Toronto Baseball Guys
10 Reasons the Jays Aren't Done Yet
I was speaking to a fellow Jays fan this past weekend. His analysis regarding the team's chances?
"Oh, the Jays? Yeah, they're done."
Now, as sports fans, we're all occasionally guilty of jumping to emotional conclusions, particularly when our favourite team is blowing a lead or playing as though they're never going to win again, as the Jays were this week. But giving up when less than 10% of the schedule has elapsed?
I should preface that this guy is also a Leafs' fan. I am too, but as a group, they're not generally known for rationale thinking. Further, he tried to convince me that Vince Carter is a top-5 player in the NBA (After I rattled off about 15 better names, he relented). So you know level-headedness is not his strong suit.
That said, when your leadoff man, 35 home run slugger and closer are all sidelined, space on the team bandwagon tends to open up. So, for the panicky fan, here are 10 reasons the Jays aren't done just yet:10.
Adam Lind is very, very good9.
No one is running away from the pack in the AL. 8.
They're essentially tied with the Yankees, and no Blue Jay is on pace for 132 home runs.7.
Frank Thomas isn't going to hit .200 all year.6.
Troy Glaus is still a decent bet to hobble his way through 130-140 games.5.
At least one of the young relievers is going to bust out - Jeremy Accardo, I'm looking at you.4.
Aaron Hill is for real, like .314, 15 HRs, 40 2Bs real - and that may be conservative.3.
A.J. Burnett is pitching in April - not his best innings, but it's a lot better than Josh Towers '06 - who pitched WAY too much last April in Burnett's absence.2.
The aforementioned Towers sports an ERA of 3.44, about 7 runs better than this time last year.1.
Wins in April may be just as valuable as wins in September, but you don't have 145 catch-up games in September.
The Jays have time.
Missing the Point on Jackie Robinson Day
anniversary of Jackie Robinson's debut was handled exceptionally well by Major League Baseball.
Allowing any player who wanted to honour Robinson to wear his number 42 for the day was an inspired idea - credit to Ken Griffey Jr. Recognizing Rachel Robinson, amazingly spry for 84, prior to the Dodgers game was another fine moment.
The occasion was also used to highlight the decline in African-American players in baseball has over the past 25 years. Dave Winfield spoke rather eloquently on the subject, citing a lack of affordable programs for economically disadvantaged youth. But the media hand-wringing on the subject was a little silly, as they reported that the Houston Astros and Atlanta Braves didn't have a single African-American player.
Technically, this is true. But do you really think that Andruw Jones or Edgar Renteria would have been able to take the field back in 1935? Or Alex Rios, for that matter? Robinson's achievement was an enormous milestone in race relations in the United States, to be sure. But the larger achievement was that, from that point forth, a man on a baseball field be judged solely upon his ability. That this particular playing field would be level. Robinson's legacy extends to people throughout the world, not just Americans.
The Blue Jays expect B.J. Ryan to miss 4-6 weeks due to a strained ligament in his left elbow.
The Blue Jays will put third baseman Troy Glaus on the disabled list on Tuesday due to a sore left heel, GM J.P. Ricciardi said Monday.
Reed Johnson will undergo surgery for a herniated disc in his back and isn't expected to return before July.
Ugg. and by Ugg I mean shit.
...and don't forget Old Johnny Bat in the Crotch...
...and let's not forget Reed Johnson. This comes from Rototimes.com:According to Blue Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi, Reed Johnson (herniated disk) is deciding whether to have surgery that could sideline him for two months.
This would not be as dire as the Ryan collapse (duh...), and may even be good news for a team that really needed to find a place for young OF Adam Lind, who looks about as ready for the big-time as he's going to get. He looked a little tentative in LF his first couple games up, but his bat is ready, and with Glaus also down, we are going to need a nice non-Jason bat in the line-up.
Oh, and I like that they have moved Hill up to the #2 slot. I like the line-up much better with Overbay a little deeper in the order (and I am also quite pleased with Hill's play at 2B. He looked fearless turning that double play yesterday...I had a Robbie flashback...)
These are the Saddest of Possible Words...
And no, it ain't Tinker to Evers to Chance
These particular words are:
To whom B.J. Ryan will be paying a visit this week with some undetermined elbow inflammation. Blue Jays fans may commence panicking now.
Just kidding. The Jays are very proactive with the health of their pitchers. They were careful with Burnett last season, and with Halladay before that. Both have avoided the surgeon's table so far. This is not a club that would have put Francisco Liriano back on a mound last September.
With luck, Ryan's elbow troubles will be a mild strain that requires simple rest. There is always the possibility that this is something serious and that words like "Tommy John" and "season-ending" are around the corner. That would be a disaster for team that hopes to contend, to have a $9 million asset on the bench for at least a year.
It might be a disaster that the Jays can cope with. They have an interesting assortment of arms in the pen, with guys like Marcum, Janssen and Zambrano, who can all work multiple innings. They also have a manager in John Gibbons, who doesn't seem married to the idea of naming a "closer." Witness Sunday's game, in which Jason Frasor, the logical heir apparent to Ryan, was deemed unavailable because of his 1 1/3 innings on Saturday. In steps Marcum, who disposes of Placido Polanco, Gary Sheffield and Magglio Ordonez in order. By rotating fresh arms in and out, there's a chance that the dreaded "bullpen by committee" might actually work.
And the Jays aren't the only AL East team with some injury woes. The Yankees have placed Mike Mussina and Carl Pavano on the 15-day DL. Granted, history dictates that whenever the Yankees are forced to play a young call-up, he plays great. Fernandez hurt? Call up that Jeter kid. Tony Womack really is a washed up 35-year-old? Fine, we'll try this Robinson Cano. All the way back to Wally Pipp going down and being replaced by that Gehrig fellow. So, with any luck, the Yankees will discover a Cy Young candidate. On the bright side, uber closer Mariano Rivera crashed and burned badly on Sunday, allowing a 3-run rally with two outs in the ninth. Things are definitely not all smiles and sunshine in the Bronx.
158 - That's the Magic Number
If you think that's early, imagine my surprise as I watched Prime Time Sports Friday afternoon, and heard Bob McCown's roundtable conclude that the Blue Jays aren't going anywhere this year thanks to the unlimited pockets of the Yankees and Red Sox and a bad outing by A.J. Burnett.
McCown makes for good radio, but the extent of his baseball analysis is essentially "Things were better when Pat Gillick was here." The old canard about Burnett being a ".500 pitcher" surfaced again - won-loss record being the single best measure of a pitcher's ability, after all. Imagine how hard talk radio hosts would have been on the Yankees acquisition of Red Ruffing back in 1930. Here was a guy who was 39-96 at the time, though it doesn't mention that on his Hall of Fame plaque...
By Friday we had B.J. Ryan's first blown save of the season. Bet Ricciardi was happy this didn't happen this time last year: a Burnett drubbing and Ryan blown save within the season's first three games. "Field Day" doesn't begin to describe what the media's reaction to that would've been. Both Ryan and the Jays got back on the beam, and at 3-2, the Jays come home with a share of first place in the East.
Other observations from the first week of baseball:
- Boston's $100 million acquisition of Daisuke Matsuzaka is being heralded as a bargain, following his dominant performance against the Royals. 7 innings, 1 ER and 10 Ks is certainly a stunning debut. Kind of reminded me of another highly touted Japanese import who received a standing ovation following his own very impressive debut.
Not that Matsuzaka is going to end up as a Seinfeld punchline, but let's let him navigate through the league at least once before engraving the Cy Young.
- Frank Thomas is a very strong man.
- The Yankees are going to be involved in lots of 10-8, 9-7 type games this season. Money can paper over a lot of weaknesses mid-season, but a lack of quality starting pitchers isn't one of them. Alex Rodriguez might have to hit about 95 home runs for this team to win big.
- Alex Rodriguez may well hit 95 home runs.
- It's fashionable to refer to the Texas Rangers as having a juggernaut offense, but after Mark Teixeira and Michael Young, there's just a lot of age and uncertainty.
Bring on the Royals.
Almost Go Time
Spring Training has wrapped, and the cover is just about to be taken off the 2007 season. The Jays lineup has been set virtually all winter since the signings of Thomas and Clayton and the extension of Wells. The only other new faces are backups Matt Stairs (Can-con, woohoo!) and Jason Smith.
The real interest in Dunedin this spring was the much talked about pitching. A quick rundown on the 12 pitchers the Jays are taking north.Roy Halladay/A.J Burnett
- If they can combine for 64 starts, this will be a dangerous team.Gustavo Chacin
- Decent, likeable people do incredibly stupid things all the time. A DUI charge in which no one was hurt is a cheap lesson of considerable value. Hopefully Chacin learns from it. Still not sold on him as a #3 starter.Tomo Ohka -
Did everything you're supposed to in spring to win a job. Looks like he might be good for a solid, if unspectacular 6 innings every 5 days.Josh Towers
- The 18 Ks in 19.6 spring innings are encouraging. So was the ERA under 10... He'll certainly bounce back from last year, but he'll have to bounce back to about a 4.50 ERA to keep his job.B.J. Ryan -
There is much ado about his back, but keep in mind that the Blue Jays are very proactive when it comes to pitching health. They are Team "Precautionary Shutdown." Ryan should be very good, though probably not 1.37 ERA good - thank you very much law of averages.Jason Frasor -
The closest thing to a sure thing in the pen after Ryan, which is a little spooky, but he looked very good after his recall from AAA last season, and should be solid in the setup role.Jeremy Accardo
- I can see Accardo being the key to the Jays pen in the early going. Has the talent to be a strikeout/inning, allow-less-than-a-hit-per-inning guy, but that's all dependent on his command.Scott Downs -
Second lefty who can actually pitch complete and multiple innings.Shaun Marcum/Casey Janssen/Victor Zambrano -
The lost rotation candidates. Zambrano has been a very impressive story, less than a year removed from Tommy John surgery. It's probably a wise idea not to go hog wild and hand him a rotation spot just yet. Easing him into long relief is a sound plan.
Meanwhile, young pitchers Marcum and Janssen have the potential to take huge leaps forward - or crater... All three, as starters, give the Jays a tremendous amount of flexibility, as they can eat up multiple inning assignments and keep the rest of the pen intact while John Gibbons sorts out roles. Zambrano will get the first shot at a rotation spot if someone not named Roy or A.J. falters.
All in all, the Jays pitchers have acquited themselves well thus far. Maybe we won't be lamenting the loss of Ted Lilly and Gil Meche after all.
Anybody else ready for real games?
- Jim Turner