Good old Toronto Star writer Richard Griffin wrote a piece today that was a little strange. It's linked here, but I'll quote all the fun parts below. Essentially he makes a claim that the Blue Jays should put their hunt for a starting pitcher on the back burner and go after an elite catcher first. He seems to have made this realization as he watched Russell Martin and the Pittsburgh Pirates play in the Wild Card game on Tuesday night.
If Anthopoulos truly believes one starter is the place to spend all his extra payroll, he’s delusional. Go to the root of the problem — catcher.
Nope, I'm pretty sure the root of the problem this season was the starting rotation and their second last 4.81 ERA. It really didn't matter much who was catching the pitches behind the plate as they didn't get there very often.
Catching excellence seems to be key for the majority of this year’s playoff teams. The Cardinals are led by Yadier Molina, revered by his pitchers and a serious candidate for NL MVP. The Braves have Brian McCann, feisty and hard-nosed. His team is in the playoffs for the third time in four years.
Now he's just picking and choosing his arguments at will as those teams also have a fairly important piece that the 2013 Blue Jays didn't have, which is starting pitching. Both of those teams are top five in the league in starters ERA this year and Yadier Molina wouldn't have gotten the Cardinals to the playoffs without guys like Adam Wainwright and Shelby Miller tossing the ball his way. The key thing about pitching and catching batteries is the importance of them being made up of both a strong catcher and pitcher.
The Jays, by no coincidence, were able to compete best in 2013 when they featured sketchy starting pitching late in the year but had three young athletic outfielders and Ryan Goins at second base, Brett Lawrie at third and Jose Reyes with an improving ankle at short. Improving the defence behind the plate is an important next step.
I really don't understand this point at all. Is Richard aware that the Blue Jays starting pitching was at it's second most strongest point in September:
It's ACTUALLY by no coincidence that the Blue Jays were able to compete best late in the year when they were pitching well, not because they had Kevin Pillar in the outfield. That still doesn't have anything to do with having a good starting catcher, but at least now it's correct.
The bottom line is that instead of signing that starting pitcher Anthopoulos is intent on, the Jays should spend that money instead on one of the free-agent catchers available, among them McCann, A.J. Pierzynski (Rangers), Carlos Ruiz (Phils), Jarrod Saltalamacchia (Red Sox), John Buck (Pirates) or Molina.
How Griffin can possibly reach this conclusion is beyond my imagination. He watched every game this year did he not? I think every Blue Jays fan is aware that the catcher position is a huge weakness on the Blue Jays, but to say that the money spent this offseason should go towards getting someone like Brian McCann over a starting pitcher is so silly that it borders on a troll piece.
Maybe the last two names represent any semblance of sense as John Buck and Jose Molina are both former Blue Jays with a few years left in their veteran careers and a good knowledge of how to handle a pitching staff. But signing one of them for $2 million doesn't mean that Alex Anthopoulos should not spend money on improving the team's actual biggest weakness, which is their starting pitching. I'd love to see a team put together by Richard Griffin take the field next season, with a complete neglect for any balance in the team and all his budget spent on a position that is pretty easily taken care of with an affordable veteran that can just hit his weight. On second thought I'd rather not.