Friday, December 21, 2007

It's time for hanging balls

We've been just about nogged out by the pre-Christmas party season. So many office parties, so many subesequent awkward apologies. But at least we closed them all down with a flourish.

We've made our escape to the hinterlands, and the intention is to spend a little quality time with the family, gorge out on tourtière, and pray for J.P. to deliver a nice little Christmas gift like he did with Troy Glaus a couple of Decembers ago. (And THAT worked out well, non?)

Whatever happens over the next week or so, we hope that everyone finds retro powder blue gear under the tree, and maybe a flex pack in their stocking.

Oh, and peace on Earth and good will towards men. All that good stuff.

Bonus linkage for the Holiday Season!
Did anyone realize that Eye Weekly had a sports section? We found this article from this week's edition, where Shane Cuneo (who dat?) regurgitates a Jason Stark piece on how some of the mid-range teams in the AL are trying to get over the BoSox-Yankees hump.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Another voice of the Blue Jays falls silent

The Globe's William Houston is reporting that Don Chevrier passed away yesterday. Chevy was the first TV play-by-play man for the Blue Jays, and a truly underappreciated gem in the Canadian sports media landscape.

We recently heard his voice while viewing a classic Jays game (actually, Nolan Ryan's 7th no-hitter), and we were struck with just how good he was. Chevrier was blessed with an amazing set of pipes, and he used them judiciously through the game. He never prattled on, but conveyed the action succinctly and with a fan's knowledge and passion for the game.

Sal's a pal and all, but... we really want him as an everyday catcher when (not if) Zaunie goes down for a few weeks?

We've become increasingly fixated on Miguel Olivo, the free agent former Marlins catcher who swings and misses like nobody's business (.262 OBP, 123 Ks versus 12 walks in 122 games), but also has some pop (16 HRs, 60 RsBI) and can catch and throw.

Maybe Olivo isn't the linchpin to winning the division, but we clearly remember the weeks on end of watching Jason Phillips as the starting catcher, and we don't care to relive it.

Monday, December 17, 2007

The Boston Globe has J.P.'s cell number

And Richard Griffin is, like, soooooo jealous. Eat your heart out, Dick.

J.P. spoke here to the Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo (scroll down) on Mitchell, Eckstein, Johnny Mac and A.J.. For those of you too lazy to click on a link, we've summarized below.

J.P. on Zaun and Glaus' status post-Mitchell Report: "We expect they'll be playing for us...I'm sure it's as tough on them not knowing."

J.P. on signing Eckstein: "He's a gritty guy, a high-chemistry guy who we think will fit onto our team quite well...If it works out, we'll hope to keep him around."

J.P. on Johnny Mac: "John is still very much in our plans."

J.P. on the likelihood that he'll move A.J.: "Not really discussing anything like that."

Requiem for a Gas Can

It's old news by now that the Jays, after five seasons worth of service, have kicked the Gas Can to the curb.

We decided to keep our distance from this story in part because we were preoccupied by the avalanche of Mitchell Report related news. Mostly though, we did it because we wanted to allow the Drunk Jays Fans' Bergkamp an opportunity to mourn the loss of his favorite Blue Jay, and to eulogize him appropriately.

And now that that's done, allow us one last kick at the Can.

It's almost hard to believe the steep decline that Towers' reputation took after a perfectly respectable 2005 season (13-12, 3.71 ERA). Towers promptly cashed in with a two-year deal, and then proceeded to have one of the worst seven-game stretches ever seen by a Blue Jays starter. Dude just flat out blew: 10.09 ERA, with batters putting up a Bonds-esque 1.084 OPS against him. A WHIP over 2.17. The era of the Gas Can had begun.

Or maybe the point was that he always the Gas Can. Maybe his prolonged stints in Rochester and Syracuse weren't just a matter of old-school baseball types working against him because he wasn't a big strapping strikeout pitcher, but rather, that they recognized the fact that one day, teams were going to stop letting him throw that BP junk over the plate, and start to hammer him into oblivion.

Of course, Towers was one of the last to recognize this trend, even as his head was being wrenched off his neck, checking to see just how high and how far his last pitch had been cranked by some marginal fourth outfielder. As Jeff Blair noted in his G&M blog, Towers "spoke like a 20-game winner but couldn't back it up on the mound in the past two years".

We'd tend to agree with Blair's notion that Towers will end up somewhere in the NL, where the level of play is just that much lower, and the ball parks are just that much bigger. Who knows: one season in San Diego, and Towers might be able to spew insolent I-Told-You-So's back at T.O..

If nothing else, we'll miss him because without him around, the Gas Can label of our blog will go silent next year.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Mitchell Report: It's all Toller Cranston's fault

Remember when Toller Cranston was on Off The Record with Roger Clemens shortly after he came to the Jays, and the figure skater asked him why baseball players were so fat?

And then around the same time, the Rocket starts getting testosterone shots in the ass at the SkyDome Hotel from Brian McNamee.


Mitchell, Infinite Redux - Butter chimes in

Cheers to newly elevated Blue Jays bench coach Brian Butterfield for laying it all out when talking to the Bangor News on the Mitchell Report.

"It’s old news. The whole problem has been in baseball for a long time. Baseball let it happen in the 1990s. It was right in front of them. You had guys who would hit single-digit home runs one year turn around and hit 30-40-50 home runs the next year. Now they’re strong-arming it. Let’s move on."

Amen to that, Butter.

Mitchell Redux: Join us... we head over to the punch bowl, and ladle out a tasty cup of Who Gives a Fuck.

In essence, the Mitchell Report boils down to the squealings of one scumbag batboy who got caught out. Without the testimony of Mr. Radomski and his immaculately maintained shoebox of receipts and personal cheques, Mitchell's weighty tome would amount to sweet FA.

Take Zaunie, for instance. Sure, there's his cheque for $500 (which is a drop in the bucket compared to the thousands that other ballplayers seemed to be shelling out.) But the corroboration of the evidence is a conversation that Tony Muser remembers having with Zaun six years ago, where he seemed to be defensive. Whoop-dee-freaking-doo.

Zaun now gets to spend the rest of his career known as a juicer, even if it is with evidence that wouldn't stand up in court. Same with Troy Glaus.

To list off the few dozen players on whom they had these small strands of evidence is ridiculous. It inflates the sins of a few, and exonerates the great multitude who managed not to get their names smeared.

And really, how many ways do we want to split this hair? Would we want to go back and see how many MLBers were using creatine, or protein powders, or ephedra, or andro? Or greenies?

All that the Mitchell Report has done is heap scorn on former MLB Commissioners (the Peter Uberroth section seems particularly egregious to us) and the Players' Association while letting the current administration get off scott free. Bullshit.

Moreover, the Report hasn't put this "problem" to bed so much as it has opened the door for further inspection, as though legislators don't have better things to do than stick their nose into the private affairs of adults who may have made unhealthy choices to advance their careers.

For that matter, we wouldn't encourage all the little kiddies to follow our lead and ingest the vast quantities of caffeine and nicotine that we have just to help us improve our writing efficiency this morning. You hear that kids?

Meanwhile, Rodney Harrison and Shawn Merriman will play to packed houses and applause this weekend.

This whole thing is such a crock of shit.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Fifty-eight minutes until the Mitchell Report is released

And then we can put all of this ugliness behind us and move on.


Update, 2:25 pm: Page 179 of the report. Say it ain't so, Zaunie. Say it ain't so.

Another Update, 2:40 pm: We totally missed this article in yesterday's National Post. (Actually, we've missed pretty every article of every National Post for about four years, but that's neither here nor there.)

In the article, Gregg Zaun takes flagrant potshots at the Mitchell Report and Bud Selig, culminating in this:

"I don't know what the report says, but if there's not hard evidence like a failed drug test or somebody got caught purchasing drugs or anything like that, it seems like they're opening themselves up to a whole lot of negative press for really no reason at all. It baffles me. It really does."

Well, it's certainly opened up Zaun for some negative press. And while we love Zaun for his candour and we're probably going to forgive him anyways, we think it was pretty weak for him to come out blasting the report beforehand without being the slightest bit open or sincere about the fact that he had been asked to testify, and with some good reason.


Yet another Update, 2:51: Also, Howie Clark. For shame.

Jays's urgent need for a light-hitting plucky SS about to be filled

Jeff Blair reports that the Jays are close to an agreement with Plucky Shortstop Smurf, David Eckstein.

To which we say: Wwwwwhhhaaaaaaaaaaaa?

Eckstein's offensive numbers are vastly better than Johnny Mac's, and he would provide the Jays with exactly the sort of prototypical leadoff hitter that they might have needed last year. But the X Factor has been in decline for a couple of years, and has missed significant time due to injuries. Moreover, most teams that were looking at him in the off-season had visions of him playing 2B. His ability to compensate for his weak arm and limited range with spunk (or grit, or hustle, or heart, or whatever intangible bunk you choose) is declining as he ages, and he'll turn 33 next month.

On the bright side, there's something to be said about building up you depth, and we'd take Eckstein over your Hector Lunas or your Joel Ingletts any day.

UPDATE, 12:01: And it's done. One year, $4.5 mill.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

And Bacon Pants settles the deal

The DJF (who else?) breaks the news to us that Los Gigantes have decided to sign Aaron "Bacon Pants" Rowand to a five-year deal, thereby putting us out of our misery.

But seriously: We know the Ladies love Rowand, but any franchise who is going to sign a greazzy mediocrity like him to a five year deal deserves the subsequent years in the wilderness they will subsequently suffer. Let this roll around your noggin for a while, Giants fans: "Now batting fourt-ourth-ourth, Number thirty-three-ee-ee, Aaron Rowand-and-and." Yeah, that'll play.

Rowand went 27 HRs and 89 RsBI in that postage stamped sized novelty miniature ball park in Philly. We swear: if dude hits 20 homers in any of those five years, we'll eat a pound of raw bacon. For reals.

These are tectonic plates

One of their distinguishing features is that they move at a far quicker pace than Brian Sabean.

Having said that, we're reasonably certain at this point that Alex Rios won't be patrolling any part of the outfield at (Insert Phone Company Here) Park. You don't ponder a decision for this amount of time without finding (or being provided with) the numerous aspects of its downside.

So let's move on.

Of course, Sabean might have been holding out to see if he could get Kosuke Fukudome, who decided that the winning tradition of the Cubs was too much to turn down. (Something probably got lost in translation for K-Fuk.)

The Yankees are apparently offering the Giants old man Hideki Matsui (actually, he's only 33, but he looks older than Abe Vigoda) for a big bag of nothing, and certainly not Cain or Lincecum.

Newest Latest
At this point, we just go straight to the Drunk Jays Fans for the latest news on what's happening, because those guys are on top of their shit like nobody's bidness. For instance, we learned about today's reported Miguel Tejada trade through them, and they also re-confirmed for us what a Dick Bag the Toronto Star has as their top baseball writer. Nice work, gents.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

You don't get a giant head like that by consuming too much Lik-a-Maid

Sure, Kevin Mench is available. But before the Jays think about bringing his misshapen feet and his giant cranium and his doucheriffic tats north of the border, maybe we should wait to see if anyone has any reports that they'd like to file this week.

Not that we're making any assumptions. But you know, prudence isn't the worst attribute ever.

Monday, December 10, 2007

The case for trading Rios

Not that we want to go back completely on our stated fears about trading Alex Rios for Tim Lincecum, but with a little time to consider it, we're coming around to understanding the idea. (Sorry Joanna!)

The main thing to like about this is the fact that the Jays would control Lincecum for the next five years, while Rios is on the cusp of getting priced out of their range. Trading to get those four or five years of control over a key cog in the organization certainly makes a lot of sense.

Moreover, there are always corner outfielders to be had in a pinch, while potential front line pitchers don't come around every day. While giving up Rios for Lincecum would leave a significant hole in right, we're guessing that reasonable replacements like Austin Kearns, Kevin Mench or Michael Cuddyer (we're just spitballin' here) could be had at a much more reasonable cost to fill that void.

Of course, now that the Tao has given its assent to the deal, you know it will never happen.

What if Rios stays?
Since these rumours around Rios have sprung up, we've been asking ourselves what sort of frame of mind will Rios have if he comes back to T.O. next year. His quote to Robert MacLeod at the winter meetings betrayed a certain petulance about the whole ordeal. (""I don't care about anything. If they want to trade me, so be it. It's up to them. There's not anything I can do about it.")

In some ways, if there are hurt feelings over these rumours, it might be better at this point if the Jays moved him rather than having a grumpy Rios in the room all season.

Friday, December 7, 2007

No suspension for Glaus, but something less than an exoneration

We're not sure if Jordan Bastian writes his own headlines, but it might be a touch strong to say that Troy Glaus was "cleared in steroids probe".

As noted later in Bastian's article, and in most others (including the LA Times), Glaus is skating because it was "determined that, with respect to each player, there was insufficient evidence of a violation of the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program in effect at the time of the conduct in question."

Which is to say that MLB didn't have a policy at the time, so there was nothing there to contravene.

Whatever the case, the 2008 season is going to be a long one for Glaus. Every warning track shot and every limpy trot around the bases will be seen through the oculus of the steroid allegations, and he simply won't be able to hobble away teary-eyed to a surgeon's table every time he's asked about it.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Welcome Globe Sports readers: Come join us as we watch paint dry

Because it's a lot less frustrating and tiresome than waiting around for something to come of this week's rumours. (Sabean! Yer killin' us here!)

Rule 5 draft - Another Wells, and the fat guy from Moneyball
The Jays took important steps towards replenishing their supply players named "Wells" today by drafting Cubs farmhand Randy Wells. Wells seemed to have stubbed his toe moving to the AAA level in 2006 after putting up excellent numbers the entire way through his minor league career. Wells is said to be "giddy" about the move to Toronto, and he has promised to skip like a schoolgirl to the mound. (Okay, part of that wasn't completely true.)

In the AAA portion of the Rule 5, the Jays picked up Brant Colamarino, an Oakland farmhand whose physical appearance elicited one of the best lines in Michael Lewis' Moneyball:
"When Brant Colamarino removes his shirt for the first time in an A's minor league locker room he inspires his coaches to inform [Beane] that 'Colamarino has titties.'"
(Thanks to this Hardball Times article for the reminder about Brant's bootyliciousness, a
nd cheers to the Mighty Blair for the link from the Globe Baseball Blog.)

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Is he not pink enough? Is he not round enough? Is he not efficient?

Tim Lincecum - 23 years old, 146 IP, 7-5, 4.00 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 150 Ks, 65 BBs, pitched in the NL West.
Jesse Litsch - 22 years old, 111 IP, 7-9, 3.81 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, 50 Ks, 36 BBs, pitched in the AL East.

So, is the difference between these two worth Alex Rios?

Lincecum or Cain? We'll take the latter

It almost feels certain to us that we're about to lose the Jays' best offensive player from last year. If it isn't one of the Giants starters, then someone's going to come along with an offer that J.P. can't refuse.

We're as sure of this as we were last year that the Jays were going to trade Vernon and sign Gil Meche.

Still, now we're left pondering which starter we'd prefer. Lincecum had all of the hype last year, but looking at his game log, he got knocked around a bit and never quite dominated the way that some thought he should.

Maybe we're just focussed on the right good Francis Begbie-esque tunin' that the Jays put on him on June 13 (7 earnies in 3.2 innings). And that was with a lineup that includes noted sluggers Howie Clark, Jason Phillips and Royce Clayton.

Besides, that delivery scares the bejaysus out of us.

And let's remember that Cain is actually about three months younger that Lincecum, lest anyone pull out that old saw about Tiny Tim's potential.

Meanwhile, the fellas over at McCovey Chronicles are completely losing their shit over the possibility of losing one of their stars of the future for Rios. We hope that they can enjoy that lovely view of the bay this season while Los Gigantes are at bat, because there won't be many splash hits to enjoy in 2008.

Damn! Someone stole our adult film star name!

His name is Buck Coats, and he is the newest Blue Jay.

(I guess we'll have to find a new career, now that he's laid claim to the best p*rn name since Dick Pound.)

They get Miggy and Dontrelle, and we're chasing this guy

We've got no time for Paul LoDuca. But if they Jays do decide to toss $2.5 mill his way: lock up your daughters.

Meanwhile, Jeffrey Loria and David Sansom set about killing baseball in every great city starting with the letter "M". Watch your Nuts, Modesto!
In truth, the Marlins got a pretty good package for Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis, including Cameron Maybin and Andrew Miller. But think of this: Cabrera is 24-effing-years-old, which is the same age as Hanley Ramirez. So let the Hanley rumours start to fly!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Loose lips around Nashville

We were assured that the Jays were going to be quiet after locking up Matt Stairs and Johnny McDonald.

So what's this with the endless rumours coming out of Music City?

To wit:
  • The New York Post has the Indians and Blue Jays discussing a trade that would send Alex Rios to Cleveland for Cliff Lee and Franklin Gutierrez. We shudder to think.
  • Jeff Blair (The Only Toronto Baseball Writer That Matters!) has the Jays looking at Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain for Rios, with the possibility that the Giants might be interested in Glaus. (We'd take Cain, because Tiny Tim's weird pronated delivery is gonna mean arm trouble sooner or later.) McCovey Chronicles don't play that.
  • Globe Junior (aka Robert McLeod) has the Jays sending A.J. hither and yon.
  • The Washington Post is reporting on the Jays' interest in Erik Bedard, although they speculate that the starting point would have to be Rios AND Dusty Lambchops. Which is pretty steep.
  • Roger Ebert's paper suggests speculates on Toronto media speculation around Ryan Dempster. Don't they realize that Toronto media speculates that every Canadian is going to the Jays?
  • The San Diego Trib is reporting that Pads GM Kevin Towers is interested in Josh Towers. Try reading an entire article about how Towers is pursuing Towers, and how Towers likes Towers and thinks that Towers is a good fit for Towers' team, and tell us if your head explodes Scanners-style. Because ours almost did.
Rule 5 Tomfoolery
The Rule 5 draft is up tomorrow, and there are excellent posts on the history of the draft and some of the steals made by the Jays on both Home Run Derby and The 500 Level.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Well, that's novel!

The Blue Jays new road togs. Now including the actual colour blue! But still with black caps!

Official unveiling at 5:50 pm Eastern. More to come.

3 PM: Now that it's sinking in
Our guess about the new road unis was that they would integrate last year's scripted cap "T" onto the jersey. Now, we have a new font and another very square jersey "T" that doesn't match the cap "T" at all. Which is what you get when you do ad hoc uniform changes year after year to correct an ill-conceived rebrand.

Looking at the cap...if we really let our eyes go fuzzy, we can convince ourselves that it is a navy blue. What are the chances.

Again, more to come.

(And bienvenue UniWatchers!)

4:12 PM: And furthermore...
We see the script "T" caps are marked down steeply on the online JaysShop...but then again, so's everything else. But for those of you who purchased one (like commenter /a), take heart! It's instant retro! (Just like our graphite grey cap!)

Also, the new numerals on the front beg the question: will there be new numerals on the back? On both home and road? Or will there be a vertiable Enrico Fermi MixMaster Gumbo of Fonts across the Blue Jays' on-field wardrobe?

5:09: Whatever the uniforms look like...
...Ty Taubenheim ain't gonna be wearin' one.

We're realizing what ridiculous suckers we are for actually getting all riled up about this announcement. It's a sign of mental instability, we tells ya. And we'll think about that while we're glued to the screen, watching them unveil "something old, something new". (Gargh! We're even spewing their messaging!)

6:18: Whoomp! There it is!
The new road unis are a bit of a mish mash. More blue on the front, but still with the black cap. The nameplate on the back is the radially arched nameplate that we've seen for the last few years while the lettering on the front is vertically arched. (For those who don't yet get itTM, UniWatch has a great primer on this.) The nameplate font is curved, while the front of the jersey is blocky. The jersey "T" doesn't match the cap "T", meaning if they wear the T cap, this will be a real mess.

We do like the number on the front. Jeremy Accardo, who drew the short straw and had to model the new uni today, said that he likes the number on the front because now his parents will be able to find him on the field. Because, you know, it's tough to pick out the blond mullet on the mound in the ninth inning.

If nothing else: Powder blues!
Full press release (as if we haven't flacked enough for the Jays today) is right here.

Winter Meetings! Deals will be made!

And we'll be there!

Okay, not really. In fact, after reading the pieces teeing up this year's Nashville confab, we're not sure if we're even going to keep a close watch on what's going on.

To summarize every article we read about the Blue Jays and their strategy heading into the meetings: "The Jays aren't going to do anything. Unless they do. Sneaky buggers!"

Locking up the goodies
If you need some sort of action to keep your pulse aflutter, the Toronto Star says the Jays are looking to lock up Alex Rios and Aaron Hill. It's just like five years ago, when they handed out contracts to Vernon Wells and that fat dude with the crew cut! That worked out kinda okay...Let's do the time warp again!

Friday, November 30, 2007

Tony LaRussa is a baseball genius...

...and don't you forget it.

Incidentally, there's really something that is begging to be said about the inextricable link that we have created in our North American sports culture between booze and sports. But we'll keep it to ourselves for fear of offending our pals over at Drunk Jays Fans.

(Hat tip to the G&M's incomparable Jeff Blair for the link.)

Looking for High Quality CanCon (Celine and Nickelback need not apply)

Let us begin by acknowledging two things:
And yet, heading into the Winter Meetings in Nashville, there are rumblings that both Erik Bedard and Jason Bay may be available for the right price. So would either of them be a fit for the Jays?

The O's are apparently looking for two young Major League ready players and a prospect for Bedard, which might be a bit too much to hand over to a division rival, while the Bucs might be ready to unload Bay and build around some of their own young prospects.

With so much emphasis being placed on teams pursuing Johan Santana this winter, Bedard's price might go up when teams fall out of that race. Still, we're guessing that it wouldn't take as much to pry him out of Baltimore, nor will he cost anything near the $25 million over five years that Santana is seeking. A quick look at their numbers, and it is hard to find why the gap between the two would be so great. (Bedard: 3.16 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 221 Ks versus 57 BBs; Santana: 3.33 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 235 Ks versus 52 BBs.)

Bay might come cheap, but he's 29 and coming off an awful 2007 season that was eerily similar to Vernon's (.746 OPS, 21 HRs, 84 RsBI, 4 SBs). The question with Bay is whether if that was a harbinger of things to come, or if his knee injuries held him back that much.

Maybe the most important question is whether if we'd give a flying fadoo about either of these guys if they didn't have a maple leaf on their passport.

Where's Corey Koskie these days?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Powder Blues for Christmas?

Neate notes the rumblings on the Fan 590's flagship program that the official unveiling of the Jays powder blue retro-alt jerseys could be coming any day now. We've been as jumpy-squirmy-anxious as a school girl with Hannah Montana front-row ducats since we first heard in September that the Blue Jays would be bringing the old school unis back. Hell, just look around the page if you want to know the true colour of our Blue Jay Love.

A tip of la casquette to Home Run Derby for their awesome run down of the best of the powder blue jerseys. Dig those red and powder White Sox unis!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

This is Vernon's good news why are we worried?

The CP has a story on the progress of Vernon Wells' recovery and rehab from shoulder season at the end of the season. We think that it was supposed to be a good news story, giving fans a sense that V-Dub will be back to 200-hit, 30-homer, 100-RsBI form in 2008. But in reading it, we got stuck on the negatives. (Maybe that's just our way.)

Wells talks about the "anchors" in his shoulder, and how he couldn't lie on his back because they would pull, so he's been sleeping in a recliner. Yeah, that makes us feel really secure. Because nothing says brand new shoulder like anchor-pull pain.

And then there's this quote that will certainly have us sleeping the sleep of angels through the winter:
"Until I start lifting (weights) again I won't truly, truly, know the difference. There's still a little bit of pain in there."
Yeah, that completely calms the nerves.

Wells' rehab from shoulder surgery going well, will be ready for spring, Canadian Press (via Google News)

Monday, November 26, 2007

There's always room for a good Steve Simmons takedown

Cheers to Neate at Out of Left Field for his excellent takedown of smarmy Sun Media hack Steve Simmons, and his off-handed note about the Yankees' 20 MVPs versus the Blue Jays' one.

Simmons has made a career on these careless, mindless swipes. We find his diatribes on TSN's The Reporters so unintentionally comical that they are almost unbearable to watch. Simmons is so pleased with himself when he's about to fire off some juvenile missive that he chokes and drowns on his own self-satisfaction. Or maybe that is just saliva...we're never quite sure.

If only he had the chops to back it up.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Joe Kennedy, R.I.P.

Former Jays pitcher Joe Kennedy has died at the age of 28 of undetermined causes.

It's like our buddy said when he passed along the news: It's sad and unnerving to see someone younger than you die. While we saw him only for a brief time in Toronto, he was a young man with potential that spanned far beyond his baseball career.

Deepest regrets.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Revolving Door: It was nice knowing you, What's-Your-Name

You gotta feel for Cody Haerther. First, he gets put on waivers by the Cardinals, then he gets picked up by a team that can't spell his name.

Then he gets interviewed by Dave Rouleau, and says all the right things about being excited to be in Toronto. Meanwhile, the Jays are DFAing him to make room for David Purcey.

And when it all shakes out, he's right back in Saint Lou, praying for Chris Duncan or Rick Ankiel to trip down the stairs over the winter.

It was nice knowing you, Hather Hether Heathen Heater Hater Hatchling Haerther (if that is your real name).

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

He may be a Gas Can, but he's our Gas Can

Perhaps we should leave it to Bergkamp at the DJF - the one person left amongst us who still believes in Josh Towers - to discuss the recent news that the Jays are looking at offering arbitration to the Gas Can.

We're just puzzled.

Matt Clement: Didn't we already dodge that bullet?

Ever the bargain shopper, J.P. is apparently sniffing around the 75% bin again for discount starters.

This year's model is Matt Clement, who dissed the Jays before the 2005 season, only to go on to stink it up for the Red Sox for a season and a half. (Actually, he made the All-Star game in 2005, for whatever that's worth.)

Clement's had a wacky injury history. We were actually watching the D-Rays-BoSox game a couple of years back when he took a Carl Crawford line drive off his melon, so we feel for the guy.

If nothing else, last year's foray into marked down arms didn't really cost the Jays much, so maybe it is worth taking a shot on a reclamation project like Clement. Could he really project to be any worse that Gus "The Machine" Chacin?

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Welcome to the Blue Jays, whatever your name is

Someone might want to invest in a little liquid paper for the Jays communications shop.

In their press release today announcing that they had claimed someone from the Cards, they called him both "Cody Haether" and "Cody Heather". Neither of which is the correct spelling, as we found out when we tried to find out anything about him.

In fact, dude's name is "Cody Haerther". We apologize, but we have no pronunciation guide to offer.

(Update, November 21st - The presser is corrected now. But trust us when we say that we wouldn't make this stuff up.)

Marco! Scutaro! Marco! Scutaro!

The Blue Jays traded a couple of middling minor-leaguers to (who else) Oakland for Marco Scutaro. This presumably fills the yawning gap left after they released Hector Luna last week.

Maybe we're thinking of Scutaro's fantasy value when we say that we like his positional flexibility. Still, he played games at second (13), third (36), short (43), LF (6) and RF (4) last year, so he assumes the Dave Berg role for the 2008 Jays. Which is to say, he won't be good enough to be the everyday player at any position, but you can put him pretty much anywhere in a pinch.

Scutaro's numbers (7 HRs, 41 RsBI in 2007) have been pretty consistent over the past couple of years (5/41 in 2006, 9/37 in 2005), and his career OPS sits at .704.

Oh, yeah: some people like to call him "Lil Papi" because he's allegedly a "clutch" hitter. Which is such a total load of hooey that Dick Griffin is likely already drafting his first column praising Scutaro's clutchiness.

Hey, it's not the most exciting off-season deal...but we get to add a new tag to the blog!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Roy Halladay - Hall of Famer, Pitching Coach to the Stars

What's not to love about Doc?

First, he gets his number retired by the Arizona Fall League, in recognition of the fact that he was the league's first grad to win a Cy Young.

Then, he gets name-checked in his acceptance speech by 2007 NL Cy Younger Jake Peavy, who noted that Halladay had given him some handy tips on fastball grips while playing golf in the off-season.

Whadda guy.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Little Aaron Hill's all growed up

The Fresno Bee reports that Aaron Hill got married on November 10. And not to Russ Adams.

Hill married Elizabeth Kenfield in Monterrey, with seven members of the Blue Jays in attendance, including Vernon Wells and Troy Glaus. Just imagine how awkward it's gonna be in the locker room next year when the rest of the team gets to hear all of the stories about how great the wedding was, even though they weren't invited.

(And don't ask us why the Bee has included this in an article about kids washing their grubby little hands. We don't see the link either.)

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Marty York's sources should lay off the hard drugs

Every so often, when we're mired in the middle of a Dick Griffin mailbag, we wonder about the depths to which Toronto baseball journalism can sink.

And then we remember Marty York.

In York's column published today in Metro (that soggy bit of mush you walked over when exiting the subway), he barfed out this dubious little nugget:
"Could Roger Clemens be returning to Toronto?

The future Hall of Famer has decided to start collecting some of the $3-million US he’s owed by the Houston Astros, who signed him to a personal-services agreement in 2004. That may mean he’s finally ready to retire, but it could also mean he’ll extend his pitching career for a smaller base salary.

And sources tell me the Blue Jays are seriously thinking of pursuing both Clemens and his pal, Andy Pettitte. (I wonder if they’ll offer Canadian money.)"

No. Really.

York's connection to reality has apparently been completely severed. Even if some drunk were to spin a yarn such as this, there's no way that you could plausibly a) believe it or b) print it without doing irreparable damage to your journalistic reputation.

Which, when you think about it, is all pretty much moot for York.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Random thoughts on a shakey video of Travis Snider

Someone's got their ReggieVision Handicam down at the Arizona Fall League, documenting the prospects with a cinematographic skill that can onle be described as "Zapruderesque" . Among them was this one of Travis Snider cranking out a double.

The Good: Didja hear the beautiful sound of the crack of the bat? Niiiiiice.

The Bad: Not that we want to ponder this for too long...but doesn't Snider's body look a bit "Hinske-esque"?

Snider is one of the few players in the AFL who hasn't played above the single-A level, and he's still ripping it up. In 21 games, he's rocking a 1.025 OPS with five doubles, four homers and 11 RsBI. (And a .342 AVG, for those of you who are into that sort of thing.)

He's still only 20 (which is a few years younger than most of the top prospect in 'zona), but his performance bodes well for a possible 2009 appearance with the Jays. (Maybe...)

Other Futuer Blue Jays in the AFL
  • Sergio Santos has 4 HRs and 14 RsBI along with an .823 OPS, and is playing a lot of third. In case the Jays should need new body at the hot corner sometime soon. Just sayin'.
  • David Purcey's got a wicked 1.59 ERA in five starts and 17 innings. He's struck out 17 and walked 8.
  • Ricky Romero's been pitching primarily in relief, and has a 4.22 ERA in 10-plus innings. He got off to a rocky start, but hasn't allowed a run in his last 7 innings of work, spanning four appearances.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Hot Stove: Yowza!

We're back after a brief work-related foray to the vast wilds of our country. (We missed you too!)

And while we were away, the hot stove started to heat up.

Matt Stairs - Welcome back, but...
While we were pleased to see the Jays bring back Matt Stairs for next year on a sentimental level, we've got to say that we have some serious apprehensions about him for next year. Yes, Stairsy was completely off his ass this year at the dish, but what are the chances that he replicates last year's numbers? More over, does his signing block Adam Lind from getting ABs...or moreover, does it lock the Jays in at LF when that might be the best place for them to add a BIG bat in the off-season?

A.J. on the block...not on the block
We don't want to simply restate what the Drunk Jays Fans said yesterday on Burnett, so we won't. Well, not really. Except to say that we should expect to hear a lot of rumbling around Burnett's status from now right up until the trade deadline. If the Jays come out flat and are somewhat out of the race in July, we can see A.J. heading out of town. However, we wonder if it wouldn't make sense for the Jays to try an buy out his opt-out clause in this off-season.

It seems a little odd to think that a guy as fragile and frankly undependable as Burnett could use a couple of injury-riddled 10-8 seasons as a springboard to a big payday, but such is the demand for big nasty arms in MLB.

The Big Bat of our dreams
There will be no shortage of teams in the Miguel Cabrera sweepstakes, so we probably shouldn't even start twisting ourselves into feverish anticipation that the Jays could get him. Cabrera is young and can flat-out rake, and if the Jays were to get into the fray, Cabrera could be the franchise's cornerstone player for the next decade. (Sorry Vernon...we saw way too many pop ups to the infield this season to keep thinking of you that way.)

There are two significant roadblocks, of course. First, the Marlins seem to want to attach Dontrelle Willis to Cabrera's coattails. After a nice start to his career, D-Train has spent the last year and a half getting whacked around in one of the NL's most pitcher friendly parks. Put him in the AL in less spacious surroundings, and you can see where a problem may arise.

Secondly, there is still the matter of that tall slow guy who's making a mint to play third for the Jays...although he may not be around in the first 50 games.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

BoSox-Schilling Ink Deal

The Globe reports that the Red Sox have re-signed Curt Schilling to a one year, $8 million deal. It's a bit of a surprise that the bloodied one did not return to Philly to try to wrap up some unfinished business from '93.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Vote for Tom Cheek!

If you are truly a fan of the Blue Jays (or even if you're not), stop what you're doing right now and go to the Baseball Hall of Fame website to vote for Tom Cheek to receive the Ford Frick Award.

Cheek's contribution to baseball in Canada can hardly be summed up in a few lines. He was the narrator that spun the Blue Jays story from to their very beginnings through to their most glorious moments ("Touch 'em all, Joe!").

Mostly, we loved the fact that he never hit a false note in describing the action. He wasn't a homer, and he never sold the story as something more than it was. He was dry without being boring; funny without being jokey; and he was willing to give the Jays the business when they were playing like a shit sandwich.

Our favorite Cheekism: Whenever the fielders were miscommunicating, or flubbed a defensive play, he would refer to them "playing a little Alphonse and Gaston in the field". Classic.

The voting for the Frick Award lasts through the month, and you can vote once per day.

Monday, October 29, 2007

A League of His Own - A-Rod Opts Out

A-Rod is bigger than Major League Baseball and certainly bigger than the World Series. That had to be his secondary message yesterday as he announced that he was opting out of his contract despite the MLB protocol that teams not make major announcements during the World series. But I guess he is not a team (yet).

Given his decision to leave a team that could absorb his contract and build a winning team, he will soon be back in the Texas scenario -- toiling at the bottom of the standings somewhere but collecting big cheques. At least Barry Bonds got into that scenario in part because he wanted to play in his hometown. For A-Rod, there seems to be nothing driving his career decisions apart from being the highest paid person in the world. To do the math, A-Rod has less character than Barry Bonds.

Put a bow on this season

The Red Sox are champs. Again.

And with a team built around Ellsbury, Papelbon and Gregg Zaun's favorite, Dustin Pedroia, the Blue Jays may well find themselves looking up at the Boston nine in the standings for quite some time.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

The DH Dilemma - Tito, meet Cito

The dilemma faced by the Red Sox in trying to make room for all of their bats in the NL ballpark is hardly unique. Most years, the AL champ is forced to sit someone they'd rather not for at least a game or two. But the Gordian knot that Tito Francona had to solve this year was particularly complex. (Baseball Prospectus reports that he'll ultimately sit Youkilis in favour of Papi in the field.)

Which brings us back to the Jays. (Remember way back when this was still a Jays blog?)

Back in 1993, Cito Gaston was faced with the same sort of decision when he had to choose between Paul Molitor and AL Batting Champ John Olerud for Game 3 of the Series in the Vet. Cito ultimately settled on Molitor, who rewarded his decision by going 3 for 4 with a homer and three RsBI.

Cito's plan before that game (as noted to the New York Times' Murray Chass) was to sit the eventual World Series MVP in Games 4 and 5. But Molitor's performance forced his hand into moving him to third for those games, a position he hadn't patrolled on a regular basis in four years. Then again, Cito's choice was either taking a chance with Molly, or sitting him and playing Ed Babb-Sprague. In retrospect, the decision seems so clear.

In looking back at the 1993 Series, we're impressed with how aggressive a manager Cito was. There is this erroneous notion that is floated out there that he merely filled in a lineup card full of all-stars, and let them have at it.

Armchair Managing the Sox: If we were Tito, we would have moved Youk to second, Pedroia to short, and played Papi at first. Sure, three-quarters of your infield would have been out of their regular positions, but what's it gonna matter if you're up ten runs?

(Then again maybe we've played too much MLB 2K6 lately...where we play Travis Hafner in right field and let Ryan Howard catch.)

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Jeff Blair rocks the aux box

Based on his monumental and outstanding blogging throughout last night's Game 1 laugher, we have decided that Jeff Blair is our Best Friend Forever. (He has no say in the matter.)

We've noted before that Blairsy (that's what we'll call him when we go on picnics together) can read our mind. It's uncanny.

So imagine our surprise when he breaks out the analogy that St. Patrick's Day is "amateur night for drinkers." That's our line! We swear that we've been using that line for years. Mrs. Tao even rolls her eyes at it, she's heard it so many times.

Also, we really enjoyed Blairsy's use of the epithet "dill-weed". We just called our boss "dill-weed", just because Blairsy would have wanted us to.

Finally, Blairsy's assertion that Revolver and Rubber Soul were way better albums than Sgt. Pepper's was dead-on.

Given the noxious ink-stained turds that populate the Jays' mediasphere, it's refreshing to see the work of a writer with whom you would actually want to sit down, pour a couple of fingers of Bushmills, and talk baseball.

Blairsy, you're doin' a heckuva a job.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Jody Vance has had enough of your monkeyshines

Did you know that Jody Vance was still alive?

We didn't until today, when we saw that the one-time anchorthingy (and Hazel Mae archenemy) wrote a column for the commuter rag 24 Hours on how much she wants the Red Sox to "eat humble pie."

She then goes on to describe Manny as "egomaniacal". That's rich.

It's not as though we're Red Sox fans, but we just hate when the frickin' killjoys come down from on high to criticize players whenever they show an ounce of personality. We spent a good part of the Sox-Indians series laughing both at and with Manny, and we're not going to go all whitebread nostalgic for the time when the players didn't celebrate a home run until six years after they retired.

Come on Jody. We know you work for the Leafs now, but that doesn't mean that life can't have a little colour to it.

UPDATE: We seem to remember that Jody is the wife of Blue Jays Manager of Team Travel Mike Shaw Assistant GM Bart Given (d'oh!), who's supposed to be a heckuva a guy, and probably knows people who could have us banned from any MLB ballpark. So if we've offended, we're really sorry.

The Tao's World Series Predictions

Here are five solid lock predictions for the 2007 RoxSox World Series:
  1. Our pal the Red Sox fan will inadvertently (or so he'll claim) verbally or physically abuse us at least once in the middle of a wild celebration dance.
  2. We will be treated to three hours worth of footage of pitchers blowing into their hands.
  3. Dick Griffin will make an allusion to the fact that the Jays passed on Troy Tulowhatever in the draft. (Bob Elliot's already beaten him to the punch.)
  4. We'll have to miss at least one game in the Series, having already used up all of our "Get Out of Social Events with Mrs. Tao in Favour of Baseball Playoff Nights with our Scumbag Friends" cards for one October.
  5. The Red Sox will win, and the Massholes will love it.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Sour Grapes: Demuth put the Squeeze on Carmona

This might sound like sour grapes, but we spent a good part of Saturday cursing Dana Demuth's microscopic strike zone, and how he was squeezing the Indians Fausto Carmona. Cheers to the Mockingbird's Jon Hale for dialing up MLB's pitch FX system to confirm as much.

Not that it matters now.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Minor League Musical Chairs

There’s some chatter coming from Syracuse (specifically, the Post-Standard’s Matt Michael) that they’ve had enough of their affiliation with the Blue Jays, and their tradition of losing AAA teams. Moreover, they are salivating at the possibility of hooking up with the Mets for the 2009 season.

The Jays’ two-year deal with Syracuse expires after next season, and there will be a brief window in September when MLB teams and minor league cities can renegotiate their affiliation agreements. While many clubs have maintained their affiliations for decades, there has been a significantly higher degree of turnover in these agreements as of late. In 2007 alone, the Phillies, Yankees, and Mets all severed ties with their longtime AAA cities (Scranton, Columbus and Norfolk, respectively).

According the Post-Standard’s report, cities in play for 2009 may include Columbus (Washington), Buffalo (Cleveland), New Orleans (Mets), Rochester (Minnesota), Indianapolis (Pittsburgh), and Syracuse.

Obviously, the best fit out of those cities for the Jays would be Buffalo, but given the long-term success that the Bisons have had in that market, they might not want to hitch their wagons to a franchise which has produced 22 losing AAA seasons over their 30 year history.

If the music stops and the Jays are stuck with New Orleans in 2009, it would be nothing short of disastrous. A move to the Pacific Coast League would leave Jays prospects without exposure to their chief rivals’ prospects, and the expense and inconvenience of shipping players back and forth between New Hampshire, New Orleans and Toronto would be significant.

Then again, there is a AAA-level ballpark in a city with dozens of flights between it and Toronto that may well be vacant in 2009. Right Carl?