Saturday, July 31, 2010

Alex Anthopoulos doesn't care for your prospect rankings

Late to the party as always, but I'd be remiss if I didn't chime in with my own meaningless bullshit concerning the Jays' latest move as the trade deadline approaches. A move I still can't quite pin down in my mind, but more on that later......

But no, this post isn't even about the merits of Gose vs Wallace. It's about Anthopoulos. And I think it's safe to say this:

Alex Anthopoulos doesn't care what Baseball America thinks.

He doesn't care what Keith Law thinks.

And don't take this the wrong way - we're all friends here, yes? - but he especially doesn't give a shit about what you think about the players involved in his deal (even if he's far too polite - how Canadian! - to actually say so).

And right or wrong - no matter how you feel about this trade - there's merit to that. Anthopoulos has placed his flag in the ground and tied his fortunes to the opinions within the massive scouting staff he's assembled. Not to public opinion. Not to twitter feeds. Not to mainstream analysts. To his scouts, and to his own eyes.

Anthopoulos (& his staff) had it bad for Anthony Gose. He is the guy they wanted. So he's the guy they got (writing skills!). And that's the way it should be, shouldn't it? The GM of the team - the man probably most responsible for the club's success or failure - should do things his way with the players he wants.

How I feel is irrelevant. I might feel, for example, that dealing away the player long led to believe was the 2011 everyday first baseman sets the club back. Anthopoulos obviously feels differently. Why? Could be that there's another trade for a 1B in the works. Could be that he sees the club stronger with Mike Jacobs Adam Lind playing everyday in the field. Or it could very well be that given half a season to evaluate Brett Wallace on a daily basis....he realized there wasn't as much there as he previously thought.

Or it could just be that his scout-crush for Anthony Gose was so massive that parting with Wallace was just a painful measure of doing business. Time will tell if it was the right call, but like I'm fond of saying around these parts (apparently)....process over outcome rules the day.

Quickly - Trade Deadline
* If Jon Heyman turns out to be correct (he won't), then process over outcome can kindly fuck off. Light-hitting middle infield non-prospect in exchange for MLB's current home run & beard leader? No.

* A day after blogger The Southpaw and I eerily simultaneously tweet about the possibility of Yonder Alonso becoming the new Brett Wallace.....Jeff Blair chimes in with word the Reds want "in" on Scott Downs. Cue Twilight Zone music....

* How come there is absolutely no buzz surrounding John Buck? If Jose Bautista is "sell high" Exhibit 1A, Buck has to be 1B, no?

* Similarly, no buzz around any of the Jays young starters? Seems like more of an offseason move, I suppose.

* .....and by the time I next post, none of this will be relevant. 4 PM Saturday can't come soon enough!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Tale of the Tape: Travis Snider hits JACKS!

It's been a while, and maybe you've forgotten, or maybe you've been distracted by all of the love you had for Alex Gonzalez, John Buck and José Bautista. But Travis Snider is back, and he hits the ball awesomely hard.

Drew over at GROF got us revved up for the return by pointing us to some snazzy Hit Tracker ball flight and hit speed and trajectory information. (119.7 mph? Are you kidding me?) Which, in turn, only made us hungry for some moving pictures of The Rosy-Cheeked Phenom smacking jacks hither and yon.

Let's go to the un-embeddable digital videotape!

Dinger #1 - 04/15/10, versus the White Sox: A drive well into the 200's, with a bat flip and a Rolen-esque race around the bases. Distance: 435 ft. Speed: 111.4 mph. BLAMMO!

Dinger #2 - 04/19/10, versus the Royals: The most towering home run of the year for the Jays so far, with an apex of 138 feet. Gave David DeJesus a crick in his neck. Distance: 389 Speed: 103.9 KERRUNCH!

Dinger #3 - 04/29/10, versus Oakland: The second half of back to back jacks. Distance: 424 ft. Speed: 111.0 BABOOOOOM!

Dinger # 4 - 05/03/10, at Cleveland: A frickin' laser beam that nearly eats up a foolish Clevelander's hand. Distance: 373 ft. Speed: 119.7 mph!!!1 WHHHHHHHHHIIIIISHNAP!

Dinger #5 - 05/12/10, at Boston: Taking a Tim Wakefield soft toss and slapping it back into the Massholian masses. Distance: 394 ft. Speed: 106.9 mph. SMACK!

Dinger #6 -
5/14/10, versus Texas: At the conclusion of an epic 11-pitch battle that surely led to two more DL stints for Rich Harden, a long loud shot off the facing above the 200's. Distance: 437 ft. Speed 109.2 mph. KEERRRRANG!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Gambling on José Bautista

We're not sure that we qualify as charter members of the Bautista Appreciation Society, but we've looked pretty kindly on him since he was acquired for Robinson Diaz almost two years ago.

Our thought on him at the time was that he was a good player with positional flexibility who could, in a pinch, play every day and provide you with enough offense to get by. He was John McDonald with more pop, or some variation on Marco Scutaro. Certainly, something better than Hector Luna.

At this point, it's hard to even attempt to rationalize what that the Jays have in JoBau, especially after a night of making Orioles pitchers' heads snap back. But considering what the Jays gave up to get him (a guy who is now the backup catcher in Toledo rocking a .592 OPS), the Jays are pretty much playing with the house's money at this point with JoBau.

If they let him stick around and go through the arbitration process and he suddenly turns into a pumpkin (as Keith Law insinuated he would on last night's Prime Time Sports), then the Jays are out some salary, but not much more.

If the Jays were to take Law's advice and move Bautista before the deadline and before what KLaw considers his inevitable downturn, it's possible that the Jays could get a couple of prospects who might be in the Top 10 of someone's system, and who might be amongst the five-of-ten to make it to the bigs, and might be one of the two who stick, and who might be the one who is a productive, everyday player.

Either way, there are an awful lot of "mights" in those equations, aren't there?

Our thought remains that the Jays should let this season and the first half of the next play out, and see what they have in JoBau at that point. He might not need to be this type of monster for the rest of his career with the Jays to have value. If he is a late bloomer who could offer 25 homers, an OPS over .850 and a great outfield arm, then maybe you see this through. If he regresses much further back, then so be it. Maybe the team didn't sell the asset at the top of its value, but really, how many do?

We've been bothered lately with the notion that Bautista fits into a category with past Jays 30+ homer flashes, like Ed Sprague, Tony Batista and Brad Fullmer. But if you keep yourself from overestimating the value of the prospects that you're going to get back for him, maybe you can be comfortable walking away from the table no better or worse then when you sat down.

José Bautista Fact - He's better than Matt Wieters
Going back to Keith Law (because I seem to love to pick apart his arguments these days): He said last year that "Sliced bread is actually the best thing since Matt Wieters."

Well, here's a gentleman's wager for KLaw: We'd be willing to bet that - in spite of the precipitous downturn that is anticipated any moment now because of his age - José Bautista finishes up his career with more home runs than Matt Wieters.

(And what are the chances that we're still blogging when either of those guys finish their career? Cripes...We'll be damn near retired by then!)

Monday, July 26, 2010

A modest proposal: Load up now

It's less than a week away from the non-waiver trade deadline, and things are starting to get a little nutty cuckoo around the baseball blogosphere.

We've made an effort over the handful of years that we've been doing this to not over-exaggerate with the silly trade suggestions, in part because we figure that you could probably make that stuff up for yourself, or find another dozen blogs who will make it up for you. (Or you can read SI's Jon Heyman.) But didn't get to be The World's Most Respected Blue Jays Blog by doing what everyone else does, now did we?

(Note: We're probably not the The World's Most Respected Blue Jays Blog. It's probably some 16 year-old kid on Bleacher Report.)

For a sport whose fans and media generally demonstrate more dynamic thought processes, the trade deadline seems to herd people's opinions on trade possibilities into two simple pens: The Buyers and the Sellers. If you're "out of it", you're selling, and if you're "still in it", you're buying. If you're buying, you're bringing in big league talent, and if you're selling, you're planning for years down the road by taking a flyer on someone else's prospect. That's it, that's all, that's the axiom and you live by it.

With the Jays falling ostensibly into the Seller pen, we have to ask: Why must they move bodies, and why must this be an exercise in looking so far down the road? If other teams who are out of contention are locked into that mindset, why not capitalize on the moment and look to add a piece who will help in 2011?

We give Alex Anthopoulos full marks for already going against the grain in the Yunel Escobar deal, as we think it feeds into a swifter route to contention than the Eternal Building Process. And given the dearth of really interesting free agents in the coming off season, we'd fully advocate for the Jays to consider loading up now on players who could make them a 90+ win team next year as they cast off some players in the last years of their deals.

That doesn't mean holding onto Frasor, Downs, Buck or Overbay, nor does it mean trying to swap those pieces for MLB talent. But if someone is offering a player who still has years left on his contract (like Lance Berkman, Josh Willingham or Matt Capps), we see no reason why you'd fold up your pad folio, turn off your Blackberry and wait until the Winter Meetings to move on those players.

If the deals are out there to be made, why wait?

Friday, July 23, 2010

Travis Snider's productive rage

It occurs to us that it can't be a barrel of laughs right now for Travis Snider, as he follows along the slooooooooooow rehab process to get back to the Jays. At this point, he's strapped on his gear to play 19 minor league games through this get-well assignment, while only getting 33 big league games before the wrist injury.

We don't want to assume that Travis is playing angry now, because we know that the rosy-cheeked phenom has had to work on controlling the inner rage in the past. But in the last three games, Snider has knocked the snot out of the ball as if it had an impression of The Manager's mug on it. Three homers and 11 RBI later, maybe Sniderman is trying to send a message that he's no longer enjoying his return to Manchester.

And really, can you blame him? We're not pissing on Manchester or New Hampshire, because we're sure that it's totally peachy there. But after breezing through Double-A when he was barely through his teens, and making it all the way to the bigs by 20, it's gotta suck to get optioned back there to put in time while the team calls up Mike McCoy's limp noodle of a bat to fill in here or there.

We're sure the Fisher Cats fans are happy to see the returning hero, but if we were Snider, we'd feel like smashing something every day that we were stuck back there.

Friday Rock Out - Angry Young Man Edition
If we were an angry young man (as opposed to a grumpy old dude), we'd probably listen to something like The Offspring's "All I Want" and glare at everyone all day. Try it for yourself!

Have a great weekend. The Ack is away on assignment, and if Mrs. Tao will get off our ass for five minutes this weekend, we'll do an extra special weekend edition for you.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Deadline: Trade Deadline!

Is it just us, or has the trade deadline speculation just blown right the fuck up in the past 24 hours.

As Blairsy might say: "Geeeeezzusss!"

There we were, feeling all nice and cozy after Alex "Not Beeston's Intern!" Anthopoulos pulled off the commendable swap with the Braves to bring in Yunel Escobar at a bargain basement price. It was like the time that we found a copy of Shattered Glass for $1 at a bargain store. (A loonie? To watch Peter Saarsgard seethe for two hours in a way that no American actor has seethed in two generations? Fuck yes! Please!)

Sorry, lost the train of thought for a second.

The Jays could very well pack up their bags and figure that they've added what could be a very nice, cheap and controllable piece that should be here when they evolve into a dependable 90+ win team. A nice year's work, and we can all be happy.

But at the same time, we feel like Alex is playing with the house's money: He brought in John Buck and Alex Gonzalez as essentially disposable assets. If either of them had flopped, the Jays could have paid them out through the year and walked away with nary another thought. But both turned out better than anyone could have expected, and both might bring back some tangible assets by the end of July.

Moreover, the moves that are being suggested for players like Scott Downs, Lyle Overbay, Jason Frasor, Kevin Gregg and John Buck don't feel like a clearing of the decks from a (excuse the Hillenbrandism) sinking ship. They feel like rational exchanges of sought after resources. This isn't a couple of teams stepping in to take your best player for some magic beans and a low-A ball LOOGY. No matter what the fuck Jon Heyman is on about.

(And speaking of Heyman: Can we just echo Stoeten's line yesterday that he's probably just making shit up, or developing really crappy sources? Because the amount of horseshit that came from his general direction last year through the Halladay mess should be enough to disabuse you of any sense that he's plugged into any real discussions that are going on.)

In pursuit of JoBau
There's seemingly been a lot of tire kicking on José Bautista, and given his stature as the Home Run King of the Major Leagues at this point, it stands to reason.

(Speaking of which: Wouldn't it be awesome if the league leader in home runs got to wear a yellow jersey like they do in the Tour de France, or a golden helmet like they do in the Finnish hockey league. Bautista in a golden helmet would make all the kids happy, and in 15 years when he came back to visit Toronto after concluding his Hall of Fame career, they could give away a JoBau Bobblehead with him wearing the Golden Batting Helmet. Cool.)

We're really of two minds on Bautista at this point. The first thought we have is that he is a very useful and productive piece, and that the Jays have him under control for one more season. And in spite of some notion floated yesterday by Buster Onley that his arbitration number will have eight digits in it, we'd figure that a 40 homer 100 RBI season will still land him less than $7 million, which still fits in the budget.

The other side is that maybe the shiny brilliance that comes along with three months at the top of the home run leaderboard is something on which you've got to capitalize as it is still burning bright, because harvesting the afterglow isn't going to bring you as much back in return.

The trade off, we suppose, is that it seems as though you might have a pretty good shot at two compensatory picks if JoBau can keep this pace up through the balance of this season and most of the next. So whatever you get for him would have to be better than that.

In his chat on MLB Trade Rumo(u)rs yesterday, Tim Dierkes figured that of the Jays' trade targets, Downs, Frasor and Gregg will go before the deadline, while Lylo will go afterwards through waivers and Bautista will stay put. We think that sounds perfectly acceptable to us.

Wait a second...
Did we just buy in to the Eternal Building Process? Damn you, Handsome Tony Viner. Did you use some Inception-style tactics to plant these seeds subconsciously? You are as sagacious and savvy as you are fragrantly pulchritudinous.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Johnny Mac enters the Pantheon

When the Jays recently acquired Yunel Escobar, some of the sniping sports media tourists made snide remarks about the revolving door of shortstops that the team has used over the years. To which we thought: What about John McDonald?

(We doubt it really matters if the Jays have had too many different bodies at that position anyhow, but this seems to be an ongoing gripe. People gotta bitch about something, we suppose.)

It hardly seems like he's been with the team this long, but John McDonald first stepped onto the field wearing the Black and Silver of the Blue Jays way back on April 5th, 2005. (A game in which he went 3-for-4 with a double and an RBI, no less.) McDonald's teammates that day included Frank Menechino, Shea Hillenbrand, Eric Hinske and Gustavo Chacin, while Miguel Batista came in to get the save. And the starting third baseman for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays on that day?Alex Gonzalez, the pretty version who patrolled shortstop for the Jays for the better part of seven years. (And the last regular everyday longterm shortstop, for those of you who bemoan the turnover at that position.)

None of this is to say that Johnny Mac has been a key cog in the Jays' roster over the past six seasons. As much as we all love him for his unparalleled excellence with the glove, he's seemingly served as an auxiliary bench coach, mascot or designated pinch runner for the bulk of his time here. And yet, his ability to stick and make himself a better hitter (no, really, he has!) and a useful bench player has led to McDonald actually beginning to take his place in Blue Jays history amongst their all-time leaders in several categories.

McDonald currently sits in 42nd place in games played as a Blue Jay with 449, just five behind Buck Martinez. He's also 50th in at bats (1088) and plate appearances (1183).

McDonald's stick-to-it-iveness has also resulted in his managing to amass 22 stolen bases over the years, leaving him in a tie for 36th on the all time Jays stolen base list, alongside Aaron Hill, Rickey Henderson and Ernie Whitt. (Think about that foursome one more time: Johnny Mac, Hill, Rickey and Ernie. Tearin' up the bases in their own ways.)

Not surprisingly, McDonald ranks sixth all-time amongst Blue Jays in sacrifices with 31, just three behind Tony Fernandez and seven behind Lloyd Moseby. (Alfredo Griffin's 74 sacrifices seem like an unattainable summit, given the changes in the game.)

And while he has made the 897 outs as a Blue Jay (47th all-time, tied with Cliff Johnson), he's also pulled ahead of Nelson Liriano to claim 49th on the all-time singles list with 193.

We don't run through this list of achievements to mock. There's a certain degree of respect that you have to give to a guy who sticks around long enough to get his name on those lists. We're not sure how long Yunel's sore hand is going to keep him out of the lineup, and we're certainly hoping he's back soon. But if Johnny Mac is going to get playing time, we're hoping to see him pile up some numbers so that we'll continue to see him amongst the long list of all-time leaders for years to come.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Well, that sucked.

If your whole thing this morning is something like: "Kevin Gregg sucks and shouldn't be the closer", here's what we're gonna tell you: There's more than enough blame to go around for last night's loss.

And if you're going to whine and cry about how the bullpen gave up the game in which Brett Cecil pitched so heroically, know this: Any other team would have taken all that junk that he was leaving up in the zone and parked it in the heliosphere.

The Jays ran the bases like nimrods last night (looking your way, Mr. Lind), flailed at the plate when there were runners begging to be driven in, and made their pitchers get too many extra outs.

It was a game that appeared to be in the bag twice over, and one that we felt they should have walked away with. To see it slip away twice to a bunch of slap-hitting cellar-dwellers might have made it to most painful loss of the season so far.

And as for our jar-headed friend
Kevin Gregg went out and threw strikes. And some of them got hit. That's going to happen.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Shout outs to June-Yell

It didn't take long for us to get over the loss of Alex Gonzalez. (And who is this Marco Scutaro that you speak of?)

After less than a week on the roster and just three games, we've all pretty much fallen ballcap over ballsack for Yunel Escobar. The combination of the novelty of the new player with a pretty swell series (albeit, against the sad sack Orioles) means that the trade to Escobar has met with almost universal approval by now.

(And for those of you wondering based on the litany of frantic tweets on the subject last week: Yes, we fully approve of the choice of 5 as his jersey number.)

It's early yet, and there is still plenty of time for Blue Jays fans to turn on the young Cuban at the first sign that he's putting in less effort and intensity in running out ground balls, or if a throw to first is unleashed with something less than Ecksteinian zeal. For a town that used to have seemingly endless supplies of love for latin players, Toronto now seems to be overly enamored with the sort of truculent hustle and grit that they can find from any Gord or Dougie down at Christie Pits.

(Cut to: Alex Rios, getting ready to add to his 3.2 WAR so far this season in Chicago: "Really. You don't say.")

There's lots to like from what we've seen so far of Yunel, and we're jazzed that Alex Anthopoulos was able to bring in a long-term asset with such a high ceiling in exchange for ten more weeks of Alex Gonzalez's dream season. Not a bad haul at all.

The pronunciation thing
In the three or four years since we first heard of him, we'd always heard Escobar's name pronounced "Youn-Yell" or "You-Nell". We can't remember what they called him on the TBS broadcasts, but it was certainly something along those lines.

So we were a little taken aback when we first heard Alan Ashby drop a "June-Yell" on the air this weekend. For a second, we thought he was affecting some sort of Esai-Morales-in-Bad-Boys character, until he went on to point out that this was the correct pronunciation of the name.

We're not sure what to make of this, because there is a part of us that wants to point to this as another indication of how the kids waydownsouth in Atlanta never even tried to get this guy. On the other hand, we worry that we're doing that thing of wanting to be way too authentic, rolling our R's and turning Z's into TH's and what not when we end up looking like someone's drunk aunt singing along to the Gypsy Kings. Such a quandry.

Should we just accept the Anglicized version? Do we follow along with the June-Yell crowd? Does it even matter, seeing as how you never hear us speak?

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Process over Outcome

The trade is a few days old now and beaten to a bloody pulp by the blogosphere....but dammit - I want a turn! So here it is....

The deal is a win for the Blue Jays. Not because Yunel Escobar appears to be flashy as fuck fielding the ball at short. Not because, discounting this season, he was viewed as an elite bat at the position. Not because he gets on base and not because he flashes power. And the trade is definitely not a win because Alex Anthopoulos has rid the team of any shortcomings in the "old" shortstop's game.

It's a win for the organization because the logic behind the deal trumps the end result - good, bad, or otherwise - and Anthopoulos continues to prove he's unafraid of taking on the risks necessary to execute his plan. Er, I mean, The Plan.

(...and yes, I'm cringing at opening the door to references to the "5-year plan" oft-attributed (but never actually proven) to JP Ricciardi. So just don't, OK?)

Anthopoulos has always - from day 1 on the job - maintained he was much more interested in targeting elite talent over quantity of talent. Those players come with a degree of built-in risk, but it's the only way for the Jays to compete with the wallets of the Yankees and the Red Sox. Flipping a stopgap shortstop solution, no matter how well he's performed, for a cost-controlled player at the same position with a potential to be great is a risk you have to take.

I was one of those guys openly questioning the wisdom behind signing Alex Gonzalez in the preseason. I found it fairly unlikely he'd accumulate any sort of trade value and didn't see the upside contribution over the team's current version of Alex Gonzalez (John McDonald). Yeah, I was wrong there. Shocker! Raise your hand if, on April 1, you thought the Jays might parlay Gonzalez and 2 non-elite (more later) prospects for a potential all-star calibre shortstop. Now put your hand down, you god-damned liar.

Here's what the Jays really gave up:

* A veteran shortstop playing to the absolute peak of his abilities, who very likely was in his final year with the team, and if not, almost certainly in his final productive year with the team. No offense to Gonzalez, who was a total pro and exceeded any and all expectations, but if you think he's capable of carrying this performance through 2011.....well, I don't know what to tell ya'. Other than to say "he isn't". (But I've been wrong before. Have I mentioned that?)

* A left-handed reliever with amazing minor league stats (K machine!) and an even more amazing human interest angle (he's tiny!).....who scouts regularly insist has middle relief upside.

* A scrappy, gritty, speedy little Reed Johnson of the infield, who might have a decent career as a major league utility player.

All of the above are worthy assets. But all of the above would fall under the label of quantity. Quantity can be accumulated. Quality is more difficult to come by. And if Gonzalez maintains his pace and leads the Braves to the playoffs - a hearty pat on the back to him, because that just was not going to happen with the Jays. If Collins exceeds expectations and thrives in the late innings, and Pastornicky develops into an everyday sparkplug of a player? The cost of doing business.

One last question I've been kicking around in my head, admittedly almost immediately on hearing the announcement - what of Adeiny Hechavarria? I'll tell you what of Adeiny Hechavarria. It's fantastic for the development of Adeiny Hechavarria. Let's say you're a big bonus Cuban shortstop flailing away in the minor leagues, but looking at a depth chart with names like Alex Gonzalez and Mike McCoy ahead of you. Neither of whom the organization has any real investment in.

Now let's say you're the same Cuban shortstop who sees another Cuban shortstop ahead of you on that depth chart, out to prove he is indeed the elite major league player he was on the verge of becoming. Under which scenario do you think a player would push to get the most out of his talents?

Smart guy, that Anthopoulos.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Friday Rock Out - The Godfather of Soul Edition

Somehow, we always feel like we're imposing our tastes on you kids when we drop some music into the Friday proceedings. But then when we spare you, we get a litany of comments moaning about the absence.

Seriously, people come up to us in person and say "Hey, how come there was no Friday Rock Out?" And we say: "Uh, 'cause. I guess. I dunno." While we crave your attention, respect and interest, it still kinda weirds us out that people other than friends and immediate family read the blog.

(And by the way: If you were in on the liveblog on Tuesday night, we now consider you friends and/or immediate family. So feel free to add us to your wedding invite list...and don't forget that we're crashing on your couch in a couple of weeks.)

The nominal second half of the season kicks off tonight, with a new shortstop and groovy energy. So here's a little something aspirational from James Brown to get you out of your seat and onto your feet, even if you are behind a desk in a high rise. Get up offa that thing, and shake 'till you feel better!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

New Toys!!!

Okay: So we had to give up Alex Gonzalez, who we've grown to love, and Tiny Tim Collins, who was a mountain of a main in a little tiny package. (And Tyler Pastoral Hickeys or something or other.)

But, dudes: Yunel Escobar? For reals? Is it Christmas already?

Okay, this isn't like getting the Six Million Dollar Man action figure, like we did when we were a wee lad. Because the only equivalent to that would be getting Hanley and Josh Johnson, or something equally awesome.

(Three words: Bionic motherfucking grip. Awesome.)

No, this is more along the lines of the Jan and Dean record that you got, which you kinda thought was cool in the moment ("Hey, look! I gots a record!") and which would give you hours of enjoyment through the next few years as your nascent love of surf music would begin to emerge.

Okay. Maybe it's nothing like either of those things. But it is kinda exciting to tear off the wrapping paper and see something new and shiny to play with and write about over the next few seasons.

There's probably not a ton of analysis that we can add to the mix at this point, given that pretty much everyone in our hemisphere has already tossed the "Sold high on Gonzalez / Bought low on Yunel" meme out there. We do have some concern that Escobar is really just this year's edition of Wilson Betemit, a super-hyped Braves prospect who quickly will fades into obscurity as a bench player somewhere else in the next few years.

Nevertheless. As the host of's Fantasy 411 Cory Schwartz is fond of saying: Don't confuse the outcome with the decision. This is a smart move for the Jays to attempt to get a younger, more controllable player in exchange for a player who may well have already maxed out his value to the team (plus a couple of players who profile as marginal major leaguers at this point). Before the season, we would have gladly taken a 17 homer season and plus-defense from Alex Gonzalez. We've already received that. Now, let's see if Yunel's offensive mojo can somehow be brought back to life by the healing hands of Dwayne Murphy and The Manager.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

About Last Night...

First off, let me thank all of you who showed up, huddled around your respective personal computing terminals and liveblogged it up with us throughout the entire four and a half hours of last night's advertising and Fox-swooshing extravaganza, with a little baseball thrown in for good measure. (Meanwhile, Yankee and Red Sox fans are saying: "Four and a half hours? That was a quick one last night!")

Anyways, you're all troopers, and it's fun to hang online with witty and wise baseball fans. We'll do it again soon, and the kegger will be at Archi's.

As for the whole spectacle, which we vigorously defended last week, let us say this: We were kinda wrong. But with an explanation. And here it is.

We have a theory that the 12-month annual cycle for everything is just long enough to allow us as humans to forget about the details, thus keeping our anxieties in check and allowing us to live somewhat happy, temporarily oblivious lives. Looking back, we clearly remember highlights (good or bad), but each year, we have those "oooohhh yeeeaah" moments as things come into sharper focus. Sometimes the realization brings excitement and sometimes, it brings dread. But the year is long enough that we don't recall those feelings or sensations until they are right in front of us.

Oh yeah: That's what winter smells like, and that what it feels like to hear your boots crunching over the snow, and that's what a cold wind feels like in your face.

Oh yeah: That's what this bar looks like when it is overrun by 19 year-olds in during Frosh Week, and that's what their piercing shrieks sound like.

Oh yeah: This is how it feels when I'm halfway through my tax return, and it's not clear if I owe or am owed.

Oh yeah: This is why the All Star Game kinda sucks.

Now, don't get us wrong: We still love the nine innings of baseball that gets played (though we wish that it were managed better and with smaller rosters), and there are elements of the pageantry that we still think are awesome.

But last night, as we watched Joe Buck skip through the lineups as quickly as possible so that Fox could get to an endless taped piece in which celebrities told us how nice and good it is to do things that are nice and good, and as we watched some chick from the drama geek show that we don't watch sing motherfucking "Hero" (because a hero lies in YOU, don'tchaknow), we had that feeling.

Oh yeah: This is why people hate the All-Star Game.

And to be fair to Keith Law, who we pilloried last week for his lack of devotion to the game, sitting in the crowd from the game last night would have been a miserable experience, wrapped around a pretty decent exhibition of baseball. The KLaw quite rightly noted last night that he won the evening by spending it at a ball park as we were spending it, slaving over two screens and looking for meaning amongst the noise.

But the 1983 All Star Game? That was a doozy.

Mad love for the GBOAT
Speaking of things that had faded from memory: We forgot just how much we loved Scott Rolen over the past year. But seeing him last night reminded us of why Rolen is and will always be the Greatest Blue Jay of All Time.

We live in an era of vigorous fist pumps over squibby singles, pose downs over striking out the pitcher for the first batter of an inning, and hour-long specials devoted to how awesomely important a particular athlete is and how impactful his decisions shall be. Rolen, though, seems not to exist in that era. He is an expert craftsman who does his job without lavish exaggeration.

Pick a hot shot out of the dirt at the hot corner and throw a laser across the diamond for an out? Ain't no thing. Jus' business.

Crank a ball back up the middle off the next great young Yankee? All in a day's work.

Go first to third on a soft single, and redefine the entire flow of the key inning in the game? That's just what he do.

Maybe he's taciturn in the clubhouse, and maybe he wasn't a media darling, and maybe he's not one of those athletes who works hard to build his brand and sell himself in all sorts of ways to sell more sport requenching product or whatever the fuck. But Scott Rolen, in the game of baseball, is a man amongst boys.

You know that Old Spice Manly Man whose ads were on dozens of times last night? He goes to bed every night, wishing he was half the man that Scott Rolen is.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Tao's All-Star Liveblog Extravaganza

Seeing as how we gave Keith Law so much grief for not loving the All Star Game last week, we figured we should make like a swine jumping chops deep into our our muck, and show how committed we are to this dog and pony show.

As such, we'll fire up our first real gadgety liveblog and accompany you through your All Star viewage tonight.

We're not sure that we'll survive four hours of Buck and McCarver, but we're hopeful that you'll come around to help us through it.

The snark shall be unleashed at 7:30 PM in the boxy thing below.

Monday, July 12, 2010

SWOT Analysis! The first half in rebuke!

(Sorry to Harry Shearer for stealing his joke, although I don't believe that "The Year in Rebuke" is a copyrighted segment of the broadcast. Yet.)

There are few things that we enjoy more than getting together over the board table, pulling out the flip charts and going through a SWOT Analysis. (So long as there are crullers!)

For those of you not familiar, SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats, and it is the sort of tool pulled out by unimaginative management types to simply and easily compartmentalize all of the shit that is dragging their organizations into the crap heap. It also allows them to scrape some of the dung off of a situation, and spray it down with the perfume of optimism, and make it sound as if all is going to be just fine, and that they are the victims of circumstances beyond their control. Mostly, it's a tool for people to stop any sort of change or progress from making its way into an organization...but never mind all that. It's Monday, and you are all probably bummed out enough already by being at work.

So please join us as we critically examine the first half of 2010 for the Toronto Blue Jays, with a view towards constructive analysis, building towards a specific, defined and measurable outcome on a going forward basis.

No one in baseball has clouted more homers than the Jays, who have 136 for the season thus far. Eight Jays have ten or more homers, and Travis Snider has six through just 33 games. José Bautista leads the collective circuits with 24 homers, while Vernon Wells leads centerfielders and Alex "Defensive Specialist" Gonzalez leads all shortstops in round-trippers (19 and 17 respectively.)

They are also second in the Majors in doubles, so the overarching takeaway here is that these guys hit the ball hard.

In terms of pitching, the Jays sit sixth amongst the 30 teams in strikeouts, and are just above league average in WHIP and Ks/BB.

Defensively, the Jays sit tenth in defensive runs saved above average, which sounds okay to us.

The team is getting a good performance from Wells, their most costly asset, which only enhances the opportunities to possibly move the back end of that deal in the next two years.

Finally, they've gone into the international free agent with the gusto that they promised before the season, helping to perhaps level the playing field with their AL East rivals.

There must be a lot of solo homers this season, because the Jays' .306 OBP is third worst in MLB. They've also knocked out the fourth-fewest hits in baseball, and if you care about such things, their batting average is also fourth worst.

And if you're going to say that batting average doesn't matter (as we are always tempted to), then you should know that there is not much solace from the base-on-balls category, as the Jays rank in the bottom third (21st) in terms of drawing walks.

Perhaps most worrisome, they have two Silver Slugger winners who OPSing 40 or more points lower than Johnny Mac.

The Jays are consistently strong but rarely overwhelming at any spot in the lineup. JoBau and Vernon and Gonzalez and Buck have all had great seasons, but this team and those players make a lot of outs. The Jays have struck out the sixth-most in the Majors, and in close games, this team is too easy to shut down if your pitchers can get off-speed pitches over for strikes.

For all of the talk before the season about "100 loss seasons" (and you know who you are), the Jays have hung tough and actually have a chance to play games with small shreds of meaning through the second half.

We note this because of what we perceive to being a detrimental effect of playing out the string. If Alex Anthopoulos decides to empty the cupboard before the trade deadline, then so be it. But having a team play ball above the .500 level and attempting to compete is going to help in the development of a winning atmosphere in the clubhouse. Intangibles!!!1

Moreover, the reemergence of J.P. Arencibia and the strong performance of Kyle Drabek provides hope that he and a few other prospects (Brett Wallace?) should be able to step into the lineup in a meaningful way within the next 12 months.

Also, strong performances from potential free agents could mean the Jays will be dealing with possible Type A free agents, who will provide more value in trades or will return draft picks should they choose to go elsewhere in the next couple of year.

The starting staff is young, under control, cheap and shows signs that they can be effective one through five in the next few years. Ricky Romero, Shaun Marcum, Brett Cecil and Brandon Morrow all look like they could be strong number two starters in the coming two years, and a staff with that many top-of-rotation options could carry the team over the hump, or could be raided to solve other problems.

Much as we wanted to see their perfomance last year as the tip of the iceberg, the steep declines by both Adam Lind and Aaron Hill portend something much more concerning: That they've already had their career years, and that anything from this point on will pale in comparison.

We've watched Hill with some concern lately as the ball seems not to be coming off his bat with nearly the same velocity this year. (We're trying to track down He's seeing far fewer fastballs, and his swing looks longer and more convoluted than ever. It could be that he's still hurting from his early season boo-boos, but there's plenty wrong with the way he looks, and the results certainly aren't lying.

Brian Tallet. That is all.

The pitching staff is young, and so there are always injury concerns. Shaun Marcum already heading back to the DL once, and we worry almost daily about Ricky Romero, who has yet to have any significant arm trouble. The AAA and AA arms have also been a bit of a mess of injuries this season, detracting from the team's rotational depth.

Speaking of the minors, running the top level arms out to the mound in the arid, altitudinous Pacific Coast League has proved to be problematic over the past two seasons. Watching prospective pitchers' ERAs skyrocket makes us worry about their psyche, and whether if a team can really chance having youngsters make adjustments to pitch in those conditions. Trying to pitch around players and setting aside breaking pitches that don't break could mess up a really vital pitching prospect. Here's hoping there's a spot in the International League next year.

Finally, the on-field leadership of the team going for is in question for the players, the members of that staff and the fans alike. The ridiculous decision to maintain The Manager for one final victory lap this year means that players who are emerging now through the team and its current philosophy will have to adjust to a new manager and possibly a whole new staff next year. Wither Butter? Wither Pappy? Will the players be able to get onside with a new manager and new coaching staff immediately?

(And if any of you want to complain that I didn't separate this appropriately between internal and external factors, you can kiss my ass. I didn't ask you to facilitate this process, did I?)

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Sell! Sell! ...Sell?

As trading season approaches and the winds of change blow through MLB (Cliff Lee, speaking for whichever team you were pitching for and whomever just acquired your rights....we hardly knew ya), the conversations surrounding a rebuilding team now firmly entrenched in non-contending mode are sure to center around one common theme.

Sell anyone and anything not seen as part of The Plan TM in 2011 and beyond.

Seems simple enough. For a confessed surfer of prospect porn and minor league boxscores, it seems equally obvious that yours truly would fall right in line with such. After all, for every marketable piece the Jays might offer, an intriguing prospect awaits his chance down on the glittery farmlands of Vegas. Consider:

John Buck: JP Arencibia (.364/.639/1.003, 23 HR, 60 RBI)

Jose Bautista: Brad Emaus (.412/.478/.890 in 72 games split between AA/AAA)

Lyle Overbay: Brett Wallace (.364/.498/.862, 14 HR, 44 RBI)

Alex Gonzalez: Adeiny Hechavarria (er....let's just say minor league stats unavailable. OK? We good with that?)

Compelling arguments, all (most). I've even wondered openly in this space as to the need to carry the sellable vets for the duration of the season. But upon reflection - as always - it's not that simple.

Imagine this team, this weird, bizarro 2010 Toronto Blue Jays team, without the offensive output of All-Stars Buck and Bautista. Yes, that felt as strange to type as it is to read. Now imagine watching the club try to find it's way through 70-odd post All-Star break games where the only sure offensive force is Vernon Wells (again with the bizarro).

It might be exciting. But it might also be painful. The only sure thing about rookies is there are no sure things. To throw 3 or 4 kids straight into the fire of major league competition stripped of veteran roster presence would be a disservice to their development and a potential disaster in the standings. A trade or two with an acceptable return would be tremendous and welcomed; a wholesale roster turnover is another thing altogether.

I'm all for change with this club. I've embraced it wholly and thoroughly and am genuinely excited about the future under the guidance and vision of Alex Anthopoulos. Things are different now, man. Slot-busting draft bonuses (Dickie Thon Jr.!), snagging front-line international prospects (Adonis!), and a thorough re-stocking of the minor league system. It was the only way to go, and it's the way the Jays have gone & are going. If the path taken by this Jays front office team has taught me anything, it's that patience is required....and hopefully rewarded.

So, yeah....Playoffs! Just maybe not this season.

....but can we start maybe talking about a Kyle Drabek appearance?
How do you follow up a no-hitter? By tossing 6 shutout innings in your next start, of course. Apologies for forgetting the source - I read way, way too much Blue Jays related info on the internets - but I browsed upon a thought that the Jays should consider a 6-man rotation in the season's final months as a means of limiting innings on all those impressionable young arms.

Until given evidence that it's a total shitbag of an idea, consider me down. And who better to take that 6th rotation spot than our guy Drabek? Curiously, I'm opposed to a Vegas promotion, because I don't see how inevitably getting shelled in the hitter's paradise known as the PCL (see prospect stats above) would benefit his development. I say when he gets the call, make it directly from New Hampshire.

How does a late August/early September cup of coffee sound?

Friday, July 9, 2010

Welcome to Massholia

We'll confess that, as the year has progressed, we've lost a bit of the spring in our step. Sliding back into fourth place and double-digits in games behind the leader will make your swagger look like a stutter.

So all we can say is: Thank goodness for the Red Sox. Because we woke up this morning wanting to punch a Sully or an O'Douchehole right in the face. We've even invited our Red Sox Nation pal over to Stately Tao Manor tonight so that we can listen to his excuses about this injury or that ouchy as the Jays mash Jon Lester's junkballs into orbit.

And with the slew of injuries that have karmically befallen the Red Sox, we've got a whole new crew of reprehensible tools to hate on this weekend: Felix Doubront? Hate 'im. Eric Patterson? Loathe that guy. Daniel Nava? He sucks, and that Selena movie sucks too.

(And by the way, Sox fans: What ever happened to all of those untouchable prospects that have been languishing for a good half-decade in your system? Isn't Lars Andersen supposed to be winning MVPs by now?)

See how fun this is? We can't wait to see the barely literate scrawlings that come seeping out of the Sons of Sam Horn this weekend, if only because they'll remind us of how much we want to see the Sox crumble under the weight of their own crapulence.

The Sox have lost four straight coming in...We'd love nothing better than to see the good and noble sons of Toronto send them home for the All Star break in a full on death spin.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Starting Pitcher Power Rankings, Part 2 - Go!

This is the part of the post where we make excuses for how lame the rest of the post is going to be, so here goes: We were going to take this seriously this week, and break down the perfomances of Jays starters over the past two weeks. But then we realized that we're writing up fictional Power Rankings for our own amusement. Also, pretty much every starter has had a bad week. So we're kinda making this up as we go.

Now, take heed! The Power Rankings sayeth:

1. Ricky Romero (Last week: 1)
An ERA of 9.31 in his last two starts, both losses. Five strikeouts and five walks, 14 hits in 9.2 innings. Yikes. And yet, no one takes the crown away.

2. Brandon Morrow (Last week: 4)
6.00 ERA over his last two starts, but a 15/3 K-to-walk ratio augurs well for the second half.

3. Brett Cecil (Last week: 3)
5.06 ERA over his last two, but still leaving the ball up and out of the zone. BABIP of .400 in those starts, so possibly unlucky.

4. Kyle Drabek (Last Week: 9)
We realize that it doesn't mean anything, but he tossed a no-hitter, is an Eastern League All-Star and is making noise about wanting to take on Big Leaguers now. "Whenever they think I’m ready then I’ll be ready to go." Badass.

5. Marc Rzepczynski (Last week: 7)
Gets the call to the show in spite of evil 6.66 ERA in PCL. After one start, MLB ERA is 6.35. Progress! Goes a respectable 5.2 innings against tough Twins lineup, and strikes out seven.

6. Shaun Marcum (Last week: 2)
He's broke, and on the DL. Struck out seven in his last appearance, but gave up two dingers and lasted just four innings.

7. Jesse Litsch (Last week: 5)
Here's a head scratcher: Jesse had an OPS against of .854 in his last two starts, but a BABIP of .211. He also had only two strikeouts. We can't figure that out, but there's a part of us that wonders what's going to happen when the balls start to fall in at a regular rate against Jesse.

8. Brad Mills (Last week: 8)
Alan Ashby noted on last night's radiocast that he's likely the next to get the call. 4.31 ERA in Las Vegas, which probably translates to something under 1.00 in a regular environment.

9. Zack Stewart (Last week: Unranked)
A good month at New Hampshire, with a couple of blips. Sitting on a 4.28 ERA. A few too many walks mixed in (37, versus 68 Ks in 88 innings). Seems further from the Bigs now than he did at the time of the Rolen trade.

10. Joel Carreno (Last week: Unranked)
This slot probably belongs to Henderson Alvarez, but we were a little too impressed with Carreno's 103 Ks versus just 24 walks in 86 innings so far. Gives up too many hits (96), but did you see those strikout-to-walk numbers?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Giving the fans what they want: The Shepherd's Pie Post

Today was one of those days where we had about 15 minutes to pull together a post, and nothing totally enthralling to write. (As if that's stopped us before.)

So we threw it around Twitter: What do we post about today? Do we do a thoroughly-entertaining Tweet Bag (even if we don't have tweeted questions?) Do we rev up the Starting Pitcher Power Rankings? Do bitch about our fantasy teams and their hard luck? Worry over Hill and Lind? Or do we just throw up some bikini pics and call it a day?

Then someone suggested that we do the whole lot together, and mix it up into some sort of delicious stratified treat. Like a parfait, or a tasty Pâté chinois (only with peas instead of corn, because peas are yummy and better for you. But we digress.) And really, who are we to deprive the kids of what they want?

The Tweet Bag Question!
@hemiboy tweets: How about a status of the top 5 Jays prospects? Are they ready for the big show or underachieving?

We really wish that we could spend lots of time parsing through this, and figuring out which of the top five are up and which are down this year. We were all ready to check in with Baseball America's site to see their top prospects list for the Jays this year, but then we realized something: BA apparently uses some sort of HTML editor which chisels the code into granite, because they have yet to update their list to include the players who came back in the Halladay deal.

And here's the really weird part: We went and bought the magazine with the AL East prospect lists in it...and the dead-tree, printed version is more up to date than the website. Which is just weird.

Since we don't have the magazine with us (it's literally in our basement, probably sitting under a Pat Borders bobblehead), we'll have to come back to this one later.

Roto Kvetching!
It's the second year of the Tao's Roto Hoe-Down, and we were determined to come back with a vengeance this year. We were going to prove to everyone what a baseball savant we were, and why you should all hang off of every word we write because of how goddamned brilliant and insightful we are.

But here we are, at the midway point of the season, sitting mid-table once again.

We could write it off by saying that we drafted Kendry Morales and Shin Soo-Choo, but those guys actually produced pretty well for us while they were healthy. More dubious was our decision to draft prospect mancrushes of yesteryear, like Alex Gordon and Cameron Maybin, neither of whom is on our roster nor the roster of their respective MLB teams.


Also galling about this year's league: That Navin from Sports in the City is running away with the league with a team named The (The Manager) Effect (except that he actually uses the name, which is gross.)

Hill and Lind
Speaking of SaTC, we've been sitting on a "when does a bad start become a bad season" post for a while now, but Navin has beaten us to the punch. (Between TBRTOAL and the Roto Hoe-Down domination, we're starting to really resent that guy). Nevertheless, there is musing and there are stats, and his piece is probably better than the old man clichés we were about to string together on the topic, so have a read.

One more bikini pic
Because you deserve it for making your way through the whole post. It's Raquel Welch! Mazel!

Monday, July 5, 2010

How can you love baseball and hate the All Star Game?

It happens every year, with the gripes and moans and complaints pouring out from talk radio and sports columnists and every other new and old media venue: People bitching about baseball's All Star Game.

Perhaps no one embodies the lunacy of complaining about the MLB All Star Game better than the Fan 590's Bob McCown, who hates the game for so many different reasons that his complaints often contradict one another. The players who should play, he posits, are the same players every year because they are the stars and everyone wants to see Willie Mays. But at the same time, he complains that the fans always get the voting wrong when choosing the starters because they are a bunch of dumbasses who pick players based on reputation. Bobcat also complains about the fact that the game "doesn't mean anything anymore", then whines about the fact that it decides home field advantage.

McCown sucks and blows so hard on this topic simultaneously that it's a wonder that his mic doesn't explode from some sort of feedback loop. He even dragged the increasingly-unreliable Keith Law into the mix last week, getting KLaw to crap all over the game while also adding with pride that he hasn't watched it in years.

Really? Isn't this exactly the sort of know-it-all, affectedly weary, axiomatic thinking that the new generation of baseball analysts were supposed to blow out of the water? Did Law have to start hating the game as soon as he received his BBWAA card?

Really, kids: Why so serious?

The All Star Game is a spectacle. It's one that is too slickly produced, and features too much of Joe Buck's voice, but ultimately, the component parts are still there. The player introductions, where even in your team's worst season, you'll get to see one guy there. The players wearing their respective uniforms, and not some ugly-ass design from Central Marketing. The vote on the starters, and announcement of the bench players, and the naming of the starting pitchers, and all of the ensuing debate.

And jumpin' Jesus on a pogo stick: When did we all get so goddamned sanctimonious about who gets named to the team? Why is it that when one guy gets in ahead of someone else, it suddenly becomes a debate about the entire framework around the game and how it's in disarray, and how we need completely new systems to make sure that one guy gets in and one guy doesn't. There are about 60 other players in the game who deserve to be there, and who we'll be pleased to see get into the game at some point. Why can't that be the emphasis? Why can't the debate take on more of a spirit of convivial discussion rather than the childish, stubborn, intractable gainsaying?

(Can we just say: We're looking forward to seeing Cory Hart get into the game. Just because.)

So Omar Infante got into the game. That's a shame, although his making the squad helps to underline the fact that there are still many in baseball who can look at a lucky slap hitter with no power and no speed and say "Hey! .311 batting average! All Star!"

(Is it worth mentioning that Dave Concepcion, the MVP of the ASG in Montreal in 1982, had a first half OPS under .700 that year?)

Whenever people start talking shit about the All Star Game, we start to think back on the 1983 edition in Comiskey Park. That game that featured Tim Raines, Andre Dawson, Al Oliver and Gary Carter in the starting lineup versus Dave Stieb. It featured Mario Soto's brilliantly white shoes, which he couldn't wear normally because of Marge Schott's edict that Reds only wear boring black cleats.

It featured the first grand slam in All Star Game history, with Fred Lynn teeing off on Atlee Hammaker. It featured starters like George Brett, Rod Carew, Dale Murphy and Robin Yount, who would become favorites of ours throughout our early years of baseball fandom. Rickey Henderson subbing in for Carl Yastrzemski. Dan Quisenberry closing the game out with his way-cool submarine delivery. How cool is that?

That one game had a lot to do with your faithful blogger becoming the sort of baseball fan he is. As such, it's more offensive to us to think that people have forgotten that sort of fun than it is to gripe over one first baseman getting snubbed over another.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Rock, meet bottom

If the bottom of the 3rd inning in Saturday's matinee against the Yankees doesn't represent the low point of the season to date, then I don't know what does. 11 runs? 11 goddamned runs?

Truth be told, I just finished deleting 30 minutes worth of blogging, as it consisted wholly of whining about the lineup card filled out by Cito (Nick Green leading off at DH, John McDonald in left....but I digress) and the embarrassing display of baseball in the aforementioned inning. I was all set to hit "post" in a blind rage, feeling smug and satisfied, when a few things occurred to me:

It's just one game. 3-2 or 11-2, the Blue Jays losing to the Yankees - both teams as currently constructed - shouldn't come as a surprise or major disappointment. One team is built to win now (and every year, one could argue), the other is building to win in the future. The near future. Hopefully.

And you know, about that lineup....which I still maintain was horseshit, and continues a running beef I have with Cito and his "giveaway game" lineups....the major-league roster, right now, does not have a lot of horses. Plain and simple. And I understand that. It's about building toward the future. It's about developing the talent in the minor leagues. But with the second half approaching, I'm left to wonder: how much more developing do some of these players in AAA have left to do? How much added benefit can be derived from 80 more games in the PCL?

Will JP Arencibia improve on his near 1.0 OPS? Is Brett Wallace's defense and learning the position really what's keeping him down (apart from the current "sore wrist", but you know what I'm sayin')? Is there really anything to be gained by letting these players dominate a league in which they have little more to prove (Arencibia moreso than Wallace)? If 2011 is to be the start of The Contending Years, wouldn't a few months of big league training this season serve the players - and the organization - well?

Time will tell. As the trade deadline draws nearer, hopefully sooner than later.

The future of Marcum
I haven't completely exhaled upon hearing word of Shaun Marcum's trip to the DL with "elbow inflammation", but the MRI revealing no new damage certainly helps. Still, clear MRI or not, you'll forgive me for feeling a little nauseous at the thought.

Equally disconcerting is the fact that sore elbow or not, Marcum's name still figures prominently in trade talk. Truthfully, I'm conflicted. I have a soft spot for Marcum. He may not be the "ace", but he certainly does appear to be the "glue" of the starting 5. He's self-effacing (re: "I don't throw a "heater"'s a "warmer" "), fun to watch, and popular with his teammates.

On the other hand....if the Jays do have a surplus, it's in starting pitching. Marcum likely has the most value of the pitchers potentially dangled (Romero will not be one of them), and is likely the guy seen by contenders as the most ready to help chase a pennant. However.....I don't believe Anthopoulos would deal one of his coveted young arms for anything less than a spectacular return, and this trip to the DL will certainly not help in that regard.

My prediction: Marcum will be a Blue Jay come August 1st. And he will continue to fucking nail it.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Cleveland? What? Were we in Cleveland?

We choose to ignore anything else that happened in the past week that might have led to us losing faith and our team ending up at .500. That didn't happen. It was all a bad dream, filled with crappy fielding and no hitting.

Instead, we'll rejoice at the fact that the Jays could pull off a win against the once-again mighty Yankees, and that Brett Cecil dominated by throwing the ball where no one could hit it. (To the tune of five walks, and six strikeouts.) And what could possibly be concerning about that?

Weekends!!!1 Playoffs!!!1 Above .500!!!1

Happy Canada weekend kids.

Aww, crap. Update that we don't want to give right now...
Shaun Marcum is headed to the 15-day DL with elbow shittiness. We're going back to drinking, and forgetting that this might be a bad thing. We'll let the Ack clean this up, if he's so inclined.