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.||0||0|
|A Hill singled to right, F Thomas to second.||0||0|
|G Zaun doubled to left, F Thomas scored, A Hill to third.||1||0|
|C Thigpen singled to left center, A Hill scored, G Zaun to third.||2||0|
|A Lind grounded into double play, first to catcher to third to first, G Zaun out at home, C Thigpen to second.||2||0|
|J McDonald doubled to deep right center, C Thigpen scored.||3||0|
|R Johnson lined out to right.||3||0|
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.
Thigpen (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.