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We have had some discussion in a couple of threads yesterday and this morning around John Farrell's comments from yesterday.  The Jays lost last night in a game where Jose Reyes and Rajai Davis could be accused of selfish behaviour.  And now Shi Davidi weighs in.  This debate is partly about tools and development but it is a lot about what is wrong with the Jays, why can they not be in contention in September?  We will likely see a lot of discussion today around the topic "what is wrong with the Jays organization?".  I thought we could do with a separate thread on this.

Now Shi Davidi has a story on this and I am sure others will follow.

On this night there was also Rajai Davis getting picked off second base by Mariano Rivera with Edwin Encarnacion at the plate representing the tying run in the ninth inning. Whether he was on second or third didn’t matter, which is why, unprompted, Gibbons referred to the play as “boneheaded.”

Deja vu of the Blue Jays from last summer.

“You don’t want anyone to get overly frustrated with themselves or the game, (it’s) more just directing the right way to be professional,” said Janssen. “Not only carrying themselves on the field, but also their preparation and the responsibility of being a major-leaguer.”

To that end, Farrell’s comments at a charity seminar over the weekend in Boston and published by Wednesday are particularly intriguing, given the train-wreck he oversaw with the Blue Jays a year ago.

Asked to discuss the differences between how pitchers are developed by his former and current clubs, he insinuated the Blue Jays don’t focus enough on the mental side of the game.


GM Alex Anthopoulos declined to discuss the matter when reached via email, but Farrell’s comments struck a nerve, in large part because of who they came from, but also because they spoke to some of the lapses that have kept the 2013 Blue Jays from leveraging their talent into more wins.

Whether a more sustained focus on the mental side of competing would have changed the results in some of the many, many games that got away on a play not made, a pitch not executed, a hit not delivered is open for debate.

Maybe it’s as simple as the Blue Jays just not being good enough. But what if they’re not breeding the mental tenacity needed to get to the next level? What if that’s partly why they don’t have that season where everything falls into place, like so many other teams do?


Is this just another chemistry discussion?  Losing teams have poor chemistry, winning teams have good chemistry.  Do losing teams not do the mental things well?  Is there a problem with the manager, or should I say managers?  John Farrell was basically escorted out of town and now his team is in first place.  Is Alex Anthopoulos too inexperienced?  Are there too many voices in the front office? 

This discussion could go in fifty directions, there is not one easy fix for what ails this team.

The Jays Approach, John Farrell, Shi Davidi, et al. | 73 comments | Create New Account
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mike in boston - Thursday, August 22 2013 @ 10:06 AM EDT (#278311) #
We don't have very good metrics for measuring cascading effects. But anyone who watches baseball knows the value of "keeping the rally going" and "having the pitcher on the ropes." These things make a difference not just because they allow you to blow teams out, but because they allow you to get 3 runs instead of 1, and carry a 2 run lead into the 9th rather than a 1 run lead. This is in turn is much harder to come back from if you're on the opposing team. My point is that watching this team over the last 2 years there is clearly a negative cascading cultural effect. Bad base-running, bad defense, poor judgment at the plate, selfish arguments with umps, etc. None of these things are terribly measurable, and when measured they seem trivial relative to things like OPS. But when considered all together, I believe they contribute significantly to the team's underperformance.
Paul D - Thursday, August 22 2013 @ 10:10 AM EDT (#278312) #
I was going to make a snarky comment about how what's wrong with the Jays is that they don't have enough talent, but I wonder if it's more a question of talent development. I know that there's no answer to this, but part of me thinks that if Travis Snider'd been drafted by the Cardinals or Rays, he'd be a borderline all-star right fielder. The feeling I get from the Jays is that their approach is more haphazard - I don't get a sense that there's a philosophy that shapes their player development.

That said, I fully acknowledge that there could be one, and that they don't share it, or that I haven't been paying attention. (Or alternatively, that it doesn't work).
TheConsultant - Thursday, August 22 2013 @ 10:23 AM EDT (#278313) #
I see your point about Snider, but look at his minor league stats and they speak otherwise. He raked in the minors and therefore should have been developed?
eudaimon - Thursday, August 22 2013 @ 10:26 AM EDT (#278314) #
I don't think this administration is perfect (I think AA is a bit of a "resource hoarder" for example) but I do think most of the criticism is due to poor morale. A lot of things that would otherwise be minor annoyances are suddenly part of this "something is wrong with management narrative" (example: Lawrie's 2b adventures. I don't think it was a great decision, but I don't think it was monumentally bad either).

In life things just don't go as you think they will sometimes. However, I really think that, if you created a continuum of luck for this season, with one side being extremely lucky (2012 Orioles) and the other side extremely unlucky we'd be firmly in that unlucky side (probably not as unlucky as the 2012 Orioles were lucky, though). It's a bit like going all-in with aces and getting beat by a 7-2 - it's not impossible, but it's definitely fairly improbably and unlucky.

I think you could make a laundry-list of players who, for whatever reason (injury or otherwise), are underperforming reasonable expectations for the season. Yes, even Boni - his lowest OPS in the last three seasons was a .648, and that came with a healthy .330 OBP and a nice CS%. This year: .579 and .258 with a poor CS%.

You could blame that on the coaching staff, I suppose, but many of our disappointments have also had injuries issues this year. There's also been some successes (the entire bullpen, Lind, Rasmus, who even if he loses the high BABIP still looks like he might be a nice player now). It's hard to say one thing doomed this team.

I think being on a "sinking ship" is naturally tough for humans to deal with psychologically, especially when the ship was supposed to be so damn good. It's hard to think clearly, your base emotion (in relation to the team) is anger or sadness and each little thing ends up seeming more important than it really is.

I just read "Primary Colors" and it described a failing political campaign in the same kind of way. Once things start going bad it's especially hard to right the ship because the people running the campaign start losing it.

I think the same is true for us fans. We expected this season to at least be exciting but for one reason or another it sucked. However, I don't think things are as bad as we think. We just have to move on, take a deep breath and let this 2013 stuff float away. Let's think of 2014 and try to let this train wreck of a season effect us our objectivity as much as is possible.
adrianveidt - Thursday, August 22 2013 @ 10:51 AM EDT (#278315) #
The only thing outsiders can look at is results, which are obviously quite bad. 20 years of losing isn't an impressive track record.

Farrell's opinion matter because he's been an insider in another organization that has a proven winning track record. But he's not going to come out and really say what the problem is, it's just not something an insider would do publicly.

What bothers me is not that the Jays, and all the other Toronto sports franchises, have big problems, but the ownership's inability to do anything substantive to fix them.
greenfrog - Thursday, August 22 2013 @ 11:41 AM EDT (#278317) #
I hope the Jays get back to their original game plan, which was to build a robust farm system (with good player development people) and add key pieces when the time is right. I'll be disappointed if they double down by gutting the farm for another big-name veteran player or two (the Phillies' approach). I don't think there is a quick fix for this team.
Beyonder - Thursday, August 22 2013 @ 11:54 AM EDT (#278318) #
I'm with you Greenfrog, but that will be a very tough sell to the fan base. It also seems unlikely given the public statements that Rogers has made about being committed to this core of players for the long term, and the importance of putting a competitive team together while Bautista and Encarnacion are in their primes. Some form of window dressing is going to be required to get people to show up to watch this team next year. We can only hope that it doesn't come at the expense of more prospects or a massive amount of payroll.
92-93 - Thursday, August 22 2013 @ 12:02 PM EDT (#278321) #
AA's original game plan included trying to contend with Bautista so it's not a plan you can return to. If they continue to add pieces you'll be disappointed, but if they don't and keep the status quo they won't be following the original game plan either. You can argue that it wasn't the right time to make a push this winter (and I don't remember you doing so), but at this point it's pretty unlikely that AA does anything other than sink or swim with this current approach.
Gerry - Thursday, August 22 2013 @ 12:03 PM EDT (#278322) #
I think this winter will be AA's toughest yet.  The path is not clear, there are several directions he could take but he has already committed to the plan that this team will remain competitive for the next two years.  Will he stay with that plan or will he change direction?
adrianveidt - Thursday, August 22 2013 @ 12:36 PM EDT (#278323) #
It's interesting to me how many people are apparently averse to the idea of "remaining competitive". Isn't that the first job of any sports executive? I guess it's just that people have no confidence in the organization's ability to put together a winning team with established players. Hasn't the loaded-farm-system approach failed this organization far more often than seeking out established MLB players?
Lylemcr - Thursday, August 22 2013 @ 12:43 PM EDT (#278324) #

Who was to know Dickey, Johnson, Morrow, and Romero would basically fall apart. 

I liked the moves he did this offseason. 

But...  We do not seem to be developing players.  I am concerned about that.  That is the part of Farrell's comments I agree with.  We have not had many players come from our system.  We are getting the studs, but not developing them.  We watch the draft and we complain that we didn't pick Troy T. instead of Romero.  But, if he was part of our system, would have he developed to what he is today?  I am not sure...

Impossibles - Thursday, August 22 2013 @ 12:59 PM EDT (#278325) #
I've been thinking the last few years that team culture is the hardest thing to change in pro sports.

Teams like the Red Wings, Yankees, Cardinals, etc just keep winning year after year despite turnover and luck. I think some franchises get momentum going and keep it because they develop a culture that winning is expected and the only option. The Rays did a fantastic job of turning things around, a lot of that is based on talent, but I strongly feel like getting the team culture to change is the key.

But its like trying to move a tanker with a little tug boat. Its very hard to change direction, but they key is momentum.

I think that's where brining in 'proven winner' players, managers and GMs pay off.
Paul D - Thursday, August 22 2013 @ 01:03 PM EDT (#278326) #
One move I think the Jays should consider this off season is to sign Brett Lawrie long-term.
Magpie - Thursday, August 22 2013 @ 01:43 PM EDT (#278329) #
Teams like the Red Wings, Yankees, Cardinals, etc just keep winning year after year

Interesting. Despite winning two WS in the last seven years, it's been my impression that the Cardinals have been slipping back towards the middle of the pack - they've just had a couple of great post-season runs. Which is what counts, I suppose, but still... They are kind of running on fumes, and general organizational momentum. Over those last seven seasons, they've gone 602-533 - not bad, but its like going 86-76 every year. They've cleared 90 wins just twice, topping out at 91. It was earlier in the decade, when Pujols was coming up and Jim Edmunds was still a great player, that they were a really impressive team.
Magpie - Thursday, August 22 2013 @ 01:46 PM EDT (#278330) #
part of me thinks that if Travis Snider'd been drafted by the Cardinals or Rays, he'd be a borderline all-star right fielder.

Pay no further attention to that part of you.
BlueJayWay - Thursday, August 22 2013 @ 01:51 PM EDT (#278331) #
The Jays had that momentum, too.  They had been good for a while and had a good thing going with Labatts ownership, Gillick as the GM, etc.  Then the strike, the sale to Interbrew, Gillick leaves and Gord Ash becomes GM.  The winning stopped and they've been spinning their wheels ever since.
BlueJayWay - Thursday, August 22 2013 @ 01:58 PM EDT (#278332) #
I was just getting into things then and I don't know what caused Labatts (probably spelling that wrong) to sell, or why Gillick left.  Apparently he was going to retire or something, but then he ended up GMing the Orioles for awhile, and then the Mariners. 

What if there were no sale, and Gillick stayed?  At least for 5-7 more years.

Ryan Day - Thursday, August 22 2013 @ 02:00 PM EDT (#278333) #
...part of me thinks that if Travis Snider'd been drafted by the Cardinals or Rays, he'd be a borderline all-star right fielder.

It wasn't too long ago that everyone blamed the Cardinals for ruining Colby Rasmus, and derailing his inevitable development into an all-star and future hall-of-famer.
Thomas - Thursday, August 22 2013 @ 03:25 PM EDT (#278334) #

It is possible that the Cardinals did detrimentally impact or at least delay the development of Colby Rasmus.

That doesn't also mean that I would expect that a young player would be delighted to be drafted by the Cardinals, given how well they've developed hitters like Craig, Freese and Carpenter. A while ago Mike Green noted that they all have similarities in terms of their profile as a hitter, but it's also true that they've all reached or come pretty close to the most optimistic projection you could make for them on draft day. To some extent this is difficult to seperate from several players who just may have been astute draft choices by Mozeliak and his scouts, but I don't think coaching didn't play a role.

One organizational miss (which shoudn't ignore the great year Colby had as a Cardinal) or incompatibility between the organization and its manager and the player shouldn't detract from a larger record of organizational and managerial sucesses.

Eephus - Thursday, August 22 2013 @ 03:50 PM EDT (#278335) #

Rasmus --    StL:    .259/.334/.444 (110 OPS+) *1440 PA
Rasmus --    TOR:  .235/.296/.418 (92 OPS+) *1204 PA

Er, uh... yeah. Let's check back in a year or so.

Speaking of the Cardinals, how about that race in the NL Central? With the Reds winning today, there could potentially be three teams within two games of each other atop that division. It's very likely that all three teams (Pirates, Cardinals and Reds) will make the playoffs anyway with the two losers of the race snatching the wildcard spots, but you know these guys don't want to see a long season of hard work depend on a one game playoff...

Paul D - Thursday, August 22 2013 @ 03:56 PM EDT (#278336) #
Speaking of a long season coming down to one game... I'm kind of hoping that today's game gets rained out, and that the Yankees end the season half a game behind the last playoff spot, meaning that they have to make up this game against the Jays to get into the playoffs.
Four Seamer - Thursday, August 22 2013 @ 04:05 PM EDT (#278337) #

I'm kind of hoping that today's game gets rained out, and that the Yankees end the season half a game behind the last playoff spot, meaning that they have to make up this game against the Jays to get into the playoffs.

If a risk-free opportunity to host a guaranteed win night ever presented itself, that would surely be it.

Magpie - Thursday, August 22 2013 @ 06:13 PM EDT (#278342) #
Some interesting parallels between Rasmus and Snider, no? Well regarded LH hitting prospects? Check. Best major league season very early, in essentially their sophomore campaign (2010 for both of them, when Rasmus was 23 and Snider was 22.) Check. Holes in their swing big enough to drive a convoy through? Check. All kinds of stories about the young player being reluctant to take instruction from the coaches in his organization? Check.

(Obviously, I think Rasmus' success this year is built largely on a fluky performance on his Balls in Play.)

Everyone watches video, now - not just some specialized coaches. Pitchers have their iPads and they're reviewing all the recent at bats of the hitters they're going to face the next day. I wonder if it's much, much harder to get away with uncorrected weaknesses than it was Back in the Day. It isn't just that the word gets around - the word always got around. It just sinks in faster and deeper now. Much deeper.
Mike Green - Thursday, August 22 2013 @ 07:39 PM EDT (#278343) #
Development is one thing. Good judgment and wise shepherding of resources is another. As far as I am concerned, the failures of 2013 have more to do with the latter.
greenfrog - Thursday, August 22 2013 @ 10:17 PM EDT (#278345) #
One additional issue for 2014 is health. This team has been quite banged up over the last couple of years, and they play on turf. Even if you like the team on paper, how confident can we feel that Lawrie, Reyes, Bautista, Cabrera, Lind, Rasmus, Morrow and others can play 140+ games?

One potential advantage of developing your own players is that you have them during their younger, and therefore healthier, years. It would not surprise me if this were more important on the RC turf than in other stadiums, although I have no evidence to back this up (just the comments that visiting players and managers have made).
Richard S.S. - Thursday, August 22 2013 @ 10:20 PM EDT (#278346) #
Take a fastball:
Throw it up and in.
Throw it down and in.
Throw it up and away.
Throw it down and away.
I don't care what you call it, but that's four different looks, with enough difference to be four different pitches.

For all that A.A. has done with his increasing in "staff", he hasn't developed a cohesive plan for minor league development.

How many Pitchers are past Short- Season teams and still can't command and control their fastball? Until that happens, they should NEVER leave Rookie and Rookie plus. That's just one of many issues existing in the Minors.

The really good prospects are quick movers, although some are slower. A.A. hasn't had much success here. Other very good prospect need instruction to fully develop. A.A. hasn't had much success here. In fact he hasn't had much success at all.
Magpie - Thursday, August 22 2013 @ 11:53 PM EDT (#278347) #
with enough difference to be four different pitches

No. It's not.
electric carrot - Friday, August 23 2013 @ 01:55 AM EDT (#278348) #
Well, I'll say this in defense of AA: If he wasn't doing a great job in the off-season he sure fooled a tonne of prognosticators, pundits, players and las vegas too.  I remember hearing that the players voted the jays the best team in the league and I recall that vegas made them the favourites to win the WS.  So once that train is derailed along comes John Farrell and says another one of his job affirming clips that his bosses will like -- which is what Farrell does -- and implies that AA doesn't know what he's doing developing players and that the Sox do.  First of all, I don't trust a guy whose working for the other team to give us honest info on our team. Secondly, you didn't hear much of this kind of talk when the Jays were predicted to win the WS. 

I look at the team we had at the beginning of the year and I still say that's a playoff team.  What happened was three things:  1.  A lot of players got injured.  2.  A lot of players played worse than could be reasonably expected based on their histories.  3.  For some reason we could never beat the stupid Yankees.  So I'm going to go out on limb here and say that this year was mostly bad because of terrible luck and poor play of players who are normally better. AA did his job and got us a team that was a contender at the gate. 

Richard S.S. - Friday, August 23 2013 @ 02:00 AM EDT (#278349) #
Take a fastball and throw it.

Comes straight from a Greg Zaun appearance on a Baseball Central show several months ago. His words, not mine. Buck Martinez talked about the same stuff on a Tim and Sid show awhile ago. Both should be available in the archives.

Now while everyone respects Magpie on most Baseball stuff, I'll take a Major League Catcher's opinion on stuff like that.

Sorry God.
Magpie - Friday, August 23 2013 @ 08:14 AM EDT (#278351) #
Well, to be fair, that can work. But only if you're Mariano Rivera. Everyone else needs to be able to change speeds.
rfan8 - Friday, August 23 2013 @ 09:01 AM EDT (#278352) #

Richard, power pitchers are likely to overpower Rookie ball hitters with their fastball and may never learn that they need to command their fastballs. Moving them up to levels where hitters are more selective and advanced forces them to work on it.

As far as prospects moving up, I'm not sure what your saying.  Are you saying that the Jays misjudge the time prospects need in the minors?  It seems as though Sanchez, Nicolino and Syndergaard have developed nicely.  Norris is picking it up, and Nolin and Stroman have done well.  Hutchison and Alvarez though were rushed (in my opinion).  On the hitting side, it seems as though they pushed some of their young guys too fast initially but they seem to have taken a more conservative route with the guys in Bluefield and it seems to be paying off.  


jerjapan - Friday, August 23 2013 @ 12:20 PM EDT (#278357) #
TDA has 6  walks in his 5 games for the Mets ... he should easily pass JPA by the end of the season.

I supported the Jays offseason moves last year, especially the Miami deal, but man, without them we'd be pretty well positioned for 2014 ... tons of money available and top prospects ready to contribute at the MLB level.  In fact, hard to see our record being any worse if we'd just signed a vet starter or two (Dempster and Lohse?) and ran out the team we had last year. 

whiterasta80 - Friday, August 23 2013 @ 12:49 PM EDT (#278358) #

I would imagine that the alternative approach would have been what Boston did. That would likely leave us at least 1, probably 2 starters short of the playoffs, but really well positioned for next season.

Hindsight it 20/20 though and I was definitely in favour of rolling the dice. We're only 1/3 through the window that was created by the trades though and it only takes 1 playoff appearance to be worth it.
katman - Friday, August 23 2013 @ 02:15 PM EDT (#278360) #
I'm not going to criticize AA's offseason moves. At the time, I supported them as a reasonable attempt to lunge through a narrow window. There are 2 big things that concern me:

1. We haven't drafted and developed impact position players for quite some time. Or starting pitchers, with 1 brief exception. A few great bullpen guys is nice, but it's not going to get a team into postseason play on a regular basis.

2. The bigger issue of standards and baseball IQ. THIS is where Farrell's comments ring true to me. Sierra runs out there last year, missing fly balls in the outfield, and doesn't know to go get the sunglasses. AAA player! What, exactly, was he being taught in the minors? Can't even imagine something like that happening to the Rays.

Now throw in all the stupid baserunning plays, not consistently running out plays at 1st, etc. In fairness, the culprits at the major league level come from different organizations. But then, so do the people on other teams. Vernon Wells has talked about putting on the pinstripes and knowing what's expected of you, of having a standard to uphold. In contrast, the Jays strike me as organization that has no such standards. Not because they lack the Yankees' history, which they do. But because the standard isn't enforced.

I could deal with this year's team, if they played like the Twins teams of the mid to late 1990s. Those teams weren't always that good, but they always forced the other team to beat them.

The Jays aren't going to win again in this division until they play like that. The margin of error is just too damn small. But my impression is that the organization's whole culture needs to change before that can happen.
greenfrog - Friday, August 23 2013 @ 02:39 PM EDT (#278361) #
Well said. What katman describes is the reason why I have mostly stopped watching the Jays this year. The team has been marketed like crazy this year - lots of fancy promotional shoots, media coverage, apparent entitlement, etc. Unfortunately, one thing got left out of the mix: quality baseball on the field.

All hat and no cattle, or something along those lines.
hypobole - Friday, August 23 2013 @ 03:00 PM EDT (#278362) #
A few things struck me early on this season. The Jays fundamentals were not major league calibre. Shoddy defense from day one. This is on AA - bringing in guys like Melky, Boni and Izturis. The term I used was defensive indifference in describing his roster construction. The team plays small ball, trying to bunt, but their attempts could all too often be described as pathetic. And even when they sacrificed successfully, how often did it actually create a run?

As far as next year, maybe AA should take a look at how Cherington successfully rebuilt his team. No trading of top prospects, no giving up draft picks and no overpaying in years or dollars for FA's. Concentrate on solid mid-tier FA's. Maybe also sacrifice some offense for defense.

As far as AA's low point, this last draft was right near the top. Over and above their failure to sign their 1st rounder (again), ending up with over $400,000 in unspent bonus pool money in an era of capped spending is simply unacceptable.

Finally - their pitching coach and training staff. They may be great at what they do, but results certainly don't bear that out. I would not be surprised and definitely not displeased if changes are made in the offseason.
Beyonder - Friday, August 23 2013 @ 03:44 PM EDT (#278364) #
Maybe AA should look at what Cherrington did during the offseason, but I don't know if I would call what he did rebuilding. The most important thing BC did in the offseason was recognize that 2012's dissappointing 69-93 season was caused by a serious but temporary regression by some of his top performers. His best move was the toughest thing to do in professional sports: standing pat.

Although the Sox made a series of moves in the offseason, the main reason for their improvement was not any of these signings (Victorino has been OK), but rather marked improvements from players already on the roster. Some of this were players recapturing old form (Lackey, Ellsbury). Some of this was certain players coming out of the blue to have standout seasons (Nava, Saltamachia, Doubront). But there was really no rebuild.
Beyonder - Friday, August 23 2013 @ 04:14 PM EDT (#278367) #
Agreed about the low point being the draft. The 400G in unspent pool money doesn't even really capture it. The fact was they ended up throwing 1.55 million dollars of pool money at Tellez and Brentz because they couldn't find anyone else to take it. Those bonuses were the first and third ever highest paid (respectively) to players drafted after the tenth round.

The early return on the crown jewel of the draft, Tellez, is pretty poor.
greenfrog - Friday, August 23 2013 @ 06:01 PM EDT (#278368) #
Here are the Red Sox main additions, by fWAR (to date):

Victorino 4.1
Uehara 2.2
Drew 2.0
Napoli 1.9
Dempster 1.2
Carp 0.9
Ross: 0.6 (injury notwithstanding)
Gomes: 0.6

Not to mention the contributions being made by mid-season acquisitions Thornton and Peavy.

First of all, Victorino has been excellent, not just "OK." Second, while that isn't an especially sexy list of acquisitions, it adds up to quite a bit of value. And it cost the Red Sox only cash on short-term contracts. They've had no colossal busts like JJ, Melky, Bonifacio and Izturis. Cherington has been on a heck of a roll over the last year.
Magpie - Friday, August 23 2013 @ 07:06 PM EDT (#278369) #
The Jays fundamentals were not major league calibre

Curiously, this was an on-going refrain during the 1980s. It might be an ongoing refrain for every team that disappoints its followers, but I don't think so. Anyway, Toronto always had these teams that were full of talent, kept falling short, and this was always regarded as one of the fatal flaws. They "didn't play the game the right way."

Changing the culture - it's almost an emergency move, for a desperate and disappointing team. But sometimes - sometimes - it's exactly what's required. It certainly was one of the major points of the early 1990s transactions. Swapping out Fernandez for Alomar, - young Fernandez made no end of dumb plays, and his head wasn't always in the game. Even McGriff for Carter - McGriff was a far greater offensive player, but there really are times when you want the hitter to try to cash in the baserunner rather than take the walk and pass the baton. Likewise, changing the culture was how the White Sox won in 2005. Replacing Carlos Lee with Scott Podsednik says, as loudly as possible, that "we have to win with pitching and defense instead of waiting for the home run. So everybody get on the page."

That said, while I sure don't like how this team plays baseball - unless they get some starting pitching, it really doesn't matter how they play baseball. They're not winning anything.
greenfrog - Friday, August 23 2013 @ 08:27 PM EDT (#278370) #
By way of comparison, Victorino's fWAR this year (4.1) is roughly the same as that of Bautista (4.2) and EE (3.6).
Beyonder - Friday, August 23 2013 @ 11:45 PM EDT (#278378) #
I can accept that Victorino has been very good, or even excellent if you want to stretch. What's the lesson for Anthopolous though? Sign tier B or C free agents? We thought we'd signed a decent role player in Izturis, and though we'd acquired something even better in Bonifacio. We just turned out to be very wrong about both.

Boston has benefitted enormously from a return to form from Lackey, a great season from Doubront and Buchholz, and a huge increase in production from Ellsbury. Victorino has been good as well, but the rebuild had had much more to do with increased productivity from the existing players than from any of the offseason moves.

Mike D - Saturday, August 24 2013 @ 12:12 AM EDT (#278381) #
Ultimately, I don't hold AA responsible. He put together a really good team on paper; one that could theoretically win in a variety of ways. He may well be fired for having spent so much money on a disastrous season, and while that wouldn't be irrational, it would be unfair to me.

In contrast, I think Gibbons and his coaching staff have been colossal failures. There is a stunning deficit in on-field intelligence and apparent preparation. The Jays pitch to flawed opposing hitters as if they've never read a scouting report. Defensive positioning has suffered tremendously without Butterfield.

Arguments that "managers aren't magicians" or "he's not out there on the mound" are simply excuses and imply that the manager doesn't matter at all, which I think is false, or that because executing on the diamond is a player's responsibility (which is of course true), managers really shouldn't be held accountable when the team repeatedly gets outsmarted or outhustled. To get the very least imaginable out of most players when healthy is not the sign of a coaching staff that deserves another chance.
Mike Green - Saturday, August 24 2013 @ 01:49 AM EDT (#278384) #
I agree that the coaching staff has not distinguished itself. I also agree that AA assembled a good team during the off-season. A GM's job does not end when spring training begins, however, and AA has had a disastrous 6 months since March 1. He has dealt with the usual injury/underperformance issues abysmally. Calling up injured players prematurely, not addressing problem areas by prompt and judicious use of the farm or low-level acquisitions were his two major failings this year.

And as for the team culture, Anthopoulos is partially responsible. The lack of self-discipline on the club, reflected in the excessive playing time given to Bonifacio and Arencibia is surely not only Gibbons' decision.
jerjapan - Saturday, August 24 2013 @ 01:16 PM EDT (#278387) #
He has dealt with the usual injury/underperformance issues abysmally. Calling up injured players prematurely, not addressing problem areas by prompt and judicious use of the farm or low-level acquisitions were his two major failings this year.

And as for the team culture, Anthopoulos is partially responsible. The lack of self-discipline on the club, reflected in the excessive playing time given to Bonifacio and Arencibia is surely not only Gibbons' decision.

Mike, is there any actual way to measure what constitutes a premature call up for an injured player?  The sample size - Brett Lawrie and, uhh ...  is just too small in my books.  If anything, the team seems cautious with injured players to me, and I like how AA manipulated the 7th/8th spot in the pen to keep a fresh arm around to soak up innings. 

However, I completely agree that problems at 2B, catcher and the back of the rotation were not addressed.  I'm still really, really frustrated that we didn't swap a couple of relievers (Jansenn and Stilson?) and a prospect for Ian Kennedy, who would've solidified the rotation and eaten some of those innings currently going to an 8th reliever. 

Heck, I would've promoted Negrych back when you were banging that drum just to signal to the organization that results matter. 
katman - Saturday, August 24 2013 @ 01:17 PM EDT (#278388) #
I'll agree with Mike. The management of the franchise since the season began has been really poor. It's fair to fault AA for that.
Ryan Day - Saturday, August 24 2013 @ 03:05 PM EDT (#278392) #
To rub a bit of salt in the wounds, Emilio Bonifacio has stolen 7 bases in 9 games with the Royals (and has yet to be caught), has drawn 5 walks vs 4 strikeouts, and sports a tidy .353 OBP.

Small sample, etc, but he looks like he'll blow past his Jays steal total by the end of next week, and may well draw more walks in 20-30 games in Kansas than he did in 94 in Toronto.
jerjapan - Saturday, August 24 2013 @ 03:23 PM EDT (#278393) #
I'll agree with Mike. The management of the franchise since the season began has been really poor. It's fair to fault AA for that.

It may very well be.  But how, specifically, has the management been so poor, and how can it be proven?  Obviously the won-loss record is what it is, but it is also possible that the position of many Bauxites - that the Jays have been really unlucky - is also plausible.  What decisions would you have made differently at the time? 
92-93 - Sunday, August 25 2013 @ 09:36 AM EDT (#278405) #
"What's the lesson for Anthopolous though? Sign tier B or C free agents?"

If the alternative is gutting your farm system for players you could've signed as FAs the year before, YES.
Hodgie - Sunday, August 25 2013 @ 11:55 AM EDT (#278406) #
The Victorino signing and resultant performance has been pure and simple luck. Unless someone really wants to argue Cherrington foresaw him putting up the second best season of his career at the age of 32 based entirely on ridiculous defensive numbers that he has never even approached before. If Cherrington can say that with a straight face I expect to see him at the last table in the next WSOP event.
hypobole - Sunday, August 25 2013 @ 02:10 PM EDT (#278409) #
"To rub a bit of salt in the wounds, Emilio Bonifacio has stolen 7 bases in 9 games with the Royals (and has yet to be caught)"

The Royals have the Butterfield of bunting and baserunning coaches in Rusty Kuntz. This I'm sure played a big part in the Royals acquisition.

"The Victorino signing and resultant performance has been pure and simple luck"

The amount of performance has been luck, however Cherington knew he was getting a plus defender. Contrast his signing to that of Melky.
greenfrog - Sunday, August 25 2013 @ 02:27 PM EDT (#278410) #
I think it's fair to say that few expected big things from Victorino this year. He was a good match for Boston, though, given the challenges of playing RF in Fenway.

It doesn't necessarily follow that Boston was lucky in signing the players they did (while Toronto has been unlucky in receiving substandard performances from JJ, Melky, Boni and Izturis). Scouting, coaching and training staff could also have something to do with it.
Beyonder - Sunday, August 25 2013 @ 07:59 PM EDT (#278413) #
If the alternative is gutting your farm system for players you could've signed as FAs the year before, YES.

That isn't the alternative, but if you're going to say that, I'd like to know what sentiment you expressed at the time of the Miami trade. I only ask because I know I expressed that view, and I didn't feel like there were very many who agreed with me.
Magpie - Sunday, August 25 2013 @ 08:45 PM EDT (#278414) #
players you could've signed as FAs

If you mean the guys who signed with Miami, it would have taken much, much more than simply matching the money. There's no state income tax in Florida. Most major league baseball players already live in Florida and the ones who don't already live there certainly think well of the idea of living there. Reyes and Buehrle signed contracts that are generally regarded as over-paying to begin with. Toronto would have had to make those contracts much, much bigger to get them to sign here.
Beyonder - Sunday, August 25 2013 @ 09:11 PM EDT (#278415) #
That's one of those things that makes sense on paper, and yet, have you ever noticed players accepting a discount to play with any of the Florida teams? Are wages generally lower in Florida?
greenfrog - Sunday, August 25 2013 @ 09:21 PM EDT (#278416) #
Marisnick and Nicolino are nice prospects, but the Miami trade seems less likely to come back to bite the Jays than does the Dickey trade. Even with the JJ meltdown, Reyes and Buehrle was a nice return for the group of players sent to Florida. The Reyes injury makes the trade look worse than it was (I'm now worried about how Reyes will perform for the duration of his contract).

At the time, Gillick endorsed the Miami deal as a win for the Jays - that's good enough for me.
scottt - Sunday, August 25 2013 @ 09:58 PM EDT (#278417) #
Miami does not grant no trade clauses. That balances some of the advantages.
Also, Toronto can afford to pay more than Miami.
In fact anybody can afford to sign large back loaded contracts as long as the players are traded after a year or 2.
A "losing" trade is fine here, like the one Boston did with LA.

Magpie - Monday, August 26 2013 @ 10:01 AM EDT (#278420) #
as long as the players are traded after a year or 2.

That's probably easier said than done. But Reyes signed for 6 years, $106 million; Buehrle for 4 years, $ 58 million. Just how much higher than that would you go?
Magpie - Monday, August 26 2013 @ 10:09 AM EDT (#278421) #
Gillick endorsed the Miami deal as a win for the Jays - that's good enough for me.

Not for me! Like all GMs, Gillick made his share of lousy trades. The Phillies probably wish they still had Gio Gonzalez.
92-93 - Monday, August 26 2013 @ 10:13 AM EDT (#278422) #
Beyonder, throughout the winter I was very happy the Jays were finally spending money with a willingness to compete, but I was very skeptical of the timing after being sold patience for years and the method in which AA tried building a contender.

You can always use the archives to read old conversations. It's usually pretty fun.
greenfrog - Monday, August 26 2013 @ 11:35 AM EDT (#278425) #
Magpie, name me one long-tenured GM (whether or not as fantastically successful as Gillick in terms of W-L records, titles, etc.) who hasn't made his share of lousy trades. It's not as if I'm quoting Tony Reagins...

In any event, I haven't seen anything in 2013 to suggest that the Miami trade was a bad one - even with JJ and Boni proving to be duds.
hypobole - Monday, August 26 2013 @ 11:56 AM EDT (#278428) #
"I'm still really, really frustrated that we didn't swap a couple of relievers (Jansenn and Stilson?) and a prospect for Ian Kennedy, who would've solidified the rotation and eaten some of those innings currently going to an 8th reliever."

Bringing an extreme flyball pitcher into the RC is not a recipe for success. I remember a while back we had a poll question about what kind of ball park we'd build. I was very much of the opinion a pitchers park gives teams a competitive advantage. This season only solidifies my belief.
Beyonder - Monday, August 26 2013 @ 01:22 PM EDT (#278429) #
"You can always use the archives to read old conversations. It's usually pretty fun."

Thanks for the pointer. I had hit the "archives" link on the sidebar and it always took me to some ancient postings. And for some raesont he search function is always disabled. I finally hit the archive link up top and was able to find everything.

More to the point, I can see that you did in fact take that position at the time of the trade. I stand corrected.
China fan - Monday, August 26 2013 @ 03:41 PM EDT (#278433) #
Any thoughts from Bauxites on whether Gibbons should be replaced at the end of the season? It's the topic-de-jour at every other Jays website today, with Dirk Hayhurst publicly advocating the dismissal of Gibbons and predicting that it is likely to happen, even though Hayhurst admits that Gibbons doesn't deserve to be axed. Similar debates are going on at the Toronto Star and elsewhere today. So what do people think? Is there any benefit to hiring a new manager? Even if it would be unfair, should Gibbons go?
China fan - Monday, August 26 2013 @ 03:46 PM EDT (#278434) #
Here's the key sentence in the Hayhurst column today (which I don't necessarily agree with, but I'm excerpting it here because it fits provocatively into the debate in this thread):

"...the experiment has failed. The team, though talented, cannot police itself. It has gelled into a losing culture. Now, if anything, it needs a hard-ass to step in and rock the boat, but there is no incentive for Gibbons to play that role since it was never in his script, nor was it what he was cast do to."
greenfrog - Monday, August 26 2013 @ 05:18 PM EDT (#278438) #
Right, and once the hard-ass has been fired, the team can go searching for a more easygoing "player's manager," like Farrell or Gibbons...
Thomas - Monday, August 26 2013 @ 05:43 PM EDT (#278439) #

Greenfrog, most authoritative managers wear out their welcome eventually, and I'm sure the Jays would address that when it happened, but are you suggesting there's no merit to the idea that changing a clubhouse culture by installing a manager with a different personality can be effective in some cases?


I don't think the Jays would have won with a different manager this season, but I also haven't seen anything that would make me say with confidence that John Gibbons is the right man for this job.

greenfrog - Monday, August 26 2013 @ 06:25 PM EDT (#278441) #
Thomas, I was being rather glib. In truth, I don't know whether Gibbons is the right man for the job. I have my doubts, but I'm not sure how much of this season's performance is Gibbons' responsibility. When he was hired, many (including, perhaps, Gibbons himself) seemed to assume he wouldn't have to do much more than let a talented, experienced roster take care of business with minimal managerial oversight.

It's funny - when Gibbons was hired, AA said he'd never felt so confident about a hiring that he had made (I can't remember whether he said managerial hiring). But if you believe Bobby Cox, the Jays had approached Cox about the vacancy only a week or two earlier. So, presumably, AA would have felt even better about hiring the former Braves skipper, n'est-ce pas? The Jays could do worse than have a younger version of Cox at the helm of this club.

It seems to me that Gibbons was brought in to be a "good enough" manager. Maybe the Jays need to go find someone really, really good instead.
Ryan Day - Monday, August 26 2013 @ 07:31 PM EDT (#278444) #
I'm not sure how much of the season you can pin on Gibbons. The biggest blow to contention surely came from Johnson & Morrow being terrible & hurt; if that's anyone's fault, I'd blame the pitching coach or the training staff. (or more realistically, AA, for building a rotation on two guys with such spotty health records)

Ricky Romero fell apart before Gibbons got here. Happ's injury was pure fluke, as was Reyes'. Maybe Gibbons played a part in rushing Lawrie back from the DL, but that decision ultimately rested with AA.

Melky Cabrera looks like he aged 10 years since last season. I'd argue Gibbons could have benched him more, or convinced AA to DL him, but he was still on the roster. I don't know where the blame lies for Izturis & Bonifacio becoming terrible, but even if you blame Gibbons 100% for that, it's still just a drop in the bucket of this season's disaster.

I'd blame Gibbons somewhat for the catching situation. Arencibia has been awful for months, but he keeps getting time behind the plate and at bats. He gets slightly less blame because none of the non-JPA options are particularly impressive.

He has mostly managed the bullpen quite well, though one wonders if another manager could have done a similar job with a smaller pen. And the team seems surprisingly content for such a terrible season - he seems to run a good clubhouse.

My guess is that Gibbons survives, but most of the coaching staff won't. Walker, Mottola, and Murphy seem like the most likely candidates to be axed.
James W - Monday, August 26 2013 @ 10:09 PM EDT (#278447) #
This doesn't really answer whether Gibbons should go or not, but I'm envious of franchises with stability in the coaching staff. Maddon's been in Tampa since 2006, Manuel was with the Phillies since 2005 (oops), etc.

The Steelers have had 3 head coaches in the last 44 years. It makes more of a difference in football, but something like that would be outstanding.
Magpie - Tuesday, August 27 2013 @ 08:40 PM EDT (#278458) #
name me one long-tenured GM... who hasn't made his share of lousy trades.

That's kind of my point!
greenfrog - Tuesday, August 27 2013 @ 09:20 PM EDT (#278459) #
One thing that struck me about Gillick's assessment of the trade was his observation that the Jays received significant value without giving up much. So far his assessment has been accurate on both ends, even with the JJ / Bonifacio underperformance (both players' tenure with the Jays is effectively over, in any case).

Johnson was a bust, but the real problem is that the Jays had four busts in the rotation: JJ, Morrow, Romero, Happ. Had Reyes not been injured, the Jays likely would have received very good value from Reyes and Buehrle this year. Bonifacio was terrible, of course, but he was exposed because of the Jays' lack of a true 2B option and lack of positional player depth generally.
Magpie - Tuesday, August 27 2013 @ 09:59 PM EDT (#278462) #
the Jays received significant value without giving up much.

It's true that they didn't appear to be giving up much of anything that was going to help them in 2013 (although I think the Jays would be much, much better off if they had kept Jeff Mathis.) I'm not an Alvarez fan, and he's been injured much of the year. Even so, he'd have been an upgrade on everyone not named Buehrle or Dickey that the Jays have tried. It remains to be seen whether Hechevarria or Marisnick amount to anything. (The Marlins love Hechevarria's glove and talk of him winning a Gold Glove someday. Which is silly - I like his defense too, but as long as Andrelton Simmons is walking the earth the only way Hechevarria ever wins a Gold Glove is by coming back to the American League.)
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