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Lost in the Dangling Conversation: 2011 Toronto Blue Jays Dangling Conversation, Part 9

In  Part I, we introduced ourselves and generally discuss the offseason.  In Part 2, we discussed the Marcum for Lawrie trade.  In Part 3 we discussed the 2011 pitching staff, while in Part 4 we discussed the catching situation.  In Part 5 we discussed the Jays' farm system, and in Part 6 we took a look at breakout and fallback candidates.  In Part 7 we talked about rebound candidates, and whether the Jays are short one position player. Most recently, Part 8 looked at Ricky Romero becoming the leader of the pitching staff and the minor leaguers who could make an impact in 2011.   And now for the final installment.  

JohnnyG: With Cito leaving and a new manager in John Farrell coming in, do expect the Jays to change the way they play? Do you expect to see more steals this coming year? Or, perhaps the dreaded *gasp* smallball?

Hugo:   Great question.  I do think there will be some changes, if only because Cito was such an idiosyncratic manager.  But with Farrell being new to the job, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly where.  

In terms of steals, it’s no secret I’m a big fan of the straight steal - but only when the team has the personnel to pull it off. With Rajai Davis set to be an everyday player I sure hope we see more steals.  Even though he was a poor hitter in 2010 (.321 wOBA), Davis was so successful on the basepaths (50 of 61) that he was a slightly above-average offensive player (103 wRC+).  No point in having that sort of player in the lineup if we don’t make the most of his abilities.  For the rest of the team, though, they just don’t have the speed to pull it off.  Snider and Bautista could probably swipe 10 bags a piece.  

In terms of small ball, I actually think and hope we’ll see less.  While certainly he will leave the day-to-day managing to Farrell, AA is coming into his own and has strong opinions and will make his preferences known.  I, for one, look forward to seeing Yunel Escobar, who gave away 7 good outs with Toronto in 2010, bunt less.  Yunie isn’t John McDonald, he’s too good a hitter (.364 lifetime OBP) to be giving away outs, particularly hitting in front of the Jays’ big bats.

Tom: Please stop Yunel from bunting every time someone is on base. The bunt in the first inning is my least favorite move. Playing for one run when there are 9 innings left if just stupid. The thing I could see is us do is hit and run more. I joked last year that we didn’t even have a sign for the hit and run. I’m not that big a fan of the move, but once in a while, just to show you can, with the right batter up, I wouldn’t be against it.

I’m also hoping that Farrell uses the bullpen a little better, and doesn’t bury guys in the back of it, never to be used unless we are down by 10 or more. I think it is one of those self fulfilling things, Cito wouldn’t like a pitcher, so he would use him for 2 weeks, then the pitcher wouldn’t pitch well. Surprise.

Hugo:  Glad I’m not the only one

JohnnyG: But the A’s bunt all the time and we always hear how they "Play the game the right way" etc etc nonsense etc.

Jesse: Why not lead off Yunel and then he can’t sacrifice bunt with no one out in the first inning (unless we bat around the order!).  I actually don’t mind the bunt for a base-hit -- and he’s good at it -- except that he does it so much that he can’t catch anyone off-guard.

JohnnyG: Yunel would be my pick to lead off just looking over the lineup. Davis has the speed for it but as pointed out previously there are other issues with that.

masterkembo:  I’d rather have Davis hit from the 9 spot and Escobar lead off.

Jesse: Yep, it doesn’t matter how fast you are if you make an out 68% of the time.

Hugo:  At the same time, if Davis is hitting 9th that raises the possibility for Yunel to bunt if he gets on base!  Hopefully Davis’ ability to swipe a bag outright will mitigate that though.  

Tom: Is there a chance that we get off the philosophy that on base percentage isn’t important? That, to me, would be a better thing than playing ‘small ball’.

JohnnyG: OBP? Over-rated. I wanna see them mash some homers!

Hugo:  They are even better when they come with people on base.