Toronto Baseball Guys
Saturday, July 31, 2010
  Anthony Go”o”se “Edwards”
I must say that I love change. Whether it’s growing a beard so I can shave it into funny side burns, or the time that KITT added super pursuit mode but needed to be painted black in order to get his edge back, it’s all good. Based on that, there`s nothing I love more than the trade deadline. I was really looking forward to this year, as the Jays were looking to part ways with veteran talent that I`d already cut all emotional ties with.

I enjoy trades so much that I`ve found myself scampering to my computer to check on MLBTR and ESPN every time my ten month old son was willing to release me from his line of sight without going into hysterics. I read about the Roy Oswalt deal and learned that Anthony Gose was acquired by Houston and flipped to the Jays. In classic US media style, the article failed to provide any detail from the Jays' perspective. Further inquiry took me to DrunkJaysFans which told me that Brett Wallace was the player who`d be entering the Astrodome.

Upon hearing this news I was stunned! On a scale of zero to my shock at hearing that Ben Johnson had tested positive, I`d rank it somwhere between learning of a Tour De France rider doping and Arod being a cheat. Initially I hated the deal. I`m not an expert scout or stats analyst, and I`ve certainly never watched either one of these guys play even a single inning. I can`t predict who will have the better career numbers, and my Delorian`s all out of plutonium so, like everyone else I`ll just have to wait and see.

My big problem with the trade stems from the fact that I thought the pieces were in place for the Jays to be good next year, and compete for the postseason in 2012. The rotation consists of young pitchers who have impressed and should be peaking in the next couple of years. Similarly, the lineup has a group of hitters that should be reaching their prime, and in the case of VW might be over the hill after 2012. Brett Wallace fit in perfectly with this group and this plan. He fills the projected hole at first base, and was on the verge of being called up –or so the blogosphere would have me believe- allowing him the next year and a half to learn to deal with major league pitching before the team finds themselves in a pennant race.

Trading for a 19 year old sporting the mustache of a 14 year old does not a 2012 contender make. It doesn`t matter how athletic he is! On the surface, this move seemed to be the next step in the eternal rebuilding process that Jays` fans have been subjected to for the last fifteen years…But then I thought about it a bit more and I was able to reconcile the move:

Lind at First: It`s pretty hard to find a glowing report of Wallace`s glove work, so it`s reasonable to assume that Lind could do that same kind of job there.

Arencibia`s bat: The Las Vegas catcher has put up some nice numbers this year, OPSing 0.997 with 29 HR to this point. These compare quite favourably with Wallace`s 0.868 and 18 HR. So maybe JP`s got a better bat than Wallace. It`s been suggested that Arencibia`s achilles heel might be his work behind the plate. The Jays could use him to DH next year while holding onto the same catching tandem as this year, allowing Arencibia to focus on his bat, while being mentored behind the plate by two wise veterans.

Compete soon and for a while: AA`s not just trying to build a team with a couple of successful years. He`s thinking Dynasty, and this move allows for that. Eventually the core of a team gets a bit older so it`s important to replace aging parts with good young ones. Hopefully Anthony Gose can be one of those young parts.

Rare Piece: unspectacular-fielding first basemen who can hit for average and some power are not the rarest commodity in baseball. They can usually be drafted or picked up through free agency. More rare, would be a centre fielder with range–the word “hoover” comes to mind- a cannon for an arm –reports in this morning’s Star suggest that he used to possess a 97 mph fastball-who can make an impact offensively. The offense here is the key as I’m not sure that MLB was banging down Joey Gathright’s door before the Jays signed him in the offseason.

Oddly enough, with the deletion of Wallace, next year`s line up might look okay, mind you, the trading frenzy might make a lot of this content irrelevant:
C: Buck and Molina
1B: Lind
2B: Hill
3B: Bautista
S: Escobar
LF: Lewis
CF: Wells
RF: Snider
DH: Arencibia

If Wells maintains this year`s hustle, Lewis learns how to track a fly ball and Bautista adjusts at third, there could be average or above fielding everywhere but 1B and RF.

Other Thoughts:
Has anybody noticed that Jose Bautista seems to be getting better? At a time when you would expect him to struggle due to fatigue, and league familiarity, it seems like Bautista is actually becoming more effective. He’s continuing to hit homers, and everything that isn’t out of the park seems to be an absolute laser beam. Speaking of laser beams…when will the league develop a book on Bautista’s arm? I’ll give you a hint, it’s good. AA trade him if you want, but you’d better be getting fair value in return, and I don’t think Hank Aaron is still available…but I’ve got some plutonium on order.

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Sunday, July 25, 2010
  Time to Say Goodbye

The end of July has finally arrived. The All-Star-Snoozefest has ended and the trade deadline is quickly approaching. The Jays are sellers once again and everything is all too normal in the Universe.

One thing, however, is different. This year, the Jays aren't heading into the trade deadline with the king of all scum (KOAS), J.P. Ricciardi, at the helm. The Jays are still sellers, but this year, there are no excuses, no lying about injuries, no family time in Worcester, Mass. This year, the king of all scum is using his stupid Boston accent to try and impregnate those who watched the Futures Game with his sickening ideas of how to build a ball club. What am I talking about? I'm glad you asked. During the Futures Game in All Star Weekend, the KOAS was asked for his top 5 farm systems in baseball. Wanna know where he ranked the Jays system? Number 5! "That's just a system with a ton of depth", he says. Really!? Before Ricciardi was fired, Sports Illustrated rated the Blue Jays as the 28th best farm system in the league. Since his firing and the Halladay deal (soon to be known as the Drabek deal), websites have ranked the Jays system anywhere from 22nd to 26th. Somebody, please get the ESPN Ombudsmen on this one. Between hiring the King of all Scum and airing The Decision, ESPN’s programming is deteriorating faster than Vernon Wells’ batting average. Hiyo!

On to bigger and better things...

This year, Alex Anthopoulos (or as I'll refer to him from now on, He Who Can Do No Wrong) is implementing a novel idea. He is not settling for 4th place in the division (gasp!). He actually is going to take some pieces, some that are overachieving and others that simply do not fit the plan for the future and turn them into pieces that do fit the plan and may have lower values than they should.

Of course, the Yunel Escobar trade is prime example of this. Alex Gonzalez is having a career year. Yunel Escobar is having his worst year to date. It’s textbook. Trade old for young; overachieving for underachieving; speaks a lot of English for speaks 11 words of English. It just works. Dividends are already showing. Not only has he hit some dingers and gotten on base, he might also create a hilarious feud between our baseball and radio commentators. Buck and Pat are in the ‘Yunel’ camp, Jerry and Alan are in the ‘Junel’ camp. Somebody start snapping dramatically. Bottom line: Good work, He Who Can Do No Wrong.

So, who else might HWCDNW trade come July 31st? Here are some prime candidates:

1. Scott Downs: Relief pitching: Everyone wants it. Long flowy black curly hair: Everyone wants it. Downs’s value couldn’t be higher. Cito has slotted him into his precious 8th inning slot and he is basically unhittable there. Of course, the ninth inning gives him some kind of panic attack where his blood pressure rises, he goes pale and poops his pants. But let’s just keep that between you, me and the other 3 readers of this blog. Should we trade him? Of course. Let’s not wait for the inevitable collapse (read: BJ Ryan, Justin Speier, JJ Putz, etc). Relievers are not long term investments. Nurture them until they hit their peak, then trade em away.

2. Jose Bautista. If you’re scoring at home, put me in the ‘keep Jose Bautista’ camp. Sure he’s having a career year, but he’s never had the chance to have a career year prior to this. He plays many defensive positions well, he is good in the club house, and he’s extremely proud to be a Blue Jay. He fits the future. He’s a keeper.

3. Lyle Overbay: My fear is that no team will be willing to take Lyle. Everyone knows Brett Wallace is waiting in the wings and that Overbay is a goner whether or not there’s a team that wants him. More likely than not, August roles around, Overbay gets claimed on waivers and traded for a low level prospect. Then, the Brett Wallace era begins. Can’t wait.

4. Jason Frasor/Kevin Gregg: Similar logic applies here as applied to Scott Downs. Relievers are replaceable. Of course, it would be sad to part ways with the tiny Frasor or the terrible Gregg. Really though, there’s not much reason to keep them. Unless of course, this convinces you.

The truth is, at this point, just about anybody could go. HWCDNW has balls. He’s not afraid to make a splash. But most importantly, he can do no wrong. Bring on the deadline.

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Wednesday, July 14, 2010
  Gonzo for Escobar a No-Brainer
Consider if you will the following two shortstops, both well-regarded defensively:

SS A . 247 .294 .395 78
SS B .301 .375 .426 112

Oh, and shortstop A will be 33 years old next season making $2.75 million, and shortstop B will be 27 and making $435 000. Who would you rather have?

Shortstop A is, of course, Alex Gonzalez through 2009. Shortstop B is Yunel Escobar through 2009. 2010 has been a different story: everything Gonzalez touches goes for extra bases, if not right out of the park, while Escobar has taken a step back at an age where he should putting up career highs.

This is the blueprint for a perfect trade for Alex Anthopoulus: sell your veteran high for the younger player whose stock is way down. Is it possible that Gonzalez will be a 30 home run shortstop for the next few seasons, and that Escobar may have stopped hitting? Anything is possible, but any GM of a rebuilding ball club should still make this trade every time. When the trade is one that was completely unfathomable six months ago, you take that risk.

It's not an awful trade for the Braves; they're trying to win now, and Escobar isn't going to make anyone forget Honus Wagner, but he should solidify the Jays at shortstop for the next few years, and he gives them an on-base threat - something the offense is sorely lacking. Escobar's presence also allows Adeiny Hechevarria more time to develop.

Sure, the Jays will have to hope that prospects Tim Collins and Tyler Pastornicky don't go all Fred McGriff in Atlanta, but that's a caveat whenever shuffling 20-year-olds around, and those considerations can't make a GM fearful of pulling the trigger on a deal.

Jo-Jo Reyes is the "live arm" throw-in. This year at AAA, he has cut his walks/9, more than doubled his strikeouts per 9, while more than doubling his ERA - a tough feat, to be sure. He has struck out almost a batter per inning over 500+ minor league innings, so he could develop into something useful.

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Monday, July 05, 2010
  Well, that just happened…
That trip to Cleveland hurt more than just a sweep. That’s because it wasn't just a sweep, it was the polar opposite of what was supposed to happen. The Jays were supposed to come out of that series on a four game winning streak not a four game losing streak. Even more frustrating was the complete waste of strong pitching performances. A wasted Ricky Romero start is nothing new, but shoddy defence costing Morrow a couple of runs, and failing to pick up a W when Jesse Litsch gives up just 2 runs over 6 innings is a new type of crud.

I was ready to give up on the team when they suddenly showed some life against the Yankees over the weekend. Let’s face it, they were two cloudy days away from taking two of three and making the middle game somewhat respectable. I know that the Yankees have a lot of money, which means they can sign any free agent, and take chances on trades for guys with albatross style contracts, but how are they using their vast wealth to control the weather and the Jays sunglasses. Thanks to the evil empire, we got to watch two Jays “oufielders” –I used the quotes here since I’m pretty sure Johnny Mac is an infielder- guess at the location of lazy fly balls. I’m pretty ecstatic about the fact that JerkRod was the beneficiary of three free RBI’s generated a sun aided double. It couldn’t happen to a more deserving guy.

11 is a pretty high number:
It’s understandable watching the Jays’ scuffling bats to be a bit surprised that it’s possible to score eleven runs in an inning, but it really should have been less. The aforementioned three runs scored on Alex Rodriguez’ pop up should have been the third out of the inning, but he never should have been up in that situation.

With two down, four runs already in and Robinson Cano standing on first, Curtis Granderson hit a slow bounding ball to Aaron Hill. Hill picks up the ball despite the screening efforts of Cano, and throws to first. Granderson was called safe. At this point I’m throwing my TV out the window. I’m fuming for a multitude of reasons.
i.) Cano was so close to Hill on that play that Aaron was describing the mesmerizing scent of the Yankee second baseman’s cologne. Is that why Hill didn't just tag Cano on that play? Or throw to second for the force.
ii.) I’m pretty sure the ball actually beat Granderson, to first base which according to the rules of baseball constitutes an out, not a hit.
iii.) Even if Granderson did beat the ball to first…the Jays had just been pasted for four runs, and that was a very standard ground ball. This is the kind of call that umpires usually give to the defence just because it’s the natural order of the game. Like the phantom base touch at second during the turning of double play, or when runners are called out even though the tag was missed because the ball beat them by a mile.

The inning should have ended with the score Yankees 4, Jays 2.

I don’t need to pile on Aaron Hill for that fact that he strikes about as much fear in the hearts of opposing pitchers as “Weird” Al Yankovic telling Grammy Award hopefuls that he’s planning on writing an album based on his own tunes. But it’s not like his defensive play has been setting the league on fire either. I’m just looking forward to the tense battle between Hill and Lind for 2011 comeback player of the year honours.

Speaking of Defence:
Did you see Dewayne Wise’s throws today? What, did Morrow have a perfect game going? Wait, why would an outfielder make a throw during a perfect game?...never mind.

Congratulations to Vernon Wells, John Buck and Jose Bautista for being voted onto the AL allstar team by their peers. Although isn’t it ironic that the Jays’ pop gun offence will be represented by not one but three players, when it’s the starting pitching that has been holding this team together for the entire season? Yes I realize that each of these players have made significant impacts in the field as well as at the plate.

Marcum sore
What’s that? Shaun Marcum’s elbow is a bit sore, I can’t believe that! He’s only been pitching deep into every ball game without missing a turn in the rotation. No worries…I’m sure Marcum’s is the only arm that will be tired from pitching too much while helping the Jays to an all-important fourth place finish. When are you going to go with the six man rotation Cito. It’s the only way!
Discussion of all thing Blue Jays.

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Jim Turner
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