Occasionally, we lose our train of thought, and we rely on your questions to provide us with the direction and focus necessary to pull together some entertaining blog tomfoolery. Once again, thanks for the help in bailing us out, because our addled brain had no way of conceiving of an entertaining and educational post today.
Now, onto your questions...EN GARDE!
@jonahkeri (yes, the actual guy, author of the forthcoming The Extra 2%, or at least someone with access to his Twitter account) poses the question: "Dave Stieb, best pitcher of the 80s? Discuss."
Timeframes are arbitrary things, even when they span ten full years. Some great pitchers (Tom Seaver, for instance) had their best decade of work in timespans that crossed over decades. Some got started late in the 80's (Orel Hersheiser), and some petered out by the end of the decade (Steve Carlton).
Nevertheless, if you want to be all arbitrary about things (and why wouldn't you, really?), you can start by looking at Stieb's WAR for the seasons 1980 through 1989. And you'll find that is a big, bright shiny 45.2. (45.2!!!1)
You know who put up a better WAR amongst pitchers in that timeframe? As Mel Lastman would say: Noooooooooooobody! Not "the most feared/winningest/opening day startingest pitcher of the 1980's, Jack Morris (27.9). Not Bert Blyleven (34.0, which is still an impressive number for a guy who most of his best seasons in the 70's and ABSOLUTELY belongs in the Hall of Fame). Not late starters Orel Hersheiser (32.8 for 1983-89) or Roger Clemens (32.3 for 84-89).
Hall of Famer Steve Carlton limped into his final years with a 25.6 WAR. Goose Gossage, the last pitcher inducted into the Hall, put up an 18.7 WAR for the decade, while fellow enshrinee Bruce Sutter managed a 10.8 in the 80's (which doesn't include his best season in 1979, if you want to abandon arbitrariness at this point). HoFer Dennis Eckersley, who split that decade between the starting role and the pen coughed up 23.9 WAR.
The last pitcher to be inducted into the Hall of Fame for their work as a starting pitcher in the Major Leagues? Nolan Ryan, who expressed a 30.8 WAR over the neon decade.
Our point? Using the best stat that we can think of to compare pitchers' performances for the decade, we find it hard to find anyone who touches our patron saint's incredible output. And if that's not clear enough: Dave Stieb is the Greatest Pitcher of the Eighties. (GPOTE!!!1)
Second point: For all of the High Moral Dudgeon (Bruntism!) that we hear about the steroid era, we also would note that the BBWAA seemingly has some hang up against starting pitchers, given their overwhelming aversion to voting them into the Hall of Fame. Stieb barely got any notice, while Blyleven has twisted in the wind for longer than we can remember, and Jack Morris (a flawed candidate, to be sure) remains unlikely to get to Cooperstown.
We'd suggest that the catchphrase should have been: Hacks Dig The Long Ball.
@dpriest asks: Do you think the Jays could land Joe Maddon and Carl Crawford in the off-season?
Yes. But no. But then again, I might start a torrid affair with Zooey Deschanel by next year, even if we could never eat together given her vegan tendencies and aversion to gluten. Which is to say: Let's not put too much energy into such things, mmmkay?
@GValentino enquires (or is that inquires? What does CP Style say?) How would you feel about Bautista being moved to cleanup, Wells moved down? Why do you think this hasn't happened, other than THE MANAGER s.o.p?
We would absolutely advocate moving Bautista to the cleanup spot, but really only if there was an absolutely obvious three-hole hitter. But we're not sure that they have that now. (And our concept of that is a high-contact line-drive hitter with power, like Aaron Hill in 2009.)
If you were being totally orthodox about roles, the Jays have a whole bunch of number hitters on this team that they have to squeeze into other parts of the batting order, so we're not going to give The Manager more guff than he deserves over this particular choice.
More Manager questions have gotta be in this bag somewhere, right?
@timmyd_ asks: Is keeping Butterfield in the org worth giving him a shot as manager?
Interesting question, because we were asking ourselves something similar recently. If Butterfield is only going to stay with the team in a managerial role, do you hold onto him, even if he likely won't spend the same amount of time with the on-field instruction that seems to be his strength? Or do you let him go, losing all of that knowledge and insight, as well as a guy who seemingly gets along with many of the players.
It's a tough call, though we'd still prefer to keep him with the team if at all possible. We're thinking that a demonstrated excellence as an on-field instructor may be the sort of skill set that could be passed along to the next generation of Blue Jays coaches, making him an excellent choice to help build the future of the franchise.
All this talk about managers...my Manager sense is tingling...
@FakeCitoGaston pounces! Dear Stieb: Any advice on how I should run the front office without upseting this kid Alex too much? Beest says I have full veto (First off, for those of you shocked to see that name in the blog, let us make clear that it was cut and pasted into this post. We did not type that name out, nor will we ever. That is our promise, and that is our pledge.)
Our advice to The Fake Manager is this: Be so subtle as to be indiscernible. Maybe even let AA do all of the stuff that he wants, and toss him a few bones so that he gets really comfortable making all the decisions himself. Then go out for some drinks with the Beest, play a few rounds of golf and let the little details take care of themselves. And when someone comes around asking for input on bobbleheads, you can look after that sort of thing without raising much of a fuss.
Take it easy...this front office gig is supposed to be a snap. Just don't put too much energy into. You've earned your golden parachute.
We're running short on time (left in your attention span...heyo!), so let's wrap it up with this:
@the_real_THF asks: I had a dream last night that the Jays finished the season with 88 wins. Feasible? The Jays would have to rattle off a 17-8 run to the end of the season, which is certainly not impossible. Feasible? Well, considering that Brandon Morrow won't throw another pitch in anger, and that Marcum and Cecil might be watched in the next few weeks to make certain that every body is in good working order for when it really counts (i.e. 2011), we're not sure that the 88 win mark is going to work out.
Our guess? The Jays go 13-12 down the stretch and end the season with 84 wins. Though we're perfectly amenable with anything above that.
Sorry we couldn't get to all of your questions (discussions of Constituency Offices vs. Staffers on the Hill vs. Insane Voters vs. Noble Lobbyists will have to wait for another day, @s_findlay), but many thanks to all of you who stepped up to give us something to write about today. Keep those cards and letters coming.