Sunday, August 31, 2008

Trading Places

David Eckstein is off to Arizona, in return the Jays get Chad Beck. He's a 6'4" 23 year old RHP who spent most of the season in the California league (High-A, the equivalent of Dunedin) and is in his second professional season. The Jays drafted him out of high school (!) in 2004 but didn't sign him so he's been on their radar awhile. Looking at his stat page on MiLB.com, one notes that he handled lefties well, has very good ratios, and had a season of three excellent months and one very bad month. Observe the ERA and OBA pattern:

May - 1.46 - .222
June - 2.12 - .183
July - 8.36 - 3.33
August - 2.39 - .182

Which of these is not like the other?

If you look at the GO/AO ratio, you get a good lead on why. Beck gave up 5 HR in July and 3 the rest of the season. It's an easy guess he got bad location for a few games and elevated his pitches and got rocked for it.

Considering that a lot of Jays fans were saying "send us a bag of balls for him", I'd call this an impressive return. Let's see how much praise the Hated One gets for it.

~WillRain

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Deal, or no deal?

According to Ken Rosenthal, there's now a two-team competition for David Ecksien - the Arizona Diamondbacks want him to start at 2B (the Angels have been negotiating with the Jays for a reserve IF).

This can only be good news for the Jays because the winning team will have to give a bit more than they would have without competition. In theory, the Jays could deal two of their infielders but no one is suggesting that will happen.

There's really no way to speculate on the return. But the guy we are reportedly getting from Stairs (Fabio Castro) has some decent promise, albeit he's tiny and has control issues. Expect something similar for Eckstien.

Nice comeback win for the Jays today, the interesting thing is that for a big part of the season when you tune in and see the Jays are down 6-2 you move on to other activities. Not so much lately.
Tidbits of the Game:

* Wells hit his 15th HR, driving in 2 and drawing a walk. check this out-
Wells has played 54 games now, since May 1. In that time his line is prety damned impressive.
.319
.353
.545
.898

And if you take the counting stats x3 (since 54 games is 1/3 of a season)...
39-3-33-129

If we can ever just get him to do that for 162 games on a regular basis.

*Newest Jay Jose Batista finally got off the snide, going 2/4 and driving in runners in both cases, including the tying run of the game. Hopefully the pressure will be off some now.

~WillRain

Friday, August 29, 2008

Showtime!


The decision has been made, the savior has arrived, for better or worse the future is now...

TRAVIS SNIDER HAS ARRIVED.

Matt Stairs, alas, designated for assignment. Reportedly the Jays are working on moving him to a contending team (which would presumably save us the one million he's owed next season)

An excerpt from the news release:

The Blue Jays would not reveal which team was attempting to acquire Stairs -- only that the deal will hopefully be completed within the next two days. This season, the 40-year-old Stairs hit .250 with 11 home runs and 44 RBIs in 105 games for Toronto.

Last year, Stairs hit .289 with 21 homers and 64 RBIs over 125 games for the Jays, who inked him to a two-year contract extension worth $3.25 million in November. Stairs is under contract for $2.25 million this year and is scheduled to make $1 million in 2009.

Snider, 20, had his contract purchased from Triple-A Syracuse after hitting .344 with two homers and 17 RBIs through 18 games with the Chiefs. Between stints with Class A Dunedin, Double-A New Hampshire and Syracuse this year, the left-handed-hitting outfielder hit .275 with 23 homers and 91 RBIs over 133 games.

Hopefully Stairsy gets to finish his career with dignity. As for Snider, I'm not up for debating the wisdom of this right now but clearly, the whole discussion about whether to bring in a big bat next season just got hellaciously more complex.


~WillRain


Update: Stairs to Phillies.

Per Ken Rosenthal:

The Jays will receive a prospect in return. The identity of that player has not yet been determined.


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Hats off to Bigfoot!

To borrow unashamedly from the Drunks shtick, that was one damn bonerific performance from the big left-hander tonight. A complete game, 92 pitch effort featuring ELEVEN strikeouts and ZERO walks!
Yeah, there was that one tiny mistake to Carlos Pena that cost him the 1-0 loss but still...

DAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAMMMNN was the boy good tonight.

Gotta love the idea that there are a lot of these in his future.

Oh, and "Bigfoot"? It was mentioned during tonight's broadcast that Purcey wears a size 18 shoe, and since every ballplayer needs a cool nickname....

~WillRain

The Wheel Is Indeed Turning

There's always a future risk to your credibility when you make bold statements with an online pseudonym, but hearing that The Oracle agrees with your point of view helps wash away most of the self doubt. (I'm talking about my incredulity at the Jose Bautista-Robinzon Diaz trade.) Still, after some reflection I think I might be second guessing my own second guessing on the deal, if such a thing is even possible.

Looking at the acquisition in isolation, it really doesn't make enough sense to warrant the dollar cost to this mid-market team. Bautista will be kind of expensive for a utilityman if he's retained next year after going through through arbitration. He's making $1.8 million this year and the deepest pay cut allowable (20%) puts him at a floor of $1.44 million, with a ceiling probably just north of $2 million. He's been pretty steady over the past three years and I'd be mildly surprised if you got him for less than he's making this year.

The money is one thing, but Bautista's really not that much of better of a hitter than Scutaro. More pop, yes, and this is a club that lacks for homeruns, but over the past three years Bautista has OPS+'d 94, 96, 89 compared to 96, 89, 87 from Scutaro. Bautista has hit lefties well (though not Kevin Mench-well) over his career (123 OPS+), but I wouldn't exactly call him a lefty-masher. He also has less defensively flexibility than any of the current bench players being unable to play short. As I said the other day, I just don't see the point of keeping Bautista around for a 3-man battle royale for UTIL playing time with Scoot and Inglett capable of doing a bit more with the glove and pretty much the same with the bat.

And here's the thing: maybe it's not a 3-man battle royale for UTIL playing time JP's envisioning after all.

I'm wondering if the Bautista trade signals that JP has Inglett pencilled in for starting duties at second next year (with Hill to short), leaving Scoot, Bautista and J-Mac as his 3 main non-catcher bench guys. Now, that makes sense, in fact, it just might be a classic JP bargain bin coup.

The free agent SS market is what it is, a bunch of early to mid-30s vets with good-ish track records and gaudy price tags. None you'd enthusiastically welcome aboard in 2009, well, none I would. I'd want to avoid going more than 2 years on a guy like Orlando Cabrera, Edgar Renteria seems to have angered Jobu and should be avoided entirely, while Rafael Furcal would cost the moon and the stars. And for what, really?

Furcal's career line is .287/.352/.412 and he's seen as a catalyst out of the leadoff spot. He plays good defense and has speed, posting 25 stolen bases in 2007. For that, you'll have to go at least 3 years at $13 million per to even enter the bidding for his services.

And what of Joe Inglett, a 30-year old sophomore who's controllable for as long we want him? He's got a remarkably similar career line of .296/.348/.415, albeit in far fewer ABs, though he'd been putting up that sort of line through his long minor league career. If Inglett can play adequate D at second, and Aaron Hill can improve on his play at short (with more tutelage from defensive whiz Brian Butterfield), that's a big savings passing on a few dozen stolen bases...

Inglett's not the same player as Furcal and I'm not attempting to pretend that he compares in all facets of the game. But if it saves more than $10 million making him a regular over chasing a free agent who's no guarantee to hit any better, I think I'm comfortable with a bigger picture that includes Bautista in a bench role. Especially if there's a hard budget and limited cash to bring in the starter (like Derek Lowe) and DH (like Jason Giambi) so desperately needed if the 2009 Jays are really planning on being competitive.

-- Johnny Was

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Sexy New Look

If you're a loyal reader no doubt you'll have noticed that we did a major design overhaul over the past week, abandoning our old retro-MLBTR black and white layout for some brighter blues and a warmer feel. It's always a bit awkward when a small group of adult men have to discuss their favourite colours and patterns, but in the end I think we got the desired result with minimal damage to our respective masculinities.

Our mission statement here had always been to provide informed, intelligently researched Jays commentary with occasional swearing, but I'd like to think that with the new format we now combine the sexiness of Naomi Watts along with the worldly braininess of Dr. Henry Kissenger. A warm thanks to all of you who've commented favourably on the changes we've made.

And last but not least... it would be very remiss of me not to thank long-standing Comrade Mike C. for his work designing our boss new Jimmy Key logo. So, Cheers, Biggie! I'll shoot down to Scot's Corner for a few Guinnesses (on me) before I blow town at the end of the week.

-- Johnny Was

Jinkies! A Clue!

I couldn't resist the temptation to get the scoop on this story. I'm not 100% sure that the source is reliable but it's credible enough I'm going to run with it. According to the Syracuse Chiefs Game Notes for yesterday's game, Kevin Mench was demoted to make room for the activation of Scott Rolen.


That thought had occurred to me right away when Mench's demotion was announced but I dismissed it assuming Rolen had missed enough time that he'd need a couple of rehab games. Apparently not. I'm not sure whether to be glad that this implies Rolen's shoulder responded to treatment (and thus the team knows what to do about his difficulties) or to see this as basically giving up on the treatment they were using and activating him in an act of blind hope. Still, as is my way, I'll be optimistic until events force me to be otherwise.

By the way, hat tip to FisherCat at Batters' Box for the lead.

~WillRain

Update:
Jordan Bastian confirms Rolen is being activated and reports that Rolen has retooled his swing in a way that he thinks will allow him to play every day. Here's hoping. Also, he note Jeremy Accardo is being shut down for the year and will pay a visit to Dr. Andrews about his troublesome forearm.

Monday, August 25, 2008

An Uncharacteristically Bad Trade

Word is that Robinzon Diaz, he of the 4-AB cup of coffee and awful injury luck this year, is the PTBNL (player to be named later, what? you didn't know that by now?) headed to the Pirates in exchange for utilityman Jose Bautista. We can all breathe a collective sigh of relief that Russ Adams is still a Jays' farmhand.

Now, I'm going to leave aside the fact that Bautista would probably be a non-tender candidate in the winter had he remained a Pirate because of his cost after arbitration, thus making him freely available had JP held off a few more weeks. And I also won't mention that he's really not that much better, offensively or defensively, than Hector Luna, who's already in the Jays system. Or that the Jays had no better than a 3% chance of making the playoffs when Bautista was acquired and really didn't need to add a veteran. I didn't just say all of those things and am now moving on to Diaz...

Let's take a look at the young catcher. He has his flaws (the typical Latin disdain for the base on balls, defensive rawness), but he was always a good hitter for average and had chalked up slow, but steady improvements in his slugging percentage starting at A ball at age 20 right up to his short stint at AAA last year at 23. And then he was struck by an assortment of injuries this year (a bad ankle sprain cost him 2 and a half months) that really hampered the incremental progress he'd been making and robbed him of at least a short-term stint with the Jays.

Of the three top catchers in the system (Diaz/Jeroloman/Arrencibia), Diaz was the closest to being big league ready and I would have given him a mulligan on 2008 and let him try to make the big club as Barajas' backup in spring training. When we had three young catchers with upside we had the luxury of letting them develop at their own speed, albeit with a bit of friendly competition to spur them on. Now we're down to two and should one flame out Guillermo Quiroz-style, then all that depth behind the plate is gone.

JP Ricciardi rarely makes bad trades and that is to his credit as a GM. Still, when the initial speculation was that he'd be sending Russ Adams or a redundant reliever like Frasor (non-tender candidate) or Tallet (probably would've been traded for something like Bautista in the off season) over to the Pirates, I could accept the logic of trading for Bautista. But to give up a younger player who might've been useful in 2009 as a stopgap until JPA's ready for veteran filler with only the longest of Hail Mary shots at the post-season? And where do you find playing time for this guy next year with Hill and Rolen hopefully healthy and J-Mac, Scutaro, and Inglett already filling out your bench?

Time will tell, but I'd say JP got snookered on this one.

-- Johnny Was

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Farm Report

With the end of the minor league season approaching soon, it’s obvious that all obsessive Jays fans want to know what we learned this year about future Blue Jays (and future wash outs) and so, in the coming weeks, I will attempt to give you the most exhaustive listing of players of note in the Jays system that you will find anywhere. I can't tell you that these will be extensive scouting reports on what pitches a guy throws or stuff like that. I'm only able to give you background info, an overview of the stats they posted, and whatever scouting I can dig up on the web. But at least you will have a thumbnail of all the important guys to refer to.

I have compiled a list of the 70, that’s right 70, most important names to know in the Jays’ system. Does that mean we have 70 guys with a legitimate shot at playing in the majors?

Hell no.

No one does. Or, more precisely, any of the 70 might make it, but as a whole, a relatively small percentage will. Thirty percent would be outstanding. But I created such a long list because I wanted to cover every player that someone might come back later and say “what about this guy?”

Let me just tell you right now, if they guy you are looking at didn’t make this list, he’s either way too old for his level, or a relief pitcher (because there are always tons of relievers who do well in the low minors who never make it to the bigs - most relievers in the bigs were starters in the minors), or he's in the very low minors where it's not possible to get a good statistical read on him yet (and not a high draft choice). So if I didn’t list him - especially if he was playing at Lansing or higher - the odds are outstanding he’s never going to get any relevant playing time in the majors...more than likely he won’t ever get the call.

Also, as you read, you have to remember that the further a player is from the majors, the more skeptical you need to be. Remember Vito Chiaravalloti.

“Who?” you asked? Exactly. Vito (pictured above) was the Jays 15th round pick in 2003. A slugging 1B with a great baseball name. In short-season league Auburn in 2003 Vito posted a batting average of .351, and an OPS of 1.074 in 228 at bats and Jays prospect watchers developed a bit of a man-crush.

In 2004 he was pretty good in Dunedin, in 2005 he was a disaster in New Hampshire and was sent back to Dunedin where he was even worse. He failed AA again in 2006 before being released, and stunk it up for the O’s at two stops. He spent 2007 in Indy League ball (where he had a heck of a year) at the age of 26. I’m thinking he ought to check on playing in Japan, but I digress. The point is, not every player who kicks ass in the low minors is the Next Big Thing. So when I say, of a player, “remember the Vito Factor” you will know what I mean. That said, I do have to mention all those guys because they might be something special after all.

What you will see, beginning next weekend, is a series of nine posts of the top players in the system, position by position, starting with 1B. In this way the information will be, hopefully, easier to digest and not lead to so many huge posts.

After all that is said and done, The Southpaw crew will put our heads together and come up with a top prospect list with our comments on each player we rank. We’re still working out the details on that. Stay tuned to this bat-station!

~WillRain

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Manny vs Holliday vs Burrell

I threw in my 2 cents on Johnny's Manny vs Holliday, but I'll expand my thoughts over here. Realistically, I don't think trading for Holliday is reasonable without giving up 2-3 of our big prospects or current major leaguers, and by that I mean any of: Marcum, McGowan, Snider, Lind, Cecil, JP Arencibia. If you think I'm making this up, check out this article by Jayson Stark:

Happy Hollidays: Clubs that have felt out the Rockies about Matt Holliday's availability say that if they do decide to dangle their biggest star, they are not using last July's Mark Teixeira deal as their blueprint. Instead, the Rockies are telling other teams that:
Matt Holliday

Holliday

(A) They don't need quantity. Since their young core group is basically in place virtually all over the diamond and their farm system is in good shape, they don't need to rebuild their system with one trade, as Texas did.

(B) They would want "impact" back, but aren't asking for a specific number of impact players. They could settle for a two-player package if it's the right two. They could even, conceivably, take one player back -- assuming the one player was in the
Jay Bruce/Evan Longoria/Cameron Maybin mega-impact category.

(C) They wouldn't even necessarily ask for young players. The only condition would be getting back someone they could control longer than Holliday, who can be a free agent after 2009.

(D) If they move any bats at all, they would be in a mode to trade Holliday
or Garrett Atkins, but not both. All of this, by the way, is contingent on the Rockies finding themselves clearly and hopelessly out of contention next month. And there are no signs at the moment they've even remotely considered themselves done.

Well, the Rockies did find themselves out of the race, and are currently 9 games back. So had they gotten a deal for "impact" type players, one would assume Holliday would be gone. And like I said earlier, unless you're willing to deal the impact type prospects for Holliday, you might as well kiss that theory goodbye.

Sorry Johnny - Holliday's a terrific player, and exactly what this team needs, but Dowd wants the top guys in the system, not Cecil and filler. Which is too bad, because Holliday would make a great fit in TO.

As for Manny - there's another important reason why I don't want to sign him - again, I'll take some quotes from another article by Jayson Stark:

"It really bothers me," one GM said this week of the Manny-mania lovefest that has unfolded in L.A. "What he did in Boston was criminal. Now he goes there, and everything's OK? No, sir. It doesn't change the fact that how he got there was criminal."

....

If Manny Ramirez wanders into the free-agent market this winter and gets anything close to the four years and $100 million he believes he'll get, think about the message that would send, the precedent that would set. It would, in effect, be an open invitation to every selfish superstar in baseball to pull a Manny. Act up. Stop hustling. Stop trying. Refuse to play. Make up an injury. Whatever you have to do to get back out there on the free-agent market. It's all worth it. Why not? If bad behavior winds up delivering a $100 million reward for Manny Ramirez, why wouldn't two or three, or 50 or 100, other great players think, "Heck, it worked for him. Why not me?"

Normally I wouldn't care about about stuff that can't be quantified - if it can't be put into a statistic I'll ignore it. But they bring up a good point - if Manny can do what he did and get paid, then others are going to do the exact same thing. And I don't want the Jays to be the ones to 'reward' him for what he did in Boston.

As for Burrell - he's a free agent after the season, and I hope the Jays are smart enough to make him a fair offer (probably in the 16-20 million range over several years). He'll be a type A free agent, but hopefully AJ will be one too so in the end we should break even.

Burrell's known to be a poor defender, but he ranks quite high on ZR for LF with enough playing time. He's fourth on the list with 885. I assume he must have quite the arm because he leads qualifying LF with 12 outfield assists. It's possible he could even play LF over Lind, but I'd have to watch how he does in order to really compare the two. Otherwise, he'd be an excellent DH.

Fun facts:
  • He's currently hitting 264/388/546 (934 OPS, 138 OPS+).
  • Over the past 3 years (05-07) he hit 266/392/503 (895 OPS).
  • Since 05 his lowest OPS+ is 122
  • Since 05 he's hit between 29-32 HR's a season.
  • During the 05-07 split he hit lefties to the tune of 294/434/552 (986 OPS) and against righties he hit 257/374/483 (857 OPS).
  • This year his vs RHP/LHP splits are nearly identical - 932 vs RHP and 942 against LHP.
So why is Burrell the better option?

Holliday is the better hitter, and maybe even a better fielder. But there's no chance we acquire him without giving up several of our top young players. And I don't know if that's something we're really willing to give up. I don't see it happening, to be honest.

Manny - He's a terrific hitter, but he shouldn't be rewarded for the crap he pulled in Boston. I realize how lame it is, and that Ramirez has a 149 OPS+ between Boston and LA. But if you're not willing to sign Bonds because of the crap he pulled, I find it hard to make an argument to sign Ramirez for that bullshit.

And yes, I know this is the type of lame argument that gets laughed off by FJM.

Burrell - He's not on the same level of Manny or Holliday, but he's a terrific hitter nonetheless. He clogs the bases, he takes his walks, and he's a pretty safe bet to hit 30 HR's a year. He hits righties, and he crushes lefties. And while some would argue that his home park in Philly helps his production, if he came to TO he'd still be in a pretty good hitters park so you wouldn't need to worry about a drop off in production.

Burrell is exactly what the Jays need right now. Git-R-Done.

Edit: I'll be out of town for the next week, so I hope all of you have a nice end to the summer.

Twitchy.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Manny v. Holliday?


In addition to being a cyborg sent back from the future to kill John Connor while hitting .340 for the Rockies on a yearly basis, Matt Holliday is a Big Scary Bat that's probably going to be on the trading block this winter as our confrere at DJF, Parkes, so kindly brought to our attention the other day.

We've got the ball rolling about on off-season roster moves and you the fans want to talk about this, so let's talk about this...

Some factoids, in bullet points:

* Holliday is under contract for 2009 at the modest price of $13.5 million, which might not even be enough to bring in one of the "B" DHs like Jim Thome or Jason Giambi this offseason

* Scott Boras is Holliday's agent and they will be looking for a "franchise player"-type deal the Jays cannot afford (because of Vernon Wells...), so it's one and out if he is acquired via trade

* Holliday, 29 to start next season, has been OPS-ing well over .900 on the road this year for those who dismiss him as a Coors' Field creation. His cumulative OPS+, park neutral, is about 150 over the past three years. That translates into Canadian.

* He's also probably the most slam dunk Type A potential free agent you can imagine, and if he walks at the end of 2009, there will be sweet compensatory draft picks. Sweeter than the caramel at the centre of a Skor bar.

* Travis Snider might be ready for spring 2009, but will almost certainly be a more polished hitter after a full year at AAA, pencilled in for full-time ML duties in 2010

Do you see where I'm going with this? While it's "only cash" to sign a free agent DH, you do end up giving up a compensatory draft pick along with laying your money on the table. And let's not forget that the sum you pay out for a free agent is going to be millions in excess of the cost of Holliday... for an inferior hitter who can't play defense, but that's another argument. So you do lose "something" by going with a free agent rather than trade.

If you do trade for Holliday instead you don't lose the pick in addition to gaining another one when he walks at the end of the year. You do lose prospects in the trade package that brings him in, but you'd at least be setting yourself up nicely to bring in equivilant talent in the next draft.

What would the Rockies be looking for as a trade package? Reasonable expectations would probably be something along the lines of what Pirates' GM Neal Huntington got in return for Jason Bay at the deadline. I know Bay's not the same calibre of hitter as Holliday, but he was controllable for 1 years + 2 months at the time of the deal whereas it's only one year for Holliday. Those prospects who went to Steeltown again? Craig Hansen, Brandon Moss, Andy Laroche, and Bryan Morris.

Laroche was/is a blue chipper who became the Buc's starting third baseman, Hansen is a non-descript reliever who has shown little of note in 2+ partial seasons in the bigs, Brandon Moss is looking like a more-than-serviceable 4th OF (no offense there, you get plenty of ABs in that role in the NL), and Morris is a 21-year-old reliever in A ball whose a long way off. Essentially what you're talking about here is a 4 for 1 prospect package made up of one "A" level talent and 3 guys you'd be charitable to call Bs.

The Rox will be impolitely rebuffed if they ask for Travis Snider, so there's no point even mentioning him here. I think I'd also assume the Lind is off table as well after earning himself a permament spot on the 25-man roster.

The Rox greatest need for 2009 is, of course, pitching, while they'd probably also like to upgrade at 2B and would likely be interested in an OF to take Holliday's place. I would also note that their only reliable lefty in the pen, Brian Fuentes, is likely to depart via free agency. A guy like Brian Tallet would not be useless to them.

I'd reckon that if they really want to seriously enter into negotiations with the Rockies on Holliday, the Jays have to be willing to entertain a package centred around either Scott Campbell or Brett Cecil. Those are real, legitimate blue chippers and you're not going to reel in an elite talent like Holliday without sacrificing one of them. The other 3 names you add on are interchangeable, but we could live without arms like Davis Romero, Brad Mills, or pretty much any other pitcher in the system. Major leaguers Jason Frasor and Brian Tallet are not useless, though they're going to be redundant here in 2009.

You might be thinking that Cecil or Campbell + is just too much to stomach for one year of Matt Holliday, and if that's your opinion you're entitled to it. I disagree. But keep in mind that Manny might well prove cost prohibitive (and he's 37 going into next year) and also ask yourself whether *declining, high-injury risk* sluggers like Giambi or Thome would even entertain the idea of coming to Toronto after what happened to Frank Thomas. Hell, the Mariners might even throw a wack of cash at Raul Ibanez to stick around, taking JP's favourite C-lister off the market.

Basically what I'm saying is that it's a big assumption that the most coveted free agent DHs are even signable and trade might be the only means of getting the bat that makes the Jays really and truly competive in 2009. Or you can just batten down the hatchs and wait for 2010. That's not a horrible idea, either.

Looking at the big picture, I'm not at all averse to making a major push for Holliday and would probably prefer that to seeking a FA solution. Personally, I think the risk/cost of going after one of the elderly free agent DHs is probably greater than that of selling off one of the organizations top 3 prospects and add-ons (who can be replaced with compensatory picks) for a year of Matt Holliday. The 60 point OPS+ boost out of the DH hole you get from a player of Holliday's calibre gives this offense a pulse and I don't feel as confident predicting the same level of production from Manny even, much less Thome or Giambi. And Holliday is cheaper, too, which leaves a bit of cash left over to splash out on a SS.

Also, we'd get a year of JaysTalk callers referring to Roy Holliday and Matt Halladay.

He who dares, wins, fellas.

-- Johnny Was

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Dollars and Sense

One of the great mysteries of the universe is baseball economics. Everything from the Elias formula, to how the signing bonus is paid and accounted seems to be purposely designed to confuse the average fan. So whenever fans discuss there favorite team there is consequently more confusion than anything else about what a team can or will afford to do in the upcoming off-season.

However, in the last few years the baseball world has been greatly blessed by a number of great on-line resources which help cut through the jungle of obfuscation. Among these is the wonderful Cot's Baseball Contracts.

Every informed fan should have it bookmarked (or, have our humble site bookmarked knowing that there's a link here). It is with the invaluable information found there that I shall attempt to inform you what the Jays budget situation looks to be as we drift ever closer to another winter of wheeling and dealing.

First, some basic assumptions: I assume for the sake of this discussion that the Jays have a $100 million payroll ceiling for next season since we are a negligible distance from that figure in 2008. In my opinion, Rogers will quite possible raise that figure, and they will certainly be willing to discuss a specific increase for a specific player but you have to assume some benchmark in order to make sense so I assume essentially a renewal of the current one. That said, understand it as "approximately" since going (for instance) 225K over or under is irrelevant.

Secondly, I assume that JP was honest when he implied strongly last night that the team would exercise the option on Rod Barajas. So I will speak of him as "under contract" but be advised the technically, they have not yet made that happen.

Finally, as always, one has to estimate the pre-arbitration contracts and the amount the arb eligible guys get, but I think these are pretty close.

So, here's the list. There are 27 guys here because I include McGowan even though he won't start the year on the roster, and another pitcher will make up for that. I chose Wolfe as the familiar name but if you prefer Parrish or Richmond, so be it, the payroll impact is minuscule. A similar thought led to the inclusion of Janssen. Bolded players are under contract, the three with "*" are arbitration eligible, and the rest are pre-arb.

Halladay  14.25
McGowan 0.415
Marcum 0.42
Purcey 0.395
Listch 0.4
Janssen 0.405

Ryan 10
League 0.415
Accardo 0.4
Downs 3.75
Tallett 1.2*
Frasor 1.8*
Carlson 0.398
Wolfe 0.402

Barajas 2.5
Diaz 0.39

Overbay 7
Stairs 1


Hill 2.59
Inglett 0.42

Scutaro 1.1
McDonald 1.9

Rolen 11

Bautista 2.5*

Lind 0.42
Wells 10
Rios 5.9

The totals break down like this:

Under contract: $70.99 million (includes Barajas)
Arb-eligible: $5.5 million (estimated)
Pre-arbitration: $4.88 (estimated)

Total: $81.37 million

Now, that said, Frasor will almost certainly be traded or non-tendered (It would not shock me if he were the player to be named in the acquisition announced today of Jose Bautista). Likewise, I expect Tallet to be traded (easier to do than with Frasor, so no non-tender there) and Baustista may well be non-tendered as well (though given the uncertainty around Rolen he would also be potentially brought back for less money.

I also think that there's some likelihood that the Jays will try to include a contract in any trade they might make (for instance, you trade for Khalil Greene and you try to get them to take Scutaro in the deal).

So, bare minimum, the Jays have $19 million in play this winter. Move the arbitration contracts off the roster and you have $24-25. Again, that assumes no budget increase. And while JP made budget-conscious remarks last night, I don't see a pattern lately which would imply a static payroll budget. So while there is no doubt we can afford a Manny or a similar sort of player in 2009, what we can spend past that is uncertain.

Among the other things JP said last night is that the Jays were unlikely to pursue high-cost pitching to replace AJ (assuming AJ gets away which seems likely) and the team likes its internal options. I actually like that. I've never been in favor of a big long term deal on another SP.

(I do have a smaller idea that intruiges me but I don't want to get too far off topic here.)

One final note:

You can look at other sites which give you a different projected team total and different specific salaries for certain players. the reason this happens is signing bonuses. When I do a total I follow the contracted terms of payment of signing bonuses when Cot's tells me there is a specific schedule, otherwise I pro-rate it. Many other sites pro-rate all bonuses regardless of the contracted schedule.

So, there you have it. Discuss!

~WillRain

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Other Deuce Drops

With all the pointless fury of an incensed drunken hobo screaming at the bus shelter at the corner of Richmond and Dundas, Bob Elliot let'er fly today with what I hope is the final salvo of the JP-Scott Richmond-Team Canada affair. I expected this diatribe immediately after the loss to Japan that ended Canada's medal hopes, but I suppose that hacks work on their own timelines.

Now, I do appreciate Elliot's attempt at a Trailer Park Boys reference:

Only arrogance or a failure to understand this country, or both, would allow management to not know they were walking into a sandstorm, or whatever it is Mr. Lahey and Randy say every 10 minutes on the Trailer Park Boys.

but it's the "winds of shit" that he meant to write. I'd expect better from the second drunkest denizen of Sunnyvale Trailor Park. Elliot later overestimated the population of Canada by 3 million, though in his defense I haven't read the paper today and it is entirely possible that we annexed Lithuania in the middle of the night.

As expected, the second Moron Brother who marches lockstep with Elliot ripped into JP again over Richmond in his mailbag today:


As for Richmond and his hosing by Ricciardi, it’s a disgrace. He was called up on the eve of the Canadian team’s trip to Asia. He was promised this wasn’t just for one start – and they were right, it was for three. For those that said Richmond’s major-league experience would be far preferable to going to Beijing and pitching against amateurs, that’s total crap. Richmond watching his Canadian teammates flame out from a motel room in Syracuse rather than the Olympic Village surely ruined his major-league experience. Richmond’s presence with the Jays instead of at the front end of Canada’s Olympic rotation meant that not only was the starting pitching weaker, but the trickle-up effect made the bullpen weaker as well. Anyway, it helped the U.S. gain a spot in the medal round. “O Canada. Our home and na├»ve land.”


As someone who did watch all of Canada's Olympic baseball games I conceed that they would've been a better team with Richmond and might have actually beat Cuba or the United States with him on the hill in place of the roster filler they threw out there. Yet they still would've been a long shot hopeful for a bronze at best and really, does that matter? Does, say, finishing ahead of Spain but behind Britain in the final medal tally really mean one flying fuck to anyone in this country?

So far as baseball is concerned, the Olympics are not a best on best showcase and never have been. The real prize--for those who care about international baseball, and not everyone does--is winning the mlb-sanctioned World Baseball Classic that actually does showcase the best players in the sport. The most talented young members of Team Canada (Nick Weglarz and Mike Saunders) will get another kick at the can in more stylish uniforms. Rest assured that JP will not hold Richmond back then for the sake of a few spring training innings, but by that point the talent level on Team Canada might be such that he's not needed. Wrap your heads around that, fellas.

Elliot and Griffin have got their knickers in a twist over a second-rate international tournament that wasn't even televised in Canada. We get it, the game has changed much since the wonder years of the 1980s and early '90s and you don't like it, so you shit all over someone who you've chosen to associate with Change . JP is, in my opinion, a relatively easy mark for someone who wants to make a coherent, rational critique of his GM-ing, but taking major offense to the Richmond affair just reflects the bitterness of two old men whose tenures as "local baseball experts" are drawing to a close.

Elliot and Griffin need to get over it and get over themselves. They're supposed to be elder statesmen in the Jays media, but they sure don't carry themselves as such.

Dismissed.

***

Of note, sort of:

The Oracle has noted that JP will make a hard push for Brewers ace Ben Sheets in the offseason numerous times on JaysTalk and on the blerg, but Jordan Bastian at mlb.com counters that "If Burnett does opt out, Ricciardi said that Toronto doesn't intend on replacing the pitcher through free agency."

Which is it?

-- Johnny Was

The Fresh Prince of Toronto

Everybody say it with me "You can't stop Adam Lind! You can only hope to contain him!!"

I know there's no empirical evidence he keeps being this good but, ya know, just DAMN.

Speaking of being good, I noticed something tonight and posted it over on Wilner's blog but then figured, why not give it a higher profile 'cause it's just, ya know, cool and stuff.

It's a fun stat, even despite their relative ages.

If you double Adam Lind’s at-bats, he falls just three short of the total Evan Longoria has, so let’s do that and see what kind of comparison we have:

AL: .302 - .337 - .545 - .882 — 22-8-18-70
EL: .278 - .352 - .533 - .885 — 27-2-22-71


Tell me that's not some cool shit...

~WillRain

Monday, August 18, 2008

What, me under-achive?

For all that has been said about the disappointing results of the Jays offense this year, and for all his Alfred E. Rios space cadet moments, Alex Rios seems to have been the one guy who really really liked the idea of Cito Gaston as his manager. Including yesterdays outburst against the Red Sox, Rios has a very nice result for the part of the season (50 games now) that Gaston has been at the helm.

Observe:

200 AB, 20 Doubles, 4 Triples, 6 HR, 27 RBI, 15 SB
.315 - .346 - .545 - .891

Now, let's pro-rate that to 162 games:
65 doubles, 13 triples, 19 HR, 87 RBI, 49 SB

That'd be a pretty decent year, eh?

On a less encouraging note, while looking up those stats I stumbled across something very grim about Scott Rolen. I have resolutely defended him by saying he had one horrible month which wrecked an otherwise good season. But what I discovered is that outside of a nine game hot streak in late June (in which he was incredibly hot) he was a very bad hitter from May 31 on until they shut him down. Over that period - with those nine games set aside, Rolen hit

.180/.275/.255/.530 in 161 at bats.

That means that for all practical purposes, he came off the DL in April and had 34 good games before he started struggling. That means, and I'm man enough to admit it, that the Pessimists who warned that Rolen might still have difficulty because of his shoulder are vindicated. It's inexplicable to me that everyone who is supposed to know, from Rolen to the medical people could say "everything is healthy and pain free" and yet he could still not be able to hit well for reasons that can't even be quantified and addressed. But there it is. And unless he gets it back as mysteriously as he lost it - or retires - the Jays are going to have to have big question marks regarding 3B for next year. I don't like saying it but I'll be damned if I can be accused of ducking the fact that my optimism was not born out.

~WillRain

Such Is Life

Perhaps it was unrealistic to expect that a motley collection of washed up AAAA filler, intercounty leaguers, and prospects too young to buy a beer in the US might triumph over what was essentially the Japanese all-star team and keep hopes alive over in Beijing. After losing 4 consecutive one-run games, Team Canada has now meaningless games left to play against Taiwan and the Aardvarks before calling it a day.

If the tournament was a disappointment for the Canadians, it's one that'll soon be forgotten: the World Baseball Classic next spring will provide an opportunity for redemption (though not for some of the lesser lights because Russ Martin, Rich Harden, Justin Morneau, et al are going to steal your jobs, but still).

Here in this particular Blue Jays corner of the interweb some felt the need to mock Team Canada, others cheered it on with reckless abandon, and then there were those like me who found it to be at least as watchable as the Little League World Series. And then Ed Willes wonders why there's no room for it during a cavalcade of mostly hobby sports, but I digress.

When it comes to hockey, I can admit to being a fan of the Leafs rather than the game per se and I can fully understand why some Jays fans don't have a broader interest in more exotic, non-MLB locales where the sport is played. Fair enough.

When it comes to baseball, though, I'm all in. It was worth it staying up late a few times for Team Canada to see a few interesting players in action that I otherwise wouldn't have had the chance to watch. And when it comes to countries, I generally think Canada is pretty ok. Compared to other countries I've lived in or know well, it's less murdersome than the United States, less cynical and gloomy than the UK, and far less likely to be simultaneously invaded by Germany and Russia than Poland.

On that note, here's a sop to Canadian baseball nationalism in the form of a tour d'horizon of some young Canuckers who had minor league success this year. In no particular order and with no attempt at comprehensiveness:

Nick Weglarz (OF, Indians; Stevensville, ON): Weglarz served notice that he's a Canuck to watch by socking a pair of dingers against Cuba and then by doing some rage-induced dugout renos in yesterday's loss against Japan. In his age 20 season for Cleveland's A+ affiliate, the 3rd rounder from 2005 hit .273/.400/.473/.840 with 10 HR through 99 games before being released for his Olympic obligation. Baseball America says he's Cleveland's 6th best prospect and will probably be manning left field in whatever they're calling Jacob's Field in 2011.

Mike Saunders (OF, Mariners, Victoria, BC): I'd never heard of Saunders before the Olympics and I like his game after what I saw of him. An 11th round pick from 2004, He's tall, lanky, runs relatively well, has good strike zone discipline and doubles power. The 21-year-old hit .290/.375/.484/.859 in 67 AA games this year, but scuffled a bit in a short stint at AAA (.709 OPS in 23 games) before heading off to Beijing. BA says the 6th best Mariners prospect and 2nd best minor league OF.

Phillipe Aumont
(LHP, Mariners; Gatineau, QC): This tall, hard-throwing 19-year-old southpaw has had a very successful pro debut in A ball for the Mariners. Aumont, the 11th overall pick in last year's draft, has done pretty much everything right in split duties between the rotation and the bully: walks and hits per 9 are nice and low, while he's been K-ing about a batter an inning. BA says he's the M's top minor league hurler and 2nd best overall prospect. Take note also that he doesn't give a shit about the Habs despite being a Quebecker and has expressed a desire to someday play for the Jays (according to Wikipedia). Eh, eh?

RJ Swindle (LHP, Phillies; Vancouver, BC): Swindle, 24, got a brief taste with the Phillies this summer before Olympic duties took him overseas. His career minor league numbers are crazy: 1.61 BB/9, 9.05 K/9, 7.83 H/9, 0.26 HR/9, 1.05 WHIP. I'm impressed. He was a 14th round pick by the Bosox in 2004, dominated out of the bully for their A- affiliate, then got unceremoniously dumped at the end of the year. Spent two years doing quite well in independent ball before getting a brief sniff from the Yankees, who too dumped him at the end of 2006... after he put up a 0.61 ERA in 44 IP in A ball? What gives here?

I'm guessing the Bosox and Yankees were put off by the way he constantly changed arm angles and his 55-mph euphus curveball, but you can't ignore the numbers. Swindle dominated AAA at Lehigh Valley this year and has found himself the odd man out of a Phillies bullpen that's been surprisingly sturdy this year. Expect to see him back in the bigs in September.

Jimmy Van Ostrand (1B/OF, Astros; Vancouver, BC): Not to be confused with Dr Van Nordstram, Van Ostrand was a very late pick (29th round) back in 2006 who put up a very solid A line of .306/.373/.453/.826, albeit at the ripe old age of 23. He got the call to AA, where he probably starts 2009, just before the Olympics.

David Davidson (LHP, Pirates; Richmond Hill): A 24-year-old AA lefty reliever who's K'd about a batter an inning (and walked around 4.5/9 IP) through his minor league career. He burnt a hole in the sun during a dynamite 2006 campaign at age 22, but has regressed a bit since then. Might still earn himself a reputation as the Tom Thomson of somebody's bullpen someday.

Honourable mention...

Scott Campbell (2B, Jays; Auckland, NZ): He's 1/4 Canadian (what' s the threshold for WBC eligibility?), he's been tearing AA pitching a new one this year, and JP compares him to Chase Utley. Enough said.

And some recent high school grads just starting their pro careers: Michael Crouse, Stosh Wawrzasek, and Brad Furdal.

Good luck, all.

-- Johnny Was

Sunday, August 17, 2008

See You in September?

As much fun as it was to slap around Beckett and the Beantowners this afternoon, the chill winds of non-contention turn our thoughts, of course, to September call-ups. That's not to say that there isn't some TINY hope we can charge back into contention but looking at the upcoming schedule, my most optimistic projections for the AL East still leaves the Jays 3-5 games out. Not that finishing within 5 games of the WC and ahead of the Yankees wouldn't be a salve on my disappointments over this season, it definitely would, but I can't hold back my opinionating under the illusion of contention.

So naturally, the thoughts turn to the future - whether might our young players depart hence?

Well, for the eager, yet uninformed, fan, the obvious assumption is the Man, the Myth, the Machine - Travis Snider. Turns out, though, that said assumption would be wrong. At least, according to Jordan Bastian. The reason for the error? Said eager fans are forgetting the Arizona Fall League. In general, a player who's going to the AFL doesn't get a September call up. Bastian informed us Friday that Snider, along with JP Arencibia and Scott Campbell were already ticketed to be three of the Jays six players to head west. The other three will be pitchers, as yet unnamed, but we can - of course! - speculate.

The obvious candidates at first glance are: Brett Cecil, Rickey Romero, Davis Romero, Scott Richmond, Brad Mills, and Robert Ray. Why Ray you asked? Because this is the year he (along with Rickey Romero) would have to be added to the 40 man roster or be exposed to the Rule 5 draft and so the Jays might want a look at him against tough competition.

How to whittle that list? OK, first things first - it's pretty much a given Rickey-Ro is going. Also, the Wiki article on the AFL states that a team can only include one foreign player among it's alloted six and that player from a region which doesn't have a winter league (I am assuming that in this context being Canadian is not "foreign"). That rules out Davis Romero.

So we have 4 possibilities for 2 spots. Another factor to consider is the "Rule of Thumb" concerning stretching young pitchers. As I have alluded to before, the Jays have tightly managed Brett Cecil's IP in order to get him through a full season. The rule says that you should limit a young pitcher to no more than 30 IP over his previous high total for a single season. There is a notable pattern of injury history when this rule is violated (see Fausto Carmona for the latest example).

Cecil's previous high before this season was 112. S o far this season he has 99.1 and he has about 3 starts left for the Chiefs. If we postulate that he posts 15-18 IP the rest of the way then he has no more than 25 available to him before he hits the ceiling. Given that the AFL has a 32 game schedule, and a SP might expect to make six starts, that put's Cecil right on the fringe of where the team would want him to go. All that said, he might go and pitch in relief.

Brad Mills is right at the ceiling now with three regular starts left. He could conceivably be shut down before the end of the AA season. He's not going. Ray is in a similar situation.

That leads me to believe that Scott Richmond becomes the rather obvious choice. I can't think of a single good argument for not sending him. And given the lack of an obvious third candidate, count Cecil in too.

So there you have, friends and neighbors, six players who almost certainly will NOT be September call ups. what does that leave us with? We know from previous years (hat tip to Thomas at Batters Box) that JP's Jays tend to call up about 5 players - usually three pitchers, a catcher, and one other guy. It should be noted here, in answer to the persistent misunderstanding, that a September call-up does NOT start the service-time clock that seems to be on everyone's mind the last few years.

The catcher is the most obvious call - JPA has other plans, Jeroloman isn't hitting AAA pitching yet, and Thigpen seems to have forgotten how. The above-pictured Robinzon Diaz is penciled in as the front-runner for the back-up job next year and has already had a couple of cups of coffee, he's in like Flynn.

Two of the three pitchers are easy calls - Brian Wolfe and Jeremy Accardo (or whoever is demoted for him if he's activated within the next two weeks). The third guy is almost certainly John Parrish. That would leave Davis Romero on the outside looking in here too. I, for one, think the young man has done all he needs to do to earn the look, and that the team might want to at least let Arny look him over in anticipation of his being a candidate for next year's pen. I can't predict D-Ro will be added, but neither would I be surprised if they found room in the new clubhouse for one more guy.

Finally, the one other position player. Some will call for Coats here, or some crusty never-will-be like Hector Luna, or ride a dark horse like David Smith. But as Thomas pointed out, the guy who best suits the situation is erstwhile disappointment, Russ Adams.

Besides having the higher profile within the organization, and the ability to play (at least to some degree) multiple positions, Adams is facing a potential removal from the 40 man roster (IMO, he won't be but at least there is some noise about it) and, more importantly, the man has been ON FIRE since the AAA All Star Break. In 104 post-ASB at bats, Adams is hitting .356 - .415 - .558 - .973 and he's gotten hotter as he moved into August. In fact, if Adams had not had the sort of June (at the plate) that a pitcher would have been ashamed of, he'd have had a respectable year. Take out June and his numbers look like this: .285 - .372 - .463 - .835

I don't see the Buck Coats and the Hector Lunas of the world having a better argument than that. Off topic but I'd really like to see Adams get a shot at playing 2B in the majors for some team next year. He is probably better right now than Tad Iguchi, or Adam Kennedy, or Luis Castillo, to name just a few.

There is also the possibility that Scott Rolen will take one more try before calling it a season. I'm not sure if you technically call it a September call up but he may well be added to the roster on September 1.

So, to filter all that down into one sentence: your September call-ups will be Brian Wolfe, Jeremy Accardo, John Parrish, Robinzon Diaz, and probably Russ Adams, with Davis Romero also a possibility.

Now you know.

~WillRain

Friday, August 15, 2008

Live Blog! Canada v. USA Olympic Baseball 15/8/2008: Operation Great White North

Good evening, ladies and gentleman and welcome to the first official live blog here at The Southpaw. Dashing Team Canada takes on our closest friends/most hated enemies from the United States at 10:19 tonight, a little under 40 minutes from now. I'd recommend that you go with the online feed here because the main CBC network will probably be bouncing all over the shop from synchronized hi-fiving to team trampoline wrestling at inopportune moments during the game.

I've racked up a bunch of music here because the online feed is commentary free. At first it feels serene not having a ginger moron blathering on about this and that, but you'll probably start to feel a little bored after two innings. I'm starting it off with Lagwagon's "Trashed", an album that wasn't great but did the trick in certain times and places a bit over a decade ago. Things will probably progress to the Cold War Kids and then we'll let the tempo of the game dictate the music.

Why live blog now? Sometimes life deals you a pair of twos and you've just got to play the hand you've been dealt. I'm struggling away at my second graduate degree and I have kind of taken a couple of gut punches over the past week learning that two former female classmates from journalism school at Carleton are working the international beat I so desperately dreamed of being a part of way back when I left Sarnhole at 18.. (If you were wondering, the first was a former dorm room rasslin' partner and is now reporting on the Olympics from Beijing for CTV, the latter, a jealous mannish roommate who engineered the breakup of your humble narrator and a smoking hot Croatian film student, most recently interviewed the Polish foreign minister for the BBC... Sloots of the first order, both of them, and you can quote me on that.) While they've got decently paying/highly rewarding jobs, I've got all of you, right?

I'm rocking the Maclay's Traditional Pale Ale, a buck a beer I wouldn't say tastes good, but it's a Sleeman's product and tastes less bad than Lakeport, the lager of choice of the proletarian underclass from Windsor to Timmins. We're 20 minutes from game time... the excitement is palpable!

It would be remiss of me not to throw a metaphorical internet high five in the direction of Lloyd the Barber at Ghostrunner on First. Not only is his blog better than a 6-way with the Polish women's volleyball team, but the Ghostrunner's taste in 1990s punk rock is beyond reproach. I salute you, sir, and thanks for the cross promotion earlier this afternoon.

10:07 - Starting lineups have been posted at the official site. The first thing that jumps out is that Adam Stern has been dropped from the leadoff spot to the Manny Lee hole at the bottom of the order. Fuck that noise, Terry Puhl! You don't sort of almost become the Red Sox CF by default only to have all your hopes and dreams stripped away from you when Theo Epstein trades for Coco Crisp for nothing!

Starters are James Avery (eh, struggling for something positive to say...) for Canada and Brett Anderson (K artist) for the US of Americans.

Michael Phelps wins gold medal number 7. I didn't even look up from the keyboard.

10:14 -

Team Canada:

11 CLAPP Stubby 2B
15 GARCIA Emmanuel SS
20 SAUNDERS Michael RF
40 THORMAN Scott 1B
33 WEGLARZ Nick LF
17 FROSTAD Emerson DH
4 ROGELSTAD Matt 3B
30 ROBINSON Chris C
7 STERN Adam

Team USA:

24 FOWLER Dexter CF
18 BARDEN Brian 2B
26 TIFFEE Terry 1B
17 BROWN Matt 3B
14 SCHIERHOLTZ Nate RF
44 LAPORTA Matt LF
7 GALL John DH
6 MARSON Lou C
2 DONALD Jason

LaPorta is a destroyer of worlds who went to the Tribe in exchange for CC Sabbathia in July; Jason Donald is the AA Phillies shortstop JP should've traded AJ Burnett for. Nate Schierholtz is a prospect of note for the Pirates, Lou Marson is a promising young catcher in the Phillies system. The other names are unfamiliar to me, but Dexter Fowler might be a serial killer.

10:20 - Ok, we have lift-off here. Well, sort of. A count down followed by a commerical for something I wouldn't buy even if I did have money. It's overcast and communist looking at Wukesong Baseball Field, 26 C, 55% humidity, some wind and various other shit. Canada and the US both have a win and two losses, though I doubt any of their players get a warm and fuzzy feeling of accomplishment in beating Canadians at baseball. This is a must win game for the Canuckers, well, maybe "should really try to" win.

In Mandarin, Canada is "Chan-a-da". Get used to it.

10:24 - Lagwagon has been fired up. I think the last time I listened to this album was way back, Victoria Day Weekend 1997 when we got kicked out the Pinery at 4 a.m. on Monday morning after Newman got caught by the 5-oh with an open beer. Rather than dumping it in the forest before running away. he set the cup down on the road then ran. We barely had time to dump the hot box tent in the forest before smokey arrived back at the site.

The main network is covering long distance gay-walking rather than cutting away to the ball game.

10:28 - The ceremonial first pitch was thrown out to a Chinese midget. Do you ever wonder if the standard for midgetry is different in Asia? 4' 11" for a man qualifies you here in the West. Also, did you know that the wartime manpower shortage had grown so acute in Canada by 1917 that the army had to relent and admit midgets to labour battalions? Knowing's half the battle.

Canada's the road team here and we're on the verge of finally seeing the first pitch...

Fuck, Anderson is a southpaw. There's maybe one, two max, righty Canadian bats. It's beyond comical.

10:34 - Stubby Clapp chooses not to beat out a broken bat infield single. Why so many people lose their shit for this guy is beyond me. Manny Garcia follows by knocking the first pitch he sees for a routine grounder to second. Mike Saunders comes up, he's got some pop, though it'd be nice to see the guys face a righty some day. Routine fly straight to the centrefielder. Evil Imperials about to hit.

10:38 - Dexter Fowler is an African-American, so that means he can't be a serial killer. My apologies. He certainly did not kill the ball there, flying out in shallow left rather than stabbing himself an extra base hit. Brian Barden has his shit pushed up on some sloppy breaking balls. Terry Tiffee probably has the most effete name in the history of manhood. Unsurprisingly, he grounds out to second.

End of 1, good guys and those guys knotted at 0.

It's the sing-along part of "going south" and this brings back some great memories...

10:45 - Former Braves first baseman Scott Thorman leads off the Canadian second. Here's his line against ML lefties from 2007: .176/.227/.221. Don't get your hopes up. Nick Weglarz, socker of 2 home runs against Cuba, follows that fly out to the third baseman with a single to right. Rally time? Another lefty up... Emerson Frostad? Who is this ninja? He wears 44, which is a bit presumptive.

Fuck yeah! Slugger McGrew doubles over the left-fielders head to cash the first run.

Matt Rogelstad, another lefty, grounds out advancing the runner to third with two outs. A righty! Chris Robinson turns his platoon advantage into a first pitch ground out to end the inning.

Good guys up 1-0.

10:57 - Matt Brown, woop-dee-do I got ML at bats for the Angels this year, Ks. Schierholtz goes down with a wimper in true Pirate fashion and Matt LaPorta comes up to the dish. He Ks...
Avery is definitely not pitching like a dude who kind of got pushed around a bit in AA this year...

11:03 - Adam Stern leads off the Canadian third and slashes foul balls all over the park with the focus of a man who's not thinking ahead to an awkward, sexually-charged hallway conversation with fellow Londoner Jessica Zelinka after the game... before striking out swinging. Speaking of dames, Stubby Clapp singles to left and iTunes racks up some Laura Veirs? No, go back and erase that. I can't let people know I have her on my iPod. Manny Garcia beasts a TRIPLE to deep right scoring Mrs. Stubby Clapp! Good guys up 2-0!

Three games into the tournament and I've become a real fan of Mike Saunders (Mariners, 21, .859 OPS at AA West Tennessee this summer), who just grounded out to drive in Canada's third run. He's a tall, lanky outfielder who can hit doubles and stole bases in the low minors. Minimal flash, but I wouldn't be too surprised to see him in the bigs sometime in 2010.

Scott Thorman singled and went to second on a wild pitch before Weglarz flew out to end the inning. Canada 3-US 0.

11:17 - My day/night is just made by the first comment of the live blog from Adam. Cheers, brother! How's it going?

Stubby Clapp just does a passable Aaron Hill impression on a diving snag on a line drive that was tailing away from him. Colour me impressed.

Whatever, I do like Laura Veirs and I'm not ashamed to tell anyone.

11:19 - The main network decides to check in and I don't like this mojo. What the fuck, like anything they've covered over the past hour was more deserving of air time than this. Dexter "not a serial killer" Fowler did NOT strike out on that big loop Chris Robinson tried to sell by running half way to the dugout... A fly out to left does it on the next pitch anyway. Canada coming up.

Dunno if you saw the Canada-China game Adam, but the crowd was weirder then. Their chant of "Go Chinese team!" was somewhat quaint...

11:24 - we are joined by mathesond, welcome aboard!

I can't find any stats for this Frostad guy, who just grounded out but didn't on an errant throw from Jason Donald (the guy I wanted for AJ Burnett at the deadline), but he looks like an intercounty leaguer. Alright, this is getting annoying... the tv feed is ahead of the online feed, I'm a bit torn about reverting to cable seeing as how little importance they've put on airing this game.

Donald poochs his jump on a liner from ADAM STERN that goes for a single, but Stubby Clapp grounds out to end the inning. And we're back to some random inconsquential event on the main network.

11:31 - Lloyd the Barber graces us with his presence and women's rasslin' comes on the main network, Asian women's rasslin'. Coincidence?

11:34 - Oh snap, Brian Barden takes Avery deep to put the Americans on the board. Avery's been good through 3, too good for someone with his track record against these fine young crew-cutted Yankees.

Canuck music? I'd much rather throw on some Swingin' Utters. This is a working class Canadian team, so it's not inappropriate. I remember seeing them at Molly Maguire's in Ottawa way back and Johnny Peebucks was sitting alone before his set, head down on the table and crying. One of our party was bold enough to go ask him how he was doing; he said he missed the birth of his first child because of the tour...

Wolf Parade?

11:38 - Blair had some extremely disparaging comments for the baseball facilities in Beijing, but seriously... are they expected to invest millions in a nice ballpark on prime downtown real estate? They have a 6-team league that plays a 3-game season in front of no fans. After we graduate me and the Mrs. are going to write our first book on baseball in China. Like so many things American, the existence of the sport there is a product of wishful thinking. I was actually pretty impressed that the Chinese assembled a competitive women's fastball team for a sport that was coming off the Olympic roster. They lost to Canada 1-0 last night after loading the bases with none out in their last AB.

Still... LaPorta beaned.

Cito needs to get out there and yank Jason Frasor, I mean James Avery.

11:44 - Avery surrenders another run and has not been yanked. Three scoreless innings would've been a nice return on him, a real nice return, but Terry Puhl is riding the wild here for some unknown reason.

First punk show: Bad Religion/Supersuckers/Blonde Redhead at the State Theater in Detroit, aged 15. The awesomeness of that day will never be recaptured, not even if I'm the first man to set foot on Mars.

The pitching change finally happens....

11:49 - Are you watching this women's rasslin'? It's much more erotic than me and Phil Gosse in the offensive lineman weight class back in grade nine gym. Rando Canuck reliever gets out of the jam.

11:52 - That Japanese dame had a superb ass, I'd feel no shame in losing to her.

I know they've scored 4 runs already, but are you kind of wondering how an entire country is incapable of producing any right-handed hitters? This shit should get balanced out a bit in the WBC with Jason Bay and Russ Martin, but Justin Morneau, Mark Teahen, Matt Stairs et al. are all wrong-handed hitters, too.

Canuckers go 3 up, 3 down, it's up to the bully here. This is the important part...

11:57 - In case you were wondering, that imposing communist-looking building there beyond the left-field wall is a slogan factory. Manny Garcia does a disservice to token Latinos everywhere booting that ball and handling the throw from the pitcher on the following play with the grace and agility of Russ Adams, but at least he got the lead out (erasing his error).

I went with The Specials. Entirely inappropriate, but what can you do.

It feels like each successive reliever the Canadians trot out will be worst than Josh Towers to the power of 10. If this lead holds, I'll dance a jig in front of a crowd of disinterested looking trust-fundettes outside the DB Weldon Library. Chris Robinson should run to the dugout after every two strike pitch...

And the Yanks score again on a double, puta madre!, this sidearmer's a shitballer of the first order. He looks like he's on the verge of tears, fucking hell, eye of the tiger there, ninja, this is the Olympics! Well, let's not repeat that hirsute relief effort in the 6th! Where's Paul Quantrill?

12:10 - A half dozen insurance runs would be nice here against Joe Blanton's left-handed cousin. We get a double there from Frostad, and Rogelstad knocks a swinging bunt right down the line to put runners at the corners with 2 out. Eh, eh????

Unsurprisingly, the Yanks are warming up another lefty. A retarded computer simulation could manage this game...

12:18 - USA manager Judge Roughneck comes out to yank Joe Blanton's left-handed cousin (for another lefty). This guy Brian Duensing is a Twins farmhand and didn't not suck in AAA this year. In true Minny fashion, he Ks or BBs no one, giving up an unhealthy dose of hits but not taking the knock you'd expect.

And he Ks indistinguishable lefty number 7 to end the inning.

12:25 - Word is that Davey Johnson is the Boss at the end of Resident Evil 4.

Shitballer number 2 got a nice 3 up, 3 down inning there and I take back any disparaging remarks I might have made towards him or his family earlier.

12:45 - Maximum unpleasantness. None of these Canadian relievers are fit to pitch for Josh Towers' softball team. Maximum unpleasantness: having to proof-read English-Chinese translations when you're clearly drunk.

Live Blog! Tonite!


Just a friendly reminder that I'll be live-blogging tonight's Olympic baseball matchup between the masculine Canadians and our best friends/main enemies from the US of America starting at around 10:30-ish from the Silver Fox Lounge that is my living room. All are welcome and the libations will be flowing at break-neck speed.

If you happened to miss it early this morning, the Canuckers fell 1-0 to the Good Koreans, who got a masterful complete game shutout from southpaw starter Hyunjin Ryu/Ryu Hyun-Jin and a solo homerun from second baseman Keunwoo Jeong. Seeing as Canada pretty much only has left-handed hitters, the opposition is having a field day running out lefty starters, though Ryu does have quite an impressive pedigree in the Korean League. Canada did have plenty of chances to score--including a man on third in the 9th--but hit worse with RISP than the Jays of April/May.

Though Team Canada aquitted itself well against the highly touted Cubans yesterday, it likely needs to win 3 of its next 4 to advance to the next round, which means taking at least one against the US or Japan. (The other two games are against Taiwan and Neederlands). A daunting task, indeed.

-- Johnny Was

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Update on Ibanez

According to Rotoworld, it was the Tigers who claimed Ibanez, and that means the claim never got as far as the Jays.

~WillRain

Olympic Baseball Update: Brace Yourselves For The Shit Storm

Team Canada fell 7-6 to the Cubans in an exciting, dinger-filled see-saw affair this morning that will produce a torrent of criticism of JP Ricciardi from local haters Richard Griffin, Bob Elliot and Bob McCown because, sad to say it, this was a game the Canadians might have won had they trotted Scott Richmond out as originally planned.

(A bit of a warning, the box scores at CBC are pretty shitty. There's no record of who had extra base hits, walked, stole bases, errors, etc., not to mention who scored the runs. BUT the game recap article goes into great depth if you're not averse to actually reading instead of looking at numbers. If you want a proper box score, go to the official site.)

Canada started Brooks McNiven, a 27-year-old career minor leaguer with shitty peripherals out of Terrace, BC who was originally selected by Gord Ash in the very late rounds of the 1999 amateur draft, and he gave up two ER in 2 IP of work. He was followed by Jon Lockwood, a 26-year-old Torontonian who never advanced beyond A+ ball and now appears to be out of the game professionally, and he gave up 3 ER through 3. Former major leaguer Chris Reitsma gave up one earned in his inning of work, but otherwise the bullpen was solid.

It's pretty hard to argue that Richmond wouldn't have put up a much stronger effort than the 5 IP cobbled together from McNiven and Lockwood, though I mention this without malice. There's no question that a big league team has to put its own interests, not to mention use of players that it's paying, above those of a national team, even if you're talking about the only ML club in the country. I'm still kind of disappointed about the way that all played out, but I won't shit on JP for it. Still, don't expect Team Canada Manager Terry Puhl to do JP any favours by smuggling Cuban shortstop Eduardo Paret out of the country in a duffle bag at the conclusion of the tournament.

On the offensive side, promising Indians prospect Nick Weglarz of Stevensville, ON stole the show, socking a pair of dingers and going 4 for 4 with 3 runs and 3 RBI. Mariners farmhand Mike Saunders of Victoria, who homered in Canada's opener against China, launched another 2-run dinger. Stubby Clapp, who actually did get a 25-AB cup of coffee with the Cards in 2001, got a pair of hits and drew a walk, while my personal favourite Londoner (after Rachel McAdams) Adam Stern went 0 for 5 out of the leadoff spot.

Elsewhere, the US shut the Neederlanders out 7-0, China surprisingly held Korea to a 0-0 tie through 6 when the game was called due to rain, and Japan took it to Taiwan 6-1.

Canada continues onward and upward with two games tomorrow (EST), Korea (6 a.m.) in the morning and USA (10:30 p.m.) in the evening. Full sched here, though mind the 12-hour time difference.

Jeff Blair has kind of been forgotten since he went over to Red China a few weeks back, but he did sneak in time for a (long) commentary piece on baseball at the Olypmics the other day. Short version, he doesn't think it's ever coming back because (Eurotrash) IOC members don't appreciate the game and the MLB has nothing to gain financially by releasing players for the Olympics, especially when it has it's own potential money-maker in the World Baseball Classic.

You can respond to this either one of two ways. A) I never really cared about Olympic baseball, so I'm going to continue to ignore it; or B) This is the last crack, I'm going to start following Team Canada now even though I had little or no interest in the past. Since a good portion of my shit is in boxes and I've got precious few diversions to keep me occupied until the move at the end of the month, I'm going to go with B. If you're not feeling it I've got absolutely nothing against you or your point of view.

Live blog tomorrow night against Team USA, all are welcome to chug PBRs, swear, and carry on in an inappropriate manner.

JAYS SHIT:

* Our highly esteemed colleagues over at The Mockingbird and Ghostrunner on First have joined us on the Dave Purcey Express. Welcome aboard fellas, there's room for everyone! If there is one Eternal Truth about Big D, it's that the Detroit Tigers cannot put bat on ball when he's on the mound. Through 10.1 innings over 2 starts they've only managed 4 hits against him (drawing 10 walks which I will now conveniently overlook) and scored only 1 run. Give 'em shit, buddy!

Purcey still needs a nickname and I'm really unsatisfied with "Bigfoot" as suggested at Batter's Box the other day. Did you know that Dave Winfield's (6' 6") nickname when he played in Mexico was "El Gigante Negro"? I don't speak Spanish, but I'm going to guess that means "the big negro" anyway. "Big Whitey" for Purcey? No? Something better?

* In unsurprising news, Scott Downs "is likely headed to the disabled list after spraining his ankle on Wednesday night" according to Rotoworld.

* MLB to introduce instant replay at the end of August? Why not 5 years ago?

-- Johnny Was