Friday, January 29, 2010

Keep Cito away from the microphone

By
I couldn't help but notice the parallels between the Blue Jays "State of the Franchise" meeting and last night's repeat episode of The Office entitled "Shareholder Meeting".

Both are very similar scenarios - in both instances, the faces of the company are put on display to assure the fans/shareholders that all is well with business and that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Just as things couldn't be going any worse, Michael Scott chimes in and riles up the crowd and builds them up with hope and false promises of a 45 day plan to guide the company out of financial insecurity.

And that's exactly what Cito Gaston did at the State of the Franchise.

Cito was guilty of a huge faux pas when he reignited the fires of the Carlos Delgado signing rumours. Last week, Alex Anthopoulos clearly stated that the Blue Jays were out on any Delgado talks. Then good old fan-friendly Cito does a complete 180 and tries to appease the fans by filling them with false hope of bringing back one of the most beloved players in franchise history.

Then Cito blabs on that he believes the Blue Jays have seven hitters in the lineup who could potentially hit 25 home runs a piece. That's great and all, but realistically I think it would be optimistic to think that the Blue Jays might have two hitters who could crank 25 home runs.

That's not all! According to Mike Wilner, Cito confused Jeremy Accardo with Casey Janssen again - that would make it the second time in the last twelve months that has happened. He did the very same thing last March, getting Accardo and Janssen mixed up when asked about who would be starting pitcher possibilities.

Just as the Dunder Mifflin executives on The Office were shocked at Michael Scott's ramblings, I'm sure Alex Anthopoulous and Paul Beeston were hoping that Cito would keep his mouth shut.

Not to over criticize a minor misstep, but if The Manager is going to confuse his relievers in front of fans, who's to say that he won't do it within the context of the game?

Hypothetical situation here: Cito picks up the phone and calls to the bullpen to tell Janssen to warm up. What he really meant to say was to get Accardo warmed up, who has four days rest. Meanwhile, Janssen is a little gassed after having worked out of the bullpen the last two games.

Mistakes like that can easily cost the Blue Jays games. Now, while there is no indication the above scenario has in fact happened, who's to say it hasn't? The decision last year to tell Travis Snider to bunt was a red flag that something might not be right with the manager.

I enjoy a cheerleader as much as the next guy, but at some point you have to step back and realize that the "rah-rah-siss-boom-bah" will only keep the fans happy for so long. Eventually, you have to produce a winning team, and it's not going to happen with this manager at the helm.

Acid Flashback Friday: Dustin McGowan's Sideburns

By
 
The benefit of a quick week is yet another Acid Flashback Friday! Today, we take a trip down memory lane from just a few years ago to recognize two of the best groomed pillars in Blue Jays history, Dustin McGowan's sideburns.

Now I know that that Dusty's chops don't necessarily qualify as "flashback", but it seems like it has been a few years since they have made an appearance. I also figured it would be pertinent considering that McGowan is throwing off a mound today.

Being a self-appointed aficionado of baseball facial hair, once can't help but marvel at the sheer size and shape of Dustin McGowan's sideburns. I mean, those things rival Ozzie Smiths' sideburns from the late 70's.

I scoff at Joe Mauer's pathetic attempt at so-called "sideburns". Come on Joe, those things need to go at least past your ears to qualify as true sideburns.

We wish Dusty all the best in his mound session today, and hopefully we can see his chops back at the Major League level in the near future.

Remember, if you have any suggestions you'd like to see on "Acid Flashback Friday", feel free to send them to bluejayhunter@gmail.com.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Alomar could try the manager's hat on for size

By

They say "those who can't do, teach". But is it possible for those who can do and have done, to teach? In the case of Roberto Alomar, I certainly hope so.

Listening to Bob McCown speak with Roberto Alomar prior to the Conn Smythe Celebrity Dinner, it sounded like McCown was giving him a screening interview for a coaching position with the Blue Jays.

It turns out the idea of bringing in Roberto Alomar as a coach of some sort isn't so far-fetched. Alomar spoke to the Toronto Sun and said that he'd be open to returning to the Blue Jays as an instructor some time in the future, but not right at this moment.

After the initial honeymoon period with Cito Gaston, I've learned that you shouldn't let emotions from the past cloud the team of the present. Having said that, how cool would it be to have Robbie Alomar as a hitting coach for example?

If not in some sort of coaching capacity, the least the Blue Jays could do is consider letting Roberto Alomar outfit the team with his new clothing line: Second 2 None.

Because there's nothing better than having your insignia remind Dennis Eckersley of the grave mistake he made in Game Four of the 1992 ALCS.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Birds and the Fish

By

On the surface, the Cyanocitta Cristata and the Istiophoridae (more commonly known as the Blue Jay and the Marlin respectively) are two creatures that couldn't be more different from each other. When you look at the major league baseball teams that both of these animals represent though, it turns out they aren't so different after all.

Here are two completely different teams separated by completely different leagues, yet the Toronto Blue Jays and the Florida Marlins face the very same problem. They have the uphill battle of trying to compete with two juggernauts above them within their division where payroll never seems to be an issue.

For the Blue Jays, it's the challenge of trying to keep up with the Joneses - the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox. Just down the street in the National League, the Florida Marlins have a very similar dilemma ... trying to keep up with the Smiths' - the Philadelphia Phillies and the New York Mets.

Some commenters raised some interesting points last week when the rough numbers were revealed for the Blue Jays 2010 payroll. I myself wondered if it was at all possible for the Toronto Blue Jays to employ the Florida Marlins strategy of buy low/sell high baseball to make it to the top of the American League East once again.

Not exactly being an expert when it comes to the National League, I decided to reach out to one of my fellow Baseball Bloggers Alliance members - Michael Jong of Marlin Maniac. Wanting to speak with someone knowledgeable on the fish, I asked Michael what his thoughts were on the similarities between the struggles for the Toronto Blue Jays and the Florida Marlins.
"I agree with you that our teams are in similar circumstances (as are the Baltimore Orioles and Washington Nationals) in that our ballclubs have limited budgets and face teams that have significantly better spending power.

The solution when a team cannot spend to get talent is to provide surplus value through player development and shrewd contracts and trades. Unfortunately, this method of building a team is very difficult, as one can tell from the numerous small market teams that have difficulty punching through.

For every one Florida season in which we see great success, there are three seasons like the ones Oakland has witnessed the past few years where certain things do not pan out and the team bottoms out."

Michael raises some good points here. Just as J.P. Ricciardi attempted to apply the Moneyball model to the Toronto Blue Jays, other teams around the league look at clubs like the Florida Marlins and most recently the Tampa Bay Rays as examples where low payroll can lead to success.

For the Tampa Bay Rays, it took ten seasons of accumulating high draft picks to build a winner. Unfortunately, the Blue Jays don't have the luxury of being able to piss away another decade ... though some would argue that is exactly what they have done since 1994.

Compared to the Blue Jays, I think the bar has traditionally been set much lower for the Florida Marlins. It seemed like even after they won two World Series, the fish were never perennial favourites to repeat as champions, or even make the playoffs for that matter.

However, Marlins management was clever enough to realize that their star players would bog down the payroll once they were no longer under team control. Since 2006, they have not let spending get too carried away in a division that traditionally spends over $100 million dollars to field a playoff team.

Aside from adopting the "Tank Nation" mentality and hoping for high draft picks in the future, there aren't many other options in the short term for teams like the Blue Jays or the Florida Marlins. The best plan of attack for both of these teams is to stay the course and continue to develop young talent, while not getting too carried away by signing players to big money contracts. Michael also offers a few suggestions:
"The alternative is to do what teams like the Pittsburgh Pirates and Kansas City Royals have done for years, which is to supplement their teams with average-costing free agent talent and never get anywhere.

As a small market team, if you want to succeed, you cannot go this route. So if there is a shot for teams like Florida and Toronto, it is in investing in player development and markets outside of free agency to build that future surplus value."

Although the Florida Marlins have not seen much success in the way of playoffs since their last World Series title, it seems like they always keep it interesting into the final months of the season. Seeing how the Blue Jays and the Marlins have similar struggles, I asked Michael whether he thinks the Blue Jays can achieve similar success to the Marlins by adopting a similar strategy.
"On the Blue Jays in particular, I do not know if they can employ the same strategy the Marlins have. Consider how lucky the Marlins have been this decade. The teams of the early 2000's were built from a massive fire sale in 1998. Of those trades, four or five players panned out as a solid, above average contributors. The 2006-present model got lucky on Hanley Ramirez and a couple of scrap heap pickups along with some developed talent.

The Jays finally traded Roy Halladay to get some talent into their minors system, but the odds of stumbling onto a Hanley Ramirez-type talent are very small. However, the alternative is so grim that if the Jays want to compete, they'll have no choice but to do this. In short, it is possible, but it's definitely an uphill climb, and being stuck to bad contracts from the past regime is not going to help."

As with any comparison, there are a lot of similarities between these teams but there are also quite a few differences too. What would be interesting to see is if the Blue Jays and Marlins swapped places, and how each team would fare respectively. Unless the new commissioner decides to really shake things up, I guess we'll never know.

For the time being, it's comforting to know that the Toronto Blue Jays aren't the only team in baseball that has to use alternative strategies to win against teams with $100+ million dollar payrolls.

Thanks again to Michael for his perspective from the Florida Marlins point of view. Make sure you check out his blog, Marlin Maniac.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Blue Jays Winter Fashion

By

Unless you're fortunate enough to be living on the West Coast (what up Dave), Canada is a pretty cold and desolate place, occasionally resembling the ice planet of Hoth.

Aside from the constant companion of Jim Beam, the only other way for baseball fans to stay warm during the long winter months is with some Blue Jays Winter Fashion. Below is a collection of some of the trendiest pieces available on the interwebs for you to enjoy.


Toronto Blue Jays Bomber Jacket
Price: $131.99 USD

Not only will this lightweight microfibre suede-like coat keep you warm during the winter months, it will almost certainly repel any woman within fifty feet.

Toronto Blue Jays Downflap Cap
Price: $31.99 USD

These are the very same hats seen worn by players over the past few years in the playoffs. Downflap caps are an excellent way to not only shield your ears from the cold, but also block out any conversations about how the Jays haven't made the playoffs in 17 years.


Toronto Blue Jays Scarf
Price: $9.99 USD

Who says that scarves are only appropriate for children up to age nine? With this hip yet practical Blue Jays scarf, you can let the neighbourhood kids know that you mean business ... right before they pelt you with snowballs.


Toronto Blue Jays Floss Cap Hat
Price: $9.58 USD each or $92.22 per lot

If there's any place on earth that is in tune with the harsh Canadian winters, it's Fujian China. For the low price of almost $100 CAD, you can send your money there and hope that 10 hats like these get shipped to your house. But don't count on it.


Toronto Blue Jays Gloves
Price: $10.99 USD

When the temperature plummets, you need to protect your extremities from the cold. Save your hands and stand out like a sore thumb at the same time with these beauties. They also receive the highest honour: the unofficial stamp of approval from O.J. Simpson.


Toronto Blue Jays Performance Toque
Price: $19.99 USD

Here's where that Alex Rios/Tim Lincecum trade would have worked out perfectly, as Lincecum could endorse these Blue Jays skull caps for all the hipsters/Fallout Boy fans out there.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Acid Flashback Friday: OK Blue Jays

By
Drug overdoses aren't usually a very good thing, unless it's an overdose of nostalgia! That's exactly what is being served up today with another look back at Blue Jays yesteryear with "Acid Flashback Friday".

This week it's none other than the classic song and unofficial anthem for the Toronto Blue Jays, "OK Blue Jays". Click the audio player below to listen to a sample.

Here's a brief history on this song - it was composed by Tony Kosinec and Jack Lenz. To his credit, Lenz worked on the score for "The Passion of the Christ", but more importantly he worked on the Robocop Television Series.

OK Blue Jays was performed by Keith Hampshire and "The Bat Boys" and surprisingly the song was released as a single - it charted on RPM and was certified gold.

The single went on to spawn two Blue Jays centric albums - 1991's "The New and Improved Blue Jays Album" followed by 1992's "The Blue Jays Class of 1992 Album".

The track has been famously been played during the seventh inning stretch since 1983, but in 2003 the song received a bit of an update and revamp for the twenty-first century.

Some people go absolutely nuts for "OK Blue Jays" at the Rogers Centre. I've seen crowds sit on their hands the entire game, but then suddenly come to life once the seventh inning stretch hits. This song also brings out the worst dancers, which is possibly one of the reasons why I have an adverse reaction and remain glued to my seat every time they play it at the Rogers Centre.

Regardless of whether or not you like the song, OK Blue Jays is a treasured part of Blue Jays history that will  remain in the time capsule forever.

Whaddya want .... let's play ball!

If you have any suggestions you'd like to see on "Acid Flashback Friday", feel free to send them to bluejayhunter@gmail.com.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Anything but a cash grab

By

Earlier this week, I broke down the Blue Jays 2010 payroll obligations when it came to positional players. Now that all the contracts on the roster have been settled, we have a better idea of where the money is going this coming season.


There you have it folks: the 2010 payroll for the Toronto Blue Jays is around $63.03 million dollars, give or take a few minor league contracts. This also includes obligations such as $500,000 for both Jesse Litsch and Dustin McGowan, even though they could theoretically spend all of 2010 on the inactive roster.

This does not account for the $6 million dollars sent to the Phillies in the Roy Halladay trade, as well as the $10 million for B.J. Ryan's contract. Altogether that would bump the 2010 total payroll up to approximately $79.03 million dollars.

Take away the Vernon Wells contract, and the cash flow on this team is fairly evenly dispersed. All but two of the players on the roster are making less than $7 million dollars per season, and that could very easily change if Lyle Overbay is traded prior to Opening Day.

Seeing how all these contracts pile up, it's surprising that other teams like the Florida Marlins and Minnesota Twins can manage to keep their payroll relatively low while still remaining competitive.

As you can see by the pie graph above, it's very easy for a couple of huge albatross contracts to propel the entire payroll out of control. Throw in a couple of lame duck contracts and you're suddenly the 2009 New York Mets paying $145 million dollars to watch the playoffs from the couch.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Arbitrary Arbitration Post

By

I'm almost certain that baseball players and their agents look forward to going into the courtroom for arbitration about as much as they look forward to a root canal.

Luckily, thanks to all the transactions earlier today, the Blue Jays have avoided arbitration hearings for the past 13 seasons. Had they not, this is the painstaking process that the player would need to go through - courtesy of "How Baseball Arbitration Works":
In January, the player and the club each submit a salary figure to a three-person panel of professional arbitrators. hearings are conducted between the 1st and 20th day of February.

At the hearing, each party has one hour to present its case to the panel, and then has an additional 30 minutes for rebuttal. The player must attend the hearing, but is usually represented by his agent. A club executive or attorney usually represents the team.

Part of me wishes that the arbitration hearings were televised, but the other part of me realizes that it would probably be the most god awful thing to sit through. Unfortunately, the glamour and the drama of Law and Order or Boston Legal are nowhere to be seen, but at least they talk baseball ... which would make it somewhat watchable.

Here's a quick breakdown of which players on the Blue Jays roster received a pay raise, and how much it compares to their previous year's salary:

The Player
2009 Salary
2010 Salary
% Increase
Jeremy Accardo
$900,000
$1,080,000
20 %
Shawn Camp
$750,000
$1,150,000
53.3 %
Jason Frasor
$1,450,000
$2,650,000
82.8 %
Casey Janssen
$413,900
$700,000
69.1 %
Shaun Marcum
$405,200
$850,000
109.7 %
Brian Tallet
$1,015,000
$2,000,000
97 %

The Player
2008 IP
2009 IP
% Increase
Jeremy Accardo
12.1
24.2
50 %
Shawn Camp
39.1
79.2
102.5 %
Jason Frasor
47.1
57.2
21.4 %
Casey Janssen
0
40
N/A
Shaun Marcum
151.1
0
N/A
Brian Tallet
56.1
160.2
185.6 %

While $1.15 million might seem like a lot for a guy like Shawn Camp, he is undoubtedly going to be pitching 60+ innings again this season with the young starting rotation. He usually eats up 2-3 innings at a time, so for an opportunity to give the other arms in the bullpen some rest, I would say it's a smart investment.

Brian Tallet and Jason Frasor's increases in salary are warranted - both played a vital role to the team in 2009, and probably also would have prior to that if not for John Gibbons' aversion to using Frasor and Tallet.

Jeremy Accardo and his agent avoided bloodshed in arbitration as the Blue Jays threw just over $1 million to keep him on the team. This should Cito all the more reason to hand the ball to Accardo, but I think it's very unlikely. Maybe we'll see Mutiny: Part Two early this summer!

On the surface, the pay bumps for both Casey Janssen and Shaun Marcum might seem unwarranted since both of them barely even pitched in 2009. Keep in mind that Janssen was a workhorse in 2007 as the setup man appearing in 70 games, and prior to his Tommy John surgery, Marcum started a combined 50 games in 2007-2008 and pitched 310 innings.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Pie in the sky

By
Not even the most clairvoyant psychics can predict the future with complete accuracy - but when it comes to projecting baseball stats, few do it better than CHONE.

They just recently released their projections for the 2010 season, and it's fair to say that compared to the big dogs in the American League East, players on the Toronto Blue Jays are significantly lacking when it comes to star players who provide wins above replacement level.

Regardless, I decided to put together a simple pie graph based on those 2010 WAR CHONE projections, which finally made all those hours goofing off in Grade 10 Computer Class worth while.

Pitchers were left out because CHONE did not have WAR projections for many of the starting pitchers and relievers, so I just went with the positional players. I also omitted any positional players on the 40-man roster or Spring Training invitees whose WAR was a negative value.


First off, it's interesting to note that after Hill, Lind, Overbay, Wells and Snider, there is a glut of players in the middle who are signed to minor league contracts who have higher WAR totals than the majority of the starting lineup. Standout candidates include guys like Mike McCoy, Joey Gathright and Jarrett Hoffpauir, who theoretically might not even crack the 25-man roster out of Spring Training.

What are the WAR values relative to their salary? I took it a step further and broke down how the payroll is divided amongst the positional players as well.


Obviously the huge thing that sticks out like a sore thumb is the Blue Jays literally have all their eggs in one basket with Vernon Wells. His $21 million dollar salary in 2010 accounts for 42 percent of the entire payroll devoted to positional players. Even if Wells does bounce back this season, his value will be nowhere near the amount of money the Blue Jays will be paying him for the next five years.

The left side of the infield, which includes Encarnacion, McDonald, and Gonzalez accounts for 18 percent of all the total salary for the starting lineup. The combination of those three infielders only total 2.2 wins above replacement level.

So what conclusions can we draw from these graphs? If the CHONE projections are accurate, as predicted by most, the Young Guns will be the main contributors in 2010, with the old veterans rounding out the pack.

Some players are grossly overpaid, some are grossly underpaid, and then there are others in the middle of the pack that are receiving fair market value for the skills they contribute to the team.

For those interested, feel free to check out the full excel chart.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Acid Flashback Friday: Jr. Jays Magazine

By

It's Friday, which means it's time to take another trip down memory lane with Acid Flashback Friday. This week, we take a look at one of the most celebrated publications in Canadian history, the Jr. Jays Magazine.


I can't recall exactly where my copy of this magazine came from, but I'm pretty sure some OPP officers handed them out at our public school. The Jr. Jays Magazine first came out in spring of 1993 at the peak of Blue Jays fandom, so every kid wanted to get their hands on one of these.

The Jr. Jays Magazine followed the adventures of Dr. Jay and his questionable relationships with young characters like Flash, Lambert, Cathy, Ashmede, Ashley, Ronnie, Ben and Crunchie the dog. From what I recall, the comic strip was basically a glorified anti-drug, anti-alcohol, anti-smoking therefore anti-fun PSA which told kids about the values of staying in school and working hard to achieve their dreams.

Over the years, Jr. Jays magazine evolved into what would be known as simply "The Magazine". While no longer focused solely on the Blue Jays, the Jays comic strip continued to run in The Magazine but was eventually phased out after 2000. Actual members of the Toronto Blue Jays occasionally made cameos in the comic strip, with an animated Roberto Alomar as seen below.


Images courtesy of Torontoist 
Unfortunately, copies of the Jr. Jays magazine are hard to find these days. Apparently there are plans in the works to put the entire series on the internet eventually, but for the time being there is just one copy of the first issue available on eBay.

If someone wants to take one for the team, I'm sure we'd all be more than happy to pitch in and circulate the copy so that everyone gets a chance to relive the memories. In the meantime, check out this video from the very short-lived Jr. Jays TV Magazine on YTV.


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Diamonds in the rough

By

Trying to discover the finest young talent in the major leagues is kind of like mining for diamonds: you have to  sift through lot of crap to get to the good stuff.

When it comes to the 2010 Toronto Blue Jays roster, there are a few diamonds in the rough. Players like Aaron Hill, Adam Lind and Travis Snider are going to make watching this team at least somewhat bearable this coming season.

Thanks to Justin at Beyond the Boxscore, you can check out how the 2009 Blue Jays starting lineup fared in the DiamondView Composite: a very cool visual aid that helps show how players stack up in four basic categories (fielding, on base, power and base-running).

Considering that over one-third of last year's Opening Day lineup has flown the nest, I decided to choose the young guns: Adam Lind, Aaron Hill and Travis Snider.



Just by quickly glancing over these, three things come immediately to mind:
  1. Aaron Hill is not a good a fielder as I thought he was.
  2. Adam Lind is a much worse fielder than I thought he was.
  3. Out of all three above, Travis Snider is the most well-rounded player.
1.) I don't expect Aaron Hill to be saving lives out there at second base, but for some reason I thought he performed much better on the field in 2009 than his numbers dictate. Nowhere near his incredible 2006 season where is UZR was a phenomenal 18.1, Hill dropped down to earth a little bit in 2009 with a -2.3 UZR.

2.) As great a player as Adam Lind is, by looking at his DiamondView composite, it appears that Cito is grooming Lind into a one-trick pony. I don't claim to be a conditioning coach, but is Lind so far gone when it comes to fielding that he is a liability on the field? It certainly appears to be that way. Luckily, there are plenty of other teams who have below average fielders on the everyday roster.

3.) Travis Snider on the other hand, provides quite a bit of  hope for the future. His defensive skill set is far superior to Lind's, and Snider is also a little quicker on the base paths. 86 games at the major league level is a small sample size of numbers to base the future on, but I think he has yet to find his power stride. In my mind, the sky's the limit for Travis Snider.

If you're curious how the rest of the Blue Jays fared on the DiamondView Composites, make sure you check out the rest of the roster over at Beyond the Boxscore.

DiamondView Composites courtesy of Beyond the Boxscore

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Truth Shall Set Mark McGwire Free

By

"Do you want to know the terrifying truth? Or do you want to see me sock a few dingers!?"                                                                                                         - Mark McGwire on The Simpsons, 1999
The quote above from Mark McGwire aired on The Simpsons episode entitled "Brother's Little Helper" in which he distracts the townspeople as he enchants them with 500 foot home runs. The irony in it all is that McGwire was doing the exact same thing on the field in 1999 - he was distracting fans from the truth.

After the strike in 1994, baseball needed a hero. Mark McGwire answered that call and gave baseball fans what they so desperately needed in the post-strike era: hope.

Back then, everyone turned a blind eye as Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa raced to erase history and set the new record for home runs in a single season. Hell, even the Commissioner turned the other cheek and let it happen. Bud Selig knew that the home run chase was going to save baseball and bring it back to the level it once was.

Subconsciously, maybe we all knew that something wasn't quite right. The problem was that we were so enchanted by those 500 foot bombs, that at the time nobody cared whether it was real or not because it was entertaining to watch.

Everyone saw the success and accolades that McGwire and Sosa were receiving, so other players decided to jump on the bandwagon as well. I don't claim to have any sources from within the clubhouse, but from what I've read from books like "Game of Shadows" and "Juiced", steroid use in baseball was more rampant than we could have ever imagined.

Now, over 10 years later, McGwire and others from that era have been deemed outcasts in baseball and quite the opposite of the heroic forms they once represented.

I have a tough time deciding what's wrong and what's right here. Obviously, taking performance enhancing drugs to give you an edge over the competition is completely unfair. Those players were willing to do anything to be the best in baseball, even if that meant getting caught.

I don't condone players using performance enhancing drugs, but if there were no repercussions, then what's the harm? Players like Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds reaped all the rewards that came with the success from their Cinderella season, but now their are paying the price.

After all the players who have finally come clean, the players who got caught, and the Mitchell Report, imagine how many players could have or could be currently taking performance enhancing drugs that we don't even know about?

It's crazy to think that's even possible, but I'm sure in the past, people also thought that Mark McGwire on steroids was unfathomable.

Ultimately, Mark McGwire did the right thing by coming clean about his steroid use. Unfortunately, he did it about five years too late, but better late than never. It seems like a gesture of good will so the BBWAA might start to consider changing their vote to put McGwire on the ballot for the Baseball Hall of Fame.

However, we have seen how long voters can hold a grudge for, and it might be too little too late for Mark McGwire to apologize.

When all is said and done though, baseball can finally start to turn the page on the steroid era, even if it's a chapter with a big fat asterisk next to it.

Which team was better: the '92 or the '93 Blue Jays?

By

Image courtesy of TSN.ca
They were two teams that will remain forever ingrained in the minds of Blue Jays fans. Whenever you mention the '92 or the '93 Toronto Blue Jays, no matter how old you are, a cavalcade of fond memories comes flooding back.

There's no disputing that the Blue Jays were the best teams in baseball during the 1992 and 1993 seasons, but have you ever wondered who would win in battle between both rosters?

Again, it's difficult to gauge just exactly which club was superior, but by evaluating each sector of the roster, I think I can effectively come to a conclusion about which team was the better of the two.

Starting rotation
Winner: 1992 Blue Jays

At 37 years old, Jack Morris wasn't exactly a spring chicken when he joined the Blue Jays, yet he ultimately accomplished what he was brought in to do: win games. Interestingly enough, sophomore Juan Guzman actually had better numbers than highly paid counterpart in Morris.

The '92 Blue Jays relied on seven starters throughout the season, and the well-rounded rotation served well throughout the season and into the playoffs.

Starting lineup

Winner: 1993 Blue Jays

Ultimately in baseball, you need to score runs to win the game, and the 1993 Toronto Blue Jays did that with ease. With WAMCO out there game after game, runs were never at a premium and having the top three hitters in the league (Alomar, Olerud and Molitor) certainly helped the cause.

The 1993 Blue Jays were only ever completely shut out once during the regular season, and their team batting average was slightly higher (.279 to .263) and their run scored/earned runs differential was also slightly higher than the 1992 squad(1.253 to 1.244). Overall, it seemed like the 1993 Blue Jays could blow a game wide open at any given notice, even if their pitching staff wasn't as solid as the previous season.

The running game on the '93 roster was also much more active than the '92 roster. With the mid-season acquisition of Rickey Henderson,  the top half of the lineup was a constant threat to swipe bases - even 36 year old Paul Molitor helped contribute to the cause by stealing 36 bases.

Bullpen
Winner: Tie

This one was too close to call, so I decided to call it a draw. Of course, you can't mention the bullpen without thinking of Duane Ward. He was a workhorse during both seasons: in 1992 as the setup man for Tom Henke, and in 1993 as the closer.

Some might argue that the '92 Jays had the better bullpen, but I believe the supporting cast from the '93 bullpen which included Danny Cox, Mark Eichorn, and Al Leiter was just as good as the relievers from 1992.

Bench 
Winner: 1992 Blue Jays

In what was arguably the single most important pinch-hit in franchise history, Ed Sprague came off the bench and nailed a two-run home run off Braves closer Jeff Reardon to help the Blue Jays win game two of the World Series. The 1992 Blue Jays had a little more power on the bench, with Jeff Kent, Derek Bell and Pat Tabler at their disposal, and also could employ the running game if need be.

Overall 
Winner: 1992 Blue Jays

I've debated back and forth over this one and gone through countless algorithms and weighed the options, and my pick for the better team is the 1992 Toronto Blue Jays. Overall, I think they were a better all-around team, and they had all facets of the game covered from the starting rotation, all the way to the bullpen.

Before I wrote this post, my original vote was for the 1993 Blue Jays because of their superior offensive prowess. The Achillies heel of the '93 team though was the starting pitching. Most people forget that Jack Morris was even on the 40-man roster in 1993 because he pitched so bad, and when it came down to crunch time in the World Series, Dave Stewart was just awful.

The 1992 Blue Jays provided consistent results, and their success continued through into the playoffs and their players delivered when they needed them the most (Alomar in Game Four of the ALCS, Ed Sprague in Game Two of the World Series).

So, what do you think, which Blue Jays squad was better - the 1992 roster of the 1993 roster?

 

Which team was better?

 

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Lazy Sunday Links

By

Can you tell that Alex Anthopoulos' honeymoon is over? AA promptly got back to work as the Blue Jays reacquired Zack Jackson from the Cleveland Indians for a player to be named later. Johnson won't be added to the 40-man roster, but will instead begin in the year in Triple A with the Las Vegas 51's.

The Blue Jays also claimed Brian Bocock (insert joke here) from the San Fransisco Giants earlier this week.

Mop Up Duty has an interesting look at one of Dave Stieb's near no-hitters. It's interesting to watch the footage from the top of the ninth inning, and I myself was sitting there hoping there was a mistake and Stieb actually did throw the no-no.

After all the saddening stories about Roberto Alomar missing out on the Hall of Fame, it was nice to read up on an uplifting story about the future Hall of Famer over at 1 Blue Jays Way.

As usual, Ghostrunner on First nails it when it comes to evaluating Edwin Encarnacion, and what we can expect from EE in 2010.

The Aroldis Chapman sweepstakes continue, and The Southpaw weighs in on the pros and cons of signing the lefty fireballer.

Late addition: For some reason or another, I happened to be watching an episode of the old Beetlejuice cartoon and stumbled across a certain episode in which they mentioned the Toronto Blue Jays. Check out the screencap here.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Acid Flashback Friday: The T-Bird

By

It's been a bitter of a Debbie Downer week as far as Blue Jays news, so I figured it was time take a break from all the doom and gloom with a new feature called "Acid Flashback Friday".

It's where we can all trip together and relive some of the glory days from Jays yesteryear. Each week, I'll try to dig up something from the Blue Jays time capsule and do a brief commentary on it. If you have any suggestions by the way, please send them to bluejayhunter@gmail.com.

On the inaugural edition of Acid Flashback Friday, we examine the infamous "T-Bird" logo or what appears to be a combination of BJ Birdie and Ace jacked on steroids. The logo was very short-lived thankfully, as an alternate logo from 2000-2002 and the primary logo during the 2003 season.
First of all, let's address the token symbol of the true north strong and free, the red maple leaf which is "tattooed" on the blue jay's arm. Strangely, there isn't even a stem on the leaf - it's like the bird was out getting the maple leaf tattoo and then the tattoo artist suddenly realized he didn't have enough ink to to finish the leaf. I guess that must have been a precursor to the J.P. Ricciardi cost-cutting measures.

Next, what is up with that pathetic excuse for a "T" in the background? The mishmash of colours isn't very appealing to the eye, and it sticks out like a sore thumb ... which may have actually been the intention all along. And I'm not exactly sure why, but for some reason the shape of it reminds me of the Liberty Bell.

Finally, let's discuss the logo in its entirety. It looks like what might happen if the Disney Corporation purchased the team instead of Rogers Communications. In the early 2000's, for some reason or another, teams thought it was necessary to put cartoons in their logo. As the Blue Jays quickly learned, this was a very bad idea and scrapped the logo entirely by the 2003 season.

Thankfully, fans won't see the "T-Bird" on a featurette of Hinterland Who's Who any time soon because that species is extinct and should never ever come back to life.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

More thoughts on the Hall of Fame vote

By

When it comes to voting on the Baseball Hall of Fame, for the most part the Baseball Writers Association of America has its head on their shoulders. However, with it's omission of Roberto Alomar from the 2010 Hall of Fame inductions, a couple of bad apples had to spoil the whole bunch.

The BBWAA as a whole didn't do anything wrong, but several writers within the association took it upon themselves to make an example out of Roberto Alomar. The message those writers sent was "if you misbehave, we will punish you for it".

I know that I've criticized Ken Rosenthal in the past, but on this one he knocked it out of the park. Even Rosenthal understands that a change within the BBWAA needs to be made:
“When a scout asked me Wednesday, ‘How could people not vote for the best second baseman of the last quarter-century?’ I had no answer. There is no answer, other than this: Our membership is too bloated, too riddled with voters who do not take the process seriously enough to educate themselves properly."
Obviously, there are voters within the BBWAA who do not follow the game as closely as beat writers, sports writers, and even some of the bloggers. I'll give Ken credit here: he's always down there on the field and in the clubhouse doing his job, so he understands who is deserving of a Hall of Fame vote, and who isn't.

Just like the fans, he is baffled at why certain voters left Roberto Alomar off the ballot. In total, 143 writers decided that he wasn't even worthy of a name mention. Now, I'm not expecting every single person to agree that Alomar should be in the Hall of Fame, but you would figure at least 75 % of them would come to a consensus.
"I’m still trying to figure out why 143 voters failed to endorse Alomar, leaving him just short of the 75 percent required for induction. Alomar was not simply a Hall of Fame player; he was one of the best second basemen in major-league history. I do not need to list his qualifications. If you watched him play, you understood his brilliance, knew he was worthy of Cooperstown."
When you think of the best second basemen in baseball, Roberto Alomar should automatically be one of the top three among Joe Morgan and Ryne Sandberg (maybe even better). If you were a big Blue Jays fan in the early 90's, you were priveledged enough to see Roberto Alomar work his magic day in and day out. Even if we are a little biased towards the greatness of Alomar, there is no denying that he is a Hall of Famer.

So how can this situation be prevented in the future? Well, there's no surefire way to stop it from happening again, but Rosenthal offers his solutions to the problem:
"The sports editors should be eliminated immediately; they simply do not develop the same feel for the game as writers who cover the sport regularly. The BBWAA has done a fine job in recent years of adding Web-based writers, including several whose work is strongly influenced by sabermetrics. The next step is to go the other way, trim the fat from the membership, purge those who do not study the game closely enough to warrant Hall of Fame votes."
I hate to admit it again, but Richard Griffin made a good point in his column yesterday:
"The fact of the matter is that once you are enshrined as a Hall-of-Famer, whether it's on the first, second or 15th ballot, you are a Hall-of-Famer, equal with the Babe, Willie and the rest."
It's true that when we look back 20 years from now, no one will really care whether or not Roberto Alomar was a first-ballot Hall of Famer, so long as he's in Cooperstown.

That being said, it doesn't mean that certain writers from the BBWAA have permission to turn their ballot into a vendetta ticket. I will single out Jay Mariotti, because he fully admits to leaving his Hall of Fame ballot completely blank.

This is the very same Jay Mariotti who chastised fellow BBBWAA for voting for Rickey Henderson in his first year of eligibility. His argument is that "the first ballot is sacred".

As Griffin alluded to above, whether a player gets into the hall during their first year of eligibility or last year of eligibility, if they are good enough, they are going to go into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Unfortunately, there is no upper echelon or distinguished wing in Cooperstown for first-ballot Hall of Famers. So what difference does it make whether Jay Mariotti and other voters write down Alomar's name this year or next year?

Then there's Jack McCaffery of the Delaware County Times who openly spoke on TSN's "Off the Record" that he'll never vote for Roberto Alomar because of the spitting incident, yet will gladly vote for Mark McGwire. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black.

I guess after letting this sink in for the past 24 hours, I am starting to feel like the importance of the first ballot is less and less important, so long as the voters make the right choice eventually.

It's obvious that the BBWAA's voting system is still flawed, and something needs to be done about it. It's just unfortunate that a couple of writers had to ruin it for everybody.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Roberto Alomar robbed on Hall of Fame ballot

By

All I can say is ... wow.

There I was anxiously anticipating Roberto Alomar's name to be called as one of the 2010 Baseball Hall of Fame inductees, but it never happened.

For whatever reason, the BBWAA decided it was Andre Dawson's year and only Andre Dawson's year to go into the hall. I have no ill will towards Dawson, but I do have some disdain over this decision directed towards the Baseball Writers Association of America.

First of all, five ballots were left completely blank. For some inductees, that could have been the difference between making it in, and standing outside for yet another year. Nobody thinks that leaving your Hall of Fame ballot is "cute" - this isn't voting for your high school class rep, this is the Baseball Hall of Fame. Jay Mariotti, I'm looking directly at you and your other four cohorts who thought this would "send a message". 

Secondly, get over yourselves. If you think that leaving Alomar off your ballot was a way to "teach him a lesson" or to punish him for his mistakes, you are a sad, sad, person. Alomar already made up with John Hirschbeck, and in fact, Alomar now does charity work for a foundation set up in honour of  Hirschbeck's son. So stop holding a grudge against Alomar because if John Hirschbeck can get over it, so can you.

I now see the irony in it all - 13 years ago, Roberto Alomar spit in the face of John Hirschbeck. Now the Baseball Writers Association of America has basically done the same and spit in the face of Alomar.

Frankly, Roberto Alomar should have been a first ballot Hall of Famer and it's a shame that he's even going to have to wait another year to see if he will make it in 2011.

It's Alomar's Time to Shine

By

"I’ve made some mistakes, definitely, but I believe I deserve to be in Cooperstown."
Roberto Alomar will hopefully add "Hall of Famer" to his long list of incredible accomplishments as we will all be anxiously anticipating today's announcement at 2pm for the 2010 inductees into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Alomar is one of the favourites and almost a lock to get into the Hall of Fame, as predicted by Chris Jaffe of the Hardball Times. The Baseball Bloggers Alliance also agreed that Roberto Alomar should be a first ballot Hall of Famer.

Although he wasn't a "home-grown" player who came through the Blue Jays farm system, it certainly felt like Robbie Alomar was a product of the Blue Jays organization. During his tenure in Toronto, Alomar was a five-time Gold Glover, five-time All-Star, a Silver Slugger, not to mention his two World Series rings.

Alomar literally ate, breathed and slept the city of the Toronto - so much so that he even lived at the Skydome Hotel.

Roberto Alomar didn't exactly win the fans over in his last season as a Blue Jay. After David Cone was sent to the New York Yankees, Alomar left the team in protest over the trade. In what would be his final game with the franchise, he also sat out the final game of the 1995 season in order to protect his .300 batting average.

Despite all these things, Alomar acknowledges that he made mistakes throughout this career, and it's safe to say that Blue Jays fans have forgiven him. I just hope that the BBWAA voters also looked past those mistakes and make the right choice on their Hall of Fame ballot.

Don't forget to stay posted to the Baseball Hall of Fame's website starting at 2:00pm for the announcement. Good luck, Robbie!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Hill, Lind and Snider: Toronto's Young Guns

By

If the Blue Jays are going to have a fighting chance in 2010 and beyond, they are going need their young guns to deliver. Aaron Hill, Adam Lind, and Travis Snider are undoubtedly the pillars of the offensive charge moving forward for the Toronto Blue Jays.

Combined, these young guns accounted for 38 percent of all home runs hit by the Blue Jays in 2009. If their success is going to continue, all three must continue to perform well - and that includes the ability to take any pitcher out of the yard.

Just out of curiosity, I wanted to see what the home run distribution was like for Aaron Hill, Adam Lind and Travis Snider inside the Rogers Centre and on the road. There really isn't a lot of analyzing to do here, but it's interesting to see where the majority of their home runs landed.


If it seemed like a lot of Aaron Hill's home runs barely cleared the left field wall, it's because they did. Hill only ever once hit one over the fence anywhere than left field, and most of them were relatively shallow.


Travis Snider, on the other hand, showed some pop and went opposite field numerous times at home in 2009. Distribution is about even from left to right field, which is very promising for Snider.


When it comes to the Adam Lind data, it's easy to see why he's such a versatile hitter. He has power to all parts of the field, even dead centre field on multiple occasions. Lind could easily take almost any pitch and deposit it over the fence in any part of the ballpark.

Home Run Data courtesy of Hit Tracker, hat tip to Camden Crazies and Capital Avenue Club for the heads up, and big thanks to Clem's Baseball for the ballpark dimensions.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Blue Jays trying to scoop up Chapman

By

Who ever thought that the Toronto Blue Jays would enter the ring and be in contention for one of the most hotly contested pitchers in the world? MLB Trade Rumors reports that the Blue Jays discussions with Aroldis Chapman are heating up, and met with him for a private workout on Thursday. 

Here he is as a young 19-year old at the Baseball World Cup, most notably the semifinal game against Japan in which he struck out 11 and allowing only three hits. He also has a very funky Tim Lincecum-esque delivery:


One thing is evident, even from this brief footage of him at the Baseball World Cup ... this kid can throw heat. Even his pickoff throw to first base was a bullet, and I wouldn't be surprised if it clocked in at around 90 MPH.

By the brief footage I watched above, Chapman does an amazing job of overpowering hitters but does a poor job of locating his pitches.

Of course, control and locating is something he can develop in the minor leagues, but you can't teach someone to throw a 95 MPH fastball.

I'm not exactly sure what the process is with undrafted players, but a couple of commenters suggested that Chapman would go through the same process and whichever teams signs him would get Chapman for six years of service time, plus however long he spends in the minor league system.

One would have to assume this scenario is very similar to what happened with the Red Sox when they signed Daisuke Matsuzaka.

Stoeten and Parkes have sparked some good discussion over at Drunk Jays Fans about the possibility of signing the Cuban defector.

It seems like a good gamble to take on a guy who could be an elite pitcher in the near future, rather than shell out a crazy amount of cash for somebody whose best years are already behind him.

As Stoeten suggests, in the worst case scenario Aroldis Chapman is a bust the Blue Jays wasted $25 million dollars. That's really not all that much money, considering the Jays ate close to $20 million after releasing Frank Thomas and B.J. Ryan.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...