I've exercised considerable restraint in not commenting on the machinations of our manager from day to day by reminding myself "it's just spring training" but as we draw ever nearer to Opening Day (less than two weeks out!) the accumulation of observations is such that I feel I'm neglecting my duties to not make at least passing reference to them. So, here are a few highlights:
1. Brian Tallet as starter. Maybe no one in the Jays fanbase is any more appreciative of the value of Brian Tallet as a reliever. but using him in the rotation when you don't have to is bad on several counts.
First, he's simply not a very good pitcher as a starter, at least not here. If he were in San Diego maybe, or Washington, he might carve out himself a nice little Doug Davis type career.
Second, he's not part of the future and thus, for potential trade situations, his value ought be maximized by being used in his best role.
Third, this is a season for seeing what we have among the kids. That means not falling in love with someone the way Clarance is apparently fawning over Tallet for no real reason. Sure, one can argue that none of Cecil or Mills or whoever is ready for that spot - and that McGowan clearly isn't up to full speed. If The Manager had said "Tallet will hold down that spot until one of the kids pushes for it or McGowan is right" then fine. But even then, Dana Eveland is just as able, is more expendable when that day comes, and Tallet can continue to build value in a role he does well.
2. He's Apparently developing the same fascination with John Buck. Don't get me wrong, I don't presume to have a negative opinion of Buck as a defender but come on - how senile do you have to be to think he's a good hitter. Yet have you noticed how high Buck's been showing up in the ST lineups? Yesterday vs the Tigers he hit sixth - ahead of Randy Ruiz (whom Clarance lavishes praise on) and Travis Snider. Fluke? Nope. Only once in the last two weeks has Buck appeared in a game hitting behind Ruiz and never behind Snider. I know Snider apparently pissed in Clarance's morning Metamucil or something but do we really have to witness the spectacle of such a weak hitter supplanting him? Heck, there have been games this spring when Alex-freakin-Gonzalez hit ahead of Snider but that's kind of a different point.
3. Speaking of Snider. What is it with The Manager anyway? One of my fellow bloggers (can't remember for sure and too lazy to look) rightly pointed out recently just how VERY badly Clarance screwed over Shawn Green in favor of crotchety veterans in decline back in '97 and he seems determined to do a re-make this year with Snider. Does it even need pointing out that there is no long term value in protecting snider from lefties, hitting him ninth, or playing him in left this year?
Sure, maybe it's true that Lind can't play the outfield at all and Snider isn't a good RF - but what do we have to lose that we would otherwise have won in 2010 to FIND OUT? So what if we have the worst OF defense in the majors - at least we will KNOW with complete certainty next winter that we can't plan on doing that again when the team is expected to be good. There's no downside to finding that out.
Likewise, there is nothing at all to be gained by hitting Snider behind guys who are well known to be offensive black holes. It does nothing for his confidence, his ability to adjust, his ability to adapt to higher pressure situation, or his ability to hit situationally with people on base (which if you want that you don't want Buck and Gonzo in front of him).
4. The fascination with Gathright. Thankfully, on this point, he seems to have a growing affection for Mike McCoy (who is increasingly becoming a player I have an irrational attraction to myself) and Jeremy Reed (who sucks pretty much as much as Gathright but Clarance doesn't seem to have a crush on him so in that he's to be preferred) is outhitting JG by a wide margin. Still, it shouldn't take this much to dissuade someone from an interest in Gathright.
It IS true that if I had my way and Snider was in RF, we'd have some difficulty with the lead-off spot. but if I had my way, McCoy would be the starting shortstop until he proved himself incapable offensively or defensively and HE would be the lead-off hitter. Here's another situation in which in a developmental season, there's no reason not to think outside the box. Unless it is clearly obvious to Jays managment that McCoy is so defficent defensively as to do damage to our ground ball pitchers, then how can it possibly be a ba thing to run him out there and see if he can handle it?
5. The unanswered question at closer. I'm sorry, anyone who looks at Frasor's work and Gregg's work and has trouble deciding which should close (when both are healthy) automatically disqualifies themselves from making any baseball decisions. I can't see how anything more needs saying on that point.
How many of these issues are an issue when the regular season rolls around, I can't say - but I could no longer refrain.