Monday, August 31, 2009

Appreciating Raul Chavez

If you think, for one god-damned minute, that I'm going to discuss the weekend sweep in Fenway, then boy, do you have another thing coming. Re-live the misery? No thanks.

Instead, I'm here to appreciate Raul Chavez. That's right - Raul Chavez.

In many ways, Chavy is the ideal backup catcher. Terrific defensively (though feel free to prove me wrong with defensive metrics), he seems to develop a good rapport with pitchers and knows how to handle a staff. Never one to flash a menacing bat, he won't exactly provide a boost to the offense (.620-something OPS), but he won't embarrass himself either. I mean, we're talking about a reserve catcher here - whaddya want, Mike Piazza?

But let's cut to the chase. I like the guy. He's fun to watch behind the plate, with his demonstrative style and penchant for snap throws (fuck you, Dustin Pedroia). He's like Tony Pena Sr. used to be without the "LOOK AT ME BACK HERE, EVERYBODY!" swagger. And let's face it, the 2009 Blue Jays are short a few ticks in the "fun to watch" column this year.

With both incumbent starter Rod Barajas and Chavez coming up on free agency, it's doubtful that both (or either?) will be back. Barajas has said he'd like to sign a multi-year deal somewhere, which would seem to preclude him from attracting a deal from the Jays. In a perfect world, once uber-prospect (to us, anyway) JP Arencibia would be ready to step behind the plate for 130 games next season (he's not), with Chavez as his caddy.

Arencibia's delayed development might have thrown a wrench into those plans, but I still think the Jays would be wise to bring Chavez back for another go-around with the club. I, for one, would appreciate it. I'm sure that Chavez the baseball lifer would too.

On potential September callups
Word is there will be "no surprises" from the Jays camp when rosters expand on September 1:

"I think most of the guys we'll bring up, you've seen before -- not a lot of secrets," Ricciardi said. "I don't think we're going to be bringing up anybody that's new to the big leagues. I think just guys to help us get through the month with some extra players."

Hey, terrific! Let's just recall the same old same old who've helped propel the team to such great heights this season, shall we? David Purcey! Bill Murphy! Mighty Joe Inglett! Forget bringing up guys we haven't seen like Brian Dopirak and Fabio Castro, who might actually have a future with the club. That wouldn't be any fun, would it?

Look, I understand the limitations with the 40-man roster, etc...but a quick scan of the 40 is all it takes to see where there's room (cough Bill Murphy Brian Wolfe Michael Barrett Kevin Millar cough) to clear.

One would think that expanded rosters would be the perfect opportunity to clear out the minors and see what the team might have for next year....even in - no, especially in - a season when "playing out the cycle" has become the battle cry. But I suppose not for our 2009 Blue Jays.

Really, nothing about this season surprises me anymore.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Oh, boy

What to say about this one? Not much, evidently. The picture above says it all. It stunk.

A frisky ninth made the outcome appear much more respectable to the Jays than their performance warranted, and in the end....another one run loss. Stop me if you've heard this before (because you have).

On top of the on-field misery, our friends at Rogers Sportsnet treated us to the full "Sweet Caroline" treatment by the Fenway faithful during tonight's broadcast. Gee, parent company of the Blue Jays, thanks for that. I swear, if Campbell broke out into song, the odds of hari-kari were at least 50-50. Although a duet with Rance might almost have been worth it. You know, for the comedy.

(As an aside, I'd love to shit on "the nation" here, but it's hard to completely dump on a fanbase that sells out the building for 81 dates a year (plus playoffs - fuck), and has a good time while doing it. I could, but it would probably come across as petty jealousy....and that would probably be the proper read.)

The positives? Um, Adam Lind extended his hit streak to ten (!) games with a double? Cito's favorite reliever Jesse Carlson made dreamboat (barf!) Ellsbury look silly on an 0-2 breaking ball (small victories!)?

I don't know. I got nothin'. Give me something to work with here, Jays.

Tomorrow is another day.

I guess.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

The stage was set

Top of the ninth.....Jays down one.....bases loaded.....two outs.....the world's biggest jackass on the hill for the Sox.....the Future steps to the plate for the Jays.....the Green Monster taunts - no, beckons - his opposite field power.....aaaaand the kid goes down swinging.

Elation in Fenway. Emptiness for Blue Jay fans. An all too familiar refrain.

The intrepid (and soon to be proud papa) Jordan Bastian tweets that the Jays are 16-23 in one run games, which is awful, but seriously - doesn't it feel a whole lot worse than that?

Wait, let me answer - yes. Yes it does. Actually, it feels like a recurring nightmare, where the build up may vary slightly, but ultimately leads to the same gory finale. You might even say the outcome has become anti-climactic.

Blue Jay fever 2009 - catch it! No, literally, I think I've come down with something as a result. The team is making me ill. It feels like a virus.

But you know friends, I'm not here to bag on the team. Not intentionally, anyway. I vaguely recall making an oath that I would do my best to remain positive, which leads us to a new theme as we march toward the close of the season....

It's still baseball, damnit!
Lighthouse doing his thing.

Barajas stepping up to the plate, looking for one pitch, and absolutely crushing it.

These are things I love. The Jays may be slowly (but surely) crushing our souls....but it's still baseball, damnit.

Oh, and I would never advocate intentional injury....
....but a well placed baseball between Youk's numbers tomorrow would be completely justified. Or, you know, maybe Rookie Romero aims a few feet lower and lets Pedroia know he's there. Just sayin'.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Friday Rock Out: Buffalo Tom - "Tangerine"

"Just a little haiku to say how much I like you." Indeed.

By the time you read this, we will be gone.

On vacation, that is, just for a couple of days.

In the interim, we leave you in the capable hands of the Ack, who may have already posted something this morning, if he could have been bothered. But even if he wasn't...who could blame him these days?

(You can also follow him over on the Twitter by clicking on the link up on the right of this page. Or right here: @TheAck.)

Here's to an enjoyable final weekend of August for all of you and yours. See you in September.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Wild walk off madness!

We managed to miss almost all of last night's game because we were caught in a dinner party where we were helping a couple choose songs for their wedding playlist.

(We're not sharing the contents of said playlist, lest we undo any sense of cool that we may have nurtured through a season of Friday Rock Outs. But in our defense, let us say that when Mrs. Tao decides that there should be Pussycat Dolls, there's gonna be Pussycat Dolls. And there's only so much that you can fight it.)

Nevertheless, we managed to tune in for all of the good stuff in the ninth. And what a wild ninth it was. Pinch hit Rodness! Scoots taking second on a fly ball! Walks! Belief in Vernon! Millar, who we still hate, walking the bases full! Randy Ruiz, teed up for the walkoff hit! Wild pitch! Scoots! Ballgame!

It's a good thing that we have the off day to recover from a single inning of offense that was more interesting than much of the month of August.

Some other random thoughts on the bottom of the ninth
A win is a win, so you probably shouldn't be upset that it wasn't choreographed to your heart's particular delights. But having said that, we would have enjoyed seeing a walkoff walk, if only so that there could be shrimp for the masses.

We also would have loved to see Ruiz get a hit and be the hero, but we'll have to content ourselves with the notion that J.P. Howell, even with two strikes, wanted to keep his pitch as far out of the Bronx Basher's wheelhouse as possible.

No love for Millar
We're not sure how we would have felt about "You're such a disease, Kevin" Millar getting the walkoff hit last night. Sure, we want the win, but we don't want to have any kind feelings towards Millar ever again.

One night this week, we fired up our MLB 2K8 and set it up so that we could heave pitches at head of "Kyle Morgan" (Millar's alias in the game because of his scabby activity.) It was cathartic.

Walkoff joy is fleeting
Was it just us, or did the enthusiasm over last night's walkoff win vanish before the cameras were turned away? By the time that the Jays reached the dugout, the faces were nearly as stoic as what you would have expected on the losing team.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A season of missed opportunities and unproductive roster spots

It's fine to have a longer view of what is good for the ballclub and all, but really: Travis Snider and Randy Ruiz should have spent more time on the Blue Jays than they did. And while their contributions might not be worth a dozen games in the standings, the fact that the Jays were willing to maintain two or three or four dead slots on their 25-man roster all season drives us to distraction.

It makes us want to start making ritualistic sacrifices.

From the outset, we'll confess that what we're about to do is unfair. But at this point in a season that has gone off the rails, over the embankment, down the cliff and into the ravine, we need an outlet.

And our primary whipping boy, above any others, is Kevin Millar.

Millar didn't do much to deserve this ignoble fate, but on the other hand, he didn't do much to keep himself on the big league roster either. And yet, here he is: Still on the team, as we reach the cusp of September. Skulking around the clubhouse, sporting his .678 OPS, enjoying the final days of a marginally productive major league career.

Ruiz, who was left to rot in Las Vegas all season because no one believed in him or his PCL-inflated numbers, has managed four homers in 50 ABs. Millar has eeked out six in 198 ABs. Six, which is also the number of homers that Travis Snider has managed in 124 ABs.

Sure, you can argue that maybe the Jays' brain trust wanted to let Snider recover from his back injury in the minors and work his way back gradually. And that they didn't have enough of a sample to give up on Millar, or Johnny Mac, or Joe Inglett in favour of a potentially productive bat in Ruiz.

If José Bautista were the lone supersub at the end of the bench, that would be one thing. The fact that this team played with him as the first man off the bench all season is just depressing.

Should the Blue Jays want to keep the faith with their loyal following (such as it is), and at least appear ready to compete and field a team that can hang, they can't have their 25th man be a relatively slow-footed designated pinch runner with 27 career steals. Nor can they have their 24th man be a washed up personality who can't hit righties or lefties and plays one eminently fillable position.

The Jays have 25 spots on their active roster. They should use them a little more wisely.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

What worries us most about Doc

We've seen and heard a lot of people tracing Roy Halladay's recent swoon to the plethora of trade talks that surrounding him through July. We have a bit of a different theory, which disturbs us even more.

Earlier this season, we were getting prepared to write yet another love letter to Doc, and his amazing performance in the season's first half. To glean some additional information on Doc's excellence, we wandered over to Fangraphs. And to be honest, setting us loose in Fangraphs is a bit like sending a blind man into a strip club: We're not really sure what's in front of us, but it's definitely fun to feel our way around.

One thing that really stood out for us in that initial visit (and we've only referred to it vaguely around here) is the percentage of cut fastballs that Halladay throws. For the season, Halladay is unleashing his cutter on 42.9% of his pitches, which ranks third behind the Royals' Brian Bannister (53%) and the D-Backs' Doug Davis (46.6%). After those three, there's a drop off of more than 10% to Scott Feldman (31.4%).

The reason that most pitchers steer clear of throwing cutters (or throwing them too often) is because of the wear and tear that the pitch puts on the arm. And while we recognize the Doc is a cyborg from another dimension, it still made us worry when we saw just how many times he was going to that well. Halladay's arm has never been cut on (to our knowledge), and seeing that number in the Fangraphs charts scared us a bit. So much so that we didn't dare even give voice to the concerns in this forum.

But with the number of hits Halladay has given up lately (even the bloops and bleeders that victimized Roy last night), we thought we'd go back and revisit those numbers. And while we're not sure that they necessarily indicate that anything is wrong, they did make us raise an eyebrow.

In the month of July, Halladay began going to the cutter well a little more often, throwing them 47% of the time. But for the month of August, Doc has scaled way back on the pitch, throwing it 34.5% of the time, while relying more on his fastball (39.7%).

We're not sure if there is a reason why he's backed off of the cutter as the season has gone on, but we hope like hell that it has nothing to do with any discomfort that he might be feeling in throwing it. Because there's a whole other level of misery that lies just beyond the horizon if that is the case.

A One-Sentence Post On...The Greatest Blue Jays Late Season Callup of All Time

Even PCL-inflated stats hating Drew has to agree: Randy Ruiz if the Greatest Blue Jays Late Season Callup of All Time...GBLSCOAT!!!1

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Pasty White Hope gives us reasons to believe

More than this weekend's series win against a very good Angels squad, we were brought out of our prolonged funk by watching the play of Travis Snider throughout the series.

Given how quickly Snider ascended through the Jays' system, it is easy to forget that he'll be just 22 years old on Opening Day next year. But when you observe the manner in which he is maturing at the plate by leaps and bound, it's hard not to get excited about his potential over the next six seasons.

In particular, Snider's new-found willingness to take close pitches and to lay off breaking balls thrown on the inside part of the plate will help him immeasurably going forward. While he's still going to be a hitter who will strike out a lot, his willingness to take a walk and to work the count makes us think that he'll end up more along the lines of a patient, high average and high OBP hitter like Lance Berkman, and less like am all-or-nothing wailer like Mike Jacobs.

In his six games since the recall, Snider is posting a 1.121 OPS (.455 OBP, .667 SLG) with two homers, five runs scored and four walks.

And amazingly enough, Snider's managed to escape from the very bottom of the order on a couple of occasions, which gives us a vague sense of hope that Cito Gaston isn't going to stifle his development in the way that he did other significant prospects towards the end of his last tenure in Toronto.

The RR Cool Jay RoY Chase
Ricky Romero had a nice solid outing on Sunday, dropping his ERA to 3.91 for the season. At present, he's posting an identical 11-5 record to fellow Rookie of the Year candidate Jeff Niemann of the Rays, while Niemann has the edge in ERA (3.71) and WHIP (1.30).

In the past month, Romero's walk rate has gone up significantly, pushing his WHIP to 1.40. For RickRo to go over the top of Niemann, he'll need to keep his walks down while hoping for a few disaster starts from his counterpart.

And conveniently enough, the Jays face Niemann and the Rays tonight. If this Blue Jays team has any self-respect, they'll light up the Rays' tall righthander and help their teammate's RoY candidacy that much more.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Quick-hitter: Feeling Blue (Jays)

It occurred to me that Blue Jay fans probably aren't interested in logging in to the ToS and reading my bullshit commentary filled with doom and gloom, weekend in, weekend out, for the next few months. You can get that same depression from watching the games (heyyyyooooo!).

So here's my vow to you - I'm going to save the hand wringing for the offseason, and let the 2009 (shit) chips fall where they may. Focus on the positives - the remarkable seasons of Aaron Hill and Young Adam Lind, potentially our last few glimpses of Roy Halladay greatness, the maturation of Travis Snider......etc.

Because it's still baseball, damnit.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Winning ugly - no, hideous

And so it goes for our Toronto Blue Jays, in that even the wins feel like losses. The saying goes that " a win is a win", but what should have been an uneventful ninth turned into a near debacle that would have left even the most diehard of fans shaking their heads. And probably a little nauseous.

In what's becoming a disturbing trend (or is it a new reality?), the Blue Jays bullpen follies continued to torment us in very nearly handing back a 5-1 lead, choking on three Angel runs and leaving the tying run stranded in scoring position. Bad relief pitching I can handle (well, not really, but bear with me here), bad bullpen management I cannot.

About the only positive thing I can say about Cito's use of the pen in the ninth is that he retrieved the ball from Brandon League after three batters. How he hands the ball to Casey Janssen (with de-facto closer Jason Frasor available), who had been getting knocked around by opposing batters to the tune of a .340 clip, is another entirely.

Well, it does make sense to some degree. It makes perfect sense if the team has already shifted into "let's find out what we have for next year" mode. And really, it should come as no surprise that this is where we find ourselves. The writing has been on the wall for weeks.

Travis Snider is going to play every day. Randy Ruiz is getting a shot to stick. The young starters are showcasing their stuff in a late-season audition for the 2010 rotation. And I guess the bullpen needs to sort itself out also. So this is where we are. All of us. Following a team that seems less concerned about winning the remaining games on the schedule than with sorting matters out for 2010.

Among other notes on puppy dogs and ice cream, I wrote this in the comments section today:

"It is funny, though, how many of us - even the great optimists among us - have finally reached the tipping point."

It seems that sentiment is now being shared by Cito and J.P. We're only left to wonder just how far up the Blue Jays food chain the feeling permeates.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Friday Rock Out - OutKast's "B.O.B."

In honour of its being named the best song of the decade by Pitchfork, we over up this incomparable blast of musical adrenaline to get all of you faithful Blue Jays fans off your back and on your feet.

Uno, dos, tres, it's on: It's the weekend. Have at it.

The long, slow, miserable march towards mediocrity

If you can dig way back into your memories, you may remember that on May 19, the Blue Jays sat atop the AL East by three and a half games. At lot has happened in the intervening three months, and not much of it has been all that pleasing to watch.

Since then, the Jays have gone 28-49. That's 21 games below .500. And just for the sake of reference, the hapless Washington Nationals over the same period of time have gone 31-51.

Let that roll around in your head for just a moment: The Jays are one game worse than the Nats over the past three months.

In the early part of the season, the Jays were knocking the seams off the ball, with a team OPS of .821 (.358 OBP, .463 SLG). In those halcyon days of Spring, the pitching staff put up a 3.58 ERA, with a WHIP around 1.25.

But as the season wore on, injuries piled up, and the magic of Cito and his new/retro staff began to wear off, it all went pear-shaped. The pitchers posted an ERA of 4.43 from May 19 on, and the offense sputtered, mustering only a .734 OPS (.316 OBP, .418 SLG).

It's depressing to look at that drop off, and to see that the preponderance of evidence suggests that this team is not close to regaining their footing in the AL East and reawakening dreams of pennant races. Moreover, what all of those numbers can't quite convey is just what a gong show the past few months have been, bookended by two three-game sweeps at the hands of the Red Sox.

(And really, doesn't Bret Cecil's brain cramp last night pretty much encapsulate, in one surreal moment, what the past few months have been like?)

It's important that we not lose sight of the good things that this team has going for it, and the bright spots that we can forsee on next year's roster and beyond. We'll be there throughout the off-season with our pom-poms, leading the cheers.

But it is equally important that we not overlook what an absolute shit-show the majority of this season has been, and that we not allow ourselves to get so comfortable that we give some of those responsible for it a free pass and a second chance to shitty up the next season or two.

Fire Cito. Fire J.P.. Let's move on.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Coquettish pictures of indie sweethearts

Well...hellllo Zooey.

How you doing, Jenny?

Seriously, we tried all afternoon to think of the one thing that was going to make all of you Blue Jays fans happy about your lot in life. We know that we've been a serious downer lately, and we're trying to find something that will make your spirits rise. This is pretty much the best that we could come up with.

And then we saw Cito's lineup for tonight, which features a 3-4-5 of Dougie Wells, Rod Barajas and Kevin Millar.

That, my friends, is almost more than we can take. Of course, now that we've said that, those three righties will tee off on lefty Jon Lester. Believe us when we say: We'd love to be proven wrong, and we'd absolutely love to be giving credit to Cito's for his razor sharp instincts later tonight.

Are you depressed? Do you need help? There are liveblogs for that sort of thing.
Drew from Ghostrunners is hosting the kvetch party over at the Score. We've been skulking around the liveblogs over there a little more often, and they're a good time. (Especially after a couple of vodka tonics.) We'll try to stop in tonight.

We're beginning to grow apart from Doc

It's about a decade or so in the rearview mirror now, but the memory of the two weeks that we spent living with our our ex after we'd broken up is still pretty vivid. Palpable, even.

We spent those two weeks just trying to get along well enough to make things tolerable, understanding that at some point, we'd go our separate ways, and that this misery would subside (and be replaced with a completely different misery).

In some ways, that's how we've started to feel about Roy Halladay.

We understand that this might seem cheap and convenient to bring this up on the morning after Halladay's worst start in a year. But after weeks of emotional turmoil, waiting for the other shoe to drop, and now waiting even longer for it to finally drop (In the winter? Next July? After 2010?), we're left with this oddly detached feeling whenever we watch Halladay. It used to be that every Doc start was a Festival of Awesome, and a Celebration of This Precious Moment With the Greatest Pitcher Alive. And now, we just feel a bit numb.

We should probably shake it off and savour the moments that we have left with Doc, because it's gonna hurt like hell when he finally leaves. But it is the knowledge that the hurt is coming that makes us wish that we didn't have to bide our time and wait for it.

Speaking of waiting...
We had the iPod on shuffle this morning, and a Bruce Cockburn tune popped up. There are a couple of lines in that song that we figured Blue Jay fans could relate to right about now.

Somewhere out there is a place that's cool
Where peace and balance are the rule
Working toward a future like some kind of mystic jewel
And waiting for a miracle

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Finding hope in another one run loss

Last night, we had the rather bizarre feeling about a half-hour after the Jays' 10-9 loss to the stupid Red Sox. We were kinda okay with the game.

It could be that for the first time that we can remember this season, the Jays had what seemed to be a pretty formidable lineup. Between the call up of the Rosy-Cheeked Raker Travis Snider, the continued production of Randy Ruiz, and the absence of any Millars or Ingletts, we could feel pretty good about the offense.

Hell, the Jays hung seven runs on Josh Beckett, two on super-prospect Daniel Bard, and made Jon-O Papelbon work like a monkeyfluffer (33 pitches) to get four outs.

In a season this bleak, sometimes you have to dig elbow deep into the muck to pluck out a truffle of hope. If the Jays are going to continue to lose, it's at least a bit heartening to see them go down with a fight.

Who do you boo?
Apparently, everyone loves Casey Janssen because he's such a nice boy, so no one is going to give him too much grief for playing hot potato with a bunted ball in the eighth. (And BTW, how weird is it that Janssen only gets charged with one earned run, when it was HIS error that led to the three runs scoring?)

Then on the other side, Vernon Wells hits a line drive to the deepest part of the ball park off the other team's closer for an out, and gets booed by the meatheads.

We're just saying: Vernon should change his name to "Gordie" or "Dougie" in the off-season, go to a lot of Leafs games, drink lots of Tim Horton's and develop an instinctive air of superiority over Americans so that he can ingratiate himself to the hosers.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Great Big Giant Pasty White Hope Returns

Travis Snider is back. Now excuse us as we do our happy dance.

Snidey's back just in time, because we're not sure what level of self-immolation we may have been driven to if we were watching Joe Inglett play right field against the Boston Red Sox this week.

Actually, we noticed that Snider wasn't in the 51's lineup yesterday, and for a fleeting half-second wondered whether if he was getting the call, but figured that he still had a few more days to go. We're not sure about what this means about Snider's Super-Two status, and it would be really stupid if they have called him up early. But frankly, considering the mire that we're in, we'll take any little bit of joy we can get. (UPDATE: MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith says that Snider will be a few days short of Super Two status. Extra happy dancing!)

Bring on the Snider Era.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Get them to sign on the line that is dotted!

As Alec Baldwin's character in Glengarry Glen Ross noted, "Only one thing counts in this life: Get them to sign on the line which is dotted!"

And so, we follow along with the news of 2009 draft picks who are dragging out their decisions on signing until the last possible second, which is to say tonight. Or today. Whatever.

We're following the action over at Jim Callis' Baseball America Draft Blog, where most of the signings are being broken. If you've got better things to do than to hit refresh on a web page all afternoon, then check out our Twitter thingy (@TaoofStieb) and we'll probably be cursing and swearing about stuff over there.

Also notable: Stoeten of the Drunks has a good post summarizing what's happened so far (Jays going way over slot for later round picks), and what is likely to happen (Good Canadian boys don't sign with the Canadian team, even though they're good Canadian kids and the Jays should have been drafting lots of good Canadian boys all along because they're good Canadians and they'll make the good Canadians in the stands feel good about being Canadian, as we all revel goodly in our Canadianness.)

100 Million Dollar Dreams Aren't What They Used To Be

To be honest, we hadn't really given much thought to Bob McCown's recent assertion on his afternoon gabfest that the Blue Jays would jack up their payroll to the $100 million level for 2010.

While McCown is connected within Rogers and would have some access to information emanating from the executive suites of the corporation and the ballclub, there was something about the notion that made us shrug it off. Maybe we were still reeling from the Alex Rios waiver claim, and maybe we've just stopped believing any assertion that comes from Paul Beeston.

Or maybe we're just waiting until this team has a full time President and CEO and a new General Manager before we start considering the possibilities.

And even if the Jays are to have an extra $20 million in payroll next year versus their Opening Day payroll this year, they've already got close to $65 million of that already committed to existing contracts. And that figure doesn't include money that will need to be doled out in arbitration cases. Next offseason, according to the invaluable Cot's Baseball Contracts, the Jays will have nine arbitration cases to settle, and 14 arb cases coming up before the 2011 season.

It's all enough to make us rescind our offer to serve as the Jays' President once Beeston decides to give up the post.

Over the next week, we'll begin digging in to the Jays' payroll commitments for next year, the likely departures, the gaps that will need to be filled and the possible solutions for who could step in. It's a whole heckuva lotta speculating and wishful thinking, and is probably the sort of thing that we'd usually do once the season is over.

Speaking of which: While they're still playing the games, this season is pretty much over. So let's get the hot stove revved up now.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The next big test

No, I'm not talking about taking the weekend series against the (Devil) Rays. Though that would be nice, fellas. I'm not even talking about the on-field product, actually. The next big test for the Blue Jays organization comes on Monday, when the deadline for signing 2009 draftees expires at the stroke of midnight.

Remember back to the end of February....before the shitstorm we're living through called the "2009 season" had spun wildly out of control. JP Ricciardi, ostensibly speaking for new boss Paul Beeston, announced that the gloves were off with regards to sticking to MLB's recommended bonuses under the (unenforceable) slotting system.

Needless to say, we all had a hard time getting our hopes up. Here's what I wrote:

"I suppose we shouldn't get ahead of ourselves, because seeing is believing when your GM has a penchant for, how shall we say, half-truths. The draft goes the first week of June. You're on the clock, JP."

Well, with regards to the actual draft, JP did not disappoint. The Jays first selection, college senior Chad Jenkins, did not fit the bill of a "tough sign", and he has already inked his deal (at almost exactly recommended slot). The Jays next four selections - Boras client James Paxton and high schoolers Jake Eliopoulos, Jake Barrett, and Jake Marisnick - are and were considered tough signs heading into the draft. The Jays knew this, and selected them anyway.

Fast forward to the weekend before the deadline, and the four remain unsigned. Now - before you berate me and point out that this game of chicken is standard practice across the league (but feel free to berate me for any number of other reasons), let's have a look at what the final outcome could possibly mean.

The landscape has changed. Gone are the salad days of the preseason and May, when the Jays were winning and things looked bright(er) in the executive suites. "We're gonna spend in the draft! Fuck Slot! Fuck Selig!" (it's fun to believe Beeston actually said this - "Yeah, Bud? It's the Beest here. Fuck slot!").

Whether you want to believe the money will be spent in the offseason or not, the fact of the matter is that the last month has been all about slashing"bringing expenses in line with revenues""financial flexibility". Whatever. Not exactly conducive to a free-spending, slot busting strategy.

While Beeston continues to maintain that ownership has not mandated a payroll slash and everything is still looking rosy, the good lieutenant Ricciardi is beginning to waver.

``I guess the old John Wayne saying is, `I don't make the rules, I play by 'em,' '' Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi said about his budget expectations. ``And that's my role. I've operated on a $50-million budget and I've operated here on a $90-million budget. So whatever budget they give me, we're going to do the best job we can do.''

As Blue Jay fans, we have every right to be confused - and skeptical. So what's it going to be, gentlemen? In what direction is this club headed? The Jays treatment of the 2009 draft class might just go a long way towards telling us.

Enjoying Roy Halladay
I find myself getting nostalgic about Doc, and he's not even an ex-Jay yet. Watching him grind through 8 innings of vintage Halladayesque baseball, it occurred to me that these are the performances I will remember years from now, regardless of how the saga unfolds.

Much like the Tony Fernandez "fake bunt-slap a single over the charging infielder" move, or George Bell asking the home plate ump to check each and every ball that came even remotely close to touching dirt, I'll remember Doc cursing himself for giving up baserunners and storming off the mound after escaping. I'll remember the scowl right up until the handshake from the manager after a successful outing. I'll remember him being the best Blue Jay to hurl a baseball towards home plate in anger.

I don't know what I'm gonna do if the Blue Jays trade Doc.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Friday Rock Out - Van Halen "Panama"

A little cock rock anthem never hurt anyone on the cusp of a weekend, did it?

It's finally Friday, and moreover, it's finally blistering hot outside. It seems like we've been waiting for Summer to arrive forever, and now that it's here, it's almost over.

Take our advice: Get out, and enjoy this. Get yourself some much-deserved vitamin D. Get a bit of colour into those pasty white legs of yours. Go work yourself into a healthy schvitz.

Boy-o's, enjoy the looks of the ladies breaking out their thinnest, shortest and most revealing summer duds, and whatever it is that you do when you're feeling vaguely lecherous.

Enjoy your weekend. The Ack is in.

Five reasons to keep watching the Blue Jays

Who's kidding who? This season has been a series of humiliating kicks to the groin for the Blue Jays faithful. At times, it's been enough to make even your humble scribe turn our head walk away until this wretched wreck of a year is over and done with.

In the midst of our emo moment yesterday, where we pulled our hair into pouty bangs over our face and carved "FTW" into our desk, we started to wonder: What would we miss if we took the rest of the year off? Here's the top five reasons that we could come up with to keep the faith and stay plugged into the Jays for the remainer of the season.

1) Roy Halladay's Cy Young Chase: Toronto's been spoiled with Cy Young winners over the past dozen years, with Pat Hentgen, a Texan who shan't be named and Halladay all bringing home the honour. But having the opportunity to watch the best pitcher in the game have a Cy-worthy season doesn't really happen all that often. Even if Halladay has looked a touch lifeless in his last few starts, it's going to be worth it to tune in to watch him make a push for his second trophy. Not that anything is ever certain, but a second Cy would definitely put Halladay in line for Hall of Fame consideration.

2) Aaron Hill and Adam Lind's Monster Years: The Jays haven't had a 30 homer, 100 RBI season from any player since 2006, and they appear on the cusp of having two such performances from Hill and Lind this year. Before the season, we figured that these two players would provide secondary offensive contributions, but both have stepped up their game to a whole new level.

3) Ricky Romero's Push for the Rookie of the Year: Once held up as the prime example of J.P. Ricciardi's ineptitude, RR Cool Jay has put together a stellar rookie campaign. He should be able to stick in the rotation for the rest of the year, and it would be pretty sweet to see him chalk up another four or five wins and keep his ERA under 4.00. He'll be in tough against the Rays Jeff Niemann, so it will be compelling to watch his final ten starts.

4) September Call-Ups: Travis Snider should be back soon, and J.P. Arencibia should get a handful of starts down the stretch. Fabio Castro may get a look, and David Purcey might get another shot to bring his walk rate down. Some good performances now by the Jays of the future might be enough to keep us sane over the long winter ahead. Speaking of which...

5) The Long Winter Ahead: Give it three months, and when your TV screens are filled with endless panels filled with fatuous hockey gasbags, you're going to be pining for baseball. Enjoy the moments while they're still here.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

We're taking an off-day from caring about the Blue Jays

As we woke up this morning, we realized something.

We didn't know if the Jays were playing today, or who or where they played next. We didn't know or care how many games they were behind in the AL East or the Wild Card, and we couldn't remember how many games they were below .500.

Usually, we're the ones chastising people for giving up on the team rather than going down with the ship like a true believer should. But at this moment, we're just too discouraged about the current state of the team, and full of dread for the future.

Of course, when the Jays call up the mystery bullpen arm to replace Jeremy "Everybody Else Sucks But I Still Have Options" Accardo, we're sure that we'll come back alive for a couple of minutes, like a heart patient slapping on a nitro patch.

Now if you'll excuse us, we're going to spend the rest of the morning with the blinds down, listening to Antony and the Johnsons.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Randy Ruiz Era has begun

Sometimes, in the middle of mourning the things that you've lost or the things that you've started to realize will never come to pass, you begin to create unnatural attachments to whatever shines in your proximity.

Such is the case with Randy Ruiz.

The big Bronx-born slugger managed to slice a pitch the other way for Yankee Stadium special last night, putting the Jays ahead 4-3. If only the game could have ended there.

Unfortunately, we were forced to watch Cito's lefty mancrush Jesse Carlson slinging batting practice floaters in to the mightiest lineup in the Majors. Three hits, three runs and back-to-back homers in one-third of an inning later, it was all shittied up good.

Those ever-so-brief moments of happiness that we as Jays fans can eek out are pretty fleeting, aren't they.

Vernon says a mouthful
Vernon Wells' reaction to the Sun on Rios' hasty departure was pretty revealing in terms of his current state of mind.

"You sign that kind of a deal, (scrutiny) is going to come with it," he said. "It's a matter of going out and playing better baseball. You can never justify the amount of money anybody makes in this game. You don't make excuses for it. It's not my job to explain it or justify it. I've just got to go out and play the game of baseball like I have ever since I was a little kid."

Well okay then.

Afternoon baseball will kill your productivity
It's kinda eerie to look at the lines of this afternoon's starters: RR Cool Jay (10-5, 3.66 ERA, 1.37 WHIP) takes to the bump versus this A.J. Burnett fellow (10-5, 3.67 ERA, 1.37 WHIP). First pitch is at 1:07. Get it on.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Gazelle scampers off freely into the distance

As a self-styled "intelligent" Blue Jays fan, we can completely understand the rationale and the motivation for the Jays letting Alex Rios and the $60 million or so left on his long term contract just walk away, without any sort of compensation.

What the Jays get from allowing Rios and the entirety of his contract to be claimed by the Chicago White Sox is a significant amount of payroll flexibility in both the short term and down the road. It will allow the team to be a bit more dexterous in the free agent market, should they choose to indulge, and it will allow them to keep some of the young talent that they have emerging through their system.

(Don't forget that, if they are fortunate, the Jays are going to have to cough up a big contract for Travis Snider before the end of deals to which Rios and Wells were signed.)

So we get it. It makes sense. It's rational. It was probably the right thing to do.

Then there is the "fan" in us, who is totally irrational and has spent roughly about a thousand hours over the past couple of years irrationally feeding into the hopes and dreams and misery and agony of Jays fans through this very blog. And that part of us is really finding it difficult to root, root, root for the home team's corporate ownership's bottom line.

Fiscal forbearance and fiduciary diligence are commendable. We're certain that those who hold a financial stake in Rogers will greatly appreciate the fact that one of the divisions has found ways to cut costs going forward. We're also pretty sure that at year's end, Tony Viner and Nadir Mohammed and Phil Lind will all be compensated handsomely through bonuesses for their willingness to hack away at this particular division's overhead.

But for those of us who hold an emotional stake in the team, sending away a two-time All-Star for absolutely no return, even if he is underperforming, is awfully tough to swallow.

And maybe the brain trust can scoff at such sissy-boy emotionality around a big money decision like this, but it is those same emotions that make us do irrational things, like spend inordinate amounts of money on Blue Jays tickets, merchandise and paraphenalia, or stupid amounts of our summer watching three hours worth of sponsored programming on their television services.

If the Jays are able to outsmart the market and pull in players on more economical short term contracts in the next few years, then fine. But if the guys in the corporate suite are about to take this money off the field and tuck it away in their own coffers, then they have to know that the fanbase isn't going to stand for it.

Above all, sports franchises try to sell hope. But if what they're going to sell us in the forseeable future us hope for a miracle, we're not sure that we can buy in to that.

As for the Gazelle
Alex Rios got a raw deal from the fans in Toronto, and got shoehorned into roles that didn't fit his skillset. Here's hoping that a fresh start with a team in contention brings out the best in him.

Vaya con dios, El Gacela.

Monday, August 10, 2009

You shouldn't read too much into the Alex Rios waiver claim. But...

The news that Alex Rios was claimed on waivers last week probably shouldn't be as big a story as it has become. It's August, which means that just about every player with a big contract is getting put through waivers, if only to assess the possible interest in their services.

Moreover, there are probably a handful of other notable players who have been claimed over the past week, although the gentleman's agreement amongst front office types usually precludes their names from getting out to the media and the public. Which is why J.P. looked as though he was ready to strangle Barry Davis in the pregame Jays Connected broadcast on Friday night.

The Toronto sports media, who occasionally wander through baseball stories like tourists, love this story because it gives them one more chance to simultaneously excoriate Rios and Ricciardi for their perceived failings. Rios doesn't care enough, and Ricciardi should have already received Tim Lincecum for him, blah blah blah freaking blah.

While he's been a bit of a mess this season, Rios' recent numbers point to a level of performance that is a bit more in line with what we should have expected. Since the All Star break, he's OPSing .805 with 4 homers, 16 RBI and 5 steals, and has been as solid as ever in right field, in spite of the fact that he really belongs in centre.

Moreover, the remainder of Rios' deal is not that bad given the current state of the market. He's owed $10.2 million next year, $12.5 million the following two years and $13 million for 2013. Were it not for the massive numbers coming to Vernon Wells in the coming seasons, Rios' deal would likely make sense for the Jays going forward.

Of course, that Wells deal - which EVERYBODY loved when he signed it - isn't going anywhere, so we're thinking that there is a pretty good chance that the Jays either work out a deal with the White Sox between now and tomorrow afternoon, or they simply let Rios go.

Above all, the Jays are looking for payroll flexibility, and the opportunity to completely unload a contract such as Rios' might prove to be too attractive an opportunity to pass up.

Have we mentioned how much we hate James Deacon?
Fatuous pantload James Deacon, who no longer writes for AOL Canada but is still invited to sit in with the aging white dudes forum that is Prime Time Sports, went on at length on Friday's show about how ludicrous it was that the San Francisco Giants could have Rios for free if they claimed him on waivers without having to give up their prized pitcher, and hey, isn't that a kick in the pants.

Yeah, Jimmy. When you drum up absurd hypothetical situations based on the thinnest, most threadbare information, they will seem unbelievable. But that's got more to do with you and the bizarre scenarios that you dream up than reality. So stop sharing these things. Just shut up and go away already.

Among his other gems on Friday, there was the bit about Milton Bradley (8 homers and 28 RBI) being a much more productive outfielder than Rios (14 homers and 61 RBI). And there was all of that talk about Rios and what other teams needed a "corner outfielder", when the truth is that every other team in baseball who would have any interest in Rios would look at him as a centrefielder.

Actually, Deacon likes to talk about "corner infielders" and "corner outfielders" a lot, as though he's just joined his first fantasy league with corner eligibility. We're guessing that he likes to rely on such axiomatic thinking because it helps reduce things down to the point where he can more easily pass spurious judgments upon them. Because James Deacon is unquestionably in the spurious judgment business.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

A walk off is a walk off

So, it wasn't exactly Joe Carter in '93, but Adam Lind's double to the wall to win the game in walk-off fashion provided a much-needed respite for the team and fans. These are the moments that remind you what it is you love about the game, and sadly, they've been few and far between of late. But it's still baseball, goddamnit, and it's still our team.

Yes, it will be a much different August/September stretch than Blue Jay fans had hoped for - especially after the scorching May - but still, there will be plenty of reasons to tune in and keep dibs on the club:

The continuing development of Adam Lind. The record-breaking season from Aaron Hill. Doc's quest for the Cy (and a gut punch to the Orioles in the rubber match would help). The comedic value of E5. The "open tryout" for the cleanup spot (let's go Mil-lar CLAP, CLAP, CLAP CLAP CLAP). The September callups (stop me if you've heard that one before). The quest for the 2010 rotation. To name a few, at least.

No, these are not the best of times, but rather than carry on in a fruitless attempt at encouraging group pity and self-loathing, I think I'll just link to this masterpiece. And then promptly shut the fuck up about it.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Back to the flock/scattered thoughts

When you can feel your behaviour turn obsessive-compulsive, it's probably a sign that you should step away for a while. A week away from cable television and internet connectivity does a Blue Jay fan some good. I highly recommend it.

Having said that, I'm not all the way back, so this post is coming to you in a 'random thoughts' format. My therapist says I should be alllll better soon.

* I don't care if it's a contrived anniversary, I'm a sucker for the nostalgia. Seeing the heroes of '92/'93 brought back just enough of the warm and fuzzies to (temporarily) make me forget that we are smack dab in the midst of an era of epic mediocrity. pLAYOFFS!

* ....and how about those World Series era home whites? I mean, holy shit, those beauties look better than anything the team has sported since, and they might even work better today than they did 16 years ago. Are you listening, Blue Jays marketing staff? Full. Time. Unis.

* Note to The Cito, pt I: sitting at the end of the dugout with arms crossed when down by a few runs late in the game with WAMCO at your disposal exudes a quiet confidence; sitting at the end of the dugout with arms crossed while watching your reliever completely fucking shit the bed against a horrible road team exudes a quiet cluelessness.

* Vernon Wells, Alex Rios, back to back. What the? More, please.

* Speaking of Rios.... the whole waiver claim deal? Wake me if/when something of substance happens, because from where I sit, it's just normal business, no?

* Now that the realization of a probable 4th place finish has set in, the losses - while still burning me - no longer eat at my soul. Does that make me a bad fan? Because I feel sorta' guilty about that.

* Travis Snider update: through 40 AAA games with Vegas, The Future is raking at a clip of .313-10 HR-34 RBI-1.025 OPS. I understand the super-2 super-bullshit takes precedence, but, wow.

* Brian Dopirak update: through 109 minor league games this season, Kevin Millar's Replacement has a line of .314-25 HR-86 RBI-.942 OPS. There is absolutely no justifiable reason that the soon to be 26 year old should continue to rake at AAA while Kevin Millar and his .663 OPS occupy a roster spot on a team looking to next season and beyond. Absolutely none. Let's call this Note to The Cito, pt II.

* My wife was flipping through an Avon catalogue and came across an ad for a Derek Jeter line of cologne. She caught a whiff of the sample scent and promptly gagged. That, my friends, is a good sign for our marriage. Now, if only I could get my hands on some of this....

* Baseball = awesome. Following this particluar team can be soul-crushing, sure, but you have to take the good with the bad, right? It's good to be back.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Friday Rock Out - Babyshambles "Fuck Forever"

Because we're so clever...but clever ain't wise.

Enjoy your Back2Back weekend, folks. Tell the fellas we say "hi".

Also, watch your wallets this weekend. We're seeing over on Twitter that they are charging people $60 cash money for an autograph at the TD Canada Trust BBQ thingy. And while it's supposedly going to charity, it seems a bit dodgy to spring that on people once they arrive on site. (And really, shouldn't they be handing out tax receipts for $60 "donations"?)

You know what? Forget it. They're trying to be charitable, and if they're clumsy in doing so, does it really matter that much? We're just grumpy and looking for shit to bitch about, but we should have passed on this.

It's Consecutive Championship Seasons 17-Yearish Spectacular Weekend!

Sadly for us, other commitments will keep us far away from the Dome this weekend, in spite of the fact that we had completely bought into the whole nostalgiafest idea. So it goes.

We've already heard that some of you have some major ex-Jay hookups planned, like @s_findlay's impending lunch with Joe Carter, and @katyunger's autograph session with a certain Mr. Stieb. Have fun with that, ladies.

We're planning on setting up a line in our living room of our bobbleheads and figurines of ex-Jays, then pretending that they brush us off quickly to get the lineups moving just so that we can get the authentic feeling of the weekend. ("Damn you Winfield! I brought the noise and you can't even be bothered to take a photo and sign my man boob?")

As we're not going to be there this weekend, feel free to send us your photos and pertinent anecdotes this weekend, and we'll see if there's anything worth posting next week.

We wish we had something interesting or inspiring to say...
...but frankly, we're just tapped out right now.

We've spent years as the eternal optimist, looking at the bright side of things for this franchise and trying to contextualize all of the crap that's happening in the here and now. But right now, as we write this, we just don't even have it in us to have an opinion on what's happening now or what's going to happen next year.

We don't even really know that we can watch the games this weekend. Because if we have to watch Joe Inglett or Kevin Millar play at any point in this series, we might just break down into uncontrolable sobs.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Blue Jays Great That You Won't See This Weekend

Two things have turned our mind to Fred McGriff this week.

Firstly, we're reminded of the Crime Dog by the trade deadline bonanza and all of the discussions about untouchables and the future of the franchise without its signature star.

The second factor is the gratuitous orgy of nostalgia that's about to take place with the Back2Back weekend, in which McGriff will have no role given that it was the trade that sent him away that was the catalyst for the Jays' ultimate success.

It's likely because of those World Series years that McGriff's tenure in Toronto has been somewhat overlooked as the years have passed, given that he was the central player on teams that were accused of being "chokers". In fact, McGriff's performance was often singled out as one of the central reasons for Toronto's failures in the stretch drive. His only playoff experience with the Jays was a single series against the Oakland A's in 1989 in which he went 3-21 with three singles.

McGriff was also somewhat misunderstood in his time with the Blue Jays because of his patience at the plate. At the time, fans expected the big power hitting first baseman to be wailing away and taking "the bat off his shoulder" more often, rather than drawing walks and making pitchers work. At the time, few people saw his walk rate as a plus and few people even discussed OBP as any sort of indicator of performance.

And yet, a look at McGriff's rate stats over his four full seasons in Toronto should leave fans with a much greater impression of his place in Blue Jays history. He ranks third in OBP (behind John Olerud and Carlos Delgado) with a .389 mark, and second to Delgado in slugging (.530) and OPS (.919). Moreover, his OPS+ of 154 is tops all time for the Jays, and he still ranks in the top ten in home runs (125) in spite of his relatively small number of plate appearances.

It's all good to remember those two great teams in 1992 and 1993, and to celebrate their achievements. But as you spend the weekend waxing nostalgic for some of the more marginal passengers on those championship teams, spare a thought for a player who was one of the most feared Blue Jays to ever step into the batters box, and who rattled more than his share of windows beyond the centre field fence.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Travis Snider's Super Two Countdown

The whole "Super Two" status thing with young players is complex and always a bit of a moving target, and therefore makes us very dizzy.

For the uninitiated, achieving Super Two status means that a player gets to go to arbitration earlier and more often (four times rather than three) against his team, essentially quickening the pace at which he begins taking them to the cleaners. And if The Pasty White Hope is what we all hope he is, he would command a pretty penny upon his first go round at the arbitration table.

As for a vaguely specific definition, the MLBPA says:

"A player with at least two but less than three years of Major League service shall be eligible for salary arbitration if he has accumulated at least 86 days of service during the immediately preceding season and he ranks in the top 17 percent in total service in the class of Players who have at least two but less than three years of Major League service, however accumulated, but with at least 86 days of service accumulated during the immediately preceding season."

Did you get that? Yeah, neither did we.

Fortunately, we have some clarification on this from the always dependable MLB Trade Rumo(u)rs. According to MLBTR, Snider will need about 51 more days of service time before he becomes eligible, which basically means that the Jays will likely leave him in Las Vegas until sometime after August 20.

So Snider has another three weeks in Vegas to rake on PCL pitching and catch some Cirque de Soleil, and we've got another few weeks of seeing Joe Inglett voodoo himself up to a .473 OPS.

Dear Kevin Millar: You suck.

It's probably unfair, given the absolute shit show that the last six weeks of Blue Jays baseball has had to offer us, to attempt to single out one whipping boy and let him feel the brunt of our frustrations.

But seriously: Kevin Millar sucks, and it sucks that someone keeps allowing him to suck on this team. And to be fair, it's not really his fault that we (and notable others) have grown tired of him.

Before the season, we didn't mind the Millar signing as a low risk move to bring in an extra veteran bat into the lineup for the sake of insurance. Our exact words upon his signing were: "...we hope that his presence might encourage Lyle Overbay to rethink the 25 steps and moving parts that currently comprise his swing." Which might be the case, but who the hell would know given the amount of pine that Overbay's posterior has kept clean this season.

If Millar was even remotely approaching his career OPS of .812, then he'd be a superstar on the 2009 edition of the Blue Jays. But his execrable .663 OPS in 58 games is unforgivable, and nothing less than a waste of a roster spot.

And maybe we'd be a little more charitable about Millar's waning days in big league ball if it weren't for the fact that we watched the manager pull a vintage Cito move of leaving the middling veteran in a key situation (8th inning, one out facing righty reliever Phil Hughes) when he had a vastly superior option sitting on the bench (Overbay vs. RHP: .913 OPS).

And beyond that, the Jays have Randy Ruiz in Las Vegas mashing the ball like no other player in the affiliated minor leagues (25 homers, 101 RBI, .997 OPS). We could give a shit if the brain trust somehow figures that he's not able of replicating those numbers in the big leagues, or if he's a bad guy or whatever. Randy Ruiz would not post a sub-.700 OPS if he received the call up that he so rightly deserves.

(Or what about Travis Snider? Or Brian Dopirak? Something, goddamnit! Something!)

It's one thing to point to an unfortunate set of circumstances, like the multitude of pitching injuries, that have led to the Jays falling off the pace and looking towards next year. The Jays may preach that they have been the victims of bad luck this year, but on a certain level, you need to make your own luck, and not hope that it falls magically to you.

Because Kevin Millar ain't no lucky charm.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Great Big Giant Pasty White Hope demands your attention

The Blue Jays press, bloggers and fans have all gone emo over the past week, dramatically biting their knuckles, streaking their mascara and pre-publishing obituaries to the team's hopes and dreams of ever contending, next year or even distantly into the future.

Meanwhile, Travis Snider has been smacking the living shit out of the ball.

The 21 year-old Snider, who remains the biggest prize in the Jays system, was named the Pacific Coast League player of the week for last week. In his last five games (July 30-August 3), the GBGPWH scored 15 runs and drove in 13 with three homers, seven doubles and a triple.

For those of you who forgot what hope looks like, it is approximately six feet tall and 235 pounds with number 45 on its back, a wisp of post-pubescent fuzz on its chin and a youthful red glow in its cheeks. And hopefully, it will be patrolling left field at the Rogers Centre before the end of the month.

Monday, August 3, 2009

The trade deadline was like a Jason Marquis fastball to the noggin

You know, it could have been much worse. But it still kinda stings.

When last we left you, the Jays had just traded Scott Rolen to Cincinnati for someone other than Yonder Alonso, and someone on Twitter blew our minds with the late and false rumour that Roy Halladay had been dealt at the last minute to Anaheimish for Brandon Wood and Erick Aybar. And being the upright citizens that we are, we repeated that falacious rumour so that all of you could have a nice prolonged freak out for a good dozen minutes or so before it was quashed.

It all seems like so long ago, doesn't it?

Thoughts on the Rolen deal
We've stated on a number of occasions that what we truly enjoy about the trade deadline is having opinions on players that we've never seen or even heard of before. With the Rolen deal to Cincy, we'd become so infatuated with burly power-hitting first bagger Yonder Alonso that anyone else was going to seem like a consolation prize.

That said, we're not totally upset by the package that came back for the former GBOAT, especially given that Rolen was pining for Middle America and would not have been a happy camper to stay in Toronto for much longer.

The key to this deal - aside from the savings of $6 million - will likely end up being pitcher Zach Stewart. The 2008 third-rounder has moved quickly through the Reds' system, reaching triple-A in less than a year. A closer at Texas Tech, Stewart had been starting this year at double-A Carolina, but returned to a relief role after his promotion to Louisville. still has a scouting report on Stewart posted on their site, including some teasingly brief video and a description of his as a late first round or sandwich pick. We're not sure why he slid to the third round, but there is a chance that the Jays managed to steal a pretty good arm out of this deal.

As for Josh Roenicke (the proper spelling of whose name is going to kill us by the end of the season), we were actually pretty shocked this weekend to hear Sportsnet's Jamie Campbell announce that he had turned 28 on Sunday. We're sure that Roenicke would have felt the same way, since he turns 27 on Tuesday.

Aside from that bit of nitpicking, we think that Roenicke is a smart pick up to help bolster the freak show that is the Jays' bullpen. With Scott Downs once again hurt (and we told you as much last week), it is good to have an option like Roenicke, who has saved 55 games in the minors over the past four years.

As for the most known name coming back in the deal, we're not exactly thrilled to see Edwin Encarnacion patrolling third base for the Jays. Given the plethora of left-handed starters that the Jays have been running out to the mound this season, having the iron-gloved Eddie at the hot corner gives us the hives.

We're hopeful that getting out of Dusty Baker's doghouse might inspire Encarnacion to put up half decent power numbers. At the very least, it would be nice if there wasn't a steep decline from the good numbers that Rolen had been putting up to this point.