Sunday, August 31, 2008
I've been meaning to post about BJ Ryan for a while now, but with all the trade deadline-Travis Snider-we're still in this thing-now we're out of it drama of the past few months, never got around to it.
Today's game gave me the push needed, though. See, I've been quietly disagreeing with those who say the contract was a mistake and the Jays should look to move him in the offseason. I understand the logic and distaste for the size and length of the deal - but after this season, there are only 2 years left, and to dump him at this point would be to signal a rebuild. And I'm not ready to do that (you know, since I call the shots and all).
Contract notwithstanding, BJ's primed for a monster year next season. Just think about it - he's 24 for 27 (65 for 74 as a Blue Jay) in save opportunities this season in his first year after Tommy John. His velocity is almost all the way back - touching 90 on the gun - and he's finding his slider again. His control and command aren't quite there yet, but when they are (next season), look the fuck out. Fist pumps galore, my friends.
Of course, you need to put a winning team on the field in order to see those fist pumps, and BJ Ryan needs to be a big part of that. Now, I know the team had success with Acorn Accardo closing games last season in BJ's absence. But do you want to roll the dice with Brandon League closing next year?
Maybe I'm old school, but I'm of the mindset that a team needs a legit stopper in the bullpen. BJ Ryan allows Scott Downs to be Scott Downs (8th inning guy), Brandon League can be Brandon League (7th inning guy), Jesse Carlson can do what Jesse Carlson does (loogy plus), and Jason Frasor remains Jason Frasor (umm.....). You take the guy paid to be the stopper out of that equation, and you know what you have? Chaos. Let's not fuck around with a successful formula.
Saying goodbye to Exxxstein?
Nothing official as of this writing, but looks like the end of the line for another player on my trade deadline photo collage.
David Eckstein appears to be on the way out after what can only be described as a disappointing stint as a Blue Jay.
Through no real fault of his own, Exxx never really won the hearts of the fans (or Cito) after signing on with the Jays last offseason. Really, in hindsight, the one year deal should have been a pretty big tip-off this wasn't meant to be, but little Davey came in and did pretty much exactly what he should have been expected to do.
He's another guy whose taken his lumps on the Blue Jay blogosphere, but he'll land on his feet and sign a decent deal somewhere next season - and hey, looks like he'll play out the season on a contender, and potentially further add to his "World Series MVP" legacy.
You stay classy, David Eckstein.
Saturday, August 30, 2008
So, not a bad little debut for our boy Snider, huh? Oh sure, he struck out looking with his team down a run in the late innings with two on and nobody out......but that's almost a rite of passage for this team, no? I think we can overlook it.
In the span of 24 hours, Young Travis (See what I did there? I channeled my inner Campbell. See what I do for you?) smashed a double to dead center in (shitty) old Yankee Stadium, made a highlight reel (poorly played) catch down an unfamiliar left field line, and induced more boners than a Miley Cyrus google image search in a junior high computer lab. If nothing else, should make for a fun month of baseball, no?
Fulfilling my obligations
Surfing around the blogs, I see it's become mandatory to weigh in on the option years/service time issue.
Try and keep up with me, because I've done a lot of research on the collective bargaining agreement and have extensively weighed the merits of YT's recall against the potential sticking points down the road. I'm about to break it down for you.....ready?
Fuck service time, and especially fuck option years.
The option years don't even matter, as prospects of Snider's caliber - assuming he comes remotely close to meeting expectations - aren't going to be frequent fliers between AAA and the majors. The lesson learned here? Kevin Mench is not a prospect of Travis Snider's caliber.
The service years are a different animal. Weekend readers might find this hard to believe, but people smarter than me have been making rational, logical, well thought-out arguments against YT's recall because of the issue, but.....just....fuck service time.
Chances are that the team will make every effort to buy out his arbitration years along with a couple of free agent years (a la Rios, Hill, Longoria, etc....) anyway, and maybe now this happens a season earlier than expected, but......fuck service time.
I need something here. And I promise I won't complain if the Jays are a few million short of signing a mashing DH in 2014 because of it.
And now we say goodbye to Stairsy
On his way out the door, Stairsy did the following:
- assumed blame for the team's season-long hitting woes
- lamented not winning a title with Toronto
- praised the city, the fans, and the organization
- announced his desire to retire a Blue Jay, even if by signing a one day contract when his proverbial time is up
- lamented not having one more series to take a run at A-Rod
OK, so I made the last one up. Godspeed to the National League Matty. On your behalf, fuck the Mets!
Friday, August 29, 2008
Travis Snider called up? Matt Stairs DFAed? Matt Stairs to the Phillies?
Our instant analysis: Holy fucking shit. Son of a mother-shitting ass fucker. No fucking way.
Enjoy our vacillation
We've already stated in the past that we didn't see the need to bring The Great Big Giant Pasty White HopeTM Travis Snider to the bigs at this point in his career, mostly because we didn't want to see the clock start ticking on this guy this early. Of course, J.P. Ricciardi probably could give a rat's ass about what's going to happen five years down the road with Snider since the chances of his still being with the franchise in any capacity at that point is narrowing by the day.
We're a little less cynical than most, so our natural inclination isn't to assume that J.P. is bringing this kid up to save his job. If the Jays were going to bring any bat up from the minors, there probably isn't anyone else that you would put ahead of Snider in the queue. Russ Adams? Buck Coats? Wayne Lydon? None of those guys would do much more than take up space on the end of the bench.
At the same time, there is a part of us that suspects that J.P. would like to get Snider in the big league lineup and have him mash like a mofo for four weeks if only to demonstrate at least one excellent move that he has made to those who are pondering the GM's future.
And while there was a time that we were concerned about "rushing" Snider to the Majors, the degree to which a player who has manhandled opposing pitching at every level along the way is going to be scarred for life by striking out a few times against big leaguers. Besides which, this is a kid who saw his mother slip into a coma for several weeks a few years ago, so he probably has a little more perspective than your average bonus baby.
If it were up to us, we might not have made the call for Snider this soon. But it's not up to us, and frankly, we're as excited as a little school girl to see Snider dig in for the first time this weekend.
Further vacillation: Matt Stairs edition
Matt Stairs had pretty much reached the end of his usefulness in Toronto. He was a man without a position who was striking out too much and connecting far too seldom on his huge swing-from-the-ass-and-hope-for-the-best cuts.
Still, it was fun to have the man from Tay Creek, N.B., on the team for these past few seasons, and we certainly hope that he finds his way back to Toronto in some capacity in the coming years.
The Ack, as always, is in for the weekend. We're sure that he's crapping his pants right now, wanting to jump in and make his views known on this unexpected player movement.
Show him some love, won't you?
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Pitchers like Purcey have got to learn to show more heart out on the mound, and with a little more grit and determination, they can will their teammates to score more runs.
With every great pitching performance, we worry about the pitching staff
You see a performance like last night's and you wonder: Where does Purcey fit in next year? Obviously, you have to figure that he'll be in the rotation. Does he skip past Litsch? Does it even really matter?
Moreover, we wonder about how the entire staff shakes out after A.J. Burnett leaves (and we're pretty much resigned to the fact that he will.) While everyone is certain that this year's success from the pitching staff is a sure indicator that everything is fine and that all efforts should be focussed on getting a bat for next year, we're a little concerned with Shaun Marcum's post-injury struggles, Dustin McGowan's unknown prognosis, Litsch's teeter-totter of a season and Purcey's control issues.
Yeah, sure the Jays have got the lowest ERA in the Majors, but does it necessarily follow that you'll see the same level of performance next year? We're not convinced.
Why are we so focussed on next year all of a sudden?
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Incredibly, it is Vernon Wells, who in only 78 games this season leads the team in both homers (14) and RsBI (60). What are the chances that a healthy Vernon could keep a pace like that over a full season?
It goes without saying...
But we'll say it anyway: Roy Halladay (six innings, two runs, seven strikeouts) is awesome.
We remember back when Roy was 23 (hey! same age as Ricky Romero!) and he was getting knocked all over the place. We were pretty convinced back then that Kelvim Escobar was a star, Chris Carpenter was going to be a mediocre number four pitcher and that Halladay may end up being a washout.
Funny how things change.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Monday, August 25, 2008
Meaningful games mean so much
Maybe it was the excess caffeine, the hectic travel schedule that we had yesterday, or the wicked heat, but we'd like to think that the fact that yesterday's game meant something was the reason that we were sweating our way through the extra innings in yesterday's 6-5 loss to the Boston BastardPeople Sox.
Unfortunately, the loss reduces the Jays' chances of making the playoffs to an absurdly slim margin that even an inveterate apologist such as ourselves has a hard time believing in.
What's worse is that this happened in the last week of August. If the Jays had won and kept teasing our manly bits for another eight days, we'd be able to say without reservation that the Jays played "meaningful games in September". We'd just like to be able to counter the assertion that the Jays never play games of any sort of consequence with an example of one September series that meant something. We want to believe, goddamnit.
And frankly, we don't like to cheer for our team to "play the role of the spoiler" in the final weeks, because any troupe of ne'erdowells can play that role. Although if we have to be spoilers, we'd like to take the Redneck Riviera Rays down a peg starting tomorrow.
Sunday, August 24, 2008
OK, so I'm not really going to follow that, otherwise - what the hell am I doing here? But it made me feel better to say it, so piss off!
A few hours after I posted that I didn't think Marcum looked right, the Jays optioned him to AAA Syracuse. Let me repeat that, but in a more complicated manner this time - the guy now relied on as the Toronto Blue Jays #3 starter was demoted to the International League. In favor of John Parrish. Who was recently bumped for Scott Richmond. Who has since been demoted himself. Can somebody please explain just what in the fuck? Please?
I mean, I said so myself - since coming off the DL, he hasn't looked like "vintage" Shaun Marcum....but a demotion? Really? So, here's the frightening thing: it's not a health issue, but a mechanics issue - per JP (I know, I know)....which would be good news actually, if it were true. But word comes from Wilner that maybe it's an attitude thing? What? Our guy Marcum? Shaunie Marcum?
See, I hate reading shit like that. Instead of believing that Marcum is strutting around the clubhouse bragging about his change-up, I'm going to tell myself it's more a matter of being hardheaded and not taking instruction from resident pitching guru Brad Arnsberg. I can't live in a world where Shaun Marcum is a prick.
Vernon Wells is a man among boys, and Jesse's got his groove back
Vern was raking (4 for 5, 2 HR, 3 RBI) and putting on a clinic in the outfield today (2 webgems). So shut the fuck up about his contract already.
New #3 starter Jesse Litsch (um, wow) continued to show that maybe management knows how to handle young pitchers (making the first segment of this post entirely irrelevant, of course) by tossing 6 shutout innings against the Sox. If you're keeping track (and I am), that makes 13 scoreless innings of work since his recall.
Brett Cecil called, and he wants the keys to the Ricky Romero train
Brett Cecil's line Saturday night for the 'Cuse:
7 IP, Zero hits, Zero runs, 2 BB, 5 K
You read that correctly - I even spelled it out for you. Limited to a pitch count (90), Cecil no-hit Buffalo for 7 innings. Boners, my friends. Boners.
More fun with the Sons of Sam Horn
I had something ready to roll here for you, but Joanna pretty much nailed it already. Let me give you my favorite comment from this fantastic Sox forum, just for fun:
I hope Vernon Wells gets shot in the face. I don't care.
Now THAT is entertaining.
Saturday, August 23, 2008
You see, I've never liked Pedroia, but always kinda sorta maybe a little....admired him. These feelings came with a hearty side order of self-loathing, so I've always managed to repress them, but they were there - lurking. Then I happened across an article with Douchebag Jr. as the subject, and I no longer have to worry about these sick feelings of admiration for a Red Sock (is that right? Is that how you do it?).
If you're too lazy to click the link (hey - it's OK - sometimes I do it too), basically, Pedroia is a trash-talking loudmouth who constantly runs his gums and refuses to give credit to anyone he faces. You know - a mental edge sort of thing. He could be facing Roy Halladay in the midst of a no-no and come back to the dugout after a 3 pitch strikeout railing about how Doc has nothing.
So you can imagine what he was saying after he took Shaum Marcum deep in the first inning tonight..... "He ain't got shit!"...."Easy AB's tonight boys!"....."Even you can get a hit tonight, Tek!".....
And you know what? He'd be right.
Now, it's pretty hard to quibble with what Marcum has done this season - he's still 8-6 with a sub-4.00 ERA. But even though he'd put together a nice stretch of starts before this one, I can't quite shake the feeling that he's not all the way back from that mid-June elbow strain that cost him a month of the season. His fastball seems to be topping out at 86-87, which makes his bread and butter 81-82 change-up just a little less dazzling. And what about the sharp breaking ball? Where'd that go?
Is it just me? Does he look like the same pitcher to you? I'm remembering a guy from April-May-June who was in full command and making hitters look foolish, teasing them with his change-up and sneaking by fastballs as a result. Now I'm seeing a guy who doesn't look comfortable out there, has lost velocity, and is struggling to get hitters out.
I'm certainly not ripping on Marcum here. Far from it - what am I, a moron (rhetorical)? I'll tell you what I am, though, is shit scared that all is not well with Marcum's elbow and he's trying to pitch through it. I sure hope I'm only seeing something that isn't there, because that scenario won't end well for anybody.
The Blue Jays have a new player, and he's not one of my all-time favorites just yet
So, debut tonight for the great Jose A Bautista. Oh-fer one in a pinch hit appearance. LOSER! Just kidding, but.....I....just....don't....get....it. Yeah yeah, low-cost low-risk move for the Jays. The player-to-be-named, per Wilner guesstimate, will be a Russ Adams-John Parrish-Curtis Thigpen organizational type guy.
But...another utility infield guy? Really? We need more of that on this team? Oh wait - he now leads the team in homers (with 12 - barf)? I don't know. I'm just not feeling this one, JP. Maybe he proves me wrong and takes the lefty Lester deep in game 2 of the series.....but isn't that what Mencherson was supposed to do? (Kevin Mench as opposed to the now-DL'd Brad Wilkerson, I mean, but the 2 are virtually indistinguishable in my mind.)
Friday, August 22, 2008
What's that? Jose Bautista? That didn't make the ticker. The BLUE JAYS AA affiliate was giving away Clay Buchholz bobbleheads? It's a good thing our guy Snider was promoted, because I'm pretty sure he would have beat the piss out of the Fisher Cats PR genius behind that move. Purcey got knocked around? Bummer. Doc pummeled the Yankees? Boner. Anyways....it's good to be back.
Oh, and as an FYI going forward, the esteemed ToS will bring the gold Friday mornings and I'll try and drop a short Friday afternoon/evening post before I start really dumbing it down with a longer blast on Saturday.
My position hasn't changed
And with this being the second time this week that they Jays ended a series against the Axis of AL East Evil with an exclamation mark, we hope that someone recognizes that this team is finally on the upswing. Scratch that: we hope that the Yanks and Sox underestimate the Jays in every series for the rest of the year.
Fun stat of the day
Roy Halladay has not lost a game against the Yankees in Toronto since Opening Day 2003.
John McDonald is the Greatest Offensive Shortstop of Our Era
Right? If nothing else, he has four doubles and five RsBI in his last ten games, hitting .297 with a respectable (for him) .721 OPS. As much as we know that you can't expect a 34 year-old journeyman infielder to become something more than he is, we still think that if he gets regular playing time and sees big league pitchers every day, Johnnie Mac can put numbers up that will be respectable enough to keep him in the lineup, and keep his glove out in the field.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Okay, so that's a bit of an overstatement, given the fact that the perennially-dreadful Pirates couldn't even see fit to keep him on their Major League roster.
On the other hand, it is important to remember that even though Bautista's been languishing in Indianapolis since August 10, he's still hit more homers in 2008 (12) than anyone on the Jays roster.
Bautista strikes out a lot (77 whiffs in 314 ABs) and has a replacement level OPS of .729. Look across the stats, and Bautista pretty much matches whatever Matt Stairs has done this year, for better or for worse.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
This is so wrong on so many levels.
First and foremost, shouldn't there be some sort of moral imperative that prevent any the Blue Jays farm team from promoting one of their chief rivals? Are the Fisher Cats so hard up for fans that they feel the need to tap into the douchey Red Sox Nation in order to market to the Massholes? (Or more to the point, pseudo-Massholes!)
And more to the point, is the effigy of a 2-8 pitcher with a 6+ ERA really going to be an attraction? We guess there is no accounting for taste.
And to think that we were planning our summer holidays in Manchester, N.H. next summer. Never more!
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Yeah, we know that the playoffs are still a long shot, but that's what makes this next stretch of the season fun: Every game is going to at least feel like it matters. And did you see the reaction of the players after tonight's game? Hell, the Jays fans were outcheering the Yankees fans at the Dome tonight!
Now let's move to the Roll Call...
A.J. Burnett: Wicked awesome. Has he pitched a game as a Blue Jay better than tonight's?
Adam Lind: More awesome than awesome. We can believe how often we're referring to him.
Lyle Overbay: A gritty awesome gamer with the glove. That was an amazing game saver in the ninth.
Johnny Damon: No longer an option in centerfield. But thanks to Joe Girardi for putting him out there tonight.
J.P. Arencibia: Drove in his 100th RBI of the season tonight. At least someone in the Jays system is going to reach that milestone.
Monday, August 18, 2008
Sometimes, it's hard to even remember how your gallivanting about the interwebs brings you to some thing of such sublime absurdity.
We think we started by looking to see when the mighty Thor was going to stop hammering us with angry thunderbolts of lightening, and suddenly we're watching a slow motion video of the lovely and beguiling Weather Network anchor Emily Vukovic gesticulating in slow motion to the timeless strains of K.C. and the Sunshine Band.
And this has nothing to do with the Jays, but frankly, when you come across something as unexpected as this, you want to share it if only to prove to yourself that it actually happened.
God bless Emily (the newly minted Official Weather Forecaster of the Tao of Stieb), and god bless her overly enthusiastic fans. Shake shake shake.
Sunday, August 17, 2008
Also, it's kinda hard to commit ourselves to family and relaxation when we're gleefully bouncing off the walls at the 15-4 bitchslapping that the Jays just laid upon the Beantowners.
Yah chowdah heads! Why don't you take those 15 runs and shove them up Sweet Caroline's pooper?! (Sorry about that. We're not exactly gracious in victory. Clearly, it comes from lack of experience in that particular area.)
A sweep is a sweep is sweep
Just in case you are wondering: Two wins in a shortened two-game series still constitutes a sweep in our mind. SWEEEEP, BoSox biotches!! And (excuse the Portuondo moment here): How sweeeeeep it is!
And while we should heed the perpetual admonitions of the Drunk Jays Fans to simmer down, we're buzzing a little on the idea that the Jays chopped down their deficit in the Wild Card race to seven games. What a bunch of teases these Jays are.
Don't look now, but Adam Lind is making up for lost and squandered time
It's hardly Lind's fault that he wasn't given the ABs earlier in the season, but he's certainly doing quite a job of catching up to the rest of the lineup in terms of counting stats. With his eighth homer this afternoon, he sits just three behind team leader Matt Stairs, and his four RsBI today put Lind at 34 for the season, which is within sniffing distance to Scott Rolen (38) Rod Barajas (40), Matt Stairs (41) and Marco Scutaro (42) in a fraction of the at bats.
We desperately want to see Lind take over the home run lead before the season's up. And it's not that we want to take delight in seeing a dubious player personnel decision proven wrong, but more a matter of wanting to find a reason for hope in 2009.
Roy Halladay: Still awesomely awesome
We say something along these lines every time Roy Halladay takes the mound, but Saturday night's complete game 4-1 win was yet another marvel. That's EIGHT COMPLETE GAMES on the season, more than the entire staffs of 27 other MLB teams. Only Cleveland (9) and Milwaukee (8) have as many complete games as the Good Doctor.
We're not sure if we actually appreciate on a day-to-day basis just how Halladay has moved to a whole other level in 2008. And were it not for the short-sightedness of Baseball Writers Association of America, who generally stop their examination into who deserves they Cy Young votes approximately a half a nanosecond after reviewing leader in the "wins" column, we might be able to have a really interesting debate on the relative merits of Halladay's season versus that of Cliff Lee. More on that in the coming days.
Saturday, August 16, 2008
Ricky Romero train
Well, not exactly a derailment, but not exactly the smoothest of rides either. My favorite disappointing 6th overall selection took the loss and gave us a line of 6 IP, 7H, 5 ER, 3BB, 3K in a loss to Pawtucket. Hey, at least he outdueled BFBC (Big Fat Bartolo Colon), who could only muster one inning of work.
Down goes Richmond
Well, looks like that's the end of the Scott Richmond experiment, as he was optioned back to Syracuse to make room for Wolfman Tallet. I'm already preparing myself for Griff's column.
Friday, August 15, 2008
Thursday, August 14, 2008
Seems like everyone wants to cut themselves off a nice tasty slice of Raul. Twins fans want them some Raul. So do the Massholes.
MLB Trade Rumors notes that of the "contending" teams, the Jays would get their crack at Ibanez before either of those teams. And it wouldn't make a lick of sense for them to go back to that empty well again, but screw it, man...We want Raul!
We don't even care if it's a dumb move.
Updatey stuff: Sportsnet says the Jays have run Wells and Johnny Mac through waivers. The Minny Star-Tribune says the Twins didn't claim Ibanez. Geoff Baker mentions that the White Jays might have claimed him to get the draft picks. Ibanez doesn't think that anyone's gonna get him.
Our take: If the Jays acquire Raul Ibanez (which they won't), he would assume the mantle of the Greatest Blue Jay of All Time from the injured Scott Rolen. We're crossing our fingers.
Last night, Rios got a slow jump on a ball in the ninth, and then tried to make a running basket catch only to drop the ball and give the Tigers an extra out with the heart of their order coming to the plate. This is not so good.
In spite of the miscue (which led to two unearned runs), the Jays went on to win 4-3. And while we don't want to pile on like so many of the chattering JaysTalk callers, Rios really needs to pull his head out of his ass.
Rios has so much talent, but these mental lapses on the basepaths and in the field are really starting to overshadow the good things that he does. We get that these are the dog days of a long season, but if Rios is feeling sleepy and goofy on the field, then he should pound back a couple of Red Bulls and wake the fuck up.
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Even with last night's 6-4 win over the Tigers, the Jays remain eight games back of the Red Sox for the Wild Card, although such considerations are probably way beyond moot at this point. Though they may be able to make up some ground on the BoSox, Yankees and Rays over the next two weeks of head-to-head matchups, the more likely scenario is that they split those series and end up pretty much where they are now.
And don't forget that with his acquisition by the Red Sox, the Jays will have to face the mighty Paul Byrd a few more times before the season is over. Given the fact that he easily disposed of the Jays with a 94-pitch complete game performance on Saturday, the Jays had better hope that they miss him in the rotation and draw punks like Dice-K and Josh Beckett instead.
Cito's lineup madness
It's probably best for everyone if we just forget Cito Gaston's bizarre insistence over the weekend on batting Brad Wilkerson in the second spot in the lineup. Maybe the dusty old book of baseball says that a left-handed hitter should hit second, but Wilkerson's big long wild stroke makes Adam Dunn look like Rod Carew.
Still, we're watching with interest how Cito utilizes Adam Lind. After a great game at the dish on Friday (2-4 with a couple of solid singles), Lind was bumped up to the cleanup spot on Saturday, where he promptly went 0-4. Lind was dropped to the five-hole on Sunday (0-4 again) and down to the seven-hole for the last two games, where he's gone 3-8 with a homer and three RsBI.
It's probably all a load of shite to speculate that any of this means anything, but we'd prefer to see Cito leave Lind lower in the lineup for the time being. We get that it must be tempting to move him up, especially since he is hitting better than anyone else on the roster at this point, but just let him settle in and hopefully see some fastballs with Rios, Wells or Overbay on base ahead of him.
Conspiracy theories? We got one.
A strange notion struck us over the weekend after we saw one too many hard-hit balls by Jays hitters die on the warning track: is there something funny going on with the baseballs in Toronto? We know that Colorado keeps theirs in a humidor or a deep chest freezer or something, but what about at Rogers Centre?
If the Jays pitching staff is mighty like few others (3.66 ERA ties them with the Dodgers for tops in the Majors), and their hitting is lowly like few others (only the Giants have hit fewer homers than the Jays' 81 so far), isn't it reasonable to ask whether if there is something in the environment that is causing the offense to be depressed in Toronto's games?
Somebody get us Oliver Stone on the phone.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
But as confused as we are about how we feel about this latest marginal roster move, we're pretty sure that Stewart's release from the team was well-earned. Stewart's prolonged absences from the lineup because of his old man's legs and his feeble performance (.628 OPS) over the 52 games in which he managed to drag his carcass onto the field pretty much sealed his fate.
All of this to preface the following question: Why is Shannon Stewart bellyaching to Jeremy Sandler about his release?
"In all honesty I don't really understand why I was brought over here, the whole experience didn't make much sense," Stewart told the CanWest scribe.
Stewart doesn't get why he was brought in at a discount when basically every other team passed on him? And he doesn't get why he didn't get all of the at bats as a DH/corner outfielder when he could barely slug over .300? And he didn't understand why the Jays couldn't have given him a shot to finish off the season in the Majors when he didn't even produce at Menchian or Wilkersonian levels this year?
When we look back at the things that we wrote earlier in the year, we were wrong about plenty of things. But when it comes to Stewart's signing, we pretty much nailed it:
Frankly, Stewart is a guy who has aged quickly, has a fraction of the power you'd hope for from a corner outfielder, can't reasonably play any other outfield position, and has hamstrings that could spontaneously combust at any moment. So we're not printing up the playoff tickets quite yet.And because everything comes full circle
We just thought we'd mention that the Twins have signed Bobby Kielty to a minor league deal. So order has been restored anew in the universe. Peace be upon us.
Rolen to the DL. Wells back from the DL. Litsch up, Parrish down. Shannon Stewart let loose on an ice
Does any of this matter at this point?
The Jays had a great opportunity this weekend to make some hay and beat up on one of the weaker teams in the league in Cleveland, and they looked flat out awful at the plate the entire series. Sometime around the sixth inning of Sunday's game, we nearly pitched ourselves over the railing from the 500 section, which is reason enough for us never to sit there again.
We wish we could get jazzed about yesterday's win over the Tigers, but we're just a little too depressed to even care.
Monday, August 11, 2008
Well, the Greatest Blue Jay of All Time has finally hit the DL with a bum shoulder, and nobody should be surprised if that's it for his season. I know that I certainly won't be. In my mind, it comes down to one of the following options:
(a) rest and therapy, which, reading between the lines (as I so often do - not sure if you've noticed), means "learn to play through the pain, but realize you'll never be as productive offensively as you once were", or....
(b) endure a fourth (fourth!) surgery on that ailing left shoulder in hopes of getting it right, and returning to form next season.
Ouch. Yes, I realize I already said that, but do either of those options look appealing to you? How do you think they look to Rolen? Now, I could be wrong on this - let me rephrase - I hope that I'm wrong on this, and the rest/therapy option is all that's needed, Rolen comes back strong for a few weeks to close out the season, and he's at full strength to start 2009. That would be the best case scenario. That would be, in Blue Jays blogginology, fucking nails.
But let's just say that I would be very surprised if that's all it took to get Rolen back to the 40 doubles-smashing, 20 HR hitting, 90 RBI collecting, .280 hitter I had hoped (there's that word again) the Jays were getting. After all, he had a full offseason (and then some, thanks to the weirdest fielding practice injury in history) to rest the shoulder, and apart from a hot start and the rarest of rare stretches, he hasn't looked right at the plate all season. So why would 2 weeks of DL time make a difference?
And that sucks. Really, really sucks. Hard. But you know what teems with equal amounts of bullshit? The "fire JP" crowd that chooses to use this as yet another indictment on his record.
"Look at Glaus this season! He has 21 HR and 79 RBI for St. Louis! And we have no power in our lineup! JP screwed up again! Asshole!"
Look, I'd like to think I'm pretty down the middle with Ricciardi, in that I see a lot of sense in a many of the moves he makes (the Overbay trade, the Accardo trade, signing Scutaro for next to nothing, etc), but disagree with close to an equal amount of others (the Thomas signing, Shannon Stewart, Brevin Mencherson, etc). Having said that, I don't know how anyone could score the Rolen-Glaus trade as anything but a win-win for both sides at the time of the deal.
Unhappy injury-prone third baseman for unhappy injury-prone third baseman. Bad wing for bad wheels. A slight dropoff in offense for a huge upgrade in defense. That was the score at the time, and to apply the "Glaus is killing it!" logic now is complete and unequivocal bullshit.
First of all, it's laughable hindsight to compare offensive stats, because nobody was predicting so little from Rolen, just as nobody was predicting this much from Glaus. Secondly, does anybody really think Glaus would be putting up the same numbers in Toronto this year? On the fieldturf that was somehow apparently destroying his body? In a lineup that doesn't feature Albert Pujols?
Finally, let's not forget that Glaus, while being a classy pro about the situation, didn't want to be in Toronto any longer, so getting back an established Gold Glove caliber player with potentially plus offensive capabilities - at the same position - was just about the best case scenario. And that's exactly what Ricciardi accomplished with the trade.
AJ Burnett isn't talking to the media any more
Well, at least not to Wilner, and I'm scratching my head over this one. AJ says he's unhappy with the way he's portrayed on the radio..... but if you read his always excellent blog, you'll see that Wilner is his biggest defender. I guess AJ doesn't read blogs (not even this one, AJ?). I'm also guessing you can thank the Bobcat and his Merry Band of Baseball Ignorami for this development.
There's good-flaky AJ (inappropriate hat tip to the crowd, warming up to "Hangin' Tough"), and there's bad-flaky AJ (this). Come on dude, let's not spend our final weeks together this way. Don't go away mad.
Then again, maybe he's just making it easier for both of us to say goodbye.
I don't want to talk about the Indians series
...so I'm not going to.
Sunday, August 10, 2008
As a rule, I try not to be too reactionary to the results of any single series (unless they are in October, of course). Having said that, a sweep today at the hands of the Indians doesn't bode too well for my optimistic take on the upcoming 15 game stretch against the AL East, does it?
The end of Brevin
Kevin Mench was optioned back to Syracuse to make room for a "healthy-enough" Vernon Wells. Given that it's late in the season, with Shannon Stewart presumably close to returning, and September callups on the horizon, it's probably the end of the Kevin Mench era in Toronto.
We'll always have that sweet walk-off single, Kevin. Thanks for the memories.
I'm extending beyond the usual weekend duties with the Tao taking a well-deserved long weekend, so please downgrade expectations for tomorrow's read accordingly.
5:45 PM Update - aaannnnnd Mench is back, as Scott Rolen hits the DL with his bum shoulder. You just can't get rid of this guy. More on Rolen tomorrow....
Saturday, August 9, 2008
(No, really. I do this every night. Six teams, from Rookie League to AAA. You call it obsessive, I call it "staying on top of things". Leave me alone.)
The day after I put myself out there with Ricky Romero, he drops this pitching line for the 'Cuse:
7 IP, 5H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 10 SO
Grab a ticket, friends. Lots of room left on the train.
And since we're here....
You probably already know about Travis Snider's promotion to AAA (um, let's ignore the 3 K's tonight), but how about this year's first round selection, David Cooper, receiving his second promotion since being drafted? Scouts attached the trendy catchphrase "advanced bat" to him coming out of the draft, but this is ridiculous.
In his 3 minor league stops through Auburn-Lansing-Dunedin, Cooper is raking at a clip of .347 - 4 HR - 40 RBI through his first 47 games as a pro. You might think the 4 taters look low, but give the kid a little time and some of the 21 doubles he's hit so far (oh, did I mention those? In 47 games?) will start clearing the fence.
Call this a continuation of the "Reasons for optimism...." post. Don't even get me started on the potential of some of the kids down in Lansing.
Friday, August 8, 2008
In a strange twist of fate, it did actually set up the post I had been thinking about......reasons for Jays fans to be optimistic about this season and next....or not. You decide.
Schedule = opportunity
One week from today, the Jays begin a stretch of fifteen games facing the three teams ahead of them in the division - 6 against Boston, 6 against the Yankees, and 3 against Tampa (fuck you, Joe Maddon). Wouldn't it be interesting to have a gander at the standings if the Jays can take, say, ten or twelve of fifteen? Admit it....a little exciting, no? Borderline delusional, yes....but still something to be optimistic about. Even the asshat bandwagon JaysTalk callers crowd has to be able to see that.
Bottom line - if you can't get up for that stretch of games, then turn in your fan card and apply for citizenship to Red Sox Nation. Or join the Rays Rebellion (that's a freebie, from me to you, Tampa fans). Or latch onto the Evil Empire. Whatever.
On the flip side, they could lose ten or twelve of those fifteen, and be buried before this month is out - leading to......
It sucks having to be excited about admitting your season is over, but hey, at least you get a chance to see the kids. Ricciardi has said he didn't expect to bring up a whole whack (I think those were his exact words - a whole whack) of players, but we could see the likes of Robinzon Diaz, Free Buck Coats, and Davis Romero for a cup of coffee.
And, are you ready for this? You sure? I have a sneaking suspicion we could have a Ricky Romero sighting in Toronto before the season is out. Sounds crazy, I know, but he's been promoted to AAA already, pitching reasonably well, and Ricciardi could be establishing make-or-break time with the former 6th overall pick. Just keep an eye on him, is all I'm saying.
Hey, did you know the Jays passed on Troy Tulowitzki to pick this kid? Someone should phone in on 'Wednesdays with JP' and ask about that.
Question: AJ Burnett, Frank Thomas, David Eckstein, Shannon Stewart, and Greggg Zaun?
Answer: Who are approximately $35,000,000 of payroll coming off the books at the conclusion of this season.
In my mind, I'm already spending Fast Teddy's money. Let's see.....$15 million for a front-line starter to replace AJ....$10 million for a mashing 1B/DH who actually owns a fielding glove and isn't 40+ years old with declining batspeed.....maybe $8 million for a legit everyday shortstop who can swing - with apologies to Johnny Mac, who's been out of his mind defensively lately and chipping in with the bat. So the money's gone and we haven't addressed the losses (bear with me here) of Zaun and Stewart. Shit! Now what?
The Farm - 2009
The Jays minor league system consistently ranks in the bottom third (or worse) of the league by guys who get paid to know these things - our guy Keith Law, BA's Jim Callis and John Manuel, etc. And who am I, some shmuck blogger, to argue with that knowledge? But for the holes in the roster at the major league level that need to be plugged, I think the Jays are in decent shape.
Zaun will be replaced by one of Diaz, Brian Jeroloman, or JP Arencibia. My money's on Jeroloman to be a twice-a-week guy next season behind Barajas. His bat might not be ready, but Jeroloman was never about the bat - his value lies in defensive abilities, handling a staff, and walks. Lots and lots of walks. Besides, 2009 will be a nice little transition year for when he assumes the same role in 2010 behind Arencibia.
Diaz seems the odd man out here. I don't know that anyone thinks his future is behind the plate, and offensively, he's Vladdy Guerrerro without the pop. Which is to say, he's a singles hitter who swings at everything. And Curtis Thigpen....we hardly knew ya.
Shannon Stewart will be replaced by.....wait a minute. Shannon Stewart is still on the team?
Travis Snider, Brett Cecil, and JP Arencibia. These are the blue-chippers, and sure, we could see them sometime in 2009, but I don't think it's fair to expect big contributions from them.
After all, we have to have something to look forward to in 2010, right asshat bandwagon JaysTalk callers?
Thursday, August 7, 2008
But while our language may have been a little off-putting, the substance of that comment stands: we are sick and tired of people smugly going declaring that they are through with the Jays, or that they are going to stop following them, or that they are never going to the 'Dome again.
Here's the thing: It shouldn't be a source of pride that you are giving up on your team.
Sure, every team needs their casual fans who will drift in and drift out depending on the team's fortunes. That's a given. But if you are a casual fan, then don't be a fucking obnoxious douchebag about how you've had enough of the team. Just pack up your shit and leave quietly, because your lack of commitment to the Blue Jays means that you don't have any right to be indignant at the shite state of affairs that the team may be in. So fuck off.
Seriously: you think this is bad? Do you remember sitting through about five years of Alex Fucking Gonzalez whiffing on a breaking ball away for strike one in every goddamned at bat? Do you remember when Orlando Merced was the big masher in the heart of the order? Do you remember Shawn Green being benched in favour of Reuben Sierra? Or having to cheer for Craig Grebeck, Jacob Brumfield, or Frank Castillo? Do you remember watching Joey Hamilton haul his stupid goatee and his fat ass out to the mound every five days to disappoint us once again? Do you remember the Jays signing Danny Darwin and Frank Viola in the same year? And releasing them both within months?
You wanna fucking talk about Russ Adams again? How about we talk about Eddie Zosky?
You think that Alex Rios doesn't always have his head in the game? Check the Level of Excellence for the name George Bell. If you are a fan, you may remember that he suffered from some of the same lapses.
You think that watching a team that is seven games out of the Wild Card and two games above .500 is painful? You don't know what pain is!
You know why we sat through all of those years? Because we are die-hard. Which is to say that we don't discard the team when they get off to a slow start, or when another team is leapfrogging them in the standings. We stick with it because the promise is out there that one day, we'll reach the glorious heights again, and we'll feel that elation.
And you know when that day comes, you fuckers will be out there celebrating in the streets as though you didn't betray the team a dozen times since Joe Carter touched 'em all (Judas!!). But deep down, you'll know what a pathetic fraud you are. So don't be so proud of yourselves and your bold declarations now.
There are lots of you fairweather fans out there who can talk about the salad days of the franchise, and how excited you were when they won in '92 and '93. But do you know how we can tell who the real fans are? They're the people who remember the collapses in 1987 and 1990. They remember Garth Iorg's dribbler and Frank Tanana's junkballing and Mickey Tettleton hitting a walkoff homer on the last day of the season off Tom Henke.
That pain runs deep.
So seriously: if you want to brag about what a choking crybaby girlie-man panty-waisted nancy-boy you are, and how you're too much of an emotional wimp to make any sort of a commitment to a team, then go right ahead. Tell the world that you were over-pampered by your clinging mother, and you're too much of a sissy to hang in there through the bad times.
Maybe while you are at it (and in between your manicure and chest-waxing), you could tell your significant other how you'll leave them as soon as the going gets tough because you can't hack it if everything doesn't go your way.
But believe us when we tell you that you'll maintain your dignity if you just shut up and leave quietly.
Rod Barajas is an offensive monster and a defensive beast: In addition to his montrous first inning dinger off rookie Gio Gonzalez, Barajas had a stellar game behind the plate. Rod the God made a great play to pick a John McDonald throw out of the dirt to get a force out at home with the bases loaded, and he called an excellent game for Marcum. We think...or we suppose...Maybe we're just piling on Zaunie here, but it seems to us as though Jays pitchers look more comfortable pitching to him.
Alex Rios is quietly turning things around: In his last seven games, Rios has scored eight runs and has 11 hits. While only two of those hits have been for extra bases, Rios is putting good wood on the ball and is keeping the line moving. His OPS this season is still sitting at about 100 points below last season's, but it has been ticking slowly upwards since his dreadful May, when he posted a .585 OPS.
Given his performance this season, we're coming around to the idea that instead of thinking of Rios as a a corner outfielder who mashes, maybe he should serve as the Jays' leadoff hitter going forward, somewhat in the vein of a Johnny Damon (in his prime): a leadoff guy who hits for average with a bit of pop and lots of speed. Assuming, of course, that the Jays have a better option next year in the middle of the lineup.
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
Also, the PTS baseball segments are generally stretched out over five minutes, which is a seemingly endless amount of time to allow Jim Kelley to try to make an argument about anything.
(We think Kelley's point tonight was that J.P. overspent Rogers' money on A.J. Burnett, and therefore should have overspent with the personnel that he has accumulated in order to acquire Jason Bay. Which is quite possibly the stupidest thing we've ever heard spoken on Sportsnet, the Fan 590, or on any sports talk radio program anywhere.)
Come on, guys. We fucking well get that you hate J.P., and that anything he does is wrong in your eyes, and of course you are right because the proof lies in the fact that they haven't won the World Series under his watch.
This whole act is so tiresome. We're almost rooting for J.P. to get fired at this point if only so that the thin-skinned Toronto media can get over their fucking imaginary wounds and move on.
Hopefully, Tony LaCava won't offend anyone's precious sensibilities.
Monday, August 4, 2008
Unfortunately for our sense of self worth, we found lots of sound reason and salient points on the other sites today. Such as...
Snider in T.O.in '09?
It's not completely unreasonable to think that it makes sense to have the Great Big Giant Pasty White HopeTM Travis Snider play in the bigs next season, or so says Neate Sager in his always readable Zen Dayley column on Out of Left Field.
Vernon Wells is the worst centerfielder in the world
For a good part of last season and most of this one, we've had this nagging little voice in the back of our head that has been telling us that, Gold Glove be damned, Vernon Wells is not a great defensive center fielder anymore. Now, we can put a name to that voice: Jon Hale. In yet another fine piece on the Mockingbird blog, Hale points to some numbers that pretty much confirm that Wells is a shadow of his former self in the field.
Lloyd the Barber kinda loses his shit
You know what's weird? The fellas at Ghostrunner on First are always pretty consistently insightful and make us laugh, and yet we can't remember linking to them anytime recently. Hmm. How does happen? Anyways, Lloyd the Barber, girding his loins for his second stint as the "weekend sommelier" at Walkoff Walk, had a great piece on losing his religion and finding it hard to keep up the fight as a Jays fan in view of what a shit sandwich of a season this has turned out to be. (We feel your pain, buddy.)
Joanna takes Curt Schilling to task
The always ladylike and demure Joanna from Hum and Chuck had a few choice words for Curt Schilling. He had it coming.
But seriously, don't panic.
Not that we're somehow saying that the Jays have more than a snowballs chance in Hades of getting anything resembling a sniff of October baseball. But given a few days away from the daily grind, it struck us that this season might not be the unmitigated failure that we all seem to think.
To wit, if you had said sometime in February that the Jays would go a large part of the season without Vernon Wells, Dustin McGowan, Casey Janssen, Jeremy Accardo, and Aaron Hill, then our assumption would have been that this team would be on the bullet train into the shitter, and that we needn't pay any mind this season.
Maybe we're too blissed out on the tiny bit of relaxation that we've managed to sneak in this weekend, but we're not ready to napalm the entire organization based on a middling season.
(That was kind of a load of horseshit, wasn't it?)
Vernon's on his way back. Hooray?
Shawn Shroyer from MLB.com (whodat?) reports that Vernon Wells will come off the DL in a week to ten days. Updating our previous post on the peculiar matter of the Jays' performance in V-Dub's absence, the Jays now sit at 26-20 in games where he is on the sidelines. So is this good news or bad news?
In spite of the record, we'd lean towards the former...every night that we see Kevin Mench in the lineup is a night that we pine for Vernon's return.
Sunday, August 3, 2008
Hunter, you made the right call by not buying Travis Metcalf's little song-and-dance routine on the faux-hit by pitch and waving him back to the plate.
Then out trots Ronny Washington, who you basically allowed to throw a bucket of cold water directly on your crotch when you agreed to confer with the rest of the crew.
By changing the call and awarding Young Travis (TM) the base, you completed the humiliation by essentially pulling down your pants for all to see.
That was bullshit, Hunter. Total bullshit. Of course, David Purcey didn't HAVE to throw an 0-2 meatball to Gerald Laird (thanks for finding your power stroke this series, by the way) two batters later, but that wouldn't have made for much of a post now, would it?
Saturday, August 2, 2008
BJ Ryan completely shit the bed, but in fairness, it was just his 3rd blown save in 23 chances. At 87%, that's not too far off from the nails season he delivered in 2006, and he is just 15 months removed from Tommy John. "They" say that command is the last thing to come back, and in Ryan's case, "they" appear to be correct. So let's not get all Mitch Williams on him just yet for doing what any pitcher would be doing so soon after major reconstructive elbow surgery.
(And no, I haven't researched the performance trends of Tommy John survivors, that was pretty much just off my ass.)
....and the other guy should be smiling
Brandon League was dealing again last night. In his last 6 innings pitched, the little tsunami that could has only given up 2 hits, 2 walks, and no earned runs. Now before you start screaming "SAMPLE SIZE!" on me, our guy Tabby astutely pointed out in a broadcast earlier this week that pitching guru Brad Arnsberg moved him all the way over to the first base side of the rubber, and he's been lights out ever since.
Me, I'd like to believe it's the Cito Magic (TM) doing it's thing and the Young Man (TM) is back to being the guy we saw in 2006.
About Adam Lind
Moved up to the 5 spot (you see? see what I've been telling you would happen?), Lind delivered a clutch RBI triple to give the Jays the lead in the 9th.... which was promptly deemed irrelevant about 15 minutes later, of course. The Jays better give this kid some support, or it'll be another fruitless career with no playoff appearances on his resume.
(Is it too early to say that? Seems like it might be a little early.)
Friday, August 1, 2008
And so it has come to pass. The trade deadline, that is.... and along with it, any real reason to get excited about this club one way or the other down the stretch. On one hand, there was the possibility the Jays would be buyers with names like Jason Bay and Raul Ibanez floated in the hours leading up to the deadline. The Ibanez rumours (that's right, with a "u") in particular reeked of desperation bullshit. But hey, at least he would have been a nice bat Cito could plunk into the middle of the order. He would have fit nicely sandwiched into the New Murderers Row of Overbay-Barajas-Stairs-Rolen. Might have upped the enjoyment factor down the stretch, is all I'm saying.
On the other hand, the Jays could have (should have?) been sellers....and yeah, that would mean losing some players we may have grown fond of (that was for dramatic effect, folks), but under the "sellers" scenario, we could have at least convinced ourselves that the prospects coming back could be difference makers down the road.
Instead, we have the status quo, and it's probably fitting. Oh sure, the team will probably go on a nice little 10 of 12 run sometime before the end of the season, but I've been fooled too many times into thinking the team had turned the corner....only to lose 2 of 3 at home to Tampa Bay.
Oh, I'll still watch. I'll still cheer. Full disclosure, I'll still get way too wrapped up in a Wednesday night game against Oakland. But I'll probably be doing it with an eye on 2009. Unless we take the next 5 of 6, of course.
Memo to fans of the Tampa Bay Rays
Seriously now....fuck off! Your team is good. Real good, in fact. Better than any of us thought it would be. You have Evan Longoria, Bossman Junior, and Carl Crawford to be the cornerstones of the offense for years. You have Scott Kazmir, Jimmy Shields, Matt Garza, and David Price to give you a formidable rotation to match those sticks.
But you know what, you were a fucking terrible team for 10 years, and we actually felt pretty bad for you. Cut you some slack, I'd say. Must have been the Canadian in us, I suppose.
And you? You've become smarmy pricks. Have you learned nothing from the Massholes? At least Red Sox Nation (hate the term, by the way - fills me with rage) waited until they had a World Series title under their collective belts before turning up the douche factor. You guys? You're snapping the knob off the dial 100 games into the only winning season in franchise history.