Sunday, December 27, 2009

Does it matter?

With the flurry of change surrounding our Toronto Blue Jays and the wheels set firmly in motion towards implementation of The Plan, you'd think local scribes and fairweather fans alike would be able to see past the inevitable growing pains surrounding a young, talented ballclub.

You'd also think yours truly would have enough sense to know that was never going to be the case. I thought we were good. I thought we were all going to accept the fact that an organizational step forward would undoubtedly be offset by an inevitable preliminary step back? But no, some folks just feel the incessant need to remind us that rough days are ahead.

Ladies and gentlemen: "Your last place Toronto Blue Jays."

And let's not forget the familiar refrain of non-fans everywhere who can't see past their own ass:

The Jays are the new Expos. Relocation!

You know, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year....but fuck off, really. You wanted direction, we have direction. You wanted change, we most certainly have seen change. For better or worse. If we can allow ourselves to take the words of the Anthopoulos-led front office at face value, then it's change for the better.

(As an aside, I'm not convinced the Orioles are going to be drastically improved. "Power hitting" Garret Atkins couldn't even hold his shit down in Coors these last few seasons. Now he's in the AL East. New closer Mike Gonzalez has really only ever held that job down for the powerhouse Pittsburgh Pirates. And if Kevin Millwood is the answer, then I certainly don't know the question. Oh, and the Jays/Expos talk? Not even worth discussing.)

So, back to the question at hand:

4th place or 5th place in 2010....does it even matter?

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Warmest wishes for the festive season

Seriously, you have to be kidding me. Tomorrow is Christmas Eve, and we've got a list as long as Dan Pleasac's arm of things to do. (Hosting Mrs. Tao's family in two days a house still filled with packing boxes is enough to send the blood pressure into the stratosphere.)

And since we've neglected our Christmas card duties for yet another year, it looks like everyone is going to have to settle for a heartfelt blog post. (Or as heartfelt as yours truly can get.)

The past six months have whooshed by furiously, but we're relieved to know that we have much to look forward to in the New Year. Change is in the offing for us Blue Jays fans, but then again, it always is. Change is a good thing, and as we approach the end of the decade, it's time to look ahead and relish the possibilities that await us in the years to come.

Until we meet again, we hope you all take some time to relax and reconnect with your family and friends. Enjoy your holiday season, and remember to take a moment to share with those who are less fortunate.

Wishing you all the best for the holidays,


The Tao's favorite song of the season - Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
There seems to be no end to the holiday songs that we've heard blasting out from every speaker in every shop and store over the past few weeks. There are songs of bombast and of trifectas of kings and of sleigh bells ring-a-ding-dinging, but for our money, there's no carol that can top the simple and essential message of "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas". Because in the end, this season is really about appreciating the moments with your family and friends.

This particular rendition of the song was on the John Denver and Muppets Christmas album, which was a staple around my house as a kid. Somehow, hearing Rowlf the Dog sing "let your heart be light" gives us a more profound sense of the season than anything else that we can think of. Enjoy.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Too many Brandons!

We figured that today would be a day off, where we could spend more time online looking at NFL Cheerleaders in their holiday garb and dust off some last minute shopping on Amazon. (Which Gotan Project discs does Mrs. Tao have anyhow?)

Alas, that sneaky bugger Anthopoulos has apparently gone and worked out a deal that would send the apple in the eye of GROF's Drew to Seattle for Brandon Morrow, who has "upside".

Looking at the numbers, we might be able to argue this as an upgrade, and we don't have the same level of attachment to League as some others. But what is worrisome is the plus one to this deal, where the Jays are apparently sending a prospect to the Mariners.

One tweeted report from (Dave Cameron of USS Mariner) stated that the prospect is Zach Stewart, who came over in the Rolen trade. To which we say: Yikes!

Will the trade be consummated? Who will the prospect be? Will Drew freak out online, or will he trash his office, launching slide rules and mechanical pencils hither and yon? Keep coming back today for ongoing coverage of this situation!

11:38 am - Mystery Prospect Update!'s Jon Morosi tweets that the Mariners are looking for a catcher, which we think likely puts J.P. Arencibia and Brian Jeroloman on notice (via the Drunks.) We like Arencibia more than Jeroloman, but that's based mostly on a quick scan of numbers, and nothing more.

1:16 pm - Lack of News Update!
So, to sum up: Basically pick a player in the Jays system (Arencibia, Cooper, Dopirak, Stewart, Jeroloman) and a commenter on one blog or another has "heard from their source" that such and such a guy is in the deal.

In lieu of discussing the implications of these rumours, we'd prefer to note that we are annoyed and appalled at how Vic Chesnutt's amazing At the Cut is on just one Best of 2009 albums list. (Hooray for Stereo Subversion, and boo to the rest of you hipster douchebags. I'll stomp on your frigging Dirty Projectors records! I swear I will!)

1:46 pm - We have a name, and it is Johermyn
Bastian tweets that Johermyn Chavez, who knocked the snot out of the ball in Lansing last year, may be the mystery bachelor on his way to Seattle (or more likely, to West Tennessee to play for the Double A Dimond Jaxx. Or some other team. Who knows?)

Liked the look of Chavez' numbers, and figured that a steady progression might land him in Toronto eventually, although his repeating a year in the NY-Penn League makes us wonder if there were concerns about him beyond his baseball skills.

Monday, December 21, 2009

The dumbest thing Bob Elliot has written (this week)

We must somehow be immune to the charms of longtime Toronto Sun scribbler Bob Elliot.

We'll hear people wax rhapsodic about him and his skills, and how he's sure to eventually win the Spink Award and gain entrance into the Hall of Fame, and we were left at a loss. We heard people talk about what a fantastic read his A Northern Game was, but we struggled to make it much more than halfway through, literally falling asleep almost every time that we endeavoured to dust off a chapter.

(Really, after one or two chapters, a book emphasizing just how goshdarned friggin' Canadian these Canadian baseballers are loses it's appeal for those of us who don't particularly care about the provenance of our favourite athletes.)

We'll confess that there may be a chance that he is a better reporter than writer (not a bad thing at all), although we often wonder about his comic overuse of the "Anonymous NL Scout". (This is especially the case since this unknown baseball birddog seemed to be trotted out whenever Elliot needed a blunt object with which to bludgeon the former administration.)

Whatever the reason that we don't seem to get Elliot's work, we generally don't see him come up with anything particularly awful either, so maybe his worst crime is that he is bland. Hard to believe, we know, considering the electrically vibrant personality that he puts forth on his appearances on Prime Time Sports.

But in Sunday's Sun, Elliot offered up an absolute howler on the significance of Roy Halladay's departure. And if you'll permit us our moment with the Fire Joe Morgan meme, we'd like to share this bit of work with you.

Plenty of calls, e-mails and texts received in busy week.

Nice to know you're keeping busy. What with the biggest trade of the decade for the Jays going down this week. Hopefully, all that contact with your fellow humans didn't cost you too many naps.

One friend's message was short: "Andrea Bocelli is gone. So am I."

Andrea Bocelli is dead? And you're friend is going to commit suicide out of grief?

My friend is not a ball fan.

Nor is he a music fan. But go on...

He appreciates excellence. Over the years he has paid to hear Colin Powell speak, although he disagrees with his politics; watched Mikhail Baryshnikov while disliking ballet, heard Bocelli sing, although he does not like opera and watched Roy Halladay pitch.

Okay, I see where you're going with this. You're trying to say that your friend appreciates only the finest things in life, and Roy Halladay is one of those fine things. And this is supposed to mean something profound to me, although all I can think when I read this is "Andrea Bocelli was not so much a singer as a hoary hollering novelty act, and he really sucked, and now he's dead. So maybe I should show some respect."

(Wait! Hold the phone! A quick Google search tells me that Bocelli is alive. So Elliot's friend is clearly full of shit. If only he'd realized it before he went and hung himself in the shower.)

He would only go to the Rogers Centre to see Halladay face the New York Yankees or the Boston Red Sox.

Okay, let's stop the charade right here. Elliot is trying to use this expression of disinterest in the Blue Jays as bad omen, and an example of how people are going to abandon this team because of the loss of one key player.

Except that the truth is that Elliot's friend is not some sort of connoisseur, but rather, he is a dilettante, a tourist and an interloper who is only interested in his own self-aggrandizement through his broad demonstrations of his aestheticism. And if that fey bastard doesn't want to come watch the Jays next year, then that's just fine by me.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Movin' on (A.D.)

We're an original bunch, aren't we? We all wrote the same melodramatic posts bemoaning our fates, cursing the baseball gods that took Roy Halladay from us. Here now in the aftermath of the deal, we're all writing the post-mortems. I wouldn't blame you if you tuned out right about now, but I do have a point to make.

I'm a bigger fan of the Toronto Blue Jays today than I was a week ago.

Whaaaa? I'm a bigger fan of the Doc-less Jays than of the team fronted by the biggest fucking ace in major league baseball? Well, in a manner of speaking, yeah. I guess I am.

Seems impossible, but it's true. Hell, I probably led the brigade dreading the inevitable transaction - where do you think the "I don't know what I'm gonna do if the Jays trade Doc" tag came from? And that tag is like, a season and a half old. I've been sweating this forever, man. But here we are, on the other side of Armageddon, and I'm OK. We're all OK. And if you're not - kindly feel free to jump the fuck off the train.

This is my team. This is our team. This is the team we all want to see return to glory. It was never going to be easy - with or without Doc. I'm starting to believe in The Plan. When it comes right down to it, we really have no choice but to believe, or risk turning into an even more cynical group of miserable pricks. But no, really, I'm starting to come around. I think I just might be buying what Anthopoulos is selling. Building. Adding to the core. Young players growing - and staying - together.

70 wins in 2010 or not, sign me up for a plate of that. It beats the shit out of 80 wins with Mencherson (God bless 'em) and Millar.

101 Reasons for Offseason Optimism: Vernon Wells. That's right.
Vernon Wells. You heard me.

Look (sorry HTV), forget about the goddamned contract. Wrap all of your thoughts on that matter into a tidy little ball and toss it in the G. It's not going anywhere, he's never going to exercise the opt-out (so save your booing), and it is what it is.

I think Vernon is going to bounce back. Our boy eyebleaf bankrolls that cheerleading brigade, and friends, I'm down. I had originally planned an entire post around this, but, uh, on further investigation, I don't really have a tonne of substance to back my belief. It's just a feeling I have.

Do I think we'll see a monster season, like the one the Jays based his contract on (you would have signed it too, so just stop)? No. Do I think we'll see a reasonable facsimile - a definite improvement over last season's debacle (too strong?)? Yeah, I do. Think .280/.340/.470. An OPS just north of .800. Is that worth $20M per? No, probably not, but Vern seems like a proud guy. He'll bounce back.


Friday, December 18, 2009

101 Reasons for Offseason Optimism: This week's other transaction

With all of the attention heaped on a certain trade this week, the Jays' acquisition of catcher John Buck was lost in the all of the excitement.

As much as we loved Rod Barajas in spite of ourselves, this move looks like it has the potential to be an upgrade at catcher at a very reasonable $2 million for 2010. Buck's a guy who swings hard and ends up striking out a lot (55 times in 186 ABs versus 13 walks in '09), but he also hits the ball a ton when he makes contact (.484 slugging with 12 doubles and 8 homers in his 59 games last season.) While the swings-from-his-butt description might resemble Barajas on the surface, a look at their slash lines over the last couple of years shows at least some distinction:

Barajas '08-'09 - .275 OBP / .406 SLG / .681 OPS (in 229 games)
Buck '08-'09 - .302 OBP / .405 SLG / .707 OPS (in 168 games)

Parsing through the distinction between the two, it seems as though Barajas will manage a few additional dribblers through the infield while Buck will keep the bat on his shoulder once a week or so. So, you know, no big whoop. The big distinction that we can draw between the two is that Buck is almost five years younger and we much prefer the look of Buck's swing (as you can observe in this video of him at some baseball academy).

And this probably isn't worth much, but Buck raked like a mofo in one of our old MLB 2K games. Which shouldn't put him over the top in our mind, otherwise, I'd be advocating for a J.D. Closser multiyear signing. Still, we're calling this an upgrade.

(You hear that, you cynical smarmy sarcastic heathens? The Jays got better at a key position! Building!)

Cliff Lee's not bitter
Went to that page, which has already been infiltrated by the merchants of mirth. In particular, I enjoyed this comment from someone on their way to the rainy coast:

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Don't stop thinking about tomorrow...'ll be here, better than before. Yesterday's gone. Yesterday's gone.

(And right about now, there's a handful of you who have a Fleetwood Mac aversion and raw open wounds from the Roy Halladay presser in Philly yesterday who have just flipped out and thrown their computer out the window. Sorry about that.)

It was unquestionably sad to see Halladay in another team's uniform, smiling and shaking hands and speaking warmly of the coming opportunity and floating out empty platitudes about his time in Toronto. It was sad to hear someone float out a new nickname for him overnight: Dr. Phil. (Yikes!) But frankly, we're thrilled that this whole thing is over, and we can move on. Keep on movin'. Let's push things forward.

We're not saying that we're glad to see Halladay gone, but from where we're sitting, this is the most exciting moment that we've had as a Jays fan in a few years. Maybe it is the excitement that you feel when you're about to go through a set of Level 5 rapids in a white water expedition with a bunch of weak-armed bureaucrats, and maybe you know that there's a good chance that this ship hits the chute at the wrong angle and you're going over and you're going under for an undetermined amount of time. But fuck it...Let's do this. Let's go.

Let's not look back, and figure out the multitude of ways that this is the fault of J.P., or Paul Godfrey or Paul Beeston or The Manager or whateverthefuck. Let's look at these three guys we got, who instantly move into the Jays' Top Ten prospects list, and let's get ready for what their emergence as significant contributors could mean.

And we don't want to indulge in propect pornography, but the one thing that we'll say about the three guys that the Jays received in return is that they've all had the opportunity to play for a year or two or three in affiliated ball, and there is at least a better understanding of how their skills will transfer to the pro game, as opposed to some pie in the sky supplemental round pick that the Jays were going to get after Halladay left. Whatever the case, we're pretty geeked to have these three new guys.

Over the years, we've seen Jimmy Key go to the Yankees, and Dave Stieb go to the White Sox, and George Bell go to the Cubs, and Roberto Alomar go to the Orioles. We saw Carlos Delgado walk away to Florida, then go to the Mets. We've seen Tom Henke move on to the Cardinals (err, oops...I meant Rangers), and we've seen Tony Fernandez leave and return and leave and return more often than we can count.

The point is that the team persists. Our fandom and our dedication to the Jays persist. Our desire to see the team succeed persists.

This is not the end. This is a new beginning. This is the start of a new journey. This is a moment to savour.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Long Goodbye

So they've traded Roy Halladay.

Now, we wait for the official announcement, and we wait to watch Halladay pull on another team's uniform and smile for the cameras and talk about how excited he is to be in Philly. As much as we've been prepared for this for months, and as much as we've eagerly anticipated the conclusion to this endless saga, it's still going to hurt like hell to see Roy Halladay in another team's uniform.

As our colleague quite aptly noted yesterday, the affection that Jays fans had developed for Doc went far beyond his statistical value. There was a level of reassurance in knowing that Halladay would be there, and even if the rest of the pitching staff blew up, you knew that you'd get a great pitching performance once every five days. You knew that you had a Strong Foundation, a bona fide Ace, a Number One Pitcher, and a Cornerstone. You had what almost every other team wanted, and he was inherently yours.

Now, that's gone. Now, we have to learn to live with the chaos and uncertainty of a starting rotation in constant flux. And we'll have to appreciate and savour the occasional great pitching performances from Jays starters that we'd come to take for granted from Doc.

Now, we move on.

Living in Oblivion
There was something vaguely Rip Van Winkle-ish about the past two days, as we found ourselves generally cut off from the up-to-the-second rumouring and reporting of the conclusion to the Roy Halladay trade saga. From Friday morning through until this morning, we had no TV, no internet connection, a BlackBerry with a nearly dead battery and a crappy sports radio station to which we couldn't subject ourselves, much less Mrs. Tao.

When we checked our Twitter account sometime on Sunday and instantly saw cryptic references to the Halladay trade going down, we flipped out for a few minutes and scoured around in a panic to find any information we could. Finding solid information on Twitter was quite a challenge, as every wisenheimer that we follow was more interested in making funnies about which local delicacy was being shipped to which city, or whether if the mascots were to be involved in the trade somehow. (Which is totally and patently ridiculous. Because the Phanatic is an elite level mascot, while Mariner Moose has never been the same after crashing into the outfield wall and snapping his hind leg.)

If there was a positive aspect to being mostly isolated from the news of the trade, it was that it gave us some time to reflect on the news, rather than reacting to each bogus report or scouring the Baseball Cube to tally up the relative value of this prospect and that one and whether if this is a good or bad move, or what have you.

(It also allowed our good pal The Ack to shine like the crazy diamond that he is. Great work this week, dude. Now take a breather and have a Fort Garry Ale. You've earned it.)

There will be plenty of time to assess the relative merits of this move. Years, even. There's probably no good sense in trying to declare winners and losers at this point, so we'll probably hold off on the instant analysis of the deal for at least another couple of hours.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

...Let go lightly

I figured I'd wait this post out. Let the trade settle in. Gain some perspective, understand it was a deal that had to be made, and go from there. Write up a handful of paragraphs praising the virtues of Harry Leroy Halladay and drool excitedly over our own fresh new batch o' prospect porn.

But you know, that's not really what I do. I could never write anything as eloquent as things already said (epic), and I won't pretend to try. And maybe I should wait it out - hell, we don't even know for sure who exactly is coming back in the deal (as of this writing, it looks like Drabek, Taylor, d'Arnaud)...but for this post, that matters little. This post is all about who the Toronto Blue Jays - the organization and their fans - are losing. So pay attention, Philadelphia. Bear with my melodrama as I type away with the story still unfolding....because our loss is quite clearly going to be your gain.

You know what else this post is not about? The stats. Oh, any Jays fan could probably recite verbatim all the relevant numbers on the back of Doc's baseball card. We'll tell you about the Cy. We'll talk wins, we'll talk complete games, strikeouts, whatever. We'll also tell you about his stuff. His filthy, "did you see that?", stuff. Rivera is & always will be the master of the cutter, but Doc will follow his up with an equally nasty two-seamer. Or maybe he'll sink the fastball on you. Or just flat-out embarrass you when he drops the hook. But no, this isn't about the stuff, either.

This post is about the feeling that just having Doc on the team gave to Jays fans. It's hard to explain, really. He was ours. He was our guy. He grew up in the system, a Blue Jay through and through. He came within one out (damn you, Bobby Higginson) of tossing a no hitter in just his second major league start. A season later, the wheels came off, he struggled mightily, but back he came - through the system - more dominant than ever.

That feeling of pride we felt for our guy came in many forms. Just watching Doc deal. All business. No distractions. No tolerance for error. It came in reading game recaps, with opposing managers & hitters alike inevitably exclaiming that Doc was the best they'd faced all year. And through all of those early struggles and subsequent dominance - he was a Blue Jay. He was the guy who signed not one, but two extensions at a hometown discount because he wanted to be a Blue Jay. Don't think we didn't notice that, Roy, because we did.

This post is also about what the Jays are losing off the field. The Halladays are good people, man. Doc's box for sick kids. His under-reported work in the community. The responsibility he felt as a role model. Read this piece from a few seasons back, and if it doesn't get a little dusty for you, well, you're as robotic as Doc's right arm. Honestly, I'm sure there are many players who do as much in their towns as Doc, but rare is the athlete who can match that integrity, that dedication, that humility....and that talent. And we had him. For twelve seasons, we had him.

Players come and go. We're cheering for laundry, right? I'll get excited about the players coming back in the trade. They'll bring hope for better days ahead and a new era of a competitive Toronto ballclub. In time, we'll be breathless about the next great pitching prospect in the system. Some day, we might even find a kid of whom we will say "he reminds me a little of a young Roy Halladay."

But there will never be another Roy Halladay. There can't be.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Hold on tightly....

It's only a matter of time now.

I'm going to hold off on my Halladay post-mortem until such time as I can truly collect myself & my thoughts to do the thing justice. Suffice to say, until the deal is finalized, I'll be a ball of nerves, hoping the excitement can overcome the waves of nausea. I'm only slightly exaggerating.

So until then, we can only speculate whom among Drabek, Happ, Aumont, Taylor, Brown, D'Arnaud, Saunders, Triunifel, etc will join the fold.

(But I'm guessing it'll likely be one of Drabek/Aumont, one of Taylor/Brown, and one of D'Arnaud/Triunifel. With maybe Saunders thrown into the mix.)

In the meantime, as far as up to the minute coverage goes, the DJF and MLBTR have got your refresh button covered.

Oh, boy.

Monday afternoon quick-hitter

From this morning's ESPN chat with Texas GM Jon Daniels:

Q: How does the catching situation look with an injured Salty? Will he be ready for the season? Is there money to sign a veteran catcher like John Buck?

A: We made Buck an offer but Toronto offered him more, and they were able to guarantee him the starting job. We're still looking at other options for catching depth.

More cold water on the Angels trade scenario (at least, involving Napoli/Mathis - in which there really a deal to be made?), or simply a matter of a GM saying what he needs to in order to acquire a player's services?

I'm thinking the latter, but still....

A two-sentence post on.....Building

They say that patience is a virtue, and it damn well better be, because Buck + Gathright ≠ Building!.

Alas, that's the way she goes, and until The Roy Halladay Sweepstakes reaches it's inevitable conclusion, we won't even have any prospect porn to get excited over.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

No love for Chavy

The Blue Jays' curious decision to non-tender veteran backup catcher Raul Chavez leaves me feeling disappointed, and perhaps a little troubled.

I have to admit to personal bias here and admit that Chavez was one of my favorite players to watch last season. I know, I know - "how can you say that about a backup catcher with limited offensive skills?" Simmer down - I'm getting there.

Chavez is just a grinding professional - a baseball lifer who knows his skill set and does whatever it takes to help a club win. It seems silly to feel nostalgic about a one-year Blue Jay who got into a whopping 51 games and posted a sparkling .285 OBP.....but still, I kinda do. I'm not saying it's a defensible position to take - but he was a fun guy to watch. Animated catchers with a propensity for the snap throw are full of win in my books.

So that's the disappointment.

"What troubles you?", you might be asking? I'm troubled because the Jays are now left with zero catching options on the major league roster, which indicates a move is likely imminent.

If it's a move to consummate the rumoured Accardo for Doumit deal, then count me in. I'm down. But - and you probably know where I'm going with this - if non-tendering Chavez is a precursor to an Angels deal (on which I've made my feelings pretty clear), then yeah, I'm troubled.

Come on Phillies - step up.

Hey Accardo - you don't call the shots 'round here
So the Jays essentially told Jeremy Accardo to go to hell by tendering him a contract. Really, the notion (floated by Team Accardo) that the Jays should give him a "fresh start" was, well, ludicrous. Accardo is a guy with value who will be under control with a team-friendly contract, so the Jays were never just going to wave goodbye.

This will end one of two ways: he's dealt before the spring, or he spends the season at the back-end of the Jays pen (or shuttling between Toronto and Vegas). For everyone's sake, let's hope it's the former.

The Jose Bautista Appreciation Society renews all memberships
Of course, I've yet to apply.

I like him enough as a bench player, capable of standing in against LHP (check the splits - nice), but I'm absolutely terrified at Cito's (already stated) plan of plugging him in everyday at the top of the order.

Is this what we call "building" in the mind of The Manager?

Interesting non-tenders
Check the list and tell us what you think.

Matt Capps would be an obvious bullpen boost, but he's sure to be in demand. Jack Cust is a name that jumps out, but is he more of a Ricciardi-era guy than an Anthopoulos-era guy? How about John Buck for one of the holes at catcher?

(Update......well then, that's what trying to bang out a morning post will get me. Chavez back on a minor-league deal (makes sense) and Buck in the bag for 1 yr/$2M. Oh, and Gathright finally signs, too. So, yeah.....dial back the Angels alert.)

Friday, December 11, 2009

Anywhere but the Angels

I am not a professional baseball scout (stop me if you've heard that before).

I'm just a dude with a passion for the game and opinions - some of which are unquestionably uninformed - and a rudimentary understanding of baseball statistics and evaluation metrics (for good times & baseball nerditry, go here).

Now that I've thrown that disclaimer at you, allow me to explain why I'd rather see Doc traded to anywhere but the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, California, United States of America.

First, a few other points of clarification:

(1) I've come to accept that the Jays will not receive the "shoot for the moon" package we all dream will happen.

(2) I've settled (my stomach) on deciding that Anthopoulos should take the best package out there - AL East rivals be damned.

So here's why it bothers me to hear that the Angels are the rumoured frontrunners - depending on the day of the week, I suppose - in the Roy Halladay Sweepstakes:

I just don't like the package. I see nothing in any of the names within the rumoured/proposed deals that excites me as a Jays fan - not for now, and not for three years from now. Have a look-see:

Joe Saunders
I'm befuddled, really. Strip away the shiny win totals from the past few seasons, and then explain to me why he is the apparent focus/centerpiece of any deal. In fact, let's compare and contrast a few stat lines from this past season:

Pitcher A: 186 IP, 4.60 ERA, 1.43 WHIP, 4.9 K/9
Pitcher B: 178 IP, 4.30 ERA, 1.522 WHIP, 7.1 K/9
Pitcher C: 61 IP (I know - sample size alert!), 3.67 ERA, 1.321 WHIP, 8.8 K/9

and just for fun....

Pitcher D: 166 IP, 2.93 ERA, 1.235 WHIP, 6.5 K/9

Now what if I told you that Pitcher A was Saunders, B was Ricky Romero, C was Marc Rzepczynski....and D was the Phillies JA Happ? Does Saunders really present as a better rotation option than either of the Jays' young lefties? Of course, I'm ignoring the aspects of durability, longevity, etc....but why should we care about established mediocrity when "building" the core?

And if we're talking about players as the centerpiece of a deal....does Saunders - even after adjusting for pitching in the more difficult AL (of course, there's the potentially offsetting matter of home ballparks) - represent a better option than the Phillies' Happ? Not to these eyes, they don't. So help me out here. Why Joe Saunders?

Peter Bourjos
I'm sure he's a nice enough prospect. Maybe he's great defensively. He can run like hell. But check the statlines, and you'll find a player who hasn't OPS'd above .800 since the lowest levels of Rookie ball. I don't know. Am I missing something? Let's do another stat compare:

Prospect A: Class AA, 437 AB, .281 AVG, .354 OBP, .423 SLG, .777 OPS
Prospect B: Class AA, 318 AB, .333 AVG, .408 OBP, .569 SLG, .977 OPS, and
Class AAA, 110 AB, .282 AVG, .359 OBP, .491 SLG, .850 OPS

Pretty clear who you would choose, no? There's no way you'd prefer Prospect A (Bourjos) in a deal over Prospect B (Phillies Michael Taylor), would you? (And to be conservative, I've compared Bourjos to Taylor over the Phils more highly coveted OF prospect, Dominic Brown.)

Erick Aybar
Here's where my logic breaks down. No question, he's a great shortstop. Tonnes of range defensively, speed to burn, and a nice enough hitter as a middle infielder. But Aybar is heading into season 5 of his major league career, is only under team control for what - 2 more seasons? And really.....he's only had one real plus season offensively.

Like I mentioned - a good player, a definite upgrade, and I'd enjoy him as a Blue Jay. But enough to overlook Saunders/Bourjos? Not for me.

Mike Napoli/Jeff Mathis
Napoli can mash. Absolute upgrade behind the plate. But again, 4 full seasons under his belt, club control for a few more (non-contending) seasons, and then what? And Jeff Mathis? One season with an OPS +.600 screams defensive backup.

So there you have it. That's why I vote "No" to a Saunders/Angels trade. In all sincerity - convince me otherwise. Maybe my opinion changes if you sub Saunders for one of Weaver/Santana. Maybe. But from where I stand, a Phillies package around Happ/ Taylor-Brown/plus is preferable. And I was violently opposed to that package during last season's trade deadline.

Of course, any Yankees package centred on Hughes-Joba/Montero, or a Red Sox deal with Buchholz probably trumps either one, but it remains to be seen if either of the big boys will come out to play.

Fuck the market.

Buck is back

Imagine our surprise when we returned home from a night of work-sanctioned piss-tanking last evening, and opened up our email to find a press release from Sportsnet announcing the return of Buck Martinez.

Really? Sportsnet sends me press releases? Go figure!

We were so surprised to find our email on the Rogers media list (and also pretty hammered to boot) that we totally missed the fact that Buck is coming back to Toronto to serve as the play-by-play voice of the Jays. It barely computes this morning, to be honest with you. But really, what's the worst that could happen when Buck Martinez takes on a task in the game of baseball for which he has little previous experience?

(Oh, yeah. Right. I'd kinda blocked that year and a half out of my mind.)

It seems a little weird for Buck to be coming back, because from where we sit, there is no other market in the majors where his knowledge of the game would be questioned more than in Toronto. At the same time, it does seem from the initial reactions that we've heard that people seem pretty happy with this. Probably about as happy as they were when the team reached into the past to bring back the Manager. And look how well that's turned out!

(Seriously, I'm not this grumpy. I'm not! I'm just a little hung over and unable to look at the bright side of things, because the brightness burns my eyes and makes every throb in my lobes.)

This announcement also means the end of the Jamie Campbell era in the Jays booth. While some (most) around these parts found Campbell to be lacking (significantly), we hope that the kid lands on his feet. He seems like good people, and a genuine baseball fan, and we hope he finds something new and rewarding to do in the short term.

Taking a break
If we're a little scarce around these parts for the next week or so, it's because we're undertaking a move from our crappy little apartment into a house. These things don't always run smoothly (so I'm told), so forgive if we're not on top of stuff for a little while.

We've asked The Ack to take over for us, but he's not answering our emails these days. We think he may be plotting against us. But if he's not, he may be around should the Jays pull off any sort of deal or engage in further information gathering.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Rule 5 Draft Day - Starring Shannon Tweed

After making some vaguely ironic (i.e. not funny) comment about our excitement for today's Rule 5 Draft, J from 3:10 to Joba called us out on Twitter over the hypocrisy of it all.

His argument, we suppose, is that we shouldn't get all excited over minor leaguers considering our aversion to the levels of "prospect porn" demonstrated by people who love their own minor leaguers too much to give them up for a stud like Roy Halladay. (Also, our aversion to Jays fans who insist that the road to glory includes stockpiling infinite numbers of compensatory picks.)

We didn't think we'd need to address this, but since it was raised, we'll say this: The Rule 5 Draft isn't a prospect porn thing. It's more like a "prospect erotic thriller", where you know that you're not gonna get much good stuff, but it's the best thing that's on hand at the moment. So to speak.

Who needs a car jumper?
Joey Gathright can jump over cars. He can also post a career slugging percentage of .303. Which is 14 points lower than John McDonald's career mark.

I hate Joey Gathright.

(And no, this doesn't count as the Major League player that we wanted to see the Jays pick up at the meetings. Because we hate Joey Gathright.)

Update: Bastian tweets that the deal isn't done. So there.

The Roy Halladay Sweepstakes
From the sounds of some of the packages being floated in the media yesterday, it's on like Donkey Kong in the race to get Doc out of Toronto. And frankly, at this point, we're liking what we hear. (Optimism!!!1)

Also, Buster Onley from ESPN notes that AA is impressing his peers with the way he is going about his business in Indy. Which is good, because you'd hate to think they view him as some dilettante weird germaphobe.

Where To Find The Latest News, Analysis and Insight on the Winter Meetings
We've spent more time on the Drunk Jays Fans blog than any other Canadian site this week. Where the hell else are you going to go?

(This would be a good week for a winter DJF podcast, don't you think?)

The Manager Speaks
But we're not listening. La la la la la we can't hear you! La la la la!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

There's no more love for The Manager

So we hear that The Manager has made his way to Indianapolis, and is interjecting himself into the discussions of who the Jays should take a run at this offseason.

Apparently, The Manager has some love for Milton Bradley, and he supposes that if there is one cool cat who can reach out and find the inner peace in this swirling headcase when all else have failed, it is he, The Manager. Maybe he's right, but we're actually really hoping that he's not going to have the opportunity to stick around long enough to shepherd the Weak through the Tyranny of Evil Men.

We can barely deal with the thought that The Manager is going to have his time with the media today to grunt and grumble while making a handful of irresponsible speculatory statements about his team ("Accardo's in the mix as a starter") and generally throwing the team under the bus ("We probably won't compete for nothing this year, or any year...").

For a guy who we used to defend endlessly, and whose appearances used to get us misty-eyed and nostalgic - we own a bobblehead of him, fer chrissakes! - we have precious little patience left for The Manager.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Instant Analysis! Ryan Doumit trade rumours

After the better part of two days staring at our Twitter feed, something finally happens.

MLB Trade Rumo(u)rs reposts news from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Dejan Kovacevic that the Jays and Pirates are talking trade for Ryan Doumit, with Jeremy Accardo's name floated as the possible return.

Frankly, if this were to come to pass, we'd love it. Accardo is a non-tender candidate who is perhaps unjustifiably persona non grata with The Manager, while Doumit is a switch-hitting catcher who has played first and right, and who posted a healthy 4.0 WAR in his last healthy season.

And yeah, we know that he has played other positions because he is no great shakes behind the plate, but we like the bat and the .858 OPS in 2008.

INSTANT VERDICT ANALYSIS JUDGMENT: Fingers crossed, there's something to this. We're adding Doumit to our MLB 2K Jays tonight!

Three wishes for the Winter Meetings swap meet

Recognizing that we've spent much of the last five months being something between a Debbie Downer and an Negative Nancy, we've recommitted ourself to bring a little sunshine and optimism around these parts for the next little while.

Can you feel the positivity flowing through your monitor at this very moment?

Rather than piss and moan about the lack of happenings or movement, we've decided to float out into the universe three simple wishes for the Solstice Confab in Indianapolis. And if we only get one out of these three cravings are met, we can live with that. Heck, we could handle the meetings ending with none of these three wishes met, because we're Happy Tao. (Or at least, we aspire to be.)

Wish # 1 - A Major League Addition
Whether if by free agent or trade, we'd like to have a shiny new toy under the tree by week's end. It doesn't have to be much of anything, or some earth-shattering signing. Just some guy who has played big league ball somewhere and who can step in a do something at some point next year. We'd happily take a Josh Willingham, for instance.

Wish # 2 - An Interesting Rule 5 Pick
The last Rule 5 pick to really stick with the Jays was Corey Thurman back in 2001. (Okay, Randy Wells got one inning of work in 2008. Which isn't really sticking as we perceive it.) There isn't a ton of MLB ready talent that is sitting on the outside of other teams' 40-man rosters...but then again, the Jays have some space on their 25-man to possibly give a dude a chance.

Wish # 3 - Resolution to the Roy Halladay Sweepstakes
Because at this point, we just want him to get on with his career, and we want to get on with the business of our fandom. We're not holding out for this package or that prospect or what have you. We would just like to get this bit of business out of the way.

Is that so much to ask? And what do you have on your list, boys and girls?

Monday, December 7, 2009

Let's have a series of meetings!

Well, fellas (and sheilas)...This is it. Winter Meetings. Can't you feel the excitement?

Yeah, us neither.

It probably helped to temper our expectations and dampen our mood over the weekend when we found out that the HUGE (YOOOGE!) news that Baseball Prospectus' Will Carroll cryptically hinted was coming over the weekend was something about Bloomberg getting involved with repackaging and reselling stats to MLB teams.

And not to say that we don't see how this could become an interesting topic of discussion, know...when you say that there are going to be big announcements, we expect the imminent announcement that MLB will install exploding bases which will blow up when fielders attempt that "neighbourhood play" bullshit. (That would be kinda awesome.)

We're not entirely sure what the expect from this year's December confab in Indy, but we're not anticipating much. Maybe lots of heat about Halladay, but not much light.

(Speaking of Halladay, we had a dream about him last night, which is weird. It involved us following him and his family to church on an old bicycle, except that they were going to church in rural New Brunswick. And in the dream, we learned that Brandi Halladay was to blame for everything, and refused to move to Arizona. We're not saying that this means anything more than that we have some latent misogyny in our subconscious. But we share everything else, and it seemed wrong not to share this.)

We fully expect that this week will provide us with unending lukewarm stove tidbits, like the guys that the Jays will be signing to minor league contracts, or the Rule 5 draftees. (If we're lucky, the Jays may root out another DeWayne Wise or Corey Thurman...think of the possibilities!)

When Paul Beeston speaks, bad stuff happens
David Wade of Baseball Digest Daily reports that things went pear-shaped for good Canadian boy James Paxton when Paul Beeston bumbled his way through a Globe and Mail interview explaining why the good Canadian boy didn't want to sign with the hometown team.

Oh, Beest! The more we see of him, the more he reminds us of Hrundi V. Bakshi, Peter Sellers' vaguely offensive and mishap-prone character in The Party.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

I'm ready

It's not that I think it's not going to hurt. I'm not delusional, 'fer chrissakes. We're still talking about Roy Halladay - the man, the myth, the Blue Jays legend.

It's just that I'm ready now. It's enough already. The whole thing has gone on long enough. Really, let's be honest with ourselves - we're all friends here, right? - does it really feel like Doc has been a part of the team, or at the very least, part of the team's future, since the trade debacle shitstorm that swept through the organization back in July?

Because to me, it feels like me we've just been counting down the days until it's over. With baseball's Winter Meetings looming right around the corner, I'm almost hoping, mercifully, that it comes to an end. It sucks for Doc, it sucks for the organization, and it fucking sucks for the fans. Not the most eloquent thing I've ever written, but hey - the Roy Halladay Sweepstakes haven't exactly been poetry in motion.

At this point, Halladay breaking camp with the Jays will be just about the most awkward situation possible. It's really not even an option, despite the protestations that "2 comp picks just might end up being the best package". So get it done. Put us all out of our misery.

I'm ready for it, anyway.

Lying liars and the lies they tell
"We wanted to trade Roy and Roy wanted to be traded (in the summer), as he does now."

This quote from venerable old JP Ricciardi is just a litttttle bit different than the July deadline stance of "Roy never asked to be traded, we're just seeing what's out there."

Hey, I know how the game is played, but it's still funny as all hell to read. At least JP left us with one of his legacy quotes:

"I personally think, move the player and move on because ultimately the player is going to leave."

Reason #426 that Twitter is worth paying attention to
All around knowledgeable baseball dude Will Carroll drops this piece of juicy fruit via his Twitter account:

"I know of two HUGE announcements coming at the Winter Meetings. I expect both will be bigger than any player signing or news made during. "

Carroll has already denied all of the obvious guesses from his followers - expansion, contraction, relocation, Selig news, etc. Any guesses?

Friday, December 4, 2009

Friday Rock Out: The Clash - London Calling

It was 30 years ago this month that The Clash unleashed the greatest rock 'n' roll album of all time on an unsuspecting public. And three decades later, it still sounds pretty sweet.

Mark December 14 on your calendars as London Calling Day, and blast your eardrums into oblivion for the day. You'll be glad you did.

Your Tom Cheek Reminder
Tom's still hanging tough at the top of the leaderboard of the Facebook Hall of Fame thingy. We're not sure that the group of former honorees are going to give a about the vote totals on this new-fangled website, but we still kinda think that if Tom walked away with half the internet vote, it would be hard to deny him. So hit the Facebook poll and click until it hurts.

And incidentally: If you run into Bob Uecker anywhere this winter, be sure to put in a good word for Tom to him.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Cheek for Frick!

It's become customary at around this time of year for Blue Jays fans to whip themselves into a frenzy to get Tom Cheek onto the final ballot for the Ford Frick Award, a broadcaster's trip to the Hall of Fame.

At times, it has been a task that seems destined to lead to heartbreak, with some other broadcaster's "turn" always seemingly coming before Tom's.

Enough. Now is Tom's time, and now is our time to help put him over the top.

The fan voting portion is being held on Facebook at under the "Polls" section. And yeah, we wonder ourselves why they are doing this vote in this manner, but whatever. (If it means that you have to join Facebook, then so be it. Tom's worth it.)

At last look, Cheek had more votes than anyone of the dozens of names on the list, and accounted for 28% of all the votes. A huge number of votes from the fans might not mean squat for the Illuminati-like group who make the final decision...but it couldn't hurt could it?

Get out, vote early and vote often.

(And incidentally: If someone with the Rogers Baseball Operations wants to prove to the fanbase that they are not a bunch of fatuous gasbags, maybe they could get off their hands and use their multitude of platforms to get the word out and get the vote out for Tom. It's the least they could do.)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A One-Sentence Post on...A year without Ted

It's been a full year since Ted Rogers passed, and while we were never sure what his day-to-day interest in the franchise was, we're pretty sure that he wouldn't have tolerated much of the dithering vacillating shitshow that the front office has put on display over the past 12 months.

Bonus link: Street dedicated to late media mogul Ted Rogers (

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Doc to Jays: Drop Dead

So the deal seems to be something like this: Roy Halladay wants to go to a contender, but wants to choose the contender and wants to choose when he goes. In other words, he's setting the market, and has announced as much through his representatives.

So those deals where the Jays are getting more than the other teams want to give are pretty much off the table. Rid your mind of Buck Holes or Phil Hughes and start thinking Buck Swope or Phil Coke. Stop thinking of a front line player to solve a need, and think of a marginal and flawed guy who's outlived his time in Triple-A. Start thinking in terms of what the Minnesota Twins got back for Johan Santana. Start rehearsing the following sentence: "At least it's not as bad as the Sirotka trade."


Look, we don't begrudge Halladay exerting his no-trade clause to put himself into the best situation possible for him and Brandi and the kids and whatever. But we've got to wonder why his reps felt it was necessary to add this extra wrinkle to the trade talks right before the Jays head to the Winter Meetings. Did they feel as though the Jays weren't doing their level best to get Halladay out of town? Did they think that this might spur talks? Or even add to the Jays leverage?

It has crossed our mind that this might actually work to help encourage suitors to step up. But mostly, it just seems like this isn't going to end well.

A Personal Note to Doc
And as far as Doc is concerned: We love you, man. We love you like we've never loved another Blue Jay player. You're amazing, and we can't express to you how much you added to our enjoyment of the Jays over the past decade. You're the best.

Now take your shit, and get the fuck out. Take your beard and your Ikea bookcases and your shitty Robert Palmer cd's and leave. We'll give you the TV stand and the pint glasses and all of the stuff that we bought together. You can have the plants and the cat and crock pot. We don't care.

Just get out. Don't make this any harder than it needs to be.

Saturday, November 28, 2009


Heyo friends - who wants to talk about shortstops?

Yeah, me neither. When do the Winter Meeting start again? Until then, I've got questions, maybe you have some answers....

When did prospect porn become the baseball fan's vice of choice?
Regurgitating discussion from comment sections this week....but seriously, what's up with the completely absurd fascination with unproven prospects - talented as they may be - who haven't even advanced beyond the low minors?

Honestly, if I read "No way I would give up (Casey Kelly, Jesus Montero, Ryan Westmoreland, Kyle Drabek, etc) for one year of a 32 year old pitcher" one more fucking time, I think I might just go on ahead and gouge my eyes out.

There are so many things wrong with the reasoning behind this line of thought that I'm not even going to bother taking it down. Actually, yes I am:

(1) That "32 year old pitcher" is one of the best (if I was biased, I'd say the best) in the game, he's at his peak, he's not declining, and nobody works harder. I understand, prospect fans, that you love to show just how clever and informed you are by touting your team's "next big thing"....but in actuality, all you're really proving is your ignorance by dismissing the greatness of Doc. Jesus, this makes me angry.

(2) In all likelihood, you're not getting one year of Doc, you're getting a contract-extended Doc. Oh, and don't worry about the goddamned payroll - you are all big market, free spending clubs. You'll manage.

(3) Your teams are involved in the discussions because they are built to win now. Prospect X, should he pan out, will be a guy who can help you win in 2 or 3 seasons. What, you have an aversion to winning today? You'd rather roll the dice on potentially being in the same position a few seasons down the road?

(4) Please, Yankee/Red Sox/Phillies/Dodgers (to a lesser extent) fans, don't insult our intelligence by clinging to the value of "cost controlled players". Are you just trying to be cruel?

(5) That player you're touting as the next big thing? The guy you've never seen play, but can't possibly bear to lose? He'll be replaced in short order by the next guy on your team's top-10 prospect list, or perhaps by the next high schooler who slips to the 6th round on signability concerns that your team drafts and "convinces" to bypass college.

So there.

Why can't Dustin McGowan become Toronto's Jonathan Papelbon?
....minus the part about being a douchebag, of course.

I'll remind you this is all hypothetical on my part. I'll let you know that I know there's probably a prettttty, pretty slim chance that ol' Dusty can even recover from his shoulder woes to be an effective MLB arm. But hear me out - didn't Boston go through the same thing with their (begrudgingly) nails closer? I can't pretend to know the severity of Papelbon's history of arm troubles, but I do recall (with a google assist) that Papelbon was a rising power arm who was moved to the bullpen in an effort to placate that tender shoulder.

Can this scenario unfold for McGowan? And really - doesn't he seem perfect for the role? Power fastball? Check. Hammer breaking ball? Check. Superficial "unique" look required for a memorable closer? His lambchops say "check".

Bears watching, is all I'm saying.

Shouldn't we be talking a little more about Jesse Litsch?
Hey, he is what he is. Jesse Litsch is probably no more than a back end starter who can provide the club with some serviceable major league innings. That's not a knock, that's just who he is. In fact, I mean it as a compliment, because I really do believe that he doesn't receive near the credit he should for being just that.

He doesn't throw 95 and he won't get you more than about 5K/9. But if he can bounce back from his TJ (does that stand for "Tommy John" or "Toronto Jay"?) surgery and provide the club with some rotation stability, the club will be much better for it. And that, my friends, would be admirable. I'm pulling for the guy.

Do writers make absurd claims because they think the Jays are wholly incompetent? Or are they just smug?
Actually, I've got the answers here:

YES, the Jays will offer Marco Scutaro arbitration.

NO, the Jays will not accept a package of Ian Kennedy, Melky Cabrera, and Francisco Cervelli in exchange for Doc.

...and NO, Alex Anthopoulos will not "throw in" Adam Lind to "even out the deal" in exchange for your precious little prospects.

Can we convince ourselves that the disdain we feel for the Jays offseason moves to date will dissipate as the plan becomes clear?
Yeah, I probably can, personally. I've been getting on (for now) by telling myself that if these were the final moves of the offseason (throwing 2 years at Johnny Mac, signing Alex Gonzalez v2.0) rather than the first moves of the offseason, things would make more sense.

I'll carry on believing that these moves are not a precursor to more of the same in addressing the many other holes on the roster, and by April 1 we'll have reason for hope.

I keep telling myself that it's all part of the process, and AA knows what he's doing - because I want him to succeed. I'll keep believing that better days of baseball are ahead.

We have to, man.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Chill, baby. Chill.

It was something else to see the diversity of reactions to yesterday's signing of Alex (Not Alex) Gonzalez. (Wait a second. Didn't I do this bit yesterday? Nevermind.)

We don't mind the Gonzo signing because we actually think that he can provide plus defense and near league average offense. It might be a step down from what we got from Marco Scutaro last year, but then again, who the hell knows what Scoots would do next year in Toronto?

Sure, it would be nice to have someone who promises huge numbers at short, and third, and catcher, and first, and off the bench. But these days, we're thinking that some fans have to just calm the fuck down over the perceived weaknesses in the lineup. Every lineup if going to end up having its holes, and if Alex Gonzalez ends up as a .700 OPS, plus defender hitting 8th or 9th, it doesn't immediately make this team a 100 loss nightmare.

Cripes, the vaunted '92 Jays had four regulars (Borders, Gruber, Manny Lee and Devo) who posted an OPS under .700, and the offensively monstrous '93 Jays had two regulars (Borders and Sprague) and two players with 200 ABs (Henderson and Darnell Coles) who OPSed under .700. So a few weak spots in the lineup doesn't necessarily mean that the team is headed directly in the crapper.

(Although we still would have rather taken our chances with J.J. Hardy. But that's neither here nor there.)

Okay, fine. We're calling it here: The Jays, as they stand today, are an 83-win team. So stop putting on the poor mouth.

Travis Snider - No free rides, and no second helpings at the buffet
The first thing we thought when we heard Alex Anthopoulos say that Sniderman had to earn his way onto the roster was: "How much weight has he put on this off season?"

The Doctor is in
Big ups to my good friend and fellow blogger Devin on his Ph.D. defense yesterday. (Schelling? Who the hell writes on Schelling?) He's a cool cat and the epitome of a San Francisco Bay Area Liberal, and we love the guy for it. Also, he's an A's fan, which we totally respect. If you're so inclined, his smartypants scribblings can be found over here.

Friday Rock Out - Grandaddy, "Elevate Myself"
And in the new doctor's honour, who else could rock us into the weekend but the pride of Modesto?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

A guide to judging the appropriateness of your response to the Johnny Mac signing

(Editor's Note: This entire post was written and posted before the news that the Jays signed Alex Gonzalez. Maybe it isn't as funny or pertinent anymore. But read along anyhow.)

The vast majority of the responses that we received about the John McDonald signing yesterday were negative, but to varying degrees. (And yes, for some reason, people send their complaints to me, as though I could do something about it.)

But most people still felt somewhat conflicted, because how are you gonna hate on Johnny Mac? The Prime Minister of Defense! Come on!

To help you through this time, we offer a quick breakdown of the various subsets of reactions to the McDonald signing, and judge the appropriateness (is that a word?) of each of them.

The Oblivious "Fuck Yeah!" Happy Subset
Characterized by
: A general feeling of elation. These folks are totally stoked that Johnny Mac, the heart and soul of the Blue Jays, is coming back. They may have worn their "McDonald 6" jerseys over their jackets last night. May have had "PMOD 4 EVER" tattooed on their bits yesterday.
Is this reaction appropriate? Not at all. As nice a guy as McDonald is, this is not a great moment in franchise history.
Possible treatments: A quick gander at McDonald's career offensive numbers.

The Ambivalent Subset
Characterized by: A feeling that the signing is a terrible omen, followed by a profound feeling of guilt over their unspoken disdain for such a prince of a guy. May have spent time looking at the Jays 40-man roster, identifying the other "25th men on the roster". Relieved to hear that the Jays are still looking for a starting SS.
Is this reaction appropriate? Absolutely. It's what the sane man is thinking. (Well, it's what we're thinking. If you would characterize us as sane.)
Possible treatments: Watching YouTube videos of Johnny Mac's defensive prowess. Prorating JMac's four homers over a full season.

The WTF?!! Subset
Characterized by: Angry tweeting and angry commenting. Recriminations. May have drawn a link between McDonald's salary and unsigned draft picks. Sent over the edge by the news that the deal was for two years.
Is this reaction appropriate? Probably not. There is some truth to the fact that the signing is not the happiest news ever, and the second year is shocking. But signing a utility guy to a contract worth $1.5 Mill isn't the end of the world.
Possible treatments: Looking at the alternatives. Looking at the salaries of other utility infielders. Deep breathing. Positive visualization.

The Bandwagon Jumper Subset
Characterized by: Threats to stop going to games or watching games on TV. Declarations that this is "the last straw". Threats of cheering for other teams. Threats of canceling Rogers services.
Is this reaction appropriate? Oh, please. Stop. If you don't want to stick with the team through the bad times, then fine. Go cheer for the Tigers. (And what, pray tell) will you do when they trade Miguel Cabrera?
Possible treatments: Checking yourself before you wreck yourself. Sucking it up. Ceasing to be such a whining princess drama queen.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Return of the Mac

Bastian tweets that the Jays are ready to announce the re-signing of team mascot John McDonald as soon as today. Jays co-mascot Ace could not be reached for comment.

What does this mean? Another season of Prime Ministerial punnery, pugnacious pinch-running, and picktacular playmaking in the field. (Also, alliteration. Always alliteration.)

Don't get us wrong, we really like Johnny Mac, and it is worth noting that he had a career high four homers in just 151 at bats, and his slugging percentage reached dizzying new heights (.384). But on the other side, he is one of four or five players that we envision as the 25th man on the roster, and we're a tad bit worried that all of those guys are going to make the team.

Also, what's this mean for Mike McCoy? Is there only room for one Mac on the roster? Too much mackin'?

The Halladay Sweepstakes, part XXXIV
So today, it is the Red Sox, who allegedly want to get this wrapped up before the winter meetings. Also, the Angels, although that report sorta looks like horseshit.

Yorvit? Our Vit!
Torrealba catching for the Jays? Meh. Could happen. He's no Miguel Olivo.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Something about the West Coast makes you lose all sense of perspective

It's been stunning over the past few days to read a quote here and a comment there about how the Dodgers would be giving up too much if they let Chad Billingsley go in a trade for Roy Halladay.

Are you fucking kidding me? Or more to the point, why are you kidding yourselves?

Chad Billingsley is a guy who has had some success here and there by kicking the stuffing out of also rans in the National League West for the past few seasons. Sure, he's shown the Padres quien es mas macho, and he's schooled the Diamondbacks. He's faced down the mighty lineup of the Giants ("now hitting cleanup, Bengie Molina"). He's pitched in a lot of pitcher friendly parks. And he's thrown exactly 3.2 innings against American League East teams, namely the Jays.

Meanwhile, Doc has stepped to the mound for 516.2 innings against the Yankees and Red Sox over his career. So we're guessing that he could hang in the NL West.

We realize that as fans you can start to overvalue your own players, and develop unnatural attachments to them. That's the nature of fandom. But if you (or your general manager) can't conceive of how much better Roy Halladay is than Billingsley or anyone else that you have on your roster or in your system (yeah, Clayton Kershaw included), then you deserve to have Vincente Padilla pitching in crucial games for the next dozen years.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Roy Halladay is going everywhere and nowhere

It's a hell of a thing, waiting for the other shoe to drop. It's been more than four months since we committed ourselves to "let go lightly" of Roy Halladay, and yet, he's still here, and we're still waiting to move on.

Somewhere, in the dark recesses in the back of our mind, we've actually started to resent Halladay. Maybe that resentment is misdirected, but it is there, and we can't help wanting to toss him - the greatest pitcher in the history of the franchise - overboard so that we can lighten our load and start moving things into something resembling a direction.

Oddly, it is precisely because Halladay is such an exceptional talent that moving him is going to be a significant challenge for the new Anthopoulosian regime. For the new GM, it's not simply a matter of figuring out who wants Halladay, because that would basically be all 30 teams.

In spite of the daily dozen rumours that have Halladay headed hither and yon, it doesn't take long to figure out why he's not headed anywhere anytime soon. If you start to work out the Venn diagram of who could be in the race for Halladay, you have to start by assessing who has money, who has money that is available, who has aspirations of competing now and who has aspirations for competing in the longer term. By the time that you intersect those four circles, you're pretty much left with two teams, and we probably don't need to remind you who they are.

The point - which we made much more succinctly in a Twitter post this weekend - is that even if everyone wants him, not many teams are going to have the resources to get him and hold on to him, and not many are going to be willing to part with much more than a nominal package in return.

Think of teams that should be in the mix like the Mets (might have money, don't have trade chips, might not be competitive), the Cubs (uncertain money), the Dodgers (money is an issue for the divorce courts), or the Cardinals (probably not enough money to keep Halladay). The Angels (without John Lackey) could be a destination, but will they have the resources to continue to compete over the next five years? Would Halladay allow such a trade to take place, given that he still holds the hammer of a no-trade clause?

There's an expectation amongst the fanbase and the media that the Jays' side of the Roy Halladay Trade should be generous and should replenish all of the franchise's needs. But taking a look at what real possibilities lie out there, we should probably brace ourselves for a move that will return less than we'd hoped, and send Doc somewhere that we wish he weren't.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Pre Winter Meeting Musings

We're a little over 2 weeks away from this year's MLB Winter Meetings, where the bulk of the offseason action is likely to take place. That means your humble (no, really) weekend keyboard monkey has little of substance on which to pontificate.

Instead, here are some hot (er, lukewarm?) topics running through my head:

* It's been mentioned in the comments section, and it bears repeating here since I've often had the same thought - why can't Brian Dopirak be a serviceable option in the Jays lineup next year? No, really, I'm asking. I've heard - and can't necessarily disagree with - all the reasons why he's a longshot to stick at the major league level: it took him 4 seasons to get past 'A' ball, he's old for the level, he's beating up on minor league retreads, etc.

But here's the thing: his numbers have been fantastic since the start of 2008. He comes with a pedigree (2nd round pick). And he's no longer blocked (/sarcasm) by the manager's favorite, Kevin Millar.

Can't it be that he just turned the corner in his development and is now reaching that 2nd round potential? And can't we give the dude a shot before writing him off? For my money, he's exactly the type of player a "building" team needs to take a long, hard look at. It will be a disappointment - for me, anyway - if he doesn't break camp with the team (pending any substantial offseason moves to shore up 1B/DH, of course).

* .....and since we're here, is it completely unreasonable to assume (hope?) that one of Jarret Hoffpauir or Mike McCoy can be a useful player in the infield? I mean, as it stands, we're looking at Aaron Hill....and that's about it, as far as sure-fire returnees go. Personally, I'm hoping for one or both to make the team, if for no other reason than the blogging possibilities (Hoff! The Real McCoy!). Yeah, maybe I'm reaching now.

* We all now Alex Anthopoulos has floated the notion that he isn't adverse to trading Roy Halladay within the division. On the surface - as brutally gut-wrenching as it would be - it makes sense to take the best deal for the Jays out there. But I'm starting to think that might just be a smokescreen to drive up the market for non-AL East teams who might be interested in acquiring the services of the true Ace (Doc is a capital-A ace).

And maybe it's working? Fresh off the news that the Dodgers (let's ignore the implications of ol' Frankie McCourt's divorce) are focusing on Doc - with the name 'Chad Billingsley' being tossed around - comes word of early discussions with the Cubs.

During last season's trade deadline fiasco, the Cubs were never viewed as a serious players, due primarily to the perceived lack of prospect depth. But they do have Starlin Castro, who's generating some pretty serious buzz, and potential big bat Josh Vitters in the system, so.....

* I don't see any way that the (unreasonably) under appreciated Lyle Overbay returns, at this point. Given the volume of trade rumors surrounding him, and given the return of Cito....I just think it would end badly.

* Rethinking the Brandon Phillips speculation....unless one of Phillips/Hill were to make a move to SS....yeah, what's the point. His bat would not be an upgrade over Edwin Encarnacion, and it's impossible to say how he'd play defensively at the hot corner. But a double play combo of Hill & Phillips up the middle might not be so bad, would it?

* Something has to happen in the outfield, doesn't it? Can we really envision an everyday alignment of Lind-Wells-Snider defensively? That's assuming of course, that Snider sees AB's against more than just right-handed pitching, and Lind doesn't move to 1B, and....

* One thing's for certain: AA has his work cut out for him. He has no choice but to put his stamp on the team. Let's just hope it's his own.

Friday, November 20, 2009

You'll have to forgive our lack of protestations

This whole story of the rising season ticket costs seems a tad overwrought and orchestrated to create a story out of very little.

We know it has to suck if your seats have been "rezoned" into a higher price bracket. But somehow, folks have developed this notion that the Blue Jays, because they finished seven games under .500, should suddenly run the team like a factory-seconds carpeting store that's going out of business. They believe this because they say that it would be the noble thing to do after the team sucked so bad last year.

We just can't buy into this. (Maybe in part because there doesn't really seem to be anything of real substance to the stories that we've read.)

Which is not to say that we don't think that there are some overpriced seats in the Dome, because there are. And increasing the price of those cheap seats down the line will probably not help to fill the lower bowl.

Maybe you want to portray the Rogers folks as a bunch of greedheads who don't care about the fans, and who are extracting their pound of flesh from all of the die-hards. And if so, that's your thing, and have at it.

But we would remind you that the current ownership oversaw a monumental slashing of prices for all of the seats in the 500 level (you know, the tickets that you buy before you sneak down) just a few years back. We paid $30 to sit in 500-level seats in our first visit to the Dome more than a decade ago, and those seats last season retailed for more than 200% less than what we paid.

It could be that we just accept these sorts of things. That prices go up, we always seem to have less money, and someone, somewhere (centre field?) gets richer.

If you want to piss and moan about this, then have at it. We're certain that this is going to be an unstoppable refrain on JaysTalk all season long.

As for your faithful blogger: I'll reserve my ire for the decisions that are made (or not made) about the on-field product.

Friday Rock Out - Biz Markie

I dunno. It was just in my head.