Saturday, February 27, 2010

Bautista Has Landed


By
Image courtesy of Jordan Bastian
Ladies and Gentlemen of the Bautista Appreciation Society, thanks to the super photo snapping skills of one Jordan Bastian, here is the very first image of our leadoff hitter for the 2010 season ... Jose Bautista.

Expectpedly, he arrived to camp on Thursday morning sporting his infamous quasi-beard with soul patch starter kit.

Much has been said about Cito Gaston's decision to slot Bautista in the leadoff spot, but if Parkes' latest post is any indication of what's to come, it sounds like some people might actually be warming up to the idea of Bautista hitting leadoff.

Given, Jose Bautista is no Marco Scutaro or no Devon White. However, you don't have to look too far back to see that former leadoff man David Eckstein only had a career .350 on base percentage hitting at the top of the lineup. In comparison, Bautista's career on base percentage as a leadoff hitter is .359.

Further thoughts on the lineup ...

Of course the big drawback of having Bautista leadoff is the drop-off once he faces right-handed pitchers. I mentioned this in the comments a couple days ago and Parkes also suggested this, but why not platoon Jose Bautista and Joey Gathright in right field?

Cito is a creature of habit and likes to keep the lineup as simple as possible. By platooning Bautista and Gathright, all he has to do is start Gathright against righties, and Bautista against lefties - it's as simple as that.

On the odd chance Cito wants to get really crazy, he could split it up even further and use Bautista and Ruiz against lefties, and Gathright and Overbay against righties.

Therefore, the Blue Jay could theoretically have two different lineup cards - a vs. lefties lineup and a vs. righties lineup. It's something that's so simple, even Cito would be hard-pressed to screw it up.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Flashback Friday: BJ Birdy


By
It's time to take another "trip" down memory lane with Acid Flashback Friday! This week, we take a look back at one of Canada's most beloved mascots, BJ Birdy.

BJ was the mascot for the Toronto Blue Jays for a total of 20 magical years, from 1979 to 1999. During that span, BJ touched countless lives with his lovable miming antics.

In 2000, in the midst of an image shift, the Blue Jays decided to take a new direction and unfortunately BJ Birdy did not survive the purge. BJ was run out of town by a couple of new feathered mascots, Ace and Diamond, and hasn't been seen or heard of since. I have a feeling if we troll the bottom of Lake Ontario, we just might find the body of said mascot.

Or is there a possibility that BJ Birdy could still be out there under a different alias? I couldn't help but notice that BJ very closely resembles another famous feathered mascot, Toucan Sam. You be the judge:

There was quite the controversy surrounding BJ Birdy's exit. Faithful reader and commenter Andy Mc tells me that BJ Birdy and his human counterpart Kevin Shanahan were due for a raise to somewhere in the neighbourhood of $50,000 when the Blue Jays decided to give him and boot and go with a cheaper alternative in Ace

Some interesting facts about BJ Birdy: he was ejected from a game in 1993 for attempting to incite fans that a catch was made, when in fact umpire Jim McKean ruled a "no-catch". And who says that mascots don't have any importance on the game itself?

Apparently, those kind of BJ Birdy shenanigans weren't isolated incidents. It was reported that BJ was involved with an altercation where he pantsed Ed Sprague during the middle of a game. It must have been a staged event, though the only ones who will ever know are Sprague and BJ Birdy.

BJ Birdy didn't have the cult mascot following like the Phillie Phanatic or the San Diego Chicken, but from what I can recall, BJ did a great job of representing the Toronto Blue Jays.

BJ, wherever you are ... we'll always remember you as the original "Beej" in town.

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

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Lineup Shuffle


By
If crafting the perfect lineup is an art form, then the manager is the architect.

He has the daunting task of finding a perfect balance within a team and creating a batting order that is solid top to bottom, while suiting each hitters strengths.

For one more season, the responsibility of filling out the Blue Jays lineup card belongs to Cito Gaston.

Here is where the strategies of the current and previous managers conflict. On one hand, John Gibbons tinkered with the lineup way too often. On the other, Cito Gaston seemingly refuses to mess with the order once his players get comfortable.

So piecing together the quotes from Cito, I've assembled what I deem to be the Opening Day lineup and therefore the lineup that will likely be used for most of the season.

Then I took it one step further; I looked up the players career stats (AVG, OBP and SLG) hitting in that particular position. The results might surprise you ...

Player PA AVG OBP SLG
Jose Bautista 438 0.275 0.359 0.487
Aaron Hill 957 0.283 0.331 0.464
Adam Lind 322 0.291 0.345 0.575
Vernon Wells 980 0.282 0.326 0.447
Lyle Overbay 1113 0.287 0.367 0.484
Edwin Encarnacion 659 0.253 0.34 0.457
Travis Snider 58 0.087 0.276 0.13
John Buck 918 0.236 0.303 0.424
Alex Gonzalez 613 0.266 0.302 0.414

I hate to say it, but the manager might actually be on to something here. While some are groaning at the possibility of Jose Bautista hitting at the top of the lineup, his career .359 OBP fits in with the reasonable expectations for a leadoff hitter. Against right-handed pitchers? Well, that's a totally different story.

Hill and Lind are fine where they are at the number two and three slots. Despite the controversy about Adam Lind not feeling "comfortable" hitting cleanup, after taking a look at the stats, he actually has much better numbers batting third. If Cito want's to be cool uncle Cliff and keep Lind there, that's fine by me.

Perhaps most puzzling was Cito's announcement that he was going to make Vernon Wells the new cleanup hitter. This is the very same slot in which Wells spent the first 82 games of the 2009 season while tallying a mere 36 RBI's.Wells isn't a beast hitting in the cleanup spot, but there are certainly much worse candidates that Cito could go with.

As far as the rest of the lineup goes, things can be tweaked here and there.

Snider's numbers are grossly skewed because he only spent 16 games hitting in the seventh spot. If Cito is following his montre and trying to figure out where the guys are most comfortable, Snider should slot into the ninth spot. However, by hitting seventh Snider gets a little protection from Overbay and Encarnacion and also has the potential to drive in more runs.

Programming note: Unfortunately, due to tonight's Canada/Russia game, there will be no Live Chat this evening. The Live Chat will return as regularly scheduled for next week, because frankly, I don't want to upset the Hockey Gods.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Richmond's Road to Recovery


By
Just over a week ago, my heart sank when I heard the news that Scott Richmond suffered a setback while preparing for Spring Training. After a whirlwind season filled with many highs and lows, this certainly wasn't the way Scott had planned on beginning the 2010 campaign.

After originally aggravating his shoulder back in July, the Blue Jays were hoping that the off-season would give Richmond ample time to heal his shoulder and put him back in fine form to compete for one of the coveted positions on the Blue Jays roster.

Richmond broke out of the gate like Seabiscuit, capturing the "Rookie of the Month" award last April thanks to his Cinderella start to the season. The future remains bright for him, but unfortunately this unexpected shoulder impingement will temporarily hinder Richmond's road to recovery.

Despite this setback, Scott is still optimistic and hopeful that he will eventually return to being 100 percent. I was fortunate enough to have the chance to quickly speak to Scott and ask him about the status of his injury:
"I've been throwing 60 feet pain free and gradually increasing the distance as the arm and body allow. I will be at spring training rehabbing and working extremely hard on my exercises to strengthen my shoulder. Timetable for my return to the mound is unclear."
Obviously at this point, Scott couldn't give an exact time for when he will be fully recovered, but as seen in the photo below, just like the rest of the pitching staff, he's in Dunedin preparing and rehabbing his shoulder and hoping to be back soon.

I wish Scott all the best and hope he has a speedy recovery, and hopefully we will see him back in Toronto at some point this year.

After all, this isn't the first time he has overcome adversity when the odds were stacked against him ... I guess that's why the Richmond family motto is "Resolve Well and Persevere".

Friday, February 19, 2010

Jose A or Jose B?


By
Welcome your newest member of the Toronto Blue Jays, Jose Molina.

In a bit of a surprising move, the bluebirds signed the former Yankees backstop to a one year $400,000 dollar contract. That salary could be bumped up to $800,000 if Molina makes the 25-man roster out of Spring Training.

I say this was a surprise move because it seemed like the Blue Jays had the catching situation all but figured out. John Buck will catch most of the games, and Raul Chavez will backup. If need be, they could dip into the 51's roster and call up Kyle Phillips or J.P. Arencibia.

The Molina signing signals that something must be horribly horribly wrong with the development of the once highly-touted prospect J.P. Arencibia. Now that Travis d'Arnaud has even snuck ahead of Arencibia on the Blue Jays top prospects list, it must be a sign of things to come.

So welcome to the club, Jose. I just hope that you're a little quicker on the base path than your brother Bengie.

Acid Flashback Friday: Major League Spring Training


By
I know technically this really isn't a Toronto Blue Jays centric moment, but I couldn't pass up the chance to play a scene from one of the greatest baseball movies of all time.

For this week's Acid Flashback Friday trip, we take a look back at the infamous Spring Training scene from Major League.



In this particular segment the team of misfits start to show their weaknesses, including Willy Mays Hayes inability to hit anything other than pop flys, Rick Vaughn's lack of control, and Cerrano's Achilles's heel, otherwise known as the curveball.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Reporting for Duty


By
There's nothing quite like the smell of fresh cut grass early in the morning.
The sound of a catcher's mitt snapping, or the echo of a batting practice fastball sailing over the outfield fence.
The warm Florida breeze.
The sight of palm trees just beyond the ballpark.

After a long, cold winter, Spring Training has arrived ...  and not a moment too soon.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Live Chat Tonight


By
Get your grapefruits ready! In less than 24 hours, pitchers and catchers report to Dunedin for another season. The Blue Jays will have a plethora of pitchers at Spring Training camp - close to 30 have been invited to try out for the coveted five starting pitcher positions and presumed seven bullpen spots.

The pitching situation will definitely be one of the main topics of discussion during tonight's live chat. It's back once again, don't forget to check back tonight starting at 8pm for 60 minute of chat with yours truly.

I hope to talk to you then!


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Lind Your Glove


By
There is no question that Adam Lind will be a huge contributor for the Blue Jays offensively this season. The problem is that defensively, he's the equivalent of the kid on the little league team who sat down in the outfield and picked grass.

It's funny because even though it seems like the Blue Jays stick Adam Lind in the outfield in hopes that he won't cause much damage out there, over the course of his 208 career games spent in the outfield, Lind is the owner of a fairly average -6.4 Ultimate Zone Rating.

While his 2009 on the field was less than impressive, we all too quickly forget that Lind had a very respectable 7.7 UZR in 2007 and he even contributed five outfield assists.

So why has Adam Lind suddenly turned into a liability in the outfield?

Personally, I feel it's much too early to give up on Adam Lind defensively. I find it extremely hard to believe that he's really that hopeless that the Blue Jays need to relegate him to the designated hitter position at just 26 years old.

That spot is usually assigned for aging sluggers who can't take the physical toll of spending nine innings out on the field, not young sluggers who are just getting comfortable at the major league level.

Lately, it feels like the Blue Jays and more specifically Cito Gaston are pigeonholing Adam Lind into the DH spot. Don't get me wrong - Lind did an incredible job last season and surpassed all expectations when it came to being a designated hitter. However, offense only one facet of the game of baseball - you also need to run, catch, and throw.

By only giving Adam Lind the chance to hit, the Blue Jays are inherently sending the message that they have no confidence in him as an outfielder.

The Blue Jays are now at a defensive crossroads with Adam Lind. They have to make the decision to either fully commit to work with him to make him a better everyday left fielder, or just cut their losses  and abandon the concept of having him play in the field entirely.

Personally, I hope they choose the former because Lind can be so much more than a one-tool player. Somebody who can crush the ball and even just do an adequate job fielding is far more valuable that a player whose sole mission is to make contact with the ball.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Alex Rios' Valentine to Toronto


By
Alex Rios has every reason in the world to be excited for April 12th, 2010. Whether or not the fans feel the same way remains to be seen, but he will be coming back to the city where he became the face of a franchise.

Rios will star in the second most anticipated return of a former Blue Jay when the Jays take on the Chicago White Sox in their Home Opener and Alex returns to his former stomping grounds.

After a less than impressive debut with the White Sox mid-way through the 2009 campaign, he's looking to turn things around in his first full year on the south side of Chicago.

Often accused of lacking focus, apparently Rios got an early jump on Spring Training and went to Miami earlier in January to work closely with White Sox hitting coach Greg Walker to fine-tune his swing for the upcoming season.

I constantly ask myself if the Blue Jays made the right move by giving up on Alex Rios. If his first few months in Chicago are any indication of what's to come, then yes.

However, just like his former teammate Vernon Wells, I think we have seen the lowest of the low when it comes to Alex Rios. He will either rise to the occasion or become a $59 million dollar paperweight on the White Sox bench.

Surprisingly, I'm actually eagerly anticipating seeing what happens to Alex Rios this year. In my mind, he still has all the tools to make him an All-Star, but lacks the drive and focus to make him a day-in and day-out five tool player.

Rios will also be on my radar when it comes to draft day for my fantasy baseball league, so I will likely have to live through the very same highs and lows that the White Sox do this coming season.

I might be in the minority here, yet I consider myself one of the few who will be looking forward to seeing Alex Rios play again in Toronto, even if it's for the opposing team. Knowing my luck, Rios will probably knock in the game-winning hit at the Blue Jays Home Opener just to rub it in everybody's face.

So even if Alex doesn't give a fuck, I still do.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Acid Flashback Friday: Dunedin Stadium


By
Finally, it's less than a week away from when pitchers and catchers report to camp. If you're like me, you're chomping at the bit for Spring Training to arrive so the 2010 season can finally begin. Some folks are even lucky enough to actually head down to Florida to take in some of the action.

Since Spring Training is just around the corner, this week for Acid Flashback Friday, we'll take a look at a ballpark that has cemented itself deep within Blue Jays history: Dunedin Stadium.

For the past 20 years, Dunedin Stadium has been the home for the Blue Jays each and every spring, as well as the home field for the Jays Single A affiliate, the Dunedin Blue Jays.

I've never been there personally, but from what I've heard, it's an amazing experience to watch a game there. In fact, Sports Illustrated named Dunedin Stadium as one of its top five ballparks to watch a Spring Training ballgame.

I can only imagine what it's like to watch the Blue Jays there on a sunny Florida afternoon, with the palm trees swaying in the background. It's a wonder that the players ever want to leave Florida and head north at the end of Spring Training for the cold, desolate place otherwise known as Canada in the month of April.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Introducing Blue Jay Hunter Fantasy Baseball


By
For those who aren't fortunate enough to possess the skills to play baseball at the major league level, luckily there is fantasy baseball. Every baseball stat geeks dream - the ability to own your favourite players and ride through their highs and lows just as if you were the owner of the team yourself.

I'm pleased to announce that the Blue Jay Hunter Yahoo Fantasy Baseball league will be back once again this year. As defending champion, I challenge all of you to knock me off my perch - which shouldn't be too difficult, considering that aside from last year, I have extremely bad luck in fantasy baseball.

If you're interested in joining, please send me an email to bluejayhunter@gmail.com and I'll gladly send you an invite to the league. As of now, the maximum amount of teams is set at 16, but if there is more interest then I might bump it up to 20.

And to sweeten the pot, this year Yahoo upgraded their fantasy leagues to include live scoring, so you can receive real-time updates on how your team is performing.

Here are the details: it's a Yahoo Head-to-Head league, with 10 positional player roster spots, 3 starting pitcher spots, 2 reliever spots, 2 pitcher spots (which can be either starter or reliever) and 2 DL spots.

The categories for positional players will be: hits, runs, RBI's, HR's, stolen bases, and OPS. The categories for pitchers will be: wins, complete games, saves, strikeouts, ERA and WHIP. The categories aren't necessarily set in stone, and these can be changed if the league prefers something else.

Good luck to everyone and may the best stat geek win!

Update: Thanks to everyone for the overwhelming response, but in less than 12 hours we have already assembled to 20 team league. Apologies to those who were interested in joining, but I didn't anticipate so many folks would be interested in joining.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Live Chat Tonight


By
Just a quick reminder that tonight is the live chat. Be sure to check back later tonight and join in starting at 8pm EST for 60 minutes of Jays talk about anything and everything.

If you have any particular topics that you'd like to have covered, or if there are any questions you would like to have answered, feel free to email them to me: bluejayhunter@gmail.com.

See you at 8pm!


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The cheap seats are still affordable


By
The price of admission just got a little more expensive at the Rogers Centre.

Yesterday, the organization announced some increases in ticket prices for the 2010 season. This decision goes along with the season ticket increase they announced back in November.

Most notably, the infamous $9 cheap seats have gone up in price to $11 per ticket. For the most part, single game ticket prices will remain unchanged from last season.

Some are outraged that the Blue Jays are bumping up ticket prices, but let's face the facts - the recession is pretty much over and the economy is back on its feet again. Inflation is inflation and there's nothing you can do about it - if that two dollars was really going to make or break your decision to catch a game at the Rogers Centre, then you weren't really interested in going in the first place.

Dollar for dollar in the city of Toronto, there is no better value than a baseball game at the Rogers Centre. Compare the new minimum $11 dollar ticket price for a Jays game to $27 for a Leafs game, $43 for a Raptors game, and even $23 for a Toronto FC game.

Even if the prices of the 500 Level tickets shot up to $20, they would still be far and away the cheapest ticket in town. Hell, I've paid much more than $11 dollars to even sit on a beer-soaked concrete slab at the top of a minor league hockey arena.

Programing note: Don't forget that tomorrow night at 8pm EST is the inaugural live chat of 2010. For 60 minutes, feel free to stop by and we will discuss everything surrounding the Blue Jays - including the starting rotation, the outfield dilemma, and maybe even the ticket increase.


Monday, February 8, 2010

Will Randy Ruiz ever be free?


By
Image courtesy of Flickr user _Topher_
He has all the tools to be a deadly Designated Hitter, yet I can't help but think that Randy Ruiz is going to spend the better part of the 2010 season in Las Vegas instead of in Toronto where he rightfully belongs.

This is same Randy Ruiz who was the 2009 Pacific League Coast MVP. The same Randy Ruiz who posted a 1.019 OPS in 130 plate appearances with the Blue Jays this past season. The same Randy Ruiz who raked in Winter Leagues with 7 home runs and 27 RBI's.

This is the very same Randy Ruiz who is going to have to fight tooth and nail to make the Blue Jays Opening Day roster.

Ruiz has proven himself to this organization time and time again, and has done nothing but exceed expectations, whether it be in the minor leagues or his brief (albeit impressive) stint in the big leagues. No matter how well he hits, the Blue Jays just can't quite commit to giving Randy Ruiz a spot on their roster.

Knowing that he needed to step up his game physically, Ruiz is arguably in the best shape of his career, having lost 30 pounds this off season and continues to impress with his Puerto Rico squad in the Caribbean Series.

Earlier in January, Drew from Ghostrunner on First wrote an excellent piece on Randy Ruiz' uncanny ability to knock just about any pitch out of the park. Some would argue that he's a one trick pony and only built to hit home runs, but if that's the case, then he's the equivalent of Seabiscuit for hitting home runs.

It's fully understandable that no roster position should ever be automatically be handed to players. Especially with young talent like Travis Snider, it should be reiterated that they should have to earn their spot on the team and not feel like they are obligated to make the roster out of Spring Training. The same goes for a career journeyman like Randy Ruiz - you have to earn your stripes on the team.

Despite all that, it feels like no matter what Randy Ruiz does or how well he plays, he is probably going to get overlooked once again. Unless the first baseman position suddenly opens up or if the Jays commit to making Adam Lind the full time left fielder, Ruiz could be banished to Triple A once again.

At 32 years old, obviously Ruiz does not fit into the long term building plans for the Toronto Blue Jays. However, Alex Anthopoulos has a very valuable chess piece in Ruiz - if he convinces Cito to give Ruiz more playing time, that could significantly boost Ruiz' trade value, and down the road he could fetch a couple of prospects. The only way for Randy Ruiz to become attractive to any other team though, is if he actually gets a chance to play.

If Ruiz were to be one of the 12 or 13 hitters to break camp, who is to say that he would even receive a fair amount of playing time anyway? Cito left a perfectly healthy Randy Ruiz on the bench for six straight games back in September 2009, so I could definitely see the manager giving away his at bats to other players once again.

So what do you think - will Randy Ruiz ever be free from the clutches of Las Vegas?

Friday, February 5, 2010

Acid Flashback Friday: The Skydome AstroTurf


By
The field at the ballpark is more than just a playing surface. Think of that vast area as a baseball player's office - where they conduct business night after night.

Often times, we overlook this aspect of the game and that's why this week for Acid Flashback Friday, we will honour the first incarnation of AstroTurf at the Skydome.

When I think back to the glory days at the dome, I can't help but remember that God-awful playing surface known as AstroTurf. The funny thing is the Rogers Centre is currently in the process of switching the field back to using AstroTurf, albeit a much different form of its predecessor.

After looking through some of the photos of the Skydome, its hard to imagine that at one time people thought that playing surface looked natural. It practically looks like they used a giant green screen as the playing surface, and it remained that way for 15 years until Rogers decided to upgrade to Field Turf.

Back in the day, as many as nine ballparks were fitted with AstroTurf. Now only the Rogers Centre and Tropicana Field are the only two ballparks remaining in the majors with artificial turf.

No matter how you feel about the former playing surface at the dome, the memory of the chroma key "green screen" of the Skydome AstroTurf will forever be burned into our brains ... and retinas.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Thursday Links: Thigpen & Holliday discover Twitter


By
On a slow news day, what better way to waste valuable company time than to peruse what's happening on Twitter? Doing exactly that, I just so happened to stumble across Matt Holliday's Twitter account, and for some reason or another he praised former Blue Jays catching prospect Curtis Thigpen:
"With some of my friends at ut, lookout for Curtis Thigpen this year, that swing is NICE"
After Thigpen was traded from the Jays to the A's last March, he has seemingly fallen completely off the map. He didn't play a single game with the Athletics, and I can't find any 2009 minor league stats for him - not with the A's Triple A affiliate, the Sacramento River Cats, or not even their Double A affiliate in the Midland Rockhounds.

By all indications, Curtis Thigpen didn't play a lick of baseball after Spring Training 2009, and yet Matt Holliday is touting Thigpen's abilities as if he were the next big thing for the Oakland A's. He is on the Triple A roster for the River Cats, but it's going to take much more than Holliday's "ringing" endorsement to bring Thigpen back to the big leagues. Oh, and apparently just like his buddy Matt Holliday, Curtis Thigpen also has a Twitter account.

Speaking of interesting folks on Twitter, I recently starting following David Brown of Yahoo! Sports (or as the Twitterverse knows him, AnswerDave). I highly recommend you give him a follow - he always manages to scavenge the internets for the best links of the day. Heck, he even wrote a piece yesterday about Dirk Hayhurst's surgery. That's pretty cool considering Hayhurst's surgery isn't a story that really resonates outside of Toronto, but very cool that Big League Stew picked up on it because us Blue Jays seamheads that live North and South saw the value in the story.

Lastly, if you're curious to find out a little bit more about The Blue Jay Hunter, check out my interview piece over at the Baseball Bloggers Alliance. Daniel Shoptaw, the founding member of the BBA is interviewing each member of the Alliance, and took a few minutes to ask me some questions specific to this blog and the Blue Jays in general.

Live Chat Returns Next Wednesday


By
It's hard to believe that pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training in just a mere two weeks. Only 14 more days until the winter baseball drought will finally be over!

Sounds like a reason to celebrate: in honour of Spring Training being just around the corner, I'll be firing up the live chat once again this year, starting with the inaugural chat of the season next Wednesday at 8pm EST.

The live chats will continue each Wednesday until we reach Opening Day or when people start getting sick of it ... whichever comes first. If you're like me and extremely forgetful, feel free to sign up for the email reminder below. I hope to see you then!


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Golly Gee, do the Blue Jays really need Kevin Gregg?


By
Trust me, I was just as surprised as you guys when information leaked earlier today that the Blue Jays were the front-runners to land free agent reliever Kevin Gregg.

The club already has a surplus for relievers, yet for some reason, the Blue Jays have reportedly agreed to a deal with Gregg which could earn him upwards of $12 million dollars.

At first, the only two logical explanations were that the Blue Jays were trying to make up for the fact that they have sorely been lacking a Gregg with two G's on the team since Zaun left. Either that, or the Blue Jays front office decided that the team needed a reliever with funky glasses to fill the shoes of Brandon League.

Now here we are as the Blue Jays are on the verge of bringing in the former closer for the Florida Marlins and Chicago Cubs. It doesn't make much sense, because either Jason Frasor or Scott Downs was supposed to be the closer for 2010.

I realize that Alex Anthopoulos is trying to stockpile plenty of arms in hopes that he can build some assets for the future, but at what point does it become overkill? If AA is trying to monopolize the reliever market for the upcoming trade deadline, he's going about it in a very strange way.

Kevin Gregg could become a Type A free agent once again, and the Blue Jays could receive a first round pick for him in 2011. Unfortunately, as we saw with the pick that they received by letting go of Marco Scutaro, the draft pick can easily be bumped to the second round.

The other school of thought is that the Blue Jays will try to build Gregg's value so they can flip him for prospects at the trade deadline. While it seems like there are always teams in the hunt for closers come mid-season, it seems like a strange risk to take to net a couple of prospects.

This all is a very backwards way of doing business.

Unless Kevin Gregg is 20 for 20 in save opportunities and holds runners to a .230 average before the trade deadline, I'm afraid the Blue Jays won't get much in return for him. If he performs about as well as he has the past few seasons, it could just be money flushed down the toilet.

Monday, February 1, 2010

LOST Without Answers


By
Whether I like it or not, being a rabid (and bordering on somewhat obsessive) fan of the television show "Lost" and the Toronto Blue Jays is a very similar experience.

Often tortured and teased, we receive very few answers and more often than not, once we actually do receive an answer, they just end up unearthing even more questions.

You're probably wondering how in the hell all if this relates to the Toronto Blue Jays. Well, just as J.J. Abrams has yet to answer many unanswered questions on the final season Lost, the Blue Jays have yet to make the final decisions on quite a few key areas before Opening Day.

Who is the closer?

Neither Alex Anthopoulos or Cito Gaston have given us a concrete answer on whether it will be Scott Downs or Jason as the official closer for this team. Both have indicated that the position is up for grabs, and Cito even mentioned that Jeremy Accardo could be a dark horse candidate to reclaim the job he held down back in 2007.

To add another layer of complication to the issue, apparently MLBTR has reported that the Blue Jays have stated that Scott Downs and Jason Frasor will be available, as the Chicago Cubs have already kicked the tires on both relievers.

Who will hold down the corner outfield spots?

As of now, the only player who's spot is guaranteed in the outfield is Vernon Wells. It sounds like left and right field are entirely up for grabs, with as many as seven players vying for both positions (Lind, Snider, Bautista, Gathright, Reed, Lubanski, Padilla).

I'm guessing that either left/right field goes to Snider, and the remaining spot is platooned between Bautista and Gathright. Cito would be mad to play Bautista as the everyday leadoff man/corner infielder, but we have already assumed that's exactly what he's going to do. Hopefully management can talk him out of it.

Who will be the ace?

Obviously whomever steps into the number one starter's role in the rotation will have some big shoes to fill after the departure of Roy Halladay. In late December, I threw in my vote for Shaun Marcum to be the new ace for the Blue Jays, but that title could just as easily go to Ricky Romero, Marc Rzepczynski, or even Dustin McGowan. When it comes to the starting five, there are so many question marks that it's incredibly difficult to gauge who will come out on top.

Some would argue that at this point, the Blue Jays don't have a true "ace" and are more so comprised of number two and number three starters. I would tend to agree with that statement, but anybody could come out of nowhere and surprise us all - as Marc Rzepczynski did last season. 

Who will manage this team after 2010?

Speaking of everyone's favourite manager (who happens to confuse his relievers and lobby for players to be signed), who is going to replace Cito Gaston? Alex Anthopoulos said he would prefer someone who has at least some coaching experience at the major league level.

I'm not completely sure if that means all the current members of the Blue Jays coaching staff are up for consideration, but Nick Leyva and Brian Butterfield seem like a couple of possibilities. And even though he ended his tenure with the Blue Jays on a bad note, don't rule out a return by Ernie Whitt.

One would also have to assume that any mid-season firings will automatically be at the top of the list for candidates to replace Cito. It's not like a Mike Scoscia falls into your lap every day, so after 2010, the Blue Jays may have to survive on another team's leftovers in the interim.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...