Tag Archives: Roy Halladay

Fight or flight: Impaling Lind’s spirit?

I know it’s en vogue to analyze teams and players strictly by the statistics available about them. There is definitely something to do be said for the value of statistics and basing organizational decisions on as much information as humanly possible. Math(!) is a good thing.

But, as much as I value math and people who are really, really good at it, I do think some people have a tendency to take the numbers too far. Baseball players are human beings and there’s a definite human element to their performance — unless the player in question is a Roy Halladay-like cyborg, of course.

Except for 2009 and a brief period of last season, Adam Lind has proven that he is not a good MLB hitter. Despite that, the team keeps running him out to first base everyday and, until very recently, he was batting cleanup on a daily basis.

Why does the team keep running Sleepy out there despite his obvious deficiencies? Well, he has shown that he has the potential to crush MLB pitching and he’s currently signed to a very team-friendly contract, so why not give him the chance to figure things out?

And, even if he didn’t have those things going for him, who would the team replace him with? David Cooper? Ha!

The only legitimate internal option is the trifecta of moves oft-mentioned by fans: Travis Snider promoted and installed in left field; Eric Thames moved to DH; and Edwin Encarnacion taking over first. In theory, I like those moves. In reality, it doesn’t seem likely as team management seems committed to finally giving Snider some stability and leaving him at one level (Triple-A) for an extended period.

Human beings, when threatened, generally go into fight or flight mode. Confront the problem head on or run away from it and hope for the best. Some, but not all, lapse into a sort of contentment when they’re not really threatened.

I won’t pretend to know what goes on in Lind’s head, but given his previous comments about how much he hates working out, I wouldn’t be surprised if he tends to feel content when he’s not pushed. Struggling at the plate? “Big whoop, what are they going to do? Call up Cooper?”

If that’s his attitude — and it may well not be, but hear me out — maybe he needs a push.

The team may have given him that push on Thursday.

At 37, Vladimir Guerrero is a shell of his former self. But the shell of a likely Hall of Famer is better than what Lind’s been doing lately. That Toronto signed the Impaler to a minor-league deal can only be viewed by Lind as a threat to his job security.

If Guerrero can prove in the minors that he’s got anything left in the tank, the team could easily improve its offence by moving Encarnacion to first and letting Vladdy DH while Lind rides the pine. Not only would it be a good move in terms of improving the offence, it’d have to be a PR score, too. Employing the services of a Montreal Expos legend isn’t exactly going to hurt.

Of course, there is always the possibility that Lind, sensing that he’s threatened, fights for his job and does whatever it takes to get as close to his 2009 form as he possibly can. If he does, the team wins on this deal with Vladdy.

If Lind doesn’t improve and Guerrero ends up making the Jays a better team, the team wins on this deal with Vladdy.

If Lind doesn’t improve and Guerrero doesn’t have anything left to contribute, well, Vladdy’s deal is for peanuts, relatively speaking, so the team doesn’t lose on this deal with Vladdy.

It’s a win-win-draw deal if I’ve ever seen one!

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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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Marty McFlyin’ is pointless

 

Note the date. No amount of Marty McFlyin' can fix this mess now.

 

One thing on which everyone can agree: Doc is awesome. I’m happy for him, but I’m not going to root for the Phillies to win the World Series just because he’s on the team.

I enjoy watching him pitch, sure. But you know what? I enjoy watching the Giants more. And I’m really, really going to enjoy watching Doc go head-to-head with Tim Lincecum. The Freak will rise to the challenge.

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‘The long frustration is finally over’

Image courtesy the excellent Flip Flop Fly Ballin' (click pic for link)

The Blue Jays jumped the gun a little and celebrated this on Sunday but, 20 years ago today, Dave Stieb finally broke through. After coming so close, so many times, Stieb finally managed to get that final out and earn his first — and still Toronto’s only — no-hitter.

Most fans today, if asked who is the greatest pitcher in Jays history, would say Roy Halladay without thinking twice. But take a look at Stieb’s stats. The man had an amazing career and definitely deserves to at least be in the conversation.

I won’t drone on about this too much, since there’s some great tributes to Stieb out there already:

If you want to right to the source, Stieb’s no-hitter is available on iTunes for $1.99. The iTunes store’s search engine is crap, so finding it is a bit of a chore, but it’s worth the effort.

UPDATE: The reason the game is so hard to find on iTunes is that they spelled his name wrong. Search for “Steib” and it’s really easy to find.

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Missing the Doc? Nope.

I had always thought of myself as a complete baseball fan. By that I mean a fan who enjoyed all parts of the game equally. Since I started this blog, I’ve come to realize that’s not quite true.

Sure I enjoy when the Jays put on an offensive blitz, but offence (unless it’s in the style provided by Ichiro) is not what turns my crank. Turns out I’m more of a pitching guy.

As such, I was pretty disappointed when Doc was traded. It’s not often you get to watch the best pitcher in baseball throw for your favourite team every five days.

I was again disappointed when the Phillies series was moved to Philadelphia. I had been hoping to see Doc pitch once again — so much so that I flirted with the idea of making a trip to Philly for the series.

That didn’t last very long though.

I’ve got a Toronto Star Season Pass this year. As such, the team sent me three vouchers for best available seats to any game this season as a way of making good for moving the Philly series. Last weekend when the Giants were in town, I got to sit in some pretty great seats and watch Jesse Litsch and Matt Cain engage in an excellent pitcher’s duel.

I loved it. And seeing it up close was only possible because I won’t get the chance to see Doc pitch in Toronto this year. I’m cool with that. I’ve seen Doc pitch a number of times. I’ve never seen Cain live before, and may never again. It was a treat.

And now tonight, as a great number of Jays fans everywhere will be sobbing their way through the game not sure what they want to happen, I’ll be out with my friends drinking and trying to not get arrested for not showing my papers.

Don’t get me wrong. I like Doc. I wish him the best. I may even sneak a look at a TV if I end up in a bar that’s showing the game (HA!) but I’m not going to stress about it.

Doc wanted to leave. It’s time to move on. I wish it hadn’t taken me this long to come to be finally over it, but I hope the game tonight provides closure for those of you who aren’t there yet.

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Bittersweet

Saturday afternoon I went to the Jays game and watched Brett Cecil do bad, bad things to the Baltimore Orioles. Brett Cecil is a bad man and I love him.

At one point during the game, I had the thought that I’ve had a number of times already this season: “How good would these Jays be if Roy Halladay was still here?”

I quickly squashed that thought because, damn it, Cecil was owning the LOLs and I should just enjoy the moment.

Flash forward to Saturday night. I’m at a party having no idea what happened in the world of baseball except that the Jays won and an Indians pitcher took a line drive off his temple. I’m a few drinks into the night and in walks Squizz, occasional poster to this very site.

Squizz: Chris, what did Roy Halladay do tonight?

Me: I have no idea.

Squizz: Really? Really?!

Me: Did he throw a no-hitter or something?

Squizz: He threw a PERFECT GAME.

At this point my face hit my palm and didn’t emerge for a few minutes.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m happy for Doc. But my initial reaction — and this hasn’t totally gone away yet — was a sense of loss combined with a burning why-are-the-baseball-gods-so-cruel feeling.

The word everybody is using is bittersweet, and it really does fit perfectly.

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The buzzing fridge of the Torontos’ pen

I recently had a conversation with a friend of mine. We were talking baseball stats and the subject of pitches thrown came up. “Why does nobody keep track of pitches per inning?” he asked. “The better pitchers must work faster and end up throwing less pitches than the goofs like Josh Towers.”

It makes sense, right? Watching a guy huff and puff his way through a 140-pitch complete game can be inspiring, but isn’t the 80-pitch version a lot more impressive? Along the same lines, I love the idea of the 3-pitch inning and the 9-pitch striking out the side.

Anyway, I thought he made a good point, so I did some math and then plugged the pitches per inning of all Blue Jays pitchers from last season and this season into a spreadsheet. Figuring there might be some sort of correlation, I added their xFIP values in as well. (I only plugged in the values earned as a member of the Blue Jays. Doc’s 2010 stats being the exception. Also, all stats came before last night’s ridiculous slugfest that forced the Torontos to make changes to their pen.)

What did I find? It looks like there is a correlation between pitches per inning and FIP, but I don’t have the software and am not interested enough to calculate z-scores and whatnot by hand to find out how strong it is. Just know that throwing fewer pitches per inning is generally a good indicator of a good pitcher.

Which brings me to the part of this whole exercise that surprised me a bit: The dude named Shawn Camp.

Maybe it’s because he doesn’t hold down one of the glamour spots in the bullpen and he’s not really a candidate to steal a starting job… well, actually I think that’s it. Camp tends to be used in relatively low-leverage situations, i.e. the time of the game when I get another drink or go out to run an errand or just generally glaze over for a little while. It’s not that I’ve never seen him pitch, I think it’s just that I’ve never really paid attention to him.

You know how you stop hearing the buzz of the fridge after a while? Shawn Camp my buzzing fridge of the Blue Jays.

But no more. I’m going to make a concerted effort to pay attention when he gets into games now. At a time when the (beloved, but now dethroned) Sausage King is averaging 23.4 pitches per inning, Camp is clocking in with a team leading 13.7. What does that mean? Well, this SABR guy seems to think the key to “endurance and effectiveness in any given game” is to throw 14 or fewer pitches per inning.

Yeah, I know. Looking at this year’s stats so far is a pretty good way to incite cries of “sample size!” so how about this: Last season, Camp was second on the team in terms of pitches per inning with a rate of 14.6. That was second only to Doc, who put up a 14.2 number.

Would you have guessed that it only took Camp 0.4 pitches more than Halladay to get out of any given inning?

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The last post before embracing the building

So Brandon League has joined the ranks of the fallen along with Scott Rolen, Alex Rios, Rod Barajas, Marco (Stroodles) Scutaro and Roy Halladay.

I’m a bit out of the loop right now — not so much that I don’t know that the trade happened, but enough that I’ve got nothing useful to say about it. I guess spending 6+ hours on an airplane for what is supposed to be a two-hour flight will do that to you.

Ah, air travel during Canadian winters.

In honour of the fallen and in lieu of anything useful to say, I’ll give you an animated gif. I’m sure you’ve all seen it before, but it is definitely worth seeing again: The moment I called my favourite of the year, Stroodles stealing second on a walk…

And that’s that. We’ll probably be off until the new year. And when we’re back, we’re embracing building and we’re looking forward.

PLAYOFFS!!!1

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I’m excited about Canada’s team

Who says the Jays aren't Canada's team?

I never thought trading Roy Halladay would end like this, but I’m pretty damn excited about what’s going on with the Blue Jays right now.

I’m excited because Shaun Marcum will be pitching again next year.

I’m excited because I believe the Jays will be a much more entertaining team much sooner than people expect them to be.

I’m excited because the Jays are getting three very good prospects in return for the Good Doctor.

I’m excited because, at the press conference confirming The Trade, Toronto GM Alex Anthopoulos said this: “We’re on our road to getting back to where we were back in the World Series years. Really, this is the start of it, folks.” And, crazy as it sounds, I believe him.

I’m excited because at that same press conference, Anthopoulos took the time to answer questions in French. Since I can’t figure out how to link directly to the Radio Canada report (three minutes long!) you’ll either have to take my word or search for it yourself.

I know what happened with the Expos, but you can’t tell me that there aren’t baseball fans in Quebec. There is a market there to be tapped and if the Jays really want to call themselves Canada’s team, it’s a market that must be tapped. A GM from Montreal who speaks French at the press conferences is a damn good start.

What else can be done? How about getting some games on RDS or Radio Canada (presuming they’re not already) and bringing in someone like Jacques Doucet to call them? How about playing a weekend series at Olympic Stadium? I for one would love an excuse to make an annual trip to Montreal.

The Jays are already Canada’s team, but only by virtue of being the country’s only team. And yes, people outside of Toronto do care. Check out thanksroy.com if you need proof.

Lastly, I’m excited because even if the Jays do stink it up for a year or two, Doc’s finally got a chance to win. Go Phillies.

I believe in Vernon Wells

Sports and the City is running a little poll. The site’s banner prominently features Doc and the poll is to determine who, if anyone, should replace him up there. Whether you’re like me and you believe Vernon Wells will turn it around and be a productive member of the team again or you’re a realist and you just know that VW is going to be a Blue Jay for the rest of his career, it’s pretty clear that he should be the winner. So go vote for him already!

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Farewell, Doc

Over the years, I’ve been known to say things like “Shaun Marcum is the best pitcher the Blue Jays have.” I’ve been known to do things like give John MacDonald my loudest cheers, no matter who else was playing. Hell, I even jumped on the Scott Rolen as Greatest-Blue-Jay-of-all-time train.

Yes, I’ve done these things. But if you paid attention while I was doing them, you’d have noticed a little asterisk somewhere in the vicinity. It’s not that Marcum didn’t deserve praise. It’s not that Johnny Mac didn’t deserve applause. It’s not that Rolen’s brilliance didn’t deserve recognition. They did and do.

No, the asterisk was the unspoken deference to Roy Halladay.

Doc is so good, comparing him to the others doesn’t even seem fair. The man is simply on his own plain.

I think Marcum can be a devastating pitcher, but Doc was not only the Jays’ best pitcher, he is the best in the entirety of Major League Baseball.

MacDonald’s hard work and amazing skill deserve the fan’s love, but Roy works harder than anyone and is better than the best.

Rolen was great, but Halladay is the only real choice as GBOAT.

As Jays’ fans, we’re all lucky to have had him for as long as we did. If you’re a Phillies fan, you have no idea what Doc will do for your team. Not only should he completely destroy the National League, he is the type of player who, through his sheer determination, inspires his teammates and makes the pitchers around him better.

Don’t believe me? How do think A.J. Burnett got to where he is today?

Farewell, Doc. You deserve to win and I hope it can happen for you in Philadelphia.

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