Anatomy of a JaysTalk: Rocky Mountain Low


I must admit that I don’t listen to JaysTalk, the Fan 590’s Blue Jays post-game show hosted by Mike Wilner, as religiously as I once did. It seems that the age of Twitter has given me more than ample opportunity to hear the braying voices of dimwits echoing across the misty river valley of my days — ca-caw! FYIREE GABSON!! — and so JaysTalk often feels like overkill.

But there are times when I find it necessary to put voice to the strawpersons out there. And last night seemed like a situation ripe for those turds to blossom before our very ears.

A disasterpiece from the bullpen combined with a late night JaysTalk? Sign me the hell up!

What it resulted in was maybe not a total conflagration like I expected, but an episode nonetheless jam packed with ideas deserving of being ripped to shreds here in print, forever, rather than simply allowed to float off into the radio ether. So let’s do that!

You can listen to the audio yourself here.

Caller 1. Dave in Vancouver

Dave would like to audition for a radio job and also bury the craziest/most laughable thing he said in the second half of his ramblefest, long after most people have shut off their radios in frustration. After this ridiculous bullpen loss, his biggest concern is that he’s sure Rogers isn’t going to pay Edwin Encarnacion — which fits some dumb pattern about Toronto sports teams not paying up for star players, apparently. Then he gets to the meat of the weird. Talking about last year’s playoffs he says, “Cecil got hurt and a lot of fans said, ‘if we can just straighten that bullpen a little bit more, almost get it as good as KC, we’ve got a real good shot next year,’ and then I look at the Chavez and the Storens, etc., Tepera bouncing up and down like a trampoline — you’re right, Mike, I’m glad I’m out here in the garden where I can relax.”

Why that second bit is particularly amazing:

Literally nobody said that. Literally not one single person. And not just because it’s delightfully bonkers to think, “hey guys, just make your bullpen like that one team with the indescribably unhittable wrecking crew,” as though it’s an item on a checklist. After the playoffs fans wanted to bring David Price back. All winter they were concerned mostly about the starting pitching. Nobody thought the bullpen was going to be elite, but Osuna, Cecil, and Sanchez provided a real nice foundation, and then the Jays went out and added Drew Storen, who — people forget — was a pretty damn successful (if wobbly-as-fuck) late inning reliever for a whole lot of years.

Piss on your revisionist history as an attempt to slag the front office for some imagined ineptitude, Dave! You can quibble with their refusal to spend money or prospects or redundant assets on relievers, but don’t act like starting pitching wasn’t the biggest concern. By far.

Caller 2. Mike in Ottawa

Mike doesn’t blame Drew Storen or Jesse Chavez for Monday’s loss. “For me,” he says, “I’ve got to hang this one on Gibby.”

Why I’m simultaneously rolling on the floor laughing my ass off and rolling my fucking eyes so hard I think my extraocular muscles are going to snap:

Mike seems genuine and nice and respectful, so I almost don’t enjoy shitting on his opinion, but he’s also a near-perfect caricature of a fan who has never really thought about how the game actually works. (Which he totally doesn’t have to do! Not every fan needs to be an expert on the intricacies what goes into a manager’s decision. It’d be nice if they were before they called into the radio to piss and moan about it, though!)

“He hits one guy — I think he hits him in the back — then he hits the next guy in the leg, and he’s still in the game,” says Mike, referring to Drew Storen. “Now, at that point in time, it’s a one run game, it’s a 4-3 game, you’re not the guy I want in there at that point in time. At that point in time the manager has to have somebody in.”

Mike is hardly the only one who has thought this. I certainly saw it on my timeline today on Twitter. But, exactly as Wilner said to him, you can’t have an understudy warmed up and ready to go at a moment’s notice every time you bring a reliever into a ballgame. Like, physically. You can’t ask guys to be up and down in the bullpen that much. You’ll make so many guys so often unavailable by asking them to waste their efforts in such a way that you’ll only exacerbate the problem. You can’t ask a guy to come in before he’s fully warmed up, either.

Also, people just don’t understand the small margins these pitchers are actually working with, and they LOVE to declare that a hit-by-pitch is a reason you need to get a pitcher the hell off the mound. I really don’t get that. But I guess it’s beside the point. The point being: once you have a guy that you’re going to, you’re stuck with him for a little bit. That’s not a failure of management, that’s simply how the game works.

Caller 3. Henry in Toronto

Henry appreciates Wilner’s advice. Henry then tries to bait Wilner into an argument by repeatedly asking, “Do you appreciate other people’s advice, like Zaunny?” Henry then confuses the hell out of everybody by mixing Marco with Marcus and trying to claim Gregg Zaun (the extra “g” is for Greggg) “said Estrada should go down” to get himself right in light of his recent struggles.

Why this call is worth even mentioning at all:

Wilner’s delicious send-off. “Mission accomplished, I guess. Thanks for wasting all our time, Henry!”

Caller 4. Mike in Oshawa

Mike would like to know why they keep friggin’ around with the bullpen and how much time ‘till they get Sanchez back dere, eh? He doesn’t think these guys like Chavez have much confidence and that Hutchison should come up and get a shot, eh, ‘cause “he’s been down there long enough, right?”

Why this call makes me want a dart:

Because even though I don’t smoke, there is literally no way that Mike has never called a cigarette a dart. So I’d like a dart just so I can call it a friggin’ dart, right? Hell, maybe I’ll get a whole pack ‘a smookes.

Caller 5. Corey in Mississauga

Corey has “just got more of a statement” than a question. “Through the first three months of the year this year, I mean, whether it be the wild pitches tonight, hit by pitches, walks to give up, you know, a win — a late win for the opponent — this bullpen has been a complete disaster for the first three months, minus a few guys. Now you got Osuna, and hopefully we get Sanchez back eventually, but like in the past we’re six game up on .500, but it’s hard to get those long winning streaks going when you get 4-0 leads and you can’t hang on to get the win. I mean, we’re right there in the Wild Card, but with this bullpen’s inconsistency it’s going to be hard to make a run down the stretch like last year.”

Why Corey — who is certainly not wrong that the Jays need to focus all their efforts in the month between now and the trade deadline on improving their bullpen — probably should take a minute and remember what the hell a long winning streak looks like, and just what the hell happened last night, too:

True, you can’t get long streaks when you consistently cough up 4-0 leads, but let’s not fucking forget that Marco Estrada did most of that on Monday night. More importantly, let’s think for a second who the fuck was in the Jays’ bullpen last year when they went on that eleven game streak following their nap between doubleheader games in Washington. I checked out the box scores for the three one-run victories during that streak, and here are the relievers they used: Liam Hendriks and Aaron Loup (three times each), Brett Cecil, Roberto Osuna, Steve Delabar, Bo Schultz.

So… um… let’s maybe not go nuts here.

Caller 6. Daniel in Toronto

Daniel wonders if it’s possible to stretch out a Gavin Floyd or a Jesse Chavez to use in the rotation.

Why that question is a delicious scoop of vanilla ice cream:

Because yes, they can stretch out Chavez. And no, they can’t stretch out Floyd — mostly because we learned here on Tuesday evening that his injury is worse than first thought (or at least worse than I first thought): he has a torn lat and will be out 8-12 weeks, which puts the rest of his season in jeopardy, unfortunately.

Caller 7. Ellen in Markham

Ellen wants to approach the BALME GIBBOS thing from a different angle, suggesting that he should have never pulled Marco Estrada when he did.

Why I don’t even think this makes sense in hindsight:

Wilner kept emphasizing the fact that Estrada had to be pulled for a pinch hitter when it was his turn to bat in the top of the seventh, with a runner at second and two out, given that the Jays only held a one run lead at that point. “Maybe if it’s Clayton Kershaw” you stick with him and hope the extra inning or two of him pitching is worth it, and I guess if you’re deep into Ace-strada you could try to make the argument that he deserves the same kind of credit… but to have done that on Monday night would have meant ignoring the fact that his back is still bothering him a bit (hence his not swinging the bat, which sure got some hockey mouth-breathers I saw on Twitter all riled up), and — more importantly — that he was getting hit pretty damn hard in the sixth, as he began to go through the Rockies’ lineup for the third time there in the thin mountain air. I can’t see how you don’t pull him there — if they kept hitting him hard in the seventh, or he had to be lifted quickly in the inning, passing on that opportunity to cash an extra run would have looked awfully foolish.

Caller 8. Adam in Hamilton

Adam notes that Tulo has struggled since coming to the Blue Jays, and wonders about the adjustment to a new league — something he says Buck and Pat have brought up.

Why this kind of talk needs to be stuffed in a sack and drown in the nearest river:

Look, surely there is some kind of adjustment that needs to be made when a player switches leagues. I’m not saying that it’s nothing. And there will definitely be a difference in a pitcher’s numbers going from one league to another, because they now have to face nine hitters each time through a lineup instead of eight plus another pitcher — and some lower lineup hitters will see a change, too, as they will no longer benefit from the few extra walks gained by hitting in the eighth spot, ahead of the pitcher. But let’s be serious. Creating a boogeyman out of a guy being an “NL player” is pure fucking laziness on the part of a sportswriter or commentator. Usually it’s a pissy way to make a criticism for the sake of it.

There is always — always — a more meaningful reason for a player’s struggles after a league switch.

On another note from this call, Wilner quoted OPS at some point, which I think was fine in the specific context, but reminded me: OPS is bad, and OPS is especially bad when you’re talking about a guy who was playing half his games in Colorado. Let’s quit with the OPS.

Caller 9. Paul in Aurora

Paul is worried about the longevity of the team, and the fact that the Jays’ core of players is getting pretty old.

Why I don’t even remember what I was going to say to Paul’s point because of something Wilner said:

After bringing up Boston’s core of young, homegrown talent, Wilner demurred, “Yeah but they finished in last place three of the last four years,” and later, “They have a pretty good team, but they had to finish dead last three of the last four years to get there.”

Do I even need to explain why that’s left me puzzled as fuck? Probably not, but I’ll bring up a couple little things anyway: nobody drafted by the Red Sox in 2013, 2014, or 2015 has played in the big leagues yet, only one from their 2012 class has played more than two big league games (Devin Marrero — 60 AB, -0.5 WAR), and though key young players did come from their 2011 draft (Bradley, Betts, and Shaw), they were picked at 40th overall, in the 5th round, and in the 9th round respectively.

Maybe he means that they were able to keep their young talent because they weren’t in contention in three of the last four years, which is fair, it’s just… yeah, that statement’s still kinda odd.

Caller 10. Jeff in Burlington

Jeff wants to bring it back to Gibbons, wondering why they had to go to Storen — he has an ERA over five for the year! — if Estrada had to come out.

Why I’d like to give Jeff a thoughtful answer about building up Storen’s confidence and rewarding him for the improvements he’s made over the last several weeks, but will just call him a pissbaby instead and be done with it:

“They have no chance to get to Osuna once they pinch hit for him,” says Jeff (a pissbaby).