Monday, June 29, 2009

Halladay returns from DL tonight!

Roy Halladay is returning to the Blue Jays active roster tonight, determined to put the groin strain behind him and give the Blue Birds starting staff a much needed lift. Halladay's return couldn't have come at a better time because the Jays start a critical stretch of 9 games that sees Toronto duking it out against the Tampa Bay Rays (twice) and the New York Yankees.

Doc has been on the DL for the past couple of weeks but his 10 wins are still good enough for a share of the American League lead in victories. In each of his first 13 starts before the injury, Halladay lasted at least 7 innings, spinning three complete games. His return to health should provide a much needed break for a relief corps that has been taxed of late due to short outings by some of the rookie starters.

The Jays held their own, somewhat, despite the absence of their ace, sporting a 7-7 record. However, to challenge in the ultra competitive A.L. East, Toronto has to be better than that, and Halladay will provide the boost that the team needs. It all starts tonight against the defending American League champion Rays.

McDonald's base running mistake costly

Man do I feel bad for John McDonald. His costly base running mistake in the 9th inning sunk the Jays today, yet I feel no anger towards him. Instead, it's disappointing that of all the guys for it to happen to, why did it have to be Johnny Mac?

With McDonald on 2nd base down a run in the 9th with one out, the Jays attempted a double steal which would put McDonald on 3rd, 90 feet away from tying the contest. As Johnny Mac broke for 3rd, Phillies closer Brad Lidge twirled around and threw the ball to second base, rendering McDonald a dead duck. He was tagged out for the 2nd out of the frame and two pitches later Vernon Wells bounced out to short, ending the threat to send the Jays faithful home unhappy.

Except no one could be angry with McDonald. Because we love him.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Hill goes long twice; sets Jays record

Aaron Hill had a day to remember. Too bad the rest of the team didn't. Hill hit not one, but two homers, his 18th and 19th of the campaign to surpass Roberto Alomar and his own previous record for most home runs by a 2nd basemen in club history.

Hill two solo shots combined with Jose Bautista's 2 run dinger staked Toronto to a 4-1 lead. And that's when the team disappeared. Starter Brian Tallet couldn't find the strike zone, coughing up the lead in the 4th frame after hanging up a 4 spot for the Phillies. Those runs turned out to be the difference in a deflating loss.

Hill just keeps on trucking, and if he continues on his current tear he'll smash Blue Jays records for a 2nd basemen. It's too bad his accomplishment is overshadowed because the team couldn't find a way to bury the Phils.

Barajas not heading to DL after all

Rod Barajas was to be heading to the disabled list with an injured hamstring following Friday's game against the Phillies. However, the Blue Jays have had a change of heart. The starting catcher is now considered day to day and will not be heading to the DL.

The decision occurred a day following the tweaked hammy, and means that minor league catcher Kyle Phillips, will not be he promoted to the big club to fill in for Barajas. In all likelihood, should Barajas not face a setback, Phillips will likely be passed over because Michael Barrett, who started the season as the Jays backup catcher but went down with a shoulder injury in April is close to finishing his rehab assignment at AAA Las Vegas.

In the meantime, Barajas will backup Chavez with Manager Cito Gaston indicating veterans John McDonald and Kevin Millar could catch in an emergency situation. Let's hope it doesn't get to that point.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Romero flirts with no-no; shuts down Phillies

Ricky Romero continues to impress every time he toes the rubber, and tonight against the Phillies, it was no exception. The 24 year old rookie put together his most impressive outing of his career, carrying a no hitter into the 7th inning. Romero was majestic through broke up the no-hit bid with a single. The Rogers Centre faithful leap to their feet for a rousing ovation for Romero's attempt at setting history. Romero sliced up the Phillies lineup, winding up allowing just 2 hits in 7 shutout innings.

Since coming off the disabled list in late May and having a pair of rough outings, Romero has gone 3-1 with a 2.36 ERA in his five starts in June. Before landing on the DL with an oblique injury, Romero looked dynamite, posting a 2-0 record with a 1.71 ERA in 3 starts. In all, his rookie season has been superb, fashioning a 5-3 record with a 3.20 ERA in 10 starts. The 2005 6th overall draft selection has been featuring his sharp breaking ball in recent contests, and against the Phillies Friday, his outstanding changeup.

Take that Romero bashers. He's not looking like such a colossal bust now is he?

Barajas to DL; Phillips recalled

Updating a previous report, Rod Barajas is indeed heading to the disabled list with a hamstring injury. This will be a big loss for a Blue Jays club already decimated by injuries.

In a somewhat surprising move, the Jays have called up 25 year old catcher Kyle Phillips from AAA Las Vegas. If the last name rings a bell in Toronto, it should. Phillips is the younger brother of LEGENDARY former Toronto catcher Jason Phillips. Legendary at being awful. The younger Phillips hit .338 with 3 HR and 12 RBI in 39 games so far this season with the 51's.

Phillips is a former 10 round selection by the Minnesota Twins in the 2002 amateur draft. The Jays signed him as a minor league free agent in March of 2007. He hit
.306, with 8 HR and 34 RBI last season with the class AA New Hampshire Fisher Cats.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Barajas injures hamstring in 2nd inning

The injuries continue to mount up for the Blue Jays. Starting catcher Rod Barajas strained his right hamstring running to 1st base in the 2nd inning. He was replaced on the base paths by Raul Chavez. Barajas was given a day off Saturday against the Nationals to rest the sore hammy, but has started in all 5 games since then.

The options to replace Barajas in the minor leagues might not be ready for the big stage. Michael Barrett has been on a rehab assignment since injuring his shoulder in April, playing three games in class AA New Hampshire and three in AAA Las Vegas. Another option is top prospect J.P. Arencibia, though he is hitting just .227 with a respectable 8 long balls and 37 RBI in 64 games for Las Vegas. Arencibia has hit for a weak .150 average in his last 10 ball games.

Let's hope the injury to Barajas is day to day, because Chavez is definitely not a starting caliber catcher, Barrett might not be totally healed, and Arencibia still needs seasoning in the minors.

Lind's defense is subpar

Adam Lind is phenomenal. It's well documented the man crush I have on him. His offensive numbers this year, primarily as a designated hitter have been fantastic. 15 home runs, 52 RBI with a .307 batting average. Defensively, however, Lind struggles. When Travis Snider was sent down to the minors, Lind has seen more action in left field. The Jays should revert back to their original plan to have Lind strictly hit. And never play defense.

Lind's looks really lost out in left field, even as his defense has slowly improved the past couple of seasons. Lind misplayed a couple of balls in the series finale against the Reds, and struggled to fire the ball back into the infield when he eventually did catch up to the ball.

Recently recalled Russ Adams started one game in left against Cincinnati in place of Lind. The Jays should allow Lind to sit and focus solely on hitting in favour of Adams. How ironic that Adams was exiled from Toronto for his shoddy defense, yet he should now be a defensive replacement for another struggling fielder.

Cecil roughed up in shortest outing of career

The Blue Jays scouting report for rookie Brett Cecil Thursday called for the 22 year old to get ahead in the count, and to keep his pitches down. He didn't accomplish either of these tasks, leading to his shortest outing of his big league career.

His pitching line was not pretty, allowing 5 runs, 9 hits, 3 walks in 3 innings. Cecil ran into trouble early when he consistently kept his pitches up in the strike zone. He fell behind early in the count, particularly because his sharp curveball was flat, and the Reds teed off on him.

In Cecil's five starts, he's had 3 outstanding outings, and 2 that he would like to forget. He's still very young, but there have been clear signs of exceptional talent. There will be more growing pains this season, but the most important thing is that he learns from the bad games. He's already shown great resiliency bouncing back from the 5 home run debacle against Boston. Cecil will recover again.

Hill ties Blue Jays record

Aaron Hill's home run in the 1st inning Thursday tied his own club record, and that of Roberto Alomar for most home runs by a Blue Jays 2nd basemen. Hill has had a superb year at the dish, belting 17 home runs in his first 73 games. It's now the second time Hill has tied Alomar, having hit 17 dingers back in 2007. And Hill still has half a year left to dismantle the record!

What is Hill's ceiling? Can be produce 30+ home runs a year? I can't imagine that being the case, but with the rate he is on, he'll get there comfortably. He hasn't shown signs of slowing down his torrid pace from the beginning of the season.

What a sensational comeback year for Hill. After all the concussion problems he had last season, which caused him to miss most the campaign, there were rumours he might not ever play again. Instead, here he is, providing wonderful defense and exceptional hitting. Just where would the Jays be without him?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Camp can't pitch a tent

Just when Shawn Camp instills some confidence that he's a decent reliever, he goes out and completely falls flat on his face. Camp consistently is inconsistent, putting together a solid stretch of outings, then throwing up a stinker.

Consider last nights ball game. Camp entered the contest in the 7th inning with a comfortable 6-0 lead. Game over. At least it should have been. But then Camp forgot how to pitch. Throw strikes! It's that simple. Pitch to contact and let the defense make plays. If the hitter bashes one out of the park, no big deal, it's still a five run edge.

Instead of doing this, Camp gave up a lead off single, then proceeded to load the bags with a pair of walks. He was promptly lifted from the game, where all three men that were his responsibility scored. The Reds crept back into it, scoring another run to cut the lead to two. Fortunately, Toronto wound up holding on for a victory that should have been a lot more comfortable.

Just imagine if the Jays had lost blowing a chance to draw even with the Yankees. It would have been mortifying, crushing, a colossal failure. And it would have been down to Camp's inability to throw strikes.

Accardo heading to the DL?

Not another pitcher heading to the disabled list! It appears that might be the case for the Jays, this time, the victim being Jeremy Accardo. After facing one batter in a game against Washington, the recently recalled reliever exited the contest with what was described as a "cramp in his leg caused by dehydration" That has since led to problems with his groin.

Accardo was held of the game last night as a precaution, even when the Jays relief corps was struggling against Cincinnati. Manager Cito Gaston has indicated he'd prefer to rest him tonight as well. Should the problem persist, the team will have no choice but to place him on the disabled list, particularly with how taxed the bullpen has been in the past week.

Accardo filled in admirably two seasons ago, saving 30 games for Toronto, and had three fantastic outings this year, notching a save and striking out 4 batters without allowing a run in 3 innings. His brief stint with the big club might be coming to an end, as a trip to the disabled list is a distinct possibility.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Spectacular Scutaro

How good is Marco Scutaro? Really, did anybody think he was going to be THIS good at the start of the season? The guy has been a consistent threat the top of the lineup, provides sensational defense, and displays an incredible intelligence with how he plays the game. Watching this guy day in and day out is a treat, because he leaves everything out on the field.

This past week, Scutaro's aforementioned high baseball IQ was on full display. In a game against the Phillies, the Jays shortstop walked, and sensing that no one was paying attention to him, swiped second base immediately afterwards. Then in the following contest, he advanced to second again on a misplayed ball in the outfield, again illustrating a wonderful heads up play.

Just how important is he to the team? Consider in the first two games against the Washington Nationals. Scutaro struggled, going 1 for 10 at the dish. Not surprisingly, Toronto lost both tilts in extra innings. The last game of the series, Scutsy went 3 for 5, pacing the Jays to victory. Tonight, he belted a 2 run home run. The long fly turned out to be the difference in a 7-5 win.

Oh, and he leads the American League in runs, has the best strike zone discipline in baseball, is second in walks, all the while committing just one error.

And this guy is 4th amongst shortstops in all-star voting? Absolutely ridiculous.

Russ Adams is back!

I might be the only Blue Jays fan to be ecstatic that former 1st round pick Russ Adams is back with the big club. In fact, that appears to be a virtual certainty. But why not see what he can do with a revised role? It seemed like he would never return after busting out as an everyday player, but Adams will attempt to reinvent himself as something of a utility super sub. He was good enough in Cito Gaston's eyes in spring training to head north with the team, but the Jays simply had no room for him at that time.

Tonight, Adams got his first start in 2 years for Toronto, manning left field and hitting 9th in the order. Unfortunately, he went 0 for 4 at the dish, though his plate discipline was pretty good, and he didn't look out of place on defense either. His shoddy play in the field is what cost him a roster spot with the Jays a few seasons ago, but he's expected to be able to fill in for any outfield spots and at 3rd, shortstop and 2nd base.

I understand he was pretty awful in his previous tenure with the Blue Birds. But it's time to see if he can at least contribute in some way with the team rather than having him walk after investing so much time into him. Adams can swing the bat pretty well, and has had success with Las Vegas in AAA this season. I can only hope my faith in Adams will be rewarded.

I probably shouldn't hold my breath.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

FINALLY! Wells ends homerless drought

It's about damn time. Vernon Wells has ended the misery. At long last, he belted a home run, ending the longest homerless drought of his career. It took him 161 at bats, a span of 45 days without lifting a pitch over the wall. Maybe now he can go on a much needed tear.

Of course, Wells didn't exactly wind up smelling like roses in the game, having made a critical error on a catchable ball that led to a run, and also grounding out into a double play in extra innings. But I'm feeling generous this evening. I really shouldn't be in a charitable mood, considering the two straight defeats to the lowly Nationals.

Maybe I'm just awestruck at such a rare occurrence from Wells. The stars have aligned. Wells actually hit a home run. Cherish this moment my friends, for it might be 45 weeks, not days, before it happens again.

Sweet return for Jeremy Accardo

Jeremy Accardo must feel relieved to finally be back in a Blue Jays uniform. After going down to a season ending injury in May of last year, Accardo has waited patiently to ply his trade north of the border. He failed to make the club out of spring training, but likely assumed he would be on speed dial should the Jays need help in shoring up their bullpen.

Except that call didn't happen. He was passed over, again and again. Mostly to far inferior pitchers like by Bill Murphy, Bryan Bullington, Brian Wolfe and Dirk Hayhurst. Accardo continued going about his business, saving games for the AAA Las Vegas 51's. If he felt a sense of entitlement that he should be with the Jays, no one could blame him. After all, he was a big part of the success of the Blue Birds two years ago, having locked down 30 games.

Since his return, Accardo has been fantastic, notching his first save in over a year against the Phillies, then putting up two scoreless innings against the Nationals, while striking out four batters. It's been a long and difficult road back for Accardo, but he's been given an opportunity to stick with Toronto. Knowing his resiliency, he'll take full advantage to steer his major league career back on track.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Barajas comes through in a pinch

What a time for Rod Barajas to crush his first career pinch hit home run. Barajas came through with a clutch solo shot in a deadlocked ball game in the 9th inning against the Phils, securing a series sweep of the defending champs. What made it extra special for the Jays catcher is it came against his former ball club, one that has a fan base with a long memory in the city of brotherly love.

Much like Scott Rolen, Barajas was jeered every time he came to the plate, having served as the Phillies backstop for 48 games in 2007. In both Rolen and Barajas' cases, they scorched the ball in the series, exacting a small measure of revenge on their former organization. Barajas hit a pair of dingers in the 3 game set, in addition to a critical 2 run double in extra innings of the second contest.

How sweet it must be for Barajas. How sweet it is for a Blue Jays club that was bailed out by one swing of the bat after squandering countless opportunities yet again with the bases loaded.

Wells flying high in Philly

Maybe it's a sign our overpaid centre fielder is getting his act together. Or maybe Vernon Wells will revert back to being useless. Either way, Wells' solid series against the Phillies will hopefully kick start his limp season.

Wells capped off the series sweep by having his finest ball game in recent memory. V-Dub went 3 for 6 at the plate, driving in two runs with a pair of CLUTCH hits and making a slick sliding grab to preserve a one run lead in the 9th inning. In the series, Wells went 6 for 16 at the dish, also coming up with a big in the first game of the series with a lead off single in the 9th inning on Tuesday. He eventually game in to count the tying run, and the Jays walked away with an extra innings victory.

Dare I say it? Might we be seeing a more relaxed Wells in his new slot in the batting order? I'm not proclaiming him worth every penny of his 7 year/$126 million contract just yet, but it's no coincidence the Blue Birds are winning now that he's playing well.

Mixed results for Mills in first career start

Given the rash of injuries to the Jays rotation, another rookie southpaw was summoned to the big league rotation, and this time it was Brad Mills' turn. The 24 year old rookie showed flashes of potential in his first career start, but also experienced bouts of erratic play against a strong Phillies lineup.

His stat line looks rather indicative of a rookie making his first start against the defending World Series Champs. Mills served up a pair of home runs in 3.2 innings, allowing 4 earned runs, 6 hits and 4 walks with only 2 strikeouts in a no decision. However, Mills showed he could work his way out of a couple of jams and displayed his sharp 12-6 curveball that looked as dynamic as any Jays youngster coming through the system.

Mills' outing is indicative of his play down in AAA Las Vegas this season. He's had some quality starts sprinkled in with a few bad ones. His record is 1-8, with a fairly respectable ERA just under 4.50, so he could still use more seasoning at the minor league level. However, he'll have to take his licks for at least one more start in the majors with the injury bug biting again in Toronto.

Mills went 15-5 the past two minor league seasons, shooting through the system to make it to this point. He's got some game, it might just take a while to fully blossom.

Richmond phenomenal in career outing

I never thought I'd say this. Scott Richmond is the 2nd most experienced starter on the Jays pitching staff given the latest injuries to Roy Halladay and Casey Janssen. That means that Brian Tallet is the grizzled vet on the starting staff. Holy crap, how are the Jays still in contention?

If Richmond has stellar outings like he did Wednesday against the Phillies, Toronto might just be able to hold down the fort until their workhorse Halladay, and others, get healthy. Richmond went 8 solid innings against the defending World Series champs, setting a career watermark of 11 strike outs. The 29 year old rookie picked up his first win in 6 starts, and put his first "W" in a month and a half. Richmond was dominant down the stretch out of the contest, retiring the last 13 batters he faced.

Who would have thought Richmond would have done this well this season? The American League rookie of the month in April has far exceeded expectations, and will have to continue to do so if the Jays are to keep their heads above water in the coming two weeks.

2 more go down; Janssen & Halladay to the DL

The injuries just keep on coming for the Toronto Blue Jays pitching staff. Already without the services of starters Dustin McGowan, Shaun Marcum and Jesse Litsch, they have lost their ace Roy Halladay, their #2 starter Casey Janssen, and the closer Scott Downs all in one day (ONE DAY!) When will the injuries stop? This is getting out of hand.

How many other teams could withstand the losses to all their hurlers and still be in the hunt? Not to mention in the toughest division, the American League East. Imagine if the Yankees lost their big three, C.C. Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Mariano Rivera on the same day. That day would have been tabbed as Armageddon. Instead, the Jays just pick themselves up and carry on with their business as usual.
I like the fact that Halladay was put on the disabled list rather than having him pitch in Washington. There is no need for him to have to further injure his wonky groin, especially in light of Downs' going down after taking a hack in the batters box. Unfortunately, Janssen is back on the disabled list with inflammation in his shoulder, the same injury that forced him to miss the first 2 months of the season. Having Janssen shelved certainly doesn't kill the Blue Birds because Janssen had a rather pedestrian 6.23 ERA in 5 starts.

It's business as usual for Toronto. Next up, a matinee affair tomorrow in the final game of a 3 game set against the Phils.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Downs heading to DL; Cito fuming

Scott Downs injured his left foot running out of the batters box last night against the Phillies. Downs, unaccustomed to taking hacks at the plate, broke toward first after making contact, appearing to roll his foot. He took himself out of the contest, and afterwords X-rays came back negative. An MRI today revealed Downs has a sprained left toe, so he will be yet another Jays pitcher part of the walking wounded.

Manager Cito Gaston was not a fan of interleague play in National League ball parks before the game, and he was even more livid afterwards. The normally stoic Gaston spoke with conviction, lamenting that his pitchers are not used to swinging the bat, making them much more susceptible to injury when batting. The loss is crippling to a Jays pitching staff that has been ravaged by injuries to Dustin McGowan, Shaun Marcum, Jesse Litsch, Casey Janssen, Ricky Romero and most recently Roy Halladay.

With Downs going on the shelf the Jays could entertain slotting reliable Jason Frasor into the 9th inning to close out games. In 2004, he shut down 17 games for Toronto. There is also former stopper B.J. Ryan that could at some point slide back in the role (he hasn't given up a run in 7 straight appearances), or call up Jeremy Accardo to tab him as the team's closer. Accardo has 9 saves and a 3.38 ERA for AAA Las Vegas this season and previously, saved 30 games for the Jays in 2007.

Rolen's statistical oddity

Blue Jays third baseman Scott Rolen has quietly put together a good season at the dish, though it's not without a head scratching statistical oddity. His average has been outstanding, yet his power numbers and RBI total are very low. With the Jays lacking production from the clean-up spot in the order, manager Cito Gaston has handed the responsibility over to Rolen.

On the surface, that would appear strange, but not when you consider that in 55 games, Rolen has hit at a .323 clip. In the month of June, Rolen has been scorching the ball with a stellar .416 batting average but has no home runs and just 2 RBI to show for it. Taking that further, his home run (3) and RBI (20) totals on the campaign would seem to indicate he leaves a lot to be desired. But does he?

In Tuesday night's ball game against Philly, Rolen, in his first game as the clean-up hitter, socked a single in the 9th inning, allowing Vernon Wells to move to 3rd, where he eventually scored the tying run. Then in the 10th frame, he came up huge again, poking a single to drive in the game winning run.

Rolen changed his swing in light of his persistent shoulder troubles that have plagued him the past couple of seasons. It seems to be paying off, at least in terms of his batting average. Now that he's been given a bigger role, perhaps those home run and RBI totals will jump so the only oddity then will be his batting stance.

Alex Rios is a buffoon

I've thought Alex Rios has been a bonehead this season countless times, and has been an awful player, but last night's base running gaffe in the 8th inning takes the cake for the dumbest screw up he's made all year.

In the 8th inning, with the Jays trailing 3-2, they have the bases juiced with only one out. Rios is standing 90 feet away from tying the contest. Marco Scutaro lifts a fly ball to left, easily deep enough for a sacrifice fly to score Rios. But there's just one problem. Stupefyingly, Rios breaks for home, then realises he's a pylon so he retreats to 3rd. Subsequently, he doesn't score, and the Jays failed to tie score in the inning. WHAT...WERE...YOU...THINKING?

Luckily, the Jays ended up squaring the game in the 9th and won in extra innings so it's not as big a deal. But you can bet manager Cito Gaston lambasted him for that colossal base running blunder.

I'm so sick of writing about how Alex Rios is a terrible baseball player. Really, I am. But how can I not keep bringing it up when he constantly messes up?

Monday, June 15, 2009

Carlos Tosca jersey for sale at Rogers Centre!

With the Marlins in town this weekend, and former Blue Jays Manager Carlos Tosca now Florida's bench coach, it reminded me of the strangest merchandise item being sold at the Rogers Centre.

A Toronto Blue Jays Carlos Tosca jersey. HAHAHA! Really. Why in the world would anyone buy that? This seems made up, but it's true. There's actually a Tosca jersey to be had. Presumably for the price of one beer? Or maybe a package of Twizzlers.

What has this world come to?

Jays need to put up or shut up

What an absolutely pathetic series by the Blue Jays. That's the best they can do? Disgusting. Vile. Rank That was the worst gong show sad sack despicable series of the season so far. One that might have just screwed us out of a shot at doing anything this year. It's time for the Blue Jays to suck it up and win. Now.

I don't give a crap if they've historically fared brutally against the Marlins. Besides, remind me again why that's the case to begin with? You can't get swept against an inferior team like Florida. If the Jays want to be taken seriously by Major League Baseball, they can't, under no circumstance, get pasted in their own barn to the likes of those schmucks.

I also don't want to be read stories painting the Jays in a good light. Not until they get their head out of their ass. I don't want to be told that Alex Rios has picked up his play, how Vernon Wells will soon break out of his "funk" or how it's wonderful that Dustin McGowan might be two months away from returning. I want the truth. The truth is the team sucks right now.

Instead of talking a good game, how about PLAYING a good game. Is that too much to ask?

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Jays shouldn't rush Halladay back from injury

I think I speak for everyone when I say "phewwwww" regarding the status of Roy Halladay. When he was yanked in the 4th inning against the Marlins Friday with an apparent groin injury, Jays Nation held their collective breaths. Would he be gone for a long time?

Well, it turns out the Jays ace is nursing a mild groin strain, however "mild" a strained groin could possibly be. He will not be heading to the disabled list, at least for now, and the team is remaining optimistic he'll be able to start Saturday against Washington after missing his scheduled Wednesday trip to the hill against Philly.

I think that's being a little too hasty, especially if the club wants him to be around for the long haul. Doc shouldn't start in Washington simply because he'll be in a National League ball park and will have to bat. There's no reason to have him running any more than he has to at this point, risking further injury. No reason at all.

The fact the Jays are slipping down in the standing at an alarming rate (7-17 in their past 24 contests) might force the organization's hand in rushing him back to the rotation, even if it's not necessarily the smartest thing.


Alex Rios is the next Vernon Wells

An optimist would suggest that Alex Rios has busted out of his horrific slump since being moved from the 3rd slot in the order to the 6th. After all, since the demotion of sorts, he's gone 7 for 12 for a .583 clip, blasting two home runs and adding 4 RBI. He has made 2 all-star teams. And has the ability to be a 5 tool player. Good thing I'm not an optimist when it comes to Rios, because I'd be getting sucked in and fooled again. Rios is the next Vernon Wells.

Case in point, Rios long ball today against the Marlins. Florida was smashing the Jays 8-0. That's when he went yard. Hmm, sounds an awful lot like Wells doesn't it? Maybe Rios will do this for a few more years and parlay that into a 7 year/$126 million dollar contract like Wells did. All Rios has to do is pack on about 20-30 pounds and then he'll be a carbon copy of V-Dub. Maybe he'll fool J.P. Ricciardi into thinking he's Vernon.

Maybe I should be thinking positively about Rios. Perhaps he's figured it out. He could go off and heat up like Carlos Delgado did last year for the Mets. He could lead the Jays back to the promised land.

On second thought, Rios still sucks.

Saturday, June 13, 2009


Alex Rios just hit a 2 run dinger.

Holy crap.

He is now 4 for 6 since being moved down to 6th in the order.

Pinch me.

FINALLY Cito changes the batting order!

After weeks of both Alex Rios and Vernon Wells performing terribly in the 3-4 spots of the batting order, Cito Gaston has mercilessly switched things up to try to spark the offense. Rios has been dropped down to the 6th slot, Wells moved up to 3rd in the order, allowing slugger Adam Lind to move into the cleanup spot.

What took so long? I admire Cito's loyalty in trying to get these guys to break out of their funk, but that can only last so long. I could understand why he wouldn't want to change anything when they had a sizzling start, but that's long behind the now. Rios and Wells have prevented the team from continuing that torrid pace. Lind has been outstanding all year, so he has earned his opportunity to hit 4th.

Scott Rolen moves from 6th in the order one spot to 5th, which is a good move considering he's had a great average all season. Don't be surprised to see him eventually switching with Wells in the order so he can get on base for the big hitters.

Hopefully this move jump starts both Rios and Wells. I'm not holding my breath.

Oh god please not Halladay!

Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo. Oh my word please don't do this. No, this can't be happening. Don't tell me Roy Halladay's groin injury will sideline him for a long period of time. Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo. Please wake me up from this nightmare.

Should he have an MRI Saturday and the club learns his "tweaked" groin is more like a "destroyed" groin then we're screwed. We'd mark June 12th on our calendar as the day our season went up in flames. Early reports suggest Halladay might miss just one start.

He's been lights out, putting together a major league leading 10 wins on the campaign. By comparison, he's racked up more than a third of his victories this year than the other four members of the rotation (Casey Janssen, Brian Tallet, Ricky Romero and Scott Richmond) have in their CAREERS! Combined they have 29 wins between them.

Ya, if Halladay goes on the shelf, we're toast.

Don't give up on Brandon League

I know Brandon League had an awful outing tonight against the Marlins. 5 runs in one inning is pathetic. And I know he can be frustratingly inconsistent, sometimes going long stretches without giving up a run, then having games were he gives up 3+ runs at a time. However, he's still a good pitcher. In 2 of the last 3 seasons his ERA has been 2.53 and 2.18.

There's something to be said about not having blind faith. If I truly thought he was garbage, I'd be ripping into him right now. I don't idiotically believe Alex Rios and Vernon Wells are in a "slump" but rather consider their performance as crap. Blow Jay Ryan and Jesse Carlson have drawn my ire also. So why is there such hate on League? In 17 of his 23 outings he hasn't given up a run. The reason his ERA is so bloated is because in 4 of those instances he's surrendered 3 runs or more. That's his problem more than anything, consistency.

League, Jason Frasor and Scott Downs are the only men in this bullpen we can rely upon. Unless you count relying on Jesse Carlson and B.J. Ryan to screw up EVERY time. We are going to need to count on League in ball games throughout the season. League will be fine. Have some faith, the dude can pitch. And it's not blind faith.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Alex Rios and Vernon Wells





Thursday, June 11, 2009

McDonald catches bad break; trade possible?

John McDonald must feel that he can't catch a break. Marco Scutaro has started every game at shortstop for the Jays this season, relegating McDonald to the bench, yet Scutaro was to be given a day off yesterday against Texas. However, heavy rains forced the game to be postponed. McDonald was then informed he would not be in the starting lineup on Thursday.

Johnny Mac has started just 2 games this season, both at 2nd base, and is being grossly misused as only a pinch runner or defensive specialist in blow out ball games. It's a shame really, because he is a human highlight reel out in the field. If the Blue Jays fall out of contention by the July 31st trade deadline, might they decide to move the valuable McDonald?

If I'm Red Sox General Manager Theo Epstein, I'm calling J.P. Ricciardi to inquire about trading for the 34 year old veteran to be my starting shortstop. Julio Lugo is injury prone and not effective when healthy, and incumbent Nick Green has 9 errors already this season. The Sox already have a phenomenal offense, so they could absorb McDonald's light bat and need a dependable shortstop to patrol the infield.

I'm a big fan of Johnny Mac, but he's not playing at all this year unfortunately. The club could probably get a mid level prospect in return for Mac, so would it be prudent to move him? Would they even deal with the hated BoSox?

Blue Jays sign outfielder David Dellucci

The Toronto Blue Jays made a minor move Wednesday, signing 14 year Major League veteran David Dellucci to a minor league contract. He will report to AAA Las Vegas to get some at bats in, and is expected to join the Jays shortly thereafter.

The Jays could use a left handed bat coming off the bench. Joe Inglett battled an injury earlier in this season, playing in only 7 games with Las Vegas before being summoned to the big club. In 9 games with the Jays, Inglett hit just .125

Dellucci hit .275 in 14 games with Cleveland this year, so he can still hit for a decent average and can play all three outfield positions. Let's hope he doesn't turn out to be a disaster like Kevin Mench and Brad Wilkerson were last year.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Jays nab pitchers in draft, including 2 Canadians

The Toronto Blue Jays selected four pitchers with their first four picks of the Major League Baseball draft, including a pair of Canucks. The club was believed to be targeting lefty James Paxton, who has Canadian roots in the first round, but opted instead to go with burly 6' 4'' righty Chad Jenkins with the 20th pick. He's a big, strong fireballer that has great off speed pitches in his repertoire. He's expected to make a quick ascent up the organizational ladder within the next couple of years.

Toronto did not miss out on Paxton, however, as the native of British Columbia was taken with their next selection. The lefty out of Kentucky racked up 115 strike outs in 78 1/3 innings. The Jays bucked their conventional trend with their next pick, high schooler Jake Eliopoulos from Newmarket, Ontario. He's considered the top Canadian pitcher from the 2009 graduating high school class. Toronto was not done accruing arms, taking RHP Jake Barrett in the 3rd round out of High School.

I like that the team has taken pitchers with their first 4 draft picks. The A.L. East is so competitive with stacked lineups from top to bottom, so the only way Toronto will be able to compete is to throw the best pitching at them. It's interesting that J.P. Ricciardi is now more open to selecting high school kids instead of his conventional "wisdom" of always going with collegiate athletes in the early rounds.

Let's hope this draft pays off. You can never have enough top quality pitchers in the pipeline. If the Canadians pan out, it's an even bigger bonus to have them representing our team.

Mustache Man can pitch

Despite the fact I've long been a fan of Brian Tallet, I did not think he would be this effective since being slotted into the starting rotation in April. He's had enough starts to gauge his ability as a starter, and the results have been fantastic.

In 11 starts, Tallet has been sublime, posting just one awful outing, and hasn't given up more than 3 runs in 9 of those 11 trips to the mound. In his last 8 starts, Tallet has lasted 6 or 7 innings in all of them.

Tallet, who has struggled in the first two frames in his last 2 outings, managed to fix his early control problems recently to shut down the Rangers and notch his most efficient outing of the season. He held a great Rangers offense to just two measly hits in 7 innings of work.

Simply put, Tallet can flat out pitch. He's surprised us all, including probably himself. It must be the mustache.

Litsch shelved for remainder of season

Just over a month ago, on April 26th I posted about my fears that Jesse Litsch's "precautionary visit" with Dr. James Andrews was way more serious than was originally reported. I had some gigantic concerns he was going to be sidelined for a long time. Turns out I was correct, unfortunately.

Litsch will miss the remainder of the 2009 season, and possibly a few months of the 2010 campaign when he goes under the knife Friday with Dr. Andrews, performing Tommy John surgery. Litsch has been on the disabled list since April 13th, and recently went back to Dr. Andrews to get a 2nd opinion on his arm. This time, however, the diagnosis is clear. He's expected to be out between 10 months to a year.

It's quite a fall for the 24 year old righty. Litsch came into the season as the 2nd most experienced member of the starting staff, expecting to be leaned on heavily with starters Dustin McGowan and Shaun Marcum nursing long term ailments of their own. With the amount of quality young arms currently on the Jays roster, and ones pushing through their way through the system, Litsch might find himself in a difficult numbers game to return as a member of the rotation once he regains his health. He might have to hope for other pitchers to fall victim to an injury like himself to make it back to Toronto.

Was he really all that great anyhow? His numbers were decent, but there's not a whole lot of upside to his game, perhaps projecting to be a 4th starter at best. His time might have passed. Remember Gustavo Chacin?

Rolen benefiting from reduction in playing time

Blue Jays third basemen Scott Rolen is quietly having a production year at the plate, even if his power numbers aren't where they used to be. Last season he struggled to find a consistent swing having battled shoulder injuries. This year, however, he's provided a boost to the Jays offense and is benefiting from a reduction in playing time.

Manager Cito Gaston has made it a point to rest the 34 year old Rolen on matinee games following a night contest. This season, Rolen has appeared in just 51 of the first 61 games to date. Rolen was held out of the game Saturday afternoon, and experienced tightness in his back Sunday, so as a precautionary measure, the team opted to leave him out of the lineup.

Rolen will never be the prodigious power hitter he once was in the late 90's to the mid 2000's, as he has just 3 homers and 19 RBI this campaign. However, the Jays are casting him correctly, making sure he doesn't aggravate his past injuries to maximize the production out of him. It appears to be paying off, as Rolen is hitting for a solid .314 average, including a scorching 6 for 8 clip in the two games against the Rangers following his 2 day break.

The crafty vet's still got game.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Adam Lind is on FIRE!!!

It was only a matter of time my full on man crush Adam Lind broke out of his miserable slump. And holy my, he is tearing the cover off the baseball! This man is simply too damn good.

Another home run tonight against the Rangers, a night after producing his first career multi-homer game of his career. What's most impressive is his ability to have power to all sides of the field. Two of his three big flies have come to the opposite field in the Texas series. In his unconscious stretch of play in the last 10 games, Lind is hitting .441, going 19 for 43 in that span, picking up 5 long balls and 9 RBI. Overall in his first full season with the Jays, Lind has 12 dingers and 45 RBI.

Vote this guy into the all star game, he's a total stud. And the crazy thing is, he has recently said he is just starting to understand hitting. That's a scary thought for everyone else around Major League Baseball. He's only going to get better.

I love this man too much. I might have a problem.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Aaron Hill busts out of slump

It was only a matter of time that Jays 2nd basemen Aaron Hill broke out of his nasty funk at the plate. He changed his fortunes quickly Sunday against the Royals, belting a big 2 run blast off Kyle Davies to end a 0 for 25 skid at the dish.

The day off that Cito Gaston granted Hill Saturday seemed to work wonders. Hill's recent poor stretch didn't seem to have any lingering effects of poor mechanics. It was just a brutal slump that happens from time to time. In fact, DH Adam Lind went through one two weeks ago too, then busted out of it in a big way, tying a club record with 8 consecutive hits.

In order to make his first all star appearance, Hill will need to go back to tearing the cover off the ball like he did prior to the slump. He's currently locked into a tight competition with Dustin Pedroia, Ian Kinsler and Robinson Cano to make the squad for 2nd basemen.

I fully expect him to revert back to his swinging a hot stick. Whether that's good enough to make the mid summer classic remains to be seen.

Blue Jays prospect Mills has game to remember

Toronto Blue Jays pitching prospect Brad Mills nearly cracked the big club out of spring training as a member of the starting rotation. The club opted to send the lefty down to AAA Las Vegas for more seasoning, and he has been somewhat lost in the shuffle with a number of young arms performing well in Toronto. After his brilliant performance Sunday for the Las Vegas 51's, he might just be forcing himself back on the teams radar.

Mills struck out 11 Tacoma batters in 7 innings of work en route to his first win of the campaign. 11 punch outs, and just 4 hits surrendered! The fact he hasn't won to this point might scare the organization off, however, the fact is Mills has been a hard luck loser, getting little run support in his starts. His record now stands at 1-7, with an ERA of 4.22, with that number being skewed by his last two starts (where he gave up 6 earned runs in both outings)

The 24 year old has the makings of a future solid middle of the rotation starter. With more performances like the one he had today, Mills might find himself getting his feet wet at the big league level before the end of the season.

Overbay riding high

Despite the fact I posted Thursday about how Lyle Overbay failed when we needed him most in the series finale against the Angels (slow reaction on a double play ball which led to the winning run, and struck out in the 9th) there is one thing that can't be denied; Overbay is raking.

The Jays fist basemen hit a rocket solo blast off Windows Restaurant against the Royals Sunday, going 2 for 3 on the day. In his current 13 game hitting streak, he has gone 19 for 42 for an astounding .452 average! In that span, Overbay has 2 home runs, 12 RBI, and 8 doubles to raise his average from .248 to .302

Overbay has produced quite well this year for a guy platooning with Kevin Millar at 1st base, especially for a guy hitting 7th in the order. He now has 7 home runs and 31 RBI, so it'll be interesting to see if Manager Cito Gaston will play him against left handed pitching rather than leaving him on the bench in favour of Millar.

With the way Overbay has mashed the ball lately, he might be getting his wish to be an every day player again.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Richmond's solid outing turns sour in a hurry

What the hell happened to Scott Richmond?

Richmond breezed through the first 4 innings, allowing just 1 hit. That's when he hit the fan. Staked to a 2-0 lead, Canadian Richmond, making his first start in 13 days, served up a 2 run blast to fellow Canuck Mark Teahen in the 5th inning. He then proceeded to allow a double, followed by a pair of walks. Willie Bloomquist (really, Bloomquist?) cleared the bags with a triple. 5-2 Royals. Day over for Richmond.

Holy crap.

Chavez hit a home run... yes, you read that right

In the words of Matt Kennedy Gould from the Joe Schmo Show, "what is going on?" Raul Chavez, yes, Raul Chavez has hit a home run! His two run shot in the 3rd inning has put the Jays ahead 2-0.

Just how rare is it to see Chavez go yard apple? It's his 6th home run. Ever. In his 11 year career! And only his 2nd in the last 4 years.


Romero bounces back

Ricky Romero bounced back from two poor outings to have his first quality start since coming off the disabled list. After a pair of bad games, where he was knocked around for 10 runs in 9.1 innings, the lefty responded to go 7 strong innings in the opener against Kansas City.

Romero cruised through the first 6 innings without allowing a run, but ran into a speed bump in the 7th frame. The Jays rookie hurler allowed a 2 run shot to Jose Guillen, followed immediately by a solo bomb to Mike Jacobs. Suddenly, the Jays 7-0 lead evaporated, tightening the collar on Romero, potentially signalled another blow up. However, he settled down to retire the side to get out of the 7th inning and picked up his 3rd victory of the campaign.

Romero displayed maturity for a young rookie. It's something he should keep in the memory bank should he get roughed up again, knowing that he has the ability to work through a bad inning, and also pitch well after struggling in a couple of contests.

Jays light up "best pitcher in baseball" Greinke!

Enough already with the talk that Kansas City Royals ace Zack Greinke is the "best pitcher in baseball." He wasn't even the best pitcher suited up at the Rogers Centre Friday night. That distinction belongs to Roy Halladay.

The Jays lit up Greinke, tagging him for 7 runs (5 earned) in just 5 innings of work, allowing the Blue Birds to cruise easily to victory. The Jays scored 6 runs in the first three innings, aided by strong performances of guys that have floundered for much of the season. Alex Rios had an RBI double, Vernon Wells drove in a pair of runs, and Lyle Overbay plated three runners.

Overbay's home run in the 2nd frame ended Greinke's phenomenal (and I'll tip my cap, this stat is RIDICULOUS) consecutive homerless innings streak at 111.

Greinke is an outstanding pitcher, but he had one very bad game. It happens. But if he wins the CY Young over Halladay it'll be a travesty. Enough already with these pitchers (see Cliff Lee last season) that have one unbelievable year to unseat the brilliant Doc Halladay.

Halladay will pitch in the series finale Sunday. Take notes Greinke. See how the actual best pitcher in baseball gets it done.