Friday, June 10, 2011

Friday Tweet Bag! We Know Stuff About Stuff!

Here's the thing about the Tweet Bag: Back when it started, we thought it would be a funny way to mock the hacky mailbag columns in which some writers (who could that be?) indulge to basically fill space.

But here's the kooky thing that happened along the way: We started to like tweet bagging, because it actually gives us a better sense of what's on your mind, and helps us take the pulse of Blue Jays fans who are literate enough to compose a tweet clever enough to be answered. (All of which might be a high-minded bit of bluster that rationalizes our own hacky tendencies. Which is fine. We're vaguely comfortable with that.)

Let's dive into the Tweet Bag like Scrooge McDuck into his vault of coins. (Which would have hurt like hell when you really think about it. But we probably shouldn't get too literal about the physics of walking-talking mallards wearing spats.)

Batting leadoff! asks: In your opinion, does Kansas City still have the finest ballpark in all of baseball?

For almost as long as we can remember, we've loved Kaufman Stadium. It just seems like a perfectly formed ballpark, and the sort of place where we'd spend hours in a state of baseball-induced bliss. Or at least, we did...

We'll confess to a touch of old dude conservatism, and the new party patios and the like that they've added beyond the outfield fence (see here) does take some of the beauty away from the old configuration, with the (admittedly useless) lawn surround the fountains. Still, you could do much worse. And frankly, if they've turned the outfield into a party atmosphere, they've figured out something which Rogers has not: That wasted space in the outfield can be enlivened. Pull down the windows! Party Patio!

Bottom line: We'll still give Kauffman the nod as our favorite park, though PNC in Pittsburgh is right there as well. (And no, we've not actually BEEN to either. We're lucky to make it to the SkyDome a couple of times per year!)

Batting second (we presume you're a lefty), asks: Who will take Rivera and EE off of our hands in order to let Lawrie, Loewen, and Snider get much needed major league AB's?

To quote W. Axl Rose:

Said woman take it slow
It'll work itself out fine
All we need is just a little patience

Said sugar make it slow

And we'll come together fine

All we need is just a little patience

(Mind you, Axl was probably singing this shortly after a coke-fuelled beating of some random chick, so take that as you will.)

The point here is that two of those three players are still young, still developing and still need seasoning before they're ready to become all that they can be. (And the other guy is just a sort of curiosity who doesn't really have a place to play. But remind me to tell you one day about Joe Vitiello. That's a good story, and quite germane.) We know that it drives you nuts to sit there and stare at the numbers that those guys are putting up in the PCL like they are gifts nestled beneath a Douglas fir and it's two weeks before you're allowed to unwrap them. But relax. They'll be here in good time.

Besides: No one is giving the Jays anything for EE and/or Rivera (at least, not yet) so we might as well buckle down and see if they can make themselves useful.

Batting third! asks: What's the air speed velocity of an unladen sparrow? Also what should the team do with Cooper? He's killing AAA again...

Since you asked: Joe Vitiello was a career minor league hitter, and one year, he came to play for the hometown Ottawa Lynx. And damn it if that guy didn't rake. A .910 OPS, 82 RBI in 119 games. As a 24 year old in the Royals system in Omaha, he cranked it out, posting a .966 OPS with a .440(!) OBP. And moreover, he posted a .908 OPS in 10 seasons at Triple-A.

Oh yeah. There's the rub. In seven seasons and 282 games in the big leagues, Joe Vitiello managed to put up a .749 OPS. Which is nothing to be ashamed of, really. (We're still scared of the ball...given 100 ABs, we figure we might hit one ball solidly.) Still, Cooper faces the same problem as Vitiello: He's a corner infielder who might be able to post decent numbers at the MLB level, but never enough to warrant a regular spot in the lineup.

Still, the Jays should hang on to Cooper until they can't anymore.

The cleanup hitter! asks: Time for AA to trade Corey Patterson (aka Tropic Thunder) while he's hot?

Okay, first of all: THANK YOU. We spent all season trying to figure out who it was that Corey Patterson resembled, and we knew it was a white actor, but we couldn't quite figure it out. But there is was all along:
As for trading Patterson, we'd be all for it, though 1) Patterson has yet to reach the value that Alex Gonzalez hit last season, so don't figure on getting another Yunel, because 2) We don't suppose that any team is going to come begging to be fleeced in the same manner that the gold ole boys in Atlanta wished to be.

In the five-hole! asks: Explain to me why I should be happy Frank Francisco is part of the Blue Jays bullpen?

Because for his career, Frank Francisco strikes out almost 10 batters (9.97 if you want to be picky) per nine innings. And when it comes to a guy at the back of your bullpen who is going to have to pitch in high leverage situations, you're going to need a guy who can blow it past people. Pitching to contact is all well and good when you're a starter trying to eat innings, but when you absolutely, positively need to get outs, taking the bat out of the hitter's hands before he has the opportunity to put bleeders and bloops in play is a vital skill.

And as dodgy as Francisco has been this season, he's still striking out 9.39/9. His home run rate (2.20/9) should come back closer to his career number (0.93/9), and then he'll look far more like the guy you want closing games out.

Batting sixth! asks: How long should Carlos V be a starter and when do you think we will see Cecil in a jersey next?

As long as Villaneuva pitches well, we'd be fine with leaving him in the rotation. He pounds strikes down in the zone, and doesn't give up a ton of free passes, so for now, we'd be inclined to leave him in this role. As for Cecil: He'll have to string together four or five good starts consecutively before he returns. We wouldn't want to hazard a guess on how soon that is, but don't be surprised if the leaves are turning colours by the time he's back.

Quickly through the bottom of the order! Batting seventh, asks: Do you want to see Bautista in the Homerun Derby?

Yes, we do. In fact, we're not watching the Derby this year unless he's in it. (Because truth be told, it's incredibly boring, and no one should subject themselves to four hours of Chris Berman. That's just not healthy.)

We presume that part of what motivates your question, though, is a concern that the One Man Gang will somehow screw up his swing and be forever lost after his participation. Poppycock. Bautista has an astoundingly well balanced swing, and no extended batting practice session is going to set him astray.

Batting 8th, asks: Jays are 4th in MLB in SB with lower SB% than any other team in top 9. Jays also 4th in MLB in runs. Should they steal less?

Saying that the Jays should steal less is probably an oversimplification. But yeah, they should probably be a bit more judicious about how often they set baserunners loose. (For one thing, Corey Patterson seems hell bent on getting Bautista intentionally walked in recent weeks.) Part of improving the base running game is getting smarter about when go, and the Jays seem to be approaching the running game like they are the Duke Boys being pursued by Roscoe P. Coltrane.

Of course, this supposes that stolen bases are the goal of the Jays' running game, and there is an argument that they simply want to create a constant sense of apprehension in the minds of their opponents by getting crazy on the basepaths. That sort of anarchy can be ugly to look at.

In the ninth spot in the lineup, we'll squeeze in three questions, because they're all related:

asks: Oh authority on all things Blue Jays, here's one for you: Who gets called (back) up first, Zach Stewart, or Travis Snider?

asks: how's Snider doing? When do you think we'll see him with Jays again?

asks: Is Snider going to carry the team into the promised land with his huge thighs, or should he convert himself to a LOOGY?

First things first: Snider has an OPS of .750, including a slugging percentage of .382. We're not seeing how those numbers are coming together, but it seems as though he's not hitting the ball hard anymore (one homer since his demotion). And this is the PCL. Chris Woodward is sluggin .429, for chrissakes!

Now, we've heard the stories (as you have as well, we're sure) that the Jays are reworking his swing, because it had reached a point where it was ugly and easily exploited by breaking balls. (Also, Snider would swing so hard at high fastballs that his head would come off the ball and he'd miss badly.) We're optimistic that when Snider returns, he'll come back with a swing that is sound and measured, and he'll be back for good. But we wouldn't anticipate that promotion coming until September at the earliest. And Zach Stewart? He might make it here in September, but we wouldn't assume so, given his record so far this year.

Snider's got work to do. Better that he do it down there.

Extra Innings!

Because you take the time to write, we'll take the time to answer, even if it's brief.

- go out on a limb - JoJo win streak at 3 after tonight? Blog policy: No predictions about Jo-Jo. We fear we've cursed him before, and we won't do it again.

- any advice on how I should deal with obnoxious Red Sox fans at the box office this weekend? They're the worst. Don't be preemptively obnoxious. We've found a lot of Sox fans at the games to be perfectly well behaved. And if they're not, don't confront them. Just pretend that you're on safari, observing the Fitzys and Sullys.

- give me your wish of what the lineup should look like in June 2012! We're not one to get ahead of the game, and frankly, we're pretty happy to live in the here and now. But since you asked: We're happy to have JPA, Lind, Yunel and JoBau back, and we hope that a productive Lawrie and Snider are part of the mix at that point. And it would be really cool if Hechevarria and Gose were ready too. See! We're not immune to prospect pron!

- Kyle Drabek: trade now or wait till the deadline? That's beyond stupid.

Finally: - Lind and Bautista have both been great, but I don't really remember them being "hot" at the same time. How awesome will this be? Pretty awesome. (I think...I'm not totally sure what you're saying here.)

That's it! Thanks for the questions, and thanks for reading through the whole post (supposing you have, and that you didn't just skip ahead). The finest Weekend Editor in the land, The Ack, will be back with more goodness this weekend. (And doesn't he deserve more opportunities to stretch his wings and bring some fresh air to this place?) Show him some love.

Also: Sunscreen. Don't kid yourself.


Ian said...

For the record, the Drabek comment was sarcastic. Although I've actually heard people suggest that.

Tao of Stieb said...

Aha...irony doesn't always translate in tweeted form.

Chill said...

Berman is beyond painful. Jo-Jo has 26 starts to go before his next loss.

Stedron said...

Been to all the current stadiums (46 total,) and Kauffman is right there at the top of my list. Haven't been since the renovation, but it was a fantastic place to watch a game. (Full disclosure - it probably helped that I had zero expectations when I visited.)

Anonymous said...

Just in case no one else mentioned it, Ewing Kauffman married a Toronto girl: