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1. Tigers 8, Jays 4. Tough one. David Purcey battles opening-day jitters throughout his 4.1 innings and hands out seven walks to the Tigers. Using gritty clutchness and an assist from Jason Frasor, Purcey minimizes the damage brilliantly and only finds himself on the hook for one run. Unfortunately, the Tigers methodically pile up seven unanswered runs against the Jays' bullpen to make a winner out of Kenny Rogers. The Jays are now 0-4 when the opposition starts a lefthanded pitcher.

2. The Mockingbird has a pitch-f/x breakdown of Purcey's debut. It drives home the point about Purcey's wildness. And his fastball's natural movement. And also about how tough the ability to throw the curve for strikes makes him.

3. Cause for optimism: Purcey didn't face a single lefty batter last night, and he still survived. Actually, maybe that's a bad sign. Purcey's splits were very backwards in AA last year. Any reason why that might be? Should we expect that to continue?

4. As expected, the Jays sent Purcey back to Syracuse after his spot start, and promoted righty Shawn Camp. I love this move. I'm biased though. Last April I kind of proclaimed Camp the best reliever in the Rays' pen, way better than that chump Al Reyes...

But I'm still a bit shocked that Camp didn't cost anything more than a minor-league contract. Shawn Camp's major-league peripheral stats are wonderful; his actual output is an anomaly of Towersesque proportions. Camp is a sinkerballer who gets excellent sinkerballer outcomes. He has a career 56.4% groundball rate, and an extremely good strikeout-to-walk ratio for such a pronounced groundball pitcher (16.2% K, 6.3% BB, 2.55 K/BB in 230.2 career innings). Yet because of a .358 career BABIP and a 15.0% career HR/fly, Camp has surrendered a .319/.372/.482 career line.

It's not like Camp is prone to giving up liners: his career 17.7% line drive rate is below average. And the legendary ability of the Devil Rays' defense to convert batted balls into baserunners probably has something to do with Camp's batted-ball luck issues. But that can't explain all of it. Can it? It certainly doesn't account for the homer problem, and a .358 BABIP is really high. He still has to be historically unlucky or Idiosyncratically Hittable to some degree. It will be interesting to see how much pitching in front of the Jays helps him.

Weird cases like Camp and Josh Towers are a prime reason why Project Hangtime is something I'm eagerly looking forward to.

5. McGowan and Bonderman at the RC, 1:07. There will be strikeouts.
19 April 2008: Just Get High While The Radio's On | 60 comments | Create New Account
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timpinder - Saturday, April 19 2008 @ 08:13 AM EDT (#182961) #
The Mockingbird link suggests that Purcey's curveball, "wasn't anything special".  However, I've read other scouting reports and comments that indicate he has a very good, even devastating, curveball.  I wish I could have seen the game.  Gerry's link in another thread indicated that Purcey also had a good slider and a not-so-good changeup.  I wonder why he stuck to just fastballs and curveballs last night.
John Northey - Saturday, April 19 2008 @ 09:20 AM EDT (#182963) #
So, no 9 year contract for Purcey yet? 

The good thing is he did just give up one run over the 4+ innings despite the glut of walks.  I love that pitch study though as it shows the umps were not mean to the rookie.  The location chart shows, if I read it right, 2 strikes that were called balls, 2 on the border that were called balls, and 3 that were balls that were called strikes.  Very impressive job by the umpire imo given the wildness shown to not call all close ones balls.

Frank Markotich - Saturday, April 19 2008 @ 09:50 AM EDT (#182964) #
The information we're getting from pitch f/x is the most significant advance in our knowledge of the game in a long, long time. It'll take a few years to get everything organized, but with that and better batted-ball data we're on the threshold of a quantum leap in our understanding, and I suspect a lot of "conventional" sabr-wisdom about what is significant and what is random variation is going to be turned upside-down.
Rob - Saturday, April 19 2008 @ 12:07 PM EDT (#182966) #
Are we now referring to Camp as Shawn Camper Van Beethoven?
Gerry - Saturday, April 19 2008 @ 12:17 PM EDT (#182967) #
Jordan Bastian is reporting that Frank Thomas has been moved to the bench.  Needless to say Thomas is not happy and thinks there is a plot against him.
Gerry - Saturday, April 19 2008 @ 12:23 PM EDT (#182968) #

The Jays are third in the AL in OBP but only tenth in slugging.  Wells and Thomas have three home runs each, Aaron Hill has two, the rest of the team have one or none.  Mat Stairs has one extra base hit, a home run;  Lyle Overbay has three.

The bullpen is now 1-5, Jeremy Accardo has three losses, last season he had four, total.

Wildrose - Saturday, April 19 2008 @ 12:47 PM EDT (#182969) #
Well not everybody is a fan of David Purcey.  MGL feels his lack of control precludes future success.

So why is he starting a major league game for the Blue Jays, who think that they have a chance to compete this year?  I have no idea, other than the fact that teams love guys with good stuff and somehow can completely overlook a critical component of his overall talent, which is control of course.

This contrasts with this article which investigates some of the mystique around left handed pitchers found at the MLB level.

It is generally accepted that left-handed pitchers usually have an advantage over their right-handed counterparts at all levels of baseball. Why? As with all questions of pitching mechanics, there is as much mystique as there is fact. For example, many baseball people believe that a left hander's ball moves differently than a right hander's ball. Some will tell you that left handers throw differently because of the left brain versus right brain “thing,” that left handers are “wired” differently.

Purcey fits into several  categories which baseball scouts find intoxicating.

A.) He throws hard ( most lefties have below average velocity)

B.) He's big, generally smaller lefties are given more rope to succeed than similar sized righties.

C.) He throws easily and would seem to have good mechanics ( Mulliniks mentioned this several times last night) Scouts love this.

This is a classic scout  verses stat head  argument. It'll be interesting how this all plays out.


Doom Service - Saturday, April 19 2008 @ 01:17 PM EDT (#182970) #

I must say that in watching Purcey last night, I got a very powerful "Al Leiter" vibe. There are some obvious similarities - lefthanders with above average velocity, quality breaking balls , and some difficulty locating the strike zone. Sadly, Leiter isn't among Purcey's top 20 comparables in PECOTA.  I like the Camp move, too. I haven't heard anywhere if Wolfe is really hurt, or if this is just a 15-day "shove aside".

IceCreamJonsey - Saturday, April 19 2008 @ 01:39 PM EDT (#182971) #

"A slow start is part of the game," Thomas said. "I'm not the only ... hitter in the game with a slow start. I repeatedly hit the ball on the nose the last seven or eight games. I'm just not having any luck right now, but I've hit the ball hard. That's all you can do in this game, is hit the ball hard. That's basically all I can control. Sooner or later they find holes and they fall. But to beat myself up over it? No, I'm not going to do that. I did my job."

Well, here we go. This was what we all feared when we saw that the last year of his contract was tied to plate appearances. Benching Thomas for now is absolutely the right move. Forget about the batting average, he's slugging .333. He hasn't done his job. I have great respect for him, but really, the team can't wait. Halladay has completely given his body for the team and they haven't managed a playoff appearance for him yet - that's ridiculous, and taking two months to "get going" in the third straight year isn't acceptable.

And Lind's got to come up. I don't know where you play him, but I don't care - he's making a mockery of the IL.

tstaddon - Saturday, April 19 2008 @ 01:56 PM EDT (#182972) #
I think Lind's up the day Rolen comes back. Once Inglett isn't needed to platoon with Scutaro at third, Adam's on the way to Toronto. In the meantime, there's some logic to the notion that playing Stewart with Scutaro/Inglett and two of Stairs/Overbay/Thomas daily will produce the best lineup. But Lind's time has got to be near.

Inconsistency from the arms has certainly hurt over these past two homestands. Here's hoping Accardo finds his splitter again -- soon. And that AJ can think his way through these Tigers tomorrow. With his current K/IP and K/BB ratios, he's not going to do it on stuff alone.
robertdudek - Saturday, April 19 2008 @ 01:59 PM EDT (#182973) #
Purcey isn't exactly a wild man - his K/W numbers in 2007 were solid as are his numbers in AAA this year so far.

I don't think many are expecting stardom here, but it would be a severe disappointment for Purcey not to develop into a decent major league pitcher.

John Northey - Saturday, April 19 2008 @ 02:31 PM EDT (#182976) #
Some interesting moves are coming I suspect.
  • Thomas will be very, very unhappy on the bench so a trade (with cash) or release is on the way
  • Lind will be coming up (Inglett is good and all but is no left fielder nor is Scutaro) and we very well could see Stewart released by mid-summer
  • Purcey looks good, if wild while AJ not so much thus could be on the train out of town to try to find some help elsewhere
I could be wrong on all 3, but things are going to change and seeing Purcey gut it out despite wildness was impressive.
robertdudek - Saturday, April 19 2008 @ 02:38 PM EDT (#182977) #
MGL feels his lack of control precludes future success.

I think this is too strong a characterisation of  mgl's position on the matter. lack of control makes success less likely, perhaps. But it hardly precludes it. Exhibit A - the young Randy Johnson. Exhibit B - Sandy Koufax.
Wildrose - Saturday, April 19 2008 @ 02:47 PM EDT (#182978) #
I must say that in watching Purcey last night, I got a very powerful "Al Leiter" vibe.

I think this is an apt comparison. Both are lefthanded power pitchers who've had injury and control issues pushing back their development time line.  Purcey does in fact have better control, especially recently, than does Leiter.

In fairness the Jays have not sold the ranch on Purcey, he was an emergency call up sent back to the minors after one start. I don't think this story has been yet to be completely written. ( good to see you comenting Robert)
Mike Green - Saturday, April 19 2008 @ 02:48 PM EDT (#182979) #
It is open to reasonable debate whether it is wiser to have a starter like Purcey begin his major league career in the rotation or in long relief.  Purcey's control has come and gone over his career, and my own view is that pitchers like him are best off beginning their major league career in long relief (ideally for at least 1/2 a year). 

Playing Joe Inglett and Marco Scutaro in left-field while Adam Lind is in Syracuse is not going to inspire fans to the belief that the club intends to win in 2008.  There is no word on Lind's health.

Wildrose - Saturday, April 19 2008 @ 02:53 PM EDT (#182980) #

I think this is too strong a characterisation of  mgl's position on the matter. lack of control makes success less likely, perhaps. But it hardly precludes it.

Precludes may be a poor choice of words. He gives Purcey a 10% chance of being an effective major leaguer. There is a bias on both sides of the argument against  this type of picture.
Wildrose - Saturday, April 19 2008 @ 03:04 PM EDT (#182981) #
Pitcher not picture. Trying to watch 2 games , clean the kitchen and sadly ,shovel a foot of snow during all this.
Ryan Day - Saturday, April 19 2008 @ 03:14 PM EDT (#182982) #
The problem with that article is that it suggests Purcey's real level of control is that which he displayed in 05-06, and that his improvements since then aren't legit. This ignores the fact that young players, especially young pitchers, sometimes make significant improvements in their game; I'm inclined to put much more weight on the last year or two of a pitcher's development than what he was doing 2-3 years ago.

I think Purcey will always have some control issues, and he'll have spells where he's ineffective and can't find the plate. But I think that about Dustin McGowan as well, though to a lesser extent.

scottt - Saturday, April 19 2008 @ 03:23 PM EDT (#182983) #
Benching Thomas for now is absolutely the right move.

So Stairs can DH and Inglett play LF? That almost sounds crazy.

There's no point in having him on the bench if he doesn't pinch hit, and that's going to lead to difficult choices. Besides, he can't play any position.
An 8th reliever would be more useful.

I would have just dropped him to 7th or 8th and given him another 2 or 3 weeks to get going.

BTW, still waiting for those strike outs.

With the whole pen in the doghouse, McGowan will have some tough late innings.

Alex Obal - Saturday, April 19 2008 @ 03:30 PM EDT (#182984) #
BTW, still waiting for those strike outs.

Oh come on. I clearly only promised two. There have been three already. And we've even got two more innings to go!!

Tough crowd.
ramone - Saturday, April 19 2008 @ 03:42 PM EDT (#182985) #
Anyone have any idea why accardo is warming and no Ryan? 
ramone - Saturday, April 19 2008 @ 03:44 PM EDT (#182986) #
Never mind, just heard Ryan is warming, is hard to believe that seeing accado warming in a 1 run game would scare me that badly after last year.
Magpie - Saturday, April 19 2008 @ 04:15 PM EDT (#182988) #
Needless to say Thomas is not happy and thinks there is a plot against him.

He may be right, he may be wrong. But anyone who thinks a 4-35 streak means anything - anything at all - is absolutely out of their minds. If this organization is making any kind of serious decision based on that... be afraid. Be very, very afraid.

It may have been prudent to try to sell Thomas on the idea of sitting and watching for a day, as the Red Sox did with their large DH (who was slugging .227 the last time I looked.)
Chuck - Saturday, April 19 2008 @ 04:15 PM EDT (#182989) #
Trying to watch 2 games , clean the kitchen and sadly ,shovel a foot of snow during all this.

Where is it you live that you have snow, and why exactly is it in your kitchen?
grjas - Saturday, April 19 2008 @ 04:18 PM EDT (#182990) #

I would have just dropped him (Thomas) to 7th or 8th and given him another 2 or 3 weeks to get going.

I agree; it's still a bit early to be full time on the pine. Batting for a while at the bottom of the order might take the pressure off, and provide recovery time for his typical early season funk.

On the other hand, based on Thomas' pathetic response, may be Gibby thought a benching might wake him up. I've always liked Thomas in the past, but his reaction to this move is very disappointing. Hey Frank, your a 40+ year old making 10mil playing a kid's game. If you want the next 10mil, shut up and produce.
timpinder - Saturday, April 19 2008 @ 04:22 PM EDT (#182992) #

DHing Stairs instead of Thomas against RHP is the right move.  I feel for Thomas, but Gibbons has to do what's best for the team.  Thomas hasn't hit RHP well since 2006, and he looks terrible now.  He's always had a funky swing, and it looks like time has finally caught up with him.  My guess is that Lind's promotion is imminent.  If Stairs is the DH against righties, Lind likely takes over in LF with Stewart getting the odd start against tought left-handers.  Time will tell, though.

timpinder - Saturday, April 19 2008 @ 04:32 PM EDT (#182993) #
The argument that Thomas will eventually heat up is valid, but in my opinion the Jays can't wait.  I don't think a fringe contender like the Jays can afford to have a sinkhole in the lineup for 33% of the season on the auspices that he'll eventually help the team for the other 66%.  In addition, a lot of scouts seem to think that this isn't just a slump, that Thomas' struggles are likely age related and permanent.  Like it or not, $10 million is a serious contributing factor as well.  If saving that $10 million will allow the Jays to spend the money on a long-term solution at SS in the offseason, for example, then an upset Thomas is worth it.
Mike Green - Saturday, April 19 2008 @ 04:38 PM EDT (#182994) #
It would indeed have been prudent to talk to Frank.  The idea that he should try to play 150 games in a season at age 40 is not really in the best interests of the club.  If he falls off  significantly from his age 38-39 performance, as all the projection systems suggest, his value is limited.  They suggest .260/.355/.460 is what we can expect, and for a player who runs as Thomas does, this is OK, but nothing more. 

Learning to accept limitations is one of the really unpleasant but necessary things about aging. 

CeeBee - Saturday, April 19 2008 @ 04:39 PM EDT (#182995) #


Yeah... thank god for BJ. Even if he can only pitch every other day he's desperately needed with the scuffling that's going on in the Jays pen.

scottt - Saturday, April 19 2008 @ 04:43 PM EDT (#182996) #
The pitchers won this one, even though the other team managed 2 more hits.

Nice to win a close game.

Stairs can play left field and Inglett can play third base, so Scutaro--who is slugging .242--should be the odd man out, not Thomas.

halejon - Saturday, April 19 2008 @ 04:45 PM EDT (#182997) #
The way he calls him "overvalued", I'm also not sure he's aware that this was a spot start out of desperation and Purcey was immediately returned to the minors. Nobody thinks the guy is ready now - but who else was more suitable to call up from AAA? Hard to criticize them for going with the hot hand just because he had terrible control problems two years ago.

You could also argue that his numbers were skewed by his problems with injuries and ADD and so there's no reason to think he's going to regress now that they're no longer a factor.

AWeb - Saturday, April 19 2008 @ 04:51 PM EDT (#182999) #
Thomas is in no position to be publically grumbling this early. He must have known that if he didn't produce to start the year, this might happen - remember how he showed up to spring training earlier than ever and "ready to go"? That was fairly transparent as an attempt to avoid the early season problems and the benching, wasn't it? Fair or not, when a 40 year old DH is getting blown away by unspectacular fastballs, he gets to ride the pine for a while.

As for 4-35 not meaning anything - it has meant a lot to several games this week. If Thomas can't handle sitting for a few days, and isn't going to be pinch hit for, then maybe he should go.

One other thing, don't forget that Lind was also a first baseman. Yes, it was a while ago (6-7 years?), but Lyle Overbay isn't exactly tearing it up either - if he's lost his power (3 XB hits, essentially a slower version of Eckstein so far), then there's no reason he should be getting automatic playing time either. Players are frequently thrown to first base with little or no training (Scutaro ended up there for the first time in the majors this year), so it seems reasonable to think Lind could manage a passable first base.

If the Jays are serious about winning this year, they don't have two months to figure it out, they have to make the decisions early and hope they pan out. Stewart over Johnson seems like it hasn't worked, but at least it was defensible and decisive. There may be more of those coming.
Maldoff - Saturday, April 19 2008 @ 04:53 PM EDT (#183000) #
The Jays offensive problems, to me, seem eerily similar to last year. And, again, to me, it all boils down to an inability to play small ball, to do the little things to get you one run here, another there. The Jays offense seems content to wait for the double and home run, which leads to big run-scoring games (see: Baltimore series), but also to games of very little runs-scored (see: Texas series). To me, this team needs to do the little things like advance the runner, sacrifice flies, etc, if they want to compete.
VBF - Saturday, April 19 2008 @ 05:48 PM EDT (#183001) #
There are so many wrongs committed by benching Thomas:

1. This at best has a slightly negative impression on future free agents.
2. You give a man a contract, you honour it.
3. You're giving Inglett ABs that Thomas should have WHILE your offense has historically struggled.
4. You're paying Thomas 10 million dollars this year to play on the bench. And this is worse than paying him 10 million dollars next year?
5. Frank Thomas is hitting better at this point than last year and historically has been a slow starter.
6. While I think Frank Thomas is a class individual, you are risking another Hillenbrand fiasco.
7. You actually hurt his trade value which is the only other way of not paying him that option.

If this at all hurts the Jays winnning enough for Gibbons to get fired, Ricciardi should get the exact same treatment.

You've got Scutaro, McDonald, and Eckstein. If Inglett's our starting left fielder why isn't Lind here? It's like they are purposely trying to recreate 2004 scenarios.

VBF - Saturday, April 19 2008 @ 05:53 PM EDT (#183002) #
I would also like to add that I will completely applaud this move if Lind comes up in Thomas' place, and all seven points become null and void. I was under the impression this was a move based heavily on cost savings and that there was no intention of Lind coming up.
scottt - Saturday, April 19 2008 @ 06:07 PM EDT (#183003) #
It's still April ball.

This is nothing like last year to me. The rotation looks solid. The bullpen has been shaky. The team has been hitting, stealing bases, and generally playing some good baseball. I didn't see much of that last year with Wells struggling and Rios hitting lead off.

0-4 against lefties is a pure aberration. Stuff like that cannot last.

Dez - Saturday, April 19 2008 @ 06:14 PM EDT (#183004) #
The Thomas benching is ridiculous imo. The Jays lineup is worse without him no doubt. Replacing Thomas with Shannon Stewart / Joe Inglett is not gonna make your team any better. If Lind comes up, then it at least makes a little sense. But I'd still bench Overbay over Thomas any day.
greenfrog - Saturday, April 19 2008 @ 06:42 PM EDT (#183005) #
Too bad we can't just send Thomas to the minors for April and May, then recall him once he's tuned up.

I think benching Hurt is the right move in the short term--at least until we add Rolen + Lind to the lineup. But if the Jays release Thomas, they may have a depth problem later this season. At this point in his career, Stairs is more of a 300-400 AB player than a full-time DH. So who is going to play DH the rest of the time? Stewart? Zaun? I hope not. And if Rolen or Stairs gets hurt, we could be looking at 2007 all over again: precious little in the high minors and a Jays lineup littered with guys like Inglett, Scutaro, Stewart, Barajas and McDonald.

I don't know the answer. But this is a tricky situation. Interestingly, I think a lot may ride on Lind's performance. A high-performing Lind could make all the difference in helping the lineup fall into place. But that's a lot of pressure for a young kid.

brent - Saturday, April 19 2008 @ 06:49 PM EDT (#183006) #
game 18- heroes McGowan, Ryan (3), Downs (3), Wells (6)      Letdown Eckstein (6)
AWeb - Saturday, April 19 2008 @ 06:55 PM EDT (#183007) #
1. This at best has a slightly negative impression on future free agents.
This can't be helped.
2. You give a man a contract, you honour it.
They are honouring it, unless there's a "you get to play even if you stink" clause.
3. You're giving Inglett ABs that Thomas should have WHILE your offense has historically struggled.
Sure...can't argue with that...Inglett had his hot streak, time to return him to the minors.
4. You're paying Thomas 10 million dollars this year to play on the bench. And this is worse than paying him 10 million dollars next year?
Yes, yes it is. Because next year, you have the same problem as this year, all over again.
5. Frank Thomas is hitting better at this point than last year and historically has been a slow starter.
Bettter than last year? That's a bar so low it's barely worth mentioning. And not true - his OPS was .680 on April 19 2007, it's lower than that now.
6. While I think Frank Thomas is a class individual, you are risking another Hillenbrand fiasco.
So classy that according to the TSN highlight package, "did not come onto the field for the postgame celebration". Classy guy.
7. You actually hurt his trade value which is the only other way of not paying him that option.
What trade value? Which teams are looking for someone like Thomas? Isn't Bonds still out there (who is likely still far better).

Oh well, I think the team is giving up too soon on Thomas (if they are), but he's knocked himself ddown a few pegs by sulking about it already. It's only been two days, big guy, suck it up.

VBF - Saturday, April 19 2008 @ 07:06 PM EDT (#183009) #
I knew someone would do this:

So classy that according to the TSN highlight package, "did not come onto the field for the postgame celebration". Classy guy.

Uhhh...that proves my point.

7. You actually hurt his trade value which is the only other way of not paying him that option.

The Bonds example looks nice but Thomas doesn't have any big court appearances coming up.

It's almost like you *completely* ignored what I wrote right after that. There's no argument for Stewart/Inglett over Thomas. Lind on the other hand is a perfectly reasonable argument over Thomas.

timpinder - Saturday, April 19 2008 @ 07:13 PM EDT (#183011) #

Wilner's blog had some interesting bits:

- Adam Lind missed the last two games with a stiff neck, but it's "not a long-term issue".

- Lind is going to be "up very soon to play left field", with Stewart falling into a platoon situation.

- Wilner suggests that Thomas' tenure with the Jays is almost over, and that the end may come soon.

Even Wilner concedes that the Jays can't afford to have very poor production from their DH for another 4-6 weeks, and he recognizes the impact of that $10 million vesting option.  My guess is Lind will be up as soon as he's healthy and has a tune-up game in Syracuse.  There's no point in bringing him up until at least Monday, since the Jays are facing a lefty, Robertson, tomorrow.  I imagine Stewart and Stairs will platoon at DH (because of wonky hips and groins), with Lind playing almost every day.  If Stewart doesn't pan out, it shouldn't be too hard for the Jays to find a lefty killing platoon partner for Stairs.

Thomas - Saturday, April 19 2008 @ 09:20 PM EDT (#183013) #
Agree with the move or not, it seems this was all handled pretty poorly by the organization. Thomas has generally been a classy guy in his big league career (his was spoken of highly in Chicago, if I'm not mistaken, was outspoken on steroids and was mentioned as being involved with helping Joe Kennedy's widow after Joe's tragic death), but his reaction is understandable and not surprising. I'm not defending his reaction, but it's very easy to predict a 40-year-old future HOF may react poorly to a public benching so early in the season, particularly when he has a history of feuding with management (I don't know who started the Thomas-Kenny Williams feud, but it didn't end quickly). Leaving the field without congratulating your teammates on a win is inexcusable, but I don't see how anyone could be surprised how quickly this unraveled.

I wouldn't be surprised if Thomas is cut, especially now Wilner's suggested it, and I suspect he'll wind up filing a grievance about it (not that he'll win). Maybe the Jays decided they wanted Lind in and Thomas out no matter what, but I can't help but think this could have been handled much better.
greenfrog - Saturday, April 19 2008 @ 09:55 PM EDT (#183014) #
I can definitely see the situation from Thomas's perspective. He's a Hall of Fame player who tends to start slow and has rebounded strongly from very slow starts the last couple of years (although last year was a slow rebound). He plays poorly for a couple of weeks early in the season and suddenly he seems to be on his way out--which conveniently prevents the team from paying him $10M in 2009. The whole thing is messy. If the '09 vesting year wasn't on the table, I'm guessing the Jays would hang on to Thomas for a while longer as DH insurance.

I'm guessing Thomas isn't going to be placated any time soon, which may accelerate his departure.
seeyou - Saturday, April 19 2008 @ 10:33 PM EDT (#183015) #
Hard, hard thing to do, but I think it's the right move.  If we're supposed to be a contender this year, we can't put up with a 650 OPS production in the heart of the lineup, even if it's only for a few weeks.

I think the worst part of this is how the story is being spun, and I'm not sure if it's a problem of how Riccardi/Gibbons have approached it or how it's been portrayed in the media.  I don't think anyone expected Thomas to play 162 games as a 40-year-old, even if he was healthy the whole year.  If the situation was approached from the angle of "we've decided to platoon you with Matt Stairs until you get it going offensively" rather than "you're being sent to the bench indefinitely" would it really have caused such a commotion?  If it was done in that matter, then Thomas just has 10 million reasons to make sure he gets things going sooner rather than later, as the longer he takes, the more unlikely it is that the option vests.

The_Game - Saturday, April 19 2008 @ 10:38 PM EDT (#183016) #

In terms of a baseball decision, this is a bad one. Frank Thomas, if given a full year of playing time, would likely be this team's best hitter. But with money being the bottomline for the Toronto Blue Jays, and not winning, this move makes complete sense. It’s a profit venture to Rogers, and there’s simply no way out of that. If the Jays release Frank Thomas, and do not sign Barry Bonds, they do not have the lineup to compete with the other AL contenders, and will be wasting the great pitching they should get this year. It’s incredibly disappointing to see what’s happening right now, especially for Frank, who's been such a nice guy so far in his time as a Jay.
One thing is definitely for sure, the Jays lineup will be far weaker without him over the next few months.

The_Game - Saturday, April 19 2008 @ 10:39 PM EDT (#183017) #

"The Thomas benching is ridiculous imo. The Jays lineup is worse without him no doubt. Replacing Thomas with Shannon Stewart / Joe Inglett is not gonna make your team any better. If Lind comes up, then it at least makes a little sense. But I'd still bench Overbay over Thomas any day."

You really hate Overbay, don't you? :)

leisl - Saturday, April 19 2008 @ 10:48 PM EDT (#183018) #
Benching Thomas, while wrong on the part of the team, doesn't excuse the Big Hurt from not shaking hands with teammates after a win.  Seems rather immature for a veteran nearing the end of his career and really shows his true colours in that he wants his option year exercised by his at bats...
Dave Till - Saturday, April 19 2008 @ 10:48 PM EDT (#183019) #
My $.02:

Purcey has a great fastball, a good curve ball, and a smooth delivery. He doesn't have command of his pitches, though - and command is what separates major leaguers from minor leaguers. I hope the Jays give him every chance to succeed, though - if he finds his control, he'll be a very good pitcher. How many options do the Jays have left on him?

I assume that Inglett's major league career will last as long as Scott Rolen's disablement, and no longer.

As for Thomas: he seems to be having trouble getting around on fastballs. That's kind of Job 1 for major league hitters - especially major league hitters who can't field or run. And his slump has dragged the offense down with him. I hope they don't give up on him completely - and that he doesn't quit on them - but Stairs has been hitting significantly better. (And the radio broadcasters pointed out that Stairs is running significantly better too.)

As for the option problem: the whole point of a team option is that the Jays can choose to not play Thomas, and therefore not vest the option. He has to earn that extra year, and he hasn't been doing it.

Magpie - Sunday, April 20 2008 @ 01:50 AM EDT (#183020) #
How many options do the Jays have left on him?

This should be Purcey's first option year; they should be able to farm him out at will from now through the end of 2010.

I'm sure Thomas has something left - you simply don't lose the ability to hit from one week to the next. I would prefer, however, to have just one defensively challenged 40 year old on my team, especially if I'm committed to carrying 12 pitchers at all costs. Of the Jays two guys, I'd rather have Stairs. I think there's an excellent chance that Thomas will hit more than Stairs in 2008, but I'd still rather have the guy who: a) bats left-handed and b)  can fill in, sort of, on the field.

But I don't know how on earth they can get rid of Thomas, short of eating a whole lot of money. Who would give up anything more valuable than a ride to the airport, especially after today? And who would want him, anyway? Seattle? (Vidro's been just about as bad, so far.) 

It's going to take an injury, to someone like Hafner or Sheffield or Ortiz, to open that door. And if that inury should happen to Matt Stairs - hardly an impossible prospect - then who would be the best fit?
TamRa - Sunday, April 20 2008 @ 02:49 AM EDT (#183021) #
Regarding the mention of a potential trade - I would suggest that the Mariners, given Jose Vidro is the shaky incumbent, might be a potantial match.

I know perhaps a smart team would call up clement for the job but what Bavasi does and what a smart man does hasn't ever been exactly similar.

scottt - Sunday, April 20 2008 @ 07:40 AM EDT (#183022) #
game 18- heroes McGowan, Ryan (3), Downs (3), Wells (6)      Letdown Eckstein (6)

Wells? Why not Rios who went 2-4 with a homer?

westcoast dude - Sunday, April 20 2008 @ 08:17 AM EDT (#183023) #
When I saw yesterday's lineup card, I had warm and fuzzy feelings. The 2 to 6 batters all had .300+ BAs along with Inglett in the 9 hole, the Utility Guy. There is no weak link in the middle of that chain. The writing was on the wall when They started pitching around Vernon to get to the DH.  Note to Frank: Age Related Drop-off, see Dale Murphy's stats.
Thomas - Sunday, April 20 2008 @ 08:44 AM EDT (#183024) #
I don't see a trade happening, although I've been wrong about stuff like this before. If I'm another team with a hole at DH (Seattle is the most obvious example, and there's not that many) I look at this unfolding and recognize the difficult situation Toronto has put themselves in. They've got an unhappy Thomas on their bench and there's speculation he's going to be released. Why do I want to trade for Thomas and assume his contract when I can wait and hope he's released and will sign a contract for $1 million or so for the rest of 2008?

As much as I believe that Thomas will turn it around, I'd be cautious about assuming his option year, which will almost certainly vest. If I wait for him to be cut I can sign him to a contract for the remainder of the year and not have to pay him $10 million in 2009. The risk of some other team swooping in and making a trade or the Jays hanging onto Thomas is worth gambling against to avoid that option, in my opnion. Even if the Jays covered most of 2008's salary that 2009 option looms large.
Pistol - Sunday, April 20 2008 @ 08:50 AM EDT (#183026) #

Well, the combination of his contract and performace means that he's untradable.  No one is going to trade for him with the vesting option kicking in with about 50% playing time.

And Thomas wouldn't be complaining about the conspiracy against him if he thought that he was worth $10 million to someone next year.  He clearly knows he's not.  If I'm not mistaken Thomas was someone who regularly complained about his contract in Chicago, no?

On the other side of things putting in a very reachable vesting option was pretty silly of Ricciardi.  He's either a poor negiotiator or a bad evaluator (or both).  I mean, who would ever guess DH who can't run might fall off the cliff as he reaches 40?

It seems obvious to everyone that Lind needs to be in the lineup.  I assume Inglett gets sent down initially, but it'll be interesting to see what the move is when Rolen comes back.

Rob - Sunday, April 20 2008 @ 09:13 AM EDT (#183027) #
I'm sure Thomas has something left, too. I'm just not sure what it is.

He's hitting just .159 on balls in play, his lowest ever. His .177 in 2005 at least came with a slugging average near .600 and a homer every three games. That may correct itself if he gets more playing time, but his line drive rate has been dropping steadily for five or six years, and with it his power. Even if you ignore this year. Subjectively, of course, Thomas looks awful (though I recognize that he looked similarly bad last year and still ended up above-average).

And this "Thomas is always a slow starter" nonsense needs to be put to rest. It's only lately that he's really struggled in the beginning--i.e., April 2006 and May 2007. In his career, his March/April line is .283/.407/.513 vs. .302/.420/.559 overall. Doesn't seem that far off to me.

I know we're all supposed to think warm and fuzzy thoughts about Frank the teddy bear, but unless that bear is going to maul someone like Dana Eveland, it looks as clear to me as the lack of hair on Magpie's head that Thomas' career is either done or close to it.

grjas - Sunday, April 20 2008 @ 10:20 AM EDT (#183029) #
"Thomas is always a slow starter" nonsense needs to be put to rest

Couldn't agree more. Let's not forget that Thomas started training earlier this year with more spring training at-bats (and according to media reports, looked awful). Other than his 3 homers in consecutive games, he has played substantially worse than last year.

Still, I would have preferred if they had begun to platoon him with Stairs, slid him down the line up and waited to pull the plug till Rolen/Lind were ready to come up. This is a distraction they don't need.
ComebyDeanChance - Sunday, April 20 2008 @ 10:33 AM EDT (#183031) #

Some good points made by posters. It is not a good bet at all (particularly with next year's vesting salary guarantee) that Thomas at age 40 is a second-half breakout man. He sure doesn't look like it at the plate. Nor is he tradeable at all with the vesting guarantee.

But however bad Thomas is, doesn't make Lind anymore than what he is. Last year he struggled as his playing time increased and major league pitchers k'd him with letter-high fastballs. His obp ended up around .278. Also, his splits vs. AAA lefties this year are pretty bad, so he can't be considered as a starter, at this point at least, vs. major league lefties.

I think at this point, the wise course for JP would be:

1. Keep Thomas as a DH vs. lefties, at least for a while. Send down Inglett and call up LInd to play left vs. righties while Stairs DH's against them. Thomas won't like that, but that's not all that important right now. He wants to be released to pull in 2 salaries this year, and there's no obligation at all to oblige him.

2. Look for someone who's a better platoon partner with Lind than Shannon Stewart. Obviously Reed Johnson comes to mind, but that's spilt milk now. Johnson left because of the strong possibility that one or both of Thomas and Stairs would tank and Ricciardi figured Stewart was a better bet vs. righties in that situation. I'm not as sanguine as others about the ease of finding someone like that (there's sure no one in the minors, but that's another story), but that's what I'd look for.

3. Don't act out of panic or a fear that everyone on the team is going to freak out if Thomas has a temper tantrum. There's no point in simply cutting Thomas at this point just so he can collect two salaries and to avoid a bit of clubhouse controversy.


ramone - Sunday, April 20 2008 @ 10:53 AM EDT (#183036) #

Well Frank has been released:

brent - Monday, April 21 2008 @ 02:23 AM EDT (#183146) #

Scottt, I am referring to the players WPA (win probability added) scores that appear at What it measures is the players "clutchness" or lack thereof. You have quite a good point; however, WPA looks at the game differently than the box score. That is why I am tracking it this year to see what happens.

19 April 2008: Just Get High While The Radio's On | 60 comments | Create New Account
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