Friday, July 31, 2009

Friday Rock Out - the Jam's "A Town Called Malice"

Just a little something happy and bouncy to put you rudies in the mood for a long weekend of skanking to the beat, tasty beverages and west coast baseball.

It's 1:40 in the PM, and there's still precious little to report from all of the trade deadline shenanigans, at least from the Jays' perspective. Although Orlando Cabrera won't be in Oakland this weekend to be outshone by Marco Scutaro, who is still a Blue Jay at this point.

If there is any sort of stupendous trade in the next hour or so, chances are you'll find our reaction in something less than 140 characters over on the Twitter.

The Ack is off in the wilderness this weekend, so we'll be covering off any weekend posts should they be necessary. Have a great one.

How much more of this can you bear?

There are less than six more hours until the non-waiver trade deadline, and frankly, we've already invested way too much time worrying about what's going to happen with young Mr. Halladay and who we may receive in return for him.

Seriously, we spent a good chunk of yesterday afternoon considering the relative merits of Yonder Alonso, a Reds prospect that we'd never heard of before, and Devaris Gordon, who we'd heard of but hadn't realized was "untouchable" and "off-limits" before we spent a half-hour picking apart his short season rookie ball numbers.

This is not healthy. This is no way for a man to live.

We're really tempted just to shut everything down for the day and ignore the rest of this tomfoolery. Although if you stop by Twitter at some point this afternoon, you'll likely see us making up opinions on Justin Smoak, or whoever.

The other trade deadline
For the media tourists who are going to heave scorn onto J.P. if he doesn't make a move today, it should probably be noted that he's traditionally made more moves after the non-waiver trade deadline.

Last year, Ricciardi moved Matt Stairs (for Fabio Castro) and brought in José Bautista after July 31. He also shipped Eric Shitske through waivers and out to the Red Sox a couple of years back, and brought in Joe Inglett in September.

Our guess is that if there is no big splash of a move by 4 pm today, there will be some marginal moves in the next couple of weeks that won't particularly seem like much, but which will shore up the Jays' bench for 2010.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Either way, you were going to hate J.P.

At the risk of (once again) being labeled and apologist, we just don't get the inevitably angry reaction to everything and anything J.P. Ricciardi says or does.

If Roy Halladay had been traded yesterday for the package that the Phillies were willing to offer (i.e. without Kyle Drabek coming back), J.P. would have been roundly criticized for not maximizing the return on Halladay. But now that the Phillies have decided not to overwhelm the Jays and instead went with a much more affordable option in Cliff Lee, people are accusing Ricciardi of...well, basically, everything. Not pushing hard enough to get a deal done; not having a plan; having too many plans; covering his ass; going back on his word...really, people just want to think that J.P. is either evil or inept (and probably both) and that this team is imploding becuase of him.

But really: Wasn't J.P. pretty clear about the possibility of a Halladay trade right from the beginning? Didn't he say that he'd listen, but he's have to be wowed? Because that is precisely our recollection, and it is pretty much exactly how things have played out.

Of course, with the possibility that Halladay sticks around through the rest of this year comes the knowledge that his inevitable trade out of the city or decision to test free agency is pretty much all that anyone is going to be talking about for the next 12 to 18 months. Any discussion of this team will pretty much begin and end with a discussion of what's going to happen with Halladay. Great.

To get ourselves through this prolonged transition period, we're going to drink a lot. And then we're going to talk about the remote scenario that Halladay comes back next season, the Jays go on a tremendous run, make the playoffs, and Halladay re-signs with the team to get his ring here.

It could happen. Now where did we put the Knob Creek again?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Scott Downs is toast

Since returning from the DL following his valiantly stupid attempt to swing the bat late in an interleague game, Scott Downs has been nothing less than awful.

In 6.2 innings since his return, Downs has one save (versus two blown saves), along with three losses. He's given up 6 runs over that short span, good enough for an ERA of 8.10, and opponents have posted a 1.104 OPS against him.

Cito Gaston might like the notion of players having their specific role that they fill on the club, but with Jason Frasor, Brandon League and even Jeremy Accardo all pitching better than Downs over the past month, it's time to let Scotty GreaseMullet to return to a low-leverage LOOGY role until he can throw strikes again.

Because seriously, Downs' past week has been ridiculous.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Why you shouldn't freak out about what Rogers execs said

Given everything that's going on around the Blue Jays right now, this story is going to blow up pretty big.

Rogers CEO Nadir Mohamed (above) and Tony Viner, president of Rogers Media spoke about the Blue Jays on a regular quarterly earnings conference call. They noted (sit down or brace yourself) that the team needed to (remain calm) "bring costs reasonably under control and more in line with revenues."

No really. Stop freaking. (This includes you, Bob McCown.)

We know that doesn't sound good or sit well in the minds of Blue Jays fans, who already think that Rogers is taking the cheap way out by not increasing payroll sufficiently to compete in the AL East. But recognize that the quarterly earnings call is an avenue through which the company assures investors and stockholders that their money would or is being handled in a reasonable and prudent fashion. Frankly, it's almost impossible to conceive of a scenario where the executives would have indicated otherwise, especially given the $15 million golden parachute that was just handed to B.J. Ryan.

And don't forget to notice the part of the quote where Viner indicates that the baseball business is "the one division of the media company this year (where) year over year performance is better than it was."

What Viner's statements about "improving" the team's financial performance probably mean, though, is that the notion floated by Smilin' Paul Beeston that the Jays could spend upwards of $120 million on payroll is dead in the water. The Jays are going to have to make due on $80 to $90 million payrolls, and given the Vernon Wells deal, they'll have to work as hard as teams with $60 million payrolls to maximize their player personnel investments.

That is, unless there is a potential cash cow out there that could be tied to the Blue Jays (like, say, the baseball channel for which Rogers already has a license). Just sayin'.

(H/T to Out of Left Field's Neate Sager and his Twitter feed for the story.)

Monday, July 27, 2009

Our new, most favorite player ever: Vernon Wells

In Glengarry Glen Ross, Ricky Roma says: "I subscribe to the law of contrary public opinion... If everyone thinks one thing, then I say, bet the other way..." After a weekend of listening to Blue Jays fans patrons heartily boo Vernon Wells at every turn, on virtually every at bat, we're really seeing the merit in Roma's worldview.

So screw it: We love Vernon Wells. Vernon is the best, and you chuckleheads don't even realize it. You're way too focused on his contract, and how much he gets paid, and not nearly focused enough on what a standout player he can be. It's not to say that we haven't had our frustrations with him, and we've probably torn into him a few dozen times this season. But that was before we saw the light.

Our Road to Damascus moment probably happened in the sixth inning of Sunday's game, when Wells hit into a double play. Jays fans were so overwhelmed by the need to once again show their displeasure with his performance that they barely noticed Adam Lind scoring from third on the play. The Jays go up 4-1, and the crowd goes wild with self-indulgent outrage that Wells failed.

But here's the thing, and it's the very essence of baseball that you have to understand before you get on your high horse and tear these players to shreds on each and every homestand: Baseball is a game of failure.

The best offensive players in baseball are going to fail more often than they succeed. Albert Pujols leads the Majors with a .455 on base percentage. That means that more than half the time, the Greatest Player in the Game Today heads back to the bench with nothing to show for his efforts. If you're only failing six times out of ten, you're still an All-Star. Six and a half times, and you're still a hero to your hometown fans.

As for Vernon, he's posting a .305 OBP, which is pretty lousy by his standards. But the difference between him being a bum and hometown hero is essentially one extra positive outcome every two games. That's it.

But even if Vernon were to manage that extra positive outcome, we're not sure that the patrons at the Rogers Centre would even notice. On Saturday, after he started the game with a single, a double and a run scored, the mob rained down boos after he popped up in the fifth for the first out of the inning. What the what?! Were you expecting that Wells should have a five for five day? Maybe hit for the cycle? Can't you lay off a guy for a few innings if he's done some good early in the game?

Wells didn't have a stellar week last week (5-26, one homer, two runs scored and a .577 OPS). But you know what? Even the greatest players in the game have weeks where they don't tear the cover off the ball. Albert Pujols, the same aforementioned Greatest Player in the Game Today, posted a .477 OPS and went 5-24 last week. Do you think they'd boo him out of Busch Stadium if he posted the same line next week?

It's not him, it's YOU
And for those of you who haven't been paying attention, Vernon Wells' numbers on the road this year are actually pretty impressive. When he gets away from Garbagetown, the Dome and the Larry Murphy Expulsion Through Incessant Booing Society Glee Club, Vernon puts up an .868 OPS.

And since you didn't ask, we'll tell you: That's a better number than either Lind (.865), Rolen (.818) or Hill (.782), and trails only Marco Scutaro (.873) among Jays regulars. So, you know, he's actually kinda good when he can't see or hear or smell you.

Why the difference? We couldn't tell you. Maybe it's because he hates you and your booing more than you hate him. Whatever the case, we recommend the following course of action for you Vernon Booers: Sit down, have a drink, shut the fuck up and accept that Vernon isn't going to have a positive outcome in every at bat. It will make everyone's life that much happier.

A Service to the Toronto Sports Media: What Scott Rolen Would Have Said

We don't rely on the answers of athletes to fill up the content hole here at our blog, although we do sometimes rely on the quotes gleaned by the media corps to react and reflect on the current state of the Jays and particular players. So we should probably be a little more sympathetic to the plight of the members of the accredited media with all-important access to those players when they get the cold shoulder.

But the thing is, we hate when the members of the media turn a declined interview into some sort of indication that there is something amiss with the player, and that he is clearly some sort of malingerer for not (pardon the pun) playing ball with them.

Apparently, Scott Rolen, the Greatest Blue Jay of All Time, rebuffed an advance from one media member or another for an interview this weekend. In all likelihood, he knew the question that was coming and didn't feel like answering it, so he declined.

The question that without a doubt was going to be asked of Rolen was: "With the trade deadline approaching and rumours that the Jays may look to deal players on this roster - including you - is that a distraction for you? How do you deal with those rumours?"

Since Rolen declined to answer, I know that the entirety of the Toronto Sports Media Cabal are being driven crazy by the lack of certainty caused by this vacuum. Remember, folks, that it has been at least a couple of weeks since any of them have had their latest Brian Burke fix, and the current Roy Halladay Saga has served only as a weak and temporary methadone. Once Burkie comes back from vacation and starts talking shit about other GMs or lets loose with a particularly odorous fart that vaguely sounds like "Kaberle", then most of this attention will be diverted, and the teeming masses will be satiated.

So as a service to those poor folks, and so that Steve Simmons doesn't lose any more hair over this, we will provide you with precisely the answer that Scott Rolen would have given on camera and to any mics that were within the area.

"You know, that's not really something you can think about. You've just gotta go out there and focus on the game. That's all you can do. If something happens, it happens. But I've really just got to focus on the task at hand, and go out there and do everything I can to help us win games."

We know this is more or less what would have been said because we've heard this answer to this question at least 100,000 times. Moreover, we know that athletes these days rarely if ever let reporters into their heads or their personal thoughts. Because athletes know that if they do happen to say something remotely interesting, the press will beat them with it like a club for the rest of their stay with the team, or the rest of their career, even if it is pretty tepid. (How many times has Roy Halladay's "Groundhog Day" comment been dredged up in the past 12 months? Anyone care to do a Nexis search on that?)

We hope this puts the GTA sports reporters out of their misery for a day or two. And no need to thank us. You're welcome.

Sunday, July 26, 2009


The truth is, by the time I read over the first draft of this post, I wasn't even angry anymore. Six or seven hours ago? Furious. Now? Frustrated, but strangely indifferent. And that's not a good thing.

It's just not a lot of fun anymore. Wait, let me rephrase that - it's just not a lot of fun right now, and for my own sanity, I came to the realization that I should probably dial it back for a while.

(cue melodrama)

It's just all too much right now, man:

We have The Roy Halladay saga. Is everyone else ready for this to come to an end? The constant Google news searches, MLB Trade Rumors, the Twitter's not good. July 31, or 28, or wheneverthefuck can't come soon enough.

We have horseshit baseball on the field. Seriously, blowing a 9-1 lead? Through 6? At home? Come on. As an aside to this, and I'm prepared for the comments section beating here, but this loss is on Cito. Leaving Tallet out there in the seventh to completely shit the bed, when he hasn't started in, what, 15 days (?) and was clearly running out of gas - with a largely rested bullpen, to boot - was inexcusable. Fast forward to the ninth, and who do we see? Why, it's Scott Downs, the only relief arm to have made an appearance in the prior game (not to mention the result), with a rested and nails-of-late Jason Frasor at the ready.

I'm just sayin'.....the Jays are now 3 games under .500, and John Gibbons was routinely disparaged around these parts, and ultimately fired, for leading the team to a 35-39 record (that's 4 games under, if you're keeping score) in his final season. Just sayin', is all.

We have uncertainty off the field. What's the plan, Beeston? What's the good word, Rogers? For the better part of the season - JP Ricciardi OBVIOUSLY excluded - the silence from upper management has been deafening. Keeping the fanbase in the dark may be a bullshit move, but misleading the fanbase (2010!!!) is in-ex-cus-a-ble. Inexcusable.

Don't get me wrong. I love this team. I love baseball. I'm sure I'll be chiming in if/when the big deal goes down (I know - shocking, right?). But I need a break, friends. See you in a few weeks.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

We're all conflicted

Just as the Tao traipses about Toronto, taking in the final start of our lord and saviour Roy Halladay, here I sit drowning in a combination of melancholy and back-of-the-fridge beers while contemplating the inevitable. It's a sad state of affairs, friends.

Compounding my infinite sadness (see what I did there?) is the weeks-long tug o' war playing out in my mind - should they, or shouldn't they?

Yes! Jays' brass should be shopping Halladay! He can't be re-signed, so dealing him now will bring back maximum value! Strike while the iron is hot! Nothing lasts forever! All that bullshit. On the other hand.....

No! Hell no! Even contemplating trading Doc is a ridiculous notion! He means too much to the team! To the city! To the country! To me, goddamnit!

If I can take solace in anything, it's that I know I'm not alone in dealing with inner turmoil. The Roy Halladay Depression has completely overwhelmed the blogosphere, with an emerging blood feud playing out right before our eyes.

(As an aside, am I a part of this? Are the teams drawn on blog loyalty, or is this an individual blogger thing......I'm confused.)

But wait - is it possible that the virus has spread beyond the lowly ranks of civilian bloggers? Yes, yes it is possible. As evidence, witness the following from the frequently ill-tempered (I kid, Jeff, I kid!) Jeff Blair:

In some quarters, it’s been suggested that this week’s whole semantics lesson – Halladay either gave the Blue Jays a list of teams he wanted to be traded to or he didn’t give them a list; Ricciardi can’t remember when Halladay told him he was not going to sign an extension, etc. – is an organizational plan to sully Halladay’s reputation and make his exit more palatable.

That’s an odd assertion from the grassy knoll group, since no sports figure in this city has less currency among his teams fan-base. I mean, really: if you want to spread nasty rumours about the most popular kid in the class, you don’t send out the least-popular kid to do it, right?

Couple this with the Tao's epic takedown, and I humbly offer the following advice:

"Just stay down, Griff! For the love of God, stay down!"

Late add
I see the article linked above has been re-written to incorporate Doc's post-game comments - a fantastic recap of which can be found here via the Post's Bruce Arthur. It's a must-read, but I am way too drained of any positive energy to give it a proper analysis.

Suffice to say, Doc loves Toronto (still warms my heart to hear it), didn't say he wanted to test free agency, but did say he wanted to wait until his contract is up to decide (which is, to be fair.....pretty much the same thing, no?).... has spoken with Beeston and feels there is "a plan" in place, but not sure if it's enough of a plan....wants to stay, but wants to short, he is, wait for it - Conflicted.

That's probably about all that I have in common with him.

Late add, take 2
....just because it's a great read.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Friday Rock Out - Nick Lowe's "Cruel To Be Kind"

I'm sure that there's a theme that we're trying drawn out with this song somehow. But mostly, I just enjoy a tasty pop nugget, and this is one of the tastier morsels around.

We'll be skulking around the ballpark this weekend, so be sure to say hi if you see us.

Enjoy the Ack.

Dick Griffin should spare us his amateur theatrics

For most of this season, we'd totally shut Richard Griffin out of our mind and out of our life.

Sure, he's the baseball beat writer for the daily newspaper with the largest circulation in Toronto and, indeed, in all of Canada. But that doesn't make his petty ramblings informative, enlightening, or even the slightest bit entertaining.

Reading Dick Griff is a lot like listening to a drunk blowhard loutalker at the end of the bar who has lots of opinions and conspiracy theories to share. Mostly, though, they offer up a pathetic defense of their own shortcomings and a litany of excuses for why they've ended up at the end of the bar, a sodden mess.

Having said that, I really should not have been as shocked as I was to read Griffin's post on his "blog" yesterday, wherein he alleges that J.P. Ricciardi and the Blue Jays organization have begun a preemptive public relations campaign against Roy Halladay. The accusation stems from J.P.'s clarifications to reporters on a statement that he made on Wednesdays's edition of Jim Rome is Burning, where he stated that Doc has already indicated his intention to file for free agency.

"The first salvo has been fired in the battle to sully Halladay's image as a loyal soldier," Griff writes with wisened gravitas.

What a pathetic load of horseshit. What an absurd attempt to create tension and melodrama where none exisits. What a huckster.

Griffin would probably have you believe that the many years that he put in as the PR guy for the Expos (in case anyone forgot) makes him hip to J.P.'s jive. Griff would have you believe that his impecable qualifications as a one-time professional sophist has provided him with the insight into the cynical mindset of the man in the GM's seat, for whom he has never had a generous word.

It's Griffin's bile and inanities that have come screaming out of the radio through the voices of simple-minded JaysTalk callers for much of the past eight years, as the repeat verbatim the infinite fatuous judgements Griffin has cast out - all with the benefit of hindsight, mind you - on J.P.'s record. "Five year plans"...always, the talk of the "Five year plans."

But now this: To insinuate that the Jays are playing a game to win the hearts and minds of the fanbase by casting aspersions at the most beloved player. Really?

Could anybody even fathom that such a thing would work?And moreover, could anyone imagine that the Jays' braintrust would think that tarring their most morally upright citizen would be a reasonable PR strategy? It seems as though Griffin could read that scenario into this (and out of nothing), but mostly because his assumption is that J.P. and all who surround him are bumbling idiots who aren't smart enough to have mastered the flack's craft.

The thing about what J.P. said on Rome and reiterated to Mike Wilner on the Fan 590 was that it really wasn't particularly dramatic. If you were observant enough, you could see that Halladay's intention to leave sooner or later was something that went unsaid, laying just beneath the surface all along.

If J.P. is to be castigated for anything, it would be revealing that Halladay will likely be on the free agent market regardless in 18 months. Ricciardi's flaw has always been that he's not nearly guarded enough in what he says publicly and to the media, and revealing Halladay's intentions could serve to lessen his leverage in these crucial days.

Does that sound like the work of an evil genius PR practitioner to you?

More defending J.P. (Joanna, you should probably stop reading here.)
Griffin insists that Halladay may have stayed if the Jays had proven that they were serious about winning. What he forgets to mention is that some of the worst moves that J.P. has made in recent years were completely about creating that impression. The single worst move that J.P. has made (likely pushed by Paul Godfrey) was to sign Venon Wells to a spectacular contract that would demonstrate to the fans, the team and to other players that the Jays were committed to keeping their talent, competing with the Yanks and Sox and ultimately winning.

But here's the thing: In an ideal world, J.P. already has assembled the makings of a team that could compete. If the Jays' rotation had not been decimated to the extent that it has been over the past 12 months, we would ideally be looking at a rotation of Halladay, McGowan, Marcum, Litsch and possibly Romero, with plenty of depth from which Ricciardi could have dealt to bring in help for the bullpen or offense. Instead, a patchwork rotation has been assembled, made up of players who barely registered with most Jays fans last year at this time.

I know these all read like excuses. Maybe it's just that I feel sorry for the Jays' front office these days. It's a lot more difficult to piece together a winning baseball team than it is to sit back and pull it apart after the fact.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Afternoon typing - Other people's game threads

Contrary to what we said this morning, we're not going to have a game thread of our own here, mostly because there are already so many other delightful places for you to go to sound off.

So if you would like to type up some in-game witticisms, visit eyebleaf's Score Blog Federation liveblog extravaganza right about here. We'll be skulking about around there as time permits.

And if you're the sort who likes to get angry and yell at Stoeten for being completely reasonable in his own antagonistic way, then there's always the Drunk Jays Fans Game Threat, which isn't yet posted, but should be before first pitch.

Or you can just bitch at us in the comments here for not doing our own. Call it the "anti-game thread".

Now let's go out there and win one for the Rzepper!

Big Win! Homer Derby! Everybody's happy, right?

So ten runs on eight hits, and we're all happy and contented with the Blue Jays current situation, right?


It's easy to discount last night's offensive explosion since it came off Carl Pavano, who is only marginally more effective than putting a tee over home plate. Still, a win's a win and if you're one of those who still ponders the imponderable (Playoffs!!!1?), then we're going to need to take advantage of every sucky pitcher that gets thrown out against you.

Speaking of sucking
Here's a mild suggestion to big time slugger Vernon Wells: When you are having a sucktastic season and your contract is the albatross that is yoked around this franchise's neck, then maybe you should consider scaling back on the kiss-the-fingers-point-to the-sky routine when you cross home plate after hitting a rare home run. Just sayin'.

Elsewhere in home run celebrations
Marco Scutaro can keep kissing his bat all he wants.

Not that we want to talk about The Trade That May or May Not Be, but...
Has anyone noticed how Halladay seems to be one of the first people up to congratulate the starter after he comes out of the game? Maybe this is something that he has always done, but we've just noticed it in the past week or so. What does it all mean?

And furthermore on The Trade That May or May Not Be, which we prefer not to discuss
We saw J.P. on Jim Rome is Burning, and what we can read from that interview is the following: We still don't like Jim Rome. That dude has not changed at all in the five years since we stopped listening to him. Same hair, same douchey goatee. We're assuming that "clones" have still got to "have a take" and "not suck" or they "will get run". Or, they can string together a few stolen jokes and fratboy cheap shots for an "epic!" take, and get "racked". So we probably haven't missed a thing.

Coming soon
We'll throw a game thread up before today's game for those of you who like that sort of thing, and we're plugging away on a couple of historical trade deadline posts that we hope to be able to get done before tomorrow. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A bountiful buffet of baseball links

On the bright side, our profound depression this morning has little or nothing to do with Roy Halladay, so that's a start.

What's got us down this morning is that we're still recovering from watching Lyle Overbay throw last night's game way over Marco Scutaro's head and into left-centerfield (d'oh!), then swing weakly at the first pitch he faced in the ninth (d'oh!) and pop out. FML.

Also disturbing: We were watching the game fall apart while on the treadmill at our gym, which out of nowhere has become meathead central. The entire last three innings, we had to listen to a bunch of jarheaded rejects from the 1989 Oakland A's grunt and do that thing where they exhale through their teeth and create this disgusting vapor spray of spit all over the place. Again, FML.

So fuck it. Here are the links.

The Drunk Jays Typists: The DJF took the time to transcribe a big chunk of Keith Law's appearance on Michael Kay's show yesterday, and you should really read it. The KLaw was fully revved up over the tack taken by his former boss in recent years, and it's a pretty interesting and accurate take down of the Ricciardi years. (And doesn't it already feel like we're talking about them in the past tense?)

eyebleaf has grievances, and he knows how to post them: Sometimes it's great fun to see one of our fellow bloggers start to really lose their shit, and it looks like the Editor-in-Chief at Sports and the City has started to come unhinged.

Let's not rest our hopes on Shaun Marcum just yet: The recovering righthander had another rehab start at Double-A New Hampshire last night, in which he went just three innings, giving up five runs (one earned) while striking out four in a 9-2 loss to Trenton. And while there may be a knee-jerk inclination to forgive him for the four extra runs and call last night a success, the truth is that Marcum was asked to get one additional out because of a throwing error and ended up giving up an RBI single and a homer.

Travis Snider is on the mend: The Great Big Giant Pasty White HopeTM has been back in action for a couple of weeks now in Vegas, and has hit four homers since coming off the DL with back problems. He's also taking a few more walks, which help to offset his high strikeout rate.

Cowboy Down: It's a few days old now, but Ian at the Blue Jay Hunter has a good piece asking why the Jays are holding onto a replacement level veteran like Kevin Millar. With Randy Ruiz, Buck Coats and Snider waiting for the call in Vegas, it would seem like the Jays could take a shot on someone else rather than being content with Millar's tepidly evil .666 OPS.

There are things that Jeff Blair hates: Lots of them, actually. MMA. Fashion. Golf. Attractive women. The smell of freshly cut grass. David Shoalts' Hawaiian shirts. Brandon League's Canadian shirts. So plentiful are the things that make Blairsy grumpy that we've started to list them over on Twitter under the tag #ThingsGloBlairHates. Feel free to add your own.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Five People You Meet in Fantasy Baseball Hell

We'd told ourselves that we weren't going to bother our readership with tales of our fantasy teams this season.

And yet, we feel as though we have to make some sort of excuse provide some sort of rationale for the piss-poor performances of our fantasy teams thus far. This is especially urgent given that we're bringing up the rear in the two leagues that we invited readers to join. Really, we're not that inept.

(Alternately, we could spend another day feeding into the mass depression over Roy Halladay. But this seems like the lesser of two evils.)

Here is our tale of woe, in which we assess blame to the five players who ruined our fantasy baseball season this year.

1. Carlos Quentin - 8 HRs, 20 RsBI, .774 OPS: Maybe we should have known better than to put our trust in a guy with a penchant for punching inanimate objects. Still, we figured that Quentin would return from his self-inflicted injuries and produce somewhere near his MVP candidate numbers from last year, and spent second round picks on him. That's what we get for being optimistic.

2. Grady Sizemore - 13 HRs, 49 RsBI, 9 SBs, .780 OPS: It's not that Sizemore's been awful this season when he's been healthy. But there's the rub. Even when he's been in the lineup, he's not swinging the bat like a first rounder should. We're thankful that we don't have him in keeper leagues, because the prospect of off-season shoulder surgery would have us selling him off for 50 cents on the dollar at this point.

3. Matt Wieters - 3 HRs, 10 RsBI, .680 OPS: We really should know better than to draft prospects, even if all the indications seem to be that they will be absolutely otherworldly and the greatest offensive catcher in the history of baseball or any other sport. And yet, we got sucked in by the hype yet again. Top prospects are our fantasy kryptonite, and Wieters follows in the rich tradition of Alex Gordon and Jeremy Hermida as the can't miss kids who missed for our fantasy teams.

4. Ervin Santana - 2-5, 34 Ks, 6.70 ERA, 1.70 WHIP: Two words that we'll no longer be able to ignore in baseball are "forearm tightness". As the reports came in over the offseason that something was amiss with Santana, we chose to ignore them and make him a sixth round pick and the first pitcher that we selected in a few of our drafts. In retrospect, it might be the dumbest pick we made in our drafts.

5. Ricky Nolasco - 6-7, 95 Ks, 5.77 ERA, 1.40 WHIP: Nolasco was a sexy pick coming into the season, and our selection of him in the eighth and ninth rounds of drafts garnered kudos from our fellow fantasy nerds. Of course, Nolasco went on to pitch atrociously for the first two months, and we ended up cutting him after May 22, when his ERA reached 9.07 and he was shipped to the minors. And it only follows that we weren't there to pick him back up when he returned to the big leagues and put up six straight starts with two or fewer earned runs and bucketloads of strikeouts. Our only satisfaction came from seeing him get shelled for seven earned runs against Arizona just before the All-Star Break.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Monday Bummer - Band of Horses "No One's Going to Love You"

It's not that we want to feed too much more into the creeping malaise that has struck Blue Jays fans as of late, nor do we want to further exacerbate the generalized case of the Mondays that seems to pervade in light know.

And yet, we've had this sad bastard, desperately pleading Band of Horses song in our head all day long. There's a little part of us that is tempted to find a boom box and stand outside Doc's window like Lloyd Dobbler in Say Anything... and play this until he signs an extension with the Jays. Or to send him meaningful mixed tapes with a long hand-written note, begging him to reconsider leaving like we did when every other redhead (and there were several) broke our heart.

(For those who are a little too literal-minded, that is actually a joke, so there's really no need to call the cops. Thank you.)

Oh, Roy. We're not sure what we're going to do without you. But no one - not Philly fans, or Dodger fans, or whoever - is ever going to love you like Blue Jays fans do.

Roy Halladay is going to break your heart

One the one hand, it was incredibly bittersweet to watch Roy Halladay pitch his brains out in a vintage six-hit, one-run complete game over Red Sox in front of a large partisan crowd on Sunday.

On the other hand, it was completely demoralizing to hear Brandy Halladay on the radio twice over the weekend, getting choked up and ostensibly saying her goodbyes to Toronto. Any vague notion that we had that there might be a chance to hold on to Doc this year and re-sign him to an extension or whatever was pretty much blown away in those two brief impromptu interviews with the radio crew.

Let's face it: If the woman who knows Doc better than anyone has it in her mind that this weekend represented her last food drive with the Lady Jays, and that this weekend might be his last homestand, then those faint hopes of holding onto the greatest pitcher in Jays history just got a little more remote.

Hang on tightly. Let go lightly.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

A two sentence post on....the Doc

Watching vintage Halladay performances like Sunday afternoon's complete game victory over the Sox makes it difficult to think rationally about the looming trade deadline decision.

Articles like this one don't help either.

Passing the torch

Lost in all the debate and hand wringing (present company included) over the immediate future of the Toronto Blue Jays sans Roy Halladay is one indisputable fact:

There are still some pretty good players - and people - on the roster of this ballclub that we can get behind. The Globe's Jeff Blair hammers the point home within this great read on Aaron Hill.

If it seems like I'm prepping myself for the post-Halladayan years, well, fuck off! Maybe I am! But the truth is, in anointing Halladay as the bedrock of this club - and rightly so, mind you - we've all been guilty of overlooking the contributions, both on and off the field, of the other players who contribute to all that we love about this team, and perhaps the game of baseball in general.

One could argue that Aaron Hill is the positional player equivalent of Doc. Now, nobody could sanely argue that Hill can match Doc's dominance, but otherwise, the similarities are striking. Both are homegrown talents, joining the organization as top draft picks. Both players made immediate impacts upon their arrivals to the big leagues, only to suffer setbacks that caused reflection.

In Halladay's case, it was a demotion to the low minors to start over after catastrophic failure; in Hill's, a career threatening injury that had him (and us?) questioning whether he would ever play again. Both players overcame these setbacks to establish their place as All-Stars at their respective positions.

I've saved the most obvious similarity for last:

Both are good people. Both are deserving (and gracious for, I'm sure) of our respect, admiration, and "fandom". If Roy Halladay is indeed traded, and your despair and outrage causes you to walk away from the team, just be aware of what you're leaving behind:

Some pretty good players - and people.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Welcome back (to a face slap)

Like many of you, I anxiously tuned in to the Jays' first game back after the All-Star break with vaguely optimistic (it works on so many levels) expectations. Romero! Powder Blues! A chance to stick it to the Sox! Baseball, baby!

That lasted until, oh, the first inning. I can think of better ways to start a game. Nothing spells buzz-kill like a Youkilis homer with Pedroia on board. Barf.

It's just one game, many ways last night's effort was everything I feared. Essentially, there are two ways the team can respond to The Halladay Depression:

(1) Play inspired baseball to show the league (and management) that the team is close to being a contender, or

(2) Come out flat and wait for the other shoe to drop.

If you watched last night's effort, I don't think I have to tell you how the team responded in the series opener against our favourite Nation of Douchebags. Inverse b's, friends.

Julio Lugo's designation for assignment terrifies me
Boy Wonder GM Theo Epstein pulled a Ricciardi in designating Julio Lugo - who's owed about $13M over the next season and a half - for assignment. You'll remember that our own boy wonder (jokes!) has had eyes for one of my least favourite players in MLB over the years, and now it appears he can be had for the league minimum (barring anyone foolish enough to trade anything of value for his "services").

I don't need to tell you how much this terrifies me. With the trade deadline approaching, and our own Ninja-like shortstop approaching free agency.....well, I don't even want to finish that sentence. So I won't.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Friday Rock Out - Frank Black "Headache"

Frank Black - Headache

"My heart is crammed in my cranium and it still knows how to pound." Yep. That pretty much sums it up.

Many thanks to all of you who indulged us and our pedantic rantings over the past few days. We'll be way more fun (and brief) next week. Promise.

Offerings to the angry mob

Okay. We get it.

In a time and at a moment when we should be howling with rage at the very notion of Roy Halladay being traded elsewhere, we've been generally circumspect about the whole thing. Maybe that's just the way we deal with these things. We shut down emotionally, and analyze the whole ordeal until we've distanced ourselves from it just enough to function normally. Swallow the rage, the notion goes, and let it fester inside. Keep up appearances.

Which probably explains the ulcers. (Well, that and the bourbon.)

Of course, trying to take the high road and the dignified path through all of this will get you called all sorts of nasty names: A Rogers apologist; a heartless bastard; not a true fan. Joanna from Hum and Chuck even called us stupid on Twitter last night. (We actually had to check her blog this morning to see if she still wanted to be "respected" like us.)

It leaves us feeling like the Helen Mirren version of Elizabeth II in The Queen. We want you to know that we feel your pain, but we don't feel like we can show it. So let's just go fox hunting.

Ok, we'll play along. It's all J.P.'s fault
As much as we might try to not to fly off the handle and hurl accusations, we're left with this thought: If the Jays go ahead and trade Halladay, then J.P. Ricciardi's legacy will be the team's inability to win a postseason berth with the best pitcher in baseball on their roster.

We've defended J.P. for two years now, and we've gone along with the logic of many of his signings and moves. There's still a possibility that this Next Great Jays Team that we've spoken of recently may well be the work of Ricciardi and could be solidified with the players they receive in exchange for Halladay.

But if you're a bottom line kinda guy, you have to look at the past eight years and ask yourself if there weren't short term opportunities on which the Jays should have capitalized . As we noted before, the Ricciardi years will go down as the Era of Vague Optimism. The Blue Jays' margin for slipping past the Red Sox and Yankees is razor-thin at the best of times, but the measured approach that the Ricciardi regime has taken has always left us an arm's legnth away, with the prospect of next year always dangled as Our Time.

Fortune favours the bold, and opportunity is an ephemeral thing in baseball. (Especially in the American League East.) There have been ever-so-brief opportunities for this team in recent years, but the Jays have preferred to stay the course and stick to their program rather than risk the future for a slim possibility. It's an emminently reasonable strategy, but one that seemingly overlooks the fact that a slim possibility is the best that the Jays will be able to hope for given their particular context.

Maybe it's a bit much to call the Ricciardi era an abject failure. But as the decade closes, we're left with little to show for it other than ugly black ballcaps and a whole lot of frustration.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

I'm not saying that Joba is a crappy pitcher...

...but there's no fooling those dung flies circling around him.

And actually, if you're following us on the Twitter, you know that we are, in fact, saying that Joba is a shitty pitcher. Tweet it loud and tweet it proud, Blue Jays fans: #JobaSucks.

Madly off in all directions

If you want a testament to the fact that Roy Halladay is the cornerstore/foundation/bedrock of the Toronto Blue Jays franchise, one need only look at the reaction of the fans in recent days to the prospect of losing the team's ace. People are angry. Sad. Resigned. Frustrated. Depressed. They are ready to move on and accept the change, or they are threatening to swear off the team forever.

They're blaming J.P.. And Rogers. And Vernon Wells. They're even blaming Halladay for maybe-sorta-possibly wanting to leave.

This isn't the Jays fanbase, marching in unison behind a rallying cry. It's more like the Running of the Brides at Filene's Basement, as fans scramble madly and chaotically to find their position and guard it with their life.

Not that we're insinuating that there should be some unity of voice over the potential departure of the best pitcher in the club's history. Those who have followed the narrative of this team's struggles and triumphs over the years have reached this chapter, and now that the rug has been pulled from beneath them, they're frantically looking back over the past few years to try to make sense of this.

It must be what Lost fans feel like on a constant basis. (Stop me before I sub-reference again.)

Whatever the case, this is all kinda fun, in a miserable way.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

On Roy Halladay and the persistence of change

If there's one thing we've come to understand in life, it's that change is absolutely persistent. Relentless, even.

As much as we might want to stop the bejeweled movements of the clock and stay the hands of time, it's an excercise in futility. The valiantly foolish attempts that people make to maintain the status quo and perpetuate what was once good often end up in a patchwork of pratfalls and, ultimately, failure.

It happens in all walks of life. On a personal level, people maintain relationships and friendships out of nostalgia, continuing to nurture the same set of acquaintances even after they've moved on in every other way. Businesses attempt to burnish their reputations by continuing to celebrate their past glories, even as their customers move on to newer and better things.

In the case of the Blue Jays, one need only look at the gargantuan contract to which they signed "face of the franchise" Vernon Wells to understand how pushing back on change can result in the team overpaying for past glories and delaying the process of replenishing and restocking the franchise with new and emerging talent.

So it is with this in mind that we turn our gaze towards Roy Halladay, and the unprecedented maelstrom of trade rumours surrounding him after GM J.P. Ricciardi's tepid admission that the team would "listen" to offers for the greatest pitcher in the history of the franchise.

Obviously, there's been a lot of ink spilled and bandwidth consumed over the past week over the prospects of trading Halladay before the season's end, and we're not sure how much we have to add to the hand-wringing and resignation that was contained therein. We shared the reaction of many Blue Jays bloggers and commenters who found themselves emotionally unable to conceive of the team without Halladay, and had we commented on this ourselves last week, we're sure that it would have come off as an agonized cry of Plathian platitudes.

Maybe we're getting resigned to the idea, or maybe we're steeling ourselves for what will surely come to pass. But you have to know that at some point, Roy Halladay will no longer pitch for the Toronto Blue Jays.

The romantic in us always hoped that Doc would take his final walk off the mound in a Blue Jays jersey at the end of a Hall of Fame career. But if it comes to pass that Halladay - like Delgado, or Hentgen, or Key, or Stieb, or Alomar before him - moves on by his own choice to another franchise, we have to understand that eventuality not as a failure on the part of the team, but as a passage from one era to the next.

At this point, Roy Halladay's profile has never been higher, and it absolutely behooves the team to look at every possibility that they have to capitalize on the perceived value that the hurler has, and the possible return that they could receive in exchange for him. It would be irresponsible for them to not do so, and as much as it will break our heart to see him sporting another uniform, the franchise will go on without him.

It's instructive to remember the example of the 2001 Seattle Mariners, who in successive seasons traded Randy Johnson and Ken Griffey and lost Alex Rodriguez to free agency, only to turn around and win 116 games without any of those "face of the franchise" cornerstones. The possibility exists that the foundation of next great Blue Jays team - the one we've waited for since 1993 - is waiting for us, just the other side of this potential Halladay trade.

Trading for prospects is always a dicey proposition, of course, but no more so than it is to hold firm on keeping the hometown hero and hoping that he continues to produce at the same high level. In the next year, Halladay could very well lose a bit of velocity or movement, or he could throw out his back picking up one of his kids. Or he could slice open a finger on a model helicopter blade. Or he could throw one (or 100) cutters too many, leaving him a shadow of his former self. There are no guarantees that if the Jays hold on to Halladay that they'll continue to enjoy the current vintage for the forseeable future.

Losing Halladay is a tough thing to swallow for the beleaguered Blue Jays fanbase (such as it is), but we have to accept that with time, we were going to lose him anyway, either to time, injury, or to the inevitable change that occurs over the course of a franchise's narrative.

It's not that we want to see him go. But it all reminds us of a line from the Clive Owen movie Croupier: "Hang on tightly. Let go lightly."

Monday, July 13, 2009

If you don't like the All-Star Game...

One of our most vivid baseball memories is of Fred Lynn hitting a grand slam off Atlee Hammaker in the 1983 All-Star Game. When we close our eyes, we can still see that ball sailing into the seats in old Comiskey Park, all of these 26 years later.

Which brings us to this: If you don't like the All-Star Game, then I suggest you go find a dark hole into which you can crawl for the next two days and shut the fuck up about it. (This includes you, freeloading mainstream media fatheaded pigboy catering-vacuuming ingrates. Shut it.) It drives us beyond batty every year to hear people - especially those who get paid to watch these games - whine and moan about all of the game's shortcomings.

Seriously, nobody's making anybody watch the game if they don't want to, so feel free to find somewhere else to direct your misery if the notion of an exhibition game of the best players in the game somehow offends your sensibilities.

We don't particularly care if the game doesn't "mean anything", nor do we care that it means too much because of the home field advantage that's bestowed to the winning league. We're not bent out of shape that some guys didn't make the team, and we don't care that the rosters are absurdly big to include all the teams representatives. We don't care that this might not be the best 60-odd players in the Majors battling for supremacy.

The All-Star game is a fun diversion in the middle of a long season. Frankly, we think that people have tried so hard to beat the fun out of baseball that they forget the fact that the game itself is a much-needed diversion.

Go Doc. Go Aaron. Go AL.

Out of wilderness and into the mire

After more than a week spent deep in the wilderness, pounding away mercilessly at our liver and feeding the varying species of flying, blood-sucking insect life, we're back and ready to examine the Blue Jays' landscape.

Or maybe we're not.

When we dropped off the pavement and out of cell range last week, we had vague hopes that a good run against the AL East and the Jays would be right back in the thick of things. But as the day-old boxscores trickled in from borrowed newspapers, the news in the agate type left us with an increasingly sinking feeling that could only be assuaged with another couple of gin and tonics and some long, searching stares into the distance across the lake.

"It's aaaallll over for the Blue Jays," our father-in-law told us with a smirk more than once over the space of the week. Although to be fair, he generally says this after every April loss. It's just that it seemed to resonate a little more this week, and we had fewer rationalizations or contextualizations with which to retort.

The season obviously isn't over, with another ten weeks to go. But with the release of B.J. Ryan and the trade rumours circling around Scott Rolen and someone else who we can't bear to mention, it seems as though an era in the Blue Jays history may be coming to a close.

Call it The Age of Vague Optimism, wherein the Blue Jays made free agent splashes and re-signed key players with a view towards some convergence of fortunes that would lead to their slipping between the behemoths and into the postseason. With the slide of the 2009 team's fortunes and the ongoing decimation of their pitching staff, it seems as though the path to that increasingly remote day of glory will be taking a detour of indeterminate length and distance, with a different crew both on and off the field.

Obviously, we're not about to jump ship on our beloved team. But the next chapters might be a test to our spirit of adventure.

The inevitable Doc post...postponed
There's a post of epic length coming on the recent rumours around Roy Halladay, but we need more time with it to shake off some of the raw reaction and come up with something vaguely coherent. Stay tuned.

Thanks and praise
Again, we offer our sincere thanks to our Man in the Prairies, the Ack, for his stellar work in what was an incredibly eventful and trying week for Blue Jays fans. His piece on the possibility of Halladay being traded ranks amongst the best things to ever appear on this site, and the 65 comments it generated are a testament to his work. Good work, Ack. Now go get reacquainted with your family.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Hey Now! A "W"!

What's this? The Blue Jays outscored their opponent? Doesn't that mean....a win? Playoffs! Pennant! '92-'93-'09!

Well, not exactly, but the Jays did manage to end the slide, even if for a day. The first positive contribution from Dellucci (groundout RBI!), a great effort from Franchise Cecil (6 scoreless!), and a bullpen that just might be slotting back into effective form with the return of Downs in the closer role were all reasons to smile. Well, maybe not a smile. Call it a half-hearted grin.

It was a strange mix of emotions that I was feeling during Friday's 2-0 victory over the Orioles....content to win a game, but unable to shake the doom & gloom surrounding the club - or maybe more accurately, the fanbase.

No, these are not easy times for Blue Jay fans. A team falling out of contention. The face of the franchise on the block. Professional baseball player Scott Rolen now rumored to be joining him, and we've seen the end of his hit streak to boot.

There was this tidbit from SI's Jon Heyman, where he (half-heartedly) suggests that fan backlash just may have Jays' brass thinking twice about moving the Doc, but as much as I'd like to believe that making my personal grief public is assisting in stopping the machine, the rumour mill is sure to continue churning until July 31. For my own personal sanity, I think I'm just going to ignore it all for a few weeks.

(I'm such a fucking liar.)

Friday, July 10, 2009

Friday Rock Out - Rage Against the Machine

I had some Tom Petty all queued up for this week's rock out, but wasn't feeling it given my mood of late. What a week it's been for Blue Jay fans. And not in a good way.

Your weekend contributor will be by to....oh, wait. Still me. Worry not friends - only a few more days of my nonsense, then it's back to well-written baseball discourse with the Tao.

Enjoy the weekend. Give it your best shot, anyway.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Farewell to the Beej

Oh, B.J.

We all saw this coming when you signed on for five years, back at the Winter Meetings in '05. But those worries are for another time, we figured. We're building a winner here!

In 2006, you won our hearts by fucking nailing it in your first season as a Jay. 38 saves? 1.37 ERA? 10.7 K/9? Slipknot and terrifying fist pumps? Sign me up for four more years of that, dude. YES.

Very early on in 2007, we knew something wasn't right. Your back hurt, we were told, and your pitching suffered. Alas, the sore back magically morphed into full blown Tommy John surgery (familiar with the term, everyone?), so under the knife you went. "Better to happen now", we all said, "We have three more years on this deal."

In 2008, you took back the closer role (thanks for holding it down, Acorn), and though it didn't appear your stuff was all the way back, you gutted out 32 saves for the team. "That's OK", we all thought, "Everyone knows it takes two seasons after TJ to get it there."

Enter Spring training 2009. Fastballs in the low 80's. A slider that didn't want to slide. "Uh, he'll come around, right? He's a veteran, he knows how to get ready for the season." But it didn't come around. Not even close. "Oh, shit."

So now whatta we do? A closer who can't close, still on the books for this season and next at $10 million per, reduced to mop-up duty. Only the mop must have been saturated, because even that wasn't working. "Oh, shit."

I wish you well, B.J. I really do. You seem like a proud guy, and your struggles today surely aren't for lack of effort. Someone will pick you up - they always do - on Rogers' dime. Good luck old friend.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

It's OK to get emotional about this

Didn't want to touch this subject, but it's not going to go away anytime soon. Admittedly, I am 100% emotionally invested in the situation, and my capacity for rational thought on the matter is virtually non-existent.

I don't know what I'll do if the Jays trade Doc.

Forgive me if it sounds like I'm repeating myself (because I am), but we aren't talking about just trading away the team's ace and best player. That shit happens all the time. The Twins know it. The Indians know it. Oakland fans live through it year after year.

We are talking about trading away the face of the franchise, maybe the best player the organization has ever seen, and more importantly, a man (cyborg) who wants nothing more than to make it work with the only big league team that he's ever known.

This shit is heartbreaking. Potentially.

Let's lower the alarmist flag (thanks, Stoeten) and try to be reasonable here. Ricciardi hasn't said that Doc is on the block. He has only indicated that he wouldn't be doing his job if he didn't listen to offers. But why even make that statement, then? Other than to drive a media firestorm and ratchet up interest, of course. But where does that road lead?

Then comes Buster Olney's article which reveals that Ricciardi has prepped Doc for the possibility of approaching him with potential destinations. That sounds, to me, a lot more strategic than "hey, if people want to call, we'll listen."

The question I have is: why now? How does any trade involving Halladay make any sense right now? Will the heist be that much bigger at the July deadline than it would be at the Winter Meetings when the hotstove is in full blaze? What happened to the Beeston/Ricciardi/Gaston proclamation that 2010 is The Year? What happened to "waiting until the offseason to approach Doc about an extension." Fuck the fuck, fellas?

Again, those who know me, know that I'm typically a prepare for the worst/hope for the best kind of guy. I know that's how I'm coming across here. But the timing of all this reeks of something more than Jays management taking a "just doing our job by listening" approach.

Rip away, blogosphere and commenters. Tell me that I'm reading too much into things. Believe me, I want to be wrong on this.

I don't know what I'll do if the Jays trade Doc.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Great Southpaw Hope, pt V: Marc Rzepczynski

First, they gave us David Purcey. The flame throwing ginger had his moments of dominance (notably against the Tampa Bay DEVIL Rays), but ultimately, had no clue where the ball was headed when it left his confused left hand. The verdict? Fail, for now.

Next, the much maligned Ricardo Romero joined the rotation. It doesn't take Judge Wapner (or maybe Judge Joe Brown for the kids out there) to decide that case. Win, boners, etc. You get the picture.

We've had a few (mostly sour) tastes of Franchise Cecil and the allegedly gutsy Brad Mills (who, coincidentally, has a mysterious case of bruised ribs after dominating in his last AAA start). It's far too early to render a decision on these kids - cases remanded.

Next up, Marc Rzepczyncrosbystillsnashandyoungczepczynski. Or Rzepczynski for short. Let's just go with R-Zep.

Full disclosure, I've had a minor-league man-crush on R-Zep for a few seasons - he's one of those guys who seems to put up good numbers as he advances through the system, but fails to garner the attention or respect he might possibly deserve for a variety of reasons:

Reason #1: "He's too old for the level he's pitching in."
As one of those notorious Ricciardi draft "polished college arms", this may have been true early in his pro career. But in 2009, we're talking about a 23 year old pitcher succeeding at the upper levels of the minor leagues. So fuck that reason.

Reason #2: "He lacks a true out pitch."
I'm not a professional baseball scout (can you tell?), but the following '09 numbers indicate to me that R-Zep is missing enough bats: 88IP, 104K. Get the hell out of town, Reason #2.

Reason #3: "His name is too difficult to spell in order to sustain a successful major league career."
OK, so I made that one up, but I said "variety of reasons", so I couldn't very well end with just two factors working against him. Besides, it's not that hard....R-Zep-czyn-ski. Dig it.

Turning serious for a minute, there are some warning signs, like 40BB in 88 minor league innings this season, so control could be an issue (please, not Purcey 2.0...). But offsetting that is the fact that R-Zep is an extreme ground ball pitcher, and playing behind the Jays' superior infield defense will be a huge benefit that he wouldn't have received in the minors. He's also not going to blow his high 80's/low 90's fastball past major league hitters, so he's going to have to spot the pitch accordingly (read: down in the zone) and throw his breaking stuff for strikes.

Baseball Prospectus (buy it - trust me on this) calls him a "lefty starter with a bowling-ball sinker, a good curve, and a decent change that also sinks, making it nearly impossible for hitters to get the ball in the air off him." Boners.

Bottom line - I'm excited about Marc Rzepczynski. And if Carlos Pena hits a Werthian blast off him in his debut....then free Fabio Castro, The Great Southpaw Hope, pt VI!

(...and Buck Coats. We must always work to free Buck Coats.)

Monday, July 6, 2009

Monday morning bright side

The briefest of posts following a shittacular weekend of Blue Jays baseball. Accept this as my attempt to lift your (our) spirits.....

  • Roy Halladay and Aaron Hill - All Stars!
  • GBOAT hit streak - 22 games!
  • Adam Lind - straight raker!
  • Carlson and League - scoreless appearances yesterday! In the same game!
  • Handsome Raul Chavez - on fire!
  • Pitching staff escapes Sunday unscathed by injury!

Uh, yeah. These bullet points are degenerating rapidly. I'd better end it right here.

Go Jays?

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Richmond to the DL? Sure, why not

In the least surprising (but still entirely depressing) development of late, Scott Richmond has hit the DL with tendinitis in his throwing arm (read: impending Tommy John or labrum surgery - heyo!). Rookie Brad Mills, coming off a spectacular start in Vegas (8IP, 2H, 0ER, 1BB, 7K), will take his spot on the roster. Let's just forget about that 850 foot Werth-bomb from his last big league effort, shall we? Go get 'em, kid.

Since we're already here, can anyone think of a starter or two who the Jays have DL'd in the last few seasons? Oh wait - I can:

Burnett (barf)
.....and that's just from memory. Feel free to bitch-slap me with glaring omissions in the comments section (no - guys like Vic Zambrano don't count). At least the arm woes haven't affected the bullpen though, right? Wait, nevermind.

Do you think Summer of Tallet and Franchise Cecil feel the guillotine staring down on them? It's only a matter of time, right? WRONG - FUCK OFF!

(Cue Arnsberg haters in 3, 2, 1.....)

Up today
Cecil vs Jabba. Please? Come on Jays. I need it. I can't do an 0-for the weekend. I just can't.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

A two sentence post on....the 4th of July

A very happy 4th of July to all of our American friends and readers, and as our gift to you, we present Doc Halladay on your grandest of baseball stages for your afternoon viewing pleasure.

Bittersweet, isn't it?

Friday, July 3, 2009

Friday Rock Out - Neil Young & Pearl Jam

Eddie Vedder & Pearl Jam must have had the same feeling sharing the stage with Neil Young here as Travis Snider did the first time he stepped onto the diamond with Scott Rolen.

That Neil - always representin'. Boss.

Big four game set in New Yankee Stadium starts today. We know one game is a virtual lock (I'm not saying which - what am I, an idiot? Wait - don't answer that), so taking two of four from the skanks seems reasonable, right? RIGHT?!?

Thursday, July 2, 2009

A cold beer on a hot day

After a solid month of shittacular bed shitting, that's what seeing the July 1 lineup (1 through 5) felt like. Lind hitting third and the GBOAT in the clean-up spot? Part-time first baseman Overbay sliding all the way up to the 5-hole? Whaaa? Cito? The Cito Gaston penciled this in?

Look, I'm not quite ready to throw dirt on the barely lukewarm corpses of Vernon Wells and Alex Rios yet (but probably only because I love the god damned Blue Jays too much), but I will admit to growing, um, weary (let's say, for the sake of being polite) of Cito's strategy of letting this season's two massive underachievers work their shit out in prominent lineup slots.

For example.....if I had told you on April 1 that in three months time, Adam Lind would be hitting over .300 with 39 extra base hits and 50 ribbies, you'd say "hit that goofy bastard in the 3 spot!". And if I had also mentioned that Scott Rolen would be raking to the tune of a .330 average and on pace for 40+ doubles, you'd say "well, obviously, because he is awesome.....but let's get him as many AB's as possible." Am I right? I won't recount the conversations we would have had involving Vernon, because, like I said, it hurts me to do it. For another time.

Today's lineup aside, I'm not on the best of terms with The Cito at the moment
Let's just say that the decision to push Doc back to Monday didn't go over well with the Ack and his traveling party of Jays fans, in town for the weekend set against the Phillies. To hell with what's "best for the team"!

And let's just say that showing up to the ballpark on Saturday to see the names Millar (who provided some of the worst swings in modern baseball history in the series, by the way), Bautista, Chavez, and McDonald ALL in the starting lineup (special late guest appearance - Rusty Adams!) - with shaky rookie Brad Mills on the mound - amounted to a full groin kick. Hey Cito, mail it in much?

And let's just say that we may have met a few decent traveling Phillies phans (that's what they like to be called - honest) over the weekend, but for the most part, it was a tidal wave of douchebaggery that I imagine the Skydome (that's right) hasn't seen since "the Nation" last visited.

Oh wait, that last point has nothing to do with Cito. Still, it needed to be said.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Happy Canada Day to a depressed Blue Jay Nation

A couple of lifeless games against an AL East opponent has us wondering: How bad could this season get? The surprising hot start that saw the Blue Jays in contention in the first two months of the season is becoming increasingly faint in the rearview mirror, and the reality that the Jays are 10 games below .500 since May 19 has started to sink in.

Now, as we turn over the calendar page and look ahead to a brutal month of July, the prospects for the rest of the season are starting to look dire for the rest of the 2009 season. Moreover, we can't even remember the last "Pennant!!!1" or "Playoffs!!!1" in the comment section.

Nothing is ever easy in the AL East, and now that the Jays have squandered away their early season advantage, they'll have a rough time climbing back over that mountain.

Cripes. We need a vacation.

Say, that reminds us...
We're taking a vacation. We'll be off in the wilds of Northern Ontario for a few weeks without access to the interwebs or Twitter or (gasp!) television. So the most we can hope for is to catch some games on the radio, provided we can find a signal that reaches that far.

Otherwise, we'll be keeping abreast of Blue Jays news via the boxscores. Which could actually be fun.

This is actually the longest that we're going to be away from the blog since we started it, so we're not sure how long we'll be able to make it before running away from the in-laws and hitch hiking to the nearest internet café. We give ourselves at least a couple of hours.

The Ack, fresh off his recent trip to Toronto, will be stepping in to pick up the slack and keep the bloggage flowing until we're back on July 12. Treat him well, and enjoy the respite from our pedantic daily rantings, and we promise to come back refreshed and renewed and ready to face down the dog days of the season.

Cito's lineup madness continues...for the better?
The National Post's John Lott is reporting this morning that Vernon Wells will sport his spiffy Canada Day gear whilst riding the pines this afternoon. More impressively, Adam Lind in moving into the third spot in the order and Lyle Overbay will hit fifth. We wouldn't have guessed this in April, but Lind-Rolen-Overbay is the best looking heart of the order we've seen all year. Bring it on!

After hearing Jerry Crasnick note on the Drunk Jays Fans podcast that Wells got a shot in his wrist during spring training, it has us wondering if the struggling slugger is (for the second time in three years) playing like ten pound of shit in a five pound bag because he's trying to play through injuries.

If Vernon is hurt, then seriously, sit the man down. For a week. Or two. Whatever it takes.

On that subject, Fangraphs' Canadian connection Marc Hulet made the point yesterday that Cito is running his players into the ground, leading to diminished returns in recent weeks. While the numbers he presents most compellingly make the case that Marco Scutaro and Alex Rios might be wearing down, it's not totally clear that the same case can be made across the board.

But again: We defer to the guys who know the numbers, because we're much better with words. We were born to be a sophist.

Canada Day with the 1996 Blue Jays
Via Maclean's Jaime Weinman, here's a weird nugget: the Blue Jays lip-synching to a Canadianized version of "This Land is Your Land". Enjoy, and we'll see you back here soon.