Sunday, April 28, 2013

Anthopoulos' state of the obvious

The Jays will get better?

Anthopoulos' career ending mistake? Certainly, not a brilliant move.

Expectations for the 2013 Blue Jays were hyped. With no hockey in the fall and Anthopoulos's moves with the jump in payroll, Torontonians, no Canadians, were hyped up to see Canada's baseball team go to the playoffs, and maybe the World Series.

Instead, the Maples Leafs are going to the playoffs, and the 2013 rendition of the Blue Jays have a very long road ahead of them even to reach .500.

So Anthopoulos met with the media today and made the following severely presiced comments: I'm disappointed, but it will get better. It has to.

The long form of the message is that the individual records of each of these players won't allow this team to continue along this path indefinitely. The starting pitching staff should have an ERA of below 4, and hopefully, it should be around 3.8 or 3.7. Certain offensive players should have on-base percentages much higher than they have: Bonificio, Izturis, Bautista, Melky, and even Colby. The defense should get better.

It just has to, right? Not necessarily.

One has to look at WHY the team, collectively, started off as poorly as they did.

Starting pitching

Mark Buehrle, though Mr. Reliable has had bouts of poor pitching. In five starts with the Marlins last year (July 19 - August 10), he went 0-3, pitched 26.1 innings, let in 24 earned runs, and was terrible. Over the final 8 starts, he averaged 6.9 innings per start with a 3.58 ERA. So let's not worry about Mark Buehrle.

RA Dickey's slow start (4.50 ERA) is not unique to him either. Last year, from June 24 to July 24, over 6 start (+ 1 extra inning pitched), he had a 5.36 ERA over 40 innings and a WHIP of about 1.4.

Brandon Morrow's start is not too far out of line with 2011 so far, but we're still waiting for him to have a stellar start where he goes deep into the game.

And Josh Johnson has had bad periods of time, with a 6.61 ERA over his first six starts as a Marlin last year.

But four out of five doing poorly together? What's up with that? Coincidence?

The offense

Even with Maicer's recent hitting spurt, both he and Bonifacio are both having their worst months in their MLB career, together, at the same time.

We know that Adam Lind and Colby can be inconsistent at the plate. Colby's strikeout rate, however, at 45% is very disturbing. And while there are have been short spurts in his career where his strike out rate was 40%, this is unprecented.
Jose Bautista has started off his season horribly. He has yet to have a multi-hit game. His strikeout rate is over 25% and there wasn't a stretch of games last year where he struck out as much. But he had a 25 game stretch last year where he bat .146 / .284 / .270 at the beginning of the year (except the first game). At least this year he's hitting home runs. He warmed up last year and there no reason to expect anything differently this year.

Melky has started the season hitting .250 / .303 / .300 and while he had a stretch of 18 games last year early on when he bat .231 / .301 / .308. But Melky is just lacking power, and it's troubling .You can expect that for missing 2 months of the season last year, and there seems to be no sign that he won't be doing worse.

Brett Lawrie will come around. Edwin will be fine. JP Arencibia is striking out alot too (at just below 40%), but he has done that before and been an acceptable hitter, especially for a catcher. He's hitting for power and that's all that can be asked of him.

But once against, why is all of this poorness all coming together? Is this coincidence too?


John Gibbons

John Gibbons was fired after the Milwaukee series in June 2008. The team went through a 4-13 run falling 7.5 games back in the standings from being 3 games to 10.5 games back. 8 of those 13 games losses were one run losses, including 3 walk-offs and 1 come from behind and 2 late loss ties. The team was 10-19 in one run games. In his last game in Milwaukee, down 8-1, the team stormed back in the top of the ninth with one on and two out to score six runs, falling short 8-7 and seal Gibbons' fate.

In 2008, despite the .279 BA, the team produced around 4 runs per game. Run production suffered dearly under Gibbons.

Sound familiar?

So I wondering what kind of job John Gibbons is doing, and whether Alex Anthopoulos will do the same thing that JP Ricciardi felt like he had to do: fire John Gibbons.

Looking back at the Miked up blog entries (Mike Wilner's daily writings on the Blue Jays) from 2008, it's pretty clear that some major similarities are happening: run production was a huge issue and the Jays are finding ways to lose, especially late in the game by one run. Why?

Is it beyond luck? Baseball at this level is simply more than about numbers. It's about momentum, spirit, and team.

And with so many players performing below average at the same time, you just feel like it has to do with the coaching staff more than coincidence. And given that this has happened before with the same manager, you have to wonder...

Lineups are changing every day. That has to be a bit disconcerting to the players. Yes, the players are to blame, too, but you can't fire the team. The bullpen is doing fine, and they're not on the bench. I really think that this team is quite down right now, and needs an inspirational leader to lead them through. When the team starts performing poorly collectively, it's up to the managerial staff to fix the problem.

Gibbons doesn't have that capability. He didn't in 2008, and nothing sugggests that he does now, unlike Joe Girardi, who can take a team with severe injuries and put together a winner. Unlike Buck Showalter who has found a way for his Orioles to win a bunch of 1 run games and make the playoffs. Unlike Joe Maddon, and now, perhaps, unlike John Farrell.

The team has got to get better. But will it?

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