Saturday, May 30, 2009

Brandwagon Exits Station, Gains Momentum

When you need a good quote, might as well seek out the smartest guy you know. I know very few people so I'll take this one myself:
The Jays taking 2 of 3 from the Red Sox would be the most BLUE JAY thing to do at this point. I expect nothing less.
The Blue Jays decided to commit Blue Jayish crimes against the psyche of Toronto by taking two straight from the BoSox just when all looked lost. They won't let you leave so soon bandwagoneers.

Speaking of bandwagons, Cito seemed to have thrown a stick between the spokes and shot the horse dragging the Brandon League bandwagon the last few weeks. Probably because of League's struggles with a small S in high leverage situations, Cito refused to insert him into a game with the outcome in doubt. League pitched better until, lo and behold, he's setting up Scott Downs on consecutive days.

League's response: pure awesomeness. Friday night he was untouchable, even as he bounced a couple pitches in the left hand batters box. Another three up, three down inning on Saturday and the cries of "Brandon League is BACK!" can be heard all across teh internetz.

According to Brooks Baseball and their Pitch F/X demons, League was at his BB slinging best. Throwing his "offspeed" pitch for strikes and his frisbee-fastball for Lulz. He's even striking guys out, something I long ago dismissed as a Brandon League skill. Consider me impressed and excited.

As for tomorrow: who cares? Riding a two game winning streak, Rocco's X rays came back negative (boners crossed for ya Rocco!), quality performances from the middle of the order in the bank, it's all fun money at this point. P!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Most Well-Earned Off Day in History

In a time of such insanity, when making sense of the senseless no longer seems possible, now is the time for true positivity. The three game series against the Red Sox has the potential to galvanize the Jays like no other. What better way to regroup after the worst road trip in club history than a relatively full house against the dreaded Sox?

A few quick facts that may indicate the worst is over:
  • Aaron Hill's home run yesterday was the first in 8 games. EIGHT!
  • It was also the only positive thing done by a Blue Jay in a high leverage situation for two weeks. They've been terribly un-clutch during this streak, but surprisingly not too far off their regular amount of unclutchedness.
  • The bullpen finally regressed. At least we can stop holding our breath!
  • Lyle Overbay's hitting well. That's something!
  • So desperate is Cito that he almost, kinda, sorta, juggled the lineup. Signs of life!
  • As Stoeten points out; the Jays lost 3 one run games and two games that were essentailly one run games. A tiny amount of luck and we're talking about a bad road trip, not a cataclysmic one.
  • They played a bunch of these games in the rain. The dome has a roof! Advantage: nullified.
  • The starting pitching's been phenomenal. Honestly. The relief pitching, while sort of terrible, deserves a better fate. The strand rate will come up, the BABIP will go down, the ERA-FIP differential will get Rolen'd up real good.
Wilner's right. This is rock bottom. Cito's world-renowned manmanagment will come shining through. The Jays--imbued by the confidence of Citocity--will band together and shoot forth into June. That's just what happens now.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Jays Fans Express Relief Over Recent Losing Streak

Long-suffering Jays fans everywhere quietly rejoiced over the team's recent 7 game losing skid, ashamedly admitting their relief over the ability to "enjoy the summer" by escaping four months of "apprehensive fingernail chewing"

While the hot start to the season increased interest in the team, unfortunate drawbacks such as the "infusion of douchiness" around the Rogers Centre and "inability to steal a decent seat" caused dismay among loyal fans. Freeing an entire fanbase saddled with 15 years worth of disappointment that long grew "comfortable with their also-ran status" is no small victory in a town full of increasing bitter and nervous individuals.

All Jays fans paid lipservice to the first place standing at the end of May will quietly wishing for a reality check to complain about. The chorus of boos sure to rain down on Vernon Wells, Alex Rios, or anyone else unfortunate enough to not be white give less than 100% in a losing effort will be a welcome return from the chorus of boos that accompanies panic and self-doubt borne of a first place team.

Local radio analyst Mike Wilner noted recent calls place to his post-game show hadn't changed much in tenor, the tone merely resembled grasping at straws rather than the caller grasping at his own inadequacies.

The Jays oddly stacked schedule combined with streaking divisional opponents should allow the Jays to slip out of the race long enough for their now-inevitable 85 win season reach satisfying "moral victory" levels. Smartassed bloggers and other degenerates rejoice over entire winter's worth of bloviating to come!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Drag the Lake

"I take a lot of responsibility for what's going on," Wells said. "It's frustrating for everyone. When things are going poorly, guys want to do too much to get everybody out of what we're going through. It's just a matter of taking a deep breath and getting back to our approaches."
About those the Citocity wearing off?

Vernon Wells, the much maligned star of Sunday's loss, has exactly zero hits to the opposite field this year. Zero. Nil. On balls hit up the middle, his OPS is .533. That is some extreme shit.

Consider Aaron Hill, team leader in OPS. When the ball goes up the middle, his OPS is .884. He has 36 hits in that direction. Lyle Overbay is second on the team in overall OPS thanks to his .977 mark up the middle. Alex Rios's up the middle/opposite field OPS are .590/.636. Maybe Rios & Wells could try something other than dead pull. Just try.

Daylife for the picture and Bastian for the quote

Friday, May 22, 2009

Calm, Soothing Words & Images

Let's all take a knee, shall we? All is not lost, the past can soothe our wounds!

First the Good

The 2008 AL East champion Tampa Bay Rays waltzed into Fenway park on June 3rd in first place. They were 13 games over .500, sported a run differential of +26 and a divisional edge of one half game.

They promptly lost 3 straight to the Sox to slip into second place. The Rays then split their next 6 games before destroying interleague to regain their divisional edge. They lost in the World Series.

The 2006 Detroit Tigers sort of came out of nowhere, lead their division all year long until they stumbled, losing their final 6 regular season games--including 2 of 3 to the Toronto Blue Jays--but winning enough games to claim the wildcard.

They went into a mini tailspin at the end of May losing 4 in a row and 8 of 10. Included in that swoon were 3 losses in 4 home games versus the Yankees, losing 2 of 3 at home to the Red Sox and 2 of 3 to the White Sox. They went on to win 20 games in June and lose the World Series.

The Other Kind of Good, the "Not Bad"

The 2005 Baltimore Orioles ran out to a crazy start. They were alone in first place until the end of June. At the end of May however, they were swept at home by the Detroit Tigers.

The Orioles managed to hang on for another month before losing 3 of 4 to the mighty Toronto Blue Jays sent them into a predictable yet pathetic tailspin. Those Orioles gave considerable innings to Rodrigo Lopez, Bruce Chen and Danial fucking Cabrera which eliminates them for worthy comparison. But still, another month of first place? I'll take that.

The 2007 Milwaukee Brewers were in first place on May 21st with a 27-17 record. They went on a West Coast road trip and lost 7 in a row and 8 of 9. They were still in first place when it was over, staying there until the middle of August. The Brew Crew made a return to the top of the division mid-September before faltering down the stretch. They made the playoffs the following year (aka their for it all 2010). Again, I'll take that.

The Future

The Braves and the Orioles? That shit is good for what ails you. Then Red Sox Revenge! LET'S ALL RELAX!

Blah blah Daylife pictures blah

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Shooting Donkeys in a Barrell

Adam Dunn just can't resist a little shot at Toronto when discussing interleague play:
I say just stick to the rivalry games and eliminate all the useless interleague games...people don't care about Washington against Toronto. They do care about Washington against Baltimore. So keep them and dump the rest.
Nobody cares about the Nationals Adam. Only soulless mercenaries looking for the best one year deal they can muster give a shit about the Washington Nationals shitshow. At least Dunn has the good sense to come correct later in the Stark's piece:
"It gets you out of your comfort zone," Dunn said. "You've got to learn new pitchers, and, personally, I don't like that. Believe me, I could do without seeing Roy Halladay. But I've got a feeling I'm going to have to face him."
Face him and get pwned you will, fat man.

Around the Way

  • Speaking of Halladay, check out Mop Up Duty's awesome retrospective on his evolution.
  • Bluebird Banter has a nice piece on Cito. As I think about it, I like that Cito just lets the guys go out and play, for the most part. I'm not necessarily in favor of pinch hitting but defensive subs I'm all for. I don't like his refusal to jostle the lineup from time to time because I don't think it hurts. Not for nothing, Alex Rios and Vernon Wells are 2-3 in the league in outs made. Sayin'
  • Joe Posnanski believes Roy Halladay can win 30 games this year. WHO ARE WE TO ARGUE?
  • According to Rutger Hauer Claws, Vernon Wells is damn near the nicest guy around. I swore I read somewhere that Vernon's greatest athletic achievement was leading his high school football team onto the field at Texas Stadium. I should now swear that I'm an idiot because it's not true. There was a "wacky" interview of Vernon by Nicki Reyes recently in which Vernon stated he hasn't had a career baseball highlight yet. I found that interesting. All the reasons people dislike Wells around here seem to be the same reasons I do. He doesn't take himself too seriously and clearly focuses on team success. Had he said "Mo Rivera walk-off in 2006" I wouldn't have been mad.
  • Thinking of listening to L'Homme Du Sport's podcast in which he discusses Lost? Don't. Love Simmons, but his steadfast refusal to "get" Lost belies his obvious intelligence (then again, he watches a shit-tonne of idiotically exploitative "reality" TV.) Really Bill, Jack's lack of post-concussion symptoms is a sticking point for you? THE FUCKING ISLAND MOVES IN AND OUT OF TIME AND YOU NEED TO CRASH A PLANE TO GET THERE. There's more going on there Billy boy, try to keep up.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Internal Affairs

There's been a lot of talk recently surrounding the issue of booing and hating on players. I feel like my position on this is quite clear, no need to rehash it again today. The other side of this coin is the blind faith and/or limitless rope phenomenon - player X is a "valued contributor" that merely needs time to get on track. I don't exactly subscribe to this school of thought either.

As I see it, building a team/contender/profitable on-field commodity is a never-ending process. Those in charge must constantly consider and reconsider if the man they're paying to do a job is the best choice at in that role. It started this winter, when the "Scott Rolen is overpaid" chorus grew loudest. After I made my impassioned case that Scott Rolen earned his paycheck and more, wundercommenter Torgen pointed out that not only is Scott Rolen great, there isn't an immediate option that would step in to that role even remotely as well.

Stoeten of Drunk Jays Fans today brought up a very interesting point regarding Brian Tallet's tenuous spot in the rotation. (A point I was bouncing around my head on the subway ride to work. Damn you speedy Dutch bastards!) He may not last long there for two reasons: there is another role he can fill better than the current placeholder while there are plenty of people behind him that can do his job nearly as well.

Jesse Carlon's pitched exceptionally well for the Jays these last two seasons though he's run into a rough patch of late. For the season the defense has propped him up a little, shaving a full run off his ERA. Here in May however, his ERA and FIP are nearly identical, sitting right on 6.00. Carlson's a fly ball pitcher who's strikeouts are down, contact is up and whiffy swings are down. His BABIP is still too low though his strand rate is coming back to the norm. In other words, he's becoming a regular, run-of-the-mill bullpen arm rather than a Blue Jays penbot from beyond the moon.

I don't come to bury Jesse Carlson, but if the Jays are to continue their success; they must make tough decisions like this. We as fans--especially as it relates to joyless roles such as spot starter or lefty specialist--can only hope the organization makes the right one that will ensure continuous improvement. Keeping Scott Rolen made sense as he's a gift from god, one not easily replaced internally, externally, or galactically. Jesse Carlson is easily replaceable, as are Brian Tallet's starts. For the good of the club we should be willing to consider it.

Other Stuff Quickly

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

And Then We All Bought Yachts

I don't have much to offer beyond directing you to Jordan Bastian's excellent piece on the defensive wizardry of the Manmountain yesterday. A brief sampling of the fine yeoman's work:
The fans inside the stadium, after being hushed in awe for a few seconds, began cheering loudly and the crowd moved to its feet. Rolen, the old-school player that he is, stood stone-faced and moved back into position for the next batter. He wasn't about to let the reaction inside the Dome break his concentration.
According to the ever-impressive Yankees Replacement Level blog, Rolen's already saved four runs with his glove this year; equal to the 17 run pace (based on 162 games) set by Evan "Universal Slurpjob" Longoria. The RLYWeblog's list features fountain-of-youth Scutaro firmly at the top and silk glove winner Lyle Overbay right alongside Rolen with 17 runs saved over a 162 season. It was my slightly held belief that the Jays defense was slipping slightly this season, but the numbers don't support it. As a unit they rank 7th in UZR and third in defensive efficiency. That the Jays even rank that high in UZR is slightly shocking considering how much the system hates Vernon Wells, though it gives his arm positive marks thus far. Either way, the defense will continue to support the burgeoning pitching staff in delightful ways.

I can't give any shout outs to Scott Rolen without a nod to his apparent nemesis Jeff Blair for his fine job subbing for Bob McCowan on Prime Time Sports yesterday.

On the Sox

They kinda suck. Well they're not playing great baseball. Mostly because of Rocco's struggles. Oh how he's struggled. Some awful numbers including 5.4% walk rate, 37.1% K rate (!!!!) for a BB/K rate of 0.15. Ugh. It adds up to an unsightly .529 OPS. Poor Rocco. You'll come around next week sir. Offensively Jason Bay has carried the Yookless Sox. Defensively he's worse than Manny. Dustin Pedroia is playing well but frankly, he can fuck right off. I'm going to say what every Jays fan knows: Aaron Hill + Green Monster = 50 doubles a year. Aaron Hill's quick swing is BUILT for that ballpark, unfortunately for him and his agent he only plays there as a visitor. Get your necktie Dustin, I'm sure they'll make them in size 6x.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

A Nerdy Must Read

If you fashion yourself any kind of baseball nerd, I can't recommend this Beyond the Boxscore post on playoff probability added. It's like this: using third-order wins (luck and context neutral stats plus strength of schedule combine to establish a team's "true talent" record)and historical data (number of third order wins offers you a X% chance of making the playoffs) to get a percentage, based on WAR, that any given player gives his team to make the playoffs. Whew.

It's basically a way to sniff out the "he's the MVP because his team made the playoffs" argument. The Jays were a 92 win true talent team, meaning they had a 60% chance of making the playoffs. Roy Halladay, king of all creation, was a 7.6 win player in 2008. Remove Roy Halladay, you're left with a 84.4 win team with a 19% chance of making the playoffs. Badda boom, badda bing, Roy Halladay contributed 41% to the Blue Jays playoff chances, best in the American League. MVP Dustin Pedrioa only accounted for 16.42% of Boston's playoff team, the EXACT SAME amount as Jays shortstop Marco Scutaro. Scary stuff. I can't recommend a click through enough, but the author was kind enough to attach his/her giant spreadsheet with all the figures. I'll breakdown the Jays right here (PPA - Playoff Probability Added):

Offensive PlayerWARP.P.A.
Alex Rios5.532.17%
Scott Rolen2.917.63%
Marco Scutaro2.716.42%
Lyle Overbay1.810.91%
Joe Inglett1.710.30%
Vernon Wells1.27.23%
Rod Barajas/Gregg Zaun1.27.23%
Aaron Hill0.52.97%
Travis Snider/David Eckstein0.31.78%
Jose Bautista0.00.00%
Adam Lind-0.1-0.59%
Shannon Stewart/Kevin Mench-0.2-1.17%
John MacDonald-0.4-2.32%
Matt Stairs-0.5-2.90%
Brad Wilkerson-0.9-5.45%

Roy Halladay7.644.4%
AJ Burnett5.733.16%
Jesse Listch2.817.03%
Dustin McGowan2.414.60%
Shaun Marcum2.112.76%
Scott Downs1.48.45%
B.J. Ryan1.06.00%
Scott Richmond0.84.79%
David Purcey0.84.79%
Shawn Camp0.74.18%
Jesse Carlson/Brian Tallet0.74.18%
John Parrish/Brian Wolfe0.31.78%
Brandon League0.21.18%
Jason Frasor0.10.59%
Armando Benitez-0.2-1.17%

So yeah, Roy Halladay's good. Also, replacing Mencherson, Stewart & Stairs LLP with a full season of replacement level Adam Lind would increase the Jays chances of making the playoffs by nearly 10%. TEN PERCENT. Scary stuff. Please go forth and click the link to better understand the implications of this excellent research. Better yet, think of how high the Jays true talent will be for 2009! Boners.

Many thanks to the beyond incredible Eyes On Springfield Tumblr for the image

Friday, May 15, 2009

We're on a Mission from God

Once again, with the Chicago White Sox in town, we turn to our trusted Second City advisor Andrew Reilly of The 35th Street Review for some perspective on the Good Guys. Read my corresponding piece here.

I looked at the standings today, took note of who sat atop my fair city's geographic predecessor and chuckled out loud at what I saw. The papers, it seems, had erroneously printed those Blue Jaybirds of Toronto City as having won twenty-three games - two more than their competitor Red Stockings.

This is incorrect.

As you may recall, several weeks ago your Blue Jays stomped on a certain lighter-hued brand of stocking on the shank-or-be-shanked South Side of Chicago. It was quite the ugly affair, with the White Sox first embarrassed and then just made to look stupid. Fourteen to nothing? Four to three? Whatever. The 2009 White Sox are nothing if not flexible. Any of you Ghostreaders privied to the Chicago-based broadcasts probably heard our dear ambassador Ken "The Hawk" Harrelson and his partner Steve Stone explain the dynamics and complexities of the series to us, the layviewer.

"I tell you what," Hawk may have said, "that Rod Barajas, he might just be one of the best catchers I've ever seen at hitting a baseball."

This may or may not have occurred after Barajas drove in either of those two runs he contributed to your Jays' 14-0 shellacking of my White Sox, but that's irrelevant anyway. The Jays obliterated struggling Sox RHP Gavin Floyd, then two days later laughed in the Sox' collective faces as they couldn't capitalize on Roy Halladay's surrender of three earned runs. Three! Three runs against Halladay is like me getting 100 points in a game of one-on-one against LeBron James in a race to 105: you'll still probably lose, and badly at that, but the amount of room you've been given to work with is magnified considerably given the circumstances.

And those two games, I'm sorry to have to tell you, are why the Blue Jays are not in first place and also why they won't be come Tuesday morning after their probable inevitable series victory over the White Sox. Perhaps you don't pay as close attention to the Pale Hose as I do, and honestly I don't blame you. They are normally mostly ignorable, but so far this season have taken it a step further; the White Sox, at this point, simply don't count. To defeat them is worth no more than taking the day off, in both statistics and in won-loss records.

I want to take a second to encapsulate everything you need to know about this weekend's series, courtesy of the Sox' PR office's preview of Sunday's game:
White Sox: For the fourth time in seven trips to the mound, Floyd failed to post a coveted quality start. Monday's start against the Indians was actually well below the quality cut-off, as the right-hander gave up eight runs on 11 hits over five-plus innings, including two batters faced in the sixth. Floyd has a 0-2 record with a 9.74 ERA in his past four starts and has allowed more double-digit-hit games this season (two) then he did in all of 2008. Floyd already has a 0-1 record with a 10.38 ERA against the Blue Jays this year and stands at 0-2 lifetime against the Blue Jays. But Floyd has never worked at Rogers Centre.

Blue Jays: Halladay threw his first complete game of the year against the Yankees at Rogers Centre on Tuesday. He gave up one run on five hits -- matching his lowest total this season -- and struck out five. For the third time in his eight starts this year, he did not walk a single batter. He got 16 outs via ground ball, and gave up only two extra base hits, both doubles
An epic 113 words to explain how Gavin "Wave of the Future" Floyd has fluctuated between bad and awful; seventy-one to say Halladay will either cut you up or kill you outright. I suspect this will set a record for Worst Game of All Time.

"But!" you may counter, "the White Sox aren't in last place! How bad can they be?"

A technically accurate statement, but one that breaks down upon closer inspection. Of the three basement dwellers, the Sox have lost series to two and have yet to face the third. The last series they won was a one-game homestand against the Detroit Tigers.

One game.

Detroit Tigers.

The White Sox, they of the much-vaunted offense and theoretical All-Legends Softball roster, are thirteenth in the American League in team batting average; hard to call them "sluggers" when they're twelfth in slugging, trailing even the likes of the last-in-the-East Baltimore Orioles who, by the way, beat the Sox 10-3 and 6-2 last month. Twelfth in on-base percentage, thirteenth in total bases, last in runs scored. Once upon a time, the bats were going to save them. Those were gentler times. Kinder. Sweeter, almost.

I want to go back to our much-maligned Hawk Harrelson for a second. He's going to say a lot of wacky things on the air this weekend, things about how Kevin Millar is a great professional hitter, how John McDonald reminds him of a young Derek Jeter and how baseball is really just a game where you want to make the other guy not let you get beat at the game of outguessing how that team is going to make the other not lose, and you may scratch your head for a second.

And for years I have cursed this man publicly and privately for such ramblings, questioning how he can be so oblivious to what's happening on the field and in the league to spout off such nonsense and non sequiturs instead of dispensing with actual useful, sensible information. But at times like these, I think I understand. Talk about Rod Barajas. Talk about what an honor it is to be iced by Roy Halladay. Talk about Adam Lind, Cito Gaston and a failed Ontario golf trip from twenty years ago.

Anything but the White Sox.

I suppose the Blue Jays will take at least a few games from the Sox this weekend. Worse things will happen, and I wish you no ill will, but I do ask this: please, please Blue Jays, please be the real thing. Do not let my attempted understanding of Hawkeroo go in vain; I will have died so that you may live.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

CC you in Hell

Yesterday's hangover game left me feeling ambivalent about tonight's affair. Johnny Mac gets a start as Cito goes with all lefties? Sweet. I'm sure Adam Lind needs a day off after his vigorous start to the year. Another series win would certainly be a good thing. Against CC it seems less likely, except he's been damn near mortal this season.

Not true, actually. Sabathia demolished the OriLOLs with a complete game last time out. On the whole; his Ks are a little down as are his strand rate and home runs allowed. His contact numbers are slightly higher but the Jays have their hands full either way. Thus the appearance of secret offensive machine John MacDonald.

Assorted Randomness

  • Holy fucking shit, The Road finally has a release date AND A TRAILER. Bonerbonerbonerboner. I'll admit I don't love the style of the trailer, but it'll likely do a better job of selling the movie to those yet to read the book than shouting "THIS MOVIE WILL INJURE YOUR SOUL AND CRUSH YOUR WILL TO LIVE." Release date is October 16th, judging by the tone of the trailer it will be a nice depressing counterpoint to the elation of the Jays playoff run. P!
  • The good people at Beyond the Boxscore are doing what good nerds do: searching for newer and better ways to evaluate pitchers. Whiff rates, IWZ (rate of pitches inside a wider zone at the top & bottom of the strike zone), chase rates and ratio of 0-1 counts to 1-0 counts. Awesome stuff, and good indications of quality pitching. Unsurprisingly, Roy Halladay pounds the bottom and corners of the strikezone, ranking high in IWZ and A:B counts. Good to see Scott Downs all over the relievers side of things, scoring high Definitely click through and check it out.
  • The Padres are planning a firesale. If only their roster featured something of value. Kouzmanoff for a song might be a nice complimentary piece for 2010 in exchange for a somewhat superfluous starting arm.
  • The Baseball Analysts look at run value based on pitch type. Lots of pretty graphs and Roy Halladay's name caught my attention. I'm simple that way.
That's it for now, look for a welcome visit from a regular guest here tomorrow.

DVP image courtesy of Ace Showbiz

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Like Idiotic Moths to the Flame

Here's a news flash for you: Mike Toth is an idiot. I'm almost embarrassed to take the bait here, but what the fuck is Toth thinking? Halladay should make time for local hacks (or worse, someone like me) to ask the same mundane question over and over? While Toth's prep-work for his job seems to entail stealing bad jokes from retirement home comics, Halladay's kind of a big deal. Toth's decision to compare him to Clemens and Carlton may have some merit, except no one considers Roy to be a "selfish boor." His teammates love him, they look up to him and learn from him. Was Halladay acting as like a selfish boor when he worked out with Jesse Litsch all winter, helping him prepare for his (small b) breakout season?

Kid gloves? What kind of expose/takedown did you have in mind Mr Woodward? Should Roy Halladay be more like your previously identified idol Gary Carter? The kind of jackass who, if his teammates needed to find, the best place to look would be "in front of the nearest camera." You're right Tother, Roy fucking Halladay needs to be more of a selfish, self-promoting clown like Gary Carter and less of a strike-throwing, humongous return on investment to his employer supplying machine and more of a loud-mouthed shill. Thanks for pointing that out.

Toronto the Pathetic

Last night's turnout: awesome. Toronto's steadfast insistence to prove Jeff Passan right? Not so hot. What the fuck is up with this town and the pathetic inferiority complex? You flew from Calgary to boo AJ Burnett? YOU'RE AN IDIOT. What does it prove?

Read this piece on Andrew Reilly of The 35th Street Review's trip to Philadelphia. Is that how you want to end up? A bunch of sad, impossibly bitter losers living only to spew scorn for the sake of scorn. If you booed Carlos Delgado: you're an idiot. If you still boo Vince Carter, you're an idiot. GET OVER IT. HE'S BEEN GONE LONGER THAN HE WAS HERE. He's the best player the Raptors have ever and will ever see. Such pettiness is pretty unbecoming from a city that loves to fashion itself so decidedly un-American.

Boo A-Rod, boo the Youkilis, have a good time with it. But trying to conjour up animosity for former players who had the AUDACITY to leave your fair city? Get a fucking life.

Image courtesy of Flickr user pyrogenic

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Moneyed Misanthrope Meets Machine-like Mentor in Mid-Sized May Match Up

It doesn't get much better than this. Do us right Toronto, do us right.

As Mop Up Duty pointed out, the Jays have a few guys known to kill fastballs. Especially first pitch fastballs. The Jays haven't faired well against power pitchers this year, quite the opposite of the three preceding seasons. If the patient guys can wait out his fastballs and the eager guys can jump all over his fastballs, hopefully it will neuter his Hammer of Doom

A motivated Burnett can be a scary thing, so here's hoping for a tight strike zone early on. Like a college girl with daddy issues, I could go for a good hatefucking tonight.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Erectus Interuptus

Listen Ump, I'll hit Alex Rios third if I damn well please
The Brett Cecil love is coming fast and furious, but "win two tomorrow" Cito had to go and ruin it:
Don't forget, Cecil was a closer in college, so he can pitch out of the bullpen, too....But I can't say enough how (Cecil) pitched," Gaston continued. He went out and threw strikes. You hope it's the start of something good for him.
Seriously Cito? IT IS a good START for him, in his career as a potential number 2 STARTER.

Never mind that your bullpen is already one of the best in the game. How can you advocate wasting a talent like Cecil's in the bullpen? Just look at the Jays bullpen, for example. All scrapheap finds and reclamation projects. No place for a highly-touted draft pick. The last thing I need in my life is play Canadian J from 3:10; explaining over and over (and over again) how much more valuable an arm like Cecil's is in the starting rotation. 140 innings versus 60 innings, not a debate.

Perhaps you'd move Cecil into the bullpen after the all star break, as an anonymous commenter suggested. Acting under the assumption the Jays will still be contending at that time (p!), the team simply doesn't benefit for a list of reasons. Adding another lefty back there serves no real purpose. I love the way Tallet's pitched; but if the choice is between him and Cecil I'll take the kid until the numbers tell me other wise. If you are simply going to showcase another of the fringe starters, I guess I'll understand. Once again it comes back to skills and ceilings. Right now Cecil's is higher than any of the young pitchers, he deserves the best shot to succeed.

Awesome Stuff from the Fangraphs Institute of Baseball & Divorce

Who knew? The good people at Fangraphs recently added two new features to suck your life away. Firstly, they've added in-season ZIPS projections. Adding the rest of season projection to what Aaron Hill's already done, you get a line of .311/.358/.466 or a .824 OPS. So he'll slow down but only drop 80 points from his current OPS? Sold. ZIPS figures Alex Rios will pick it up and OPS .809 over the remainder of the season. Sold again. Check out each player's ZIPS on their individual pages.

You'll also notice they added Bill Jame's speed score to the advanced stats tab. The speed score is "an average of Stolen Base Percentage, Frequency of Stolen Base Attempts, Percentage of Triples, and Runs Scored Percentage." Unsurprisingly, the Jays speediest players this season have been Vernon Wells and Alex Rios. Somewhat surprising to see very, very large man (or Manmountain) Scott Rolen rank fourth this season and fifth in 2008. This isn't a baserunning metric remember, a distinction clearly embodied by the Blissfully Oblivious Gazelle's (TM Tao) speed score ranking significantly higher than his "do you have any idea what you're doing out there" metric. The oft pinch-run-for and slightly wooden Adam Lind once again ranks as a great Jays baserunner.

A Moment of Perspective

Nope. Sorry. I've got none. My Necktie is tied so tight, I can barely breathe. Not that I mind, what's a little auto-erotic asphyxiation between friends?

Seriously though: Read The Mockingbird's take on Brett Cecil (based only on his first start, mind you) and tell me he shouldn't hit his Verducci Number (approx. 140 IP) in the big leagues this year. Tell me Brian Tallet doesn't deserve to stay in the rotation until he proves he doesn't belong. Tell me Jesse Litsch, lovable as he may be, deserves a rotation spot no questions asked upon his return (you can't.) It's not about the next big thing, it's about stuff. Missing bats, changing speeds, genetic defects (being left handed is good? Now I've heard everything!), and surviving mistakes. Put another way: repeatable skills crucial to long-term success.

Will the league figure out Richmond's nasty slider after another go around the league? Will the league take note of Cecil tipping his pitches behind his back? They just might, but either way the Jays are in an enviable position as you well know.

But I don't want to get carried way.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

High on the Hog

Things are so good in Blue Jay Land right now, we can afford to noodle around on the internet without a care in the world. During such a noodle session this afternoon, I came across an article on Slate that was shockingly interesting.

The premise is this: explain baseball in 150 words or less. The author needs to help his 6 year old son understand and appreciate baseball, so he opened it up to the contrarian public that reads Slate. The results varied from the wistful ("apple pie and the smell of the grass brother!") to the thoughtful ("it's like tag") to the negative ("it's boring.") One I liked in particular:
All of the little league coaches who told kids to go up there hacking and made them ashamed to strike out have fostered generations of people who can't comprehend the value of driving the ball. The worst myth ever put upon us was the idea that baseball is about putting the ball in play. It's about putting hard-hit balls in play. Extra-base hits win games.
Right on the money, friend. Anyway, how would YOU describe baseball in 150 words or less? Of course you would, that's easy. Let's make it interesting, can you describe baseball in 15 words or less?

Here's my first attempt:
Hit ball, run until you can't. Touch plate. Wear glove, run after ball. Throw. Spit.
How about a second try:
Solo glory plus team achievement equals douchemagnet. Learn to be left handed or fuck off.

As for the Blue Jays

What, there's still debate? Don't they just show up and win? That's just what happens now, isn't it? I like what I saw from Travis Snider last night, hopefully he can smash some Jered Weaver gawkballs around the yard for good measure. Thanks to everyone that came out to the glog last night, shit was real. Melongate!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Various & Sundry Bonerdom

I don't care how soft their schedule's been; how bad the various pitching staffs they've faced are: the Jays will worsening the fuck out of you and everything you hold dear. Some bullpen hiccups, some luck (some bad but mostly overwhelmingly good), games both given and taken away, it all adds up to an entertaining first week of May. Some thoughts from all over.

Brett Cecil: Heaven Sent

Soooo, Brett Cecil is pretty good, I'd say. Some strangely poor defense behind him and the ridiculous offensive strategy the Indians went with "Hey, let's see what happens if I stick my arm in front of this curveball!" Fuck them. Cecil was much bigger than I expected, wore more jewelery on the mound than Mr. T, and changed speeds better than a drunk through a radar trap. Brooks Baseball's Pitch fx tells us he brings the heat (topped out at 95!) and threw all his pitches for strikes. Very impressive. He wasn't afraid to pitch inside and generally impressed more 10 to 15 times more than I thought he would. I wonder if he's up for the duration? He'll certainly be given a chance to pitch himself out of a job.

One last thing we will note now and forever more: Vegas stats mean less than nothing.

Life Above Replacement

The always excellent Yankees Replacement Level Blog calculated the WAR (wins above replacement) for each team at each position in the American League. Unsurprisingly, the Jays are at or above replacement level at every single position around the diamond. Somewhat surprisingly, thanks to poor defense (!?), the Jays outfield has barely played above replacement level. The amazing infield play is manifested in a first place ranking for shortstops, third place for third basemen (fuck you, haters), surprising seventh for second basemen (negative defense, what gives?) and second place WAR for first basemen. Really interesting stuff, I highly recommend clicking on through.

More Crap

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Chin Chin

A tough, extra innings loss can really weigh on your conscience. No matter how it went wrong, you can always point to a moment where it could have turned around. Best to wake up early, make sure your shit's tight (hair, beard, hobo novelty sideburns, or whatever), pull on your best suit and look forward with purpose. A positive mental outlook makes it easy to soldier on.

One note on your suit. Styles change with time. Ties get short and fat, long and skinny, short and skinny, long and fat (like yer moms) but one thing will always be true: when you're wearing A CECILLIAN NECKTIE, nothing bad will ever happen.

The future is now friends, best look the part.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Wring Out the Funsponge

I decided against predictions before this season started as they're a good way to look like an idiot. I have no problem doing that on a daily basis, no need to fuel the fire. I did go out on a limb with one clear forecast among my nebulous stabs in the dark:
Travis Snider will have a good season and spend time in Vegas.
Sadly, I feel the time has come for Sniderman to spend a couple weeks gathering himself in America's preeminent adult playground outlet mall epicenter.

You may say "Vegas? He won't learn to control the strikezone or improve his pitch recognition when everything he wheels on flies out of the park!" You'd be right, to an extent. The situation seems very, very familiar. Almost as though the Jays went through it with Carlos Delgado in 1994. Ahh, those were the strike-shortened days. King Carlos started the season like house on fire, clubbing 8 tater tots in the April. The signs of trouble were evident though, as Carlos did almost all his damage before April 20th and didn't hit one double until his home runs dried up.

Right now, Travis Snider is scuffling. He's not making great contact, flying out too much, and generally doing too little at the plate. Going into tonight's (Monday) game; his BB/K is down to 0.43, lower than Delgado's 1994 mark. His line drive rate has shrunk to 11% with his GB/FB sitting even at "way too fucking high." Even his rate of home runs per fly ball is getting a little on the low side (for a clear-cut power hitter.) The strangest fact is one I wasn't prepared for: he's almost stopped striking out. Snider's only struck out 3 times in the past 8 games. Encouraging, no? Except that he only has one walk over that span and a mere three line drives. Hrm.

Maybe I'm overreacting? Perhaps Travis Snider is one slight adjustment away from returning to a state of constant mash. What does the contact information suggest? Travis Snider doesn't get cheated, that much is for sure. The second swingingest guy on the team behind Rod "Youkilis" Barajas. One key difference between Rod and Snider: contact. Travis Snider swings at almost the same percentage of pitches outside the zone but only hits 44% of them, by far the lowest on the team. Maybe that's a good thing, maybe he's being fooled by offspeed pitches (he's seeing a lot) and getting himself into 2 strike holes? Perhaps Snider became wary of his strikeout numbers, shortened up to avoid the Ks and now fancies himself some sort of budget-Ichiro? God, I hope not.

The million dollar question remains: while he may be out of sorts at the big league level, what will Travis Snider learn from a month or two in AAA? I encourage you to correct me if I'm wrong, but AAA pitchers are more likely to be journeyman junkballers hoping for a spot-start than the live-but-raw-armed prospects of the lower minor leagues. Doubly true in the PCL, where errant fastballs go to die. Let Snider work on his pitch recognition or whatever you want to call it, rebuild the confidence Cito's failed to imbue in him by forcing him to bunt and sit against lefties and off you go. To me; Snider's yet to enter the "nothing left to prove at AAA" stage.

This isn't what I want, I love to watch Snider play. He's actually impressed me in the field and he seems to be a good soldier that enjoys a good walkoff mosh. But he needs to sort some stuff out at the plate. If the Jays continue to play well and compete, can we honestly justify him learning on the job at the expense of the team? I know it's too early to suggest such things, but why not bring up some outfield stiff (or Buck fucking Coats for laughs) and let Millar DH until his bat runs cold. Maybe even slow down Snider's clock a little bit, just for fiduciary shits and giggles. Let's just make get him right, sooner rather than later. It worked out for Delgado, didn't it?

Image courtesy of Daylife thievery corporation

Admit it, You're a Little More than Curious

Hey, I remember you. It was more than a year ago that we first spoke. You were going through some things, you weren't quite sure of some strange, new feelings.

They say absence makes the heart grow fonder, but you're don't think so. I was away for so long, my injury so nagging; you didn't think you'd ever look at me the same way ever again. Turn the calender from April to May and the Meter of Appropriateness turns from uncomfortable to litigious. I understand why you might not be thinking straight.

Let's cut the bullshit: I know I'm out there, killing it each and every day. Line drives? Constant. Walks? Sure, whatever. OPS of 1.00 on the number? Gimme a day, I've got to sort some shit out. Home runs? Yeah, I'm leading the team, so the fuck what? Clutch? Wouldn't you like to know.

So yeah dude, I'll keep saying all the right things. "Just trying to help the team win" and shit. But don't kid yourself, I see you out there. Eying the middle of the diamond like never before, getting uncomfortable, chugging the rest of your $10 beer. It's cool man, I've seen way bigger and way harder men fall by the wayside in my day. I'll just keep doing my thing, knowing how much power I have over your life. Don't sweat it brah, I'll keep that shit just between us.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Reality is a Ride on the Bus

A rough go in Kansas City should not distract from one very, very important piece of information: the Toronto Blue Jays are in first place on May 1st! That is, simply, amazing. Did YOU predict that? No, no you did not. Losing 3 of 4 after facing the Royals less-than-imposing lineup may leave a bad taste in your mouth, but it's Friday, it's already May, I noticed the Dome was open yesterday from my perch high atop the Manilla envelope factory that employs me. The Jays ease into their AL East schedule against the predictable Orioles, with none other than Roy Halladay on the hill.

All good things. Good enough to make you forget your book treatment's been turned down for the fourth time. Horseshit! I can't believe nobody wants to read about a team of teenage magicians (conflicted about their powers, of course) teaming with an idealistic lawyer (fresh out of law school, of course) to protect Batman's secret identity from a cabal of adolescent vampires (abstinent, of course) backed by a shadow corporation (conspiratorial, or course) out to silence a cancer-stricken Rabbi who's final sermon will open the minds of people everywhere; exposing the secrets to life-long bliss and interest-free loans. No vision, that must be their problem.

I have one question, one I certainly can't answer: with the Jays in first place on May 1st, is this season officially a success? One month in first is certainly better than zero days, weeks, or months spent out front over the last few years. If the team ends up with 80-odd wins for the fourth year in a row, this season is automatically more successful than the previous years, isn't it? Maybe I'm reaching and hedging like always. But I certainly didn't expect the first month to go so well, and being pleasantly surprised will quiet my complaints, for a little while anyway.