Sunday, June 24, 2012
Keeping Up Appearances, Barely
[Pops head into the blog; looks around nervously yet hopefully]
Oh, good. You're all still here. See, I had given assurances to the Tao that, while he was gallavanting across Europe, I would water the plants and bring in the mail around here. As you might have noticed, I haven't exactly followed through on my end of that bargain. But they don't put the baseball season on hold for any of us, so instead of further lamenting my aimlessness, let's get to it.
Smoke and mirrors
The Jays continue to bob along at two games over .500 after taking two of three from the struggling Marlins. The series victory came on the heels of an uglier one-for-three showing in Milwaukee, which itself followed a home sweep of the Phillies. That's six wins in nine outings, but for the life of me, I can't figure out how -- apart from recognizing that the quality of competition hasn't exactly been tip-top. Ricky Romero gave up his all-too-usual four or five runs in his two starts. Joel Carreno and Jesse Chavez were entirely forgettable. Brett Cecil went as deep into his starts as you could hope for, but he's still not the type to inspire confidence. I caught some of the radio broadcast* from Cecil's Saturday start, and Alan Ashby** was astutely pointing out that despite the talk about Cecil having improved his command to both sides of the plate and his ability to keep the ball down in the zone, his pitches were up, up, up. He didn't get punished too badly, and he's still about the best option to eat innings while George Poulis tends to the M*A*S*H unit in the trainer's room, but I remain apprehensive. In any case, the results are the results, but it's awfully tough to get too enthusiastic about wins when they feel like optical illusions.
(* I mentioned this on Twitter on Friday night, but it bears repeating: I understand if the sports radio station in Ottawa, Team 1200, wants to pre-empt a Jays game occasionally for some local sports action, like a Senators or 67s game. Lately, though, Jays games have been pre-empted by Euro 2012 games and, on Friday, the scintillating radio that can only be produced by thirty guys in suits reading the names of teenagers into a microphone, coupled with thirty other guys in uglier suits analyzing it. Thank God for the MLB At Bat app.)
(** Dear God, but Ashby is the best. When he filled in for Buck Martinez I don't remember enjoying the television broadcast that much since the airwaves were filled with the dulcet tones of Dan Shulman. I'd like to think Rogers is smart enough to know what kind of talent they've got on their hands with him, and increase his role.)
Hot Stove! Hot!
The MLB trade market officially heated up with today's trade of Kevin Youkilis and a rumoured $5.5 million in cash from the Red Sox to the White Sox, for Zach Stewart (Jays connection!) and Brett Lillibridge. Who knows how much we're hearing through the grapevine is true, but the fact that the Jays are still considered potential buyers ought to be encouraging to fans who aren't keen on simply cashing in the chips on the season, trading the pending free agents like Kelly Johnson and Edwin Encarnacion, and seeing what 2013 brings. My hunch, though, is that if Alex Anthopolous is in the market for a starting pitcher, it may have less to do with staying in the postseason hunt, and more to do with ensuring that pitchers who aren't quite ready to make the leap from AA New Hamsphire (Chad Jenkins and Deck McGuire, for instance) aren't unnecessarily rushed. I don't mind the idea of looking externally for pitching help, if it actually preserves some of the minor league arms in the system, even if it's at the expense of lesser prospects.
Roster Merry-Go-Round... with no room for Snider
Welcome back, then, Adam Lind and Ben Francisco -- the former from a Vegas exile in which he pretty much smashed the living bejeezus out of everything he saw; the latter from a DL stint and rehab assignment that concluded with speculation he might not see the big league roster when it was over.
Lind first: the rubber is about to meet the road for the erstwhile Silver Slugger. The demotion to AAA-ball was, to me, a demonstration that the organization is perfectly willing to cut their losses on Lind if he doesn't show he's more than a AAAA-hitter upon his return. It's hard to imagine he'll come back and re-assume the cleanup spot in the order, but stranger things have happened. I suppose you have to root for him. If he were to OPS something around .800 the rest of the way, it might earn enough goodwill to keep him around into next season. If not, I suspect this next three months might be Lind's last as a Blue Jay.
As for Francisco: I can't even. His presence on the roster has been a mystery to me since the day he was acquired. Bring me Travis Snider. Like, yesterday.