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!