Saturday, August 29, 2009

Scutaro exits game after being hit in head

Marco Scutaro's night came to an early end Friday in Boston after he took a Josh Beckett pitch off his helmet in the 4th inning, suffering a bruise on his head. The situation initially seemed more serious after the pitch sailed off his helmet, but he was able to walk off under his own power after being taken out of the game for precautionary measures.

Both Scutaro and Manager Cito Gaston believe the injury shouldn't be considered too serious, but both came short of declaring him fit to play in Saturday's contest. Should he miss time, the loss would be a big blow to a team that has relied on his bat at the top of the order and his glove in the infield.

Scutaro, in his first season as an every day player, has posted a .293 after with a career high 11 home runs, adding 55 RBI's while providing stellar defense at shortstop.

Richmond fails to hold onto Jays lead

Aaron Hill spotted Scott Richmond a 3 spot early in the ball game, blasting his 31st home run of the season, giving the Jays starter a 3 run cushion, but the Canadian failed to hold the lead. The lead evaporated in the 4th inning when Richmond coughed up 3 runs, and in the 5th, Richmond served up a game tying 2 run bomb to Jason Bay.

With Scott Richmond being one day shy of his 30th birthday, it's difficult to remember that he is in fact a rookie, just like fellow starters Ricky Romero, Brett Cecil and Marc Rzepczynski. In their case, they are afforded time to take their lumps to grow as a major league starter, and Richmond should have the same treatment. However, because he's considerably older than all of them and trying to prove he should be in the rotation next year, his margin for error is much thinner.

In his first full season, Richmond has fashioned a 6-7 record with a very respectable 4.32 ERA.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Downs solid upon return from DL

It has only been a small sampling of Scott Downs' work since his return from the disabled list, but the early indications are that the Jays closer has returned to his fine form the team has been accustomed to the past three seasons. In his two outings, Downs, who has worked the 8th inning on both occasions, has allowed no earned runs with two hits, a walk and a strike out.

The club has indicated they will gradually ease him back into his role as the Jays stopper instead of inserting him in the 9th inning role immediately. The 33 year old has been looking to shake off a rough stretch that saw his ERA balloon from 1.84 to 3.41 in a matter of six games last month. In those contests, Downs, still battling the effects of a toe injury suffered while running out of the batters box, allowed 7 earned runs in 5 frames, blowing two saves and picked up the loss three times.

With his stellar relief out of the bullpen the past couple of seasons, it's no wonder the team's relievers struggled in his absence this year. When healthy, Downs can be dominant, frustrating hitters with his good fastball and sharp breaking ball. Presuming he doesn't suffer another set back in his health, he'll have many more opportunities to close out games for the Blue Jays this season.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Halladay rocked in second straight outing

Roy Halladay has not looked himself in his past two trips to the hill. He has battled control issues, fashioning un-doc like performances that only be described as head scratching. Making matters worse, in his past 12 trips to the hill, the club has lost 9 of those contests, mostly due to lack of run support.

In his last two outings, both losses, Halladay has surrendered 11 earned runs along with 20 hits in just over 11 innings of work, representing his worst two start stretch in over two seasons. Excluding games that Roy left due to injury, The two consecutive starts were the first time he didn't last into the 7th inning in over two campaigns.

In a season marred by the drastic fall from atop the American League East, a stint on the disabled list and trade rumours regarding his future with the ball club, Halladay has put on a brave face, refusing to admit those were factors in any poor performances. However, the constant pressure paired with a team that is playing out the string certainly has affected the former CY Young winner.

Just don't expect this to last for any length of time. After all, he hasn't become the best at his craft bynot making adjustments so he'll bounce back, displaying his legendary focus and intensity that has made him the preeminent pitcher in baseball.

Ruiz stating case to be Jays DH next year

Randy Ruiz is seizing his opportunity to remain an every day major league baseball player. Since being recalled by the Blue Jays two weeks ago, the burly designated hitter has been a force in the middle of the batting order. Don't blame him for being nervous about his job security however.

The 31 year old Ruiz, a veteran of 11 major league organizations, is making just his second appearance in the big leagues after a cup of coffee with the Minnesota Twins last season. Manager Cito Gaston has made it very clear Ruiz is auditioning to be the Blue Jays designated hitter for the 2010 campaign. Ruiz, who is a backup first basemen, also plans to step up his effort to learn the nuances of playing the outfield to prove his versatility to the ball club.

He has performed wonderfully at the plate in his brief stint in Toronto, hitting .348, cranking 4 home runs, driving in 7 runs and recording at least one hit in 11 of the 12 games. This after raking in AAA Las Vegas, where he put up gaudy statistics; 25 home runs, 106 RBI's with a batting average of .320 in 114 contests.

If Ruiz continues to pile up the stats in the heart of the Jays order, he'll leave the organization no choice but to retain him next year, which would be a welcomed relief after being cut 12 times in his pro career.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Is Brian Tallet out of gas?

With the Blue Jays on course to shut down rookies Brett Cecil and Marc Rzepczynski in order to cap the amount of innings they’ve thrown this season, there is one pitcher that is curiously being forgotten in the discussion of hurlers that might be maxed out: Brian Tallet.

Tallet has started 19 games for the Blue Jays this season when his previous high in one campaign was 3. Tallet has thrown 65.2 more innings than at any other point in his major league career, and is showing signs of wear and tear. The 31 year old is expected to make a few more starts to replace Cecil and Rzepczynski, but is that a wise course of action?

While Tallet was never as good as his numbers suggested in his first 11 starts, where he allowed more than 3 runs just twice, he surely isn't as poor as his record would indicate as of late. In his last 9 outings, 3 of which were starts, he has struggled mightily, giving up 23 runs in 27.1 innings.

Despite the fact the lanky lefty was a starter in the minors, he hasn't been through the grueling stretch at the major league level. There has been no indication that the club is considering shutting down Tallet, like the others, but the question is, why?

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Wells producing late in the season

It would be easy to chalk up Vernon Wells recent success at the plate (at least relative to the rest of the season) as "Wells being Wells" given the fact that the Blue Jays are now out of playoff contention and that's when he usually heats up. Instead, let's just be happy that Wells has shown some sign of life and (like most years) hope he can carry it over into next season.

Wells came through with a clutch RBI double in the first inning Friday against the Angels, following that up with a solo home run in the 3rd, which proved to be the winning run. This month, V-Dub has cracked three home runs to go along with 12 RBI, one run driven in away from matching his highest output for any one month this season, which came way back in April. In his solid month of August, Wells has hit safely in every game but three, going 19 for 68 for a respectable .279 average.

It's easy to assume this type of month from Vernon is solely because Toronto is out of contention, like his 11 HR, 36 RBI output in the final two months last year, but let's just be content he's producing more like the hitter he should be. In fact, I'd be shocked at the end of the season if we didn't learn of hamstring problems, which kept him out of a good portion of spring training, weren't attributed to his slow start to the campaign.

Cecil's brain cramp indicative of Jays season

What were you thinking Brett Cecil? That gaffe might have been one of the funniest moments and also one of its most depressing of the season wrapped int one, poignantly signifying the Jays fall from contention.

Cecil dropped a ball from Rod Barajas, and failed to call time to request a new one before firing the baseball back into the dugout allowing Jason Bay to trot from first base into third, where he'd later score. The problem was the ball Cecil threw away was live, and afterwards he blamed himself for the blunder.

Cecil wasn't smiling about the rest of performance either. Making his first start after missing time with a knee injury, Cecil got rocked by the Red Sox, giving up six runs, four earned, including a pair of long balls to J.D. Drew over 4 and a third innings. The 23 year old picked up his first loss in two months, which also came against Boston. In that game, Cecil was lit up for a total of five home runs, four of which came in one inning. Of the 11 home runs allowed by Cecil, seven have come against Boston.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Romero can't solve Red Sox

Ricky Romero must wish the Boston Red Sox were playing in another division, or better yet, out of the American League all together. The Blue Jays rookie hurler is considered the leading candidate for the American League Rookie of the Year award, but if he doesn't win, he can squarely blame the Red Sox for causing him plenty of heartbreak.

This season, Romero has been pummelled by the Bosox in 3 starts, going 0-2 while giving up 14 earned runs in 12 innings for a bloated 10.50 ERA. Tuesday's start was no different, as Romero, who credits the Jays A.L. East rival for having extremely patient hitters, failed to make it through the 4th inning after surrendering 5 runs, marking the shortest outing of his career.

In 17 starts against teams other than Boston, Romero has fashioned an excellent 10-3 record with a solid 3.26 ERA. However, factoring in the starts against Beantown, those numbers jump to a still respectable 10-5 with a 3.95 ERA.

To his credit, the 24 year old Romero has said he won't let Boston get him down, and he will be prepared the next time for the stern challenge the Red Sox present.

Snider returns to Blue Jays with a bang

Travis Snider didn't waste any time creating a positive impression upon his return to the Blue Jays lineup. In his first at bat the 3rd inning, Snider blasted a Josh Beckett offering over the fence in left field for his first home run in the major leagues since he swatted two in the same game April 13th against Minnesota.

Snider finished the evening 2 for 3, putting together a solid effort upon hearing he will be the every day right fielder for the remainder of the campaign, regardless of whether righties or lefties are pitching. The 21 year old right fielder perhaps showed some rookie jitters in the 4th inning, taking a bad route to a Nick Green fly ball, committing a costly error that led to a run.

Snider admitted to putting too much pressure on himself in his first tour of duty with Toronto. After jumping out of the gates with 3 HR and 10 RBI in his first 14 games, he struggled mightily, hitting just .193 with 2 RBI in the following 18 contests. The Jays prized prospect didn't handle the demotion in May as well as he would've liked, but says he's much more mentally tougher and will be able to enjoy the game more now.

Snider's promotion comes at the expense of utility man Joe Inglett, who was sent down to AAA, clearing room for the young slugger. Over 48 games with AAA Las Vegas, Snider hit .337 with 14 home runs and 40 RBIs, most of which occurred after he returned from a back injury in July.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Janssen's error costs Jays

Casey Janssen had his first rough patch since he was summoned last week to the Jays bullpen from Las Vegas, picking up the loss in the series opener against Boston. After shutting down the Sox in the 7th inning, Jassen ran into trouble in the 8th, issuing a walk to David Ortiz and a single to Nick Green. Then, Janssen fielded a Alex Gonzalez sacrifice bunt, and in a hastened attempt to get him out at first, he threw the ball away, allowing a run to score. The 27 year old winded up being charged with 3 runs, 1 of them earned, resulting in his 4th loss of the campaign.

The organization has decided to make Janssen a fixture in the bullpen following the injury plagued last two seasons, and it's a role that he's best suited in. Janssen was lights out as the setup man for Toronto in 2007, picking up 24 holds and fashioning a 2.35 ERA.

Having Janssen back and healthy is a positive sign for a Jays club that lacks consistent members in the back end of the bullpen, and he figures to be a key part of the 'pen in the upcoming season.

Jays fail to sign 3 of their top 4 draft picks

The Toronto Blue Jays have been preaching "financial flexibility" in the wake of the departure of Alex Rios and Scott Rolen. However, it sure doesn't seem that they've done anything with the cash saved, as they failed to sign three of their top four draft picks from the recent draft, including a pair of Canadians.

After inking Chad Jenkins, their first round selection, it was presumed the dominoes would fall, allowing Canadian pitchers James Paxton (compensation pick) and Jake Eliopoulos (second round) to ink on the dotted line. However, they, in addition to third round pick Jake Barrett did get their name on a contract before the Monday deadline. Also interesting to note, of the nine Canadian born players selected by Toronto in the draft, only one (Tony Fernandez's son, a 34th round pick) signed with the Jays.

The big question in all of this, why didn't Toronto bring these prospects into the fold? Ricciardi has been preaching the ability to sign players with salary slashed, but this goes against that line of thinking. For a team rebuilding in the toughest division in baseball, a surplus of young talent is essential. The Jays don't lose their draft selections because they'll receive compensatory picks next year, but they lose what could have been the services of three high end picks in their system this season.

The inability to sign three big drafts picks marks another black hole for an organization that hasn't made the playoffs since 1993.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Zaun grand slam crushes League (and me)

Gregg Zaun coming off the bench to blast a grand slam off Brandon League? That might have been the absolute worst scenario possible to me, as a die hard League fan. My most despised Jay of all time destroying my favourite pitcher. Ouch.

League's well documented inconsistent stretches swung back around after having two great outings against New York. Working behind in counts in the 8th inning led to League loaded the bases. He nearly got out of the jam, that is, until Zaunbie smacked a pinch hit grand slam to crush the Jays. (and me)

The big blast was very reminiscent of last September, when Zaun, then a member of Toronto, smashed an extra innings grand slam to defeat Tampa Bay. This time, Zaun was in a Rays uniform doing the damage against his former club.

This is the absolute lowest point as an unabashed Brandon League fan. I must continue forward though. League still is a fine pitcher.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Inglett solid in return to Jays

Joe Inglett must have felt slighted after missing out on a roster spot with the Blue Jays coming out of spring training. After all, he posted excellent numbers last year filling in for an injured Aaron Hill, hitting .297 with 39 RBI and 45 runs in 109 games. Caught up in a numbers game, there was no room on the roster so Inglett was sent down to AAA Las Vegas, where he battled injuries. He received a much deserved promotion in May, but he had just come off the disabled list and struggled, hitting .167 in 15 games before promptly being sent back down to Vegas to work on his timing at the plate.

Inglett regained his swing upon his return to the minors, scorching the ball at a .398 clip, including an impressive .451 mark spanning 18 games in July. The Jays called Inglett back up, and in 8 games, he has 12 hits in 42 at bats for a .285 average, including a 7 game hitting streak. The 31 year old has started the past 4 games, once in left field and three in right following Alex Rios’ departure and has performed well.

The Jays would do well to have Inglett on the team next year, filling in a super sub role. He has the ability to play both the infield and the outfield giving the club a quality left handed bat off the bench while adding some speed on the base paths.

Overbay thriving in cleanup spot

After Scott Rolen was dealt at the trade deadline, the Blue Jays have been in search of someone to fill the void in the cleanup spot of the batting order. Lyle Overbay, who has battled wild inconsistent stretches at the plate all season long, has grasped the challenge and is producing in the heart of the order.

Overbay connected on a 2 run shot in the first inning in the series opener against the Rays Friday, giving Roy Halladay some early run support that aided Toronto's ace in picking up his 13th win of the campaign. In 9 contests that the Jays first basemen has hit 4th in the batting order, he has put up impressive statistics, going 12 for 29 (for a .413 average) to go along with 3 HR and 7 RBI.

Overbay could potentially be on the move before the waiver trade deadline ends August 31st. Should the Jays part ways with the 32 year old veteran, he would provide a decent left handed bat with some pop and a great ability to get on base, not to mention exceptional defense.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Jays overachieving with leaky batting order

With the Jays stumbling to yet another extra innings loss to the Yankees, it's remarkable that the team finds a way to be competitive in every game given the current state of the roster. Not only has there been five rookie starters that have made their major league debut this year (Ricky Romero, Brett Cecil, Brad Mills, Robert Ray, Marc Rzepczynski) which would be hard for any team to overcome, but the batting order leaves a lot to be desired also.

Take the series finale against the Yankees as an example. The last four hitters slotted in the lineup were Randy Ruiz, Edwin Encarnacion, Raul Chavez and Joe Inglett. Add the fact that Lyle Overbay is hitting cleanup and Kevin Millar and/or Jose Bautista appear in half the games, and it becomes crystal clear that this team is overachieving. That batting order is a mishmash of role and bench players, and is not even close to one of a contender, even though each of them have had their moments this year.

It appears as though the Jays are now taking steps toward rebuilding with the departures of B.J. Ryan, Scott Rolen and Alex Rios this season. The organization needs to be shaken up, because with this lineup day in and day out, there simply is no way they can compete with the titans of the American League East in a grueling 162 game schedule.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Chavez an unheralded star for Jays

Raul Chavez has quietly performed very admirably as the Blue Jays backup catcher since being recalled in April. While he won't fill the box score with incredible statistics, he has done the little things that are important to win baseball games. Case in point, his outstanding effort in the series finale against the Yankees.

The 36 year old Chavez went 2 for 4 with a pair of singles and a walk and provided stellar defense behind the plate. The veteran backstop came up with a clutch RBI single in the 6th inning to cut the Yankees lead to 1, made an incredible pick off of Ramiro Pena at first base to end the 7th, drew a walk in the 8th inning after a lengthy 10 pitch at bat to set the table for the Jays offense (they couldn't bring him in), and also singled to again get the Jays kick started in the 10th frame (again, they failed to score)

In 38 games this season, Chavez has thrown out 15 of 33 runners attempting to steal for a 45% clip, posting a respectable .281 batting average.

Jesse Carlson has a noodle arm

Jesse Carlson is a complete bum. I’m totally sick of this guy and his noodle arm serving up home runs in tense situations like he did Tuesday, giving up back to back homers in the 8th with the Jays up 1 run.

Just when he gives you a glimmer of hope that he might be finally putting it together (as was the case in game one of this series against the Yankees), he falters miserably, costing the team yet another win. The guy has given up 6 dingers this year, and has a pathetic 5.40 ERA.

As I’ve said many times when he’s brutalized another outing, it appears last year was an aberration; the league has him figured out. His breaking ball has no bite to it, and he leaves it up in the strike zone. When he's not putting it on a tee that way, he's chucking a fastball down the middle. But because the team is without a lefty specialist in the bullpen, he continues to stay with the club, making the most appearances of any Jays pitcher the past two years.

I'm sick of him though. He's a bum.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Ruiz homers in 1st game as Blue Jay

Those that were clamoring for Randy Ruiz to be called up by Toronto, your wish has been granted. Following the departure of Alex Rios to the White Sox, the Jays promoted the 31 year old veteran of 10 major league organizations. In his first game as a Jay, Ruiz, born in the Bronx and a former Yankees farmhand, made an impact, smashing a ball off the right field foul pole for his 2nd career big league home run, his first as a Jay.

It was incredibly uncanny how Ruiz and Rod Barajas look so similar in the batters box. Each time they both were hitting I had to do a double take thinking it was the Jays catcher each time. Ruiz, who was penciled in as the DH tonight, presumably will have an extended audition to see if he can finally stick at the major league level.

A career .304 hitter in the minors, Ruiz played 22 games last year for Minnesota and cracked 25 home runs this year, piling up 106 RBI's in 114 contests with AAA Las Vegas. Time will tell if he can finally put it all together in the bigs and contribute for a Blue Jays team in desperate need of more offense.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Rios jettisoned by Jays; heads to White Sox

After days of speculation, the Toronto Blue Jays have simply walked away from Alex Rios allowing him to be claimed on waivers by the Chicago White Sox. The Jays completely wash their hands of the underachieving Rios, not having to pay any of his $60 million in salary over the next 5 seasons.

It would have been nice to acquire a player or a prospect for Rios, but getting out from under the hefty deal proved too tempting for J.P. Ricciardi. Consider this quote from the Jays General Manager: "This allows us to get out from under a contract and do more to address our club"

This season, the 28 year old Rios hit .264 with 14 HR and 62 RBI. He represented the American League twice in the all-star game with his best season coming in 2007, where he smacked 24 HR and drove in 85 runs.

Presumably, the Jays will dip into the minor leagues to call up top prospect Travis Snider, who is hitting .487 with 5 HR and 16 RBI in his last 10 games, or purchase the contract of veterans David Dellucci, Buck Coats or Aaron Mathews.

A sudden twinge of compassion for Vernon Wells

Walking home from work a couple of days I got to thinking about the Blue Jays season, and suddenly I had a startling revelation. In fact, it was so downright shocking that I was convinced it would pass in a matter of seconds. Then, after that failed, I figured if I slept on it I would return to sense. The only problem is, it still hasn't happened.

I felt a twinge of compassion for Vernon Wells. Why? I don't know. I've ripped him for the better part of two years, so why the sudden change of heart? The guy was pathetic for much of the season, destroying our chances of competing for a playoff spot. I know I should despise him for this, but I'm failing to do so.

Is it simply because he has blasted 2 long flies and driven in 8 runs the past 5 games, including a couple CLUTCH (a word never previously associated with V-Dub) hits? But he still hits .189 with runners in scoring position and is only now picking up his play when we're long out of post season contention.

I can't explain this phenomenon, and also I'm unable to decipher why I don't feel the same way about Alex Rios. Maybe Wells has been beaten up so much that he is now entering full blown goat status. Knowing my history, I tend to latch onto that sort (see: Josh Towers, Russ Adams, Brandon League)

I want this feeling to go away, but I can't shake it. Save me! Why do I not hate Wells?

Halladay FINALLY receives run support in victory

It's about damn freaking time the Blue Jays scored some runs for Doc Halladay! With the team giving him little run support it's no wonder the guys wants to skip town. In his previous 8 trips to the hill, he received an average of a paltry 2.6 runs, which resulted in just 1 victory for the 2003 CY Young award winner.

Sunday, the Blue Birds bats were out in full force, smacking three dingers, piling up 7 runs to aid Halladay in his 12th win of the campaign. Despite the low run support and 4 losses in the recent span of bad luck, the Jays ace has logged at least 7 innings in every contest.

What is most impressive about Halladay is his professionalism in handling trade speculation and his desire to compete hard even though the Jays are long out of the post season contention. Did you see him get angry at himself for giving up runs early in the game? That's why I love and respect him so much; despite the fact the Jays are out of it, and he could be coasting while playing out the string, he is still as fired up as he was in early April when the team was winning ball games.

Whether we keep him for next season and beyond, or if he goes to another organization, the team he winds up on is going to be ecstatic how dedicated and competitive he is.

Should Overbay or Millar hit clean up?

When Scott Rolen was dealt at the trade deadline the Blue Jays have been in search of a cleanup hitter to fill the void left by the 14 year veteran, receiving mixed results from both Lyle Overbay and Kevin Millar.

The 37 year old Millar had struggled, posting just 1 hit in 7 at bats prior to his breakout performance Sunday, where he went 3 for 3 with a home run and 2 RBI. The quality game was a shocking surprise, considering his average has dipped from .350 on May 1st to .236, driving in just 17 runs during that span.

Meanwhile, Overbay, who has started in the cleanup spot in 5 of the 8 contests following the deal, has hit for a solid .357 clip (5 for 14), but has just 1 RBI to show for it. Overbay has been non existent offensively, driving in a measly 3 runs since June 23rd after racking up 18 RBI in the previous 17 games before his swoon.

This is why the Jays need to rebuild this organization. If we are even alternating between these two guys in the cleanup role, we obviously aren't a strong enough team in the ultra competitive American League East.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Cecil injures knee diving for ball

Brett Cecil has battled through a nagging knee injury dating back to spring training but he kept pitching through it until it got progressively worse Saturday against Baltimore. The 23 year old rookie kept battling through it, but he couldn't bare the pain after diving for a bunted ball in the 5th inning.

Attempting to retire Robert Andino by tossing the ball from his glove to Lyle Overbay, Cecil crashed to the turf, immediately fearing that the pain was too excruciating to continue. Cito Gaston came out quickly, and promptly removed the 5 game winner as a precautionary measure.

Cecil has surpassed his career high in innings pitched between AAA Las Vegas and Toronto with just under 120, and he was expected to be limited toward the end of the season. His knee, which will be evaluated Sunday, could land him on the disabled list where he'd join starters Shaun Marcum, Dustin McGowan, Jesse Litsch, Robert Ray and Brad Mills.

Prior to Saturday's tilt, Cecil had won 3 of his past 4 starts, giving up just 5 runs in 27 innings while striking out 24 batters.

Jays need to wear old uni's all the time!

Seeing the Blue Jays on Friday wearing their old school vintage white jerseys, easily the best uni's in franchise history makes you wonder, just why don't they wear them more often?

They finally introduced the powder blue jerseys as part of the flashback Friday promotion of a couple of years ago, and they are a good look, but come on, those phenomenal white jerseys conjure up such unbelievable memories. Those duds must become a fixture EVERY Friday! Or better yet, change the logo and colours of the ball club back to the ones from the glory years. Why the heck do the BLUE Jays have black in their jerseys anyways?

It's pretty obvious why the Jays haven't made the playoffs since 1993. All those logo changes and switching of jerseys have been ridiculous. They should've stuck with the sweet white look. Why did they mess with perfection?

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Mystery team makes waiver claim for Rios!

Unbelievably, some team has put in a waiver claim to acquire the rights of underachieving Alex Rios. Reports indicate an unknown team has attempted to claim the 2 time all-star, which would rid the Jays of the hefty 6 year, $64 million dollar extension signed last season.

The Jays have 72 hours to exorcise one of three options; they can attempt to work out a trade with the team that claimed him, keep the enigmatic right fielder or simply let him walk to whichever team is dumb enough to want his services.

Though no specific teams have been linked to Rios just yet, the San Francisco Giants were interested in Rios a couple of seasons ago (when Tim Lincecum was part of trade rumours), the White Sox have long been intrigued by the 28 year old, and the New York Mets are in desperate need of offensive help.

While it would be incredible to rid ourselves of this perpetually frustrating loafer and his fat contract, the Jays do not have much quality outfield depth that is major league ready should he leave. Travis Snider is the only obvious long term solution, though he should be left down in AAA Las Vegas to hone his craft and while 27 year old Buck Coats has put together a solid season in Vegas, he hardly represents a prospect for the long run with this franchise.

Having said that, this team needs to rebuild, and shipping Rios out with his apathetic attitude and long term deal would represent a solid step in the right direction for an organization that needs to cut ties with dead weight.

So basically, knowing J.P. Ricciardi, expect Rios to remain a Blue Jay.

Could the '92 & '93 teams still play better than the Jays now?

Watching the Back2Back reunion of the 1992 and 1993 Blue Jays World Series winning ball clubs tonight was phenomenal. Without a doubt, it certainly sent chills down my spine. To go back to a place, a time, seemingly now a fantasy land, where the Jays were great. Seeing past greats like Joe Carter, Roberto Alomar, Devon White and John Olerud under the same room at the Rogers Centre was sensational. Most of those guys didn't look they aged a year since they last played.

This Back2Back reunion organized by Joe Carter, among others, was an amazing idea. It's really quite incredible that it took the players from those World Series winning teams this long to put this together. It got me thinking, though, just how good could those players be now. With the '09 version of the Blue Birds now 15.5 games out of first place in the A.L. East, could they be much worse off if Jack Morris was our ace, Tom Henke closing out games, Kelly Gruber playing the hot corner and Candy Maldonado patrolling the outfield? Is there a chance, any chance, that those teams would be better than the current group of schmucks now?

Regardless of whether it's a stupid question (it is), It'd be much more fun and entertaining watching these legends of our franchise grind out a 162 game schedule rather than the pylons (Rios), bums (Wells), and tools (Carlson) that we going now. Would Juan Guzman still bring the heat? Could Devon White still make the catch against the wall like he did in the '92 World Series? And of course Joe Carter still has the ability to turn on an inside fastball and send it over the left field fence for a heroic victory.

To see this play out would be living in a fantasy land. Oh how '92 and '93 seems so far ago.

Brandon Beleaguered

Oh Brandon League, you are killing me! I have spent so much of this season risking my reputation by backing you up, proclaiming that you are a damn good pitcher despite the bouts of crapiness. And even against better judgment, I have displayed unquestioned loyalty even though you've blown countless games. Tonight was no exception.

League allowed a paltry three earned runs in just 0.2 innings of work. To be fair, without a couple of bad breaks there wouldn't have been a problem. With a runner on first, League uncorked a wild pitch, then League tried to get a glove on a Nolan Reimold chopper. He got a piece of it, but the ball deflecting away from Aaron Hill who would have had an easy play. Had there been no wild pitch, and League not knocked the ball away from Hill, it most certainly would have been an inning ending double play.

How ironic that on the night I was about to write about League's recent success (only 2 runs allowed in his past 14 outings, covering 15.1 innings), he puts up a stinker.

It's Brandon Beleaguered.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Will Hill or Lind hit more home runs?

Throughout the 2009 season, Aaron Hill and Adam Lind have provided a glimmer of hope that the Blue Jays will shed the label of being a moribund franchise following their two World Series titles in 1992 and 1993. They have both gone back and forth hitting balls out of parks across Major League Baseball, challenging each other for home run supremacy. Lind's long fly Wednesday against the Yankees gave him 23 on the year, while Hill, batting one slot ahead of him in the batting order, leads the club with 26 home runs.

Who will hit more home runs this year? Lind, the 2004 3rd round pick with the sweet stroke, or Hill, the 2003 1st rounder with the compact swing? The Jays 2nd baseman has been on a tear with 6 bombs in his past 13 contests while Lind has regained his home run stroke, blasting 3 in 6 games after just 1 in the previous 14 games.

Over the course of their careers, Hill has racked up 54 homers in 5 seasons, while the Jays designated hitter has 45 round trippers in 4 campaigns.

Roenicke rocked ruining Rzepczynski

That alliteration is really ridiculously rank (oops, there I go again), but Marc Rzepczynski deserved a much better fate tonight against the Yankees. The young rookie was in line for the win after 6 innings, but he was left in too long and the Yankees made him pay, handing "Zep" his 3rd loss.

The newest member of the bullpen, Josh Roenicke came into a tie ball game in the 7th with a runner on 2nd the normally reliable Rzepczynski's responsibility (i can't stop!) and promptly got rocked, surrendering 3 runs after issuing 3 singles and 2 walks. The hapless Jays were unable to recover from there, getting swept in 2 games to the American League leading New York Yankees.

It's easy to say "Cito left him in the game too long" after Rzepczynski looked great through 6, but gave up a home run and a double to lead off the 7th, but it was a tough decision on Gaston's part. Rzepczynski was well under 100 pitches heading into the 7th.

Regardless, Rzepczynski respectfully revealed remorse.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Bautista is so underwhelming

Jose Bautista simply so mediocre (at best) to garbage (mostly) that it's unbearable. When we acquired him from the Pirates last year, he was supposed to have some pop in his bat. But where is it? He has just 3 home runs this season after slugging 16 once, and 15 twice in the past three campaigns. I don't expect him to crack 30+ home runs (considering he's a pedestrian .239 career hitter), but would it kill him to do just something, anything! at the plate?

Last night against New York epitomizes his year with the Jays. He grounded out into a double play, and with two chances to tie the game in the 7th and 9th innings, he struck out and flew out to centre. It basically has come to the point where you just expect him to get out in a critical point of a game.

I know Bautista is a versatile player, and is pretty darn good in the outfield, but he offers little else. He's a good bench player, but that's what he should be. A BENCH PLAYER. Not a guy who should've played 68 games already this season.

The perfect word to describe Bautista is underwhelming.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Hill blasting toward A.L. home run crown

Coming into the season no one would have expected at the start of August that Aaron Hill had a great shot of amassing the most home runs in the American League. Coming off his concussion plagued 2008 campaign, simply having Hill in the lineup come August would have represented a small victory.

But the Blue Jays 2nd basemen has been sizzling all year the dish, shattering Roberto Alomar and his own franchise record for home runs in a season by a 2nd basemen (previously set at 17) The '03 first round pick has already cranked out 26 home runs, good for a tie for 2nd with Carlos Pena and Mark Teixeira, two behind Justin Morneau for the A.L. home run crown.

Since he started in his first all star game, Hill has been on a tear, blasting 6 home runs and 16 RBI in 15 contests. The scary thing is, Manager Cito Gaston believes Hill has only scratched the surface on his potential as a hitter.

This season hasn't been all doom and gloom. Hill has provided perhaps the greatest bright spot.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Snider & Dopirak continue to rip it up in Vegas

Travis Snider and Brian Dopirak, two Blue Jays prospects tearing it up with Toronto's AAA team in Las Vegas, have received considerable attention in these parts, particularly in the past week for their stellar play. They are showing no signs of letting up either, combining for 3 home runs, 6 RBI and 5 hits Sunday to lead the 51's to a massive 18-6 victory, their 7th in a row.

Snider and Dopirak, the 4-5 hitters in the heart of the 51's order, have been raking at the dish. Snider has cracked 4 HR and 16 RBI in his previous 8 contests, racking up 16 hits in 31 at bats (.516 average) while Dopirak has hit 5 HR and 12 RBI in his past 7 games, going 15 for 31 (.483 average)

This is the type of offensive production the Blue Jays could use! I hope to see both of them in September when rosters expand.

McDonald is a defensive genius

Did you see John McDonald's unbelievable dazzling defensive effort yesterday? The guy is simply amazing with the glove, and it's so exciting to know that he might see more action now that Scott Rolen has been traded.

With a man on 1st, McDonald stretched out to his left, snagged the baseball, tossed the ball with his glove and from his knees to Aaron Hill, starting an incredible inning ending double play. It was the kind of play that you find yourself simply saying WOW!

McDonald's sensational play made ESPN's #1 web gem of Sunday. It's hard to rate this majestic play high in McDonald's defensive plays of all time, because there are simply too many to choose from.
I love Johnny Mac.

Roenicke great in Blue Jays debut

It's an extremely small sampling, but the early look at the newest member of our bullpen is very promising. Josh Roenicke, considered the "lesser" of the two pitchers in the Scott Rolen deal (Zach Stewart, the former #2 prospect in the Reds system being the central piece in the trade), came in relief Sunday against the Athletics and looked very good.

Roenicke worked a scoreless 8th inning, allowing just one base runner, while striking out two batters. He threw fast, and mixed that in with a dirty slider. The hard throwing soon to be 27 year old (tomorrow) has a fantastic 2.51 ERA in 12 outings this season. He has stated his desire to be a closer at the major league level, and the Jays might experiment with that down the road particularly with incumbent closer Scott Downs injured, and also with only 1 year left on his contract.

Meanwhile, Stewart (4-1, 1.67 ERA in 3 minor league stops this season) hasn't yet pitched with the Jays AAA affiliate, the Las Vegas 51's.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Downs back to DL; Accardo returns to Jays

Well that didn't last long. 2 days Jeremy Accardo was sent down to AAA to make room for newly acquired Josh Roenicke, he has rejoined the ball club following the the foot injury suffered by Scott Downs.

On Saturday, Downs aggravated the left toe that caused him to miss 19 games the past two months, sending Downs back to the disabled list. The move means Accardo, who was miffed at being demoted on Friday, is now back in the fold with the ball club. He worked a scoreless ninth inning in the series finale against the A's.

Manager Cito Gaston admitted that Downs might have come back too quickly from his injury suffered while running out of the batter's box in Philadelphia. His numbers since being activated off the DL would certainly back that up, as the Jays closer struggled in his past six outings, blowing 2 saves, losing 3 contests while posting a 12.60 ERA.

Accardo, who hadn't reported to Las Vegas at the time of his demotion, should never have been sent down by the club, so it's a welcomed sight to see the former 30 game closer back with the team.

Cecil flashes brilliance in win over A's

Rookie Brett Cecil is continuing to make a name for himself around Major League Baseball in his first season in the bigs, serving notice that Ricky Romero isn't the only Jays rookie southpaw with supreme talent.

The former University of Maryland closer was so dominant, in fact, that he shut the door on the A's offense, retiring 15 batters in a row. He lasted all the way through 7 innings in picking up his 5th win of the campaign. In Saturday's game against the Athletics, Cecil responded like a season veteran after being tagged for four runs in the 2nd inning.

Having been given a 3 run lead in the Jays half of that inning, and then coughing it up, the 23 year old Cecil could have folded, gotten beaten around more, costing his team a chance at victory. However, Cecil dug deep and fashioned a brilliant performance for the remainder of the game.

He now has lasted 6 innings in 8 of his 12 starts in his maiden campaign in the major leagues.

Accardo not happy with demotion

If there was one loser in the trade of Scott Rolen to the Reds, it has to be hard luck Jeremy Accardo. After the Jays acquired the rights to right handed reliever Josh Roenicke in the deal, Accardo was optioned down to AAA Las Vegas to make room for the newest member of the bullpen.

Accardo was not impressed with the demotion either, nor should he be. He spent the first couple of months buried in AAA when inferior pitchers were called up to pitch for Toronto, and has been very solid in 16 outings, not allowing a run in 12 of those contests while posting a solid 2.87 ERA.

The 27 year old Accardo saved 30 games for the Jays in 2007, missing most of the '08 campaign with a forearm injury.

Halladay remains a Blue Jay after all

After weeks of speculation and rumours that Roy Halladay's career in Toronto would be over, the Blue Jays have decided to keep their ace in the fold for at least the remainder of this season with the intention of contending in 2010. For a while Halladay seemed all but destined to punch his ticket to another city, with J.P. Ricciardi fielding proposals for the 6 time all-star, but instead, he is staying with the only organization he's known.

On one hand, I'm extremely glad that J.P. Ricciardi didn't trade Halladay just for the sake of making a deal. Taking anything less than market value would have hampered a team that would surely be in the dumps with the loss of the 2003 CY Young Award winner. But on the contrary, trading arguably the best pitcher in baseball really would have netted a slew of prospects that could have aided this team down the road. And that is the distinction that continues to fail to be made. Are the Jays rebuilding with an eye to the future? Or are they contending for a title?

Ricciardi has indicated that because he wasn't "wowed" and "moved" by any offers, the team is keeping Halladay with the intention of contending in 2010. I don't believe Toronto has the personnel to be a factor late into the season next year, because it'll be mostly the same lineup coming back (Vernon Wells, Alex Rios and Lyle Overbay are all bums) Trading Doc is still a possibility in the off-season or at the trade deadline in 2010, because his value will still be sky high (he is, after all, the best pitcher in baseball)

Because Halladay is such a class act, it's really disappointing that the bulletproof Ricciardi managed to bungle his status through the media, further isolating the team's best player.

How is it that Ricciardi still has a job?

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Rolen traded; Encarnacion, prospects to Toronto

In what appeared to be a rather curious move by General Manager J.P. Ricciardi (because it now appears all system go toward contending again in 2010), 3rd basemen Scott Rolen has been shipped out of town to Cincinnati in exchange for 3rd baseman Edwin Encarnacion and two pitching prospects.

Rolen wanted to skip town for "personal reasons" related to the 34 wanting to be closer to home so Ricciardi appeased Rolen who was with the Jays for a season and a half. He was playing quite well this season, filling in as the cleanup hitter, putting up 8 homers and 43 RBI. Rolen's exceptional glove will be sorely missed in the Jays infield.

It'll be obvious how important defensively he is to the team because the 26 year old Encarnacion is terrible at fielding his position. His numbers at the plate this year are rather pedestrian (5 home runs, 16 RBI with a measly .209 average), but if he can stay healthy does have upside and some pop in his bat, having knocked out 26 homers last year.

The two pitching prospects coming back are Josh Roenicke and Zach Stewart. The 26 year old Roenicke bounced back and forth from the Reds to their AAA team in Louisville, posting a 2.70 ERA in 11 games with Cincy. The right hander has good numbers in 4 seasons in the Reds minor league system, going 12-4 with a 2.89 ERA. He'll be slotted into the Jays bullpen, and to make room the Blue Jays pen, the club has announced that RHP Jeremy Accardo has been sent back down to AAA Las Vegas.

The true blue chip prospect coming back is Stewart, selected in the 3rd round in 2008. In three levels of the Reds farm system this year, the 22 year old has gone 4-1 with a 1.67 ERA over 23 games, including 14 starts. He's got a plus fastball that tops out at around 96 MPH, and is expected to make a push for the Jays rotation in a couple of years, if not earlier.

Rolen will be missed, particularly his stellar play this season after an injury riddled 2008 campaign. Considering the fact he wanted out, the Jays have acquired a pretty decent package back for him. Ricciardi has stated that both pitchers were guys the team has been interested in acquiring before, and Encarnacion could prove to be a pretty good pickup that might ultimately be moved to the outfield to offset his poor defensive skills.