Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Rays are scary

Last night's game scared the crap out of us.

As much as we'd like to imagine that the Jays were underestimated coming into the season and that the Rays were going to turn back into pumpkins at any moment, the truth is that the Greater Tampa-St. Petersburg area squad is really good. And not just a flash in a moment type of good, but for the foreseeable future.

And aside from the notion of having to try to keep pace with the Rays in the AL East standings, the Jays still have a whole heap of games against them (and the Red Sox and the Yankees) between now and the end of the season. And while we wouldn't say that this is the case at present, it's entirely possible that the Jays could have assembled the fourth best team in all of baseball in the coming years and still finish fourth in their division.


About last night
If we had to use one word to describe the Jays performance last night, it is "lifeless". It's the sort of game that you would imagine a team playing after getting back home after a long road trip, but the Jays had the benefit of sleeping in their own beds last night.

Roy Halladay didn't exactly look like vintage Doc over his six innings of work, which isn't to say he pitched poorly. He got deep into a few counts and walked a couple of batters, but still managed seven strikeouts. We're guessing that he didn't turn it up to 11 in his first start after his DL stint, and that he'll be even better next time out.

Not that anyone should be hanging last night's loss on Halladay. Jeff Niemann has been a serviceable pitcher this season and had a good game last night, but there were a handful of at bats - and not just by Vernon Wells - where the Jays kept their bats on their shoulders and let the young Tampa hurler take it to them.

We hope they felt some shame, got a good rest last night, and that they plan to bring some frickin' noise tonight.

Monday, June 29, 2009

A point of clarification on...baserunning blunders

So let's see if we've got this straight:

When Alex Rios goofs up on the basepaths, it's because he is stupid and lazy he doesn't care. ("Who gives a fuck!")

When John McDonald goofs up on the bases, it's because he is a super gritty hardworkin' manly man who just tried to make too many good things happen all at once, and the fates conspired against him.

So...The Gazelle doesn't care if the Jays win, and Johnny Mac cares too much.

Glad that we cleared that up.

Happy Mondays - A few pleasant thoughts to start your week

Aaron Hill is historically knocking the snot out of the ball
Noted racist and reluctant Parkes interview subject Aaron Hill is making up for the time he lost last year after getting brained by some scrappy infielder with more heart than brains. Hill cranked out two more homers in yesterday's 5-4 loss to the Phillies, moving him past his own previous best, and past Roberto Alomar for the single season Blue Jays record for homers by a second baseman.

Speaking of the new mark, the Globe's Jeff Blair blogged that Blue Jays fans showed an embarassing lack of excitement and decorum by failing to acknowledge the moment by calling for a curtain call. He snaps that Jays fans will lose their minds cheering for free pizza, but can't be bothered to acknowledge this new milestone. Which is fair enough, we suppose, though we don't know if there was a big deal made about this in the house as it happened.

Maybe the fans could have recognized this historic moment by doing the wave. Because you know you would have had buy-in for that.

Doc is back. And not a moment too soon
We're thanking our lucky stars that Roy Halladay will return to the lineup tonight, just as the Jays are about to dig into the most arduous part of their schedule. After spening the early part of the year playing just about everyone but their divisional rivals, the Jays will face off against AL East opponents in their next five series.

While some of the rotation replacements have performed admirably this year, any extended period without Halladay would be disastrous from here on out.

Rick Romero's rolling
There wasn't a lot to cheer about after Friday night's 6-1 win, what with Jayson Werth swatting balls into the 500 level on Saturday and Johnny Mac getting picked off to snuff out a ninth inning rally on Sunday. So thankfully, we have Ricky Romero's outstanding start on Friday on which we can reflect. After getting lit up in his first two starts back from his sneeze-induced DL stint, Romero has been nails this month.

ESPN's Buster Onley notes that Romero's killer changeup has baffled hitters thus far, with some wondering whether if it is actually a Valenzuela-like screwball, or even a forkball. Whatever it is, it seems to be working. For the month of June, Romero went 3-1 in five starts with a 2.36 ERA. Opponents have managed just a .599 OPS off Romero this month, and he has 33 Ks (versus 10 walks) in 34.1 innings.

Credit where credit is due
Future lawyer and Jays cheer squad dancing inferno Katy Unger speculated via tweet as to whether if any Jays would step to the plate with Michael Jackson playing in honour of the recently deceased King of Pop. While we poo-pooed the notion, Ms Katy nailed it when she figured that Vernon Wells would be the one to do it.

Wells walked to the plate on Friday with Jackson's "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough" playing, which is one of our favourite MJ songs and a fitting tribute. Nice call, Katy.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Friday Rock Out - Michael Jackson "Billie Jean" at Motown 25

What else could we play today?

Early trade speculation - Scutaro, Barajas and Overbay

It might seem a touch early, but five weeks from today, the MLB trade deadline will be upon us.

(The Trade Deadline on the Friday before the August long weekend? Somebody's just marked his day off on the vacation calendar!)

We've tended not to trade in bogus trade speculation over the past couple of years, but with the Jays facing some expiring contracts and with some regulars having seasons that may make them attractive at the deadline, it at least bears mentioning.What the Jays do, of course, will depend on where they sit in the standings in a month's time and whether if they are looking to load up or get ready for the 2010 season.

Expiring Contracts - Scoots, Barajas, Millar and Johnny Mac
The Jays have received excellent value this year out of the bargain contracts that they handed out a few years back to Marco Scutaro and Rod Barajas, and both could be attractive players to other contenders at the deadline.

The catch, as always, is that the Jays may well dispense with the haggling over other teams' marginal prospects and take the compensatory picks that may be available to them if either Scutaro or Barajas walk. Scutaro seems likely to be a Type A free agent and Barajas may be close to that level, although the geometry and analysis that goes into those determinations are a bit beyond us.

Our guess would be that the Jays will look to open their wallet to hold onto Scutaro for the next few seasons while waiting to see what Justin Jackson becomes. Keeping Barajas for a possible 2010 run at the division would make some sense given the struggles that J.P. Arencibia has had at Triple A Vegas, but with Scoots likely getting a healthy bump up from his $1.1 million salary, the built in raises to Wells, Rios and Hill and the always present spectre of Roy Halladay's contract extension looming, it's tough to figure how they'll be able to tack on much if anything to Barajas' current $2.5 million stipend.

John McDonald's contract comes up at the end of the season as well, and given the dearth of playing time he has received this year, we'd anticipate him moving to a National League club as a bench player and defensive replacement. Meanwhile, Millar's contributions have been mostly negligable over the past month or so, and our guess is that the Jays would move him if there was any interest at all.

Value propositions - Lyle Overbay
There are a lot of reasons to keep Lyle Overbay for 2010, not the least of which is the relatively cheap $7.9 million that he'll make next season. On the other hand, that contract, along with the notable uptick in his production this year, could make him a desirable commodity on the trade market.

As with Barajas, it doesn't seem as though there is someone in the system ready to step in and take over for Overbay for next year. Brian Dopirak might be an option, but it would be beneficial to see how he plays at Triple A first. Prospect David Cooper has taken a step backwards at Double A New Hampshire this year (.666 OPS), while Brett Harper seems like more of a Quadruple A-type (.319 OBP).

Another option would be to move either Adam Lind or Travis Snider to first next season. Both are under the Jays' control until 2013 and beyond, and the team would save more than $7 million at first base if either of them were to step into the role. However, there are more than a few questions as to whether either of them could play the position, and Snider's back troubles are particularly worrisome.

Who could the Jays get in return?
We wouldn't imagine that anyone who came back to the Jays would have any sort of name recognition. If any of the aforementioned players move, we'll probably spend the day reading outdated and superficial scouting reports on some dude who's just had a middling season in high-A ball.

Not that there aren't players to be found out there. When the Jays shipped out Matt Stairs on August 30 last year, there weren't a lot of people jumping for joy at the returns. Now, we have someone each week in the comments imploring the team to call up Fabio Castro.

And isn't it that sort of thing that keeps us in love with the game?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Vernon "Boo" Wells comes around

At least Vernon Wells still has his sense of humour.

The Jays' struggling centerfielder extended his hit streak to eight with a double and a homer in last night's 8-2 win over warbling troubadour Bronson Arroyo and the Cincinnati Reds. Following the game, he recognized the recent displeasure of the Toronto faithful by noting: "The fans started cheering my new nickname - Boo."

Hey, if the man was looking for a new nickname, he's certainly found something with a nice ring to it. "Boo" Wells sounds great, reminds us of To Kill a Mockingbird, and has the added advantage of being impossible for naysayers to drown out. It's not unlike the cheers that greeted Sweet Lou Thornton back in the day, or that now greet Red Sox slugger Kevin Douche-kilis. You can't even boo those guys if you tried.

And given Wells' performance over this recent streak, there will be plenty of reasons to offer up a hearty cheer of "Boo!" over the rest of the homestand. Wells has 13 hits over those eight games, including four doubles and two homers, and has posted a .996 OPS. More importantly, the Jays re 6-2 over that span.

(He's also sent the Vernon Wells Hatred Advisory System plummeting all the way down to "Elevated".)

We wouldn't want to indulge in a hoary sportswriter's cliché like "As Boo Wells goes, so go the Jays"...but the Jays will unquestionably need him to return to something resembling respectability if the team is to succeed this year or over the course of his long-term deal.

Our favourite rookie starting pitcher? How do you choose just one?
Here's a question that really only applies to the 2009 Blue Jays: Which of the teeming multitudes of rookie starting pitchers is your favorite. Might you enjoy a bit of the Ricky Romero? Were you more of a Robert Ray sort of guy before he got hurt? Perhaps you lean more towards Brad Mills?

Well, for us, it's tonight's starter, Brett Cecil.

Putting aside any hype or history, we've just really enjoyed watching him pitch and observing his approach. He throws a lot of strikes, and doesn't pick and nibble in the way that too many young lefties seem to. His numbers so far this season have been skewed by the one disastrous shit-kicking that he took at the hands of the Red Sox back in May, but he's pitched very well in each of his other starts at the big league level this season. We always worry about rushing pitchers before their time, but Cecil has looked every bit the impact starter that we hoped he could be.

With the Jays' preseason projections for the make up of their rotation blasted to bits and blown away with the dust, we could see Cecil settling in nicely for the next several months without having to worry about the label of "number 3" or "number 5" starter or what have you. He can set any such expectations aside, and just be one of the dudes who pitches well enough in between Roy Halladay starts.

Which is fine by us.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Baseball Time Travel

Check out this great collection of vintage pics of the 1969 Expos.

Rogers Sportsnet East Caters to Massholes --- Hates Old Ladies.

If you are anything like me, a trip to your significant other's grandparents can be a bit like a trip to church --- lots of polite conversation and feigned interest. Trips to one of my wife's grandmothers have always been a lot more tolerable because we have one major thing in common --- the Jays. For years this lady has never missed a game. She doesn't schedule events during a game and won't answer the phone unless the call is during a commercial break. She even keeps score for every game. I get a call from her every Spring where she asks me to print a TV schedule for the Jays and bring it with me to Easter dinner.

But thus far in the season, she's missed more than half of the games. Someone at Rogers Sportsnet made the decision to go "regional" in their baseball coverage. In a board room somewhere in Toronto someone decided that everyone east of Ontario should be watching Boston and New York games night after night unless they pony up the extra dough to get Digital Cable. So all of those senior citizen Jays fans out there on fixed incomes who pinch pennies to pay $58 a month for basic cable can fuck off as far as Rogers is concerned.

Tomorrow I'm going over to my wife's grandmothers place to install a digital box that I rented for her to give her a big part of her summer nights back. Then I'm switching to Bell.

Everybody loves a Tallet Show

If you're a regular reader around here, you know our love for Brian Tallet knows no bounds.

(Actually, that's not entirely true. There are the bounds dictated by reason, respect and decorum that prevent us from following him home after starts. We prefer to enjoy him from afar. Just sayin'.)

But last night's start took the Summer of Tallet to a whole other level. With the pitching staff in shambles after a week in National League parks, Tallet took to the hill on short rest and delivered an absolute gem over his six innings (no runs, three hits, seven strikouts and one walk).

We didn't realize at the time that Tallet was going on short rest - these are the perils of watching the game with no sound - so we nearly flipped when we saw him take a seat after just 90 pitches, ceding the mound to the absolute shitshow that is Shawn Camp and Jesse Carlson. Wins might be a bit of a meaningless counting stat for pitchers, but we were relieved to see Tallet walk away with a "W" after those mediocre jokers served up batting practice through the seventh.

In addition to Tallet's fantastic pitching this season - and it is hard to imagine what the team would have done without him through these injury-ravaged months - we fully enjoy the fact that he brings a whole new set of facial hair to the mound for each game. It's almost as though he's a Mr. Potato Head who can snap off the sideburns and fu manchu and replace them with a stylin' Joey Silvera porn stache.

If the Jays are looking for a promo item for next season, the Brian Tallet bobblehead with interchangeable facial hair would be the best tchotchke ever.

Various linkages

This franchise is not run by the Sisters of the Mercy: We're a little late on catching up with this one, but Mary Ormsby (who we generally enjoy as the voice of reason in her appearances on Prime Time Sports) wrote an absurd article about how the Blue Jays aren't giving away the empty seats in their luxury boxes. In other news, McDonalds won't be giving out stale Big Macs, the twirlers at the Zanzibar won't be offering free lap dances to the downtrodden, and cab drivers without fares won't be giving people free rides to the airport.

Wells' struggles, infinite redux: More recently, ESPN's Jerry Crasnick wrote a very good article on Vernon Wells' prolonged struggles. Those of us on the Jays blogs have probably lost all perspective on Wells and his struggles, so it's nice to read an even-handed account of how poorly Wells is playing and the possible reasons for the slide.

Worth noting: Wells currently has a seven game hitting streak going, including four doubles, a homer (finally!) and four RsBI, posting an .861 OPS over those game. Let's hope this is the man coming around. (And yet, the Hatred Advisory Level has returned to severe. What?)

Summer reading: Just finished reading David Denby's Snark, which is an interesting take on the history and current usage of this often dubious rhetorical device. For those of you who are certain that the world is being led to hell in a handbasket by anonymous bloggers, it's an interesting read. (Then again, if that's your fear, why are you reading this blog?)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

All Hail the Blue Jays' Fab Five

Imagine if we were to have told you in the off season that after the team-wide offensive struggles in the past two seasons (R.I.P. to the careers of Mickey Brantley and Gary Denbo), five Blue Jays would get out of the gate and put up numbers that would rank them amongst the elite at their position through the month of June.

Then imagine that we told you that none of those five players were Alex Rios or Vernon Wells.

Then imagine that we were hopping on one foot when we told you this. (Actually, don't bother with that last one. We were just checking to see if you were paying attention.)

Through the team's first 71 games, the Jays have five players posting an OPS above .800, a mark that only one regular (Wells) and no qualifying batter reached for the 2008 season.

The Fab Five - Lyle Overbay (.939), Adam Lind (.915), Scott Rolen (.866), Marco Scutaro (.833), and Aaron Hill (.815) - have arguably all performed above expectations this season, but not to such an extent that you couldn't see them carrying this through to the year's end.

There are caveats, of course. Neither Overbay nor Rolen qualify for rate stats titles at this point given the amount of days they've been given off in spite of relative good health. With Cito protecting Overbay from lefties and Rolen from wear and tear, it's hard to get a real handle of what sort of offensive value they bring over the entirety of the schedule.

Mind you, Rolen's Runs Above Replacement level (RAR) is 20.7, good enough for sixth best amongst Major League third basemen, while Overbay's 17.1 places him between Ryan Howard and Joey Votto in that same category. (Not that we totally understand what any of that means...like Drew at Ghostrunners noted, we're not that good at math.)

Why are the Fab Five so Fab? Raw Power!
Speaking of that two-week old Ghostrunners post, Drew points out the great numbers now being generated from MLBAM's Hit f/x data, and demonstrates that the Jays really are hitting the ball as hard as anyone. When Fangraphs looked at the initial speeds of the ball coming off the bats for the month of April, the Jays ranked just behind Texas and Cleveland as the maddest mashers in the land.

Aaron Hill in particular hits the ball with a particularly awesome level of ultraviolence, sending the horsehide screaming off in the distance at 80.1 MPH, almost two clicks faster than the next Blue Jay, Adam Lind (78.2 MPH).

Perhaps the whistling flames shooting off the balls hit by Hill help explain one of the truly odd offensive stats this season. While Hill has hit 15 dingers to this point, he's managed just nine doubles so far, just two more than Kevin Millar. Hill leads the team with 93 hits, but is it possible that he's hitting the ball too hard, and that would be doubles are turning into singles?

The Summer of Tallet Will Scald Your Flesh
Before we forget, the Summer of Tallet continues tonight with our favorite hipster oaf taking to the mound against the Red Stockings of Johnny Feverland.

Two sweet blessings rolled into one tonight: the pitchers won't hit, meaning we won't have to watch Tallet at the bat (phew!) and he won't have to face his pitching counterpart, the slugging Micah Owings (double phew!).

Monday, June 22, 2009

Mindless idle speculatory non-speculation

As Jeremy Accardo was yanking himself out of yesterday's 9-4 win over the Nationals, a funny thought occurred to us.

Imagine that you're a pitcher, and that you got left off the roster at the beginning of the season. And imagine that your manager doesn't particularly care for you, and that the outlook for your future with the franchise was less than stellar.

And imagine that you wanted nothing more than to stick it in the ear of said manager and organization and basically rack up some Big League service time on the DL and receive your full big league salary. So you go out and toss a few pitches, then grab your side and presto! Payback and relaxation on the teams's dime!

Actually, we don't imagine that this is what Accardo is doing, and we're not just saying that because we don't want to get sued. It was just an odd thought that crossed our mind as we saw this unfolding yesterday.

But did you see Cito shaking his head in disbelief on the mound after Accardo said he couldn't go? Classic.

We'll take a win where we can get it
While giving up walkoff wins to the lowly DCers was somewhat less than optimal, yesterday's win provided a least a bit of an antidote to what could have been an awful weekend. The entire lineup (or at least the first six guys in it) looked great at the dish all day. Rios, Rolen and Overbay continued to swing hot bats, while Adam Lind worked a couple of walks that led to runs and Vernon Wells hit his second extra base hit in as many days. (Could he possibly be coming around?)

Meanwhile, RR Cool Jay got in and out of jams over seven innings, leaving a line (8 hits, 6Ks, 3 BBs, 2 ERs) that looks a lot better than the performance felt. It took him 118 pitches to get through 31 batters, and were it not for a couple of stellar defensive plays behind him, it might have looked ugly out there.

(What the fuck...why are we quibbling about quality starts and wins? Are we going to call Wilner tomorrow and talk about how awesome Reed Johnson is?)

Off days are for watching the smoldering remains of your computer
Fuck me. Everything I touch turns to dust.

It could be the power supply unit. It could be the motherboard. Or it could be both. Whatever the case, we'll be passing the hat for anyone who wishes to contribute to the Tao's Emergency Computer Repair or Replacement Fund. (There will be no tax receipts. Sorry.)

Please stand by...

It had to happen at some point, but I somehow figured that my 27 month-old Dell still had a few good years left to it. Apparently, that's not the case. I'm in the midst of trying to revive my bloggy typing machine from what appears to be a complete meltdown, and so you may notice some declines from the typical output around here.

Apologies for the diminished output, and I'll try to find other ways to get the good word out.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

A two-sentence post on....Under-appreciated Blue Jays

Continuing my weekend theme of appreciating miscellaneous Blue Jays, I'd like to wish a Happy Fathers Day to poppa Overbay.

Your son is a stud.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Appreciating Marco Scutaro

He's a man so bad that former teammate Frank Thomas referred to him as "my ninja". That's right, Michael Dudikoff, he will take you down. American Ninja, my ass.

He'll look unassuming as he steps into the batters box, then terrify you with his icy stare and menacing bat-waggle.

Though he's not a machine like his cyborg teammate, the blood in his veins is said to run four degrees cooler than the average human. And I believe it.

Work him inside, and he'll pull one through the infield. Keep the ball away, and he'll tear your fucking heart out by slashing a double down the right field line.

He'll take two quick strikes, then work an eight pitch walk. If you're lucky, he will only take one base.

Dare to hit a ball between second and third base, and you are out. If Hoss Rolen doesn't get you, he will. O-U-T.

He is Marco Scutaro, and I appreciate him.

Dropping the series opener to the Nats=shitty, but not the end of the world
I'm not stepping out on the ledge over this loss. A letdown was probably to be expected after sweeping the defending champs in their home park, and if the Jays were going to drop a game, it was probably going to be in the opener.

Just do me a favour, will ya fellas? No brooms, please.

I'm not cutting Vernon Wells any slack until he goes yard
I'm not saying it's a rational way to view things, and I know it looks like he's coming around....but I want a tater. Go deep, Vernon. Please. For all of us.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Friday Rock Out - Lupe Fiasco, "Kick Push"

A little something to help you coast into the weekend. Swanky.

Up next are the Nationals, and while we understand that they are allegedly the punching bags of the Majors right now, they somehow worry us more than the Phillies did. With a series like this one, you'll get no credit at all if you dispatch with the Nats easily, but lose a game or two and people will absolutely lose their heads. It's a no-win situation.

(Unless they win, we suppose...)

Have a great weekend, y'all.

Hey, I remember that guy!

He no longer has the mullet, but that's gotta be Jeremy Accardo getting the save yesterday afternoon. It almost makes us nostalgic for 2007 all over again. (Actually, fuck that. Nothing makes us nostalgic for the 2007 season.)

Sadly, our PVR decided to start acting like a bitch yesterday, so we didn't get any video evidence of Accardo's reappearance in a dramatic 8-7 win over the Phillies. But reading the boxscore and seeing it in our mind's eye, he was awesome.

(Oh, and thanks to our good pal Furious, whose one word emails kept us simultaneously confused and informed as to the progress of the game as we sat in off-site meetings all afternoon. That was fun.)

Hey, did the Jays just sweep the defending World Champs?
Well golly geewhillakers. They did. So we plan on spending the day kicking people in the face as they attempt to climb back on the bandwagon. (Get on and stay on or stay off. Those are your choices.)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Scott Rolen will make you choke on your cheesesteak

Is there anything that Scott Rolen can't do?

Last night, the Greatest Blue Jay of All Time drove in the winning run (in the first inning), hit a laserbeam out to right and rounded the bases before it knocked a whole clear through the sternum of some Philly douche, and helped turn the first 1-5-4 inning-ending double play we've ever seen.

After the game, he fed the poor, healed the sick, and removed several ill-advised lower back tattoos from several young ladies before sending them home to South Jersey to reconnect with their estranged fathers.

Nice work for an evening, Hoss.

Repeating our Tweets here, for those not Twitter-inclined
So outstanding was Rolen's game last evening that it led us to make the following exclamatory tweet over on our Twitter thingy. (And if you're not following us, then...well, whatever. That's cool...your prerogative.)

"Scott Rolen es muy macho. He could BBQ and eat Troy Glaus' wife's showjumping horse, and still have room for bourbon."

(Mmmm. Tasty looking animal. Do you suppose that Rolen would go with a sweet barbecue sauce, or maybe something a little more smokey? A dry rub perhaps?)

Alex Rios is owning his moniker
We will make excuses for the Blissfully Oblivious Gazelle until we are powder blue in the face, and forgive him each and every one of his trespasses on the basepaths. But seriously: Two baserunning gaffes in as many days? It's almost as if he doesn't give a fuck.

Maybe Alex could use a day on the bench to ponder his baserunning choices, and reflect on why it is that he is prone to such mental midgetry.

Scott Richmond - The Strikeout King of Canada
Here's something fun: Take a look at ESPN's list of the top strikeout performances for this season so far, and savour the sight of Scott Richmond's name in the list alongside Roy Halladay, Justin Verlander, Jon Lester and David Price. Wicked.

Facing the Phillies lineup is a pretty scary proposition, and we worried about Richmond getting thrown to the wolves last night. But to his credit, he tossed a monster game game in the place of Halladay last night.

We're told that last night's game was on ESPN, but since Richmond is a good Canadian boy, he wouldn't be phased by such things, because we don't even know what ESPN is. But you know that Scotty gets the cold sweats every time he meets Rod Black.

Aggregating data is what we do
Almost forgot: We're going to be doing the Inside the Blue Jays posts over at Bart Given's Inside the Majors blog, and the first of them was posted yesterday.

In future posts, we'll supplement some of the data points with our trademark wit an whimsy to contextualize them. And if there's anything of obvious relevance that we're overlooking like the Gazelle running the bases, let us know.

Thanks to Bart for the opportunity to contribute. All it is going to cost him is a nice dinner at Lift with Jody. (You can tag along if you want, Bart...if you don't mind sitting at the bar. Sorry...were we not clear about that?)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Your new closer is...

The Sausage King. And there's no need to get snooty about it.

(All responsibility for the previous statement rests with the Tony Imbroglio Experience. Except for the moniker part. That's Drew's. We're an aggregator.)

Speaking of closers
When your ace, your closer, and another rotation arm all go down in the same week that your pre-season number 2 pitcher went under the knife, you've gotta ask yourself: What's got to happen for Jeremy Accardo to get the call?

Not every win is going to be pretty

Seriously, what is the point of bitching and moaning about the number of players left on base when you come from behind in the ninth and pull out an extra inning 8-3 win over the defending World Series champs and their ace pitcher?

Win pretty or win ugly...it's all pretty much the same in the end. Sure, the Jays loaded the bases a few times, only to have RR Cool Jay hacking like your drunken uncle at a family barbecue softball game. But we'll give Romero a pass given the stellar performance he put in on the mound (6 hits, 3 earned, 9 Ks and 2 walks over seven innings.)

Two hits, and now it's all sunshine and lollipops for Vernon
Okay, so Vernon Wells is still twitching in the batters box like he's auditioning for Breakin' 3: Digital Boogalee. But let's give credit where it is due: Vernon's infield hit in the ninth and some smartly aggressive baserunning were key to the Jays' comeback rally in the ninth and their go-ahead rally in the tenth.

One more thing on Wells. We were at the game in 2003 when Wells broke the Jays' single season record for hits, and it was on a swing very much like the one he took in the tenth last night: a line drive back up the middle. If Vernon is willing to back off on swinging for the fences and just look to make solid line-drive contact, we believe that he could regain some of the form that allowed him to hit more than 40 doubles and be the centerpiece of the offense again.

Accentuating the positive with Alex Rios
Before you all get your Agent Provocateurs in a twist over the Blissfully Oblivious Gazelle's baseruning gaffe by not tagging up last night on a fly ball in the eighth, can we all remember that he reached base four times last night, scored twice, drove in a run and made a nice sliding catch.

We know that people like to pile on the Gazelle because they think he's stupid or that he doesn't give a fuck, but he had a pretty great game overall last night. The Jays would not have won without his contributions, so don't piss and moan about the alternate universe where they lost last night because of him.

Scott Rolen - Still the Greatest Blue Jay of All Time
You know, whenever we watch Scott Rolen do anything, we just wanna call him "Hoss". Like, "Nice hittin' there last night, Hoss", or "Way to stick it to the douchebags with the seven-year grudge, Hoss".

A note to Scott Downs
Leave the bat on your shoulder. Thanks.

You know what rule we hate? Defensive indifference
We have no stake whatsoever in Chase Utley's numbers, but his moving to second on "defensive indifference" in the tenth last night reminded us of how much we hate that scoring quirk. Whether if he gets to second because the Jays let him or if he gets it because he beats a throw, shouldn't that still get scored a stolen base?

Intentional walks, unless we are mistaken, are still credited the same as unintentional walks, even if the other team is deliberately giving you the base and giving you everything short of an escort to the bag. If Utley took the initiative to take second because they were giving that shit away, so why shouldn't he get credited for swiping the extra bag?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Half-baked ideas - Halladay as a reliever!

If we had any credibility left, here's where we lose it all.

With the prognosis on Halladay seeming to be somewhat less than catastrophic, there remains a possibility that Doc could be ready to pitch by this weekend. Except that would require him to run the bases, and frankly, we don't want to even think of him testing his fragile groin trying to run out a grounder in Washington.

Certainly, the Jays could just let him rest until they get back to Toronto on June 23rd. That would be the prudent way to handle your most valuable player. But here's our goofy idea: Let Halladay come in late in the game on Saturday or Sunday as a reliever.

If Halladay is able to pitch, but the Jays are only sitting him to avoid the NL rules, they should at least consider using him late in the game if they find themselves in a high-leverage situation (a one or two run lead for either side.) Cito could work a double-switch to keep his at bat as far down the lineup as possible, and maybe they get two or three big innings out of their best pitcher.

Sure, we want to make sure that the Blue Jays treat Halladay as the precious jewel that he is, and not risk further injury to their ace, and if this were any other pitcher, we'd write it off as ludicrous from the get-go.

But Doc is cut from a different cloth. That dude would pitch every day if they let him. And if it were up to us, they would.

It wouldn't be any crazier than hitting Wells third and Overbay seventh.

You'll never love Vernon like you loved Carlos

It's been an odd and fascinating few weeks as a Jays fan, as we've watched the team's fan base turn on the team's putative cornerstone offensive star, Vernon Wells.

(And before you go any further: We're making a distinction between the team's best player, which is clearly Roy Halladay, and the team's best position player. There are different expectations for each category, and they really aren't evaluated one against the other. Whether if they should is a totally different debate, which we can have on another day.)

What started out as frustration tempered by optimism has evolved into outright contempt as Wells performance at the plate, in the field and in the public sphere have all tanked this season. The expectations for Wells - a former first round pick, All-Star, Gold Glover and Silver Slugger - are astronomical, made all the more so by the sheer heft of his contract.

And while we've tried to separate Wells' performance from his remuneration, there's no question that the numbers he'll pull down in the coming seasons will have a severe impact on the team's payroll flexibility. Which means less money to resign players or to pick up key free agents. Which means finding a new level for the Vernon Wells Hatred Advisory System.

What occurs to us is that Wells is being held to a standard which very few other players could ever live up to, in part because of the long shadow cast by the last centerpiece star of the franchise, Carlos Delgado.

We probably didn't appreciate at the time just what an outstanding offensive player Delgado was. In fact, we seem to recall plenty of occasions where people picked nits over specific at bats or his performance in "clutch" situations. And yet, Delgado drove in more that 91 runs in each of his full seasons with the team, posting a garish .949 OPS for his career with the Blue Jays. King Carlos posted six of the 10 best single season OPSs, and holds the team records in runs, walks, total bases, homers, and RsBI.

Delgado's performance over his 12 years of service to the Blue Jays is the Gold Standard for Toronto hitters, and he established it just before the mantle of the team's best player was handed over to Wells. That's a hell of a shadow for Wells to step out from under. And in all likelihood, he never will.

(In fact, we're not sure who ever will. In our happiest springtime dreams, we saw Travis Snider becoming a 40 homer, 120 RBI force in the middle of the lineup over the next decade, although it's amazing how quickly those dreams were dashed.)

Because Wells came of age in the Carlos era, it's easy to forget just how long he's been a part of the franchise. Seemingly, we've been certain for several years that he was about to step up and transcend to the next level of stardom. That's why almost everyone at the time was completely on board with the contract extension that Wells signed: Vernon was the Franchise, and we couldn't afford - for baseball reasons and others - to see him walk away.

Certainly, the flashes that we saw out of Wells in 2003 and 2006 were enough to keep those notions fueled for years afterwards. But Wells was never a player who was going to play every season at those levels.

Wells is what he is. He won't ever be much more.

Only three batters (Delgado, Tony Fernandez and Lloyd Moseby) have made more plate appearances as a Jay than Wells, so we should be able to get a pretty good handle on where he stands amongst the team's all-time greats. And given two more average seasons with the club, Vernon will find himself moving ahead of the names in the pantheon - Bell, Barfield, Fernandez, Moseby - into second place in many of the team's all-time leaders list in key offensive categories.

What Vernon Wells will never do, though, is live up to what Carlos Delagado did on the field.

Moreover, he'll never be the central figure that Delgado was off the field. Delgado was a friendly, gregarious and cerebral player who was ready for the cameras and mics, and who gave thoughtful and honest quotes that didn't seem as though they'd been hashed out through hours of media training. Even in his most contentious moments, like when Elliotte Friedman, then of the Score, took the team's star to task at the end of a dissapointing season and affected shock when Carlos responded with fury, Carlos always seemed to be willing to take the role of team spokesman and handle it with aplomb. (Some might say that Delgado liked and sought out the attention, but again, that helped set the standard for what we expect of the franchise player.)

Wells, on the other hand, is a downcast mumbler whose answers to the media are stultifying to the point of being insulting. He's never seemed comfortable stepping into the lead role in speaking for his teammates, and when he is put into the position, he rarely offers anything insightful or inspiring.

None of this is fair, really, and we'll confess to that. One of the reasons why Delgado left such an indellible impression on Jays fans is that he left before his level of performance dropped off too far. And even at that, people were ready to chase him out of town at the end, because of (go figure) his contract.

Given the seemingly untradeable contract that Wells has, we'll likely get a good long look at his career's decline. And while it could very well be that by the end of his time with the Jays, Wells ends up as the second best position player in the team's history, he'll never have grasped at the levels that Delgado reached. And he'll always be seen as a failure for it.

Monday, June 15, 2009

The briefest of thoughts for a Monday off day

Into every Summer (of Tallet), there must come stormy days.

Alex Rios is not the problem with the offense, and he hasn't been for a month. Hitting him sixth isn't a stroke of genius.

Sometimes, when another team comes in and smokes the ball all over the yard like the Marlins did this weekend, you tip your cap and recognize. Because frankly, they looked really good.

(A more fulsome and lengthy diatribe is certain to come to us tomorrow, but we're in a celebratory mood on a personal level, and can't really delve into the aggravation caused by this weekend's sweep. But feel free to add your own freakouts in the comments. Or try to cheer up the Ack, because dude sounds like he needs it.)

Sunday, June 14, 2009

In a funk

Woke up feeling pretty good this morning. The sun was shining, the birds were singing, all that cliche happy-time stuff.

Told myself, "get to that computer and bang out an optimistic post about the Jays, Ack. Summer of Tallet!".

Well, I got a little sidetracked along the way, and as I finally sat down to lift our collective spirits......the home team was already down 3-0 and on the verge of being on the wrong end of a weekend sweep - at home, nonetheless. To the Florida Marlins.

You know that little funk the Tao fell into last season? I think I caught it.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Fear and Loathing

Rather than mope around this space all weekend (and maybe into the next, depending....), I'm going to get all of my frustrations out in one shot. I'm doing this for you - a Blue Jay fan pity party, if you will. Let's grieve together in a series of self-loathing (semi) quick hitters.....

.....Hopefully, the pitching cyborg's strained groin isn't that serious, and he misses just one start before the engineers are able to tweak the mechanism back to optimal. I'm embarrassed to tell you how empty my life would be without the Doc for an extended period.

Let this be a lesson for all of you ignorant assholes who would even allow the thought of trading him enter your mind. Ask yourself - "Self, how much am I enjoying this time with Doc on the shelf?"

If even posing the above question doesn't bring on at least a mild bout of depression, well then, I don't think we can be friends.

.....There's good Brandon League, and then there's bad Brandon League.

.....There's bad Vernon Wells, and then there's bad Vernon Wells (heyo!).

.....Jesse Litsch, fare thee well. Last I checked, you had a few bosom buddies on the DL who just might have something in common with you.

.....Speaking of Dusty McG, when was that return date again?

.....Speaking of questionable return dates, the phenom's back might keep him out of action for how long? And it's been bothering him since when??

.....Sausage King > Bullpen Ninja? Really? Somebody help me, I seem to have a giant knife sticking square between my shoulder blades.

(I told you this was a pity party. On one thing we do agree - Beer. No exclamation point. Not tonight.)

Friday, June 12, 2009

Friday Rock Out - Lucinda Willams' "Real Live Bleeding Fingers..."

Lucinda Williams - Bleeding Fingers

Is there a better song title for a Friday Rock Out than "Real Live Bleeding Fingers and Broken Guitar Strings"? We've loved this song since the first time we heard Lucinda sing it in concert, several months before it appeared on World Without Tears.

As we're mercifully moving into the warm weather period, nothing says summer to us like a cold tasty beverage in the sun and Lucinda's Car Wheels on a Gravel Road playing in the background.

Speaking of tasty beverages, it's probably about time to set aside the bitters and amber ales and move towards more of a pale pilsner or lager for the summer months. Steam Whistle is always a really nice warm weather beer, and for those of you who plan to visit the Dome from out of town this summer, you owe it to yourself to head over to their brewery at the Roundhouse, just across the street. There are free samples to be had, and if you don't abuse the privilege, you may be able to get a second sample out of the stellar staff.

Summer is also a good time for a tasty Blanche de Chambly, which kicks the snot out of the Rickard's and Keith's white beers that have slunk into the market.

And just to prove that we're not a complete beer snob, we would enjoy a Molson Ex, if you're offering.

Here's to a warm weekend of summer imbibing, and a fine evening with Roy Halladay pitching. Sociable!

How low can Vernon go?

There seem to be two camps out there when it comes to Vernon Wells: Those who can't possibly hate the player and his contract any more, and those who have assured us all season that he'll turn things around and re-establish himself as the team's best hitter.

We probably have been in the latter group for most of the season, but we're getting perilously close to a tipping point in the season where we stop thinking of this as a bad start and start looking at it as a bad season...or worse.

In the 32 games since Vernon Wells last hit a ball out of the park (May 6th versus Anaheim), he has posted a .574 OPS and driven in a grand total of seven runs in 134 plate appearances. Each one of which, it should be noted, with him hitting fourth in the Jays batting order, just to beat that dead horse again.

And dare we mention that Travis Snider was exiled to Las Vegas after posting an OPS of .686 in 108 plate appearances? If that sort of performance merits a demotion - and it did - then shouldn't Vernon receive some sort of demotion himself? Like maybe a week or two of hitting seventh or eighth in the lineup?

Most importantly, the Jays have gone 14-18 in those games. We'd hazard a guess that not many teams would do much better with their cleanup hitter putting up numbers that could be bested by the fourth outfielder on their Triple-A team.

Several times over the course of the year, we've figured that Vernon hit bottom. When you hear enough thuds in the run of a season, you imagine that Wells couldn't go much lower, but we're coming to realize that what we're actually hearing is Vernon falling out of the Shitty Tree and hitting every shitty branch on the way down.

We're pretty much stuck with Vernon Wells for the long term, so there's not much that we can do aside from hoping that he addresses the issues that he's having at the plate. We see a lot of up-and-down hand movement in his swing, something that probably contributes to the fact that he rarely hits the ball squarely.

The larger question, especially for the Sports and the City blog, is whether or not there is a Hatred Level on their Advisory System that exceeds Severe. Because we may need it.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

If we keep Googling like this, we're going to go blind

After our morning bloviations, we kinda thought we should tone down on the righteous indignation (just a smidge) and bring it all back to something we can all enjoy together.

Namely, the recently acquired David Dellucci's fiancee, Price is Right model Rachel Reynolds.

Enjoy the photo. And as you enjoy it, remind yourself that if you'd been a couple of inches taller and raised somewhere other than the arctic tundra, you too may have been a replacement-level major leaguer and scored yourself a smokin' hot game show model.

And while we're at it, how about a thought on Dellucci's role?
Ultimately, the Dellucci signing is a low-risk move, so we don't have any idea why we're getting so worked up about it. And yet, it makes us wonder about what this does for those players who suddenly slide beneath him on the organizational depth chart.

Is this really the end of Joe Inglett? (We'll never bet against him, but he's hardly shone in his call up.) Does this relegate Travis Snider in Las Vegas until September? Will Snider become the latest lefty bat to get given the shaft by Cito? Will we ever see Buck "Skin" Coats back in Toronto? (FREE BUCK COATS!)

You always hear that you can never have too many arms, but is it possible to have too many middling bats?

Baseball books offer unending stacks of misery

It probably shouldn't come as any great surprise that Selena Roberts' A-Rod takedown has floundered and fallen off the sales charts, only weeks after its debut.

Last month, we had some time to kill at a Chapters megastore, and being the incorrigible baseball fan that we are, we couldn't help but saunter over to the sports section of the store to see what books we could add to our mounting pile of shamefully unread tomes. What we were met with was depressing enough to make us literally (and I mean literally) recoil and walk away.

The baseball section was a wall that was almost completely filled with books focused on steroids, fallen superstars, and fallen superstars who took steroids. It was more than a little depressing, and it really made us wonder if book publishers truly think that there is such a huge market for these exposés on performance enhancers and their users that they would focus on this one small aspect of the current state of the sport to the absolute exclusion of everything else.

It's not to say that we want to stick our head in the sand and pretend that PEDs are not present or that they are not relevant. But do we really want to spend any more of our time digging into the foibles of Alex Rodriguez or Barry Bonds or Roger Clemens or José Canseco or Kirk Radomski when we've heard and read so much about them and their disgraced brethern over the past five years that we couldn't possibly stomach anything more?

Some of the best sports writing of all time has been done on the sport of baseball. The game lends itself to poetic and thoughtful discussion, whether if it be on the history of the game, the changes in how we look at the game through statistical analysis, or the endless debates on the relative merits of players and in-game strategies.

That's not to say that you can't have interesting books that look at the impact of steroids and other performance enhancers: Will Carroll's The Juice still stands up as a must-read for anyone who wants to have an informed opinion on what these subastances do (and don't do), and what is their place in the whole baseball dialectic. But what distinguishes Carroll's book from many of the others is that it approaches the topic with a genuine sense of wonder and intellectual curiosity. Most of these other books seem start with the notion that steroids have ruined baseball, then set out to point fingers, assess blame and castigate the players, the game and, ultimately, the fans for being mindlessly complicit in the disintegration and demise of the grand old game.

On the contrary, we've found over the years is that baseball fans, by and large, are contemplative and intellectually curious people who like to dig deeper and learn more about the game. It strikes us that it would take a certain level of self-loathing to sit down and read volume after volume on how the sport that you're passionate about is a cesspool full of frauds.

And so, as we look forward to our summer reading, we plan on digging into our pile of unread books and reading a classic baseball book that truly captures the essence of all that is great in the game: Jim Bouton's Ball Four. We're looking forward to it.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

One man's DFAed trash is another man's treasure (but only at the league minimum salary)

For those of you who were getting nostalgic for the Mencherson days: MLB Trade Rumo(u)rs passes along the news (via an email from Buster Onley) that the Jays have signed David Dellucci.

Dellucci pretty much perfectly fits the Mencherson mould of a guy who had a good year or two at some point, but who has failed to much of anything since.

The signing likely means that Voodoo Joe Inglett will head back to Vegas or get his walking papers.

Pitching Bonanza! The Summer of Tallet, injured pitchers, and drafted pitchers

Are you all on board with the Summer of Tallet yet? Because after last night's seven innings of two-hit shutout ball against the Swingin' Rangers of Arlington, you really should be.

Since getting blowed up real good against the Royals back in April (and sucking up that shit kicking for the good of the team and the overworked bullpen), Tallet has been solid and has given more than anyone would have guessed. In his last eight starts, Tallet has posted a 3.12 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP, with opposing hitters posting a measley .551 OPS against him in 52 innings.

And to think that Tallet's name was tossed around in the off season as the throw in that we'd give to anyone if they gave us a mediocre shortstop or Mencherson-type back.

While we are praising Tallet and his unmatched will to make this Summer his own, let's take a moment to recognize the fact that it was one John Paul Ricciardi who grabbed this guy for the low low price of a minor leaguer named Bubbie Buzachero.

Yes, this is the same J.P. who you've all fired a dozen times a week over the past seven years because of his five-year plans (no planning!) and his home address in Worcester and his reticence to share his phone number and his lack of respect for Reed Johnson. And J.P. is such an idiot that he actually got Bubbie Buzachero back in the system (1.04 ERA, two saves, 17 Ks / 3 BBs in New Hampshire)...so essentially, we got Tallet for nothing and Bubbie for free.

Drafting Pitchers Like Gallileo Dropped an Orange
The Jays loaded up on pitchers like it was going out of style in yesterday's MLB Draft. The Jays started off with Kennesaw State pitcher Chad Jenkins (Mr. Handsome, as Parkes called him) with the 20th pick in the first round before grabbing Scott Boras client James Paxton with the 37th pick. Paxton is lanky left-handed pitcher and a good Canadian boy to soothe the more parochially-minded of the fan base (and, as Jeff Blair noted, the Rogers folks.) A high-ceiling Canadian may well be worth the Jays going over the slot recommendations, as it seems likely that they'll have to.

(And won't it be fun to have a Boras client around these parts?)

The Jays grabbed another Canadian lefty, Newmarket's Jake Eliopoulos, with their next pick (68th overall), and Arizona high school pitcher Jake Barrett with the 99th pick.

And now, we sit an wait patiently for five years for these guys to make their way to the big leagues, and then another year after they blow out their arms. Fun!

The Drunk Jays Fans have a much better breakdown of the draft that we do, with lots of links and video, so go there for more information. We don't like to duplicate their efforts.

Another arm bites the dust
Whenever forearm tightness is mentioned for a pitcher, you pretty much bide your time and wait for the inevitable announcement that they're going to go under Dr. James Andrews' knife. Such is the case for Jesse Litsch, whose impending TJ surgery was confirmed yesterday. The Star is reporting that it could take 18 months before Litsch brings his transferred ligament back to the bigs, so here's wishing him a pink, round and efficient recovery.

In praise of Dirk Hayhurst
Last night was the first time that we got to see our springtime mancrush Dirk Hayhurst take the mound for the Jays, and he looked great in a clean frame, striking out one batter. Too bad he's not still blogging, because we'd love to see what he has to say about life in the Toronto clubhouse. (Feel free to drop us a line, Dirk!)

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Intertwined threads - The MLB Draft and the Jays-Rangers

Hey! Are you like us? (If so, good for you!) No, but really, do you like the baseball, with the pitching and the hitting and the drafting? Well then have we got a deal for you!

It's a double-sided, two-in-one, totally integrated, intertwined, interdimensional Game and Draft Thread. This should be...interesting?

(Although let's be honest: Our knowledge of the amateur baseball talent pool ranges somewhere between none and SFA. So we'll be making up our opinions on the fly. As per usual.)

The most fun part about this evening is that we get to watch the draft online and pretend for an evening that the MLB Network is available in Canada. It would be really nice if someone at Rogers (Tony? Rael? Guys?) could look into getting this on the air for us soon. But we'll settle for them telling Bud Selig to keep his filthy money and paying above slot for tonight's draft picks.

(For this year.)

Hey, there's a ballgame on too!
As for the game: The Summer of Tallet continues, against Doug Mathis, who has precisely one inning of Big League action this year. It's play ball time sometime around 8ish.

Vernon Wells Sr. shares your frustration
When we ask, we apparently receive.

(And if that's the case, please send along a pristine copy of Crash Vegas' now-out-of-print Red Earth. Thanks.)

Earlier today, we mentioned that we wished that we had a screengrab of Vernon Wells Sr.'s reaction to his sonny boy staring at strike three. Well, a fine and noble man amongst you went and found it for us:


A Lindinger of a game

We always figure that there is some sort of punny fun to be had with Adam Lind's last name, and yet, that title is the best we could come up with. But given the way that Lind is playing lately, we'll have plenty of other opportunities to make kinda lame jokes while praising his awesomeness.

Lind's pair of two-run homers were pretty much all of the offense that the Jays needed last night to put them over on the Rangers 6-3. (Although that extra pair of runs was very much appreciated, so thank you very much for going and getting them, fellas.)

After a slightly tepid May (a .786 OPS), Lind has cranked it up since the turn of the calendar page with 14 hits (five doubles, three homers) so far and a 1.448 OPS in the first week of June. He leads the AL in doubles and sits within the top 15 in hits, homers, RsBI, slugging and OPS.

With the ongoing struggles of Vernon Wells and the recent skids of Aaron Hill and Alex Rios, it's hard to imagine what this team would be doing without Lind's contributions.

Vernon Wells Sr. is as fed up with Junior as we are
We wish we had a screengrab of Vernon Wells Sr.'s reaction to his son's strikeout looking in the 8th last night, because it made us feel a little less bashful about letting his son have it on the blog a few times per week. With Alex Rios standing on second in a one run game, Vernon Jr. watched a fastball come straight down the pipe, leading his old man to throw up his hands in frustration.

Papa Wells: We feel your pain.

As we move into the middle of June, we're starting to ask ourselves at which point we stop thinking of this (.690 OPS, 5 homers and 28 RsBI) as a bad start and when we start to look at it as a bad season. We're willing to cut Wells more slack than he probably deserves because June and July have traditionally been his hot months (.858 and .909 OPS respectively over his career).

But the clock is ticking.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Lyle Overbay Finally Gets Some Respect

So Lyle Overbay was just named the American League Player of the Week.

We're not sure if there are any particular prizes that go along with such an accolade. But getting to hit ahead of Kevin Millar against a right handed pitcher might be a nice start.

Let's fill out a new lineup card

It seems as though the consternation over Cito's batting orders began pretty much before the ink was dry on his opening day lineup card. Obviously, it's easy for us to sit back and pick it apart from our vantage point because we don't have to look any of those dudes in the eye after we drop them from their spot in the order.

We also take the point that Jeff Blair has made in several venues about replacing Vernon Wells in the cleanup spot. Blair has noted that even if Wells seems ill-suited to the fourth spot in the order, there isn't an obvious candidate to take over for him in that spot. (Which would bring us back to some vintage "there's no big scary bat in this lineup" discussions, which we've had pretty much every year since Carlos Delgado left.)

Still, staring out at the scoreboard this weekend and looking at the OBP and SLG numbers for the players who were in the lineup, it seems as though there might be some reasonable adjustments to be made. Especially when you see Lyle Overbay hitting way down the lineup, and behind Kevin Millar on Saturday in spite of his vastly superior results thus far (especially against righties).

So imagine if you will that the Jays' brain trust totally lost its mind and handed us the lineup card for a day. (Hey, they let Ernie Whitt fill it out, so it's not the craziest thing ever!) Here's what we'd pencil in with a right-handed starter:

1) Scutaro, SS - Though he's slid back to reality a bit in recent weeks, he's still drawing walks and getting on base at a .399 clip.

2) Rios, RF - The sour taste may linger from Alex's awful five strikeout game last week. But consider: Rios has more walks (17 to 14) and just six more strikeouts (45 to 39) than the current number two hitter. And not to go all Joe Morgan on you, but we still like the idea of having speed at the top of the lineup.

3) Hill, 2B - Hill is slugging .494 and leads the team in RsBI. Giving him more opportunities to drive in runs would seem to make sense at this point.

4) Lind, LF/DH - Lind leads the team with 30 extra base hits, and is slugging .525 for the season. He strikes out a lot, but when he gets hot, he can produce.

5) Wells, CF - Don't get us wrong on Wells. It's not as though we think he should be at the bottom of the order, and we still figure him to end the year in the neighbourhood of 25 homers/90 RsBI. But a modest drop in the lineup might allow him to get more opportunities with runners at second or third, or with runs already driven in ahead of him.

6) Overbay, 1B - We're a loathe to have two left-handed hitters back-to-back in the order (especially two who have their issues against quality LOOGYs), otherwise we would have put Overbay in the five-slot. As it is, Lyle is slugging .583 and is third on the team in RsBI, in spite of sitting against virtually every left-handed starter.

7) Rolen, 3B - The Greatest Blue Jay of All Time still has some double power (16, tied with Overbay for third on the team), although his home run stroke now sits somewhere in the rubble of Veterans Stadium.

8) Barajas, C - When it comes to paunchy, slow catchers, Rod the Bod God can run from first to home with the best of them. Stunningly enough, Barajas still has more runs driven in (29) than Wells (28) and Rios (27). And it's June, which is not all that early in the season.

9) Millar/Bautista DH/LF - We don't mean to dump on Millar or JoBau, but it's weird how both of them have been getting dropped into higher spots in the batting order while not really delivering (.709 OPS for Millar, .768 for Bautista).

As for how we'd line it up against lefties, we'd tweak it a little bit:

1) Scutaro ss
2) Rios rf
3) Hill 2b
4) Lind dh/lf
5) Wells cf
6) Rolen 3b
7) Barajas c
8) Millar/Overbay 1b
9) Bautista lf/dh

Barajas and Rolen have raked against lefties this year, while Wells traditionally kills lefties (.509 SLG and .883 OPS over his career) in spite of his dismal performance against them this year (.571 OPS).

Things that make you go "Wha???"
Vernon Wells is slugging .286 against lefties this year, and we're nearly a third of the way through the season. In 2005, he slugged .673 against lefties for the season. Seriously, isn't this a tip-off that there's something physically wrong with him?

We can't take another sub-par season from him at the plate and in the field where afterwards, he comes out and tells us that he was hurt all year and that he's going to get in shape really good for next year, with the plyometrics and the macrobiotics and all that jazz.

If VW is hurt, then he should sack up and sit down until he's right enough to play.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

A two sentence post on.....the Jays' magic cure-all

Speaking of things that are good for what ails you, the good Doctor takes the hill for the Jays in the series finale against the ever-shitty Kansas City Royals. If the Jays can't manage a series win out of this, I'm likely to fall into a depression the likes of which the blogosphere has never seen......well, not really, but let's go for the drama.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Nine runs is good for what ails you

(If the above image isn't the enduring scene to date for the 2009 Toronto Blue Jays, then I don't know what is. Love it. And if you don't - learn to.)

When the Jays were winning games early this season (games they probably should have lost) on the back of Aaron "what a ballplayer!" Hill, I consoled my ever paranoid self by saying:

"Don't worry, self, when Hill eventually cools off, we'll have guys like Vernon Wells heating up to pick up the slack."

Well, it turns out that I was partially correct, if not fully crazy for carrying on such a conversation. I'm not going to pile on Vernon by pointing out his woefully inadequate numbers from the cleanup spot this year. Nope, I'm not going to go there. Not going to discuss it. What I will point out is the fantastic effort delivered by the team's forgotten man, Lyle Overbay.

Overbay delivered two crushing blows (homer, double) in big spots against Royals ace Zack "not Roy Halladay" Greinke. Mix in another big fly from Adam Lind, who is just fucking nailing the baseball these days, and a three double night from Marco (marco) Scutaro (scutaro) - who refuses to cool off, by the way - and voila - Jays win.

Oh, Ricky Romero looked pretty good, too. Dominant, if we can pretend the seventh inning never happened. Performances like those are exactly what the rotation needs. It looks like our guy Arnie must have had one of those "YOU'RE A BAD MAN RICKY. A REAL BAD MAN!!" pep talks with young Ricardo before tonight's game, because he was storming off the mound looking to punch someone in the mouth at the end of each inning (I miss Mencherson).

Yeah yeah, Arnsberg was off attending his daughter's graduation or something.....you've never heard of a cell phone?

Alex Rios mans up
Do we still need to talk about this? You know, the incident where the dickless poser calls out an athlete on the street with absolutely no fear of reprisal?

I mean, I get it.....Rios comes off as a major dick for (a) refusing the autograph request, and (b) dropping the f-bomb (how dare he!)...but seriously, the guy calling him out? What a douchebag. Unless you want to play the "well, Rios makes millions of dollars a year, it comes with the territory" card. Because then you're a jealous douchebag.

Aaaaanyway, team mandated or not, Rios confessed his sins and apologized for his improprieties to the ever attentive media before the game.

"I just want to apologize for the situation that happened yesterday at the gala," Rios said. "I just want to apologize to my fans, to the team, to my teammates, because it was something I should have never done. It was a bad reaction on my side."

"That's not the person that I am," he said. "You shouldn't act like that, even if there's sites like that or people following you, trying to make you say bad things, you shouldn't act like that."

Rios acknowledged that frustration with his poor performance Thursday led to the incident.

"It was a long day," Rios said. "I kicked myself, I couldn't help the team win. It was just bad."

So, there. Are you happy now, jealous douchebag? I don't know, maybe I don't care enough about these off-field transgressions, but yeah....Jays win. Dig it.

Friday Rock Out (Ack Edition): Matt Mays & El Torpedo

Apropos of not much really, this Friday's last-minute Rock Out is borne of a lethal cocktail of unpreparedness and lethargy.

Between the Tao's early departure for the weekend and my own personal recurring nightmarish flu bug (no, I haven't been to Mexico recently - I have a kid in daycare, which is approximately 1,543 times worse), some of you hardcore indie/"college" music fans may call this selection uninspired and lacking in The Cool Factor that have become a hallmark of the Tao's selections.

Me, I just call it a fun rock song by an underrated Canadian rocker and his (now-defunct) backing band. The kind of song that might help you forget about an 0/5 with 5K's line from your etched-in-stone number three hitter, for example. Not to mention your homerless-in-a-month number four.

Halladay > Grienke.

Go Jays.

Alex Rios is the Windmill

If you could harness the energy of Alex Rios swinging and missing - as he did five times in five at bats in yesterday's 6-5 heartbreaker to the Angelenos - you could power the six blocks surrounding the Dome.

(And somewhere, Alex Gonzalez was rooting for the game to go into extra innings so that someone else could share the dubious honour of having struck out six times in a game. No such luck.)

Let's not be too quick to rip Rios to shreds, though. Over the past couple of weeks, he has likely been the Jays' best offensive player, so he's allowed to have a shittacular bed shitting game here and there.

Your new cleanup hitter (fingers crossed!)
Since Adam Lind went 5-for-5 in his stint as the cleanup hitter yesterday, can we possibly hope against hope that maybe he'll slide into that spot a little more permanently? Does it even matter? Are we just Vernon-hating to fill the void in our life?

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Painless afternoon threading - LAA versus T.O.

Did anyone (Joanna excluded) realize that there is centuries-old eyebrow management technique called "threading"? We've got not idea what it involves, but thank goodness that a) we were blessed with great eyebrows, and b) we're a dude. Because that shit looks scary.

Speaking of scary, it's already 3-0, and we haven't even kicked off the thread yet. Cripes!

However, given that it is the Summer of Tallet (and don't you dare forget it, or we will remind you again), we have full confidence that the lanky lefty will pull it all back together, and it will be cocktails and dreams from here on out.


Heaven's Devils

C. Figgins 3B
E. Aybar SS
V. Guerrero DH
T. Hunter CF
J. Rivera RF
K. Morales 1B
M. Napoli C
R. Quinlan LF
H. Kendrick 2B

J. Lackey P

Les Geais bleus

M. Scutaro SS
A. Hill 2B
A. Rios CF
A. Lind LF
K. Millar DH
L. Overbay 1B
J. Bautista 3B
R. Chavez C
J. Inglett RF

Summer of Tallet, P

Where's Vernon?
Yeah, where is Vernon? And how many jokes will you come up with along the lines of "Well, at least he's not going to pop up here."

Happy 1000th post!

Holy crap.

When we started this little dog and monkey show more than two years ago by misspelling the name of our patron saint (I before E, damnit!), we figured that like most other things in our life, we'd fart around with it for a while before getting bored with it and letting it wither on the vine.

In fact, if you'd asked us back then what the over-under on the total number of posts we'd we'd have before we gave up and walked away from this, it probably would have been about 50.

And yet, here we are: 1,000 posts.

Obviously, we didn't do this all by ourselves. Many thanks are due to our fellow contributors: The Ack, who gave the blog a much needed shot in the arm last year when we were starting to run out of gas, and Shortwaveboy, who encouraged us from the get-go.

And we'd be remiss if we didn't recognize the contributions of the commenters and fellow Blue Jays bloggers, who inspire and inform us daily. We learn something new from all of you just about every day, and frankly, that's just about the highest compliment we can pay.

In the end, we're a much better baseball fan now than we were before we started the blog. We've learned a lot from you all, as you've provided a nice amount of context and perspective in the down times, and you've shared the excitement in good times.

(Although we still don't have the first fucking clue what UZR really means. So it's hard to use it as a club with which to beat Vernon Wells.)

Thank you all once again for your continued patronage, and for coming back here daily. Here's to the next thousand posts.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

This is the Tao's Game Thread - California Angels (25-25) at Los Azulejos (30-24)

Check it out! It's a Game Thread! You asked for it. (Both of you.) Aren't you happy now?

Sadly, we're otherwise engaged tonight, which means we'll be following the game on a personal info device and dreading the fact that we're working a 27-hour day today. Although we may try to check into the comments throughout our rubber chicken bonanza, our BalsillieMatic 8700 has a bad habit of crapping out on us when we try to post pithy comments on the fly. So we'll see how it all works out.

As for the actual game, the Jays send out Casey Janssen, who'll ride this whole pitch to contact gameplan as far as it will take him. (He'll also exhale violently a lot, and do lots of deep knee bends. It's his shtick.) In 13 innings so far, Janssen has 2 Ks and 3 walks. (Which is a concern.)

The Californians will counter Jered Weaver, who is a long-haired hippy freak in need of a haircut. But he's also rocking a 2.36 ERA so far. So he's not bad.

It's game on at 7:07. Drop by and drop some knowledge in the comments, y'all.

Our Inside the Bloggers Studio moment
The Las Vegas Sun's Ryan Greene, who we interviewed for a post yesterday, has returned the favour and interviewed us for his blog on the LV Sun's site. If you care to read an interview with yours truly, here it is. Although we don't reveal much, because of our mysterious ways.