Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Are You There, God? It's Me, Dr. K

Listen, God. What the hell, dude? I don't know what you think we did to deserve this, but I'm crying uncle here. Are you pissed that I read The God Delusion and found it utterly convincing? Are you worried that the consistent success of all our major sports franchises will spoil us, so you feel the need to cut us down a notch or two? Whatever it is, we've clearly become the Job of large urban municipalities, and it sucks. You damn you, man, give it a rest.

Last night hurt more than almost any game in recent memory. And then tonight, as if to mock our pain, we were sucker-punched with a carbon copy of last night's game, only with a final cruel twist of the knife at the death. Utterly brutal. Dustin out-doctored the Doctor, and it wasn't enough. VW was given an opportunity to atone for last night's bobble, he took his chance at redemption with aplomb, and it wasn't enough. Rolen came through with another big double and a defensive play that gave us a glimpse into his renowned defensive bag of tricks, and it wasn't enough. Eckstein lined a ball off a little Bostonian's face, and even that wasn't enough.

This is exhausting, draining, and must be unhealthy.

In the interest of self-preservation, I'll end with one big positive thought, which a small part of me actually believes:


I mean it. The great pitching is here to stay, the terrible offence is not. Last week we put out a lineup featuring Rod Barajas in the 6 spot. Tonight we had Adam Lind batting eighth. The improvement, at least on paper, is dramatic. We also hit a number of balls hard tonight, but apparently every Red Sock is an illegitimate son of Brooks Robinson. One of these days, hopefully before September 30, the hits will start falling in and we'll be fine. The Yankees, Tigers, and Indians are all off to mediocre starts, so we're not far behind the teams I consider our main competition for the wild card.

All in all, the state of the franchise on April 30, 2008 is troubled. But it's not hopeless, even if that bastard God clearly has it in for us. Let's not wave the white flag just yet.

Angry Ramblings From My Angry Brother

My brother and I don't see eye to eye on all things baseball (or all things, generally), but we've suffered through the lean years together and we can share our frustrations with each other. So even though I'm more likely to blame our failures on Eckstein and Zaun, while he'll focus on VW (come to think of it, maybe he should be Canate's brother), at root we feel the same passion and the same anger.

This is a sampling of the emails I've received over the past couple of weeks (and if anyone has the Kids Help Line number handy, please feel free to send it along):

What a sad and pathetic display of gutlessness this week. Go Hinske.

I just don't know what to think anymore. Harry Leroy below 500, Hinske knocking them in......what the fucking fuck. Seriously.

I’m also flat out depressed about this f*cking team. I can’t believe how quickly they can crush that wonderful early-season optimism. That Red Sox series seems so long ago now…

I just can’t f*cking stand Ricciardi.

My jury was out on Ricciardi’s decision until now. I’m ready to officially proclaim it another boneheaded move.

He's now sent me a "guest post" that I'm quite happy to post, because for the most part I agree with what he says, and it spares me from having to relive last night's nightmare. Here it is - enjoy:

Trade Doc.

There, I said it. Like the proverbial father in a dirt-poor, no-chance town, I’m ready to reluctantly cast away my beloved gifted son. It’s for his own good, I’m sure of it.

Okay maybe there is no such proverb and god knows I have no gifted children, but my point remains. I cannot stand to see our stalwart leader beaten like this, time and time again, by his increasingly worthless and desperately pathetic teammates. No Blue Jay pitcher has lost three consecutive complete games since Jim Motherfucking Clancy did it in 1980. Quite the honour our boys have given their Doc.

The Red Sox didn’t beat Halladay last night. Eight weak and overpaid men (I’ll excuse Scott Rolen from this one) cashing Rogers cheques did. Our newly minted mega-millionaire striking out with a man on in the 6th did. A bush league manager who doesn’t know what a bunt or a manufactured run is did (with apologies to actual bush league, bunt-loving, run-manufacturing managers across the continent). A midget who weakly grounded into an inning ending double play did. And the most overpaid baseball player in the history of time did. A once “gold glove” centre fielder who now approaches the ball much like the lumbering, weak kneed Red Sox DH who cashed in the winning run. To those who’ll point to his near-decapitation (oh for another couple of degrees to the left) of the idiot jig-master on the mound as evidence of his doing something worthwhile, I’m looking at the big picture here okay? I’m so fucking sick of this guy. You want him Texas? He’s all yours. Come on Hicks, think of all the money you saved when A-Rod went to New York! We’ll even pay much of the freight (See Mr. F. Thomas for details).

I give Rolen three more weeks before he goes all Hillenbrand and starts writing motivational messages on the clubhouse board. JP will passionately deny the accusations (before shipping out the latest “clubhouse cancer”), Gibbons will mutter something incomprehensible, most of the players will say something diplomatic and Vernon will shrug silently.

God bless you Harry Leroy the Third. We don’t deserve you.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Strike Free

Because the Jays managed to meet the demands of Portnoy and Razzer (when they called up Adam Lind) the strike is officially over. But much like the ‘94 strike, there are some long-term ramifications. I can only speak for myself but I can honestly say I didn’t miss them that much. I was busy Saturday watching the Raptors and Habs find ways to lose home games they could have won so maybe that has a little bit to do with it. Still, I kind of enjoyed not caring that they apparently blew another winnable game on Saturday.

On the whole I hate bandwagon jumpers. I have been a Jays’ fan through thick and thin (mostly thin lately). I have seen the collapses (or “the collapse” as nothing comes close to ’87). I enjoyed the victories, the ’89 comeback, the almost comeback in ’90 (Brunansky never caught that ball!), getting to the play-offs in ’91, the faux-tomahawk chop and “Maldonado’s throw over everything” in ’92, and of course the “93-peet”. While I was there for the good I was also there trying to rationalize the John Olerud –Robert Person trade and the Pittsburg theft that brought us Orlando Merced. I have been exciting by a meaningless Jose Cruz jr. homerun in August of ’99 and put my faith blindly into the Buck Martinez era. All the while feeling resentment and anger towards those Johnny come lately fans who think talking Blue Jay baseball is repeating everything they read in the morning paper (and they are the reason Dick Griffin has a job).

But something funny happened on my one-day strike. I suddenly gained a little bit of understanding for the fair weather fan. There is much more to life than sports, but watching the majority of 162 baseball games, not to mention the hockey, basketball, football, futbol, etc, makes sports your life. And when your mood is dictated on whether or not your team won or lost there is something wrong. (Thank god I’m not a leaf fan) On the whole, life would probably be much more productive by not hanging on to every move your team makes. But on the other hand, not being a fan would have robbed me of some of the happiest moments of my life- the back to backs in 92-93, the Habs winning in 93, Team Canada Olympic gold in 2002.

For the bandwagon jumper these moments are also very exciting. They can not be as exciting because they didn’t live through every moment leading up to the victory, but they are still very exciting. Does the difference in excitement make up for the extra hours of dedication? I’m not sure. The sad part is I probably will never know. I am in too deep now, stuck in a place where I won’t be able to step away. And since I’m in that place, I ask that the Jays do me a favour. Please make the last 20 something years of stupid devotion pay off with a play-off berth. You know I deserve it.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Strike too

Lucky Portnoy, he picked a fine time to go on strike. I think I'm going to join him. On one hand I feel a little guilty going all TTC on the Jays but on the other hand, I have to look out for my well-being. Another loss like last nights might have me, like Canate, switching allegiances all together (Actually I would never pull a shameful stunt like that…or would I?)
Still, I have to protest. I can’t let the Jays get away with this shit. I have to do something. We have lost four games to Tampa and KC. These are four important games. If we miss the playoffs we can look back at these four games as the reason why. I know you can pinpoint any four games of the season in any given year but these four games are different. They are different because by not calling up Adam Lind the Jays are not doing everything they can to win.
Before you ask if Adam Lind could really have made a difference I want to ask you if you think Bill James knows baseball? If the answer is yes, keep reading. If the answer is no, let me direct you here .
Back to Bill James, he thinks Adam Lind will be our best hitter this year. While the Jays were in the process of sinking 7 million dollars into Frank Thomas not being here (who is off to a fine start with the A’s), the Jays are trying to save a potential million or two in the future by not calling up Lind immediately. Just one more thing that is inexcusable concerning the Jays.
So remember that number, four games. That is the number I will adjust this seasons win total with. And if Jays wins + 4 > wild card team win total, I will move to NY and call myself a Yankees fan. So like Portnoy I am on strike too. Until Adam Lind is in the line-up I will not watch another minute of Blue Jay baseball. What the Jays are doing, not so much on the field but in upper management, is fraken unacceptable. So say we all.

I Hate Short People

The buzz I felt leaving the ACC on Thursday night should have been strong enough to carry me through yet another two disappointing Jays losses. Not quite. Not with a loss like this one.

Last night's loss was doubly painful - first, because of what a win might have meant, and second, because of the way the game was lost.

For the last excruciating seven days, we've all had one far-fetched thought on our minds: maybe we just need one key hit to turn everything around, and maybe when Rolen returns he'll be the guy to do it. Well, he's back, and yep, he got the clutch 8th inning double to give us the lead. There it was - the big knock that would inspire his teammates, re-ignite the squad, and put a skidding halt to this destructive losing streak that's threatening to end this season before it's really begun.

Of course, here's where it all falls apart. All season we've been complaining about Gibby's failure ever to use the Prime Minister of Defence - at a minimum, he should be out there when Doc starts and when we have a late lead. Even Richard Fucking Griffin has been saying this, because anyone with one functioning eye knows that Johnny Mac is ten times the defender that the god-damn midget is.

The midget had already done his best to give KC the win earlier in the night, when he bounced a throw in what was a bang-on imitation of how my unborn daughter might someday toss a ball (with her wrong hand), leading to the then go-ahead run for KC. So what in the name of Manny Lee was he doing back out there at short in the bottom of the 8th with a two-run lead to protect and a vastly superior shortstop nailed to the bench? Is Gibby worried about hurting his pint-sized feelings? What the Christ is this all about? Even the early-season excuse of not wanting to take out your last back-up infielder is no longer valid, because Scutaro is around, for presumably the sole purpose of being the emergency guy on the bench.

So, in conclusion, Downs induced the inning ending double play, the midget flat out choked on it in the face of a runner charging down the line, and the game was lost. Sometimes I think my dad, who's never watched a game in which he didn't think half the players were bribed, might not be completely nuts. I'm just not sure whether the criminal investigation starts with Gibby or the midget. Can we just short-circuit the whole thing by firing them both?

The final wry laugh of the evening came when Fletch (whom I like, if only because of who he isn't) made the following nonsensical excuse for the midget (I paraphrase, because I was bit distracted by my fist being repeatedly driven into my own temple): "Well, he made the big error there, but there's nobody you'd rather have handling that play than David Eckstein". Excuse me while I take a flying header off my balcony.

We gave that game away, pure and simple. And with the slightest bit of heads-up managing, the loss could have been avoided. I'm through making excuses for Gibby and the rest of them. I wish I were the one who had declared a strike yesterday. Fuck them - today I'll be cheering on TFC, followed by a little pvr'ed Raptor action, and the Jays will be a distant painful memory in my mental rear-view mirror.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Overbay's not Gross

In discussing the Gabe Gross trade to the Rays, Baseball Prospectus stated , "it isn't like the Brewers should have any reason to regret getting Gross along with David Bush and Zack Jackson for Lyle Overbay and Ty Taubenheim; they still win that trade by default, not merely because they're the team that isn't employing Overbay, but also because both of the pitchers still hold promise."

How bad is Overbay? Pretty bad. A .726 OPS is not good.

Now I was against the Overbay trade, and was seemingly proved wrong in Overbay's first year with the Jays when he had a career high .880 OPS. Since then he's been craptastic. I hated to see Bush leave, less so with Softy Lefty, but the straw that broke my back (I don't own a camel, and must carry things myself) was giving up Gross. He has a cannon for an arm! And he just seemed like the talented version of Reed Johnson. He's exactly the type of throw in that haunts an organization, I argued. He's the kind of player you get a team to throw in, not give up on. The hitting version of Chad Gaudin, I said.

The question has to be asked; tw years later would you rather have Gave Gross or Overbay straight up? PECOTA projects a 262/ 360/456 2007 for Gross and a 262/337/416 for Overbay. Which, sadly, I agree with. Considering Gross can play all 3 OF positions, and isn't locked up to a large contract, it's overwhelmingly Gross in my book. In retrospect I think I win the argument.

BTW If those projections don't have you depressed, PECOTA predicts 260/317/428 for Lind. I think PECOTA's wrong here -- while right on Overbay --- Lind was horrible last year, but a rookie with great minor league stats 2005 through 2008. I think he'll bounce back to a plus 800 OPS.

I'm on Strike

Fuck this. Getting swept by Tampa while we threw a bunch of utility infielders and aging and/or backup catchers out there was excruciating. There was literally not one game in that series where I thought we had a chance to win, once Gibbons posted his lineups. Adam Lind continues his torrid hitting in the minors, and J.P. makes vague noises about something being done soon. What the fuck is he waiting for? What a joke. I'm now unequivocally on the Razzer/Canate "Fire Fuckface J.P." bandwagon. And I'm instituting my own "Fire Fuckhead Gibbons" bandwagon.

Until one of the following three things happens, I'm on strike (meaning no Jays games and no MOE posts): 1) Gibbons is fired; 2) J.P. is fired; 3) Lind is in the starting lineup, and any two of Stewart, Scutaro and Inglett are off the roster, and we sign a right-handed hitter who can plausibly DH or play a corner OF (or Barry Bonds).

Summer's around the corner, I've got a stack of books I want to read, the roof's cleaned up and we've refilled the cannister for the bbq, my wife's in a down period at work, and there's a shitload of great concerts coming up. I've got better shit to do than think about this useless fucking organization.

p.s. I reserve the right to change my mind for any reason.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Stick it to the G-Man

Tonight’s line-up is so horrendous that it needs it’s own post. And in this post I will go on, like I always have done and always will do, to defend my man John Gibbons. But before we get to my little conspiracy theory (or reality theory) I want to go over the line-ups from the last few games.

As of a week ago the line-up plays normal, and had been to that point in the year. The next night is another normal line-up. So why, suddenly, over the past four games are the line-ups so ridiculously stupid? Because Gibby is sticking it to the (General) Man(ager). That’s right, he is doing what so many of us want to do, he is telling JP to go and eat a dick.

Before you get all “that’s crazy” on me, let me explain. Gibby knows it is all about this year. This is the year the Jays have to do it because Boston and New York have a few holes and some young pitchers that need development time. So when hook-nose-fuck-face GM approaches him and says “yeah, I ugh kind of fucked up, make sure Thomas doesn’t get 300 more plate appearances this year,” Gibby’s response, naturally is “but he was our best hitter last year.”

So Gibbons, listening to orders goes and tells Frank. Frank gets pissed, and secretly Gibby is happy because he hopes Frank’s revolt will have him back in the line-up the next day.

However, the next morning Gibby comes in to work only to find out that his number five hitter has been released, despite the fact that an April slump is par for the course with him. Why, was he released? Because of a stupid dumb ass option that everyone new was a bad idea the moment it was signed.

This does not sit well with Gibby. Faced with managing for an organization that clearly will not do what it takes to win, Gibby gives the big fuck off and starts playing scrubs and three catcher/two SS combos. It is a protest that says “Screw off and let me do my job without having to cover for your stupid mistakes.” By sitting Wells, Gibby is drawing attention to the fact that Wells was another stupid contract destined to be released one day. Ditto for Overbay. Why play three shortstops? To show that all three of them suck. It’s the same reason he has two catchers and the gimpy left fielder in the line-up at the same time. Are you telling me Gibby didn’t say “Reed Johnson” as JP said “Shannon Stewart.” Of course he did, but for JP and Paul Godfrey (whom I hate, by the way) it’s about the money. So I say good for you John Gibbons, stick it to the dumb fucks who will fire your ass, at least you’ll get another job.

Let's Go Get Barry

I imagine some version of this post will make its way onto similar third-tier fan sites in 29 major league cities. has an article today in which Barry Bonds' agent practically pleads for some team to make an offer - any offer - for his much maligned client. Apparently, not a single offer has been forthcoming. And although the agent states (correctly, I suppose) that "the minimum salary wouldn't be a bona fide offer for a player of his stature", the implication is clear that Barry wants to play and would do so for a salary significantly below his true worth.

The article ends with the following quote from an "ownership source": "There are a number of very rational reasons why teams wouldn't go for Barry Bonds". I have no doubt that JP would say that very thing, if asked, as would Godfrey (although it would take Godfrey 15 minutes and 10,000 words to say it). Dick Griffin made the same sort of point in his mailbag this week - the usual nonsense about how Barry would bring with him distractions, drug peddlers, reclining chairs, jugglers, X boxes, mariachi bands, etc.

All of this is a bit ridiculous, isn't it?

I thought winning was the only goal. So the only justification for not going after Bonds must be that the various concerns/distractions he carries around his neck like so much bling outweigh the value he represents on the field. I just don't think that case can be made. Everybody knows this already, but Barry's numbers are good. Absurdly so. Seriously, what sort of "distraction" would he have to create to outweigh the 1.045 OPS he put up last year?

We simply can't win with the lineup we've been trotting out there day after day. It's April goddamn 23rd, and I feel like the season is slipping away.

Perfectly timed interlude:

I just this second received the following email from our man Portnoy: Have you guys seen tonight's lineup? What the fuck is going on?

I have not, and frankly I'm scared to look. But I know one thing about tonight's lineup: it would look better with Barry Bonds in the middle of it. And the man can probably be had for $2 million or so. At this point, what do we have to lose?

A Sinking Feeling

I'm surely not the only dispirited Jays' fan out there. I began the season full of optimism, looking at a roster whose major holes (SS and platoon catcher) were plugged in the off-season, and a division where the two best teams -- for the first time in recent memory -- made no significant moves to better themselves. Combined with the fact that the numbers had us better than our record last season, and that we suffered a devastating run of injuries (which surely could not repeat itself), I really felt that we had quietly assembled a contender.

But I'm losing faith. On the whole, I've supported J.P.'s moves as GM (not all of them, of course, but most), and enjoyed Gibby's work, aside from his too-frequent recourse to the pen. That's what troubles me so much about the team's recent shenanigans. Why hasn't J.P. called up Lind? He's over whatever minor injury he suffered on the weekend, and is currently hitting .379/.431/.621. Diaz might turn out to be a nice player (he was off to a hot start too, hitting .368/.390/.553 in AAA), but we don't need another catcher on the roster, unless the plan is to go forward with Barajas as a platoon DH. Suffice it to say, any plan which includes DHing a guy who can't get on base 30% of the time is no plan at all.

Gibby's lineups have been astonishing of late too. It's been commented on by others, but why, at this early stage of the season, with a depleted roster, are Wells and Rios getting off-days? Joe Inglett has done his part, but if Gibbons thinks he's making intelligent decisions by riding the hot hand, he's managing in a fog. Add in Gibbons' failure to properly use McDonald (how many innings does he have at short this year?) and his erratic handling of the pitching staff, and I'm at a loss.

Neither J.P. nor Gibbons is making the best use of the available resources, either on the roster, in the minors, or outside the team. If Adam Lind isn't up this week, and if Shannon Stewart and Joe Inglett are on the roster in mid-May, this ship is sunk.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

What's Next?

Three games against Tampa in Orlando. Our eyes might be 51% on another Toronto team in Orlando tonight, but the goings-on on the diamond could have lasting implications for the Jays season.

I suppose cutting Hurt was intended to nip in the bud a situation that, from JP's perspective, had the potential to spiral out of control. The danger is that the decision might simply accelerate the downward spiral rather than averting it. A couple more offensive bed-shittings like Monday's and the whispers will start:

(1) this team can't hit;
(2) yet they cut the guy who led them in every meaningful offensive category last year;
(3) they also cut a fan favourite who is now playing every day with an .808 OPS;
(4) to replace him with a noodle-armed has-been with a .589 OPS;
(5) and they put out a lineup the other day featuring three average/below average shortstops and two average/below average catchers (Razzer's point)

All those semi-colons might add up to the conclusion that these guys don't know what they're doing.

This way of thinking is similar to the analysis that draws a connection between the Thomas situation and the Lilly and Hillenbrand situations. Each is a unique circumstance and, taken individually, the team may arguably have been in the right in each situation. But when the "random occurrences" start to pile up and repeat themselves, the understandable knee-jerk reaction is to worry that this is a permanently sinking ship.

Three games against Tampa. Three righties starting for the Rays. With 2 or 3 wins and a decent offensive output we can change the narrative. The ship will be righted, Lind and Rolen will ride in on their white horses in a few days' time, and the decision to cut Hurt will in time seem like the right one.

But if we lose, and do so with the same degree of offensive impotence and ineptitude we showed on Monday, I worry that the wheels could fall off (I know, it was a ship a couple of pargaraphs ago. Now it's a car. Deal with it).

I never thought a mid-April series against Tampa could be so damn meaningful.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Healing the Hurt

In a shocking turn of events Frank Thomas was released by the Blue Jays. But you already knew that. I'm not going to analyze the decision (though we should start a section here at MOE called "Things we know more than the Jays." It could include things like Jays should release Clayton, draft Tulowitzki, start Marcum and McGowan over Ohka and John Thomson etc.), but lets look at what we do now.

Against righties we're looking good with:

DH: Stairs
LF: Lind

Against Lefties we have some questions:

LF: Stewart over Lind
DH: Insert Lefty DH here.

Option A:

There is no obvious in the organization choice here. I guess we could go with Barajas at DH, but that hurts my feelings. So I suggest a small trade ... for Josh Phelps. Yes, Josh Phelps, here me out. He's a lefty masher. And is stuck in the St.Louis organization. I'm sure we can get him for a song, and he'd actually work for this team.

Option B:

Sign Barry Bonds. I'd love to hear the media's take on Frank Thomas being replaced by Barry. Oh, the high horses that they could stand on!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Frank Thomas Can Eat a Dick

Hurt is pissed because he got benched today.

In his last seven games, he's slugging .148. God forbid the guy should get a day off. It's not as though the fat bastard's been hitting frozen ropes right at people either - he's looked utterly overmatched, and if it weren't for his plate discipline, which remains good, he would be less than useless.

He's bitching that the benching reflects an intention on the part of the team to keep him from reaching 376 PAs, at which point his contract for next year will become guaranteed. To me, this stinks of a preemptive strike on his part - a shot across the bow to let everyone know that if the benchings become a regular occurrence, he will take the ship down with him.

Fuck him. Show up ready to play from day one for a change. We can't afford to wait for him to turn it on after the break when we're 25 games out. JP and Gibby need to stand firm - nobody should feel safe about his place in the lineup, least of all a whingeing, glacially slow, one-dimensional player who's failing completely to do the one thing he's paid (a shitload) to do.

A .500 Kinda Town

Remember the Seinfeld episode in which Jerry decides that he's Even Steven? That's us, Toronto.

The three major sports franchises in this town are all at .500 - Raps at 41-41, TFC at 2-2, and the Jays at 9-9. (Apologies to the Toronto Rock for excluding them from this list)

It's strange (although perhaps not surprising) how different each of those .500 records feels - in the case of the Raps it feels like a significant step backwards and a big disappointment, albeit tinged with hope that things could be made right in the coming weeks. For us TFC fans, it's pure elation - the first time in our brief history at .500, made even better by the fact that we've played 3 of the 4 away from home. Just as importantly, the TFC fan experience is so spectacular that wins and losses seem, at some level, almost secondary. On the Jays front, it's a mixture of disappointment and hopefulness, but above all it's befuddlement. Our RS-RA suggests we're much better than a .500 team, and it boggles the mind that - in a season where we've had maybe two or three bad games from a starter out of eighteen - we somehow find ourselves stamped with the mark of mediocrity.

We have to start hitting, and we have to start winning the close games. I'm not holding my breath for a SkyDome fan experience that allows us to transcend wins and losses. When it comes to the Jays, it's all about the record, and 81-81 won't do at all.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Welcome David Purcey (Don't Unpack Your Bags)

JP must be giddy today as another of his wonderful 1st round selections makes his Major League debut tonight.

David Purcey, the big 6'5" 240 lb lefty, arrived in Toronto last night and gets the start tonight in place of Burnett.

He did cross the border earlier this week with his wife to see the Canadian side of Niagara Falls, as he had heard it was much nicer than the US side (yes, the grass is greener too). The Border officials were not impressed as they noticed the Texas license plates and searched his car (aren't we glad Canada has not let real terrorists into this country). His car was not searched as he crossed to join the Jays - pitching for the Jays was a valid reason.

Purcey was drafted 16th overall (1st round) in the 2004 draft, ahead of names like Phil Hughes and Huston Street BUT after guys like Matt Bush (now a pitcher), Phil Humber, Jeff Niemann - who have yet to pan out. He was taken before Zach Jackson too whom the Jays selected in the supplemental 1st round and then traded to Milwaukee (he hasn't shown much in his Major League outings).

Purcey is 2-0 so far this season with the Skychiefs with a 1.89 ERA and 21K, 6 BB in 19 IP.

So let's see what this kid can do. Will he be another JP bust? I'm looking forward to another Litsch like debut.

We Need Big Dongs

We've hit 10 home runs this year, in 16 games. That means we're on pace for 100, which is not good. Obviously this is a small sample size blah blah blah, but fuck that. Would it kill our guys to put the ball in the air once in a while? More than half the positions on the field are not a power threat at the moment. It would be fine if we were hitting gappers (aren't we supposed to be a doubles-hitting powerhouse?) but so far we have 23 two-base hits, the second-fewest in the league. I'm sick of stranding all those baserunners that we have been getting, or worse, seeing all those DPs (and not the good kind). Let me check that [momentary pause]: yes, our hitters have grounded in 24 double plays, tied for most in the league.

Everyone's noticed that Thomas looks terrible out there. Let's start by calling up Lind, get him playing almost every day, and platoon Thomas with Stairs at DH. Thomas over the last three years has hit .292/.424/.600 against lefties, while Stairs has hit .273/.357/.484 against righthanders. That would improve two positions. Do it now, J.P.

Of course this is a knee-jerk reaction, but it's unspeakably brutal to have to watch our offense right now, even if (by runs and OBP) we're not that bad.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

A baseball broadcast brought to you by John Yoo

Rance Mulliniks is terrible. For anyone who watched last night's game, there is surely no need for me to say more, but it is said that victims of abuse sometimes derive cathartic benefits from sharing their experiences, so I'll add a bit more.

He is utterly banal (useful synonyms: trite, obvious, predictable, hackneyed, devoid of freshness or originality. Used in a sentence: The banality of the speaker's remarks put the audience to sleep. Nice one,!). I assume he gets paid by the word, because he never fails to use 10 words where 2 will suffice. Worst of all, he's dumb as a sack of rocks and has the grammatical abilities of a third-grade dropout.

We often assume that people who look like enormous nerds are intelligent - on the theory, I suppose, that "God" is fair and distributes blessings and curses relatively equally. The obvious converse is the assumption that beautiful women and handsome men must be dumb. I have long since laid the latter assumption to rest, and Rance must surely be exhibit A for the flaws in the former assumption.

Last night's broadcast was chock-full of Mulliniks-ian low-lights, but the absolute nadir came when Sportsnet vomited up a graphic that demonstrated, to the utter shock and amazement of all eight people still watching, that the Jays this year have hit better, and scored more runs, in the games they've won than in the games they've lost. A moderately decent commentator would have seized the opportunity to poke a little fun at the obviousness of it all. Rance - not so much. Joined by his partner in banality, Jamie Campbell, Rance expounded on this point at some length, then posited that, if you looked around the majors, you might very well see this pattern repeating itself. Finally, he suggested that their in-house stat guy Scott Carson do some research on this point.

All in all, I think I lost 25 IQ points sitting through the entire shit-show. If they persist in foisting Rance on us every other series, they should at least insist that he alternate innings with Garth Iorg.

A baseball game brought to you by John Yoo

That was pure torture. And I'm not just talking about listening to Rance Mulliniks for 5 hours (more on that later).

It would be tough to bemoan our bad luck and missed opportunities when the fact is that (1) Texas had far more opportunities than we did to put this brutal game to the sword, and (2) the only reason we ever reached extra innings was Broussard's shocking error in the eighth. But still, man, we sure could have used a timely sac fly from the Midget in the 8th or the formerly great Joe Inglett in the 10th. Vernon also had a couple of chances to get the decisive hit, and made great contact on both occasions, but it wasn't to be.

It's painful to think about the game, let alone write about it, so I'll limit myself to a couple of thoughts:

(1) Gibby might at least consider the possibility of extra innings when managing his bullpen. Burning through the entire pen by the 11th inning was absurd, and put us in a terrible situation.

(2) Good on AJ (and, apparently, all the other starters) for volunteering to go out there. But man, was there any doubt at all that we were dead the second he toed the rubber in the top of the 14th?

(3) Jesse Carlson's performance last night should go in the annals as one of the best, and gutsiest, pitching performances in Jays history. Seriously. The guy is one week removed from his ML debut, he was brought in to an extra inning game with the bases loaded, and he struck out the side! It was pure brilliance. And then he added on another two scoreless innings to boot. His stuff looks nasty as hell against lefties, although I have my doubts about his likelihood of sustained success against righties. Regardless, we may have stumbled upon another lefty specialist, which would be great since when Downs trots out from the pen I still see the useless 2006 version, not the surprisingly decent 2007 version.

(4) Zaunie looked like shit on the game-deciding passed ball (Rance said he did everything right, which I take as rock-solid proof that he fucked up). He made a superficial attempt to block the pitch, but he left a Lohan-esque enormous hole between his legs. I'd forgive him if he had played a full 14 innings, but he came in half way through the game for Fat Rodney.

(5) Maybe it's just me, but the difference between 8-7 and 9-6, from a psychological perspective, is huge. I don't know why, but to me 9-6 sounds like a winning team well on its way to a 90-win season, while 8-7 sounds like a team that just scrapes by and will be happy with 85 wins. Fuck.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Adam Lind Watch

Lind is now at .391/.442/.696 (1.138 OPS) over 51 PAs in Syracuse. It won't be long now.....

Uh, Tabby?

Campbell: Marcum hasn't had to worry much about pitching from the stretch tonight.

Tabler: He's hardly had to worry at all about base runners tonight.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Rolling Rolling Rolen ...

So good news, right? Scott Rolen is ahead of schedule in his rehab!!! "I've started hitting. I've been throwing. Baseball preparation-wise, I'm ahead of schedule," Rolen said. Of course he followed that quote with this caveat. "The time frame (for return) doesn't change because of the healing process. That nobody can speed up." What? Wait, wait, wait. So what exactly is he ahead of schedule of? This sounds suspiciously like a non-story? Which translates nicely into a non-blog post. Thank goodness we have Inglett manning the hot corner.

In other news, old friend Orlando Hudson is looking for 15 milion next year! Which I think is ridiculous. O-dog's great defensively, but not a 15 milion dollar player, right? And then I checked out his numbers. Compare his last three years to this all-star who received a seven year 126 million dollar contract. (C'mon, you know I ain't talking about a contract without talking about the contract. Just like I shall only refer to the shortstop position as the place where Troy Tulowitzki plays --- I've typed that name so many times I can actually spell it from memory. And I still mess up "your" and "you're.") Maybe they're not identical, but I'd be convinced that a 2nd basemen of superhuman D-skills like O-Dog trumps a CF of Vernon's possible B+ defense. Now I'd rather have Vernon this year straight up, but a 3 year 45 million dollar for O-Dog deal, while not wise certainly doesn't look preposterous, does it? Especially in light of Delgado's, Oops I mean Vernon's, albatross contract (Sorry I got confused with what the Pimp thought of Delgado's contract when he took over, with what the next GM thinks of Vernon's.)

Monday, April 14, 2008

That's better

We mostly sucked, yet we got the sweep. I'll take it. The bats were horrible all weekend, but our horribleness was hugely trumped by the overall stink-bomb that the Rangers laid. If a team played like that in the first week of spring training you'd worry a bit; when they play like that two weeks into the season they should probably have their franchise contracted.

Any time we go into Arlington, I hold my breath and hope to leave with at least one win and with the entire roster intact. So this was good, on the whole. A few quick thoughts:

- our offence looks pretty troubled at the moment. Vernon and Hill (and, of course, Joe Inglett) are the only guys hitting at an acceptable level. Without them we'd be seriously fucked. Rios and Hurt haven't looked good for a week; Lyle hasn't looked good in twelve months (of note: last April I remarked to someone that his gorgeous swing makes him "slump-proof". He has been in a slump pretty much since that day); and we're getting very little production from C, SS, 3b, or LF.

- good on J.P. for deciding that Scutaro's production to date has been unacceptable and making a change. I doubt Joe Inglett will be the second coming of Mike Schmidt, or even Kelly Gruber, but there's no reason we should have to grin and accept 0-for-4 from the 3B position every night till Rolen returns. Even if Inglett never plays for us again once the man is back, at least he played a big part in an important series sweep.

- B.J. looked good, the leadoff triple notwithstanding. He buckled down and absolutely dominated the last three guys. I still worry that he's back too soon, but fuck it, we're going all in this year, and if it means taking a few risks along the way so be it. The rebound effect on Accardo will hopefully be huge as well.

- we need to come up with a term other than "stealing home" for what Zaunie did the other night. It was a nice play, but it's an insult to the memory of Jackie Robinson and Rod Carew and Aaron Hill to compare that to the situation in which a guy actually outraces the pitch to the plate.

- the Texas TV guys were surprisingly good. I was initially pissed at Rogers for relegating the games to some backwater channel and forcing me to listen to the other team's TV crew, but now I wish we could have them every night. They made more witty comments in one night than Jamie Campbell has in his career (I enjoyed their reference to Frank Thomas "moonwalking into third base" and their repeated insistence that Joe Inglett, while doing a good job, was "no Buck Coats". Both sounded funnier than they read, I swear.).

- Leroy is so fucking good, he makes me weep. He was absolutely filthy on Saturday night.

- We're back in town on Wednesday. It's supposed to be somewhere between 15-20 degrees and sunny. If the roof is closed I will stage a one-man Attica uprising that will make them wish for simpler times when all they had to worry about was toonie Tuesday riots in the upper deck. You've been warned, Will Hill.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Not Too Sexy

And that's all I'm going to say about the Oakland series.

I'm worried about LF. Matt Stairs was sexier than Candy Maldonado last year, but the dude is older and gimpier than John McCain, and he doesn't even have the excuse of being tortured for a decade by the Vietnamese. Between him and Stewart, there's limited upside from that outfield corner. I'm not mourning Reed Johnson (one scrapper is enough for this team, thank you), but I am starting to get the hots for Adam Lind again.

Obviously, last year was not good (a putrid .278 OBP, and that number doesn't even go up much when you take out Lind's sweet .194/.243/.299 line against lefties). But this is a guy who at the beginning of last season was in a lot of ML top-25 prospect lists. I find that prospect gurus tend to wildly overrate the impact young players can have when they break in, and also lose interest too quickly when that doesn't happen. No-one who doesn't follow the Jays ever talks about Lind any longer, but discounting a guy because he struggled at age 23 seems short-sighted. He's off to a ridiculous .448/.500/.759 start in AAA. I say give it a month, and -- if he's still hot -- install him as the starter for the big club.

In other news, future HOF Travis Snider is at .259/.333/.593 in the Florida State League. I'm excited for our future Lind / Rios / Snider OF, with a $150 million fourth outfielder.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Beating the Shit Out of a Dead (and Short) Horse

I acknowledge that we might have bigger problems right now than our leadoff spot - like the fact that our #1A just got roughed up by a glorified AAA lineup.

But seriously, can anyone articulate a single good reason why Eckstein is leading off while Hill languishes in the lineup's nether regions?

I acknowledge that the little dude seems to have a preternatural ability to drop in bloop hits and force errors out of otherwise decent fielders, but the fact of the matter is he's taking ABs away from Hill.

Taking as a given that lineup order means dick except insofar as it affects who gets how many ABs, the lineup as presently constituted makes no sense to me. If it stays as is, when all is said and done Eckstein will have 50-100 more ABs than Hill over the course of the year. If there is anyone who thinks he will make better use of those ABs than Hill would, please speak up so I can punch you in the face now and mock you in September (when I take a break from mocking Canate for being so wrong about VW).

I can't help but think Gibby is resorting to the old fall-back position of "small scrappy guy with some speed and no power = leadoff guy", and this disappoints me because I thought/hoped he was better than that.

Maybe I'm just pissed that we lost.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Let's Not Cream Ourselves When the Prime Minister Takes the Field (Just Yet)

The conventional wisdom around these parts is that John McDonald is a wonderful gloveman, and Eckstein stinks. The naked eye supports this, and (Canate told me on the phone tonight) so do the Baseball Prospectus writers. (Note: PECOTA can still blow me, after it finishes with Dr. K).

But let's take another look, using BP's own advanced stats. Bear in mind that Eckstein and McDonald are both 33 this season. According to BP's RAA2 (Fielding Runs Above Average, adjusted), over the past 4 years McDonald has registered 3, 6, 6, and 16. Over that same period, Eckstein scored -12, 11, 19, and -10.

What does that tell you? Honestly, it doesn't tell me shit, other than that fielding ability fluctuates a great deal year-to-year, and that it remains insanely difficult to measure. Mcdonald probably was a lot better than Eckstein with the glove last year, but he was also much better (at age 32!) than he had himself been in the past. What are the odds that he will be as Ozzie Smith-like going forward? I'd say they're slim. Players probably have career seasons in the field, just as they have career seasons at the plate. And it's likely we witnessed JMac's version of a Brady Anderson 50 in '07.

I'm not saying McDonald can't be a useful cog on this (totally awesome) team, or that he shouldn't form half of an offense/defense platoon with Eckstein. I'm just saying that the argument that he should get 140 starts, with Eckstein on the bench (despite giving up -- according to the career #s -- 80 pts of OBP and 50 pts of SLG to the scrapper), is not automatic.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

The One With McCain Punch!

That was awesome on Friday; the powder blues, the patchy field turf, the packed house, the homer hankies, the fireworks haze- I was there, I was fucking there. I was back in the hey day of Blue Jay Baseball. Combine that with a Hentgen like gem from Marcum, a sweet little comeback win, and really who could ask for anything more-for one night anyway.

The first four games have had that playoff intensity to them but more than anything it had to do with circumstance. Saturday is the day that for the first time it will feel like April baseball. If the Jays can pull it out on Saturday, it will be absolutely huge. But before we move on to Saturday’s game, the goods and bads of Friday need to be discussed.

    Although the Big Hurt did have a huge hit it was after all a shoddy change-up that he got around on so quickly. The hit was good for the ego, but if your expecting any type of breakout resulting from it you will be disappointed.

    Matt Stairs, awesome.

    Alex Rios signed a new contract, I’m pretty split on it. If he continues on the path he’s on it’s a great deal. But there is a chance, with all that money guaranteed, that his attention to baseball wanes slightly. It’s a bigger concern than one might think.

    Aaron Hill also signed a new deal. This one was totally fucking amazing and I have no complaints at all. Hill also has continued to drill everything at the plate. Fuck man, he is smoking right now.

    Marcum was awesome. It was sweet to see at home. His home and away splits were nasty last year.

    Robbie Alomar was inducted into the level of excellence, even though he referred to it as getting his number retired. It’s a good move as Robbie was truly amazing to watch. The one thing I really wish hadn’t happened to him, and it's not the spitting-maybe that douche ump deserved it- I wish Robbie hadn’t shit the bed so bad when he was traded to the Mets. It might impede his HOF push. Hopefully he still gets there.

    Paul Beeston was also inducted to the level of excellence. Apparently Vernon Wells Senior is too busy spending his boy’s cash and no longer works so they had to get some other guy to do the portraits.

    They showed Jesse Litsch on the bench, and he was wearing one of those necklaces that Burnett, McGowan and Marcum have. Is Harry LeRoy too cool for one? That would be a good unity thing right there that would be.

    Finally, the pen was awesome. So far this year they have given up 1 run in 8 innings and Randy Wells, Jason Frasor and Brandon League are yet to make an appearance. As for the starters, well that is four consecutive quality starts.

With Litsch vs. Bucholtz a Jays victory would be a theft but after two tough losses in NY they kind deserve one. I couldn’t find the original but some dude in Cuba does a pretty good imitation of our headline. (Okay, it's not good but it's the only one I could find).

Friday, April 4, 2008

Bill James - Yes, He Does Really Exist

For you Sabermetricians, this is a good profile of Bill James from 60 Minutes last week.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

1-2; Fire Gibbons

I’m disappointed in tonight’s loss but it’s hard to pinpoint exactly why they lost other than to say they didn’t get the bounces. So far they are 0-2 in one run games and their Pythag record has to be at least 2-1. Basically, like game one, the loss came down to shoddy D (Scott Downs) and a little Yankee luck (the Abreu flare). They could have easily won one of those games and if they keep playing this way good things will happen.

    The Big Hurt went a little overboard but I understood where he was coming from, I was screaming at the fucking ump all game. He had a most inconsistent strike zone. It was brutally shitty on both sides so I’m not doing a “Jays got robbed bit” although they kinda got robbed on that last called third strike to Aaron Hill to end of the game.

    Vernon Wells is too fat and slow and the announcers really need to emphasize the “former” part of “former gold glove winner Vernon Wells”. It might be time for him and Rios to switch positions. Wow, that contract is going to cripple this team.

    Aaron Hill has had an unsteady three days in the field and he needs to smarten his ass up and start making plays. Who the fuck does he think he is?

    There were some positives to be taken from the game, including the intensity the Jays had again tonight. The still have that feel to them, who knows if it was the addition of Rolen and Eckstein or Stairs and Thomas being around another year or Halladay’s calling out the troops, but something is different about this years Jays (so far). I think the Pie in the face days might be a thing of the past.

    Dustin McGowan battled through six innings despite having the shits the past couple days and not having quite the control we are used too. The bullpen did an adequate job despite the hairy eighth.

    I can’t wait for Ryan and Rolen to get back and for the Jays healthy return to Yankee stadium. We are going to play them tough all year.

    Finally I’m still waiting for the Yankees to sign Joba to a lucrative long term deal so he can hurry up and tear his labrum.

Moving forward the D needs to tighten up, it has just not been acceptable thus far. More importantly Eckstein needs to be hitting 9th if he is going to play everday or until Johnny Mac wins the job.

I’m not liking are chances this weekend but hopefully we can split the first two and have a Halladay vs. Dice-K Sunday game to decide the series.

How Do I Loathe Thee?

I've hated Eckstein from afar for some time now, and it's turning out to be a real treat to hate him from a-close.

I suppose, to be fair, that seven seasons are a truer indicator of his likely performance in '08 than are two games in April, but I don't feel like being fair. So until he gets off the schneid, I fully expect a season with a .000 OPS and an OPS+ of -100 (and, just to be gratuitous, somewhere around 162 GIDP).

I remember when we signed Jack Morris back in '92, whom I'd hated from afar seemingly forever, I was determined to give him a fair chance. He got the Opening Day start, gutted out a win in Detroit if memory serves, and I announced to all within earshot, "I think I'm gonna be happy with this guy". That didn't last long, and I despised him through all 21 wins, and then especially through his WS choke job and subsequent steep decline.

I'm glad I won't have to go through that awkward intermediate phase with Eckstein - I thought he sucked before, I think he sucks now, and I fully expect him to suck forevermore.

His only chance to salvage our relationship is a game-winning homer off Papelbon this weekend.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

A win is a win

Told you it wasn’t all bad. The Jays looked good and pounded the Pussina like Rios pounds Pusina. I am very happy because apparently my post yesterday was bang on (more on that later). I’m really liking the approach the Jays are talking. Grinding out at bats with the hitting and throwing strikes with the pitching. The biggest difference between the Jays and Yankees this year is starters 2-5 and relievers 3-7. This is the reason I believe the Jays are legit. Soon as McGlovin is the short stop, the wins will come in bunches.

In other news, Jeff Blair has an interesting article that covers everything I mentioned yesterday, including the Yankees looking un-Yankee like, Joba showing up Hurt, and how Joba is going to get his just desserts-he also mentions how the fat toads father has polio. Now if only if I could write like Blair maybe I would be able to quit my job at 7-11.

Joba (the hut)Chamberlain Now

Joba (the hut)Chamberlain in College

I’m looking for the Jays to win tomorrow if McGowan gets over the shits he aparantly has. I’m uneasy with Marcum and his fly ball tendencies going against seven lefties and the short porch in right. But if McGowan is throwing bullets, we’re going home 2-1.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

It's not all bad, really I swear

A loss is a loss. But the Jays looked like winners for the most part. In fact, the Jays looked more Yankee like than the Yankees They carried an impressive professional look throughout the game that has me feeling good about the team. The looked like they mean business. It was actually sweet to watch. I haven’t really seen that since back in the day. Anyway, some game observations that have me feeling giddy even though they let one get away.

  • Shannon Stewart looked good in his at-bats against Wang. He had one hit, stung another one right at Cano and considering he was facing a righty the platoon in LF should work out.

  • Rios was awesome tonight. He went 1-2 and took two walks, including laying off a nasty slider against Joba to get the tying run on in the 8th. Rios will be our best hitter this year.

  • Wells looked like a tub of shit and his hitting looked even worse. He was horrible at bat and in the field. He has been in the league long enough to play Damon’s hit on a bounce, the play reeked of trying to do too much, and one game into the year that’s not good. He hit the ball on the ground way too much. I’m worried here. I made the Vince Carter comparisons when he signed the deal and I’m afraid I might have been bang on with it.

  • Frank Thomas looked much better than he did all spring. He wasn’t behind and his timing looked good. I expect similar numbers to what he put up last year.

  • Overbay was absolutely awesome in the field all night. If they get that type of D from him all year it’s a big plus. He was a fucking hoover out there. Awesome. His shot to the track, which is a homer in the summer, gave hope that his power might be back and his hand healed.

  • Aaron Hill hit everything hard and in the air. Solid, solid, solid. However, there is no way he cannot make third with Johnny Damon throwing the ball in from the center field wall. He has to get there, especially with the bottom of the order coming up behind him. I expect Hill to be our second best hitter this year.

  • Zaun had some great at bats and threw out a runner, really you couldn’t ask for more.

  • David Eckstein should have a short leash. He needs to hit .300 to be in line-up, if not McGlovin should play. Defensively McGlovin tags Giambi and sets up a one-out/runners at the corners situation with Posada, who looked overmatched all night, up. Despite the gaff the Jays could have a had the DP if Hill makes a play he normally does.

  • The Jays line-up should eventually be Sewart/Stairs, Hill, Rios, Thomas, Rolen, Wells, Overbay, Zaun, McDonald. When it is, they will win more than they lose.

  • Some other thoughts on the game. I was impressed with the three stolen bases (although one was a missed hit and run). The three thefts were in good situations and they all worked out. The defense was sub-par although I can’t wait to see an infield with Rolen back at 3rd and McGlovin at short. Stairs is obviously not well enough to swing the bat otherwise he is hitting for Scutaro in the 9th. Overall, considering we(the royal we) faced the three best pitchers the Yankees have and had a very discouraging average with runners in scoring position (1 for 12, 13?) I really like the outlook of the team. Halladay deserved better, but he always does. Getting two double play balls in the 7th (even though none were turned) and overmatching the Yankees all game makes it tough to take the loss. But above all, the Jays looked very serious and in no circumstances did they look intimidated by the raucous Yankees crowd (fucking losers who don’t even know they’re losers, the worst kind). That triple fist pump shit by Joba in the face of a HOFer the Big Hurt should go in the memory banks (a la Eck in the 92 playoffs) and that fat toad will get his just desserts (if not revenge by the Jays then hopefully a torn labrum, the bad kind too, the one that's on the interior, but only after the Yankees give him some stupid long term deal, because his father was poor and has polio, still, the fucking douche bag changed his name because his cousin can't say Justin, that's just retarded. Then he throws it in the Hurt's face, fuck man, he deserves some sort of life lesson like a torn labrum).

    To finish, TSN had a shot of Gibby and Girardi at one point and Gibby looked like the one in control and Girardi looked like the nervous fuck. It was like what Gibby used to look in contrast to Torre. It was sweet to see that. It just made me think that the Jays have it this year. They have the feel about them. I’m looking forward to tomorrow when the Jays will pound Pussina like Rios pounds, well Pusina. If the Jays keep the intensity they had tonight going all year, good things are happening.