The Daily Duce: Wednesday, May 18th

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Daily??!?!?

As I noted several times over the course of Tuesday afternoon, I didn’t ever expect the suspensions handed out for Sunday’s Texas tumult to make anything resembling sense. And hey, they didn’t! But the one that was most curious was one I didn’t say much about — MLB’s decision to not suspend Matt Bush. I had suspected that this was because it’s not always easy to discern conclusively if a pitcher had thrown at an opposing batter — they always deny it and say that their pitch slipped, which is exactly what the Rangers maintained about Bush (while also suggesting it’s absurd to think they’d put the tying run on intentionally). However, when the league released its statement on the suspensions, it noted that Bush had merely been fined for intentionally throwing at Bautista. This is, of course, kinda mindblowingly stupid and an affront to the notion that MLB is serious about getting potentially injurious retaliation out of the game. It gets worse: according to Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles times, “Bush was not suspended because umpires had not issued any warnings, in accordance with disciplinary precedent, according to a league official not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.” Dumb.

Buster Olney ruminates on this and other puzzling aspects of MLB’s attempt at justice over at ESPN.com (Insider Olney), and Jeff Passan tries to make sense of it for Yahoo! Sports.

Elsewhere at ESPN.com, Marly Rivera talks to David Price, who goes to bat for Jose Bautista, with a great, thoughtful quote. “When you face guys you never get a chance to get around them or to know them on a personal level, and everybody passes judgment. It’s not okay, but that’s what’s going to happen,” Price explains. “I wasn’t a huge fan of Bautista, facing him all the years, him hitting all those home runs off me. I wasn’t a huge fan of him. But I will endorse that guy now any time. He’s a great guy and teammate. He works so hard. He comes in every single day with a ton of energy and a desire to win. He’s a guy that if he’s in the opposing team you may not like him, but he’s the guy you want on your team.”

Bautista, for his part, says (via an Arden Zwelling tweet) that he’s not going to comment on the suspension until his appeal has been heard.

An awesome shot, via Twitter, from Toronto Star photographer, Steve Russell, who snapped John Gibbons last night, upstairs in a luxury box, eating some ice cream while serving his suspension.

Rosie DiManno of the Toronto Star, somewhere above reams of prose so purple it would make Prince blush (too soon?) about the media-and-Twitter-egg-created gathering storm around John Gibbons, suggests that the Jays’ front office has cast “a covetous glance — rumour has it, and has had it since last winter — towards Bud Black.” I’m sure that’s music to the ears of the sadly still-existing “managers are magic!” set, but I’d find it pretty damn disappointing. I’ve questioned more of John Gibbons’ decisions this year than I’d have liked to, but that doesn’t mean that the rash “we lost a couple games and I don’t know what could be wrong, better fire the manager!” attitude isn’t pretty fucking stupid.

Russell Martin ain’t right, says the title of an excellent piece from Jeff Sullivan at FanGraphs, and he sure ain’t wrong about that. Martin looked like he might have been righting the ship if you looked at the couple weeks heading into the club’s current series with Tampa Bay — he had a 43.2% hard contact rate from May 3rd through the 15th (a number that would have placed him in the top 10 in the league, uh… if he’d been doing it for the entirety of the season, not over a tiny, arbitrarily endpointed sample) — but has had a couple of duds over the last two nights, like most of his teammates. However, Sullivan’s analysis offers at least a little bit of hope — some evidence of a more forceful swing of late, and the possibility that the physical limitations that have hampered him so far this year are on the downswing. Still, though, it’s been damn ugly.

A much more encouraging FanGraphs piece comes our way from Eno Sarris, who talks to Marcus Stroman about his arsenal, and how much he — amazingly — still has to learn.

The Jays sent Dustin Antolin and Andy Burns back to Buffalo on Tuesday, recalling newly-acquired utility man Jimmy Parades and switch-pitcher Pat Venditte. Meh. Hey, but it at least cued some subtly snarky tweets, and subtweets.

Burns was noted over at 2080 Baseball this week for having just made his big league debut. “Burns’ promotion was getting a lot of love online from devoted Jays fans who were followers of the player for his work ethic,” they explain, which I believe translates to “meh.”

Antolin, of course, made his big league debut Monday night, which is weird, because I’m pretty sure Monday night didn’t even happen. Tuesday night either. Ugh.

Ben Nicholson-Smith tweets that the injured Franklin Morales has now spent 45 days on the Jays’ roster, which guarantees his $2-million salary for this season. Hard for the Jays to justify ridding themselves of what could be a halfway decent reliever, I suspect.

And at Sportnet, Benny Fresh looks at the Jays’ bullpen issues, which are still here, 40 games into the season.

More brawl stuff, as Sam Miller of Baseball Prospectus gives us 14 heroes from Sunday’s Doonesbury, while Sam and Ben Lindbergh have themselves a brawl draft on Monday’s Effectively Wild podcast.

Gideon Turk of BP Toronto tells us that the much maligned Arnold Leon is on his way out of the Blue Jays’ organization, and on his way to the Samsung Lions of the KBO.

Craig Forde of MiLB.com looks at the hot bat of Rowdy Tellez, who is thriving so far in Double-A.

More prospect stuff from Jays Prospects, as Brian Crawford looks at Max Pentecost, who is off to a hot start after finally returning from injury, as well as pitcher Francisco Rios, who needed just a month to convince the Jays that he needed to move up the organizational ladder from Lansing to Dunedin.

Our own John Lott tweets (pivoting off one from Lansing’s excellent play-by-play man Jesse Goldberg-Strassler) that prospect Jon Harris might be kinda nails, too. (He has 11 Ks over seven scoreless innings today).

Drew Magary addresses the Odor punch in his latest Funbag at Deadspin, assuring us that it was certainly not a sucker punch. Which is true. Doesn’t make it any less shitty, of course.

Back to ESPN.com (Insider only), where Keith Law has his first mock draft up, suggesting that the Jays may be in the market for Dante Bichette’s son with their 21st overall pick. OK!

Lastly, MLBTR tells us about the Pirates’ extension with catcher Francisco Cervelli, which kiiiinda makes Pittsburgh look pretty good for their choice not to retain Russell Martin the winter before last, and also removes another decent name from next winter’s top free agent list. Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion are still on that list, of course, and will probably continue to be. The saga of the Jays and those two sluggers has only become more fascinating as the worries over guys like Russell Martin and Troy Tulowitzki grow, hasn’t it? The whole “but they’ll still have a great core with Donaldson, Martin, and Tulo!” thing doesn’t quite seem as comforting as it once did.

  • Bad Dabbler

    “Bush was not suspended because umpires had not issued any warnings, in accordance with disciplinary precedent, according to a league official not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.”

    Ohh.. I get it. THAT’s why OJ was found not guilty. I mean he wasn’t first issued a warning that he should not hack two people to death. ALL makes sense now.