Monday, June 16, 2008

The Weekend in Review: Tempests, Teapots, and Gaping Power Holes

Well that was a crappy end to a crappy homestand, now wasn't it? Accepting that the Cubs are the best team in MLB (record-wise, anyway), maybe we shouldn't be a disheartened as we are by the Jays' losing two of three.

This homestand had set itself up for the Toronto Nine to make some hay against the lower lights (Baltimore and Seattle), but instead they limp away going 3-6, dropping below .500 and falling six games back of the Wild Card. Blerg.

Let's All Read Too Much Into A.J. Burnett's Off-Handed Comment!
This one was all a bit much. The Sun-Times' Gordon Wittenmyer takes a throwaway line from A.J. Burnett about how he likes Chicago and the Cubs, and turns it into a full-blown controversy. A.J.'s comments seemed polite to us, but Wittenmyer's take ("A.J. Burnett liked the idea of a trade to the Cubs so much he might as well have said, 'Please.''') was way over the top. This resulted in a full cycle of retractions, clarifications, restatements, rebuttals, tea-leave reading and sound and fury, all of which signifies exactly nothing in the end. What fun.

Jeff Blair Is Always Right
Blair's been on a roll as of late, what with his Friday afternoon dismantling of Mike Toth on the Prime Time Sports roundtable ("I have one question: Were you smoking crack when you wrote that article?"), and his associated evisceration of gasbag Gary Carter. Blair's also hit it pretty much squarely on the head when assessing the Jays' need for a legitimate cleanup hitter.

There's no scary hitter in the team's lineup as it is currently comprised, and while we're not sure that they have enough to give in order to make a deal for an Adam Dunn, Matt Holliday or Jason Bay, the team's offensive woes are going to continue until they can find that legitimate 35 homer, 120 RsBI guy around which they can build their lineup. (And neither Vernon Wells nor Scott Rolen is that guy. Sorry.)


Navin Vaswani (@eyebleaf) said...

A.J. is as good as gone, regardless of what he says/does. We should get what we can for him now, he will opt out 100% if we don't trade him.

Tao, if Vernon isn't "that guy"...was his mammoth contract a mistake?

The Ack said...

I agree the AJ thing is overblown yes, but only because he's as good as gone anyway. But you know, sometimes you just wish a guy would keep his mouth shut. As much as he says his future is undecided, you don't keep using words like "right now...." if you aren't implying otherwise.

I'm in the camp that says you won't get much of anything for him anyway, so might as well hold him and take the compensatory picks when he opts out and signs elsewhere. My only fear is he blows out his arm, goes under the TJ knife, and contentedly collects his Blue Jays cash while taking a year off rehabbing and then another season rounding into form....voila, end of contract.

Jim Briggs said...

Good question about VW's contract, and a bigger question seems to be, is the team pinning a considerable portion of its hopes on Travis Snider being that guy? Seems like another in JP's series of bad bets, and a real possibility of putting way too much pressure on a rook.

While the "AJ thing" is probably being blown out of proportion, there's not a person in Toronto who thinks there's a "100% chance" he's going to stay (the strange way that AJ himself put it). It's more like 95/5 in favor of his departure, with the 5% in case of disastrous injury or disastrous second half. Neither of these serve the Jays well.

I don't like the constant bashing of JP any more than the next level-headed Jays blogger, and who knows, maybe insane contracts are what it takes to get even decent talent to come to - and stay in - the TO.

He's made deft trades (like the Rolen deal, and I liked the Glaus trade and the Overbay deal, among others).

But the contracts handed out to Burnett and Thomas look like pretty bad investments, and they were questioned and questionable to begin with. Wells' seemed more in tune with both the marketplace and what we perceived his skill set to be, pre-injury. The worst thing, and I think this would be the smart way of explaining away the Reed Johnson fan stupidity, is that the Jays' money to production ratio as far as the batters go this season is just alarmingly bad.

All kidding about the "what-if" fantasy teams aside, I think we can imagine a lot of better (and worse; see: Carl Pavano) ways to have spent that money. And the real issue is that the Jays can't afford such disasters, or even a barrage of injuries, in the way the divisional competitors can. Nor do they have the steady stream of talent flowing in from YEARS of bad baseball like TB.

It feels like a team with a ton of depth players right now. Depth is great to have and it gets good teams far in the playoffs. But there's no sign of that 35/120 guy we all want and have probably lacked since Delgado's glory days. Somebody a pitcher fears. Mediocrity will beget mediocrity. That deserves a hearty boo. Shit, I just want my WAMCO back.

This team is looking an awful lot like the O's teams that have had 4th place on lockdown the past decade, save for with better pitching. And I do truly worry that we are wasting the career of one of my favorite Jays ever (the man who wears #32) and that we will never see him in the playoffs in the baby blue.

We can all agree that the answer is not Gary Carter, though. I lost my train of thought here. But--aw hell...

Tao of Stieb said...

eyebleaf: That VW question is one that deserves its own post...coming this week.

Navin Vaswani (@eyebleaf) said...

Tao: lookin forward to it. am excited already!

and C.M.Wang is gone for 6 weeks with a foot injury. I fear I can no longer use injuries as an excuse for the Jays, because the Yanks have been ravaged this season by the bug...blood cleet.

Anonymous said...

According to the Yankees web site, "The Yankees are expected to strongly engage the trade market for a longer-term solution" to deal with the loss of Wang. Baseball is "breakfast, lunch and dinner" in New York ain't it?

Tao of Stieb said...

But is baseball brunch in New York? Is it high tea? Is it a midnight snack or hors d'oeuvre?

It surprises us that the Yanks would be looking for pitching help...don't they have the three greatest pitching prospects in the history of the universe?

Colin said...

Firstly, Blair is awesome and that segment was pure radio magic (I saved that podcast to listen to when I'm depressed).

Secondly, the Burnett contract may seem like a lot of money but it's still currently below market value. There are a lot worse pitchers making similar or more money.

Vernon's contract I still like. If you look at Torii Hunter's deal with the Angels, he got similar money, less term, but I believe he's significantly older than Vernon. They're both stellar defensively, solid offensively, but Hunter isn't "the guy" for his team either. The Jays just need their Vlad. However, imagine the offense without Vernon. Besides, they could have used the money to get Zito.

Navin Vaswani (@eyebleaf) said...

the mets are a game under .500 and they just fired Randolph.

and CM Wang is gone til September! And good old Hank Steinbrenner is pissed! LOL

Darren Priest said...

You guys are too hard on Toth.

As for Blair's assertion that the Jays need a legit cleanup hitter, it doesn't exactly take the greatest of baseball minds to see that. The better question would be something like "from where and for whom?"

Andrew said...

The better question would be something like "from where and for whom?"


They aren't trading AJ for anything that can help this year. Cook him, let him walk, and hope he's a Type A.

MK Piatkowski said...

And I do truly worry that we are wasting the career of one of my favorite Jays ever (the man who wears #32) and that we will never see him in the playoffs in the baby blue.

This is my worry too. Do you remember the sidebar quickie interviews the Star did during spring training? It broke my heart when the Doc said his life would be complete when he has a world series ring. I want nothing more than to see him do that with the Jays but time is running out. And there are no easy solutions that I can see.

Maybe this is pie in the sky, but why can't the guys we have actually do what they've done in the past? That's really all we need.