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.

The Ticket Scandal

The shit has hit the fan, and everyone's chiming in on the Blue Jays new idea of targeting fans in Boston and Detroit, and soliciting them tickets to Jays games before fans in Toronto. Opinions are being formed, and they're all pretty consistent. People are pissed, and for good reason. For me though, the outrage is a little bit guarded, mostly because I am empathetic to the front office's objective.

The outrage, I believe is based on two main factors:

1. The Marketing of the Jays product to the “enemy” thereby filling the stadium with people actively rooting against our franchise

2. Giving these people access to tickets before fans and supporters of your product

I don’t have much of a problem with #1, but the 2nd is pretty shady and unnecessary.

But let me address why I don't have much of a problem with the first objection. Firstly, let's throw out opening day, because apparently this plan does not include that game. What we are talking about are all the other April/March games involving the Red Sox and Tigers. Here's my unscientific breakdown of people who occupy the good seats for these early Spring Games:

40% Season Ticket Holders
30% Single Ticket Buyers
20% Comp Ticket Holders (through Rogers promos)
10% People from 500 level sneaking in.

It seems reason to believe that with new scheme the team has undertaken, they will be trying to take people out of the seats that fall into those last two demographics, not to mention selling seats that have no bums in them at all.

Let’s take a look at attendance from 2005 when Boston came to start the year in Toronto.

Opening Day: 50,560
Game 2: 28,765
Game 3: 22, 845

So it’s not unreasonable to agree that having half the stadium empty, and having a clear disinterest from the city for those seats in April, that the team should explore other avenues to getting those seats filled.

The problem though, has it has been well expressed by the DJFers is the unusual policy of allowing visitors to go ahead of the line over locals. It’s something that makes no sense, and seems to be a short term solution that could bite the team in the ass pissing off their long term fans.

Time will tell, but it will be interesting to see what the backlash, if any will be.

Writers Revealed

In a surprising development over at Fire Joe Morgan, the writers of the site have finally identified themselves. Unlike this blog, where a pseudonym is still being used, the writers of FJM are hiding no more. The biggest surprise, "Ken Tremendous", the site's main writer, and in my opinion, the funniest, is none other than Dwight Shrute's cousin, Mose! Wow! Mose!

Snow Day!

The sweet snow falling in Toronto today meant a work day off! Which allowed me to catch up a bit on what's happening in Jay land. So.. what did I find?

Fuck all!

O.K. That's not technically true. The Jays and Alex "The Franchise" inked a one year deal which Richard Griffin believes has been constructed in a way that would make one believe a long term deal is on the way.

Also, in other Jay news, I'm not sure who thought this was a good idea, but The Toronto Star and Paul Godfrey worked together to show the world that the Jays' president holds true to his word. Appeasing the millions who asked for it, Godfrey was videotaped jogging around his stadium. Bizarre footage found here.

The National Post put together a somewhat interesting little article about the all of a sudden quiet Gregg Zaun. They really weren't able to provide anything really insightful about the circumstances surrounding Zaun, but noted that since the Mitchell Report has been released, Zaun has changed his phone number and has become inaccessible to the media. One wonders what the future holds for Zaunie, if he'll remain Jamie Campbell's buddy or go the way of Scott Downs. One also wonders what the reaction will be from his Zaunbie Nation.

In other ex-Jay news, Tony Fernandez is being inducted to the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame, and Eric Hinske is still unemployed.

Ain't No Party Like...

... well not an S Club Party (whom by the way, have expanded to 8, and have a new roster, if you were wondering)... but a Jay party was in Toronto this week.

No, it wasn't hosted by this guy, but it took place at the Distillery, and was, from all accounts, a pretty decent affair.

Jordan Bastian recaps the event on Bluejays.com, but the highlite quote from this perspective is the one Bastian provides on his own site. When asked about Gregg Zaun being named in the Mitchell Report, Vernon Wells responds "I know in our clubhouse that we'll probably make a joke out of it and make fun of [Zaun] about it."

Hopefully, Zaun knows better not to ever mention the phrase "small ball".

Memo to Marketing Department II

Not sure if this concept gets across fully with the comic strip representation, but ultimately it's as follows. Rolen is doing standup comedy... a heckler tosses a tomato, and then Rolen catches the tomato. Also, not seen in the comic strip, would have Rolen throw the tomato back at the heckler, though Canadian censors might find this part of violence not acceptable for our airwaves.