Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Bautista Bomb Shirts Now On Sale!

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First it was Meats Don't Clash, now your second favourite Blue Jays meme of the season has been made into a T-Shirt!

Check out the brand new "Bautista Bomb" T-Shirts now available in The Blue Jay Hunter T-Shirt Shop. There are several different versions, and you can choose from either a white or black logo.

They may not be the Bautista Appreciation Society shirts that I've been telling you guys about all season, but unfortunately this is probably the closest we're going to come to making a BAS shirt for the masses.

If you don't see what you're looking for, just drop me an email and let me know and I'll post the style or size you're looking for. Get yours today!

Scott Richmond Gets the Call to Las Vegas

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Looks like this was a bit of a belated birthday present as Scott Richmond's birthday was yesterday, but looks like he's been called up from New Hampshire to Triple A Las Vegas.

Scott Richmond will make the start tonight for the Las Vegas 51's on the road in Sacramento. Richmond made his final appearance for the Fisher Cats last Thursday going five innings while surrendering two earned runs but fanning eight.

He performed very well in two rehab starts down in Double A: 10 IP, 3 ER, 7 H, 0 BB and 14 K.

Originally it was thought that the Fisher Cats might hang onto Scott  Richmond to use for their playoff roster, but I guess the Blue Jays wanted to put him on the fast track back to the majors.

By starting this evening with the 51's, that puts Richmond on track to start next on Sunday against the Yankees if the Blue Jays do in fact call him up for a spot start.

One can imagine it's probably a coin flip right now between Scott Richmond and Brad Mills. Although, Brad Mills has had a bit of an extended break between starts as he hasn't pitched last in Las Vegas since August 17th.

It wouldn't be completely out of the question to see both Scott Richmond and Brad Mills called up tomorrow, but my gut tells me the move to call up Richmond from New Hampshire to Las Vegas means he's on track to start Sunday's game for the Blue Jays.

Either way, welcome back Scott and hopefully you'll be back in a Blue Jays uniform very soon!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Dave Stieb Bobblehead Day Review

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I'm someone who truly believes in order to know where you're going, you have to know where you've been.

Even though Richard Griffin reported there was descention from players in the clubhouse last year regarding Flashback Fridays, personally I think it's important to acknowledge and respect the accomplishments from the past.

For the Toronto Blue Jays and fans alike, yesterday was a time to honour the accomplishments of perhaps the best starting pitcher this franchise has ever seen. None other than number 37, Dave Stieb.

On paper it was billed as Dave Stieb Bobblehead day, but it was surprisingly much more than that. Basically, it was a full-out tribute to the 20th Anniversary of Stieb's no-hitter on September 2nd 1990, and I was surprised it wasn't advertised as such.

Either way, it was great to see a mini-reunion of sorts with Jesse Barfield, Duane Ward, Tony Fernandez and Pat Hentgen all in attendance to pay tribute to Dave Stieb.

For those who couldn't make it down to the Rogers Centre, I urge you to check out the entire on-field tribute as well as the video package the Blue Jays made to honour Dave Stieb. Honestly, it's tough to watch this and not tear up just a little bit.

In my mind, the best part of the entire ceremony was when Shaun Marcum, Ricky Romero, Brandon Morrow and Brett Cecil presented Dave Stieb with the portrait made by Vernon Wells Sr.

It signified a passing of the torch from one era of starting pitchers to another. And aside from one man named Harry Leroy Halladay, I truly believe the next Dave Stieb is in that core four of starting pitchers ... but I'm not sure which one it is just yet.

Aside from the game itself, here's the only complaint I have: the inaccuracy of the Dave Stieb bobblehead. If you look carefully, he's wearing a home white-paneled cap and a road grey jersey.

Didheley on Twitter also pointed out that Dave Stieb is wearing a road grey jersey that says "Blue Jays" when in fact the Blue Jays have never had a road jersey that said anything other than "Toronto" on the front. It's minor nitpicking, but as a self-appointed bobblehead aficionado, you tend to pick up on these things.

Overall, it was a great day to pay tribute to Dave Stieb and it's hard to believe it's already been 20 years since his no-hitter happened. Let's hope it doesn't take another 20 years for the next Blue Jays no-hitter to come along.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Aaron Hill's Rule For Walk-Offs: Hold Your Helmet

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After being demoted to the eight spot in the lineup, it was great to see Aaron Hill come up with the clutch hit in extra innings to secure the walk-off win.

Not only that, but the Blue Jays have secured three walk-off victories this season and Hill has been responsible for driving in the winning run in two of them.

While Hill is faring a little better at the plate these past few games, I continue to notice a disturbing trend that arises during these walk-offs: Aaron Hill will refuses to let go of his helmet.

Exhibit A: August 30th versus the Detroit Tigers

Exhibit B: June 5th versus the New York Yankees

Exhibit C: September 22nd versus the Baltimore Orioles

Not only does Aaron Hill have the look on his face like he just unwrapped a Nintendo 64 for Christmas, he's clutching onto his helmet as though it were an N64 ... even as his teammates mob him in celebration.

I can't remember exactly where I saw it (could have been Jays Connected), but there was a segment about walk-off win etiquette, and apparently there is always one person who is designated as the helmet catcher.

So someone please tell Aaron Hill that it's perfectly acceptable to toss your helmet away in jubilation when celebrating a walk-off win.

Images courtesy of Daylife via AP and Reuters

Friday, August 27, 2010

Acid Flashback Friday: Dave Stieb's No-Hitter

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Many Blue Jays have come close, but only one starter in franchise history has gone where nobody else did before and has ever since.

As we approach the 20th anniversary of one of the most memorable Blue Jays pitching performances, this week for Acid Flashback Friday we take a look back at Dave Stieb's no-hitter.

For many years, the no-hitter eluded Dave Stieb similar to how Moby Dick eluded the great Captain Ahab. Steib was no stranger to being extremely close to retiring 27 hitters in a game without a single hit. Within a span of two seasons, Dave Stieb threw five one-hit complete games.

In his final two starts of the 1988 season, Dave Stieb carried a no-hitter into the ninth inning and needed to retire just one more batter to pick up the no-hitter.

The following year in 1989 against the New York Yankees in front of the hometown crowd at the Skydome, it would happen again in heartbreaking fashion as Stieb actually had a perfect game after 26 batters.

Finally on September 2nd 1990, Dave Stieb harpooned the great white whale which had haunted him his entire career. He decisively took care of the Cleveland Indians on the road at Cleveland Stadium. Stieb struck out nine, walked four, and gave up no hits.

Incredibly, Stieb's no-hitter was the ninth of the 1990 season which was a modern day record. Though many starters have flirted with no-no's, Stieb's still stands as the only one in Blue Jays history.

In a way, I'm very glad this pitching performance is being immortalized in the form of a commemorative bobblehead, but I think there needs to be some sort of Dave Stieb bronze statue standing outside the Rogers Centre (not unlike the proposed Roberto Alomar statue).

For more background info, check out this MLB Network Remembers video saluting Dave Stieb's no-hitter.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Quintessential Blue Jay Is ...

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Every Toronto Blue Jay that takes the field today has a name and a number on the back of their jersey. While it's a formality to keep all the players organized, there are some players where you don't even have to look at their jersey to know they're a Toronto Blue Jay.

Last week, I asked folks to name their quintessential Toronto Blue Jay player. This is somebody who personifies what it means to play in Toronto, and the instant you think of that player you immediately associate it with the Toronto Blue Jays.

I'd like to thank everybody for taking the time to vote and especially to those folks who included some supporting evidence for their favourite player. I have to say, there were some very convincing arguments out there, but ultimately it came down to number of votes.

So without further adieu, let's count down our top five quintessential Blue Jays starting with number five.

5.) Roy Halladay (11 % of the vote)

Seasons/Games Played as a Blue Jay: 12 seasons, 339 games
Awards: Cy Young Award Winner, 6 Time All-Star
Accolades: Holds franchise record for most wins as a starter in a single season (22 in 2003)

He's only been gone for eight months, but that doesn't mean the legend of Roy Halladay won't live on forever in the city of Toronto. Through 12 seasons with the Blue Jays, Doc showed he was the consummate professional and true leader for this ball club.

Here's what one voter had to say about Roy Halladay:
"An important factor for me is that he is a homegrown talent. He exemplifies everything it means to be a Blue Jay - class, intensity, dedication and work ethic.

While their are others on this list who have had shining moments in a Blue Jays uniform (ie Joe Carter and Robbie Alomar) their time with the team successful, but short lived.

There are some names on this list that I might feel differently about had I been old enough to really appreciate their contributions to the team's early years - but for me if there is an entry in the dictionary to define Blue Jay, Halladay's picture is right there."
Doc's commitment to the franchise and to his craft is what made him so likable, and he's the perfect embodiment of what it meant to be a player that wore the Blue Jays uniform in the modern era.

4.) Tony Fernandez (12 % of the vote)

Seasons/Games Played as a Blue Jay: 12 seasons, 1450 games
Awards: 4 Time All-Star, 4 Time Gold Glove Winner, World Series Champion
Accolades: Holds franchise record for most games played (1450), most hits (1583)

How can you think of the Toronto Blue Jays without thinking of Tony Fernandez? As a player who logged time during four separate tours with the Blue Jays, Fernandez holds the franchise records in many different categories - notably games played and total hits.

Out of all the candidates, voters were perhaps most passionate about Tony Fernandez. Here are a few quotes from their supporting evidence:
"The beginning of the Tony Fernandez era was the beginning of winning baseball in Toronto. He represents what attracted so many people to the Jays in the first place. He helped this city fall in love with baseball with flair and fun in the field.

His sidearm throw across the diamond was money in the bank every time. Hailing from the Domincan Republic, Fernandez also represents Toronto as a prime example of a place for Latin baseball players to thrive and be celebrated."

"Who else provides a link between the teams of the 80's, the World Series years and the wilderness years of the late nineties The fact that Tony seemed to save his best hitting years for his three different tour of duties with the Jays cements him in my mind as the quintessential Blue Jay."

3.) Dave Stieb (15 % of the vote)

Seasons/Games Played as a Blue Jay: 15 seasons, 439 games
Awards: 7 Time All-Star, World Series Champion
Accolades: Holds franchise record for most wins (175), strikeouts (1658), complete games (103)

If Tony Fernandez is the quintessential Blue Jays positional player, then Dave Stieb is unquestionably the quintessential Blue Jays pitcher. Stieb played all but four of his 443 career games in the Blue Jays uniform.

Plagued by injuries later in his career, Stieb went into pseudo retirement following the 1993 season, but at 40 years old returned to the Blue Jays one more time in the year 2000.

Having come up through the Blue Jays system and debuting with the club just two years after the Blue Jays debuted as a Major League team in 1977, Stieb was there through thick and thin. He was there during the rock bottom years, but he was also there for those incredible highs.
"Stieb was here during the franchise's humble beginnings. He set the tone for a franchise that has always prided itself on pitching. Stieb was the Blue Jays for a long while. His no-hitter remains an immensely proud moment for the franchise. Most importantly, he was there through the good and bad times."

2.) Roberto Alomar (18 % of the vote)

Seasons/Games Played as a Blue Jay: 5 seasons, 703 games
Awards: 5 Time All-Star, 5 Time Gold Glove Winner, Silver Slugger, 1992 ALCS MVP, 2 Time World Series Champion
Accolades: Holds the franchise record for best batting average (.307)

Out of all the players who have dawned the Blue Jays logo, perhaps none of them are better than Roberto Alomar.

From the inception of his time in Toronto, Alomar immediately made his presence felt on the team by not only becoming one of the best second baseman in the league, but a threat at the plate as well.

Not even a traditional home run hitter, Alomar will arguably be best remembered for his game tying home run off Dennis Eckersley in Game Three of the 1992 ALCS.

Alomar's iconic pose standing just outside the batter's box with both fingers pointed in the air will forever remain as one of the greatest images in this franchise's history.

1.) Joe Carter (23 % of the vote)

Seasons/Games Played as a Blue Jay: 7 seasons, 1039 games
Awards: 5 Time All-Star, 2 Time Silver Slugger, 2 Time World Series Champion
Accolades: Posted 20 home runs or more in all 7 seasons with the Blue Jays 

Finally, we come to number one. And after many votes, the quintessential Blue Jay is none other than Joe Carter.

Most of us can just close our eyes and envision Carter's walk-off home run to end the 1993 World Series. It's one of those "where were you" moments that fans will talk about for decades to come.

Not only did Carter end the 1993 World Series, but he also caught the final out in the 1992 World Series playing first base. In both instances, the images of Joe Carter leaping in excitement are something that will be etched into fan's memories for a lifetime.

Oddly enough, we wouldn't even be talking about Joe Carter or Roberto Alomar if not for another Blue Jay on this list - Tony Fernandez. He was included with Fred McGriff in the infamous trade back in on December 5th 1990 to get both Carter and Alomar from the San Diego Padres.

With that trade, Pat Gillick helped shape the Blue Jays into a dynasty by passing the torch from McGriff and Fernandez to Alomar and Carter as the new faces of the franchise.

Joe Carter may not have been statistically the best hitter in Blue Jays history, but he was always at the right place at the right time. And that's why I'll always remember Joe Carter as the quintessential Blue Jay.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Intangibles, not PED's the Key to Jose Bautista's Success

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Image courtesy of Daylife and AP
Unquestionably, baseball is a game of numbers. No matter where you look, there is seemingly a statistic for every aspect of the game. Most of the time, the tale of the tape is in the boxscore. However, there are some things you won't find in the boxscore, Baseball Reference or FanGraphs.

Questions have been asked all season as to why a 29 year old career journeyman from the Dominican Republic named Jose Bautista is suddenly leading the major leagues in home runs.

Obviously the big things that have changed are his home run, RBI and walk totals. Aside from that, the only big difference is Bautista is keeping the ball off the ground and in the air much more to the tune of a 53.6 fly ball percentage compared to 42.1 last year.

Unfortunately, for a select few ... that's not enough of an explanation. In the modern era of baseball where the cloud of performance enhancing drugs looms over every player, an outlier season like this from Jose Bautista is going to raise a few red flags.

While analysis of the numbers may tell part of the story, the true reason for Bautista's success isn't buried within a bevy of baseball statistics. It's the immeasurable qualities or the intangible improvements to his game that have turned things around.

Take a few minutes and check out this fantastic piece by Frankie Piliere from MLB Fanhouse. It's basically the antithesis to another article posted on Sunday which insinuated Jose Bautista was using performance enhancing drugs.

In the piece by Piliere, he breaks down how Cito Gaston and hitting coach Dwayne Murphy retooled Bautista's swing mechanics last year - everything from his timing to his hand position on the bat.

Admittedly, I'm quick to judge Cito for some of his managerial decisions, but let's keep in mind he was a hitting coach for eight seasons. If there's one thing Cito Gaston knows, it's hitting.

One thing I definitely noticed in Jose Bautista's swing this year compared to others is you can certainly tell he's pulling the ball almost each and every time. Joe Lemire covered Bautista's pull-happy prominence earlier in the month over at Sports Illustrated.

I don't want to over-emphasize the importance of increased playing time, but I think that's another intangible that has done wonders for Jose Bautista. From a player's perspective, knowing you're going to start 150+ games probably gives a sense of stability.

We saw a contrary situation earlier in the year from Randy Ruiz. He had the potential to hit 30 or more home runs, but Randy's playing time was so few and far between that he was swinging at the fences in every at bat.

Had Ruiz been assured a full-time spot on the Blue Jays roster, perhaps things would have been different. Knowing you're playing at bat to at bat rather than game to game or week to week probably takes a toll a player's psyche.

Anyway, back to my point - combine that stability of increased playing time with a re-tooled swing and you have a recipe for success. And if you don't like that answer to "the question", then do like others and fabricate your own.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

All 40 Of Your Home Runs Are Belong To Bautista

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Image courtesy of Zoolander24
For a blogger like myself who depends so heavily on the power of the written word, honestly ... words almost can't describe what happened at the Rogers Centre last night.

With the Yankees in town, it was surprisingly packed for a weeknight game with the roof closed. Nonetheless, there was a playoff atmosphere at the Rogers Centre I haven't experienced since J.P. Arencibia's debut.

Thanks to The Man With the Golden Arm from 1 Blue Jays Way, we had a great bird's eye view of all the drama down on the field. Everything from Cito Gaston being tossed, to a near bench-clearing brawl, to a streaker who leapt on the field that had to be restrained by about 5-6 ushers.

I don't know if you guys believe in premonitions or not, but I had a feeling Jose Bautista was going to have a big night. Just take a look at this tweet from about 4 hours before game time. It's freaky to say the least:

Apparently, Jose Bautista was obliged by my request ... so thank you.

Bautista hits his 39th home run of the season off Ivan Nova in the third inning, does his best Neo impression by ducking a pitch thrown at his head in the sixth, then clubs his 40th home run ... the eventually game-winner off David Robertson in the bottom of the eighth.

Check out this amazing animated GIF of the home run courtesy of Bill from Crashburn Alley, which perfectly captures the swagger Bautista had when he stepped out of the batter's box.

As Jose Bautista single-handedly kept the Blue Jays in the game and Brandon Morrow struck out 12 batters through 6 innings, all I could think was "it can't get any better than this". The game continued to exceed my expectations every time, and was punctuated by that solo home run from Bautista.

There were a lot of reasons that game was memorable, and I'm just thankful I was fortunate to be in attendance to see the historic moment of Bautista's 39th and 40th home runs.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Bothered by Buchholz and Defending Bautista

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Slowly but surely, Clay Buchholz is getting under my skin.

First of all - dude, I get it ... you have a hot wife. Secondly, stop making the Blue Jays look bad, okay?

Clay Buchholz ran his streak to 21 consecutive innings against the Blue Jays without surrendering an earned run. He's now a perfect 3-0 in three starts versus the Blue Jays this year with a glimmering ERA of 1.00.

Shaun Marcum pitched well enough to win, but received absolutely no help whatsoever from his teammates. The tale of the tape says it all: Toronto was 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position and they stranded 10 men on base.

The entire nine innings, the Blue Jays only made it to third base once.

Gotta At Least Get Your Facts Straight

I just wanted to give my two cents on an article that was put out there yesterday insinuating that Jose Bautista may be juicing. I mean, you know it's ridiculous when even Ken Rosenthal agrees that it's wrong to make those kinds of accusations.

For a couple of great takes on the issue, check out Parkes' version on Drunk Jays Fans and Drew's on Ghostrunner on First.

When a player that hasn't hit more than 16 dingers in a single season suddenly propels himself to 38 home runs, there are going to be questions. Unfortunately, "the question" is something that no player in this modern era is immune to.

While I don't necessarily have a problem with "the question", it was the manner in which it was asked and who it stemmed from. It's easy for this writer to make accusations because he won't have to face Jose Bautista in the clubhouse the next day to get an interview.

The article came from an appointed hockey columnist. I repeat, HOCKEY COLUMNIST. Nothing against the talented writers who cover this fine sport, but the last article he posted on his blog that even remotely mentions the Toronto Blue Jays dates back to December 11th, 2009.

That's the equivalent of me writing a blog post claiming Steven Stamkos must be using performance enhancing drugs because his goal total doubled from 23 to 51 in the span of one year.

For someone from the outside looking in who covers hockey for a living, it's easy to make a snap judgment like that in hopes of selling more newspapers and increasing page views rather than getting all the facts straight beforehand.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Lazy Sunday Links

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First off, I'll be liveblogging this afternoon's series finale and the final game of the Blue Jays nine game road trip over at The Score starting at 1:30pm.

It looks to be a pretty great pitcher's duel between Shaun Marcum and Clay Buchholz. In his last start in Toronto last Wednesday, Buchholz handled the Jays with relative ease through eight scoreless innings and is a career 5-3 with a 2.79 ERA versus the Blue Jays.

The road to recovery continues for Scott Richmond - he had his first successful rehab start with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats last night. Richmond went five innings striking six along the way while only giving up one hit; a solo home run. He still may be a few rehab starts away from being ready to join the club, but I think Richmond could be a viable option for bullpen relief or even a couple of spot starts in September with the Blue Jays.

I'm sure you've heard by now that Archi is doing his own version of The Bachelor featuring Toronto's most eligible baseball-loving singles called "The Jayting Game". It's a pretty interesting concept: he takes a date out to the ballpark and they both write a follow-up post afterward.

This video has been floating around the Blue Jays blogosphere for the past few days, but I figured I'd share this one with you guys anyway. It's courtesy of Alex Clark and features some footage from the '92/'93 glory days.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Beatdown in Beantown

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Image courtesy of Daylife
There's a interesting thing about history - sometimes it doesn't have a tendency to repeat itself.

In their 16 run romp over the Red Sox, the Blue Jays scored 16 runs at Fenway Park - just two less runs than their cumulative total during their entire six-game West Coast swing against the Angels and Athletics.

For an even crazier fact ...  in their 11 previous games against the Red Sox, the Blue Jays have scored 32 runs in total. They managed to match half that total in just one evening.

The Blue Jays could theoretically be shut out the rest of this series, but none of that will matter because there's nothing better than beating the home team by 14 runs.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Acid Flashback Friday: The Pittsburgh Pirates Trade Jose Bautista to the Blue Jays

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In baseball, there are always two sides to every trade. Sometimes both teams come out a winner, other times one club might benefit slightly more from the trade, and occasionally neither team will see an improvement.

Then there are some trades where the results are so incredibly lopsided that you wonder if the General Manager was experimenting with mind-altering drugs at the time of signing off on the deal.

As we approach the second anniversary of one of the most lopsided trades in Blue Jays history, for this week's Acid Flashback Friday we take a look back at the trade that brought Jose Bautista to the Toronto Blue Jays.

After spending the better part of the 2008 season as the starting third baseman for the Pittsburgh Pirates, Jose Bautista was sent down to the minor leagues after the Bucs acquired Andy LaRoche in the Jason Bay trade.

Subsequently, Jose spent his final day in a Pirates uniform on August 10th 2008 as he was demoted to the minors to play for the Indianapolis Indians.

Then on August 19th, Jose Bautista's world changed forever. He was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays for a player to be named later, who would eventually be catching prospect Robinzon Diaz.

I remember the trade very vividly because the day Bautista was put on the Blue Jays roster, he automatically became the club leader in home runs with 12 dingers. Jose Bautista also entered the hotly contested race for the "Best Soulpatch" on the Blue Jays.

At the time, Scott Rolen was on the disabled list so Jose Bautista stepped in for the next few weeks as the everyday third baseman. Down the stretch, Bautista played all over the diamond: five games at first base, two games at second base, and eight games at third base.

Looking back, it appears the trade to get Jose Bautista was just a stop-gap move by J.P. Ricciardi to fill the hole at the hot corner while Scott Rolen was on the disabled list. I don't even think anyone could have imagined the gem of a player he unearthed in that trade.

When I try to find a player with a similar career path to Jose Bautista, I automatically think of Carlos Pena. Both are from the Dominican Republic and bounced around multiple organizations before hitting their stride in their late twenties.

I don't know what ever compelled Neal Huntington and the Pittsburgh Pirates to trade Jose Bautista, but us Blue Jays fans are thankful every day that they chose to do it.

By the way, be sure to send my regards to Robinzon Diaz ... who's now playing for the Detroit Tigers Triple A affiliate.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Who is the Quintessential Blue Jay?

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The other day, my friend Jared just randomly out of the blue asked me on Twitter which player came to mind when I thought of the Blue Jays

It was a great question as I had to ponder my answer for a few minutes. But it got me thinking, who is the quintessential Blue Jay? I'm talking about the kind of player that embodies everything this baseball team is all about.

As a 33 year old franchise, there are numerous candidates spanning over the decades. So I leave the voting up to you guys. Please vote below for your quintessential Toronto Blue Jay: and by that I mean, which player first comes to mind when you think of the Toronto Blue Jays.

If the player you are looking for isn't below, please feel free to enter them as a write in candidate. I will tabulate the results for the next few weeks and post the results in a future blog post.

Pie in the Sky Part Deux: CHONE Projections Update

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Back in the dead of January (which was seemingly ages ago), CHONE released their projections for the 2010 season. Considering the monstrous seasons that Aaron Hill and Adam Lind had in 2009, it wasn't very shocking to see they were projected to have big contributions this year.

Now I don't know if I was being ambitious or if I was just plain bored, but I decided to put all the Blue Jays positional players WAR projections into a pie graph. There were no huge surprises in the projections, so all seemed to be in check.

Fast forward seven months later and things have shifted significantly when it comes to the wins above replacement stats for specific position players on the Blue Jays.

Just as a recap, here are what the WAR projections looked like for the Jays positional players back in January.


Click to enlarge
And below are the WAR values in pie chart form going by Fangraphs data up until August 16th of this season.


Click to enlarge
Not surprisingly, Jose Bautista is leading the club with a 4.2 WAR. Vernon Wells is a close second at 3.0, almost double of what he was projected. Following that, the ghost of Alex Gonzalez still looms with his 2.5 WAR and John Buck is performing slightly above expectations at 1.9 WAR.

Now here's where things get interesting. For all the Hatorade showers Lyle Overbay receives on a weekly basis, he quietly puts up a 1.2 WAR which is just slightly below the 1.6 WAR he was projected at. Over the course of his tenure with the Blue Jays, Overbay has averaged to be worth about 1.62 wins above replacement.

Next we move on to another fan favourite, Edwin Encarnacion. Aside from being one of the highest paid number nine hitters and baseball, EE has also managed to prove his worth in the form of 1.1 WAR. I guess his offense is slightly above average which is enough to offset what at times seems like horrible defense.

As we travel further and further down the wheel, this is where it transforms into the walk of shame. Fred Lewis and Yunel Escobar have been pleasant surprises, but that lime green colour of Aaron Hill's WAR stands out like a sore thumb.

Of all the players in the lineup, Hill was projected the highest at 3.5 wins above replacement level. 0.9 is a far cry from almost one year ago.

And you might notice that Adam Lind is off the pie chart completely. Despite my knack for forgetting things, Lind is absent from the pie because his WAR is at -0.1. Since he doesn't have any real redeeming qualities when it comes to fielding, Lind must rely on a hat bat to have a positive wins above replacement level.

Like most fans, I was expecting the Young Guns (Hill, Lind and Snider) to contribute most of the offense this season. Fortunately, where some have disappointed, others have stepped up to the plate and picked up the slack.

Without career years from Jose Bautista, John Buck, and Alex Gonzalez, one can only fathom where the Toronto Blue Jays would be at this point in the season.

I pray that things will even out a little more across the board in the coming seasons because there's nothing worse than having the players with the highest WAR values on your team walking at the end of the season as free agents.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Beard Today, Moustache Tomorrow for Jose Bautista

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If you're a frequenter of this site, you have probably noticed my somewhat strange fascination with moustaches in the sport of baseball.

So you can understand my elation when Jose Bautista stepped into the batter's box last night sporting a coiffed moustache that rivals some of the best in the business.

Several folks threw around a couple names when it come to moustache likenesses, so I scoured the internets in an attempt to find which moustache best reflected the new lip sweater on Jose Bautista.


First up is Borat: while Jose Bautista can be known for letting his coiffe get a little out of control, the sheer size of Borat's moustache is about 2-3 times the size of Bautista's. While Borat might say "very nice!", I think it's comparing apples and oranges in the moustache world.


Next we move onto another popular choice,  Freddie Mercury. Once again, the thickness and the girth of this stache far exceeds Bautista's, with the only real similarity being the angle of curvature around the face.


Here's everyone's favourite general from Cloud City, Lando Calrissian. So far, this is the closest moustache to Jose Bautista's as far as shape and size of his cookie duster are concerned. It's just unfortunate that Bautista's voice isn't similar to that of the always smooth and sophisticated Billy Dee Williams.


Onto Inigo Montoya from The Princess Bride. Jose Bautista may not be an ambidextrous fencer, but I've always pictured him saying "I am Jose Antonio Bautista. I kill your inside fastballs. Now, prepare to die".


Last but not least, there's Vincent Price. I'll be honest - I had no idea what Vincent Price looked like until Saturday Night Live started doing those sketches with Bill Hader. Price looks more like a Bond villan than anything, but his moustache is somewhat comparable to Bautista's.

So what exactly am I trying to prove by this exercise? I'm not exactly sure. But whether it's for his ability to hit inside fastballs or his ever-changing facial hair choices, Jose Bautista has been extremely exciting to watch this season.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Ghost of Dave Stieb Strikes Again

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Considering how many times this season the Blue Jays pitching staff have been to throwing no-hitters this year, you'd think Sportsnet would take every precautionary measure to keep it in tact during their broadcast.

Here's the situation: Shaun Marcum has a no-hitter through six innnings and is coming back out for the seventh inning. Just as Marcum is getting ready to face off against Conor Jackson, Sportsnet flashes an image of Dave Stieb promoting the Dave Stieb bobblehead giveaway day on August 29th.

Immediately following that that graphic, Marcum gives up a first pitch solo home run to Jackson which broke the no-hit bid. Was it a coincidence, or was it a case of the Dave Stieb ghost striking once again?

Of course, this is all said with tongue-in-cheek because ultimately a pitcher is in control of their own destiny and isn't subject to ghosts or spirits of Blue Jays past.

That being said, there are just some things you just should not do over the course of a no-hit bid.

Shaun Marcum could have easily been rattled by that home run in the seventh, but he settled down and retired the final nine batters in order to pick up the first complete game of his career.

It may not have been a no-hitter, but a one-hit complete game victory isn't too shabby either. I'm sure even the ghost of Dave Stieb would approve.

Monday, August 16, 2010

California Love

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If Dr. Dre and 2Pac's prediction of the future is correct, in the year 2095 the city of Oakland will transform into a post-apocalyptic hub that resembles something from a Mad Max movie which may or may not include Chris Tucker.

You think they'll still have a baseball team by then?

In the meantime, the Toronto Blue Jays will continue their tour of Californ-I-A and roll into Oakland for the final three games of their West Coast swing.

It won't necessarily be the marquee series everyone is looking forward to, but with both teams currently exceeding expectations it will be interesting to see who comes out on top.

Nobody really expected the Toronto Blue Jays to lead the league in home runs as nobody really expected the Oakland A's to have the best team ERA in the league.

The Blue Jays have handled the Oakland A's with relative ease over the past few seasons, compiling a 19-13 dating back to 2007.

As the Blue Jays and the A's get ready to square off, I have one question for you: can you dig it?

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Lazy Saturday Night Links

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Typically, I reserve link dumps for a Lazy Sunday ... but with the west coast games not starting until 9:00pm EST, I figured now would be an opportune time to round up all that has happened in Blue Jay land.

Almost out of nowhere, the Blue Jays officially announced a contract extension for Ricky Romero to the tune of $30.1 million dollars over five years. That locks Romero up all the way through 2015 with a club option for 2016.

Romero also has the distinction of being awarded the largest contract for a pitcher with less than two years of service time. Although Ricky hasn't quite completed his second season in the majors, I think it was a wise move Alex Anthopoulos to hold off on giving Romero an extension to see if he'd have a sophomore slump.

Need I remind folks what happened when the Blue Jays rewarded the 2002 Rookie of the Year Eric Hinske to a fat contract after his breakout inaugural season.

With 52 starts and 331 innings logged over the past two seasons, I think the Blue Jays have a pretty good idea what Ricky Romero is capable of. Good on management to lock up a key member of the starting rotation for the next five years.

Speaking of franchise players, did you know that Vernon Wells is only one of 11 players in baseball who has played with the same organization for 10 years or more? I answered some questions about Vernon Wells over at The Sports Journalists for their piece on MLB's Lifers.

While not necessarily a link, I thought I'd share an interesting encounter I had at a local watering hole from last night. There was a band playing and I happened to notice the lead singer was wearing a B.J. Ryan Blue Jays shirt. After their set, I approached him and said "it takes balls to wear a B.J. Ryan shirt".

We took solace in the fact that The Beej is still being paid $10 million dollars this year, and then reminisced about other Blue Jays from days gone by like Troy Glaus and Eric Hinske.

I told him the Atlanta Braves were definitely going to the World Series this year because they have the only player who has played in all three of the previous fall classics.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Acid Flashback Friday: The JumboTron

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From the moment you walked in to the stadium, your eyes couldn't help but be drawn to it. Almost hovering in the sky just below where the Baseball Gods reside, it's where thousands upon thousands of eyes became fixated.

For this week's Acid Flashback Friday we take a look back one of the Skydome's most infamous attractions, the JumboTron. 

At the time, the JumboTron was the largest video display in North America and second largest in the world at an astonishing 33 feet high and 110 feet wide. It was one giant piece lit up by 420,000 light bulbs.

Some fun facts about the JumboTron: just to put the massive size of the screen in perspective, the JumboTron was as wide as a blue whale.The screen had seven camera inputs and required a team of 26 people to operate.

The screen itself was made by Sony, and at the time cost $17 million dollars to make. By comparison, the same size LED screen would only cost $3 million dollars to make.

Once Rogers Communications purchased the Blue Jays, they did just that - as the screen was replaced with a Daktronics ProStar screen in 2005 which was the same dimensions as the JumboTron.

Just like the Skydome, I prefer to look back on the JumboTron as a modern marvel of baseball architecture. While it might not be the most impressive piece of technology today, the sheer size of it was and still is something to be in awe of.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Meats Don't Clash Shirts Now On Sale!

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It all began with a plate of nachos ... and now it has snowballed into a sensation that's sweeping the internets. I am proud to announce that Meats Dont' Clash Shirts are now on sale!

Check out the link to The Blue Jay Hunter T-Shirt Shop and browse to your hearts content. There are a wide range of colours and styles available: from your basic white t-shirt, to coloured t-shirts, and even baseball long-sleeved shirts.

They are all very reasonably priced starting at $14.40 CAD, and shipping costs within Canada are around $7.00. So for just over $21 dollars, you too can become part of the Meats Don't Clash collective.

For those wondering, yes that is in fact a giraffe next to the chicken, pig and cow. Don't ask me why, but for some reason I pictured Travis Snider knawing on a giant giraffe leg, and so it was included in the t-shirt design.

Order today!

TD (Total Domination) for Buchholz

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I'm going to venture a wild guess and say Clay Buchholz really really loves pitching in Toronto.

After last night's 8 inning shutout against the Blue Jays, Clay Buchholz has compiled a 4-0 record with a 1.30 ERA in 4 starts at the Rogers Centre through 2010 and 2009.

Incredibly, Buchholz has managed to hold the Blue Jays to a grand total of 4 earned runs through 27.66 innings these past two seasons.

I know Clay Buchholz was rumoured to be one of the trade chips the Red Sox would ship to the Blue Jays in a proposed Roy Halladay deal, but I can't stand to look at Buchholz every times he pitches in Toronto.

One can only imagine how much worse it would be if he did it in a Blue Jays uniform.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Meats Don't Clash! Snider Devours Boston Meatballs and Nachos

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For a moment, let's forget that the Blue Jays let one slip away late to the Red Sox. If it's easier, pretend we traveled into your mind a la Inception and removed the memory of that loss completely.

I'm just going to chalk it up to the Blue Jays just not having the pitching (both from Ricky Romero and the bullpen) that they would've hoped for.

Let's put all that aside for a minute and revel in the magic that is Travis Snider.

If you didn't see his third inning bomb to tie the game, check out the replay. Once you hear the crack of the bat, you can just tell it's a no doubter. Throw in the bat flip for some extra style points!

In fact, there are some pretty big similarities between that home run and another off Freddy Garcia back on April 15th. Okay, really they were hit on two completely different pitches, but for some reason in my mind they seemed very similar ... punctuated by the bat flip at the end.

More impressive than Snider's fourth inning home run though was his ability to take a Jonathan Papelbon 89 MPH splitter that was below the knees and power it all the way to dead centre field (Pitch F/X courtesy of Brooks Baseball).

Those are the kinds of pitches that only Ichiro and Vladd Guerrero can reach. Yet, Travis Snider helped keep hope alive in the bottom of the ninth by going down to get this pitch and crushing it to the centre field wall.

Initially I thought Cito's "Wheel-O-Lineup" game was getting a little ridiculous, but I think I'm warming up to keeping Travis Snider in the top half of the lineup. Maybe not necessarily in the two spot, but I can definitely see him hitting cleanup in the near future.

No matter where the manager decides to put Travis Snider, he's going to do some damage. But it would be much better to have him do that damage with a couple of guys on base.

For now though, I will never ever get tired of seeing that patented Travis Snider bat flip.

Image courtesy of random article featuring Travis Snider reviewing Toronto's Best Nachos at Post City Magazine. Hat tip to The Ack for picking up on Snider's classic quote "Meats Don't Clash".

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

One Year Later: Are the Blue Jays Better or Worse Without Alex Rios?

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Every day, I'm reminded of what happened this very day just one year ago as an Alex Rios figurine and Alex Rios bobblehead sit prominently on my desk.

In fact as I type this blog post, they're both staring at me right now. Since I can't seem to ever get away from Alex Rios, I constantly wonder if the Blue Jays did the right thing to let him go.

If we're going just on statistics alone, Alex Rios is having a fine year as the Chicago White Sox centre fielder. With 17 home runs, and a batting average at .296 and a WAR of 2.9, Rios has settled very nicely in the south side of Chicago.

While it was great to have his $61.65 million dollar contract come off the books for the Blue Jays, I'm torn as to whether the Blue Jays are better or worse off one year later without Alex Rios.

The Jays gained some short-term financial flexibility by having the White Sox take on Rios' contract, but if the trade was financially driven in the first place, what was the point if the Blue Jays didn't spend that money in the off-season?

Even worse, the only thing the Blue Jays received in return for Alex Rios was that financial flexibility. They sold low on one of their most promising players, and at the time the Jays didn't really receive true value for Alex Rios.

Looking back, in my mind trading Alex Rios to the White Sox seemed like a Hail Mary move for J.P. Ricciardi. It reeked of a last ditch effort to save his job after the two of the biggest faces of the franchise in Rios and Wells were having horrible seasons.

Ricciardi did employ some cost-cutting measures to save the Blue Jays front office a whack of money by letting go of Alex Rios, but at what cost? For that reason, I think it was maybe a little early for the Blue Jays to pull the rip cord on Alex Rios.

One can't say for sure if he would've had the same year in Toronto as he is in Chicago, but if he were still in a Blue Jays uniform I can't imagine Alex Rios would've been much worse in 2010 than he was in 2009. Vernon Wells has bounced back from his awful 2009, and I truly believe Alex Rios would have done the same.

As talented as Alex Rios was (and still is), no player is ever irreplaceable. Almost as if right fielders are manufactured on an assembly line, there will always be another one to fill the hole. It may not be as flashy as the previous model, but eventually it will take the former's place and pretty soon folks will forget the original version even existed.

For me though, that day has not arrived yet. The Alex Rios wounds are still a little fresh, but give me another year and I'll probably have a brand new mancrush in right field.

Kick Some Mass ... Like A Boss

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After an electric series at the Rogers Centre this past weekend against the Tampa Bay Rays, is it too much to ask the Blue Jays to sweep the Boston Red Sox too?

The Mass Invasion returns once again this evening, but I'm hoping this time the Blue Jays fans outnumber the Red Sox fans. One would think that after a near no-hitter, an incredible debut by J.P. Arencibia and a nail-biter on Friday, that folks would be flocking to the Rogers Centre.

If only 15,000 or so fans are in attedance for the series opener, I wouldn't necessarily consider that a failure. With the kind of momentum the Blue Jays have right now, it's difficult to keep that going after an off day ... plus an unfortunately placed weeknight series.

While this mid-August series in the dog days of summer may not go down as a game-changer for either team, the significance is much greater than I originally imagined.

To be honest, I haven't really looked at the AL East standings the past month or so simply because I know the Blue Jays are out of it. Not Baltimore Orioles out of it, but it would take a huge collapse from the Yankees, Rays and Red Sox for Toronto to gain any ground.

I'm not saying that a 64-49 record is something to scoff at by any means, but this injury-riddled Red Sox squad in a way reminds me of what happened to the 2006 incarnation of the same team. That year, Boston held onto first place in the division until August 2nd, and then spun their wheels for the remaining two months of the schedule.

That brief moment of weakness allowed the Blue Jays to slip into second place during the last week of the 2006 season and pushed the Red Sox down to third place in the division. In the tough American League East, windows like that aren't open for very long.

Tonight could be the beginning of another window, and hopefully the Blue Jays can capitalize on it ... because there won't be many chances like that this season.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Rays Barely Borrow A Hit From Morrow

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From the inception of his 17 strikeout one-hitter, you had the sense something very special was going to happen to Brandon Morrow.

While he didn't completely keep the Tampa Bay Rays out of the hit column, he was dialed in from the very first inning and dominated the competition from start to finish.

As Blue Jays fans, we have been privy to some pretty spectacular pitching performances in recent memory, but this one will definitely go down as one of the best.

I was fortunate enough to be in attendance at the Rogers Centre on June 24th 2007 when Dustin McGowan took a no-hitter into the ninth inning against the Colorado Rockies. McGowan was three outs away from recording a no-hitter, but he "only" struck out 7 hitters ... Brandon Morrow struck out 17.

Apparently this start didn't just resonate in Blue Jays club history, but within the context of Major League Baseball history as well. According to Bill James' "Game Score", Morrow's performance will stand as the fourth best in the modern era.

Morrow's weapon of choice was his slider, which coaxed 10 strikeouts in itself and all but one which were swinging. He did a great job of keeping the Rays off pace by mixing up his 96 MPH fastball and interchanging it with his slider and splitter on occasion.

I don't think there was any question as to whether Cito Gaston should have kept Brandon Morrow in the game after the ball squirted out of Aaron Hill's glove for that lone hit in the ninth inning.

In my mind, you don't take the ball out of a pitcher's hands who has already fanned 16. Morrow was obviously dialed in and so long as he didn't let that single get to him, keep him in there unless he proves he can't finish the game. After that effort, Brandon Morrow earned the right to finish that game.

Initially I heard the Evan Longoria single on the radio and was praying it would be scored an error since it sounded like Aaron Hill got a glove on it. Unfortunately, since Hill was playing close to second base with a runner on first and a right-handed hitter at the plate, he didn't have enough time to get to that ball.

Even if Hill does make the catch in that scenario, he'd have to spin and throw from his knees to get Longoria at first base. Although, Longoria's no slouch on the basepaths and he might have reached the bag by the time Aaron Hill fires to Overbay anyway. Unless it was a botched routine play, there was no way it was going to be scored an E4.

Lord knows if I ever get that Flux Capacitor working on my Delorean and get it up to 88 miles per hour, I'm going back and scoring that play as an error.

Having said that, just because a no-hitter barely slipped through the fingers of Brandon Morrow's grasp doesn't mean it was all for not. Although there has been one no-hitter in club history, I think you'd be hard-pressed to find a pitching performance that was more dominant than Brandon Morrow's one-hitter against the Tampa Bay Rays.

Judging by how close Brandon Morrow came to duplicating what only Dave Stieb has done before him in a Blue Jays uniform, I think it's only a matter of time before he tosses a no-hitter.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

J.P. Arencibia Had One Heck of a Day

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There was no doubt about it, today was all about J.P. Arencibia.

As I watched it all unfold from my seat at the Rogers Centre, I couldn't believe what was happening. Not everyone realized it at the time, but history was made today.

J.P. Arencibia was the first player since the year 1900 to hit two home runs and have four hits in his major league debut (hat tip to Jordan Bastian). When it comes to big league debuts, you could not have asked for more from J.P. Arencibia.

Another interesting thing happened at the ballpark this afternoon as well. Within the matter of two at bats, Arencibia had the crowd in the palm of his hands. By the time he stepped into the box to take his fifth at bat, the crowd was on their feet chanting "J.P. J.P. J.P. J.P".

Incredibly, J.P. Arencibia transformed into a Blue Jays fan favourite in just a matter of one afternoon.

I joked about it earlier this afternoon about the Jays Shop having to hurry up and start printing J.P. Arencibia jerseys, but low and behold they already had them in stock. And I don't doubt that they were already sold out by the end of the day.

Aside from maybe Travis Snider, can you recall a player in recent memory that has conjured up this much excitement in a Blue Jays uniform?

Many wondered whether J.P. Arencibia's power numbers in the Pacific Coast League would translate over to the Major Leagues. If you need an indication whether it was a success or not, just look at his numbers today.

All it took was one pitch to make his presence felt in the city of Toronto. And you know what? I think it was love at first sight.

When I become that senile old man at the ballpark who reminisces about the days of yore, this is one of the games that I will look back on a remember with very fond memories.

Welcome to the show, J.P. Arencibia. If your debut was any indication of what's in store, you'll have many more curtain calls, shaving cream pies and Gatorade dunkings in the near future.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Acid Flashback Friday: Dave Winfield on The Arsenio Hall Show

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We all know how Dave Winfield wanted noise ... well, what better place to get it than one of the loudest shows on late night television?

For this week's Acid Flashback Friday, we take a look at Dave Winfield's appearance on The Arsenio Hall Show from the fall of 1992.

This one basically speaks for itself, but the one thing I noticed from this interview was Dave Winfield's constant praise for his manager Cito Gaston.

After watching this video, one thing's for sure - nobody can wear a mustard blazer like Dave Winfield.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Can Jose Bautista Break George Bell's Home Run Record?

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Before I forget, I'd like to send out a big congratulations to not only the American League Player of the Week, but also the Player of the Month ... Jose Bautista.

Mr. July is putting forth one hell of a campaign, and as we enter the final leg of the season I keep wondering if Jose Bautista can break one of the most coveted records in club history: George Bell's 47 home runs in 1987.

At this rate, Bautista is knocking a ball out of the park every 11.51 at bats. I find the at bats per home run (AB/HR) stat a little tricky because it's much more difficult to judge total at bats than plate appearances. For the sake of sabermetrics though, let's stick with at bats per home run.

Below we have the 10 most prolific home run seasons in Blue Jays history. Take a look at the numbers and see if you think Jose Bautista's monster season can match up with George Bell's, or any other notorious Blue Jay slugger on the list.

 
Player HR's Year PA's At Bats Games AB per HR
George Bell 47 1987 665 610 156 12.98
Jose Canseco 46 1998 658 583 151 14.3
Carlos Delgado 44 1999 681 573 152 13.02
Carlos Delgado 42 2003 705 570 161 13.57
Shawn Green 42 1999 694 614 153 14.62
Carlos Delgado 41 2000 711 569 162 13.88
Tony Batista 41 2000 664 620 151 15.12
Jesse Barfield 40 1986 671 589 158 14.73
Carlos Delgado 39 2001 704 574 162 14.72
Troy Glaus 38 2006 634 540 153 16.68
         
Jose Bautista33 2010452 380107 11.51

Up until now, Jose Bautista has played all but one of the Blue Jays 108 games. Whether it's in the outfield or at third base, Cito Gaston is basically committed to riding with Bautista every day from here on out so we can be assured he will clear 500 plate appearances.

Barring any injuries, Jose Bautista should play 150 games this season ... and I would even venture a guess to say he might even play more than 155 games total. With 54 games left in the schedule, that means Bautista will likely get a start in 48 more games before season's end.

So what does all this boil down to? If Bautista continues at his current pace of a home run per 11.51 at bats, he'll continue to hit a home run approximately every four games. With at least three at bats in each game and if Jose Bautista plays 155 games in total ... he will match George Bell's club record of 47 home runs.

At lot of these variables are big "what if's" though. What if Jose Bautista hits a slump? It happened to him earlier this year when he went 56 plate appearances or 46 at bats in between home runs.

As you can see from the chart above, none of the Blue Jays who hit 40 home runs or more let their at bats per home run get above around 14.7.

While his current pace suggests he will match or exceed the club record for home runs in a season, I'm afraid to say that I don't think Jose Bautista is going to rewrite the record books this year.

In order to surpass George Bell, Bautista will need to maintain his current home run pace of 11.51 at bats per home run, and he won't be able to waver much from it if he wants to stay on course for 48 home runs.

Realistically though, I wouldn't say it's out of the question for Jose to join the illustrious company of the Blue Jays 40 Home Run Club. With 33 home runs to his name already, that seems like a reasonable goal.

And even if Jose Bautista only hits 40 home runs, that's still about 25 more home runs than most people expected him to hit this year.

The J.P. Arencibia Era Begins

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With a team like the Toronto Blue Jays, when September call-ups roll around each year it's like a Christmas of sorts. And yesterday, we got to open up one of our Christmas presents a little early.

J.P. Arencibia got the call about a month early, but he'll make his way to Toronto and fill in for the injured John Buck. Now it's not official whether or not JPA will actually start Friday's game behind the plate, but my guess is that he won't.

If Cito didn't start Travis Snider the very second he was called up, then he certainly isn't going to throw Arencibia into the fire just yet. In the meantime, expect him to backup Jose Molina for the catching duties.

All indications point to Kyle Drabek being shut down for the season in the near future, so this makes J.P. Arencebia's call-up undoubtedly the most anticipated of the season.

Seriously, wow can you not be stoked about bringing up a slugging catcher who already has 31 home runs? Whether they're Pacific Coast League home runs or not, you can't deny this kid has some power.

All I can say is .... welcome to the club J.P. Arencibia. Glad to have you here.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Today We Spell Redemption R-O-M-E-R-O

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After being chased in the third inning during his last start on the road in New York, it's safe to say Ricky Romero had a few demons as he returned to the scene of the crime at Yankee Stadium.

Romero successfully exercised those demons and made that start on July 3rd virtually disappear. Lost among the eight runs put up by the Blue Jays was a gem of a start from Ricky Romero.

A two-hit complete game victory against the best team in baseball ... not too shabby from a guy who got pulled in the third inning of his last start against the Yankees.

RR Cool Jay wasn't exactly mowing down the Yankee hitters with strikeout after after strikeout, but he kept them in check predominantly with his curveball. His changeup is typically his strikeout pitch, but last night Romero used his curveball to set up the count and work his way back when behind in the count.

He gave up two hits, albeit one very loud hit in the form of a two run home run from Mark Teixeira, but that was pretty much it aside from the infield single off the bat of Marcus Thames.

As magical as Ricky Romero was, he couldn't have walked away with the victory unless his teammates didn't give him some run support. The Blue Jays quickly battled back and it seemed like within a blink of an eye, Toronto was back on top 4-2.

That was all they needed, but then the Jays added a little insult to injury in the form of home runs from Vernon Wells, Adam Lind, and Jose Bautista's 33rd bomb of the season.

Who's on first? It's Adam Lind with his big boy glove!

I have to say ... I was pleasantly surprised with the play of Adam Lind at first base. He didn't need to make any gold glove calibre catches or anything like that, but defensively he looked very solid at first base.

I mentioned during The Score liveblog that first base is a pretty thankless position to play. A great defensive first baseman like Lyle Overbay has the ability to make things look effortless, and even if Lind turns out to be an average fielder, I think we'll sorely miss the glove of Lyle Overbay.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Doubly Satisfying

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Hey, what's better than a couple of doubles? How about stringing six of them together against the Yankees?

Typically known for the long ball, the Blue Jays abandoned their home run hitting ways for the evening and instead decided to torture A.J. Burnett with double after double after double after double after double after double.

It seems to be that good old A.J. hasn't fared very well against his former teammates. For whatever reason, the Blue Jays really have it out for him as Burnett has a career 1-3 record and a 6.98 ERA in five starts against Toronto.

As much as the guys on the roster will likely deny it, there has to be some sense of satisfaction in lighting up your former teammate who left to play for the Evil Empire.

I'm convinced Aaron Hill and Vernon Wells have a dartboard with A.J. Burnett's picture pinned to it in the Blue Jays clubhouse and they take turns shooting the Nerf Gun at it.

If you're the New York Yankees, you have to be worried about the A.J. Burnett that showed up against the Toronto Blue Jays last night. Is this the kind of pitcher you're going to hand the ball to in a pivotal Game Three of the American League Division Series?

Personally, I was just glad to see that Brandon Morrow and the Blue Jays relievers avoided being the 600th notch in Alex Rodrigez' bedpost. With each passing day, it's hilarious to see the flashbulbs go off at Yankee Stadium every time A-Rod takes a swing and comes up short.

Now all the Blue Jays have to do is stave off Alex Rodriguez for two games - but if there's a Brian Tallet appearance at any point throughout the series, A-Rod's pretty much a shoe-in to club 600 against the Jays. Let's hope I'm wrong!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Sometimes the Best Move is No Move

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Sorry for the lack of coverage here leading up to yesterday's Trade Deadline, but I made the trek down to Toronto yesterday.

There I was sitting in my seat in section 206 frantically checking Twitter and MLBTradeRumors.com throughout the game, only to find that none of the Blue Jays had been traded.

I was elated that Jose Bautista wasn't traded, but at the same time I was a little skeptic since we had all prepared ourselves to see Scott Downs, Jason Frasor, John Buck and Kevin Gregg clean their lockers in the Blue Jays clubhouse.

As a General Manager, I'm sure it's very easy to feel obligated to trade players when the 4pm trade deadline comes barreling down at you. Yet Alex Anthopoulos kept his cool and didn't waver when he didn't receive the offers he was hoping for.

I heard Anthopoulos allude to a big trade that fell through earlier in the week on the Fan 590, and it's just my guess that it had to do something with Kelly Johnson from the Arizona Diamondbacks.

One can only guess which Jays would have been on their way to the desert, but I'm betting it had to do something with some prospects and possibly even a starting pitcher.

Needless to say, it was all for not and the Blue Jays 40-man rosters remained the same on July 30th as it did on July 31st.

Standing still at this year's trade deadline might not be heralded as a move that defined this franchise, but believe it or not ... sometimes the best move is no move at all.
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