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.