Monday, April 5, 2010

Meet Mr. Clutch, Vernon Wells

In an occurrence roughly as rare as one of my pickup lines actually working on a woman, Vernon Wells was clutch in the season opener against the Rangers today. Clutch meet Vernon. Vernon meet Clutch. In his very first at bat, the $126 million dollar man blasted a 2 run shot off Scott Feldman, finishing 3 for 4 with 3 runs batted in. Last year it took him a grand total of 7 games to reach that home run and RBI total.

The most important aspect of Vernon's fine performance was his clutch (has that word ever been mentioned in the same sentence with Vernon before?) hit during a tense tie ball game in the 8th inning. After falling behind by two strikes and facing a bases loaded situation with 1 out, it seemed a certainty Wells would strike out, pop out, ground into a double play, or any combination of a play resulting in him strolling back to the dugout. Yet he came through, driving in the go ahead run with a sharply hit base rap. Those are the kinds of hits he'll be judged on all year. Not the 2 run blasts he might rack up in the first inning, but the important run scoring plays late in contests.

I've said a few times to colleagues of mine, tongue firmly planted in cheek, that the biggest reason why Vernon Wells will do so well this year is because the Jays are expected to be out of contention by the end of May. As history has depicted to us several times, he starts to show up just in time for when the club is playing out the string in late summer baseball. However this year I believe it'll be different, as I wrote about last week. The main reason being because Wellsy is healthy heading into a campaign for the first time in years. Today's showing is an early indication of what might be in store for Vernon and the Jays offense this season. If Wells turns out to fall flat on his face, feel free to reference this post of mine. It's entirely possible. After all, Wells and Clutch just met today.

Frasor blows season opener

Shaun Marcum nearly pitched a no hitter on opening day. Then it was broken up. Then the Rangers tied it. Then Vernon Wells picked up Marcum by coming up clutch. So the Jays must have won right? Wrong. Jason Frasor blew the contest in the bottom of the ninth inning in his first game as the anointed closer. Oh boy, it's easy to see how this might end bad.

Let's not get an itchy trigger finger and panic just yet, however. It was, after all, against a great Texas ball club that I predicted would make the American League Championship Series. Plus it was only the first game of the season. Having said that, Frasor's grasp on the closer's job in Toronto is tenuous at best, given the fact the Jays brought in Kevin Gregg in the off season, and also have the reliable Scott Downs who can close out games. I'd be getting a little bit scared if I were him.

Frasor better watch his back because when B.J. Ryan blew a bunch of games the past few years he felt my stinging wrath in the form of the nickname "Blow Jay Ryan." So if Frasor bungles a few more save opportunities, perhaps I'll think of another lame pseudonym to use for him like Frivolous Frasor, or Feeble Frasor or Featherbrained Frasor. Featherbrained Frasor sounds about right. If that isn't enough motivation for Frasor, I don't know what is.

Marcum brushes with history on opening day

Shaun Marcum certainly knows how to make a pretty damn good impression. In his first regular season game in 565 days, he was absolutely lights out. This coming from a guy who was only one of three pitchers (Scott Erickson in 2002, Carl Pavano in '07) to make an opening day start after missing the entire season beforehand.

Marcum painted the canvas with perfect strokes, mixing speeds and using all sides of the plate without allowing a hit in the first 6.1 innings against the Rangers. The guy hadn't pitched a big league game in two seasons yet he was within 8 outs of recording just the second no hitter in franchise history. Marcum ran into a bit of trouble with one out in the 7th, walking Josh Hamilton before surrendering his first hit to Vlad Guerrero. With the Jays hanging on to a 3-0 edge, the lead was wiped out on one swing of the bat by Nelson Cruz. It appeared he barely connected when it left the bat, yet somehow Cruz managed to muscle the tying homer to right centre off of Marcum.

The 28 year old ace of the Jays staff was still in line for victory after Vernon Wells gave Toronto a one run lead in the 8th, but that went by the wayside following a brutal performance by Jason Frasor in the final frame. That's too bad, because it would've only been fitting that in his first start back Marcum would earn the victory.

My 2010 MLB predictions

Three seasons ago, prior to the MLB playoffs beginning, I correctly predicted the outcome of every single series en route to the Red Sox defeating the Rockies. The following year, I was Mr. Cocky heading into the post season and suffered a massive nosedive in my picks as the Phillies took care of the Tampa Bay Rays. So then for the '09 playoffs (playoffs???) I picked myself back up, and, like two years before was spot on for all predictions that culminated in the Yankees defeating the Phils for the World Series. What is my point? Don't trust me this year. If the trend continues, I'll have crashed and burned harder than Lindsay Lohan. But what the hell, here are my predictions for the upcoming 2010 baseball season.


1. New York
2. Tampa Bay*
3. Boston
4. Toronto
5. Baltimore

1. Chicago
2. Detroit
3. Minnesota
4. Kansas City
5. Cleveland

1. Texas
2. Los Angeles
3. Seattle
4. Oakland

*denotes wild card winner


1. Philadelphia
2. Atlanta*
3. Florida
4. New York
5. Washington

1. St. Louis
2. Cincinnati
3. Chicago
4. Milwaukee
5. Pittsburgh
6. Houston

1. Los Angeles
2. San Francisco
3. Colorado
4. Arizona
5. San Diego

*denotes Wild Card winner


1 New York def 3 Chicago
2 Texas def 4 Tampa Bay

1 New York def 2 Texas


1 Philadelphia def 3 St. Louis
2 Los Angeles def 4 Atlanta

2 Los Angeles def 1 Philadelphia


2 Los Angeles def 1 New York

What are your thoughts? Am I crazy? (on second thought don't answer that one) Who will win each division and ultimately the World Series? Have your say in the comments section!