Will You Accept This Arbitration Offer?

Monday, November 29, 2010  |  by 

There will be offers, there will be rejections, and there will undoubtedly be a few people walking away from what could be the best relationship of their lives.

It will be a veritable rose ceremony for the Blue Jays impending free agents as they have until 11:59pm this Tuesday to either accept or decline salary arbitration put forth by the Blue Jays.

So who will accept a rose and who will decline one? It's a question which we'll have an answer to very soon. In the meantime, let's speculate what could happen within less than 48 hours until the arbitration deadline.

Scott Downs

Will he accept arbitration: hell no!

After the Detroit Tigers signed Joaquin Benoit to a three-year $16.5 million dollar contract, the wheels were put in motion to drive up the price of left-handed veteran Scott Downs.

He's undoubtedly out there to get a multi-year deal and become one of the highest paid free agent relievers of the 2010 offseason.

And it also doesn't hurt that Scott Downs bears a certain resemblance to the guy from the Gillette PowerGlide commercial.

Kevin Gregg

Will he accept arbitration: it's a coin flip.

Out of all the arbitration offers the Blue Jays delved out to their free agents, Gregg's is the one that I'm most unsure about.

Since they declined both his options at $4.75 and $8.75 million a piece, the Blue Jays would still be saving a boatload of cash even if Gregg does accept arbitration.

Personally I think it's in Gregg's best interest to accept arbitration and he'll probably get a salary boost to $3 million, but if his agent thinks he can land a better deal with another team, all the power to him.

The problem is there is a huge mid-tier reliever glut this offseason, and Kevin Gregg would be lucky to sign a one-year contract worth more than what Toronto would either offer him prior to arbitration or how much arbitration court deems he's worth.

Jason Frasor

Will he accept arbitration: probably.

Usually, being in the top 20 percent of your profession is a good thing. Not in Jason Frasor's case, unfortunately.

Here is where Frasor's Type A status will work against him when attempting to fish for offers from other teams.

With draft picks coveted more than ever, prospective teams are going to have a tough time being swayed to surrender two picks to sign Frasor. If they're going to sign a Type A relief pitcher, they'd probably much rather hand over two picks for an upper echelon reliever like Rafael Soriano than Jason Frasor.

That being said, I'd be glad to see JayFray back in a Blue Jays uniform in 2011. He's a phenomenal strikeout pitcher (8.4 K/9 lifetime) and can still provide some veteran back end stability to the Blue Jays bullpen.

Miguel Olivo

Will he accept arbitration: not bloody likely.

It's no secret that Alex Anthopoulos essentially acquired Miguel Olivo with intentions he would be parlayed into a draft pick.

If Olivo does accept arbitration for whatever reason, then the Blue Jays have 3 catchers to choose from ... which really isn't even a bad side effect because of the unsureness about the catcher's position for the Jays.

The free agent catcher market is shoring up pretty quickly though with John Buck and Victor Martinez off the table, so Miguel Olivo's agent is likely seeking a multi-year contract to whichever team is willing out there.

Chad Qualls For Closer

Friday, November 26, 2010  |  by 

If there's one guy in the majors who suffers from the Hugo Reyes AKA "Hurley Syndrome", it's Chad Qualls.

Even though he was seemingly doomed by the Baseball Gods in 2010, I believe he could be the perfect candidate for the vacant closer job with the Toronto Blue Jays.

At first glance of his peripheral 2010 statistics, one might assume Qualls had an off year. I would agree with that statement to an extent, but a better way of putting it is Chad Qualls had a very unlucky year.

We're talking "Hurley from Lost" unlucky. Like play your favourite numbers in the lottery, curse yourself and everyone around you, and land on a freaky-ass island where they have to punch in those very same lottery numbers into a computer every 108 minutes unlucky.

Qualls had a BABIP of .399 in 2010, and that's about as unlucky as you can get for a pitcher. His BABIP took the cake for pitchers who logged 40 or more innings.

Another upside to signing Chad Qualls is his durability. Since 2004, he's only spent a total of 36 games on the disabled list. The only other free agent closer on the market who has spent less time in the DL is Kevin Gregg - who has a perfect attendance since 2004, by the way.

Of course, all of this all hinges on Chad Qualls declining arbitration from the Tampa Bay Rays. He's a Type B free agent, which means the Blue Jays wouldn't have to surrender a draft pick if they sign him.

Even if it's not as the closer, Qualls brings some veteran experience to an otherwise inexperienced bullpen. Chad Qualls has 51 career saves under his belt and close to two full seasons experience in the closer role.

So I've talked about his previous merits and how 2010 was a down year for Chad Qualls, but let's get down to what it would cost to bring this guy in to Toronto.

He made $4.85 million this past season on his contract delved out by the D-Backs and coming off a rocky 2010, I'd fathom he'd have a tough time commanding anything north of $3 million dollars for a one-year contract.

If anything, he's a cheap arm in the bullpen and if Alex Anthopoulos plays his cards right and Qualls comes up big in the first half, AA can parlay Qualls into some prospects at the trade deadline.

Maybe it's a bit of a stretch for the Blue Jays to sign Chad Qualls, but I'm going to admit it was the Hurley Bird that told me it was a good idea.

Thoughts on the American League MVP Voting

Tuesday, November 23, 2010  |  by 

I could ramble on ad nauseum about today's results, but I just wanted to land a few quick thoughts on how the American League MVP voting went down.

I'm a little disappointed that Jose Bautista finished in 4th place, but not all that surprised it happened. Earlier today, I declared if Jose Bautista finished outside the Top 5, I was going to grow a Bautista Beard in protest. Luckily for all of us, that won't happen.

It was a breath of fresh air to see the shift in voting these past few years, what with voters electing Zack Greinke, Tim Lincecum and Felix Hernandez as Cy Young winners. Since less weight has been placed on traditional stats such as win/loss record, why not do the same for batting average for positional players?

Yes, I am suggesting this to help benefit my favourite player's chances of winning MVP, but still ... in my mind, a statistic like on base percentage or even on base plus slugging is a much more valuable tool to guague a player's worth.

Even if we use an all encompassing statistic like WAR, Jose Bautista ties for third with Evan Longoria and Robinson Cano. WAR at least takes into account a player's fielding and batting statistics, rather than just batting.

I think some folks tend to take the term "Most Valuable Player" too literally as well. Baseball is a game of numbers, not intangibles ... so why would we suddenly start measuring who the most valuable player in the league is with things like "grit" and "hustle".

It's the same as putting weight on a player's contributions to help their team make the playoffs. Despite the huge emphasis on individual achievement, one single player does not have the power to properl their team into the post-season. It takes an entire roster of 25 guys and a coaching staff to build a winner.

If we truly need to get over the mental hurdle created by the "Most Valuable Player" title, then simply rename it the "Best Player in the League Award". Hey, it isn't sexy ... but at least then you're calling a spade a spade.

**Update**: Navin from Sports and the City led me to this great article on FanGraphs which takes into account WAR adjustments if they used DRS (defensive runs saved) rather than UZR (ultimate zone rating).

Turns out Jose Bautista's adjusted WAR balloons to around 8.1 WAR with these adjustments, which would put him ahead of Josh Hamilton at 7.9 WAR. Just some interesting food for thought.

Image courtesy of I'm Bringing Blogging Back

The Best Blue Jays Moustaches Of All Time

Monday, November 22, 2010  |  by 

The Toronto Blue Jays have spent a total of 34 seasons in the Major Leagues, and throughout their relitavely short franchise history, their contributions to baseball have been unprecedented.

Perhaps one area of expertise where their contributions have been most impressive are in the department of epic moustaches. Looking through the archives, there are countless team photos where a moustache has been adorned by a member of the Toronto Blue Jays.

There were hundreds upon hundreds of candidates, but only 20 men could be honoured as having the Best Blue Jays Moustaches of All Time.

20.) Jose Bautista

We begin the list with the most short-lived moustache of the group. Jose Bautista is typically known as a beard man, but on August 17th earlier this year, he whittled down his facial hair into a prim and proper moustache. The following night he was clean-shaven, but still made his mark on the moustache world nonetheless.
19.) Rance Mulliniks

Every time I hear one of Rance Mulliniks anecdotes during the Blue Jays television broadcast, I can’t help but wonder what the man would look like without his signature moustache. One has to believe those stories would become a little less intriguing if we didn’t picture him with the moustache.

18.) Jim Clancy

Jim Clancy spent 12 glorious seasons with the Toronto Blue Jays, and so did his moustache. Clancy is a "meat and potatoes" moustache kind of guy: nothing fancy, just the good old fashioned American moustache.

17.) Dennis Lamp

Unless you saw Dennis Lamp’s name in the Best Moustaches in Baseball Part Three or have a very extensive knowledge of the mid-80’s Blue Jays rosters, you might not even recognize this often unheralded Blue Jays moustache.

16.) Pat Borders

The thing I love about Pat Borders moustache is it's subtle, but it also has enough presence to let people know he means business. I mean, Mark McGwire tried to mess with Borders at the plate and he paid for it. The 'stache also may or may not have helped Pat Borders land this Linda Hamilton look-alike.

15.) Buck Martinez

Even as the new Blue Jays play-by-play commentator on Rogers Sportsnet, Buck Martinez has always been known for his hair. Earlier in his career, it just so happened to be for the long flowing hair above his lip, rather than on his head. Maybe one of these days we can convince Buck to grow the silver 'stache again for old times sake.

14.) Paul Mirabella

I know what you're thinking ... Paul Mira-who? His career was not quite as storied as some other Blue Jays on this list, but Paul Mirabella's 14th place on the Best Blue Jays Moustaches of All Time can be largely attributed to the merit of his moustache rather than his playing career.

13.) Jesse Barfield

That image of Jesse Barfield is iconic and it makes me smile every time. The perfect combination of that moustache along with the Jheri curl made Jesse Barfield one of the most stylish players in Blue Jays history.

12.) Duane Ward

Duane Ward saved an unprecedented 45 games in his storybook season of 1993, a club record that still stands to this day. B.J. Ryan came close with 38 saves in 2006, and one wonders if Ryan could have eclipsed the record if he had donned a moustache similar to Duane Ward's.
11.) Brian Tallet

Unfortunately, Brian Tallet is a Blue Jay no longer, but he left his undeniable stamp on this club when he adorned an especially epic moustache during the 2009 season. Tallet sported a few different variations of facial hair combinations, however none were quite as impressive as this simple moustache.

10.) Ernie Whitt

Whether it was as a player or a manager later in his career, Ernie Whitt always brought his signature moustache out to play for the Toronto Blue Jays. He cracks the Top 10 with a stache that would make even Chuck Norris a little jealous.

9.) Danny Cox

Combined with fellow moustache-clad man Mark Eichhorn, both Cox and Eichhorn comprised two parts of the stellar 1993 Blue Jays bullpen. Now that I think about it, wouldn’t it be cool if they had a buddy cop show: Cox & Eichhorn?

8.) Willie Upshaw

Willie Upshaw joined the Blue Jays the second year they were in the league, and promptly made his presence felt by becoming the first Blue Jays to have 100 RBI's in a season in 1983. Here's a little known fact: Upshaw also recorded 100 MBI's that season. MBI's meaning Moustache Being Incredible.

7.) Jack Morris

Morris didn’t have a very long tenure with the Toronto Blue Jays, however he surely made his presence felt in the clubhouse when it came to lip sweaters. The sheer size of his ‘stache is something to marvel at, and rivals that of fellow redhead Lanny McDonald.

6.) Cliff Johnson

Who says there's no such thing as moustache envy? In 1979, Johnson got into a locker room brawl with teammate and fellow moustache man Rich "Goose" Gossage. Johnson was left relatively unscathed, but Gossage landed on the DL for 2 months because of his injuries sustained during the fight.
5.) Derek Bell

When I think of Derek Bell, I think of two things: The Trenches and Moustaches. Seriously, I couldn't picture Bell without a moustache at all, and it could very well be permanently fused to his face.
4.) Mark Eichhorn

Some major leaguers have said they've never seen anybody throw a pitch as slow as Mark Eichhorn did. Could it possibly be that they were just looking for an excuse to pause and admire Eichhorn's perfectly coiffed cookie duster.

3.) Sal Fasano

What Sal Fasano lacked in offensive contributions as a catcher, he certainly made up for with entertainment value associated with his signature soup strainer. Props to Fasano who still rocks the ‘stache proudly within the Blue Jays organization to this day as manager for the Lansing Lugnuts.

2.) Dave Stieb

I’m not saying Dave Stieb’s moustache helped him toss a no-hitter … okay, yes I am. Without that moustache, Stieb could not have mustered the determination to finally harpoon and reel in that proverbial Moby Dick that eluded him so many years.

1.) Cito Gaston

Say what you will about Cito Gaton’s managerial skills, but the man sure knows how to grow one badass moustache. The team’s moustache tribute to the former Blue Jays skipper on “Thank You Cito” solidified Cito's status as the number one moustache man in franchise history.

Honorable mentions: Travis Snider for his creative use of eye black during "Thank You Cito" night, and The Man with the Golden Arm from 1 Blue Jays Way for his Opening Night 'stache.

Apologies to all the other Blue Jays moustaches to whom I could not include on the list, but there was just so much awesomeness that it was extremely difficult just whittling it down to even twenty.

Often times I think we take for granted just how fortunate we are to have so many great players wear the moustache as a sort of Blue Jays code of honour. Feel free to leave any suggestions in the comments or remark on your favourite Blue Jays Moustache of All Time.

Who has the best Blue Jays moustache of all time?

Run, Rajai, Run

Thursday, November 18, 2010  |  by 

Well ladies and gentlemen, we have our first Blue Jays blindside trade of the offseason.

This one seemingly came out of nowhere, as the Oakland A’s dealt Rajai Davis to Toronto for a pair of Double A relievers Trystan Magnuson and Daniel Farquhar.

Can anybody honestly say they saw that one coming? Seriously, Alex Anthopoulos is becoming the silent assassin of baseball executives. It’s like he comes in, raids the cupboard, makes himself a sandwich and is gone before other executives even knew he was there in the first place.

Tao and Navin both have a couple of great first impressions in the Rajai Davis trade, and I share their sentiments. Davis might light the basepaths on fire with his gazelle-like speed, but unless he draws more than 26 walks in a season, he’s not going to be the leadoff guy the Blue Jays have sought out for many years now.

Looking back, the Blue Jays haven’t had a player on the roster who swiped 50 bases in a single season since Shannon Stewart in 1998. Even if he only projects as a fourth outfielder, Rajai Davis is a dangerous weapon on the bench that John Farrell can deploy late in games.

Listen, I love John McDonald as much as the next guy, but his days as the token pinch runner are over.

And let's not rule out the option where Jose Bautista plays third base everyday, and Rajai Davis becomes the everyday left/right fielder. It's certainly an option the Blue Jays can entertain if they can't land somebody like Alex Gordon or Gordon Beckham.

This Rajai Davis trade doesn't solve all the Blue Jays lineup woes by any means, but at least it allows them a little bit of wiggle room in the outfield and some extra speed on the bench.

Image courtesy of Daylife via Getty Images

Just to Reiterate, His Name is Dan Uggla

Monday, November 15, 2010  |  by 

His name is Dan Uggla, and according to Buster Olney ... he could be the newest member of the Toronto Blue Jays.

Out of all the names the Blue Jays have been associated with so far this offseason, I have to say that Dan Uggla is the one that surprises and intrigues me the most.

I guess that's because most folks were banking that the Marlins second baseman would sign a four-year contract extension with Florida, and that would be the end of it. However, now that talks have broken off, it appears Dan Uggla will be on the move.

But is it a good idea for the Blue Jays to swoop in and try to snag him?

It's a question that comes with many working parts to consider. Firstly, if Toronto brings in Dan Uggla, does that mean Aaron Hill moves to third base, or does Uggla play first base? It feels like the Blue Jays are poised to shift Hill to third base anyway, so this would just fast forward those plans.

Or could the Blue Jays even shift Dan Uggla to the hot corner? With a void at third base and all intentions of keeping Jose Bautista in the outfield, Dan Uggla could certainly fill one of those corner infielder voids on the roster.

My instincts tell me that a player like Dan Uggla isn't going to be too keen on being traded to a new team and then being taken away from his native position and reassigned as a corner infielder.

Dan Uggla is under team control for one more season, and with another All-Star worthy season behind him, Uggla stands to make somewhere in the neighbourhood of $10 million dollars in 2011 if we're going by how his contract years have gone in the past.

Yes, this is the very same Dan Uggla who committed three errors in the 2010 All-Star Game, but it's also the same guy who has hit at least 27 homers each year in his first five seasons in the majors.

His reputation with the bat precedes his reputation with the glove, but that's just something the Blue Jays will have to accept if they do in fact attempt to get Uggla.

The bigger question though is what would the Blue Jays have to give up to get Dan Uggla? To get some feedback from the other side of the trade, I asked Michael Jong from Marlin Maniac which players he would like to see in return from the Blue Jays:
"I think the only thing the Marlins can honestly get back for Dan Uggla is assets worth about $10M in surplus value. That equates to about a Top 75-100 prospect, which matches up nicely with someone like Travis d'Arnaud.

With the catching depth the Blue Jays, they can likely afford to trade from an area of strength to acquire a big bat like Uggla's. If the Jays opt for trading one of their surplus starting pitchers, the Marlins would also be interested.

While Brett Cecil would be the most intriguing name given his left-handed status, he's likely to provide too much value for the Jays to trade away. Shaun Marcum would be a more realistic offer, but the Marlins would be less likely to take Marcum because of his arbitration status.

A left-hander like Cecil or Marc Rzepczynski along with low minors filler would be enough for the Marlins if we were being realistic. Unfortunately, I think the Marlins are valuing Dan Uggla a bit more than that."
Nobody ever wants to part with highly-touted prospects, but that's the kind of deal AA is going to have to make if he wants to land an All-Star second baseman like Dan Uggla. As Michael suggested, Travis d'Arnaud appears to be the most likely prospect to be floated in the deal.

There almost certainly would be a starting pitcher involved in the trade as well, and guys like Brett Cecil, Shaun Marcum, Marc Rzepczynski and Brad Mills are all names that could be involved in trade talks with the Florida Marlins.

One thing's for sure, if Alex Anthopoulos is seriously considering Dan Uggla at second base, it doesn't feel like a long-term solution for the Blue Jays. Maybe AA's just hoping he can parlay Uggla into a couple of Type A draft picks or he get a decent haul at the trade deadline.

Only the man behind the curtain truly knows what's going on, and maybe that call Alex Anthopoulos received before his flight to Orlando was Marlins GM Michael Hill saying "let's make a deal".

Let's Pour One Out For Our Departed Blue Jays

I'd like to take a brief moment to say so long to our departed Blue Jays: Edwin Encarnacion, Brian Tallet, and DeWayne Wise.

Looking back, it's incredible to think that Cito Gaston penciled in Brian Tallet as this team's first starter. I think Tallet was a bit of a victim of circumstance, as he was a pretty decent middle reliever prior to 2010.

He was a serviceable arm which got a bit of a bad rap this past year. Cito should have known better than to insert him into high leverage situations, and as expected, it often led to Brian Tallet getting lit up by opposing hitters.

Edwin Encarnacion's tenure in Toronto was a little less storied than Brian Tallet's. He had the daunting task of being the successor to the 7-time Gold Glove award winner Scott Rolen. Encarnacion's defense at the hot corner was never pretty, and maybe it was magnified by the fact that Scott Rolen made it look so effortless.

I really feel like EE was the kind of player we were all waiting for to break out, but it just never happened. And then when folks were ready to write Edwin Encarnacion off, he would come up big with a clutch home run.

DeWayne Wise was another one of Cito Gaston's favourites that is now moving in to future endeavors. Aside from some speed on the base paths and some great defense in the outfield, I can't think of any other reasons to hang onto Wise other than he would be a cheap option.

By letting Brian Tallet, Edwin Encarnacion and DeWayne Wise go, you get the sense that Alex Anthopoulos is trying to turn the page on the old era. They may not have been the greatest Blue Jays of all time, but let's pour a little liquor for our homies.

Silver Lining Season Makes Bautista a Silver Slugger

Friday, November 12, 2010  |  by 

Another day, another award for Jose Bautista. This time, the Blue Jays outfielder/third baseman/beard aficionado picked up the 2010 Silver Slugger Award.

This one was basically a no-brainer as Bautista led the major leagues in home runs and he dwarfed his closest competition in the AL (Paul Konerko) by a Jhonny Peralta season's worth of home runs (15).

So now Jose Bautista is the Blue Jays single season home run record holder, the 2010 American League Hank Aaron Award winner, and a 2010 Silver Slugger Award winner.

All I can say is Jose better use the money from his impending offseason raise to build an awards wing extension on his house.

One last thing: I don't know if this is a freaky coincidence or what, but the filter I used in Photoshop for the above photo was called "BAS Relief". Who knew the Bautista Appreciation Society even had it's own Photoshop filter?

Who is the New Face of the Franchise?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010  |  by 

Everywhere you look, there are new faces within the Toronto Blue Jays organization. In just over 12 months, there has been a complete facelift: there's a new president, general manager, manager, and now a new coaching staff.

And since it's a new regime, that means the changes translate on the field as well. Which leads us to the burning question: since there's a new face just about everywhere else, who is the new face of the franchise?

It all came to head as I was trying to figure out which players to put on the new Blue Jay Hunter banner. I had to think long and hard about which players represent the brand new direction of the Toronto Blue Jays.

Generally speaking, the Blue Jays have at least two or three marketable players in mind before the season comes to an end. This past year, it was Adam Lind and Aaron Hill who were featured prominently in their marketing material such as pocket and magnet schedules.

Just a few weeks ago, I received my 2011 season magnet in the mail, and which Blue Jays were featured? None other than Jose Bautista, Vernon Wells, and Shaun Marcum. Apparently that's mirrored as well inside the 2011 pocket schedules.

Not that a franchise player is necessarily crowned or announced, but you get the sense that each team has a "go-to guy". One could argue that the Blue Jays really haven't had a true franchise player since the days of Carlos Delgado and most recently, Roy Halladay.

Before I delve into who the next face of the franchise could possibly be, maybe we should explore what exactly constitutes a franchise player.

In my mind, a franchise guy has to be somebody who's with the team for the long haul and either under team control for several seasons or signed to a multi-year contract. Automatically, names that fall into that category are Ricky Romero, Adam Lind, Vernon Wells, and depending on how many options are picked up, Aaron Hill.

They also have to be somebody who has displayed they aren't flash in the pan or a one-season wonder. That's my reasoning for ruling out somebody like Jose Bautista because as much as I love the guy, he's going to have an uphill battle trying to match his stellar 2010 season. The bar has been set so incredibly high for him that anything less than 54 home runs in the eyes of some fans will be a disappointment.

One of the intangibles of a franchise player is they have to be an ambassador for the team. Somebody who isn't afraid to speak to the media ... especially after those tough losses. A player who's very visible in the community, and is a good presence in the clubhouse: like Vernon Wells or Jose Bautista.

Now the organization has pretty much decided who their franchise guys are going to be for the next year, but I'm interested to hear what you guys think.

Which Blue Jay is the new face of the franchise? Take a second to vote in the poll below and/or leave a comment with your thoughts.

Who is the new face of the franchise?

On the pitching front, I'd have to say the man who's leading the charge is Ricky Romero. Armed with a new 5-year deal, RR Cool Jay isn't going anywhere any time soon. And he even avoided the sophomore slump and actually performed a little better in his second full season than his first.

In my mind, Ricky Romero has quickly become a solid 200+ innings pitcher and is on the cusp of being crowned as the staff ace.

As far as position players are concerned, my vote for the new face of the franchise is Travis Snider. It's been a long battle for Snider since his big league debut in 2008, and I truly think that 2011 will be his make or break season.

We've seen glimpses of brilliance from Travis Snider over the past three years, and hopefully it's not something that's ill fated. He definitely has the potential to be the new face of this franchise, and maybe his foray into the Twittersphere was the first step in that direction.

But if I had to pick between Ricky Romero and Travis Snider as the new face of the Toronto Blue Jays, I would have to give the slight edge to Ricky Romero.

I realize we only have two seasons and just 388 major league innings to go from, but even at the lowest of his lows, Ricky Romero is still a pretty damn good pitcher.

As far as Travis Snider is concerned, I'm still a little bit apprehensive to say he's the new face of the franchise. The one thing that Snider has going for him that Romero doesn't? At this point in his career, Snider's ceiling is much higher.

We pretty much know what to expect from Ricky Romero going forward. However with Travis Snider, he could be a 20 home run hitter, he could be a 30 home run hitter, hell ... he could even be a 40 home run hitter.

Either way, I'm happy with either (or even both) of these guys being the new face of the Toronto Blue Jays.

The Best Moustaches in Baseball: Part Three

Monday, November 8, 2010  |  by 

Does the moustache make the man, or does the man make the moustache? Personally, it's a question that I've pondered for many years and still haven't discovered an answer.

Historically, baseball has been one of the largest professional sports to prominently feature moustache-clad players. And naturally over the years, this has created an vast talent pool of guys to choose from who have donned a lip sweater.

In honour of “Movember”, we’re taking a third look at some of the best cookie dusters that America’s national pastime has ever seen. Think of this as the “Return of the Jedi” of Moustaches - without any further adieu, here is the third installment of The Best Moustaches in Baseball.

Pete Vuckovich

Who knew that this blast from the past was part of the inaugural 1977 Blue Jays roster? Pete Vuckovich didn’t start growing his ‘stache until the 80’s with the Milwaukee Brewers, and his fu manchu quickly became one of the best in the American League. A pitcher by trade, Vuckovich also made made an appearance in the film “Major League” as the character Clu Haywood.

Bill Buckner

Most folks know Bill Buckner as the guy who let one slip between his legs, however he should also be remember for letting one hell of a caterpillar grow between his nose and mouth. As you can see, Buckner was a very furry fellow, as the girth of his moustache also matched his eyebrows. So really, it looks like Bill Buckner has three moustaches on his face.

Catfish Hunter

At one point in his career, Catfish Hunter was the highest paid pitcher in the game. And rightfully so, moustache upkeep back in the day probably ate into 25% of a baseball player’s salary alone. Catfish Hunter along his Oakland A’s teammates Ken Holtzman and Rollie Fingers were involved in the infamous facial hair contest of 1972. Rollie obviously won.

Davey Lopes

Much to the effect of Tom Selleck, there are some men that you just can’t picture without a moustache. For the better part of his career, Davey Lopes has always had a ‘stache: from his playing days, to a brief stint as a manager of Brewers, and it has now transformed into a goatee as a first base coach with the Phillies.

Eddie Murray – Orioles

No, that isn’t the “Rent Is Too Damn High” guy, it’s Hall of Famer Eddie Murray. Aside from his offensive threat and Golden Glove, Murray will be remembered for his ability to connect his sideburns to his moustache which can only be described as the “epitome of awesome” in the facial follicle arts.

Bobby Valentine

Bobby Valentine owned perhaps the most notorious fake moustache in history, but I couldn’t get away with excluding this creative number. We all remember how he was tossed from a game, only to emerge later donning a moustache and glasses. Let’s just say that if that’s the kind of disguise Bobby Valentine can come up with, he shouldn’t quit his day job to be an employee for the Witness Protection Program.

Dennis Lamp

In the cavern of darkness of facial hair, Dennis Lamp is the beacon that guides us towards the light of amazing moustaches. Lamp spent 19 seasons in the majors, 3 of which were with the Toronto Blue Jays. He will always be remembered for not only his curveball, but the curvature on his moustache.

Luis Tiant

Here's another moustache lifer, Luis Tiant, who still has his signature handlebars to this day. Tiant's moustache complied with the infamous New York Yankees facial hair policy, which kind of makes me respect him even more. And Luis Tiant also has his own line of cigars, which may or may not smell of rich mahogany and leather-bound books.

There you have it folks - the third round of the Best Moustaches in Baseball. If you think there's anyone that I've missed that hasn't already been covered in part one, part two please email me and I'll be sure to include them next year.

For the time being, I'm attempting to follow in the footsteps of our facial follicle forefathers and growing a moustache of my own for Movember. Please check out my Mo Space and donate if you can.

So after seeing all those beautifully constructed moustaches, it all comes back to the question posed at the beginning of this blog post: does the man make the moustache, or does the moustache make the man?

I can't help but think it's a little bit of both.

May the Hot Stove Keep Us Warm This Winter

Thursday, November 4, 2010  |  by 

I hate to sound like the typical Canadian, but I am not a fan of winter. I especially hate it because it means one thing: baseball is in hibernation.

Admittedly, I'm a one-sport man. You won't find me watching hockey, basketball, football or soccer ... I am solely faithful and hopelessly devoted to the sport of baseball.

That's why I find the coming months especially troublesome because there really isn't all that much to look forward to until pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training camp on February 13th.

The million dollar question of "who will manage the Blue Jays" has already been answered, so all that's left to decide between now and Opening Day are possible trades and free agent signings. There could be some buzz at the Winter Meetings in December as well, but that's about it.

As you can expect, since baseball is going into hibernation, you can probably expect things to be quiet around here for the next few months. It won't be completely inactive by any means, as there will still be a few posts up each week for people to ponder.

For the time being, Acid Flashback Fridays will be going into hibernation this winter as well. My reasoning behind that decision is it's surprisingly difficult to unearth new dirt from the past each week, and I don't want to exhaust all the possible ideas before we even get to Opening Day 2011.

However, I will be banking lots of great features for Acid Flashback Friday and rest assured they will return stronger than ever in the New Year.

Something to look forward to in the coming days: The Best Moustaches in Baseball will be making a return with its third installment. Part three will feature some of the most obscure yet outstanding 'staches from the past, and I really hope you guys will enjoy it.

This is of course all in honour of Movember which benefits Prostate Cancer Canada, and I encourage you to check out my Movember page and please donate. Even if it's just a dollar, every little bit helps. Thank you and keep checking back for 'mo updates!

Torturous Spending Pays Off For San Francisco Giants

Tuesday, November 2, 2010  |  by 

First off, congrats to Steve Perry and the San Francisco Giants on becoming the 2010 World Series Champions. Not many people outside of the Bay Area expected the Giants to win it all this year, and that just goes to show you that essentially the regular season means nothing once it comes to October.

I think in looking at the 2010 San Francisco Giants, fans of the Toronto Blue Jays can seek solace in the fact that the Giants weren't a team one would regard as "stacked" like the New York Yankees.

Instead, the Giants were comprised of the proverbial "Island of Misfit Players" featuring many role-players that stepped up when they needed to.

Brian Sabean will be heralded for constructing this winning roster, but he wasn't impervious to some bad contracts. He may be the World Series MVP, but the fact remains the Giants paid a 35 year old Edgar Renteria $9 million dollars to play shortstop this season.

Sabean was also the genius who signed Aaron Rowand to a 5 year/$60 million dollar contract. And then of course, there's the man who was left off the playoff roster entirely: Barry Zito. He'll get a ring this year as well, but it cost the Giants $18.5 million.

I'm not sure exactly what I'm trying to say here, but I think the message I'm attempting to convey is that despite all these bad deals the Giants have on the books, they still somehow managed to win the World Series.

As a whole, the San Francisco Giants organization took some swings and missed on a couple contracts, but the only way to hit the ball is to swing for the fences.

With cost-cutting measures over these past few seasons in Toronto, as fans I think we've become accustomed to the Blue Jays keeping a low payroll and not making big splashes in the free agent market.

While that strategy seems to be working, the only way to kick it into overdrive is to spend. That means going after top-quality free agents and willing to pay and in some cases even overpay for them. Because at the end of the day, it's just money ... right?

As this organization has done in the past with the likes of B.J. Ryan and Frank Thomas, contracts have been cast aside. I know this new regime is a little gun shy of delving out big deals to free agents, but I'm afraid it's something that needs to be done if the Blue Jays are going to make headway within the next 5 years.

It's not like the cash being saved on salary each year is being put into a jar and is going towards the next season's payroll. With the Tampa Bay Rays cutting payroll and set to have an off-season fire sale, the window of opportunity within the American League East will only be open for a limited time.

It might be the 12-year old kid in me who discovers a blank cheque, but I say spend it like you stole it. The San Francisco Giants did ... and it won them a World Series.

Image courtesy of Daylife

Joey Bats Wins Hammerin' Hank Honours

Monday, November 1, 2010  |  by 

We all know Jose Bautista had a MVP caliber season in 2010: well ... now he's starting to be awarded like a Most Valuable Player.

Bautista picked up the first of which I'm sure are many more awards to come after he was named the recipient of the Hank Aaron Award. It honours the best offensive players in each league, and are decided upon by the fans, and current hall of famers.

As the accolades start to roll in for Bautista, it will likely increase his value in the eyes of the arbitrators if and when the Blue Jays go to arbitration with him in the coming months.

The only issue I have with Jose Bautista was his tie selection. It's difficult to gauge exactly what the pattern is, but from afar it looks like a collage of baseballs. Joey Votto on the other hand looked very GQ is his basic black & white ensemble.

I can't really knock Jose Bautista though since he hit 54 home runs, he can pretty much wear whatever the hell he wants. Congratulations Jose and keep those awards coming!

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