A Jay Of Old And The Not-Old Jays

No matter which team wins the World Series, one thing is sure: it will be an “old” team, by baseball standards. That’s because the average age of the Washington Nationals is oldest of any MLB team – their players average 30.1 years old. The Houston Astros are third among the 30 rosters, averaging 29.8 years of age. In between them was Oakland, their players averaging 29.9. Following them, Atlanta and the New York Yankees, each 29.5 years old.

On the other hand, we have the Blue Jays. Their average age is 26.8 years old, 27th oldest out of the 30 teams, ahead of only Detroit, San Diego and Baltimore. Does anyone else see a trend there?

The five oldest teams in the game all made the post-season. They averaged 103 wins this season. Of the four youngest, none were better than 4th in their division, and they averaged 59.5 wins a piece. It should put an end to the theory that youth is what wins in baseball these days. Likewise it should make it clear what Toronto needs to do for next season … and it’s not bring in plenty more kids to make their major league debut!

Club president Mark Shapiro recently had a Q&A session with Toronto reporters and he advocated a baseball philosophy that I completely agree with. He told At the Letters that he wants a team with a good mix of players. He said he is “a big believer in looking at different segments of the player population. You need young players…talented young players that give you upside, tons of energy. You need players in their prime…you can bank on (them.) Then you need veteran players. Volatile, they get hurt a lot but they’re the guys that want to win, can handle the pressure better and they’re the guys who make the younger players better.”

Well said, Mark. Houston and Washington both prove those statements out this year as did the Blue Jays World Series teams all those years ago. (Anyone remember Dave Winfield, already in his 40s, and his contribution to the ’92 team?) The path for Toronto this off-season is clear. They already have the young talent, a lot of it in fact. Now is the time to bring in a star pushing 30 years old, or three; and perhaps find a savvy “gray beard” to add maturity to the dugout.

Make sure Ross Atkins is on the same page, Mr. Shapiro, of find someone who is that will do the job.

***

Speaking of front office types being replaced, what to make of the Astros? As you likely know they fired their Assistant General Manager Kevin Taubman while the GM, Jeff Luhnow, apologized for his behavior about a week after Taubman drew scorn for statements he made. Apparently after the Astros won the AL Championship over New York, during the clubhouse celebration Taubman repeatedly yelled “Thank God we got Osuna!” and added a few profanities. Roberto Osuna had given up a couple of runs in the final game but locked down the save, his third of the post-season to that point. The comments were apparently in the faces of three female reporters present and seemingly were mocking them and concerns over Osuna’s past.

Roberto Osuna, should you somehow have forgotten, is the star reliever who’s career in Toronto was derailed when he was charged with domestic violence early in the 2018 season. The Blue Jays knew a hot potato when they saw one, and dealt him to Houston (for another reliever, Ken Giles) while he was serving a suspension. Former MLB catcher Gregg Zaun told me (during Osuna’s suspension) that he figured fans would rake Osuna over the coals for a long time before forgiving him and that we’d not see him back on the mound during 2018.

Turns out Gregg was wrong about the season. Osuna was activated as soon as possible by the Astros, and actually pitched 23 games for them before season’s end. Zaun might have been more on the money when it comes to fan reactions and memories though. Although a few Astros players initially complained about the trade and Osuna’s presence, they apparently put differences aside and welcomed him in. He had a stellar 2019 season, being nominated for the “Rolaids Relief Pitcher of the Year” award. (It’s no proud moment that another of the nominees, Aroldis Chapman also had a suspension for a similar charge.)

It raises a number of questions for the game. First off, Osuna was suspended for 75 games although eventually criminal charges against him were dropped. The story suggests his girlfriend wouldn’t testify against him and actually wasn’t going to return to Canada to appear, leaving the “Crown” without much of a case. Baseball on the other hand, apparently did their own investigation talking to police and the victim and decided he was guilty by which they based their penalty, as they’d done before in similar cases including Chapman’s.

I’m a little uncomfortable with that but not entirely. They talked to appropriate people and felt there was an overwhelming suggestion of proof even if a criminal charge couldn’t be won in court. Lawyers will tell you the burden of proof is higher for a criminal case than a civil case so it seems reasonable that baseball should be able to discipline separately from court proceedings, just as they do with players found guilty of drug offences.

Then there’s Taubman. Exuberance and perhaps a bit of beverage-fueled silliness is to be expected in the clubhouse after a team clinches a championship, and an exec singing the praises of a star is a given. However, all present seem to suggest the context in this case was absolutely wrong and taunting the women present, perhaps even applauding Osuna’s violence in a backhanded way. I’m not sure if that moment alone should be enough to cost him his career, when the actual offense itself didn’t cost Osuna his. But I won’t shed any tears for him and am pretty sure should the Nationals pull off their long shot World Series win over Osuna’s Astros, “karma” is going to be a word we hear a lot!

18 comments

  1. badfinger20

    I’m uncomfortable with the MLB’s investigation a little in some cases. Taubman screwed up and should have known better…but the female reporter had been at the Astros for a while.

    “At whom Taubman shouted was not merely wearing a purple domestic violence awareness bracelet, but she has also repeatedly tweeted the domestic violence hotline number when Osuna has entered games.”

    The Astros didn’t do anything legally wrong.

    Like I said…yes he got what he deserved but I think some people think he just blasted this out…it was some history there. That doesn’t make it right but he gave her what she wanted.

    As far as a balance on a team…yes you need mixture of young and old. If bases were loaded in the 9th would I rather have 34-year old Justin Turner come up or some rookie…even if that rookie is hitting 300? I’ll take Turner every time.

    • Dave

      yep, Turner is an under-rated gem on your team! You look at both teams in the WS this year and they illustrate Shapiro’s (and my) point – they have some young greats: Soto/Alvarez for example; some graybeards who are coming up big : Brantley/Kendrick, etc and a number of good veterans at their prime: Verlander, Altuve/Strasburg, Rendon and so on. Too much of any one element isn’t going to work well over the long haul.
      The way MLB goes about the domestic violence studies is a LITTLe problematic. For sure they need to have players who are setting some sort of decent example and not criminals but it does seem a little like the league lays out penalties before the case is entirely known or played out. Then there’s the whole concept of second chances; Osuna served his suspension and hasn’t been charged again so maybe it’s time to forget it ? I mean, I’m glad he’s not on Toronto roster anymore, but seems like he’s being centred out a bit when no one says a word about Chapman and his Reliever of the Year award. But maybe he’ll be a bit of a teaching lesson for other players – fan memories are long. All said and done, I don’t feel much sympathy for him or Taubman

  2. badfinger20

    I could have sworn I replied yesterday…but I must not have… sorry about that Dave.

    What a World Series…we saw history in this one. Just read last night that the road team has never won in every game of a 7 game series… and that includes hockey and basketball.

    • Dave

      Yeah, astonishing! That’s one they’ll be talking about for decades due to that, road teams winning each game.
      Could be quite a surprise to see either back next year though with the free agencies on both teams. Did you hear Cole apparently balked (at first) at talking to media after game 7, said he was “technically unemployed” and said something like “it was a pleasure” pitching in Houston. Most figure he’s as good as gone to Angels, but I expect your guys might be in on him too, with Ryu potentially gone and them (I imagine) wanting to do something sure to get them over that hump next year.

      • badfinger20

        Yes I thought that was so rude by Cole…they just paid him 13 million and he did great but still…that did not make him look good at all.
        I hope the Dodgers try to get him but I don’t see them paying that much money to one person. The reason Kershaw is getting it is because he is the face of the Franchisee.

        I agree with you…I don’t think Washington will be back…Houston will need some pitching because Cole is out of the question…they won’t go over the Tax…. The big question….Why didn’t they use Cole when Zack gave up the homerun?

        They usually go after the next tier down…or the top tier but with an injury history on a short contract.

        I’m not sure if we talked about this or not… Did you hear what Bryce Harper said a few weeks back? He said he wasn’t bitter at all about the Nationals making it. He then said that they took what they were going to pay him and got the pitching they needed and it worked out great for Washington…
        I bet the players union did not like that at all.

      • Dave

        I agree.
        Good for Harper for saying that. Harper was immature as hell when he came up (I will add, I knew his name about 5 years before that, so publicized was he, so it’s hard to imagine that he wouldn’t have had a swelled head) but he’s starting to mature. Can’t blame him for taking the money that’s there but I think he may have an entirely semi-cursed career: his salary is huge, so expectations will be very high and I frankly don’t think he can deliver. He’s GOOD, don’t get me wrong, I just don’t think he’s superstar, top 2 or 3 player rank good. So fans aare likely to be critical for many years to come.
        I think Cole will get something more than what Red Sox gave David Price, so that is to say at least 7, maybe 8 years at over $32 M a year. I could foresee about 8 years and $260M. I wouldn’t give it though; pitchers are even less certain than position players as a long-term bet and I think it’s one case where “WAR’ could be useful. Sure he might be a +5 or so, but for the amount they’ll pay him, they could easily get two +3 types, and for shorter contracts meaning they could do it again in 4 years or so and have fresh arms that can deliver while he gets older and potentially less effective.

      • badfinger20

        I agree about Harper…he seems to be maturing but no…like you said before he sells jerseys which is great but you need him to be consistent which he is not. He will have a monster year or so but you need that most years for that kind of money…not his fault though that the Phillies did that.

        No I would not pay Cole that either. I would offer something huge short term…but Boras will have none of that.
        Pitchers break a little easier than position players it seems like.

        I just thought what Cole did after the WS was a little off putting…all during that he was wearing a Boras hat…but it won’t hurt his value.

      • Dave

        I didn’t know that was a Boras hat, I actually had looked at the pic and wondered what the logo was.
        Who do you think will get the biggest contract: Cole, Rendon or Strasburg?

      • badfinger20

        I think Cole…only because he is an elite starting pitcher with no injury history I don’t believe… Strasburg has had injury issues earlier…I would take either one! I think Strasburg might sign back with Washington…Rendon will get a boat load but I think but not what the other two gets. What about you?

      • Dave

        I think you’re probably right. Cole is 2 years younger than Strasburg plus, Strasburg has a reputation of being a bit ‘fragile” although leading league in innings this year might dispel that a little. Who knows, maybe he’ll become the Paul Molitor of the mound – start career with a rash of injuries then hit middle -age (in ball terms) and be physically solid for 15 years or so. Still, I imagine Cole will probably get one more year and maybe $2 or $3M a year more than him. Rendon should do very well, but I don’t think he’s seen at the superstar level Machado and Harper were seen at last year, so his contract likely will be massive but not near record-breaking.

      • badfinger20

        I didn’t know that Cole was younger…I thought he was but didn’t check..in todays baseball world that means everything.
        I think Washington will resign Strasburg but not both him and Rendon. They have treated Strasburg pretty well…I remember them shutting him down after the Tommy John surgery when they were in the playoffs.
        Cole if I had to guess will be an Angel. The Dodgers won’t hand out a contract like that…they don’t have a history of it anyway.
        There is talk of them signing Rendon and moving Turner to 1st base.

      • Dave

        Seems like everyone has already conceded Cole to the Angels- would be funny if a dark horse like Cinci or Seattle came in and outbid them all! I could imagine Strasburg staying on with Washington. I’ve heard all year the dodgers will try for Rendon or Donaldson then probably trade Turner since he’s I think in his “walkyear”. We will see…

      • badfinger20

        The Yankees are a threat to get Cole also…they always are but like the Dodgers I don’t believe they want to go over the Tax line.
        They better be careful about trading Turner…he is about the only one who can actually hit in the playoffs.

      • Dave

        Today I see the Dodgers linked to Mike Moustakas in rumor mill, not sure if they’d have him at second or third, but who knows— so many rumors around as always in free agent time. Yankees have to be perturbed at not making the World Series this decade but I don’t know that they will necessarily spend a ton… I was kind of surprised they were so quick to let Didi Gregorious walk away. But starting pitching seems their weakness so it is plausible they would spend very big on Cole or Strasburg.

      • badfinger20

        I know that surprised me about Gregorious…he is not a big on base guy but a dangerous hitter and a good shortstop

      • Dave

        It wouldn’t surprise me to see NYY go to either extreme – either try to really jetison salary (starting with Didi but maybe including Paxton, Happ, etc) and go for under-the-radar types like Urshela and trade for prospects OR to go back to the Yankees of our youth and spend in the hundreds of millions to get Cole, Rendon and Strasburg. Could be an interesting off-season.

      • badfinger20

        If it was George S. they would be bought without question…tax line be damned.

        I saw that the Jays got Chase Anderson…I hope he pitches well for the Jays.
        Russell Martin also said he wants to play one more year.

      • Dave

        no doubt, but it’s not George Sr. anymore… in some way I miss that- it gave everyone else a villain to hate!
        Yep, latest blog touches on Chase Anderson – a good start the Jays didn’t give up much for, some writer put it well in that he’d be a “reasonable back of the line starter” on most teams but right now would be the ace of the Blue Jays. As long as they go out and get probably two more starters, at least one far better than him, it’s a great deal.
        Martin would be a great pickup for any team- versatile and good attitude. Of course he had better be willing to take a significant pay cut.

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