Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A season of missed opportunities and unproductive roster spots

It's fine to have a longer view of what is good for the ballclub and all, but really: Travis Snider and Randy Ruiz should have spent more time on the Blue Jays than they did. And while their contributions might not be worth a dozen games in the standings, the fact that the Jays were willing to maintain two or three or four dead slots on their 25-man roster all season drives us to distraction.

It makes us want to start making ritualistic sacrifices.

From the outset, we'll confess that what we're about to do is unfair. But at this point in a season that has gone off the rails, over the embankment, down the cliff and into the ravine, we need an outlet.

And our primary whipping boy, above any others, is Kevin Millar.

Millar didn't do much to deserve this ignoble fate, but on the other hand, he didn't do much to keep himself on the big league roster either. And yet, here he is: Still on the team, as we reach the cusp of September. Skulking around the clubhouse, sporting his .678 OPS, enjoying the final days of a marginally productive major league career.

Ruiz, who was left to rot in Las Vegas all season because no one believed in him or his PCL-inflated numbers, has managed four homers in 50 ABs. Millar has eeked out six in 198 ABs. Six, which is also the number of homers that Travis Snider has managed in 124 ABs.

Sure, you can argue that maybe the Jays' brain trust wanted to let Snider recover from his back injury in the minors and work his way back gradually. And that they didn't have enough of a sample to give up on Millar, or Johnny Mac, or Joe Inglett in favour of a potentially productive bat in Ruiz.

If José Bautista were the lone supersub at the end of the bench, that would be one thing. The fact that this team played with him as the first man off the bench all season is just depressing.

Should the Blue Jays want to keep the faith with their loyal following (such as it is), and at least appear ready to compete and field a team that can hang, they can't have their 25th man be a relatively slow-footed designated pinch runner with 27 career steals. Nor can they have their 24th man be a washed up personality who can't hit righties or lefties and plays one eminently fillable position.

The Jays have 25 spots on their active roster. They should use them a little more wisely.


G Valentino said...

I'm just going to post a gut reaction here, which I'm sure isn't correct but it's how I felt a long time ago and how I feel now. Worse comes to worst, it'll get the blood flowing:

Cito only likes veterans/known quantities (even when they're disappointments) because he's unable to think on his feet and is unwilling to take a chance. I've felt this ever since he modified the all-star game line up to put his own boys in.

Good manager, but only if you buy him a good team.

Mattt said...

I'm still on the fence regarding Cito, but ultimately it should be the GM that provides the players on the roster and the manager to use those players as he sees fit. There are many dead roster spots as mentioned in this post and it becomes difficult to imagine any other outcome with so many marginal players occupying every day or platoon positions...

Stedron said...

Don't get me wrong (I mostly agree with you, and Millar is a shit-stain,) but T. Sniddy was f'ing L.O.S.T. at the plate when they sent him down. Here's hoping that the Lind 2008 treatment will have the same effect that it did on young Adam.

I have no defense for ignoring Ruiz.

Good night, and have a pleasant tomorrow.

The Ack said...

I'm not going to quibble with this - at all.

In fact, I've long planned a similar post, only the focus was lil' Johnny Mac - he of the 50 AB's. While on the roster full time. Since the start of the season. And not adding much of anything in terms of his pinch running or defensive appearances.

Mac's a good guy who probabaly doesn't deserve our wrath, but management sure does for using a roster spot on a guy who is going to collect about 75 AB for THE SEASON.

G Valentino said...

Johnny Mac is symptomatic of the Glengary Glenn Ross problem: "Good father? Go home and play with your kids." He might be a great guy and try to give a lot, but he's borderline Mendoza. (Dude was his own "player to be named later" for goodness' sake!)

And that while the responsibility is ultimately the GMs, I'm sure a proactive manager would have no problem saying "I got nothing here, what do you have there?" Instead, most of the spiral was determined by the Flander's School of Problem Solving from the CitoBot 2000 "I've tried nothing, and it didn't work. I'm fresh out of ideas."

The Ack said...

R. Griffin, on how he feels about Johnny Mac (from today's mailbag from his blog on The Star):

"the Jays have not always treated him with the greatest respect and that he should be playing every day the rest of this season at shortstop with Scutaro shifting over to third.

Oh, Lord.

Navin Vaswani (@eyebleaf) said...

It's a wonder Griffin isn't running the team. He'd have traded BJ Ryan for BJ Upton, drafted a fuck ton of Canadian ball players, traded Roy Halladay for Clay Bucholtz, Daniel Bard, Jason Bay (Canada!!!!!1) and Victor Martinez, and traded Alex Rios for Justin Morneau.

I can't read much more Griffin.

As for Millar, one of the chicks who played McCauley Culkin's cousin in Home Alone said it best: "Kevin, you're such a disease."

While it would have been nice for Travis Snider to debut much like Evan Longoria did for Tampa Bay, I had no problem with him going down to Vegas and mashing down there. I'm with Stedron; the approach worked for Lind. Snider has the same, if not more, talent. He will be fine.

There's no excuse for Ruiz. Absolutely zero.

In all honesty, this season needs to end. It will all be over soon.

The rallying cry as we head into September: "Fuck Kevin Millar."

Anonymous said...

I'd just like to point out that Inglett's numbers in Vegas are as good at Ruiz'.

Also, Snider was sent down at the appropriate time, and recalled at the appropriate time (could have been two weeks earlier, but for Super 2).

The issue this year was Millucci, like last year it was Mencherson. The answer was to sign another DH/1B/LF type bat in the offseasons, and they did not.

Anonymous said...

By the time any of this truly mattered the season was toast. Hindsight is nice, but its often cloudy in the distance. The Millar/Overbay platoon was a major contributer to the hot start in April/May so lets not pretend like Millar didn't earn himself a little tope in terms of his struggles. Unfortunately with Cito that rope extends far too long with veterans.
When the season started, was anyone seriously thinking the team would be better off with Ruiz instead of Millar? Championing Ruiz' hot start is great and all, but lets not overlook that after the first month of the season Millar was still OPS'ing over .900. Sample sizes are fun.

I'm glad Ruiz finally got his shot, and agree it should have come about a month earlier; but lets not forget there's a reason he's been dumped by a dozen other teams and not go pinning any serious expectations on what his early success means. Ruiz may make a fine PH option next season, but if he's any more than that there wont be much hope for that team either.

As others have already pointed out, the Snider situation was handled perfectly. They gave the kid his shot, he went through some predictable troubles, has learned and developed from it and is most likely back for good.

The Johnny Mac situation sucks, mostly since we all like him so much. But in no way was Scutaro's career year predictable. I wish they'd found a way to peddle him at the deadline, at least then he could have played some ball this summer.

Tao of Stieb said...


I hate the argument that "Ruiz was dropped by other stupid organizations..."

Ruiz is a 1B/DH type who was drafted by an NL team and ended up moving primarily to other NL organizations. Given the chance with AL teams, he may have made the move to the bigs sooner.

And just because everyone else is a jackanape, that doesn't mean we should feel justified in parking Ruiz in the minors. If so, why sign him?

I gotta confess...I got a shit ton of cold medication in my head right now, so I'm not making much sense, and I'm very irritable.

Navin Vaswani (@eyebleaf) said...

Sure, Millar OPS'd .909 in April, but he played in 9 games. In May, 19 games, the OPS plummeted to .647. As he got more playing time, he continued to be nothing more than a black hole in the lineup.

.598 OPS in June; .593 in July.

There is no excuse for this guy to still be on this team.

What a disease.

plain_g said...

i'm really only hanging on for that too late, late-season surge that ultimately comes up short but has everyone duped into believing we'll get 'em "next year." I thought it started with the anaheim series, but the rays series has been a total shit-show.

Joanna said...

I love that "what's good for the club" isn't the same thing as putting out the best team possible. Ruiz and Snider should've been up. Sigh.

Anonymous said...

I think by this time next year, everybody will have forgotten Randy Ruiz. I think onec the book gets out on him, pitchers will make him look foolish. That said, I agree he deserved his chance and it should have come sooner.

Alex said...

Snider was OPSing .480 in the month previous to the date he was sent down. FOUR EIGHTY.

no fucking way should he have been up, after the back injury it was way smarter to keep his service time low.

lepos said...

have you guys began routing for the tigers yet so we can drive to detroit for some playoff games?

Mattt said...


SP said...

Kevin, you're what the French call "Les Incompetents" - also from Home Alone

Darren Priest said...

Yeah, the Jays need to be smart if the owners won't pony up the bucks. So sad, though, Rogers may well be the most profitable organization that owns an MLB team, but they have decided to nickel and dime the fans and treat their MLB property like a call centre in Mumbai.

I've said it before and I'll make it my Blue Jay mantra: If only Jim Balsillie loved baseball. Maybe Galen Weston needs to see Aaron Hill in a g-string or something.

joanna said...

Rios was totally the g-string type, but that ship sailed.

Alex said...

Why does everyone think balsillie is motivated by anything other than money? If that was the case he would be happy to leave the coyotes in phoenix.

Christopher said...

Because if he was only motivated by money he would be moving the Coyotes to Toronto not Hamilton.

Christopher said...

Did anyone hear Rod Black say that the Jays are getting new turf next year?

The Ack said...

That turf talk has been kicking around for a while now....and all I can say is THANK GOD. The patchwork turf they have down now is an embarrassment. Really reflects poorly on the organization.

Anonymous said...

Once the league scouts out Ruiz and what he really is, he will be another black hole in the line up. He is not the answer in building this team and we need to move forward. I am sick and tired of these Johnny Mac and Ruiz type players that Toronto fans seem fall in love with. What we need is a GM who does not give these players the time of day. The Jays need to build a scouting system that works hard on finding great talent. That is how this team use to work and that is what this team needs to do going forward.

Alex said...

There's no way in hell he could move a team to Toronto, he at least had a slight chance with Hamilton. There are also 4-5 other cities like winnipeg and QCC that would work. But he's only looking for money and the chance to cross promote blackberries rogers style.