A deep dig into the numbers and performances from the past weekend of Toronto Blue Jays baseball, brought to you by Draft Kings — get your Daily Fantasy Sports on at Draft Kings!
Well that could have gone a whole lot worse, eh?
The Blue Jays salvaged a win on Sunday and avoided a sweep in Oakland on the back of a Josh Donaldson double to cash Andy Burns (pinch running for Justin Smoak, who had dribbled an infield single up the third base line against the shift), and Junior Lake (of all people), in the top of the ninth inning. It was fitting that Donaldson provided the heroics with the Jays visiting his old stomping grounds, and in front of the GM, “Billy Boy” Beane, who lost his mind and dealt away on of the best players in baseball for a far away shortstop prospect, a couple of pitchers, and this nut:
Let’s check in on Brett Lawrie he’s probably normal pic.twitter.com/p7SmPHcAOz
— Phenomenal Source (@SouthSideSox) June 19, 2016
I wrote about Donaldson’s greatness in this spot last week, but it’s not like it’s a point that isn’t worth repeating.
Since 2013, Donaldson’s 28.3 WAR ranks second only to Mike Trout (33.0) among position players, with no one else particularly close — Andrew McCutchen (21.7) and Paul Goldschmidt (20.9) are the only two other players above 20 wins, and the player who ranks 30th (of 1,147 to have had at least 10 big league plate appearance over those four years), Brandon Crawford, has only been half as valuable (14.1 WAR) as the Jays’ third baseman.
Over the last three seasons, Donaldson is second only to Trout. Over the last two seasons, Donaldson is second only to Trout. This season, Donaldson is second only to Trout.
There is no shame in being just a tick behind the guy who has basically a Hall Of Fame lock before he’s even turned 25.
Is there shame in trading that guy? Ho ho ho ho ho ho. Oh yes. Oh holy shit yes.
* * *
I mentioned above that it was fitting that Donaldson provided the spark that ensured, but it was also fitting that the Jays managed to win at least one of those damn games. Because truly they should have won two.
I know, I know, if we counted every win fans think their team should have had, nobody would ever finish with more than a handful of losses each year. But Friday’s disasterpiece really should have gone the Jays way, given that at one point they led the A’s 7-3.
Pitching coach Pete Walker chalked it up to Marcus Stroman being asked to pitch the first game after the All-Star Break, according to a Toronto Star piece, but surely that’s an unsatisfactory answer for the Twitter eggs and talk radio cranks of the world. Perhaps especially because of Stroman’s very visible social media accounts sending out snaps from his trip with teammates to Cabo San Lucas over the week previous.
Thing is, though, while I will grant you that I’m pretty hard in the tank for Stroman, I do think that Walker brings up some good points. He tells Richard Griffin that veterans prefer to avoid the first start out of the break because of how disruptive the time off is to a starter’s routine, and also notes that Stroman didn’t pitch for four days prior to the break, so he was going on eight days rest.
Walker is obviously going to put a nice shine on everything when being questioned about his staff (note: heh) by reporters, but he does sound confident in the piece that Stroman will be back to the improved-looking guy we saw before the break in his next few starts. “He’s already had a good side session” on Sunday, Walker added. “The stuff seemed really good in the ‘pen.”
Joe Torre: still terrible
When he isn’t dumbly condoning beanball culture and actively putting the health of guys like Josh Donaldson at risk by refusing to hand out meaningful suspensions to pitchers who throw at players — something Donaldson ranted about after the Twins series back in May — it seems that Joe Torre, MLB’s “chief baseball officer,” is now doing the bidding of the umpires union.
Over the weekend, in a memo to managers and general managers that was obtained by the Associated Press (here via ESPN.com), Torre insisted that arguing with umps over balls and strikes, and the using of replay to bolster those arguments needs to stop. “This highly inappropriate conduct is detrimental to the game and must stop immediately.”
The thing about this is: once again fuck off, Joe Torre. Most baseball fans will tell you, the “highly inappropriate conduct” that is “detrimental to the game and must stop immediately” in this instance is umpires sucking at their jobs.
I know it’s a hard job, and umpires for the most part do it extremely well. And I know that there is a whole new level of scrutiny on umpires here in the PitchFX age where we can see in real time just how egregious some of their calls are or not. But how in the world is this issue about anything other than the umpires needing to get better?
There is no excuse, in this new world of data, for umpires to not use it to better understand their weaknesses and improve. And yet here is an official of Major League Baseball saying that when managers take umbrage, effectively saying “you’re going to cost me my job because you can’t properly do yours,” this “has the propensity to undermine the integrity of the umpires on the field.”
No, Joe, you boob, the umpires’ integrity is undermined by the fact that we can all see it when they make terrible, inconsistent calls.
I’m not particularly a “robot umpires” guy. I’m still sucked in by romantic, or even mystical notions like the one that baseball is, as my friend Ryan Oakley (aka @thegrumpyowl) once explained to me, at its core a game of throwing a sphere through an idea. But holy shit, umpires, that’s not an excuse to let anything go, to let umpires become the show, and to not demand that they shit together (and also get their shit together). Especially when that requires acting like it’s somehow unfair that teams and managers are using accurate data to call umpires out.
It’s not their strike zone. Hmmm… unless it is.
Matt Eddy of Baseball America tweets that the Giants have signed our old friend Kyle Drabek to a minor league deal and are looking at him as a shortstop, which… wait, what?
Great stuff from Arden Zwelling of Sportsnet as he speaks to some of the Jays’ minor league coordinators (including Tim Raines!) about their jobs and how the Blue Jays’ future is very much in their hands.
I’ll probably have a couple things to say about the Justin Smoak extension in a later piece, but in the meantime, our outstanding weekend editor, Cam, took care of all sorts of good stuff on that for you when the story broke over the weekend. Weird times!
The Jays have two off-days this week, bookending a two-game mini-series in Arizona (which at least means the Snakes won’t be wearing their awful road uniforms). A rather interesting home stand (especially if they stumble heading into the final series) then comes up, as the Jays return to Toronto to face the Mariners, Padres, and Orioles. A somewhat daunting trip to Houston then Kansas City comes after that.
Monday – Off Day
Tuesday @ Arizona, 9:40 PM ET
Wednesday @ Arizona, 3:40 PM ET
Thursday – Off Day
Friday vs. Seattle, 7:07 PM ET
Saturday – Sunday, vs. Seattle, 1:07 PM ET
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