Friday, July 31, 2009
It's only fitting that we play out the best defensive third baseman that the Blue Jays have ever had with his imfamous walkup music. I'll miss you Scotty.
Viva La Rolen always.
This girl has mad rap skills and puts her love/frustrations for the Blue Jays very eloquently in the greatest baseball hip hop masterpiece since The Variety Club Blue Jays rap.
Stephen from Searching from '93 picked up on this video first, but I thought I would also hop on board and post it here as well.
Let's sit back and wait for the Red Sox or Yankees to post a response rap video so we can really get this rap beef going.
It's less than eight hours before the MLB non-waiver trade deadline, and J.P. Ricciardi's blackberry is undoubtedly buzzing with offers and inquiries about Roy Halladay. Due to advances in technology and incredible reconnaissance work, I was able to obtain and hack into Ricciardi's blackberry and actually foresee which messages he will be receiving today:
9:22am - Red Sox General Manager Theo Epstien checks in to inquire about the Red Sox' offer on the table for Roy Halladay. He's getting a little antsy because he wants to get this all hammered out so he can beat the traffic on the way to his house in the Hamptons.
9:54am - Ned Colletti of the Los Angeles Dodgers proposes a movie date to discuss trading prospects to get Doc. "Funny People" is ruled out immediately because Colletti is not a fan of Adam Sandler movies.
10:14am - Texas Rangers President Nolan Ryan attempts to use hard bargaining methods such as antagonizing players.
10:15am - Nolan Ryan immediately apologizes and assures J.P. he was just trying to use his "southern charm". Ryan also suggests that Halladay might have a better chance of throwing a no-hitter in the AL Central.
11:31am - Former Blue Jay B.J. Ryan inquires about his remaining salary so he can go overhaul his wardrobe entirely to Ed Hardy T-Shirts.
2:14pm - Just to stir the pot, New York Yankees GM Brian Cashman offers up George Costanza for Roy Halladay. Ricciardi ponders countering Halladay for Costanza/Newman, but Cashman declines.
3:42pm - Parked at the bar at the local Hooters eating chicken wings and drinking watered down beer, Roy Halladay waits out the trade deadline in solidarity. Doc asks Ricciardi to tell him when it's all over.
Thursday, July 30, 2009
As the trade deadline inches closer and closer, I’m starting to think that any secondary trades involving Scott Rolen, Marco Scutaro or others might be contingent on whether or not the Blue Jays deal Halladay by the trade deadline.
If the Jays do in fact make the Halladay trade, then management has more or less raised the white flag on the 2009 season and declared they are in rebuilding mode. Still, I can’t see Rolen or Scutaro being traded if Doc is still with Toronto come 4:01pm tomorrow afternoon. Halladay is an integral part in the success of this team, so by trading him it sends the message to players and fans that an impending fire sale could be in the works.
If Roy Halladay is shipped off then that basically opens the floodgates for teams to make offers on whichever players they want. There are reports that the Reds are interested in Rolen, the Twins are gunning for Scutaro, and even the Rockies are looking at Scott Downs. With Scutaro's contract up at the end of this season and Rolen's due at the end of 2010, it's time for management to decide whether they are steering this ship into the future, or if they are going to turn back and basically start from scratch.
On the other hand, if the deadline comes and goes and the Jays 25-man roster is still remains the same, then that is a positive thing for 2010. Whether or not Doc re-signs at the end of next season, there is the core for a great Blue Jays team next year which can compete with the likes of the other big bad bullies in the American League East.
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
With the impending trade deadline in mind, Roy Halladay put the rumours in the back of his head and went to work against the Seattle Mariners. The same storyline that preluded each Roy Halladay start also coincided with the same results over the past three games for Halladay; no run support.
Over his past three starts the Blue Jays have averaged just 2.3 support runs for Halladay. Normally that would be more than enough to win the game, but the Seattle Mariners chipped away with 11 singles and an RBI double from Ken Griffey Jr. which was the eventual game-winning hit.
If it weren't for hits from Aaron Hill and a two-run home run by Adam Lind in the seventh inning, the Jays could have been the victim of a no-hitter by Ryan Rowland-Smith. It was another tough loss, which now puts the Blue Jays record in one-run games at 11-20. Even more shocking is that all 15 games that the Jays have lost in the month of July have been by three runs or less.
After losing so many games by such a close margin, it's apparent that the immediate problem with this team isn't the pitching, it's the hitting. Note to the next (or current) General Manager of the Toronto Blue Jays for the 2010 season; this team needs to add more to the offensive cavalry if they're going to compete next year.
If you thought that pitch was way outside the strike zone, just check out the PitchFX above. Ichiro was so determined to hit that pitch not matter what that Scott Downs could have thrown the ball ten feet outside of the zone and Ichiro still would have got the game-winning hit.
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
From what I saw of the first few innings, it was quite the “back and forth” affair. Ricky Romero was a little shaky early on as he surrendered ten singles through the first six innings. In fact, Romero gave up more singles than a desperate middle-aged man sitting in perverts row at the local strip joint (for the Canadian readers, just assume that we’re using American Currency with this joke). Once again, RR Cool Jay did not have his great stuff but had the run support to pick up the win.
If you watch the post game wrap up from the game, you’ll notice that the forgotten art of the shaving cream pie made a return to the Blue Jays clubhouse. Rod Barajas was the target this time, but it’s still unknown who the pie-ee culprit is. He was wearing a Blue Jays hat, so automatically A.J. Burnett can be ruled out.
I personally still don’t understand the shaving cream pie tradition; why use shaving cream when you can use an edible alternative like whipped cream instead? I’ve never had the pleasure of having shaving cream thrown in my face, but I’m assuming that it probably doesn’t taste very good or feel great if it gets in your eyes. And another thing is that most shaving creams these days are gels which you would have to lather up first to get the desired shaving cream effect. Why not use canned whipped cream which you can just spray into the towel?
Anyway, this is a subject that obviously needs to be delved into further at some point in the future, but for now let’s just celebrate this win. But no shaving cream pies, please.
Monday, July 27, 2009
It's time to give credit where it is due, and so ... the Bautista Appreciation Society (BAS for short) is born.
While his bat may not be feared, Jose Bautista’s outfield skills more than make up for it. Bautista is tied for 5th in the American League with seven total outfield assists. What makes that stat even more amazing is that Bautista has played just 31 games in the outfield.
If you do the math that means he guns down a runner every four games. Compared to his counterparts in the Jays outfield, Bautista has two more outfield assists than Vernon Wells and Alex Rios, both which have started over 90 games in the outfield.
Stat geeks need not worry - this affection for Jose Bautista is warranted and also backed by cold hard facts. Bautista’s RngR (Range Runs Above Average) is an acceptable at -2.4, similar to Alex Rios at -2.9. Bautista’s UZR is even pretty decent at -5.3. Hell, anybody in the Blue Jays outfield right now looks like a Gold Glover compared to Vernon Wells.
If it weren’t for his .256 batting average, I would say that Cito should put Jose Bautista in left field for every game. Defensively, Bautista is a great asset in the outfield and does a great job at holding runners and throwing them out too.
So for all of those wanting to join, official Bautista Appreciation Society membership cards and T-Shirts will be available in the near future. Please sign up in the comments section below.
On behalf of Jose, thank you.
One player in particular that struggled a great deal this week was Scott Downs. He blew two leads earlier this week, a save on Saturday and really hasn’t been himself since coming off the disabled list earlier in July. In six appearances since July 8th, Downs ERA has shot up to 9.00 and opponents are hitting .333 off him. So I’m sure that Scott Downs certainly had a lot to reflect on during that flight to Seattle.
Not that I had a look at the Jays flight manifest, but I’m pretty sure Roy Halladay was on the plane to Seattle. With J.P. Ricciardi’s self-imposed trade deadline closing in, unless something significant happens within the next 36 hours it looks like Halladay will stay with the Blue Jays (for now). Reports of astronomical asking prices have steered most teams away from Halladay and may instead be seeking the services of Cliff Lee as a more affordable alternative.
With the next few games starting at 10:10pm, make sure you get those pre-game naps in and stock up on Red Bull to catch these West Coast games. We’ll likely see lots of Jays fans at Safeco field during this series (Dave, you better be there).
There will also probably be plenty of Lyle Overbay family members and friends there since he’s from Centralia, which is about 90 minutes outside of Seattle. Maybe that means we’ll see the return of the multi-coloured O’s and The O-Zone that used to be so prevalent at the Rogers Centre. Does anyone else miss watching those fluorescent paper O's that used to dance each time Overbay came up to bat? Maybe it's just me.
Sunday, July 26, 2009
Yesterday's loss was especially deflating because it was the largest lead surrendered in team history. The Jays were cruising along with a very comfortable 8-0 lead going into the 7th when Brian Tallet got into a bit a trouble; a Carlos Pena triple off the outfield wall cleared the bases and Pena eventually scored to make it 9-4. No problem, still a five fun lead!
The wheels really came off in the ninth when Scott Downs was sent in to close it out. Immediately I thought "why isn't a well-rested Jason Frasor finishing this game?" Downs was roughed up a little the night before and Frasor was working off two days rest. I know Cito wanted to give Downs a chance to redeem himself, but a loss and a blown save in his two previous appearances didn't exactly sit well.
The rest of the game just went downhill from there; the most depressing part was watching Vernon Wells swing at four straight curveballs to end the bottom of the 11th. It's true that Vernon Wells loves curveballs as much as a fat kid loves cake.
And the game ended about as badly as it could have; the Jays had the bases loaded with one out and all they needed was a sacrifice fly to tie the game. Aaron Hill struck out and Adam Lind grounded out to end the game. Four hours and thirty minutes of baseball from Section 108 - all of it watch the Jays blow an eight run lead in extras to the Rays.
Positives (yes, there are some!)
The Bautista Appreciation Society is currently accepting applications after Jose gunned down two runners at second base yesterday (really it looked like three, but I think the ump missed the call at second base). After Jose Bautista watched a ground ball sneak between his legs, I think we can all agree that he is best suited in the outfield attempting to throw out aggressive runners like B.J. Upton.
I thought I caught a glimpse of the Melonheads during the game and it turns out that they were in fact in attendance yesterday. Taking a look at this picture actually helps ease the sting of the game a little bit and I think it just might have to be my new desktop background.
Saturday, July 25, 2009
Those words came straight from the Doctor's mouth; and when the Doctor says something, he means it. And you know what? I believe him.
Roy Halladay doesn't have any reason to play any games or give the answers that everybody wants to hear. He's never been like that - he's a straight shooter all the way. So it was comforting to hear during the post-game press conference that Halladay believes a deal will not be made by the trade deadline.
It certainly wasn't the doom and gloom like we've heard from J.P. Ricciardi over the past few days. Judging by how he reacted during the press conference, Halladay seems to genuinely be interested in staying in Toronto. There has been so much hearsay over the course of the last two weeks that the only people's words I'm taking seriously are Roy Halladay's and Paul Beeston's.
As the mouthpiece of the Toronto Blue Jays, part of Ricciardi's job is to let the public and the fans know about what's going on with the team. But he's flip-flopped so many times this week that it's hard to take him seriously. At this point, I will use my own judgment to determine whether or not I think Roy Halladay will be traded before July 28th.
Roy even said himself that he'd like to see what's going to happen in Toronto. Was that his subtle way of saying that he wants Rogers to open up the purse strings and really spend some money in 2010? That's fine by me - if the Cardinals bring in players to appease Albert Pujols to keep him in St. Louis then the Blue Jays can certainly do the same for Roy Halladay.
Prior to tonight's start against the Tampa Bay Rays, I was hopeful that Halladay would still be a Blue Jay by the end of next week. Now that the game is all said and done, I'm actually more confident that Doc will be here until the end of the season.
See? Roy Halladay would never lead us astray. Always trust Doc.
Friday, July 24, 2009
Even though it seems like the entire baseball world is focused on him, Halladay manages to stay focused despite the whirlwind of trade rumours. I think Halladay said it best in the quote below:
In what could very well be his final appearance as a Blue Jay, Roy Halladay will show up to work today and do what he has always done. He will go through his pre-game routine as usual, and perform to the best of his ability on the mound later tonight. It may be just another start in Halladay’s mind, but for fans it may just be the last goodbye.
One of the main reasons baseball purists admire Roy Halladay is his devotion to the game and his dedication to his craft. He may not be the most accessible baseball player or the friendliest guy, but he makes up for it all by doing what he is paid to do; win.
As we saw over the weekend, the work that Roy and Brandy Halladay do with Doc’s Box and the Hospital for Sick Children is a testament to the type of people they are. The raw emotion that Brandy Halladay displayed during the broadcast truly shows that their family is emotionally invested in the Blue Jays and the city of Toronto.
Halladay has spent the better part of eleven seasons now with the Blue Jays organization and is the only active pitcher with 100 wins or more to have not pitched in the playoffs. The city of Toronto and Blue Jays fans everywhere should understand that Doc more than deserves the chance to win a championship elsewhere if the Blue Jays can’t provide that for him.
Until then, we will be graced with another chance to see arguably the best pitcher of this era work his magic on the mound. Let's not take it for granted.
Thursday, July 23, 2009
First off, Vernon Wells hits a home run; that’s the first sign that something fishy is going on. Then Alex Rios hits a home run. At this point the machines have caught on. But then the strangest thing of all is that Marco Scutaro hits not one but two home runs in the same game. That’s when the baseball Matrix officially raised its hands in defeat and said “I give up, you figure it out”.
The long ball has been an element of the Blue Jays gameplay that has dropped off significantly since the first part of the season. In fact, home runs have been so hard to come by for the Blue Jays lately that prior to the five home runs hit last night, the Jays had only hit five home runs over the course of the past eleven games.
Ricky Romero didn’t have his best stuff, but he wasn’t completely bad either. RR Cool Jay wasn’t his usual self and actually hasn’t been very dependable in the month of July as a whole. In his four starts, Romero has a 5.25 ERA with 16 walks so it’s apparent he’s had some control issues lately.
Thanks to a giant outpouring of run support, all of that really didn’t matter for Romero because he was credited with the win anyway. Ten runs and five home runs by the Blue Jays in one game; I still can’t believe it. I think it’ll probably take a few days for that to set in.
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
I appreciate Overbay’s aggressiveness to attempt to get the lead runner at second base, but ultimately it was the deciding factor in the game. Then again, we can’t really be that upset at him because it was just his second error all season long. I can admit that I kind of take for granted just how great a defensive first basemen Lyle Overbay is until plays that one stand out like a sore thumb.
It seemed like Brett Cecil had a horseshoe up his ass because every time he got into trouble, he managed to wiggle his way out of it. I almost thought that lucky streak was going to continue in the 9th when the Indians had the bases loaded with one out. Alas, Victor Martinez drove a steak into the chest of Jays fans by driving in the winning runs with a double off Scott Downs.
Aside from offensive contributions by Scott Rolen and Aaron Hill, the Blue Jays offense was lackluster once again. The Vernon Wells Hatred Advisory System is on severe alert once again after Cito slotted Wells into the number three slot once again and Vernon came up hitless … again. Did Cito feel bad for VW and that’s why he moved him back into the third spot in the lineup? Just because Vernon had some bad chicken doesn’t mean all is forgiven and is back to normal.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
I figured that since all we've heard lately is nothing but Roy Halladay trade rumours, it was time to take a look at some less depressing news that's happening within the Blue Jays organization.
Infield Fly gets us hyped up for this evening’s New Hampshire Fisher Cats game starring Shaun Marcum and Casey Janssen. This will be Marcum’s second rehab start and hopefully Janssen’s final bullpen stint before he is back with the Blue Jays.
It wasn’t exactly the best start, but at least Scott Richmond is on the road to recovery. He went 3.1 innings and gave up nine hits and three earned runs in a rehab start for the Gulf Coast League Blue Jays. I imagine he will make a few more starts with the Fisher Cats or 51’s before making his way back to the Jays. Luckily, with so many off days in the schedule, there is no need to rush Scott Richmond back; expect him back maybe around the week of August 3rd.
If you missed it earlier this morning, Joe Carter did a live chat over at BlueJays.com. Being scheduled at 11am in the morning, unfortunately I missed the chat entirely but I'm sure Carter touched on the fact that he still cannot find Pat Borders anywhere. I have a feeling that Borders hooked up with Linda Hamilton again and is hiding somewhere in a bunker trying to wait out Judgment Day.
Monday, July 20, 2009
Millar had a decent first few months of the season with .267 AVG to go along with 3 HR and 16 RBI. He basically did what was expected of him which was to hit left-handers better than Lyle Overbay. But then just like the Blue Jays themselves, Kevin Millar dropped off … big time.
Since June 1st, Millar is below The Mendoza Line hitting .187 with 1 HR and just 6 RBI’s. His ineffectiveness at the plate especially showed this past weekend when he struck out three times on Saturday (twice looking) and was held hitless the entire series.
For some reason, Blue Jays management is willing to give every minor league pitcher the chance to play in the show, but they're apprehensive about calling up position players from the Las Vegas 51's. There is a wealth of talent in Las Vegas that is just waiting to get the call; players like Buck Coats, Randy Ruiz and even Travis Snider are all viable options to take Kevin Millar’s place on the roster.
The problem with sending Millar down to the minors at this point in the season is that I really don’t see him wanting to be sent down to Las Vegas. He would probably just tell the Jays to put him on waivers and maybe he could spend the last few months of the season with some of his buddies in Boston or Baltimore.
While a complete game victory is nothing new from Doc, this time it was very different and the atmosphere at this game was unlike any Roy Halladay start we’ve ever seen before. There was a sense in the air that this could have been Doc’s last game in a Blue Jay uniform and Halladay was aware of this as well. A rare smile and a hat tip to the crowd was his way of saying “just in case this was my last game … thank you”.
Perhaps the most telling of all was Brandy Halladay’s emotional testimony during the radio and television broadcasts. On the verge of tears, Brandy thanked the fans for the overwhelming support and praised J.P. Ricciardi for all that he had done for their family. Although she didn’t say goodbye, it certainly felt like one.
If Roy Halladay does in fact get traded, I think most people understand that it’s a business decision and that it’s nothing personal. The problem is that the city of Toronto and Blue Jays fans all over the world are so emotionally invested in this team and Roy Halladay that it feels like we’re losing a member of the family. So if Doc has to pack up his bags and play somewhere else, I just hope that he can come back and visit every once in a while.
Friday, July 17, 2009
Buchholz will get his first start of the season after spending the first half of the season in the Red Sox minor league with the Pawtucket Red Sox. Last week the Jays sent two scouts to check out Clay Buchholz, who would be instrumental in any Halladay trade between Boston and Toronto.
D-Day for Doc?
Roy Halladay was originally scheduled to start tonight’s game but was bumped back to Sunday due to his start at the All-Star Game. If you can’t make it out to this Sunday’s game, make sure you go next Saturday’s start against the Rays because it looks like those are Doc’s final two starts before the trade deadline. If Halladay gets traded, it would be a shame to not see him start at least one more game in a Blue Jays uniform. Don’t take these precious days for granted, Jays fans!
Money down the drain
It turns out the Blue Jays aren’t the only team to throw millions of dollars in failed contracts out the window. The Red Sox are so desperate to get rid of Julio Lugo that they told him the bus left for Toronto at 1pm today rather than 1am last night. Okay, that’s not entirely true but apparently there was a mix-up (which means he was designated for assignment) and Lugo won’t travel with the Red Sox to Toronto. Hear that? That’s the sound of the Red Sox eating $14.5 million of Julio Lugo’s contract with a side remorse sauce. To find out more about the Red Sox from the opposite side of the coin, visit Out in Center Field.
In related news, the Chicago Cubs have decided to take a chance on B.J. Ryan and signed him to a one year deal. The Beej should fit in quite nicely in Chicago since the Cubbies are so accustomed to disappointment and late-inning collapses. Zing!
If you rebuild it, they will Marcum
Shaun Marcum made another impressive step on his road to recovery with four innings of scoreless work for the New Hampshire Fisher Cats last night. Marcum’s line was 4.2 IP, 4 SO, 2 BB, 4 H. News of Marcum’s speedy recovery is a huge boost to the Jays who could be seeking another replacement starting pitcher very soon. I’ve always thought that Shaun Marcum was the next ace for the Toronto Blue Jays, but now he might have to fight Ricky Romero for that title.
The first red flag is Hill’s .333 on base percentage. That’s just 41 points above his .292 batting average; it’s good but not great. A quick glance at similar players like Ian Kinsler shows that his on base percentage is 77 points higher than his batting average. So first thing’s first, Aaron Hill needs to draw more walks and be a little more like his teammate Marco Scutaro whose OBP is 95 points higher than his batting average.
The second red flag that tells us where Aaron Hill needs to improve his game is base on balls percentage which is correlated with OBP. Over the course of his career, Hill has seen his BB% steadily decline and this season it sits at 5.5 percent. That basically means 5.5% of all Aaron Hill’s at bats result in a walk.
Finally, the third and most glaring of red flags is Aaron Hill’s first pitch swinging percentage. This is something that I’ve picked up on lately and noticed about Hill for most of the season, that he goes after the first pitch quite often. The numbers don’t lie; 38 percent of the time Aaron Hill swings at the first pitch.
So is this a lack of plate discipline or is it just an aggressive approach? Since 66.4 percent of pitches are first pitch strikes to Aaron Hill, that can probably explain why he has been so successful at increasing his home run total; the first pitch is often the best one to hit.
After 90 games, I think that opposing pitchers have finally caught on that Hill is swinging for the fences on the first pitch and have adjusted accordingly. Hill on the other hand, has not. He needs to work towards pushing the count and making the pitcher work more rather than just taking the green light on the first pitch.
I think by making these adjustments, Aaron Hill can adapt into a truly feared hitter in the American League. With a little more patience and a little more discipline at the plate, Aaron Hill can cross into the stratosphere of superstar second basemen.
Amateur research backed by stats from Baseball Reference and Fan Graphs
Thursday, July 16, 2009
But nothing has been more spectacular than the parade of moustaches that have grown and flourished during the 2009 season. Let’s take a moment to honour the very best in the moustached arts and take a look at some of the best staches from the first half.
Brian Tallet: Toronto Blue Jays
That’s not the singer, guitar player or drummer from The Killers; it’s Brian Tallet of the Toronto Blue Jays. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that just a few weeks after Brian Tallet came out of the bullpen sporting a stache, he was promoted into the starting rotation. As shown in the picture above, Tallet is the ultimate definition of a hipster showing off his fedora and matching lip sweater.
Rick Ankiel: St. Louis Cardinals
Either Rick Ankiel spent the offseason moonlighting as a police officer, or he starred in a made-for-TV movie about Ron Jeremy. Ankiel's stache quickly garnered attention of fans everywhere, with websites and even Facebook groups devoted to his moustache. Sadly, Ankiel shaved it off just a few weeks later and suffered an unfortunate injury after hitting the outfield wall on May 4th. Moustache experts speculate that had he kept his moustache, Ankiel could have avoided colliding with the outfield wall because a ‘stache would have created additional drag and slowed him down.
Clay Zavada: Arizona Diamondbacks
With arguably the best moustache of the first half, Clay Zavada came out of nowhere and quickly burst onto the scene as the man to beat in the MLB with his Rollie Fingers inspired wax-tipped moustache. His soup strainer has also helped him be very successful as a reliever with the Arizona Diamondbacks. In his first major league appearance, Zavada pitched an inning of scoreless relief and picked up the win. Zavada is well on his way to becoming one of the most feared moustache-clad relievers along the likes of Rich “Goose” Gossage, Dennis Eckersley and Rollie Fingers.
Carlos Zambrano: Chicago Cubs
Big Z made a big statement by showing up to the first day of Cubs Spring Training camp with a moustache. It meant he was ready to win a championship; unfortunately he shaved it off before Opening Day and things haven’t been the same ever since. It just goes to show you that if you’re going to decide to sport a stache, you need to be committed.
Jason LaRue: St. Louis Cardinals
One of the dark horses in the facial hair arts in the first half, Jason LaRue of the Cardinals has been committed to the Fu Manchu for quite some time. He’s often overlooked when it comes to talking about the best moustaches in the game, but LaRue definitely deserves credit for being dedicated to the craft of grooming and caring for his moustache.
Honorable Mention - Ryan Franklin: St. Louis Cardinals
Although not a cookie duster, Franklin has the market cornered in the MLB when it comes to goatees. If you were to see Ryan Franklin on the street, he would probably either be mistaken for an amish settler or a norse god. Apparently Franklin is also aware of the fact that his chin fuzz might have just garnered him a spot on the NL All-Star team.
Images and inspiration courtesy of:
The Wright Stache
The American Mustache Institute
Sports: A Game of Inches
The Handsome Man's Guide to Life
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
I saw interviews with players like Justin Morneau and Derek Jeter saying they would actually prefer that the team with the better regular season record receive home field advantage. Keep in mind these comments were coming from American League All-Stars, so I imagine that after losing home field advantage for the past seven years, the National League All-Stars probably feel the same way.
Bud Selig’s decision to reward home field advantage to the winning league at the All-Star Game was merely his way to attach some semblance of merit to the game that had already lost all meaning after the 2002 debacle.
If the All-Star Game truly means something, then why not let the coaches pick the starting rosters to give themselves the opportunity to field the best possible team? If it’s that important then don’t leave it in the hands of fans to pick the starters when it’s often just a popularity contest anyway.
There is no other league in professional sports other than the MLB that has any weight whatsoever to their All-Star Game. By rewarding the winning team, the commissioner in essence has turned the All-Star Game into a farce by trying to make it serious yet sensational at the same time. Bud Selig needs to step back and see the All-Star Game for what it is - an exhibition.
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
There may not be any cloning involved, but we'll get to see the next best thing later tonight. It's the matchup that many players and fans wanted and now the are finally going to get it at the 80th MLB All-Star Game. After it was announced that Halladay will start the All-Star Game for the American League, he is guaranteed to square off against the best hitter in baseball, Albert Pujols who will be hitting third for the National League All-Stars.
The slight advantage goes to Doc because Pujols is 0 for 4 in career at bats against against Halladay (1 for 6 if we count All-Star Game at bats). But how do you think that it will turn out - will Roy Halladay continue to own Albert Pujols or will Prince Albert deliver in his home ball park?
Monday, July 13, 2009
Hometown favourite Albert Pujols managed to get into the second round by the skin of his teeth winning a "swing-off" against Carlos Pena and Joe Mauer. Brandon Inge picked up the "thanks for coming out" award after failing to hit a single home run. I don't think he'll be remembered for being the worst participant in the derby; that honour belongs to Troy Glaus who hit one home run in 2001 Home Run Derby and just one dinger back in 2006.
As usual, the social commentary from Chris Berman and Joe Morgan made me want to toss my television out the window. The "back, back, back, back" catchphrase never gets old Chris, I hope you have the opportunity to milk that thing for at least another ten years. Those are three hours of commentating that I wish I could get back back back back.
And what was with ESPN's Ball Tracker? It looked like somewhere between a Comet Ball and a flying neon sperm. It was probably one of the most useless features that's been introduced to a baseball broadcast in the last 15 years. The Ball Tracker was about as useful as the FoxTrax Glow Puck. If you can't see where the ball or the puck is going then you shouldn't even be watching the game.
All in all, it wasn't as flashy as last year's Home Run Derby at Yankee Stadium but it was still fun to watch. Now if they could only cut down the running time to about 90 minutes then it would be perfect.
It’s unfortunate that great pitchers like Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine had to find out hard way that chicks dig the long ball. But apparently it’s not just the female contingency, according to ESPN polls almost 70 percent of people actually prefer to watch the Home Run Derby rather than the All-Star game itself.
Aside from Carlos Pena, there aren’t any real true home run hitters representing the American League at the Home Run Derby. So that means I have to give the edge to the National League because all four of their hitters have 30+ home runs as their career average whereas the AL has just one hitter with those kind of numbers.
|Batter||HR's (This Season)||HR's (Career High)||HR's (Career AVG)|
In the end, do any of those numbers even matter? I guess anything can happen since they’ll all be hitting 65 MPH batting practice fastballs anyway. Albert Pujols is the odds on favourite to win the HR Derby according to BetUS.com but I wouldn’t be surprised if a dark horse pick like Adrian Gonzalez wins it all. But thankfully I’m not putting my money where my mouth is because last year I picked Dan Uggla to win the derby and he didn’t even make it out of the first round.
So what do these sluggers get for all their trouble? A shiny silver trophy and a potential downfall in the second half of the season if you believe in the Home Run Derby curse. That’s why I’m glad that Aaron Hill turned down the chance to represent the AL in the HR Derby. He doesn’t want to mess up his swing and I respect his choice to decline the invitation because he can’t afford to drop off after the All-Star break.
2.) April 11: The Blue Jays end the first week of the 2009 season in first place. Scalpers outside of the Rogers Centre immediately begin selling playoff tickets even though the Jays have a 5-1 record with 156 games remaining in the season.
3.) April 16: The new offensive juggernaut in the American League continues its dominance as the Blue Jays continue to build on their early reputation as a power hitting team. After taking three out of four against the Minnesota Twins, the Jays lead most offensive categories including home runs and runs scored. It's almost as if somebody took the 2008 Jays and flipped them completely upside down.
4.) April 23: Ricky Romero and B.J. Ryan wind up on the disabled list, but the Blue Jays move full speed ahead despite the injuries. It was expected to be a slugfest at the Rogers Centre against the heavy-hitting Texas Rangers, but the Blue Jays kept the Rangers at bay for the most part. The Jays continued their trend of winning either two or three games in a series by taking another set over the Texas Rangers.
5.) April 30: Although it wasn't as glamorous as a ten game winning streak, the Jays strung together a streak of seven consecutive series wins to begin the 2009 season. That streak came to halt after losing two out of three in Kansas City, even though the bluebirds still held a 15-9 record to finish off the month of April.
6.) May 6: Going into the second month of the season, things could not be better for the Blue Jays. Despite losing Jesse Litsch and Ricky Romero to the DL, the Jays were still firing on all cylinders perched at the top of the American League East and Scott Richmond picked up an AL Rookie of the Month award to boot. Not bad for a team that many experts pegged as finishing fourth place or worse.
7.) May 12: It was the pitching matchup that Blue Jays fans had been praying for ever since A.J. Burnett decided to opt out of his contract with the Blue Jays and sign with the New York Yankees. With an atmosphere that rivaled the good old days of '92-'93, the Rogers Centre came alive for Halladay vs. Burnett. Doc went the distance and picked up the complete game victory putting his former teammate to shame.
8.) May 18: A four game series at home against the Chicago White Sox was just what the doctor ordered to help the Blue Jays recover after losing two out of three from the New York Yankees. It was a coming out party for Blue Jays rookies as Brett Cecil, Robert Ray and Scott Richmond all impressed giving up three earned runs or less in all of their starts. At 13 games above .500, everyone was in disbelief at how well the Blue Jays were playing.
10.) May 24: The worst road trip in Blue Jays history continues as they kick off interleague play by losing three straight games to the Atlanta Braves. Even with the return of Casey Janssen and a solid start from Roy Halladay, the Jays couldn't hold off the Braves.
11.) May 27: Dropping two more games to the Orioles at Camden Yards had the Blue Jays thirsty for a win since they had lost the previous eight games. A start from good old dependable Roy Halladay would be the cure, right? Wrong. Even after some late inning heroics from Aaron Hill couldn't save the Blue Jays from a bullpen implosion and the streak continued at nine straight losses.
12.) May 30: The losing streak comes full circle as it ends against the pitcher which it began; Tim Wakefield. The Blue Jays took it to the Sawx and won two out of three at home. Turns out the Jays and Red Sox would beat up on each other as the New York Yankees took over first place in the division.
13.) June 7: Is he man or machine? Roy Halladay continues to mow down the opposition, picking up his tenth win of the season with just one loss. Although most of the hype is surrounding Zack Greinke, Roy Halladay continues to be the odds-on favourite for the AL Cy Young.
14.) June 14: The Blue Jays enjoy interleague play about as much as Kevin Millar enjoys waxing his back. Their struggles continue against National League teams and the Blue Jays get swept at home against the Florida Marlins. But the most disturbing news from this series surrounds Roy Halladay; he exits early from a game and heads to the disabled list.
15.) June 18: For whatever reason, the Philadelphia Phillies had an atrocious record at home in Citizen's Bank Park and that trend played in favour of the Toronto Blue Jays. In a couple of wild wins, the Blue Jays manage to sweep the defending World Champions in their own house. Bad news comes in the way of Casey Janssen and new closer Scott Downs going on the DL.
16.) June 24: Another interleague series, and another couple of wins for the Jays. Brian Tallet has his best start of the year against the Cincinnati Reds and continues to impress since he was thrust into the starter's role once Jesse Litsch was sent to the disabled list.
17.) July 5: Going into Yankee Stadium, expectations in this series were as high as the home run totals. In a key four game series, the Blue Jays went down swinging losing three out of four. Luckily, Ricky Romero managed to salvage at least one win for the bluebirds. Romero's rookie campaign proved to be the right decision for Brad Arnsberg and Cito Gaston. Also, Roy Halladay and Aaron Hill are rewarded with spots on the American League All-Star roster after putting up incredible numbers in the first half.
18.) July 9: In the midst of a crazy series in Tampa Bay, not only did the Blue Jays have to dodge trade talk surrounding Roy Halladay, but they also cut ties with their former closer B.J. Ryan. A couple of walk-off losses combined with all that negative press could have affected the Blue Jays and they were swept by the Rays at the Trop.
19.) July 12: The Blue Jays wrap up the first half of the season with a lackluster 4-2 loss to the only team below them in the American League East, the Baltimore Orioles. Finishing with a 44-46 record at the All-Star break puts them on par with where people expected them to be at the beginning of the season.
At the end of these 90 games, the Toronto Blue Jays are pretty much where everyone expected them to be; fourth place. The difficulty is that they performed so well in April and May that it skyrocketed expectations so high that there was almost no way that the Jays could keep it up. A lot of lessons have been learned in the first half; maybe the most important of all is that the Toronto Blue Jays do in fact have what it takes to be a first place team. Now the hard part is finding out how to get back there.
Sunday, July 12, 2009
It was a familiar story; a rookie pitcher does his best to give the team a chance to win, while the offense squanders multiple chances to put runs on the scoreboard. Marc Rzepczynski wasn't as impressive as he was in his debut earlier this week, but R-Zep was okay and made it through six innings. Earlier in the game, he was doing a great job of keeping the ball down in the zone. As the game progressed, you could gradually see his pitch placement rise higher and higher in the strike zone which got him into trouble on multiple occasions.
David Dellucci finally snapped his 0 for 19 streak with an RBI double in the top of the seventh inning. There is a lot of criticism surrounding Dellucci right now, but keep in mind that Jose Bautista also struggled when he first started playing with the Blue Jays last season. Bautista was 0 for 15 before he picked up his first hit in a Blue Jays uniform.
Then when the Blue Jays actually had a rally going in the seventh, it looked like Aaron Hill pulled up running out a ground ball at first base which actually could have scored the tieing run. It was very uncharacteristic of Hill and maybe he's just gassed from a very productive first half, but should not be tolerated either way. Exceeding expectations before the All-Star Break does not mean Hill can just float back down to earth.
Those hoping for Travis Snider to come back and save the Blue Jays are also in for a disappointment; apparently he's nursing a bruised knee after a play at the plate a few games ago with the Las Vegas 51's. I guess the David Dellucci experiment will have to continue until the Great White Pasty Hope (hat tip ToS) is ready to return and be that other feared left handed bat that the Blue Jays have been searching for.
So now the Blue Jays (aside from Roy Halladay and Aaron Hill) will have four days to rest, regroup and refocus on the second half of the season. I've noticed that within the past few months, it seems like the Blue Jays have resorted back to their 2008 selves; all pitching and no hitting.
At their high point earlier this season, the Blue Jays were riding high at the top of the American League East and at one point were 13 games above .500. My how things have gone downhill quickly; since May 19th the Blue Jays are 17-32. I can almost pinpoint exactly where things went downhill; that faithful start in Boston on May 19th against Tim Wakefield. Ever since then, things haven't been the same for the Jays.
We know where the Blue Jays went south but we still have yet to find out exactly why it happened. I just hope they can figure it out and fix it quickly before the end of the season sneaks up on us.
Aside from Melvin Mora's walk-off home run, the thing I will remember most about this game was the rundowns on the basepaths. Mora was caught completely caught off guard and was picked off by Rod Barajas. Then just a few innings later, Scott Rolen was also caught in a rundown but Matt Wieters dropped the ball. Then of course there was the rogue tag when Vernon Wells was supposedly "tagged" out on the way to second base.
It's hard to believe but tomorrow is the final game of the first half of the season. I'll be liveblogging the rubber match of this series over at The Score; it's Marc Rzepczynski going up against Brad Bergesen. With a win, the Blue Jays can pull back to the .500 mark and end the first half with a 45-45 record. Yay for mediocrity!
Thursday, July 9, 2009
Last night it was pitcher's duel, and tonight it was what could only be described as a "hitter's duel". The lead changed many times, there were 19 runs and 31 hits in total. Sounds more like an All-Star game box score rather than a regular season matchup between the Jays and the Rays.
Watching the Rays win two straight walk-off games is incredibly deflating, but the Blue Jays will turn to Roy Halladay to make sure it's not a sweep. Knowing how intense Halladay is about game day rituals, I doubt he will even come close to talking to any reporters tomorrow so he will be on his game no matter how many teams are "serious about trading for him".
I noticed a strange trend in the last three series for the Blue Jays which could continue tomorrow - in each of their previous series against the Yankees, Rays and Phillies, the Jays have won the final game in the series. Coincidence?
Just a quick note, I'll be heading on holidays for a couple of days and should be back by the end of the week. Considering how quickly things have escalated already this week, I hope that I don't come back to find that the Blue Jays are completely in shambles. Because if that's the case, I might need more than just a few days to deal with the news.
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
Even though B.J. is still owed $15 million dollars, the move was a smart one rather than parading him out there in the mop up role for the next season and a half. The Beej had two great seasons as the closer for the Blue Jays, with 37 saves in 2006 and 32 saves back in 2008.
Undoubtedly, J.P. Ricciardi has learned a very costly lesson about signing a closer with one year of experience in that role to the biggest contract ever dealt out for a relief pitcher. From now on, it's pretty safe to say that Scott Downs will hold down the reins in late innings for the Blue Jays.
B.J. Ryan was paid very well to close games for the Blue Jays, but ultimately he could not fulfill his end of the bargain and in the end he couldn't even save himself.
Technically, Halladay's contract with the Blue Jays doesn't run out until the end of the 2010 season. Although it would be disappointing to see Doc leave Toronto next year, I certainly wasn't prepared to see him in a different uniform any time soon.
In a perfect world, Roy Halladay would be a Blue Jay for life and he would win another couple of Cy Youngs and a World Series ring. Unfortunately, none of that is guaranteed so Doc might think that his chances to accomplish those things are better with another team. I don't blame him for wanting to play for a contender, but I honestly think that next year's Blue Jays squad will restore some of the faith that has been last over the past few years.
As rewarding as it would be for Roy Halladay to win a championship, I think he would much rather stay in Toronto and continue to build a great pitching staff around him. On several occasions, he has taken less money to stay with the Blue Jays, so obviously Halladay sees something in this organization that he really loves.
It's apparent that Halladay doesn't want to create an awkward situation by refusing to waive his no trade clause, so in the best interest of the team he is at least open to the idea of being traded. That really goes to show you what kind of a player and person Roy Halladay he is - he is willing to do whatever it takes to better the Blue Jays, even if he doesn't play for them anymore.
At 32 years old and in the middle of his eleventh season in the big leagues, Roy isn't getting any younger ... but like a fine wine, Halladay is getting better with age. He hasn't shown any signs of slowing down and is one of the most versatile and dependable pitchers in the league. Any offer that the Blue Jays would be willing to offer Halladay would take precedence over any temptations he might receive on the free agent market. If Rogers and the Blue Jays want to keep Halladay around, they better be ready to free up about $20 million dollars a year to keep him around.
There have been so many ups and downs these past few years, but there has been solace in the fact that Roy Halladay has been one of the constants in the Blue Jays organization. As a fan, it's been a pleasure to watch him work his magic on the hill every five starts - so I don't know what the hell I'd do if I didn't have that to look forward to. Baseball would still go on in Toronto, but I'm afraid that my heart might not.
I'll stand by my belief that Brandon League should be used only in small doses, which is backed by a great article over at Batter's Box. Shawn Camp on the other hand continue to be a pleasant surprise in the bullpen; three innings of scoreless and hitless relief was enough for Camp to solidify his place in the 'pen as a reliable long relief man.
Scott Rolen could not have picked a better time to extend his 24 game hit streak. When he laced that single up the middle, a sound came out of my mouth that some would say is similar to what a middle-aged woman would sound like at a bachelorette party. At the time, I felt it was perfectly acceptable to scream at the top of my lungs.
It's always tough to lose in extra innings, but it's even more tough when you can go back and pinpoint key areas where the Blue Jays could have easily won the game. Better luck next time, I guess.
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
Jays' Halladay all but gone in Toronto
I guess a few innocent comments made by J.P. Ricciardi has Rosenthal convinced that the Blue Jays are shopping Roy Halladay and that his days in a Toronto Blue Jays uniform are numbered. Ken, where did you get that inclination that Halladay is a goner - was it this prototypical comment by J.P. Ricciardi?
"We have to see what's out there. I'm not saying we're going to shop him. But if something makes sense, we at least have to listen. We're more toward listening than we've ever been."Ken, you should know better than anybody that comments like this from a General Manager should be taken with a grain of salt. For years, we’ve heard the same old song and dance from Ricciardi like “nobody on this team is untouchable” and “we’ll do anything to better this team”. So why all of a sudden does one of these statements mean that Roy Halladay is almost certainly going to be traded?
Rosenthal says “Once this process starts, it's almost impossible to stop”. Actually, remember how Jake Peavy was shopped around to about five or six different teams this season? Last time I checked, Peavy is still playing so the San Diego Padres.
This Roy Halladay trade talk doesn’t faze me because his name has been mentioned in this context before, but it’s Ken Rosenthal and the way that he presented this news that angers me. Maybe I'm just in denial that the Blue Jays are considering trading away the cornerstone of their franchise, but I highly doubt it's as likely as Ken Rosenthal is making it out to be.
He was so passionate and so angry at a blogger for writing a post on how Raul Ibanez is NOT on steroids, yet Rosenthal turns around and does the very same thing writing an article with unsubstantiated evidence saying Halladay won’t be a Blue Jay for much longer.
What ever happened to the power of the written word, Ken?
Similar thoughts on this topic over at Drunk Jays Fans.
Monday, July 6, 2009
Scott Rolen continues to amaze us with his impeccable ability to put the ball into play. It's now 23 games and counting where Rolen has a hit and is going for the club record of 28 games set by Shawn Green. The way Scott Rolen is playing right now, I wouldn't be surprised if he gets his hit streak up to 30 games.
Thankfully, Ricky Romero was there for another solid start and to at least salvage one game in this four game series. Romero pitched his way in and out of a few jams, but left Brandon League with the bases loaded in the seventh inning ... which is a recipe for disaster. My theory that there are two opposite sides of Brandon League is becoming more and more true, as he apparently replaced himself in the bottom of the seventh inning.
For the first time this season, I can honestly say that I though Jason Frasor was going to blow the save. As the hits and runs kept piling up, we all just sat nervously as The Sausage King thankfully struck out Eric Hinske to help the Blue Jays hang on for the narrow win. For the third straight game, things started to get ugly in late-innings and today's match up almost shifted in the Yankees favour once again.
If it wasn't for that home run for John McDonald then the Yankees just might have won all four games in the series. Thank you J-Mac for saving the Blue Jays ... I hope you realize that your heroics from today will not be overlooked. I hear that the American League needs somebody to hit in the Home Run Derby next week!
Sunday, July 5, 2009
A tough weekend for the Blue Jays has left them just one game above .500 and seven games behind the New York Yankees for the Wild Card. Since facing off against the Yankees for the first time back on May 12th, the Blue Jays and Yankees have gone in opposite directions. While the Jays have compiled a 15-27 record since mid-May, the Yankees have put together a 33-17 record.
As expected, the long ball has played a crucial part in this series - 11 home runs have already been hit at Yankee Stadium this week alone which means my prediction of 12 home runs in this series could hold true. Ricky Romero will attempt to salvage the series tomorrow against Andy Pettite. Aside from a Roy Halladay start, the next best chance for the Jays to win a game in this series is with RR Cool Jay on the mound.
Hey now, you're an All-Star
Congratulations to Aaron Hill and Roy Halladay for being named to the American League All-Star squad. While Halladay's spot on the roster was a given, Aaron Hill had to fight for his position on the team and was voted in by the coaches and his fellow players. I think most people assumed that Ian Kinsler would win the second baseman fan vote and Aaron Hill would get the player's and coaches vote. Now it's Dustin Pedroia who will start that game at second base, even though he's playing just about as well as Alex Rios. Adam Lind is also up for the Final Vote and could make the American League All-Star team, so make sure vote for Adam Lind!
Friday, July 3, 2009
Just like every other year, it seems like the Yankees struggle through the first few months and just when the critics have counted them out, that’s when they step up and deliver. Since that series in Toronto, the Yankees have put together a 30-17 record and have recorded a nine and a seven game win streak along the way. On the other hand, the Blue Jays have been 20-26 since that fateful series in Toronto with a nine game losing streak and a couple of four game losing steaks to their name.
The key to the Yankees resurgence can be linked to one player: Mark Teixeira. Expectations for Teixeria were astronomical in New York after signing a contract big that was big enough to single-handedly bail out several small countries. He fell on his ass the first part of the season, but just like the Yankees he found his footing and hasn’t looked back. Since May 12th, Tex has hit 13 home runs, and driven in 43 RBI’s.
Now the focus for the Blue Jays turns to this four game series inside the “House that Hank Built”. It’s important for them to do well because this is the most crucial series that the Blue Jays will play in the first half of the season. Sitting four games back of the Yankees is a comfortable and familiar place for the Blue Jays, so they will have to fire on all cylinders if they want to gain some ground.
It all starts this afternoon in another highly anticipated match up against A.J. Burnett. It won’t be the magnitude of the Doc/A.J. showdown, but I look forward to the possibility of Burnett getting beaten by his former team for the second straight time. A piece of advice to the Yankees batboys - make sure you place the coolers far away from the dugout just in case things get ugly later on.
David Dellucci will attempt to provide some added firepower from the left hand side (which sounds oddly enough like lyrics from “Pass the Dutchie”), as he was called up from Las Vegas earlier this morning. Russ Adams cleared his locker and is sent packing back to Triple A after spending just eight games on the roster. This will be the Blue Jays fourth attempt at having another formidable lefty in the lineup, as Dellucci will get his first crack in a Jays uniform against the Yankees this afternoon.
Thursday, July 2, 2009
Four years later, that decision to go with the pitcher from Cal State Fullerton rather than the shortstop from Long Beach State is looking more and more like the correct one.
With the recent success of Ricky Romero at the major league level, the die hard J.P. Riccardi naysayers have been forced to admit that in hindsight, it wasn't such a bad idea after all to draft Romero. For the past few years, J.P. Ricciardi has been scrutinized over and over for choosing Ricky Romero ahead of Troy Tulowitzki in the 2005 MLB Draft.
Just like in a fantasy baseball draft, the Blue Jays were probably criticized and turned a few heads by drafting a pitcher so high at the number six position ... especially with a very talented young middle infielder like Tulowitzki still available. But I'm sure there were many logical reasons why they chose
Romero instead of Tulowitzki.
Although Blue Jays management were aware of the wide talent pool in the 2005 draft, I highly doubt that Troy Tulowitzki was even on their radar. If you take a look at the 2005 Blue Jays roster, they already had a young franchise player at shortstop in Aaron Hill. But interestingly enough, Hill was actually moved to the second base position the following season after the Blue Jays traded Orlando Hudson. Barring that Aaron Hill didn't work out at shortstop, the Blue Jays contingency plan was to use Russ Adams as a future starting middle infielder.
Who's to say that even if the Blue Jays did draft Troy Tulowitzki that he would put together similar numbers playing at home in the Rogers Centre? Being at home in Colorado where fly balls sail for home runs probably helped contribute to Tulowitzki's numbers in 2007. Put Troy in a Blue Jays uniform and have him play 80 or so games inside the concrete cavern in Toronto and the numbers might not even be close.
Obviously the Blue Jays scouts saw something they liked in Ricky Romero, so that is why they chose him as the number six player in the 2005 MLB Draft. His success with the Cal State Fullerton Titans was instrumental in helping them win the 2005 College World Series and the Blue Jays took notice of this and signed him accordingly.
While Ricky Romero's path to the major leagues hasn't been as rapid or as glamorous as Troy Tulowitzki's, that doesn't mean it was the wrong choice to draft Romero. Although it's taken a few more years for Romero to settle in at the major league level, it has certainly been worth the wait.