Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Umpire struck in head by bat; response crew slow to respond

In the 6th inning of the Rangers/Jays game on Tuesday, Hank Blalock's bat shattered, striking home plate umpire Kerwin Danley in the mask. He immediately fell in a heap to the ground, and remained there for 10 minutes. The scary situation led to both clubs exorcising caution immediately, calling for the response crew to help out the veteran umpire.

However, the lack of hussle on the part of the medics was particularly dissapointing. They took their sweet time gingerly walking to home plate to assist Danley. This could have been way more serious then it ended up being (Danley never lost consciousness and fortunately just suffered a mild concussion.) In some write ups after the game, it was reported the response crew hustled onto the field to help him out. That is simply not true, which was clearly evident to anyone who was at the ball park. What an absolute disgrace. Here's hoping the next time a potential life altering situation arises, the emergency team will act with a lot more urgency.

Rios & Wells fail to come through yet again

The most shocking thing about the Blue Jays torrid start to the 2009 campaign is that they're doing it with their top two hitters in Alex Rios and Vernon Wells playing garbage baseball.

In what is becoming a brutal trend 15 games into the season, Rios and Wells failed yet again Tuesday against Texas. Rios grounded out in the 9th with a runner in scoring position, displaying again why he's been terrible. At what point do the Jays send him a message and move him down in the order? The guy is barely keeping his average above .200! He is just killing the team. Perhaps it's time to elevate the red hot Lyle Overbay to the 3 hole and send Rios toppling down to the bottom of the order.

Vernon Wells is not immune from this discussion either. With a runner on 3rd and 2 outs in the 9th, he induced the final out with an easy fly out. Has there been a guy making as much money as Wells does ($126 million over 7 years) that inspires the least amount of confidence in MAJOR LEAGUE HISTORY? Consider this about V-Dub; With runners in scoring position this season, he's a pathetic 2 for 18. That equates to a ridiculously awful batting average of .111. He has just 5 RBI to show for it. That is totally horrendous. If only there was a way to trade him, but no one would be stupid enough to take him off the Jays hands at that salary.

For the record, Marco Scutaro this season has 6 RBI with runners in scoring position and a respectable .333 average. This from a guy who in his career has hit just .261. Lyle Overbay, slotted 7th in the order, has a gaudy .444 average, and 5 RBI with ducks on the pond.

Rios and Wells has combined for just 2 home runs and 13 RBI this year. That simply can't continue to happen from the heart of the order if the team is to secure its first postseason berth in 16 seasons.

Jays fall short to Rangers; Halladay loses first game

With their ace Roy Halladay on the hill, the Blue Jays had a chance to improve their record to 11-4. But their big guns were not able to pick up their undisputed leader, falling 5-4 to the Texas Rangers. Toronto squandered 4 chances with runners in scoring position in the final 2 innings to square the game up, losing the thrilling first game of a 3 game set against the Rangers.

Texas has had Halladay's number in his career, the loss dropping his overall record to 7-7 against the Rangers. Doc didn't have this best stuff, serving up 2 dingers (though he did strike out 9 batters), but the offense failed to lift their ace at the critical stages of the ball game. In the 8th, with the bases loaded, Rod Barajas sharply lined out to 3rd base, followed by a Travis Snider fly out. Aaron Hill doubled in the 9th, but the slumping Alex Rios grounded out, and Vernon Wells flied out to end the comeback bid.

The Jays will send David Purcey to the bump looking to even the series up on Wednesday.

Jays prospect watch: pitcher Brett Cecil

Another one of the young pitching prospects in the Blue Jays system is lefty Brett Cecil. Selected 38th overall of the 2007 draft, Cecil is expected to make the jump to the big leagues at some point later in this season, or as late as 2010, if all goes well.

The Jays have stretched out Cecil projecting him to be a starter at the major league level. The talented southpaw held closer duties for the University of Maryland when the Blue Jays nabbed him in the draft.

Cecil was in the running for a spot in Toronto's rotation to start the '09 campaign but was sent back to AAA to get some more innings under his belt. He hasn't thrown many innings as a starter in the minor leagues, as it was just two years ago he was closing games, not starting them.

In two starts with the Las Vegas 51's, Cecil has been lit up once, and had a so-so outing in the other. In his first start, he lasted 4 innings, allowing a pair of earned runs. However, in his most recent trip to the mound, Cecil struggled mightily, surrendering 6 runs on 7 hits in just 2.2 innings of work. Subsequently, his record is 0-1 with a nasty E.R.A. of 10.80.

Cecil should be given a look by the Blue Birds, particularly if more injuries strike to the starting rotation. At the very least, a September call-up is likely for Cecil.