Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Killer B's fly away

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Just as soon as they were called up to the big leagues, the Killer B's (Brian and Bryan) have returned to Triple A. Burres' demotion came as no surprise, as he gave up 10 runs in just 2 starts and 5.1 innings of major league work. Bullington on the other hand actually performed fairly well up until today. So with 2 roster spots suddenly open, who now fills the spots? I figure that there are two possible scenarios:
  1. One (or both) of our former setup men are returning to the bullpen. Either Jeremy Accardo or Casey Janssen could be back, though the odds are more in favour of Accardo since Janssen probably needs another 2 or 3 rehab starts.
  2. One or (both) of the Blue Jays fabled young arms in Brett Cecil or Brad Mills will be on their way to Toronto. If that is the case, why didn't they just call up Cecil or Mills in the first place, instead of subjecting us to the painful starts from Brian Burres?
I would like to see a combination of Accardo and either Cecil of Mills join the 25-man roster, but anything can happen as demonstrated by Brian Burres. Whatever decision the Blue Jays make, it likely won't be for very long because Ricky Romero is due to come back from the disabled list pretty soon, and Casey Janssen will also be ready sometime within May.

Just to let you guys know, I'll be liveblogging tomorrow's Blue Jays/Orioles game over at The Score. It'll be Roy Halladay (4-1) up against Mark Hendrickson (1-3). I'll post the link to the liveblog page as soon as the page is ready.

Give and take

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From a fan’s perspective, I had tunnel vision with one goal in mind for last night’s game; get to Zack Greinke. As an armchair manager, my mission was accomplished after the 1st inning. But is it possible that the Blue Jays were so preoccupied with breaking Zack Greinke’s 43-inning scoreless streak that they got too comfortable with a 2-0 lead? Probably not. This is why I don’t wear Cito’s managing cap, nor do I claim to.

But last night was the first example of the season where Cito gave his starting pitcher plenty of rope, and Brian Tallet proceeded to hang himself with it. For the most part, that tactic has worked to the Blue Jays advantage this season. Cito’s confidence in Ricky Romero and Scott Richmond late in games has helped them build confidence.

But Tallet served up more meatballs than an All You Can Eat Italian restaurant. Do I blame Cito for that? Maybe just a little - but Tallet was bound to get roughed up sooner or later. And you can’t start calling in relievers when it’s only the 3rd inning.

Besides, Brian Burres is starting this afternoon and he’ll probably need all the bullpen help he can get.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Now do you believe?

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I'm not saying that tonight was as touching as the ending of "Angels in the Outfield", but Scott Richmond's outing was heavenly, alright.

Richmond set a career high with 7 complete innings, surrendering just a single run to the Kansas City Royals. Make that 8 straight starts where Scott Richmond has not given up more than 3 runs and has pitched at least 5 innings (aside from the rain delay in Cleveland).

It was an all around phenomenal team effort by the Blue Jays. A few key defensive plays courtesy of Lyle Overbay, Scott Rolen certainly helped Richmond get out of a jam early in the game. A one-run cushion would have been enough to win the game, but the offense tacked on an extra seven just for good measure.

So is it an accident that Scott Richmond has been this successful so far? In a word - no. He has done exactly what the Blue Jays would have expected from their fifth starter. Not to necessarily intimidate hitters with a wide array of pitches, but to give the team an excellent chance to win ever time he takes the mound.

I believe, the Te of Inglett believes, John McDonald's cabinet believes, and even Mike Wilner believes. Now it's your turn to bask in one of the glorious side affects from Scott Richmond Kool-Aid: magic. Believe in it!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

At the mercy of Purcey

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To put it lightly, the Blue Jays number two pitcher has been playing like … well, number two.

The Kansas City Royals scored 6 runs off of David Purcey last night, which elevates his ERA to 7.01. Prior to his April 22nd start against the Texas Rangers, I thought to myself; “if Purcey has another bad start, the Jays should send him down to Triple A”. Now it seems like he was only delaying the inevitable - but for the time being, David Purcey will stay right where he is.

If the Jays weren’t so desperate for arms, I’m sure Purcey would have been on the first flight out of Toronto this morning. But now the pitching staff is so depleted that David Purcey is really the only viable option for the starting rotation. Until Casey Janssen gets better, or someone like Brett Cecil or Brad Mills can come in to save the day, we’re at the mercy of David Purcey.

Monday, April 27, 2009

I prefer the original over the sequel

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Aaron Hill already did it 2 years ago, so why is the baseball world abuzz about Jacoby Ellsbury’s straight steal off Andy Pettite yesterday? Because it’s the Boston Red Sox, and they’re the “hottest” team in baseball (although technically, the Blue Jays have the better record). Oddly enough, both of these straight steals of home were off of Andy Pettite, and both were go-ahead runs. I still think the original is better than the sequel.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Make that 6 in a row

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With today's narrow 4-3 over the Chicago White Sox, the Toronto Blue Jays made franchise history by winning their first 6 series to start the season. With some timely hitting by Scott Rolen in the top of the 8th inning, Roy Halladay pitched just long enough to pick up his 4th win of the season. Once again the wall of defense was on its game, as was the bullpen.

The Jays continue to dominate against AL Central teams, compiling a 10-4 record against them. This should bode well for Toronto as they head into Kansas City for a 4-game series.

While the Blue Jays sit perched atop the AL East for the 3rd straight week, the Boston Red Sox have put together a nice little 10 game winning streak to narrow the gap to a single game between the Sox and the Jays. The unfortunate thing about not having any divisional matchups against the Red Sox, Yankees or Rays this early on is that it's very tough to gain any real ground on them.

But for the time being, I could get used to this winning 2 out of 3 games business. Congratulations boys, let's keep the ball rolling!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

The hit parade continues

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I hate to say this, but I kind of feel bad for the Chicago White Sox because they had almost no chance of winning last night's 14-0 drubbing at the hands of the Blue Jays. It all started going downhill for them in the first inning when Alexei Ramirez booted a routine double play ball which eventually lead to 3 runs. And after that, the Blue Jays never looked back.

Last night's win was a complete team effort; everyone contributed including Jose Bautista with his first homerun of the year. Brian Tallet was completely dialed in, aside from a bases loaded scare in the 3rd inning. Anyone who was initially skeptical about Brian Tallet moving into the starting rotation should take a look at the boxscore from the last few games he has pitched.

While the Jays shortstop Marco Scutaro is putting together a phenomenal season so far, on the other side of the diamond, Chicago's Alexei Ramirez seems to be suffering from a sophomore slump. Although he was only charged with one error, Ramirez bobbled the ball on several occasions and could not get anything right on the field. The White Sox would have probably been better to send a cardboard cutout to shortstop rather than Alexei Ramirez. There is no doubt that Ozzie Guillen probably chewed him out after that horrendous performance.

Front to back, it was a great game for the Blue Jays. Today's task is much more daunting though; Brian Burres faces off against Mark Buehrle. The White Sox will be looking for redemption today, so look for them to be very aggressive at the plate today. But I'm pretty sure that the Blue Jays will measure up to the task.

Friday, April 24, 2009

TGIF Tidbits

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Need to do some research on our opponents for this weekend? Check out The 35th Street Review to read up on our adversaries, the Chicago White Sox. Keep in mind that the Jays were 7-1 against the ChiSox last year, so history is in our favour. Keep in mind that there is a slight possibility that Steve Perry could make an impromptu appearance at U.S. Cellular Field and belt out "Don't Stop Believing". That's reason enough to check out this weekend's series.

Ghostrunner on First and Tao of Stieb are rightfully furious that TSN2 has the rights to broadcast the upcoming Blue Jays series vs. the Red Sox. Thankfully, I have TSN2 as part of my cable package. You’re all invited to my place for the series, I just hope you don’t mind sleeping on the floor.

What does violently vomiting up blueberry pancakes have to do with Ricky Romero? Listen to the latest podcast at Searching for ’93 to find out. Speaking of alcohol, get at least a 12-pack out for all the “cheersing” encouraged over at Sports and the City.

Mop Up Duty has a great interview piece with one of only two Blue Jays to hit for the cycle, Kelly Gruber. Who was the other guy? Jeff Frye, who was actually in attendance for one of the games earlier this week since he is Ian Kinsler’s agent.

LJ from the Te of Inglett has a Scott Richmond jersey, and she’s not afraid to use it.

Yahoo! Sports finally shows the Blue Jays some love in their weekly power rankings. The bluebirds are all the way up to #4, which is also the same place they sit in ESPN’s weekly power rankings.

Wondering what Shea “Sinking Ship” Hillenbrand is up to these days? Me either. For those who are, apparently he’s running a farm for rescued animals out in Arizona.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Drunk on Kool-Aid

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On a day where it seemed like everything went wrong for the Blue Jays off the field, everything went right for them on the field.

The Jays could not have asked for a better start than Scott Richmond gave them tonight. Rich was totally dialed in, sending 9 Texas Rangers back to the dugout shaking their heads. Notch another "W" in the column for Scott Richmond, and he is now 2-0 in three starts. Trust me guys, there is now enough Kool-Aid for all!

A point that Wilner constantly reiterates is that Scott Richmond has never given up more than 3 earned runs in any of his major league starts. For a player who was almost an afterthought coming into Spring Training, Richmond has certainly come a long way. I think even Mike Wilner is starting to be convinced by the Scott Richmond Kool-Aid.

Whatever Alex Rios was using as his slump-buster, it finally worked. Not that a 4 for 6 appearance in last night's game wasn't impressive, but I think that Rios really needed to hit his first HR of the season to really get the ball rolling.

And how about the damn bullpen? Initially, Cito said before tonight's game that Scott Downs would not be available to pitch in tonight's game. But he made a surprise appearance in the 9th, and Downs did what he did best - shut it down. For the first time this season, I was not nervous when our closer came in for a save situation. There is something very reassuring about having Scott Downs on the mound, which makes B.J. Ryan's trip to the disabled list almost necessary for him to regroup.

So whether you choose to mix your Scott Richmond Kool-Aid with vodka, whiskey, or you just drink it straight up, let's celebrate another great start from Captain Canada. And the best part of all? There's no hangover in the morning.

Double dose of DL

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Why does it seem like bad news always comes in twos? First it was Ricky Romero, now B.J. Ryan has been sent to the disabled list all within the span of less than 24 hours.

Many folks like Searching for '93 have speculated for a while now that B.J. Ryan's lack of velocity has been due to an injury. Turns out they were right, and I was completely wrong. I just assumed that B.J. was losing it and was just plain sucking.

I just caught J.P. Ricciardi on Jays Connected, and he said that they will announce B.J. Ryan's bullpen replacement later this evening, and Ricky Romero's replacement sometime tomorrow. If I had to hazard a guess, I'd say that Jeremy Accardo is the one who gets the call to the bullpen. Ricky's spot is a little tricky though; earlier in the day, the odds on favourite was Brett Cecil. Apparently now Bastian says that Brian Burres could make the trip up from Las Vegas.

Excuse me - what? Why not Brad Mills or Brett Cecil? The Blue Jays are considering calling up a guy with a 6.97 ERA in Triple A? Even Bryan Bullington seems like a better choice, but if Burres starts on Saturday against the White Sox it won't be the weirdest decision that the front office has ever made.

This just in: apparently Ricky Romero tweaked his left oblique after sneezing. Damn, that hay fever really does take its toll on some folks.

Our cowboy in shining armour

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Thank you Kevin Millar for rescuing us from what could have been another brutal loss in extra innings. Unfortunately, B.J. Ryan's collapse in the 9th will overshadow David Purcey's fairly decent start. Leading up to tonight's game I was fully prepared to start calling Purcey by his new nickname; "David Purcey: Walker of Texas Rangers". But Purcey went 5 and 1/3, and was in line for the win before it all came apart in the bottom of the 9th.

Yes, Aaron Hill misplayed that double play ball which lead to 2 of the 3 runs being scored. But Ryan should know better than to leave a meatball out in the middle of the strike zone for Michael Young to tie the game. It sounds like B.J.Ryan's job might be in question (again) as Jordan Bastian tweets that Cito will likely have a chit-chat to decide the fate of our struggling closer.

But in the meantime, we have our grizzled veteran Kevin Millar to thank for another win. Cowboy up, indeed.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Still Human

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Image courtesy of Daylife

From time to time, I guess we all have our bad days at the office. For Roy Halladay those days are very few and far between, but one of those days just so happened to take place tonight against the Texas Rangers.

Despite giving up 5 runs, Halladay never really let the game get away from him. It was just unfortunate that a few badly placed pitches to Nelson Cruz and Ian Kinsler translated into 4 runs for the Rangers. If you wipe those two hits from the box score and looking at Halladay's 9 strikeouts and 0 walks, you'd think it was just another dominant start from the best pitcher in baseball.

The Blue Jays kept the Rangers outfield busy most of the night, pounding it mostly to right and center field. When Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz weren't making acrobatic plays to rob the Blue Jays of extra base hits, a few of those balls hit to the outfield actually slipped through their fingers. Namely the double in the 3rd inning by Alex Rios, who was convinced at first that it was just another fly out. We were pleasantly surprised by the results.

At least the Jays put themselves in a good position to tie the game in the 8th and the 9th, with the tying run at 3rd base. I wish that Snider, Rios and Wells would have maybe worked the count a little more against Frank Francisco, but I try not to nitpick.

Despite Roy Halladay's robotic-like exterior, he is still human and does lose a game from time to time. But it's all a part of his programming - because if he won every single game, then people would probably get suspicious.

Get ready for a Slugfest

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Can you believe that the Texas Rangers at one point were owned by the man above? It still boggles my mind sometimes that Dubya was allowed to use scissors, let alone run a baseball franchise or even AN ENTIRE COUNTRY.

It will likely be a slugfest as two of the top offensive teams in the American League battle it out at the Rogers Centre starting tonight for a 3-game set. Just to give you an idea of the kind of team Toronto has to deal with, the Texas Rangers scored 901 total runs, 187 more than the Blue Jays in all of 2008. But on that same token, the Rangers also gave up 860 total runs, and lost 30 blowout games too. So the Texans may have the hitting, but they lack the depth at pitching to even sustain a .500 record.

A highly offensive-driven team like the Texas Rangers reminds me of one of those plasticized, highly done-up women that you’d see in Hollywood; although they have a lot going for them looks-wise, their IQ probably resembles that of a doorstop. That’s just like the Rangers; all offense, and no defense .The Rangers might put up a lot of runs and hit a lot of homeruns, but they are also likely to give up just as many runs too.

The key to this series for the Blue Jays will simply be to limit the Rangers from scoring 5+ runs a game. If Halladay, Purcey and Richmond can do that, then the Blue Jays will be in a great position to win their 5th straight series of the season.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Live Chat tonight

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Today the bluebirds enjoy a rare day off, which means time to discuss your first place Toronto Blue Jays! Be sure to join in for tonight's live chat starting at 9pm EST.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Rick-Rolled

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Image courtesy of Associated Press

All the talk early this season is about young Travis Snider being an early candidate for Rookie of the Year. But after today's stellar performance, maybe we should strongly consider throwing Ricky Romero's name into that category. Romero rick-rolled the Oakland A's lineup in a very exciting pitcher's duel. He was on-point the entire game, and was never in jeopardy of losing the game. Brad Arnsberg really must've worked some magic with his young pitchers, because this was Ricky's third straight quality start.

It may not have been as dramatic as yesterday's walk-off jack, but Lyle Overbay had his second straight game-winning hit. Suddenly, I really wish that I went to the game today to get one of those Lyle Overbay bobbleheads (which by the way, are now selling on Ebay for the low, low price of only $34.95 US). So Lyle has not only upped his stock in the clubhouse, but also with the online collector's community.

So is it too early to start calling Ricky Romero by his new nickname, Rick-RoY (rookie of the year)?

Off Day Live Chat

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Can you believe that the Blue Jays have played for 2 weeks straight? With a rare day off tomorrow, I figured it's probably a good time to fire up the Live Chat once again. It all starts at 9pm EST on Monday night, and we'll tentatively chat till 10:30pm (maybe earlier or later depending on how it goes). Hope to see you guys back here Monday night at 9pm for another Blue Jays Live Chat!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Game Overbay

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For the moment, I'll take anything back anything bad I said about the Blue Jays marketing department planning a Lyle Overbay Bobblehead Giveaway Day.

Although Brian Tallet didn't pick up the win, The Stache still came through with an impromptu start, limiting the Oakland A's to just 2 runs over 5 innings. And as much turmoil as the bullpen has been in the past few weeks, the Jays pitched 7 innings of scoreless relief. In guess in retrospect, keeping Brandon League in yesterday's game an inning too long was the right move.

Alex Rios finally came through with a hit today, and for the time being has dug himself out of his slump. I didn't finally catch the game until the bottom of the 9th, with runners on 1st and 3rd with nobody out. I couldn't help but notice that Marco Scutaro was very badly positioned on the basepaths after Vernon's infield hit to the second baseman - Scoots had no chance to even turn back before he was tagged out.

But thankfully that was not the play that most people will remember from today's game. Instead it will be the image above and the glory that comes with the Blue Jays second walk-off win of the season. Congratulations boys, you deserve it. Job well done.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Jays lose battle of the bullpens

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When you call on your bullpen as early as the 4th inning, things are bound to go awry. David Purcey had his second straight rough start, as the Jays dropped a 4-run lead in the eventual 8-5 loss to the Athletics.

Things started off well though, as the top of the lineup continues to hit for power. Scutaro and Hill both hit homeruns and contributed towards the Jays' 5 runs. But after Hill, there is a HUGE hole ... and I mean HUGE. Rios was hitless again tonight - that's 3 straight games and Alex is now 0 for 14 since Wednesday. Part of me thinks that if John Gibbons was still around, he would either bench Rios or move him down in the lineup to teach him a lesson. But the more player-friendly Cito Gaston will probably just hope and pray that Rios hits his way out of this slump.

Cito made another questionable call tonight, perhaps leaving Brandon League in for too long. Could those extra runs have been prevented? Maybe. But Brian Tallet is starting tomorrow, and Cito probably threw League out there for as long as possible to keep the other bullpen arms fresh for tomorrow's game. I'm not saying that Cito conceded tonight's game, but sometimes you do have to lose the battle to win the war.

In the grand scheme of things, the Blue Jays are still 8-4 and still in first place.

High on Offense

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Take a look at the box score from any of the previous 3 wins by the Blue Jays, and you might think that there was a huge typo or something seriously wrong with the scorekeepers. But it’s true, the new offensive juggernaut of the American League still leads all teams in runs scored, batting average and home runs. Pinch me.

Over the course of the 4 game series against the Minnesota Twins, the Jays scored a total of 31 runs thanks in part to 56 hits and 8 homeruns. Pinch me again.

Despite all this, Yahoo! Sports Power Rankings doesn’t really give the Blue Jays any love in their weekly rankings as the Jays are all the way down in 14th place. Come on guys, the team with the best record in the American League doesn’t even crack the Top 10? How many $10 tall cans do I have to bribe you guys with to get the Blue Jays to move up a few spots? (The answer: no more than six, hopefully).

As the Blue Jays return home for their second homestand of the season, we’re all still high on offense and high on winning. But unlike a 3 day crack binge, I hope this high lasts all season long.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

A little housekeeping

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Tommy Boy - House Keeping Scene

As you can probably tell by now, there have been a few changes and a little site housekeeping here at The Blue Jay Hunter. I am proud to become the latest member of TheScore.com Sports Federation, along the likes of Drunk Jays Fans, Ghostrunner on First, Sports and the City, and Mop Up Duty (basically, people who know way more about baseball than I do).

Also, in an order to cut down on precious keystrokes, you can now visit www.bluejayhunter.com to get here. That's a total savings of 8 keystrokes instead of punching in http://thebluejayhunter.blogspot.com. Hey, we're not saving lives here but in the grand scheme of things, that could delay the onset of carpal tunnel for at least 2 days.

So please go easy on me as I'm a rookie, and haven't yet been exposed to the ritual rookie hazing yet. Whatever you do, don't tell me I'm being traded to the Yomiru Giants.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Richmond Redemption

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When the Blue Jays really needed Scott Richmond to step up, he did what any good Canadian would do and he honoured that request. After a bit of a shaky start in the first, Richmond settled down and pitched 6 strong innings to earn his first win since that 3-0 rain delay back on September 23rd of last year. It always helps when you get a nice 4 run cushion to work with, but Richmond never really got into any trouble until Shawn Camp came in relief in the 7th. Even then, Camp and new guy Bill Murphy and Brandon League were spectacular in relief.

To you Scott Richmond, we raise a pint of one of Canada's finest beers - Steamwhistle. Cheers!

Good news, bad news

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Good news - Ricky Romero went 8 strong innings versus the twins.
Bad news - Aaron Hill bobbled a DP ball in the 4th, and it cost Romero.

Good news - Kevin Millar kept the Jays in the game with a huge catch.
Bad news - Millar couldn’t get the ball past Delmon Young in LF.

Good news - Vernon Wells actually came through with a clutch hit.
Bad news - Vernon Wells did not gauge the depth of that last hit very well.

Good news - Travis Snider is hitting .316.
Bad news - Sitting on the bench, Travis Snider still hitting .316.

Good news - Jesse Carlson busted himself out of another jam in the 10th.
Bad news - Cito kept him in the game for the 11th.

Good news - Brian Tallet will get his first start on Saturday vs. the Athletics.
Bad news - It’s because Jesse Litsch has been moved to the DL.

Good news - The Blue Jays are still 6-3.
Bad news - The Twins are now 4-5.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Hungover from Travis Snider's Mash Liquor

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Normally it’s frowned upon to get drunk on a Monday night. But last night’s binge on Travis Snider's Mash Liquor was an exception.

Everyone in the lineup had at least 2 hits in the 8-6 win over the Minnesota Twins (aside from Marco Scutaro), the biggest of which came off the bat of Travis Snider. If you didn’t see the replays, both homeruns were moonshots in the second deck of the Metrodome.

And how about that Blue Jays offense? It’s showing no signs of slowing down, racking up 19 hits last night and they still lead the league in runs scored with 54. Aside from Overbay and Barajas, everyone in the lineup is hitting over .300. When was the last time you could say that over ¾ of the lineup was doing that (including bench players)?

After Jesse Litsch left the game with an apparently injury, the rest of the pitching staff came in and did a great job. Bullpen Cop Brian Tallet posted 3 innings of solid relief, Golden Boy Jason Frasor pitched a scoreless 7th, Scott Downs struck out the side in the 8th, and although it was a nervous 9th, B.J. Ryan got the save. Although they scared us last week, the “state of the bullpen” is something we can breathe easy about for the time being.

Come on guys, let's all be troopers and let's look forward to getting hammered for the second night in a row off of Travis Snider's Mash Liquor.

Monday, April 13, 2009

The new Golden Boy of the Bullpen

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In a certain light, Jason Frasor can be a confident pitcher. In a bullpen that is quickly fading into mediocrity, Frasor is rising up as one of the more dependable arms in the 'pen. After Brandon League coughed up 3 runs yesterday, and Brian Tallet surrendered 3 runs on Friday, it looks like Jason Frasor has become the new golden boy of the Blue Jays bullpen.

Shine Jason, shine!

Cito's Head-Scratcher

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I usually try not to over-criticize and nitpick at a coach’s particular decisions within the game, but Cito threw us a curveball yesterday. With runners on 1st and 2nd, Cito had Travis Snider lay down a bunt to advance the runners into scoring position. I know, it seems like a very odd decision to make. Why have Snider bunt, when he could blow the game wide open with an extra-base hit?

Asking Travis Snider to bunt is like going to a strip club, sitting in the back corner and ordering a water. Why pussy out when you can go for the big payoff?

It seems like last year we over-criticized John Gibbons for not playing enough small-ball, and here we are doing the same thing with Cito Gaston but for the opposite reason. Snider did what any good hitter at the bottom of the lineup would do, and sacrifice his at-bat so that the top of the lineup could drive home some runs. But shouldn’t Cito have a little more faith in The Franchise?

This Week in Fantasy Baseball

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With Fantasy Hockey in the books for another season, it's time to finally focus 100% on Fantasy Baseball leagues. The first week of play is always tough to gauge because you don't want an itchy trigger-finger to influence you to drop a player after one bad outing, but you also don't want to risk a roster spot for players that have an amazing start right out of the gate. Here are some interesting trends I noticed this week that could hopefully help your team.

Aces get burned

This week was not very kind to many of MLB's #1 starters. Pitchers like Cliff Lee, C.C. Sabathia, Tim Lincecum, Brandon Webb, and Justin Verlander were all knocked around in at least one of their starts this week. In most cases, it's not time to hit the panic button just yet on any of these guys. Sabathia and Verlander have already bounced back with better second starts, but keep a close eye on your struggling aces.

Business as usual

We go from players who have failed to live up to expectations, to players who constantly meet expectations and surpass them. The best example of course is Roy Halladay; he is off to a torrent 2-0 start, with a respectable 3.86 ERA. Jake Peavy is also mowing down the competition, with a 1-1 record and has already racked up 18 K's. Albert Puljos is living up to his NL MVP status by knocking in 7 RBI's with 2 HR's in a single game on Saturday.

What's in the water in Toronto?

At this point, you can't really go wrong with any of the Blue Jays hitters near the top of the lineup. Adam Lind just had probably the best week of play in his entire career with 12 RBI's and 3 HR's. The Blue Jays 1 and 2 hitters (Scutaro and Hill) are also off to a great start, combining for 5 HR's and 10 RBI's between the two of them. I think it's safe to say Scutaro will drop off a bit in the coming weeks, but Aaron Hill is here to stay. Adam Lind has skyrocketed up to the #2 spot on Yahoo, and is now owned by 75 % of teams Yahoo leagues. Go and get him off the waiver wire if for some reason he's still out there.

Injury bug gets squashed

Initially, I was very weary about drafting Troy Tulowitzski because I was very afraid that his sophomore curse would continue into this year. So far he is proving me (and many critics) completely wrong with 3 HR's and 5 RBI's through 6 games. Chris Carpenter was back to his Cy Young former-self and no-hit the Pirates through 7 innings earlier this week.

Leftovers

If you're like me and have more Fantasy Baseball teams than you can handle, there are probably a few players you share across different leagues - for me it's Evan Longoria who is my starting third baseman on all 3 of my teams. So far it's paying off - 5 HR's, 10 RBI's and a .421 average has him next to Adam Lind for MVP candidate of the week. Other fantasy players that you may have snagged in late rounds like Derek Lowe, Kyle Losche or Aaron Harang are paying dividends for you. All three pitched shutout games this week, and have sparklingly-low ERA's.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

A Few Weekend Ponderings

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Image courtesy of Daylife
Sorry this is so brief, but this post is coming to you from the BJH mobile blogging centre. Wow - what a weekend so far! Yesterday's 8 hour affair was memorable for sure. I managed to catch a few innings on static-filled AM radio, but then the rains came in and I assumed that the game was called since nothing had happened for 3 hours. Then I drive home, and the Blue Jays still won the game! Incredible - it wasn't exactly Scott Richmond's best performance, but it still kept the Jays in the game long enough to get the bats going. There was also a very very rare bad appearance by the bullpen - not sure what was going on with Carlson/League last night.

Today's 5-4 win was also another memorable game - Halladay had it dialed in all day long. I managed to catch the 9th inning, and what would have been B.J. Ryan's second blown save of the week. Thankfully Jason Frasor came in to clean up the mess - I'm starting to rethink my evaluation of Frasor, he really is a great pitcher and has shown he has a lot of talent. I'm not saying he should be a candidate for the closer role, buy Frasor is no longer expendable in my mind.

Have a great Easter Weekend folks, and let's celebrate this incredible 6-1 start!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Kool-Aid Friday

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Either one of two things will happen with Scott Richmond's start today - it will go really really well, or Richmond will get lit up. I'm making this assumption based on Scott's numbers in Spring Training games. I have faith in our boy, but I'm just not confident that he can put up similar numbers like fellow rookies David Purcey and Ricky Romero.

It doesn't help Richmond's case that the Blue Jays have had a terrible record against the Cleveland Indians over the past few years. Call it the "Curse of Rick Vaughn" if you will, but for some reason the Indians have a knack for keeping the Jays at bay. In fact, there was a 4-game stretch last year where the Blue Jays couldn't even put a run on the board for over 3 straight games. If you remember, that series itself was the beginning of the end for John Gibbons as the Blue Jays coach.

But despite all those things, I wish nothing but the best of luck for the Blue Jays brand new fifth starter, Scott Richmond. His leash will no doubt be very short, and will have to start out of the gate strong and make a good impression in his first few starts. As the Jays fifth starter, Richmond is the lowest on the totem pole, and can be replaced at a moment's notice. Regardless, I'll be sitting down later today with a nice refreshing glass of Kool-Aid to watch Scott Richmond hopefully spoil the Cleveland Indians home opener.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Romero tames Tigers

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Image courtesy of Daylife

Congratulations to Ricky Romero for scoring his first big league win today in the “Battle of the Rick's”. Romero was matched up against another first-round pick also making his MLB debut, Rick Porcello of the Tigers.

Looking back, I never really hopped on the Ricky Romero train during Spring Training, but I’m certainly rethinking that. Cito Gaston shocked us with his announcement in March that Romero was suddenly thrust back into the arms race for the Jays final rotation spots. In his previous outings, Romero was never really that dominant, so it was a surprise to learn that he was back up for consideration. What can I say … Cito with all his wealth in baseball knowledge, was right.

Another thing that Romero has going for him is his likeness to James Todd Smith the 3rd, as people are starting to notice that Ricky Romero bears a certain similarity to LL Cool J. Just imagine if LL were to trade his Kangol hat for a Blue Jays cap, and that’s pretty much Ricky Romero. And I think I have the perfect nickname for him too - RR Cool Jay.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Brian Tallet - Bullpen Cop

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I'm thinking that the Rogers Centre should change the name of the "Call to the Bullpen" to the "Call to the Cop Shop" now that Brian Tallet is sporting the most badass moustache in baseball. I couldn't believe it when I saw him pitch during the Home Opener, and we were also treated to another appearance by Tallet tonight in the Jays 5-1 loss to the Tigers. Jesse Litsch may have given up 5 runs, but Jason Frasor pitched a scoreless 7th and 8th, and Tallet came in and handcuffed the Tigers in the 9th inning.

I don't know what it is about moustaches, but I think I've found my new player on the Blue Jays. And that's Brian Tallet - Blue Jays Bullpen Cop.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

That was a Hill of a game!

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There may have only been around 17,000 fans at the Rogers Centre to witness it, but tonight's 5-4 walk-off win over the Tigers didn't even need the beer to make it exciting. Scheduling conflicts with the Leafs and Raptors made it difficult to watch/listen to the game, but it was totally worth it.

For a while I was having flashbacks of that 1-0 loss on August 27th, 2008 to the Tampa Bay Rays where the Jays couldn't even put one run on the board while David Purcey posted Halladay-like numbers. I even had a blog title post ready for the post-game wrapup - "Poor, Poor Purcey". But then something miraculous happened; the lineup finally decided it might be a good idea to but some runs on the board.

First it was Scott Rolen with a solo shot. Then Aaron Hill flipped the script with his 3-run homerun, and the Jays were poised to win the game. I'll be honest, I screamed like a little girl at a Jonas Brothers concert when Hill went yard. But then after I heard B.J. Ryan was coming in to close it out, I got nervous. Although there were a few hiccups, miraculously the offense came through in the bottom of the 9th for the win. Last year, the Jays didn't get their first walk-off win until July 8th. But this season, the Blue Jays only had to wait until the second game of the season to celebrate in dramatic fashion.

2-0. That's definitely a good start!

Firing on all cylinders

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What the hell did Adam Lind have for breakfast yesterday? It must have been a champion-sized bowl of Wheaties, because it was a career night for him in Toronto's 12-5 tromping of the Tigers. Lind hit a franchise high 6 RBI's and went 4 for 5. It was certainly a great start to a year in which the Jays young players really need to contribute.

In fact, it was a complete team effort - everyone in the lineup had a hit. The heart of the lineup (Rios, Wells, Lind) ripped apart the Tigers pitching, going 7 for 12. The Jays even had clutch 2-out hitting from Lyle Overbay and Adam Lind too. Travis Snider didn't fail to impress, with a long bomb and a double in his very first major league Opening Day. I think one day hitting in the 9th slot is enough, move this guy up to 5th or 6th already.

Although Doc gave up 5 runs, he was sick throughout 6 innings. I didn't want to say anything, but Halladay didn't even give up a single hit until the 4th inning. Unfortunately, that hit was a solo shot from Curtis Granderson, which got the offensive ball rolling for the Tigers.

Aside from a few scary moments in the 7th, the Blue Jays had control of this game from start to finish. I noticed that the buzz during the game died off a bit around the 6th inning (once stuff started getting hurled on the field), once the fans realized that the game was pretty much in the bag. Oddly enough, so were many of the fans. Hey-o!

But really, what more could you ask of from a Blue Jays Home Opener? Doc was pretty much amazing, there was tonnes of hitting, and the kids showed they have the talent to compete at the big league level. Taking a page from our boy eyebleaf at Sports and the City - Pennant!

Opening Day Thoughts

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Is it just me, or did more planes land on the field at the Rogers Centre last night than a busy weekend at Pearson International Airport? Despite all the off-field distractions that made their way onto the field, the Blue Jays Home Opener was a great game overall. But it's sad that great performances by many of the Blue Jays will be overshadowed by what took place in the stands at the Rogers Centre.

In the section that I sat in (211), things were pretty low-key throughout the game. For the most part, it was just die hard fans who were there to have a good time. But from about the 6th inning onward, I started to notice paper airplanes gliding down from the 500 section. The first few times, it was funny. I have to admit that when one of the airplanes made it all the way to the outfield, I was impressed. But after that, it just got stupid. It seemed like any idiot who could find a spare piece of paper on the ground just tossed it over the side, and then high-fived their buddies. It may only have been an 8-minute delay of game, but it felt like 20 minutes.

After the airplanes, fights started to break out in the 113 section below us. Then golf balls and baseballs started making their way onto the field. Rightfully so, Jim Leyland pulled his team off the field and as the umpires congregated and decided what to do, as the crowd got rowdier and even more impatient. Finally, the stadium announcer finally got on the system and threatened that the Blue Jays could forfeit the game if people kept throwing stuff on the field.

Just like last year's Home Opener, leave it up to a few douchebags to ruin it for everyone else. It's unfortunate because probably about 75 percent of the people at that game were there to enjoy their home team at the Rogers Centre for the first game of the season. The other 25 percent were there hoping to do something that would get them on the cover of the Toronto Sun.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Opening Day 2009: The Day has come!

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In a blink of an eye, that excruciatingly long 6 month off-season has finally led its way to Opening Day. There's a certain magic in the air that's reminiscent of that faithful day on April 7th, 1977 when the Blue Jays began their journey to greatness.

I can imagine that the atmosphere at tonight's game will be incredible, and I can't wait to finally step into the Rogers Centre for another incredible season of Blue Jays baseball. I will be wearing my throwback power blues loud and proud, and will likely have calluses on my hands from clapping so hard.

Feel free to follow along with my pre, during, and post-game tweets on my Twitter page.

Whether you're at the Rogers Centre or watching from home, you gotta believe. Go Jays Go!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Don't write off the 2009 Blue Jays (just yet)

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It's funny how we haven't even played one single iota of regular season baseball yet, but some folks are already counting out the 2009 Toronto Blue Jays. Places like Walkoff Walk, Big League Stew and even Jordan Bastian even have the Jays projected as low as 5th place in the American League East. Is that maybe a harsh assessment of a team that has been one of the best in baseball over the past 3 seasons?

Yes, it was a little disappointing that J.P. Ricciardi didn't land any big name free agents in the off season. But opening up the chequebook and bringing in new players doesn't always necessarily translate to success. At the beginning of 2008, a lot of people pegged the Detroit Tigers as favourites to make it to the World Series. So for the Yankees to sign Mark Teixeira and C.C. Sabathia, it does make them a better team on paper, but that doesn't mean that makes them the automatic favourite to run away with the division.

Let's also keep in mind that a lot can happen over the course of 162 games. No team in baseball is immune to injuries, losing streaks, or just plain lack of production. For example, your fantasy baseball team might be a pre-season favourite to win on paper, but in order win, a lot of things need to go right to become successful.

Proven players who are expected to deliver (Hallday, Rios) need to live up to their expectations. Then there needs to be young players that set the bar high (Snider, Romero, Purcey). Finally, to have a successful year, the entire team needs to step up and fill the holes if anyone goes down to injury.

It's part of my duty as a Jays fan to be an eternal optimist. I'm not expecting the Blue Jays to be the 2008 Tampa Bay Rays, but I am certain that the Blue Jays will not finish the season at the bottom of the division. Remember, keep the faith and "believe the madness".

Thrilled to see Hill back

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May 29th, 2008 is a day that Aaron Hill would probably rather forget. But it's amazing what some recovery time will do for your game, because Hill is ready to return as the Blue Jays starting second baseman.

It's easy to forget about Aaron Hill because he missed so much of the 2008 season. That's why he's a very easy candidate to pick to have a "breakout season".

Cito mentioned that Hill will hit in the number two slot, which is a bit of a departure from the 7th position that Hill batting in for most of the 2007 season, as well as 2008. Aaron is not really known for being a base stealer, but by hitting in the second position, that really encourages him to to take more chances on the base paths, as Alex Rios did last year.

I give all the credit in the world to Joe Inglett for doing a great job filling in for Hill in his absence. But I am totally amped to see Aaron Hill hopefully return to his 2007 self (.291 AVG, 17 HR, 78 RBI). That is a lot of pop in the lineup that the Jays missed last year, and that's the kind of offense the team really needs to compete in the AL East this year.

From someone who is still whining about a curling injury from 4 days ago, I find it amazing that Aaron Hill can return to competition after sustaining a major concussion like that. Corie Koskie is proof that some players are never the same after post-concussion syndrome. I just hope that Aaron Hill can pick up where he left off.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Vernon Wells: Muscle Car Enthusiast

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I'm not sure if you guys have seen the latest wave of Toronto Blue Jays commercials, but if you look closely you'll notice that Vernon Wells' very own muscle car appears in this spot in which he attempts some amateur locksmithing.

This is in fact Vernon Wells' actual car - I'm pretty sure it's a 1971 Dodge Super Bee. I know it's legit because last year on my way home from a game, I ran into another Jays fan who said he saw Vernon Wells driving down Lakeshore in a muscle car similar to the one in the picture above.

Update: Carson and my gearhead brother have confirmed that Vernon Wells' car pictured above is in fact an Oldsmobile 442.

Friday, April 3, 2009

TGIF Tidbits

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As if there weren’t enough ways to be distracted during the game, Sportsnet will be rolling out a special “Game in the Game” feature that will debut during Monday’s Opening Day. People can vote on the outcome of the game, who will score first, and which inning a streaker will run onto the fiel. I’m fine with this, so long as it isn’t one of those lame tickers that used to be on MuchMusic that tweens would use to say “OMG I LUV U LEXI” or “U R BANGIN LIKE ROLENS BAT”.

I’m trying to convince people to put down the Hatorade on Scott Richmond. That bloated Spring Training ERA of 6.63 isn’t really a testament of the kind of pitcher he truly is. Maybe Scott was too relaxed on the mound after he already was already assured a spot in the starting rotation. But give the guy credit, he only surrendered 3 total walks in 19 innings pitched down in Spring Training. Come game time, I think Scott Richmond will do just fine. He’ll likely face off against Anthony Reyes of the Cleveland Indians next Friday at the Indians’ Home Opener.

Earlier this week, the Tao of Stieb suggested that Cito Gaston might be getting a free pass, as it seems like management might be going easy on him lately. But then, Gaston comes out breathing fire against Rogers Clemens yesterday … and suddenly Cito Gaston is the coolest manager in MLB.

Parkes over at Drunk Jays Fans hits another one out of the park, and helps us prepare for Opening Day with the “DJF Guide to the 2009 Home Opener”. I’m thinking that this year might be a little less rampant considering that it’s against the Tigers and not the Red Sox this time. From my experiences, Tigers fans are pretty low key - but at Opening Day, anything can happen.

Speaking of Opening Day, check out my video in which I show fans how to prepare for the Blue Jays Opening Day. Yes, it’s from 2008 so please excuse my laziness in using recycled crap to promote the 2009 season. Believe the madness!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Back2Back Weekend

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I really have to give credit to the Toronto Blue Jays marketing department for finding a way to liven up a Jays/Orioles series in the dead of August. Today, the Blue Jays announced that they’ll be having a special Back2Back weekend, featuring a reunion of the members from the famous 1992 and 1993 World Series rosters. Check out this star-studded list of confirmed players below:

Joe Carter, Roberto Alomar, Devon White, John Olerud, Duane Ward, Juan Guzman, Tom Henke, Kelly Gruber, Dave Stieb, Dave Stewart, Al Leiter, Jimmy Key, Jack Morris, Paul Molitor, or read the entire list here

The festivities will kick off on Thursday August 6th with a Charity Golf Tournament, which I will try to find some way to sneak into. Friday August 7th will coincide with a Flashback Friday to honour both ’92 and ’93 Blue Jays rosters. On Saturday August 8th there will be a pregame Fanfest with a chance for diehard and fair-weather fans alike to come out of the woodwork to get autographs from their favourite Blue Jays. The Back2Back weekend will wrap up on Sunday August 9th with a special Tom Henke figurine giveaway day. No, there will not be a commemorative Terminator 2 DVD giveaway to go along with it, though that would be pretty cool.

It sounds like this should be a pretty amazing weekend, and I can't wait until August to check this all out. Though, I wonder if the 1989 Blue Jays team that will be there for the Flashback Friday on June 5th maybe feel like they're getting shafted. Either way, this Back2Back Weekend should do great things for the Jays, whether or not they're fighting for a playoff spot come August. Plus, it’s also a great reason for me to dig out my 1992 and 1993 World Series photo books.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Victory for Scott Richmond

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Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time to start preparing the ticker-tape parade down Yonge Street. Scott Richmond will begin the 2009 season as one of the Toronto Blue Jays starting pitchers.

As you’ve probably noticed over the past few months, Scott Richmond unexpectedly captured my attention as one of the dark horse candidates for the starting rotation positions. To this day, I still can’t figure out exactly what it was that made him so likeable. Maybe it was his quiet demeanor, his dependability, or maybe it could have been that sad, sad face of his from the WBC.

Regardless, let’s just take a moment to honour this amazing accomplishment by our fellow countryman. Congratulations Scott Richmond, this certainly calls for an Al Gore-sized celebration.

Tough but necessary roster decisions

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Although we may not always agree with the decisions that the Toronto Blue Jays make, I understand why they have to be made. Jeremy Accardo and Joe Inglett were optioned down to Triple A simply because there was not enough room on the 25-man roster.

In the case of Joe Inglett it’s not that he did anything wrong in Spring Training, it’s just that after committing to John McDonald, Kevin Millar, and Jose Bautista, there simply wasn’t a spot for another utility infielder. I imagine we won’t have to wait too long to see Inglett’s soul-patched face once again in Toronto. He’s a very versatile player who is incredibly talented, and it would be a waste for him to sit in Las Vegas all year.

Jeremy Accardo on the other hand is a little more complicated of a story. There were some concerns about him earlier in Spring Training, and those 10 earned runs didn’t exactly help his case. Word if him losing his split-fingered pitch also was probably another reason why Accardo didn’t make the cut. I don’t think this necessarily means guys like Shawn Camp and Jason Frasor are better than Accardo, it’s that Accardo has much more to benefit by spending the first part of the season pitching in Triple A.

I have to admit that I am kind of sad to see Jeremy Accardo and Joe Inglett left off the 25-man roster. Of course, being left behind in Vegas does not mean that these guys are banned to eternal damnation. All it takes is one injury before they’re called back up to the big leagues.

For traveling purposes, obviously the flight from Vegas to Toronto is much longer than Syracuse to Toronto, so I hope that Accardo and Inglett have their Air Miles cards ready.
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