Monday, March 31, 2008
This sucks. Now we're going to get home and have five hours of poker on the PVR.
They'll try it again tomorrow at 7:05, although the forecast for Tuesday doesn't look much better.
A deadline is a deadline, except when it's not
J.P. tells the AP that the Jays and Alex Rios' reps will press on for a few more days to lock up the right fielder. Meanwhile, ESPN's Buster Onley (via MLB Trade Rumors) reports that Aaron Hill's going to take his chances on arbitration this off season. Given the way that he's been raking, we don't blame him for betting on his own performance.
No more "it's just Spring Training" excuses. No more speculating about who plays where and hits in what spots and who has what role in the pitching staff.
Real baseball. And six months of it to follow. Life is good.
Roy Halladay is the Quote Machine
For the first decade of his career, Doc Halladay spoke in the sort of bland platitudes that we've come to expect from athletes. But this spring, he's been outspoken about his expectations for the team's performance in 2008, and the failings of the past. Speaking on the Jays' propensity to give up wins to lesser teams, Halladay told reporters (including the G&M's Robert McLeod) "For me, that's got to change. I think any time we get a chance to win a game or beat a team, we have to take every opportunity we can to do that." Without blathering on about intensity or grit or blah-blah-blah, we're still happy to see Halladay set this sort of tone. We've felt for years that they just didn't have it in them to step on the other team's neck and boot them in the teeth when they had them down, but maybe with Doc setting this sort of tone, that will change this year.
Setting up the season with Blair
Full marks to the Globe's Jeff Blair, and his outstanding article from this weekend's edition of the paper setting up the season. Blair sets up in the article how this season will be crucial not only for the club's future, but for GM J.P. Ricciardi's future with the team, and manages to do so without the cavalcade of cheap shots and second guessing the litters the Toronto baseball media landscape.
Sign on the dotted line?
The Jays had set today as the deadline to sign Alex Rios to a long-term contract, and McLeod reports that the sides are closing to nailing down an agreement. We don't know if the contract negotiations were a distraction in the pre-season - which, remember, means nothing - but Rios' hit below the Mendoza line in the fake games, and was fortunate to have the stench of Frank Thomas' wretched spring distracting from his own subpar performance.
Meanwhile, MLBastian reports that the Jays have delayed any further negotiations on Aaron Hill's rumoured extension until the off-season. If Hill continues at the same pace he set in Spring Training (which, remember, is completely fake and means nothing), he could be in for a big payday before the 2009 season.
Friday, March 28, 2008
It also got us thinking about the dog's breakfast of second basemen that the team has gone through over the years. You have to feel for Tony Fernandez, who never knew what he was going to see when he turned to his left.
You've got your Damaso Garcias burnin' shit up in the locker room. You've got your Mike Sharpersons who barely made the vaguest of impressions. You've got your Manny Lees, who never wanted to play second or be called "Manny" in the first place. You've got your Garth Iorgs, who was already induced into our shrine.
But if we consider Iorg a part time second bagger at best, then one man stands above all others in the ranks of middle infield mediocrity. And that man is Nelson Liriano.
Fed up with that lot of marginal-at-best goofballs, the Jays thought they had landed on something special with Liriano. After first getting the call in 1987 to supplant Sharperson as the reigning Second Baseman of the Future, Liriano played 37 games and put up mediocre numbers (.652 OPS, 2 HRs and 10 RsBI). However, his 13 stolen bases were just enough to garner him a single vote in the Rookie of the Year voting, so obviously someone in the Toronto contingent had a mancrush on speedsters. (Liriano came in sixth behind some juiced-up ginger name McGwire.)
Liriano spent much of the next season watching from the bench, and did little to push the reluctant secong baseman Manuel Lee out of the starting spot. (It's really saying something about your lack of offensive prowess when Manny Lee's got close to 70 points in OPS over you.) Moreover, Liriano made 12 errors in 80 games at second for a less-than-dazzling .961 fielding percentage. But, again, he stole 12 bags, and in that era, that meant something. Supposedly.
In 1989, Liriano finally stepped up and grasped the brass ring (or is that the Brass Rail...we always confuse the two.) In 122 games at second, Liriano managed to keep his errors steady at 12, and shone (well, in relative terms) with .707 OPS, 5 HRs and 53 RsBI. And since you asked, 16 steals. Plus, he swiped three more bags in three playoffs.
But as Trooper once sang so poignantly, Liriano was here for a good time, not a long time. In 1990, his numbers dipped into the microscopic realm. We don't think we've ever seen anything quite as small as a .294 slugging percentage, but we've never stood next to Torgen at the urinal. (Hey-o!) Liriano was supplanted one last time by Lee, before getting shipped to Minnesota in a trade for (seriously, get a load of this) John Candelaria. Yikes.
The rest of Liriano's post-Jays career is all a bit of a non-descript blur (Minny, minors, expansion Rockies, sucky Bucs, Royals and back to the Rockies.) It is notable that when all was said and done, Nellie finished off his career with more triples than homers : 27 to 25, helped along by the seven that he put up in a third of a season on the pool table felt in the Metrodome.
Nowadays, Liriano can be found in the batting cages of the Wilmington Blue Rocks, where he serves as hitting coach to the Advanced A Carolina League prospects of the Kansas City Royals.
For never fulfilling his modest promise, for offering little more than the occasional burst of speed, and for helping to dispel the notion that Dominican middle infielders are great with the glove, the Tao of Stieb hereby induces Nelson Arturo (Bonilla) Liriano into the Alternative Level of Excellence.
Long may you run.
Beej to return deep in the heart of Texas: Maybe. There's some brave talk from pitching coach Brad Arnsberg (to MLBastian) that Ryan could be back in time for the April 11-13 series versus the Texas Rangers. Seeing as how Ryan had his surgery last May, we'd be inclined to stick with Accardo and the rest of the bullpen for at least a few more weeks, if only to assuage our fears that the Jays are tempting fate by sending him out for real game action within 12 months of his Tommy John procedure. (And 12 months is an arbitrary number, but we find comfort in the most arbitrary things.)
Gimme some Skin: After getting the call back to the big club, Buck "Skin" Coats homered, made an outstanding catch over the wall in center, fed a puppy, gave CPR to an ailing high-waisted snowbird, and whipped up a healthy and delicious soufflé in the Jays final fake game in Florida. Actually, we just read the boxscore, so the only thing we can confirm for certain in the list above is the homer. We just imagine that Buck "Skin" Coats can do whatever he wants. (And a hat tip to Will who came up with the nickname in yesterday's comments. We're now going to beat it into the ground.)
The Drunk Jays Fans are on the air: As if we weren't already jealous enough of the Drunk Jays Fans' site traffic and the vast number of comments they receive on even the most perfunctory posts, now comes the news that they'll be on Sun TV's The Grill Room with poncey fruit tart Gareth Wheeler on Wednesday, April 2. Moreover, the boys were approached by Sony to hand out swag (MLB 08 The Show for PS3) as part of their Opening Day Live Blog. We're happy for the DJF's success (better them than that dull old thing that rhymes with Matter's Mox)...but we've got to stop comparing ourselves to them before our self-esteem goes totally in the toilet.
Thursday, March 27, 2008
There's joy in Snowville, as the mighty Buck Coats has received the call to go north with the Blue Jays to start the season. Coats has been a favorite of the blog ever since the Jays acquired him and his awesomely porntastic name in the offseason. It remains to be seen if he sticks with the team, or if he is this year's Jason Smith/Simon Pond/Gabe Gross.
One more thing to love about Buck Coats: He is listed as an OF-IF. Dude can do anything. If he straps on the catching gear this spring, we might just lose our mind.
Also getting the call is Randy David Wells, who fulfills the team's ongoing need for two Wells on the roster.
We should probably temper our enthusiasm with the knowledge that neither of these guys sticks if the Beej and number Firty-Free are around to start the season.
Fake games don't mean shit, but...
Jesse Litsch pinkly/roundly/efficiently threw seven strong against a major league lineup, and Frank Thomas hit a moonshot to center in yesterday's 6-3 win over the Reds.
Real games start for the Jays on Monday. And not a moment too soon.
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Whomp. Here it is.
We especially love the fact that they've got Rios using his innate skills to mack on the ladies, even as a pre-teen. Kathryn Humphreys is soooo jealous.
(Hat tip to the Drunks, who found them first.)
Let the listing begin.
Enemy #1 - Jim Kelley of Sportsnet
Let's begin with a measured statement: Jim Kelley is the root of all evil.
Okay, maybe we've gone too far with that one. How about this: Jim Kelley is singlehandedly running the Fan 590 and Sportsnet into oblivion.
We came to this conclusion last week while in the midst of our profound malaise. We thought it had everything to do with the length of Spring Training, but as the week went on, we came to understand that it had everything to do with Kelley's co-host duties on Prime Time Sports.
PTS is an institution, and we've gladly given them more than five hours out of our busy week for years now. But after listening to the wretched depths that the show reached last week, we've made a decision to never tune in again when Jim Kelley is on. (And don't even get us started with Kelley and Mike Toth being on at the same time. Seriously, when those two guys are on at the same time, our brains start to seep out of our ears.)
Listening to five hours of Jim Kelley in the run of a week is seriously fucking depressing. Instead of being a foil to the grumpy irascible Bob McCown, he cranks up the grumpiness to 11 and spouts off endlessly and cynically about stuff that he knows nothing about. Especially nauseating are those moments when Kelley gets into a lather about the Jays, then punctuates his rant with a comment that demonstrates his complete lack of knowledge, like "You know J.P. goes out and signs, um...er...what's his name? That guy who pitches and played for the team from California. Erm. You know, the Hispanic guy who wears a cap. Well, whoever it is, why did they sign him?"
It's fascinating to see the difference in the tone and content of the show when our mancrush Stephen Brunt sits across the console from McCown. He is able to play off of McCown's angry hanging judge mentality and steer the conversation back onto the rails with, you know, logic and reason. Brunt brings out the best in McCown.
Kelley, on the other hand, is a pompous, arrogant buffoon who growls, takes cheap shots, asks stupid non-questions (that are actually cheap shots), and helps lead the show into areas of idiotic
truculence that are worthy of a small-town Red State talk radio hoedown. He brings out the worst in McCown, and together they end up sounding like a pair of petulant, cantankerous old men, bitching and moaning about how kids these days just don't get it. It's like listening to two Morton Downey Jr.'s with hemorrhoids sitting on a cold metal bench and complaining about their ass pain. Not only is it unpleasant; it's completely uninteresting.
For doing his all to ruin the second best sports talk radio show in Canada (after Jays Talk, of course), we scrawl Jim Kelley's name at the top of the Tao of Stieb's Enemies List. (You been served, sucka!)
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Funny, but for all of the pissing and moaning about this team lacking guts or heart, you never seem to hear anybody calling Wilner to complain that the Jays don't have enough skill.
The Cubs just increased their Scrappy Grit Quotient
So Reed Johnson is on his way to the North Side of Chicago. We wonder what the fans there will make of the peculiar, goatish looking facial scruff he sports. Somehow, we doubt that will go over well.
At $1.3 million for one year, Johnson makes a fine low-risk signing for the Cubs, who'll use him as a supersub. We'd wish Reed well, but we know that any success that he has will be followed by a litany of Griffin mailbags second-guessing the move: "You see! I'm more smarter that J.P., because I would have kept Reed Johnson, who's killing it in the weakest division in baseball! I'm totally more smarter and more popular than J.P.! I give out my cell phone number to everyone! I don't have a plan, and everything that I say with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight works out totally perfectly! Did you know that I used to work for the Expos?"
The estimates for Rolen's return are around three weeks, which sounds promising. But the notion that someone has opened up the finger and screwed into the bone with the intention of going back in to pull the screw back out in a couple weeks, and then everything is going to be just hunky-dory afterwards seems a bit overly optimistic to us.
We'd assume that Rolen won't be taking ground balls for three weeks, and won't face live pitching for at least as long. So what's his game going to look like when he gets back? How strong and accurate are those cross-diamond throws going to be? How is the hurt finger going to affect his swing?
We've got plenty of worry about how this is going to affect Rolen's offense. The injured finger is on Rolen's top hand on the bat, which is where power is generated. Rolen keeps both hands on the bat in his follow through, so there will be a lot of energy and torque exerted in that area. In the Cathal Kelly Star article, J.P. notes that how Rolen performs subsequently will depend on "pain tolerance". While we think that Rolen is a big burly manly man, we also see it as likely that he'll ease up or twitch through his swing, and his mechanics will go all pear-shaped for at least the first few weeks back.
We had really hoped and prayed that this year wouldn't feature another long series of bizarre and absurd injuries. It looks like those prayers aren't yet being answered.
For the first half of the winter, he was trade bait. Now, the Jays have apparently ponied up to lock him up for the next six years at $65 million, which is eminently reasonable for a player of his calibre. As the Drunk Jays Fans mentioned, that number locks him in for less than Kosuke Fukudome and J.D. Drew, and we suspect that by the end of this season, he'll have established himself as a much more valuable player than either of those two.
Now Gibby's just got to find the right spot in the batting order (i.e. not leading off) in order to get full value out of him. Given the opportunity, we think that Rios can be a 30 homer 100 RsBI guy, and that he should probably slot in to the third spot in the batting order. Rios' OPS dipped to .811 in that spot last year and he's a career .781 OPS hitting third, but we're making an assumption, based on nothing more than blind hope, that he'll bump those numbers up given the chance.
Monday, March 24, 2008
If there was any truth to that statement, then yesterday's news that the team had cut the "gritty" and "scrappy" outfielder loose is truly a happy moment, and a turning point for the team. You'd never know it to read all of the maudlin eulogizing of Reed's time in Toronto, but the truth is that he's been living on borrowed time for as long as he's been a Blue Jay.
Plus, he runs like a girl.
We've noted before that with a bit of digging, you'll find that Johnson's brilliant career with the Jays was comprised of a lot of replacement-level, marginal performance with the exception of about nine weeks of good fortune.
Sure, he's a gamer who runs hard (if not fast or in a masculine manner), and he's a guy who'll lay out for balls in the outfield. He's got spunk, but to quote Lou Grant, we hate spunk.
If you're feeling down about Reed Johnson's fate today, just take a moment and compare the man'd performance to any of the outfielders on the Red Sox, Yankees, Indians, Tigers, White Sox or Mariners. Those are the teams the Jays are going to have to beat if they expect to make a run at anything meaningful this year, and Reed Johnson wouldn't rate a bench spot any of their rosters, much less the starting left field job.
Other thoughts that percolated whilst we were in self-imposed exile:
The story about Scott Rolen's fingernail grosses us out too much to discuss. Yeesh. Of course, it is another hand injury to a hitter, so if Rolen is hitting .247 with 4 homers in mid-July, we're sure we're going to hear about this mangled digit lots this year. Or we'll get to know Marco Scutaro really well.
There's no good story that can't be ruined by a Paul Godfrey quote
We were really excited to hear the news that Toronto will be hosting first round games in the World Baseball Classic, and were trying to figure out how we get tickets. Then we read this quote in a Blair article about the forthcoming tourney from our old pal Godfrey: "(Y)ou'd like to think that you'll be able to attract fans from some of those baseball cities in the northern U.S.," Godfrey said. "I mean, you see a city like Detroit and with Magglio Ordonez likely to be with the Venezuelans, that would be a draw."
Jeebus Cripes on Segway, Godfrey! Can you stop fixating on bringing fans from outside of Toronto to the city, and start thinking about your own fan base?!
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
The truth is that we're intellectually pooped, and it shows in some of the less than stellar work we've done lately. We're drifting perilously close to Marty York territory here.
We need some time to recharge.
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
We beg to differ. As the saying goes, there many a slip between a cup and a lip, and if you don't believe us, you should see the front of Parkes' shirt after a night at the Monarch. (Zing!)
As such, we're going to go around the diamond to provide you with exactly the sort of
First up: the back catcher.
- Gregg Zaun as the Scandalized Incumbent;
- Rod Barajas as the Boy Who Played Hard to Get;
- Curtis Thigpen as the Catcher of the Future;
- Robinson Diaz as the Rookie;
- and featuring Special Guest Star Sal Fasano as Fu Manchu.
Zaun got off to a quiet spring (standard caveat: fake games don't mean diddly), but has turned it on as of late. His homer and double versus the Clevelanders showed that the old man with the undertaker's sense of style and apparently no teeth might still have something left in the tank. But he's still 36, an age by which most catchers have already begun to decline.
(We pause now to consider about a dozen "blank cheque" jokes, but choose to defer. For now.)
Barajas has acquitted himself well in the spring, and is working on getting familiar with the pitching staff, notably Halladay. At the plate, he has performed at least as well as Zaun for most of the spring, and is (knock on wood) the first backup in years that the team has had coming out of the spring who could plausibly take over for an extended period without hurting the team offensively.
(We pause now to shudder at the remembrances of the Jason Phillips era.)
With the signing of Barajas, it was pretty much a done deal that Thigpen and Diaz wouldn't see much big league action this year. And it's just as well: Thigpen is versatile, but our guess is that he doesn't have the defensive skills that the others do, and his offense isn't good enough to get him out from behind the plate.
Diaz, who we believe has a better bat and glove, has likely sprung past Thigpen in the pecking order. It was odd to see him get playing time at third base in the spring, but that's what fake games are for. Or so we are told.
(Yet another pause. This time to consider the fact Kevin Cash, who previously played the role of Catcher of the Future, has a spot on the Red Sox roster. Bully for him.)
Much as one can admire the hirsute Fasano, he's really just another body in camp at this point. Let's not forget that the adjustments that he suggested to Roy Halladay's cutter grip last year (for which he received effusive praise in the press) were abandoned shortly thereafter. He's a wise old soul, but more than likely a backup in Syracuse at best.
How will it all shake down?
What are we, Nostradamus? Your guess is as good as ours. But if you wanna know what we're guessing (if only so that you can hold us up for ridicule later), here it is:
- Zaunie gets lots of leeway to right himself.
- Barajas starts in more than 90 games this year (in Toronto or elsewhere).
- Thigpen doesn't wear a Jays jersey until after September.
- Diaz gets the call, but spends more time on the big club perfecting his sunflower seed expectoration.
- Fasano gets to make the faithful in another city his pals.
It doesn't matter how many shades of lipstick you try out on that pig: There are currently three versions of the exact same Sporting News article by Gerry Fraley currently floating around the series of tubes. Only the headlines have changed. One calls the Jays "Consistent", one calls them "Persistent", and one calls them "Obsessive". All of them are kinda lame.
Speaking of lame: The Jays had that nice green St. Pat's Day jersey that we mentioned yesterday, but didn't wear it. Instead, they deferred to the Pittsburgh Pirates, who wore their regular fake game jerseys and lame adjustable green caps that they apparently picked up at a Chevron station on the way to the park.
The Jays collect minor league lefties like our grandma collects Franklin Mint Elvis plates: Welcome, Bill Murphy. We loved you in Stripes.
When Blairsy's happy, we're happy: In spite of the smell of buring oranges, locked bathrooms, crashing internets and crapped out Blackberries, Jeff Blair still looked on the bright side of life yesterday when looking ahead to Brett Cecil's inning of work to come on Thursday versus Yankees.
Do you have something to share with the rest of us, Jay Stenhouse? Mike Wilner, who's got a spiffier Fan 590 site on which to post his always salient thoughts, mentions that the Jays' VP of Comms was asking reporters if they were going to be around today on the Jays' off day. Wilner speculated that maybe there would be an announcement of some consequence (Extensions for Rios or Hill?), but knowing communications types like we do, our suspicion is that Stenhouse was just gauging how messed he could get on green beer. (But if there is anything to announce, Jay, feel free to pass it along.)
Monday, March 17, 2008
As reported last week in the Consumerist, the Reds are forcing fans who wish to buy tickets to the Interleague series against the BoSox to buy them as part of a four-pack of games.
Some former Bostonian who wanted to buy eight tickets to each game for him and all of his douchey members of the Masshole Nation was up in arms over the fact that the Reds were completely inflexible on this scheme, and forced him to buy 96 tickets instead of the 24 that he wanted for just those three games on that weekend. (Well boo-fucking-hoo for you.)
Maybe the Reds aren't being as "business-savvy" as the Paul Godfreys and Patrick Elsters of the world, but we salute them for not facilitating an invasion of their home park by the Most Obnoxious Fanbase in the World (TM).
On the positive side, St. Patrick's Day does give MLB teams the opportunity to wear (and more importantly, sell) green jerseys and caps. Given the choice between the stupid black unis and caps that the Jays wear throughout the fake game schedule, we wholeheartedly support the team changing it up for a day.
Given his importance to the franchise, Snider's progress will likely be monitored very closely this summer. If he hits AA pitching well (and his AFL performance would seem to indicate that he will), his ticket may be punched for the big club for April of 2009.
Speaking of left field...
With the moves made by the club and those thrust upon them in the past week, the roster seems to be in place for the the start of the season, with the notable exception of left field. The Reed versus Shannon battle hasn't exactly been cleared up, although if, like the Sun's Mike Rutsey, you're reading the tea leaves, we can expect to see Stewart in left and Reed in limbo on opening day.
Two more weeks of fake games?
God almighty...save us now.
Sunday, March 16, 2008
Benitez committed six balks in his initial spring training bullpen session.
(Actually, the Jays' brain trust told the NatPost's John Lott that they liked what they saw. And they've never been known to be anything but forthright when discussing the state of the pitching staff. Right?)
The Old Grey Lady likes the Jays
The New York Times says that the Jays have a shot at the AL East. So it must be true.
Wonders of Spring Trainings past
Wilner drops the name of Canadian and former Blue Jays Spring Training phenom Simon Pond into today's blog post. Now there's a name that we'd managed to completely suppress from memory, and he serves as a helpful reminder that a good performance in a handful of fake games does not a star make.
Fake Game Stats: What Are They Good For?
Frank Thomas has generally sucked ass (2 of 28) in the spring, but says that he's still working on getting his timing down and not to worry. Of course, the Big Giner Bruiser said the same thing last year, and proceeded to be profoundly meh in the first three weeks. The Jays can't afford to carry that much dead wood from the DH in the early stages of the season if they are really, truly, honest to god for reals this time going to actually compete.
Friday, March 14, 2008
Lil' Litschy didn't fare quite as well when he took the ball, giving up two walks and two runs in his first inning of work.
Somewhere, Jeff Weaver is sitting by his phone, practicing answering calls in a cool, nonchalant manner.
Amazingly enough, the boys in powder blue will be on the main network (not "The Ocho!") on Wednesday (vs the Red Sox) and Thursday (vs the Yankees) of next week. Their opening day matchup versus the Yankees will be on also be on the main network. Granted, ESPN is likely more interested in the other teams for those games, but it would be a kick to see what flat-earther Joe Morgan has to say about this year's team.
Both of the fake games, incidentally, will be on Sportsnet.
Blog favorites Robinson Diaz, Adam Lind and the otherworldly Buck Coats have all been handed the for rent section of the Syracuse Post-Standard and sent on their way. Also optioned: Joe Inglett and Curtis Thigpen. Who, if we're being completely honest, are not our favorites. Sorry! (Wow. We've been watching way too much American Idol for our own good.)
Emotional yo-yoing on the pitching staff
When Casey Janssen went down, we were all cool-like, stating that we weren't worried at all. The Jays were totally set as far as their pitching staff is concerned, right? But seeing Shaun Marcum get his "ears pinned back" (as Wilner so eloquently put it) in yesterday's loss to Cleveland reminds us that the number four and five slots in the rotation are hardly in a set-it-and-forget-it state. We were also a bit discouraged by putative bullpen saviour John Parrish's performance yesterday (3 hits, 2 walks, 2 earned in 2.1 innings). Yeah, we got worries.
Blair sings O Canada
Not-at-all grumpy Globester Jeff Blair has a nice piece on Team Canada, who he notes are not scrappy or gritty, but rather, are talented.
Thursday, March 13, 2008
The legend of Stubby Clapp grows.
Thoughts on Billy Crystal's game with the Yankees
Who gives a shit? This is precisely why we call them fake games.
Maybe it was just having the dark spectre of Mike Sirotka's injury raised throughout the discussion (especially in Will Carroll's four year-old piece in Slate titled "Baseball's Most Fearsome Injury") that made us realize how serious this was.
It's not that the Jays won't be able to adjust. Our point of view yesterday was focussed more on the impact that this had for the team and their always slim chances at the playoffs. But the more you think about it, the more that it comes clear that this is all about Janssen. He's a bright young talent and a good kid (we suppose...we'd like to think) whose career is now teetering on the edge of oblivion. Jeff Blair reports that he's "crushed", and hearing that humanizes the situation in a way that smarmy fucks like us can't really be arsed to consider when spouting off.
Our fingers are crossed that we see Casey with his high socks and his general twitchiness on the mound sometime in 2009.
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
As much as we liked Janssen, we're not freaking about this nearly as much as we might have imagined. The depth assembled this off-season has given the Jays a little more latitude to deal with this sort of injury, and Jesse Litsch doesn't seem like a terrible option for that fifth spot in the rotation.
And as an aside, Litsch actually looks a lot more like Mr. Dressup's treehouse dwelling sidekick than Janssen. So we can probably keep using this picture all season long.
Next question: How does this shake out in the pen?
A few thoughts:
Chacin is a Machine in need of serious repair: As ugly as the line score was, it didn't nearly do justice to just how messed up Gustavo Chacin is at this point. His arm slot has dropped noticeably, with two major repercussions. First, he's not able to hide the ball nearly as well as when he came over the top, meaning that batters are getting a really good long look at the pitch before he delivers it. Second, he has absolutely no velocity. Not that he was a flame thrower before, but now his delivery is much more suited to tossing a bean bag through a clown's nose at the county fair than it is to getting big league hitters out. This guy is toast.
Shannon Stewart is not as gimpy as we thought: Stewart worked the count well in his at bats, and looked good legging out a double. Also, we were reminded of the fact that while he has a pop gun arm, he compensates by getting good jumps on the ball as he did when he made a nice catch in foul ground.
How can we not love Buck Coats? Coats crashed into the wall in the 8th inning to make a sweet over the shoulder catch off of Jorge Posada. Also, dude is seriously lanky. Like, Bargnani lanky.
Aaron Hill is in mid-season form: Hill went deep into the count in a couple of at bats, fouling off pitches and hanging in there long enough to stroke a solid run-scoring double late in the game.
Purcey brings heat: David Purcey's control isn't all there yet, but he was dealing in his inning of work. He did get tagged for a Jason Lane homer, but dude definitely has an arm. (Or maybe anything looks fast after watching two innings of Chacin.) He's not ready for prime time, but he's almost there.
Michael Kay is a douchebag: The YES booth of Kay, David Cone and John Flaherty spent close to two innings picking apart a J.P. Ricciardi quote on the strength of the AL East which ended with the words "we just need a little more." We took the quote to mean that the Jays need a little more out of their personnel, but Kay was dismissive, assuming that he was asking for some sort of handout from the league. Flaherty assumed that they were looking for more revenue sharing, while Cone assumed that it meant that they need more fan support. Seriously, two innings spent on a throwaway sentence which probably didn't mean all that much at all.
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
We'd been trying to avoid looking at the boxscore so that we could go home and watch the game on the PVR tonight, but these sorts of garish numbers are pretty hard to avoid.
2 IP, 5 hits, 4 ER, 2 BB, 0 K, 1 HR.
So even if Casey's shoulder is ripped apart by a rabid Finnegan, we don't see how this guy makes the trip to Toronto. Ever.
First comes the news that the Jays were taking a flyer on Armando Benitez, the free agent head case who has pitched himself out of the closer role on too many teams to name. Which seemed peculiar...
...until we heard from Robert McLeod on the Globe Blog that the linchpin of all hopes and dreams for 2008 Casey Janssen was suffering from shoulder soreness. Shoulder soreness! Argh!!!!! No! Stop!
And so, it begins.
(We can't tell you how painful it was to create an Armando Benitez tag. Jiminy Christmas.)
Here are the lineups and scheduled chuckers, cut and pasted from the LoHud Yankees blog:
Calling that dude "underrated" is totally overrated: The Drunk Jays Fans have the piss take on the survey done by a second rate distiller of third rate Irish whiskey on who's "underrated" in baseball. Also, the blatant the misuse of the term ironic. (Are you happy Alanis? Do you see what you've wrought?)
One day, Dusty Baker is going to choke on that toothpick, and baseball will become just that much smarter: We tip our caps and genuflect to the Southpaw, who's been grinding it out over the past few weeks and showing lots of scrappy grittiness. (Hey-O!) Really, you should reading them everyday, but we especially like their take on Flat Earth Society Executive Director Dusty Baker and his ongoing efforts to run the Reds into oblivion. (We weep for Jay Bruce and Joey Votto.) Also, as noted by the DJF this morning, they did yeoman's work to dig deep and find out everything there is to know about Buck Coats, our new favorite player.
Bob McLeod loves Dunedin too much to leave: Contrary to what we said yesterday, Globe Junior is still in Florida, but
The madness to come: Belong to Rios makes some sage predictions for 2008, including further Dusty Baker madness and the phone calls that will drive Mike Wilner into a profound madness where he'll lock himself in the booth with a plate of pork schnitzel and a case of Black Velvet rye.
Speaking of Wilner: He finds meaning in the fake games, and speculates on how the whole Litsch/Janssen thing will shake down.
The Jeff Blair Appreciation Society: The Mockingbird's Jon Hale takes issue with our assessment of the Globe's baseball guru, noting that he is pleasant and mannerly. We'd like to note that we don't find Snappy the Turtle's grumpiness to be a bad thing.
Marty York makes shit up: "According to information obtained by Metro" may be the funniest line we've read all week.
Monday, March 10, 2008
Sadly, with Cathal Kelly and Robert McLeod having escaped the Redneck Riviera in favour of shoveling their walkways in snowpacked T.O., we're left with perilously little livebloggage.
But wait! Wilner's there, and he's taken it upon himself to handle all of your liveblog needs! Albeit late. He blames Bastian and traffic. A likely excuse.
We note that Wilner has taken to referring to the Spring Training games as "fake games" as well. We got ourselves a meme started here! It's funny to see Wilner have to split hairs with the Jays-Yanks game tomorrow being the "real fake game", as opposed to the simulated games (presumably the "really fake fake games") that Dusty, Beej and Janssen will pitch tomorrow.
Early on, our Roy got tagged for a solo shot by Lance Berkman, while their Roy gave up an RBI double to Hector Luna. (Is he still around?)
Update, 3:30 pm: It's another fake loss, 4-3, with Brandon League taking the loss. (We await the Drunk Jays Fans post game interview with their favorite surfer boy.)
The Jays' pitchers (according to Wilner) were betrayed by faulty infield defense. Whatever people are claiming about Doc getting his personal SS in the regular season, we can't imagine that he'll be pitching in front of an infield of Luna, Scutaro, Adams and Thigpen very often this year. And thank the baby Jeebus for that.
On Sunday afternoon, we managed to catch some Mets-Astros action on WPIX, and we tuned in to WGN to see a Cubs game only to be met by a broadcast of MXP: Most Extreme Primate (the Citizen Kane of snowboarding monkey movies.)
Sportsnet, which has apparently exhausted its supply of televised poker (Zzzzzzzz) will get into the baseball broadcasting game this week. On the slate are today's Red Sox-Yankees fake game at 1pm, and, wonder of wonders, tomorrow's Jays-Yanks game at 1pm as well. We're presuming that it will be the YES broadcast, so if you've forgotten how much you hate Michael Kay, you might want to record tomorrow's game to provide you with a helpful reminder.
Speaking of Litsch, here's our vote for the stunning meaningless spring stat of the weekend: Litsch struck out six in four innings as the Jays topped the Phillies 9-4 in Sunday's fake game. His game-high in 2007 was five strikeouts. Not that we want to read too much into Spring stats.
Drunk MLB Rumours
The Drunk Jays Fans' Stoeten has been handed the reins of MLB Trade Rumors for a few hours. True to form, he showed up late and hung over. Aside from that, we're amazed at how straight he's played it so far. Seeing the restraint that he demonstrated when blogging about Sidney Ponson makes us worry about the onslaught of filthy words and thoughts that are sure to spill out when he returns to his home digs.
Friday, March 7, 2008
Today, he goes 3 for 4 with a double while the rest of the Jays shat the bed (2 for 28) in a 4-0 fake game loss to the Twins.
We don't want to read too much into Spring Training stats, but if Adam Lind made the big club this year, he'd hit 35 homers and drive in 120. Easily.
Purcey is not alone amongst Major Leaguers in being diagnosed with an attention deficit disorder. Since MLB expressly banned the use of amphetamines in 2006, the number of TUE's for ADD and ADHD medications grew from 28 to 103 in one season. This represents roughly 8% of players, which is about twice the rate in the general population.
Gary R. Gaffney, is an Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Iowa wrote on the use of TUE's by baseball players on his Huffington Post blog. He noted that we shouldn't be concerned about the spike in the number of players receiving this exemption:
"Eight percent of MLB players treated for ADHD does not set off alarm bells in my book. The increase could be due to a better understanding of the rule, and to a higher number of players seeking a deserved TUE.We know of people who live in the U.S. and who have gone "doctor shopping" in order to get prescriptions for Adderall. They say that the medication allows them to work with surgical focus on the tasks in front of them. From the way they describe it, we couldn't imagine a medication that would be more appropriate for a big league pitcher. (For instance, Derek Lowe is among those with a TUE that allows him to take Adderall.)
If the physicians prescribing the medications make accurate diagnosis, and provide a reasonable dose of medication, this does not represent a way to 'cheat within the rules'."
We realize that we're entering delicate territory, so we're going to tread as lightly as possible. We'll confess to sitting on this post for a few days, simply because we didn't want to post something reactionary and cast aspersions at Purcey. We realize that it is at least as likely as not that Purcey's disgnosis is legit and that we'd be a terrible person for even raising the issue.
But in an era where suspicion is out default setting, it's hard for us to invest in the story of Purcey as the guy who is overcoming his personal obstacles. We want to buy in, and we don't want to go down the road of making allegations.
Maybe we're wussing out. Maybe we're playing favorites with the home town player. Or maybe we're not so bold as to pretend that we know what we're talking about. We want to love this guy, but we don't have the luxury of shutting out the little voice that will say "hmmm" if Purcey turns it on this year, for whatever reason.
Along the same lines
We've just noticed this profile of Gregg Zaun by ESPN's Jeff Pearlman. (He's not our favorite writer at all, but it is apropos.)
Thursday, March 6, 2008
Little X hit a monumental towering shot deep into left* for a grand slam in this afternoon's fake game versus the Pirates. (*Or at least that's what we've read into Cathal Kelly's description on his liveblog of the game.)
This might be a little optimistic and premature, but based on today's performance we're predicting 30 homers for Eckstein this season.
Also, Dusty Lambchops is getting roughed up a bit, but we're not going to read to much into it. After all, it is just Spring Training.
Blairsy turns that frown upside down
In his mailbag today, Jeff Blair acknowledges the critical role our little blog post played in making him reflect upon his crusty ways, and in helping him to go forth with positivity and enthusiasm in all of his future pursuits. Like Oprah might say, we're changing the world and changing lives, one beat writer at a time. (You're next, Elliot!)
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
Joe Posnanski's AL East predictions done as haikus are cloying and dull enough, but his prediction that the Jays will finish behind the Rays just demonstrates how little thought he actually put into them. Writing a team preview as a 5-7-5 isn't a sign that you're clever. It's a sign that you've got sweet FA to actually say about the teams.
Seriously people. Just stop.
But somehow, we're not comforted by the news (via Deadspin) that a bunch of Red Sox fans beat the snot out of a Yankee fan over the weekend, just because.
Yeah, this is going to work out just super, isn't it?
"I've talked pitching with Sandy Koufax, had Kenny G play for me. Maybe if I could have an interview with God, then I'd be served. I'd be complete."Sandy Koufax. God. Kenny G. Now there's a holy trinity for ya.
(H/T to Deadspin.)
On the topic of perspective
Nothing to do with the Jays or baseball, but worth noting: Smug conservative wannabe media gadfly goofy nutty cuckoo thingy Rachel Marsden really isn't taking her latest breakup very well. At all. (H/T to Neate.)
Tuesday, March 4, 2008
Blair's putative liveblogging of today's non-game versus the Yankees was pretty much just a series of pleas to the weather gods for rain so that he could get the hell out of there. Oh, and wishing for lightning to cause physical harm to the Yankees' pitchers, which we can understand.
We were going to get all sore about it, what with him at the ballpark and us stuck at the office, until it struck us that Blair was stuck at the office, begging to get out. So, you know, we feel his pain.
We're rooting for Blair to continue to devolve into something resembling a cantankerous old uncle. We half expect that at some point this season, we'll hear him yelling at the players from the press box to "get the hell off my lawn!"
Having said that, we're reaching a point in the Evil Empire's evolution where they are starting to get bogged down with some of the ill-advised contracts to yesterday's heroes, so maybe this is the year that it all goes to hell. We can only hope that Mike Mussina's spring debut (five runs on six hits in two innings) is the harbinger of awful things to come for the Bronx Boys. (And seriously, that Posada contract is a real head scratcher.)
Today's Jays lineup (courtesy of hip hop purist Cathal Kelly) should look like this:
Kelly also speculated that the Yanks would toss some scrubs out against Jesse Litsch (Roy Halladay's pick for the fifth starter), but the lineup posted on the LoHud Yankees blog looks pretty close to an opening day roster:
Monday, March 3, 2008
In the midst of all the Reed vs. Stew talk, Buck Coats might just come up the middle and steal the job away from both of them. Coats put a sweet home run swing on a Mike Stanton pitch on Sunday afternoon against the Reds, and has driven in three runs so far in the Spring Training.
The Jays brass apparently loves this guy (but who don't they love at this point?), and as an added bonus, Coats can play all three outfield positions.
We're pulling for this guy, and not just because of his pornstastic name. Then again, we thought that it was an outrage when the Jays sent Gabe Gross to Syracuse after his Mantlesque spring a few years back.
The kicker is that A.J. hasn't bothered the team's medical staff with this, but has instead gone to the salon to get a fake nail glued over top of the injured digit.
We'd like to fool ourselves into thinking that we're going to see A.J. bust out with a big 17-to-20 win season, and help lead us into the promised land, but this just doesn't bode well.
Red Sox beat writers are as confused by CityTV as we are
Imagine our embarrassment at the thought that someone outside of Toronto might have tuned into Sunday's "shameless infomercial" (as per Zelkovich) Jays-Reds broadcast on CityTV. Art Martone from the Providence Journal's excellent Sox Blog tuned in, and was "completely befuddled". Just imagine how we feel.
Bonus Coverage: CityTV is awfully proud of the broadcast, and has posted video evidence of Kathryn Humphries' "Alex Rios is Hot" piece for your consideration.
Sunday, March 2, 2008
-Gord Martineau: It's as if it were the first game that he saw since Willie Upshaw's heyday. Also, really drunk.
-That bald guy with the goatee: His vague attempts at demonstrating his mad baseball knowledge were as fumbly and awkward as a we were running drunken game at a frosh party.
-Kathryn Humphreys: Not nearly as funny as she thinks, but we at least give her credit for busting out with the "Is is awkward in the shower?" question to Gregg Zaun when discussing how hot Alex Rios is. Also, "If you were a pork chop, what sauce would you smother yourself with?" Possibly hung over.
-Barb DiGiulio: Everybody loves Barb after today's game. We totally respect her ability to interview the geriatric snowbird fans without seeming cloying or too hip. Also, kinda milfy hot.
-Patrick Elster, Jays VP of Douchiness: Still evil. Also (as noted by the DJF) looks exactly like Jerry the King Lawler.
It wasn't much of a broadcast, but then again, they had promised us rank amateurism by virtue of the fact that they sent the City crew to do the game. It was really only intended to be an infomercial for the Jays ticket office, and we can get on board with that.
Sweet sweet karma
Early on in today's game, they announced that the phone system for the ticket office went kablooey. Maybe the system wasn't used to receiving calls from the 416/905.
"They're going to have to get off to a really hot start (for Gibbons to keep his job). One or two games under .500 isn't going to cut it," Blair said. (Paraphrasing, but that's pretty close.)
Cito vs Gibby
Watching Game 6 of the 1992 World Series last night, it struck us that the great and knighted Cito Gaston had a propensity to make some bone-headed decisions. Cito inserted Jimmy Key into the game in the 10th, but didn't bother with a double switch which would have moved Key further down the lineup and moving the more defensively sure John Olerud into the field. Instead, Key was inserted directly into the lineup, which meant that he had to lead off the next inning.
If Gibby pulled anything close to that in a meaningless game in April, the entire press box and Jays blogosphere would be in absolute paroxysms of rage for months afterwards.
Saturday, March 1, 2008
Now, we're waiting for 5:30 pm to watch Game 6 of the 1992 World Series on ESPN Classic Canada. Fucking A.
It doesn't get much better than this.
Liveblogging the Breakfast TV crew
We had thoughts of liveblogging tomorrow's City TV broadcast of the Jays game, but seeing as how the Drunk Jays Fans called it yesterday, we'll defer to them. They promise to be more drunk, more cruel and more smarter than us anyhow. Tune in at 12:30ish to see the boys skewer Kathryn "Wouldja rather have toes or teeth" Humphries.
The Boys on the Beat - A Comedy of Errors starring Cathal Kelly and Robert McLeod
The image of the junior beat writers for the Globe and Star lost in Florida, having already misplaced the Gulf of Mexico in their efforts to find the ballpark this morning has got to be fodder for sitcom. We're sure we could get Canadian Television Fund funding for it...supposing there is still a CTF.