Friday, July 31, 2009

David Purcey's control problems persist in AAA

It's hard to imagine with all the injuries to the Blue Jays starting rotation that David Purcey has been buried in AAA since the end of April. While he has pitched fairly well since the demotion, going 5-4 with a 4.31 ERA, Purcey is still battling command issues.

Purcey pitched Thursday night in Vegas, picking up the win after giving up just 1 run in 6 frames, allowing just 2 hits while fanning 6 batters. However, the 27 year old lefty was still unable to pitch in the strike zone consistently, walking three batters.

In fact, in Purcey's last 9 starts, the least amount of walks he's allowed in one start has been 2, with 6 being his worst output. Curiously, on the other end of the spectrum, Purcey has racked up 9 strikeouts in 3 of those contests. His results are a marked improvement over his 5 starts with Toronto this season, where he walked 18 hitters in 25.2 innings, posting a poor 7.01 ERA.

Purcey is still a pitcher worth watching for the Jays. I would suspect the best case scenario is a September promotion, barring more freak injuries to the starting staff. However, he was a 1st round draft pick in 2004, so the club likely would've expected him to be a mainstay with the team by now. He certainly is at a career crossroads, and could possibly find himself pitching in a different uniform should he not improve his command.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Jays prospect explodes for 7 RBI in one game

Blue Jays prospect Brian Dopirak has risen through the ranks in his time in the Toronto system. Considered a late bloomer at 25, Dopirak scorched at the ball with class AA New Hampshire this season, where he put up 19 HR and 68 RBI in 87 games. He was promptly summoned to AAA Las Vegas two weeks ago and hit for a great average, but only had 3 RBI to show for it.

That was until Wednesday night, where he racked up 7 RBI with grand slam and a 3 run bomb. In 13 games, Dopirak has also hit for a sterling .340 batting average.

A Cubs 2nd round pick in 2002, Dopirak, who splits his time between designated hitter and 1st base, fell out of favour after struggling in Chicago's system, so the Jays scooped him up last year. All he did for the Blue Jays affiliate single A Dunedin was blast 27 HR and 88 RBI with a .308 average.

Dopirak has been mentioned a couple of times here for his potential to finally put it all together and be a shrewd pickup by the organization, and he hasn't disappointed. Should the Jays trade Lyle Overbay at the deadline, there is a chance he'd get the call up to the big club.

Hey Red Sox, trade for John McDonald!

I have mentioned it several times on this blog before Mr. Red Sox General Manager Theo Epstein, and I'll continue to bother you until you do something about it: TRADE FOR JOHN MCDONALD!

Never has it been more apparent that your club is in desperate need for a shortstop that can field his position well than Tuesday night. Up 2 in the 9th, incumbent Nick Green committed two costly errors, allowing the A's to tie it, and they eventually went on to win in extra innings. He now has 11 errors on the season. And I know you are big on Jed Lowrie, but he just came off the disabled list. He might still take a while to get into his groove, or worse yet, find himself back on the DL, so why not acquire McDonald as insurance?

Call J.P. Ricciardi and inquire about trading for slick fielding Johnny Mac. It'll be worth your time. He could provide dynamite defense at short, which is what you need. Since your team clearly has enough big bats to withstand his light hitting, he can be penciled in at the bottom of the order. He'll come relatively cheap, and his contract expires at the end of the season.

This makes perfect sense Mr. Epstein. If you can pull it off, it might prove to be a wily transaction come playoff time, when defense is at a huge premium.

Obviously he is incredibly loved here, and would be sorely missed by all the fans of the team, including myself. But this is about business, and you are in the business of winning World Championships.

And we apparently are not.


Halladay likely won't be a Doctor "Phil"

It appears as though Roy Halladay will not be donning a Phillies uniform after all with Philadelphia and Cleveland striking a deal for Cliff Lee Wednesday afternoon, making it increasingly likely Halladay will remain a Blue Jay heading into 2010. The deal still could go through, because the players the Jays believed to want (Kyle Drabek, J.A. Happ, Dominic Brown) did not head to Cleveland in the Lee acquisition.

Halladay may have been distracted Wednesday (and who could blame him?) in what might still have been his last start with the only organization he's known, allowing a season high 11 hits while coming out on the losing end of a 3-2 contest. Halladay has now just 1 win in his last 7 starts, but that's more to do with the Jays anemic run support (averaging 2.5 runs in those 7 games) than a reflection of how he's pitched.

My position all along is that the Jays will not deal Halladay, and it appears likely they won't. J.P. Ricciardi has indicated they now might go all in for 2010 to try to win. Although, that could be posturing in order to get someone to "wow" him with a substantial trade offer. If there is one thing we know about Ricciardi, it's that we can't trust him. So he might be finalizing a deal to move Doc Halladay after all.

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Downs coughs up another one

In hindsight, I was obviously a bit too hasty last night in declaring that Scott Downs had shaken off his recent woes. Because after one solid outing Monday, in which he retired the side in the 8th inning of a blow out ball game, Downs reverted back to the reliever that has struggled mightily in the past week, but not without a high degree of drama.

Downs nearly made a phenomenal turnaround in the 9th inning after a messy beginning to a 3-3 ball game. He allowed a base hit to open the frame, then issued a walk. Downs mishandled a sacrifice bunt, allowing the bases to be juiced with nobody out. Undeterred, the Jays closer retired the next two batters, setting the stage with Ichiro Suzuki. He had Ichiro right where he wanted him with two strikes, however he couldn't escape the large jam he'd created when the American League leader in hits poked the game winning RBI single to centre.

Downs (1-3) takes his 3rd loss in his past five appearances to go along with his two blown saves in that span.


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Rookie Rzepczynski continues to impress

Rookie lefty Marc Rzepczynski has a great last name. His surname is also incredibly hard to spell. Well now he's proving to be a great pitcher that is incredibly hard to hit off of. Tuesday in Seattle, Mr. R turned in a fine performance that was better than the final stat line suggests.

After giving up a run in the first inning and running into trouble in the 2nd frame, Rzepczynski settled down, retiring 11 batters in a row, whiffing 7 of them, striking out the side in the 4th inning. Rzepczynski winded up leaving after 8 strike outs (setting a career high) in 5.1 innings of work, where he allowed three earned runs.

The 2007 fifth round pick has shown a great ability to pitch at the big league level, in particular displaying his talent for striking out batters. While not factoring into the decision in this one, his 8 K's Tuesday gives him 30 over the course of 27.2 innings in his first five starts in his major league career.

Richmond & Marcum return to Jays clubhouse

A pair of starting pitchers were back with the Blue Jays in time for their six game west coast road trip Monday, as both Scott Richmond and Shaun Marcum were in the clubhouse for the series opener in Seattle. Both Richmond and Marcum are expected to be activated off the disabled list shortly and should be inserted into the clubs starting rotation.

Marcum, who was expected to miss all of the 2009 campaign following Tommy John Surgery on his elbow, was in Seattle to receive treatment on his back before heading to AAA Las Vegas. The 27 year old injured himself in his latest rehab assignment, pulling himself out of the contest as a precautionary measure. The club has set a tentative return date in Toronto for early August.

For Richmond, who has been out since July 5th with a shoulder injury, the 29 year old rookie will be able to help the Jays shortly, as he's expected to get the start Friday against the Oakland Athletics.

Having both Richmond (6-5 with a 3.69 ERA in 13 starts) and Marcum (0-2 with a 2.30 ERA in 5 starts in his rehab stint) back will significantly aid the teams starting rotation, which is expected to expand to a 6 man staff to preserve the young starters for the stretch drive of the season.

Snider heating up in AAA

Travis Snider appears to finally be healthy after battling a lingering back injury for the better part of a month, and has settled in nicely as the cleanup hitter for the the Jays AAA affiliate in Las Vegas.

In Snider's past 6 games, the 21 year old left fielder has 3 home runs, totalling 8 RBI's with a solid .320 batting average, including 5 hits in his last 9 trips to the plate. The pop in his bat is a welcomed sign for the Blue Jays top prospect, who scuffled at the major league level this year after posting 3 home runs in his first 6 games, ultimately leading to his demotion.

While Snider is unlikely to receive a promotion to the big club any time soon (which will allow him to get regular at bats against both righties and lefties in the minors) he should be in line for a September call up when rosters expand.

Should Romero be rookie of the year?

It's a wonderful question to be pondering after Ricky Romero (not to mention J.P. Ricciardi) faced much scrutiny the past couple of seasons, but now the Jays rookie starter has squarely put himself in the discussion for American League rookie of the year honours.

Romero won again tonight in Seattle, moving his record to an impressive 9-4 while fashioning a solid 3.59 ERA. Romero, the 6th overall pick in the 2005 draft, has lasted at least 6 innings in 12 of his 16 starts this season. He has been so poised and mature beyond his 24 years, displaying a great knack for getting himself out of jams, not to mention the ability to bounce back from a poor inning.

The likely rookie of the year candidates Romero is up against include Rays hurler Jeff Niemann, Tigers righty Rick Porcello, White Sox 3rd basemen Gordon Beckham, Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus. All of these players have had pretty good success this season, but nothing that stands out as jaw dropping, leaving Romero the likely top candidate.

Should Romero continue his high level of play, he might just be the first Jays rookie of the year since Eric Hinske in 2002. We can only hope Romero has a higher career arc than the journeyman Hinske. With his outstanding play this year, it should be an indication he'll be a fixture in the Jays rotation for years to come.

Downs shakes off rough week

It's hard to fathom Scott Downs blowing two saves in one week, plus losing another game in extra innings to Tampa Bay, but the reliable lefty has struggled mightily since coming off the disabled list, allowing 5 runs in 5 innings of work. Not exactly what we're used to seeing from the 33 year old lefty.

In Toronto's first game against Seattle Monday, Downs came in the 8th inning in a non save situation and provided excellent relief, retiring all three batters he faced. It's probably safe to conclude he's shaken off his rough stretch. The Jays are going to need Downs to shore up the back end of that bullpen, because they are in desperate need of victories, having lost 6 straight one run contests.

Even with the bad week, Downs still has had an excellent campaign, saving 9 games with a 2.97 ERA. With the trade deadline just 4 days away, there's been interest from the New York Yankees, (among others) in acquiring the crafty lefty, presumably for the 8th inning role behind Mariano Rivera. It's conceivable we might have seen Downs pitch his last game in a Blue Jays uniform.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Ricciardi should pull out of "Happ"less trade

The Philadelphia Phillies are about to make off like bandits by fooling J.P. Ricciardi and the Toronto Blue Jays in the Roy Halladay trade sweepstakes. Should they swindle the Jays as easily as it appears they will for one of the preeminent pitchers in baseball they will be lauded years from now for pulling off one of the greatest heists in major league baseball history.

Reports indicate they are unwilling to part with pitchers J.A. Happ AND prospect Kyle Drabek, along with either an outfield or corner infield prospect. The Phils insist they are unwilling to move both young hurlers because their value to the team is too high. That is a load of garbage.

Drabek (10-2 with a 2.80 ERA in the minors in '09), the supposed "key piece" to the trade wasn't even listed on Baseball America's "top 100 prospects" list as of late February. And the 26 year old Happ didn't even begin the year as a member of the Phillies starting rotation, instead the job was handed to 16 year veteran Chan Ho Park. Now that Happ is off to a stellar 7-1 start to the campaign, they are trying to peddle him off with the notion that he's a valuable member of the team.

The Phils are merely bluffing that they won't move both in their attempt to pull the wool over Ricciardi's eyes. They'll likely "give in" at the last moment and make the deal to fleece the Blue Jays. Should the trade be finalized, and Philadelphia land Halladay, it will be the lowest point of J.P. Ricciardi's tumultuous 9 year tenure at the helm of the Blue Jays and will be a painful reminder of how he's mishandled this organization.

Blue Jays are a complete joke

Are you freaking kidding me? We lost a game that we led 9-1 going to the 7th inning? The Blue Jays are a complete joke. What an unmitigated disaster this team is. Unequivocally a colossal mess. Pathetic, brutal, laughable, disgusting, despicable are just some of the words to best describe this awful, putrid, terrible, crappy baseball club (all that without referencing a dictionary and also refraining from swearing. Wow. I'm almost impressed)

The disastrous Blue Jays have now lost their last 7 in extra innings, and their 17th in the past 23 games overall to drop to a season low 4 games below .500. How can you let a ball club rally from 8 down with 3 to go and show no heart, panic, or anger? Easy. Just suit up for a Blue Jays club that's roughly as talented as Paris Hilton (or Gregg Zaun)

If you excuse me I must leave immediately so I can hurl. Or shout obscenities. Or both.

Halladay brilliant in tenure with Blue Jays

In what may go down as the final start in the storied 12 year Blue Jays career for Roy Halladay, Doc was vintage Doc once again Friday night, spinning a sensational nine inning performance befitting a victory. While the night ended on a somber note after the Jays were unable to win one for their ace, falling in extra innings, the night took on a different tone, one of reverence and adulation for a true champion.

On flashback Friday night, it didn't matter about winning or losing on this night, it meant so much more. It meant the recognition of the best pitcher in franchise history, one that will undoubtedly feature Doc at countless flashback Friday promotions when his playing career is over. One that saw Halladay endure countless mediocre ball clubs and few close calls in search of the post season. It appears time to turn the chapter to allow a potential Hall of Famer his wish; a chance to win a World Series.

Should the Jays deal Halladay, as expected, there is nothing but thanks to give to the 6 time all-star, 2003 CY Young Award winner, and staff ace for all the memories. He never once complained of being on a mediocre ball team and never moaned about the lack of payroll to compete in the ultra tough A.L. East.

In his storied career with the Blue Birds, Halladay racked up an incredible 142-69 record with a dazzling 3.45 ERA.

If this is your last start as a member of the Blue Jays Mr. Halladay, we must say thanks to a true professional. Good luck in the future, you will be missed in this city.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Overbay is an Overbum

Lyle Overbay really really really cheeses me off. In the series against Cleveland, the Jays 1st basemen had gaffes that cost the team a pair of games against a club that is a whopping 20 games below .500

In the series finale this afternoon, with Alex Rios at 3rd base representing the tying run in the 9th inning, Overbay pinch hit and with the count 3-1, he let not one, but TWO strikes go by without swinging the bat.

In the first game, with Toronto clinging to a 1 run lead and a runner on first, Overbay fielded a sacrifice bunt, tried to make the force out at 2nd but promptly threw the ball into the outfield. The Indians later scored twice to win 2-1.

What a piece of crap. Overbay is garbage. He is unbelievably inconsistent it's ridiculous. He'll go through stretches where he scorches the ball (13 RBI in a 12 game stretch in June), and then will go a prolonged period of time doing nothing except walking (just 1 RBI this month, and hasn't homered in 23 games.)

Overbay is an Overbum.

McGowan suffers another setback

When it appeared that Jays starter Dustin McGowan couldn't hear more bad news in his effort to return after undergoing shoulder surgery, he has suffered yet another setback. This time, McGowan has undergone knee surgery following a freak injury sustained in routine running drills.

McGowan, whose shoulder injury had already created concerns about this year, but most importantly his career had an operation on his left knee July 9th to repair cartilage damaged on his left knee.

McGowan is officially out for the 2009 season and should recover from his knee ailment, but the team is not so sure about his career with lingering issues since the frayed labrum in his shoulder.

The 27 year old likely will not take part in winter ball this year, and is eyeing a potential return in 2010.

Scutaro blasts first multi-homer game of career

Marco Scutaro had a night to remember Wednesday, belting a pair of home runs in the same game for the first time in his 8 year career. Ricky Romero jokingly mocked Scutaro before the contest about his lack of recent power (1 dinger in last 69 games), so Scutsy responded with the two blasts that were part of a 5 home run explosion by the club.

The impact of Scutaro's play in the next week could potentially be critical. The Jays could decide to trade him with his status as a free agent at the end of the season. He already has had a stellar season, ranking 1st in runs and walks by shortstops in the AL, 2nd in RBI, and 3rd in hits which will make him a type "A" free agent at the end of the campaign. The Jays will receive a 1st round pick and sandwich selection between the 1st and 2nd rounds in the draft as compensation should they lose him to another club, so a big decision will need to be made.

Do they trade him now? Or re-sign him in the off-season? I say they should do neither and let him walk at the end of the year. I love Scutaro, he's one of the better players on the team, but if you can parlay a former utility infielder into two high draft picks for him as compensation, then you have to say "cya!" to Scutsy at the conclusion of the season.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Wells and Rios both homer in the same game!







Ricciardi confirms Halladay will test free agency

As the days inch closer to the July 31st trade deadline, it appears even more likely that Roy Halladay will indeed be moved by the Blue Jays. Today in an interview with ESPN's Jim Rome, Jays General Manager J.P. Ricciardi indicated that Doc has stated his wish to hit free agency when his contract expires in 2010. Knowing this, the club is intent on dealing Halladay to maximize the return for their star ace.

I don't want Ricciardi to be the one making this trade. It's not as if his track record as Blue Jays GM has been stellar, because if it was, we wouldn't even be in this situation right now. It appears that Ricciardi will not be retained by the team next year, so why should he be the one to pull the trigger on what clearly will be the most important transaction in Toronto Blue Jays history.

I've never been one to tab Ricciardi's tenure in Toronto a total disaster, but in this case, he is a lame duck, much in the way former Maple Leafs GM John Ferguson Jr. was before he was fired. It seems that Assistant GM Alex Anthopoulos might be the new man at the helm next year, so why not send Ricciardi his pink slip to accelerate the process and install Anthopoulos as GM now? Ideally, Halladay would not be traded until after Ricciardi is gone.

Because with this team moving closer and closer to missing the playoffs for a 16th straight season, this potentially epic trade has to work.

Wells returns (did anyone realize he was gone?)

Vernon Wells made his return to the Blue Jays lineup against the Indians after sitting out the previous 3 game series against the Red Sox with a stomach ailment. Not so coincidentally, the Jays won 2 of 3 against their division rival in the $126 million dollar man's absence then lost to a garbage team when he came back Tuesday.

Did you even realize he was gone in the first place? It's not as if the team was hampered when he was gone anything because he's been terrible all year anyway. He returned last night to post a spectacular 0 for 4 showing at the plate.

No word on whether Wells mysterious stomach ailment occurred when he decided to dissect his horrendous first half of the season on film.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Inglett scorching in AAA

It's should only be a matter of time before Joe Inglett suits up in a Toronto Blue Jays uniform again after playing the majority of the season with AAA Las Vegas.

Inglett has been ripping it up as of late, hitting .429 in his last 10 games, with 18 hits, 6 doubles, 6 RBI and 3 stolen bases. On the campaign, he has a stellar .374 average. Inglett should replace David Dellucci, who is day to day after fouling a ball off his foot and has been pathetic prior to that with only 1 hit in 23 at bats as a Blue Jay.

Inglett played 15 games with the Jays earlier this season, but hit just .167 before being sent back down. He had been battling injuries prior to be recalled in May, and had just come off the disabled list so it's no wonder he scuffled this season. With his sensational play of late, he deserves to be called up, especially after his strong 2008 campaign with the team.

Who might the Jays trade at the deadline?

As the July 31st trade deadline quickly approaches, and the Blue Jays close to determining they're too far out of contention, who might the team trade at the deadline?

Roy Halladay is the obvious one that has drawn constant speculation and attention. The Mets reportedly rejected a trade offer for Halladay, and several teams including the Dodgers, Phillies, Brewers, Giants not to mention the Yankees and Red Sox reportedly have interest. I still don't think Doc is gone this year, however. The Jays will likely evaluate where they are in July next year (figuring with a healthy team they are contenders in 2010) to decide whether or not to deal him.

Other less expensive options include Scott Rolen, Marco Scutaro, John McDonald, Jason Frasor, Brian Tallet and Kevin Millar.

I expect Tallet to be moved to a team needing a decent left handed pitcher with versatility. Kevin Millar likely won't be back next year, and has plenty of experience so I'd be rather surprised he isn't moved for a mid level prospect, much like Matt Stairs and David Eckstein last year.

Rolen's amazing defense and solid bat would draw interest around the league, but his $11 million contract this year and next likely will scare teams off. Marco Scutaro would be a valuable piece for any team, but Toronto might hold on to him because they'll receive a 1st round draft pick as compensation should they lose him to free agency.

McDonald, as I've mentioned before, would be amazing to plug in for a contending teams lineup solely for his spectacular defense, and Jason Frasor has proven to be a quality reliever in the back end of the Jays bullpen this year.

I'll go with Millar, Tallet and possibly Frasor being traded at the deadline. I hope the Jays clearly define whether they are a buyer or a seller and not somewhere in between. This team needs an infusion of talent and has relatively good bargains from which to accrue talent.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Tallet moved back to bullpen

After a prolonged stint as a member of the Blue Jays rotation, the club has decided to return Brian Tallet back to the bullpen. Tallet, originally earmarked to fill in for a few starts while injuries mounted up to the rotation, aids a taxed 'pen that sorely needs another left hander following the release of B.J. Ryan. The move was made possible because the Jays have four off days in the next three weeks so the club will use a 4 man rotation.

In 17 starts, the lefty posted a respectable 5-6 record with a 4.86 ERA. After a dazzling beginning to his tenure in the rotation, Tallet has battled control issues. Additionally, Tallet has already thrown 40 more innings than at any point in his major league career so that could be why he's been showing signs of wearing down.

With the early success of rookie lefty Marc Rzepczynski, Toronto would like to get an extended look to see how the 23 year old can do, making it easier for the Jays to move Tallet back into his customary role of long reliever.

For any team needing pitching help down the stretch, don't be surprised to hear rumours about the Blue Jays entertaining trade offers for the versatile Tallet.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Carlson blows it again; Jays lose in extras

The Blue Jays are pathetic in the clutch. It's gotten to the point where the mounting frustration over how the team squanders chances to win on a consistent basis has turned into sheer comedy.

The Jays lost Saturday in extra innings (the 3rd time on the road trip that's happened, including 5 in a row overall) on a walk off home run by Melvin Mora in the 12th. The guy hadn't hit a long ball in 50 games! Of course, Jesse Carlson screwed the team over again.

Prior to that, Toronto had a perfect opportunity to bust the game open. In the 11th, Scott Rolen broke from first base on an attempted steal but was destined to be picked off until O's catcher Matt Wieters botched the ball allowing Rolen to move back to 1st safely. Alex Rios followed with a single to put Rolen on 3rd with only 1 out. With two chances to take the lead, that's when Lyle Overbay proceeded to strike out and Rod Barajas bounced out to end the threat. Typical.

The Jays are so infuriating that they really piss me off. Wait, I forgot. I said I was beyond that. They're just plain laughable now.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Rolen's hitting streak ends at 25

Scott Rolen's incredible run at Blue Jays history has fallen just short. The Jays 3rd basemen failed to register a hit for the first time in 26 games Friday, coming within a single game of tying Shannon Stewart and John Olerud for 2nd in franchise history. It also marked Rolen falling 3 contests short of matching Shawn Green's franchise record of 28 games with at least a hit.

During his 25 game hit streak, Rolen tore the cover off the baseball, hitting at a .390 clip, posting 3 home runs and adding 16 RBI's. With hits in 25 straight, Rolen far surpassed his previous best streak in his career of 14 consecutive games with a base knock.

With the Jays falling out of postseason contention, there have been rumblings that J.P. Ricciardi is shopping Rolen. Dealing him at this stage would net some prospects for Toronto, but it is important to note, however, that Rolen has a no trade clause and would need to be willing to waive it for any such transaction to occur.

Cecil defeats Orioles in his home state

Brett Cecil bounced back after a pair of miserable starts to defeat the Baltimore Orioles in his home state of Maryland. Cecil picked up his 3rd win of his career, his first in nearly two months allowing the Jays to secure just their 3rd W in their past 12 contests.

Cecil spun 6 innings of shutout ball while striking out 5 batters. The solid effort comes after two sub-par starts in which he allowed 12 runs and didn't work past the 4th inning in both of them.

The rookie lefty was the star closer in college at Maryland before being selected by the Jays in the 2007 draft. Friday he had one of his better outings in front of friends and his parents who were at the game cheering him on.

More starts like this one will undoubtedly ensure they see more of their 23 year old son plying his trade at the major league level.

Are the Jays hiding something about Halladay?

Good thing I'm not a cynical person, because then I wouldn't be scratching my head over the Blue Jays sudden interest in trading Roy Halladay.

But why all the speculation about the Jays parting ways with their ace? Does the club know something we don't? Halladay went down with a groin strain June 12th and went on the disabled list. Since his return, he's been un-Doc like in 3 starts, giving up 10 runs in 20 innings and has yielded 23 hits.

What if there is something more to this than meets the eye? Is there a direct correlation to Halladay's injury and the trade speculation? What if Halladay's injury lingers and is persistent long term, causing him to hit the shelf every so often? Would it then not be in the team's best interest to move him now?

With Halladay wanting to play for a contender, perhaps it's simply the right time to move on figuring Toronto won't be competitive in the near future. Maybe J.P. Ricciardi figures the time to drive the market for the clubs ace is now to fully maximize the return. But knowing Ricciard's previous history of sometimes fudging injury reports, is it possible there's something more sinister at play?

Then again, that would be a cynical way of thinking. So it's a good thing I'm not a cynic.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Lind your vote!!

Just a few hours remain to vote Adam Lind into the All-Star game! Balloting ends at 4pm, with Lind in a battle with 4 others to make the final American League roster spot at the mid summer classic. Lind was not on the ballot prior to the process of voting in a player because he was mainly the Jays designated hitter and the game is being played in a National League ball park in St. Louis.

In 83 games this season, the 25 year old Lind, in his first full year of duty with the Jays, has been on a tear, posting 19 HR, 58 RBI with a .307 average while racking up 26 doubles. You can vote for Lind at to cast your vote for our stud designated hitter/left fielder.

Currently, Lind is locked in a battle with the Rangers Ian Kinsler, Tampa Bay's Carlos Pena, the Angels Chone Figgins and Detroit's Brandon Inge for the right to represent the A.L. Should Lind receive the top vote he would be making his first career appearance at the All-Star game.

Downs and out

What a nasty case of de ja vu for the Blue Jays. One night after falling to the Rays via a walk off home run by Pat Burrell, the Rays found more magic, putting the finishing touches on a see saw battle that resulted in the the Blue Birds dropping their 10th game in their past 13. The excruciating defeat also marks the 4th walk off loss on the road trip for a battered Jays squad.

Scott Downs, activated off the disabled list before the start of this one, had a chance to send the game to extra innings for a 2nd straight night, but with two outs Ben Zobrist lifted a Downs offering into right centre scoring Carl Crawford, ending the Jays hopes of a much needed victory.

What would be worse? Getting blown out every single game to the Yankees and Rays? Or losing in such devastating fashion almost every time to them? I'll go with the latter, because these tough losses are really starting to weigh on me.

The loss drops the Jays (43-43) to .500 for the first time all season.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Will the Jays trade Halladay?

A media firestorm has erupted in Toronto, with Roy Halladay at the center of much speculation and innuendo regarding the possibility he could be shipped out of town. Seemingly out of no where, Jays General Manager J.P. Ricciardi mentioned to a reporter that he is listening to offers for Roy Halladay, and that has ignited an inferno that now has Ricciardi seemingly intent on moving the 6-time All-Star.

Halladay is an attractive option, given that he has the remainder of this season, and the following campaign left on his contract for a prospective team, not to mention the fact he'd given any contender a huge lift heading into a post season run. Halladay has maintained his stance that he wants to stay in Toronto and will discuss contract details at a later date. However, one of the best, if not THE best pitcher in baseball also hasn't wavered in his desire to win.

The Jays could score a bounty in return for the 32 year old ace, with the Yankees, Red Sox, Phillies and Dodgers all mentioned as a possible landing spot for Doc. New York and Boston, however, have reportedly not contacted Ricciardi for a possible deal. The Jays could load up with a top pitching prospect, corner infielder and potentially another solid option for the right to Halladay's services, which could really set the franchise up for future success given their stronger farm system.

If Halladay, who has a full no trade clause in his contract, did decide to waive it, no one would blame him for wanting to win instead of being stuck on a mediocre ball club. He has given the Blue Birds a phenomenal 12 year career, posting a 141-68 record to go along with his 2003 American League CY Young award.

I don't see how this has blown up so much the past few days, and would still be mildly surprised to see Halladay moved this season. Should the Jays be in a similar position next trade deadline, the club would most likely give Halladay his wish of going to a team that is a strong World Series contender.

He would be missed.

Shaun Marcum could return to Jays in August

There could be some welcomed news on the horizon for a ravaged Blue Jays starting rotation in the form of Shaun Marcum. 9 months removed from Tommy John surgery on his elbow, it was presumed that the 27 year old Marcum would miss the entire 2009 campaign and return in 2010. However, he has made great progress in his rehab and the club expects him to return to the rotation in the first week of August.

Marcum made his first rehab start Monday, pitching 3 innings for Class A Dunedin, where he struck out a batter, allowing a pair of hits in the 11 batters he faced. The plan is to have him go 4 innings next contest, and slowly work his way back to the major league team.

A patchwork Blue Jays rotation that has summoned 12 different starters this year, including 5 that made their ML debut could use the crafty righty. Last season, Marcum went 9-7 with a 3.39 in 25 starts. In his career, the Missouri native has gone 24-17 with a respectable 3.95 ERA.

Jays release B.J. Ryan; activate Downs from DL

The Blue Jays have released B.J. Ryan! After stinking the entire season, Toronto finally parted ways with the former team’s former closer after activating the incumbent stopper Scott Downs off the disabled list Wednesday. The Blue Birds are letting Ryan go with 1 ½ seasons left on his 5 year/$47 Million dollar contract he signed prior to the 2006 season. They will be obligated to pay the $10 million left on his deal for next year.

Ryan struggled this season with a poor 6.53 ERA, losing his job as closer due to an inability to find the strike zone consistently. After he continued to prove unreliable, the Jays couldn’t find a role for him in the bullpen and were considering using him only in mop up duty. Ryan grew increasingly frustrated with his lack of playing time, and should benefit from a change in scenery.

Despite the fact Blow Jay Ryan was horrendous this season, he did many good things for this organization that can’t be dismissed, including saving 38 games in his first campaign in 2006 with a 1.37 ERA. Following Tommy John Surgery that cost him most of the 2007 campaign, he was solid last year, shutting down 32 games.

Having Downs back in the fold will be remarkable for a bullpen that has been taxed with a heavy workload and mostly devoid of any reliable arms. Downs returns from his sprained toe suffered against the Phillies June 16th.

Marc Rzepczynski with solid MLB debut

After a surprise promotion to fill in for a depleted Jays starting rotation, Marc Rzepczynski had a very solid major league debut against the Rays. He lasted 6 innings, giving up just 1 run scattering only 2 hits while striking out 7 batters. The southpaw made history, becaming the first American League pitcher to strike out at least 7 and allow two or fewer hits in his ML debut since 1973.

The young lefty was the 5 Jays starter to make his major league debut this season, setting a new club record. He looked poised on the mound, only running into trouble in the 4th frame. That's where his control wavered a little bit, as Rzepczynski issued three free passes in the inning, including a walk with the bases loaded that accounted for the only run he surrendered.

The solid debut has to be considered somewhat of a surprise, but not if you examine Rzepczynski's numbers this year in the minors. In 16 starts, he went 9-5 with a svelte 2.86 ERA. He was recently promoted to AAA Las Vegas, and in two outings fashioned a minuscule 0.79 ERA with 16 K's. The 23 year old, selected in the 5th round of the 2007 draft is a strike out pitcher, having struck out 104 batters in 88 innings with class AA New Hampshire and AAA Las Vegas this season.

With Scott Richmond on the shelf, Rzepczynski could most certainly be given a couple more opportunities to prove he belongs at the big league level.

League letting me down

I think it might be about time that I start to face facts about Brandon League. This is very difficult for me because I've remained fiercely loyal to the young fireballer throughout his struggles this season. However, the fact remains that he has been wildly inconsistent and extremely unreliable.

How fitting that a day after I lauded him for shutting down the Yankees that he serves up the game winning home run to Tampa Bay. Unfortunately, I called that home run in the 11th inning. I turned to a colleague at work and said "Wow, Pat Burrell's numbers are terrible this year. Knowing my luck he'll hit a walk off against my boy League." Sadly, i proved prophetic.

League has been good in the past, putting up ERA's of 2.53 in '06 and 2.18 in '08. This year, however, he is 1-4, has blown 3 saves while sporting a bloated 5.31 ERA. It's hard to believe he is in fact only 26 years old, considering he's been with the team for 6 seasons. He's still a young talent, but has a lot to learn about mixing fastballs with his devastating splitter.

If it sounds like I'm making excuses for him, I probably am. Can you blame me? I'm extremely loyal. Perhaps loyal to a fault with Brandon League.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

End of an era; Russ Adams bolts Blue Jays

Mercilessly, the Russ Adams experiment is over in Toronto. Forever linked with Jays General Manager J.P. Ricciardi's first draft pick with the club in 2002, Adams has been the perfect metaphor for Ricciardi's tenure with the team; disappointing.

Adams was tabbed to be the Blue Birds shortstop of the future after being selected with the 14th pick in the '02 draft, and he quickly rose up the ranks to the big league level. By 2005, he was the incumbent at short, but persistent fielding problems (26 errors in '05) that continued into 2006 saw him lose his job midway through the campaign. He toiled in the organization, bouncing back from AAA with brief stints in the major leagues in '07 and then again this year.

After giving Adams one more opportunity to prove he could at least be a utility man with the team Adams languished. In 8 games, Adams hit just .200 (for 4 for 20), and was designated for assignment to AAA Las Vegas to make room for David Dellucci. Adams had the option of reporting back to AAA or to declare free agency, and he chose the latter.

In 286 career games, Adams hit .247 with 17 HR and 113 RBI racking up 46 errors.

League shuts the door on two of A.L's best

I heard all the Brandon League haters chirping when he coughed up a 2 run single to Nick Swisher after inheriting the bases loaded from Ricky Romero in the 7th inning. The boo birds were out in full force, with several proclamations that Brandon "Minor League" would screw up another contest.

League is damn good. And he proved just that, shaking off his misfortune by whiffing Mark Teixiera and Alex Rodriguez, 2 vaunted hitters in the American League back to back. Boom, end of threat!

That sure shut up the peanut gallery.


Rolen extends hitting streak to 23 games

Scott Rolen continues to RAKE at the plate extending his career best hitting streak to an extremely impressive 23 games. Should the 14 year veteran rack up hits in 5 more consecutive games, he'll tie Shawn Green's franchise record with 28 straight contests with at least one hit.

Rolen's double in the 7th inning drove in a pair Monday, with those runs marking the difference in the ball game. In his remarkable 23 game span, most of which has spanned the big 3rd basemen hitting in the cleanup spot, Rolen has gone 37 for 95 for a scintillating .389 average, including 3 HR and 14 RBI.

He didn't quite have the home run and RBI totals to make the all-star team despite having the 3rd highest average in the American League, but Rolen has shown he most definitely still has the ability to play at a high level.

Johnny Mac hits first homer in nearly a year!

What a spectacular sight to see, John McDonald blasting a home run! The long fly was his first since July 27th of last year. Johnny Mac, making only his 4th start of the season, hit a solo shot off Andy Pettitte in the 7th inning.

There isn't much more to say, but McDonald deserves as much credit and discussion on this blog as possible, because he's amazing. In only 30 at bats on the campaign, he has a respectable .267 batting average. Yet he still hasn't complained about his lack of playing time.

As I've mentioned before, if the Jays fall out of the hunt and I'm Theo Epstein in Boston with two poor defensive shortstops, I'm calling J.P. Ricciardi to see if I can't take the seldom used McDonald off Toronto's hands. Imagine him in Boston. That team would be even more scary!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Blow Jay Ryan showing rookie how to suck

Maybe this is why rookie Brett Cecil has been awful. Perhaps he's being schooled a bit too much on how to suck from Blow Jay Ryan.

After Cecil's disastrous outing, where he allowed 5 walks and 7 runs in less than 4 innings, B.J. Ryan came in to hold the fort on a 1 run lead for the Jays. Naturally, he coughed up the lead. Ryan allowed 2 walks, and gave up a huge go ahead 2 run dinger to Derek Jeter. He allowed 3 runs in the contest after the 2nd batter he walked came around to score. On the season, Ryan has issued 4 more walks than strike outs. Absolutely pathetic.

Maybe I shouldn't be so hard on Cecil. After all, he's learning from the likes of Blow Jay Ryan.

Cecil a total disaster

Brett Cecil is really cheesing me off. REALLY....REALLY getting under my skin. I know he's a rookie. I know he's inexperienced, and I know he shouldn't be in the big leagues yet. Still, it doesn't excuse the fact that he was garbage today in New York.

Cecil can't find the strike zone today, issuing 5 free passes and allowing 7 runs in 3.2 innings against the Yankees. The main culprit was his horrible control. 5 freaking walks! After going down 4-0 after the 2nd inning, the Jays offense picked him up, plating 8 runs to give him a solid 4 run lead. In the following inning, he surrendered a walk to Mark Teixiera, which of course came back to bite him as he gave up a single and then a 3 run home run to Hideki Matsui.

There is no excuse for putting that many guys on board via the base on ball. It'll kill you every time.

Chavez a pleasant surprise

Raul Chavez deserves a lot of credit for the way he's performed this year for the Jays. Given his rather underwhelming stats in his 11 year career, I, and I'm sure many others, expected him to flop much like Jason Phillips and Sal Fasano did previously as the backup catcher for Toronto.

Chavez has provided exceptional defense behind the plate, throwing out 50% of would be base stealer's, but most impressively, has swung a good stick. In his first two at bats Sunday, Chavez has doubled, driving in a run and scoring twice. Midway through the contest, he has 2 HR, 8 RBI, with a .282 average in 26 games this season.

After narrowly missing out on making the Jays opening day roster, Chavez could've pursued work elsewhere, but instead reported to AAA Las Vegas. It's ended up being a smart decision, because veteran backstop Michael Barrett went down in April, allowing Chavez to head north of the border.

He has played more of late in the wake of Rod Barajas' nagging hamstring injury, and has continued his strong play. He deserves his due. Just as I'm tying this he threw out another runner. That's 12 runners caught stealing in 23 attempts.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Another starter bites the dust; Richmond to DL

Things just keeps getting better and better (or you know, um...worse) for the Blue Jays. Yet another starting pitcher bites the dust. Scott Richmond is the latest casualty, marking the 6th member of the Jays rotation going down this season, and that doesn't even include Shaun Marcum and Dustin McGowan, who were on the shelf before the campaign even started.

Richmond has been feeling the effects of shoulder tendinitis the past couple of weeks, first surfacing in his start against the Reds June 24th. He pitched through the pain and was decent against the Rays in his last outing, logging 7 innings. The American League rookie of the month in April couldn't shake the pain in his arm so he decided to heed the advice of the medical staff and rest his ailment.

Richmond has been a bright spot in the wake of the plethora of injuries to the pitching staff, posting a 6-5 record with a respectable 3.69 ERA. He was due to start the 3rd game of the series in the Bronx Sunday, but will give way to rookie Brett Cecil. Lefty Brad Mills has been called up to fill the void left by Richmond.

It truly is a wonder how the Jays are above .500 midway through a season that has seen Marcum and McGowan not throw a single pitch, Jesse Litsch lost for the season, Roy Halladay and Ricky Romero head to the disabled list, Casey Janssen and Robert Ray nursing injuries, and now the latest, Richmond, going down.

Camp left in too long; Jays lose in extras

What a tough loss after an otherwise outstanding performance by Shawn Camp. When he came back out in the 12th inning after already hurling 2 solid frames against the Yankees (where he struck out 4 without giving up a hit) my initial thought was "uh oh", and it proved correct.

With the score tied at 5, Cito Gaston sent Camp out for a 3rd frame despite the fact he had Jason Frasor, B.J. Ryan, Brett Cecil and Dirk Hayhurst at his disposal. I'm sure he wanted to hold onto Frasor in case of a save situation, had zero confidence in Ryan, was reluctant to put in Cecil because he's a rookie, and didn't entertain Hayhurst because he's more of a mop up pitcher.

In this case though, Ryan should have come in with mostly all left handers batters due up (other than A-Rod) It's tough because Blow Jay Ryan is, well, Blow Jay Ryan. Still, Camp should've been lifted for the former closer. The decision proved costly, as Mark Teixeira doubled to lead off the inning and eventually scored the winning run.

I've heard some Jays fans previously lament Cito Gaston's use of the bullpen. Almost every time, I've backed up Cito for sticking with pitchers who may be struggling or perhaps thrown too many pitches. Hindsight is 20-20, however there may be some merit to that argument.

Halladay inconsistent since return from DL

No one can blame Roy Halladay for showing signs of rust since coming off the DL. But when he's unable to locate his pitches, labouring through innings and allowing home runs, it's a pretty jarring experience. We aren't accustomed to this from our ace.

Halladay gave up 5 runs in 7 innings against the Yankees, serving up 3 home runs (the most Doc has given up since early April of last season) The timing of two of those dingers was key also, as he gave up game tying round trippers in two of those instances. He left a few pitches up in the strike zone, and the Yankees made his pay for it. This coming from a guy who is 16-5 career against the pin stripes.

Coupled with his first start since returning from his groin strain against Tampa, the Jays ace has yielded 4 long balls while surrendering 7 runs in 13 innings.

Knowing Roy, he'll bounce back in his next start and toss a complete game shutout.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Wells likely moving down in batting order

Well, well, well. It looks like Vernon Wells might finally be paying for his despicable showing at the plate this year. Not really "paying" as such, considering he's in the midst of a 7 year/$126 million dollar contract. But with his inability to get it done at the dish, Cito Gaston is expected to push him down in the batting order.

Thursday against the Rays, Wells was given the day off by Gaston. Trying to kick start his stagnant offense, the Jays manager slotted Adam Lind into the three hole, a spot Wells has the incumbent, and likely will keep him there for the foreseeable future. Gaston hinted Wells will be dropped down to 5th in the order, if not further.

Earlier in June, Vernon toiled in an ugly 0 for 25 slump, setting a new career high (low?) without a home run in 160 at bats. The thinking was that V-Dub needed a change in focus, so he was moved him up in the order. That seemed to spark Vernon, if only for a 10 games where he hit at a .348 clip with 2 long balls and 8 RBI. That followed a brutal 13 game stretch where he limped to a .089 average with zero homers.

That productive stretch was more of an exception then the rule this season. The reverse slump was a periodic bout of being good. Since then, its been back to Vernon being Vernon. The Jays hand was forced. They have no choice but to do something about it.

It's about damn time.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Romero continues to surge

Ricky Romero is phenomenal. That much we already know. Who knows where the team would be without his presence. Without his sensational performance on Canada Day the Jays would have been punched in the gut by a hungry Rays team that seem destined to sweep the Blue Birds away.

Romero spun 8 scintillating innings, holding the Rays scoreless while striking out 7 batters. Most impressively, it was his ability to work his way out of tight jams that displayed maturity beyond his years. With the Jays clinging to a 2 run lead in the 7th inning Wednesday, he loaded the bases with just 1 man out. Instead of crumbling, the 24 year old induced an inning ending double play from Pat Burrell. Then, in the 8th, after Marco Scutaro's error put 2 men on board, Romero calmly got Willy Aybar to line out into yet another double play. The victory was Romero's 6th of the campaign.

Including his two previous starts, which saw Romero take a no-hitter into the 7th inning against the Phillies, he has now gone a remarkable 20 innings without surrendering a run. Even more astounding is his record in the past six contests. The 2005 6th overall pick has gone 4-1 with a minuscule 1.91 ERA, whiffing 40 batters in 42 1/3 innings.

He's good. Pretty...pretty...pretty good.