Tuesday, 6 May 2008

They figured it out!

Alright, so I'm still pissed that Gibbons and crew decided that Lind shouldn't start, though Stewart did have a pretty good game. Part of it was the fact that Nick Swisher isn't a real CF, and misplayed everything hit to him, but I'll give Stew credit for hustling and getting some key hits.

On that note, and not to steal Johnny's roundup - I couldn't resist this early bit of good news from the blue jays official site:

McDonald's move from the bench to short was to serve as a late-inning defensive replacement for David Eckstein. Gibbons had been reluctant to use McDonald instead of Eckstein in the late innings of close games this season, but that has suddenly changed.

"He may be the best defensive shortstop in the game," Gibbons said about McDonald. "If he was just very good, we probably wouldn't do it, but with what he can do out there -- take away runs -- it's the right thing to do.

"By no means is it a reflection on the other guy."

I gotta say, I'm pretty proud of Gibbons for changing his mind. A week ago on Jays Talk, JP said this wasn't going to happen. So it sounds like Gibbons found his Cahones, and is planning on using McDonald as a defensive replacement. Earlier I wrote a letter to JP explaining how important this was, so I'm feeling pretty ballin now that Gibbons has come to his senses and plans on using McDonald in the later innings.

Mac's the best defensive SS in the game, and when we have a lead he's the most important guy on the field. This next part is from the original Blue Jays article:

Also on Monday, Gibbons moved Eckstein down into the lineup's ninth slot -- a switch that seems to play into the new line of thinking. If McDonald enters late in a game, he can slide into the No. 9 spot, where he typically hits in the order. Gibbons said making the mid-game switch might depend on how soon Eckstein is due to bat.

"It depends on where Eck is in the lineup," Gibbons said. "If he's still coming to the plate, we probably won't [play McDonald] until the ninth. If he's out of the way, we may do it in the eighth. Who knows?"

So there's no chance they'll do it when Eck has a potential AB left, but for the most part they'll bring him in when they have a lead, as they should. Can't be too angry with that, but in a one run game starting in the 7th inning or later, I think Mac's defensive value is greater than Eck's offensive output. But it's pretty hard to complain about them realizing how stupid it was to use him as a pinch runner...

When we had big Frank here," said Gibbons, referring to Frank Thomas, who was released by the club on April 20, "we also needed pinch runners -- one guy for him and another guy for maybe the catcher. Now, we don't really need that as much."

I don't know about you guys, but this quote just cracked me up. The Jays didn't spend 3 million dollars to make McDonald a pinch runner - and if they did, why didn't they trade or sign someone who's sole purpose is to steal bases and run really fast? I guess this means from now on that Lind or Scutaro are going to be pinch runners in the future (my bet's on Lind being the primary PR). I think that's an excellent use of Lind's service time. You know, he'll learn how to run around the bases, which is pretty important to know. I bet he's forgotten how to do that since he hasn't really been on base much in his last 20 plate appearances. So guaranteeing him a chance to be on the bases by having him pinch run for Zaun instead of watching him fail by trying to get on via a hit will allow him to continue his development by running around the bases, an extremely important skill. It makes so much sense now why we should let Stewart go 0-4 in LF while providing equally shitty defense!

Wow, I totally lost my train of thought after that...so yeah, great move to bring in McDonald, and I'm still pretty pissed that the Jays gave up on Lind after 20 AB. That would have been like giving up on McGowan last year after 2 starts. And I mean, giving McGowan an opportunity to figure it out on the major league level didn't pay off in the long run....

No wonder Lind pressures himself so much. They claim that he has the starting job, and they'll be behind him whatever they do. But when he doesn't hit 367 or whatever it was when he was in AAA, they put him on the bench and essentially tell him "we have no faith in you, kid". It took McGowan till his 5th start to start producing (the fourth being the famed May 23 start where Zaun & Gibbons called him out for not using the Curve), and there was no talk of taking McGowan out, bad as he was. Even if there was, it was foolish, because it was obvious the kid just needed to adjust. So why are we taking Lind out of games before he has a chance to prove himself? It took McGowan essentially from his May 3rd start to his May 28th start before we had any results - it took Lind from April 26th to May 4th to determine that Lind is useless. But I'm sure playing 2 games in a row followed by an offday over a week and a half is enough time to prove oneself in the majors.



Navin Vaswani said...

i think it's tough to draw a comparison b/w lind and mcgowan. mcgowan wasn't in the plans last year and only was allowed to work through his options because, well, we had no other options. we tried ohka, we tried zombrano, we tried gus, hell we even tried that super douchebag josh towers...after all those options failed did mcgowan get his chance...

and i don't think the jays were in the same position in believing they were contending for a playoff spot last year...hence giving mcgowan and marcum a shot (after all other options failed)...

with left field and lind, while he does have so much bloody potential, we've got another option in the stew. and the stew is a proven .300 hitter and for a team that apparently cannot hit for their lives, do you go with the proven vet who is off to a brutal start or the young kid who didn't do too well last year (at least when it came to BA) and clearly was scuffling early on this season when he got the call...

it's a tough, tough call...but i don't really have a problem with lind sitting on the bench, taking his cuts in BP, spending a boatload of time with denbo, and learning from the rolen's, wells', stairsy's...

Anonymous said...

I agree with you on the Lind thing. Certianly they should never have told him "your the guy" in the first place, that's just silly. Now J.P. is reporting that they'll likely send him down. Shame.

The Southpaw said...

Navin - The comparison was more to point out that Lind needs to be given a shot to prove things one way or another. Like I said in an earlier comment, I'd live with a couple weeks of bad at bats from Lind if it meant for the next 4-6 years we have an 850+ OPS bat in LF at a club controlled cheap price. He's a top prospect, and when, not if, but when he breaks out it'll be a huge boost to the team's offense. There's a risk in giving Lind the at bats in that he might cost the team some games, but the reward is huge.

Giving Stewart at bats just ensures you have a 700 OPS bat in LF. Giving Lind a chance gives you a chance of an 850+.

Also, Stewart's OPS over a 3 year period (2005-2007) is 724. So if that's what we can come to expect from Stewart, is it that big a loss to give at least a month or two to Lind to see if he can better that?

It's one thing if they gave Buck Coats 20 at bats and he couldn't handle it. But Lind has an 884 career minor league OPS - you have to give him a real chance to prove himself. This decision isn't just going hurt the team in the short-term by giving Stewart the at bats - it'll cost the team millions of dollars by signing some useless scrub veteran to play LF in the future when Lind can potentially do it for the league minimum.

JaysClothesLine - Yeah, if they weren't going to give him the shot, why tell him he had the starting role?

I forgot to put it in the post because I was ranting, but Lind has a .067 BAPIP. I think that, more than anything shows the reasons why he's struggling. His average stands to go up by at least 200, to 240 points (which would bring Lind too 270-290).


G said...

Instead of Bay, the Jays should go after Juan Rivera from the Angels. He would probably come much cheaper. Check out his career stats. The man can hit lhp and rhp. G.