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Now that's a bit more like it.

A few hits, several walks, some production with runners in scoring position and a two inning save and Bob's your uncle. Another loss yesterday would not have been a nice way to start a series with the teams Bete Noire.
David Selig has the recap at mlb.com. Where is Fordin slacking off to anyway ?
The O-Dog had a couple of homers, Miguel Batista had an excellent two innings, but it wasn't the most exciting of games. Eric Hinske's strikeout troubles continue, he had another 3 Ks early on (he's third in the AL now), and had 6 Left on Base. He came through in the late rally though with a run and an rbi.

Rob has been making great use of the Game Score in his game reports, and as I am always all for jumping on any passing bandwagons, I have some Game Score data and graphs for you today. Prior to the game I shoved Chacin's scores for all his appearances into a spreadsheet, to see if I could spot any trend in his starts to date. It all looked a bit random though, and he hasn't made many starts. So I tried the same thing with the other starters, for all their starts last year and this year.
For comparison here are some of the leaders and stragglers in Average Game Score amongst starters for 2005.

Clemens 	67
Halladay 	64
Willis 		63
Rogers 		56
Nomo 		41
Lima 		37
Milton 		36

Here are the numbers for the Jays main starters for the year.
Chacin
average: 48
standard deviation: 17.15

Halladay
average: 56.52
standard deviation: 18.40

Lilly
average: 50.15
standard deviation: 16.4

Towers
average: 45
standard deviation: 17.8

Bush
average: 50
standard deviation: 17

The drawing of conclusions on this data I will largely leave as an exercise for the reader, because frankly I've probably had a few more cold beers this afternoon in the hot sun than might have been strictly good for me.
It should be noted that this isn't the most sophisticated of statistics, but are there any trends or conclusions to be spotted here, or is it just noise? Tower's chart was the most unlike I expected it to be, decent and poor performances I was ready to see mixed in, but I was quite surprised to see he has often managed to put together three good starts in a bunch, when the quality of his performances had always seemed to be almost completely random. Bush's starts in May this year, which got him demoted, don't seem to be particularly worse than those he was producing in Sptember.

Links

Peter Gammons latest, about the slow trade market." In Boston and New York, there's the attitude that because their teams want and need someone, that the Pirates, Tigers, Brewers, Athletics and Blue Jays should give them up. Think again." And an interesting Ted Lilly rumour.

Ken Rosenthal reports A.J.Burnett might be on his way to the AL East

This is a weird one, the Jays are playing in a furniture store this week.

The Yankees want to make some trades. The question is what do they have to offer a prospective trade partner beyond the ability to take on bad salaries ?

Richard Griffin claims Vernon Wells is not making a big enough contribution.

Game Day
The good guys travel to Tampa Bay. Pete Walker is set to start against Hideo Nomo.

Jays 9 - Nationals 5 | 51 comments | Create New Account
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Flex - Monday, June 27 2005 @ 09:17 AM EDT (#120739) #
Richard Griffin is right.
Pistol - Monday, June 27 2005 @ 09:47 AM EDT (#120740) #
The Ryan Howard tidbit was interesting. Here's his AAA line this year: .378/.477/.699 in 196 ABs. But he's also struck out 57 times (29%).

So is he the next Calvin Pickering or next David Ortiz?

Also from Gammons an interesting table on AL 1B:
Year 	Slugging pct. 	Batting average 
2000 	.501 	        .291 
2001 	.497 	        .286 
2002 	.480 	        .279 
2003 	.458 	        .272 
2004 	.450 	        .266 
2005 	.440 	        .264 
Jordan - Monday, June 27 2005 @ 09:50 AM EDT (#120741) #
Trade season is fun, even if (or because) 80% of the trades discussed never come close to reality.

We've talked before about how GMs don't spill all their beans to the media, and it's quite possible that JP Ricciardi is working on a Ted Lilly deal right now. But if his comment to Gammons is straight shooting (and to be fair, Ricciardi isn't known for outright fabrications), then Lilly is going nowhere this year, not even for powerful Ryan Howard. That implies a few things:

1. Ricciardi thinks Lilly can still turn it around and be a consistent winner this year. He thinks the Jays are a better team with Lilly than without him. That's worth considering.

2. Related to that, it's now squarely the responsibility of John Gibbons and Brad Arnsberg -- two men who've reportedly had it with Lilly -- to put aside their frustrations and make a breakthrough with the left-hander. Ricciardi isn't going to let them off the hook by dealing Lilly; he's saying: "It's your job to get him back on the beam."

3. He's actually not deeply enamoured of Ryan Howard, who, despite a .700 slugging percentage, is 25 years old, has 57 strikeouts in 196 AB, and has still not convinced some scouts he can hit major-league pitching consistently.

4. He's determined to instill "attitude" in the Jays clubhouse. It's why he's hanging on to Hillenbrand, who, whatever his other personality features, hates to lose as much as Ricciardi does. It's why he publicly remonstrates his centerfielder for careless play. It's why he's changed his coaching staff from a group of teachers to a group of performance-focused guys.

5. Ricciardi knows the Jays don't have the talent to win yet, but he wants the team to develop the expectation of winning; adding more talent to the club down the line would then simply reinforce the winning attitude already in place, instead of trying to import one fresh from the outside. It's one of the reasons he wanted to get guys like Gross, Rios, and Adams out the wasteland of Syracuse last season. He's convinced that losing is a habit picked up from the culture of a clubhouse, just as much as winning is.

This underlines my belief that Ricciardi will only deal spare parts before the July deadline, unless someone blows him away with an offer for a Batista or a Lilly. He wants to give his club the best possible chance of winning every game, and he wants them to know it. (Batista, interestingly, has been stretched out for some multi-inning appearances recently, as we've suggested. The experiment has gone very well, making him more valuable on the market, but also more valuable to the Jays -- and that's not counting his reported mentorship role for Gustavo Chacin).

JP is playing this whole thing very interestingly. He's unquestionably in a buyer's position -- he has both the money to spend and the prospects to deal -- but he's placing the focus on the players he has now (and particularly their coaching staff) to maximize every opportunity to win and instill that appraoch to all the young guys coming up from the minors. It's a cautious but cagey approach, and it could really pay off. I'm coming to like it.

Dave Till - Monday, June 27 2005 @ 10:30 AM EDT (#120744) #
In retrospect, something that now seems obvious about the Ash era was that there was no real incentive to make the extra effort to win. Because the team had such a low budget, the good players on the roster knew that their jobs were safe.

For veterans, this isn't much of an issue, as preparation and effort are second nature to them. But many of the Jays' younger players, when handed jobs, didn't work as hard as they could have. It's not necessarily their fault - when a player is young, he may not realize how hard it is to stay effective at the major league level. And a low-budget team can't afford a lot of veterans, especially veterans who have played on winning teams in the past - such players were out of Interbrew's price range. This means that there aren't many positive examples to learn from.

This is why I am beginning to believe that clearing space on a roster to give a starting job to a rookie (which BP, among others, advocates) is usually a bad idea. It's only human nature to not work as hard when there's no competition behind you. This is why having multiple players at a position may be a good thing - players start working harder to try to pick up more playing time.

It's quite likely that Aaron Hill would have succeeded under any circumstances - he's an exceptional player, and I'm told that his work ethic is very good (he apparently just loves the game). But I don't think it hurt his development to have to wait an extra half-year at Syracuse.

As for Vernon Wells: I think that people expect too much from him. He's far from perfect, but he's not one of the major problems with the offense. The Jays should worry about the hitters with an OBP below .300 who aren't in double digits in home runs before demanding more from V-Dub.
Flex - Monday, June 27 2005 @ 10:35 AM EDT (#120745) #
Nice post from Jordan -- I always like reading his thoughtful comments.

I found it interesting listening to Gibbons on the pre-game show yesterday. He made a point of praising Hudson and of saying a player's value can't always be measured in offense. That "some people" factor offense too highly and don't take into account the runs a guy saves with his spectacular defense. He has said similar things before, and I always wonder whether he's sending a message to his boss who might be considering trading away that spectacular defense. Of course, then Hudson goes out and proves himself an offensive force to boot.

I also loved reading Hillenbrand's quote on the Jays website the other day bemoaning the fact that too many people in the clubhouse are "happy-go-lucky" and "just happy to be here" instead of being aggressive in their preparation and their approach. Seems to me he's talking primarily about Wells. "Happy-go-lucky" fits Wells to a T. According to Griffin, the happy new dad was happy to be standing on second base Saturday when he had all kinds of time to run first to third on a hit to the corner.

Frank C. once wondered aloud why more of his teammates didn't take advantage of the video tools at their disposal to get ready for certain games and pitchers. And lately Zaun has been grumbling about the team's lack of achievement. I think the shift to performance-oriented coaches on this team is a good thing, but I don't know how much impact it can have when certain key players lack the drive to make themselves better and rise to challenges. Wells has been cut a lot of slack this year -- he's pressing, people say, trying to do too much in the absence of Delgado. I don't think so. Everything he says indicates the opposite. Apparently he didn't run to third because he was still sleepy from the birth of his child. Excuse me? Does a broker get to say, sorry Mr. Client, I made that bad trade that lost you $2 million because my wife just gave birth and I was sleepy. Give me a break.

Attitude may be the unmeasurable sixth tool -- it's either in your nature to drive toward success and put yourself on the line, or it isn't. I think Riccardi knows that too and that's why he focused so much on Ricky Romero's winning attitude in the draft.
Mike Green - Monday, June 27 2005 @ 10:47 AM EDT (#120747) #
Ryan Howard's hitting .377 despite all those strikeouts. What's going on?

The way I look at these things is to measure BABIP and BABOP (batting average on balls in play and out of play-K's and HRs respectively). Howard's marks are .476 and .208. The BABOP is good, but not exceptional, the BABIP is otherworldly. In other words, fluke. That's not to say that Howard won't hit in the big leagues. Even knocking 80 points off his batting average this year, he's put up nice double A and triple A numbers for 1 and 1/2 years. It looks to me like he'll hit .275 with 25-30 homers and 60 walks if given a full shot.

As for our masher, Chip Cannon's line for the year reads .298/.386/.634, with BABIP/BABOP of .314/.238. In other words, there is no fluke here at all. It's only A ball, though.

As for Lilly, it's a real act of faith. His career line is 703 innings, 106 homers, 277 walks, 602 strikeouts, with an ERA of 4.67, despite having played most of his career in pitching friendly parks. Expecting him to perform at a better rate than his career line is really not reasonable. How much better is that than what you'd expect from Bush, Marcum or Rosario? That doesn't mean that he should be traded, but it does mean that reasonable offers should be considered. That, of course, goes for most of the players on the club.
Dave Till - Monday, June 27 2005 @ 10:48 AM EDT (#120748) #
Interesting points, Flex. One of the difficulties I face as an outside observer is that I simply don't know how hard a player is working. If Wells isn't putting in enough hours, he should be censured for that - and I don't know whether he is or not.

As for the best temperament for baseball: it's a tradeoff. A player that is too intense may pressure himself into a slump. (From my vantage point, this seems like Eric Hinske's life story in a nutshell.) A player who is not intense enough can wind up just mailing in his performance if not pushed.

In the modern age of baseball, it's the manager's job to figure out how to get his players to produce the optimum effort. He needs to know which players need a kick in the pants and which need a boost of confidence. That's really the only tough part of the job - virtually anybody can make out a lineup or switch pitchers.

Also, a player's temperament is always judged more harshly when he is struggling. Two years ago, commentators raved about Wells's maturity and his coolness under pressure.
Dave Till - Monday, June 27 2005 @ 10:51 AM EDT (#120749) #
One more thing, while I'm still here: I suspect that small things, such as illnesses and injuries, play more of a part than is sometimes realized.

A major league player is expected to play through small sprains and ordinary viruses. How many players miss time due to, say, the common cold? How many players go on the disabled list due to a stomach virus? Not many. And these sorts of minor problems are never revealed in the press, for fear of providing information to opponents.

But these sorts of everyday problems obviously do affect a player's performance. I'm not saying that this explains Wells. But I am saying that we often don't know enough to know what is really happening.
Pistol - Monday, June 27 2005 @ 10:52 AM EDT (#120750) #
One of Rosenthal's columns:

http://msn.foxsports.com/mlb/story/3720056

"The Florida Marlins are considering trading right-hander A.J. Burnett. The Marlins are engaged in preliminary discussions about Burnett with the Orioles and a second, unidentified American League club. Their goal in trading Burnett, who will be a free agent at the end of the season, would be to obtain three major-league parts a young starting pitcher, quality reliever and left-handed hitting outfielder."

I can think of a certain Canadian team that have a need for a top of the rotation starter, might be able to come up with a package that the Marlins would be interested in (given the above), would be able to afford an extension to Burnett, and has a pitching coach that Burnett likes. Perhaps they are the unidentified team.
Rob - Monday, June 27 2005 @ 10:58 AM EDT (#120751) #
a player's temperament is always judged more harshly when he is struggling

"Your shower shoes have fungus on them. You'll never make it to the bigs with fungus on your shower shoes. If you win 20 in the show, you can let the fungus grow back and the press will think you're colorful. Until you win 20 in the show, however, it means you are a slob."

As for the Game Report, which is excellent despite Gwyn stealing my idea (kidding, kidding), it's interesting that Halladay has the highest standard deviation among his starts. In fact, maybe it isn't. That includes his injured 2004 and his three worst starts in the chart include June and July before he went on the DL. Focus on 2003 and 2005 instead and you'll see a consistent pitcher.

However, looking at "average - SD", you can really see how good Halladay has been in relation to the rest of the rotation:

Halladay    38
Lilly       34
Bush        33
Chacin      31
Towers      27

This is hardly surprising, since he has four of the top five starts for Blue Jay pitchers this year. Doc also doesn't show up on the list of worst starts -- again, through June 14 -- until the 13th spot, and even then, he went six innings (April 24).

Most of the rotation gets more efficient (fewer pitches per inning) the longer they throw and the reverse is true (inefficient in short starts): Bush, Chacin, Towers. Interestingly, Lilly and Halladay do not, at least to any mathematical extent, follow that pattern. Looking at all the starts overall, it seems pretty random, though the RHP are significantly more consistent in this Pitches/IP measure than the LHP, if that means anything.

Jordan - Monday, June 27 2005 @ 11:16 AM EDT (#120752) #
Their goal in trading Burnett, who will be a free agent at the end of the season, would be to obtain three major-league parts a young starting pitcher, quality reliever and left-handed hitting outfielder.

Gustavo Chacin, Justin Speier and Gabe Gross? It's possible. A lot would depend on whether Arnsberg could extract the ace from inside Burnett. You also have to be very careful of a pitcher who's delivered more than 120 innings only twice in six major-league seasons and who's going to get expensive next year. I'd rather see the resources plowed into a bat than an arm, especially with the young pitchers close to the majors, but Burnett is certainly intriguing.

Mike Green - Monday, June 27 2005 @ 11:20 AM EDT (#120753) #
I must admit I find this ragging on Wells for his attitude tiresome, as I did when the same was applied to Delgado in previous years. Especially when combined with the incessant praise for Hillenbrand's demeanour. Hillenbrand's hitting .304/.364/.449 with 11 GIDP in less than half a season. I am glad that he's taking a few more walks, and that he's learned from Sparky to take a few for the team, but he's still an average offensive DH/1B. Untouchable? Hardly. A cleanup hitter? I don't think so. A valuable role player? Sure.

I'd prefer to see less of a veteran preference. That goes for the organization's attitude toward John McDonald, Shea Hillenbrand, Cat and Ted Lilly. Players who are younger and are at least as good, and probably better, are having their career development impeded by the use or overuse of these players. It's one thing when the younger players are 21-22, and another when the younger players are 24-25.
Pistol - Monday, June 27 2005 @ 11:36 AM EDT (#120754) #
I'd rather see the resources plowed into a bat than an arm, especially with the young pitchers close to the majors, but Burnett is certainly intriguing.

I don't think this has to be a pitching or hitting situation. I say go get both!

The Jays have that $210 for 3 years and are using around $50 million of that this year. That leaves an average of $80 million/year for 2006 and 2007. Keeping everyone currently on the roster will get the payroll to the $60 million range, which gives around $20 to work with. That should be plenty to improve several areas.

Rob - Monday, June 27 2005 @ 11:46 AM EDT (#120755) #
Correct me if I'm wrong, but A.J. Burnett will clear six years of service time sometime during this season and has no existing contract for 2006, right? I'm just wondering how Florida could expect to get three major-league players for Burnett if he's going to be a free agent in a few months.
Mike Green - Monday, June 27 2005 @ 11:58 AM EDT (#120756) #
Here's a fascinating piece from today's Hardball Times on mid-season Pythagorean W-L records. In 2004, mid-July Pythagorean winning pct. predicted final winning pct. better than mid-July winning pct. That is amazing because half the season is already gone at that point with actual winning pct. being dead on. It would be very interesting to compare the accuracy of mid-season Pythagorean winning pct. with mid-season actual winning pct. in projecting winning pct. for the remainder of the year. I would be surprised if Pythagorean didn't whomp actual over a period of years. This, of course, would explain the rapid fall from grace of the Giants this year.
Gerry - Monday, June 27 2005 @ 12:19 PM EDT (#120757) #
Hudson's numbers ....

OBP .297
SLG .377
OPS .674
Ave .241

I have a question for the stat guru's. If Hudson remains at this level of offense how much value does his defense add? Specifically, is he more valuable than a .275 BA, .325 OBP, .400 SLG second baseman who is average to below average defensively?
Jonny German - Monday, June 27 2005 @ 12:24 PM EDT (#120759) #
Apparently he didn't run to third because he was still sleepy from the birth of his child.

Apparently, according to who? Unless it's a direct quote from the player, I take this sort of thing as pure bunk from writers looking to create a story.

Chip Cannon's line for the year reads .298/.386/.634, with BABIP/BABOP of .314/.238.

That stat should simply be called BOP.

Lilly: The thing is, if you trade Lilly you're left with either an awfully green rotation for 2006, or you're overpaying on the free agent market. Without Lilly or some other vet, the rotation lines up as something like Halladay, Bush, Chacin, Marcum, Rosario. Drop one of the rooks in favour of Towers if you like, but I don't think you're further ahead. Now, if you had Halladay, Burnett, Lilly, Bush, Marcum/Rosario/Chacin, then you'd be talkin'. Rest assured that if Lilly is sent packing and pulls a Kelvim Escobar the bandwagon will be screaming. Hmm... haven't heard any screaming along those lines lately with Batista pitching well and Kelvim slated for elbow surgery...
Jordan - Monday, June 27 2005 @ 12:39 PM EDT (#120761) #
Regarding Hudson: his batting average on balls in play (.258) and his line-drive percentage (19.8%) are among the lowest on the team (Wells is down near the bottom too: .256 and 16.0%, respectively). There's often a correlation between these two numbers: Aaron Hill leads the Jays in both categories (.376 and 24.8%). So while Hudson and Wells aren't seeing a lot of balls drop in, it's not entirely a matter of bad luck. Still, both are better hitters than this.

Bad luck does appear to be the culprit for a player with one of the lowest BABIPs on the team (.250) but one of the highest LD% (23.1%). That player? Russ Adams, whom I'd been thinking has been swinging the bat better than his average indicates. Also, note Gabe Gross: .278 and 22.2%.
BCMike - Monday, June 27 2005 @ 12:40 PM EDT (#120762) #

As for Vernon Wells: I think that people expect too much from him. He's far from perfect, but he's not one of the major problems with the offense. The Jays should worry about the hitters with an OBP below .300 who aren't in double digits in home runs before demanding more from V-Dub.

This: .254/.302/.453 is a major problem any way you slice it. Wells is expected to be the leader of this offence... for reference his .755 OPS puts him behind Rios(.766). That is simply unaccecptable. Throw in his lazy play in the field and on the bases and you have a player who is very far from perfect.

VBF - Monday, June 27 2005 @ 12:51 PM EDT (#120765) #
Throw in his lazy play in the field and on the bases and you have a player who is very far from perfect.

Uhhh, no. I think the word lazy is probably not the word you're looking for. Vernon Wells is not lazy by any stretch of the imagination. He had *ONE* play this year where the result was unacceptable from a Major league point of view, but it happens. Considering all the factors in a ballgame, in an entire career, everyone will make a very bad play. Other than that, I see no way at all that anyone can say he's lazy, or that he loafs, or that he dogs it. Not at all.

In terms of running the bases, where did that even come from? Because Richard Griffin said so?

Four Seamer - Monday, June 27 2005 @ 01:13 PM EDT (#120771) #
As Yogi Berra once said, it's deja vu all over again.

Griffin's column today reminded me of a similar column he wrote a few years ago, deploring Carlos Delgado's lack of hustle and leadership in the clubhouse. Griffin, if I recall correctly, recanted that criticism this winter after Delgado signed with the Marlins. If history repeats itself, Wells will be considered an exemplary leader around the time he's traded or leaves via free agency.

Vernon's play of late has deservedly left him open to criticism, but I don't think anyone close to the team seriously doubts his character. Hopefully, he will take columns like Griffin's and comments like Ricciardi's to heart and become a better ballplayer as a result.
Mike Green - Monday, June 27 2005 @ 01:16 PM EDT (#120772) #
I don't have a direct answer to Gerry's question, but 7 singles would put Hudson at better than .275/.320/.400. It would not be outlandish to attribute his defence as saving more than 7 base hits so far this season, in terms of scale (see here). However, we don't have publicly accessible reliable defensive measures this year and so that is about all we can say. Subjectively, I'd buy it easily. I suspect that he's 20 base hits or 15 runs roughly better defensively over a season than the average second baseman. For what it's worth, Win Shares agrees.
Rob - Monday, June 27 2005 @ 01:18 PM EDT (#120773) #
Throw in his lazy play in the field and on the bases

This is the same Vernon Wells who said, "You need to get on a treadmill, man" and "You've obviously been drinking there [if you, a Phillies fan, think Jimmy Rollins is a CF]" to a fat guy in Clearwater. I'm sorry, I can't criticize his character after that. His .300 OBP, sure.

Alex Rios always strikes me as a very casual player. Two things: catching fly balls at shoulder-height with his head not facing the glove and wearing sunglasses on his hat followed by losing a ball in the sun.

BCMike - Monday, June 27 2005 @ 01:36 PM EDT (#120781) #

In terms of running the bases, where did that even come from? Because Richard Griffin said so?

Yes, because he just made it up right? Watch Wells when he runs to firstbase on fly balls to the outfield, most of the time he is not running hard. Wells is far too casual in his approach to the game. He might not be lazy but he certainly lacks intensity.

He had *ONE* play this year where the result was unacceptable from a Major league point of view, but it happens.

He had one play where the result was unncacceptable, but it wasn't the first time where he casually went after a ground ball.

BCMike - Monday, June 27 2005 @ 01:47 PM EDT (#120783) #

.Alex Rios always strikes me as a very casual player. Two things: catching fly balls at shoulder-height with his head not facing the glove and wearing sunglasses on his hat followed by losing a ball in the sun.

Rios' approach in the field bugs me too. I hate to rag on Wells more, but if you're a young guy and you see the way a gold glover and outfield leader catches balls, maybe you think it's ok to play that way as well. Now if you're a gold glover you probably get the benefit of the doubt, but when you are rookie I don't want to see any casual basket-type catches. Two hands on that ball kid :).

Flex - Monday, June 27 2005 @ 02:02 PM EDT (#120784) #
To respond to Johnny German's "unless it's coming from the player it's pure bunk" idea, the fact is that it did come from the player. This is the bit in Griffin's column talking about Wells not legging it out from first to third:

... After the game, even Jays coaches were baffled by the lost 90 feet. Young players need to see effort from their leaders.

"Having a baby is a long process," Wells said. "Obviously you don't get much sleep. It takes a little while to get your wits back about you. Everything is thrown out of whack there for a few days. Once you get your rest things usually fall back into the way they need to be."...

I tend not to be one of those who comes up with fictional motivations for a player's behaviour.
VBF - Monday, June 27 2005 @ 02:09 PM EDT (#120787) #
Watch Wells when he runs to firstbase on fly balls to the outfield, most of the time he is not running hard.

If there's a easy fly to the outfield, you're not going to see any player running hard. Those balls are going be caught all the time. Other than that, there hasn't been a single moment where Vernon has run the bases poorly and it has been obviously noted.

He had one play where the result was unncacceptable, but it wasn't the first time where he casually went after a ground ball.

What is casual? Like baserunning, there are just some plays that are so routine the outcome is expected. If a batter hits a basehit up the middle, he's going to round 1st and go back upon realizing Vernon fielded the ball and threw it in. Tejeda took advantage of a slower ground ball and that it took more time for Vernon to field it. It hasn't happened before, it probbaly won't happen again, so its hardly an issue. There are a ton of routine plays where you can criticize the players in volved for not going full out.

Now the reason Vernon looks very casual when he's making catches is due greatly to the excellent reads he gets on them. He doesn't have to be running full speed because he's going to get to the ball regardless. Which is why you wonder why some outfielders plays look like fantastic running catches, when Vernon's look quite routine.

SimonB - Monday, June 27 2005 @ 02:12 PM EDT (#120788) #
*Alex Rios always strikes me as a very casual player. Two things: catching fly balls at shoulder-height with his head not facing the glove and wearing sunglasses on his hat followed by losing a ball in the sun.*

I have noticed a little bit of this from Rios. It's almost the same thing as it is with Vernon. I'm not sure what to make of it exactly - but he sure does look graceful out there. He looks like a baseball player, far more than Wells, who looks like a football player.
VBF - Monday, June 27 2005 @ 02:13 PM EDT (#120789) #
"Having a baby is a long process," Wells said. "Obviously you don't get much sleep. It takes a little while to get your wits back about you. Everything is thrown out of whack there for a few days. Once you get your rest things usually fall back into the way they need to be."...

The thing about this 1st to 3rd issue is thet Griffin took one comment (above) and stuck it with a play in the game, regardless if there was any relation at all. Now, if Griffin directly asked Vernon why he didn't run to third, and he gave the above quote, then there is a relation, however that does not seem to be the case, unless someone can correct me.

HippyGilmore - Monday, June 27 2005 @ 02:14 PM EDT (#120790) #
You can mention Line Drive percentages and BABIP all you want, but when Alex Rodriguez has an LD% of 16.1, it considerably decreases my concern for Wells.
BCMike - Monday, June 27 2005 @ 02:38 PM EDT (#120797) #

What is casual? Like baserunning, there are just some plays that are so routine the outcome is expected. If a batter hits a basehit up the middle, he's going to round 1st and go back upon realizing Vernon fielded the ball and threw it in. Tejeda took advantage of a slower ground ball and that it took more time for Vernon to field it. It hasn't happened before, it probbaly won't happen again, so its hardly an issue. There are a ton of routine plays where you can criticize the players in volved for not going full out.

Tejada took advantage of a player who was simply not paying attention on a routine play where the outcome was expected and guess what, Tejada was not casually running to first base he was hustling and that gave him the opportunity to take advantage of the situation. That's the difference between someone who plays with some intensity and someone who takes a casual approach to every routine play. While that was only one play it was symptom of a larger issue. Being a Gold Glove winner doesn't excuse his approach.

I don't expect players to give 110% on every routine play, but I do expect them to be focused and to approach every play with some intensity.

To put it simply, Wells would be a better player if he had an attitude more like Reed Johnson or Shea Hillenbrand.

Craig B - Monday, June 27 2005 @ 02:44 PM EDT (#120800) #
Alex Rios always strikes me as a very casual player. Two things: catching fly balls at shoulder-height with his head not facing the glove and wearing sunglasses on his hat followed by losing a ball in the sun.

Rookie mistakes, yeah. But then, he's practically still a rookie. This doesn't excuse the mistakes - it's one of the reasons why managers don't like playing rookies - but it is an explanation. The key is to move beyond making those sorts of mistakes and I think Rios has become more consistent in the field, even though he doesn't break all that well to his left yet.

Of course, many of the worst mistakes in the field this year have been made by Reed Johnson - who (for example) twice in two games last month got himself turned around on fly balls over his head, once missing and once almost missing balls that should have been caught easily. And yet he's played errorless ball on the season and is defensively a gem in left field, and great except for throwing in right.

I'd say each of Rios and Johnson are right up there with the best defenders in the game at their positions. Johnson's better... I'd say that while Rondell White's still the class of leftfielders with Carl Crawford ready to take over, Reed is right behind them.

As for Rios, there's a group of RFs who are hard to separate, who are the best in the business as far as I'm concerned. Ichiro's the most well-known, although Geoff Jenkins is probably better. Along with those two, there's Jose Guillen who is just as good but less consistent with his throws (though he has a better arm). Alex is probably up there with Vladimir Guerrero and Juan Encarnacion in a group behind those three.

Throw in Vernon, who is up there with Beltran and Torii Hunter and Jim Edmonds and Andruw Jones (although the new star is Rowand, who's flat-out incredible) and that's three outfielders who are among the best at their position. Cat sort of throws a spanner in the works, but even he has improved noticeably in the last year and a half.

Slowly, almost without fanfare at all, the Blue Jays are turning into an elite defensive team. Few errors and a high defensive efficiency highlight that - now only one task remains before they are elite (other than getting Koskie back at third base), and that's increasing the double play effifiency. The Jays are only about average at turning the double play (they're about +1 this year over their expected double plays) despite Hudson's terrific range. I'd attribute most of that to Adams - he's not that good when called on to be the pivot man and only OK at getting the ball to the O-Dog quickly. (For his part, McDonald looks great on the double play).

VBF - Monday, June 27 2005 @ 02:51 PM EDT (#120801) #
That's the difference between someone who plays with some intensity and someone who takes a casual approach to every routine play.

So based on one play, you're concluding that Vernon Wells doesn't play with intensity. One play shows the difference? Intensity can't be measured by one play and one fan. The only person who can fairly assess the amount of intensity Vernon Wells plays with, is Vernon Wells. And intensity is something quite different than to originally say that he's lazy.

Pistol - Monday, June 27 2005 @ 03:21 PM EDT (#120803) #
I'm just wondering how Florida could expect to get three major-league players for Burnett if he's going to be a free agent in a few months.

For one Burnett's a pretty good player, and for certain teams might be the difference between making the playoffs and not making the playoffs (or winning a series or two).

And 'three major league players' is pretty broad. If it was Cat, Speier, and Chacin that'd be 3 major league players, but not that much of a price for a player like Burnett (and I'm not implying the Marlins would be interested in that).

But even if you trade for Burnett and he signs with another team this offseason you're going to end up with a couple high draft picks (which could also be better than the players you give up, albeit much further down the road).

Mike Green - Monday, June 27 2005 @ 03:31 PM EDT (#120805) #
Defense is so subjective. Carl Crawford is, as far I am concerned, easily the best defensive outfielder in the league. Of course, an A+ defender in left-field is worth less than an A in center. For me, Vernon remains a slightly above average centerfielder, moving well from side to side, but not so well in.
Pepper Moffatt - Monday, June 27 2005 @ 03:37 PM EDT (#120807) #
RE: Catching with two hands.

It may be tradition, but as Bill James has pointed out biomechanically it's a really stupid way to catch a ball. But the most important thing is making the catch - and Rios and Wells aren't exactly dropping tons of routine fly balls.

Lack of hustle can get grating, but it's the least of the Jays worries. Give me the guy who will hit .300 with 40 homers and doesn't run out routine groundballs - you can keep the replacement level players who feel the need to sprint everywhere.
Joe - Monday, June 27 2005 @ 03:56 PM EDT (#120808) #
Ever wanted to play virtual baseball and have it count for real? You could!
Magpie - Monday, June 27 2005 @ 03:57 PM EDT (#120809) #
There's also a widespread belief shared by just about every major leaguer that running hard to first on a routine popup or a grounder to second is not hustle, but rather cheap showmanship. Its thought of playing to the crowd, rather than playing the game.
Mike Green - Monday, June 27 2005 @ 04:03 PM EDT (#120810) #
Running hard to first on a popup is cheap showmanship, but on a grounder to second is not. The second baseman will misplay enough of the grounders that running hard will make a noticeable impact.

Amos Otis lives! (he ran hard on grounders, but not so much on pop-ups)
Rob - Monday, June 27 2005 @ 04:22 PM EDT (#120813) #
Joe, that's an amazing idea the Kansas City T-Bones have. Talk about innovation. Of course, it can only happen in independent leagues, because you can't count video game scores in Game 2 of the ALCS.
BCMike - Monday, June 27 2005 @ 04:25 PM EDT (#120815) #

So based on one play, you're concluding that Vernon Wells doesn't play with intensity. One play shows the difference?

No, in the part you quoted: "...and someone who takes a casual approach to every routine play." That one play was just a symptom of his approach.

I'll add that lacking intensity is essentially laziness and that any fan can assess the intensity a player plays with, otherwise players like Reed Johnson would not become fan favorites.

VBF - Monday, June 27 2005 @ 04:39 PM EDT (#120817) #
So, why is Reed Johnson so intense? In other words, what does he do to show you that he plays with more intensity than Vernon Wells?
VBF - Monday, June 27 2005 @ 05:13 PM EDT (#120822) #
So, if that one play is a symptom of his "laziness", where is the proof?

If someone has brain cancer, and a symptom is headaches, the proof is the cat scan and the fact that there's a tumour there. Symptoms are just meaningless random, non-related things without proof.

Also, if you believe that Vernon Wells is lazy then his mentality on that Tejeda play would've been something like this:

"Ah, I don't feel like throwing that ball in that fast. O, he went to second. Meh."

Where as it was probably like this:

"Okay, routine play...O crap, he's going to second...I should've got that ball in faster. My fault."
Pistol - Monday, June 27 2005 @ 05:18 PM EDT (#120823) #
Is race a factor in perception?

Most people would consider the biggest 'hustle' guys on the Jays to be Johnson, Hillenbrand, and Zaun. Wells and Rios have been among the most critcized Jays for being lazy.

A player's poll in 2003 asked who gets the most out of their talent, and 9 of the top 11 were white. The same poll asked who gets the least out of their talent, and only 1 of the 11 players were white (with the other 10 being a mix of black and Latin American players).

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/si_online/news/2003/07/01/survey/

I'm not sure what to make of it, but it seems to be more than just a coincidence.
VBF - Monday, June 27 2005 @ 05:19 PM EDT (#120824) #
I just don't think lazy is the right word for Vernon Wells. His head definitely wasn't all there on that play, but the simple fact that there haven't been others shows that this is an isolated event. If it happened again, which I assure you it won't then we'll know if there is an issue.

I won't be able to respond to a counter argument for a few hours.
Ducey - Monday, June 27 2005 @ 05:20 PM EDT (#120825) #
Questions:

1. Would we be talking about VW's effort if he was hitting .300?
2. Is there a correlation between base running/ defensive effort and hitting?
3. Is VW's hitting "problem" related to his effort "problem"?

It think the answer to the first 2 questions is "no". The answer to question 3 is "maybe" but it is just as likely that VW's poor showing at the plate is related to trying too hard, is it not?



Jim - Monday, June 27 2005 @ 08:31 PM EDT (#120842) #
"Apparently he didn't run to third because he was still sleepy from the birth of his child. Excuse me? Does a broker get to say, sorry Mr. Client, I made that bad trade that lost you $2 million because my wife just gave birth and I was sleepy. Give me a break."

I think to discount the effect of something like a child being born to a player is shortsighted. The vast majority of people do not keep a schedule like a major league player, and when their wives give birth they are out of work for an ample amount of time. If you don't think that people with young children don't have their work effected by that, then I'm guessing you've never worked in a professional setting.

There was really no excuse for the baserunning play, but to totally dismiss his child's birth seems naive to me.
Cristian - Monday, June 27 2005 @ 08:44 PM EDT (#120846) #
Maybe I'm missing something here but didn't Wells' wife just give birth to a child? Well, it seems obvious to me that Wells didn't stop at second base.
Rob - Monday, June 27 2005 @ 09:54 PM EDT (#120847) #
Everybody is overreacting to the Vernon Wells thing. Remember his brilliant play to double Angel Berroa off second?

"No, Rob, it's only one play. That doesn't mean anything."

Exactly. Now let's all shut up and bitch about Hideo Nomo.
costanza - Tuesday, June 28 2005 @ 12:08 AM EDT (#120859) #
1. Would we be talking about VW's effort if he was hitting .300?

Sure, people talked about Robbie Alomar's (perceived lack of) effort all the time. (Well, I did, anyways). Now THAT was a player who didn't run out ground balls.

SimonB - Tuesday, June 28 2005 @ 12:11 AM EDT (#120860) #
As for the top defensive center fielders in baseball, I'd just like to throw Jeremy Reed's name out there. I don't watch many (if any) Seattle Mariners games but he's been lighting up the highlight reels.
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