Thursday, October 30, 2008

Fielding Bible as Worthless as Regular Bible

The Fielding Bible awards were announced today, and despite the Blue Jays being one of the best defensive teams in baseball, they were conspicuously absent from the list of winners. It's tough to argue most names on the list, but I'll place my homer blinders on and do it gladly.

A thing of beauty is a joy foreverAdrian Beltre and his +32 plus/minus was the third base winner, edging out Evan Longoria(!) according to Geoff Baker. Beltre's RZR wasn't nearly as good as local hero Scott Rolen, but he made an astounding 30 out of zone plays more than Rolen. Watching as many Mariners' games as I did, I observed Beltre charging weak ground balls and bunts nearly as well as Mt. Rolen, which is high praise as far as I'm concerned. Beltre was charged with 15 "errors", 5 throwing versus 10 fielding, similar to Rolen's 2 and 9 split. Numbers like that make sense for rangey guys, the type that will make an error on a ground ball most won't get to, but rarely throw the ball away.

In other words, it is hard to beef with Beltre. Longoria, however, I will contest. In almost identical innings to Rolen, Longroria got to fewer out of zone balls and made plays in his zone at a slightly lesser rate. Longroria started far more double plays, which I suspect is out of a third basemen's hands. Evan also made 4 more throwing errors, as I observed at 9:15 during Game 7 of the ALCS, likely attempting to throw across his body off one leg. A difficult play that perhaps 5 year veteran Evan Longoria chooses to eat rather than heave. The kid can play, but let's not play his rusty trombone quite yet.

The award for right field went to Ricky Guiterriez of the Cleveland Indians. Guiterriez displayed incredible range this season, getting to more out of zone balls than Alex Rios in fewer innings, all while making nearly 96% of the plays in his zone. Everybody loves Alex Rios, he of the (to paraphrase Jonathon Hale) incredibly long strides (range) to trump his bootybacked routes. One huge advantage for Rios is his arm. Over his career, Guiterriez has never shown to have anything but an average outfield arm, while Rios sports a rocketship powered by superlatives. Franky's arm has rated below league average at holding runners in place and creating outs on the basepaths. Were I to wager, I would assume Alex Rios slept with at least Bill James's daughters and wife. Minimum wife.

Unleash the Beast

Lyle Overbay's long under-appreciated defense continues to lack appreciation and pigment. Overbay had another excellent year defensively, but it still didn't compare to Albert Pujols. Pujols is a freak of nature with the work ethic of a desperate Cape Bretoner, yearning to be free. Most fielding metrics have a hard time with first base and the ambiguity of infield throws in the dirt, and I haven't seen enough of Pujols defensively to make a fair assessment beyond the advantage he has in most basic statistical categories. I will say Albert deserved the award out of fear of him crushing my skull in anger.

Most of the selections make all sorts of sense, though Chutely showed during the World Series that he's all man. Bill James and his apostles fine work is appreciated by novices like me, despite my attempts to split the finest hairs. Luxurious hairs that smell of sweet talking points and numerical intrigue.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Shot Heard 'Round My Loins

Congrats to the Phillies and, as I must add by decree in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Matt Stairs.

Oh, and Joe Maddon: When you pinch hit for Rocco AND leave your season up to Eric Hinske in the same inning, predictable things happen.

I'm sure it's the furthest thing from his mind, but Rocco is now a free agent. I will commence greasing the wheels of conjecture today and every day until he signs. OPEN ARMS SIR.

Picture stolen from teh Yahooz

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Globe and Fail

Of all people on this earth, I should be the last one to point out typos and oversights in our national newspaper. But if I don't do it, who will?

First we have this, from Robert MacLeod's piece on Philadelphia's championship drought.

I know Robert MacLeod knows Jimmy Rollins is a shortstop. You know Robert MacLeod knows Jimmy Rollins is a shortstop. Robert MacLeod knows that Robert MacLeod knows Jimmy Rollins is a shortstop. Then how did it make it to print and still sits uncorrected on the website?

The print edition of Blair's piece on Pat Gillick references the Seattle Mariners as the fourth place finisher in the American League Central. It has been corrected online, and Blair himself copped to the error in the comments section, but it's unsettling to see. Tight deadlines make baby Jesus cry, and good writers suffer.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Akinori "E"wamura

Six Gold Gloves in Japan doesn't mean shit when you're playing in the World Series. If you can't make plays when you're supposed to, you aren't going to win. It's just that simple.

It ends tonight.

Listen to Your Heart, Joe Maddon

You seem like a smart guy, and I'm sure you employ new fangled baseball stats on a daily basis. Today is one time to ignore all that bunkum.

Right FielderWPATeam Record in Playoff Starts
Gabe Gross-0.443-3
Ben Zobrist-0.020-3
Rocco Baldelli-0.044-1

Just do it Joe, you know it feels right. Your team has its back to the wall, facing the brink, is drowning in cliche. You have nothing to lose. You're getting less production out of right field than if you left it empty. Your team's won 3 outta 4 in Rocco's starts, almost in spite of him. But fuck that noise Joe, do what is right. NOTHING TO LOSE!

Except a fairweather fanbase waiting for the other shoe to drop.

It's just that simple Joe. He plays, you win. Everyone wins in the end. Everyone.


Joe Maddon knows what the fuck is up.

This post brought to you by the Murder City Devils and my wholly unsatisfying job.

Fancypants playoff WPA via Fangraphs.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Motivation in Tights

Boring Sunday, no real Jays news of late (if Adam Loewen plays another game at the Rogers Centre, I'll buy you a Coke Zero) and nothing coming down the pipe either. Ms Moseby and I head out to a local High Park breakfast spot, the kind of place staffed exclusively by Slavic-styled Ice Queens that populate this area known for Russian/Ukrainian/Assorted Eastern Bloc immigrants with angry blood and big hair.

Seated in my booth, enjoying bad coffee and hot sauce-infused eggs and hash browns, contemplating how I would go about filling this space during the coming dry season. I was briefly distracted by the petite, yoga pant-clad form of a young BoBo trophy wife. The bronzed flesh and platinum hair told me this wasn't the kind of woman usually found in this neighbourhood, the kind of woman that never misses a pilates class but doesn't understand why her kids have Filipino accents. She was older, and tanned in a way that Canadian winters couldn't sustain. Her grizzly bear husband rose, equally tanned under his professionally applied baseball hat.

Wait a damn second, that is no ordinary grizzly bear, that is ERNIE FUCKING WHITT! Awesome! Ernie Whitt keeps it real, staying in Toronto 4 months after being unceremoniously dumped by the Jays.

What should I have done? Should I have chased him down? Should I shatter the quiet, hungover serenity of a busy breakfast spot with a You the Man, Earn? Looking down at the delicious nitrate omelet in front of me, I chose to bury my head in the eggs, content in the knowledge that Ernie Whitt follows Borje Salming's lead and bigs up Bloor West.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Short Shrift for Shortstops

I want to play a game.

Which of my lies will you believe today?

Would you believe that I really need to be knocked over to improve on my barely league average, 33 year old utility man turned starting shortstop?

You know that can't be true, don't you? I've built up quite a cache of gritty dirtdogs here, but I can't get enough. Just like that little weasel said, I love collecting guys that remind me of myself. Minus the huge balls of course. Had I advanced past the bush leagues, I would have led the league in fuck yous while these raisin nutted-fruitcakes wait for the clock to strike twelve on the fetid pumpkin that is their career.

I don't care what you limp-dicked pencil pushers say, I've got plenty of quality kids in the pipeline. J-Jack? He's going to grab Efron-level ass all his way to the show. I drafted that shit. I built this team with my bare fucking hands. You see how many games we won this year? You see our run differential? I built a winner, baby. And my starting shortstop with an OPS+ of 87 coming off a defensive career year is my key to victory.

I know that guys with high ceilings, slightly off-putting yet completely manageable contracts and deceiving names are out there on the market. I know that renting a positional upgrade until the one true prospect I have meanders to the big leagues won't really improve my team. But that isn't why I refuse to make the move Suzy.

I've been here long enough, I moved all these into place pawns. If I give one up, I'm admitting defeat, I'm admitting that I failed. We all know I sure as shit don't do that. I don't have the privilege of hindsight, I get to decide which way the wind is blowing before I make up my mind. I could figure it out in a second, let me pull down my pants, I bet your wife's spit is still fresh.

When I crow about the flexibility of my sundry journeymen, you think I'm talking about multi-positional talent? It's straight cash, homey.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Darkness Warshed Over the Dude

If you are reading this, it means some of our technical problems have been sorted out. Hopefully. We'll have it all figured out in no time.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

100 Miles and Ghostrunnin' - Reviews You Can't Use

Before I begin, I must establish a few things I hope will differentiate this review from normal, useful video game reviews. If you want scores and grades, read IGN's effective review. In the true Ghostrunner style, I've opted for a more experiential, nebulous, navel-gazey, pointless, and uninformative approach.

That said, bear these two factors in mind:
  1. I am incredibly biased. Video games, especially those updated and released annually, do not exist in a vacuum. Each game must immediately be compared to the one preceding it, and games released by different publishers are produced with the competition in mind.

    Why do I mention this? Because I love MVP Baseball 05 more than life itself. While it only ranked fourth in The Reverend's early polling, I've played the MVP series more than any non-Goldeneye game ever released. I love everything about MVP 05, and while EA's licensing comeuppance was long overdue, it broke my heart. Every baseball game I play will be immediately compared to the game I know and love so much.

  2. I am stubborn yet impulsive. One of the first things I did with my XBOX Live account was download and play the demo for MLK 2K8. Which I hated. Without any real instruction, I was thrown into a new game without any prior knowledge of the control style. Being new to XBOX only made this worse. But as fall became more and more of a reality, I was already fearful of a winter without baseball. The game's low sticker price ($29.99 new) combined with my ever-smoldering yet nearly empty pockets won out over my inner belief that this game sucked. This would also explain why I'm reviewing a game 6 months after it was released.

Early Impressions

First things first, skinny jeaned try-hards from Pitchfork helped select the tracklist, so an early blast of The baseball-crazy Hold Steady is a pleasing development. More cocaine-addled mustache punk follows, including the nauseatingly twee Pete Bjorn & John. I'm a sucker for some Craig Finn, and The Cool Kids are awesome, so it's not a total loss.

The somewhat cluttered menu screen lets you select your game mode. Life consuming franchise mode to home run derby and everything in between. Everything except practice mode, which is both a shame and an oversight.

Getting the gimmicky swing stick down pat can be difficult, especially when you realize the batter's eye feature from the MVP series is painfully absent. Perhaps the batter's eye (brief colour-coding to assist in picking up pitch types) is gimmicky and unrealistic in it's own right, but trying to differentiate between a slow curve and high heat makes timing your swings even more difficult. The home run derby feature is cartoonish and in no way replicates the in-game hitting experience. You cannot practice pitching in any capacity.

In-Game Thoughts

I'm not completely resistant to change, so I will praise the Total Pitch Control. It's a decent wrinkle that keeps you honest on the mound. The instant feedback that retraces your actual path with the right stick aids in learning on the go. Another MVP feature I desperately miss is tracking each pitch thrown in each at bat. Not the broadcast-style red and blue streamers, but a one-button screen that shows what and where I threw in each batter's previous at bats.

A lot of time and effort went into recreating individual batter's stances and ticks. As cool as it might be to watch Vernon Wells kick the bat as he walks back to the box after a swinging strike, I wish more time was devoted to making the gameplay better.

Considering the regularity of Total Pitch Controlled meatballs that go for home runs, you'd think more time would go into the look and execution of the cut scenes and animations.

J.D. Drew isn't the type to show human emotion on the field, so when he goes into a long, showboaty bat-flip-and-saunter-to-first, it rings hollow. Especially after hitting a monstrous opposite field shot, which seems to happen a lot. Lots of opposite field power from guys not known for opposite field power. I must assume it was a long home run, as the camera stays tight to the fence and first three rows no matter how high up the ball lands. The inability to track these frequent blasts really takes away from the experience.

Looks Good.  Who Cares?
I realize that fielding is hardly the most glamorous part of a baseball video game. I know a few hardcore gamer dudes that set the fielding to automatic as they have no desire to play defense. If you've ever read this space before, you know that I'm all defense all the time. If only Take Two had focus grouped me instead of my homer-happy friends. The fielding looks and plays like chunky soup. It just isn't fun. Perhaps I could have spent more time customizing the camera positioning, but that won't change the herky-jerky nature of playing the field. The inability to throw directly to a neutrally positioned cutoff man is a pain I could do without. Let the shortstop make an informed decision with his relay throw.

Parting Shots

There are quite a few things to like about this game. Sadly, playing it isn't one of them. It looks good (but what next-gen game doesn't?) and the franchise mode is deep and engrossing, despite my inability to pry Rocco away from the Rays for a bag of balls. I love the inclusion of Win Probability charts and individual WPA's for each player after each game.

I'm a sucker for achievements (fingers crossed for my Hayabusa Sword) but the player card system seems weird. If you do something a player is known for, hit a double with Lyle Overbay for example, you are rewarded with his card. You can then go online and trade with some kid that will almost certainly call you a fag before the bottom of the first inning. Some of the rewards are understandable but silly. Make a sliding catch with Vernon Wells and you get his card. He's a Gold Glove winner, so it makes sense but I can think of very, very few sliding catches he's actually made. They should be more realistic, like the Alex Rios GIDP card or the Gregg Zaun 0 for June card.

In the end, this game does a good job of mirroring a baseball broadcast more than a baseball game. Some of the features are nice to have but if the game doesn't play well, what is the point? I forced myself to buy it but I can't force myself to play it. Looks like I'll be listening to ElectroChoc radio in the streets of Liberty City until Left 4 Dead is released.

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Most Morally Satisfying Victory of All

It could kill my blogger persona, but I don't really hate the Red Sox. I really, really hate the right side of their infield and their closer, that much is true. But to say I "hate" the Sox would be inaccurate.

Call me the victim of 6 years of Simmons reprogramming, wall-to-wall TV coverage, and a roster full of characters like Manny and Papi, but I only dislike them as much as being a Jays fan demands of me.

I feel similarly about the Rays. Carlos Pena is awesome and apparently a good dude. Longoria - awesome. Upton - awesome. Both these teams are tough to hate. I didn't really care who won the ALCS. I'm happy it's a team I've deemed legitimate, not a so-called shitty team like Angels or Twins. Matt Garza's ALCS MVP win somehow validates the Blue Jays struggles against him all year long. The Jays finished behind the two best teams in the American League this year, I'm at peace with their fourth place finish.

That kind of validation feels okay, but knowing that Rocco's going to the World Series, that is pretty awesome. He even made a contribution tonight! He may not play every night, but he's there and I have something to cheer for during the World Series. Not quite a horse in the race; more like the jockey and I are friends because I let him sleep under my deck when he's drunk.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Deja Vu

I was close to turning off the T.V. last night after a B.J. Upton double slammed off the Green Monster, giving the Rays pa 7-0 lead an effectively sealing the fate of the Red Sox for 2008. However, I chose to watch as I thought I'd be cool to watch the Rays celebrate. I completely forgot that you just can't count the Sox out in October.

David Ortiz actually decided to show up for the first time in the post-season, connecting for a huge three-run shot off of Grant "I throw only fastballs that I can't locate" Balfour and J.D. Drew ended it with a walk off RBI single in the bottom of the ninth.

It's starting to look eerily similar to last year when the Red Sox came back from a 3-1 deficit against the Indians, though that might be getting ahead of ourselves.

I'll tell you this much. If the Red Sox somehow manage to win Game 6 we'll have a Philly - Red Sox final. October baseball is awesome.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Ghostrunners Reflect

In the name of tying the whole season together, I posed questions to the other GROFmen, asking for their impressions of the Jays season. My probing interrogation of their innermost thoughts went as follows:
  • Personal highlight of 2008?
  • Biggest letdown of 2008?
  • JP stays - yay or nay?
  • Enduring image of 2008?
These emails bounced around before Paul Beeston was announced as interim President, so let's bare that in mind totally disregard that non-factor in JP's return.

Personal Highlight

Popcorn, Peanuts, PateJesse Barfield of Broken Dreams - My personal highlight is indeed personal, which is to say of no conceivable interest to anyone but your boy Jesse BoBD himself, and it came late in the season, on Sunday, August 24, at gate 14, at the northwestern corner of Rogers Centre. My companion for the afternoon, something of a high-cuisine dilettante and in any case possessed of a burning scorn w/r/t to in-game concession prices, had brought with her an ACE French baguette and a small selection of canned pate terrines (rabbit, salmon, wild boar etc.) and assured me -- with a casual confidence akin to that of one who does not merely hope bit rather EXPECTS that the philandering, midnight-oil-burning traffic cop will tear up the speeding ticket in favour of a lascivious warning -- assured me that recently amended stadium policy would see those tin-bound continental treats pass through compulsory security pat-downs without major incident or even so much as polite inquiry. To Jesse's calculatedly downplayed astonishment, the old girl was right. And so it was that, not 10 minutes later, I was dipping crusty white bread into cans of compressed fatty game meats, on the first-base-line side of the 500 level. You might roll your eyes at such an uptown affectation as our self-consciously ironic snacking, but you weren't there to try the rabbit. Liberte, egalite, fraternite.

The Reverend - The play of several newcomers that made the future seem just a bit brighter. Namely, Adam Lind, Joe Inglett, Travis Snider and Jesse Carlson. These newcomers impressed me and gave me some hope that we may not be as far off as some people think. The other highlight was Opening Day. Seeing the Jays play the Sox in front of a packed house made it feel like 1992 or '93 again (save the dumbasses fighting in the 500 level). That combined with Lloyd's complete lack of regard for the legal alcohol limit made for a pretty funny evening.

Lloyd the Barber - Aside from Rocco's glorious return, my personal highlight of 2008 was the boundless excellence of Harry LeRoy Halladay. The return of his strikeout prowess only sealed my belief that he is the greatest Blue Jay. Beating the Yankees five times, completing games and pitching shutouts. Here's hoping he remains a Blue Jay now and forever.

Biggest Letdown

Jesse BOBD - In light of what I've said above, I'm tempted to go with off-brand honky Jed Lowrie's sending of Brandon League's Brandon-League-in-2007-esque offering into the right field bullpen in the 11th inning of that same 8/24/08 game. I'm going to switch it up, though, and say that I was legitimately let down that Cito, Leyva and Tenace couldn't 1989 it and get this team in, or at least objectively close to, the playoffs. I part company with my esteemed Lloyd on a few issues, and one of them is the amount of credit due to Cito et al for the team's second half. I categorically refuse at this juncture to back up what I'm saying with anything empirical, inspired, out-of-the-box, or even lucid. I love a man, and he happens to manage the team we write about. My resignation will be on the blogosphere prefect's desk Monday morning. (emphasis mine)

The Reverend - The Jays complete and total inability to put runs up for the majority of the season, letting down their incredible staff. That's enough was poor. The other letdown were again all the injuries to key players: Dustin McGowan, Shaun Marcum, Vernon Wells, Scott Rolen, Aaron Hill, Shannon Stewart, BJ Ryan and Jeremy Accardo to name a few. If they could have stayed just a bit healthier this season could have ended much differently.

Lloyd - The biggest letdown of the season was watching David Eckstein gleefully skip towards the left side of the infield. An offseason mistake that was only compounded by his spot on the bench; a late admission that he was wasn't the answer to a question nobody asked.

The Fate of the Boss

Jesse - Oh hell yes. For the sake of my favourite running GROF gag, let this continue to be JP's team for millenia to come. JP's head, floating in a jar full of whatever preservative/cryonic fluid is supposed to be in such jars on Futurama, being interviewed by sideline-reporting femborgs on the eve of the SpaceJays 4009 campaign -- and Lloyd the Barber LXXIX is lurking in the wings so that he might pitch-perfectly lampoon it the next day.

The Rev - JP has made some moves that could be seen as bad, but after some thought some becomes almost none. He's made some moves that appeared to be great at the outset, but proved poor because of either the play of the player or an injury. I don't think he can necessarily be blamed for everything that's gone wrong over the past seven years. He's had 7 years without really sniffing the post-season. No longer can we tell fans, "well we playin the AL East and are competing with the Sox and Yankees every year." (See the Tampa Bay Rays) I think it's maybe time to give someone else a shot at getting us to the next level. I'm not sure it's the right move, I just don't think it's a bad one either.

Lloyd Riccardi - What would the alternative be? What could the alternative do? What moves could be rationally second guessed with better choices to support? What would Pat Gillick do? His team is in the World Series yes, but the ENTIRE CORE OF THE TEAM was already in place. His contribution? Greg Dobbs, Matt Stairs, Brad Lidge. One impact player, one guy in right place at right time, one role guy. That team was good before, just like this one is good now. If anything, try and get Ed Wade on the phone.

Enduring Image of 2008?

Jesse Barfield - For better or worse, it's Scott Downs lying prone on the Fenway Park grass after eating shit in the heat of lunging towards that triflin' little dribbler. Yes, denizens of the internet peanut-gallery cognoscenti, you're correct to mention that we were never in the pennant race. But you're wrong to go on to tell me that, ipso facto, the Downs pratfall didn't matter. Hogwash. Look -- we were never in it; we are never in it. The most we can hope for is to be strung along as late into September as Euclidean arithmetic allows; and all that pudgy, reliable southpaw had to do to extend the lie for one more at-bat was get to Ellsbury's girl hit and make the out. You want to crush my dreams, as Aaron Boone did to many a Sully on that crisp autumn eve five years ago, with a towering extra-inning shot to left? Be my guest. Don't do it with softball shit. Just don't. I can't handle it.

The Rev - The Jays hitting into a double play after the lead-off man gets on.

LtB - Scott Rolen making another ridiculous scoop-and-throw on the run, getting the runner by a good three steps while grimacing in the kind of agony that says "I hope my kids don't see me like this."

Silent Contributor El Leal's personal highlight of the year was the text message I sent him while sprinting down Blue Jays Way at 7:04PM on Opening Day: "So I'm shitfaced."Here's to happy returns in 2009! Free Manny!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Just because I'm back

The first time I was in Vegas with the Mrs., I didn't pay much attention to the sportsbooks, nor did I consider placing a wager on an upcoming sporting event. Having just returned from a trainwreck weekend in Sin City I've realized that the entire fucking city revolves around betting on and handicapping every sport imaginable. It's absolute fucking insanity. Before the Rays, Red Sox game on Saturday it looked like you have a hard time moving in the sportsbook at the Wynn and every single television (close to a thousand I'd estimate) were fixed on the pregame show. The usual collection of college & NFL football lunatics in combination with the MLB playoffs have the town absolutely overrun by degenerate sports gamblers looking to strike it big, hopefully before losing their next mortgage payment.

Whilst on my excursion I did catch much a great deal of playoff baseball. I realized something finally while watching the Rays rip the Red Sox at Fenway Park: the Rays are fucking good. They're not only good; they're playing like champions. I'll be the first to admit I never saw it coming, even when the signs were there that they just might be for real, I still didn't believe it. I guess all it took was a 3-1 series lead in the ALCS before I finally did. Better late than never I suppose, but well done Tampa Bay. Seems the Dodgers, Red Sox series everyone from hoping for is going up in smoke in favour of the ratings bonanza of Philadelphia and Tampa Bay. I could care less as it's still baseball and the two deserving teams will be playing.

In other news, the victorious Conservatives gained a larger minority government last night in the most pathetic election ever held in Canada. It's great to see that 58% of registered scumbags got off their sorry asses and got out to cast a ballot. I can't wait until the next election, which won't be more than 6-12 months away.

Advice - Drinking your way though a seventeen hour session of NL Texas Hold'em may seem like a good idea when you've got basically every chip from every person that made the mistake of sitting down at your table, but you fucking pay for it the next day...and day after that.

Some News You Can't Use

I'm getting sadder and sadder. I can literally count the number of baseball games remaining this season. Short of some dramatic comebacks, the World Series will start post haste. SEGUE ALERT!!! Speaking of comebacks, my boy David Chalk asked me to do a guest post about Rocco Baldelli over at Bugs & Cranks. I always appreciate the opportunity to fight the good fight, and I'm pretty proud of my little piece. Join the conversation with the commenters that simply don't get it, believing Mike Mussina to be the comeback player of the year because he sucked last year and didn't suck as much this year.

Thanks to friends in high places, you can officially find Ghostrunner on First at! The wonders of technology. That URL will bounce you back here to our lowly blogger home, but that may just change if Google continues to monitor, catalog and index my every thought.

The Ghostrunner season in review will be up tomorrow and some baseball related reviews will be on their way in the coming days as well. Just because the season's over doesn't mean I hate my job any less. I'm always on the lookout for something that isn't what I'm supposed to be doing. Send your hate to or and we all benefit.

There is no exciting Blue Jays news. Paul Beeston named president? Not exciting. Unless, as Jeff Blair suggests, it is some major powerplay to create an entertainment monopoly to rule this city with an iron fist. At which point I will be excited until the awful synergy forces me to gag on bush league soccer, forgotten Canadian football, and wacky folks pitching cellphone plan overload. These economic times spell the end of publicly funded ballparks, and thank fucking god for that. A new park is a nice pipe dream, but the Dome suits me just fine. So, bully for you interim president Paul Beeston. I still don't fucking care.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Celebrate the Second Round of the Jayoffs!

Thanks to extended commercial breaks, hilariously high pitch counts and high-class handbagging, the superlong playoff games give me time to think about random crap. There are a good number of former Jays in action for all the active teams (and a few golfers too). As I've been going on and on about the actual quality of this year's Blue Jays club, I'm left to wonder how many currently active ex-Blue Jays would actually have a job with the 2008 Blue Jays.

Catman is more employable than HinskeI will make a slight adjustment to say the second half, mid-winning streak Toronto Blue Jays. Here is the Jays lineup that beat Matt Garza 1-0 on September 7th:
  1. J Inglett 2B
  2. M Scutaro SS
  3. A Rios DH
  4. V Wells CF
  5. A Lind LF
  6. L Overbay 1B
  7. R Barajas C
  8. S Rolen 3B
  9. T Snider RF
Obviously Alex Rios superlative defense will keep him from DHing too often in his career, but this is more or less the 2008 Blue Jays and/or the 2009 Blue Jays everyday lineup; barring an unforeseen Adam Lind trade.

Let's start with the Dodgers. Two former Blue Jays bit-players reside on their playoff roster: Jeff Kent & Casey Blake. Jeff Kent played 62 games for the Jays 16 years ago and had some memorable seasons hitting behind Barry Bonds. In 2008, his 91 OPS+ was good enough for him to lose his job to young Blake DeWitt, though he's gotten into nearly every game. Is he an improvement over Joe Inglett? Definitely not. Inglett's OPS+ was slightly above league average, plus he provides slightly better defense (.825 RZR to Kent's .820) and a valuable left handed bat. Would Jeff Kent start for the Blue Jays? Hells no! He's old and racist and agonizingly slow, too.

Casey Blake played a grand total of 14 games as a Blue Jay. After some big seasons with the Indians he was dealt to the Dodgers, for whom he provided adequate offense & defense. Would he start over Scott Rolen in this or any universe? No chance, though Rolen could sport a Hot Water Casey beard and that would be okay.

The Phillies have a few ex-Jays due a prospective playoff share. Obviously Matt Stairs wouldn't have a job on the 2008 Jays, but Jayson Werth just might. After famously netting bullpen stopper and sunflower seed sweeper extraordinaire Jason Frasor in a trade with the Dodgers, Werth played full time this year for the first time in his career. He knocked 24 dingers, which only translated to 119 OPS+ in that little bandbox. Adam Lind's season got a little messy towards the end, though he is a 25 year old up-and-comer, not a 29 year old career platoon guy. If Werth were kicking around as the Jays made their "run" in September, he's the kind of guy that Cito would count on. Both Lind (and Snider) have youth and left handedness on their side, so sorry Jayson, you and your superfluous Y's can beat it. No work today, Irish.

Chewie is a LOOGY tooScott Eyre, like the Rays Trevor Miller, is a serviceable former Jay LOOGY with lots of big league experience. Eyre, somehow, received a MVP vote in 2005 for his Scott Downsy role with the Giants. REALLY? MVP? OF THE WHOLE LEAGUE? Jesus Christ, what the fuck is that buddy buddy writer thinking? I understand these guys are unheralded and valuable, but 60+ innings does not make you one of the most valuable players in the league. Ugh. Both these guys are pretty good but not fit to lick Scott Downs' taint. Dude's had an ERA+ over 200 for two straight years. Scott Eyre's career, MVP-type season was negligibly better than Brian Tallet's 2008 which people loudly complained about. Guess what Scott & Trevor, yous ain't got no job with uzzz.

The Rays feature a few prominent ex-Jays, none more notable than Shitske himself. OOPS, Eric didn't make the post-season roster. He's watching these games with the hired goon in a blue windshirt. They'll always need comic relief I suppose. Shitske played himself into a contract with 20 home runs for the minimum this year, and he would have been a certain upgrade over Mencherson. Eric was downright shitty for the second half of the season, just in time for Adam Lind to steal his job given the chance. You out of luck Eric, congrats on the solid first half.

Everything that applies to Hinske applies to Gabe "Buck Coats" Gross, minus the invective. Gross is an excellent outfielder who had a highly average season, but wouldn't play over Lind, Snider or Buck FUCKING Coats given the chance.

Kevin Cash is the lone ex-Jay on the stacked Sox. He's a solid defensive catcher that can't hit a lick, as JP & I noted in August. Would he play over the Jays catching hydra of mediocrity? Or Arenciba of the Future? Not likely.

Let us not for forget former Jays that are already on the course. Anally Splintered Reed Johnson, somewhat shitty Dave Bush, and another former Jay that didn't make the post season roster Justin Speier. All in all, a crappy collection of scrubs not fit to sniff the fourth-place jocks of the mighty Jays.

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Moral Victories Keep Rolling in

Anyone with a brain knows that dismissing the Jays as a "fourth place team" is dumber a concussed Hills castmember. It is so dumb in fact, that the good people at Baseball Prospectus are currently using the 2008 Blue Jays a measuring stick. The Best-Worst team in the divisional age! World famous Joe Sheehan had this to say about the 2008 Jays when another BP writer suggested the Jays were perhaps the best 4th place team in the Wild Card age:
The "perhaps" is unnecessary. The Jays had an amazing pitching-and-defense team this season. I might go so far as to say they were the strongest fourth-place team in the divisional era.
The article is behind the paywall, but I got peoples on the inside. Author Steven Goldman mentions the Jays third-order wins were good enough to rank fourth in all of baseball; despite early season gaffes named Shannon Stewart, Frank Thomas and Syracuse Chief Adam Lind. The article then compares the Jays position by position to the 1984 Pittsburgh Pirates that finished sixth in the old NL East (back when the Braves played in the West) with a 75-87 record. The teams were similar with strong pitching and defense offset by poor-to-average offense, and the '84 Pirates missed their Pythagorean projection by 12 wins! I should stop complaining about the Jays misfortunes.

After the positional comparison, the Jays come out on top at nearly every position outside of the rotation by number. So this Jays team moves on to face fortunes other red-headed step children, the excellent teams with poor results. Potential other best-worst teams include the 1969 Cardinals (Bob Gibson & Steve Carlton!), the 1971 Mets and the 1982 Tigers. (Note: 1982 in the American League was insane. The Jays finished tied for last with 78 wins! Parity indeed.) Hell, they could compare the 2008 Jays to the fourth place with 89 wins Blue Jays of 1983. Now that is an exercise in futility!

Straight Shillin

It's Thanksgiving weekend, but that is no reason to get unhooked from the world of baseball snark. I'll be doing my thing at Walkoff Walk all weekend long, including a live blog/glog on Saturday night. We WoWies are trying to do every playoff game, so stop by and say something sarcastic about Joe Buck. And be on the lookout for something that approximates a GROF season in review early next week. It won't be as good as The Blue Jay Hunters, but it will make reference to my incredibly inebriated state on Opening Day. Good times for all!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Presidential Primaries

When the news that Paul Godfrey was stepping down as Blue Jays president hit, my first thought was "Who fucking cares?" As far as I'm concerned, or as far as I care to concern myself, that has zero impact on the on-field action. The actions of a glad-handing businessman mean nothing to me; most "my wife dresses me in this blue shirt and blue pants" salarymen represent everything I dislike about the world. If you remove the Business section from the newspaper and throw the rest away, I want nothing to do with you. I care more for the hot corner than the corner office; so I do my best to avoid the business side of a corporation with an interest in baseball.

Until today.

Doing my quarterly dance over the phone with the delightful young woman charged with shaking me down for my monthly Rogers bill, I came to resent having to deal with such incompetence. Forcing me to fork over my slightly-earned money for the goods and services I use; the nerve of these people. My hatred for Rogers and their knee-breaking practices got me thinking about the direction the Jays and RCI are headed. I decided that Rogers should hire the sleaziest, crookedest, shadiest money manager they could find.

Any one out of this collection of swine will do. Pump up the share price, inject millions (billions!) of false revenue into the Rogers system. Raise the Jays payroll to the stratosphere with the new-found cash, allowing them to buy a World Series title. Suddenly, a brave soul from deep inside will blow the whistle and Rogers will be ruined! It is a plan fiendish in its intricacies, but everyone wins in the end. Jays get title, fans get party, Rogers gets comeuppance.

Then, when the team is in shambles and needs a strong, clear voice to lead them out of the wilderness; who would step in? None other than the Mighty Tao. He already announced his candidacy! I'm sold. Tao in 2012!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Go Ahead, Throw Your Outs Away

Billy Beane and Michael Lewis Laugh in the Face of Baseball ConventionI'm not a bitter man (this is completely untrue, I'm more bitter than a pint of Guinness cut with Iodine), but the more I convince myself that bad luck and/or general cosmic misalignment caused the Jays to underperform their various expected records, the more I've begun resent the teams I deem lucky. Teams buoyed by soft schedules, lucky bounces, and general disregard for common decency.

I've made my feelings towards the Twins well known; I will beat that horse no more. The Angels are different. The Angels have some interesting pieces and excellent pitching. All season long they played "Angels baseball." An exciting brand that puts a great deal of pressure on the defense by forcing the issue with daring and guile. A great mode of attack when you are playing a bad team or one that doesn't prevent you (through bad pitching or poor defense) from scoring runs. The other side of Angels Baseball, as was on display during the series with the Red Sox, is the tremendous pressure they place on themselves.

Baseball is simple - you have 27 outs to play with, try and score as much as you can before they're all gone. When the team you are playing is excellent, you are playing fast and loose with your valuable outs. The Red Sox are definitely an excellent team. Their defense was good WITH Manny, adding the average Jason Bay only improved it. Once you start giving away outs trying to stretch singles into doubles, trying to go first to third when you are down 2 runs, you are making their job easier.

This style works well against terrible defensive teams like Seattle and Texas, the kind of teams the Angels made their hay against all season. Those were also bad pitching teams that will give you ample opportunity to recover the outs you lost by walking people and surrendering hits to all sections of your lineup. Once again, the Sox don't allow the Angels this luxury. Without the opposition handing out base runners and chances, the pressure is now on the Angels. You only have so many opportunities to drive in the key runs or you're fucked, especially when you don't hit many home runs coughBlueJayscough.

Fast forward to the 9th inning of Game 4, and the Angels find themselves with the go-ahead run on second base with nobody out and the game tied. Their number 8 and 9 hitters are due up, two decent fellows that Play The Game The Right Way but are either mired in horrible slumps or not just not capable of delivering a base hit. Bunt one precious out away to move the runner to third; now a run stands but 90 feet away. One failed suicide squeeze later and you've got the number 9 hitter up with 2 outs and 2 strikes against. One more quick exit from the playoffs and everyone is talking about a lack of delivery in the clutch. This despite a philosophy that either took the bat out of countless hands or demanded a very specific and difficult task with no margin for error.

I seem to be advocating some kind of Right Way structured baseball principals (how very un-FD of me), which isn't the case. You have to play to your strengths and recognize where your opportunities are most likely to come from. I don't think home runs are the only answer. The Blue Jays, Rays, and Dodgers are good teams that don't bash the opposition into submission. There is more than one way to manufacture runs; and there are many ways to skin a cat. Sadly, the Angels are yet to learn you can't always convince the cat to do it for you.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Gone to Seed

They aren't kidding with this offseason stuff, are they? Jays news has completely dried up, sham postseason awards are being handed out (not to Rocco, which just ain't right) in celebration of players going from just okay to really good. Cliff Lee is determined to haunt my dreams.

What is left in Blue Jay land? Postmortems! Fangraphs Blue Jays season in review finds disparity between the Jays excellent run differential and their team balance. In other words, rather than being a balanced attack of offense and defense, the Jays underwhelming offense was covered up by their overwhelming run prevention. Fangraphs uses a figure called BaseRuns, a modified version of Runs Created. Using the Baseruns model, Fangraphs suggests that the Jays should have expected to win just under 92 games this year, down from their 93 win Pythagorean record. What does that mean? The Jays lack of situational hitting during the first half really hurt them. They scored and prevented enough runs to be right in the mix. Moral victories etc.

The CBC kicked it old school on their website; old school and arbitrary! Wanna do a season in review? Wanna keep your editors at bay? Nobody cares about stats or numbers or any of the real talk under the surface. Bust out the letter grades Sally, we're mass-communicating here!! I'll give the author of this piece credit, he slid some run differential in there, praised Roy Halladay's secondary numbers and quality of opponents. Seems like a guy that knows what's up. As for the letter grades, I'm sure the suits forced your hand.

Unsurprisingly, this brave scribe goes out on a limb and gives the Jays pitchers an A+. Cool man, I'm with you so far. What's next? Defense? Word. The Jays are a great defensive team, and you even used a sweet picture of Scott Rolen droppin' fundamentals in Spring Training. Right on Jesse Campigotto, you and I are boys. Yeah, Alex Rios is great, Dr. Hale agrees. Wait, what is this? Adam Lind is a solid young left-fielder? Adam Lind is a solid young left-fielder??

Oh Jesse, you had me. I was right there with you, and now you've gone and ruined it. Adam Lind is a lot of things; excellent to above-average hitter, Indiana finest, and a mediocre (at best) left fielder. He's the second-best up & coming left fielder of the two up & coming left fielders at the Jays disposal. According to the numbers, he isn't even as good as Shannon Stewart.
Stewart - 48 balls in zone, 43 plays, 14 out of zone plays, .896 RZR
Lind - 108 balls in zone, 96 plays, 17 out of zone plays, .889 RZR
Ugh. It's cool though, I'll let the overall A grade for the defense slide. D for the hitting, B+ for the coaching? The classic vote split, I assume. Good marks for the pitching coach, bad marks for the hitting coach? Nobody likes the good cop/bad cop routine, sir. B for the management? Alright, I'm sure you'll get some flack for that but whatever. Full marks to the guy in the comment section that announced JP should get an O because he's just going around and around in a circle. Gold.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Canadian content

What do the networks want in the way of a World Series match up? I can tell you it isn't a Brewers - Rays final. I'm quite positive it isn't an Angels vs. Phillies clash either. Sure, a White Sox and Cubs series would be interesting and create an unimaginable buzz in the Windy city. If I was a betting man (which I most certainly am not), I'd put the smart money on the suits praying for a Dodgers - Red Sox World Series. Manny Ramirez returning to face his ex-mates on the grandest of all stages will sell a lot of ad time. The media circus that would ensue would be impossible to explain even with the use of every superlative you can fathom.

Speaking of superlatives: Jason Bay is amazing. Lighting up the Angels and making them wish they'd never won the West to begin with. After hitting a two-run bomb Wednesday, Bay connected again tonight launching a two-out, three-run Angel heartbreaker over the center field fence. Santana has to know you can't come with that weak shit to a Canuck. You'll be sorry every fucking time. You gotta locate son. Looking good so far in the eyes of network executives.

Return to the Depressing Reality

When Does Spring Training Start?
Fall has certainly fallen. The depressing cold air that descended on the city only magnifies the other ugliness well under way. I was confronted by this horrific truth of winter in Toronto when out for dinner with Ms. Moseby the Architect. We chose a solid neighbourhood pub, a good little bar where all people of all stripe can gather. The kind of bar where two tough-looking Russian guys can sit side-by-side in a booth, order a pitcher of beer and a glass of orange juice and feel welcome. Except I didn't feel welcomed, I felt shunned. I took my seat and what did I see? 1 small TV showing PLAYOFF baseball, 3 TVs showing CFL football, and 6 TVs, including the giant projection screen, showing a preseason hockey game.

Don't these people realize what is on the line here? ROCCO IS IN THE PLAYOFFS!!! Dude drove in an insurance run and scored (from first!) on a 150 foot bloop-double in his postseason debut. I'm sure Jiri Tulusty cutting down his stick is crucial to the Leafs quest for Jon Tavarez, but I'd rather watch the world sepak takraw championships than preseason hockey. But I live in Toronto, so it is all Leafs all the time until spring.

Except on the glorious internet!! Lots of exciting baseball action over Walkoff Walk way this weekend. I'll be glogging and mocking in my usual style; be sure to stop by. Sign the heck up to be a commenter while you're there. There aren't enough Jays commenters to back up my aversion to National League baseball. It's fun to watch, but people bunt ALL THE TIME. Who needs outs? It's not like they're your most valuable commodity.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Hindsight and Hubris

Rather than make baseless postseason predictions, I will take this opportunity to reflect on how wrongheaded and ignorant I was six long months ago. I won't delve right into the nitty-gritty of my foolishness (I picked the Twins to finish last, hinting at my future hate), only the teams I tipped for the playoffs.

I selected Boston, Detroit, L.A. as the division winners, the Wild Card going to Toronto. In the National League I picked the Mets, Cubs, Dodgers, and Phillies. All told: 5 outta 8. Better than half, even though three were pretty much slam dunks. Many people picked Detroit so I don't feel bad, and the Mets have broken sweeter hearts than mine. I'll probably pick the Jays to win the wild card every year until they officially rebuild. Basically forever.

In the spirit of deflecting criticism and making myself feel better; I'll look over some other writers picks and belittle them for being shortsighted.
  • Noted contrarian Robert MacLeod nailed the Jays as a fourth place team and the ascension of the Rays. He picked the Indians to win the World Series, which is really too bad. He did better than Jeff Blair, who may have selected the 100 loss Seattle Mariners as his AL West Champs. Ouch.
  • Peter fucking Gammons himself predicted an Indians - Mets World Series! So did Canada's boyfriends Keith Law & Jonah Keri. Wow. Looking back makes us all dumber.
  • Not one of ESPN's experts predicted the Rayvolution, only one found a White Sock at the bottom of his hamper. Pedro Gomez can apparently see the future. He picked the White Sox and an Angels/Dodgers World Series, one of only two writers with both World Series horses still bejockeyed.
What does this prove? Nobody knows shit about the future. Injuries, bad luck, shitty starts whatever. The Tigers finished behind the Royals, Seattle lost 100 games! Nobody in Blue Jay land should complain about a damn thing.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Manny being awesome

1906 was forever ago. Just ask Steve Bartman, I'm sure he could fill you in. While most people thought this looked easy for the Cubs; they're currently getting being shit-kicked by the Dodgers. After the Cubs got on the board early with two in the second, James Loney silenced the Wrigley faithful with a grand slam off Ryan Dempster. The Dodgers added three more, one coming in the seventh by way of Manny Ramirez's 25th career postseason home run.

Is it just me, or is Manny Ramirez awesome? Never mind, I don't care what you think as it's quite evident he's bloody awesome. Simply put, he's one of the better right handed hitters of all time. Even if the Cubs lose tonight, I still believe they're good enough to win the series, but if the awesomeness continues it'll just be another year of waiting for Cubs fans.