Toronto Baseball Guys
Monday, August 09, 2010
  Losing My Grip on Reality…

…and placing it firmly on the steering wheel of the Jays’ bandwagon.

I think it’s pretty fair to say that JP Arencibia has shown Stieb, Alomar, Delgado, Halladay and Liriano a thing or two about being the greatest Blue Jay of all time. While I’ve got the hyperbole machine up and running allow me to make one more suggestion…The 2010 Blue Jays will compete for a playoff spot! This was something that occurred to me watching Cito –managing for the win- bring Scott Downs into the first game of the Yankees series during the sixth inning, and has been supported by the recent bashing of the Tampa Bay Rays this weekend.

Yes the Jays currently stand 10 games behind NY for the AL East lead, and 8 games behind the Rays for the wild card. It would also be foolish not to consider the fact that the Red Sox and Twins are 4 and 3.5 games ahead of the Jays respectively. The Jays are behind a lot of teams by a lot of games and the majority of the rotation is starting to reach their inning limit for the season, so it might look pretty bleak…about as bleak as the Jays’ chances of taking two of three from the Yankees followed by a blasting of the Rays that has made me forget the Junior Felix coming out party one spring weekend in 1989 at Fenway Park. For those of you too old to remember anything, or too young to have experienced it, that weekend included the Junior Felix inside the park grand slam, and the comeback from a 10-0 deficit.

Here’s why I think Cito will raise his Louisville slugger parting the Red Sea of AL East contenders so the Jays can march on through to the promised land.

No Pressure:
We’re about to enter the “dog days” of the season, a time of year notorious for seeing teams wilt under the heat of a playoff race. No problem, the Jays aren’t in a playoff race and haven’t been all year! There’s no pressure to perform or continue to perform. The Jays are entering these series against contenders as spoilers. They will be playing loose and relaxed while facing competitors worried about two months of serious games.

Battle Royale:
We’re entering the stage of the season where intradivsional games make up the bulk of the schedule. The three beasts of the East will be busy beating each other up, which means that rather than playing 0.600 ball, they’ll be down to 0.500 ball against each other. They’re also apt to begin lining up their rotations so that their top starters face each other, leaving a team like the Jays to see more of their back end guys.

Difficulty of Schedule err...Master of their Destiny:
The Jays are facing teams that are currently at or above 0.500 for 38 of their final 51 games. This is a tough schedule, but nobody said it would be easy. Was it easy for the 2007 Colorado Rockies? Was it easy for the 1987 Detroit Tigers…what, too soon?
Part of what makes the Jays’ schedule so difficult is the multitude of games coming up against the teams they’re chasing:
-9 games against Yankees
-6 games against Rays
-9 games against Red Sox
Sure it’s unlikely that the Jays will play above 0.500 over these 24 games, but these head-to-head games provide a great opportunity to gain ground.

Trade Deadline Bonanza:
-Sometimes it’s the moves you make, sometimes it’s the moves you don’t make. The acquisition of Yunel Escobar seems like a move that made the Jays better today, and going forward. Look, I liked me some Alex Gonzalez II, but Escobar’s defensive play is sublime. I’ve got no numbers to back this up, but he’s shown better range, softer hands and flair for the dramatic. Besides Agonz was due for an offensive drop off, while Escobar’s numbers were due to head North.
-AA didn’t make any other trades at the Major League level, but that means that the current edition of the Jays still has some veteran talent having some good years in Bautista, Buck, Downs and –more recently- Overbay. Let’s ride the wave.
-Don’t forget the fact that Travis Snider’s release from DL purgatory functions as a major upgrade.
-We've also agreed to a deal in principal to trade in the cruddy 2010 Adam Lind and Aaron Hill models for the 2009 versions. It’s not unbelievable that they might improve on their season long funks. Hill’s hamstring seems to have improved and Lind’s beginning to put some good swings on balls.
-Arencibia is up for fifteen days, and should be back when the rosters expand on September 1st. I haven’t heard, how’s he been doing with the Jays?

The opposition is in trouble:
Yankees: made some moves at the deadline that made me feel better about the Esteban Loaiza for Michael Young swap. Kerry Wood, seriously? Mr. Cashman, I’m all for you and your team failing, but here’s a tip: Try using scouts who’ve actually seen a player more recently than 2003. Lance Berkman!? Yeah, I always thought the Mark Texeira thing was just a stop gap solution until they could find a player who looks to be on the downside of his career and inferior both in the field and at the plate. What’s that Mr. Cashman? You’d like to DH him, forcing Jorge Posada to catch, be my guest.

Red Sox: I heard their play by play man, mascot, and the dude who mans the green monster scoreboard are out for the season. The team has lost so many regulars that they’re moving their home games to triple A Pawtucket so that the players can feel more comfortable. Although I must add that I will begin cheering for them if the Carlos Delgado signing works out.

Rays: How’d last weekend go for you?

Karma:
The Jays have been shunned to varying degrees by Scott “Trade Me Now” Rolen, Roy “I won’t re sign, so trade me now” Halladay and Alex “Woah, using my five tools will cost you extra” Rios. As Toronto sports fans we’ve also had to deal with every Raptor star begging out of the city once they realize it’s actually not in the US proper, justifying that three down football is a better game, and the Leafs. So we’re loaded up on Karma points and it’s safe to assume that things might just start going our way!

I’m willing to drive, who’s coming with me!?

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