I Shook Paul Beeston’s Hand Tonight. It Was Glorious.

State of the Franchise Address!

State of the Franchise Address!

First off, a huge thank you to Melissa and Jim who thought of me when they needed someone to take their second ticket to tonight’s State of the Franchise address.  I am deeply honoured and pleased that I could come through for you when times were dire.  Melissa, you would have had a great time if you had the opportunity to go.  This post is for you.

Jim and I arrived not really knowing what to expect, but it got off to a great start when a waiter walked by and dished out some beverages for our enjoyment.  A lot of catering stalls had cute apperatifs based on ballpark food.  Pizza Nova was out in force.  The fish tacos were particularly good.

The field was naked.  It was weird to see like that.  Looking at it without the turf I could pick out many engineering details that would prevent installation of grass for a playing surface… I filed that away for later…

The field was naked.  Show some modesty!

The field was naked. Show some modesty!

We picked our seats a mere 15 minutes in advance and could pretty much reach out and touch Buck Martinez.  He said hello to me as he took the stage!  It was pretty awesome.

Alex Anthopoulos is kind of a boss.

Alex Anthopoulos is kind of a boss.

The talk itself wasn’t particularly informative in terms of what to expect from this year:

  • We had Beeston’s assurances that Rogers is committed to putting a winning team on the field.
  • Anthopoulos gave us his assurances that he’s always looking for ways to improve the team within his plan and vision for the team.  Pointed to usual suspects to help the pitching staff, Santana, Jiminez, & Arroyo, while acknowledging Hutchison, Drabek, and Stroman as internal options.
  • The arbitrary 5-year contract cut-off was discussed in general… I’m sick to death of hearing about this…
  • Gibby pointed at Cabrera, Morrow, and Happ to see the biggest improvements next year.  I wasn’t expecting Happ, that’d be a nice surprise.
  • Beeston says grass is on it’s way, via University of Guelph.  Apparently they’re playing nice with the Argos so they don’t kick them out on their butts.
  • etc. etc.  Oh hey!  Bar’s open guys!  Get out of here!

Jim and I made our way out of the masses leaving their seats, helped ourselves to some more fish tacos, and debriefed for a bit.  Then John Gibbons walked by.  He seemed a bit busy getting somewhere to pause to take photos for EVERYONE, so Jim and I let that opportunity go.  Don’t want to be “that guy”.

Upon exiting, we found Paul Beeston taking all comers!  Beverage in hand, he was very plainly discussing contracts, pitcher’s performances, management strategies, Roger’s commitment levels, signed a baseball for an adorable child, and…. He shook my hand.  What do you ask a guy like Paul Beeston?  All the questions kind of disappeared in that instant.  I rallied quickly though, and reverted to what I know — Engineering.

Paul wasn’t just shaking hands and posing for pictures, he was taking the time to talk with everyone.

“So… Paul… Is this grass on the field thing in 2018 strictly for keeping the Argos and motocross people happy, or are there still technical issues to be resolved here…?  If the argos found a new home tomorrow, could the process be sped up…?”

He launched into a fairly elaborate technical discussion of what would be required to install the regular playing field.  Presently the implications are being reviewed by the University of Guelph, but one of the biggest issues right now, has to do with the air currents within the building.  I had no idea!  So the design work for this is still in progress.

Jim very graciously allowed me to pose for a picture with Mr. Beeston, and before I was able to reciprocate, Paul had already moved on.   Which is understandable, he’s a busy guy (SORRY JIM).

We weren't sure if the picture had taken properly.  Super candid!

We weren’t sure if the picture had taken properly. Super candid!

We also saw an epic line-up to meet with Alex Anthopoulos, going out the door however the sum total of what I would have to say to him would be: “I’m a huge fan, don’t succumb to the pressure, you’re doing a great job.”

My great thanks to Jim and Melissa once more for inviting me.  Hopefully we'll all be able to get to a game soon!

My great thanks to Jim and Melissa once more for inviting me. Hopefully we’ll all be able to get to a game soon!

 

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Further Reading on J.P.

Further Reading on J.P.

In my earlier post, I focused mostly on J.P.’s rantings and lashing out at the press.  Here’s a bit more by Bob Elliot, who talked at length with J.P. in the locker room.  I think his article really captures the disappointment and possible confusion of this whole situation very nicely.

Slow Start to the Offseason Begins with Addition by Subtraction

Looks like the sluggish start to the offseason has ended at the non-tender deadline, with several teams making relatively major moves…  I doubt I’m going to go into too much detail:

  • The Athletics had a busy day, adding 5 players to their roster via the trade market
  • The Tigers traded Doug Fister (who dominated in the playoffs) for effectively nothing
  • the Yankees and Red Sox are making big free-agent signings (McCann, Ellsbury & Pierzynski respectively).

So, pretty much business as usual.

The Blue Jays made a deal of their own, opting to sign Dioner Navarro at a reasonable price and non-tendering previous glorious harbinger of the master farm system J.P. Arencibia.  We’ve had plenty of experience waiting for a player to ‘arrive’ to his full potential, but our noble GM decided it wasn’t worth the wait.  I’m inclined to agree.

Arencibia was a black hole in the line-up, slashing a miserable .194/.227/.365 in 138 games as Toronto’s primary backstop.  He also led the majors in passed balls and errors commited as a Catcher.

Navarro appears to be a fairly significant upgrade on 2013 Arencibia, slashing .300/.365/.492 in 89 games for the Cubs last year.  This is well above his career slash line of .251/.313/.371, but even that is a significant improvement.

Navarro won’t exactly turn heads with his hitting or even his defensive ability, but he’s a relatively consistent veteran, so at least you know what you’re going to get, with the possible exception of the number of games played, which should be interesting to watch.  Expect more playing time for Josh Thole, or whoever will be back-up behind Navarro this year.

I’m not exactly teary eyed about Arencibia’s departure, not in the same way I was with Aaron Hill, Travis Snider, Vernon Wells, and other players who had massive potential and were not performing up to the standard billed for them.  There are many reasons, and I happen to love lists:

  • Unwillingness to handle criticism, in any forum.  If someone like Zaun or Hayhurst were getting on my nerves, I wouldn’t listen to them, I’d go to the nearest coach, and ask him honestly if they have a point.  The biggest ally in handling criticism is objectivity.  If you can’t separate yourself from the problem, you’re going to make poor decisions.  Which leads to…
  • The bull in a china shop.  The extended twitter rants, radio show appearances, allegations regarding present-day television analysts using PED’s, the whole shebang.  In one instance, he concocted a rant for a morning radio show the next day, SLEPT ON IT, and proceeded to deliver said rant anyways!  You’d think there would be a little voice that said: “Y’know, perhaps this isn’t the best way to further my career…”  You answer your critics with your play on the FIELD, not on the radio.
  • Unwillingness to adapt.  This kind of stems from the first bullet, with respect to criticism.  He didn’t feel his approach at the plate needed refining.  With every swing, he was swinging for the fences.  It didn’t matter, he was going to get his 15 home-runs a year.  Drawing a walk was impossible.  Very selfish approach at the plate, in my opinion.  Even Bautista tries to go the other way when the situation requires it (sometimes).

Regardless of what happens, I wish the guy well.  I hope he does prove all of the critics wrong, and proceeds to have a long and successful career in baseball, but sometimes you have to hit rock bottom before you can bounce back up…

Now That the Red Sox Have Won it All…

I can start writing again…  Exhale sharply through the mouth, and proceed.

I was having issues writing about this past season, because frankly, there was a lot to disseminate.  The Jays managed to put together a very disappointing season (to say the least), and generally speaking it was very, VERY hard to watch.  I even had trouble listening to the radio, because I always knew we were an error or homerun away from losing the ballgame.

I liken it to the end of the Leafs 2012/13 season.  In the same way you could just TELL in the last 10 minutes of the 3rd period that the Leafs would find a way to expedite the start of their golf season, you could tell that the Jays would find a way to lose the ballgame.

I got a whole lot more enjoyment out of watching the ALCS and the NLCS than the World Series:

The Wacha / Kershaw duels were second to none.  Scherzer and Verlander did a hell of a job to keep the Tigers in it, but in the end Prince Fielder disappeared.  As I understood it, he was supposed to be the insurance for Victor Martinez being missing for a season who in turn provided protection for Cabrera.  But when Cabrera got hurt and Fielder disappeared, just about every offensive weapon pretty well keeled over for Detroit.  Which was most unfortunate, because it spoiled some of the best pitching I have ever seen in the post season.

Which brings me to the Sox…  What on earth happened here?  From last in the AL East to first place?  How…?  what?  I… uhh… jeeze.  I can’t say I like this team, AT ALL.  There are maybe 2-3 motivations that could have spurred this kind of turn-around (in my mind):

  1. The Bobby Valentine Flying Circus was real, which caused professional players that had the potential to win the title to have the worst record in the AL-East
  2. John Farrell is THAT good of a manager, to massage all of these gentle souls into a place where they can feel good about themselves.  Being a Jays fan, I find this extremely difficult to believe.
  3. “Boston Strong”:  Inspiration through adversity.

In the end, I’m leaning towards #3, which makes me sad.  Farrell commented that their players have a “Civic responsibility”, that I believe should be true of ANY player in a uniform…  I’ll probably write more about this at another time…

The Cardinals hadn’t exactly won my heart over either, because frankly every time I heard about “The Cardinal Way”, I wanted to throw up.  I was tired of hearing about how their team was built “the right way”.  You could make the case for MANY teams having “the right way”, which leads me to believe there is no “right way”.  Heck, the Yankees have effectively bought 27 some odd titles, is that “THE RIGHT WAY” too?  Results should speak for themselves, so why all the piousness?

Ultimately, the Cardinals were a very resilient team that seemed to run out of gas in the final stretch; most of their grittiness had worn off objecting to Puig’s antics, apparently.

Anyways, congrats to Boston.  Let the off season begin!

Colby’s got the Bragging Rights

How often do you get to see brothers showing down in a context like this? Atlanta has brothers batting 3/4 in their line-up, and the White Sox have a pitcher / utility man combo on their squad, but it’s rare that brothers play against each other.

Colby Rasmus, the older brother at 26, faced off against his younger brother Cory (25 years old), and laced a ball into the left field corner for a double.

I thought this was a pretty amazing accomplishment in itself (having a brotherly showdown, that is), when I realized that this was Colby’s 4th hit all year to left field, and this was no bloop-single either. Typically he’s a pretty pull-happy hitter. He must have really, REALLY wanted to show up his little bro.

I wonder if they went out for beers after…?

VIDEO LINK: http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20130528&content_id=48824402&vkey=news_mlb&c_id=mlb

Why is Kawasaki Instantly my Favourite Player on this Team?

From what I gather, I’m not the only one who feels this way. He battles for every at bat, he doesn’t gripe with the umpires, he has an athletic ability at shortstop that probably gives the injured Reyes a run for his money, and he’s leaving quite the impact on the team in general.

A AAA Buffalo call-up bat lead-off for us last night. How often does that happen?

And woe betide opposing teams once Brett Lawrie’s training in the ways of the samurai is completed…

Adventure Time: J.P. Caught R.A.

Cut J.P. some slack.  He had 3 passed balls, and 1 wild pitch, which probably led directly to 2 of the 4 runs that R.A. Dickey coughed up on opening night.

I think this .GIF shows demonstrates how difficult this pitch is to catch.  Furthermore, look how TERRIFIED Mike Nickeas is.

J.P. stood his ground in there, and I think that’s a win.

What I would do if this was thrown at me:

At 80mph, this is enough to do some pretty serious damage if it catches you in the wrong spot.