Monday, 12 May 2008

The Roundup

I was going to choke out a "still in it to win it post", but I didn't really have the stomach for it after reading the latest Richard Griffin piece to lead off my morning. And I know what you're thinking, what did he write this time? He didn't do anything egregious, it's just the subject matter of his reportage.

If you've intimated that Will is the rational, level-headed one, I am the mystical, hysterical yin to his yang. Normally, I place great stock in stats and cold hard numbers, but I cannot escape the sinking feeling that the Jays 2008 season may well die somewhere on the road between Minnesota and Philladelphia regardless of what the standings say.

The Jays will have their work cut out for them this afternoon and evening at the Jake/Progressive Field, where they have been inexplicably incapable of winning, period. It's like the Bermuda Triangle of losses; the last graphic I saw showed them at 1-13 over their last 14. The Twins are like cockroaches, especially in their own building (where one of our outfielders always seems to lose a fly ball in the ceiling), and will be a test over three games. Philly is Philly, an offensive juggernaut without the benefit of a DH. And I note without irony that we're exactly one-year removed from the 9-game losing streak that killed the 2007 Jays five weeks into the season.

(Being mystically-inclined, I'm secretly hoping that my unbridled negativity will inspire the club to a nifty little winning streak, but would never admit to it for fear of jinxing my well-laid plans.)

On to the Griff piece that put me in such a foul mood.

Somebody is this close to talking his way out of town and that somebody is... Shannon Stewart? The Jays bullwhip approach, collective front office ADD, doublespeak and whathaveyou appear to be taking their toll on the veteran left fielder.

"This is like a bad dream," the 34-year-old veteran said before the Jays were rained out here (they're scheduled for a doubleheader today). "Things happen in life that are unexpected. I went through a lot in the off-season. It was kind of difficult just because of the situation. I knew I wasn't going to be the guy (here). The way I look at it, I was more like insurance. I've had the opportunity to play, but it's been weird... "I don't think people really understand how hard it's been on me," Stewart said with no hint of self-pity. "Not saying just the (lack of) playing, but a lot of stuff. It's been difficult. It's been more of an eye-opener because I didn't think it was going to be like this. What can you do? If you don't go out there, if I don't play well, then the other guy's got to play. I haven't lit it up. To be honest, I haven't felt comfortable since the spring.

"The reality of it is that this role that I'm in, I'm not doing anybody any good right now. I'm not doing the team any good. I'm not doing myself any good. It's like, what am I going to do next year? Hopefully, I'll keep working till I find it. They might want to do something else. It might get to the point where they might want to bring in other guys and see what they can do."

As a human being, Stew has always come across as one of the better sorts. Never crossed anyone, never spoke out of turn. His career was over for all intents and purposes despite a fairly decent 2007 until JP bailed him out with a low ball contract offer in February. He signed on as a bench player, Matt Stairs' platoon partner in left, and has probably been used more than most of us would've envisioned two months ago.

He has, however, been hitting all over the lineup, been proclaimed "the guy" in left and seen young kid Adam Lind deemed the starting left fielder all in about the span of a week. I really don't blame him for feeling a little bit confused and disappointed. By bringing in Kevin Mench and Brad Wilkerson, the bold, profane handwriting is clearly on the wall. Mench was the more rational of the two as a platoon DH to compliment Matt Stairs, but don't kid yourselves that Wilkerson and Stewart aren't auditioning for the same roster spot once V-Dub returns in about 2 months (+?) time.

Stew got his job when JP dumped Reed Johnson and may now it lose it with an equally unceremonious departure from the club to which he'd given his all. The hard part to swallow is that once again a very small amount of Benjamins will probably be the deciding factor on whether he or Wilkerson sticks. Stew was about a million bucks cheaper than Johnson and Wilkerson--paid the pro-rated portion of the MLB minimum--would be a million cheaper still if JP drops the axe on Stew by the All Star Break.

I just want the club to win and, in the end, have no objections to any roster shuffling that makes the club better regardless of the players involved. I've even voiced more support for the amoral "Sign Barry Bonds" set. But it all just sits ill, the aforementioned bullwhip approach, collective front office ADD, doublespeak and whathaveyou. Shannon Stewart has made over $33 million from baseball, roughly half that paid by the Jays, so I can see why he might be thinking retirement or Japan would've suited him better than this soggy drama in Toronto.


* Like the Montreal Canadiens he adores so much, Eric Gagne has choked and stunk up the joint when it mattered most. That was an ill-spent $10 million. Nevertheless, I can't help but wonder if Gagne's struggles don't mean that Brewers GM Doug Melvin won't come calling for a reliever since he and JP have had fruitful trade relations in the past. After Billy Beane, there's noone JP likes doing business with more than the erstwhile Canucker in Cheeseheadland.

* This is one of the most remarkable pieces of sports journalism I've ever read. I was sort of surprised when TJ Simers of the LA Times wasn't laid out by Androo Jones during this "interview", but then again it's entirely possible that everything in this story is fictionalized. Bon Apetit!

* What is this, April Fool's? Manny Ramirez wants a Gold Glove? I actually don't think it's that bad an idea to give him, the whole process being the mockery that it is.

-- Johnny Was


eyebleaf said...

did andrew jones really say that shit!?

The Southpaw said...

I'd never heard of Simers before, so I read the article assuming to be just your standard sports piece, but the more I read on I started thinking it might've been a joke. Who really knows? The only thing that's certain is that A. Jones is sucking mightily.