Tuesday, September 25, 2007

A bit more on small ball and hindsight, which I have heard is 20-20

I'm happy to let our Brattainologist-in-residence, Razzer, lead the way here, but I wanted to add my two cents to the debate.

First of all, thanks John for your kind words about our blog and for the opportunity to engage with you. As you know, we love this sort of shit.

Stripped of all nuance, I think it's fair to say that the essence of John's argument goes something like this: the Jays have a particular offensive philosophy; the Jays have sucked offensively in 2007; the Jays should occasionally have deviated from their rigid philosophy in the hopes of reducing their suckitude. (If that's not a fair summary, I hope and expect that JB will defend himself in the comments)

Part of our problem with John's articles, both on MSN and in the Hardball Times, is that one gets the sense that the data have been selectively plucked to prove a point. As Razzer points out, for every time the Jays failed to advance a runner and failed to squeeze a run from an inning, there may well be a counter-point waiting to be brought to light in which their willingness to eschew the bunt led to a big inning.

The Jays, who are obviously well aware of the Brattain-MOE argument and who apparently like us better than they like John, were nice enough to weigh in on the debate by doing the following in the top of the second tonight:

F Thomas singled to center. 00
A Hill singled to right, F Thomas to second. 00
G Zaun doubled to left, F Thomas scored, A Hill to third. 10
C Thigpen singled to left center, A Hill scored, G Zaun to third. 20
A Lind grounded into double play, first to catcher to third to first, G Zaun out at home, C Thigpen to second. 20
J McDonald doubled to deep right center, C Thigpen scored. 30
R Johnson lined out to right. 30

Now, if Gibby - properly chastened by the season's offensive failings and a recent convert to Brattainology - had decided to go all Ozzie Guillen on our asses (sorry John, I know that throwing you and Ozzie in the same camp is the unkindest cut of all, but if it looks like a crazed Venezuelan and sounds like a crazed Venezuelan...), the inning may well have looked like this:

Thomas single to centre.
Hill single to right (I don't think even JB would suggest they should bunt with Hurt at first).
Zaun bunts, runners advance to second and third.
(focusing on doing the "little things" to bring in the runner) flies out, Thomas scores.
Lind grounds out to first, inning over.

Two hits, one run, small-ball advocates explode with delight.

In the big scheme of things, we'd obviously have won tonight's game anyway. But I'd argue that playing small ball in that situation would have cost us two runs and, under different circumstances, the game. And of course, you'd never know it, because the doubles you don't hit when you decide to bunt never show up in the boxscore. In fact, I dare say that the Guillenites would call my hypothetical second inning a success ("the shitty bottom part of the order did the little things and brought the runner home - great success!") without ever knowing of the counterfactual 3-run inning that their philosophy rendered an impossibility.

Our point, I think, is that the Jays' offensive philosophy is the right one, even though in hindsight using a different approach in a number of games may have led them to score a few more runs in those particular games (and again, you don't know which games those are until after the fact, nor do you ever know when that different approach might have kept the team from putting together a big inning that would have been the difference between a win and a loss).

Stick with the philosophy, hopefully avoid the crippling injuries, remember that the season starts in April, not in July, and just get on base more often, and the glory wil be ours. Blue Jays and Gore in 2008.

John "small sample size" Brattain is back and we still disagree

See, way back when this blog was trying to find an identity (still searching), John’s rather silly article at MSN sports was the perfect excuse to beat up and verbally abuse a guy none of us had ever met. Even though John turned out to be a solid dude, the MSN article was still pretty poorly though out. So bad in fact, that (with our help, we believe) it spawned this new article over at THT. I have to admit; this argument is much more thought out, balanced, and aggressive than the previous one. Overall, Brattain made a case for his point (Although we are wondering where the editor was on it, a little long and repetitive, or as Portnoy likes to say, “tautological”).

In the end, Brattain states the same thing he did in the MSN article, “that Gibbons should have been more flexible and creative in his approach and realize what the talent on hand could or could not do.” There it is. The same argument as the previous article, that Gibbons is not doing enough. And like last time, I must disagree.

I am not going to disagree with Brattain’s reasoning but rather the argument. The THT article has flaws, but nothing I can’t look past. There is still the problem of selectively small sample sizes. I don’t think you can pull out a handful of games (less than 10% of a season) to prove a point. Not in baseball anyway. The 50$ bill example is so rudimentary it makes us question the intelligence of his readership (which makes us question us, which makes us question Brattain for making us question ourselves).

Looking back and picking 15 games where the Jays scored 4 or fewer runs is fine although not ideal. The only reason we are talking about these games is because the Jays lost these games and by the time the games were over the score indicates the games were close. Every team in baseball has a handful of these games. And for every close game the Jays have lost there is the same number of close games they have won. Aside from that, just like all runs are not created equal, all one run games are not created equal. We still don’t know what point in the game the Jays should have figured out one run would be the difference? If the Jays are down 5 nothing in the 1st what approach do they take with a lead off walk in the second? Even if the final score was 5-4 there is no way to know that you should have tried to manufacture that second inning lead off walk instead of playing for a rally or a series of runs. Playing for one run is a selective thing. A baseball game can go in a thousand different directions after almost every pitch. Because a base runner gets thrown out stealing and the next pitch is a homerun, it doesn’t mean the same pitch in the same location would have been made with the same result had he been safe or even not attempted to steal. The game, and potential outcomes of the game change with every pitch. It is folly to point out 15 games and say if things were done different the Jays would be in the wild card race.

To be fair there is more to Brattains article than this. The point is the Jays need to score more runs to win games. So the question is what could the Jays have done to score more runs? And an extension of that is what can John Gibbons have done to help the team score more runs? Well the Jays do not have the speed and power of the Yankees. Nor the pitching and patience of the Red Sox. They don’t have the slugging of the Indians they can not play “small ball’ like the Angels. All these teams win games with what they have and in different ways. However, there is something these four teams do have in common and it is something the Jays are well aware of.

The top four AL teams in OBP are New York, Boston, Los Angeles, Cleveland. Yes, the four teams that are going to the playoffs. (In case you were wondering the Tigers were 5th in OBP) As far as I know, this is the Jays philosophy. Get runners on base, work the pitcher, wait for your pitch to hit, get into the bullpen early, etc. The Jays are just not doing this. In fact they have a horrid .325 OBP this year, good for 12th in the AL. But it is their plan, and it seems like a good plan.

Now Brittain’s explanation of the reason why this plan is not working is “Having a sabermetric outlook will not turn Jason Phillips into Jason Giambi nor will a "small ball" approach turn Alex Rios into Alex Gonzalez. They will play to their expected levels regardless of the club’s philosophy.” (I know I am picking out 35 words out of 10,000 but it is important) Actually, Brattain is wrong here. Players won’t always play to their expected levels regardless of the clubs philosophy.

Here is a table, which in my mind shows as much.
Position Name 2006 OBP 2007 OBP
C Gregg Zaun .363 .336
1B Lyle Overbay .372 .316
2B Aaron Hill .349 .328
SS John McDonald .271.272
3B Troy Glaus .355 .366
OF Reed Johnson .390 .298
OF Vernon Wells .357 .304
OF Alex Rios .349 .353
OF Matt Stairs.373
OF Frank Catalanotto .376
DH Frank Thomas .381.376

Last year their team OBP was .348, good for 4th in the AL. In 2005 they were 4th in the AL as well. In 2003 they were 3rd. The only year in the past 4 that the Jays were not in the top 4 in OBP was the disastrous 2004 season in which they were 12th and won 64 games. Well at least this year they will win a considerably larger amount than that.

A bunt here, a SB there, even Joey Gathright not playing LF will not change the 2007 problem. The team’s hitters (if you believe in last years numbers) are grossly underachieving. Their philosophy is right; it’s just not being followed. Who is to blame? I don’t blame John Gibbons, although I guess we could. We could also blame the players, the batting coach, the general manager, the fans, or the local media? Brattain blames the manager for basically believing that his philosophy is right and he has the players to make it work. Many want to blame the GM for believing the same thing. However, the success this collection had last year leads me to first blame the players, then bad luck (injuries), and finally the batting coach. I think the best course of action is the one being taken. Come back next year with the same group, hope that the hitters regain their ’06 form, the bullpen remains as strong with the addition of BJ Ryan, and hope the starting pitching doesn’t slip too far.

The philosophy is right, the personnel has shown it can do the job, now all we need is for it to come together and give us all something to cheer for. And if it does come together, John Gibbons is more than capable of managing this team to it’s ultimate goal.

Razzer's back, Poll closes, Jays a .500 team

I apologizes for being in Cuba the last week and leaving the site in the hands of my fellow hacks. One fucking week gone and the site becomes a soccer/cricket blog. Anyway Cuba was fun, especially because I never heard "La atención, el presidente es muerta." And, believe it or not, I had access to ESPN so I didn’t have to wait until I got home to see the Jays blow a 4 run lead in the 9th against the Yanks. How many times has Roy Halladay, who should demand a trade, been screwed out of a win this year?
I was without internet so I didn’t get to live the drama of Mobey Dick’s late charge to displace Dick Cheney in MOE’s first ever Poll. The end result, Cheney is the Biggest Dick and has now been moved onto our Waste of DNA list. As a result, our good friend Dick Griffin must be taken off the list. But it was impossible to just have him off altogether, so it inspired us to make a new list. Dick Griffin is our first member of “The Potential Misuse of Sperm” list.

Jays spilt a four gamer with the Yankees, might finish above .500.











BRETT MYERS (seen here in court after beating his wife)

Pakistunned / Young Blood in a Billion Hearts

......the headlines from the Hindustan Times and the Indian Express, as India beat Pakistan by 5 runs to win the Twenty20 Cricket World Cup.

I know this is a blog about the Blue Jays, and that no-one cares about cricket, but I don't give a shit. I'm pumped.

And then there was this, from earlier in the tourney, against those English gits.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Hey Gibby, Why don't we pitch Halladay 11 innings. He looks good through 7.

Boomhauer, you F-ing idiot. I used to like you. I used to think behind your hee-haw mumbling you had an understanding of baseball beyond the machismo. Yes, Halladay happens to be a workhorse, but are we helping anyone by trying to get complete games out of him? Next year when Halladay misses 3-10 starts due to an irritated something or other, let's remember the 10 starts this year where Gibby needlessly tacked on 10 or more pitches.

Pitching Leroy late into games, especially with a September call up bullpen, is just stupid, stupid, stupid. And it's not like Gibby's strategy of over pitching Doc is helping our cause to [insert clubhouse reasoning why these games matter at all this year.] Halladay pitched 8 innings or more in 7 of the last 8 games. In 5 of those 7 games Halladay's given up a run or two in his last inning worked. This is not a slam against Halladay, but anecdotal evidence that there is no worthwhile advantage to Gibby's quest to pitch Doc every inning of every game. Just cause he's a work horse doesn't mean that we have to beat him to death.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Random TFC aside

I was looking over a couple of old posts, and I saw that I wrote this
on August 28:

[I]f you think the Jays' offence is on your last nerve, try attending game after game down at BMO Field, wearing your stupid fucking scarf despite the temperature being 30 degrees with 100 % humidity, without so much as the satisfaction of one single fucking goal in over a month.

Guess what - we still haven't scored a goddamn goal! I wonder if Russ Adams is available to line up at striker tomorrow afternoon...

Thursday, September 20, 2007


(Title of this post is in honour of the Boss)

The last two nights have been pure magic, and have served as a reminder that no matter how bad things get and how much we suffer, sometimes we get rewarded for all those wasted hours.

Seriously, is there anything better than seeing a much-maligned minor league middle infielder take this obnoxious mouth-breathing asshole deep?

Let's be honest: this has been a long, draining season, pretty much from day 2 onwards (remember day 1, though? That was awesome. 162-0 comin' up!). Untimely injuries, untimely hitting, and a general season-long malaise reflected in our endless two-step with the .500 mark. The fatigue from another season without meaningful September ball was apparent in our failure to post anything for over a week (although we weren't helped by Razzer and Portnoy taking simultaneous vacations while yours truly has been viciously trial prepping. What's your excuse, Canate, you useless Rule V bastard?).

But last night sure felt good, watching the boys sweep my most hated opponent by roughing up my most hated player. It'll provide a happy memory through those fall and winter months when the shitty team I support has a gentle aquatic mammal on its uniform instead of a pissed-off bird.

And for Razzer's sake, in case he missed it on his travels, I should point out that Jesse "not as ugly or fat as Gus, but equally awkward and just as troublesome from a sabermetric perspective" Litsch (I'm open to suggestions for a shorter nickname) looked pretty decent last night. He may well have a shot at that #5 spot next year.

And finally, as proof that hope springs eternal in the Toronto baseball fan, this is the complete text of the first email I received this morning when I got to work:

Is Russ Adams for real?

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


This is a disaster. That loss to the Tigers was the hardest one of the season. That is followed by the signing of Johnny Mac. It is way to much money for a back-up which probably means he's going to start. Ouch. The news kept getting better as the Jays came home to get pounded by the Yankees. To top it off, today is Dick in a bag day. I am not sure my weak mental state is ready to take on the challenge. However, you will probably be able to get your fill of the anti-dick movement from the guys that did it first, the guys that do it best, and the guys that are most dedicated to doing it.

If you need cheering up like I did, this Mike Pagliarulo attack from FJM will certainly do the trick.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Serenity Now, Insanity Later.

The pair of potentially heartbreaking losses over the weekend would have crushed me if the Jays were really in contention. Saturday was brutal. Sunday just sucked. Actually my entire Sunday sucked. I spent the whole day watching tv. I watched mostly football (topped off by Romo killing my fantasy team) all day, which is making me feel like I should be a member of this list. Speaking of the list, we might have a controversy brewing. If Dick Cheney
wins our poll he will be a bigger dick than Griffin. This action would call for Cheney’s immediate addition to this list. And in turn would probably remove Griffin from the list. Things could get interesting. For the time being the other two names appear safe.

Safe for now.

Watched the Brian Mulroney special last night. At one point it was revealed he has a potty mouth. In the special Mulroney said his mother scorned him for his use of coarse language. I believe the quote was "Using coarse language only shows you don't have a vocabulary." Bitch. To distance ourselves from Mulroney, we are going to do our best to take MOE PG.

OT: Check out this Charlie Rose interview with Steve Nash. What a solid guy.

Saturday, September 8, 2007


So far, I have been exposed as the hack that I am. Three different papers, three similar articles, all saying the same thing- exactly the opposite of what I predicted. It seems that for the time being, Mike Rutsey of The Sun, Dick Griffin at The Star, and Jeff Blair at The Globe and Mail are all taking the same approach. They are all waiting to let this Glaus story unfold before they offer their judgement. I commend them for that.

Nate Silver at BP has an interesting perspective on the Glaus and Ankiel stories. In his article, Silver links to this Jayson Stark piece that I thoroughly enjoyed.

Jays won last night and the box score looks good. I didn't get to see much of last nights game but I was watching at a bar when I saw Aaron Hill hit a home run. An umpire conference call later, Hill was back at the plate, home run now a long strike. This is the fifth time this year (that I recollect) that Hill looked like he hit a run that was not. There was two in San Francisco the were caught at the wall after getting killed by the wind, there was the two Joey Gathright plays, and this. Hill, who is among the league leaders in doubles this year, is 25 and entering what should be the prime years of his career. It would not surprise me at all if he is regularly between 20 and 25 HR's for the next few years. This is good news for the Jays and for the Fantasy geek in all of us.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Glaus took steroids, Griffin still a douche.

I really want to tell Gearge Mitchell to go fuck himself, but we have a policy here of laying off people with potential terminal illness. Instead, I'm going to tell George Mitchell to go fuck Dick Griffin. I really don't give a shit about steroids in baseball. I never have. Just like I never cared about steroids in Football, Hockey or Basketball. Steroids in baseball is the most ridiculously overblown story of the past years. Yes, everyone knows Clemens juiced, Bonds juiced, Papi juiced, Brett Boone juiced, fuck, Shawn Green probably juiced. Even Frank Catalanotto juiced. But really, does anyone know someone who stopped watching baseball (Besides Hank Aaron) because a player or players took PED's? Me neither. Just like the Olympics, the only thing that matters is your guy winning. So I say a big "whatever" to all these new stories of players taking PED's. If the players want to win and improve so badly that they are willing to risk there health then so be it. I'm going to watch and cheer regardless. That is why I don't give a shit about the recent story about Troy Glaus taking roids in 03. I know Dick will have a field day with this and other members of the media will jump on their high horse and preach about fair play, role models, etc. This is exactly the type of story that can be spun by our local media who, once and for all, might be able to apply that external pressure they have been so desperately trying to for years and finally influence a baseball decision. I really, really hope that our Used Car Salesman GM can withstand the backlash, sell us on his own feel good story, and not feel pressed to trade Troy. Because an '08 Jays team with out Glaus is a worse team.

JP's draft success... so far

Interesting article over at Batters Box about JP's success at the rule 4 draft.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Despite taking one on the chin, Jays pull out the win

Jays won 6-4. Shaun Marcum is looking shakier and shakier with every outing, but he got the job done tonight. Brian "chinny" Wolfe gave up a two run pesky in relief that gave up the lead and put the Jays down a run. Chinny's done so much for us this year that he gets a pass on that one. Jaime Campbell (who is really starting to grow on me) sang sweet caroline along with the crowd. Rulliniks was on fire tonight. First, his "I couldn't call a hog to a trough" line when Gingerbread tried to get him to sing along was pure gold. Then he called Vernon's two run deep center seconds before it happened. He also has found his niche by continuing to let the audience in on the thinking and guessing games that pitchers and batters go through when facing each other. In something that would make my new best bud John Brattain smile, Johnny Mac laid down a sac bunt in the ninth (right guy, right scenario John). Casey Janssen left with an injury after taking a liner off the foot. Brandon League walked a guy on four pitches. Accardo got the last five outs for the win. Good game all around so razzer has less venom to spew. (Officially doing the third person now, sweet!)

After the game on WWJP the GM let us in on these nuggets.
-Aaron Hill feels comfortable at second and will stay there.
-The Jays will try to resign Stairs and if successful it most likely means Lind goes to AAA (because he can)
-The Yankees payroll is 100% more than the Jays, the Red Sox 50% more, and that doesn't include posting fees, and money spent on international signings and the draft.
-Casey Janssen and Brian Wolfe will be stretched out in Spring Training to see if they can start. If League is back to full strength there is a greater chance Janssen starts.
-The team plays hard for Gibby as evident in their comebacks the last three games in Boston, and the last one in Oakland.
- There is no excuse for the line-up gaff. "We screwed up" said the GM He didn't say "they" or "he", what a soldier.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

It's a dick in a bag

I can't comment on it because I'm just playing into the fuckers hands but if you're into reading about how JP sucks ass, Dave Dombrowski's awesomeness, how players have ego's, how pie in the face is a problem for the team, and how the Blue Jays don't have a plan A, B, C, D, E, F or G. Did someone say Orgy?

Yeah, if you want pain of Bauer in China proportions read the latest dick in a bag.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Why do we even bother?

Blue Jays lost again. They are done. And for some stupid reason Halladay was allowed to throw 120 pitches for the 3rd time in his last 4 starts. Gibby, the blogging world knows I have a man crush on you (and by man I mean managerial), but come on, you're making me look like a douche. Halladay pitched well tonight, although there was no excuse for him not throwing a heater up and in to Jacoby Eyebrows Ellsbury the at bat following his 2 run jack. Jaime Campbell (who is no longer a gingerfuckwad in my books) even pointed it out. And after taking a minute to get the words out, we found out Rance agreed.


Some people might not think this stuff matters, but it does. And I know from first hand, eye witness, experience. The meteoric downfall of Josh Phelps is the great unknown. Whether he is a cancer in the clubhouse, whether he has a drinking or drug problem, whether he banged another players wife or another player is all speculation. What's not speculation is that on August 29-2002 Phelps took Roger Clemens deep twice, including a 500 level shot that gave the Jays the lead. I was there that day, imagining a bright future for the player and the club.

Phelps played out the season and was widely lauded to be the next great power threat. The sky was the limit for Phelps. He was going to be a Blue Jays cornerstone player for years to come. The Jays opened the next season at home against Roger Clemens and the Yankees. I was looking forward to Phelps taking Big Head deep again.

Clemens Hat Size-Now and Then

As Phelps dug into the batters box in the first inning, he was accordingly hit between the shoulder blades by an HGH induced fast ball. Phelps was 25 and should have been entering the prime of his career- we all know how that went. Yes that's right, I am crediting the the great downfall of Josh Phelps to Roger Clemens exploiting his weak mental state.

So not only did Halladay miss out on sending Jacoby Eyebrows Ellsbury a message, Jays fans are now going to suffer years of Eyebrows taking it to us. Another fucking young Red Sox player who you just want to beat the shit out of, piss on, and tear their rotator cuff from their shoulder. Eyebrows is almost as annoying as everyones favorite dickwad Papelbon, Dustin Pedroia -who's previous work included playing the Watto in the Men Without Hats hit video You Can Dance with a Watto, Clay, ugh-huh, ugh-huh, Buchholz, and John Lester (who like Mike Lowell I am barred from wishing instant career ending injury to due to their noble battles against cancer).

Clay, ugh-huh, ugh-huh, Buchholz

Anyway, the point is the Jays are done, their main competition have more money to spend and better prospects coming up, and we are one of three teams in all of baseball (along with the Orioles and D'Rays) who have no chance at making the playoffs until they expand the playoffs or go through with radical realignment. All I have left are the small pleasures of Jays pitchers hitting opposing players and ruining careers, but apparently this team doesn't have the heart to accomplish that simple task.