Thursday, July 31, 2008

Trade for Bay: A last desperate act?

There are rumours afloat now that the Pirates and Jays are talking about a Jason Bay trade now that the three way Manny-Hermida-Bay-and-prospects-for-all deal seems to be withering away.

ESPN's Jason Stark says that the Jays would need to cough up a package of three prospects, including Travis Snider, while RotoWorld floated a notion of Adam Lind and Brett Cecil.

We love Bay, but this seems like a strange and desperate move, should the Jays proceed. Then again, Bay's a good middle-of-the-order bat and is signed through next year.

Updatery, 3:18 pm: The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's indefatigable Dejan Kovacevic (via RotoWorld) reports that the inquiries consisted of one call, where the Bucs asked for Lind and Shaun Marcum, and the Jays wisely declined.

And for those of you playing the home game: this is why the Pirates haven't had a winning season since 1992.

More Updatery, 3:31 pm: Jeff Blair, apparently on break from packing for Beijing, is on top of rumours at the Globe's Baseball Blog. Among the hot rumours: Raul Ibanez. And it's quite the indictment of the Jays' offensive woes that we're vaguely excited about the idea.

5 minutes to the deadline update: Jason Stark says the Ibanez deal's dead, but that it had be a 2-for-1 with all MLB players. Also, the Rays may not have a deal done for Bay. Which is good, because our general distaste for the Rays has morphed into outright hatred over the past week.

Et enfin, 17h26: Manny to the Dodgers. Bay to the Red Sox. Prospects to the Pirates. Oddly enough, we're happier that Bay is shipping up to Boston. That's how much we've come to hate the Rays.

Trade Deadline Snoozerama

We should probably be a little more excited about today's non-waiver trade deadline, but somehow, the fact that our team will stay mostly on the sidelines today has us less than thrilled.

Not that we want the Jays to trade just for the sake of it. After all, you can't expect them to go out and acquire David Segui every year.

Although there may not be much movement from the home side, we'll be checking out Tim Dierkes' indispensable MLB Trade Rumors on and off today just for the hell of it. It already appears as though a few blockbusters are in the making (including the Manny-induced Bosox-Pirates-Marlins extravaganza and the shocking Griffey to the White Sox trades.)

By the end of the day, we might even learn to drop the "u" out of "rumours" in our occasional searches for news.

Why wouldn't you want Aubrey Huff?
Sure, the Jays already have lots of left-handed batters whose best position is batters box, but we're as surprised as Dierkes is that no one (including the Jays) is showing any interest the Baltimore DH. We're not sure that it would make much sense to cough up a prospect for Huff at this point in a season that will optimistically end a few games over .500. Still, a guy with 22 HRs and a .916 OPS would have to add something to the lineup.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Roy Halladay must have been awful last night

As Steve Simmons is undoubtedly whinnying to himself this morning, this is what is frustrating about Roy Halladay. He's cruising through the game, and then he gives up a home run to a fat former Rookie of the Year, and the Jays lose.

Because he totally lost last night's game. Look it up in the boxscore! Halladay (L, 12-8). The Jays should really be concerned about his performance, since he slid back closer to being a .500 pitcher. Maybe they should trade him for Jeff Francis.

Zaun would like to scope out other cities' breakfast joints
Hearing that Gregg Zaun wants out of Toronto to find a place where he can get more playing time is both sad and a little bit funny. We love Zaunie, but he's at the end of his road now and is not likely to find a spot around the Majors where he would slide in to be the number one catcher. It's just that he's the last to know it.

The most devastating quote of the day goes to J.P., who might have been better served to not comment as opposed to dropping this wicked Heathers/Mean Girls slam on Zaun's head:

"Part of making a trade is someone has to want you. Right now, there's no one that has expressed an interest in him. That's where we're at."

That's cold.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Finding cold comfort in geographic impossibilities

We could probably recycle this post year-in and year-out, but here goes:

If the Blue Jays were in the National League West, they'd be in first place.

Not that we can take much solace in such wishful thinking. But if there were some sort of massive tectonic upheaval that resulted in Toronto moving about 4000 miles west, then we would be printing off our playoff tickets at home (for a nominal fee.)

A.J. Burnett is a three-wins-over-.500 pitcher

In his last four starts, A.J. Burnett is 3-1 with a 1.32 ERA, 31 Ks versus 8 BBs.

So, Steve Simmons: You know what's frustrating about A.J. Burnett? That the Blue Jays don't have him locked up for the next two years yet.

Speaking of which, the decision by the Blue Jays to hold on to Burnett (at least, that seems to be the message today) would lead any sentient being to assume that they're going to try to sweeten the pot to buy out his option. We don't know where the $4 million figure that has bounced around our comments section (as well as the Drunks') comes from, but we suspect that it wouldn't be enough. We're guessing that it's going to take more than $5 million over those last two years to wrap him up, especially since he'd probably attract offers of more than $15 million per annum in the off-season.

But what the fadoo do we know?

On Canadian pitchers, petulant GMs, and the Olympics
Anyone catch J.P. Ricciardi in the scrum yesterday, discussing the recall of Canadian pitcher Scott Richmond? We're not sure what the question was that set him off, but Ricciardi went into full-on smarmy, snarky, you-gotta-be-kidding-me mode when someone seemed to question him on whether if he considered the implications of Richmond missing the Olympics for Canada.

"When you grow up playing catch in your backyard, do you dream of playing in the Olympics or in the Big Leagues?" Ricciardi scoffed.

We'd have to side with J.P. on this one, and we'd draw a clear distinction between this and Colorado GM Dan O'Dowd's bullshit move to keep Jeff Francis out of the 2004 Olympics. Richmond is a career minor leaguer who's getting his first shot at the bigs at 28. Francis was a prospect who was ordered to stay in the minor leagues and not join the Olympic team just because.

Oh, and by the way...fuck Jeff Francis.

Monday, July 28, 2008

A modest proposal: Acquire Gil Meche

Okay, fine. Maybe it's a stupid idea. But just hear us out on this one.

You can never have too much pitching, or so goes the axiom. Certainly, the 2008 edition of the Jays bears that out, what with the dodgy labrums on Casey Janssen and Dustin McGowan, Shaun Marcum's slow recovery from an elbow something-or-other, A.J. Burnett's potential opt-out, and Jesse Litsch's recent crash back to reality.

Meanwhile, the Royals are apparently prepared to start their annual house-cleaning, with Meche's name being amongst those being mentioned as possible trade bait. After a rocky start to the season, Meche has been fairly effective since June 10, going 3-1 with a 3.27 ERA in 44 innings. His strikeout rate isn't great (29 Ks over that period), but he's not walking a ton of guys either (13 BBs).

Mind you, Meche might not be overly anxious to get to Toronto given that J.P. Ricciardi essentially questioned his manhood after he spurned the Jays' contract offer before the 2007 season. But give Doc Halladay an opportunity to nestle him under his wing, and we're sure Meche will come around...right?

Meche has three years left on his five-year $55 million deal, and as has been noted in the case of A.J.'s deal, that seemingly insane figure has quickly become a bargain when it comes to mid rotation starters. At that number, Meche could fit in nicely as a number three starter, and could provide some insurance should A.J. bolt in the off-season and should Casey and Dusty Peaches recover slowly from their shoulder troubles.

Hey, what can we tell ya. It's trade deadline week, and we've just decided to throw some junk against the wall. There are four more days of this nonsense, so get ready for a whole barrelload of silly speculation.

Cheers to the Weekend Editor
Our thanks to The Ack for his steady relief performance over the weekend. While we were away attempting to explain to the missus why a $50 Expos t-shirt with Al Oliver's name and number on the back was a wise investment, the Ack brought his own take on the weekend's events, replete with Meatloaf (and meatloaf) references. Well done, sir.

Now you should start praying for Aaron Rowand's demise, seeing as how you have been designated as our Raw Bacon Consumer of Choice should the Giants centrefielder hit 20 bombs in any of the next few seasons.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Bring on the Rays

So, it wasn't a sweep, but at least we aren't going home hungry (and I swear, no more Meatloaf references from me, I promise). There's just something about dropping the third game of a series after taking the first two that leaves you a little dissatisfied though - yes? Watching the game today left me feeling like the team came in hoping for 2 out of 3, and having won the first two, put it on cruise control for the finale (like me and this post - HEYYYYOOO).

Shaun Marcum had a so-so outing - much better than his first start off the DL, but he still doesn't look all the way back, does he? He looks like he's dropped 1 or 2 MPH from his fastball, and where was his breaking ball? Oh, and Johnny Mac - clearly on the juice. Scotty Rolen - not so much. He's putting on a defensive clinic at the hot corner every time out, but offensively, it would be nice to see him really start putting a charge in the ball, wouldn't it? And does it seem like I'm asking a lot of questions? Seems a little excessive. Sorry.

Statement series on deck
We've got Tampa rolling into town for a 3 game set, and you can bet that both clubs will be looking to make a statement this series. For the Jays, coming off series wins against fairly shitty Baltimore and uber-shitty Seattle, this is a chance to show that the team can get it done against a contending ballclub. For the Rays, it's a chance to bury the Jays and put some distance between them and the Red Sox (and surging Yankees). For Joe Maddon, it's a chance to confirm that he really is the huge prick he made himself out to be the last time the teams met, and I'm sure he won't disappoint.

That's a wrap
Heading into this rookie weekend of posting, my goal was to try and be entertaining, and at least give you something to read. My fear - posting a steaming pile of nothing and turning people off the Tao. I guess that remains to be seen, but I had a good time doing it and unless the ToS pulls the plug on this experiment (probably justifiably), I'll be back next weekend. Until then, we'll return you to your regularly scheduled quality blogging.

A two-sentence post on......Alex Rios

I think it's safe to say that the performance by Alex Rios this afternoon brought out the Ron Burgundy in all of us.

I'll be back tomorrow evening to recap the weekend series.....

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Was there ever any doubt?

Well, yeah. Quite a bit, actually. Heading into the bottom of the 10th, I had basically written a post bemoaning the fact that the Jays were up to their old tricks, stranding runners and letting pitchers off the hook (I'm looking at you, Miguel). I had some venom for Cito too, emptying the bench for pinch runners early and asking Scott Rolen to lay down a sac bunt - which he hadn't done in, oh, four and a half seasons.

But thankfully, Voodoo Joe came through in the clutch. And by coming through, I mean putting a good swing on the ball, at least. If Suzuki (I don't go for this first-name basis garbage), one of the top defensive outfielders in the last decade, makes that play - tricky, but definitely makeable - we're looking at a brutal 4-3 loss and an end to any momentum the team had. Instead, it's 4 wins in a row (and 5 of 6), and a possible catalyst to one of those runs we keep saying the team needs to go on. So here we are.

Brandon League was throwing peas
Our favorite surfer dude pitched a clean 8th, catching Raul Ibanez looking on a particularly nasty 2-seamer. League had filthy stuff and was pounding the strike zone, reminding us of the guy who we thought would be the late-relief set up guy for BJ.

I've been saying to anyone who will listen (which is nobody, to be perfectly honest) that the team was lacking a real shut-down right-hander out of the pen (apologies to Jason Frasor, Shawn Camp, and Brian Wolfe - see what I'm saying?), and League showed tonight that he has the potential to be that arm. Maybe some of that Cito "you're my guy" magic will rub off on him as it so clearly has on Young Adam Lind (2 more hits tonight, and I'm wiping that ugly strikeout on a JJ Putz breaking ball down and away from memory).

Awkward Interactions
If nothing else, the broadcast team at RSN gives us a few of these every game. For the record, I like Jamie Campbell probably more than most, although his standing in my books has taken a big hit this season with his well documented hysterics over walk-off losses.

Tonight's entry comes courtesy of Jamie and the non-confrontational Pat Tabler, who usually gives us the least amount of material to work with:

Discussing Brandon League:
Campbell - "He throws in the high 90's, and we've seen him hit 100 on a few occasions."
Tabler - (awkward pause) "......not this year."

On deck for Saturday
David Purcey (0-1) goes for the Jays in his first start since his recall, facing RA Dickey (2-5) and his big fat knuckler. Interesting matchup here, as I'm not sure what to expect from either guy. Here's hoping Purcey is relaxed and settles in for a quality start, because with Marcum sure to be on a pitch count again Sunday, the 'pen could use a breather. After all, there's Meatloaf at stake.

Friday, July 25, 2008

A One-Sentence Post on...Vernon Wells' absences

How is our heart supposed to grow fonder for Vernon Wells during his absences when the team is 22-15 when he is on the DL?

Let's try not to Denbo this thing up

Greetings, friends of the Tao. It's your new pal The Ack here, acting as your freshly-minted weekend editor. I know, I know - a bit of a head-scratching decision by ToS, isn't it? Seems to be a lot like the Brevin Mencherson experiment, while a perfectly healthy Adam Lind is killing the ball down on the farm. Pretty wild gamble, if you ask me. Reckless, even.

I have my theories.....perhaps the Tao wants you to appreciate his posts for the genius they are by bringing in a total rube for contrast. Or, perhaps the Tao was just sick of me shittying up his comments section on a daily basis. Either way, much like Brevin, who am I to say "no" to the opportunity? The hope here is that like "young Adam Lind" (to steal one of Campbell's patented descriptors), who after a sluggish start to the season now leads the team in CLUTCH, I'll round into form.

(You see what I just did there? I bought myself a month or two of terrible. See how I did that? Slick.)

Oh yeah, about the name....I really shouldn't have to go in-depth about the legend of famed middle reliever Jim Acker, should I? No, I didn't think so.

So, about Adam Lind
He's raking, big time. He probably should have been up weeks before he finally was recalled, and he should probably be hitting higher than the 7-spot right now. But I'm not going to get on JP/Gibby/Cito for either of those things, and here's why:

In his first stint up this season, Lind went 1 for 19, and not one of those Aaron-Hill-hitting-the-ball-hard-but-it's-just-not-dropping-for-him 1 for 19's.....he looked lost. Soft stuff down and away, strike 3. Let's face it, at the time of his demotion, the Jays were still in "we gotta win games now" mode, and a young player with declining confidence wasn't doing the team (or Lind) any good. So down he went - and yeah, maybe he was down too long - but the stay in central New York obviously didn't hurt him. To the contrary, maybe, just maybe, the extended stint in the 'Cuse did Lind more good than we are giving JP/Gibby credit for?

As far as hitting 7th, again - confidence. Give Cito props for giving Lind the everyday job in left and slowly moving him up the order. Baby steps, people. Remember, he started out hitting 9. If he continues at even a healthy fraction of this pace, I'm sure he'll settle in somewhere 2-6 by mid-August.

Weekend series against the sub-Mariners
If the Jays are to hit Cito's stated goal of 10 games over .500 by season's end, these are the types of home series you need to think about sweeping. Unfortunately, the big-2 of the rotation - Doc and a suddenly frisky AJ Burnett - won't see the mound, so I'll settle for a Meatloaf.

Looking to keep his rotation spot (although, who's going to replace him now? Davis Romero? Bill Murphy?), John Parrish (1-0) throws Friday with Miguel Batista (4-11) countering for Seattle. Let's hope the ex-Jay finds a spot at the end of the bench nice and early, allowing him time to work on his latest prose, "Ode to a Shitty Pitcher". Hey Miguel, there's no point in throwing 8 different pitches if they're all fat and juicy.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

You say goodbye, and we say hello

Goodbye, Jesse
And so it has come to pass. Our favorite round, pink and efficient member of the Jays' starting staff has been sent back to Syracuse to ride the buses and find his stuff again. After a an unbelievable 7-1, 3.18 ERA start to the season, our favorite round mound has been overmatched since the beginning of June (1-6, 6.12 ERA).

We like Lil' Litschy as much as the next guy, but this demotion is probably for the better. The notion that he was ready to be a permanent fixture in the rotation as a 23 year-old was likely a bit overenthusiastic on the part of Jays fans and the front office. Let's hope that Jesse can drop a little poundage with the Chiefs and gets himself back on the right track. Hey, it worked for Roy Halladay once upon a time.

(Incidentally, we don't mean for the weight thing to come off as a cheap shot. Alan Ashby noted on the radiocast the other night that this is a concern for the front office, and that although he had slimmed down before the season, he's packed the weight back on and then some.)

The Jays, in an effort to maintain the all-important Ginger Factor on their 25-man roster, have recalled David Purcey to take a spot in the rotation.

Hello, Ack
Some of our more eagle-eyed readers might have noticed a new name to the list of contributors to the blog.

Since we started the blog about 15 months ago, we've received plenty of inquiries from people wanting to contribute along with us. Usually, we ignore such requests, but occasionally, our advice to anyone wanting to contribute has been as follows:

1) Be desireless
2) Be a commenter
3) Be excellent

Having fully met these requirements, it is our pleasure to introduce The Ack as the new Weekend Editor.

(We're not sure about the title, actually. We were thinking Associate Adjuct Assistant to the Editor, but we'll settle these things before we order any business cards.)

Having demonstrated a keen wit, a sharp tongue and a willingness to agree with us no matter how indefensible our position may be, we believe that The Ack will provide you with the high levels of insight and snark that have become the hallmark of our blog.

Give it up for The Ack, everyone! He'll be here all weekend. Try the veal.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Adam Lind is ridiculously awesome

There's some spooky numerological stuff going on with Adam Lind right now.

In 22 games since being recalled on June 22, Adam Lind has 22 RsBI. Weird.

Lind also has five homers, a .361 OBP and a .641 slugging percentage. Which adds up to a 1.002 OPS...which is really good. (Small sample size or not.)

In those 22 games since being mercifully brought back into the fold, Lind has one fewer homer than Alex Rios has in 94 games this season.

If Lind were to maintain that pace over a full season, he'd drive in 162 runs, hit 37 homers, and generally make everyone forget about whatshisname with the stupid chin hair and old creaky legs from the days of old.

(BTW, for those of you who are still pining for Reed Johnson, we'd note that the boy has a .717 OPS in 65 games with the Cubs. So stop.)

All of this raises two questions for us:

1) Who's idea was it to send Adam Lind down for more seasoning?
2) How can you trust the talent evaluation skills of someone who can make such an egregious error?

Mrs. Tao's Baseball Analysis
Our better half, upon seeing Brad Wilkerson's diving catch in the nervous ninth last night: "Holy shit! That's the second time this week that he's made an awesome catch like that! Why doesn't he play more often?"

We love her dearly and admire the straightforward simplicity of her assessment of Wilkerson. She might just be ready to be a JaysTalk caller.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Matt Stairs walks between the raindrops

It seems as though this is a post that we've been ready to write for months now, but every time we're about to commit our thoughts to the blog, Matt Stairs hits a game-changing homer, and we feel like a chump for having thought it.

But really, there's no one on the Jays roster who has escaped criticism more than the man from Tay Creek, N.B.. We're sure that it doesn't hurt his cause that he's a good, hockey-lovin' Canadian boy who has heart and grit and is a leader in the locker room (as if any of us would know that), but Stairs' production as a DH/Corner outfielder has been subpar all year.

For the month of July, Stairs is hitting .121, with a .521 OPS, one homer and three RsBI in 11 games while striking out in 15 of his 40 plate appearances. That just ain't no good.

For a good chunk of the season, it was hard to call Stairs out because he was actually leading the team in homers. But given a bit more time in this season and a bit more perspective, it's hard to tip your cap to the man for being the best of an outrageously feeble bunch.

Stairs is roughly on pace for about 16 homers and 50-odd RsBI for the season. No matter how much we love the guy, those are just not the sort of numbers that you can carry in your lineup for any extended amount of time, especially from a guy who is hitting somewhere in the middle of the lineup.

Telling sad tales about the feeble offense
Stairs might be struggling this month, but check out the OPS for a few of the Jays this month if you really want to ruin your day:

Gregg Zaun: .386
Rod Barajas: .451
Brad Wilkerson: .484
Scott Rolen: .573
David Eckstein: .560

Monday, July 21, 2008

Steve Simmons is a smug cheapshot artist

Actually, to call the Sun Media hack an artist of any sort is to give him way more credit than he deserves. But we couldn't help but get enraged by his lazy swipe at A.J. Burnett's Friday night performance against the Rays.

In his Sunday column, Simmons spat out the following bile: "This is why A.J. Burnett makes people scream: He is pitching brilliantly. He has a one-run lead against a Tampa team that has lost seven straight. And he gives up a home run to a nobody ninth-place hitter to lose the game."

Well, Steve-O, here's the thing about "nobody ninth-place hitters": they still let them step up to the plate with a bat in hand, and they still let them swing away at pitches. Sometimes, those swings connect just right, and the results aren't always favorable to the defense, regardless of who the pitcher is.

And it might even be worth noting that Ben Zobrist, the nobody in question, has twice as many homers this season (4) as Aaron Hill did before he went approximately one-third as many at bats.

Moreover, isn't is pretty weak to single out that one pitch to the "nobody" when A.J. had otherwise pitched well enough to win, but was once again betrayed by the sputtering Jays offense?

To pick up on a meme that the Drunks like to trot out: If Roy Halladay had tossed out that same pitching line as A.J., he's be regarded as a gutsy gamer who was failed by his team. But because it's A.J., he's a punk .500 pitcher with no heart. What bullshit.

And not to engage in the same cheapshot artistry that Simmons seems to prefer, but we wonder what is the appeal of the horsefaced, smug, crayon-eater's scribblings and rantings. The only significant contribution that Simmons makes to the Canadian media landscape is to remind us in his appearances on TSN that male pattern baldness and hair gel are a really tragically bad combination.

More from the Sun
When the whole lot of coaches from the 1990's joined Cito on the Jays' staff, someone joked about Mel Queen joining the team. Turns out (as Bob Elliot writes today) that it wasn't such a stretch after all.

Friday, July 18, 2008

A One-Sentence Post on...Optimism

Really, the second half of the season couldn't be as lousy as the first half...could it?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Travis Snider is a BP Wizard

The Great Big Giant Pasty White HopeTM Travis Snider added to his resume last night, winning the 2008 Irving Oil Home Run Derby. And for our eastern Canadian friends, yeah, it's THAT Irving Oil, so we think that Trav might have just won himself a hot turkey sandwich at the Irving Big Stop of his choice. (We recommend the one just outside of Moncton as a great hangover cure.)

Check out this video (courtesy the New Hampshire Union Leader) of Snider's Derby exploits, including his awesome All Hail Me victory bat flip, which would make even Manny Ramirez blush.

At least one Blue Jay got to start an All-Star Game

Even if Roy Halladay had to wait until the fourth inning to get into the MLB All-Star game, there's a slight amount of solace for us in seeing that Jays farmhand David Purcey got the start for the International League in last night's Triple-A All Star Game in Louisville.

Purcey pitched two strong innings, allowing no hits, no walks, and no runs while striking out three Pacific Coast Leaguers.

Though Purcey's two spot starts for the Jays this season have been something less than spectacular, he continues to pitch well for Syracuse and offers a glimmer of hope that there is something in the back closet for the Jays should the rotation's ranks continue to thin out through injuries and/or trades.

Purcey told a local Syracuse new channel that the experience of being called up has prepared him for his next opportunity with the big club. Moreover, he sounds as though he's maturing in his approach to pitching: "I'm finally starting to realize that I don't have to overthrow every pitch, and that I can stay in a certain range," Purcey told News 10.

If there is one thing that you could accuse Purcey of in his first two starts, it was overthrowing, as he walked 11 in 7.1 inning over those first two starts. Here's hoping that his stated realization translates into a palpably better performance when the next opportunity comes his way.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

All-Star Breakin' 2: Electric Sooze-aloo

God help us, we stuck it out to the bitter end of last night's ridiculously long All-Star Game.

Well, almost. Some time between 1:30 and 1:45 we nodded off, but thanks to the magic of the PVR, we were able to rewind and watch the dramatic sac fly walkoff, then rush off to Sleepyland and continue on that dream where Monica Bellucci and Carla Gugino are fighting over us. (That's a pretty good one.)

In any case, here are the few random thoughts on last night's festivities that we've managed to pluck out of our sleep-deprived brain.

Blink and you missed Doc
As per usual, Roy Halladay was quick and efficient in his inning of work. In a four hour and fifty minute game, Doc saw the field for no more than five minutes, striking out Lance "Fat Elvis" Berkman and helped along by nice plays in the field by Ichiro (who could probably hit the high windows in a Tokyo skyscraper with a pebble - Hola Ichiro!) and Derek Jeter (we feel dirty even saying that).

We were also treated to extended footage of Doc getting pointers on throwing his cutter from Mariano Rivera which goes to show that apparently Sal Fasano's guidance on his cutter grip really didn't stick.

Finally, Doc clarified his comments from the other day, noting that we Blue Jays fans shouldn't be concerned with the possibility of him leaving. (Damn you Stoeten! You're right again!) Blair covers Halladay's response to the mass panic nicely in his piece...although wasn't Snappy one of the guys stirring the pot in the first place?

Hall of Famers and their caps
We actually kinda liked the whole introduction segment, where every Living Hall of Famer was dragged onto the field to demonstrate that Yankee Stadium (rebuilt in 1976, by the way) is the most historic history-thingy in history. But one thing that made us laugh were the shenanigans with the Honoured Members and their ballcaps.

At first, there was Wade Boggs, who wears a Red Sox cap on his plaque, wore his Yankee cap during the celebrations. "That's kinda cheap", we thought. But then we saw Dave Winfield, who aside from wanting noise, apparently wants to wear as many caps as he can. He wore his Padres cap, but then pulled out a Yankees cap and feigned like he was about to put it on for the sake of the New York fans.

The pièce de résistance was Mike Toth's hero Gary Carter, who wore an Expos cap, but flashed his Mets cap when the camera was on him. In Yankee Stadium, no less.

What a maroon.

Josh Hamilton is an we've been told a million times
It would be perfectly fine and dignified of everyone if they would just lay off the whole Josh Hamilton story by about 25%. Yeah, we're pretty impressed with what he has done to rehabilitate himself, and he's a heckuva a ballplayer. But the constant reminders of how far he's come, and how he's totally clean and sober, and ashamed of his tattoos, and how he loves Jesus and America too is a bit much. Yeah, it's a nice story, but by building him up like this, we can't help but feel like there's a spectacular fall coming on the other side. We're not wishing for it at all...but we just know that the same people who are praising his good Christian transformation will crap all over him if he were ever to slip.

Give it a rest.

Terry Francona has learned nothing about managing an All-Star pitching staff
So, that was a bit tense last night for the AL, wasn't it? Given the debacle that was the 2002 All-Star tie in Milwaukee, you'd think that Tito might have thought about keeping a pitcher like Joe Saunders around for extra innings in case he needed him. We have no idea how many pitches that Scott Kazmir had in him last night, but if the game had gone a few innings later and had ended in another tie in spite of the fact that "it counts", then Francona should have been permanently barred from managing in any All-Star Game ever. Or maybe he should be forced to run into the Wrigley field outfield fence at top speed. Again

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Ominous rumblings from Doc

So there we were, all happy and giddily watching guys hammer balls all over the Bronx... Enjoying the moment as the three separate panels of ESPN experts and insiders and blowhards essentially hand over the Home Run Derby title Josh Hamilton based on his extraordinary first round, only to have good Canadian boy Justin Morneau swoop in and walk away with it. Funny, that.

After the anti-climatic thud of an ending, we ambled over to the area of the Tao Cave where the blog writing terminal sits to catch up on Blairsy's thoughts on the silliness.

Talk about thuds: We're treated to stories of Roy Halladay openly wondering about his future with the club.


One can hardly blame Doc for his frustration. On almost any day over the past six years, you'd have had a hard time arguing against him being the Jays best player. He has invariably fulfilled every promise made by his physical talents, and he has never sloughed off an inning or an at-bat. And yet, his great reward for that level of commitment to the team is to look around him and see players performing below expectations while the front office tries to balance the team's potential for competing in the AL East (or the AL in general) on a razor's edge by bringing in marginal players to fill in holes while other teams load up.

When you look at the great pitchers produced by the Blue Jays throughout their history, there is some solace in the fact that Dave Stieb or Jimmy Key or Pat Hentgen all have their World Series rings. Given Doc's importance to the franchise, the folks at Rogers (i.e. those above J.P. or Godfrey) had better make some decisions soon on whether if they are happy to continue to putter along as a middle of the pack team that hopes against hope for some catastrophe to befall the Red Sox/Yankees/AL Central, or if they are prepared to truly make the move into the league's elite.

Monday, July 14, 2008

All-Star Breakin'

Dudes! It's the All-Star Extravaganza!

This is where we separate ourselves from the majority of hacks out there. You won't hear us bitching about this element of the Midseason Classic, or about who got snubbed or what guy got voted in by the obviously stupid stupid stupid stupid corrupt inept fans who shouldn't be allowed to pick the starters because they are stupid and have no access and are stupid and don't really know what's going on with the game of baseball because they are stupidly ignorant to all of the stuff that the writers and broadcasters know through their access but that they don't pass on to the fans because they are too stupid to get it and therefore shouldn't even be allowed to watch the game.

And moreover, you won't hear us complain that the game sucks because it's stupid because it doesn't count but then it counts but it shouldn't count because it doesn't count.

Those guys try to take the fun out of everything.

We love the All-Star Game. Some nights, when we close our eyes, we still see Fred Lynn hammering that Atlee Hammaker pitch into the seats at old Comiskey Park for the only grand slam in All-Star Game history.

Or our patron saint Dave Stieb getting the start in 1983 and 1984. (Sadly, it sounds as though Cliff Lee's mirage-like first half will lead to him getting the start for the AL this year over Roy Halladay.)

We remember sitting in anticipation as they went through the introductions, waiting for the Blue Jays representatives to be introduced. (Hey look! It's Jesse Barfield! Tony Fernandez! The Shaker, Lloyd Moseby!)

Tell me that doesn't count for something.

Friday, July 11, 2008

The Birth of a Child: A Beautiful Moment, But An Ugly Sight

Especially when the birth of this bastard child (did we just go there?) will result in Alex Rios opting to stay by the side of his girlfriend in the delivery room rather than playing in tonight's opener versus the Yankees. (Or so says the New York Post.)

Best wishes to Papa Alex, Mamacita, and little Bastardo. And hurry back, por favor.

Hey Everybody! Let's Rush Travis Snider to the Bigs Just For the Hell of It!!

So now that we're a man down in the outfield, idle minds have turned to The Great Big Giant Pasty White HopeTM Travis Snider. The Jays should think about calling up the top prospect says the Sun's Mike Rutsey. Why not bring him up? asks the Globe's Robert McLeod (who, it should be noted, has doubled back to fix his erroneous info in the first version of that article which stated that Snider was hitting .286 in Syracuse when he is actually hitting .268 with New Hampshire FC.)

Even the Oracle of Jarvis Street Mike Wilner has raised the prospect of raising the prospect to the Majors.

To be honest, we'd love to see him there, but then again, we'd love to a lot of things just for kicks. Thankfully, our sense of reason and judgment steps in and sets us straight.

Essentially, there are three reasons that we don't want the Jays to call Snider up.

Reason the first: Because it will start his clock in terms of Major League service time. We'd rather have that year tacked on at the end when he'll be 27 and hopefully leading the powerhouse Jays to another playoff berth as opposed to now, when he'll be thrown to the sharks in a meaningless season.

Reason the second: Because while he is showing some power and ability to produce runs in Double-A, he still has a sub-.800 OPS in the Eastern League (.794). We don't anticipate that he would up that number against big league pitching.

Reason the third: Because there are other options. Notably, Buck Coats or Kevin Mench, who are already on the 40-man roster, and who could step in and park their asses on the bench to watch the ongoing adventures of Wilkerson in Whifferland.

Hey man, we're just like you. It's a shite state of affairs in a shite season, and maybe we just want a little joy to help us forget about all the pain. Maybe we just want a sniff of something new and young and vibrant to help put a spring in our step. But sometimes, you gotta push those feelings way back in your mind, because that way leads to oblivion.

Or so we hear.

(Photo: Dean Lima/

Hold on Hope

Maybe it's getting a little late for optimism, and maybe we should be a little less enthusiastic about the home side given that Dustin McGowan is out with some unknown shoulder troubles and Vernon Wells is gone for a month or more with (gulp) hamstring troubles.

And yet, just as we're sure that the small flicker of light is being snuffed out, the Jays pull off their second walk off win in three days to sweep the Orioles.

Of course, the hard slap of reality is that even with this week's long overdue heroics, the team still sits nine games back of the Wild Card with six teams ahead of them in the standings as they host the Yankees this weekend. And as much as we might bring up stories of the Rockies' post-All-Star surge last year, or the Astros a few years back, you've got to give yourself a shake and realize that the Jays just don't have the scary offense that those teams did that allowed them to go on a 10 or 12 or 15 game streak. (Do you see anything that Cito could pencil in that would remotely resemble a Hawpe-Holliday-Helton-Tulowitzki(2007)-Atkins lineup ?)

But how can we be so cynical after a dramatic win like last night? It brings to mind the words of the poet laureate of Dayton, Ohio, Robert Ellsworth Pollard Jr.:

Everybody's got a hold on hope
It's the last thing that's holding me

A strange thought on Vernon
You know, as much as we were disappointed to hear that Vernon Wells went down for four to six weeks, the first thing that popped into our head was: "Gee, didn't the Jays go on a wicked winning streak the last time he was out of the lineup?"

It makes you wonder what to think if they manage to go on another run with him on the DL.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Goodbye, Heartache

Initially, we figured that we'd write a smart-arsed post about how happy we were to see the walls crumblin' tumblin' down at Tigers Stadium, the host of our greatest heartache.

As much as things suck right now with the Jays limping slowly towards the end of another failed season, nothing can compare to 1987. That final week, those final games, those last innings, that final weak Garth Iorg swing...Nothing has been more spirit-crushing and soul-destroying than that final series between the Jays and the Tigers, with arguably the greatest Jays team of all time being swept out of the playoffs.

Our good pal is a Tigers fan, and while our personal views in our discussions on the relative merits of Frank Tanana might diverge (him: "He was awesome and crafty!", us: "He's a junkballing fucking bastard person"), we have to agree that there was nothing quite like Tigers Stadium.

We loved the construction of the stadium, with the huge centerfield dimensions and the overhanging upper decks down the line. We loved the fact that the Stadium had a feel of an old Globe Theatre, which only amplified the sense of drama to the games. We even loved how they let the grass grow super-extra-long to allow Sweet Lou Whitaker and Alan Trammell to get to balls that they'd have no chance at on the pool table felt surfaces that most stadia had at that time.

It's sad to think that the Stadium fell into such disrepair that it couldn't have been salvaged, but then again, we've all become accustomed to a different level of service at the ballpark or arena these days. Nostalgia's fine, but when it comes right down to it, we're not big on pissing into a trough alongside a dozen other guys.

For much greater insight on the preservation of Tigers Stadium...
Baseball Prospectus has a great interview with ESPN writer Gary Gillette in their Unfiltered blog. Gillette was on the board of the Old Tigers Stadium Conservancy, and has some interesting details on how attempts to preserve the ballpark (even partially) failed.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

A time to cheer, a time to mourn the end of the year

It was a weird confluence of events last night. Before the game, cheerful legendary happy healthy younger-than-his-age Cito Gaston essentially told the press that this season was over ("Maybe come up with a couple more players and this is going to be a good contending ball club next year.") Next year...bloody next year already, and it isn't even the All-Star Break.

J.P. Ricciardi followed up, and if he didn't throw in the towel ("Now does that mean we're going to be a playoff team? No, the chances are probably not good that way...") then he certainly has the towel in his hands waving it over his head.

And then, smack in the middle of this season of misery, there was the visceral thrill of a Jays walkoff victory after Orioles shortstop Freddie Bynum allowed a hard hit Scott Rolen ground through his wickets with Alex Rios on third...O! Victory!

And yet, somewhere in the middle of the game, Dustin McGowan walked off the mound with a sore shoulder that needs to be examined via MRI, right at about the same time that the Chicago (Eat! Breathe! Live! Baseball!) Cubs knocked down the next domino in the trade puzzle by acquiring Rich Harden et al. from Oakland.

So, given those two events, is it hello to A.J. or goodbye A.J.?

Opening Day 2009 is nine and a half months away. That's a long time to hold out hope.

Monday, July 7, 2008

A messy pile of All Star thoughts

We wish that we had one coherent thought on the state of the Jays, but because the little nut that sits inside our skull is still a little frazzled from the past week, and because pondering the state of the Jays is such a sad excercise right now, we'll offer up one of our patented messy piles of whimsical statements which may or may not offer any insight.

There are Kiwis in your Futures
The only representative of the Blue Jays system to be named to the rosters for the All Star Futures Game is New Zealand's Scott Campbell. The 23 year-old second baseman from the Double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats/Primaries has been a revelation this year, leading the team in OPS (.891), runs (48) and hits (95). He kinda seems like he slots into the Aaron Hill (MVP of the 2004 Futures Game, for whatever that's worth) mold of good-not-great offensive second baseman, and we hit our knees every night and pray to the baby jeebus that he'll continue to progress.

Speaking of the lone representatives
For the fifth time, Roy Halladay will represent the Jays in the All Star Game, and it seems appropriate that he's the only one getting the nod given that the rest of the team kinda sucks. Okay, if Shaun Marcum wasn't hurt, and if Scott Downs wasn't giving up as many walks, we could have imagined them making it. But aside from that, this is either a lousy team or a team having a lousy season.

But is there hope for the future?
If nothing else, there are five members of the Fisher Cats/Primaries playing in a Double-A midseason sorta classic. Pitchers Brett Cecil and Zach Dials, catcher Brian Jeroloman, and The Great Big Giant Pasty White HopeTM Travis Snider will join Campbell and take the field in front of the home crowd at Stadium for the Northeast Delta Dental Eastern League All-Star Game. (When you market it that way, it sounds so ultra fine doesn't it?)

Incidentally, while trying to find more info on Zach Dials, we came across his Facebook listing. And while we can't see anything more than him with his arm around some tart in a tube top at the TGIFriday's, we feel like we know him a little better already. Go Dials!

We're sure the Fisher Cats will commemorate this great event in Blue Jays minor league history by handing out bobblehead dolls of Jacoby Ellsbury performing unnatural acts on Rico Petrocelli, or maybe one of Dustin Pedroia shining Dwight Evans' shoes. Whatever makes the Red Sox Nation happy. Turncoats!

Off days and Mondays
They always get us down.

One-Sentence Posts on...Cito's Magic Touch

With yesterday's loss to the Angels, the Jays are now 7-8 under Cito Gaston, which isn't much better or worse than what you would have expected from Gibby.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Never mind us...what the hell do you think?

Seriously, we're way overtaxed with real life adult world work commitments, and with only limited access to the interwebs. So do us a solid, and entertain us with your wit and insight in the comments.

A few suggested topics:

-A.J. Burnett: Wouldn't the Jays be better off keeping him until the end of the year and taking the draft picks when he walks?

-Brandon League: Will he ever throw a strike again?

-Jason Frasor: Do you miss him sometimes? Do you think of him wistfully, and remember a time when he used to pitch for the Torontos?

-100 RsBI hitters: Do you miss them, or can you live without them for yet another year. (For that matter, would you be a danger to yourself or others if no member of the Jays were able to drive in even 90 this year?)

-Posts like these: Inclusive engagement with the blog's readers, or lazy dereliction of duties?

-The imperial "We": Annoying and unnecessary in the post-Will Leitch blogosphere? Or less annoying than a perpetual stream of "I".

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

One-Sentence Posts On...Walkoffs

Watching the other team win with a walkoff homer really sucks bag, especially when your team hasn't had a walkoff win since Cliff Johnson was in short pants.