Showing posts with label Jesse Litsch. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jesse Litsch. Show all posts

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Effusive Praise for Jesse Litsch


He pitched like an animal. A wide-eyed Tiger killing machine. It was great.

Swinging strikes by the boat load. Ground balls a-plenty. Jesse Litsch pitched really, really well. No qualifiers or backhanded compliments. Real talk, as they (shouldn't) say.

Looking at his pitch selection, he may have used his four seamer more than usual. It is really hard to tell, which might just be Jesse Litsh's best weapon.

On the radio broadcast, Gregggggg Zaun mentioned Litsch was pitching backwards, working off his cutter with a four seamer the Tigers simply weren't prepared for. If that is true, and I have no reason to believe it isn't.

When Litsch can run the cutter off the outside corner then bust the FF back inside - he's really tough. When hitters give up on what they think is the cutter off the plate, only to watch a four seamer for strike three - he's even tougher.

According to Brooks Baseball, he didn't have any swinging strikes with his four seamer but he did have a high number of called strikes - unlike his slider which was nearly 50/50 between called strikes and whiffs.

Litsch handled the few lefties in Detroit's lineup nicely. He kept the ball in the ballpark and obviously struck out a career high nine batters.

I don't expect Jesse Litsch to go out and strike out 9 hitters every time he takes the mound. While he didn't deserve his early demotion he didn't pitch well in several starts - but last night he pitched beautifully.

If he is able to throw his four seam fastball as effectively as he did last night, there is no reason Litsch can't be a viable rotation option in the future. That's a lot of ifs — a lineup with more than two lefties remain a better test of his abilities — but I am officially impressed with Jesse Litsch's performance.

AP Photo courtesy of Daylife.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Can't Stop the Bum Regression

Baseball ain't fair. If I were ranking the reasons I love it, that brief statement would be both near the top and right at the bottom. It drives us crazy - just when you think you figured it out, well, Litsch happens.

Poor, poor Jesse Litsch pitched very well against the Red Sox on Sunday, especially if you ignore the inning in which he did not (something Litschians love to do.) The 4-run second inning was hardly a true laser show, dismissing it as two bloops and a blast does J.D. Drew a great disservice. He hit a line drive so hard that Jesse Litsch ducked from and shortstop Yunel Escobar jumped for yet the ball still landed some 250 feet from home plate. A rocket.

Despite pitching well, Litsch seemed to exhaust his ability to defy gravity against the Sox. After a game in which he allowed 10 baserunners and stranded them all (a.k.a. not a sound strategy) Litsch went the other way, stranding just 30% of the runners he (and his defense) allowed to reach base.

Poor Litsch (or Nibbles, as I decided to anoint him) also saw his home run per fly ball rate jump from "none" to "some", surrendering his first round tripper of the year. Another shame as Litsch did an amazing job keeping the ball on the ground against the Sox, something I love seeing from him.

Jesse Litsch is just there, in the middle. Some might think him adequate while others simply mediocre. The only real difference between the Jesse Litsch thus far in 2011 and Jesse Litsch for his career is the lack of home runs. Keep doing what you do Jesse, inning eaters gotta eat.

UPDATE: It has become clear to me that I'm unable to write about Jesse Litsch without previously-stated biases (small B) leaking into what I attempt to convey, just as many readers cannot divorce my previous criticism from my praises (however faint) for his recent performance.

Combined in his last two starts; Litsch pitched 11 innings, struck out 9, walked 5, gave up 1 home run and 12 total hits. He allowed 6 total runs, 4 "earned." That's fine.

The walks aren't likely to be that high moving forward but neither are the strikeouts. If they come down in tandem I'm still cool. The ground balls are plentiful1 and that is certainly a good thing.

If that is his (tiny sample-sized)contribution, so be it. 5+ innings a start 25 times this season, I can live with that. I don't hate Jesse Litsch and it surely has nothing to do with "how he looks on the mound", something I've heard before but doesn't even enter my mind when I watch him.

He isn't my favorite pitcher or one I particularly like watching but I promise I'll go easier on him, so long that we can all agree the contributions of a 5th starter on an 80-win team are mighty inconsequential in the end. Deal? Deal.

Sunday Morning Fun Run


You know what was awesome about yesterday's game? The Aaron Hill delayed steal of home. Clever, inventive baseball from a team struggling to score runs. Sure, the old "you play for one run that is exactly what you get" proviso applies, but it is indeed fun to watch.

You know what isn't fun? Listening to Tabby and Buck breathlessly exhort the Jays to run because of all the "pressure it puts on the defense" and how much of an impact it has on pitchers. It drove me crazy enough that I had to be all dickish about it.

Jays Record When:
  • they steal two bases: 3-4
  • they steal one base: 5-6
  • they are caught stealing: 1-4
  • they hit a home run: 6-2.
I would be lying if I said there is any sort of connection between the game outcomes and these cherry picked examples...but let's not go crazy proclaiming this as a revolution which will change baseball forever.

1 - So Sluttered!

Image courtesy of some lego Wiki.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Old Habits Die Hard


It isn't that I plan to dump on Jesse Litsch's fine outing. Litsch did a great job moving his pitches around the (generous) zone, getting backwards K after backwards K. He only gave up 6 hits and 2 walks, a great start indeed. Credit to both him and JPA for keeping the A's hitters off-balance.

That said, when the A's batters did manage to get their bats on Jesse's offerings, MAN did they hit him hard. Much like Jo-Jo Reyes the night before, Litsch surrendered as many line drives (6) as he did ground balls (6). While Reyes took it upon himself to boost Travis Snider's UZR and arm scores, Jesse Litsch might just win Rajai Davis a Fielding Bible award. Stinging liner right to Rajai Davis in centerfield becomes a great over the shoulder catch. Long shot to the gap, Davis runs it down in the most spectacular manner possible.

Davis nearly made another great catch but, I feel, fell victim to the video boards in the gap and lost it off the end of his glove. Missing one liner is okay as Davis well on his way to fulfilling Parkes' prophecy and becoming your favorite baseball player, likely ever.

A dangerous game to play but Jesse Litsch played it very, very well last night. He did exactly what Jesse Litsch needs to do: scatter the hitters, avoid walks at all costs, keep the ball in the ballpark. I'll take a few ringing doubles if the strikeouts outnumber the walks, every time.

Speaking of strikeouts, Marc "Led Rzeplin" Rzepczynski pitched OFF HIS ASS last night. 6 batters faced, three strikeouts, another broken bat, two broken bats, one infield pop fly, no hits surrendered. It was awesome, even more awesome than David Purcey's outing the previous day. It is a good time to be a GROFavorite.

Almost as awesome as the manner in which manager John Farrell used Rzepczynski. "Fuck a save", the manager was (not) quoted as saying after the game. Anytime I'm only asked to buckle up for a two-out Rauchride, I'm on board.

AP Photo courtesy of Daylife.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Pot Shouts at Kettle Accusingly, Dozens Sigh in Boredom

Exclusive video montage of Jesse Litsch's career progression.


Far, far be it from me to criticize ANYONE for fetishizing the exploits of your favorite players. As anyone who reads this site regularly knows, I tend to focus in on the abilities of bit players and blow them up to legends in my own mind.

Additionally, I'm a big fan of Mike Wilner. Huge. Love what he does and hope he never changes his style. I don't always agree with him but that's understandable. He uses the pesky "reason" stuff so it is hard to argue too strenuously. Until today.

Catching up with Wilner's blog, I read his post after Jesse Litsch's great spring outing. Wilner is a big Litsch supporter, I get that. But what I read BLEW MY MIND (emphasis mine):
Jesse Litsch has been the favourite of plenty of Blue Jays fans to kick around the last couple of years, with the majority seemingly having completely forgotten that he was legitimately one of the best starting pitchers in the American League in 2008, and that as a 22 year-old in 2007, had a fine rookie season.
Whoa.

I could go ahead and dig up a mountain of data to show that Jesse Litsch was, in fact, not one of the best starters in the American League. He was probably the third best starter on his own team.

In terms of innings pitched and runs allowed, he was about as good in 2008 as Josh Beckett. That much I can agree with. Does that make him one of the best? Beckett is pretty famous so shit, I don't know.

Nope, I know. Jesse Litsch was not among the best starters in the American League. Not now or ever. He just isn't.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Playing to the Base (Let's Talk About Feelings)



This should be a happy time for Jays fans. It is a happy time. Roberto Alomar, local folk hero, enshrined in the Hall of Fame! The first to go in as a Blue Jay! Excitement!

Unfortunately the scrutiny maelstrom surrounding Hall of Fame inductions may have shot a few holes into the Roberto Alomar mystique. Calling his defense track record into question and the like. Long suffering Jays fans howl in disbelief, unable to fathom the great second base deity might not be as transcendent as they remember.

It was nearly 20 years ago, after all. People jumping out of their skin to decry the faulty metrics based on observations they made when they were 12. Just like Parkes said in the comment section of his post on the matter, you can't toss aside defensive metrics and meaningless awards when Jeter wins them but use them as to back your Robbie the GBOAT case.

But Robbie Alomar isn't a rational buy for Jays fans of a certain age, he's an emotional one. The iconic home run, taking rueful hot dog Dennis Eckersley deep against all odds, is etched in the minds of those old enough to remember.

Does it matter that Candy Maldonado actually contributed more, in terms of WPA, on that fateful day? Nope, it does not matter one bit. We remember it how we remember it, and we associate so many of those fuzzy feelings with Robbie. Rightfully so.

Robbie clearly has an affinity for Toronto, too. The most deeply cynical among us (hi!) might suggest his loud lobbying to go in as a Blue Jay seeks to exploit that affinity, that he recognizes the value in being "Blue Jays Hall of Famer Roberto Alomar" when it comes to appearances and signings.

Or he just valued his time in Toronto as the best of his career. His ongoing relationship with the team suggests as much. Being heralded as a hero will do that.

What about players who aren't thought of as heroes? As anyone familiar with the self-deprecating stylings of Dirk Hayhurst knows professional athletes — especially those on the talent margins — must cast off the constant fear and self doubt associated with professional inadequacy.

Blogoncé herself wondered "aloud" if I didn't want to @-reply Jesse Litsch on Twitter with a link to the post I wrote earlier this week, expressing my belief that Litsch is unfit for the rotation. I can honestly say I did not.

There is no part of me that wants to put Jesse Litsch on blast, attempting to draw his attention to the uninformed opinion of a no-account blogger like me. Not that he'd put any stock in it in the first place. Either way, the thought of Litsch bristling at the thought that some clown in his parent's basement doesn't think he has what it takes makes me uneasy.

Seriously, who am I to tell Litsch he isn't good enough? In any professional baseball player's eyes, I'm nobody. Could my insignificant words penetrate the iron-clad shell of pro athlete confidence? Hopefully not. But it is surely part of the din.

It's all in the game though. Jesse Litsch knew what he was getting into long ago. A product of the RBI program, he's overcome more than his share of adversity. Here's hoping he stays strong and overcomes a little more, in spite of what clowns like me believe.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

I Defy You to Make Sense of Jesse Litsch


There is no middle ground on Jesse Litsch. You either think he's the worst starter the Jays have, or simply bad. So polarizing! Might he be the fifth starter, or fighting for the long man role? Unless you're Mike Wilner in Daytime Radio Host/Chase Producer mode or have a thing for freckles, you probably don't think too highly of Jesse Litsch. Both of which are somewhat understandable but not especially estimable.

Let me get this out of the way: I don't understand the appeal of Jesse Litsch. Every non-disastrous outing he makes seems more unlikely than the last. I don't think I'm alone in this. In fact, the Fangraphs community projections for Litsch serve as a great reminder for the value of scouts.

Four different Fangraphs users submitted 2011 projections for Jesse Litsch. 2 self-identified Jays fans and 2 out-of-town fans. The Jays fans, likely armed with scarred memories of Listch's outings past, project a dire 2011 for the Jays right hander. The non-Jays fans hardly toss him Cy Young votes but those with Litsch baggage foresee half as many innings with fewer strikeouts and more base runners.

Base runners are not the friends of pitchers like Litsch. Pitchers who miss bats at a below-average rate must hope against hope to induce a ground ball to do the work they're out pitch cannot. It's stressful stuff, hanging on by a BABIP thread.

Just look at the company Litsch keeps. Here is a complete list of pitchers (since 2007) with at least 340 innings pitched, K/9 under 5.00 and ground ball rates under 50%. Children, look away from the screen.
  • Jesse Litsch
  • Braden Looper
  • Jon Garland
  • Kyle Kendrick
  • Scott Feldman
  • Mark Buehrle
  • Paul Byrd
  • Nick Blackburn
  • Livan Hernandez
  • Jeff Suppan
  • Carlos Silva
  • Zach Duke
A rather contemptible lot. Some "effective" starters, durable hurlers who dutifully take the ball every fifth day. Mark Buerhrle is the best of the lot (15 WAR over this time frame) but he features the group's highest K rate while yielding the fewest home runs.

When compared to the august company he keeps, two factors work against young Jesse Litsch. His in ball average is the lowest and his strand rate is the second highest. That, to me, is terrifying. Regression waiting to happen. Jesee Litsch isn't exactly the kind of guy who can afford to regress. A rebuilt elbow might keep Jesse Litsch from using his ground ball-inducing cutter as frequently in the future, exposing him to even more fly balls and home runs.

Some pitchers demonstrate repeatable ability to maintain high strand rates and below-average in play averages? Yes, yes they do. But they aren't among this wing and a prayer bunch. If Jesse Litsch transitions to more of a fly ball pitcher, his in play average might stay down but the strand rate will rise when the home runs roll in.

Only Buehrle has a (fractionally) higher strand rate than our pink hero and I'm willing to credit his superlative pickoff move and general left-handedness as bonus points for his magical case against reason. We certainly can't make the same allowances for Litsch.

Is this a long way of saying I don't think Jesse Litsch is a viable fourth, fifth, or emergency starter? Yes. Not only does he have marginal at best skills, his inability to remain healthy pretty much discounts any inning-eater claims.

Is Marc Rzepcynzski a better option in every single way? Absolutely! I don't say that as an unabashed fanboy1 but as someone who feels that the ability to miss bats and induce an above-average number of ground balls outweigh struggles with control and the occasional gopher ball.

1 - This is a lie.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Litsches get Stitches


Look, beating up on poor Jesse Litsch isn't fun. I get no pleasure from knocking around the pudgy red-headed kid. Good people? I'm sure of it. A decent athlete? Relative to his cup size, of course! A big league pitcher? Mehhh, I'm not convinced.

Maybe that isn't fair, he IS a big league pitcher, making 58 starts over 4 seasons in The Show. Not me nor anyone else is going to take that away from him. My biggest beef with the Jays continually trotting out Litsch is his ceiling. This is it, isn't it? He can be good in very specific circumstances, but completely vulnerable in nearly every other instance.

A line in Mike Wilner's latest blog entry got me on this line of thinking. Quoth the Wilner:
He (Marc Rzepczynksi) may be the odd man out on Tuesday when (if?) Travis Snider gets recalled, especially given the way Jesse Litsch has pitched lately, but the landscape may change dramatically between now and then, with the trade deadline approaching.
The way Litsch pitched lately? The same as always. Yes, Jesse Litsch put together a good start in Kansas City, holding the Royals to 1 run on EIGHT hits in 5 2/3 innings. Zero walks and zero strikeouts. After giving up two home runs in each of his previous two starts, Litsch managed keep the ball in the yard against the Royals. Which would be good if not for one key detail:

HE WAS FACING THE KANSAS CITY ROYALS


The Royals, charitably, suck. Awful. A punchless lineup of slap-hitters (and Billy Butler) with no power whatsoever. I defy you to find a better match for Jesse Lisch's skills and abilities. That isn't a good start, pitching well against the Royals counts for nil in my book. Let's not forget the heavy air and vast outfield expanses.

The Royals offensive ineptitude nearly drove me to drink this week. It's bad enough that their poor fans have to deal with it every day, but Buck and Tabby blowing smoke up the long-dead ass of Ewing Kaufman nearly pushed me over the edge. "This is Royals baseball!" they exclaimed as the Royals registered two non-consecutive singles. THE ROYALS ARE A TERRIBLE OFFENSIVE TEAM.

Their strategy is one to avoid at all costs. Remember a few weeks ago when I discussed the correlations between various hitting metrics and runs scored? THE ROYALS ARE THE LIVING EMBODIMENT OF THIS VERY RESEARCH. Hitting for a high average does not generate offense. It just serves to piss me off and waste my precious time. Which, as this post should tell you, is in serious demand.

Image of Listch in the dark courtesy of Reuters via Daylife. Note: those dark shadows IN NO WAY contributed to his decent start against the Red Sox

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Ice Ages



On consecutive nights this week, the Rogers Centre showcased two very different pitchers. One who does nearly everything right, one who might be at the end of his leash.

Marc Rzepczynski pitched wonderfully Wednesday night, striking out 7 against only one walk. He missed bats, he changed speeds, he induced ground balls. It was awesome. I'm unabashed in my support/belief in Rzepczynski and last night went a long way in explaining why. Other than the two home runs he surrendered; he was great.

Jesse Litsch, deep in his post-Tommy John hangover period, was the opposite. Litsch was bad, as he has been all season long. Jesse Litsch gets nobody out, no matter how hard he tries. His 7 strikeouts in 24.2 innings thrown in 2010 make for a tidy 2.55 K/9! That's downright awful, even for "heave-it-and-hope" Jesse.

See, strikeouts are important. Jeff Sullivan of SB Nation and Lookout Landing summed it up nicely yesterday in reference to Brandon "holy shit, Anthopoulos made Jack Z his dog's bitch" Morrow
But you can afford some walks when you strike out more than a quarter of the batters you face. Striking out that many batters limits their opportunities to do damage...While strikeouts aren't everything, they can help make up for an awful lot of shortcomings
Everybody has shortcomings. Marc Rzepczynski sometimes loses sight of the plate and offers up a few more gopher balls than you'd like. But Litsch? If the Listch isn't exactly right, he gets covered to all corners of the yard.

Remember when B.J. Ryan came back from Tommy John and begged, borrowed, and stole 32 saves? It took him a while to find his spots and his velocity and movement were way down, but he was okay? Doing that for one inning a night, needing to con only three hitters into retiring themselves is one thing. Trying to get all the way through a major league lineup twice is something else entirely.

Jesse Litsch needs to go away - soon. Not that I wish him ill, he just doesn't have what it takes at this time. Usually the kind of guys who can get away with really low K rates are sinkerballing maniacs. Litsch may throw that slutter of his until the precious new tendons deep in his elbow are ground to a fine paste, but he has a long way to go to reach maniac-level status. See, that's the thing with barely above replacement-level fifth starters: it doesn't take much for someone better to take your job.

Why that video? No reason, it's simply the funniest thing I've ever seen in my life. It is perfect. Not many things are. Sorry, Lebron-fatigue (on both sides) makes me wistful.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Steve Phillips is a Little Slow on the Uptake

God bless the Four Letter. They've trotted out four of their baseball analysts in a vain attempt to accrue page views; the Fightin' Battle of the Killer Budgets! Each seamhead is saddled with a $40 million dollar budget for their team, which will compete in a simulated baseball tournament. The winner progresses to face the Yankees and their diamond encrusted twelve-sided die, which will once and for all settle the salary cap debate. The exercise ostensibly measures the writers' budgetary acumen and eye for talent, but really just serves as a platform to expose Steve Phillips as an idiot. Jayson Stark, Roy Neyer, Buster Olney and the aforementioned Phillips have been drafting away, wasting some time, and generating baseball discussion/ad revenue. Armed with Steve Phillips's lunacy, I'm going to play right into their hands.

Phillips is the somewhat reviled former Mets GM and latest addition to the Sunday Night Baseball booth. He's credited with drafting/signing Scott Kazmir, Jose Reyes, and David Wright and blamed with inking Mo Vaughn, the ghost of Roberto Alomar and Bobby Bonilla. Imagine Richard Griffin, only instead of being a PR flak, HE MADE ALL THE BASEBALL DECISIONS. I think Stoeten's head would explode. It would seem that his experience helming the Mets removed any consideration of budgetary constraints, because some of his selections have been ridiculous.

While the nerdy writer types key on the best and cheapest available players early, Stevo drafted Hanley Ramirez in the first round. Fair enough, though he does make a little bit too much money for this experiment. He continues picking up big(ger) contracts while the BBWAAs pluck the lower priced quality around him. In the late rounds, Jayson Stark plucks Jays back up LOOGY Jesse Carlson, a steal in the 14th round. This is about the time that Stevie loses his fucking mind.

Despite paying $13 million bucks for David Wright and Hanley Ramirez (32.5% of his budget), good ole Stevie thought shelling out another $6.25 million bucks for his closer was a good idea. Me thinks the SABR nerds have rattled his cage, gotten him off his game. After a bizarre statement that he'd prefer to serve hard time than vote Democrat, Steve settles in for a long winter nap. In need of a left handed bullpen guy, Phillips reaches out for Hideki Okajima, he of the $1.5 million dollar salary. For a left handed specialist. On a budget. Two picks later, Stephanos selects his third shortstop in 20 picks in the form of The Riot. Sigh.

It should be noted that Phillips only has $2.5 million dollars to spend on 5 players. There's hope for you yet, Litsch! The other, smarter writer's picks have been excellent and nicely budgeted, leaving plenty of money at the end to pick up a higher priced guy that could make an simulated impact. As I mentioned, the only Jay selected so far has been Jesse Carlson. I think I like Stark's team the best. Joey Votto, GROFavorite Brandon Morrow, Evan Longroia and Cole Hamels. The final round goes Friday, and the "games" are to be "played" next "week." Here's hoping Phillips gets a delicious taste of comeuppance.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Saturday Shit Show


Forty Four thousand plus watched the Jays demoralize the Wild Car-leading Red Sox on a humid Saturday afternoon at Rogers Centre. Vernon Wells is a fucking demon, looking for the first five hit game of his career while making Jason Bay hate coming to the plate. Wells tracked down everything Bay tried to put into play, while sending two out of play himself. Fuck you Murph. The Jays have 16 hits and 11 runs through seven and are looking to continue the madness into the eighth. There must be something in the water in Syracuse as Jesse Litsch has thrown 13 straight scoreless innings since his recall. Let's hope this outburst continues into tomorrow's affair.

In other news which may seem odd to some, Shaun Marcum was optioned to AAA Syracuse before today's game. The team hopes he can sort out the control issues he's been experiencing since coming off the DL. They feel he has time to sort it all out and still be a key part of any potential playoff push. John Parrish was recalled and will make Marcum's next scheduled start. I found this somewhat surprising, though anyone can see that he hasn't been as effective since coming off the DL...though he hasn't been awful.

In Beijing - South Korea blazes to the gold going UNDEFEATED for the entire Olympics. That's fucked up.

Friday, August 15, 2008

True Believers


The Large Smoke Birds roll into Fenway tonight nine games behind the Red Sox in the Wild Card race. It's been a season of "they just need to get hot" for the Jays and their every struggling ass offense. Well it's about that time now. Toronto is currently 62-60, with 40 games remaining, 27 of them are against either the Red Sox, Rays or Yankees. You gotta think it's going to take 90-95 wins to get into the playdowns. So Toronto needs to win 30ish games of their remaining 40. That, my friends, is .750 baseball.

I won't even try and count how many good pitching performances have been wasted due to the Jays inability to have their players physically cross home plate but I'm pretty sure it's a thousand. What the fuck can you expect when a player who's missed two months of the season is one behind the team lead in both home runs and RBIs? Awful.

While Scott Downs tries to convince the Jays he doesn't require a stint on the DL, don't expect to see "Shit the bed" Frasor in a meaningful situation anytime soon. How many chances does one get to relieve Jesse Litsch after he's tossed 7 innings of shutout ball? Motherfucker.

I doubt the Jays will finish 31-9 or anything remotely close to that, however I wouldn't be surprised if the Rays sputter home with Longoria, Crawford and now Percival on the shelf. Though I didn't expect the assholes to sit at the top of the East on August 15th either.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Show Me the Pink!


As you may well have heard, the Jays recalled Jesse Litsch to the big club. Just in time to face the Detroit Tigers. After AJ and his not-so-great-against-the-Tigers numbers finish tonight, the Jays will send David Purcey and the Pink against the big bad Tigers. This does not fill me with a great deal of confidence. Looking a Jesse's splits, we can see that he is the ultimate feast or famine guy. He's vulnerable on the road and has trouble keeping the ball in the ballpark. The Tigers have no problem whatsoever hitting the ball out of the ballpark. The Jays then send David Purcey against the Tigers for the second time. Before his big league debut, I predicted grave things for the big lefty's start against a team that destroys lefties. He kept it respectable that day, aside from the 7 free passes he issued. I believe in Purcey, but the potential for ugliness at the back end of this series is huge.

I do not understand why the team called up Litsch to start against the Tigers, pushing Halladay back a day to open the series against the Red Sox. The relative magnitude of these two series is the same, isn't it? Hell, why not send lil' Litschy at the Sox? His record against them isn't bad at all.

The Sox will have a new face in their midst as well, acquiring old-timey Jay killer Paul Byrd. It seems Tim Wakefield's shoulder can't hold up to the strain of flicking knuckleballs 65 mph for 20 years. All these deals after the non-waiver deadline, is nothing sacred anymore? Doesn't that mean the Jays could've had Adam Dunn for a song? (Note: Only if their record was worse than the D-Backs.) If they are truly going to shut down Accardo for the year, they could move him to the 60 day DL and clear up a spot on the 40 man roster. That would be some sweet spiting.

One thing that is certainly sacred; the legacy of the Montreal Expos. There is a nice retrospective on ESPN's page 2 today (Via Jonahkeri.com). My weekend overlords remind us that today is the 14th anniversary of the strike, and the Expos descent into hell that began that fateful day.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Return of the Mac


It doesn't matter that it's 6-6 in the bottom of the fifth or if the Jays win or lose tonight. Shaun Marcum is back and I for one couldn't be happier. With Jesse Litsch throwing what appears to be batting practice to most teams and the unpredictable John Parrish launching balls all over the field it'll be nice to see Marcum ease his way back into form and dominate opposing batters.

This just in - Johnny Mac is still fucking awesome.

Fuck Baltimore.

Oh, and to re-iterate something Lloyd has eloquently said before - Adam Lind is the
king of the universe...triple away from the cycle = good game.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Winning ways to continue on the Left Coast


The nine game road trip continues tonight as the Jays stroll into Anaheim looking for their third straight victory. After losing the opener bayside, the Jays picked up the last two against Oakland with the last seeing Jesse Litsch follow up his shutout performance with another gem. Yes, Jesse fucking Litsch is 7-1. The naysayers have all shut their mouths and have started a lineup hoping to get their very own shot at swinging from his nuts.

The 12-0 thrashing of the A's saw a few rarities that even made me wonder what the hell was going on. Rod Barajas hit three doubles, which must tie or only leave him one shy of his career total. Kevin Mench recorded three hits, which is the first time since September of last season he's done so. Shannon Stewart actually put a ball over the fence, something I didn't think I'd see for the remainder of his career.

Dustin McGowan takes the hill tonight and is 0-3 vs. the Angels is his young career sporting a decent 3.27 ERA in five games (three starts). Clearly he's going to pick up his first victory tonight. Jared Weaver counters for the Halos and has beaten the Jays the only two times he's faced them. It ends tonight, as the Jays will no doubt thrash him.

It's only a matter of time before the bubble bursts down in Florida when the Rays coming crashing back to the reality of competing in the American League East. I suppose there is the slight possibility that won't happen, but I consider myself a realist.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Jays Lefty Mashers Mash A's Lefty

As I stated during DJF's jovial live blog: Jesse Litsch has a 16 inning scoreless streak, the Blue Jays scored a dozen AND totaled 7 extra base hits, with a home run among them! I'll begin hoarding canned goods and bottled water. Note: The Jays moved to an absurd 14-1 in day games, meaning the team and I will be allies during the zombie apocalypse. Together we will take back the night and feast on the molting flesh of the undead.

Aaron Hill had a Gary Carter hat trick with a hit, a walk and a teammate's elbow to the face. The Hustling Weasel David Eckstein grittily ran over Hill in dogged pursuit of a lazy popup in a 10-0 game. Perhaps Davey is sensing that he is slipping into the Mariana Trench end of the SS depth chart. Lefty Masher Kevin Mench added a cool 60 points to his average and hit is first extra base hit of the year. Lefty Month of May Masher Rod Barajas contributed three doubles(!) while catching both ends of the dreaded "night game before a day game" kneecap softener. Scott Rolen came out after the 7th inning to bask in his own magnificence. I encourage you to do the same.

A quick note to those considering giving the Jays up for dead. This is the type of team the Blue Jays can be. In fact, this is the kind of team the Jays are. Jesse Litsch will give up runs, and eventually, (gasp) lose games. But their pitching staff from top to bottom is the TRUTH. They won't score 12 every night, or knock 7 extra-base hits, but they can expect production and offense from 1-9 on any given night. They managed all this with one of their "best" hitters going 0-6 and the other playing WiiFit with his hyperactive kids. This is a team that NOBODY will want to play. One with a great deal of meaningful baseball in the not-so-distant future.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Smoke and Mirrors Continue to Yield Surprising Results

Somehow, someway, Jesse Litsch is 6-1. He pinkly and efficiently did his best Roy Halladay impression today, entering the ninth inning having only thrown 81 pitches. Apparently, he broke Jimmy Key's team record for innings without a walk. I think I just broke my own personal record for incredulity. That and words posted without a dick joke.

I'm not afraid to admit that I was wrong about Jesse Litsch. It would also seem that everyone's favorite whipping boy Lenny and Holly Gibbons was right. 23 years old without any real time at AAA, he seems to be figuring this out. His splits and peripherals from this year look similar to Shaun Marcum's last year. Few walks, prone to the long ball but very solid for the back of the rotation. I sense that facing the Royals is good for what ails you, and is a great way to earn your first career shutout. Their offense is even more inept than the Blue Jays, giving the Jays bullpen the weekend off and generally behaving in a KC Royals-ish fashion.

The Jays offense put up 13 runs in the last two games, but my glee is tempered by the manner they've scored them. Friday night seemed like slap-singles that came in bunches, with only one extra base hit all night. Today, they were buoyed by 8 walks and Brad Wilkerson striking a blow for a free Acholiland with a grand slam in the first. Lyle Overbay picked up three walks and an RBI, while issuing a stern fuck you to any remaining doubters. Scott Rolen defiantly stared at the sun, waiting for a demonstration of who and what runs the show on this or any planet. It blinked and bowed.

I don't want to dismiss this offensive "outburst", but I'll wait until they put up some runs against a real team. This streaky bunch will drive us all mad this year, waiting for the hits to come in bunches, leaning heavily on the out of this world pitching staff. The dreaded West Coast road trip looms after this weekend jaunt to Windsor Castle. The Yankees should have reeled off about 12 straight wins by the time the Jays roll into the world's most famous garbage dump.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Is a corner being turned?

Or is the pitching staff going to return to a level of performance that isn't beyond ridiculous? Honestly, I couldn't care less, so long as they keep putting up the W's. Oddly enough, the guy who was battling for the 5th spot in the rotation this spring is the first Jay pitcher to 4 wins. Just imagine if Casey Janssen hadn't been injured.

The bats seem to come alive (for the Jays) today and baby steps are being taken to right the offensive ship. 3 for 13 with runners in scoring position, believe it or not, is an improvement for the Jays and it's only a matter of time before they bust out of this funk. Vernon Wells came up big today which is great to see, because like or not, he's a big key to the success of this team. Sure the Jays left 21 runners on base, but at least they had those 21 players on to do so.

Julio Franco announced his retirement from professional baseball Wednesday at the ripe old age of 49. He'd long say he wanted to play into his 50's but father time seemed to have caught up with the oldest player to ever hit a home run in Major League Baseball. Franco was currently playing in the Mexican league for the Quintana Roo Tigers. Franco played his first pro game for the Escogido Tigers in the Dominican winter league in 1980, when I was two fucking years old! He made his Major League debut in 1982 with the Phillies. For as long as I can remember Julio Franco has been playing baseball in some capacity, mostly as a bona fide major leaguer. Although it doesn't make me all that sad he's retired, it does make me feel somewhat old. Franco retires with a career .298 average, 2,586 hits and 173 home runs in 23 seasons in the majors with eight teams. He also used one of the heaviest bats in the league...figure that shit out.

Parkes over at DJF has an oh so fucking true post on Nick Swisher that all should read. If you disagree, you're an idiot.

NOTE - The Reverend feels for Lloyd as his Habs have been ousted by the scumbags from Philly.

Extraneous Thoughts from The Ballpark

Jays Win = You're Moshing
I think I'm running out of ways to describe the dominance of this pitching staff.

Mark Buehrle is a left handed homeless man's Roy Halladay
Not a homeless left handed man like Jesse Orosco, Arthur Rhodes or Mike Stanton, I mean he does a reasonable Roy Halladay impression. Works quick, throws strikes.

Orlando Cabrera is swarthy man's John McDonald
They each made jaw-dropping plays during the game. I'll give Johnny Mac the edge because I want to. Seeing him in the lineup made me all warm and tingly. Again, not that it means anything, but the Jays are now 4-1 when he starts at short. David Eckstein, though he didn't play, still managed to piss me off. At the end of the game as the Jays walked out to exchange pleasantries, the Weasel made a big production of HUSTLING TO BE FIRST IN THE HANDSHAKE LINE. I don't know why, but it made my want to rush the field and rain blows down upon him.

Shawn Marcum will throw you any pitch in any count
He just doesn't care. One thing I worry about is the whole "I was really sick" story that seems to appear every time he has a great outing. We already love you Stieb-lite, you don't have to force the issue.

Closer by Commitee - Heart attack on Demand
Me - Awesome, top of nine. Somebody make the scoreboard explode, it's Bo Junior o'clock. Oh wait, he pitched yesterday. Wait, who the fuck is that on the mound? Shawn Camp? Mother of god. Now they're bringing in Shutter Downs? Isn't his arm broken or something? Give me strength. I will concur with the Reverend and say that Jesse Carlson is straight-up boner fodder. In my mind he's becoming Andrew WK. Hey you, let's party. Carlson's going to have a party tonight.

The Rogers Center reminds me of a cemetery for librarians
No fanfare preceeded the top of the 9th. You'd think that this team leading a game in the late innings was commonplace. The Rogers Center was dead last night. The stupid wave appeared in a 2-0 game in the top of the eighth inning. I'm going to start a fire. Though the fat dudes who spent 8 innings yelling variations of "You suck Cox" to the Sox third base coach deserve some credit. No, they actually deserve public flogging. Hey fat people, stop being fat. It's gross.

Fun in Real Time (Saturday's Game from my desk at work)
Who knew? Another Jay start, another outstanding performance. Jesse Litsch used his phone to take a picture of his red rocket. He then sent that picture to David Purcey. You won't steal his job that easily Dave. Jays scored runs, even hit a home run. Alex Rios just stole third off of a very expensive reliever. Aaron Hill is the streakiest hitter on the team, and maybe in the world. BO JUNIOR! SLIPKNOT! FIRE! JIM THOME IS BIGGER THAN THE BATTERS BOX! Rehabbing BJ Ryan is officially a top-stepper. WINNING STREAK! QUALITY STARTS! SUPERLATIVES!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

What Should Have Been

The Jays roll into Orlando tonight for an exhibition series against the Rays. Pardon? These games count? In a tiny little minor league park? Weird. A little bit of promotional shillery never hurt anyone, I guess.

What would ordinarily serve as the first opportunity to feast my eyes the magnificent bastard Rocco Baldelli, instead will be another lackluster Jays Rays series free of Rocco's charms. As you likely know, Rocco got an insane and heartbreaking case of the itis, which has landed him on the 60 day DL and seen the club decline his option for next year. It is hard to fault the club's decision in this case, and fortunately Rocco has made a nice chunk of change in his career. As always, I hope he can rebound from his affliction and bring sunshine to my life in another uniform.

The Rays have predictably scuttled out of the blocks, with their number one starter on the shelf, their big offseason addition possibly being damaged goods, and the fact that they are the Devil Rays and not that good all contributing to their inability to reach the lofty heights of an even won/loss record.

Lil Litschy goes tonight, hoping to convert the few remaining nonbelievers. I was once like you, full of doubt and skepticism. While smart people were stumping for him long ago, I saw him as a smoke and mirrors kid with marginal stuff and limited shelf life. But he clearly made huge strides this winter, under the watchful eye of the old hand.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Mound Meeting


Jesse Litsch: OMIGODOMIGODOMIGODOMIGODOMIGOD.
ROY! ROY! ROY! ROY! ROY! If Casey can't play all year, and JP said he'd let Satan himself pitch before Gus, that means I get to play?? For real play? In Canada and everything? Right? Right? Roy, c'mon!!!

Roy Halladay: I reckon so.

Litsch: Can you teach me to start like you?? Do you think I should pitch to contact too Roy? Do ya??? I wanna pitch just like you Roy. You said I could do it, Roy! I came and watched you all winter long!

Halladay: What I said the other day, you looking like me, that ain't true. I'm just a fella now. I ain't no different than anyone else no more.

Litsch: CCCCMMMMMOOOOONNNNN.

Halladay: Fine. Don't you try and pitch to contact, for the love of god don't. You gotta think about pitching like a war. You need to go in there and just kill 'em.

Litsch: Yeah, well, Uncle Brad says you was the meanest goddamn son-of-a-bitch alive, and if I ever wanted a partner for a killin', you were the worst one. Meaning the best, on account as your's as cold as the snow.

Halladay: Brad said that, did he?

Litsch: Yeah, yeah he did. I'm a damn killer myself. 'Cept, uh, I ain't killed as many as you because of my youth.

[Halladay takes Litsch under his wing, teaches him the way of the gun. Litsch responds with tremendous spring.]

Litsch (blows away Phillies): I ain't never killed no one before that, Roy.

Halladay: Well, you sure killed the hell outta that guy

Litsch: That was the first one... first one I ever killed. You know how I said I killed for five innings before? It weren't true. That Dominican that sat on my changeup, I just got him to fly out to deep center with a hanger. I didn't kill him or nothing, neither.

Halladay: It's a hell of a thing, killing a man. Take away all he's got and all he's ever gonna have.

Litsch: But they're on the other team. I guess they had it coming.

Halladay: We've all got it coming kid.

The Cold, Dead Eyes of a Killer