Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Obligation


"We also have to be responsible and try to win as many games as we can."

..... and that quote, my friends, remains the sticking point for me concerning this whole sordid (well, not "sordid", but you get the point) affair whereby Travis Snider apparently starts over in AAA.

As I've mentioned more than once on these pages, in the blogging game, if you aren't first you're last.... and this post is shaping up to be no exception. I'll probably end up parroting the theme of Griff's piece (linked above) and rip off my own comment found below Tao's post.... which is sure to be much more reasonable and thought out than this self-entitled whining. But that goes without saying.

But aaaaanyway.... how can Alex Anthopoulos state a responsibility to put the most competitive team possible on the field in one breath... but unabashedly admit Jo-Jo Reyes has a major league job simply because he's out of options? And furthermore, if we can make the leap and assume that Jo-Jo is one of the five best starting options in the organization (personally, I can't)... is that really the goal now? I mean, really? To scratch out as many wins possible, development be damned?

It can't be. I'll disagree with Griffin in stating that the Jays braintrust cannot possibly be sizing up the division and calling an audible - building off! Win now on! One look at the roster construction tells us this is most certainly not a club built to win now. All due respect, but Corey Patterson, Juan Rivera, Jose Molina, Jayson Nix, and yes, John McDonald, are not players at the stage of their career who should be leaned upon for everyday contributions on championship clubs.

And quite frankly, friends, it's that roster construction that troubles me somewhat - neither built to win now nor designed to break in future cornerstones. I mean - how many new players are learning at the major league level just exactly what it takes to win? JP Arencibia catching 3 out of every 5 games? Kyle Drabek taking his regular rotation turn? Do we really believe that David Cooper is here to stay?

Early to be sure - not yet May! - but a season scraping the .500 level with a roster largely consisting of players that we don't expect to be contributors on that next great Blue Jays team wasn't what energized this fanbase the winter past.

I'm fairly confident the tune will change in a month or six weeks time, but until then.... ugh.

Quick hitters
My last comment maligning Jo-Jo Reyes, who I'm sure is a proper and decent fellow being tarred and feathered for reasons beyond his control: does anyone believe he will be part of the five man rotation in 2012 and beyond? And if not..... what exactly are the Jays so loathe to lose by trying to slip him through waivers? A potential long relief arm? At the expense of developing someone who will?

If Vegas is such a death knell for young pitchers that the club would have Zach Stewart repeat AA to work out the last few kinks.... how does sending an emotionally shattered Brett Cecil to hitters heaven make the most sense?

Anyone else nerding out with a nightly review of MiLB boxscores for the Jays affiliates as I am? I just can't wait until the short season clubs get underway. No, you're lame. Leave me alone.

Speaking of which, Travis Snider is 3 for 3 in his Vegas "debut" as I type this. Miss you, Lunchbox.

Ripping off my own tweets now, but Jose Bautista is must-see TV. I wish there was a PVR setting for "record all JoBau plate appearances".

So Frank Francisco is eventually going to be the full-time closer, right?

And Marc Rzepczynski is already the new Scott Downs, yes? We're all good with that now? (I am.)

Middle relief is criminally underrated; innings 6 and 7 aren't sexy and those dudes get no love. But I got you, Shawn Camp and Casey Janssen.

One last note on the main post above - don't sweat me. I'm still a believer. I just like to let out some bitch every now and again. Until next week!

14 comments:

BringVottoHome said...

I agree with almost every word in this piece. I've had the same thoughts - you just wrote them down way better than I ever could.

Raymond said...

Here's where the argument breaks down, Ack: the idea that Jo-Jo Reyes is a shit pitcher, and thus AA is being hypocritical. I keep hearing that argument, the plaintive cries of "but Jo-Jo's still here, even though he sucks!", from people supposedly enamored of the advanced stats which say he's been merely rather unlucky (and walks too many lefties). He's got a K/9 and BB/9 around what Romero posted last year, a surprisingly low HR/9, and a .400 BABIP as the millstone. There's a good pitcher in there somewhere. The team stuck with Morrow early last year, when his result numbers were just as ugly - nobody complained, people were patient, and lo, we found the beast we wanted.

Snider, on the other hand, has mechanical issues. The front office believes said issues are best fixed without facing top-flight pitching and letting his teammates down in the meantime. I'm willing to buy that, personally.

Nav said...

Thanks for putting into words what we've all been thinking since Anthopoulos dropped that quote. Great post.

Parker said...

I wish there was a PVR setting for "record all JoBau plate appearances".

Yes. Every time I see him at the plate I just get that feeling I'm watching history in the making. He's obviously not going to the Hall of Fame because he broke out so late in his career, but damn is it fun watching him hit.

keith said...

Ack,

I agree with everything your have written.
- Travis does not have anything left to prove in AAA and will likely have some ridiculous batting average, OBP and OPS while hitting a ton of HR's.
- JoJo has pitched like crap and strangely enough, this is historical norm.

But here is where I differ with you. I truly do not believe that AA has changed the direction to a win now philosophy. If so he has failed miserably at 13 - 14. Contrary I see keeping a 26 year old (Same age as ricky and Brandon - so he has the oppoty to stick around for a while) JoJo in the rotation, illustrates exactly that.
Sadly this is just a case of:

1- Asset management.
2- Managing the media

Despite what we see on the field, Juan is an asset. A slow, can't hit a breaking ball asset, but an asset none the less. While Travis and Cecil are longer term and can be "controlled". We need to give Juan every possible opportunity to get going, just so that we can get the best possible return for him. AA is never going to say, "Travis's swing is completely F up and we need to play Juan so we can get a prospect for him at the trade deadline".
The positive that I took out of his comments is that "the organization does not see Travis as a 7,8,9 hitter. They do see him as a middle of the order bat and they want him to get back there.
This is a different management team. Under previous regimes, Lawrie and Thames would have been up here by now.
However while I don't think that hitting .400 with a dozen HR's over the next month will hurt. I do not think that the Jays are looking at traditional stats this time with Snider. I think as with bringing up Cooper over Lawrie and Thames, the Jays Brass will be looking for feedback over his general plate approach and strikeout to walk ratio as the indicator of lunchboxes "readiness".
If these things happen and Juan keeps hitting, you will likely see Travis back up by early June or at the latest the trade deadline. If we believe AA & Farrell, and we have no reason not too. Travis has not lost his confidence. Which is good. He just needs to make some serious mechanical changes. In order to preserve his confidence and let him make those changes away from our prying eyes, the best place is Vegas. The Jays just don't want every aspect of his swing modification publicized. All this will do is allow other teams to prep for him.
Sadly I think Cecil is a very, very different story. His quest for a few miles on his fastball has completely consumed him and his mechanics are completely screwed up.
No cause for concern yet. If Juan is traded by the deadline at the latest. Then I will join you in calling for AA to explain!

keith said...

Oops I meant to say if Juan is NOT traded by the deadline at the latest

Anonymous said...

Asking whether its a rebuild or a win-at-all-costs season simplifies what is likely a much more complex scenario. There is still an obligation to season ticket holders, fans, advertisers and even the other players on the roster to put a competitive team on the field. This is a major league ball club after all, and is likely why you have never heard Beeston or AA mention the word “rebuild”. There is a reason guys like Dotel, Rauch, Patterson, MacDonald, and the like are signed; to ensure a ball club that is competitive at the major league level. In my view, Snider may have been brought up too soon. Contrast his current game with Arencibia's. One looks like he belongs the other doesn't. I would argue that allowing Snider to flounder at this level does more harm to his confidence than good, and it should be paramount for this ball club to nurture its young; in my opinion you don't do that by running them out there ad infinitum against competition that is above their heads, especially when it appears that lessons are not being learned.

As always,
Go Jays!

The Ack said...

It's not that I enjoy ragging on Jo-Jo and I don't think he's a shit pitcher, but I don't get the obsession with keeping him up and in the rotation. Like I said, is he really part of the rotation going forward? Really? And why can't he be what Tallet always should have been - a long/swing man out of the pen (if there's room for 2).

I keep hearing about his big arm.... but I see a guy throwing 92 with no discernable wipe-out breaking ball. I guess I just don't get it.

re: Rivera - there's no way Anthopoulos can extend his wizardry by prying any sort of prospect from even the schlubbiest of GM's.

re: the Pattersons and Dotels of the world.... I agree every team needs those guys. Even under the org's stated goal of eventually having all-stars at every position, these are guys who can be useful as reserves. As reserves.

Chris from Windsor said...

Snider looked lost at the plate the last two weeks, the balls he were hitting were soft line drives and ground balls that snuck through the infield.

I still believe he can be everything the Blue Jays fan base has been told he can be. A middle of the order masher.

But there's too many variables we can't read in statistics that could be leading to his demotion. Snider's competitiveness and how intense he can get (remember the bo-jackson bat-snap a few weeks back), could make it very hard for the guy to make a fundamental swing change, while he has to play in the toughest division in baseball.

When you step in against Sabathia, Lester, Price or any of the other PHENOMENAL pitchers in our division, he needs to have his mind only on that at-bat and that pitcher, and not on what him and Dwayne Murphy have been dicking around in the cage with.

Also, this club absolutely has a responsibility to win games. The goal of the organization is to develop into a contender, John Farrell's job (though the means we may not always agree with) is to win as many ballgames as possible with what he's given. Jo-Jo is a poor example, as a counter-point to the Snider argument. There have been glimpses of a Major League level pitcher from Jo-Jo, and I'd hate to see him walk away for nothing. Snider we can get back from the minors anytime.

And if Snider was becoming a black hole in the line-up, I'd rather have him getting regular at-bats, fixing his swing and gaining confidence in AAA than continuing on his frustrating path with the Jays in the toughest division in baseball.

The Ack said...

One more comment: I never intended for Reyes to become my symbol of all that's wrong in the world of the Toronto Blue Jays. Quite clearly, he's not.

I just feel like we were led to believe that 2011 was a bridge year, a year where the next generation of great Blue Jay teams would cut their teeth in anticipation of a contending push starting 2012. And when I see a plethora of journeymen and career reserves being given everyday at-bats (or starting roles) in an attempt to win an extra 4 or 5 games this season.... it's frustrating.

But as I alluded to in the post.... today is May 1. Perhaps two months from today, Snider is back up with a consistent swing driving the ball, Lawrie is cutting his teeth at 3B while Edwin DH's, the Jo-Jo experiment has met resolution one way or the other, and Molina's role is cut back to one or two starts per week.

And this all becomes a moot point.

G Man said...

I've changed my mind on the demotion. Snider has options, and they used one. End of story.

Steve2 said...

Reyes only plays every 5 days. Snider was a black hole every day. I think that's one additional reason they've been more patient with Reyes. It won't be long... a few more unquality starts and he's out.

As for Snider, let him feel the ball on his bat for a few weeks in AAA. Then come back to the majors with a bit more confidence. What is the downside?

Lastly, let's not forget Cooper in all this. He's earned a shot. I, for one, am hoping he succeeds!

af95000c-3475-11e0-898f-000bcdcb471e said...

I don't think a bridge year means that only prospects will play. Players still have to earn their spots to some extent. Some players can still learn/correct mechanics at the lower levels when they hit a slump, and some just need to adjust to major league skill.

Don't make too much of an insignificant run of the mill decision in a rebuild year ... especially when Snider's play clearly warranted it.

scagcur said...

World Series winners carry journeymen. The Giants just won with only 4 batters posting a WAR above 2 (The Blue Jays had 5 last year)