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They're doing it again...

Back in 2005, we gasped in astonishment as the Blue Jays managed to post a losing record (80-82) despite outscoring the opposition by 70 - count 'em, 70 - runs. There's something that probably doesn't happen very often, we all thought. We thought rightly. Subsequent investigation by your not particularly humble correspondent discovered that such a thing practically never happens. As it turned out, the 2005 Blue Jays were just the third team in the history of the game, in more than 2300 team seasons, to manage this dubious feat.

Yes, folks. The 2005 Jays  truly went where no team, save the 1955 and 1958 Cincinnati Reds, had gone before. (In 2006, the Cleveland Indians became the fourth team in this very small and very weird club.)

Does Pythagoras actually hate the Blue Jays? Some of us have wondered. The 2005 squad scored and allowed runs at a rate typical of an 89-73 team. And then there was 2008 - last year's team underachieved rational expectation to almost the same degree. A team that scores 714 runs and allows only 610 normally posts a record like 93-69. That's what's supposed to happen! My memory is not what it used to be, but I simply don't recall the 2008 Jays winning 93 games.

But in truth, Pythagoras does not hate the Blue Jays. He's been dead these last two milennia anyway - we're just dealing with a formula, right? And in fact, coming into the 2009 season, in 32 years the Blue Jays had posted just four seasons which they won at least five games fewer than their Pythagorean expectation. They did this in 1987, 1990, 2005, and 2008. Consider, for example, the Atlanta Braves. The Braves have pulled off the same trick - five games below Pythagoras - in each of the last three seasons. Granted, what the Braves have done these last few years is almost without precedent in the history of the game as well. But it's not like the Blue Jays have been especially unfortunate in this regard.

That said - this year's bunch is looking to carve their own special place in the Book of Dubious Achievements. It's one thing to post an ugly 60-74 record. It's quite another thing to do this when you're outscoring the other team. How often does that happen - a team loses 10 games more than they win despite scoring more runs than they allow?

Not very often. I'm looking at 2402 team seasons, going back to 1871. As things now stand, the Blue Jays would be the 8th team in history to lose 10 games more than they won while outscoring their opponents. They would be just the second such team in the history of the American League.

Anyway - 8!  Out of 2402! One team out of 300.

It's pretty cool, in an appalling kind of way.

So who are the other seven, you're wondering?

Year   Team                    W    L      RS       RA
1907 Cincinnati NL          66   87      526      519
1918 Chicago AL           57   67      457      446
1953 NY Giants NL        70   84      768      747
1972 San Francisco NL    69  86      662      649
1980 St Louis NL           74   88      738      710
1984 Pittsburgh NL       75   87      615      567
2001 Colorado NL          73   89      923      906

2009 Toronto AL           60   74     641      633

What do these teams have in common? Well, for one thing - nobody cares about them. None of them. By definition, these are inevitably teams that should have played slightly better than .500 ball, but instead finished much further back. If the 1907 Reds had gone a more likely 76-75 they would have still finished fifth (rather than sixth) in an eight team league. They would have finished a mere 30 games behind the mighty World Champion Cubs, rather than 40.

Having gone over this ground many, many times before I've learned a thing or two about these kinds of ballclubs. Teams that fall short of their Pythagorean expectation either: a) do poorly in one-run games (the mark of an unlucky team), or b) do very well in lopsided games (the mark of a quality team.) Teams that fall far short of expectations, like these, will probably demonstrate both characteristics.

So what's worth knowing about these teams, and what happened to them in the following season?

 The 1907 Reds won the blowouts and lost the close ones - their performance in April 1907 is indicative. They  went 4-10 in April 1907, despite outscoring the opposition by four runs (48-44) in those 14 games. They went 1-5 in one run games, and their other three victories were by 8 runs, 5 runs, and 10 runs. The 1908 Reds weren't as good as the 1907 squad, but they improved their record by seven games (73-81) despite scoring 38 fewer runs than in 1907 and allowing 24 more.

The 1918 White Sox are probably the least representative team here. They went into the season as the reigning world champs, but 1918 was a war year - the US entered World War I in late 1917. The 1918 season was shortened, ending at the beginning of September. Chicago played just 124 games, and probably should have gone about 63-61. Their actual record falls just six games shy of that, which isn't really all that unusual - you can generally expect at least one or two teams every year to fall that far short of their Pythagorean expectation. The Sox attempt to defend their title went off the rails when Joe Jackson left the team to work in a ship building plant. Pitchers Red Faber and Lefty Williams also missed large portions of the season. The White Sox bounced back to win the 1919 pennant, of course, but conspired with gamblers to deliberately lose the World Series.

The 1953 Giants were coming off a 92-62 season, good enough for second place in 1952. But Willie Mays would spend the entire 1953 season in the army (he had missed most of 1952 as well), veteran pitchers Sal Maglie, Jim Hearn, and Larry Jansen all had sub-par seasons, and 1952's rookie sensation (Hoyt Wilhelm, who went 15-3, 2.43) wasn't quite as brilliant (7-8, 3.04). So there was very legitimate fall-off here as well. But in 1954, both Maglie and Wilhelm bounced back smartly. The Giants also swindled the Braves out of Johnny Antonelli, and - best of all - Willie Mays returned with a vengeance. 1954 was the year he became Willie Mays. They won the pennant and swept the Indians in the World Series.

Two decades later, the Giants were in San Francisco. They went into 1972 as the defending NL West champs. But their three best hitters in 1971 included the by-now ancient Willie Mays, the ever more increasingly injury-prone Willie McCovey, as well as the a marvellous young star named Bobby Bonds. Early in 1972, the Giants traded the fading Mays back to New York. McCovey missed half the season and hit just .213. Bonds was merely good rather than outstanding. The Giants compounded these problems with the disastrous trade of Gaylord Perry (for Sam McDowell), and long-time ace Juan Marichal struggled to a 6-16 mark. They were legitimately a much weaker team - just not that much weaker. McCovey and Bonds both rebounded strongly in 1973, and the team's luck more than evened out. They went 88-74 and finished third.

In 1979, the Cardinals had gone 86-76 and had all kinds of impressive talent - Ted Simmons, MVP Keith Hernandez, the brilliant Garry Templeton. But after a 13-12 start, they went into a dreadful (5-22) slide, that included 9 one-run losses. It cost manager Ken Boyer his job. Whitey Herzog took over for Boyer as manager and as the team's GM as well. The White Rat spent a couple of months in the dugout assessing his talent, another month reviewing the organization, and then spent the winter remaking the team. He traded Simmons and his top starter Pete Vuckovich. He got rid of Bobby Bonds and Ken Reitz while he was at it. His 1981 team won the first half of the split season. He traded Garry Templeton for Ozzie Smith the following winter, and the Cardinals won the 1982 World Series.

The Pirates of the early 1980s have gone into baseball lore as Team Cocaine. It was an aging team, and in 1984 they started to clear away some of the older players - Dave Parker, Mike Easler. For no apparent reason their pitchers, quite out of the blue, had an outstanding year in 1984, giving up the fewest runs in the league. But alas! - their offense collapsed completely. If any team has fielded a worse outfield than Lee Mazzilli, Marvell Wynne, and Doug Frobel... I don't want to know about it. The Pirates played a ton of close, low-scoring games, and lost a bunch of them - they went 19-32 in one-run games. Unfortunately for them, their pitching wasn't really that good, and in 1985 the staff reverted to more typical form. Coupled with their puny offense, the 1985 Pirates lost 104 games.

The Rockies had gone 82-80 in 2000, before their bizarre 73-89 performance in 2001. Being the Rockies they scored 923 runs - being the Rockies they gave up 906. They had just two guys who could really hit - Todd Helton and Larry Walker - but those two could really hit, and Coors helped the rest of the lineup look adequate. Their pitching wasn't bad, once you take Coors into account, and their bullpen was pretty good. They were quite unlucky (12-24) in the close games, however. In 2002, they still had Helton and Walker, who were still great. But they surrounded those two with an appallingly bad supporting cast and lost 145 runs of offense. They earned their 73-89 mark in 2002.

It remains to be seen, of course, if the 2009 Blue Jays will become the 8th team in this strange club. I am quite confident they can lose enough games - anything less than 17-11 from now through the end of the season will do the job. I'm not so sure they can manage to break even on the scoreboard while they're at it.

On the one hand, it's slightly encouraging to note that three of these seven teams bounced back the following year to make it into the post-season. In a group whose defining characteristic is underachievement, that's a little surprising. It's not so encouraging that the two most recent teams - the Pirates and the Rockies - are caught at the very moment when they looked over the edge of the cliff. Before they fell right off.
The Amazing Historical Significance of the 2009 Blue Jays | 54 comments | Create New Account
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lexomatic - Saturday, September 05 2009 @ 12:33 PM EDT (#205832) #
I would just like to say, I don't want CIto back. there's no excuse for a) playing Johnny Mac at third, b) even less for STARTING him in the outfield.
call up a shmoe from the minors, I don't care. he CANNOT hit, his glove is above average in the INFIELD (so playing him there has some justification), but playing him in the outfield negates his ONLY value.
As far as I'm concerned a move this stupid is fireable for any manager.
lexomatic - Saturday, September 05 2009 @ 12:40 PM EDT (#205834) #
also this game will be painful...
Snider & Lind resting... Scutaro, Hill, Vernon 3rd, Millar 4th, Ruiz, Encarnacion? Batista 7th(OF) Johnny Mac 8th (OF),? who's at first?and Johnny Mac is a kid? ( I guess to Cito he is.)I'd rather have Bobby Mattick, all 100 years oid corpse

Chuck - Saturday, September 05 2009 @ 12:56 PM EDT (#205835) #

Pettitte has shown no platoon splits either this year or over his career, making the decision to sit Lind in favour of MacDonald all the more absurd. I wasn't sure Berg, LF could be outdone.

Millar's OPS is 666. Insert joke here. Oh, and he's 6 PAs shy of a $50K bonus. Bonus. Millar. Bonus. Millar. Yeah, okay.

Hard to fathom why Jays' fans have turned cynical over the past couple of months.

Zao - Saturday, September 05 2009 @ 01:00 PM EDT (#205836) #
Todays lineup just may be the worst we've seen since this gem
lexomatic - Saturday, September 05 2009 @ 01:08 PM EDT (#205837) #
actually zao.. i think this lineup is much worse.
this one has a really good chance at being no hit,and only scutaro's ability to get on base precents it from being a good candidate for a perfect game.
if you're going to give away the game before it starts to give your some players a break, at least play yougn guys to evaluate their potential usefullness
i think only KC has field a worse lineup this season.. and even that's debatable.
greenfrog - Saturday, September 05 2009 @ 01:44 PM EDT (#205838) #
The sad thing is that there aren't really any kids worth playing instead of the feckless veterans. I guess you could start someone like Coats or Mathews in the outfield, but both have sub-800 OPS's in AAA.

At least the Jays were able to dump Rios's salary. He's making an awful lot of money for a corner outfielder hitting 251/300/406.
Bid - Saturday, September 05 2009 @ 01:54 PM EDT (#205839) #
At the start of today's game, Millar had 244 plate 250 he gets fifty grand, at 300 he gets another fifty.

I suppose if we admired his contribution and he wasn't getting a chance at these bonuses we'd complain that the club was saving money unfairly.

And yeh, some outfield.

jmoney - Saturday, September 05 2009 @ 02:29 PM EDT (#205840) #
Cito said that McDonald and Millar are in the game as they were integral in the slaying of the doppleganger that had abducted Roy Halladay and was pitching in his place the past couple of weeks. Getting the real Doc back is worth letting them stink up the batting lineup on a bad baseball team.
Magpie - Saturday, September 05 2009 @ 02:32 PM EDT (#205841) #
June 16, 2004

Berg, lf
Hudson, 2b
Menechino, ss
Johnson, rf
Phelps, 1b
Hinske, 3b
Rios, cf
Cash, c
Hentgen, p
Mike Green - Saturday, September 05 2009 @ 02:55 PM EDT (#205842) #
Maybe it was an unspoken arrangement between Girardi and Cito.  The Yanks take the opportunity to rest Jeter against Halladay, in exchange for Jays resting Lind the next day.  As a fan, I'd much rather see anyone other than McDonald in the outfield.  Eric Thames, fine.  Darin Mastroianni, I'm cool.  Buck Coats, why not.  As for Millar, wouldn't this be a nice time to call up Dopirak?  After September 1, it doesn't even count against service time.
Spifficus - Saturday, September 05 2009 @ 02:59 PM EDT (#205843) #

After September 1, it doesn't even count against service time.

It does. It just doesn't count as an option year because you aren't optioning them back down.

92-93 - Saturday, September 05 2009 @ 03:01 PM EDT (#205844) #
After September 1, it doesn't even count against service time.

Don't know why this confusion comes up every year, but of course it does. Not that that should matter at all with someone like Dopirak.
Magpie - Saturday, September 05 2009 @ 03:01 PM EDT (#205845) #
After September 1, it doesn't even count against service time.

Yes it does. If you're on the active roster, you're accumulating major league service time. Travis Snider came into this season with 31 days of major league service, most of which came last September.

But this is better - a Josh Towers sighting! He's back!

Actually, Towers has been the best pitcher working in AAA for the last month. He was the IL pitcher of the week twice in August, and hasn't allowed an earned run since July. He went 4-0, 0.00 in August.
jmoney - Saturday, September 05 2009 @ 03:04 PM EDT (#205846) #
Vernon Wells has become very consistent. Very consistent at hitting mile high infield popups with runners in scoring position. He did this one on a 3-0 count too. My God he's terrible.
Mike Green - Saturday, September 05 2009 @ 03:21 PM EDT (#205847) #
All right.  I am still on Vancouver time. But, as 92-93 hints at, Dopirak should be called up now, service time accumulations be damned!

One of the consistent features of the Jays of the last 4 years has been the slowness of the club.  When the bench does not have a guy from each side of the plate who can hit the long ball consistently, it means that the club has had trouble scoring in the late innings of close games, in the absence of any realistic use of one-run strategies.  In 2006, when the club lived up to Pythagoras, they not only had a good pen but also Hinske, Zaun/Molina and Johnson/Catalanotto on the bench. 

Jays2010 - Saturday, September 05 2009 @ 05:12 PM EDT (#205849) #
Not that I want Cito managing in 2010, but why are people suggesting that he commits all of these "fireable offenses" when the games mean nothing at this point and other than a handful of hitters, this is a crappy collection of hitters right now. Who cares of Cito makes decisions geared towards losing right now? Losing will get the Jays a higher draft pick and let's not pretend at this point that it makes more sense to worry about the "psyche" of the team than a higher pick. If a Halladay trade brings back a couple of key position players (i.e. Carlos Gonzalez, Ian Stewart and a pitching prospect or two) the Jays could be back to .500 by 2011 with a nice farm system (thanks to the potential of a nice draft haul next year) and a very cheap team (sans VW). Cito's first 162 games as the manager of the Jays produced 90+ wins...the following 162 may produce 90+ least it keeps the Jays out of 'tweener' mode.
Chuck - Saturday, September 05 2009 @ 05:24 PM EDT (#205850) #

Vancouver time. Lucky guy. It means you still have a Saturday afternoon left. The rest of us have to figure out why we willingly sacrificed ours for sheer tedium. In the box, out of the box. On the mound, off the mound. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Elapsed time: 4 hours. Baseball played: 28 minutes.

Explanation required: In September, where there is no roster limitation, why is the team is carrying one healthy "first baseman"? That "first baseman" is hitting like a backup shortstop. And that "first baseman" continues to bat cleanup. There must be a reason for all this, surely. I mean, the organization is run by professionals so there must be a plan here, right?

Another explanation required. Lind pinch-hits for Ruiz. Ruiz, the guy who hit a homerun. That's who Lind replaces. Not Millar. Not Chavez. Again, there must be a rationale that is simply eluding me. I can be dense about these kind of things so speak slowly if you need to.


Chuck - Saturday, September 05 2009 @ 05:36 PM EDT (#205851) #

Who cares of Cito makes decisions geared towards losing right now?

This is all about integrity.

The Red Sox and Rangers deserve a Jays team that is fielding a lineup that can hope to compete with a Yankee team that is vying for the playoffs.

There are families forking out $100-200 for a day at the ballpark and spending 3-4 hours commuting to and fro. They deserve better than Millar batting cleanup and MacDonald playing left field.

Those of us watching at home deserve a product halfway worthy of watching if we are to endure untold many paid commercials (that said, we can simply click the OFF button and walk away, an option that many are no doubt exercising).

Mike Green - Saturday, September 05 2009 @ 06:00 PM EDT (#205852) #
Integrity, pride. 

It doesn't mean racing to first on a pop-up.  It does mean attempting to field the best team that one can.  When you've got 32,000 fans in the park on a beautiful weekend afternoon in early September and you're facing the Yankees while completely out of the pennant race, you have a couple of choices.  One of them is to treat it as a game you really, really want to win and maybe you'll convince some of the fans that it's worth coming back next spring to see the 2010 Jays face the Royals or the Orioles. 

bball12 - Saturday, September 05 2009 @ 07:28 PM EDT (#205853) #
I'm not one to kick anyone when they are down - but McDonald in left field?

It really isnt funny - perhaps someone can explain to me why they would do that.

In my simple mind - I guess they just dont care at this point.

Magpie - Saturday, September 05 2009 @ 07:55 PM EDT (#205854) #
McDonald in left field?

I know. Here's the appalling truth. Gaston wanted to get his bat into the lineup. Wells is the only guy on the team with better numbers against Pettitte than McDonald. The team's four LH batters are a collective 5-42 against Pettitte.

You know, if you actually need John McDonald's bat.... well, there are no words.
Thomas - Saturday, September 05 2009 @ 07:57 PM EDT (#205855) #
I'm not a fan of McDonald in left field either. However, I read an article a little while ago where McDonald spoke about wanting to learn as many positions as he can to enhance his value for free agency. I'm sure he knows he'll never be a starting outfielder, but if he can tell teams that he can handle the outfield in an emergency than it couldn't hurt his free agency.

If Cito stuck McDonald in left field as a favour to someone he's buried on the bench for most of the year and who has been a loyal Blue Jay for the last few seasons, I have far less of a problem with it.
Dave Till - Saturday, September 05 2009 @ 08:27 PM EDT (#205856) #
During the first 41 games, when the Jays were 27-14, they outscored their opponents by 60 runs, and were clubbing baseballs like crazy. Since then, they've gone 33-61, and have given up 54 more runs than they've scored.

That last W-L record is ugly - they've basically been playing at a 106-loss pace for the last 93 games. And that's with Halladay, Scutaro and Barajas, all of whom may very well be gone next year. The 2010 Jays could be really, really awful. Like 1962 Mets awful, or at least Roy Hartsfield awful.

As for McDonald in left field: that was strange, but the only other available outfielders (Lind, Snider, Inglett) all bat left. And, hey, Johnny Mac got a hit, so you can say that maybe it worked out! (Millar at cleanup is less defensible. Why?) I'd like to see Johnny Mac at short every now and again from here on in - I'm just curious to see whether he can still play the way he did two years ago.

Out of curiosity, I looked up Alex Rios's recent stats with Chicago, courtesy of ESPN. In his last 35 at-bats, going back to August 25th, Alex is 4 for 35, with one double and no walks. The Sox are batting him ninth now. I almost feel sorry for him.

And I almost feel sorry for Vernon too. If this keeps up, he's going to go down in baseball history as one of those colossal mistakes, like Brock for Broglio. He'll be the poster boy for bad contracts - the precautionary tale that Bud Selig tells new owners as they are considering opening their checkbooks. (I haven't been watching closely lately, but I'm assuming that Vernon is still trying his hardest. Given his home/road split, I suspect that he is. But mostly I just fast-forward through Jays games these days.)

Dave Till - Saturday, September 05 2009 @ 08:39 PM EDT (#205857) #
To clarify my last parenthetical comment: if Vernon is still putting in the effort, both on and off the field, I find that I can't criticize him for underperforming. It's not his fault that he's not in his early 20s any more, or that they're paying him all that money.
Jays2010 - Saturday, September 05 2009 @ 10:48 PM EDT (#205861) #

To clarify my last parenthetical comment: if Vernon is still putting in the effort, both on and off the field, I find that I can't criticize him for underperforming. It's not his fault that he's not in his early 20s any more, or that they're paying him all that money.

I feel bad for Vernon as well. I remember around the time Wells signed the extension, Jeff Blair was asked to pick five Blue Jays who really "cared" about winning. He picked Wells (presumably Doc and maybe Zaun was in there as well) and said something to the effect of "even though he keeps his emotions in check, VW wants to win as much as anyone". And now if you listen to Blair, he says the typical stuff like "VW couldn't care less about winning as long as he makes his money" and mentions how VW didn't react to the "boos" during the Jays dog day promotion...but what exactly would be appropriate for Wells to do in that situation? Would it be better if he went on a "who gives a f- - - " rant like Rios?

I know Blair is just one guy, but he seems to be hitching himself to the "VW isn't performing to expectations" bandwagon that is becoming so popular and people seem to assume that VW isn't trying. And people would rather he look "angry" or "intense". Honestly, Doc gets called "classy" all the time and while I am not comparing VW's work ethic to Doc's, he always coducts himself professionally and as far as I can tell, he is trying but his body simply isn't what it used to be. I consider VW to be as classy as Doc in terms of how they interact with the I can't really fault VW if his body is breaking down...

Mylegacy - Sunday, September 06 2009 @ 12:46 AM EDT (#205863) #
I'm a big Vernon fan. He plays hard, he plays smart - it's not his fault he either can't see the ball anymore or he can see it but has forgotten how to hit it. He has got to get back to basics this off-season and 1) find out what his problem is and 2) FIX IT. He'll NEVER be worth his contract BUT no one is worth the contract they gave him. If he can just get back to slightly above league average - I'll be happy. Clearly he can't get worse, can he?

On Cito - I'm still a fan. He uses the chips wot the GM gives him. Personally - in this day and age of overpriced prima donnas I have no problem with him playing JMac in the outfield if it'll help him get a better contract and as to Millar - that's JP's albatross.

Ruiz - fast becoming a BFF of mine - is hitting at over a 50 homer rate (over 600 ab's). I REALLY would like to see the guy get at least a shot at first for a few games unless they KNOW he's a DH or a teller at McDonalds.

Snider - looks almost slim. Has he been dieting?

Thomas - Sunday, September 06 2009 @ 09:49 AM EDT (#205866) #
I REALLY would like to see the guy get at least a shot at first for a few games unless they KNOW he's a DH or a teller at McDonalds.

I would too, but the only reason I would see the Jays not trying him at first base is if they have already decided he can't field the position. They do have reports/eyewitness accounts from Las Vegas and I'm sure have had him field balls at first in BP and must have used that to decide that he's not an option at first. Otherwise I can't seem them not starting him for Millar in at least a couple of games.

Ruiz didn't play any first base with Minnesota last year. That's not too surprising with Morneau's presence, but if Minnesota had thought he could field the position you might have seen them give Morneau a day off in the field and started him at DH.

snider - Sunday, September 06 2009 @ 11:48 AM EDT (#205870) #
If Cito stuck McDonald in left field as a favour to someone he's buried on the bench for most of the year and who has been a loyal Blue Jay for the last few seasons, I have far less of a problem with it.

That was the reason as per Cito's conversation with Jerry Howarth on the Fan before the game. Cito said that McDonald had asked him for playing time in the outfield as a showcase for next year.  

Nice guys finish.

China fan - Sunday, September 06 2009 @ 03:17 PM EDT (#205878) #

In his comments to the media last night, Cito clearly explained that he put McDonald in LF because McDonald had requested the move to help him improve his CV for the free-agent market.  Cito says he honored McDonald's request (at a relatively meaningless time of the year) to thank him for sitting on the bench all year without complaining. 

So, does anyone want to retract their "Cito is stupid" comments?  Or are you sticking to your guns?

Seems to me that people shouldn't leap to the nastiest conclusions before all the facts are in.  The "Cito is stupid" crowd seem to jump on anything to prove their point, wtihout knowing all the factors that enter into a decision.

Now, some of you might still argue that McDonald doesn't deserve any reward, he should ride the bench all the seaon, he deserves nothing from Cito, even in a meaningless game, no matter how positive his attitude was all season.  Sure, you can make that argument -- but please retract your earlier assumption that Cito is just some idiot who can't comprehend that McDonald is a poor hitter.  Of course Cito fully understands that McDonald is a poor hitter -- but he had other reasons for playing McDonald, and those reasons at least can be justified and understood, even if you choose to disagree with them.

A good manager, in my opinion, thinks and cares about the human beings on his team, and treats them as humans.  If a loyal player like McDonald makes a honest request to Cito, for a single game, at a meaningless time of the season, and Cito chooses to honor that request, it might actually be good for the morale of the whole team.  It might improve the respect between the manager and the team.  It might motivate other players on the team to play harder and work harder in 2010, knowing that their manager cares about them and supports them.  Those are all reasons that might actually help the Jays to do better in 2010.  Disagree if you wish, but at least recognize that Cito has reasons that would seem legitimate to a lot of Jays.  There are codes and understandings on a baseball team that the carping fans in the stands might not appreciate.

Jays2010 - Sunday, September 06 2009 @ 03:48 PM EDT (#205879) #
This is all about integrity.

The Red Sox and Rangers deserve a Jays team that is fielding a lineup that can hope to compete with a Yankee team that is vying for the playoffs.

I guess...but, really, the integrity of the sport is breached by the ridiculous playoff/division format. It affects the strategies teams have (i.e. Do Tbay and Baltimore decide to suck as long as they have in the AL Central? Do the Jays try and keep their franchise CF for $126 million in the AL Central where JP's "lightning in a bottle" teams do not need as many stars?) I guess I understand the point, but, really, should the Jays/Orioles and Rays in past years really care about the integrity of the game when MLB refuses to show integrity with respect to the Jays/Rays/Orioles. The Jays could field a $60 million team (with $21 mill dedicated to VW next year) and could be breaching the "integrity of the game" by acting like a small market team...but at this point it is probably the best course of action in this division. It has been suggested that Rogers may be going cheap as a message to MLB to fix this division problem...and that can be seen as screwing with the "integrity of the game"...I'm sorry, I just can't agree with the "integrity of the game" theme when MLB clearly does not extend this courtesy to the Blue Jays.

92-93 - Sunday, September 06 2009 @ 04:01 PM EDT (#205880) #
"Sure, you can make that argument -- but please retract your earlier assumption that Cito is just some idiot who can't comprehend that McDonald is a poor hitter."

Just re-read the thread, and not one person made this assumption, and the reason for playing JMac doesn't change a thing. The team owes him nothing, they already overpaid him, and he's fooling himself if he thinks a couple of September outfield starts enhances his FA value in any way shape or form. No team would sign him with any intention of giving him starts out there, and everybody would have assumed already that he's athletic enough to go out there in an emergency situation. Cito owes it to the few fans the team has left to put out a lineup that doesn't make us groan - he alienates us even further when we see John McDonald starting in LF.
Mick Doherty - Sunday, September 06 2009 @ 04:04 PM EDT (#205881) #

The Red Sox and Rangers deserve a Jays team that is fielding a lineup that can hope to compete with a Yankee team that is vying for the playoffs.

Well, I agree with the general conceit here, but that example is a real misrepresentation of the current standings. Neither the Red Sox nor the Rangers are competing with the Yankees per "vying for a playoff spot." They are competing solely with each other, and to a lesser extent, with the Mariners and Rays. For the Yankees to not win the East now would take a monumental collapse of '78 Red Sox and '54? Dodgers (and '64? Phillies)  proportions.

Ironically, the Yankees are very close to being able to run out a lineup of Columbus Clippers in the interest of the franchise's post-season health, but I suspect that will not happen to any large degree, perhaps making the point even more poignantly!

China fan - Sunday, September 06 2009 @ 04:11 PM EDT (#205882) #
I just re-read the thread, and it confirms what I said.   Comments like "stupid" and "absurd" were aimed at Cito.  With greatest respect, it was not "stupid" or "absurd" to play McDonald in LF -- it was a manager's honest response to a player's request.  He had his reasons, even if you disagree with them.
92-93 - Sunday, September 06 2009 @ 04:42 PM EDT (#205883) #
Read what I quoted you saying. It WAS stupid and idiotic and absurd, but that's not the point, because as you pointed out, that can be argued one way or the other. However, nobody thought Cito was putting JMac out there because he represented his greatest chance of winning the game, and that's what you called out Bauxite Nation for, inappropriately.
TamRa - Sunday, September 06 2009 @ 04:48 PM EDT (#205884) #
So, does anyone want to retract their "Cito is stupid" comments?  Or are you sticking to your guns?

Doing a stupid thing - which he did - is not "being stupid"

Cito is NOT stupid - but he DID do something stupid.

a. it's insulting to the few fans who still come
b. as pointed out it's meaningless in terms of FA value
c. it's insulting to the teams in the race.

If you MUST reward Mac in some way, you do it when you are playing BALTIMORE or SEATTLE.

Not when you are playing the Yankees. It's true that Boston is almost certianly NOT going to overtake them, but it's a valid principle.

That lineup, vs a contender, is simply insulting, IMO, to all concerned. - and while we are scratching our collective heads, if Travis Snider stands to be our RF for years to come, WTF is he doing in left so Joe-frikkin-Inglett could play right today?

China fan - Sunday, September 06 2009 @ 05:16 PM EDT (#205885) #
Chill out, folks.  It's September.  For the Jays, the season is long over.  The question of who plays LF for a single game is hardly an "insult" to the fans, or "stupid" or "idiotic", or anything worthy of such extreme emotion.  Settle down.  If you want to get worked up into a frenzy about anything, how about looking at the miserly decisions of the owners:  the payroll-slashing, the salary-dumping, the petty short-sightedness of the bean-counting shareholders at Rogers. As pointed out in the other thread, follow the money.  It's the money that counts, not a 1-for-3 outing by a back-up shortstop who happens to be in LF for a game.  It's the money that will determine the fate of the Jays in 2010 and 2011 -- not a few innings by John McDonald in the waning weeks of a lost season. 
Spifficus - Sunday, September 06 2009 @ 05:17 PM EDT (#205886) #

It's an 8 game lead on Boston, and 10 on Texas - there is no integrity of the race.

As for it being meaningless for FA value, that's irrelevant - it's what McDonald perceives that is.

As for the fans... Meh. If they're showing up now, they're either Yankees fans or they'll show up anyway. As has been stated, right or wrong this was done for a reason - accommodating a players request with no cost involved. We rail about Rogers worrying too much about fan sentiment in making their decisions (Wells extension, drafting Canadians, never being a seller at the deadline, being mediocre with a middling payroll year after year instead of sucking it up and building a base of talent). It's almost amusing that now we want them to 'think of the fans' because it disturbs our sensibilities to see McDonald in left. Really, it should be 'think of us'... or 'think of the children'.

I know we're all trembling from the Dave Berg flashbacks we're experiencing at the moment, but we should really try to back away from the edge a bit.

Alex Obal - Sunday, September 06 2009 @ 06:00 PM EDT (#205889) #
To the surprise of no one (I hope), Joe Inglett's batting average is now over .300.
92-93 - Sunday, September 06 2009 @ 07:33 PM EDT (#205890) #
I really hope Inglett gets a spot on the 25 man roster next year instead of wasting millions on Bautista in arbitration. I wished that before 2009 as well.
Thomas - Sunday, September 06 2009 @ 09:26 PM EDT (#205897) #

I didn't see today's game, so I have no idea how Ruiz looked at first, but it seems the team hadn't concluded that he can't play first base yet as he started there today. He should get a couple of more starts at the position over the rest of the month. I'll admit to being wrong there.

As for MacDonald, I agree that people are very quick to jump to conclusions regarding Cito, particualrly when it looks like it might fit into their pre-conceived narrative. The team may not owe MacDonald anything per se, but they can still adhere to a relatively minor wish from Johnny Mac. I may have preferred a different game, but if the team wants do a favour for a loyal player with no long-term impact in a meaningless September game, I'm not going to get upset about it or object at all.

John Northey - Sunday, September 06 2009 @ 09:58 PM EDT (#205899) #
With Johnny Mac the less I see him in games the better, but...

If you are a 'players manager' odds are you treat guys who don't complain well. Despite being on the roster all year and getting just 83 PA in 52 games I haven't heard a peep about not getting enough playing time in the media from him. This is a guy who the previous manager kept playing every day. Regardless of how he hits, it is odd for a guy to be this quiet. Cito would respect that and try to help him get a job for 2010 if it doesn't hurt this years goals. A tough left hander on the mound, good time for Lind and Snider to have a day off, someone has to play and JP hasn't provided that extra outfielder Cito has asked for. Thus, you send a message to the GM and help a guy get experience in a different position.

Look at the fielding stats. In the outfield we've had regulars in Lind/Wells/Rios/Snider. After those guys the next batch are Bautista (a 3B), Inglett (a 2B), Dellucci (a flop), Adams (a failed SS/2B), and now John McDonald. A total of 6 games played after the big 4 by a guy who is actually an outfielder by trade. That isn't a manager failing, that is a GM failing (and I normally support JP). Note how only Inglett (before today) had an OPS+ of 80 or more out of the backups. Yikes.
jmoney - Sunday, September 06 2009 @ 10:40 PM EDT (#205900) #
I really like Ruiz. Hope his chicklets are okay after eating that Towers heat. If the Jays plan on competing with an expensive anchor named Wells in their lineup then they're going to need a few Ruiz and Sniders in the lineup.
Magpie - Monday, September 07 2009 @ 12:39 PM EDT (#205904) #
I didn't see today's game, so I have no idea how Ruiz looked at first

He actually made a couple of pretty good plays, both on balls in the air (a foul popup right at the wall, and another popup down the first base line that he tracked down like a wide receiver with his back to home plate.)
Magpie - Monday, September 07 2009 @ 12:53 PM EDT (#205905) #
after eating that Towers heat

All of us, but especially Ruiz, are glad that it was Towers heat.

Some of us were pretty excited in the press box about the prospect of seeing Josh make his return to the majors (and it was fun heckling Jeff Blair, who's even grumpier than usual these days, about it.) Two reasons: 1) it's Josh Towers, dammit! and 2) Towers has been absolutely en fuego in AAA, so there was some real curiosity. Was he doing anything different? And indeed he was. He's mixing in a change-up regularly and he's not throwing his fastball as hard as he used to.
92-93 - Monday, September 07 2009 @ 01:29 PM EDT (#205906) #
He looked a little shaky to me receiving some of the throws at first. The Damon infield single where Barajas threw wide comes to mind.
ayjackson - Monday, September 07 2009 @ 02:30 PM EDT (#205907) #
That wasn't a good play - laying out to make the out?  And I didn't have my PVR, but on first blush and on the replay, I thought he made the out.
Thomas - Monday, September 07 2009 @ 03:43 PM EDT (#205908) #
Despite spending the entire year on the major league roster, John MacDonald has more at-bats since August 26th than he did in the first three months of the season.
Thomas - Monday, September 07 2009 @ 03:44 PM EDT (#205909) #

I have no idea why I've done that twice this thread.
Chuck - Monday, September 07 2009 @ 04:56 PM EDT (#205910) #
Probably because his nickname is Johnny Mac.
Mike Green - Monday, September 07 2009 @ 05:14 PM EDT (#205911) #
Johnny Mac, oh Johnny Mac,
you keep comin' back

Glevin - Tuesday, September 08 2009 @ 04:19 AM EDT (#205913) #
"If you are a 'players manager' odds are you treat guys who don't complain well. Despite being on the roster all year and getting just 83 PA in 52 games I haven't heard a peep about not getting enough playing time in the media from him"

I'm sorry, but I find this absurd. McDonald is not in any position to complain about anything. He's lucky to be in the majors at all and very lucky to be getting paid, what, a million dollars or something despite having almost no offensive skills? If you are a solid veteran who has to take a back seat to a younger player but could still play on another team, sure, I can see why you'd be upset, but John McDonald? The guy is 34 with a career .588 OPS. He does not have the right to complain about playing time. Also, the idea of playing a couple of games in the OF somewhere helping him get a job next year is ludicrous. McDonald's only value derives from his defense at SS. He'll likely get a minor league deal next year and probably not make the major league squad. (Although so many managers love no-hit MI types)
Richard S.S. - Tuesday, September 08 2009 @ 05:33 AM EDT (#205915) #
Toronto's attendence is 'hit or miss'  for 2 million fans.  Average ticket price (guess) $50.00 + Concessions (guess) $10.00-$25.00 + Gift Shop, Souvenirs, Programs (guess) $10.00-$25.00 = Per Person ???  So there is a significance to putting butts in the stands.  The one way to do that is to move all players on the 15-day DL to the 60--day DL to free up 40-man roster space.  Call up: 1B, SS, CF, 3B, SP, RP and everyone else on the 40-man not yet up.  Let's generate some excitement over the last 10 home games.  Promoting this team has sucked for more than a year.  Winning is not critical to having fun if you're watching something or someone(s) new.  2.0, 2.25, 2.5 million are benchmark points in future Payroll and Salaries.  If you want $120.0 million next season show up now.
Jim - Tuesday, September 08 2009 @ 06:28 AM EDT (#205916) #
Call up: 1B, SS, CF, 3B, SP, RP and everyone else on the 40-man not yet up.

This would be Mills, Murphy, Luiz Perez and Davis Romero.  Every position player on the 40 man roster is up (well except Barrett).

They could start a new league where none of the pitchers are allowed to be over 6 feet tall. 

Spifficus - Tuesday, September 08 2009 @ 09:02 AM EDT (#205919) #

I'm sorry, but I find this absurd. McDonald is not in any position to complain about anything.

Is it complaining to ask someone to pass the salt at dinner? Unless you really mess up the tone and phrasing, probably not. All indications seemed to be that McDonald making a simple request, and not a complaint. Cito felt he could oblige with minimal impact. He passed McDonald the salt.

As for the value of such a maneuver for McDonald, well, that's irrelevant. In this case, the only thing that matters is the perceived value of it to the player. If he didn't see any value in it, he probably wouldn't have asked.

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