver over the middle. Besides, most base runners will try to find a way around the catcher because of the very real possibility of injury to the unpadded player, the runner.
The bottom line is that the collision at the plate is a rarity and though I agree that the Buster Posey collision with a blow to the head and an awkward twisting of the lower body was unfortunate and a dirty play, that is the exception rather than the rule. Nothing fires up a team more than an inning-ending out at the plate with the catcher bowled over, hanging into the ball, jumping to his feet, holding up the ball and rolling it out to the mound. That’s baseball. Both my sons are catchers and have been hurt in collisions at the plate with me as manager. It’s baseball.
Q. Hi Richard,?
Why is the acronym for the Baseball Writers’ Association of America written as BBWAA? I’m pretty sure “baseball” is one word. The second ‘B’ in ‘BBWAA’ is a bit dumb, no?
S. Postma, Waterdown
A. The BBWAA is an association that was formed in 1908. That was at a time when, even though the underrated Alexander Cartwright invented it half a century earlier and laid out the official rules, the word baseball was written in two words “base ball.” There are enough other reasons to call the BBWAA “dumb” The extra B is not one of them.
How serious are the consequences if Casey Janssen and Sergio Santos don’t return to top form? Is there an internal reliever who you project could step up to be a reliable closer? Signing a player like Rafael Soriano would make the Santos deal seem misguided, but I think AA’s taking a very big risk.
Chris McKee, Toronto?
A. There is no reason to believe that Janssen will not be able to continue his bulldog aggressiveness in the ninth inning, despite his minor surgical procedure in the off-season. As for Santos, this is a guy who when healthy, is a mid-to-high 90s fastball with a devastating slider and a developing change. The Santos question is whether he can get back to top form at any point this year after missing most of last season, his first with the Jays. In the meantime, Janssen is clearly the man in the ninth inning. The reports on Santos are optimistic but we’ll see how it goes as spring training unfolds.
The next Jays’ pitcher in line to be a closer if something happens to Casey would be Steve Delabar. The right-hander with the permanent steel plate surgically implanted in his elbow, was acquired from the M’s at the deadline. When he came over, Delabar cut down his repertoire that made him much more effective, less prone to the home-run ball that plagued him. He throws 96 mph with a devastating splitter that is his strikeout pitch. He misses a lot of bats and is extremely valuable as the guy called upon with runners in scoring position and less than two outs at a key moment in late innings.
Q. Hello Mr. Griffin,
I just finished reading that know one go inducted into the Hall of Fame this year, and while the backlash for Barry Bonds et al., was expected, what really irked me is that there was FIVE blank ballots. Do you agree with handing in a blank ballot? I think when the voters themselves try to make a statement, they tend to make a mockery of the process as a whole. If you don’t want to vote, then get off the list of voters and let someone else have a chance. Is this kind of behaviour accepted behind the scenes? Also, why does it matter if a guy was a so-called jerk to the media, what does that have to do with anything? Barry Bonds not getting in on the first ballot is a joke, and dare I say, race motivated. I see Clemens got more votes and he was actually caught doing something wrong, but alas, he is white. Do you think writers should even be the one’s who vote? Seems to me like that is a giant conflict of interest that I’m sure, no writer will ever bring up.
Shawn Linton, Bowmanville, Ont.
A. This is perhaps the most rambling, nonsensical letter to the Mailbag in a long time. The guidelines for voters is that you can fill out your ballot with from zero to 10 names. Yes, those blank-ballot voters were trying to make a statement by handing in a blank ballot, but to say that it irked you is silly. I don’t agree with them, but I respect their right to make that decision. How is it a mockery of the whole process for someone to suggest that they believe nobody should go in this year? It is a process. The list of qualified voters is in the rules. Ten years in the BBWAA. There is no handing off your vote, since everyone eligible already has a vote.
Your letter is also the first time I have seen anyone suggest that Bonds being a jerk to the media had anything to do with the result of not getting in. Eddie Murray was as bad and as surly at dealing with media, when he was playing, as anyone in the game and he was a first-ballot Hall of Famer. And then, no, you dare not say the Bonds rejection was race- motivated. It’s almost as if your letter is a hodge-podge of cliches you have heard from other sources over the years. Grow up.
Q. Hi Richard,
Not to beat the trades in the offseason to death, but I still can’t believe that they occurred and at times I wake up thinking, “wait, am I in Toronto where this type of thing NEVER happens?”
My question is this. It seems that the Jays gave up a lot more talent to get one player (Dickey), than they did to get three stars from the Marlins. Is this mainly because the Marlins were desperate to offload all the contracts, while the Mets knew they had a solid market from where to draw from? Thanks,
Zake Ameen, Milton
A. I disagree. I think the list of prospects sent over in the Marlins trade is quite impressive. Outfielder Jake Marisnick and lefty Justin Nicolino to the Marlins compare well to Travis d’Arnaud and Noah Syndergaard that went to the Mets for Dickey. In addition, the Jays to Miami surrendered shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria, right-hander Henderson Alvarez and righty Anthony DeSclafini. I think the most impressive aspect of the deal for Dickey, at least for 2013, is that they added a reigning Cy Young winner without increasing payroll thanks to the presence in the deal of John Buck and his $6 million.
Q. Do you know which hotels the Blue Jays stay at during spring training???
Larry Steed, Toronto
A. In this day and age, there is no real major-league hotel anymore, other than for some Jays’ support staff and front-office short-term visitors. Many Jays players own homes in the Dunedin-Clearwater area, while most others rent condos for the seven weeks of spring training. The minor-leaguers have a team hotel because they make far less money and get shuttled back and forth to the Mattick Training Centre, but if you’re looking for a central location where major-leaguers congregate, it’s the stadium.
What’s the word on Dustin McGowan? He fell out of the news early last season and updates were slim. Does he stand a chance of pitching in any capacity with the Jays next year or beyond???
Cory Abraham, Elliott Lake, Ont.
Q. Hi Richard,?
I’ve been a frequent reader of your mailbags in the Star but never gotten up and written in — maybe all the offseason excitement is getting to me! One of your letter writers asked if R.A. Dickey would be willing to spread the mysterious wisdom of the knuckleball and you replied that it was impractical and highly unlikely because players, in general, would not want to disappear for the 2-3 years it takes to shift gears and become competent at throwing it. Well, the Jays seem to have a player whose career has (involuntarily) done just that: Dustin McGowan. Seeing as remaining a power pitcher keeps not working out for him, and the Jays keep investing in his potential return, is it possible that he might take advantage of the necessary rehab process — and the presence of an established expert — to reinvent himself with a pitch that would put less strain on his body and hopefully result in fewer and less severe injuries down the road???
Thanks for your time and keep up the great work!???
Adam Schneider, Oakville?
A. There is good news and bad news for those that are admirers of Dustin McGowan and his bulldog tenacity at trying to get back to the major leagues — which includes most Jays fans. The good news is that Dustin is signed to a guaranteed contract, two more years, for $3.5 million that was offered by Anthopoulos at the end of spring training last year, just before his bout with plantar fasciitis that led to further shoulder problems. That financial security will allow him to rehab at a safe pace rather than force anything physically and perhaps hurt himself by going too fast. The bad news is that McGowan is still in the very early stages of pitching again, if ever. He’s still a flat ground type of guy, at best.
The suggestion of McGowan dabbling in the knuckleball is not a bad one. As reader Schneider points out, he’s already been out of the spotlight for two years and as Dickey lists the mental necessities of overcoming the fear of having a spinning knuckler tonged, Dustin has already undergone his fair share of “fear, apprehension and anxiety,” the three emotional starters of any aspiring knuckleballer.
The Jays will stay with McGowan as long as he stays with himself. That’s why the guaranteed contract is so important. Since he is being paid through 2014, he can stay with the program and doesn’t have to exaggerate his progress to the front office. The thing about suggesting McGowan try the knuckleball, the throwing motion for pitchers is the same and as long as Dustin feels discomfort in the act of throwing itself, whether it’s fastball or knuckler, it makes no difference. It hurts. But it’s a good thought.
Q. I understand your feelings about not going with a grass field this year, but what about having a regular dirt infield instead of having sand at home/first/second/third bases? Do you know if the players prefer one over the other?
JJ Redington, Winooski, VT
A. I’m a huge fan of the grass field as soon as possible. It’s Jays’ president Paul Beeston that comes up with the bafflegab and poppycock about the football configuration and the bleachers on rails and the irrigation and all that other stuff. Players prefer grass and dirt. Plus it’s more aesthetically pleasing.
Q. Hi Richard:?
I don’t understand why the Jays let Jason Frasor go, why, in his words, they “closed the door on him.” He’s our career appearances guy, he’s been super reliable, and has a deceptively strong arm, maybe only a km or two shy of the kind of power arms AA’s been assembling in the bullpen. If nothing else, he strikes me as the kind of guy we’d like to have setting up the fireballers. Plus he was no doubt happy to stay in TO; he wasn’t making us sit around and wait or asking for more money like good-old Oliver. Can you help me to understand this one???
Matthew McKean, Ottawa
A. I love Jason Frasor, but I can see the Jays going in another direction. Frasor had an amazing run with the city and the team. He showed up as a kid in 2004 and married a Toronto girl and got himself a Canadian dog and all those franchise relief records. He leaves part of his heart and soul in this town. In ’04 he could hit 94 mph consistently for 30 pitches. In ’12 he was a consistent 93 mph which is pretty damned good after all those appearances, all those pitches. But very few middle relievers ever last that long with the same team. His has been an amazing Jays career. I do believe that he is better off elsewhere at this stage of his career, because the Jays look like they were setting him up for a sixth-inning role at best and he can make a more significant contribution elsewhere.
Thank you for sharing your insight with all of us. It is appreciated. What would you think of Brandon Morrow being the next Jays closer? My reasoning is I think he may be a little too injury prone to be a starter. He only pitched 21 games last year, has only topped 30 games once, hasn’t really come close to 200 innings in a season yet and while he’s great when he’s out there, it’s frustrating when you think of that talent sitting on the bench for 2.5 months. But with his outstanding stuff he would be great at closing. Seattle tried him in relief with mixed results, but I think he would be more successful this time as he has had a lot more innings to work out his pitches.
Norm B, Cambridge
A. The thing about making Morrow the closer is that Anthopoulos is a man of his word and when Morrow joined the Jays, he told him that his role would be as a starter, that there was no bullpen in his future. Morrow would have to be a part of that decision and he is quite comfortable and happy to be in the Jays’ rotation. Besides, the Jays gave him a contract last season that guarantees him $17 million over the next two years, plus a $10 million option for 2015. That’s starter money for the Jays. Morrow at 28 has not proven that he cannot stay healthy. Recall the Jays shut him down his first starter season.
Q. Hey Griff,?
Two minor complaints about the Jays/Rogers. First, I was surprised to learn the Jays ticket office closed early for the holidays (closed Friday Dec. 21 through Jan 1). I guess they figured no one was gonna buy last minute gift of tickets this year?!?!? I understand closing through New Years Day but not on the 21st — I wanted to talk to someone and buy tickets that day!
Second, I’d love to rent the documentary “Knuckleball” . . . but guess which cable provider does not have that available currently via On-Demand? Any other potential off-field screw-ups on the horizon this year for the Jays/Rogers?
Bryan T, Waterloo, ON
A. I will make sure that the right people at the Blue Jays read this letter. But if those are the top complaints that we have about Jays’ ownership then it stands to be a pretty good year.
Q. Hey Richard,
Like many Blue Jays fans, I am already looking ahead to Spring Training, and I follow the training camp news, scores and stories from the first day that pitchers and catchers report. But I have never understood why most (if not all) of these games are not televised. Especially considering the alternate programming that is offered during these Spring Training games. It baffles me that Sportsnet (as an example) would show darts, spelling bees, or log cutting when Jays baseball is in demand and is available, even if it is just exhibition. As someone in the media, can you explain why the games aren’t televised? Will someone in the Jays organization PLEASE make this happen?
Emma Kelly, Waterloo, Ont.
A. I can tell you better why not if I go back to my Expos days as a PR guy when I thought the same thing about televising more Expos games and wanted to explore, “Why not?” I already had a satellite truck that I had rented for the spring from WCAX Channel 3 in Burlington, so that was step one, but even with the basic 3-4 camera shoot, satellite time, freelance production crew, on-air talent and other expenses, bare-bones production, which people would have appreciated back home, was $40,000 per game. Now that was 21 years ago. For the Jays, they would have to make their money back from advertising, which at that time of the day is barely enough revenue to support darts, poker, lumberjacks and women’s pool. I agree the Jays should make sure every weekend and night game is televised at spring training. Hell, Buck Martinez is there every day, anyway, cutting in front of me to ask the manager questions that he will only use when the season starts. What a pain he is. Make him work.
Q. Hi Richard,
I have a question regarding David Cooper. It appears to me that he has become a forgotten piece of the current Blue Jays make up. Prior to his season-ending injury he was beginning to really develop into a reliable contact hitter. I like his approach at the plate. He can also hit left-handed pitching like Adam Lind used to three years ago. You are right when you said that Lind is not a “stiff.” He is not, but he will never, ever be the hitter he was a few years ago. I wish he would be, but I just don’t see it happening for him, at least not in Toronto. I realize that Cooper will not be a 30 HR guy, but he can hit .300, I believe, and be a very productive hitter. Why do you think the Jays brass have seemingly little faith in his potential? John Olerud didn’t hit a ton of home runs either. I certainly don’t want to compare the two, but I do see some similarities.?
Scott Hudson, Brampton
A. Cooper and Lind do a lot of the same things, so obviously there is not room for both men on the same 25-man roster. I believe that if another team approached Anthopoulos for either player, he would be available. I was shocked in the winter of 2011-12 to see the number of young first base prospects that were traded around baseball with seemingly little interest in Cooper. He can hit, but on a team vying for a championship right now, I would rather have Lind.
Q. Hey Griff,
??Love the commitment to your blog. Don’t always agree with you but still its great to have coverage. Question that has bothered me over the past couple of years. Why do the Blue Jays continue to have the names of their players on the back of their home jerseys? I love the look of the Sox, Yankees & Giants home jerseys. I don’t buy into the BS that the name on the back isn’t bigger than the name on the front or whatever reason for it. So I know this won’t benefit the on-field product, does it have to do with sales at the Jays branded stores? I would be willing to bet that the home whites sell worse than the blue jerseys. When at the Rogers Centre shouldn’t we know who plays for us? Maybe we could invest the savings in say, um I dunno ,grass at the Centre, or a shuttle bus for the Argos to play somewhere else? I kid, I kid (not really).
Johan Vincent, Burlington, Ont.
A. I do believe that marketing the jerseys is important. This year, I suspect that the Jays may become Top 3 in MLB in terms of gear sold. Much of that will be the new players and names on the jerseys is important. I don’t think that “names on the front more important than names on the back” rah-rah argument has anything to do with it. I also agree with you that the blues sell better than the whites and that fans at the RC should know their own players. Again, if this is the biggest problem, that’s good.
I know the idea of ‘protection’ has come into disrepute for some reason — but isn’t it at least plausible that part of the reason for Rasmus’s late season decline the fact that Bautista was no longer batting directly behind him?
Tony Baer, Madison
A. The reason that Rasmus’s stats declined and became inconsistent in the second half is that, in the very same three-game series that Bautista damaged his tendon sheath at Yankee Stadium, the Yankees discovered that by pitching the centre fielder inside and above his hands they could get him out. That tied him up and in the same story of finding a weakness that frustrated his previous manager Tony LaRussa, he was unable to make the proper adjustments. Other teams have advance scouts and dissect video and John Farrell quickly acknowledged as much, in terms of the slumping Rasmus.
Rasmus proved in that time that he is not a No. 2 hitter in a winning lineup. He can hit 6-7-8 and be more effective. Rasmus proved that he liked to stand in the front of the box, with his toes on the chalk next to the plate and crush balls off the facing of the upper deck. Unfortunately that Colby power ranges from 20 feet fair to 50 feet foul. He needs to make his own adjustments to pitching adjustments to him more than he needs Joey Bats protecting him.
With the rumours that (Miami’s Giancarlo) Stanton is available, why wouldn’t the Jays be interested? He would fit the mould of competeting the next 3-5 years, 1st base and DH with Stanton/Bautista in RF, and whoever isn’t in RF at 1st, and DH with EE, and having the ability to rotate all 3 through positions. Would a deal built around Gose or Rasmus, Sanchez and throwing in Lind to lower salary have a chance to get it done? If the Jays are looking at the next 3-5 years wouldn’t they want Stanton batting 4th behind Bautista and in front of EE? As always, a pleasure reading the mail bag. GO JAYS GO!
Scott Cochrane, Niagara-on-the-Lake
A. He’s not available. We’re getting greedy, aren’t we.
Q. I just read that Aaron Laffey signed with the Mets. Why would the Blue Jays let this youngster get away? He was dynamite on left-handed hitters.?
David White, Perth Road Village
A. He’s not a kid. He’ll be 28 on April 15. We’re getting greedy aren’t we. He wants to be a starter.
Q. Hello Richard and Happy Holidays.??
Do you think the Jays will take a look at Jim Thome for that final bench spot? Wouldn’t he be great as a late inning pinch hitter/spot DH and additional clubhouse presence? Long considered one of the nicest and most professional guys in all of baseball, wouldn’t this be an ideal situation for both parties?
Andrew Gould, Toronto
A. Anthopoulos suggested on Tuesday that he wants to sign a right-handed hitter for that final spot and even though Thome is at the end of his career, just out of respect you would have to pay him more than the Jays have available since they are already far over 2013 budget.
Q. Hi Rich:?
Though it’s been a couple of years since I’ve written in, read the blog faithfully and continue to enjoy. Like many Jays fans, am excited about AA’s moves and have been reading quite a variety of blog sites.?I’ve been astounded by the attitude of the sabermetric types who, in evaluation of players, dismiss character, community involvement, traditional stats, leadership and pretty much anything else that is not an “advanced metric.” What I’d like to know is what weight do the GMs, particularly AA, put on traditional stats vs. advanced metrics vs. character/leadership components.
Sandy Webster, St. Thomas
A. That is probably the biggest thing — maybe the only thing — I dislike about the new wave statisticians. It’s how dismissive they are to anyone that has not seen the light. Sports is one area of life where everyone should be allowed to have their own opinion about greatness, whether it stems from wins, batting average, RBIs and ERA, or whether it’s proof generated from computer-generated breakdowns. New arguments and new fans and new books about baseball and its history are welcome additions to the landscape, but they need to tone down their smugness.
As for Anthopoulos and, in fact, every other 21st Century GM, the good ones combine the new stats available, the Moneyball type look for overlooked players that are bargains, with finding “character” guys in the draft and free agency. Scouts are still very important in that area. AA has said that he has an internal debate on the 25th man for the Jays in 2013. Should he sign a good hitter even though he will not get many at-bats, or a good clubhouse presence, because he will not get many at-bats. The result of who that 25th man becomes will be a fascinating look inside the GM’s head.
Q. Given that the strain on a knuckleballer’s arm is not as significant as that for other types of pitchers, would it be feasible, in addition to a Cy Young knuckleballer’s regular start, to have him pitch 1-3 innings at the start of one or two other games during the rotation? I’m sure he pitches once or twice between starts, so why not make these pitches count?
I understand that trying to hit a knuckler can mess with the timing of the hitters, even for a day or two after facing the knuckler, so having one of the Jay’s various aces step in say the 4th inning of a game after some Dickey pitches have “dis-calibrated” the nervous systems of the opposition’s batting order, could be an unorthodox recipe for success. Dickey would become the soft throwing “opener” and the regular starter’s, ideally, would throw six or so innings to finish the game.
I would set up the order so that whichever regular starter(s) would benefit most from reduced innings expectation and the contrast in styles would have his start two or three days after Dickey’s.
You would, of course need buy-in from the pitchers, but John Gibbons seems to be the kind of manager who could sell this sort of thing to his staff.?
Another option would be to throw him for 2-3 innings if one of the starter’s only goes 4-6 innings to make the jobs of the hard throwing relievers that follow easier.?
Joseph Lubin, Toronto
A. No, no, no and no.