It’s an off-day for the Jays and I got nothing else to do so let’s go back to the well.
Last week I highjacked Andrew Stoeten’s mailbag over on Vice.com and had such a good time that I just can’t resist doing it again. I really hope this isn’t going to become a thing, though, because I don’t want anyone to think that I have a thing for Stoeten. I mean, yeah, sure, I like the guy, but I don’t like like him.
At any event, let’s dive right in, but remember—I’m stealing these questions from someone else’s mailbag so I’ve removed the names to avoid getting into any trouble:
OK, small sample size and it’s early and all that but also what about these two theories: 1) The book is out on Jays hitters: pitch ’em away away, mostly soft stuff. And Jays don’t adjust. 2) They got old fast. What other team has so many thirty-somethings in starting lineup?
The age is, I think, a real issue but maybe not so big as some people may have you believe. These guys are in great shape, but there’s no cure for aging and in the case of Bautista and Martin I think we may be seeing that. They’ve both been behind a lot of fastballs this year (so far) which could be a result of just being a bit slower. If this is the case though they can adjust to that, so I don’t expect it to be too big an issue.
As for theory number one: yep, the league has figured out that the Jays are built around a fastball-first offence and are pitching accordingly, but I’m not sure about the “don’t adjust” part. Some have clearly been trying to get the slow garbage off the plate and missing (Bautista, Martin and Travis) and so maybe we can say “haven’t adjusted yet” with the hope that this doesn’t lead to “can’t adjust.” Smoak, of course, will never adjust and doesn’t need to if the three key guys above come around; the same is probably true of Pearce. The rest are split into three camps: those who have already shown they can play the new game (Morales, Tulo, Pillar), those who are just crappy hitters and won’t ever really do well no matter what’s happening more broadly (Goins, Barwin Darney, Zeke), and Josh Donaldson who is just very very good at baseball.
I know it’s early, and that the Jays are much better than what we’ve seen, but at what point does this hole get too big to climb out of? Right now (assuming 89 wins is a wildcard spot) they need to play at a .578 clip the rest of the season. Over a full season that’s 93 wins, and I think that’s already pushing it for this team (not impossible, but a bit of a stretch).
Well, that sort of depends on what kind of team “this team” is. If we are referring to the team we’ve seen so far then a .400 pace is probably too much to hope for; but if “this team” means the team they should be based on the talent they have, then a .578 pace (I’ll trust your math) is entirely possible, assuming the health of the starting rotation. So, I hate to sound like I’m hedging but, well, I’m going to have to hedge. I will say this, there is no “hole” until at least 30 games have been played.
Grasping at straws to explain this horrid start, I had a thought:
With the new regime of fitness and nutrition experts on staff, could they have purposely held off on going hard in spring training, knowing the inevitable slumps that every team endures over the season? In other words, analyzing the health of each player and their history; the schedule, etc., and strategizing for the entire season?
Are the Jays doing the long con?
Not sure I even understand this: your theory is that they have purposely gone into the season unprepared so they can fool everyone into thinking they’re crappy when they’re not? Or that they figured they didn’t have much of a shot against the Orioles, Brewers and Rays so why try too hard, better to save their strength for later?
Um…no. On both.
Why hasn’t Tulo been moved been moved leadoff yet with him getting on base a lot? Also how much of the slow start do you blame on Gibbons? i say 80% on the players and 20% on Gibby?
You’ve been listening to Wilner, haven’t you?
It’s not the worst idea getting a better bat than Zeke in the lead-off spot, but Pillar has a better OBP than Tulo, as does Kendrys Morales and…holy moly!…Russell Martin, so I’m not sure that the logic in favour of Tulo is necessarily sound. I think he’s probably happy to be a middle of the order bat and he’s been doing nicely there of late, so why mess with it? Honestly, as I argued in an earlier column, unless and until Devon Travis starts hitting again, there aren’t really any good options for lead off.
And I don’t “blame” anyone who’s doing his best and having a rough time of it. I certainly don’t think the guy sitting on the bench has a very direct role in what happens on the field. So how about we say 100% of the Blue Jays are two and ten to start the season and leave it at that?
The Jays just have a touch of PTSD. They lost Eddie, almost lost Bautista. They’re pros they are used to shifting around, BUT when you almost go the WS two yrs in a row, there is a vet core kinship mentality that’s felt right down to Ryan Goins. It’s not that they don’t get it. They probably don’t even realize it. But there is a weird void, and their rhythm is off. It’s a team. A slight shift sometimes changes things for a minute. It’s all psychological. They aren’t losing by much. Gibbons will do something to shake them up, and once they succeed the bonding can happen again, the rhythm will come back. That’s my real opinion, not the jokey one from before. But then fuck, they may lose every fucking game, who knows.
The other thing that happens after just almost making it…to teams, is they try way too hard. Like darts, you got to relax. Take your time. They’re already trying to win the pennant. Over thinking.
Or maybe not, maybe they just stink, I don’t know.
You said it: you don’t know. You haven’t the faintest idea what’s going on in their heads…unless you’re a trained sports psychologist hired to work with the team, in which case you totally shouldn’t be blabbing your thoughts on the internet.
Stick to darts, and leave the psychoanalysis to the professionals.
Vladdy Jr is off to a hot start this year in the minors. When can we get really excited about this guy?
After he’s been doing just as well in the majors for four months, and not one minute sooner. #thisainthockey
The Jays NEED to make a move to salvage this season. Vlad Jr. for Joey Votto. How could either team say no to that? SOMETHING has to be done, so why not get crazy?
Not sure how one player makes all the difference here, but OK, let’s pretend the he can…
“How could either team say no”??? Well, you did say you want to get crazy… There is absolutely no way the Reds let Votto go for one A-ball player. Ever. And there is no way the Jays take on that ridiculous Votto contract. Why would either team say yes to such a hare-brained scheme? You want Votto? OK, so do I. But to get him you either take on the whole contract and throw in a couple low-A prospects, or you insist the Reds assume the bulk of the contract and you send them Sanchez or Stroman along with half of the Buffalo Bisons.
Honestly, you can’t base your view of reality on what you do while playing MLB The Show.
How and when did it go so wrong for the Blue Jays? I’m of course talking about those atrocious red abominations they’ll be wearing for all of their Sunday home games and throughout July.
I like the jerseys. Of course, I’m red-green colour blind so maybe I’m missing something.
But don’t we have more important things to worry about?