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Of Angels and Angles: 6/16 Game Thread - Angels at Jays

Thursday, August 16 - Toronto, Ontario
7:07 PM (EDT)

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Chone Figgins 3b
Orlando Cabrera ss
Vladimir Guererro rf
Garrett Anderson dh
Gary Matthews, Jr cf
Casey Kothchman 1b
Macier Izturis 2b
Jeff Mathis c
Reggie Willits lf

Pitching: Kelvim Escobar, RHP

Toronto Blue Jays

Reed Johnson lf
Lyle Overbay 1b
Alexis Rios rf
Vernon Wells cf
Frank Thomas dh
Troy Glaus 3b
Aaron Hill 2b
Greg Zaun c
Ray Olmedo ss

Pitching: Dustin McGowan, RHP

While I inflict Decemberists references on everyone, the Jays go for the sweep tonight against the Angels. With the offense still showing no signs of emerging from its summer hibernation and Kelvim Escobar in the midst of a fantastic stretch (1.60 ERA in his last 7 starts) in a very fine season (12-6, 2.74 ERA, 115 K / 50 BB), it looks like the Jays will need a good start from Dustin McGowan. McGowan is 8-6 with a very respectable 4.12 ERA and reasonably good peripherals (83/41 K/BB).

For the Jays, Ray Olmedo gets the start, Sparky returns to LF, and Glaus is still healthy enough to play.

John Brattain has an interesting article on the Jays' offensive struggles this season. To summarize Brattain's point, John Gibbons has cost the Jays a chance at a playoff spot this season by refusing to use outs in order to move runners along. While it is not an unqualified call for small-ball, I think what Brattain is saying is that what the Jays have been doing is clearly not working, and Gibbons has shown his lack of vision and creativity by refusing to try different tactics just because they cut against his and JP's philosophy that outs should not be given away.

While I understand Brattain's point and I agree that Gibbons should be taken to task for failing to get more out of his offense this season or at least try to do so, I disagree with his desire to see the Jays make use of the productive out. I certainly understand the frustration (after all, I've been watching all season) with an offense that just hasn't been doing its job, particularly with runners on. However, I don't think sac bunts are the answer. For starters, the sac bunt isn't a particularly useful play, even if it works. Second, it doesn't even work 100% of the time, and when it fails it can be disastrous (to the inning). Third, the Jays are not particularly proficient at bunting - McDonald is probably the best, and he's by no means great. Sparky can bunt, but he's better at bunting his way on than sac bunting. The rest of the team do not bunt well. Fourth, with Thomas and Glaus (and perhaps Overbay) the best on the team at getting on base, bunts will have to be better than usual to move the runners up, and Glaus and Thomas both have leg/foot injury histories so you may not want to tax their lower bodies. Fifth, and perhaps most significantly, I think the Jays' biggest problem offensively has been failing to collect hits with runners in scoring position, particularly with two outs. Sac bunting isn't really going to help with that very much (it might lead to a few more sac fly or groundout RBI situations). August is a bit of an outlier because of the complete dearth of HRs, but that's how I see it anyway. The hit and run, which, to his credit, Brattain doesn't mention, is an even worse move.

Everyone seems to be saying that the Jays need to use more small-ball tactics, but I don't think it would help. Those tactics might work for a team well set up for them (this series aside, the Angels have had good offense despite very little power) but for a team like the Jays, I think it would just make a bad situation even worse, or no better. I would like to see a few more straight steals, but that's more of my bias as an old basestealing lag in my playing days than anything else.

Well, that's enough of that for now, time to play with the baby and put her to bed. What do y'all think? (not about the baby, haha)