103

Dumbing Down The Discourse: Rock Out With Your Cox Out

If there is one genre of Blue Jays article that will, without fail, get my blood boiling, it’s the one where a tourist columnists feigns ignorance of — or is actually ignorant about — how the club is trying to build and improve and grow, but doesn’t let that supposed ignorance stop them from smugly asserting that they have the answers, or, worse, sarcastically intimating that the problems are clear, the answers are obvious, and the people in charge are clearly and obviously derelict.

I don’t dislike such pieces because they’re unfair to the front office. I don’t dislike them because they do a disservice to the fans reading them in good faith, or to those trying to participate in the conversation at large about the team by poisoning the discourse. I don’t dislike them because they’re lazy. I dislike them because they’re all of those things.

“This Randal Grichuk fellow better make one heckuva impact,” begins a piece from the Toronto Star last Friday, written by Damien Cox, giving a us big taste of witless pomposity mixed with a kind of folksy aw-shucks-ism designed to make it sound like he’s just a nice man with the team’s and fans’ interests at heart. An inauspicious start.

“More, at least, than the last supposedly up-and-coming outfielder with pop with which the Blue Jays persuaded the St. Louis Cardinals to part. Ah, Colby Rasmus, we barely knew ye,” he continues, dredging up the demon most easily pointed to by dipshits for no reason other than to cast a pall over what the Blue Jays are doing here. Never mind that Rasmus had that one five WAR season in Toronto, which would be plenty nice to see from Grichuk. Nor the fact that Colby was sold (rightly) as a shrewdly acquired future All-World centrefielder (by a front office that, we understand better now, drooled over raw tools but perhaps wasn’t as diligent about other aspects of the game), whose potential ultimately went up in smoke. Grichuk has no such expectations being placed on him by anyone other than Damien Cox. He’s a nice piece for the now, an upgrade on the previous right fielder (frowny face), and a guy with some cheap term still left. Not exactly a franchise cornerstone. Hey, but you gotta build ’em up to knock ’em down.

“Otherwise, this has been a second consecutive yawn of an off-season for the Jays brain trust of Mark Shapiro and Ross Atkins, and there’s not much candy-coating that reality,” he adds, nudging readers toward the assumption that measured is bad and big and bold is good — as though, 1) fans of the Blue Jays don’t know real well what little it can mean to “win the offseason,” and 2) fans of the Jays aren’t completely aware of the reality of the club’s situation. This is a “gotcha” line written for fans who mostly don’t exist — and who Cox himself acknowledged mostly don’t exist the last time somebody let him write about the Blue Jays, when he stumped for a rebuild, and lectured that “if the move is to recalibrate and rebuild the team with an emphasis on youth, and that results in a few 75-win finishes, there’s lots of evidence to suggest fans won’t stay away in droves, but will actively enjoy the process.”

“The more they say they’re trying to compete, the less they seem to do things to actually compete.”

Uh… look, I’m not trying to “candy-coat reality” here, but the things that killed the 2017 Blue Jays were injuries, a lack of infield depth, lack of starting pitching depth, an inadequate lineup against right-handed pitching, and poor performance from their once-mighty spots of right field and DH. And apart from keeping the same DH (whose batted ball data is still quite encouraging) and, for now, looking internally for pitching depth (which does exist now more than it did a year ago, as young starters have moved up the organizational ladder), those are precisely the areas that they’ve addressed. Had they received 2016-level performances from Josh Donaldson, Aaron Sanchez, and José Bautista in 2017, the Jays would have been ten wins better than they were. That says nothing of what they might still be able to get from Kendrys Morales, Troy Tulowitzki, and Devon Travis. And if those players don’t bounce back, or if other guys falter, the team is much better equipped to handle it this time around.

Right now Fangraphs’ Steamer-based “Depth Charts” projections have the Jays at 84 wins for 2018. That’s not where you want to be, obviously, and the Jays could certainly make themselves a whole lot better in 2018 right now if they wanted to — it would just mean trading away players like Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Nate Pearson, Bo Bichette, Anthony Alford, etc. But why? To be improving, keeping those players, keeping their draft picks (by not signing top free agents), sitting within striking distance of a Wild Card (the Angels are projected to nab the second spot with 88 wins, the Twins are chasing the Jays at 81), and still have time and some money to keep raising the level of talent on the roster? It’s really not a bad place. Keep making smart trades, smart pickups, smart draft picks, smart July 2nd signings, and you’re doing very well. Maybe something breaks your way in 2018, maybe it doesn’t. At least you gave yourself a legitimate chance at October baseball and didn’t mortgage your future to do so. Most fans really do get that, I think. So… where’s the problem here?

Oh right:

“All the significant names that were supposed to move in trades or as free agents this winter — Giancarlo Stanton, Lorenzo Cain, Christian Yelich, Shohei Otani, Andrew McCutchen — have gone elsewhere. Again,” we’re told. Which… uh… bruh, Ohtani had full control of the process and seemingly wanted to play on the west coast or, at the very least, on a team that had their spring training in Arizona. The Jays had no chance there. Stanton had a full no-trade clause — remember the Giants’ offer getting rejected? — so the Jays had no chance there either. Yelich they could have got, but it would have cost them Vlad so… are we ripping them for not doing that?

And McCutchen I love, but he cost over $12 million (the Pirates covered $2.5 million of his $14.75 million salary), plus prospects, and is only under contract for one year. Against right-handed pitching his wRC+ over the last two seasons combined is 105. For Randal Grichuk, who is under much cheaper control for three more seasons, and at this stage is probably a better defender, the number is 100. For Yangervis Solarte, who may see some time in the outfield, it’s also 105. For Curtis Granderson, who cost no prospects and signed just a one-year deal worth $5 million plus incentives, it’s 118. Now, that’s not the only split, or the only thing that matters, but as a team the Jays really needed to improve against right-handed pitching. Against lefties they’re fine — Pearce has long been a lefty masher, Morales is surprisingly elite in that split, Pillar killed lefties in 2017 (148 wRC+), as did Smoak (160), and there are strong right-handed bats in Donaldson (obviously), Travis and Tulo (hopefully), and Martin. McCutchen (who is much stronger vs LHP) maybe wasn’t quite the right fit, then. I think we can be pretty OK with what the Jays did here.

So that just leaves Cain, who — OK, you got ’em! — the Jays didn’t sign.

Of course, there are still so many free agents still left unsigned! And while I don’t think the Jays are going to sign any of the big name guys left either, given that they were reportedly willing to eat money in a Christian Yelich trade, there may be more budget left to do that than you think. But the thing, which Cox seems to be intentionally missing, is that they’re not going to do anything that potentially hurts them in the long run. And sure, Rogers could take on any contract in the game and then some, and the company wouldn’t feel a thing, but they generally don’t see that as good business, meaning the Blue Jays have no choice but abide by the budget they’re given (and mindful of it going forward). How much of that future budget money do you think they should tie up in years two, and three, and four of the Guerrero/Bichette era just to push themselves that much closer to a 2018 AL East title that already seems a little too far out of reach? Just as the Martin and Tulo contracts start to recede from the books, you want to limit flexibility? For the right player — *COUGH* Josh Donaldson *COUGH* — that could make some sense, to an extent, but hammering them for not going huge on win-now moves that will cost them prospects, future budget, and possibly draft pick compensation (in what’s supposedly going to be a deep draft this June), just to go from being seven wins behind the Red Sox and Yankees (as they’re currently projected) to three or four? That’s probably not great business. On the other hand, if they can narrow the gap even more with some small low cost moves, that would keep them very nicely setup indeed. (Oh, right, but that would be too “quiet.”)

“It’s been a long, long time since Jays fans had reason to be envious of the Milwaukee Brewers, but right now that would be the case,” Cox continues, inadvertently making the case for the Jays’ current path he thinks he’s railing against. The Brewers surprisingly won 86 games last season. They have payroll flexibility. They have a strong farm system. They have a nice little core of players that don’t cost too much and are under control for multiple years (per Cot’s the only players currently on their current 40-man due to reach free agency after 2018 are Eric Sogard and Yovani Gallardo). They’re maybe a little lighter on talent than a team turning the corner from a reset/rebuild and pushing hard in would want be (even with the additions of Yelich and Cain, Fangraphs projects them to just 77 wins), but this is a smaller market, NL Central version of where I think the Jays want to get to: a place where they can really hit the gas pedal, and ability to do so without fucking up their future with bloated contracts or big holes in the prospect pipeline. If they were to hit it now, as Cox is seemingly pining for at this point in his article, there’s a good chance they run into the wall — a track they’ve been, to continue this tired metaphor, trying to steer themselves out of ever since the previous regime (gloriously) went the bloated contract and pipeline hole route in order to (gloriously) bring (glorious) playoff baseball back to Canada in 2015.

“While telling one and all they plan to battle with the best of the American League East this season, Shapiro and Atkins haven’t made a single move to suggest this team can actually do that after last year’s 76-win debacle. Instead, it’s been Grichuk, Al Alburquerque, Aledmys Diaz, Yangervis Solarte and Curtis Granderson.” Pretending that the front office has been demanding fans start planning parade routes, then pretending that small but significant value adds are worth sneering at, just so you can act like you’re Dr. Ron Fucking Genius for figuring out a thing that everybody else knows and has acknowledged from the hop (i.e. that the Blue Jays, while trying to be as competitive as can be, are going to have a very difficult time challenging for more than a Wild Card spot), is awfully fucking rich. Hey, maybe you can be a smug asshole about that for a minute…

“Beyond that, it’s about some heavenly belief that all the injuries that helped derail the 2017 season (only Jays players got hurt last season, didn’t you hear?) simply won’t reoccur,” Cox writes. “No pressure on Nikki Huffman, the club’s new head athletic trainer. Just keep ’em all healthy all of the time, Nikki.”

Get fucked. The guy just named two middle infield acquisitions that are significantly better than the fill-ins the Jays used last year, and one sentence later is acting like the entire plan is to hope and pray for Troy Tulowitzki’s health. Just openly, blatantly, unapologetically disingenuous horseshit right here. And I don’t even just mean the “simply won’t reocurr” part. I also mean the notion that because every team gets injuries it means they’re off the table as a possible explanation for why one team’s season went poorly and the next might not — as though it’s impossible that one team might have been impacted more by them than another. A real rigorous intellectual standard for this stuff.

“Aaron Sanchez’s blister will vanish. Troy Tulowitzki won’t be made of porcelain. The American League’s worst offence in ’17 will magically come back to life and the Jays will be able to grab the second wild-card slot next fall, now apparently viewed as baseball’s Holy Grail in the 416,” it goes on.

Sigh.

It’s like… again: you just named Tulo and Travis’s much-improved backups. You also named the much improved right fielder, and the guy who actually hits right-handed pitching. Yes, Aaron Sanchez’s finger is a concern, but for chrissakes, man, go tell me the last pitcher to basically miss two consecutive years because of a blister. I’ll wait.

“As they say in Angels in the Outfield, it could happen. But betting on best-case scenarios in baseball is rarely a path to success. Elbows explode too easily. Expecting the worst and planning around it seems more sensible,” he says. WHICH IS EXACTLY WHAT THEY’VE BEEN DOING OH MY GOD.

“Meanwhile, the people tut-tutting all the pessimistic chatter and citing all the happy possibilities for 2018 are the same people who spent months last year talking about how the team had lots of time to recover from a horrendous spring.” Know why people said that? Because the team had lots of time to recover from a horrendous spring. They were 26-27 on May 31st! The Jays, at that time, were two games behind playoff-bound teams in Minnesota and Cleveland. The Cubs at that time were 25-27. You are very bad at this, Damien.

“Realists, meanwhile, certainly have reason to wonder when, if ever, Shapiro and Atkins, assuming they actually are trying to compete, will make a bolder move than Kendrys Morales to improve this team rather than living off the work done by their popular predecessor, Alex Anthopoulos,” he says, completely ignoring the fact that said predecessor was just about as unpopular as this front office is until five years and nine months into his six year tenure. Not to mention the fact that he’s ignoring the J.A. Happ signing, which worked out marvelously, the re-signing of Marco Estrada, the Justin Smoak extension (unbelievable but true!), the trade for Francisco Liriano (which didn’t look great in 2017 but was a godsend at the end of 2016), and on down the line. Not really convenient to the point this “realist” is trying to make, I guess.

“Now, this may be all about waiting for Vlad Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette, the most hyped Jays prospects since Sil Campusano or J.P. Arencibia. This may be a bona-fide rebuilding project in the works,” comes the next slice of smugness for us. Because yeah, they’re exactly the same. Cox has got your interests at heart here, Jays fans! The “realist” is just tellin’ it like it is, and totally not preying on your worst insecurities like some goon who works for the Toronto Sun so he can pointlessly score points with dullards regarding a team he can’t even be arsed to write about more than once every six months.

“Then why not just say so?”

Because that’s not what it is?

“Why pretend to be a team trying to chase a World Series title or at least a playoff berth?”

Because they very much are trying to chase a playoff berth?

“Just rebuild, already. Houston gave everyone the blueprint.”

Houston destroyed their TV market and cratered in attendance. So bad did it get that in the year they won the World Series the Astros managed to get 2.4 million fans through the turnstiles, averaging 29,674 per game in a park with a capacity of 41,168 for baseball. The 2017 Blue Jays averaged 39,500, with 3.2 million coming to the park last year. And though, yes, 2018 will be better for the Astros, perhaps this is a thing to consider before one goes tossing around the idea that they “gave everyone the blueprint.” Perhaps also consider the fact that, had they not managed to squeak into the 2015 playoffs with 86 wins it would have been eleven years between playoff berths for this “blueprint.” Yes, they’re setup extremely well now, but let’s not act like it was easy — I don’t think the people in Houston would tell you that it was. Or ask the Padres how easy it is (11 playoff-less seasons and counting). Ask the Phillies (six years now, and surely at least one more). Ask the Reds (four years deep, the best pure hitter of his generation, and yet still not much hope).

Hey, Cox loves shoehorning in hockey analogies, right? How about this one: the Edmonton Oilers were gifted literally the best-of-all-possible-worlds rebuilding scenario and still have managed to fuck it up. Foolproof, right?

“What this really appears to be is an effort by the Jays front office to make it appear that they’re competing so as not to scare off their customers. Fool the fans, in other words, until Guerrero and Bichette arrive.”

The only fool I see is the one insisting that the Jays are telling people something that they’re not. They’re trying to remain competitive. They’re trying to keep their eyes very firmly on the future. Their goals are surely modest and the range of possible outcomes for the season likely skews toward “not quite good enough,” and they may not be running to the hills to shout that, but so what? Is the second Wild Card not a playoff berth? Would it not be awesome if the Jays could get there and get into the LDS? Is it not entirely plausible that they could? So then if all the while they’re also bulking up for the future, the fuck is there to be conspiratorial about?

* * *

Somehow Cox’s piece goes even farther off the rails from here. I wouldn’t want the poor Star to miss out on the clicks, so I’ll stop going line by line through it at this point, but there are plenty of ham-assed hockey analogies and some serious fucking doozys in there. For example: “The problem is, Toronto doesn’t have a baseball talent close to DeMar DeRozan at the moment.” Like… how does one even???? Since 1950, here are the top MLB position players by WAR for their age 27 to 31 seasons (which is Donaldson’s most current): Willie Mays, Joe Morgan, Barry Bonds, Wade Boggs, Hank Aaron, Mike Schmidt, Carl Yastrzemski, Alex Rodriguez, Eddie Mathews, Chase Utley, Albert Pujols, Josh Donaldson. BUT HE’S NO DEROZAN! (I love DeMar, but holy shit what a ridiculous thing to say.)

The thing he really seems to mind is that whatever the Jays are doing, it hasn’t been “articulated” — y’know, like the Leafers did! GO BUDS! HOCKEYHOCKEYHOCKEYHOCKEYHOCKEYHOCKEYHOCKEYHOCKEY. “They seem not to want to, but rather prefer to keep everyone guessing, and thus perhaps motivated not to walk away from their season tickets.” It’s fucking wild stuff. Does he think that the people following the team and laying out their cash for season tickets totally don’t see what’s going on? That they’re just taking Atkins and Shapiro on blind faith (LOL) and still believing full on that Yu Darvish or J.D. Martinez might soon be walking through that door? DIDN’T COX ALREADY DECLARE THAT ALL THE BIG NAMES TO ACQUIRE HAVE BEEN SNAPPED UP BY OTHER TEAMS ANYWAY?

Another gem:

“As it stands, however, it’s very hard to look at all Shapiro and Atkins have done since they arrived and see a single move that has made the Jays better now or for the immediate future. Maybe eventually it will be right-handed pitcher Nate Pearson or shortstop Logan Warmoth, both drafted last year. We’ll see. But they’re far away.”

LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL. Yep, can’t think of a single top ten prospect they’ve stolen in the second round of the draft. Not-a-one.

*Exhale*

*Rubs forehead*

*Stares long into the distance trying not to think of Cox’s salary*

*Blinks*

I mean… yeah. I really don’t know what I expected here, to be honest. But it sure was something, wasn’t it?

Now please feel free to returning to never, ever listening to this man.

  • The Humungus

    My thoughts:

    1. “potential ultimately went up in smoke” . . I see what you did there.

    2. HE’S JUST ASKING THE QUESTIONS, MAN!

    3. Ok, but seriously, Damien Cox can suck on both my left and right nut. The biggest shame of Prime Time Sports isn’t that they replaced Brunt, it’s that they fucking replaced Brunt with this toe-headed motherfucker.

    4. Remember when Cox was stepping out on his wife in DMs? I do, and it will never not be funny.

    https://twitter.com/sdbcraig/status/743074557435760640?lang=en

    5. DeMar isn’t even viewed as a top 20 player in the NBA by most of the writers covering the league (and I too, love DeMar). His ignorance is showing hard there. Maybe he should just go back to covering minor hockey and tennis, it’s the only thing he actually knows dick about.

    • El Cabeza

      You had me cheering every point (especially the DM fuckery – wow, didn’t know this, but I’m not surprised. Anyone know who it was aimed at? Otherwise I’ll just assume Jackie Redmond hahaha) until the part about Cox knowing minor hockey. He doesn’t know shit about minor hockey. His draft rankings are nothing more than a pin the tail on the donkey aggregate of the various legitimate scouting service ranking. I don’t know enough about tennis to know if he actually knows anything about tennis, but if I had to place a bet…

    • lukewarmwater

      Actually Demar is now ranked in the top 10 in the league as high as number 7 in some surveys. He also is a starter in the all-star game. He had 6 threes tonight in a routine 35 point game and was voted player of the month in the east for the month of January. Just thought I would help clarify his current level in the N.B.A.

  • Barry

    I can appreciate that sports media has a lot of guys who are stuck talking about sports they don’t know much about. Cox is one of those guys — or, at least, he knows far less about baseball than I do, or most of the people around here who follow the sport closely do. And that is, usually, fine. If a sportscaster has to talk about a sport he’s not strong on, whatever — I can ignore it.

    The problem with a guy like Cox is that being a dick is part of his schtick, so when he knows less about a topic than I do AND he’s being a dick about it, it’s a little annoying.

    I just don’t have time for the Coxes of the world. I don’t find his baseball comments to be at all enlightening; he doesn’t offer any insights, he doesn’t seem to ever have any inside information, and he seems to have a relatively shallow knowledge of the Jays, and next to no knowledge about teams and players outside the Jays. He’s like that dick in your office who knows your a baseball fan and starts talking to you about it, and being a negative dick, as you patiently try to enlighten him on shit he has no knowledge of. Only there’s no correcting a Cox, because it’s a one-way conversation, so no matter how much we want do un-dick him, a dick’s gonna dick.

  • Wuckin'Pa'Nub

    Tanking in baseball is a risky proposition . Sure sometimes it works , more often it doesn’t. It requires too many thinks to go your way in a sport (unlike basketball or even the QB position in foootball) where 1 or even a few studs that pan out can have a disproportionate effect on games

  • Bob Canuck

    An excellent analysis of Damien’s article; his piece was painful to read.

    I will note a few of the other silly things that Damien wrote:

    – The “injury-prone” Estrada, as described by Cox, pitched 181, 176, and 186 innings the last three seasons. That does not sound injury-prone to me; and

    – Lou Lamoreillo became the Maple Leafs GM on July 23, 2015. Parenteau and Winnik were signed by the Leafs on July 1, 2015. Greg McKegg was traded on June 23, 2015 to Florida. Therefore, Lamoreillo did not execute these moves credited to him by Damien. I guess we should give Damien a pass for these latter mistakes because it is baseball, not hockey, that is his forté. Oh, wait …

  • Teddy Ballgame

    I won’t read this article, because I have zero interest in what Damien Cox says. Why should anyone worry about what he thinks? I certainly don’t believe he’s as influential as some believe. The Bob McCown crowd is old and grumpy, and doesn’t reflect the fanbase you see at Jays and Raptors games. Articles like this are like yelling at the old man yelling at the cloud. Just let Cox fade.

    • I won’t read this comment, because I have zero interest in what Teddy Ballgame says. Why should anyone worry about what he thinks? I certainly don’t believe he’s as influential as some believe. The Stoeten crowd is old and grumpy, and doesn’t reflect the fanbase you see at Jays and Raptors games. Comments like this are like yelling at the old man yelling at the cloud. Just let Ballgame fade.

      • Paul Beestons Grass Surface

        I was thinking the same thing. Why bother going off about Cox. It’s what he wants you to do. If someone is influenced by him, do you really want them on here? Or maybe on here spouting off about Cox views? I’d want them on here to see a different point of view, outside the Cox universe. Because you know, it would suck, having only Cox as your source of info….which would make someone naive, gullable…really a sucker. A Cox Sucker. Ok, ok, I’ll say no more. But on a serious not. Don’t bother with the troll. Responding and giving him any kind of time, just plays into is latent desire to lash out and get a reaction. Nuff Said…

        • Teddy Ballgame

          Exactly it, Grass. I doubt Cox’s readers come here, and I doubt the DJF remnants care about Cox’s opinion. So who are these “middle aged man yelling at old men yelling at cloud” posts for? Just easy content/clickbait?

          • Mule or etc...

            If I didn’t know better, and perhaps I don’t, I would say Stoeten is making a damn fine effort to piss off the few interesting commentors he has.

          • Teddy Ballgame

            If your first reply was some kind of hi-larious meta comment that whooshed over my head – congrats, Stoeten, ya got me.

            But I’ll say it again…I have studiously ignored Cox, Simmons et al for over a decade because I ALREADY KNOW their takes aren’t going to be worth my time. Judging by the comments, the members of this lovely little community feel the same way too. Other than to feel momentarily superior, I don’t see what purpose they serve. Therapy, maybe?

            Yesterday’s article on Dyson was excellent – great food for discussion. That’s the stuff that makes you stand apart, and I daresay is the kind of writing that got you in the door at The Athletic. Articles like this? A waste of your ability. It’s the baseball equivalent to those old MuchMusic shows where clubbing comedians get bitchy about the latest Britney Spears video.

            So by the glasses of Rance Mulliniks, let’s discuss which starting pitcher the Jays should pick up on the cheap. My brain wants them to take a shot on the upside of Lance Lynn, but I’d be lying if there wasn’t a big part of me that would be happy to see loveable ol’ RA back as our 5 spot innings eater.

          • Mule or etc...

            I’d love to but I’m in New Brunswick and the after-work commute would kill me.

            Plus, of course I spend most of my time trying to refute Stoeten’s analysis because I have a secret hatred for a guy who writes for a blog I’ve followed for, what, over a decade now and who I have defended on other blogs where people are eager to point out his caustic nature. Oh hey, I guess he did prove me wrong about something.

            Take care Teddy.

          • RADAR

            This is first comment in the string that I can reply to because the ones below this one have no “reply ” button due to shifting to the right. It takes a long time to put together a post and Stoeten gets defensive about it. While I agree with both you and Mule there is a segment of the readership who enjoys when Stoeten takes down a member of the MSM. Not every post is for everyone’s taste.

          • GrumblePup

            I’m a DJF remnant, and I don’t care about Cox’s opinion. But sometimes it’s entertaining to see what these idiots are saying. I find it enjoyable.

            Also, I know some Jays “fans” that are exactly the type of people that think exactly like Cox and while I can have a frustrating conversation with them, I can’t just flat out call them fucking morons to their face. I can however call Cox a moron on the internet and it’s cathartic.

          • lukewarmwater

            Wow Teddy, I’ve always enjoyed your comments. So when did this feud between you and Stoeten start as I haven’t visited the site for awhile. Can a cage match be far away???

    • El Cabeza

      Dude, you really don’t think Cox is more widely read and more influential than Andrew Stoeten? This isn’t to slag Stoeten – to use popular music as an analogy, Stoeten’s The War On Drugs while Cox is Pitbull featuring Ke$ha.

      • Teddy Ballgame

        I don’t think Stoeten is influential. But I do think that Cox isn’t as big of a deal anymore. Print is dying, Prime Time Sports is slipping…is he really someone who sets or influences opinions on sports in this city?

        Although to extend your analogy, this article is like going to a War On Drugs blog and finding a post trashing the latest Pitbull offering in exhaustive detail. I think it would be safe to assume if I’m on a WoD blog, I’m not really interested in what Pitbull is on about.

        • Teddy Ballgame

          At any rate, I think I’ll follow Mule out the door. Stoeten’s not a good enough writer to make the frequent dickishness worth slogging through.

          Last thoughts – get that cough looked at. It seems chronic. And the TV On The Radio look hasn’t been in for a decade.

          Take care, folks. See you at the ballpark. We all are, after all, hooked on a feeling.

    • Steve-O

      I think this is useful and fun. Useful in the sense that, like it or not (and i really can’t beleive it), Cox and guys like Steve Simmons have a sizeable audience, and countering their nonsense is a worthy endeavour.

      Cox, Simmons and other smug assholes like them (and their howler monkey audience that laps it out and repeats it all over the place like a dog dragging its ass across the carpet) deserve and need to be pointed at, and laughed at, for spouting their garbage takes every time it gets published. Fun!

      And finally, Stoeten has already addressed this (and he’s a big boy who can take care of himself) but look, if you see a topic of a post you aren’t interested in, just skip it. Some of us will enjoy it, even if you don’t. Not sure what the value is in popping in to give editorial advice, and I get why an author would get really annoyed by that.

      I see you’ve said goodbye but I do hope you stick around and continue to be a part of the commenting community here. Getting snarked at is a rite of passage, give as good as you get 🙂

      • lukewarmwater

        I was surprised how Aitkens handled the question about Sanchez blister problems at the baseball Canadian luncheon last week. He basically said it had been a problem even in his teen years and he compared Aaron to a guy with a chronic problem with his pitching arm. Didn’t exactly sound too positive to me. I hope and pray that Aaron can get over the blister problem.

  • AD

    I hate to go back on this but I don’t like assumptions that Giancarlo would not waive his no trade to come here. We don’t know that for fact, good players have done that before like Rolen to come here. Jays werent in the picture becuase of his hefty price. Sometimes, I feel like too much shitting is done on the Toronto market when its really top 10 in all of MLB easily. Its the Front offices job to educate ignorant US agents and players on playing here and selling it.

    • The Humungus

      Even if he would have, with all the shitting on Tulo people are doing, do you really want to be paying that guy 27M ish a year from ages 35-40 after he’s played on turf for a while? Because I sure as shit wouldn’t.

    • Nice Guy Eddie

      What the fuck are you talking about. Stanton had a choice of teams to waive his no-trade to and he didn’t waive it for Toronto. Of course we “know it for a fact”. If he wanted to waive it to go to Toronto, he would have waived it to go to Toronto. What fucking bullshit!.

  • Nice Guy Eddie

    Nonsense. Cox, like Simmons, is the voice of the “Shatkins/Shapkins” crowd. He helps to remind us of important facts, like:

    1. Shapiro and Atkins were both involved in the Cleveland organization, and Toronto has a greater surrounding population, though lower ticket prices and similar attendance this century, to Cleveland.

    2. AA was great! We went to the playoffs in 2015. Plus, AA was Canadian!!

    3. Cheap ticket prices are on the way out in Toronto. Soon, we might have to pay more than fans pay in Tampa.

    4. Shapiro and Atkins were both involved in the Cleveland organization, and Toronto has a greater surrounding population, though lower ticket prices and similar attendance this century, to Cleveland.

    5. Remember how stupid the Smoak extension was last summer?! Ooops, scratch that.

    6. Edwin was a Blue Jay! Now we only have the top pitching prospect in the organization, Nate Pearson, instead of Edwin as a DH at 20 million plus for the next few years. This, plus the terrible Smoak extension for a player who had a higher WAR than Edwin at 4 million a year, is lots to whine about.

    7. AA was Canadian. Did I already mention that? And Shapiro and Atkins were part of the Cleveland organization.

    8. Shapiro and Atkins wouldn’t even extend Jose for 5 years at 30 million a year, no negotiations because Jose felt that dickering was beneath him. Ooops, forget this one too.

    9. David Price should have been signed for a bjillion dollars to be worse than Happ and Morales because he costs more money.

    10. Did I mention that Shapiro and Atkins were “the Cleveland Crew”?

    Signed,

    Morons

    • jerjapan

      I continue to have a problem with the idea that we acquired Pearson as a direct result of losing EE. We acquired a first round pick for losing EE – it’s not often that those picks turn into a Nate Pearson. You need to look at moves like that on the aggregate – would you only talk about AA drafting Thor, or would you mention picks like Deck McGuire, Dwight Smith, etc, in order to have a complete picture of his drafting? And who says we don’t take Pearson instead of Warmoth?

      • El Cabeza

        Wait, so we don’t applaud the FO for drafting steals like Bichette and Pearson because some of their hundreds of picks don’t pan out? I see you’ve got this whole logic thing mastered.

        • jerjapan

          Ha, try reading. Clearly, you missed the point of my post. Pearson and BB were awesome draft picks. What we can’t do is say we got Pearson because we let EE go. We got a draft pick because we let EE go. It’s great that we got Pearson with that pick, but you can’t count on it.

        • jerjapan

          Ironic, that you missed my logic entirely. We didn’t get Pearson for EE. We got a first rounder – which can be hit or miss. Drafting Pearson was obviously brilliant – perhaps the best pick in the first round, and BB in the 2nd was a steal. But you can’t attribute Pearson directly to EE, since the pick could have been someone else.

  • Goatie McCheese

    Testing, 1-2. Testing. Andrew? You there? Hello! Just wondering if my post from a few hours ago was deleted. I’m not the brightest log on the yuletide fire, and I’m afraid I might have to seek assistance in terms of sending a post. I’m pretty sure I correctly followed the instructions, but I could be wrong. Please advise.

  • ThatDrunkGuy

    If there’s any argument to be made for not extending the safety netting, it’s the hope that someone at Rogers comps Damien Cox some primo tickets just behind the dugout.

  • Rogers/Bell should not secure your home

    Cox is frustrating but I would welcome him to Greg Brady or JD Bunkous (probably spelled wrong). If Inran into Cox in a bar I think I could have a conversation, and possible debate. The other two would have me turn around and leave the conversation.

    Any word on who will replace Zaun? Barkers fine where he is, would really like someone else as the go to analyst

    Cliff Floyd is pretty good

  • CM

    Good work! Cox is clueless. The DeRozan analogy was laughable. Cox is unreadable just like he was unwatchable on tv. On a tangent completely spitballing but if AA was gm I bet Yelich is a blue jay probably Dee Gordon too and maybe an overpriced reliever from the marlins but bo Alford Pearson and something ftom the roster would be gone in the deal, he would have swung for the fences and he’s super creative and aggressive. Marlins wanted to dump Gordon’s money and he was traded before Stanton I’m sure AA would have taken that contract to get Yelich and he would happily part with the prospects. Just a very wild guess too bad we’ll never know

  • bocajacob

    Thank you for this.

    What most of the crybabies fail to understand is that this team failed last year mostly because the core failed to either stay healthy or produce. No team loses their starting 2B, SS and supposed ace pitcher for the whole year and finishes with a winning record. Add in Bautista morphing into a sub replacement level player. People continually pointing to Pearce and Morales as scapegoats fail to understand that those guys were supposed to be complimentary pieces to a lineup that should have featured Travis as the lead-off, Bautista as the number 3 hitter, Tulo as a number 4 or 5 and Martin as your 6th hitter. The team lost because the top of the batting order vanished for most of the year. Replacing Bautista’s numbers with Grichuk/Hernadez, rounding out Pearce with Grandy, protecting T and T with Solarte and continued production for JD and Smoak should definitely give the offense a decent boost.

    There’s a real good chance of having some found gold occurring with either Teoscar, Grichuk, Diaz or even the ex TB stud prospect, Taylor Guerrieri. Heck, even the Alburquerque acquisition could turn out to be another Smith or Leone in the BP.

    The makeup of the roster, it’s budget and past ills has forced this management group to mine for talent. Nobody was going to offer the Jays front line talent for any Jays not named Donaldson, Guerrero, Stroman, Osuna or Bichette so why cry about making significant a big splash in a trade when it would guarantee that the team would have to create a significant hole elsewhere, whether it was for the near future or on this year’s team. Same goes for a big free agent acquisition. Committing to Stanton’s contract would have been foolish. Giving Cain 5 years would have been ridiculous. So what else is there? Santana at 20 million? Arrieta for god knows how much or for how long? No thanks. This management team is doing what it can for the meantime, while keeping a responsible perspective for the near future.

    Also, who says the team’s roster has to stay the way it is all year. The depth of the team, and lack of long term contracts allows them to be in a position to make trades and adjustments as the season goes on.

    Cox should just stick to annoying hockey fans. he’s absolutely ignorant when it comes to anything having to do with baseball. The most interesting part about his praise for AA is that none of his moves did anything for the team until his 5th year, but by then, he maxed out the team’s resources in terms of budget and prospect capital to sustain any kind of long term success. Thankfully, the team now has a bunch of adults running the show. The days of GM’ing via PS4 or XBOX are over.

    • jerjapan

      The team failed for multiple reasons, not simply injuries ad a lack of depth -which, certainly, were issues. But the FO chose not to try and upgrade the middle IF despite the injuries and the struggles of Barney and Goins.

      Roster management was certainly an issue with the poor season and the Morales deal was a clear fail. Why bemoan ‘crybabies’ for incomplete arguments when you are making one yourself? There are far more ways to improve this team than acquiring Stanton, and who knows if Cain is a terrible idea – that just sounds like dogma. Fangraphs had him as one of the likely top five FA bargains this year, and Dave Cameron predicted 4 years and $68 million. Is a fifth year at $7 million really such an issue?

      At the end of the day, this is a conservative FO with a long history of success. They replaced an innovative, aggressive FO that restored the hope of baseball fans in Canada. Both approaches have flaws, but both are strong teams with a positive overall record – can’t we just acknowledge the flaws of both sides? Writing off AA as a child who maxed out the teams budget and prospect capital is just as bad an argument as these ‘crybabies’ you have a problem with are making.

      • bocajacob

        “The team failed for multiple reasons, not simply injuries ad a lack of depth -which, certainly, were issues”

        Find me a team that lost their starting SS (3.3WAR 2016), starting 2B (2.9WAR 2016), Cy Young candidate SP (4.9WAR 2016) for practically the whole year, lost their superstar 3B (7.5 WAR 2016) for a 3rd of the year and made the playoffs. Odds are very good you can’t. Now, throw in your team icon RF morph into a sub replacement level player. Probably won’t even find a 0.500 team under those circumstances. Add in the very real fact that the club did not have players on the farm that could step in and help with depth and you have the perfect storm for a losing season. This last part is very important because it negates the argument that the FO “chose” to not find suitable replacements. This argument screams of Shapiro hate and general ignorance with respect to the team’s makeup and depth issues on the farm since to adequately deal with replacing players you need prospect capital OR adequate team depth to make moves. This was not fact last year and has very much been an Achilles heel of the team over the last couple of years.

        Here’s another exercise for you. Find me a team that made the playoffs who’s DH had similar or worse seasons than Morales. Wait, let me save you the trouble. NEW YORK, BOSTON, HOUSTON and…wait for it…MINNESOTA. Interestingly enough, New York, Houston and Boston all spent significantly more at the position than Toronto did. So, Morales, a clear fail? No.

        Conclusion? DH was not the reason the team failed last year. Injuries, Bautista and a lack of overall organizational depth were definitely the main culprits.

        “Why bemoan ‘crybabies’ for incomplete arguments when you are making one yourself?”

        See above for a fairly complete and factual argument as to why the team failed which is completely the opposite to the general “Shapiro sucks” whine that I read from Cox and the like because he didn’t pull some magic beans out of his pocket to produce all star players at a whim or didn’t apply jedi mind tricks on opposing GMs or FAs to take less than what they could get elsewhere. Getting a top player in return in a trade means mortgaging too much of the future (looking at the Yelich trade suggests that). Signing Cain to a 5 year contract that had to be BETTER than 5 years at 15 AAV was more than likely not a prudent move considering the team’s budget and overall needs. Again, a little research can easily prove that such a deal, over time, is not productive. With respect to fangraphs I say, so what. In Cameron’s appraisal of Cain, he mentions the inherent risk of signing a player like Cain several times but eventually decides to ignore such risks. The very real fact when it comes to Cain is that he is a good addition for a team that is significantly younger and that has room on their budget short term and over the long haul or is one player away. This is not Toronto’s place in the baseball universe at this time.

        “There are far more ways to improve this team than acquiring Stanton,”

        I agree! Adding Solares, Diaz, Grandy, Al Al, Grichuk, Deck McGuire, Taylor Guerrieri is a start. Players returning from injury is another. Adding another pitcher to what could be a significant strength will be another. Holding onto young players just about ready to contribute makes the team better and more able to deal with future injuries or diminished returns. Catcher, SP, RP, OF…the team has good prospects that can at least provide adequate production in a pinch. It’s been a few years since the team had several players so close to making a contribution in the Bigs.

        “They replaced an innovative, aggressive FO that restored the hope of baseball fans in Canada.”

        The only innovative thing AA did was taking advantage of the baseball rules when he first took over the team in terms of getting a few extra high picks as compensation for not resigning average FAs. Interestingly enough, he amassed picks and prospects by trading away the team’s best player of the last 2 decades who was still productive and not resigning productive players like Scutaro (5+ WAR), moves that would have had the Shapiro haters up in arms. A quick perusal of AA’s teams the first 5 years suggest very little innovation and an inspection of his last year suggests desperation. AA maxed out the budget, the teams prospect capital and had very little vision in terms of the long game and chose to not stick around and deal with the consequences of his actions.

      • Jayme

        Nah, there’s no way two front offices with different approaches can be both good and bad in different ways. This is the internet age! One must be AWFUL and the other is FANTASTIC. Anyone who doesn’t feel exactly like I do is probably a racist, or a facist, or both! /s

  • sons

    The article is dumb for all the reasons you covered. But having said that, I do wish they would spend a little more considering there’s a fire-sale on now and next year (supposedly) all the big spenders will be descending on the market with all their non luxury tax money. Like would it really kill us to have a good starter signed for the next 3 years? Next year we will just have Stroman and Sanchez.

  • Tuloshyperbaricchamber

    Damien Cox is definitely a waste of my energy. I don’t read shit like that because it just gets me worked up and angry at him and angrier at the luddites who actually believe his thoughts are accurate.

    Twisting the facts to suit your own agenda effectively removes objectivity from ever entering the discourse and instead creates a black and white discussion point where people can only be right or wrong.

    So in that spirit presented to us by Damien. He is wrong…really fucking wrong.

    and stupid.

    • cox is just covering all his click-baity bases – the equally ignorant fans who agree with him re. the jays (or who just really dig the shit he spews, regardless of the details), and those who are going to (rightly) take issue with his logic/assertions re. the club. both groups will clickity-click-click on that article, comment on it, argue about it online, and stoke his fragile ego. then he gets to go on primetime and marvel about the reaction to it, further driving attention & those precious, precious clicks to the site, his twitter, etc.

      this is the playbook all these obnoxious, out of touch sports ‘writers’ use to remain relevant. true sports journos know they can’t just huff & puff about what they feel without backing it up with silly, useless things like ‘evidence’ or ‘facts.’ and if he outright contradicts himself, well, that’s just part of the mystique!!

  • jerjapan

    Shapiro certainly didn’t do himself any favours by telling the media that he would have rebuilt the team if the fans didn’t demand otherwise. If true, that’s weak leadership. I think he’s a strong baseball exec, but he’s certainly dropped the ball a bit with PR.

    • bocajacob

      Shapiro has been rebuilding since he took over. He feels accountable to the team’s overall, long term success, short term success and the fan base. He believes the team was/is still competitive. He’s trying to make it work without doing the easy thing which is to just reset and follow the “houston” method by losing for close to a decade in hopes of eventually winning a championship. I don’t see how that is weak.

      With respect to PR, the fact is it really has not mattered one bit what the guy says since he’s come to the team because he was going to be considered the villain regardless. Tear the team down? He’s the villain. Say nothing to the press and not be accessible? He’s the villain. Didn’t sign joe free agent? Villain. Replace the trainer? Villain. Didn’t trade the farm for joe ready to play? Villain. There is no PR that Shapiro can do that will improve his status with a certain group of fans until the seeds of his and managements efforts start to grow. He’s not your hot dog eating, chubby young uncle like AA was.

      • jerjapan

        No doubt Shapiro has had a tough hand dealt to him in terms of PR. But if he genuinely believes that a rebuild is necessary, and acted differently because of ‘public demands’ – yeah, that’s weak leadership in this instance to me. I saw that comment more as spin, TBH, which ironically I find easier to get behind. The way the PR department firing was handled certainly alienated the mainstream media – a minor critique, but a fair one. Shapiro complaining that he’s ‘not Darth Vader’ was kinda funny too.

        • Oakville Jays

          I do think that Shapiro is Darth Vader in his approach to dealing with Canadians in the organization many have been fired. Some remaining Jays employees are trying to prove that they have friends or family in Cleveland to avoid Darth Shapiro’s wrath!

    • Oakville Jays

      Shapiro dream of tearing down the Jays ended when they made the playoffs in 2015. AA’s team outperformed expectations in 2016, & Shapiro was thwarted again.

  • ice_hawk10

    dude, Morales sucks, period. even if we get an improved version, he’s what, maybe a 0.5-1 WAR player over 600 PAs? that’s not even halfway to average.

    that he crushes the ball is of no consequence when the 2B can essentially play shallow RF and rob him of many would-be line drive base hits, which he can afford to do, because Morales is so damn slow that the 2B could throw him out from the warning track on a grounder.