Archive for the ‘Toronto Blue Jays’ Category

Deal for Rasmus a Gamble Worth Taking

Georgia, Georgia

We know a few things about Colby Rasmus – he’s a southern boy, a Republican, and a bit of nitwit (neither of which are connected in any way).

We know that he had some issues with Tony La Russa and that he only wanted to work with his dad instead of hitting coach Mark Mcguire.

We know he’s a talented player who is having a tough year, but by all accounts is a star in the making.

And out of all of that the only thing that matters is the latter.

The Jays went out and got a legitimate talent and only had to give up a bunch of decent relievers and one of many young pitching prospects in Zach Stewart.

Big Attitude, Big Star Potential

Some people might be scared off by Rasmus’s demeanour, attitude, or politics. He is young, immature, and brash. But none of that matters because he can play.

The Jays need to compete and this is the only way to do it – to continue to make calculated risks on young, promising talent and hoping that the culture of the Jays clubhouse and change of scenery will do the player some good.

So everyone should welcome Colby with open arms, take him out on the town and make sure he knows what a kickass city Toronto can be. With a fresh start, a chance to play every day, and a new bunch of guys to impress, Toronto might just be the place that rejuvenates Rasmus. And if that’s the case the Jays and Alex Anthopoulous just committed another highway robbery.

Maybe we should start calling AA Mickey Knox.

Categories: Toronto Blue Jays

MLB's Lack of Instant Replay Needs to be Top Priority

July 8, 2011 3 comments

Rauch was squeezed on two crucial pitches before releasing his inner Hulk.

Edwin Encarnacion rounded third base and everyone in the stadium and watching at home knew one thing – he’d be thrown out by a mile and the game would be over.

Home plate umpire Brian Knight must have also made that assumption because he emphatically called Encarnacion out at the plate even though replays clearly showed that his right foot beat Jason Varitek’s tag. The Jays lost, the Sox escaped, and the debate about the use of instant replay in baseball started again – only this time the uproar barely lasted a couple of days.

With Jeter’s 3000th hit on the horizon, the All-Star game in a few days, and the recent death of a fan at Rangers stadium, perhaps the continued debate about the use of replay has been lost in the noise. However, after the All-Star game festivities conclude the topic of instant replay needs to be readdressed. There must be a more effective system in place before the start of next season. The technology is available and has been tested thoroughly and successfully in other sports and MLB’s reluctance to join the 21st century has caused nothing but embarrassment for the league.

Opponents of instant replay point to the fact that baseball games are too long and that instant replay would only extend games. But what happens whenever there is a close play at 1st base or a ball called foul that looks fair to the aggrieved manager? He comes out and proceeds to debate the call, and if angry enough, will begin a tirade (while enjoyable to everyone) wastes everyone’s time and is simply meant to alter the influence of future calls. Those two minutes that are normally spent arguing a call could be used to get it right instead of engage in a tiresome ritual.

Opponents will then argue that instant replay is a slippery slope and it won’t be long before robots control the game entirely.

Who cares? Computers control every other aspect of our lives, so why should baseball be any different? In order to fashion a reasonable solution the use of computers to call balls and strikes could be limited to only challenges. Imagine, a 2-2 count 2 out and a runner on 1st base. The 2-2 pitch is agonizingly close but is called a ball – 3-2 count now. The 3-2 pitch again is unbelievably close but is called a ball. The manager, pitcher, and everyone in the crowd can’t believe it wasn’t called a strike and the inning is extended. One pitch later and the next batter drives in the insurance run before the pitcher loses his mind and has to be restrained by the coaching staff. Of course, this described the situation that befell John Rauch and the Jays last weekend against the Phillies.

Now imagine John Farrell has a red flag in his pocket. He can use this flag two times a game. He hasn’t used any yet and this call is crucial to the outcome of the game. He throws his flag and everyone looks up to the Hawkeye system to determine if the pitch was called correctly. It hasn’t been and the computer lets us know that the inning should be over. The meltdown and subsequent suspensions are avoided and the right call is made. The umpire was wrong but he’s human and as long as the right call was made all will be forgiven.

Next, imagine a ball is hit down the first base line and it looks foul. The challenge flag is thrown and immediately we can know if the right call has been made. It takes about 10 seconds and then the game resumes.

Finally, imagine a close play at the plate. The ball beats the runner by a mile, but something doesn’t look right about the tag and the ensuing call. The manager challenges and the call and a special replay team upstairs reviews the call. They have two minutes to decide if the call should be overturned and can only do so if the evidence is conclusive. They get the call right, the runner is safe, and the Jays have completed a stunning comeback against Papelbon and the Red Sox.

These are just a few of the useful ways replay could be instituted in Major League Baseball.

The technology has been in place and has been used successfully by many sports for years. The MLB’s reluctance to join them is baffling and their reluctance to even thoroughly discuss the issue is embarrassing. Here’s hoping the next controversial decision happens to the Yankees on what would have been Derek Jeter’s 3000th hit in his final at-bat in Yankee stadium before the All-Star break.

Categories: Toronto Blue Jays

Interleague Play – An Achilles Heel

June 15, 2011 1 comment

Alex Gonzalez was traded for Yunel Escobar last season as the Jays found themselves as sellers once again.

A 9-game road trip through Cincinnati, Atlanta, and St. Louis followed by a 6-game home stand culminating in the return of prodigal son Roy Halladay on Canada Day weekend, will determine whether or not the Jays are sellers or buyers come the July 31st trade deadline.

That may sound like an overreaction, but currently sitting 5 games back of the wildcard and 6.5 back of the red-hot, division-leading Red Sox, there is little room for error.

The Blue Jays are 115-132 (.466) all-time in interleague play. That’s good for 4th worst all-time in the American League only ahead of the historical minnow Tampa Bay Rays, Royals, and Orioles. This season the Jays are 1-2 in interleague play, losing a weekend series to the lowly Houston Astros which most notably began the precarious trend of blowing late game leads.

Traveling to the National League, whether it be to the unfriendly confines of Citizens Bank Park in Philly or the unpredictable Coors Fields in Colorado, has been season-killing in years past. Last year the Jays finished interleague play at 7-11 while the Red Sox (13-5) and Yankees (11-7) capitalized on the recent dominance of the AL to widen the gap in the AL East. Notably, the Rays finished interleague play with an identical 7-11 record, but dominated in the AL East winning the division with a 42-30 record. The Jays obviously didn’t fair as well at 39-42.

If the Jays are going to continue to be mediocre against AL East opponents outside of Baltimore then they’ll need to improve their interleague record. It’s an 18 game season that the Jays need to dominate if they wish to make up any ground in the race for the wildcard. However, if they continue to struggle against NL opponents they’ll soon find themselves in a familiar position – out of the race by late June.

It won’t be an easy task as the Reds, Braves, and Cardinals are all in division races of their own. The Jays will then return home to face the surprisingly competent Pirates before an emotional weekend with the NL-leading Phillies. They’ll follow that stretch with a trip to the abyss that is Fenway Park followed by a weekend series with the Indians before the all-star break.

This 21-game stretch, and specifically interleague play will determine if the Jays will be looking to buy or sell come the trade deadline. If history is any indication we’ll soon be looking for the next Alex Gonzalez for Yunel Escobar deal.

Jays roll the dice with 2011 first-round picks

The Jays selected 5 players in the first round of the MLB draft last night. Click on the links for in depth scouting reports, analysis, and videos.

#21 – TYLER BEEDE – RHP Auburn, Mass. Lawrence Academy High School

Here’s a video of a no-hitter that Beede threw last month and another well-detailed article about Tyler Beede.

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#35 – JACOB ANDERSON – 1B Chino, CA HS

Here’s Anderson showing his stuff courtesy of Baseball Factory

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#46 – JOE MUSGROVE – RHP El Cajon, CA HS

There’s not a lot of information on Musgrove as he was a bit off the radar ranked at #157.

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#53 – DWIGHT SMITH JR. – OF Peachtree City, GA HS

Video courtesy of Baseball Factory

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#57 – KEVIN COMER – RHP Seneca, NJ HS

There’s a nice little feature on Comer courtesy of ESPN.

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The Jays took a big chance in drafting guys who had committed to big schools and will have to fork over quite a bit of money in order to sign them, but AA and the Jays are confident they can sign all of them. However, a few of them are going to be tough to convince most notably the Jays top pick Tyler Beede who is committed to Vanderbilt. The Jays are confident they can sign Beede and considering his reaction last night maybe they’ll get something done.

If that’s the case, then yesterday’s coup was formidable with the focus once again on stockpiling young, controllable arms.

MLB Draft Tonight at 6pm

The draft process was never my forte, so I will not even begin to speculate as to which players the Blue Jays are targeting in this year’s draft (June 6th – 8th).

The Jays own picks #21, 35, 46, 53, 57, 74, 78, 108, 139 and then every 30 picks beyond that (169, 199 etc.) Picks 35-74 come via compensation for Scott Downs, John Buck, Miguel Olivo (who was a Jay for about an hour and a half) and Kevin Gregg.

The JP Ricciardi strategy (via Billy Beane) was to draft college players who were almost major league ready. The players typically had a lower ceiling, but were almost ready to be major leaguers. The strategy backfired and left the Jays with one of the most barren farm systems in the league. Since then the focus of AA’s scouting team has been on international and high-ceiling high school players that the Jays can control for a much longer period of time before free agency.

So, keep an eye on some of the names that come out tonight, but don’t expect any of them to show up on the radar for another few years.

Did I mention Adam Lind was back?

Some quick stats to start the day:

  • Jose Bautista leads the AL in the following categories: Runs (47), Home Runs (20), Walks (52), Average (.348), On Base Percentage (.498), Slugging Percentage (.740), and On Base + Slugging Percentage (1.298)

Yet, for the first time this season, and without a home run in 7 games, it can be said that Jose Bautista is experiencing a mini power slump. Must be the steroids wearing off , right Max Kellerman?

Luckily for the Jays it has coincided with the return of Adam Lind. He was quiet on Saturday in his return, but yesterday he exploded for 2 home runs and 3 RBIs on a perfect 4-4 afternoon in the Jays 7-4 victory in Baltimore.

Lind has been far from spectacular this season (outside of the tear he was on in the 13 games before he was injured), but having him in the 4th spot takes a lot of pressure off of Bautista’s Barry Bonds impersonation. It means teams will have to start challenging Jose more and sooner than later the two of them will put it together at the same time.

Nix is batting .180 this season, so this is most likely a pop out.

Add in a phenomenal rookie campaign from JP Arencibia and suddenly the middle of the order is packed with a good amount of punch for the AL East.

In some bad news, Brett Lawrie was designated to the 7-day minor league DL, which means that he won’t be eligible to be activated until at least Wednesday. That means  4 more games of Jayson Nix…

The Jays are off to Kansas City to take on the struggling Royals – did anyone think it would be any different this year, really? Anything less than a sweep is unacceptable – it’s time for the Jays to start putting a few wins together in a row.

Categories: Toronto Blue Jays

Ups and Downs abound

Another terrible night of predictions on my part. The Jays mustered 10 hits but only one for extra bases and Talbot and the Indians cruised to a 6-3 victory last night. Morrow struck out 9 but everything that was put into play was seemingly an extra-base hit. The Jays look to take 2 of 3 tonight before heading out on a 7-game trip through Baltimore and Kansas City – two teams that are struggling badly at the moment. The Jays need to take advantage on this road trip and begin to make up a little ground in the AL East.

The good news out of AAA Las Vegas? Brett Lawrie should be joining the team in Baltimore this weekend. The bad news? Lawrie got hit by a pitch on his left hand in last night’s Las Vegas 51’s game. The good news? Lawrie claims it’s just a bruise and the belief is that he’ll be ready to go some time this weekend. Whew! Another month of Jayson Nix would have been a nightmare.

Mcgowan hasn't pitched since July 2008.

Anyone remember Dustin Mcgowan? Yes, that Dustin Mcgowan sideburns and all might be ready to finally make his comeback. Shi Davidi reported that Mcgowan hit 95 on the radar gun and that the Jays and his doctors believe a starting role would be in his best interest in the future. Here’s the full story.

It also makes mention of Adam Lind who should be ready to join the Jays in a couple of weeks once they make sure nothing is wrong with his “back”. I’m still scarred by the JP era where “back injury” meant your arm has fallen off.

Finally, word is that Cecil and Snider are making strides in AAA, but aren’t close to where they need to be. It’s been a month now and you would have hoped they would have found whatever it was they were looking for. Snider’s changing his swing to generate more power and that hasn’t happened yet, and Cecil still can’t keep the ball down in the zone. Looks like Carlos Villanueva and Jo-Jo Reyes are pretty locked into the #4 and #5 spot for at least the next little while.

Anyone watch the NBA Finals last night? The first half felt like a mid-February game on the 2nd night of a back-to-back for both teams. It was dead in that arena. It was a perfect opportunity for the Mavs to steal Game 1, but Dwyane Wade and Lebron James simply dominated in the final 5 minutes of that 4th quarter. If that’s going to happen it’s going to be a very short series.

Oh, and Dirk came away injured. It might be time to finally start accepting the dynasty that could be the Miami Heat. Ugh.

Categories: Toronto Blue Jays