1. With the Blue Jays playing out the string this season, should the team just focus on next year or are arbitrary things like finishing with 70 wins actual goals worth accomplishing? And to that point, how much sway does (or should) the GM have on line-up decisions when teams hit this point?
Let's be clear, the Jays are not winning the division or wild card. They are not finishing .500 and they are not finishing anywhere but last place in the AL East.
Winning is important. It is always important. It's critical for the players to grow in confidence in themselves and their teammates. Winning helps everyone believe in the plan and direction of the organization. It can be contagious. The fans need to taste victory to grow in hope and excitement.
That being said: the Jays can't focus on winning right now.
I mean it would be nice to win, but Toronto needs to find some answers right now. They need to figure out who is part of the problem and who is part of the solution. John Gibbons and his staff in conjunction and cooperation with Alex Anthopoulos need to play players with whom they have questions that need answering.
Can Brett Lawrie hit enough to be an everyday third baseman?
Can Anthony Gose hit enough to be a starter?
Is Kevin Pillar overmatched by big league pitching?
Can Esmil Rogers develop his secondary pitches enough to get through the lineup a second and third time in a game?
Is JP Arencibia a good enough defensive catcher?
Alex Anthopoulos and John Gibbons will work closely together for the rest of the year. This is where their relationship and trust for each other will be evident. Anthopoulos will generally share his need for answers and Gibbons will manage accordingly. Gibbons is ultimately judged on wins and losses but he may have to sacrifice building his resume for the good of the organization.
Gibbons will manage these games like a minor league manager where there are times that the development of the individual is more important than the ultimate result of the game. He may leave a pitcher in a bit longer to see if he can handle a tough situation. He may not pinch hit when there is an obvious better option on the bench to see if a player can handle a pressure situation.
Unfortunately for Jays fans this season is over. But you may find out about how next year will look over final month of this season.
2. Last Sunday night, Ryan Dempster took four pitches to intentionally hit Alex Rodriguez. If you were his GM, how would you react to Dempster's effort to apparently plunk A-Rod for 'non-strategic' purposes? Like or dis-like?
Make no doubt about it. I believe Alex Rodriguez used PED's throughout his career. I believe he is closely tied to Biogenesis. I believe that MLB has evidence that he recruited other players to Biogenesis. I believe he offered thousands of dollars to buy evidence and testimony to cover his tracks. I think it is awful that A-Rod likely leaked evidence to a media source to point attention to Ryan Braun and his teammate Francisco Cervelli.
I can completely understand how fans are outraged by this era of baseball. I understand their anger and energy toward A-Rod as one of the poster boys for the steroid use in baseball. In fact I can understand how current and former players can be angry as well. Former players are jealous of the money that today's players make. Plus, they feel they built the game up into America's pastime and feel the current generation has killed the reputation and credibility of the game by cheating. Current players feel like the cheaters are taking money out of their pockets.
Ryan Dempster was mad at A-Rod possibly because of his cheating or maybe because A-Rod ratted out other players. It has been reported that Dempster may have hit Rodriguez because A-Rod blew him off at a function last year. Whatever the reason, Ryan Dempster went into the Red Sox/Yankees game last Sunday with vengeance on his mind. It was premeditated and clear. He was going to throw at Alex Rodriguez.
In the fallout, Dempster was suspended for five games which ultimately is of little harm to the Sox. With an off-day yesterday and again on Tuesday the Sox can cover Dempster's start on Saturday without missing a beat.
Even though I share some of the same anger that Ryan Dempster does for A-Rod, even though I can understand how if you feel that someone took money from you that you might want to throw a ball at him, I can't condone what Dempster did.
If I were the Red Sox GM I would be livid. I would pull Ryan Dempster in to my office and tell him he was selfish. He put his personal feelings ahead of what is best for the team. Dempster put himself and his teammates at risk. A fight could have broken out if A-Rod charged the mound. The Yankees could have retaliated and injured a Red Sox player as well.
David Ortiz has spoken out about how wrong Dempster was to hit A-Rod. He pointed out that you shouldn't wake the sleeping giant. If the Yankees make the playoffs they may vote Dempster a playoff share of their money because he has inspired tremendous energy from them. New York now stands just 3.5 games out of a wild card spot.
After airing out Dempster I would tell him not to make it so obvious the next time.
3. Ichiro became only the third player in baseball history to reach 4000 career hits this week. Since over 1200 of those hits came when he played in Japan, how do you view the milestone and where does he rank on your list of great hitters of this generation?
Ichiro is an amazing baseball story There are only 6 players who have had 4,000 hits in the majors and minors combined: Pete Rose, Ty Cobb, Hank Aaron, Stan Musial and Jigger Statz (a little-known player who had almost all of his hits in the minors) and now Ichiro.
There are only two players who reached the 4,000-hit threshold in major league history: Pete Rose and Ty Cobb.
Whether we count Japan as a major league or a minor league - or something in between - determines whether or not Ichiro joins Cobb and Rose.
Japanese professional baseball is of very high quality. From my experience it is better than AAA baseball but below major league baseball caliber. Therefore, I only look at Ichiro as having 2722 major league hits.
In his first year in the Sates Ichiro had 242 hits and won Rookie of the Year and MVP. He was 27. He could have thrived in the U.S. well before he finally got here. It is too bad he didn't have that opportunity. I believe that if he had played in the U.S. his entire career we would still have celebrated the 4,000 hit threshold with Ichiro. In fact, we might have been celebrating it a year or two ago. The Japanese season is about 20-30 games shorter than the U.S. schedule. Playing in Japan cost Ichiro almost a full season's worth of at bats he would have otherwise gotten in the major leagues over the seven years he spent in Japan.
I love Pete Rose. He was one of my favorite players as a kid. He is the Hit King but only because Ichiro didn't have the same opportunities to log major league at bats. So, to me, Ichiro is the second best hitter ever and that is pretty darn good too.
Fair or Foul
Ryan Braun finally issued his long-awaited apology and admission for using performance enhancing drugs on Thursday. It fell far short of what I expected; Far short of what was necessary. It opened up so many more questions. Who advises these guys? I mean really does anyone proof read this stuff before they send it out? Can they not anticipate how it will be received and interpreted?
Ryan Braun admitted he took PEDs in 2011 to deal with a nagging injury.
“During the latter part of the 2011 season, I was dealing with a nagging injury and I turned to products for a short period of time that I shouldn't have used. The products were a cream and a lozenge which I was told could help expedite my rehabilitation.”
Ok so who told you what the drugs could do for you? Did you get them from Biogenesis? Define “short period of time”? Did you use PED's at any other time?
Braun said he had a revelation that it was time to come clean. “After my interview with MLB in late June of this year, I came to the realization that it was time to come to grips with the truth. I was never presented with baseball's evidence against me, but I didn't need to be, because I knew what I had done. I realized the magnitude of my poor decisions and finally focused on dealing with the realities of-and the punishment for-my actions.”
What is the evidence that MLB had against you? Would you ever have been tormented enough to just tell the truth or did it take getting caught again? Why did you accept 65 games? What is the significance of it?
In anticipation of having to answer questions about additional claims made by a former friend who has filed a lawsuit against Braun because he didn't pay him for his helping in his appeal against MLB in 2011 he said: “There has been plenty of rumor and speculation about my situation, and I am aware that my admission may result in additional attacks and accusations from others.”
Which of the allegations made by your former friend are true? Have you used PED's since college? Did you lie to Aaron Rodgers and the owner of your restaurants? Did you lie to Mark Attanasio the owner of the Brewers when negotiating your $100 million contract? Did you engage in academic misconduct in high school and college as your friend alleged?
Braun apologized to a specific group of people but left some out: “I have privately expressed my apologies to Commissioner Selig and Rob Manfred of MLB and to Michael Weiner and his staff at the Players' Association. I'm very grateful for the support I've received from them. I sincerely apologize to everybody involved in the arbitration process, including the collector, Dino Laurenzi, Jr. I feel terrible that I put my teammates in a position where they were asked some very difficult and uncomfortable questions.”
Do you understand that you can face a defamation of character lawsuit from Dino Laurenzi Jr. because you are admitting that you knowingly made up claims about him to cause harm and help yourself? Why did you call Dino Laurenzi an anti-semite? Why did you use your religion as a weapon in this fight? Don't you need to apologize to other players for cheating against them? The arbitrator that ruled in your favor in the appeal lost his job because MLB didn't like his ruling. Do you understand that if you didn't lie then that arbitrator would still have his job?
Braun talked about his values and character and the work he has ahead of him to change the perception people have of him: “What I did goes against everything I have always valued -- achieving through hard work and dedication, and being honest both on and off the field. I also understand that I will now have to work very, very hard to begin to earn back people's trust and support. I am dedicated to making amends and to earning back the trust of my teammates, the fans, the entire Brewers' organization, my sponsors, advisors and from MLB.”
Why should we believe you haven't cheated in the past, prior to 2011? What does making amends mean to you? Are you going to do public service announcements about steroids? What else could come out that will further compromise how we look at you? Why did you throw others under the bus? Do you understand your responsibility as a role model?
I am dumbfounded that Braun's advisors thought a statement of apology like this was appropriate. He took to the microphone with anger and defiance when he lied in 2011. He was incredulous. If you lie to someone's face you should have the courage to apologize to his or her face as well.
Braun did not give any insight to the depth of his relationship with Biogenesis. He did not comment on how often he has used PEDs. If Ryan Braun thinks that this statement suffices he is crazy. He can't show up in Spring Training and “no comment” us to death. He needs to speak and answer questions. Then and only then will he be able to start to heal his image and reputation. Puke out the truth; the whole truth; nothing but the truth.
He hasn't even come close to doing that so far.