Blue Jays Just Not Playing Good Baseball

I was so excited to watch my beloved Blue Jays last night.  I just got back from overseas for business and had been stuck reading box scores due to the time change while I was away.  Finally, I was going to be able to watch my team play.

And they were awful.  I fought through the jet lag and stayed up to what felt like 6 am to my body and was greatly disappointed with the effort of the team.

Brandon Morrow couldn’t control his fastball to save his life.  He was consistently behind in the count.  I didn’t see him even try to mix in his curveball that made him so effective last season.  His slider was flat.

But these things happen.  Starters will sometimes just not have their stuff for one reason or another on any given night.  It was frustrating to watch, but what was more frustrating was the absolute lack of effort from the rest of the team (save maybe Edwin Encarnacion who battled every at bat).

J.P. Arencibia made a mistake that cost Rasmus an error and the Jays 2 runs.  Almost every batter looked lost at the plate.  I know Andy Pettite was on, but it just seems like the team has zero offensive plan at the plate.

It really makes you wonder what hitting coach, Chad Mottola, is telling these guys.

It just seems like every time the opposition scores first (which has been often this season) the hitter put sooooooooo much pressure on themselves.  Just relax, string a few hits together and play good baseball.

When you’re down by 5 and there is nobody on base, it’s really hard to hit a 6-run homer.  That’s what it seems like the hitters are trying to do.  There needs to be a change in philosophy.

30 of the next 35 games are vs. the AL East.  I know it’s early, but these games are starting to get important.  Either we compete against division rivals or get buried by them over the next 6 weeks.  Where we stand at the end of May will be very telling, in my opinion, of what sort of team we actually have.

All this being said, I believe the Jays are a post season team.  I could easily see our rotation ripped off a 7 – 10 game winning streak.  But we need to have good at bats and string hits together.  Homers are great but let’s not simply swing for the fences.

I love watching the Blue Jays and as a fan of the game, I love watching good baseball.  So far this year, I haven’t been able to say I’ve done both consistently.

@IHRTBJs

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9 comments

  1. Dan Elacqua

    I feel inclined to leave a comment only to get your point of view (I know this isn’t my forum, but wondering what your take is):
    I’ll pre-empt my thought by explaining that I am not a panicker [sic] or am I unrealistic about the number of games played, versus those left to be decided, but I must say I have noticed a disturbing trend… incompatible leadership.

    What I am describing is the core leadership that I believe is tasked with setting the tone, if not ambiance of the dugout for the “hitters”, “fielders” and those not throwing the ball for a living seems to be out of wack with the guys they have in the dugout. I am arguing that the Michael Jordan all-or-nothing death glare at officials, teammates, inanimate objects and so on is not the most constructive style for this ball club, on that without a doubt walks lightly around the Dome knowing that they have a lot to understand about themselves as a team and not much time to do it. I am explaining a tone set mainly by Jose Bautista, that seems to carry over to their approach at the plate, tightness in the field and general “angry softball syndrome” in the dugout – this I have observed after playing on many fogie-ball teams who are happy and excitable when winning, but nervous, angry, dismissive and cold when losing (even on a micro level – after an error, a strike out, double play ball). I was searching for examples in baseball when this could work as a consistent culture (George Brett Royals came to mind, any team with Lou Piniella at the helm etc.), but came up empty – as the great teams even equipped with veterans who steer their own ship typically have a calmness about them when they “know” things will turn around if they keep playing hard. I used Michael Jordan as an example earlier, and will keep it in the comment – although only as a contrast between sports… this is not a game, in my opinion where “wanting it”, “pushing it” “playing with urgency” and so on is the most effective persistent culture – especially not for a team that already plays like every at bat needs to cross the plate in one swing.

    To come to an ending point I will ask your thoughts on my comments, are more specifically whether you think leadership, and they style seen amongst the hitters on the team is counterproductive, and perhaps presents (whether truly genuine or not), an air of uncertainty – a thought that as a leadership group, only 20 games into the season they don’t “know” things will turn around?

    D

    • IHRTBJs

      You make excellent points and I totally agree with you. Bautista has not been a good influence on younger players like Lawrie and Arencibia and was not last season either. His attitude with every borderline strike call that goes against him is awful. This has rubbed off on too many Blue Jays and hitters are constantly scream and throwing down their bats when popping up or grounding out. Also, when players constantly complain to umpires, they get a reputation as whiners. The Jays, as a team, have been labelled as whiners by umpires around the league and it continues to hurt them. You rarely see elite players throw tantrums when they hit into a routine out because they know they’ll come back and hit the next time. However, the culture of the Jays right now (unfortunately) is to complain about umpires and throw fits when they make routine outs. If everyone on the club would just relax, play the game, and not use umpires as excuses, they would be playing much better baseball.

      This needs to start with Gibbons sending a message to Bautista (who like it or not is a leader on the team – all the young guys look up to him). Because right now, Bautista is setting a bad example and his attitude is very different from the one he had in 2010 when he had his breakout season.

  2. houser33

    It’s true, baseball isnt a sport where simply working hard will yield results. It is all about the approach, situational hitting, and staying calm which is most likely the root cause for why Bautista/Lawrie are taking borderline pitches to begin with. For whatever reason, Mottola, their own ego, they simply dont understand/arent being told the concept of ‘protecting the strike zone with 2 strikes’, (y’know, the thing we all learned in PBA baseball playing for Caza Berry Farm) or getting on base by any means possible. Of course, it doesnt help that their pitching seems to put them in an early hole every game and the batters tend to press harder as a result, but i digress….Regardless of the score, stringing together singles and walks is how you win in this league and is something the Jays, whether behind Mottola’s gameplan or the leadership of Bautista, have done with little consistency.

    As for how this attitude translates to leadership, well, it doesnt. Nobody is inspired by whining, not even other whiners. Right or wrong, bad day or not, sometimes you just need to suck it up. As far as I’m concerned the only leader on this team right now is Lind, the only guy with the approach of taking what their given at the plate. Baseball can be so simple if you just let the game come to you.

    • IHRTBJs

      This quote from you couldn’t be more true: “Nobody is inspired by whining, not even other whiners. Right or wrong, bad day or not, sometimes you just need to suck it up.”

      These two sentences tell the whole story of the issues within this club.

  3. danielrice08

    how much of this tense attitude is attributed to the fickle fan base in Toronto, or the pressure felt after the Toronto media and Las Vegas essentially crowned these guys before spring training. I have no doubt that the core guys like Bautista, Lawrie, Arencibia, and Double E, take pride in the game and playing for the Jays. I also think that pride took a hit when nobody believed they could win (save a few Symons of the world) without spending huge money. Also how it must feel, once you spent all that money, to have fans of the team you take pride in playing for booing your day 1 starter (Dickey) on Day 1 of 162. How many fans woul;d’ve left the dome after the seventh or eighth when the Jays are down (too many if you ask me). Although winning and losing doesn’t come down to the fans, they certainly play a part in creating a winning and supportive atmosphere. And who wants to be the leader on a team that gets boo’d the second they are down a run. Dan and Spanky, I think you guys make great arguments; and I think they Jays need more of you guys and IHRTBJ’s in the stands, controlling what we can control. Putting on our rally caps and clapping wildly for a payoff pitch. That’s what we can do to help our guys.

    Go Jays Go.

    • IHRTBJs

      There are certainly a lot of band wagon jumpers that have changed the dynamic of the stadium. Not doubt about it. But the attitude of Bautista has been a sour one for a while – really all last season as well – as his head has grown 3 sizes since the end of 2010.

      All that being said, do I want Jose Bautista on my team? Absolutely. He is an elite player. He just needs to stop whining and start setting a positive example for the other guys in the dugout.

  4. houser33

    Let’s be honest here too, this team has had absolutely zero luck. .264 babip (28th in the majors) says it all. To put that into perspective, last year they finished 29th in babip with a .281 average.

    • IHRTBJs

      Great point. Nobody has been hitting the ball harder than Edwin Encarnacion and he seems to rarely have anything to show for it. That has to turn around.

      On another note, in yesterday’s game Bautista popped up to the catcher late in the game and instead of tossing hit bat down in disgust, he put his head down and busted his ass to first and rounded the bag and was on his way to second when the ball was caught. A much better way to burn off frustration. I wonder if Gibbons said something to him or if he realizes that he needs to play that way.

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