Monday, August 30, 2010

Thoughts on the weekend in a flash

Honouring our patron saint: It was great to see and hear so much about Dave Stieb this weekend, as everyone seemed to trip over themselves to find enough superlatives for the former ace. (If you missed it, there's a nice bit of ceremonial huzzahs available on the Jays site.)

It was especially interesting to hear Stieb in conversation with Jerry and Alan on the radiocast mentioning how Buck Martinez used to have to remind him to lay off on the slider and throw some fastballs here or there. Stieb also bemoaned his own approach on the pitches he threw that saw previous no-hitters get broken up. More than 20 years later, you can still hear him kicking himself for throwing a curve with perfection on the line.

And you'll excuse this cliché, but he does look as though he could go out and toss six solid innings tomorrow if he had to.

Less than perfect, Part 1: As was brought to our attention last week by email, the coveted Stieb bobble had a few flaws in it. Firstly, the cap was the wrong one (Jays wore solid blue caps on the road that season) and the jersey has the wrong lettering (road jerseys read "Toronto", not "Blue Jays".) So if you are superstitious enough not to talk about no-hitters and such in the middle of the game, maybe you'd agree with us that such flaws in the promotional swag were certain to doom yesterday's game for the Jays.

Less than perfect, Part 2: If you're more literal-minded, perhaps you're looking at the actual pitching in yesterday's game when assessing what went wrong. Last year's callup surprise, Marc Rzepczynski's output this year has been bad enough to make us forget how to spell his name. His mechanics, which were very tight last season, look completely messed up now. Last year, he threw a lot of strikes down in the zone to keep things under control. This year, he's having a hard time getting anything where it should be.

Especially telling was the pitch Rzep threw after a mound visit from José Molina with two balls and the bases loaded. After all of the shoulder rubs and "just chill and throw strikes" that his catcher could offer, Rzep still let his lead shoulder fly out and threw a mid-80's fastball a foot outside. Not good.

Who's next? With the announcement that Brandon Morrow is going to get an early end to his season (a very good call, in our estimation), and the possibility that Shaun Marcum might also see his innings limited in his first post-TJ season, the Jays will be looking for additional starting arms to pick up the slack.

And if that additional arm is Brian Tallet, we'll die a little extra on those days.

The smart money would seem to be on Bobby Ray, who pitched well last year in a brief time with the Jays, and whose innings aren't up particularly high because of some minor league DL stints. Brad Mills, who looks like a mess of messes on the mound lately, could also get some starts down the stretch. Canadian Shawn Hill might have also been an option, but he tossed just one inning in his last start and is coming off a long road back from injury, so he's a long shot.

But don't get your hopes up for appearances from Kyle Drabek: The New Hampshire Fisher Cats are headed towards the playoffs(!!!1), and he'll eat up his remaining innings at that level.

Jeremy Accardo would like to be heard: If you read the original Las Vegas Review-Journal piece (as opposed to some of the overheated clips from it that were tossed around on this side of the border), Jeremy Accardo doesn't sound so much aggrieved as he does frustrated and resigned with his lot in the Blue Jays' organization.

This might be forgotten at this point, but Accardo broke camp with the Jays, and promptly sat for two weeks in the pen. And though Accardo has put up respectable numbers in Las Vegas (especially considering the inflation inherent in pitching in that division of the PCL), he'll be hard pressed to get a sniff of the pitching rubber in the Bigs so long as The Manager is still wearing the windbreaker and crossing his arms in the dugout.

To be honest, we'd almost prefer to see Accardo go somewhere in the National League and get the opportunity to work in the back end of a team's bullpen next year. He's been painted as a bit of a jerk for his outspokeness, but we're inclined to think that he has the very same "hustle" and "heart" that the team likes to proclaim as primary values in its marketing campaigns.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Skills Travis Snider is developing by riding the pine

It's a little bit funny that a week or two ago, we were actually defending The Manager's decision to sit Travis Snider here or there as he tried to get at bats for all of his LF/DH types.

"Patience, my brothers! Cast away your thoughts of the future, and savour this moment! Leave tomorrow for tomorrow! The Stocky-Yet-Swift Pasty White Rosy-Cheeked Hope shall have his time! A day off won't kill him!"

In the moment, those sorts of thoughts seemed to make sense to us. To our way of thinking, a day off here or there wasn't going to impede his development that much. But for much of the last week, we've watched Snider cool his heels on the bench, waiting for his chance to go out and get his reps and at bats to help him learn and develop.

(Remember how well part-time employment worked for José Bautista through his development years with the Pirates? Probably not.)

Mind you, we're not a two-time World Series Champion Manager and we never had the opportunity to put the lineup card in the Gestetner machine and run off carbon copies night after night in that era, so we're probably no match for The Manager's baseball acumen. But if we tilt our head in just the right way, we can start to think like him, and see what value this time on the bench might offer to the franchise's single most important young player. Here's what we came up with in terms of mad skills that Travis is developing while sitting:

1. Rocking a hoodie: Shaun Marcum is obviously a leader on this team, and his intense hoodie-wearing must be some sort of key to the rotation's success. If Snider can apply himself, he might be able to spur the offense by chewing intensely on his hood's drawstrings.

2. High-fives: An important part of becoming a part of the team. If you see a guy who just got jammed on the first pitch and squibbed a weak grounder to second, but advanced the runner by one base, you'd best know how to get up to the top step and give a sincere fist bump to your returning hero.

3. Sunflower seed spitting: What happens if you're in the outfield, and you get a shell caught in your throat? You think you're gonna know how to hack up that carapace based on instinct and gag reflex?

4. Preparing for your close-up: You know the TV cameras are going to find you on the bench, and you need to prepare that steely, cold, detached-yet-emotionally complicated look that lets the fans know the depth of your soul, and the burning fire within. (Side benefit: This totally works on chicks too. Stare off intently beyond the bottle service table, and some lady is going to look upon you a wounded soul that needs solace. Mrroawr.)

5. Putting weight back on: You think you're going to keep hitting one-handed homers if you drop 20 pounds through the physical exertion of playing the field and running the bases? Forget that. Park your ass on the bench, dig into an O-Dog Combo and think about the days when Cecil Fielder was the most feared hitter in baseball.

6. Funneling your rage more productively: Because that needle-point isn't going to finish itself.

That's the best that we can figure. Feel free to add your own notions on the skills that Snider can develop from the dugout in the comments section below.

(Yes, as established yesterday, I am a comment whore.)

Friday Rock Out - The Jam, "In the City"
Consider this our Long Distance Dedication to The Manager: We wanna tell you about the young ideas.

The Ack is off on assignment this weekend, but we should be around to fill in as necessary. Have fun, and stay cool my babies.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Starting Pitcher Power Rankings, y'all!

It's been almost a month and a half since we last dropped some mad power rankings science on all y'all, and just a few things have happened in the interim. New(ish) faces! Near no-hitters! Awesomeness! Are you ready to read on and get down with this?

Oh, and just to mix stuff up a bit, we're looking at Win Probability Added as a key metric this time around. We don't know what it is or how it is tabulated, but it sounds really good, and we'd like to think that it adds a sprinkle of legitimacy to this made up chart.

Power Rankings! Go!

1. Ricky Romero
Previous Rank: 1. Numbers since the last rankings: 7 starts (team result: 4-3), 50.2 IPs, 36Ks / 13 BBs, 3.02 ERA, o.98 WPA.

Just keeps plugging away. Quietly consistent. Showing more endurance late in the season than he did last year. Has gone seven or more innings in all but one start over this span, and went six versus the Red Sox in that start. Assuming the Ace role, and owning it.

2. Brett Cecil
On the last episode: 3. The rundown: 7 starts (4-3), 46.2IPs, 3.47 ERA, 33/ 17 K/BB, 0.891 WPA

Keeping the ball down (finally!), and getting great results. Walks are still a little too high. A disaster start versus Angels keeps him from the top of the list.

3. Brandon Morrow
Back then: 2. Since then: 7 starts (6-1!), 41.1 IPs, 3.70 ERA, 58/17 K/BB, 0.776 WPA.

Threw possibly the most brilliant game in Jays history. Has had some sketchy outings around it, but looks to be settling into the rotation role. Sick stuff, but never looks to be overexerting.

4. Shaun Marcum
Previously: 6. What he do: 7 starts (team: 4-3), 43.2 IPs, 38 Ks / 6 BBs, 4.33 ERA, 0.319 WPA.

Putative number one starter, and still Mr. Staff Leader Guy. Incredibly articulated facial hair crafting. Long balls are an issue (seven over past seven starts).

5. Kyle Drabek
Back in the day: 4. Last ten slow jams: 63.0 IPs, 7-2 W-L, 51/22 K/BB, 2.57 ERA

Looks like he's gotten better as the season has gone on. 154 innings to date likely means he won't make it to Toronto, except maybe to hang with his future boyz. Hoping he never sets foot in Vegas. (Nashville!!!1)

6. Joel Carreno
Once upon a list: 10. 10 excursions, and then you get: 5-1, 51.2 IPs, 2.79 ERA, 65/8 K/BB

Surprise addition to last list. Climbs the charts based on ridiculous strikeout numbers. We're sure that the pseudo-scout blogs were already all over this guy, but you can add us to the Carreno Caravan.

7. Marc Rzepczynski
In those times: 5 In our times: 6 games, 4 starts, 20 IPs, 13/8 K/BB, 6.30 ERA, -0.221 WPA.

Looks wonky. Is not fooling anyone, and is depending on his defense. (Which isn't a bad thing, necessarily. But we're all about the strikeouts.)

8. Zach Stewart
Used to be: 9. Ten games add up to: 56.0 IPs, 3-1 W-L, 2.89 ERA, 42/22 ERA.

Like Drabek, stats look better as the year has gone on. We're hearing lots of love for him throughout the interwebs.

9. Brad Mills
The last time: 8 The evidence: 3 starts (3-0! Clutch!) 15.1 IPs, 5.28 ERA, 13/9 K/BB, 0.132 WPA

Got the call, and did his time with the team. A good first start versus Baltimore followed by a couple of weaker outings versus actual professional baseball teams.

10. Jesse Litsch
Then: 7. Before the breakdown: 4 starts (1-3), 22 IPs, 4.09 ERA, 9/6 K/BB, 0.062 WPA.

He's gone for now, and maybe for good. Likes to dump sugar-water over diabetics. Will be hard pressed to start next season in the rotation. Might be an option as a swing man. Wouldn't mind seeing him work out of the pen in minors to start the season.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

McGriff Pennance, Overestimating Overbay, and the First Base Pantheon

(And before we get started, it's nice to be back. We were off in some of the loveliest places on earth, but we were working our ass off while there, and barely had a moment to spare. It's nice to be back here with you kids.)

In the midst of a bit of preemptive nostalgia for the presumably departing Lyle Overbay, we shot out a quick tweet last week speculating on the order of the pantheon of Blue Jays first basemen over the years: "Carlos, Olerud, Upshaw, Lyle. Right?"

Boy, were we wrong, and didn't you let us know it. We got dozens of responses that night (which we didn't see for another day or so) quite rightly haranguing us for leaving out Fred McGriff from that list. It was an honest oversight from a tired and overworked lad who had barely thought the notion through before he tossed it out.

That oversight shouldn't be regarded as a slight towards McGriff, nor should it be interpreted as an indication of our lack of regard for his contributions to the Jays. You might not remember it, but in the eve of last year's 17th/18th Anniversary Notalgia Orgy for the World Series teams, we made a bit of an impassioned plea for recognition of McGriff's part in the team's success in the late '80's.

Still, the backlash against our omission of McGriff (as well as John Mayberry, which is another good point) got us to thinking a little more about that pantheon of first baggers.

Looking back over the history of the team, there were really only six players who held down the position for any length of time: Mayberry, Upshaw, McGriff, Olerud, Delgado and Overbay. (Shea Hillenbrand and Eric Hinske need not apply here.) And a casual look back at their numbers (mostly OPS and OPS+) suggest that in our rush to canonize Lyle, we may have inadvertently underscored his underwhelming performance in comparison to those other names.

Here's what you get when you take that glance.

Career OPS as a Blue Jay:

Delgado - .949 (in 12 years, 1423 games and 6018 plate appearances)
McGriff - .919 (5 years, 578 games, 2322 PAs)
Olerud - .866 (8 years, 920 games, 3689 PAs)
Mayberry - .802 (5 years, 549 games, 2102 PAs)
Overbay - .800 (5 years, 693 games, 2731 PAs)
Upshaw - .762 (9 years, 1115 games and 4172 PAs)

OPS+ as a Jay:

McGriff - 153
Delgado - 142
Olerud - 130
Mayberry - 119
Overbay - 111
Upshaw - 104

(We'd love to supplement this with WAR as a Jay, but we haven't quite figured out that trick. Yet.)

So on that cursory look, you'd almost be left with the impression that Overbay rates as the second worst regular first baseman in the franchise history. (And don't even get us started on how Willie Upshaw has somehow become a legend in retrospect. We love the guy, but we clearly have no perspective on him.)

But don't get us wrong: We're not calling Overbay a bad player, and we're not going to go down the road of calling him out for not being a bigger power threat because "you gotta have that from your first baseman, right?" Lyle's greatest strength was his defense, which is hard to account for, though our memory tells us we'd rate him at the top of the list. (With a caveat that our remembrances of John Mayberry are vague at best.)

Still, looking at the top line numbers for those six guys, it's hard not to be left with the impression that our affection for Lylo and our desire to push him as one of the greats might have something to do with his historical proximity, and our desire to want to think kindly of him as we send him out into the world.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Just how close?

Coming off the heels of the Jays big 16-2 drubbing (and forgetting the extra-innings heartbreaker), I was left pondering this question:

Just how close are the Toronto Blue Jays to contending in the loaded AL East?

Is 2011 a pipedream? 2012 more realistic? Are we wrong to discount any serious wildcard run this season?

Let's dispatch the 2010 question first - a full 10 back with 40 games left to play leaves no room for error. None. That said, we're all fans here, so what the hell. Let's just call it a dream. Not an impossible dream (but close), but a dream nonetheless. So what of 2011?

Is it as easy as saying with the continued maturation of the pitching staff, a return to norms for Lind and Hill, and the development of young talent such as Snider and Arencibia....the Jays are instantly a part of the equation? Much as I'd love to blindly say "fuck and yes, that's all it will take", consider the following:

...the impending loss of John Buck. Look (to borrow a phrase from HTV), we're all excited about JP Arencibia and what he can do given a full season of starter at-bats, but John Buck has been providing all-star calibre play behind (or more importantly, at) the plate for the Jays. It's not wrong to be excited about JPA - not by any stretch - but it would be foolish to think that, in 2011, he'll provide more value to the team than the veteran already in place.

I don't think it's wrong to cash in on the career year of John Buck and collect the comp picks - it's all part of The Plan - but for next season, at least, it will likely be a half-step backwards.

...changes afoot in the bullpen. It's been a luxury Jays fans have come to take for granted - the team always seems to string together a pen that provides above average performance, and hasn't been a major concern for a number of seasons. But remove two of the constants in those bullpens - Scott Downs and Jason Frasor - and what do we have? Instead of looking to fill one, maybe two spots in the spring as has become custom, who are the locks for next season under the "everybody out" scenario? Shawn Camp? David Purcey? Casey Janssen? OK, those are nice pieces, but none provide "the hammer" and there are still spots to fill. I have confidence the team will again roll out a surprisingly strong group, but it's hard to ignore the fact that many a season has been derailed by a bad 'pen.

...holes on the corners. I'm not prepared to have the "one more year of Lyle" conversation - largely because I don't know which side of the fence I'm prepared to lean on - but let's assume his Toronto tenure is over. Who fits? Is it as easy as plugging in Adam Lind? Because if that's the answer, there has to be a backup plan in place juuuust in case he turns out to be a complete butcher around the bag. Just sayin'. And what of 3B? It's doubtful that AA is looking at E5 as one of his "core guys", and no serious contender is going to run Johnny Mac out at the position more than a few times a month.

...coaching staff turnover. With Cito, you know what you're going to get. Focusing on the good (let's play nice today), it's a team that will mash the shit out of baseballs, on-base percentage be damned. One thing about this club - they're rarely out of games with this power. Will the philosophy change under the new regime? Will there be a season of transformational flux from a new philosophy? And will the new dude purge the existing staff, bringing in his own Gary Denbo (nightmares) and sweeping MLB-unknown Bruce Walton under the rug while helping Butterfield pack his bags for Baltimore?

Not going to lie to you, friends, these thoughts are already beginning to cause me anxiety. And yes, I realize this isn't normal. It's probably best that I just sit back and enjoy the remaining 40 games on the schedule.

(At least the 20 or so I'll get to watch, anyway. )

And quickly...
Is it wrong that I'm enjoying the flavor that Jesse Carlson is bringing to an otherwise vanilla Blue Jays bullpen? Fist pumps, baby.

Apart from JPA, are there any September callups worth getting excited about? Maybe Brad Emaus? A surprise New Hampshire stick like Thames, Loewen, or Mastroianni? A Hechavarria sighting? Seems unlikely, but....Drabek?

If you don't keep up with John Lott, you should. He's carved out quite a niche keeping dibs on the Jays' minor league system, and his features in the Post are always worth a read.

Hey, y'know that killer August schedule facing AL East rivals that many thought would be the Jays undoing, causing the season to close on a sour note? 7-4 as of this writing vs the division, with series yet to come against the Yankees and Rays. No matter the outcome, Armageddon it was not.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A One-Sentence Post on...Creeping Canadianism

If you were looking for a sign that José Bautista is beginning to take on some of the characteristics of his temporary homeland, you can look past the hoser mustache and observe the manner in which he stopped to politely and fastidiously pick up the various and sundry shards of woods after a late-inning, post-strikeout freakout, leading us to imagine GordieBau excusing himself profusely to the home plate umpire: "Sorry 'bout that, eh."

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Tao's Contrarian Corner

In which your generally agreeable blogging pal suddenly gets all up in yo' grill over hot topics amongst the Blue Jays fan base.

You say: Rogers is a bunch of evil bastriches for moving more than half of the Jays remaining games to their just launched Sportsnet One service, denying the team's fans the opportunity to watch them at precisely the moment when interest in the team is blowing up. Money-grubbing iceholes!

We say: Save some of your consternation for your local TV service provider. By dropping all of your rage into Rogers' lap, you make it easier for them to bide their time and delay carrying the channel. And think about it this way: If your cable provider were to day "Fuck it. We're gonna drop A & E, so you'll have to find other ways to watch Intervention and Tanya Memme's spectacular rack on Sell This House", you wouldn't blame A & E for not getting carried, would you?

This is all part of a dance, and Bell and Shaw (who also own or are about to own CTV/TSN and Global respectively) would very much like to see the kids on Jarvis and Bloor twist in the wind for a while as payback for some prior tomfoolery.

Bottom line: Quietly seethe at Rogers for their timing, but call your cable provider like an angry Springer guest until they carry Sportsnet One if you want to see your Jays games anytime soon. Because the idea that the cableco's aren't going to move on this until hockey season is so depressing.

You say: Where the hell is J.P. Arencibia? And why isn't he playing everyday? He should just be playing in AAA as opposed to sitting on the bench!

We say: There's more to a catcher's development than getting reps and at bats. Spending time with the coaches, the pitching staff and the other catchers is an important aspect of JPA's initial stint in Toronto.

Yeah, his first game was pretty spectacular, and he's looked great throwing guys out on the basepaths. But we'd like to see him learn to put up as better target (which, as Drew pointed out, might not be his strongest suit.)

(Secondary thought here: Would it kill JPA to have a glove and chest protector that are different colours? Sometimes on screen, his black glove seems to get lost in his black chest protector. We're sure that the pitchers have a better view of it that we do, but still...would it kill him to grab a Lance Parrish signature mitt to give his boys a bright, unmissable target?)

Also, JPA's first magical game featured him swatting lots of first pitches into the heliosphere, but his subsequent games have seen him get jammed on those early pitches. Wouldn't hurt the kid to take a couple of pitches and work a count here or there.

And all of this is a lot more convincing after watching José Molina go 4-for-4 last night. Oh, you didn't see that? Oops. Sorry.

You say: It's a TRAVESTY and a DISGRACE that Travis Snider isn't playing every day. Future of the franchise! Pasty White Hope! Rosy-Cheeked Phenom! Let him play! Let him play! Let him play! Let him play! Let him play!

We say: The Manager actually has a wealth of productive bats from which he can construct his lineup, which means that Snider and FredDotLew are going to end up sitting maybe more than you feel is necessary. But we actually think that The Manager has done a good job of making sure that everyone gets ABs, and we'd tend to agree with his move to keep JoBau in right field rather than switching him to third and getting Edwin Encarnacion out of the lineup.

Oh, and BTW y'all: Since Snider's return on July 30, he's put up a .736 OPS in 48 plate appearances. EE? .809 OPS in 55 PAs. Just so you're not mistaken.

You say: The format of this blog post makes you think of Lisa Loeb, and that's not a good thing.

We say: Lisa Loeb is kinda hot. We're still not over her. She's so cute, prancing around coquettishly in that little dress. *Sigh*.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Depth in the formula

"The focus for us is to have a club that will have a sustained run of contention."

Boom. That's the money quote, right there. And now that it's seemingly starting to come together for our (yeah, "our" heard me, Wilner!) Toronto Blue Jays, it all seems so simple, doesn't it?

Build your big league club and organizational depth around young, cost-controlled pitching, and the rest will take care of itself. Dedicate assets to it. Make it a priority. You can never have enough. There is no such thing as a surplus. All the cliches apply.

....and they apply because they're all true. There's no such thing as a 5-man rotation. Not for 162 games, anyway. In a world where even the casual fan understands the implications of the phrase "Tommy John surgery", a steady supply of starting arms is no longer simply a luxury, it's a requirement. And if you happen to be so lucky as to escape the season relatively unscathed - you're probably the only one. Which means rival GM's will come calling, and you can name your price.

Friends, this is why I'm high on the future of the club. Under Anthopoulos, the Jays are well on their way to being there. Inheriting Ricciardi-era arms such as Marcum, Romero, and Cecil, Anthopoulos has added to the team's core strength by dealing for emerging ace Brandon Morrow and top prospect Kyle Drabek, and dedicating his first draft to further bolstering the arms race.

And just when you think you've got the near-future rotation all figured out (Marcum, Romero, Cecil, Morrow, Drabek...with maybe a spring push by Stewart), along comes Marc Rzepczynski tossing his hat (along with bowling-ball sinkers and well-placed offspeed pitches) into the ring.

So, yeah. I think AA might have it figured out. Mix in a core of young (and young-ish) hitters smashing the ball all over the park, a few well-timed and reasonably played upside trades (Wallace vs Gose), a blatant rip-job here and there (Morrow! Escobar!), a renewed dedication to scouting in general (fuck slot!) and Latin America specifically (Adeiny!)....and we just might be onto something here. Whether that "something" is the playoffs remains to be seen, but I'm optimistic.

Given the way the team is playing and the organization as a whole is can you not be?

More on RZep...
I stand firm in my belief that Kyle Drabek will be in the team's rotation plans next season - whether it's right outta' spring or a month or two in (arb clock...), which means that, barring trade or injury, there's no room in the rotation for Rzepczynski.

But he absolutely has to figure into the club's major-league plans next season, doesn't he? Would it be an egregious waste of his talents to assume a middle relief/spot start role - ie: a rich man's Brian Tallet? The value of such a pitcher can often go wildly overlooked - they're the dudes in the pen you don't notice unless they're getting lit up - and Rzep (though over-qualified) would fit the bill nicely.

Nice problem to have, isn't it?

...Less on JPA
How quickly the tides have turned. After following up one of the better big league debuts in, oh, history with a couple of 0'fers, seems JP Arencibia has earned back-up duties under the watchful eye of Cito The Manager Clarence.

Then again, it's tough to argue with lineup decisions when the club is playing as they are. So I'll hold off. For now.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Is The Manager the Manager of the Year?

Okay, we'll give you a second to gather yourself after reading the title of this post.

You okay? Alright? Do you want a glass of water? Do you need some air? Here: Why don't you sit down for a moment.

Tweeter Kyle Darbyson (@starbyson, y'all!) suggested earlier that we make the case for The Manager to take home the hardware at the season's end as the league's best bench boss. And as we read it, we're not sure if he was being funny, or if he was completely earnestly looking for us to make the case.

And here's the weird thing: We think we might even be able to make that case.

Let's back up a second, and get something out there before we indulge in this excercise: We're actually not a big fan of this sort of award. Throughout all professional sports, the Coach/Manager of the Year award is generally given to someone who has a team that everyone presumes will kinda suck but that doesn't quite suck all that much. In some ways, it's barely even a reflection on the job that the person has done at all...It's mostly just an attempt to account for the difference between what was expected based on the team's perceived talent and what was delivered.

The answer to that particular bit of arithmetic is almost always assumed to be the non-player personnel who is closest to the game. In fact, you almost always hear this conversation start around two-thirds of the way through the season, with pundits saying: "I tell you what: You look at the job that Lindy Ruff/Eric Wedge/Sam Mitchell/Dave Tippett/Felipe Alou has done with this team, and I think you've gotta give him serious consideration for the Manager of the Year/Jack Adams Trophy."

(Seriously: At some point this February, Darren Dreger is going to look away from the dozen members of the NHL on TSN panel and stare gravely into the camera and say something almost precisely like the statement above, and act as though he doesn't make the same rote argument year after year. And then he'll light up a stogie with a five dollar bill and head out into the Agincourt night, doing donuts in the parking lot while checking his Blackberry. Prick.)

Sorry, we kinda lost track of ourselves there for a second.

If you wanted to take this from that typical point of view, then yeah, we think there is probably a good argument for The Manager to get...(clearing throat)..."serious consideration for the AL Manager of the Year." In the Junior Circuit, the Jays are probably the team with the greatest discrepancy between what was expected of them and what they've actually delivered. However, since the Jays are too far out of contention at this time, it seems unlikely that the Jays' skipper would get much more than a passing thought. Especially not when you have a ready-made triumph over coked-out adversity story that is probably already written for you if Ron Washington gets the nod.

Does the Manager deserve consideration? Well, here's what we can say about him...and believe us when we tell you that we've softened considerably on him the closer he gets to leaving the dugout for good: We think that The Manager has surrounded himself/been surrounded with an excellent staff, and that he deserves credit for empowering Brian Butterfield, Dwayne Murphy, Pappy Walton, Rick Langford and Omar Malave over the past year. We want to see the Jays bring each and every member of the field coaching staff back next year, and we hope that whoever they name as The Manager's successor will not feel the need to shake up the staff to suit his own needs.

Moreover, we're actually kinda impressed with the degree to which The Manager has shown some flexibility on the lineups, and that we haven't found his bullpen management to be over atrocious. (It took him a while to come around on David Purcey, but he got there in his own time.) Plus, seeing The Manager give as good as he got to Kevin Gregg, making the thin-skinned jar-headed closer's eyes well up and throat tighten in the post-game interviews was something of a highlight, and likely necessary to beat the delusion out of his pitcher's overgrown noggin.

So when you add up all of that faint praise, does the sum equal a Manager of the Year trophy? Probably not. Maybe. Really, who cares?

Friday Rock Out - LCD Soundsystem
Woop woop. Hands in the air. The weekend's here.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Tasty morsels

(The image above was swiped from In case you hadn't heard, meats don't clash. Miam miam.)

We've probably spent too much time sharing with you our Pollyanna-ish enthusiasm for the present and future of the Blue Jays. So to give you a rest and to cleanse your pallet from our sugary-sweet concoctions (and to give us a break from thinking), here are some other savoury bits of knowledge.

Birds of a feather: It scares us to think that we might have just about the same thought process as the Drunks' Dustin Parkes (we kid!), but his internal dialogue from the past couple of days pretty much sums up what we were thinking. Blerg.

Downs views: Drew picks up one of the loopier lines of thought brought up in his liveblog on Tuesday, which asked whether if the Jays might retain the services of Scott Downs in the future. Also, he put this Sam Cooke song in our head.

Overbay, over and out? MLBTR passes on the news that Lyle Overbay has passed through waivers. We've got a post brewing on his time in Toronto, how we've grown attached to him, and how he was like an endtable that occasionally brought the room together. (Note: Metaphors may change without notice.) It wouldn't surprise us at all to see him move before the end of the month.

Big TV numbers: The Star's Zelk notes that the Jays pulled in more than 760,000 viewers - roughly twice the normal audience - for Sunday's near no-hitter. The Jays have put up pretty good numbers all year, which may or may not be due to the new PPM ratings systems. It will be interesting to track those numbers in the next few years, as the Jays' worth to Rogers rests primarily in their value as a television property.

Sportsnet One, Sportsnet None? Speaking of Rogers and ratings, don't be surprised to see bulk of Jays games move to the new national service Sportsnet One. (They've already announced that 25 games for this season will head to the new service.) The unspoken second half of this equation is the question of how long the other cable companies will drag their feet on carrying the new service. So if you're on Shaw, ExpressVu, StarChoice, Videotron or whatever, don't say we didn't warn you that you might get frozen out of some coverage in the short term.

And one more Rogers gripe: Any chance that the kids at Rogers are going to get going and launch Baseball TV anytime soon? Or ever? Considering the availability of the Big 10 Network, CBS College Sports TV, Golf, Speed, Poker, Harness Racing, Fishing, and the league-run entities of the NBA, NFL and NHL, it would be nice to think that we just might have access to a 24 hour baseball channel in time for the long winter offseason.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Random Quik Hits

Still geeked: Off days are never fun, in part because they remind you of what life is like in the offseason. (We totally stole that sentiment from a tweet by someone yesterday.) But given all of the ridiculous fun that we all had over the weekend, maybe we needed an extra day to savour what we'd just seen and let all of the past week's happy thoughts stay with us one more day.

Bring on Boston: After pillaging their way through the top two teams in the American League, we can think of no better way for the Jays to keep the good times rolling than to have the Red Sox roll into town. With the rotation making its way back to the putative top, we're anxious to watch RickRo, Marcum and Cecil pitch like men against Boston.

The Chase for Fifth!!!1: In case you'd forgotten, we're all about the Jays catching Boston and ending the season as the AL team with the best record who didn't make the playoffs. Sure, you can scoff at this goal as underwhelming...but if the Jays sweep the Red Sox in this series, they'll sit a game back in the Chase for Fifth!!!1

J.P. Arencibia's Accent Portends Awesomeness: After hearing a few interviews with the Greatest Blue Jays Since Scott Rolen (GBSSR!!!1), most of us seemed puzzled by the odd lilt in his voice. Is he Dutch? Swedish? Some odd Cajun/Slovenian mix? As it turns out, Arencibia's folks are Cuban, and he has somewhat of a touch of Spanish to his English. But what is particularly awesome is that Arencibia is apparently fluently bilingual, and spent his first few days floating between the Anglos and Latinos in the Jays clubhouse.

We've been on this language hobby horse for a while now, and if it offends your Libertarian sensibilities to think that language skills have any importance in the workplace, then fine. Mange d'la marde, mon gros toxon. But if we're hearing that the franchise's soon-to-be primary catcher is conversant in both English and Spanish at precisely the moment where the team is looking towards international signings as their key to competing and building, then that would seem to us to be an awfully good thing. We know that grunts and hand gestures and clipped sentences whatnot might work for some, but we can't help but feel like this will be an asset to the team going forward.

Poor Fred Lew: We're not sure what's going to happen with Vernon Wells' toe (which is apparently not broken, just dislocated). But with Wells potentially out of the lineup, it seems to us that Fred Lewis might find himself parked on the bench for the next stretch. Lewis doesn't play the field well enough to sub in at centre, and we imagine that Wells' absence will mean more time for Dewayne Wise and Travis Snider in the short term.

Wait a second: As much as we've softened on him lately, why would we assume any rational action from The Manager?

Monday, August 9, 2010

A storybook weekend

We'll confess to be a little overly obsessed with "the narrative": The ongoing story of the Blue Jays, which is written page by chapter by volume as every game, series, and season goes by.

The narrative, of course, is really only clear in retrospect, and a large part of what we spend our days doing around this blog is an attempt to anticipate or divine what the moment we're immersed in presently is going to mean for us a week or a month or a year onwards. Is this a turning point? Is this the moment we recall where the team's fortunes changed? Is it merely a spectacular moment, or is it something more?

We're not so bold as to assume that we know what this past weekend - and indeed, the entire week of series wins against the Yankees and Rays - really will mean in the grander context, years down the road. Maybe it doesn't need to mean anything at all, and we should all just savour the moment.

But how can you try to be measured and rational after performances like those? We can't remember the last time that we were so giddy from watching our team. From the brilliant Friday start from Brett Cecil, Saturday's otherworldly debut from J.P. Arencibia and Brandon Morrow's nearly perfect Sunday, it felt really great to be a Blue Jays fan this weekend.

You should celebrate the other J.P., too
In the midst of Arencibia's brilliant Saturday, a number of hacks felt the need to make an obvious joke at the expense of the former general manager: "You love this J.P.! You hate that J.P.! Ho ho!"

And yet, as we looked around this weekend, we saw a team whose foundations were laid by J.P. Ricciardi: Arencibia, Snider, Hill, Lind, Cecil, Romero, and Marcum were all drafted by the former GM, while Bautista, Overbay, Downs and Frasor were all acquired by him along the way.

We don't doubt that it was time to move on, and we think that Alex Anthopoulos has done some very smart things which would not have been undertaken by Ricciardi. But as this team starts to turn itself around much more quickly than many imagined, keep in mind that the team and its farm system were left in fairly good stead by the former GM.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

A two-sentence post on...The Toronto Blue Jays

Undoubtedly caught up in the moment (but who cares?), but I haven't felt this good about a Jays team since 1993.

Sort of feels like the future is arriving before our eyes, doesn't it?

I think he'll fit in

I mean, what do you want me to say about the debut of JP Arencibia?


Home run to left on an inside fastball - the first major league pitch tossed in his direction? Sitting back and smashing a double to right on a breaking ball down and away? A second home run to right field on a fastball away? Another measly single mixed in among his 4/5 major league debut?


Unbelievable, right? I kid you not when I tell you that watching the highlights, again, more than 12 hours after Arencibia's debut still leaves me with chills. It was an unforgettable performance for both The Player and the fans, and it's these moments exactly that allow the loyal to dream of better days in the near future.

And why shouldn't we? Arencibia could go 0/5 with 4K's in his next appearance, but why buzzkill just for the sake of it? For now, let's allow hyperbole to rule the day and dream that we've just witnessed a significant piece of tomorrow's puzzle find it's place on the board.

And its about more than just Arencibia - it's about Travis Snider continuing to prove he's ready to be a no-doubter everyday player, verging on stardom. It's about Aaron Hill and Adam Lind finding their forms as the season rolls through summer. It's about Yunel Escobar erasing memories of the never-ending search for a starting shortstop. And how about Eddie Encarnacion forcing his name into discussions and thoughts of "next year"?

With the starting 9, there are still holes to fill and names to pencil in - but not many. In his debut, JP Arencibia did his part to claim one of those spots in ink.

The Jays' young starters pitch like Men
Maybe I'm the only one, but loved this piece by Mike Rutsey on the personalities of the rotation. Then again, I'm a sucker for the cheese. I've made mention in these parts about how it really appears - the young starters in particular with Shaun Marcum as their leader - that this group of Blue Jays enjoys playing together, and maybe - just maaayybe - it shows in the results on the field.

OK, maybe not. But still, how good is this?

"Every time I come in after warming up before I start a game, Shaun (Marcum) comes over and says: 'Are you going to pitch like a man today?'

"Every time the answer is: 'Yes.' And we do the same thing to him. He's the oldest guy on the staff and we can say stuff like that to him."

C'mon, friends....not even a little?

Kyle Drabek is ready to pitch like a Man
He likely only has a few more starts before his innings-limit shuts him down for the year, so I'm going to continue banging the Kyle Drabek drum as a reminder to us all that the core of the rotation is not yet set in stone. Drabek's latest result?

6 IP-2H-0R-1BB-7K

That makes for 1 earned run in his last 3 starts (covering 18 IP), along with 12 baserunners allowed vs 15 Ks. That's significant, in that the right-handed starter sometimes described as "undersized" appears to be getting stronger as the season progresses.


A quick word on Jesse Litsch
He's an easy target, that Litsch. Not the most svelte athlete to appear in a Jays uni and not possessing the nastiest of stuff, he's an easy head to call for when better options appear to be on the horizon.

But I, for one, take no pleasure in hearing news of a player forced to undergo surgery and being disabled for 6 months. The career of a major leaguer is short, so effectively wiping out a 1/2 season of time is a massive blow to any player's shelf life.

I know that cutting remarks and cold dismissal of yesterday's flavor often contributes to blogosphere popularity, but I just don't have it in me to be brutal. Here's to hoping that Litsch manages his way back from his latest setback to resume a productive major league career.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

A One-Sentence Post on...Losing yourself in the moment

If you think that we're losing all semblance of reason around the Jays' callup of dreamy prospect J.P. Arencibia, you should know that we have just enough self-awareness to understand the lunacy in which we've chosen to indulge, and yet we've gone ahead and gone there all the same.

Friday Rock Out - The Pixies' "Here Comes Your Man"
Because when it comes to prized prospects: There is a wait so'll never wait so long. Have a great weekend, and say a soggy toast to all our drunken brothers.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

José Bautista is a Very Dangerous Man (and other new, weird feelings)

As we sat in the ballpark on Friday night, watching José Bautista step to the plate in the fourth inning with the bases loaded, we became acutely aware of a completely new feeling.: That JoBau has become a feared man at that plate for the Jays.

Maybe you can discount this, and maybe you need way more evidence and two more seasons of similar performances before you start to think of him as any sort of premium offensive performer. But for us, there was a palpable feeling in the air that night as Bautista strode from the on deck circle: It was the feeling of anticipation, because our best hitter was standing in for a key situation, and it was a sense that Bautista is the one player in the lineup who the other team does not want to see with men on base.

It's a feeling that we would have a few years ago, when Manny Ramirez or Alex Rodriguez or Albert Pujols or Barry Bonds would step in. Their at bats would simultaneously create expectations and anxiety, and you'd feel a sense of relief when you got through them unscathed.

(Okay: Hold up. Slow down. Take a moment and go with us here. We know that you can't wait to get into the comments, and tear us a new one over the ridiculously overstatement that you see in that paragraph, but we're using it to make a point. We could say: "This must be what it felt like Dante Bichette came to the plate", but we're trying to sketch something out quickly, and don't especially feel like digging to far down to find the precise comparable that is going to suit your needs. Stop being so picky.)

It's odd that this feels so novel, but the truth is that the Jays have not had the Jim Rice Feared Hitter in the middle of their order since Carlos Delgado left six years ago. There have been players who have had good seasons here or there, and we might have wanted to feel as if they were those terror-inducing offensive threats, but they never quite became that thing. But after nearly four months (plus a month last season) of being the most prolific power hitter in the Majors, it certainly feels to us as though Batista has affirmed that deserves to be treated with respect.

And as we were in that moment on Friday night, and wondering whether if any of this notion made a lick of sense, Bautista hammered a Justin Masterson pitch 424 feet into the left field seats, reaffirming every last absurd bit of that line of thinking.

...and other new, weird feelings and modest goals
It was disappointing to see the Jays cough up the last two games of the Cleveland series, especially given that both of them were eminently winnable games. But if it is any consolation, there is something in the manner that the Jays are playing through the last half of their schedule which we can't remember seeing in recent years.

Rationally, we'd have to assume that the Jays are more or less out of contention for the post season, but the Jays doesn't seem to be relenting or slowing down at all in recent weeks. If anything, the roster that they have assembled at this point seems as though it is the strongest team that they've put on the field in years, and that with the bench strength and bullpen depth, they might have enough to actually make a run at contention as soon as next year.

In the interim, we've mentally set a goal for the Jays for the remainder of the season: Fifth in the AL.

Sure, it sounds like not much, but we'd actually get some satisfaction out of seeing the Jays finish the season as the best team not the make the playoffs. It would likely mean catching up with Boston, who sit five games ahead of them in the standings, but with three series still to come against the Sox, that's a manageable number.

It might not seem like much of an aspiration, but legitimately leapfrogging the Red Sox and jumping into that fifth seed is one important step that could precede the next one: a postseason berth.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Get Ready for the Future

Coming into this year, the notion of "The Future" for the Jays was a dreadful one.

We say this mostly because the future was some unattainable goal, far down the road and only in some sort of hypothetical world where the Jays budget suddenly increases, and all of the draft picks pan out and the Yanks and Sox decline and the Rays return to the mean and the Orioles continue to suck. Once you start using that many cards to build your house, it's easy to see how it falls apart before you even have it built.

But the past week has been an interesting one for us. Maybe we've dropped our rationalistic guard a bit, or maybe we're just a little more attuned to what's going on inside. Whatever it is, we have to admit to feeling very differently about this team. Much of this new, weird feeling likely comes from the lead up to the non-waiver trade deadline, and what the action (and lack thereof) says about the direction that's being taken, and the current state of the franchise.

As the Jays moved from the spring to the summer months, the conventional wisdom held that the team would eventually stop competing and sell off just about everything that wasn't nailed to the turf. It's the sort of thing that signals to the fans that you've given up, and that you're just trying to make the most of whatever shit sandwich platter you have in front of you. But the moves made through Alex Anthopoulos' inaugural season at the helm have shown exceptional foresight, and an ability to recognize that moving early in some situations and standing pat in others can remove you from the perfunctory urgency brought on by the arbitrary dates on the baseball calendar.

Acquiring Fred Lewis early in the season and Yunel Escobar well ahead of the trade deadline helped set the Jays up to a point where they didn't need to move near the deadline. Moreover, the decision to move Brett Wallace - heartily criticized by yours truly on Twitter in the moments after it was announced - was facilitated by the fact that the Blue Jays have a plethora of corner infield and outfield options that are under control and reasonably priced. Even without Wallace's high ceiling bat (and fat ass) next season, there's a full cupboard for now and next year, and something (in Anthony Gose) for down the road.

As we've been moving the tiles in the slide puzzle around, it amazes us how many premium pieces there are already on the Blue Jays roster, and how little room there will be next year for new faces in new places on the 25 man roster. The Blue Jays could legitimately not pick up a single piece in the offseason, and still assemble a roster that has the potential to win 90 or more games in 2011. J.P. Arencibia and Kyle Drabek may well shift into the big club's plans for next year, as will Brad Mills, Josh Roenicke, and Marc Rzpeczynski.

A new first and/or third baseman may need to be found, although the Jays won't need to shell out in free agency or the trade market to pull in someone, especially when internal options include moving either Aaron Hill or José Bautista to third and possibly Adam Lind to first. Or they can settle for a player who is posting a 106 OPS+ in the coming year. Say what you will: Edwin Encarnacion is not a bad option.

(And to drive home the point, as Wilner has through much of this season: EE's career OPS is 30 points higher than Aaron Hill's. Cover their names, and you'd almost certainly pick EE to be on your roster.)

Through all of this, we're finding something to grasp that isn't a vision of the Jays that we're talking ourselves into. (If you want examples of that particular mindset, may we suggest the 1500 or so posts on this blog.) To us, the future seems less like something tantalizingly out of reach, and more like something that's about to come sharply into focus.

It's truly an exciting time to be a Blue Jays fan.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Who says there's no "#1"?

Long weekend is upon us, and that can mean only one thing - bonus Ack coverage! So, yeah....apologies in advance for that. And if I'm mowin' the Tao's lawn with this additional post, you'll know by my sudden disappearance from the interweb. He's brutal like that, man.

Truth be told, I was happy to rest on my laurels and call it a weekend, until I was spurred on by a comment over at DJF : to paraphrase, Kyle Drabek hasn't lived up to the hype and won't amount to much as a big leaguer. Mix in ongoing commentary in the media & beyond about how the system lacks that true #1, that hammer, that Ace that all contenders have....and boom - inspiration.

So, has Drabek been as good as the advance press clippings indicated he should be? Consider the following statistics:

Wins (yeah, I know...): 11 (1st in AA Eastern League)

ERA: 3.04 (6th)

Innings Pitched: 136.0 (2nd - vs 108 hits allowed)

K's: 103 (3rd, and while well below K/IP, note that not one pitcher in the top-20 exceeds 9 K/9)

WHIP: 1.18 (5th - walks allowed could use some work)

Oh, and there was this line on July 4th: 9 IP, 0H, 0R, 0ER, 2BB, 3K

...and he's still just 22. Far from old for the league he's pitching in. So given those statistics....does that look like disappointment to you? And given the mid-90's fastball, hammer curve, and developing change (it's the Blue Jays - you know it'll get there....), does it not seem like this could be the type of pitcher who can be The Guy? And if it doesn't, I'll ask you to tell yourself the following:

He'll never be Roy Halladay. OK?

Some point to his lack of promotion to AAA Vegas as a sign of disappointment, but if it's me, I never let the kid see one inning pitched in that league. New Hampshire is likely the best place for his development, and it's where he should stay until Jays' brass determine he's ready for his debut.

And about that is possible the Jays give Drabek a taste of major league life before he reaches his innings limit and is shut down for the season. What better way to prepare for a run at the 2011 rotation than to give the future ace a quick tour of life in the bigs?

Wild conspiracy theories: Latin America
So, I was thinking, as I tend to do only it possible that Alex Anthopoulos was further inclined to not trade Jose Bautista as part of his master plan to strengthen the Jays' foothold in Latin America?

Yes, I know - take off the tinfoil hat, etc. But think about it: the Jays have been making all kinds of noise about becoming the "preferred destination" for these players - a notion stated publicly by the front office (if not indirectly), and further strengthened by the recent aggressive signings these past few months of 16 year old phenoms along with the acquisition of "misunderstood" SS genius Escobar.

And who was tapped to be Esco's mentor? Jose Bautista. And who would make the perfect figurehead to point towards and say "look at how this player thrived in our organization"? Jose Bautista.

Perhaps there's nothing at all to this rambling, but perhaps the lack of appetite to move The Player has deeper roots than previously thought. And with the way Bautista continues to play for this club....that's a good thing.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Deadline dud.....or was it?

Well, that was that. MLB's 2010 non-waiver trade deadline has come and gone and I'm still trying to process how I feel about what happened with the Jays.....and I'm quite certain I'm not the only one in this boat. I was conservative with my own expectations, thinking one, maybe two bullpen arms (Downs, Gregg, Frasor) would be on the move, with an outside shot at a position player being dealt (Bautista, Buck, Overbay).

So what happened? Apart from "nothing", I mean. Are the Jays better off having left the roster intact? Or does the lack of movement rate as an opportunity missed? I'm going to be honest with you here, friends. I still don't know.

Deadline Good
I'm still firmly of the belief that Anthopoulos' strategy of targeting high-end, "game-changer" talent is the only way to build towards a long-term competitive club. The new regime will not deal for the sake of dealing, hording fringey prospects in the hope one might beat the odds and develop into a plus-regular at the major league level. And evidently, based on the fact that no deals were made, those were the types of players being offered. Hey Cashman - thanks for the call-back, but it's a top-10 guy or nothin'. Same for you, Theo. No favours for that little Nation of yours.

Opposing clubs are still, apparently, of the belief the Jays should act as a feeder club for the big-boy organizations, and just be happy they're taking portions of contract monies owed off their hands in exchange for warm bodies. By not budging and rolling the dice on expected compensation picks (and backing it up with spending on said draft - see 2010), this new Jays management regime is serving notice that their hands most definitely are not tied, and status quo no longer exists.

And hey - do we even have the right to complain that the team will remain competitive to close out the season by holding onto the major league talent? It's going to be a bad thing to watch Jose Bautista chase the home run title? You want to be stressed out watching Jesse Carlson pitch the 8th instead of Scott Downs? This has been an entertaining club this season, and figures to remain as such for the duration.

Deadline Bad
.....but I can't shake the following feeling: the Jays were motivated sellers, with assets in demand and eminently movable...and nothing got done. I do take comfort in the knowledge that players not traded will, in all likelihood, be rolled into compensation picks, during a draft year which talent evaluators promise has a deep, talented pool of players.

But that's also the catch - those compensatory picks won't produce major league players for two, three, maybe four seasons. That's if they develop into major leaguers at all. Dealing for prospects eliminates some of that doubt, and reduces the wait for expected MLB arrival.

Has the timeline for competitiveness been pushed back? Anthopoulos claims it hasn't, but coupled with the Wallace-Gose certainly hasn't been advanced. And regarding those comp picks....are we sure about those?

Scott Downs seems fairly certain to decline arbitration (doesn't he?), but, oddly enough, Jason Frasor continuing to pitch well and maintaining his type-A status might be the worst thing that could happen to the organization. Frasor might want to have a little chat with Juan Cruz about that whole arbitration decision. Bit of a pickle for Jays fans with this one. "Pitch well, Sausage King! Whoa whoa whoa! Not that well!"

And what of development? How does JP Arencibia see any meaningful at-bats down the stretch with All-Star John Buck holding it down? Or is he the org's next Brett Wallace? And with Lyle Overbay remaining the everyday first baseman - gotta give the guy a chance to earn another contract, right? - how does Adam Lind get comfortable at the position he's now expected to start at in 2011? Again, these are all difficult questions to answer, since as fans, we should want to see the best players play everyday.....but at what cost?

I still have confidence that Anthopoulos is building a winner. I know, long-term, he has a vision for the club and will work tirelessly towards building that winner. There's a part of me that thinks just maaaaybe he had a few too many balls in the air today, and they all came crashing down at 4 PM EST. But if the right deals weren't there, they just weren't there.

Seems simple enough, but I still can't quite figure it all out.