Showing posts with label Oakland A's. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Oakland A's. Show all posts

Friday, April 8, 2011

The Frasor Effect

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Is that the blues you hear a-calling?
Anyone order a tossed salad and scrambled eggs?

Jason Frasor may have been on the hook for the loss yesterday against the Oakland A's, but it was hardly entirely his fault. I realize fans need a scapegoat to blame for the apparent "implosion", and that's all well and good. Frasor doesn't deserve the criticism though.

Not to say that Jason Frasor didn't have some part in the loss, but you can't hook the loss on him entirely. The runner at third base was inherited from Romero, and the wild pitch/passed ball took a bad bounce and gave Coco Crisp a second life on the basepaths.

Frasor's outing was the second consecutive appearance in which he's gone from having absolute control of the ballgame to nearly letting it nearly slip away entirely. It's something I'd like to call "the Frasor Effect".

More often than not, Jason Frasor will enter a game and relitavely shut things down. There are other times however, where he walks the tightrope between dominance and being dominated himself.

The two games are perfect examples; on Tuesday he struck out the side, but he also surrendered a solo home run, a single and hit a batter.

It was more of the same yesterday when he struck out two, but was tagged for two stolen bases, a single and a wild pitch.

This pattern isn't limited to this season alone either. I remember a similar game where the Frasor Effect also took place last year against the New York Yankees.

In that particular occasion Frasor struck out Swisher, intentionally walked Teixeira, let a wild pitch go to A-Rod but then promptly struck him out, gave up a single to Cano, then intentionally walked Posada.

I think these situations happen be magnified because Frasor enters a lot of high leverage situations. If he were to uncork a wild pitch or hit a batter with the bases empty, not a big deal. When the manager inserts him with a runner on base, it's an entirely different story.

Even taking the Frasor Effect into consideration, there's something about Jason that makes him easy to root for. I noted over at Rants Above Replacement that he's like a shorter less intimidating version of Jonathan Papelpon.

So whenever you see Jason Frasor take the mound again, make sure you buckle in because the Frasor Effect could flare up again and we might see another white-knuckle outing.

Screen caps of JayFray's outings courtesy of the always amazing Baseball Reference.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Snider's Smashing Stache

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Image courtesy of  Daylife via Reuters Pictures
First and foremost, let's all wish Yunel Escobar a speedy recovery. Initially that slide he took into third base looked innocent, but the replays and photos showed otherwise.

It gave me a flashback to Justin Morneau's slide into John McDonald's leg last summer. That one looked pretty harmless at first glance as well, but Morneau ended up missing the remainder of the season with a concussion.

After Yunel came back out to the field he showed the ill effects of the hit, basically stopping short of seeing birds fly around his head.

When it comes to head hits, you can never be too cautious, so the Blue Jays need to play this one safe and not worry about rushing Escobar back. They'll certainly miss his bat in the lineup and his glove up the middle, but Johnny Mac can definitely hold down the fold in the meantime.

Now, regarding Travis Snider; all I can say is ... wow. Nothing is more pleasing to the ears than the ball coming of Snider's bat. It's like listening to Beethoven's 9th Symphony ... if Beethoven were a moustachioed meat connoisseur.

Jesse Litsch came through with a quality start (for my fantasy team nonetheless) and thus currently leads the "Don't Send Me to Vegas" Sweepstakes between himself and Jo-Jo Reyes.

Litsch picked up his first victory since June 19th of last year and overall it was a solid effort from the Blue Jays fifth starter. Look around the league and Jesse actually compares pretty well to other rotation's back-end starters.

As far as Jesse’s Game Score is concerned, he ranked a 54 which wasn’t one of the best of his career, but it wasn’t one of the worst either. I think his performance last night foreshadowed what we can expect from him in 2011.

Ultimately, I expect him to become the poster boy for middle of the road starting pitching. Just picture Joe Blanton with freckles and a Yukon Cornelius beard.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Yunibomber Strikes

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Image courtesy of Daylife via Reuters Pictures
No Jose Bautista, no problem!
Or as Yunel Escobar would say, "N hay José Bautista no hay problema".

While Jose was off tending to family matters, Yunel Escobar picked up where Bautista usually leaves off and was the one who pulled off the late-inning heroics.

Just to show you how crazy of a game baseball is, Adam Lind swung at the first pitch during Sunday's game and came up just short of sending the game to extras. Yunel Escobar swings at the first pitch last night and wins the game.

I have to say, you have to admire the resilience of a team that came all the way back from a five run deficit and managed to storm a comeback in walk-off fashion. The mantra "hustle & heart" certainly applied last night.

Jo-Jo Reyes wasn't exactly spectacular in his Blue Jays debut, but I wouldn't say it's cause to drop him off the roster already. It was one bad outing, and the A's somehow managed to keep pulling the ball down the third base line.

Not to sound like a Jo-Jo Reyes apologist, but his BABIP was a mind-blowing .563. The Oakland A's hit a total of 6 line drives off Reyes. Admittedly an extremely small sample size after just one start, but I think Reyes was a little unlucky.

Had it not been for some stellar defense up the middle, the score could have been much worse. Aaron Hill and Yunel Escobar were trying their damndest to keep that ball on the infield, as was Jayson Nix. With each hit, it seemed like Nix was just narrowly missing those shots down the third base line.

Much like Brett Cecil's outing on Sunday, it was great defense that kept the Blue Jays in the game and prevented their opponents from really doing some damage.

Lady luck finally came through for the Blue Jays in the latter innings when Kevin Kouzmanoff and Brandon McCarthy combined to gift-wrap a bunch of unearned runs for the Blue Jays. Some heads up baserunning by Rajai Davis and Yunel Escobar also contributed towards the comeback.

While there were a lot of great things to take away from that game, one negative thing that stood out was the play of Juan Rivera. I realize he's an older player and a little banged up, but you'd think he'd at least attempt to run out a grounder or make it from first to third.

Aside from that and Jo-Jo Reyes being nickel and dimed to death, it was an overall solid effort by the Blue Jays. Nothing like getting that walk-off win out of the way early in the season.

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?

Sunday, May 2, 2010

An Afternoon of Firsts

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First Win for Shaun Marcum

After four no-decisions, Shaun Marcum finally received his first win of the season. His teammates picked him up with nine runs in support, which oddly enough equal and the total run support Marcum had received in five previous starts.

First Home Run for Fred Lewis

Fred Lewis also hit his first home run of the season. Although Lewis wasn't really brought into Toronto to add power, it's nice to see that Lewis has the potential to go yard when need be. Yesterday's baserunning blunder didn't curtail his aggressiveness on the basepaths, and Lewis picked up another stolen base.

First Game with Three Doubles for John Buck

It was also John Buck's first triple-double game of his career. That goes along with his three home run game just a few days ago. It's also safe to say that Buck has had one hell of a week: he went 9 for 21 with 3 home runs, and 4 doubles.

First Series with More Than 4.75 Runs Per Game

Another first for the team this year: thanks in part to the nine runs scored this afternoon, for the first time this season the Blue Jays averaged more than 4.75 runs per game in a series.

The previous high was 19 total runs scored against the series versus the Chicago White Sox in their four game series at the Rogers Centre earlier in April.

The Blue Jays totaled 28 runs against the Oakland A's in this four game series and prior to that, the Jays were averaging 4.48 runs per game. Against Oakland, they averaged 7 runs scored per game.

Friday, April 30, 2010

For Buck's Sake

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Image courtesy of Daylife
What a night for John Buck: three home runs, five RBI's, and a temporary reprieval from Cito's imaginary doghouse.

Buck couldn't have picked a better time to bust out of his slump - going into last night's game, Buck was 2 for 29 in the past four series which translated a .074 batting average.

Not that a 30 at-bat slump warrants being benched, but maybe John Buck needed that game off on Wednesday to clear his thoughts and focus on one thing: the long ball.

Buck jumped all over the Oakland A's pitching as seen below, with a breakdown of the Pitch F/X from all three home runs courtesy of Brooks Baseball.

Home Run vs. Justin Duchscherer
-68 MPH Curveball


Home Run vs. Blevins
-85 MPH Changeup


Home Run vs. Bresler (6th inning)
-90 MPH Fastball

Not to take anything away from John Buck's incredible game at the plate, but those pitches were directly in his wheelhouse. Toss a couple of off-speed pitches directly into the wheelhouse of Vernon Wells, Aaron Hill, Adam Lind, or even Jose Bautista and they will destroy them as well.

While Buck normally hacks away at pitches inside and down in the zone, he connected on two breaking balls and one fastball right in his sweet spot.

Ordinarily, we would've seen Buck sent packing taking big cuts at pitches low in the zone, but he had the timing down perfectly on Duchscherer's curveball and Blevins' changeup.

So just a quick scouting report for opponents facing him in the future: just like Randy Ruiz can't pass up a McRib sandwich, John Buck can't resist anything low and off the left side of the plate.

Friday, May 8, 2009

TGIF Tidbits

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CBS Sports Writer Scott Miller put together a really great article about Scott Richmond that chronicles his journey from working on the shipyard docks in Vancouver to his current spot on the starting rotation with the Blue Jays. Also, next week there will be a special interview on The Blue Jay Hunter with someone who happens to be a Scott Richmond expert analyst. Stay posted to find out who it is!

Casey Janssen had a great outing in Dunedin yesterday going 5 strong innings and only giving up 1 run on 4 hits. It looks like Janssen will make one more rehab start before joining the Blue Jays for the first time since September of 2007. I think the Blue Jays are still eyeing a May 17th return for Janssen, and I imagine that he will likely take Robert Ray’s spot in the rotation. I’ve always though Casey Janssen was best as a bullpen specialist, but I can’t wait for him to bring some much-needed experience to the starting rotation.

I know that the Oakland A’s are the opponent at hand this weekend, but we’re counting down the days to when the New York Yankees come to Toronto on Tuesday. It will be the epic match up of mentor versus protégé when Roy Halladay faces off against A.J. Burnett. As if that wasn’t enough fuel for the fire, Alex Rodriguez will also be in the lineup for the Yankees. Let the media circus begin.

Slowly but surely, our friends south of the border are starting to take notice of the Blue Jays. Yesterday on “Around the Horn”, the panel discussed whether or not the Jays are for real, with most of them saying that they do have what it takes to compete in the AL East. Check out the podcast and fast forward to the 13:40 mark to pick up on the Jays chat.

Just in case you were wondering, 19 percent of the 2009 season is complete and the Toronto Blue Jays have been in first place for a total of 27 days. Believe it!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Game Overbay

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For the moment, I'll take anything back anything bad I said about the Blue Jays marketing department planning a Lyle Overbay Bobblehead Giveaway Day.

Although Brian Tallet didn't pick up the win, The Stache still came through with an impromptu start, limiting the Oakland A's to just 2 runs over 5 innings. And as much turmoil as the bullpen has been in the past few weeks, the Jays pitched 7 innings of scoreless relief. In guess in retrospect, keeping Brandon League in yesterday's game an inning too long was the right move.

Alex Rios finally came through with a hit today, and for the time being has dug himself out of his slump. I didn't finally catch the game until the bottom of the 9th, with runners on 1st and 3rd with nobody out. I couldn't help but notice that Marco Scutaro was very badly positioned on the basepaths after Vernon's infield hit to the second baseman - Scoots had no chance to even turn back before he was tagged out.

But thankfully that was not the play that most people will remember from today's game. Instead it will be the image above and the glory that comes with the Blue Jays second walk-off win of the season. Congratulations boys, you deserve it. Job well done.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Moneyball Book Review

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I don’t read books very often. In fact, I think maybe I’ve read one book in the last 5 years. So it’s saying something when I actually get around to finishing a book. Once every so often, I hear about a book that drives me to seek it out. This time, it was Michael Lewis’ "Moneyball".

For those who aren’t familiar with Moneyball, it’s basically about Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane, and how he managed to build a team to compete with financial juggernauts like the Yankees with a mere $41 million dollar payroll. The first part of the book follows Billy’s trials as a player himself, but then begins to focus on how he became a very successful GM within a short period of time.

One of the main points of the book is basically that all those miniscule baseball statistics don’t really matter, and that the two big statistics that really count are OBP (on base percentage) and SLG (slugging percentage), or the hybrid of the two OPS (on base plus slugging percentage). Beane denounces the thought of “manufacturing runs” by playing small ball, and places the emphasis on simply getting on base.

Another focus of Moneyball is avoiding overpaying for talent. This was demonstrated by the 2002 Oakland A’s, and how they managed to let go of three of their biggest players (Jason Giambi, Carlos Pena, and Johnny Damon) and yet still win over 100 games and make the playoffs. The Moneyball business model seemed to be “buy low, sell high” - trade young players at their peak value, and attempt to strike gold by signing some old veterans to small money contracts.

The book does have some connections to the Toronto Blue Jays, most notably with J.P. Ricciardi and Keith Law. Ricciardi did spend some time in the Oakland A’s front office as Director of Player Personnel. A few years later when J.P. emerged as the new GM for the Blue Jays, he started to apply the Moneyball business model to the Jays, just as Beane had to the Oakland Athletics.

Overall, I thought that Moneyball was a great read and it helped shed some light on the business aspect of baseball. It helped me understand the struggles that General Managers and club head offices have with issues like payroll, free agents, and winning at all costs. It's a "must-read" for any baseball fan who wants to delve into the business side of the game.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Prey on the Weak

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Remember that kid in public school who got tormented to no end? As an innocent bystander, you wanted to jump in and help but you didn’t want to get pummeled yourself - so you joined the bully and tormented that kid until eventually they stopped showing up for school.

That’s what it must be for the Oakland A’s right now.

They have lost 10 straight, and 20 of the last 22 since the All-Star break. That’s fuckin’ brutal - like Barbara Streisand brutal. Before the break the Oakland A’s were still in contention in the AL West, but now they don’t have a chance in hell.

Thank the Blue Jays for preying on the weak; the bluebirds swept the A’s four straight with 2 come-from-behind wins. Talk about kicking a team when it’s down, eh? But the Jays better get their wins in while they’re easy to come by; starting next Friday it’s 6 with the Yankees, 6 with the Red Sox, and 3 with the Rays. That is a make-or-break 2 weeks for the Blue Jays - and same goes for the Yanks, Sawks, and Rays too. But with Vernon back in the lineup next week, I will feel a little more confident in the offense for the time being.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

And Your Savior Is … Kevin Mench?

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I can’t remember the last time the phrases “walk-off hit” and “Kevin Mench” were included in the same sentence. But thanks to that bald-headed bastard, the Jays won in dramatic fashion scoring 2 in the bottom of the 9th and beating the A’s 5-4.

I knew Mench’s head was big, but I had no idea his head was a size 8 - wow, that is an ogre of a fucking head. Originally it seemed like the only motivation for J.P. Ricciardi to sign Mench was for an eventual “Kevin Mench Oversized Bobblehead Day”, but now he’s actually doing okay as a utility player.

Aside from his obvious GINORMOUS melon, Mench is still sporting his Texas Rangers threads in all his profile pages on ESPN and Yahoo! Baseball. Dude - get over it, that was over two years ago you left Texas. Either that, or get on that fucking webmaster to change those pictures!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Frank, You Slut!

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For me, the easiest way to explain the Frank Thomas transpirings over the last week, is to compare it to dating a girl on the rebound.

Originally, she is very excited to date you; because you are a new face, and offer some things that her previous man didn’t. Like an $8 million dollar promise ring, that you’ll be together for a few years. But after about one year, she eventually gets tired and bored. Then after one big fight, it’s all over; you go your own separate ways. Sadly, you didn’t even get a chance to say goodbye.

Then you find out a few days later, that she’s back with her original boyfriend, and she still gets to keep the $8 million dollar promise ring. All of this, while some other guy shows her his slippery salami.

Sounds about right, doesn’t it?

Friday, April 11, 2008

Reverse Sweep

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After sweeping the Red Sox three straight, on Monday I felt as if I was at the top of the world. Finally, the Blue Jays were going to make the playoffs this year. Then, like most dreams - it came crashing to halt.

With each three games that the Blue Jays lost, they were either winning or it was a tied game going into the top of the 9th - so it’s not like they never had chances to win. For me, it seemed like it was the utter collapse of the bullpen that did them in.

Watching Brandon League pitch last night, was like watching a lost puppy trying to find his way down an alley in the Bronx. He had almost no control on his pitches, and loaded the bases multiple times. If I were Gibby, I would have next to no confidence in him at this point in the season.

The Blue Jays were outscored 21-7 in the series; and now know what it feels like to be the Boston Red Sox. This is an early reality check for the team this season. Albeit, a series loss to Oakland is not the end of the world, but it is a sign of things to come if the team doesn’t start working better together.



Roid Report - Ed Sprague Confession

Former Jays third basemen Ed Sprague admitted that he used Androstenedione and amphetamines before they were illegal in baseball. When asked, he couldn’t say exactly when he used them, but he indicated it was probably mid to late 90’s. Sprague played with the Jays till ’98, then was bounced around by 5 teams till 2001 before retiring.

Really, none of this surprises me - take a look at his career year:
.247 AVG, 36 HR, 101 RBI

It kind of stands out, considering his season average for HR was around 16. Though, I don’t hold that against him - at the time, it wasn’t illegal. And I’m sure Sosa and McGwire were using at the time too. I just wish that they made the amphetamines in tobacco form - then that would’ve explained everything.
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