Monday, May 31, 2010

Rays-ing the Bar on AL East Sibling Rivalry

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For those who are fortunate enough to have younger siblings, do you remember what it was like when you were younger and able to easily overpower your brother or sister?

When you could easily out-muscle them into doing all your chores simply by giving them a Purple Nurple, Noogie or Wet Willy?

Now imagine if that brother or sister you tortured for so many years grew up to be bigger, stronger, and faster than you. And they didn't forget about those Purple Nurples either.

If the American League East were a family, the Tampa Bay Rays would be that ugly duckling youngest sibling who desperately sought attention as a child, only to grow up and outperform all their brothers and sisters and become the family favourite.

The Toronto Blue Jays on the other hand would be the middle child who won back to back Spelling Bee's when they were younger, but ever since then have had trouble finding that magic once again.

Starting this evening, it will be a battle between the middle and youngest children of the American League East: the Toronto Blue Jays and the Tampa Bay Rays.

Sibling rivalry is about to be taken to a whole new level.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Tricky Ricky

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Image courtesy of Daylife
The day after one of the most prolific Blue Jays in team history threw a perfect game for his new team, maybe some of Roy Halladay's magic rubbed off on another Blue Jays starter.

Ricky Romero tossed a six-hit gem going the distance for the complete game victory over the Baltimore Orioles. Romero now joins Shaun Marcum and Brett Cecil as the third five-game winner on the pitching staff.

Me Love You Long Ball

Romero's teammates gave him six runs in support, three coming via the long ball. That now ups the Blue Jays total to 53 home runs in the month of June. One of them was off the bat of Jose Bautista, which now ties him for the club lead for home runs in a month with 12.

Personally, I'm hoping that Bautista hits another home run to break the record and the Bautista Appreciation Society will collectively be on pins and needles tomorrow night in anticipation.

Dwayne Murphy opens mouth ... and inserts foot

There was a bit of troubling news concerning hitting coach Dwayne Murphy from earlier today. I didn't see the clip myself, but apparently in his pre-game interview with Sam Cossentino, Murphy said something along the lines of "OBP is overrated" and "AVG doesn't matter".

That's just paraphrasing what I heard, so forgive me if I butchered the quote ... but isn't that kind of thing to be extremely concerned about coming out of the mouth from a hitting coach?

That would be like pitching coach Bruce Walton saying "ERA is overrated" or "Walks Smalks".

It's kind of a convenient quote coming from the pitching coach of the team with the third worst team batting average and the second worse on base percentage in the league.

There's no denying the Toronto Blue Jays have a ton of power and the long ball is going a long way to helping them win games - but how long can this power surge possibly last?

Eventually, they are going to have to start drawing more walks and driving in runs in other ways than just clearing the fence.

Somewhere, Roy Halladay is Smiling

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Typically, Roy Halladay isn't one to crack a smile. But after sending down 27 Florida Marlins in order, he was beaming from ear to ear.

Not really much to say about this one, except ... congratulations to Roy Halladay on his perfect game.

Frankly, we all knew it was possible - it was just a matter of time before it happened. Halladay came very close a couple of times during his time with the Blue Jays, but he finally sealed the deal.

This is just another notch in the bedpost of Halladay's storied career, which is still far from over.

I'm sure Doc will treasure the game ball, but the only thing to top this would be a World Series ring. And he's already well on his way to accomplishing that milestone, too.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Blue Jays Bats Blistering

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When a player like Lyle Overbay is in the midst of a slump, there comes a boiling point where things can no longer be written off as unlucky.

It seems like Lyle Overbay has reached that boiling point so many times this season, but always comes one degree away from boiling over before he has one hell of a game.

This afternoon was another one of those games that reset Overbay's frustration level back to zero when he broke up an 0 for 17 slump. He came through in a big way - two home runs, one solo shot and one two run homer helped the Blue Jays win their second straight over the Baltimore Orioles.

Thanks in part to home runs from Lyle Overbay, Vernon Wells and Aaron Hill, the Blue Jays set a new club record for home runs in a month with 50. With another two days left in May and Jeremy Guthrie on the mound tomorrow, you can be certain that the Jays will at least hit a few more dingers before the month comes to a close.

Of course, let's not forget about Brett Cecil's incredible start. Even since getting roughed up by the Texas Rangers a few weeks ago, Cecil has been lights out winning his past three games. And this time, he did it with his glasses!

Get out your brooms because the Blue Jays go for the sweep tomorrow afternoon, and with the Rays and the Yankees coming into town next week, the Jays better get in all the wins while they can.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Why Jays fans shouldn't participate in a Hunger Strike

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First of all, let me give props to Mike Meech over at the excellent Phillies blog The Fightins. If you haven't heard by now, Mike is on a self-imposed hunger strike and isn't eating again until the Phillies score a run.

Surprisingly, the New York Mets entirely shut out the Philadelphia Phillies in their three game series, which means Mike hasn't eaten a morsel since Wednesday night.

So why does any of this news concern the Toronto Blue Jays?

While I commend Mike's bravery for taking on such a daunting task, I'm begging Blue Jays fans to never ever offer up a similar Hunger Strike for the Blue Jays.

If you recall, there was a period back in 2008 when the Blue Jays went 31 consecutive innings without scoring a single run. It wasn't until the 10th inning in the final game of a double header against the Cleveland Indians on May 12th 2008 that the Jays exploded for three runs.

I did the rough math and that means if anyone was on a Shutout Hunger Strike during those 31 consecutive scoreless innings, they wouldn't have eaten for approximately 74 hours ... which is just over 3 days.

I'm sorry, I love the Toronto Blue Jays but there is no way I could go without eating my Cinnamon Toast Crunch or Reese Peanut Butter Puffs for three days.

Best of luck to the Phillies and Mike from The Fightins on ending the scoring drought, but if things continue like this for the next few weeks, hopefully the Phillies will be weak enough so the Blue Jays can take advantage when they come to Citizens Bank Park on June 25th.

Acid Flashback Friday: Jose Canseco's 1998 season

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It was arguably one of the most successful single seasons for a player in a Blue Jays uniform, yet nobody ever seems to ever mention it.

Why? Because it has a giant asterisk* next to it.

For this week's Acid Flashback Friday, we take a look back at Jose Canseco's short tenure with the Toronto Blue Jays.

Canseco was signed by the Blue Jays on February 4th 1998 on a one year deal worth over $2 million dollars. Jose was brought in as the Blue Jays new designated hitter after Joe Carter left the team as a free agent and signed with the Baltimore Orioles.

While Jose Canseco had a relatively productive season with the Toronto Blue Jays, it was overshadowed by the home run race between Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa. Despite the whirlwind of steroid allegations surrounding his counterparts, Canseco claims he was clean during his stint with the Blue Jays.

Although he was just one off the single season club record of 47 home runs set by George Bell, Canseco still has the honor of having the Blue Jays club record for most strikeouts in a season with 159.

Perhaps more importantly than what happened on the field were the off-field allegations Jose Canseco was associated with during his time in Toronto

If you've read his book "Juiced" or the follow up "Vindicated", then you know all about what was happening behind the scenes inside the Blue Jays clubhouse during the 1998 season.

One of the most hotly contested situations involving Jose Canseco was the infamous party at his Florida home in the summer of 1998 while on the road. Allegedly Roger Clemens was at the party which was being held for the Blue Jays players and their families.

Clemens on the other hand, adamantly denied this, going as far as to testifying in court saying that he never attended the party.

Regardless of whether or not Jose Canseco was using performance enhancing drugs during his time with the Toronto, he did what he was ultimately paid to do - hit home runs. And for that, I salute him.

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, May 27, 2010

June is Judgment Month

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To say that the Toronto Blue Jays have an uphill battle this June would be a gargantuan understatement.

It's still too early to gauge whether the Jays will continue to exceed expectations through the 2010 campaign, but if you want a true litmus test to see if this squad is the real deal, look no further than their upcoming June schedule.
  
It's arguably one of the toughest in baseball: with nine games split between the Yankees and Rays, and 15 Interleague games against some of the perennial favourites in the National League.

Just take a glimpse at the kind of competition the Blue Jays will be stacked up against in the comings weeks. Aside from a reprive at the end of the month against the Cleveland Indians, all series are against teams with a winning record, and in most cases ... a superior winning record.

Team Record PCT
Rays 32-15 .681
Yankees 28-18 .609
Rockies 24-22 .522
Padres 28-18 .609
Giants 23-22 .511
Cardinals 26-11 .553
Phillies 26-19 .578
Indians 17-28 .378
TOTAL 204-153 .571

And just when you thought the Blue Jays would have a little bit of a breather mid-month against the lowly San Diego Padres, now they have to face off against a revitalized Padres team that leads the NL West Division.

If the Blue Jays want to stay in the hunt approaching the All-Star Break, they need to post no worse than an 11-16 record in June to emerge the at the end of the month with just a .500 record at 38-38.

That seems like a fairly reasonable expectation considering the kind of competition they will be facing this June. But it's not going to be a cakewalk: they play 15 games on the road, and 12 against teams that made the playoffs last season and also look to repeat this year.

June for the Jays will definitely be Judgment Month.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Bautista's 15 Bombs Lead the Majors

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I woke up this morning and could barely believe my eyes when I checked the stats page at MLB.com.

Here we are almost one third of a way through the season and Jose Bautista is leading the majors with 15 home runs. Somebody pinch me ... seriously.

I've been racking my brain trying to find out just why Jose Bautista is out-slugging perennial home run hitters like Albert Pujols, Alex Rodriguez and Prince Fielder.

While there isn't one simple explanation, there are certainly a multitude of things that have contributed to his recent power surge, says Fantasy Baseball Junkie:
He’s hitting a lot of fly balls (50.4%), and a lot of those flyballs seem to be leaving the park (20%) so while I think he’s been a little lucky, he should still have been in line for 8-9 homeruns so far, well above what many were predicting.

Many pundits are screaming “sell high” but 25 homeruns seems inevitable, and he’s actually been unlucky when he hasn’t hit the ball out of the park with a low .234 BABIP (about 40 points less than his career norm).
Combine that with Bautista's work in the off-season with hitting coach Dwayne Murphy and you have a serious home run threat hitter down in the number seven slot.

Of course, Jose Bautista's .244 batting average is much left to be desired, however if we take a look purely at his statistics batting seventh in the lineup, you can see that a majority of his power comes from hitting there:

Split G GS PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB
Batting 7th 25 25 100 84 20 24 6 1 10 23 12 17 .286 .390 .738 1.128 62

Take away those 10 games at the start of the season during the Bautista Leadoff Experiment, and Jose's numbers shoot through roof.

Initially I was a little disappointed to see Jose Bautista moved out of the leadoff spot, but now that he's settled in closer to the bottom of the lineup, I couldn't think of a better place for him.

Who knows how long this hot streak will last, but trust me when I say that the Bautista Appreciation Society will be living every moment to its fullest.

Vernon Wells: from lead feet to golden sneakers

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Image courtesy of Batter's Box
Is it just me, or does Vernon Wells have quite the range in the outfield these days?

V-Dub really hasn't been the same in the field since he originally injured his hamstring back in July 2008, and aggravated it once again in Spring Training last year.

Once could argue that he played through the nagging injury for the better part of last season, and the only one who truly knows that is Vernon Wells himself. If his statistics are an indication, there must have been something wrong that we didn't know about.

Now all that's in the past and it appears Wells is back in fine form, both at the plate and in the field. He's been routinely been making great catches and getting great jumps on fly balls that would've otherwise flown over his head last year.

Vernon had a career low UZR last year at -16.6. Already, he's bumped it up by 17 points and has broken pretty much even with a 1.1 UZR through 44 games in centre field this year.

Typically, analysts prefer to have three year sample sizes to work from since Ultimate Zone Ratings fluctuate as much as Justin Bieber's hormones, but the 44 game sample size from Vernon Wells looks very promising so far.

Vernon's Range Runs Above Average (RngR) are also way up this season, currently sitting at 1.2, up from a dreadful -18.1 range runs just one year ago.

The thing I've noticed that's improved most about Vernon's presence in the field has been the ability to reach baseballs that are hit over his head. If you've seen the highlights lately, you've probably witnessed Wells uncanny ability to track down fly balls near the warning track and haul them in.

It was something that was noticeably absent from his game last season, and it could very well have been due to his hamstring injury which may have hampered his ability to catch up and time those fly balls correctly.

Oddly enough, the best centre fielder in the American League according to UZR and RngR right now is Alex Rios. The White Sox centre fielder is in good company with his former teammate Vernon Wells, who ranks third in the league in UZR and fourth in RngR.

There's no doubt that Vernon Wells' skills in the outfield have declined slightly over the years, but it's nice to see that last year was in fact rock bottom for him statistically. Because prior to the start of this season, I was almost convinced 2010 would have been worse.

It's been four years since Vernon Wells was bestowed the honour of being one of the best fielders in the game. While he may not be one of the elite centre fielders in the game, he's certainly rising up and becoming part of the cream of the crop once again.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Cecilriffic

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Image courtesy of Daylife
Corey Hart may wear his sunglasses at night, but Brett Cecil doesn't wear his eyeglasses on the road. And you know what? It's working.

In his last two starts sans shades, Cecil has thrown two gems - including last night's two-hit performance which saw him pitch seven-plus innings.

Cecil is now tied with his counterparts Shaun Marcum and Ricky Romero with four wins, and with the hot and cold appearances by Brandon Morrow, Cecil is looking more and more like a dependable number three in the starting rotation.

Is it possible that Jason Frasor has regained his status as Golden Boy of the bullpen? He came in on relief in the 8th inning with two runners on base and one out, and stranded both runners without allowing a single run.

Don't look now, but in his last 11 appearances, Jason Frasor has only given up one run while holding opponents to a .189 batting average.

The Sausage King may have had his throne as the closer revoked, however I think he could very easily gain it back if Kevin Gregg runs into trouble or is flipped at the trade deadline.

All in all, a great start to the final leg of the Blue Jays current eight road swing, and they now stand at 3-3 on this road trip and 16-9 on the road in total for the season.

If there's no place like home, then the Jays shouldn't have any problem playing only 79 games at the Rogers Centre this year because the road is suiting them just fine.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Victoria Day Tidbits

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On a long weekend where fireworks will be prevalent in the sky, the Toronto Blue Jays continue to produce fireworks on the field.

First off, congratulations to Edwin Encarnacion on his future American League Player of the Week honours. EE had one hell of a week - 6 home runs, 11 RBI's, and all but one of his hits this past week were home runs.

Not far behind of course, is Jose Bautista. He cleared the fence for the 14th time this season and is now tied with Paul Konerko for the major lead league for home runs. Bautista was featured in Buster Oley's latest article, unfortunately you have to be an ESPN Insider to read the rest of the piece.

Now that the Bautista Appreciation Society is picking up steam, we might just have to create a legion of appreciation for Edwin Encarnacion too.

Besides, if these guys keep up even half of this pace until the trade deadline, it could leave the Blue Jays in a very interesting position to trade them - especially with Bautista on the hook for about half of his modest $2.4 million dollar salary.

Yesterday the Blue Jays cut Dana Eveland loose and called up David Purcey from Triple A Las Vegas. Eveland came out guns blazing to start off the season with a 2-0 record and 1.93 ERA through his first three starts, but then things got really ugly near the end. In his final three starts, Eveland only lasted 9.1 total innings, giving up 17 earned runs.

David Purcey was really the only viable option to bring up from the Las Vegas 51's, as Jesse Carlson is still having a tough time finding his groove, and Marc Rzepczynski and Jesse Litsch aren't quite ready to be called up just yet.

Cito Gaston will probably enjoy having another lefty in the bullpen, and that gives a little more versatility to the pen which has been comprised of mostly one-inning guys. I can see Purcey being stretched out into a two-inning reliever if need be.

That's all from Blue Jay land - have a great Victoria Day holiday!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Dinger Parade in the Desert

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Did you want to see the Blue Jays get on base, or did you want to see them sock six dingers?

If you were hoping for the latter, then last night was a visual treat for you. Thanks to Alex Cushing for finding out that the Blue Jays are the first team since 1920 to have all six of their runs scored via solo home runs.

It didn't look good very early for Brandon Morrow, and it's usually a bad sign when the pitcher goes 2 for 4 and drives in three runs.

Needless to say, the Blue Jays kept it very interesting late in the ballgame. Aaron Hill was the tying run at the plate, but he got a little swing-happy early in the count and popped up to end the game.

Can you image if maybe there were even just one of two guys on base when the Jays hit those home runs? It would've been an entirely different ballgame.

At the same time, if Brandon Morrow didn't get nickle and dimed with single after single through the left side of the field, it also would've been an entirely different ballgame.

Give props to Edwin Encarnacion for knocking three dingers out of the park. With the DH not in effect, Cito took a bit of a gamble leaving Adam Lind on the bench and Encarnacion in the field. Turns out that move paid off though.

That's the great thing about these Blue Jays right now. Even though they rank second last in the American League when it comes to On Base Percentage, the long ball has consistently kept them in the game, especially when it comes down to those late innings.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Desert Dogs

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The Toronto Blue Jays will finally get their first taste of Interleague play against none other than ... the Arizona Diamondbacks!

The Jays and D-Backs have only ever squared off for six total games in their history, and they've both won three games and lost three games. Talk about a barn burner of a series.

As far as connections to the Toronto Blue Jays are concerned, the only one I could find is that Diamondbacks pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre Jr. is brothers with former Jays pitcher turned stock trader Todd Stottlemyre.

Digging a little further though, Jordan Bastian goes beyond scratching the surface to find out that Brian Butterfield used to the be Diamondbacks third base coach, and of course Lyle Overbay has ties in the desert as he played 98 games for the D'Backs over the course of his first three seasons in the big leagues.

The Blue Jays woes against National League teams have been well documented over the years. Since the inception of Interleague play back in 1997, the Blue Jays have compiled a 108-121 record against the senior circuit which translates to a .471 winning percentage.

Plenty of people write off Interleague games as a waste, but those 18 games go a long way to determining who makes the playoffs and who's left on the outside looking in come late September.

Maybe it's a little unbalanced to be playing so many games against the National League because it seems like these "novelty" games actually carry a lot more weight than some of the series against division rivals.

Tonight it's a battle on the mound between Brandon Morrow and Diamondbacks ace Dan Haren. Looking at Haren's stats, it's interesting to note that his American League stats are almost identical to his National League stats.

Three seasons in the AL, Haren had a 43-24 record with a 3.64 ERA. After five years in the NL, Haren has an eerily similar record: 40-31 with a 3.69 ERA. Freaky.

Don't forget - I'll be liveblogging tonight's Jays/D'Backs game over at The Score starting around 9:40pm EST.

Acid Flashback Friday: the El Ranchero Chili Race

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They might not have be as illustrious as the famed Milwaukee Sausage Race, but three little chili peppers managed to race their way the hearts of thousands of fans in Toronto.

For this week's edition of Acid Flashback Friday, we take a look back at the El Ranchero Chili Race.

It's been a few years now since Paco, Pedro and Tico raced down the third base line at the Rogers Centre, and from what I can remember it was one of the more popular in-game entertainment segments at the ballpark.

At least there were real people (albeit inside costumes) racing, instead of what the Blue Jays currently have - the Bruce Power Electricity Race, the Turtle Island Recycling Hidden Ball, and the baseballs racing around the word.

In my opinion, there's nothing more disjointed than having the crowd cheer for a cartoon baseball on the Jumbotron.

That's what made the El Ranchero Chili Race so great - as ridiculous as it sounds, it gave the fans something real to cheer for in between innings as opposed to staring up at the scoreboard and waiting for the predetermined outcome.

So here's to the yellow, green and red chili from the El Ranchero Chili Race. Paco, Pedro, and Tico ... you will always live on in our hearts.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Ken Griffey Jr. presents Major League Walk Off Win

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It's only fitting that the player who was scrutinized in the media last week came through in the clutch and was the hero today for the Seattle Mariners.

Ken Griffey Jr. did what he used to be so good at and came through with a walk off single to right field.

Give credit to the Mariners, they didn't give up and kept the rally going in the ninth, though Kevin Gregg pretty much handed the game to them on a silver platter. Instead of attacking the hitters, he was trying to be cute by nibbling at the corners and it cost him dearly.

When all is said and done, Kevin Gregg has still converted 12 of 14 save opportunities and has an ERA below 3.00.

I guess this is what the folks in Chicago warned us about - when Kevin Gregg blows up, he blows up BIG TIME.

Mind your M's and Jays

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Finding success in the major leagues is a very delicate balancing act. One cannot win with just offense or pitching alone - it takes a precise combination of those two things to consistently win ball games.

On one side of the scale we have the Seattle Mariners - a preseason favourite to win the American League West. On the other, we have the Toronto Blue Jays - a preseason favourite to finish in the basement of the American League East.

Interesting how things have a way of panning out, don't they?

Not to say that you can completely write off the Seattle Mariners at this point in the season, because they have the benefit of playing in the statistically weakest division in baseball this season.

As expected, the Seattle Mariners have a strong starting pitching staff and they currently rank second in the American League when it comes to starter's ERA. With a former Cy Young winner in Cliff Lee and a Cy Young runner-up in Felix Hernandez, the Mariner's don't have to worry about starting pitching.

Their main problem is one that plagued the Blue Jays for many seasons: the ability to score runs. The Mariners rank dead last in runs scored (3.3 runs per game) compared to the Blue Jays who rank third in the league (5.16 runs per game).

Now Cliff Lee has become all too familiar with what it's like to throw a great game and not have any run support. Twice thus far Lee has pitched at least 7 innings and given up 2 or less earned runs and walk out with either the loss or no decision.

Somewhere, Roy Halladay is smiling.

And so Doug Fister also experienced the exact same thing in last night's 3-2 loss to the Blue Jays. While he held the Jays to only three runs through eight innings, the Mariners lineup couldn't pick him up for more than two runs.

If last night was any indication of what's going to happen in tonight's contest between the Mariners and the Blue Jays, it will be another low-scoring affair ... at least, on one side of the scale.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Brandon, meet Brandon

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Not to sound like the age old cliche, but sometimes it's amazing what a change in scenery will do for a player.

Of course I'm talking about Brandon Morrow. Although it's still very early in the season, I think it's safe to say that the trade for Morrow was one of Alex Anthopoulos' best moves of the off-season.

Morrow has flashed moments of greatness and still has an incredible amount of upside as a 25 year old starting pitcher. It makes you wonder why the Seattle Mariners were to quick to give up on their first round pick from the 2006 draft.

On the other side of the coin, we have Brandon League. He was arguably being groomed as the future closer for the Blue Jays. League was so inconsistent though that the Jays found themselves in a similar position as the Seattle Mariners with Brandon Morrow. They had to turn over a new leaf, and for both clubs that mean sending their players to a new team.

So now the Blue Jays roll into Seattle for a three two game series, and both teams will get their first looks at each other's prized acquisitions.


Image courtesy of The League League
It seems like Brandon League is trying to dress himself up like a someone who's seeing their ex for the first time since they broke up. Gone are the glasses, and now League has contacts and a new haircut to boot. Basically, this is Brandon League's way of saying "this is what you're missing".

The Blue Jays however have moved on to their new Brandon. Hey, breakups are never easy ... but the healing happens a little quicker when the one you're with is so much better than your former flame.

Ruiz has been freed, liberated, and released

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Freed, liberated, let go, released ... call it whatever you like, but Randy Ruiz is gone.

I was saddened and shocked to learn that the Blue Jays have let go of Ruiz, and he has subsequently signed a contract to play in Japan with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles.

The news comes as a bit of a surprise, considering Randy Ruiz was just a player on the bench and not a starter occupying tonnes of playing time.

Yeah, he's struggled this season, but is 40 plate appearances really enough of a sample size to judge whether a player should be released or not?

Admittedly, I became smitten with Ruiz after his honeymoon campaign last year. While his numbers this year have been less than impressive, I think people all too quickly forget that Ruiz was hitting a home run for every 11.5 plate appearances.

My assumption is that Ruiz saw the writing on the wall and knew that Lyle Overbay would get the fair share of playing time at first base, and Adam Lind would occupy the DH spot for the most part of the season.

That meant Ruiz had to make the most of every at bat, and in most cases that translated to swinging for the fences so he could keep his job. Rather than live with the uncertainty of playing time every game, maybe he'd rather just rake in Japan and hope for the best.

You know what ... if it worked for Tom Selleck, then it should work for Randy Ruiz. Best of luck to him and hopefully another MLB team doesn't scoop him up in the near future and he has a 30 home run season.

It's never easy letting go, but it's comforting knowing that Randy Ruiz has been freed permanently. Fly high, free bird.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Singing the Powder Blues

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Image courtesy of Daylife
Last night, Blue Jays nation voiced their displeasure with Lyle Overbay.
Less than 24 hours later ... he responded.

It came in the form of a two hit game: a double and a two-run home run to right field. I'm not saying that Lyle Overbay completely silenced his critics with today's performance, but with his actions at the plate he certainly gave a one-finger salute to any naysayers.

On the subject of slumps, let's give a tip of the cap to Aaron Hill. He broke up an 0-12 slump with a three-run home run. Oddly enough, prior to today's home run his last hit was also a three-run shot.

Edwin Encarnacion came back from the disabled list in a big way hitting a home run in his first at bat of the game. After watching the replay, I was find of surprised to see that it cleared the fence because it appeared Encarnacion didn't get a good piece of it.

The redemption train also continued into the bullpen with Jason Frasor throwing an inning of scoreless relief striking out the side in the ninth. Frasor is now very quietly rebuilding his reputation - in his last nine innings in relief, he's given up one earned run while striking out nine hitters.

And of course, who could forget the silent hero from today's game ... Shaun Marcum. Another solid performance which now makes eight out of nine starts where he has gone at least six innings and given up three or less earned runs.

While Shaun Marcum and Ricky Romero are battling it out in the "ace race" to be the number one starter of the Blue Jays, although Romero might be the sexier pick of the two, Marcum has not wavered in any of his starts this season.

That and Shaun Marcum hasn't thrown any wild pitches this season. Ricky Romero has thrown 13.

Lyle Overbay is the New Whipping Boy

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The 2010 season hasn't exactly gone very swimmingly for Lyle Overbay. Although he's been slumping at the plate, his defensive prowess is something that's never really come into question.

That was until he committed two errors in last night's 8-3 loss to the Minnesota Twins.

While most will chalk it up to a bad night at the office, some folks however would prefer to use those errors as fuel for the fires of hatred that have been burning strong for Lyle Overbay.

Apparently a couple of fans situated by the third base side dugout gave Overbay the business all night long. Fair enough, they paid for their tickets (or at least snuck down) and have every right to be displeased in Overbay.

But does he really deserve the title as the new enemy number one?

Last season, the Blue Jays whipping boy was undoubtedly Vernon Wells. Seemingly healthy, Wells failed to bounce back and the fans let him have it. The guy who was once (and arguably still is) the face of this franchise essentially faded into the background while other players shone in the spotlight.

Vernon Wells was the whipping boy for a good reason: he's being paid $126 million dollars to perform. Now that Vernon is back up to snuff, there's a new target - Lyle Overbay.

For the life of me though, I can't quite understand why he's receiving the brunt of the blow. When all is said and done, Overbay will take his $7 million from this year and sail off into the sunset of impeding free agency. It's not like he's exactly robbing the Blue Jays blind.

When all is said and done, Lyle Overbay and the Blue Jays will go their separate ways at the end of the season. So even if he does continue to hit poorly, the Jays aren't doomed to have a first baseman hitting below the Mendoza Line for the next five years.

If Lyle Overbay continues on this path, Cito Gaston is going to have an increasingly tough time defending his strategy to keep running their first baseman out there game after game. There comes a point in time where you have to consider some options.

Yes, Brett Wallace is tearing it up in Las Vegas. He's hit 11 home runs and his batting average is parked north of .300. He is the future first baseman of this franchise and will come up and swing tree trunks and park balls in the upper deck of the Rogers Centre.

That being said, it's still not time to call in the cavalries ... just yet.

Why call up Wallace now when you're essentially helping him earn Super Two status in a year where the Jays will still be lucky to finish with a winning record anyway? Overbay's slump is not worth bringing up Brett Wallace prematurely and jeopardizing his service time.

Understandably, the fans need someone to vent on and blame when things start going wrong, and this year it just so happens to be Lyle Overbay. Continue to whip him all you want ... but he's not going anywhere, folks.

So whip it ... whip it good.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Jose Bautista BAS-towed with AL Player of the Week honours

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I think we just might have converted some people to join the Bautista Appreciation Society.

According to super sleuth reporter Jordan Bastian, none other than the Blue Jays own Jose Bautista has been named the American League Player of the Week.

It was an incredible past week for Bautista, in which he clubbed four home runs, drove in eight runs, and drew five walks en route to an OPS of 1.676.

One could very easily write these numbers off as an anomaly, because who would've ever guessed that Jose Bautista would ever be named the Player of the Week?

In the meantime ... fellow BAS members, let's enjoy this day and celebrate it as a national holiday for all those who appreciate the often under-appreciated Blue Jays utility man.

And thanks to my good friend eyebleaf, we have the official slogan for the Bautista Appreciation Society: "Don't hate, appreciate".

The sun came out for Morrow

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There is nothing Brandon Morrow would've liked more than to forget his last outing where he made it through less than two innings.

Yesterday's start against the Texas Rangers was one way to put it behind him for good.

In the warmth of the Sunday afternoon sun amongst 25,518 fans at the Rogers Centre, Brandon Morrow turned in a very respectable performance. Six innings, two earned runs, and eight strikeouts were a positive sign in what's been an up and down season for the young Blue Jays starter thus far.

The Texas Rangers outhit the Blue Jays nine to three, but the Blue Jays three hits were very timely. Most of all, John Buck's three run double in the bottom of the fourth inning.

I have to say, when John Buck hit that ball, I was thinking grand slam all the way. Then I noticed Buck hold up at second base and twirl his fingers in the air as though asking the umps "did that clear the fence?"

So the boys in black quickly galloped below the dugout for what seemed like the quickest replay decision ever, indicating it was in fact a double. What confused me at first was, if the ball hit the overhang, shouldn't it have been scored a ground rule double?

Don't get me wrong - I'm not complaining, because if that was the case, Bautista would've been held up at third base and it only would've been a two run double.

Then of course, Jose Bautista hit his tenth home run of the season to tack on an insurance run. That now ties Bautista for the club lead along with Alex Gonzalez and Vernon Wells.

Bautista was on his game last year  when he hit ten home runs in the month of September. Now here we are mid-May and the Bautista Appreciation Society is growing and growing by the day. Don't worry, I'm working on the official membership t-shirts.

It seems like each time I go to the ballpark, he's getting bigger and bigger pops from the fans. He was a relative unknown in this city last year, and know Jose Bautista is making a name for himself here in Toronto.

All in all, a great series for the Blue Jays and it's always great when you get to sweep the visitor out of town. Next up, the Minnesota Twins!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Rick Diculous

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Image courtesy of Daylife
If I could summarize Ricky Romero's start in one word? Ridiculous.
In two words? Rick Diculous.

I thought it couldn't get any better than Ricky Romero's 12-strikeout performance back on April 13th against the Chicago White Sox. Boy, was I wrong.

RR Cool Jay turned out the best start of his young career: a complete game, five hit shutout performance.

Somewhere, Roy Halladay is smiling.

Romero was dialed in from first to last pitch, feeding the Texas Rangers a steady diet of changeups all afternoon. Of his 12 strikeouts, nine were via the changeup (strikeout data below).

Strikeout Victim Pitch Type Situation
M.Young Changeup 1-2 Count
J. Hamilton Changeup 0-2 Count
V. Guerrero Changeup 1-2 Count
M. Trenor Changeup 0-2 Count
E. Andrus Changeup 3-2 Count
M. Young Changeup 1-2 Count
J. Hamilton Changeup 2-2 Count
A. Blanco Curveball 0-2 Count
J.Hamilton Fastball 1-2 Count
N. Cruz Curveball 2-2 Count
M. Young Changeup 0-2 Count
J. Hamilton Changeup 0-2 Count
Both Michael Young and Josh Hamilton had an extremely tough time trying to figure out Romero's bread and butter pitch. Young struck out three times, and Josh Hamilton earned a golden sombrero with four strikeouts.

One of the most incredible stats of the game which you won't see on the boxscore (courtesy of Jordan Bastian), Romero threw one ball or fewer to 24 of the 32 batters he faced.

Ricky did an incredible job of getting ahead in the count, and one he had two strikes on the hitter, it was basically over. The Rangers swung over top of the changeup the entire game, and that's why they only collected five hits, all for singles.

Congratulations to Ricky Romero on one of, if not the best pitching performance by a Blue Jays starter this season.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Blue Jays are swinging for the fences

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If it seems like the Toronto Blue Jays are hacking away at pitches more than any other team in the majors, it's because they are.

Check out this data courtesy of Fangraphs, which ranks the Blue Jays as one of the top teams who whiff at pitches whenever or wherever they can.

Strikeouts against: 308 (2nd in MLB)
Pitches swung at outside the strike zone: 30.9 % (1st in MLB)
Pitches swung at inside the strike zone: 68.2 % (2nd in MLB)

Contact made on pitches outside the strike zone: 59.5 % (29th in MLB)
Contact made on pitches inside the strike zone: 86 % (28th in MLB)
Total contact made: 77.1 % (29th in MLB)

The fact that the Blue Jays are one of the most swing-happy teams in the majors isn't what freaks me out. What is troubling is that their contact rate is one of the lowest in baseball.

It's one thing if the Jays lineup was comprised of nine Vladimir Guerrero's. Out of all the hitters in baseball, Vladdy swings at the most pitches off the plate. However, he makes contact with those pitches 71.4 percent of the time, often for bloop singles which fielders have a tough time reading.

And just in case you were wondering, Alex Gonzalez ranked third in MLB for swinging at pitches outside the strike zone at 43.8 percent of the time.

I had a sneaking suspicion that Gonzalez has been swinging all over the place, and these stats confirm his insatiable hunger for pitches off the plate.

Hat tip to Bredan Wiese (@bwiese16) for the heads up and Fangraphs for all the statistics.

Acid Flashback Friday: Todd Stottlemyre's Bloody Chin

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Long before Curt Schilling made it heroic to pitch with a bloody appendage in the World Series, Todd Stottlemyre was the original pioneer of visible post-season battle scars.

For this week's Acid Flashback Friday, we take a trip back to revisit Todd Stottlemyre's bloody chin from Game Four of the 1993 World Series.

How did it get bloody you ask? Well, it wasn't due to some super rough stock trading, and it wasn't because John Kruk rubbed his face up against him (although that would probably do it).

The Toronto Blue Jays starting pitchers were at a severe disadvantage once the series shifted to Philadelphia and the National League rules.

However, in his first at bat of his major league career, Stottlemyre started off the top of the second inning of Game Four with a lead off walk, hoping one of his teammates would bring him home.

Maybe Todd was a little anxious because on a two-out single up the middle from Roberto Alomar, instead of holding up at second base, Stottlemyre ignored the signs from the third base coach Carlos Tosca and tried to leg it out and go first to third on the play.

The Phillies successfully hit the cutoff man, and Stottlemyre was thrown out by a mile. To add insult to injury, Stottlemyre slid head first into the third base bag, and somehow ended up scraping his chin on the play.

Subsequently, he came out the next inning with a blood-covered chin.Stottlemyre didn't fare very well the next inning, and surrendered four runs to the Phillies, giving them a 7-6 lead.

That would be all for Todd Stottlemyre that night, and it was not kind to pitchers at all. Of course, the Blue Jays would go on to eventually win 15-14 in the highest scoring game in post-season history.

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

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Roster Cuts: Who gets the axe next?

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Ordinarily, getting two players off the disabled list would be a very welcome addition. It's like a weight lifted off the shoulders of a ballclub by getting back two of their starting players.

The Toronto Blue Jays have an interesting conundrum, however. Their replacements are outperforming the replacees. With Edwin Encarnacion and Brian Tallet coming off the disabled list  very soon, that means the Blue Jays must clear two roster spots.

If not for salary commitments (Tallet at $2 million, Encarnacion at $4.75 million), I'd be inclined to leave both of them down in Las Vegas until they are really needed. Unfortunately, it seems like such a waste to not have them on the 25-man roster at this point in the season.

It's like the Blue Jays slasher flick ... two players must go, so which ones get the axe?

Casey Janssen

It's been a long road to recovery for the former Jays setup man. Janssen had a bad streak of three consecutive appearances in late April, but has more or less turned it around in his last four appearances in May.

Janssen's K/9 is up this season, yet so is his BB/9. It probably wouldn't be a bad idea to send him back down to Las Vegas to
                      work on his control. Besides, Jeremy Accardo and Jesse Carlson
                      need some company down there.

Rommie Lewis

Rommie, buddy. Listen, I loved your story about how you came up through the minor leagues. I enjoy your unique name and your parents seem like good people.

Unfortunately, as the new guy, you are the most dispensable member of the bullpen. With one lefty replacing another, that eliminates the need for Cito's token second left-hander.

Dana Eveland

Speaking of unique names, here's one who I often confuse with the President of the UFC. Dana Eveland came storming out of the gate to start the season, but now he's cooled off and his ERA has ballooned up to 4.81.

Personally, I would give him one more chance to see what Eveland has left in the tank, otherwise Brian Tallet might be
                      back in the fifth starter's spot.

Mike McCoy

He is the manager's dream player - Mike McCoy can play almost any position, he can run, and apparently makes a wicked omelette. That being said, Cito Gaston has a tough time fitting McCoy into games now that Aaron Hill is (somewhat) healthy.

Although a far better choice to pinch run than John McDonald, aside from that ... Mike McCoy's role on the bench is
                      severely limited. Maybe it's better to just let him go get some
                      regular playing time in Las Vegas.

Randy Ruiz

This one pains me the most. Prior to the start of the season, I was so excited to finally see Randy Ruiz get some regular playing time and was hoping this would be his breakout season.

Then Cito committed to using Lyle Overbay as the starting first baseman and Adam Lind as the everyday DH, and that plan was completely shot down.

Ruiz has flashed moments of greatness this season, but the real problem is that his playing assignments are so few are far between that it's difficult to tell if he will ever get more than a handful of at bats every few weeks.

For Ruiz to solidify his spot on the roster, he really needs to deliver when called upon to pinch hit or fill in at first base.

The problem is that it seems like he's swinging for the fences each time because he knows that at bat could very well be his last. I hate to say it, but freedom for Randy Ruiz could be fleeting.

What do you think? Which guys do you think will get cut to make room for Brian Tallet and Edwin Encarnacion?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Shaun of the Red Sox

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Stellar pitching, and just enough offense to hold off the opposition: that was the recipe for success today against the Boston Red Sox.

Shaun Marcum carved up the Red Sox, which may or may not have been aided by a trapezoid-shaped strike zone. With just two hits scattered across seven shutout innings, Marcum has now given up three or less earned runs and pitched at least six innings in all but one of his starts this season.

He has given a better than quality start performance in seven out of eight starts. Slowly but surely, Shaun Marcum is earning his "ace" title.

And who could forget about Travis Snider? He drove in all three of the Blue Jays runs, hanging around in the zone long enough to hit the game-winning home run of Tim Wakefield, plus a double for good measure.

I think it's safe to say that whatever worries we had about Travis Snider have now all but vanished. Now if Snider could just spread some of that magic pixie dust on Aaron Hill, Adam Lind and Lyle Overbay, the Blue Jays would be all set.

No Answer for Dice-K

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If there's one thing I've learned from this road trip, it's never completely count out the Toronto Blue Jays. However, after last night's loss to the Boston Red Sox by five runs, I think it's safe to say that streak is over.

Daisuke Matsuzaka had his best start of the season and Dana Eveland had one of his worst. It may have been his demons at Fenway Park, but Eveland's ERA of 18.24 at Fenway Park didn't work in his favour whatsoever.

The only ones who could solve Dice-K were Fred Lewis and John Buck. When there is such a big gap like that in lineup between hitters who have success against said pitcher, it's nearly impossible to score runs.

Now the Blue Jays will look to Shaun Marcum to put a halt to the five game losing streak against the Red Sox this season. Who stands in their way? Tim Wakefield.

And we all remember what happened last time the Jays faced Wakefield in May at Fenway Park. I just hope the boys do their homework.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

It's O-Phil-Cial: G20 Summit trumps Blue Jays/Phillies series

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Fans in Toronto hoping of catching a glimpse of Roy Halladay this June will have to wait at least another season to see him return home.

The Toronto Star and the Fan590 are reporting that there will be an official announcement later this afternoon indicating that the series originally scheduled to take place at the Rogers Centre in Toronto will shift to Citizen's Bank Park in Philadelphia.

It sounds like there would have been too much security around the perimeter of the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, which could have not only halted traffic, but Go Trains as well. Even if the series stayed in Toronto, it would have been a clusterf*ck to get to the Rogers Centre.

An ordinary 30 minute commute to the Dome would have probably taken double the time, and would possibly involve security checkpoints, pat downs, etc. And that's even BEFORE you get to the Rogers Centre.

It's disappointing that this series has been moved to another city, but I feel bad for the season ticket holders who now only have access to 78 home games instead of 81. Does that mean they get free tickets to the series in Philadelphia? It makes sense, right ... since Toronto will technically be the "home" team in that series.

And what about the folks who have already purchased tickets for that weekend? It's unfair to pull the rug from underneath them like that, and I hope the Blue Jays have some way of compensating them.

In the meantime, I'm sure the wheels are in motion for a road trip to Philadelphia. Unfortunately, I didn't have a wedding to go to that weekend, I'd be all over it.

Or to make this easier for everyone, any chance that Stephen Harper and Barack Obama can get together convince the rest of the world leaders to reschedule the G20 Summit? They're the President and Prime Minister - if any one has pull, it's them!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Blue Jays/Phillies series could move to Philly

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Not even a couple of weeks after I had finally figured out that Roy Halladay might be starting in one of the games in Toronto this coming June, now it turns out that series might not be in Toronto after all.

The Fightins reported earlier today that there were rumblings the June 25th-27th series originally scheduled to take place in Toronto could be shifted to Philadelphia due to the G20 Summit.

Phillies beat writer Todd Zolecki also wrote on the possibility of the change in venue. He spoke with Katy Feeney, MLB's Senior VP of Scheduling and Club Relations and basically she could not confirm or deny whether the series will be in Philadelphia or Toronto.

Things are still up in the air at this point, but I find it hard to believe that the G20 Summit might be wreaking so much havoc with the Blue Jays schedule that it would cause them to move baseball games to an entirely different city.

There is still a possibility either the Friday June 25th or Sunday June 27th game could be canceled, which would lead the way for a day/night double-header to be played on Saturday June 26th.

Stay tuned for updates as they become available.

Fred Lewis: the Heroic Momma's Boy

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"A burst of energy came out of nowhere when I saw those guys out there on base and I knew I just had to hit the ball somewhere,"
After yesterday's Mother's Day heroics ... honestly, how could you not love Fred Lewis?

In his post game interview with Rogers Sportsnet, he's so humble and so likable that Jays fans across the country probably wish they could adopt Lewis as their own son.

Fred Lewis is genuinely excited to play for the Blue Jays, and it shows in this interview. That that newly acquired faces like Alex Gonzalez,Bengie Jose Molina and Kevin Gregg aren't excited to be a part of this team, but you get the sense from Fred Lewis like he truly belongs in a Blue Jays uniform.

Toronto was in desperate need of a true lead-off hitter, and during the second week of the season, Fred Lewis appeared from the heavens like angel with wheels ready to save the Blue Jays.

The best part of it all? Alex Anthopoulous didn't even have to give anybody up to acquire Fred Lewis - just cash. After watching other teams delve out millions and millions of dollars to free agents, it's a nice change to see someone like Fred Lewis garner some recognition and get a second chance at success.

I have a feeling we're going to see that modest smile of his for a long time to come.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Lazy Sunday Links: Mother's Day Edition

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The pink bats will be in full effect today which means - Happy Mother's Day!

True story related to baseball and my mom - when I was younger, I was so rabid for anything to do with baseball that she was willing to take me to see "A League Of Her Own" in the theatres.

It may have been a questionable film to go see for a young nine year old boy, but I thank my mom for supporting my love for the game of baseball ... even if it meant taking me to see a movie starring Geena Davis.

Elsewhere in the blogosphere ...

Our friend Eyebleaf from Sports and the City continues on his adventure to visit all 30 Major League Ballparks in 60 days with "Stealing Home". Earlier this week, he visited the ivy at the famed Wrigley Field. Lesson learned: you need a Canadian passport to buy beer at Wrigley Field.

Speaking of cheesetastic baseball movies and the Cubbies, did you know that scenes from the film "Rookie of the Year" were shot at Wrigley Field? Again, more useless baseball trivia you will only find at The Blue Jay Hunter!

I swear, this kind of stuff will come in use one day when that is the question on Final Jeopardy or the one million dollar question on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?

Who ever thought that it would be fashion conscious to wear a Blue Jays hat? The Globe and Mail reports that Blue Jays caps are one of the best selling lids in New York City, even outselling the hometown New York Mets.

They say it has to do large in part to Drake's cover in Vibe Magazine and some outtakes released by them from recent photoshoot featuring the Degrassi star turned rapper with one of the Cooperstown Blue Jays cap.

Lastly, you probably saw the hilarious video of Bruce Drennan ripping on the Cleveland Indians earlier this week. In the video below, I took the liberty of editing all the OH!'s together in this Bruce Drennan remix.

For those counting, it was 16 OH!'s in approximately 5 minutes.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Going, going, Gone-zalez

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Image courtesy of Daylife
Chicks dig the long ball - and apparently, so do the Toronto Blue Jays.

Thanks to three home runs last night off the bats of John Buck and the game-winner from Alex Gonzalez, the Blue Jays now have 46 total home runs as a team - the most in the majors.

In this week's MLB Power Rankings on SI.com, Joe Lemire stated "Toronto boasts the game's most powerful offense".

While I don't think that's necessarily true, the Jays do have a lot of hitters who could go yard at any time. When it comes to a lineup full of hitters who have a lot of home run potential, it's a huge game-changer that can be employed at any time.

It's almost like the Blue Jays have taken the mojo out of the sails of the Boston Red Sox, who up until this season had a lineup of hitters with a tonne of pop in their bats.

Aside from one run walked in by Mark Buehrle, the Jays scored 6 out of 7 runs in last night's victory over the White Sox via the home run. All of Chicago's runs were thanks to the long ball, courtesy of Mark Kotsay, Alex Rios, and A.J. Pierzynski.

With last night's win, the Blue Jays are now 11-4 on the road and are riding a six-game win streak. If they keep this up, I hope they never come home!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Blue Jays delving out frustrating losses

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Usually, it's been the Blue Jays who have been suffering from late-inning collapses. Lately, they have been the ones delving out the frustrating losses.

I know this is a couple of days after the fact, but listen to Bruce Drennan's rant from Sports Time Ohio on the Cleveland Indians late-inning loss to the Blue Jays back on Wednesday.

See if you can count how many times he says "AHHHH" followed by a facepalm. It probably makes for a great drinking game.

Speaking of which, if you've got a couple of dilapidated tall cans left over from Labour Day 2009 sitting in the back of the fridge, why not turn on tonight's Blue Jays/White Sox game and join me for tonight's live blog on The Score?

It kicks off around 8pm, Shaun Marcum goes for his second win of the season versus Mark Buehrle.

Hat tip to Chris Jackson aka pcj3 for the link to the video.

Flashback Friday: Lloyd Moseby steals second base twice in one play

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Swiping second base twice in one play - it sounds like the kind of move only Willy Mayes Hayes would have the stones to pull off.

For this week's Acid Flashback Friday, we take a look at a very unique occurrence on the field involving Lloyd Moseby: stealing second base twice ... on the same play.

Moseby did what only few (if any) have done before him. Not much is known of the exact game when it happened, but there is more on this story courtesy of his Baseball Reference Bullpen page:
Once, in a game against the White Sox, he successully stole second base, and the throw from the catcher went into centerfield.

However, shortstop Ozzie Guillen faked him out by acting as if the ball had been popped up. Thinking that he was about to be doubled off of first, he ran back there instead of taking the extra base.

The center fielder threw in to first - and the ball went into the dugout. Moseby made it back safely to second, having run 270 feet to go 90 feet.
Since it's kind of difficult to envision the above scenario are there aren't any videos readily available, enjoy the Animated GIF below which is a re-enactment of Lloyd Moseby's incredible double steal of second base.

(Click image to start)
Actually, Callum from Mop Up Duty let me know there is some footage of the play on Youtube. Check this out in case the Animated Gif didn't do the play justice.

Thanks to Blue Jays Hip for this week's suggestion for Acid Flashback Friday. If you have anything you'd like to see from Blue Jays yesterday, feel free to email bluejayhunter@gmail.com.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Olé!

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In honour of Cinco de Mayo, I'd like to personally thank Cleveland Indians shortstop Luis Valbuena for turning what should have been a game-ending ground out, and helping spark the Blue Jays 4-3 comeback win. Olé to you, sénor!

It could very well have been a tribute to Roger Dorn from Major League, but the Blue Jays will take whatever lucky bounces they can get because it seems like the past few seasons, the Baseball Gods haven't been kind to the Jays in close games.

Happy Cinco de Mayo, and once again ... Olé!

Jose Bautista's on Fire

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By now you probably know about my borderline worrisome obsession with Blue Jays utility man, Jose Bautista. Although he's not a flashy player who intimidates the opposition, Bautista has more than lived up to expectations (however small they might have been to start the season).

Now in the midst of a hot streak since being moved down in the lineup, Bautista has been killin' it.

In a combined 15 games split between the six and seven spot in the lineup, Jose has collected 13 base hits, 9 of which have been for extra bases. Hell, he hasn't been drawing many walks, but that really doesn't matter when Bautista is doing a phenomenal job of driving in runs.

I think more or less, the Bautista Leadoff Experiment ultimately accomplished what it was supposed to do: get Jose on base so Aaron Hill and Adam Lind could bring Bautista home. He was hitting .188 in the leadoff spot, but drew 11 walks which would ultimately lead to him crossing the plate 7 times.

The Jose Bautista issue has been a point of contention between myself and Drew at Ghostrunner on First. He is a firm believer that hot Aprils and Septembers are irrelevant, and that the stats between May and August are what really matter.

I on the other hand am happy with any sort of surge of offense, regardless of which horrible pitchers (ex. Jeremy Guthrie) or at what point in the season it happens.

In Bautista's defense, we're already a full four days into the month and he's hit two home runs. Jose didn't hit his second home run of the season until June 28th last year - now with six in total, Bautista is well on his way to surpassing last year's totals.

Is Jose Bautista the real deal? Only time will tell. In the meantime, let's enjoy his hot streak and hope that it continues through the season. Boom-shaka-laka!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Is there such thing as Heckler Etiquette?

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Dear Mr. Dork,

Here is your ball! Can you please tell me what gas station you work at so I can come and yell at you when you're working? Please sit down, shut up and enjoy the game.

From your favorite centre fielder, Vernon Wells.
The above baseball will forever remain as one of the funniest stories in heckling history. For once, the hecklee became the heckler when Vernon Wells turned the tables on a fan a couple years ago in Cleveland.

It made for a great story, but often times players are not as good-natured and willing to take a ribbing as Vernon Wells was.

The Grill Room tweeted yesterday asking to hear about stories from fans who have had experiences at the Rogers Centre where they felt they might have been censored by Rogers Centre staff.

It's a topic that's been gaining momentum in recent weeks especially with the dip in attendance this year, and I recall hearing someone on Jays Talk last Monday mentioning how one of the ushers asked him to be quiet after heckling Daniel Bard in the Red Sox bullpen.

It begs the question - is there such thing as heckler etiquette?

Heckling has existed as long as fans have been in the stands, so what is deemed appropriate to yell at the ballpark, and what isn't? Aside from the obvious no-no's, what is deemed fair game?

In the situation of the Jays Talk caller above, I can see why the staff at the Rogers Centre would ask him to be quiet. The players in the bullpen are trying to get their head in the game, and it's hard to get focused with somebody standing a few rows away bellowing your last name over and over again.

On that same token, I'm also sure the hitters in the batter's box are expecting that same respect from the fans before they step up to the plate.

Take the video below as an example. Would you consider this fan's actions out of line?



It's one thing to be belligerent and have total disregard for the players and fellow fans around you. There are certain things that are intolerable at the ballpark, and I think we can all agree on what is and isn't appropriate.

Personally, if this guy was sitting in my section, it would get old after about five minutes - but I wouldn't have his ass hauled away just because he was yelling "focus" to Evan Longoria. After all, this heckler is trying to help the home team win, so he has the Blue Jays best interests at heart.

If in fact fans are in fact being removed from games for spouting off some good natured ribbing to opposing players, it seems like overkill to me. I don't see why it's an issue for them to speak their mind.

It's the fans that are the ones who are contributing to the salaries of the players (albeit not the opposition's salaries), but I think they have every right to be there and voice their opinion.

If the shoe were on the other foot though , I don't think I'd take very well to Vernon Wells showing up to my place of work and heckling me while I tried to focus at work on Minesweeper and Brick Breaker.

And I think we just inadvertently created next year's Blue Jays television commercials ...

Monday, May 3, 2010

The Rules For Watching A No-Hitter (AKA No-Hit Club)

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If things stay the course, one of these days a Blue Jays starter is going to toss a no-hitter.

For the fourth time since the beginning of the season, a Blue Jay starter made it through six innings without surrendering a single hit.

So just in case it happens again in the near future, I thought I'd lay down some ground rules just in case. Here are the rules of No-Hit Club:

1.) The first rule of No-Hit Club is you do not talk about a no-hitter.

2.) The second rule of No-Hit Club is seriously ... do not talk about a no-hitter (that means you, Buck Martinez and Alan Ashby).

3.) Do not mention how the opposing team has a zero in the column which is situated between runs and errors.

4.) You are allowed to think positive thoughts, but try your best not to verbalize any of them. Save the celebrations for after the twenty-seventh out.

5.) If you started watching or listening to a no-hitter, you must keep watching or listening to the game throughout said no-hitter. One wouldn't want to upset the Baseball Gods.

Business as usual for Halladay

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Some things change, and some things stay the same.

In the case of Roy Halladay, his address has changed, the team he plays for has changed, yet everything else is is pretty much business as usual.

A solid candidate for National League player of the month, Doc posted a 5-1 record with a 1.47 ERA, 5 walks, and 39 strikeouts. While Halladay is not only the talk of the National League, his first six starts last year were very eerily similar:

2009: 5-1, 3.75 ERA, 5 BB, 38 K's, 44 IP
2010: 5-1, 1.47 ERA, 4 BB, 39 K's, 49 IP

As expected, Doc is having great success mowing down National League hitters - surrendering nine less earned runs and six less hits this season compared to this same point in 2009.

So why is it that Roy Halladay is having near carbon copy seasons, yet he's receiving much more attention as a Philadelphia Phillie?

For one, in the American League everyone was fixated on Zack Greinke for the first half and unfortunately Doc played second fiddle to him for the better part of the season.

Then of course, Roy Halladay has all this added pressure of being the new ace for the back to back National League Champion Philadelphia Phillies. Although there may be dozens and dozens of more cameras watching his every move, it doesn't seem to phase Halladay one bit.

Even with all the added pressure and scrutiny, it seems like Doc only displays one of two emotions every time he takes the hill for the Phillies: win or secretly be pissed when he loses.

Oddly enough, his facial expressions are the exact same no matter what the outcome.
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