Toronto Baseball Guys
Saturday, April 24, 2010
  Sixth Man Award
After a week and a half of humming and hawing, the Blue Jays have finally decided to DL Brian Tallet and Edwin Encarnacion with arm injuries. Not far behind are the purchase of two first class tickets to Birmingham Alabama, the initial cautionary assessment, and a dump truck of money dropped on Dr. James Andrews’ font lawn for a job well done.

When it comes to efficiency in reporting season ending surgeries, the Jays PR team works at a pace on par with the glacial drift and only a bit faster than Ricky Martin’s people doing a cost benefit analysis of when he should “come out”.

While I feel bad for the injured parties, nobody is suggesting that this is a devastating blow to the Jays’ plans to finish fourth in the AL East. Brett Cecil should have been up with the big club all along, and Encarnacion’s absence should help the team avoid breaking single game and season records for strikeouts. Don’t get me wrong, I’m having fun watching a lineup consisting of Rob Deer and Pete Incaviglia’s love children, but I’d rather not see a pitcher celebrating stikeout number 21 as Travis Snider checks the Jumbotron to find the latest hole in his swing. Perhaps this even opens a door for Brett Wallace whose defence at third couldn’t possibly be much worse than we’ve seen to this point.

Certainly the team will go on despite the loss, but I do have to ask why pitchers end up on the shelf as often as they do. Since MLB isn’t planning to outlaw curve balls or pitchers trying hard anytime soon, I’d like to make the following suggestion to the Jays’ brass:

Let’s go with a six-man rotation!
It know it sounds absurd, especially when other teams do their best to skip their fifth starter, but the Jays aren’t other teams. Consider the benefits:

1.) Pitching every sixth day, keeps Dr. Andrews away: The Jays have a collection of pitchers that are young, coming off injury or both. Why not reduce their innings, while increasing their rest time?

2.) Major League Auditions: Minor league numbers don’t always translate to the majors. Adding a sixth starter would allow the Jays to test out more of their potential assets. This is especially relevant when you think about arms like Marc R, Robert Ray, Brad Mills, David Purcey, Doug Drabek Jr., and hopefully at some point Jesse Litsch, Dustin McGowan and Scott Richmond. Major league starters are a rare commodity, if a bunch of these guys show potential, then Anthopolous has some trading leverage at his disposal to try and fill in holes and balance out the line up.

As for the drawbacks to this plan…they might not affect this team:

1.) Weaker staff: Obviously your sixth best guy isn’t as good as your top five, meaning that you’re fielding a weaker pitcher than is required once every six days. This would matter if the Jays were threatening for a playoff spot, but they’re not, so who cares if they lose a few more games this year.

2.) Six starters would tire out the bullpen: Teams that carry eleven pitchers only have six bullpen arms, the Jays have been carrying twelve this year, which would allow them to also have six bullpen arms. It’s not like there isn’t somebody else who could have covered Merkin Valdez’ lone inning of work to this point.

3.) Arbitration Eligibility: Yes, playing guys earlier will make them eligible for arbitration sooner, meaning the team will have to shell out some cash. I don’t care! I’m fine with Rogers spending lots of extra money, they have plenty to spare, and none of it's mine. Besides, I’ve always felt that keeping someone in the minors in order to pay them less is a slap in the face that won’t be forgotten when it comes to sticking with a team during free agency.


Thursday, April 22, 2010
  Overbay Killing the Jays

It's a fine batting average. You can make the Hall of Fame hitting .287, as Eddie Murray did, providing you do enough other things well.

It's a pretty lousy On-Base Percentage, though you might be able to live with it from a gold-glove shortstop or catcher... in 1908.

As a slugging percentage, it indicates a player with slightly less power than the Amish, and the only way THEY get to play is if they're a threat to throw a no-hitter every five days.

Through the first dozen games of the season, Lyle Overbay's On-base PLUS Slugging stood at .287. Now, it's not fair to throw a guy under the bus for a slump this early, but as a point of comparison, Roy Halladay's OPS is .545.

This isn't just a slump - this is an automatic out smack in the middle of a Jays lineup that no one is about to mistake for Murderer's Row. It's not as if Overbay is just missing, or pounding a lot of "'at em" balls into the gloves of well-positioned defenders: he's rolling over weak grounders and striking out like Carmen Electra in a San Francisco bathhouse.

At 33, Overbay is a poor man's John Olerud, providing, doubles, good defence, walks and medium range power at first base. He's in his contract year, and won't be back with the rebuilding Jays.

Ideally, this should be a symbiotic year for Overbay and the Jays. A strong first half, and Overbay can take a big step towards his next contract, while making himself attractive to playoff contenders. The Jays can then flip him for a prospect or two. Everybody wins.

So far, the only winners are opposition pitchers - and if this trend continues, Randy Ruiz should get the bulk of Overbay's at bats - either at first base, or as the DH, with Adam Lind taking over at first. Yes, Overbay's defense is vastly superior to either, but he'd have to be retiring batters who are on deck to justify his bat.

While it's too early to pronouce that Overbay is done, a lot players do stop hitting in their early 30's (see Wilkerson, Brad. Also Murphy, Dale). It's reasonable to stick with him a while longer, but Cito Gaston absolutely has to drop Overbay from the fifth spot in the batting order and get him away from the two hitters in the lineup, Wells and Lind, who are carrying the team and would benefit from being driven in now and again.

Oh, and could the proponents of the theory of "protection" please explain how Vernon Wells is hitting like the second coming of Joe DiMaggio while batting in front of Overbay? Shouldn't that be impossible?

Following Wednesday's extra-inning loss to Kansas City, Overbays's OPS now stands at .412. Unless he can double that, and relatively soon, the Jays will need a replacement.
Monday, April 19, 2010
  Monday morning
After a disappointing home opener and a dreadful weekend the Blue Jays are coming back to reality. Here are some random musings on the week that was:

Vernon Wells continues to be a bright and unexpected light. I hope this traditional slow starter is not going to fizzle and disappear by Victoria Day.

I believe in Ricky Romero. He must be the ace because he is getting ace-like run support. (Check the numbers of Dave Stieb's 1985 season for a perfect example). Three quality starts to open the season and little to show for it, but that should even out. I think we have something special with him.

I believe Olympian Brenden Morrow might be a better pitcher than Brandon Morrow. The potential seems to be there, but man the execution is sure awful. Is this guy only here because he is a righty? I would take my chances with the lefties Cecil, Mills or Rzczzczczcepyinski rather than worry about symmetry and let this guy throw grenades. Brandon, if you can't get anybody out tonight against KC, pack your bags.

I like taking the ball out of Jason Frasor's hand and giving it to Kevin Gregg. It is a long season and I am sure roles will reverse a time or two between now and September. It is a good sign that a lack of production will be dealt with quickly.

Alex Gonzalez and Dana Eveland have been very pleasant surprises. I don't suppose Gonzalez is a long term solution, but if Adeiny Hechavarria develops quickly, and Gonzalez is still having a great year, he might fetch something useful in a late season deal.

I just checked the stats and an alarming 9 hitters are below the John MacDonald line. That is awful. Come one Lyle Overbay, pick it up, 0.08 is the legal limit for blood alcohol, not a batting average.

I still don't know how Brian Tallet gets anybody out.

Alex Rios: JackAss: Yes, Vince Carter: No.
Sunday, April 18, 2010
  Things I'm happy about...
Ok, I'm a pretty positive guy, I'd rather focus on the positive things that the Jays have done so far this year than the negative. I could focus on the spanking the Angels gave the Jays, but I would rather think about the comebacks that the Jays almost completed in two of the games. I'd also like to think about how amazing Romero has been pitching this year.

With 22 innings pitched and only 4 earned runs, his 1-1 record definitely doesn't show his performance. 22 k's, 6 bb's, and pitching late into each of the 3 games he has started also demonstrates his ability. Some of his comments show me that he knows he has to work on his skills and earn the starts that he gets. I'm glad that he spent a year with Doc to see his work ethic.

Although our rotation is inexperienced (to say the least), I think that the Jays have done well so far and I'm sure that they will perform better than everyone expects. I'm not naive, I know that we won't make the playoffs (unless something amazing/tragic happens), but it will still be a great season to see the Jays competing, even if they don't win.
  For Villainy, Rios Has a Long Way to Go
In the pantheon of Toronto Sports Villains, Alex Rios is pretty much what he was on the field: a disappointment.

For top drawer, Darth Vader, Dr. No evil, look no further than Vince Carter, who:

The only saving grace for Raptors fans is that Carter continues to play with all the heart and constitution of a graham cracker against everyone else.

For LeafsNation, enemy #1 is probably Daniel Alfredsson, the top player on the team's top rival. He's more of a traditional, pro-wrestling bad guy - who relishes his role as antagonist, even mocking Leafs captain Mats Sundin with his fake stick toss a few years back. Fans love to boo him and he seems happy to play along.

For baseball fans, there are the usual suspects, i.e., anyone tainted by performance enhancing drugs. But A-Rod gets booed in every park that isn't New Yankee Stadium.

Robbie Alomar was once the favourite target of Toronto boo-birds, but Robbie and the fans have since kissed and made up. Roger Clemens was also a consummate villain - revitalizing his career with two superb years, then whining his way out of town.

Since he's now retired, there's A.J. Burnett, who opted out of his contract, took more money from the Yankees and immediately won the World Series.

But Rios? Fans should be thrilled to be out from under his contract. Even in his two all-star seasons, Rios was always more promise than performance. Career highs of a .302 average, 24 home runs and 55 walks do not a future Hall of Famer make. He never took that next step, and he's not likely to at age 29.

Sure he had this less-than stellar youtube moment, but otherwise, he's a pretty forgettable bad guy. Even his "they don't care" rant about Toronto fans was feeble.

Remember that generic henchman with no nametag in Austin Powers: Goldmember? On the scale of Toronto Sports Villainy, that's Alex Rios.

Labels: ,

Saturday, April 17, 2010
  Weighing in on Alexis:
Here’s the deal…If I’m hosting a BBQ at my house, I’m not inviting Alex Rios because we’re not friends, and he’s not one of my favourite ball players. I don’t want him refusing to sign autographs, swearing at my children, and claiming that cleaning up after a meal “isn’t one of my five tools”. Moreover, the guy’s a little too good looking and I don’t want him hitting on the Toronto Baseball Wife –even though she assures me that she wouldn’t accept his advances because, while the money would be nice, he’d be a bad role model as a step father-.

As a Blue Jay, Rios was overpaid, underperformed, and regularly put in the effort of a Rogers Centre usher covering a 500 level outfield section during a midweek game in April. So I’m not claiming that he’s my favourite ex-Jay, but I can’t say that he’s hated yet. Without further adieu I’d like to present the following properties of hated athletes –For tangible examples please see Vince Carter-
1.) Demand a Trade: At no point was Rios asking to be moved. We were the ones pushing him out the door.
2.) Speak Badly About the Team: Rios was not speakly badly about the Jays when he suggested that baseball is dead in Toronto. He was merely putting his own interpretation on the fact that he played in front of more empty seats than filled ones.
3.) Throw a game by giving away strategy/putting in a questionable effort: Rios’ effort as a Jay was lacking, but this wasn’t a recent development. The guy was too talented and too pretty, things were so easy for him growing up, that he never learned how to try. Fortunately the Jays have learned from this, and are applying the knowledge to the development of Travis Snider.
4.) Spike in Performance with New Team: Rios batted .199 with an OPS of .530 after joining the White Sox last year.
5.) Haunt the Team when playing against them: Rios played well this week but wasn’t a difference maker in the series.

Based on these items above, I don’t hate Rios yet, but there’s still time. Oddly enough, as I look at the list and check in on Roy’s Philadelphia stats, I’m finding that he nails items 1 and 4 and an argument could be made for 2 and 3 when one considers the slight dig he provides in this article after his opening day vicotry and, and his performance in August last year after the trade deadline.
Friday, April 16, 2010
  Million Dollar Body, Ten Cent Brain, aka Rant Time at TBG
Cover of The Star online this afternoon just pissed me right off:

Baseball's dead in Toronto: Former Blue Jay Alex Rios

Inside we get this friggin' gem of wisdom from perhaps the greatest waste of natural talent the Jays have ever excessively over-paid:

“Yeah, there’s no real following here,” Rios told the Sun-Times during the White Sox four-day visit to Toronto that wrapped up Thursday. “There’s a small group of diehards, but it’s hockey, hockey, hockey. It’s gotten sad here. They just don’t really care.”

This, coming from a player like Rios, who, if I had to describe quickly, I would describe as a guy who didn't really care. But instead of going off on Mr. Rios, who, along with Mr. Wells sucked the excitement and loyalty out of Toronto fans over the past three seasons in a manner akin to the AGon and S.Green glory days, I will turn this over to the other Toronto Baseball Guys. So, what do you think guys -- does this put Rios in the hallowed class of hated ex-Jays, along side David Wells, Derek Bell and Manny Lee? Let's hear it!
  AA Keeps up the Savvy
Jose Bautista (he of the .237 lifetime batting average) should not be:

a) a lead-off hitter
b) a major league starter
c) a starting corner outfielder

So it is with great relief (for me at least) that ever-slick GM AA scooped Fred Lewis last night for a lot of nothing.

See the linked fangraph story below. I could have re-written it and taken credit, but this is the age of lazy journalism, so click the link...
Sunday, April 11, 2010
  Jays' Home Opener Etiquette
That’s how you open a season. Sweeping Texas (my TV conked out in the ninth inning of game one, but I’m sure everything worked out), and showing the O’s that they’re going to have to work for fourth place. I know it’s a bit premature, but I sure do prefer Alex Anthopolous’ failure to follow a timeline over JP Ricciardi’s. A long rebuilding process taking one offseason, is a lot easier to deal with than a five year plan from 2001 that’s still going. Who could argue with AA’s technique of ridding the team of clubhouse malcontents Marco Scutaro and Roy Halladay?

The fact is that the Jays have been a great team. They’re getting solid starting pitching, great work from the relief corps, and timely and balanced hitting. What I’m most pleased with after the first week is the team defence. Molina and Buck really understand pitching and their pitchers, and are calling great games, Overstache has managed to scoop bad throws out of Edwin Encarnacion’s repertoire, Vernon has roamed centre field with an intensity and confidence that had sorely been missing over the last two years, and Alex Gonzalez has looked outstanding. We all enjoyed Scutaro’s wise positional play, and we love watching John McDonald slide and dive all over the field, but in the first week, Alex Gonzalez has looked incredibly smooth. I’m not saying Devo smooth, but it’s the same kind of idea, he makes all the plays and seems to do so with such ease that I know I’ll start taking his work for granted.

The Jays know what they need to do in order to maintain their momentum, but as they come home after six games on the road, it is incumbent on us Toronto Baseball People to do our part…Here are some recommendations that should help the Jays along:

Don’t show up to games at SkyDome: The team has played well with no expectations. If we show up 50, 000 strong, cheering, and sign waving we’ll just make them nervous. So please don’t buy a ticket, if you’ve already bought your ticket, don’t go to the game. If you insist on going to the game, please be very quiet, wear a White Sox hat, or keep expectations low by holding up a sign like “It’s OK if you strike out Travis, that was a nice diving catch in Texas, keep up the effort”

Don’t Boo Alex Rios: He’s a physically gifted player who couldn’t manage to find a game day equipment bag big enough to fit more than one of his five tools. Obviously you should be angry at him, but that staph infection is bound to wear off now that he’s played his way out of Toronto. While we may not have his five tools anymore, we do have his apathy going for us. Booing Rios might provide enough incentive for him to show some intensity, and make us look bad. Vince what’s his name relishes the opportunity to pick up his game when Raptors fans are at their nastiest. Let’s avoid this.

At the game, limit your alcohol intake: Last years’ home opener was almost forfeited by the Jays after the drunk and belligerent spectators began fighting and littering the field with trash. I realize that these were most likely Leafs and Raptors fans that didn’t know how to respond to a home team leading a game, but it is the responsibility of all true Jays fans to keep their idiot neighbors under control. The playoffs hang in the balance here people!
Monday, April 05, 2010
  One Week
One week in and what have we learned?
1) The rumors of Vernon Wells' demise have been greatly exaggerated.
2) An ace-less, patchwork pitching staff can beat mediocre to above average opposition.
3) Jason Frasor is going to give me heart palpatations with his penchant for lead off doubles and/or walks.
4) Soft tossing lefties with straight, 82 mph changeups can baffle teams BESIDES the Blue Jays.
5) There is some heart in this team as many of the wins in this modest streak are of the come from behind variety (something we haven't seen much of in the past couple of years).
6) Losing Aaron Hill for a few games won't necessarily kill the team's chances.
7) Lyle Overbay's moustache is either a lost bet or something designed to throw off the concentration of the cather and the pitcher.
8) Money hasn't changed Adam Lind.
9) Shawn Marcum looks none the worse for wear after the surgery.
10) The Halladay trade isn't looking that good for us right now.
Discussion of all thing Blue Jays.

Christopher Casuccio
Sean Doyle
Rob Metcalfe
Matthew Graf
Yoni Grundland
Mark Rottmann
Jim Turner
Joel Williams


The Little Baseball Glossary

The Jeter List


John Skilton's Baseball Links
Baseball Primer
Baseball Prospectus
Blue Bird Banter
Drunk Jays Fans
The Tao of Stieb
York Baseball Association

Old School Archives

Modern Archives
10/01/2006 - 11/01/2006 / 11/01/2006 - 12/01/2006 / 12/01/2006 - 01/01/2007 / 01/01/2007 - 02/01/2007 / 02/01/2007 - 03/01/2007 / 04/01/2007 - 05/01/2007 / 05/01/2007 - 06/01/2007 / 06/01/2007 - 07/01/2007 / 07/01/2007 - 08/01/2007 / 08/01/2007 - 09/01/2007 / 09/01/2007 - 10/01/2007 / 10/01/2007 - 11/01/2007 / 11/01/2007 - 12/01/2007 / 12/01/2007 - 01/01/2008 / 01/01/2008 - 02/01/2008 / 02/01/2008 - 03/01/2008 / 03/01/2008 - 04/01/2008 / 04/01/2008 - 05/01/2008 / 05/01/2008 - 06/01/2008 / 06/01/2008 - 07/01/2008 / 07/01/2008 - 08/01/2008 / 08/01/2008 - 09/01/2008 / 09/01/2008 - 10/01/2008 / 10/01/2008 - 11/01/2008 / 11/01/2008 - 12/01/2008 / 12/01/2008 - 01/01/2009 / 02/01/2009 - 03/01/2009 / 03/01/2009 - 04/01/2009 / 04/01/2009 - 05/01/2009 / 05/01/2009 - 06/01/2009 / 06/01/2009 - 07/01/2009 / 07/01/2009 - 08/01/2009 / 08/01/2009 - 09/01/2009 / 09/01/2009 - 10/01/2009 / 10/01/2009 - 11/01/2009 / 12/01/2009 - 01/01/2010 / 03/01/2010 - 04/01/2010 / 04/01/2010 - 05/01/2010 / 05/01/2010 - 06/01/2010 / 06/01/2010 - 07/01/2010 / 07/01/2010 - 08/01/2010 / 08/01/2010 - 09/01/2010 / 09/01/2010 - 10/01/2010 / 01/01/2011 - 02/01/2011 / 03/01/2011 - 04/01/2011 / 04/01/2011 - 05/01/2011 / 05/01/2011 - 06/01/2011 / 07/01/2011 - 08/01/2011 / 08/01/2011 - 09/01/2011 / 12/01/2011 - 01/01/2012 / 04/01/2012 - 05/01/2012 / 07/01/2012 - 08/01/2012 / 08/01/2012 - 09/01/2012 / 11/01/2012 - 12/01/2012 / 03/01/2013 - 04/01/2013 / 04/01/2013 - 05/01/2013 /