Saturday, 5 April 2008

Random Observations

That was a pretty sweet win the Jays just pulled off - a 10-2 bitchslap of the defending champion Red Sox. I know we're only five games into the season, but I thought I'd do a little recap of what the Jays have done well and what they need to improve on:
  • Eckstein - First the good - he's growing on me. That scrappy little slide in the first was nice, and it's really night and day the difference between a league average guy like Eck, and the wanna be shortstops we've had the last couple of years. The defense is solid, better than I expected. But the biggest impact is on offense. He keeps the line moving, and that's so important to this team. He'll sacrifice himself, and he does a good job of getting on base. Part of the reason our offense has improved this year is simply because the SS isn't an auto-out anymore. It just makes the lineup deeper, and as you've seen so far we've had a couple of rallies that went through most of the lineup. It's early, but that signing is looking terrific at this point. He's exactly as advertised. I'm really liking that approach with two strikes, where he's just trying to get the bat on the ball.
  • Eckstein - the bad. Not really his fault, but I'm surprised in a game like todays, or close games in the past couple of days Gibby hasn't gone with J-Mac at SS. I think this could be a problem down the line in close games. Gibbons finally has a real SS, and he's a bit reluctant to take him out of a close game - maybe he's afraid of hurting his ego, but if Eck's the team player everybody says he is he shouldn't be pissed about Mac coming in to play as a defensive specialist. Definetly something to keep tabs on.
  • Manufacturing runs - I'm no fan of smallball, but I love what the offense has been doing so far. They're moving over runners, they're stealing, they're putting a ton of pressure on the defense. I don't expect the Jays to keep up this pace of stealing, but it's nice to see in the absence of Rolen that the Jays are doing everything to score runs. I'm positive this has to do with new hitting coach Denbo, and if I'm right then he's already worth whatever they paid him.
  • Base running - The Jays are being extremely aggressive on the base paths. And while it doesn't show up in the boxscore, the Jays have been doing a great job at going from first to third. They're pushing the envelope, and when you do that you force the other team to make a play they normally wouldn't make if you didn't try for the extra base. And when you do that, the other team is more likely to make a bad throw, allowing you to take an extra base.
  • Scutaro - I'd heard good things about him, but so far he's been extremely impressive. A very under appreciated trade at the time, Scutaro has been terrific both with the bat & the glove. It gives me a lot of confidence knowing he can give the infielders a day off, and there won't be a huge drop in production. When Rolen comes back, he's going to be a huge help coming off the bench. But as of now, he's done a terrific job at third.
  • Rolen - This team is doing so well, and the amazing thing is it's without one of the best players on the team. This team is rolling along (last time I do that, I promise) without him, and the Jays should be deeper and even better when he returns.
  • I'm surprised League hasn't pitched yet, but that's moreso cause the starting 5 has been incredible. This team is kicking in on all cylinders, and it seems like for the first time in years we have both hitting and pitching at the same time.
I think it's a pretty incredible feat that at worst the Jays will end up 3-3 after starting the season against the Yanks & Boston, and 4-2 at best. To me though, the biggest test comes after the series against the Sox. The Jays have done a great job against the Yanks & Sox the past couple of years, but they always seemed to play to the level of their competition when they played other games. What'll prove to me that this team is a true contender is if they bring this intensity to other games, and if they play to their potential rather than their competition. The Oakland and Texas series' should be a good test on whether or not the Jays are able to continue to play at an elite level.


No comments: