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Usually members of the Roster disappear without much fanfare. Articles with their name at the bottom simply stop appearing on Battersbox. People could get the wrong idea. So, my disappearance will be public and friendly, consistent with the truth that Battersbox is a pena, not a junta.

Baseball Analysis is not dead

No one is there forcing fans, or even encouraging them, to analyze the game. There is beauty in Devon White gliding to the ball in left-centerfield, or a John Olerud swing, or an efficient Greg Maddux start. We can watch the games without trying to understand them, but if we do wish to go further, we can do so on our own terms. We as fans can develop our own understanding of the way the game works.

Take the defensive abilities of outfielders. What factors go into whether a particular ball hit to the outfield is caught aside from the defensive ability of the outfielders on either side of the ball (and perhaps the infielders going back on it)? Well, you have the positioning of the defenders, and you have the location where the ball is hit and how long it is up in the air. Let's take an example- a ball hit about 80 feet beyond where a shortstop normally plays. If the ball is in the air 2 seconds, it's a liner and will not be caught unless a shift is on. If the ball is in the air 3 seconds, it's a soft liner or low bloop and a tough play. If it's in the air 4.5 seconds, it is probably a routine fly, and if it's in the air 6 seconds, it's a high short fly which the shortstop, centerfielder or leftfielder can play very easily.

We can describe each ball hit in the air easily. We mark where the batted ball first makes contact with a fielder's glove, the ground or the wall. We draw an imaginary line from home plate to the place of first contact. The angle this line makes with the first base line give us direction. The length of the line gives us distance. We must measure hang time, from bat contact to first contact with glove, ground or wall. We end up with a line drive to left-center being described as a 60 degree, 180 ft, 2.1 second ball or simply (60, 180, 2.1). If we do this often enough, we can find out what percentage of the time on average a play is made for each described ball. There are, of course, special problems with balls near or off the wall with variance depending on the park.

The average game has about 30 balls in the air that stay in the yard. It would be nice if mlb tracked the hang time of these balls, but they don't. We as fans could. All we need are eight people with TV to track the fly balls in 20 Blue Jays games. That's 600 fly balls each. Project Scoresheet was a lot harder than this, but we do need a better name than Project Hang Time.

At the 50th percentile where the great yawns begin

Watching the Blue Jays of 2007 has been an exercise in frustration, and it does not promise to get better. Their architect, J.P. Ricciardi, is a man of a few weaknesses and a few strengths, but ultimately he is not likely to guide them into the playoffs in a strong division. Being an average traditional general manager is simply not good enough for this club. Ricciardi's learning curve has been painfully slow, so it is unlikely that he will be good enough any time soon. The AL East is also a division that promises to get even stronger. There is the very real possibility that Tampa will pass Toronto in 2008, and by 2009, the Devil Rays will be fixing their gaze on the goliaths of the AL East.

Manager John Gibbons and his coaches are cut from the same cloth as Ricciardi, from the old school and not particularly good at what they do. At this point, the best thing for Ted Rogers and Paul Godfrey to do is clean house entirely. They are not likely to do so, at least until the club starts losing big-time. In the meanwhile, fans are likely to see more of the same. The only difference may be the unwillingness of more players to come to or stay in Toronto. The first sign of that may come this off-season. Ricciardi has indicated that he wants to sign Alex Rios to a long-term contract. We will see if Rios gives up any free agency years, but I am betting that he will want to get out of town as soon as possible.

And me..

I will be reading the boxscores and watching the games for the pure joy of it, with nothing much invested in the outcome. The difference between watching a game at the Rogers Centre and watching one at Christie Pits can be as small or large as the fan wants it to be. Meanwhile, the remainder of the playoffs await us.


Tim Raines was great, and is on the Hall of Fame ballot this year. I don't know if he would be a unanimous selection by the Internet baseball Writers of the World to their Hall of Fame, but it would be pretty close. Perhaps the print writers are open to persuasion. The next great after Raines who might be ignored would be Barry Larkin in 2009. If he is missed by the writers, that would be an Arky Vaughan size mistake. And that was a doozy.
Parting Thoughts | 24 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Flex - Thursday, October 11 2007 @ 10:00 AM EDT (#175221) #
I don't get it. Where are you going? Are you leaving because you don't like the direction of the Jays? Is this your "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore" moment? Is your computer on its last legs and you're not going to buy another? Are you moving to the Arctic? Are you becoming a Buddist Monk? Are you moving to a cabin in the woods where you will grow your hair long and write anarchic manifestos?

Please explain.

Mick Doherty - Thursday, October 11 2007 @ 10:52 AM EDT (#175222) #
Sorry, Flex. Mike can't respond to your questions for 20 years to Life. That is all I can say on the matter.
Mike D - Thursday, October 11 2007 @ 11:00 AM EDT (#175223) #
You've always been nothing less than an absolute credit to Batter's Box, Mike G.  Hope to see you join me as a regular reader.
Jonathan - Thursday, October 11 2007 @ 11:23 AM EDT (#175224) #
I could not agree more with your thoughts.  JP was brought in with the idea that he was cut of a different cloth, but now seems no different than the other middling GMs in the game, while teams like the Rays, 'Backs, Brewers, Rockies, Red Sox, Indians and Angels seem to have a better grasp on the balance between building for the future effectively (high-leverage draft pick selections) complemented by astute veteran signings.  The Jays cannot be a great team again so long as Godfrey and JP are at the realm - they are two of the same, not seeking a different formula for real success.  This team has become much like Gord Ash's teams have become - great individual talents, some built through the farm and others signed to hefty FA contracts - in a debilitating combination that does not allow the team the spark, flexibility and real dynamic needed to compete for the city's heart, nor with teams that are smarter or richer.
I will continue to love the Blue Jays, but it seems to be more the way one loves that ex-girlfriend who made a few poor decisions along the way.  You cheer for them to do their best, but you know that their glory days are in the rear-view window.

Go Rockies!

Ryan Day - Thursday, October 11 2007 @ 11:48 AM EDT (#175225) #

while teams like the Rays, 'Backs, Brewers, Rockies, Red Sox, Indians and Angels seem to have a better grasp on the balance between building for the future effectively (high-leverage draft pick selections) complemented by astute veteran signings.

 One of these things is not like the others.  The Rays have had a top-10 draft pick every year for nearly 10 years, and they still have never won more than 70 games. They're almost the textbook definition of having lots of talent but no idea what to do with it.

Frank Markotich - Thursday, October 11 2007 @ 12:08 PM EDT (#175226) #

You can say something similar about the Brewers, who until this year last finished above .500 in 1992. This year they won 83 games in the weakest division in baseball, the same record as the Blue Jays.

And while I have nothing but admiration for the Red Sox management, let's not forget their payroll is about $25 million above the third-highest team.

Lefty - Thursday, October 11 2007 @ 12:15 PM EDT (#175227) #
Dear Mike,

I'm sorry to hear you are moving on. As has been mentioned many times over the years your thoughts and contributions to this discussion forum have been consistently very good. I'm sure longtime readers will like me, miss those thoughts very much.

I noted the very strong position you took on John MacDonald. I can't help but think this may have the last straw for you.

Its funny, when I discovered this place 4-5 years ago  it was a Ricciardi love fest. If you didn't love JP you  were  not like  the others. It seemed it was less about the team than more about the man. Pretty much  all  of those Roster  members have  moved on, and as you noted without any announcement.

With your departure this site will have one less knowledgeable and respected voice.

All the best,

Mylegacy - Thursday, October 11 2007 @ 12:43 PM EDT (#175231) #


Many thanks for sharing yourself over the years with us. It's been our gain. Your contributions have been taken on board, we are, at least partly, who you've made us. I was looking at the stats, I've written 0 "Articles" and made 621 "Comments" you've written 433 "Articles" and made 7,890 "Comments." You've authored nearly as many "Articles" as I've made flippant "Comments."

Loving a baseball team, not just following one, is much like real loving in real life. It's delicate and the bond can be broken by either party. You want to trust, have to trust really, need to trust. But, when that bond of trust is stretched further than you are prepared to live with, it snaps. Most times it never heals. We move on. Very sad.

I feel like I'm 9 years old and one of my older brothers is moving to Fort McMurray.  I just want you to know your key will always fit our door, we'll never change the lock. You're family, you're always welcome. We'll always smile when, if, you return. Good bye, good luck.


R Billie - Thursday, October 11 2007 @ 01:00 PM EDT (#175234) #

Mike, I sure hope this isn't a goodbye for good, perhaps just a goodbye as a regular contributor and article writer.  I would definately miss your insight on important personnel moves and on various prospects already with the team or in the minors.

I can understand the frustration with the apparent lack of progress for the Jays.  The organization seems to have spun its wheels for a few years and then basically dived all in on whatever free agents happened to be available the last couple of years.  The budget seems tied up barring significant additional funds.  And many of these were issues that people saw coming at the time moves were made.

I've criticised certainly but I think for the most part I've kind of closed my eyes and hoped for the best even with moves I wasn't comfortable with because as a fan I want this team to succeeed.  And hearing from the front office that this is basically the team we'll have next year outside of minor tinkering is also a hard pill to swallow, as though the front office is completely out of ideas and aren't even trying anymore.  I can see how John McDonald's signing is symbolic of that and I also said as much when it happened.

Anyway, as I said, my hope is you can still watch the games and enjoy them for what they are...maybe the team will surprise next year.  Maybe the white flag the front office is waving was a smoke screen and they'll be very active in the off-season.  And maybe you'll still be around to post as an opinionated fan rather than feel obligated as an analyst.

And Gary Denbo will transform this lineup into a wrecking machine.  You'll see.

trent77 - Thursday, October 11 2007 @ 01:03 PM EDT (#175235) #

For the record...

Tampa Bay Devil Rays record, (1998-2007): 645-972, .398 Win %

Tampa Bay Devil Rays record, (2007): 66-96, .407 Win %

If the Blue Jays had 10 years of .398 ball, how many people would still be following this team????

MatO - Thursday, October 11 2007 @ 01:10 PM EDT (#175236) #

Sorry to see you leave Mike.  I didn't always agree with you but I respected your opinion.  I don't get why you have a problem with the Jays situation but then again I'm a Leaf  fan.

As for the National League.  All of the top teams would have been life and death to have a better record than the Blue Jays if they played in the AL. 



Original Ryan - Thursday, October 11 2007 @ 02:40 PM EDT (#175237) #
For the last few years the Devil Rays have seemed to be a popular pre-season favourite for some, with their young talent being cited as the reason they will finally reach respectability.  The faces change, but the story always remains the same with that club.  I know this isn't very scientific, but until the Devil Rays demonstrate that they're able to develop those young players into quality major leaguers (particularly their pitchers), I'm going to continue to predict them to be basement dwellers.

Frank Markotich - Thursday, October 11 2007 @ 03:52 PM EDT (#175238) #

Having a lot of good young players coming up is of course a good thing, but there's a lot more to having a successful organization. You have to make choices about who to keep, whether to make trades, look at the free agent market, and so on. Crucially, you have to be able to keep your players if you're not a big revenue team. You don't win championships with a bunch of rookies and pre-arb guys. You have to be able to afford to pay these guys when they start getting expensive, as well as convince them to stay and forego free agency by locking them up early if you can, and make good judgements in those instances.

In the specific case of Tampa, there is I think a real issue with revenue and ability to keep the team together long-term when (if) they are ready to contend. Not to mention the fact that their best position player prospects all seem to be outfielders or guys who will have to move to the outfield. They have some challenges in front of them.

Dr B - Thursday, October 11 2007 @ 04:02 PM EDT (#175239) #
Mike G, I have always enjoyed your commentary. You have always been thoughtful and to the point. I am an infrequent poster, but frequent reader and I have particularly enjoyed your insights on prospects, and I shall miss that. Good luck, and thanks for all your time and effort. I hope we have you back someday.

Leigh - Thursday, October 11 2007 @ 08:14 PM EDT (#175241) #
Mike G., your contributions will be missed around here, and I hope to see you as a commenter.
TimberLee - Thursday, October 11 2007 @ 08:16 PM EDT (#175242) #

Best wishes for whatever you plan to do, Mike. You have provided a large part  of my enjoyment of this site and I'll miss your contributions.

Dave Till - Thursday, October 11 2007 @ 08:36 PM EDT (#175243) #
Best of luck in everything, Mike. I look forward to reading your comments in the threads.

Usually members of the Roster disappear without much fanfare. Articles with their name at the bottom simply stop appearing on Battersbox.

I resemble that remark. :-)

#2JBrumfield - Thursday, October 11 2007 @ 11:47 PM EDT (#175245) #

Happy trails, Mike!  On a personal note, I'm sad you're leaving the roster because you were the one who invited me to climb aboard this season and help out with the Minor League Updates.  My VORP (value over replacement poster) pales horribly in comparison to you but like Johnny Mac at the dish, I'll do my best to keep my BA over .250!  All the best, amigo!!  Don't be a stranger.


Thomas - Friday, October 12 2007 @ 11:07 AM EDT (#175246) #
Readers of the Box would have noticed Mike's departure, I'm sure, even if there had been no announcement. Mike's been such a central component of the Roster for the last few years we'll all miss his input and insight. Best of luck in the future and we all appreciate the effort and dedication you've shown to the site in the past.
John I - Friday, October 12 2007 @ 03:19 PM EDT (#175256) #

Mike Green,

As a regular reader of this site for many years, I have always found your posts to be well-reasoned and insightful.  I definitely respect your opinions.  I hope you can find the time to continue to post.  All the best!


John Northey - Friday, October 12 2007 @ 03:26 PM EDT (#175257) #
With the D-Rays I follow the old Atlanta theory but in reverse. Namely, once they 'fail' to lose 90+ in a season then I will start thinking they could be winners.

Wow, just hit a site listing their record by manager by season -

91+ loses every season

Once within 27 1/2 games of the lead at the end of a season (2000 - 18 games back) - in other words the Orioles this season were closer to the lead (27 back) than the D-Rays have been in all but one season.

Once they didn't come in last, they came in 2nd last (&#%^@ 2004).

3 times they lost 100 games in 10 seasons. The Jays did that in their first 3 years, 95 the next, 94 in '04 and never 90+ otherwise. The Rays lost fewer than 95 exactly 3 times in their history.

To say the Rays have some talent in the minors is fine but a record that ugly cannot be fixed quickly or easily.
R Billie - Tuesday, October 16 2007 @ 12:29 PM EDT (#175321) #

It's possible with the right leadership making the right decisions and sticking faithfully to a sound system to reverse losing ways permenantly.  Look at the Atlanta Braves.  Of course it also helps to have the financial where-with-all to keep it all going and expand on what your system provides but it all starts with getting over that initial hump.

Tampa Bay might be as close to getting over that hump as getting a couple of good defensive players up the middle, particularly CF and SS.  The question is will they be able to do it before the Crawfords and Kazmirs of their team start getting too expensive.  Or will ownership step up to keep them around.

Atlanta for instance in six years between 1985 and 1990 lost between 89 and 106 games each season.  In 1990, they lost 97 games and the year after that they won 94 games and were in the post season every year until 2005 except for strike-shortened 1994 when they finished with a .596 win %.

So it can happen that fast, especially with a team full of young talent and management that can keep that infusion of talent going.  It might be worth noting also that Bobby Cox was in his first full year of managing the Braves the year they broke through.  Maybe it's the right voice to unlock the potential.

Parting Thoughts | 24 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.