Thursday, October 4, 2012

Quick Point

A lot has been made lately about some measure of the Jays awful season being attributable to lack of veteran leadership. Even and especially when the subject of injuries come up, some sources - including a few veteran Blue Jays players - point not to the injuries themselves but also to that leadership issue and call for more veteran players. Most recently Jason Frasor was quoted as saying “Too many young guys, too many young guys.”

Really? Let's look more closely. JP Arencibia was in his age 26 season, and while that's generally considered the beginning of the average players peak years, catchers run a bit behind that curve in general and it was just his second season. So let's assign him as the oldest guy in the "young guys" camp. Among those players who played the most games at each position this year, and with the possible exception of left field they were exactly the guys the team intended to have at those positions, six of the ther eight besides Arencibia were veteran players, ranging from Adam Lind's 28 to Raji Davis and Jose Bautista at 31 (both born on October 19, 1980!). the intended and opening day bench included a 29 year old, a 30 year old, and a 45 year old. The 13th hitter, presumptively, was 25 year old Eric Thames who lost his job to Davis.

This, my friends, is NOT a team plagued by youth and inexperience - UNTIL the injuries swamped them. Yes, Gose, Gomes, Hechavarria, and Sierra were thrust into the limelight before they were ready. Because of injuries. Does Frasor mean to say that the team should have been holding a bunch of dewayne Wise types in AAA for the occasion of a run of injuries, and that the team would have faired better with those older guys instead;/

Let's look at the pitching.

Of the five guys who got the most starts this year, only one was younger than 27. Yes, it's true that Hutchison was arguably rushed and Drabek might not have been ideal (albeit if you can't stash a kid in the #5 hope that's asking a bit much - but Hutch was here precisely because of what? McGowan's injury.  So MAYBE you can accept "too many kids" in reference to the rotation. but in the original scenario you have maybe one more kid than is optimal (again, you HAVE to be able to break in at least one young gun at the bottom of the rotation, no matter who you are - even the Yankees would have done so had health not hampered them).

In the bullpen, there were veterans everywhere. Janssen, Oliver, Frasor, Cordero, Villianueva originally, how much more veteran can they be expected to get?

I'll accept the premise, not having been in the clubhouse to see for myself, that the veterans who were present failed to sprinkle the appropriate magic fairy dust or whatever. But please don't try to tell me that  there were not enough veterans there. the influx of unready youth was almost entirely the result of an unusual amount of time lost to injuries and unless one harbors the illusion that a better-than-league-average replacement guy could have been stashed at AAA (not getting at-bats, by the way, since you have to have the actual prospects playing) then you still haven't made a point. would the team have been obviously and considerably better off if they had been able to promote Dewayne Wise or Corey Patterson instead of Anthony Gose in August? Sure, occasionally you get a unpredictable fluke (like Boston got with Podsednick for a while) but you can't plan for those.

Bottom line, the team broke camp with ONE guy who was REALLY young in the starting line-up and that guy was thought by everyone to be the next franchise player and also played a position where there was no really sane alternative. there were two other sorta young guys, one who failed and lost his job to a veteran long ago.In the rotation there was two kids when arguably their ought to have been one. in the bullpen there was no youth issue period. THAT is not a calculation which leads to the conclusion "too many kids, man."

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A further thought on this matter, posted 10/9:

By contrast to the above, the Oakland A's stormed down the stretch to overtake the high-dollar Rangers and win the AL West with:

a 23 year old rookie catcher
a 25 year old rookie first baseman
a 26 year old rookie center fielder
a 25 year old 2nd full year right fielder
a 23 year old rookie #2 starter
a 25 year old rookie #3 pitcher
a 24 year old rookie #5 pitcher
a 24 year old starter coming off injury
and three of their five busiest relievers at 25 or younger.

So by all means, tell me again how the Jays had too many kids to compete.

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