Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Tuesday TweetBag - You Tweet The Questions, We Blog The Answers

It's been way too long since we trolled for your questions, and to be honest, we kinda miss you all. Unfortunately, brewing up a TweetBag for a Friday afternoon in the Summer generally leads to the post landing with an echoing thud of indifference, as the rest of you are already blasting your way up the highway and out of town at that point. (Or maybe you've just snuck out to a patio for extended "strategic consultations"...)

Oh well, whatever, never mind...On with this edition!

gets straight to the point: Is there a silver lining to Beede not signing or should we have ourselves a good cry?

Here's the positive coming out of last night's draft signing deadline: The Jays signed 11 of their top 13 picks, in a year in which they were as aggressive as any in their approach to the draft. That's not half bad. And where they missed was with Beede, a guy who the Jays knew from the outset would be a tough sign. But because it was a protected pick, they get it back for the 2012 draft, so they can reload and take another shot.

Maybe the Jays come to regret not taking him, but considering that they appeared to be $1 million apart in their numbers, the Jays should feel no shame. Beede seemingly had a sense that the Jays were going to blow their brains out to make sure they kept him, and that $3.5 million seemed like a bit much. The Jays were right to walk away.

Onward ho! (was that a particularly good vintage for the Leafs?) asks: With the meteoric rise of Travis D'arnaud, is J.P. Arencibia's long term future with another team?

No doubt, d'Arnaud has had a nice year at Double-A New Hampshire (.326/.393/.558, with 31 doubles and 17 homers), and he'll be poised to move up next year. But as the Jays did with Arencibia, we assume that d'Arnaud will get a full year at Triple-A to fine tune his catching and game calling skills, and to have fun jacking balls hither and yon across the American Southwest in the PCL. That basically gives the Jays another full year to figure out what they have in JPA, what the catching market looks like, and where there are strengths and weaknesses with the rest of their roster. Come back and ask us a year from now, and we'll have a better answer.

And another thing! (and several others) asks: Is a Jay's AA farm team in Ottawa realistic and do you think it would be sustainable?

This is question springs up because of a piece from the Ottawa Citizen's Ken Gray, who notes that there are discussions about bringing a Double-A team to Ottawa for 2013 or 2014. We've generally poo-pooed such talk as merely that: Talk. But there are enough details here to warrant consideration of the possibility that maybe - just maybe - an affiliated team may return to the Capital City.

Would it work? If it is affiliated with the Jays, we think it would, as a whole new appreciation for prospects has developed amongst the average baseball fan over the past five years. We could see drawing in Jays fans from across Ontario to help supplement the Ottawa-faithful (who likely can't support a team by themselves.)

There are a few issues that would need to be resolved, including a fair bit of work to bring the former JetForm Park/Lynx Stadium back into game shape after it has been allowed to go to seed in recent years. The batters eye is tattered and torn, and the weeds have overtaken the area behind the outfield fence. Plus, the scoreboard will likely need to be replaced...and sports fans in Ottawa know how agonizing the wait for a scoreboard can be. In addition, parking issues at the Stadium will need to be resolved, given the large chunk of the lot that was sold off to developers. If there is a percentage of your fans who will be coming from away to see the future Jays, they'll need a place to park.

But we're getting WAY ahead of ourselves here. There's many a slip between a cup and a lip.

And there's more gold in them there TweetBag hills! asks: ...how important do you think Thome's 600 dingers are to ending the stigma on power hitters in relation to steroids?

It's funny, because there is a large swath of players - who never tested positive for nothin' - whose achievements get lumped in with a bunch of "cheaters" (there's that word again), and who may have a hard time getting into the Hall. On the other hand, we can't help but wonder if there will be a pendulum swing in the other direction, where a number of sullied players - McGwire, Palmeiro, Bonds, Clemens - get in because a new generation of writers takes a less sanctimonious view of their workout regimes.

As for Thome: Our first instinct was to assume that his years as a DH would hurt his chances of getting in on the first ballot, but another look at his other career numbers (.403 OBP, .558 SLG over 21 seasons, and 31st all-time in Win Probability Added) along with his high Weighted Good Guy Likeability Smiling Factor leads us to believe that he'll get his call in the first year.

Will that open the door for home run hitters emerging from the steroid era? Maybe. Frank Thomas comes to mind as the guy who might benefit by drafting in behind Thome's slipstream. Unfortunately, former Jays Fred McGriff (493 HRs) and Carlos Delgado (473) are probably too far behind in that crucial career home run tally to benefit from this presumed openness to 90's/00's power hitters.

One more, because this one is fun! ask: why doesn't the rogers center provide fans with replays (close plays, a strike zone) its drives me crazy. No wonder fans stay hm

We get where you're coming from, because we've had that moment of seeing a close play on the field, and instinctively looking to the big screen in centrefield only to be met with a static image of the next batter. It's maddening. Of course, if you ask the fans of the 29 other teams, they'll offer up a similar frustration. We're not sure if it is codified somewhere, but there seems to be a general agreement between the teams and the league that they'll not run close plays on the scoreboard, and certainly won't show balls and strikes. Maybe, as has been suggested, this is done to spare the umpires from further scorn. As if there could be any more.

But we'd offer two thoughts on this to temper your disappointment: Firstly, we're not sure that getting the replays would actually contribute greatly to the fan experience at the park. While some might be able to look at a close call and with a genuine level of critical detachment, a larger percentage of fans will see what they want to see, which is whatever favours the home side. We're not sure that airing the replay does much more than inflame the crowd.

Secondly, we can see a time coming soon where passionate and technologically savvy fans such as yourself arrive at the game armed with their tablet of choice, and an MLB app that will allow them to track Pitch F/X data (and Hit F/X data?), as well as give them access to replays at their fingertips. WiFi at the ballpark might help to speed this along, though 30,000 fans with smartphones and tablets might quickly overload the system.

Speaking of overloaded, that's about all we can handle for this edition of the TweetBag, though we'll be back soon to answer more of your tweeted questions. Be sure to comment below to let us know if our statistical acumen passed muster.


Greg E said...

"We're not sure that airing the replay does much more than inflame the crowd. "

And that's a problem, how?

Let the crowd get riled up I say! A big part of the 'fan experience' is the atmmosphere in the stadium, and a crowd angry at the (perceived) slight of a botched call would be alot of fun.

Tao of Stieb said...

Yeah, but firing up the crowd with "We got screwed on that call! Even if maybe we didn't!" just leads to a crappy fan experience. Pointless booing, jarheads shouting expletives, conspiracy theories, escalating umpire hatred...None of that is particularly fun.

We'd prefer for people to forget the perceived slights and focus on the players.

Greg E said...

Let's compromise.

Only show plays that in which the call benefitted the Jays. I can't see any problem with that solution.

*puts feet up*

Anonymous said...

I think the "no replay" issue is actually codified in the umpire's CBA - though I may be wrong.

Anonymous said...

I don't get the part about Frank Thomas benefitting from Thome getting in the hall...Thomas will be up for election first, and is there really any doubt about him? I haven't checked any advanced stats, but all the old-school numbers are there, and he's generally considered among the top couple of pure hitters of his generation, no?

And he's free of any steroids stink as the only guy to voluntarily talk with whatever ridiculous commission that was...

Tao of Stieb said...

I think in the lead-up to Thomas' first year on the ballot, there will be talk about both he and Thome, especially since they spent a good chunk of their later years as DH's. (About which there's still a bit of a hangup amongst the writers.)

Maybe Thomas is a shoo-in, and I don't realize it. Could be.

Anonymous said...

I think Molitor and Winfield spent a good deal of time at DH in the autumn years.

Anonymous said...

No replay comes an agreement between the league and the umpires' union.

Umps have a pretty tough job and pointlessly showing their mistakes on a giant TV is not going to make your team win nor change the result of the game.

KissMyPurpleButt said...

I prefer your old avatar. Congrats on the new gig btw.

Paul said...

Umps have a pretty tough job? Excuse me? Seems to me they have jobs for life once they reach the majors.

Alex said...

Umpires are constantly tracked and evaluated. The whole questec system was implemented in order to train and grade the umps. Throwing their infrequent mistakes up on the big screen would do nothing to improve their performance. It might actually lead to a lot more home field friendly calls, especially in big markets or places with insane fans like philly.

Anonymous said...

Though it doesn't account for all replays, here's what bluejays.com (or, more specifically http://toronto.bluejays.mlb.com/tor/downloads/y2011/a_to_z_guide.pdf) has to say:

Replay Policy
Subject to annual review, Major League Baseball rules stipulate
the following cannot be shown on the Video Display Board
 Pitched balls not put in play
 Forced plays at 2nd base
 “Bean” balls and fights/arguments
Close plays may be shown, but only at regular speed on a
discretionary basis