The Daily Duce: Friday, September 23rd

ducetemp

Daily??!?!?

I don’t say this just because I’m quoted in it (though I am!), or because griping about it is a bit of a hobby horse of mine, but this piece on the psychology of the wave from Aaron Hutchins of Maclean’s is outstanding. And Gregg Zaun, of all people, knocks it out of the fucking park. “It tells me what your baseball IQ is when you’re in the stands in a one-run game, your home team is scratching and clawing, and you’re in the stands trying to do the wave.” Fuckin’ right.

Ross Atkins spoke to reporters about his first season at the helm of the Blue Jays, and Ken Fidlin of the Toronto Sun has an excellent round-up of the comments. The money quote, uh… for my money, is on Vlad Guerrero Jr., who Atkins says “has expedited things” in terms of his timeline. “He could be the player that moves relatively quickly. We will try to discipline ourselves to slow things down for him to ensure he has the best possible foundation. But he could be a guy who moves quicker, not because of talent but because of discipline and work ethic,” he says. Nails much?

In another piece in the Sun on Atkins’ comments, Fidlin notes that GM also said that the club’s search for a new scouting director is narrowing and that they might have a decision in a week. Meanwhile, John Gibbons noted that Troy Tulowitzki has been the victim of some bad luck at the plate lately, despite hitting the ball hard consistently. Fidlin himself says that “by an unofficial count, six of his outs — five in Anaheim alone — were made at or on the centre field wall.” Breakout coming?

Atkins also says that “the gloves are off” with respect to Aaron Sanchez and his innings limits at this point, albeit with the same caveats he’s used all year about monitoring his arm and recovery. But over at the Toronto Star, Richard Griffin would like you to think that these comments mean that Sanchez getting shut down isn’t out of the questions. OOHHHH SCAWWWY! (I mean, I’m pretty sure any pitcher could get shut down if his arm isn’t right.)

Griff’s piece also gets into Aktins’ comments on the hiring of former Red Sox GM Ben Cherington. “One of the things I’ve learned this year is how demanding it is being with a major-league team, trying to help the major-league staff, help our players. It’s the time that I don’t have thinking about Vladimir Guerrero, thinking abut Conner Greene and now Ben Cherington will be taking on a lot of that,” the GM explained. “Having said that, he’s going to help me, help us in every single facet of baseball operations, his experiences as a GM, with emphasis and passion for amateur scouting. He has a keen understanding for free-agent negotiations, the trade market. Having been in the market that he was in and having developed there is a huge asset for us.”

Awesome stuff as always from John Lott over at Vice Sports, even if he calls the idea that the Jays were ever championship calibre this season an “illusion” and suggests — not exactly incorrectly — that they’ve mostly been mediocre, save for a stretch from the end of June until the All-Star break.

Mentioned this on this week’s podcast, but worth making a wank-off motion for it again, I guess: Rob Arthur and Rian Wiatt over at FiveThirtyEight dig deeply into bullpen management and try to find a way to quantify individual managers’ value in this regard. It’s a valid and interesting piece on a subject that few have figured out a good way to approach, so don’t get me wrong, it’s just some of the conclusions don’t quite pass the sniff test, such as guys like Joe Girardi and Joe Torre both ranking exceptionally highly, which makes one wonder how Mariano Rivera is skewing things. That doesn’t invalidate the rest of it, nor does the fact that John Gibbons grades out poorly by their metric (even though I happen to think/want to believe he’s been the victim of bad bullpens). It’s just that the authors themselves admit that over the course of a season there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of impact to any of this, and so I guess I just bristle at how people are going to want to hold this up as an indictment of a guy like Gibbons. 

Interesting stuff from Elie Waitzer of BP Toronto on how being selective at the plate simply doesn’t seem to be working for the Jays anymore — or at least not the way that it was last season. They’re seeing more strikes than anyone, because their selectivity is forcing pitchers to work in the zone, they’re just not doing damage on those strikes the way that they were last year. Hmmm. 

Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com provides us all the tiebreaker scenarios for the Wild Card, which… apparently we have to care about.

Bluebird Banter wonders what’s up with Devon Travis’s defence lately (and, basically, since he hurt his hand and took a cortisone shot for it in late August). The short answer — at least according to me — is: whatever. He’s fine. Maybe the piece says something different though!

An interesting one from Craig Edwards of FanGraphs, who looks at weak contact and the AL’s best pitchers this season, which… makes the case that Kevin Pillar should win the Cy Young?

Dan Martin of the New York Post gives us a Yankees perspective on the fact that Masahiro Tanaka has been scratched from his next start — which is a huge help for the Jays. Or at least should be, as long as they aren’t stymied by whichever nobody goes in his place.

I haven’t read this, because I am loath to subject myself to a bunch of steroid proselytizing in the damn year 2016, but Anthony L. Fisher of The Week writes something called The Fraudulent Myth of Big Papi which could be interesting, if you’re into that sort of thing.

Lastly, and speaking of things I didn’t actually look at, the Blue Jay Hunter directs us to a parody song about baseball, which… ugh. Almost always ugh. Oh, but does this one ape the Counting Crows? Well then FUGGGGGGH. Maybe it’s good though! I just can’t watch a man sing a song.

Uhhh… and lastly lastly, uhh… Kelly Gruber was at the House Of Commons? Like the actual one and not just at the ‘rips in Ottawa?