Tuesday, 12 February 2008

The Fine Art of Motivation via Deception?

I do not presume to belabor the oft-made point that JP is a strong believer in Advantageous Deception - I think the whole of Jays fandom is now sold on that point already, nor do I mean to make a windbag of myself discussing whether such a practice is ethical or not, it exists - it's not going away, why waste keystrokes debating whether it should.
For the record, IMNSHO, when strategic deception gives you a competitive advantage, I have no beef with it . . . when it's just bizarre like JP's spin on the rios deal last week, well, how can you not shake your head?

Anyway! Back to the subject at hand.

The reason I bring this up is to point out the latest instance of, in my opinion, Strategic Deception (henceforth known as SD) - the illusion that the #5 job doesn't have a clear favorite. It does, and that favorite is Casey Janssen.

You see, JP has said on numerous occasions, such as the one referred to here, that the fifth spot in the rotation was dependent on how ready the Beej was to return to the bullpen on opening day. To this I say "Horse pucky!"

What sense does it make to put a less than optimal #5 into your rotation for the sake of less than 30 IP spread over a couple of months (at most!) in which your set-up man is Brandon League, or Jason Frasor, or Scott Downs instead of Janssen? Take the most obvious of these - which is greater: The difference between Frasor and Janssen in 20-30 set-up innings? or the difference in Janssen and Chacin in 10 or 11 starts averaging 5 innings or more? (assuming Ryan takes two months into the season to get up to speed)

Sure, you can quibble the details - maybe it's Litsch instead of Chacin, or it's League instead of Frasor, but the point remains - if you are going to a second tier pitcher, why do so for twice as many innings???

Now, sure, admittedly any of the participants could suck rocks in spring training and make all this discussion meaningless, but assuming everyone is ready to go except Ryan, how is it not patently obvious that Janssen STILL is the obvious candidate for the fifth spot? Let's assume, just to postulate the possibility that JP had in mind, that Ryan takes his time and stays behind when the team goes north for 4-6 weeks, are we then to assume that THIS pen:

Accardo - Downs - League - Tallett - Frasor - Wolfe - Wells

is so much worse than THIS:

Accordo - Downs - Janssen - Tallett - League - Frasor - Wolfe/Wells

That we should either gamble that Litsch really doesn't need AAA or that Chacin really is capable of pitching in the majors until Ryan is ready? And even then have to go through the process of stretching Janssen back out which has it's own risks?

Nonsense I cry!

Maybe JP thinks that Casey, Gus, and Jessie need the motivation that comes from uncertainty to bring their A game to ST . . . League too for that matter. Fine. But just between us, let's recognize that unless he has real issues in ST, or Beej re-injures himself, Casey Janssen is going to be the fifth starter.

The other possibility - that JP really does think it's a good idea to let Janssen relieve for six weeks or so and then be re-converted into a starter, is one I'd rather not contemplate.

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