Tag Archives: John Farrell

It’s not Cordero’s fault

If your closer can make Brandon Inge celebrate like this, he probably shouldn’t be your closer.

It’s not Francisco Cordero’s fault. It’s really not. Never mind the fact that, to date, opposition batters have posted a 1.164 OPS against him. Never mind that his ERA is closing in on double digits. Never mind the fact that he’s blown three of five save opportunities so far this year. It’s really not his fault.

The blame for Cordero’s failures has to fall squarely on the shoulders of manager John Farrell. No, Farrell is not on the field failing to get the job done, but Farrell is the one who continues to put Cordero in at times when it seems he shouldn’t be called upon.

Farrell has said many times that he misused the bullpen last year and that he believes the relievers need defined roles to help them succeed. I’m not one to completely deny the fact that psychological factors can affect a player’s performance, so I’m willing to buy it. But for Farrell to say that Cordero is “our guy” is just plain wrong.

The team has a capital-C closer (whether a team really needs someone in that role is an argument for another day). His name is Sergio Santos. Yes, he’s on the disabled list, but just because he’s out, doesn’t mean his role has to be filled.

It seems to me that Farrell should be telling his guys that, while Santos is out, who he calls upon to close out a game will be a decision based on how his relievers have pitched lately and any sort of statistical evidence that suggests a given pitcher would have success against whoever’s due up for the opposition in the ninth. Maybe that’s Jason Frasor or Darren Oliver. Maybe it’s Luis Perez. Hell, maybe it’s even Cordero.

I do believe that Cordero has value. I do believe there are situations in which he could be called upon to do good for the Toronto Blue Jays. But it’s obvious that, for right now anyway, he should not be the team’s go-to ninth inning guy. And bad results that come out of the team continuing to call on him in save situations have to fall on Farrell for continuing to treat Cordero as “our guy.”

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Employee relations

Choose your own adventure: You own a business in a competitive field. You want to, one day, be the absolute best in your field, but you know you’ve got a lot of work to do to get there. You’re striving to create a great working environment so that the top minds in your chosen industry will be attracted to your organization — not only by the potential your company shows, but also because they know they’ll be treated better working for you than if they worked for anybody else.

Now let’s say you’ve managed to hire someone from a rival. This someone is a little lacking in experience at the position you hire him for, but there’s a consensus in the industry that he’s going to be great once he gets some practice.

A year passes. The guy you’ve hired has made some questionable moves, but damn it, he’s showing the potential everybody knows he has.

Meanwhile, the rival from which you hired the employee suddenly has an opening and they want your man. They’ve got a chance to conquer the industry as early as next year and they want him to help lead them to the top.

If he wants to leave, do you stop him?

Keep in mind that if he wants to go, and you don’t let him, the atmosphere in your workplace is going to take a dive. The guy doesn’t want to be there — and everybody knows it.

What do you do?

***********************************

Is John Farrell going to leave the Blue Jays to manage the Red Sox? Only John Farrell knows.

If I’m Alex Anthopoulos, and if Farrell wants to go, I absolutely let him. Why poison the clubhouse like that? Why risk a big, big dent in the reputation of being a great place to work?

It’d definitely be tempting to prevent Boston from poaching the manager, if the Red Sox do indeed want to do that, but that’s an urge that’s got to be resisted.

Maybe offering Farrell some more money would get him to stay if he’s considering leaving. Maybe improving the team would get him to stay if he’s considering leaving. Those moves would be fine. Simply saying “you can’t go because I say so”? That’s not good enough. Not if you’re trying to build something real.

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Backup of the future

Watching last night’s Jays game, I was a little surprised to see both Jose Molina and J.P. Arencibia in the starting lineup. “What happens if Molina goes down?” I thought to myself. “Is John Farrell really OK with giving up the DH spot that easily?”

“Wait… isn’t Brian Jeroloman on the bench? He can’t be, can he? I mean, he’d have to have played by now, and I’m sure I’d have heard about that.”

The head cold I’ve been dealing with was enough to keep me on the couch and keep me from looking it up, but waiting over night saved me from doing any research. John Lott answered my questions for me.

Yes, Brian Jeroloman was on the bench. He has been since Aug. 23. And no, he hasn’t seen any game action yet.

Normally, when a young player gets a call to the majors and spends a lot of time on the bench, there’s a call for him to get some playing time to “see what we’ve got in him.” Jeroloman is different though.

Alex Anthopoulos said at the time of his call-up that Jeroloman wouldn’t play. Farrell has said that Molina and Arencibia have earned the little playing time that remains. The coach and GM have stuck to their word — so much so that it’s sometimes hard to remember that Jeroloman is in fact in the major leagues right now.

So, if he’s not playing, why are the Jays paying Jeroloman a major-league salary to sit on the bench? The guy is almost definitely not Toronto’s catcher of the future, after all.

But that may be the exact reason he’s with the big club right now.

With Arencibia holding his own to the point that there’s some minor rookie-of-the-year movement behind him and with the steam train that is Travis D’arnaud making his way through Toronto’s farm system, it would seem that the best possible outcome for Jeroloman — in a Jays uniform, anyway — is the role of backup catcher.

What better way to prepare for that role than riding the pine? Well, playing would obviously be better. But if the options are going home or travelling with and learning the art of calling a game from Molina, a guy who’s pretty good at catching, then travelling, learning and enjoy the post-game spread is probably the way to go.

And with Molina’s expiring contract and Type-B status, there’s a chance Jeroloman may even be the backup catcher as soon as next season.

So, as the Jays get ready for their final game of the season this afternoon, it’d be nice if Jeroloman got a little playing time to, you know, see what we’ve got in him.

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Farrell’s useful argument

Some people, including (very) occasional poster to this site, Squizz, have argued that the argument between the manager and the umpire serves no purpose and should be taken out of the game.

Personally, I enjoy watching a manager chew out the umpire as much as the next guy — unless the next guy is Squizz — but I do agree that, in general, the argument accomplishes next to nothing. But there are instances where the argument serves a purpose and can be beneficial to the team in ways other than the slim chance that the ump will see the error of his ways.

For example, take John Farrell’s argument with home plate ump Alfonso Marquez during the 9th inning of Saturday’s game. Jon Rauch and his blowup will (deservedly) get more attention than anything else that happened in that inning, but Farrell’s argument with Marquez is far more interesting to me.

Sure, Farrell was probably upset that he had just been tossed around by one of his pitchers. And yeah, he was likely upset — and justifiably so — about the horrendous game Marquez called, but, to me anyway, that’s not why Farrell got himself tossed.

When Rauch went ballistic, the Blue Jays had nobody warming up in the bullpen. After Rauch lost it, Farrell made sure to get one of his coaches to call the pen and visit the mound to talk to Shawn Camp before returning to Marquez and engaging him a lengthy argument.

Why would he do this? I checked on the MLB.tv archive and, because the cameras were focusing on Farrell, I can’t find a video record of Camp warming up. At the game, I was also watching Farrell and really paying attention to Camp. And that’s the thing: Who was paying attention to Camp?

I know J.P. Arencibia was, because Camp was warming up throughout the whole argument, but was anybody else?

I can’t be sure, but I’d be shocked if Camp didn’t throw more than the eight warmup pitches that MLB allows.

And if that’s the case, if Farrell’s arguing allowed an ice-cold pitcher to get a little warmer before facing live bats, that’s an argument that definitely serves a purpose.

Pepper!

  • What the league will do with Rauch, I don’t know. I do feel like the team should probably take some kind of disciplinary action against him though. You can’t just let a player throw the manager around like that, can you?
  • I was worried about the fans at Saturday’s game. I thought they might be overcome with Roy Halladay love to the point of forgetting which team they should be cheering for. I was pleasantly surprised that the cheers for Doc were limited to the beginning and end of the game.
  • Rajai Davis: I want to like him. I really, really do. But watching him play is getting to be painful. He’s a fourth OF at best. #FreeTravisSnider
  • Watching Jose Bautista hit a home run is like nothing else. I knew this, you knew this, we all knew this, but it was really driven home during Friday’s game. Eric Thames’ home run was mammoth, but Bautista’s just felt more exciting, even if he didn’t hit the fourth deck.
  • I’m getting the feeling Thames could be something that’s somewhat special. I could see him as a contributing member of this team for quite a while.
  • Wasn’t it nice to see John McDonald get a couple of hits off Doc?

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.500 at the quarter

Here we are, 40 games done, a full quarter (or close enough, anyway) of the way through the season. While there are a few things that deserve to be talked about if we’re going to look at how the team’s performed so far, one thing, er… person, stands above all.

Holy hell, Jose Bautista is a goddamn monster. For real! The season he’s been putting together is without a doubt THE story of the year so far. It was going to be even if he hadn’t gone out today and hit 3 home runs against the Minnesota Twins.

You’ll probably see and/or hear a lot of people saying that Joey Bats is on pace right now to hit 65 home runs this year. What you won’t (or I haven’t anyway) hear is that he’s also on pace to play only 130 games.

You’re reading that right: Bautista is averaging a home run every two games. That’s unreal. I laughed when, during Saturday’s broadcast, the Sportsnet crew showed a graphic comparing what Bautista’s done this season to the best 3 full seasons Babe Ruth put together during his career. Really, at this point, it is still laughable but today I do feel differently. After watching what he did today, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Bautista top 60 home runs this year.

Record

I probably should’ve mentioned this up top, but the Jays currently sit at 20-20, good for third place in the AL East at the time of this writing. The actual win-loss record doesn’t seem all that surprising to me, until injuries are taken into consideration, but more on that later.

Management

Some days, John Farrell looks like a fool out there. He really, really does. But not everything he catches crap for is something he deserves to catch crap for. Letting Rajai Davis run? Good management. Letting Corey Patterson run? Questionable. Pulling pitchers when they’re one out from a complete game shutout? Not so bad. Using Octavio Dotel against left-handed batters on a regular basis? HORRIBLE — and getting worse.

But the thing Farrell seems to get the most heat for is his lineup construction. Yes, the lineups sometimes look like a dog’s lunch, but what do you expect him to do? The injuries this team have suffered have been so ridiculous that they recently played a game with only ONE guy on the bench.

As for the other management figure worth noting, I’m still a big supporter of Alex Anthopoulos. And his decision to lock up Joey Bats is really making him look like a genius. But I don’t care how much he might say about Travis Snider and his swing issues — I still don’t understand the speed with which the Lunchbox Hero was demoted.

Speed

The Jays are fast. Like second-in-the-AL-in-stolen-bases fast. Sure only two teams have been caught stealing more than Toronto and I understand it can be frustrating to watch the team “run into outs,” but I enjoy the running game. Speed kills!

Injuries

So here’s the thing — the Jays are 20-20 despite having seen the following players spend time on the DL miss time for various reasons: Octavio Dotel; Frank Francisco; Brandon Morrow; Corey Patterson; Rajai Davis (twice); Jose Bautista (twice); Yunel Escobar (twice); Aaron Hill; Edwin Encarnacion; and Jayson Nix. (ed: How did I forget to include Adam Lind? That’s a hashtag fail.)

That’s 10 guys. Add that to Jesse Carlson hanging out on the 60-day DL for the whole season so far and Travis Snider raking in the Pacific Coast League for some reason and you’ve got to pretty impressed with the Jays and their .500 record. Get everybody healthy and getting Snider going to the potential we all know he has and there’s no telling what this team can do

Conclusion

This team’s still pretty unlikely to make the playoffs. They’re better, so far, than most expected, but they still play in the AL East. They do though have Joey Bats and he’s got pretty broad shoulders…

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5 errors for E5

If there’s anybody out there who still thinks that ERA is a good stat by which to assess the abilities of a given pitcher, last night’s outing by Jo-Jo Reyes should serve as a nice nail in ERA’s coffin.

He pitched 2-2/3 innings and didn’t give up an earned run. Sounds good, until you realize that he started the game, pitched horribly and gave up six runs which, because of the rule that states runs can’t be charged against a pitcher if an error is committed on what would be a third out, weren’t charged against him.

I know he doesn’t have any options left, but how many chances are the Jays going to give him to keep proving he can’t cut it at the major-league level?

But this post is not meant to be about Reyes. This post is meant to be about the guy who committed the error with two outs.

I know John Farrell said, near the end of spring training, that Edwin (E5) Encarnacion had worked hard over the off-season, improved his footwork and really picked up his defensive game and, because of all that, he’d be playing third base. But, as I said at the time, E5’s problem is not his glove, it’s his arm.

Again, let me reiterate that Texas’s 6-run third inning last night was almost entirely Reyes’s fault. But if E5 doesn’t make a poor throw to first to allow Texas to keep the inning going, none of those six runs score.

I am not a big believer in errors or fielding percentage as a method of evaluating a player’s defensive abilities, but sometimes it can be used a decent shorthand, so I’m going to do it right now:

So far this year, in 58 innings at 3B, Encarnacion has been charged with 5 errors and has a fielding percentage of .615.

I don’t care what you think about fielding percentage or sample sizes or whatever — that’s a horrendous number.

So what to do with E5?

His bat’s nice enough that it’s worth keeping in the lineup, so how about he be used in the manner he was intended to be used in when he was brought back? Wouldn’t the Jays’ lineup look a lot nicer with E5 as the DH and occasional first baseman?

Of course, such a move would open up a hole at third and with the way Juan Rivera’s been swinging the bat lately, we’d want to keep him going, so why not go with an alignment much more like what we saw in spring training?

Encarnacion as 1B/DH, Rivera in RF Jose Bautista at 3B?

That’s what I would do anyway. I know it’s not perfect, but I don’t know how much more of E5 at 3B I can handle. It’s kind of like watching Reyes holding a spot in the rotation.

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Lunchbox Hero and the Safety Squeezers

One game can make all the difference, can’t it? Coming into tonight’s game against the Yankees, it seemed like people were fixated on the losses to the Red Sox, the slumps the Jays’ sluggers were going through and John Farrell’s seeming insistence on using Octavio Dotel against left-handed batters.

I tuned into tonight’s game during the eighth inning. I can’t speak to what happened before that, but what I saw afterward was pretty inspiring.

The bottom of the ninth. Down two to the Yankees. Mariano Rivera on the mound. This is not a situation many teams have been able to overcome. Ever.

Over the course of his career, Rivera had 566 saves in 615 opportunities. That’s a 92% success rate. That’s a pretty slim chance the Jays are going to win.

But win they did.

Yunel Escobar, Jose Bautista, Adam Lind: They all reached base. Travis Snider did not.

Escobar scored. Lind moved Bautista to third. Literally everybody’s favourite Blue Jay (if that’s not true, it should be) Johnny Mac comes to the plate.

Beginning the season, when the Jays were doing great, fans everywhere seemed excited about the running game and the willingness of the team under Farrell to take chances. Then, when the Jays started losing, the running game was the first target of many fans’ ire (and, in some cases, rightfully so.)

People criticized Cito Gaston for sticking to his guns, but Farrell does that, too. Last night, with the Prime Minister of Defence at the dish and down a run to the Yankees with Rivera on the mound, John McDonald executed a perfect bunt and Bautista came home to score on a safety squeeze.

Let me say that again: John McDonald laid down a perfect safety squeeze bunt against Mariano Rivera to tie the game.

It was a thing of beauty.

Of course, asking for Rivera to take the loss in addition to blowing the save would be too much, and he got out of the inning. Extras. A good enough top of the 10th from Jon Rauch and the Jays again got a chance to end the game.

Ivan Nova comes in and Edwin Encarnacion immediately singles. Jayson Nix and Escobar proceed to hit deep fly outs, but E5, often slammed for a lack of hustle, runs his little heart out on those two flies. The man wanted to win, wanted to be the one to score the run that capped the comeback against the Yankees.

Two outs and Snider, who was 0-for-5 in the game had struck out three times — once apparently breaking his bat over his knee in frustration — comes to the plate. The same Snider who came into the game with a slash line of .151/.250/.245 and who seems to have been touted as a “bust” by impatient Leafs fans for years now.

But since you’re reading this, I assume you’re not one of the Snider doubters.

Snider comes to the plate and what does he do? He justifies your love.

Lunchbox Hero.

If you read this hoping for some kind of insight why what happened happened, I’m sorry. Sometimes when you witness something great, you just need to get it down.

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I believe in bravado

The Blue Jays’ state of the franchise meeting was held last week. I was not in attendance and this post is not timely, but here it is anyway — and I’ll keep it short. Two things short, even.

Thing the first

According to Gregor Chisholm of bluejays.com (and everybody else who was in attendance and wrote anything about the meeting), Toronto general manager Alex Anthopoulos said some pretty good things, not the least of which was the following:

“We want to get [to the playoffs] as fast as we can. What we won’t do is shortcut it. When we do get there, it’s not going to stop. It’s going to be a freight train that’s going to keep going.”

This is definitely in line with how he’s expressed his vision for the team before, but it’s a more forceful, focused approach than I’m used to hearing from the general manager. Is he getting more comfortable in his role and more willing to voice his true feelings? Maybe he just felt emboldened by sitting in front of a few hundred true believers? Either way, hearing AA spout the tough talk like that — and I know it doesn’t mean anything if the team doesn’t deliver the results when the time comes — makes me happier with this team’s direction than anything else the team has done since ditching J.P. Ricciardi.

Baseball can be analyzed in many, many ways, but when it comes right down to it, the only thing that matters is winning. Winning is great, but winning with swagger is the funnest way to do it. AA seems to be getting himself some swagger. I like it.

Thing the second

This is minor, but it should give the phone-in-show Leafs fans one less thing to whine about during the summer months and will help keep the media somewhat at bay if the team doesn’t perform as well as they think it should. It’s a throwaway part of a throwaway sentence located in a throwaway graph at the end of Chisholm’s above-linked story, but it’s important nonetheless:

For Farrell, it was his first opportunity to take part in the State of the Franchise event. The first-year manager, who said he was in the final stages of purchasing a condominium in downtown Toronto, came away impressed.

John Farrell is buying a condo in Toronto. Maybe he’s not moving his family here (or maybe he is, who knows) but he’s buying property in Toronto, dammit. He likes us! And that’s all that really matter, right?

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Dingers are not small ball

Word out of the Blue Jays “Winter Tour” is that the team is planning to play more small ball and manufacture more runs than it did last year when it relied almost entirely on the home run.

Whatever you think of small ball, the underlying philosophy that seems to be behind this new approach is a solid one: Get on base so that someone else can drive you in. Or, as Vernon Wells says in the above-linked article, “If you look at the offensive year that we had, I think if we were able to manufacture a few more runs we could have had a few more wins.”

Get on base, work your way around the bases, score a run, repeat. Do this more times than the other team and you win.

Sounds good, but there is one big glaring flaw with the plan:

That’s right. It’s hitting coach extraordinaire Dwayne Murphy.

Murph did a fine job last year with the Blue Jays. Then-manager Cito Gaston liked saying things like “there’s no defence against the trot” and so Murph did everything he could to teach the Blue Jays how to pull the ball and hit it hard and far. He did this and he did it impressively as the Jays led the majors in home runs by a nautical mile.

The downside of hitting all those home runs is that Murph’s pupils had to change their approach to mash all the taters. The change in approach resulted in some people being really screwed up (see Lind, Adam) and some completely blowing everybody away (JoBau!) but the one thing that happened to nearly everybody on the team? They stopped getting on base.

Now, was this a necessary consequence of hitting the dingers or was it something bigger? Was Murph telling his players that getting on base doesn’t actually matter?

In interview with Yahoo early in the 2010 season, Murph said that “on-base percentage is an overrated stat. Those guys getting on base, most of them aren’t getting them in. Give me somebody who drives them in after that. I need guys who can drive the ball.”

That could indicate his true feelings, or it could be a guy covering his ass and trying to keep his boss happy. It’s hard to say, but one thing’s for sure, if that’s how Murph really feels and the Jays really are going to be playing a version of small ball in this upcoming season, something’s gotta give. You can’t play small ball if you’ve got the hitting coach preaching a boom-or-bust approach at the plate.

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