Moneyball Casting Call

The wheels are in motion, and apparantly, Brad Pitt is in negotiations to play Billy Beane in the movie adaptation of Michael Lewis' best selling book, Moneyball.

While Pitt is a curious choice, the real question is who should be cast in the minor role of J.P. Ricciardi... Mr. John Turturro, or Mr. Jeff Goldblum??

Big Head

Watching TBS today, Ripken's noggin' filled up my whole TV screen, which seemed to shed a new light as to how he was able to recover quickly from getting banged up and have his ridiculous games played streak... a lot of Wheaties, for sure!

Does a Baseball Blend?

The Answer May Shock You!

From Baseball America

With the success of the Rays this year, other teams are thinking of scaling back their nicknames in hopes team turnaround...

A Look Ahead

Finally, with mercy, the Jays have acknowledged that it is time to turn the page, with their trading of Matt Stairs, and the promotion of the over hyped phenom that is Travis Snider, the team is now trying to show fans that there is something to get giddy about.

Travis Snider. Your coming out party is tonight in Yankee Stadium. Don't fuck this up, or the Toronto beat will quickly dismiss you as another Russ Adams or Ricky Romero.

Let's see a 4/4, with 4 homer night. Anything less is unacceptable.

Hotel Post

I'm in my hotel room and just found out it actually has Wi-Fi, so I'm busting out a post at warp speed before I head out for dinner.

Some quick thoughts about this past week of baseball:

1) The Joba injury really shouldn't surprise anyone. But let's not fool ourselves in thinking that this marks the end of the year for Yanks. This is the one team in baseball that's able to make superstar half seasons out of guys like Shawn Chacon and Aaron Small.

2) Yesterday, I was in a pub talking to a couple from Boston. Inexplicably, neither knew that Manny Ramirez had been traded. Which I thought would have been impossible living in a city so obsessed with the Sox. Apparantly, not so.

3) Family Feud is the best game show on TV. They should do a Baseball Special over the winter.

Ricciardi vs Zaun : TKO

Gregg Zaun is still a Blue Jay. Much to the chagrin on Zaun, but moreso for the the Toronto Blue Jays organization.

When asked about why the Jays didn't move Zaun as per the backup catcher's request, "Ricciardi said there was some interest in Barajas, but none in Zaun."

For those wondering, J.P. Ricciardi draft pick, J.P. Arencibia, is coming soon, probably in September.

Arencibia's hit over 20 homers already split between High A and Double A, and it hitting in the .300 range. He's easily leapfrogged both Robinson Diaz and Curtis Thigpen as the Jays premier backstop prospect.

The Twilight Zaun

Does hitting .243 with five home runs, with a below average gun behind the plate warrant being a back up? Fuck that! It's if the Jays have turned around and started not rewarding grit and baseball acumen that overflows in guys like David Eckstein and Zaunie, and all of a sudden resorted to actual talent and production to make their decisions in putting out the best roster available.

Laughably, Zaun has now resorted to going to the media in order to help grease the wheels for his way out of town, as if that helped Bengie Molina get dealt when the fat man was in a similar situation two years ago in Toronto.

Unfortunately for Zaun, he's seemed to have forgotten that guys like him, Jay Gibbons, Barry Bonds and others named in Mitchell's report aren't in real high demand on teams' list of acquisition targets.

Let Me Talk About My Fantasy

No, not the one involving Rachel Weisz. My Fantasy baseball team in the league that I wrote about many months ago, involving the who's who of the Toronto Blue Jays Blogosphere.

The timing is perfect right now to write about it, because at this present time, All Your Base Are Belong to Rios is sitting atop in first place in the fourteen team league, surprisingly with little movement to the roster throughout the season. I've been sticking to my guns for the most part with my team that I've drafted with a few notable changes... notably, Carlos Delgado is out at first base, replaced by Mike Jacobs... the rest of the team is pretty much still there.

King Felix is quietly having a dominating fantasy season, while Brandon Webb, and Daisuke (when healthy) are certainly providing good numbers to my team week in and out. I've been relatively quiet on the waiver front, but was somehow able to get Joba midway through the year.

Everyone is preparing for David Price's September call up for the playoff drive.

Watching the Chiefs

So I went down to Syracuse a couple of weeks ago, as indicated in my last post, during my hiatus from this blog, and witnessed a truly horrendous Triple A team that the Jays currently have. Granted, in recent years, teams have veered away from putting any talent whatsoever in their AAA franchises and let their studs marinate in AA, but still this was a truly depressing site.

I remember going to see the likes of Carlos Delgado smash bombs into right field... or seeing Chris Weinke fester year in and year out down in the Cuse, only to be recently rescued from his obscurity with a job quarterbacking the Carolina Panthers... but now... wow, it was pretty awful.

The Chiefs were playing the Durham Bulls, farm team of the Tampa Rays. So I was able to see a couple of their "studs"... Joel Guzman and Reid Brignac were the names I recognized from that squad, and neither looked remotely impressive. Guzman is a monster imposing figure but whiffed at pitches left right and centre... Brignac basically looked like he could eventually become an average to below average short stop in the bigs...

For the Jays/Chiefs... their Home Run leader for the team was their Right Fielder... he was hittng .215, but fans were very excited about his potential... it was Russ Adams. And he looked like the Russ we all knew. Interestingly, he didn't have one ball hit to him during the 9 inning affair. But their centre fielders Wayne Lydon sure did... a monster blast in the 6th or 7th inning where Lydon ran forward to grab it... unfortunately, the ball sailed over his head, and he cost the team a run with his bonehead defence... Lydon attempted to make up for his faux pas the next inning when he got on base... only to be picked off of first base...

Davis Romero pitched well, but it was a lost cause and the team lost.

Oh well, at least they've got Jesse Litsch now to save them.

On a side note, I heard on multiple occasions fans referring to JP Ricciardi as "a piece of shit GM." I thought it was hilarious.

Guess Who's Back?

No, not Rakim. It's us!! Errr... me! What the fuck have I been doing? You probably don't care... but I moved, went on vacation, went back to work after vacation and had no life for 2 weeks, then finally got the internet back this week.

Which means a plethora of posts are on the backburner, stewing in my head over the month and ready to be shot out rapid fire. Hold on for a ride... get ready for some hot new shit.

Topics include: Jays Minor League Facebook Mania, Whose Side This Blog Is on in the ongoing Pro/Anti AJ Burnett war, My Recent Trip to see the Chiefs, and maybe a post on why this blog will never use the term Mancrush ever...

Going to Cooperstown?

Planning a trip to Cooperstown, home of Baseball's Hall of Fame, and aren't sure what the can't miss things in town are? Never fear, Richard Griffin supplies us with his tips today in the mailbag. Listen up kids, here's what Griff recommends:

"Ask for Hall president Jeff Idelson, a good friend of mine, and ask him to show you the Robert O. Fishel Award and look for my nameplate"

Fun times! Griffin on a plaque!

Also, in this mailbag, according to Griffin: Zaunie, Fletch and Towers were Blue Jays for less than 2 years.

A+ for effort.

Chacin: There are Two

Remember the news last month, when the Jays took Gustavo Chacin off their 40 man roster, making him available for any team to pick him up? Well, apparantly, nobody wanted Gus, so he's still in our system.

I decided this morning to pull up his numbers in Dunedin to see how ol' Gusy is doing. Will there be a chance for all of us to see the greatest smelling Toronto athlete once again? I went to Baseball America, and did a search on Chacin. Little did I know... there are two Chacins in professional baseball! Two!

Like our good friend Josh Towers, the other Chacin is in the Rockies system. Jhoulys Chacin is his name. And he's throwing in low A ball, putting up ridiculous numbers. 10-1 record. 2.10 ERA. 1.01 WHIP. So there appears to be a Chacin on the rise, the smell of Victory could be on its way eventually to Denver.

As far as our Chacin goes. Not so pretty. 1-7 record. 7.88 ERA. 1.84 WHIP in high A ball.

In summary: Gustavo = done. Jhoulys = The New Chacin!

First Round Report Card

So the Draft was earlier this month, and the Jays took, with their first round selection, a projected sandwich/2nd round pick. A potentially poor fielding first baseman. Most probably a designated hitter.

David Cooper was so excited about being so highly coveted by a team with a mid first round pick, that he quickly became the first first rounder to ink a deal with his team.

It was a curious selection by a team that has historically had a farm system void of top shelf talent, but a team in the past two drafts altered their strategy into selecting more high ceiling guys.

In the two drafts previous to 2008's the Jays were lauded for their selections of Travis Snider, Kevin Ahrens, Brett Cecil, etc. The selection of Cooper, though, appears to be a regression in draft strategy to the team's philosophy prior to 2006.

Notably, most analysts suggested that the 2008 draft was a relatively weak class. That being said, when the Jays were on the clock, they had every opportunity to really roll the dice with selecting a player with perceived signability issues. And with a weak draft class this year, the worst case scenario for the team would be that the Jays wouldn't be able to ink a deal with the pick, and would be compensated with another first round pick for 2009's draft.

If the Jays gambled with their pick and snatched a high risk/big money demanding high school arm like Gerrit Cole or Jake Odorizzi, the team would conceivably have an arm that could have a major impact when Ricciardi is long gone. Instead, they took a lumbering designated hitter who will rise through the system relatively quickly. And back up Travis Snider.

David Cooper. Yippee.

Hazel Mae's Future Unknown

After another pointless hiatus, All Your Base returns with this huge newstory that has transpired this past month in Boston. Hazel Mae is leaving NESN, and her future destination is shrowded in secrecy. Perhaps a return to Sportsnet to replace Jamie Campbell as the new play by play announcer for Jays broadcasters? Indeed!

Oh yeah, and I'll get a post up soon enough about the Jays draft, and other minor league shit that you might find somewhat interesting. I really can't stand watching the Jays lately, but I'll be going to the Cincy games, and might have something relevant to post after that experience as well.

Watch Out Star Wars Kid

You've got some competition now. This charming young fellow wishes to show us all the weirdest batting stances in baseball. Enjoy!

Kindred Spirits

Vernon Wells - Breaks wrist May 9th, put on the Disabled List
Jeremy Accardo - Injures forearm May 9th, put on Disabled List

Vernon Wells
- Born December 8th
Jeremy Accardo - Born December 8th

Coincidence? Or some birthday Voodoo?

What's New on the Farm?

With speculation rising already that the Jays could be using farmhands to acquire another big bat for the lineup, it seems logical to take a bit of a gander at the Jays system to see what's there that could be for the taking. We've already seen a glimpse of David Purcey, who made his best left handed Daniel Cabrera impression in his major league debut.

For all the grief the Jays have had over the state of their relatively weak minor league system, most baseball experts agreed that the Jays had a very good 2007 draft. With that in mind, let's see how some of the newer young Jays are doing this year.

In Low A ball, there are a couple of names that stand out, including the Jays highest pick in last year's draft, Kevin Ahrens. From what I've been able to gather in my relatively quick research, Ahrens is showing some promise for a guy drafted right out of high school. The switch hitting third bagger has yet to hit a homer, but is hitting a respectable .291 thus far and is 3 for 3 in stolen base attempts.

Sandwich pick Justin Jackson is one of Ahrens teammates in Lansing. Jackson was a guy whose stock fell quite a bit in last year's draft, as he was once projected as a surefire top 20 pick. Scouts were dazzled by the high schoolers defensive prowress at shortstop, but there were concerns over his bat. Thus far, it looks like Jackson has been making some great strides in the hitting department. Hitting .313, Slugging .494, and already with a long ball, the speedy infielder is also an impressive 6 for 7 in stolen base attempts. Batter's Box recently saw Lansing play and came off most impressed with Jackson. I think it's pretty safe to say that we should start polishing up his Hall of Fame bust.

A guy I've never heard of until yesterday on JaysTalk with Ricciardi, is pitcher Kyle Ginley. He's destroying low A ball thus far, and a promotion seems likely. The kid thus far is 5-0 with a 1.24 ERA, with 36 Ks in 36 innings.

Moving up to Double A, Travis Snider is shitting the bed thus far, but there is no need to panic, given the small sample size... and the fact he's just two years out of high school. Snider's knocked a couple out of the park in New Hampshire, and his average has nowhere to go but up. As a top 15 prospect in all of baseball, he won't be hitting .143 come June.

Recently promoted Brett Cecil has let up 4 runs in 7 innings thus far in New Hampshire, and his rise to the majors will probably be quite swift, as he, unlike the other kids mentioned in this post, is out of college.

Blog Resurrected

I'm sorry. I think whatever readership this blog once had has now been decimated to none, because of the inactivity here without warning. Chalk it up to a number of not really great reasons, and this blog's been pretty much abandoned over the past three weeks or so. I hope to make semi frequent posts once again... and less time is spent at the ballpark, or other out in the city venues and more time at home... watching the games on TV... and saving a few bucks.

On to today's post...

For the working stiffs, like yours truly, who are unfortunate, like myself, to ride the TTC every morning, nothing is more frustrating than not being able to access the radio in the tunnels of Toronto, and listening to the same library of songs on the IPod every morning gets a little tiresome. However, I've found a nice little way around this problem: Podcasts.

Download these suckers in the morning, and you've got yourself some entertainment as you head to the office. Here's what I've been listening to lately, and give strong recommendations to download. Hopefully, this will make your morning's a little bit more tolerable.

1. ESPN's Fantasy Focus with Matthew Berry & Nate Ravitz. Berry & Ravitz are ridiculously entertaining. They podcast every weekday, and each show is about 20-25 minutes... just long enough to give you the baseball info you need, but not too long to get tedious. One of the show's strongest suits is its ability to not take itself seriously. Berry usually goes well off topic for the majority of the show, offering his insights of why Anne Hathaway is hotter than Megan Fox, and Ravitz was talking about figure skating the other day. But the meat and potatoes of baseball analysis is still there, and it's always entertaining to hear them pull their hair out trying to understand what's going on with the Jays' bullpen.

2. The Drunk Jays Fans Podcast - This came out of nowhere, and is a brand new podcast that I downloaded the other day. Based out of The Score studios in Toronto, the DJFers first broadcast showed a lot of promise. With their podcast cherry popped, there could be some listening gold on the horizon with this show, and is definitely worth a subscription. Judging by the length of the podcase, I am guessing that it will be a weekly show.

3. ESPN's Around the Horn - Yeah, it's mostly Bill Plaschke and Jay Mariotti sounding really stupid the majority of the time, but it's sports opinion, and it's not horrible. Like David Archuletta, it's got pep.

Big Hurt Released

Frank Thomas has been released. Adam Lind will be called up and be the full time Left Fielder. Matt Stairs and Shannon Stewart will take over the Designated Hitter duties

It's a swift move that seemed inevitable 24 hours ago after his benching, but one that really raises eyebrows. Many baseball notables mentioned Thomas' loss of bat speed during Spring Training and early on this season, and there has recently been a noticable change in Thomas' plate approach to compensate for this deficiency. But, as everyone knows, Thomas has always been a notorious slow starter, and outright releasing the player obviously is more than a pure baseball decision.

After all, take a look at the line up treaded out today against the lefty:

D. Eckstein
A. Hill
A. Rios
V. Wells
R. Barajas
M. Scutaro
L. Overbay
G. Zaun
J. McDonald

Yeah, that's Rod Barajas hitting in the five spot. And Marco Scutaro in the six spot. Ouch.

Let the Barry Bonds rumours start percolating once again.

Weekend Blur

I've missed the last couple of games... but the Jays have mustered a little bit of a winning streak (2 games!!) in my absense. Burnett tosses this afternoon, in a must win game for the Jays (according to some insane callers in to Jays talk). Win or pack it in.

According to Drunk Jays Fans, who've sourced the Fan590, BJ Ryan returns to the team today, and is ready to throw which is pretty fantastic, considering the moderate woes the pen has faced the last week. Even a recovering Ryan is better than an erratic League and a now hittable Accardo. There will most certainly be bumps along the way with Ryan's return to awesomeness, so let's not start jumping off the bridge after BJ's first blown save.

I've been digging up some really bizarre baseball related stuff the last couple of days, and will put it up here shortly. Also, a Shaun Marcum opinion piece is on the way. Hold tight, folks. Four series in, and the Jays could be a part of three sweeps. Things are a changin'.

Another Reason to Listen to the Radio

Turn off the TV. Either go to the games, or listen to them on the Radio. Here's a sampling of today's great broadcast on the Fan.

(Wilner & Ashby talking about players forging their birth cirtificates so that team's draft them thinking they are younger than they actually are... Wilner mentions that there was a player picked up by the name of Isabel Giron, who used younger sister's birth certificate to pose as someone five years younger)

Ashby: In that case, they didn't need to forge the certificate.

Short Pause

Wilner: Well, except in one category.

Where's Brandon?

Myseriously absent from any game situations thus far in 2008 has been Brandon League. Even Randy Wells and Jason Frasor have seen some action. This is quite distressing. We have put up an APB on the corner of this page to find out where he is.

Easy as 123

A great weekend of baseball. With stellar preformances from some unlikely sources (The Big Hurt providing two huge hits in April already!?), and some great production from the new kids on the left side of the infield. The most encouraging signs thus far are the fact that Vernon appears to be back in 2006 form, Alex Rios looks ridiculously comfortable in the three hole, and Jesse Litsch & Shaun Marcum looked absolutely great.. particularly Marcum.

But let's keep things into a little perspective here... a lot of credit towards the wins can go directly to the players from Boston. The Red Sox looked absolutely beat this entire weekend. They were ridiculously sloppy on the field, and didn't muster any type of energy throughout the games. This is not the Boston team we will see later in the year.

All in all though, a great start to what should be the best season of baseball in over a decade.

Oakland's in town Tuesday to Thursday, and there should be around 20,000 there each game. It will be quiet, but it will allow me to actually focus more on the games now, rather than being distracted by 'fans' wanting everyone to watch their antics.

Games All Weekend

Jays home for a while and that means live reports from the SkyDome.

There'll be a much more in depth report filed here over the weekend, but I'll address this one theme that seems to be consuming the Fan 590 tonight, that's compleletly fucking ridiculous.

To all those people calling in and complaining about how crazy and off the wall fans were at the SkyDome tonight, with there being no security and whatnot... Have You Not Been To A Home Opener In the Past 10 Years??? They are always fucking crazy, and off the wall. Factor that with it being against Boston, so all the Massachusetts boneheads coming down... also that it is a FRIDAY NIGHT game, if you were expecting tea time at Cullen Gardens, then yeah, it was a real eye opener.

Sanity returns for the rest of the season. Stop whining and bask in the win.

Go Jays.

Game One Thoughts

After finishing my weekly Tuesday pick up basketball game, I ran to the closest bar nearby. I won't tell you what that bar was, but it was the shittiest bar I've ever been to in my entire life. They had the Jay game on for my first twenty minutes I was there, but after a group of stereotypical puckheads came in and asked for them to turn on the Leaf game, the bartender obliged to their request, and I was treated to a pointless hockey affair.

I quickly asked the bartender to please put one of the televisions to the opening day game of our beloved baseball team, and he obliged. I became the only patron situated infront of that TV. The rest of the patrons hooted and hollared for every meaningless Leaf goal.

Anyways, quick thoughts on the game.

Observation One: This game had an unbelievable atmosphere. Intense, and it really felt that the game meant a lot more than it actually did. Great television.

Observation Two: Despite the horrible settings to watch the game in, away games are still better to be watched in bars, because you don't have to listen to the commentators.

Observation Three: The Jays new uniforms are much better than their last incarnation. The numbers and lettering font is still not great, but a vast improvement over last season's.

Observation Four: Is it me, or does Overbay always seem really tense in late and close games? I don't have any numbers... for the statistically inclined, does anyone have Overbay's career numbers in late and tight situations?

Observation Five: Marco Scutaro is on pace for 300 stolen bases.

Observation Six: I don't get the Joba hype.

And... That Happened.

He's the Cash Man

Los Grandes Rios is ready to take over the city, folks. Freshly inked to a big money deal (65 million guaranteed), it's a win win for everyone. Rios has mo' money, and the Jays are doing cartwheels that they've locked up their best outfielder for half the money they forked out for their centre fielder just a year ago.

Some are speculating that there may be an out clause in this deal, which doesn't make a tonne of sense, since Rios was pretty much cost controlled anyway for the next couple of years... so giving him an opt out similar to Wells and Burnett wouldn't make a tonne of sense.

So Rios will be staying here a while, no more documentaries.

Quick Hits:

  • Made two small pick ups in my roto pool (which is a very deep keeper league). If you're in a similarly deep league (or an NL only league) I suggest taking flyers on these two under the radar talents: Jorge Cantu, who came off a huge spring and won the starting 3B job in Florida, and Eugenio Velez, who ran like mad in Spring Training and has taken advantage of the now vacant 2B job in San Francisco.

  • Yahoo put up a really good article this week on the impact of the Mitchell Report on someone who complied with giving names.

  • Canseco's new book comes out April 1st, get ready to camp out infront of Indigo!

Rolen Down

Get your spikes shined up Marco, you're going in. Toronto's big offseason acquisition, Scotty Rolen, must have been jealous of AJ Burnett, and decided if AJ is sans fingernail, then he should be as well.

Rolen suffered a displaced fracture in a finger and lost a fingernail in what is described as a freak accident on the practice field earlier today. There is no timetable yet for his return, but Opening Day should be ruled out at the very least. Get the band-aids out folks, the number of hurting/hurt Jays is up to four now with Burnett, Janssen, Ryan and Rolen.

Bring Back Bush

I know for certain that I'm in the minority with this belief -- but I was absolutely crushed when the Jays dealt Dave Bush to the Brewers a little over two years ago. Yes, it was heavensent that the Jays declined shipping Dustin McGowan for Overbay, and instead went with Bush & Jackson, but Bushy was a guy I thought was one of the most underrated arms in the whole game.

He put up really great peripherals in Milwaukee in 2006, and there was great optimism that he'd continue to ascent to his calling of a mid rotation pitcher in 2007, but the wheels came off, and now he's fighting tooth and nail to win a spot in a jam packed Milwaukee rotation arms race.

It seems foolish to believe that Toronto would re-unite Gibby with one of his detractors, and rarely are players traded away, then re-acquired in a trade a few years later. But the Jays seemingly need another starter to add to the mix... someone to go in if Litsch falters, if one of the top four goes down via injury. There doesn't seem to be much in the well right now, and Bush's price is now at an alltime low.

It's a fit. Gibby needs some fire put back into his belly. He needs an agitator. He needs Dave Bush.

Starting to Unravel

First Janssen gone for the year, and now BJ appears to be having some hiccups in his return. Stoeten cautions everyone not to react to this news similar to chicken little, but things are definitely not looking great. Despite the glowing reviews of Brandon League, the Hawaiian flamethrower is only topping out at around 94mph (as opposed to 2 years ago when he'd consistently throw 97-98mph). Add that to Accardo's post allstar break swoon, all of a sudden, the bullpen no longer looks that pristine.

Longest Draft Ever...

Mathis nabbed after the Angels waited weeks and weeks, seeing guys like Screech Powers drafted in the 214th round, and Bobby Rayburn taken in the 268th round.


Not 24 hours after I write this, we get news of this. Crap...

Get well, Casey...

Love for Litsch

Been a while, but I’ve got a bit of work that needs doing, so I thought I’d weigh in with a quick thought on spring training (funny how that works).

Yes, Jesse Litsch is still in the running for the 5th spot in the rotation.

Jesus, I wish everyone would get off of this guy. Yes, his stuff is middling. Yes, he’s young. Yes, he’s a right-handed Gus who seems likely as anyone to be a flash-in-the-pan.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Much as it might echo the cliché, pitchers will be pitchers – which is to say, they tend to be batshit crazy and like to get themselves into tight spots…car doors, phone books and the like. Statistically, they’re incredibly volatile. For all the loving given Doc and the hate for poor A.J., it’s surprising how often we forget that it’s what’s behind the freckles that really matters, and that Litsch has already had one initiation-by-fire and survived it (albeit after a couple of weeks in AAA).

I know there’s a tendency to look at McGowan and see a hybrid of the best features of Doc and A.J. And I know those six-inning no-nos really teased us into thinking that Marcum is the real deal. And that Janssen added a couple of miles after rehabbing the back so that if he’s to be believed, ’07 was much more indicative of his talent than the previous season. I know all that.

But if Litsch earns the spot, let him have it. Stash Casey in the pen for a while if you have to and extend him on the side when the need arises. I know it’s inconvenient, and the Zambrano experiment cowed everyone to that line of thinking, but another few months in the bullpen won’t kill the guy if he’s got the stones to start in this league. Sure, Litsch might not outpitch Janssen this year, but that doesn't mean he won't outpitch Marcum, or McGowan, or even A.J (I wouldn't put my money on Doc, though). If the kid deserves it, then give the sod a chance.

Pithy Projections

Research skills exhibited in this preview: limited. To paraphrase this video: Jays will come third because... well... because they are not as good as the Yanks or Red Sox. Thank you for watching. Actually, that's not paraphrasing. That's pretty much what he said verbatum. Also note that the announcer guy always wanted to Sing "Oh Canada" to the tune of an indistinguishable song.

Crystal Ball

What will happen in 2008? Everyone has theories, and at the end of the year, everyone brings up the ones that actually came true, and summarily ignore all the ones that didn't come through.

With the season a mere weeks away, it's this blog's time to come up with some predictions. The hope is to be over 50% right, and no predictions will be made that are considered "obvious". So bookmark this, and in November there will be a re-examination of its contents.

Prediction 1: Nick Swisher will have a monster year. Remember Eric Byrnes' massive campaign last year, crushing dingers and stealing bases at will, lifting the Diamondbacks into the postseason? This year, Swisher will have a similar huge campaign... he'll be more aggressive, with a career year in homers, and he'll be swiping bases at a rate never seen before in his career. Surprising many, the White Sox will prove to be a pesky conteder to the likes of Detroit and Cleveland, thanks in large part to Swisher's production.

Prediction 2: By the allstar break, Jay fans will be calling in Mike Wilner daily about the team needing to get a first baseman to replace Lyle Overbay. Some will suggest the team bring up number one prospect Travis Snider already. This will drive Wilner close to the edge.

Prediction 3: Ben Sheets will be traded to the New York Yankees. The Yanks will find out soon enough that their pitching is not up to snuff. They'll quickly turn their attention to the Brewers' Sheets, and find the Brew Crew as a team open to making a move. Sheets will be in pinstripes to help the team continue their post season streak.

Prediction 4: Dusty Baker will have at least three quotes that borderline on insanity. (Note: the number is already at 1 with his recent criticisms of Joey Votto)

Prediction 5: When the Rays come to town, and Evan Longoria comes to the plate, you will hear a chorus of lame jokes in the Rogers Centre from fans who will compare him to a Desparate Housewife.

All Work and No Play

A crazy week of work has limited time to devote to updating the blog here, but now looking back at the week that was, there doesn't seem to be a lot to comment on or review here. The Jays are on TV today, which is fantastic, but I'll reserve my praise until after seeing how CityTV handles the job.

Drunk Jay Fans will be providing a blow by blow analysis of the "event" today, so make sure you head over there to take part in the festivities.

Fun things to observe today:

1) Because it's spring training, there'll be a tonne of minor leaguers thrown into the game -- some starting, this is a great opportunity to see what talent is down in the well.

2) Tom Foolery -- The game is meaningless, and the team surely knows it's being broadcast in Toronto, so expect some hijinx during the game.

3) John Gibbons: Wordsmith -- There is no doubt that Gibby will be miked up during times of the game. Try to see if there is any change whatsoever in his soundbytes, or whether it will still be entirely positive and defensive.

We got a Team

So All Your Base Are Belong to Rios participated in a fantasy baseball draft today with 13 other Jays fans/bloggers from all over the place and I think it went alright. There wasn't really anything noteworthy about the draft (no crazy picks off the charts...) but it was a different experience for me in that the format was unlike any fantasy draft I've participated in before.

The following twists were in this fantasy league: Batting average was thrown out, and we're using OBP and SLG as two categories, to make it 6X6 we are also using quality starts as a stat.

I'm used to the conventional categories. Also, it's a head to head, which I'm not familiar with either. I decided that I wanted to get good established closers. And I accomplished that. I suppose we'll see if that was smart or not. In any event, here's our squad:


C - Ramon Hernandez
1B - Carlos Delgado
2B - Brian Roberts
SS - JJ Hardy
3B - David Wright
LF - Hideki Matsui
CF - Rick Ankiel
RF - Matt Kemp
Utility - Jeremy Hermida
Bench - Adam Jones


SP Brandon Webb
SP Felix Hernandez
SP Daisuke Matsuzaka
RP JJ Putz
RP Jonathan Papelbon
P Mariano Rivera
P Mark Buerhle
P Andrew Miller
Bench - Scott Olsen

My favourite picks are Dice-K (taken 88th), King Felix (81st) and Kemp (144th). I'll update anything noteworthy that happens throughout the year.

Paint By Numbers Article Writing

It looks like Mark Zwolinski got some new magnetic poetry writing for his fridge and decided to use it for an article. Using the same retreaded statements as a million past Eckstein and Matt Stairs articles past, what seemed most nauseating was the same rehashed points and quotes throughout the article.

Directly pulled from the article, I give you the following (bolding added by me):

'The sense of urgency that Blue Jays ace Roy Halladay felt was lacking somewhat in the clubhouse last season arrived here yesterday.'

'The sense of urgency – at least the Jays' attempts to facilitate it – is now on full display.'

'He looked at this season's acquisitions and felt the sense of urgency to win had certainly been upgraded.'

What's worse is the following. In one short article, Zwolinski throws in these two quotes.

"The key is for everyone to stay healthy..." - Stairs

"The key for me and for all of us is to remain healthy" - Stairs

Thanks Zwolinski, almost missed it the first time, and never even considered that a key for a team to be succesful was to be healthy. Great work.

A Hard Hittin' Fact

Remember Hard Hittin' Mark Whiten? I sure do. I remember when he beat the shit out of Black Jack McDowell after he was hit by a pitch. I also remember when he hit 12 RBIs in one game for the Cards. He was pretty ridiculous. I was pretty pissed when they traded him for the knuckleballer and Turner Ward. Candiotti was shit.

Anyways, back to Whiten. I had thought that these two facts pretty much defined his career, but I found out something today that completely blew my mind: Mark Whiten pitched one inning of Major League Baseball. OK. Not a big deal. A lot of positional players do that. Frank Menechino did it for fucks sake. But.. Mark Whiten did something absolutely tremendous. While he walked a couple and let in a run, he also struck out the side. Which means his career K/IP ratio is 27.0!!

McLovin's AL East Preview

I actually kind of enjoyed this little preview, despite the lack of actual insight on anything whatsoever. McLovin apparantly thinks Glaus has "a bigger bat" than Rolen. I would agree. Much bigger.

A Letter for Mr. Rios

Couldn't find any contact info for you Alex. So decided to write to you here. With my friend, babelfish, I had it translated into Spanish! I am not sure if it now makes sense though, as I do not know Spanish. Oh well, enjoy reading this.

Hey Alex,

Escuche. Sé que usted está negociando un nuevo contrato ahora, y usted está intentando conseguir tanto dinero como sea posible. Entiendo eso. Pero si usted tiene cualquier se preocupa de jugar en Toronto, déjeme intentar poner ésos en la facilidad.

No se preocupe de J.P. Soy seguro que las cosas no son fantásticas entre los ambos usted, pero si usted firma un reparto a largo plazo, usted no tiene que preocuparse. Lo irán pronto bastante. Su mandato es ahora ganar. Ambos sabemos que es inverosímil. Palillo alrededor. Habrá un nuevo hombre en carga pronto.

Por lo que va Toronto, aquí están tres buenas razones de permanecer:

1) una azotea - usted juega en Detroit, él consigue frío. Tenemos una azotea, así que nunca es fría.

2) avienta - la cosa que escribí este invierno sobre ser feliz si le negociaron para Lincecum. ¡Embromaba! ¡Cada uno le ama!

3) familia - día recientemente introducido de la familia de Toronto. Soy seguro que usted concebirá a muchos niños aquí, y esto es un gran lugar para las familias. Tenemos un día para probarlo.

Tan Alex, hermano, usted tiene firmar. Toronto le necesita. ¡Consígalo hecho!

"Why don't you make like Tom Brady"

Yeah, yeah, so Alex comes to Dunedin sporting a 'hawk. Well, actually, it looks more like a traffic stripe than anything else, but that's neither here nor there. I've met and seen a lot of mohawks in my life, both faux and real, and I must say I don't know if I've ever met someone who manages to pull it off with such class. It's a little more Mr. Smith than Tyler Durden, to say the least; apparently the major concern is how it will affect his tan.

I must say, the 'do flies in the face of just about everything I thought I knew about our boy Rios. At the risk of being crucified for levying criticism at this site's namesake in just my second post, a lot of words have come to mind about Rios over the past four seasons and "punk" was never high on the list. "Talented" certainly was, as well as a few less choice words, "soft" being one of the more moderate. I've seen Rios as the guy who occasionally dogs it in the outfield, occasionally doesn't bother to run out a pop-up and on the odd occasion forgets how many outs there are when he's stargazing out there on second.

As recently as last season, I recall damning him as the two-time all-star still prone to rookie mistakes, and pointed to him as the crux of the problem with the Jays clubhouse. (I didn't do this in any public medium, but I think anyone who watched the team closely last year will know what I'm talking about - one particular image sticks out in my mind, of a hobbled Troy Glaus staring out across the diamond in disgust at a stupefied Rios, hands flailing).

On that note, I found Blair's latest insightful. Blair admits that he used to consider Alex a bit of a "slacker," but that he seems to have "matured" quite a bit since 2004, and is now one of Blair's favourites. If we take this insight for anything more than the usual February hyperbole (and given that it's Blair, and it seems to come as a raw moment of honesty, it's tempting to do so), then I'll go along with the sentiment and agree with the fantasy baseball masses in predicting a huge age-27 season. It does sound like he's mashing right now, and I must say, those forearms are HUGE.

Blue Jays Thriller

A Spring Training video straight out of 1984, starring your Toronto Blue Jays. Fantastic.

Utilizing the Short Stop

Back in around 1990 or so, my buddy called me to let me know that he convinced his parents to get a new game for him for his Nintendo Entertainment System. He said he was watching the home shopping network, and found a steal of a deal, it was a game called Ice Hockey.

Now, with me being a fan of Blades of Steele, I was skeptical whether this game would hold water. But after the game was delivered, I was pumped to check it out. As noted, expectations were low, as this was before EA Sports came along, before 16 bit systems came along, and revolutionized hockey video games.

My buddy put the cartridge in, and we started playing. I was impressed. The developers didn't have any licensing permissions, so there were only national teams you could be. No players had names. But the intruiging thing about the 4 on 4 Ice Hockey game was how you could set up your roster. You had the ability to chose from three body types that your players would have. You could have a fat player, and with him came toughness and a great slapshot. His weakness was speed. He was a slow fuck. Conversely, you could select a skinny guy. He was a sterotypical European-type of player -- blazing fast speed, but a complete wuss. The other guy was this weird middle of the road/average body type, who was moderately fast, had moderate toughness, but not really great at anything.

So you basically decided whether you wanted a team that would be great defensively, and prod along with your guys (by picking the fat fucks), or whiz all around the ice with your pussies, or play a mid level game.

The major problem was once you set your lineup, you couldn't sub players in during the game. So if you built up a lead with your skinny guys, you couldn't protect that lead by bringing in the fatties.

Where am I going with this? And what does this have to do with the Jays?

I find that Toronto is in a similar position with their situation this year at shortstop. Fortunately, though, the game of baseball doesn't leave John Gibbons with the same limitations I had when playing NES' Ice Hockey.

In this analogy, I am equating David Eckstein with the skinny European, Marco Scutaro is the average guy, and John McDonald is the fatty player. And I think Gibby really will give the Jays a nice little advantage by playing these guys the way I would have played the body type players if I was allowed to on Ice Hockey.

Let's forget Halladay starts, because it appears that J-Mac will start in all those games. Let's break this down with the other 4 starter games. It stands to reason that Eckstein will be starting all of these games. Like the skinny Ice Hockey guys, Eckstein provides much more offensive upside than The Fatty/McDonald or Average/Scutaro. His offense is really needed to get this team the needed runs to win.

But where the Jays have a great advantage, comes late in the innings. With the Jays up by a run or two, it's then, in the 8th, that Gibby really shouldn't hesitate, and start using the bench. Throw the defense out there to get the outs. Get McDonald in the field. If he ever comes up to hit, sub his no bat with the moderately better Scutaro.

There is great opportunity right here with three legitimite guys available to play short. Each has their own individual strengths and weaknesses. A true test for Gibby this year is to maximize the strengths, and manoevre around the deficiencies. With Eck and McDonald, as well, we'll know that Egos shouldn't be bruised here -- they're gamers who understand what is at play here.

Cockfighting & Housekeeping

I have to admit, when I first read the report last week about a video surfacing showing Pedro Martinez at a cockfight, I didn't think much of it. But today, with some time to kill, I decided to see if I could get some more information about this, and came across this absolutely incredible article.

There are plenty of completely eye opening statements in it, but my favourite is this:

Chicago Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramírez is prominently featured in a recent issue of a Dominican cockfighting magazine, En La Traba, in which he is pictured with several roosters that he raises for fighting. Of roosters, he said in the magazine, “When I’m in the Dominican Republic, I’m dedicated entirely to them.”

Someone send me En La Traba stat. Best gift ever!

As an aside here, you may have noticed that we have some new blood here at AYBABTR. Here's hoping that will mean that we won't have the huuuuge delays between posts anymore. Hell, I've already got a new one almost done as we speak. With March around the corner, hope springs eternal, or something like that.

And have a great Family Day, Ontario readers, and may all your cocks be fighters... or something like that.

Line ‘em Up

Well I’ve been invited by Robbie to contribute and I figure the first official day of Spring Training is as good a day as any to contribute my first blog post. The recent news about Doc’s mentor is terrible; hopefully it’s not the kind of thing that will affect him on the field, but I think we all know Doc a little better than that.

Now, I can honestly say I find all this “news” about who’s arrived in camp and who hasn’t (not that I don’t find Frank Thomas’s bright orange shirt incredibly compelling) only moderately more interesting than all that PED bull, which is to say not a lick. It is worth noting that Chacin and Barajas are the only two players late for camp, given Sal’s recent complaints about losing his job and the fact that Gustavo’s expected to compete for that 5th spot – you’d think they’d be trying to make a good impression right about now, wouldn’t you? Well, being late for camp is better than getting arrested…

Anyways, I’m not here to discuss the latest Jays news in any kind of depth. What I was really looking to contribute today was to take another look at lineup construction from an incredibly unscientific perspective. (I don’t have the credibility to back this up, but I actually have a sniggling feeling that the notion of Overbay batting second grew out of a post I made at Batter’s Box about this time last year. Just saying…) As a devoted OOTP player and just general Jays obsessive, it seems the optimum time to throw ideas out there while Gibbons is still straddling the fence and the only other lineup out there (that I know of) is this terrific contribution from Southpaw, although there was a comment from Wilner about where to bat Rolen which Gibby had some fun with a while back.

Any reasonably detailed look at potential lineups from a fan’s perspective must of course take two key elements into consideration – how it should be constructed as opposed to how it might conceivably be constructed. So, for example, while I’m not a Eckstein-hater in general and don’t really have a problem with him batting leadoff, in theory I would consider other alternatives if it weren’t for the fact that it has been uncategorically stated that this will be the case.

So, at least versus righties, I’ve got Eck leading off. The number-two hole is an interesting one. My inclination, of course, is Overbay at 2, given that it was the role that I propagated last year and that he really didn’t get much of a chance to prove himself. I know the general consensus is that he bombed there before the injury, but really, it was two months, folks. Stairs or Rios slot in fairly well here too, but I’m expecting a decline from Stairsy (he doesn’t hit enough doubles anyway) and Rios…well, wouldn’t it be great if Rios could just take up the first three slots in the batting order? I mean, really, put Rios wherever you want. I’ll leave Overbay up there for now.

Number three comes with one big stinking caveat: not Wells. I’m not entirely sure where I stand on the issue of the real VW (is it the 2006 monster or the mediocrity from the year before that?), but I do know that watching him flail at high fastballs is possibly the most frustrating thing to endure as a Jays fan since Tony Batista left town. An argument could certainly be made for Rolen in this slot, but I’d like to get Rios as many at-bats as possible. I actually don’t mind Overbay as #3 and Rios as two, but I figure this is the more likely alignment.

That leaves Thomas, Rolen and Wells for 4-5-6. I imagine if Gibby were to go with the above 1-2-3, that the most likely alignment for the middle of the lineup would then be Thomas-Wells-Rolen, given that Hurt’s a “cleanup” hitter. The better alignment, I think, is actually Rolen-Wells-Thomas. I’m a big fan of high power/low OBP in the #5 slot and then slotting in OBP/speed guys at 6 and 7. And while Thomas might never steal another big-league base, you know he’s good for a .360 OBP and when I watched the Jays last year I know I for one did not see the masher we all wanted Thomas to be. He’s a big, slow, garbage hitter at this point – sort of a glorified Tony Batista with much better plate discipline. (Holy crap, did I just compare Frank Thomas and Tony Batista? Wow…)

As for the bottom of the order, well…line it up as you like. I like to split up those lefties, so I’d stick Stairs at 7, Hill at 8, and Zaun at 9. Come to think of it, I kind of like Stairs at 9 – it’s always nice to have a scary bat right before the order turns over. Really, though, the spot should go to the lowest OBP on the team, if only in order to maximize the number of times to order turns over at the beginning of the inning, and in that case that puts Zaun/Barajas at 9.

So…your 2008 Blue Jays lineup vs RHP:

1) Eckstein

2) Overbay

3) Rios

4) Rolen

5) Wells

6) Thomas

7) Stairs

8) Hill

9) Zaun

Versus lefties, slot in Barajas for Zaun, Reed for Stairs, swap Overbay and Hill and then Overbay and Johnson and you get:

1) Eckstein

2) Hill

3) Rios

4) Rolen

5) Wells

6) Thomas

7) Overbay

8) Johnson

9) Barajas

You could also drop Hill to #6 or 7 and move everyone else up a slot, but I’d kind of like to see how he fares in the #2 hole.

And there you have it – your 2008 lineups.

Programming Note

As you may have noticed, All Your Base Are Belong to Rios simply does not provide you with a lot of content. Posts are sporadic, and that's just not acceptable.

The only solution? Add more writers. With more writers, that'll mean more content. So that's what we've done here. A fresh new voice on board to provide more Jays opinion.

New names might be on board soon as well, and hopefully, when the season comes around, we'll be having posts on a very regular basis, and a dialogue may ensue as well with readers and posters. Things are being put in place, so it might take a bit of time to get everything all ironed out.

Quality will not be compromised. The writing will still be inferior to Drunk Jays Fans.

Another Angle


MY ANSWER: Because having a loaded rotation will give this team a chance to win. Hey, I like Rios as much as anyone else, but if you've got an opportunity to upgrade your team, you do it. Repeating Lincecum's numbers from last year, at age 23, in the big leagues: 150 Ks in 146 innings, Opponents BA: .226. You add him to a rotation that already has Halladay, Burnett and McGowan, and you've got a shot in the AL East. Simply, Lincecum figures to be more of a difference maker in the Jays' eyes than Rios is.

THE STAR'S ANSWER: Why do lemmings feel obliged to plunge off a cliff? It makes no sense, yet they do it year after year. When Carlos Delgado was their best player, the Jays couldn't wait to get rid of him. When Wells replaced Delgado as their top talent, the team tried for two years to pawn him off before finally giving up and signing him long-term. Now that Alex Rios has established himself, Toronto tried to trade him for Brad Penny in '06 and Tim Lincecum last season. Both efforts ultimately failed, so they will sign him long-term. The common thread is that none of the three were drafted or signed by the current regime.