1:35 AM Eastern

I swear, I half expected that when I walked out onto the field at the Dome after the pre-game media conference with Cito Gaston, the old AstroTurf would be back.  It was a surreal experience, a home game with Gaston at the helm.  I hadn’t covered one of those since I was back up the dial at the big 6-8, and I was way more of a blend-into-the-background type then, as someone who would only cover a game or two per homestand.

Cito talked about his hitting philosophy before the game, saying that he wants his guys to go up with a plan in mind, looking for a specific pitch, or a pitch in a specific zone.  He said that if you go up looking fastball and you get a curve, then start to think “hmmm, I might see another curveball here” then look for that and get a fastball, well, you’re sorta screwed.  At the very least, if you’d stuck to the plan, fastball or curveball, you would have gotten your pitch once.

For those of you who talked about Cito being a more active guy during the game than John Gibbons (which I dismissed as revisionist history, because it is), he said that if anything, he’s MORE relaxed and laid-back now than he was the first time around.

He also said that shortstop is the one position that’s the most up in the air.  He hasn’t yet decided between David Eckstein, John McDonald and Marco Scutaro.  All indications to this point are that he favours Scoot, who didn’t disappoint tonight with a four-hit game (three hits in the first two innings!) and started a terrific double play to end the second inning.  Scutaro has led off each of Gaston’s four games – two against starting lefties, two against righties – and has hit .353/.450/.353 (though before tonight, it was .182/.308/.182, how’s that for sample sizes?).  If Scutaro is the shortstop, and he’s not yet but I can’t imagine the line-up will change after tonight, then the Jays really have no use at all for David Eckstein.  I mean, he’d be a fine back-up, but what they could get for him on the trade market would be worth more than what he would be worth to them.  If that’s the call Cito is going to make, then it would be incumbent upon J.P. Ricciardi to start offering Eck around to see what he can get back.  And Cito made no bones about the fact that he’s in complete control of the on-field personnel.

Eckstein was in a good mood today, despite not being in the line-up.  He even asked me how the old-man softball game went while the Jays were away.

Once the game started, the Jays got to pounding, sending 11 men to the plate in a six-run first and 10 more to bat in a five-run second.  Five of the first-inning runs scored with two out, on homers by Scott Rolen and Gregg Zaun, and Alex Rios crushed a homer to left-centre to lead off the second – his first big fly since May 1st.

Rolen’s shot was on the first pitch after Stairs’ sac line-drive opened the scoring.

The last time the Jays batted around in the first two innings of a game?  As we noted on the broadcast, it was May 26, 1997, when the Jays sent nine men to the plate in each of the first two and scored four runs twice en route to an 8-1 win over Texas at SkyDome.  Cito was the manager that day, too.  That would be the horrible offensive Jays team that scored only 654 runs that season and hit just .244/.310/.389.  Only two Jays hit more than 16 home runs that year.  So it’s not great company in which to be lumped.

Still, the offense is definitely showing signs, but let’s not everybody jump on the “Cito has fixed things” bandwagon just yet.  The Jays have scored 22 runs in the last two games, but those games were started by a couple of guys having awful seasons.  Of course, as I have said before, they spent a lot of time earlier on this year making some very bad pitchers look pretty damn good.

How amazing is this – after the second inning, the Jays had matched their season high for total bases in a game.  That, if nothing else, should explain just how far below its level the offense has been.

As for the Adam Dunn thing, he seemed to have a cheering section of sorts somewhere down the third-base side, but it wasn’t particularly big.  There was a much bigger ovation for Ken Griffey, Jr. when he followed Dunn into the batters’ box in the first.  Dunn went 1-for-3 with a walk and a double and played a sub-par left field.  Fine by me, I’d still take him in a heartbeat.

Interestingly enough, the 1989 Jays were also 37-41 after 78 games, and they wound up with 89 wins and a division title.  That won’t be enough to win the East this year, but it should be enough for the wild card.  I’m not saying, I’m just saying.

Here’s tonight’s extendo edition of The JaysTalk for your listening pleasure:

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Comments are encouraged, as always, there would be no 24/7 JaysTalk without you!

121 Responses to “Home Cito Home”
  1. 1.

    Wow, they Jays certainly could have used some of those 14 runs the past few weeks. Mike, do you see Adam Lind a permanent fixture in the Jays lineup for the rest of the season?

    MW: Yup.

    - Joel Dembe
  2. 2.

    Mr Wilner,

    On espn radio they were talking about Arroyo’s start being one of the worst performances by a starting pitcher ever, what you think?

    MW: It’s got to be right up there. Wilson Alvarez’ major-league debut was pretty awful, but he didn’t hang around long enough to give up 10 runs. Matsuzaka was close last week.

    - Terry
  3. 3.

    I guess Cito must be a genius. I’ll post again tomorrow and let you know if he still is one.

    We saw rock bottom again tonight, only this time it was someone else’s rock bottom. I listened to the broadcast on the Reds radio network and their announcers had nothing good to say about the Reds. They proclaimed Cincinnati had hit rock bottom against a bad team. I hope this is a sweep.

    After the game, I listened to the Reds version of “Jays Talk”. The callers were calling for the firings of the manager and several coaches and save for the names being different I heard this same banter coming from Toronto last week. The host of the show called J.P. a “bald faced liar”, but surprisingly a lot a fans called in to take their shots at Adam Dunn, calling him “lazy” and saying he “cares more about fishing then baseball”. They also impied he hates managers who might make him work hard. Let’s hope this black cloud hangs over the Reds at least two more days.

    The trivia question on the Reds radio network was a good one. It stumped me and usually I’m pretty good. The question was——Name the former Blue Jays pitcher who won a Cy Young award but never made the All-Star team? I’ll post the answer later in this blog.

    MW: First name that came to mind was Mike Flanagan – just a guess.

    - Jim Branscome
  4. 4.

    Michael,

    Well, since you seemed to be asking me a question, I thought I’d seem to be answering it. First, though, I trust your use of the expression “great leader of men” was meant tongue in cheek. I hope you’re not mistaking either my tone or objective. We’re not talking about Henry V here (or, even, god forbid, Mark Messier – whose intermission pep talks I’m sure put Henry’s St. Crispen’s Day speech to shame.) I’m talking about some fairly banal observations that are considered de rigueur in management studies these days. To repeat, the manager’s less tangible leadership qualities, the “soft skills” – e.g., communication, motivation and inspiration – are central to any organization’s success. Of course, no manager can actually DO the job of those he or she manages (whether it’s swinging bats at balls or innovating better product design); the success of a manager is measured by his or her ability to get the most out of those being managed.

    And please don’t give me this silly line about how they’re professional athletes who don’t/shouldn’t need such psychological handling. “Professional athlete” is not a synonym for “super hero.” The size of their pay checks in no way makes them any less human – as the last few months have demonstrated.

    To your point in your reply to my last post, though, Michael: It’s not about there being something inherently lacking in Gibbons – at least, no more than there’s something lacking in all of us. We all have different skills and aptitudes. Citing past instances either where Gibbons had success or circumstances conspired to undermine his success has no bearing on the immediate situation. Clearly the managerial unit was in crisis. Where the crisis came from or what caused it, I have no idea, but I think it’s a separate question which doesn’t directly bear upon the existing crisis. The situation was obviously systemic. If it had been two or three players, maybe even four – maybe – who were under-performing, I might entertain the possibility of an improbable, but possible coincidence. We’ve been seeing, though, a situation of AT LEAST half a dozen top hitters performing significantly below their career averages. This was a cultural or organizational crisis; culture and organization are about people and their relationships: resolving the crisis required the soft skills of leadership. Gaston is renowned for those; Gibby, not so sure. As I’ve said on previous posts, in many dimensions I thought highly of Gibbons as a manager, but it’s hard for me to argue with the logic of those in Jaysland who decided this switch had to be made.

    Have fun. Play ball.

    - Mikie
  5. 5.

    Simply put, that felt good to watch. I dont think its a fair sample size to say that Cito and Gene have fixed all the woes of the Jays. But hey, after that performance, i have my rose colored glasses on.

    - Sean
  6. 6.

    All I want to say is three cheers for Adam Lind.

    - Sam McLean
  7. 7.

    I think maybe the 37-41 thing means something.

    But then again, maybe it doesn’t.

    - Jay Money
  8. 8.

    I sure hope that scutaro’s hot streak doesnt result in eckstein being traded. scutaro does this. he gets hot, he gets cold, but always settles around 260 with no power. his obp is pretty decent right now..but his best obp is around ecksteins career average. im not saying that eckstein vs scutaro will determine the success of this team, but cito just happened to catch marco on one of his streaks…i guess tomorrow well see mac since doc is on the mound.

    why did lyle drop down from the two spot? i like joe up there but i dont like lyle down as far as he is. i HATE when joe tries to bunt with a guy on first and noone out..a HUGE hole is sitting right there for him to roll a single through and put guys on first and third. they got away with a 6th inning bunt on sunday and had he gotten a bunt down today in the first the entire game could have been different. Please tell him that he can hit just fine and should not be wasting outs..

    MW: I agree with you on Scutaro, but we’ll see how it plays out for Gaston. Overbay dropped down because Cito sees him as more of a run producer and Inglett as more of a table-setter, and he wants to go left-right-left-right as much as possible down the line-up.

    - sammy jalalzai
  9. 9.

    No action for League yet – any chance they milk 3 innings out of him and use their 8 (7) man pen for the rest of the game instead of going to Parrish/Purcey/Davis for that one start? Maybe it’s an option if Marcum is only missing 2 starts.

    MW: All indications are that they’re going to the farm for Saturday’s starter.

    - Ari
  10. 10.

    Welcome back Cito. While only one game it was great to see the Jays win Cito’s home opener.

    On a different note, I find “Dunngate” has reached a new comedic high. J.P. claimed that Dunn phoned him and J.P. apologized for the remarks he made. In reality Dunn confirmed that he never made the call and if J.P. said that he did, then J.P. is lying. When told of this J.P. said that he deleted the number after the call. One of two things happened here:
    1. J.P. lied about the apology
    2. J.P. was duped by a mystery caller

    If scenario 1 is truly the case then J.P.’s reputation will be at an all time low in the national media. Hopefully his antics do not influence players’ decisions whether to come to Toronto as a free agent or not.

    MW: I have it on very good authority (unimpeachable corroborating witness) that J.P. was duped by a prank caller.

    - Dave
  11. 11.

    Thanks Mike! Your late hours are appreciated

    MW: You’re welcome.

    - SpiderSilva
  12. 12.

    Didn’t all the runs technically score with 2 out? Stairs was out on his sac fly before Scoot came home to score the run.

    MW: Technically yes, but when the play began there was one out.

    - Torgen
  13. 13.

    Hi Mike: I can’t believe I’m the only nighthawk in the GTA! Could be I’m on holidays and don’t care when I wake up…
    What a fun game. All the tension was gone after that first inning and the rest was an opportunity for the whole team to have live batting practice against ML pitching. David Weathers made this houseleague pitcher think he could get back in the game.
    A game of this offensive magnitude makes it less likely that one expects it every night. No one can do that many times a year or in franchise history. After the May/June turnaround everyone’s gotta feel snakebit. But who knows…
    I just don’t get the Blue Jays fan who is so down on them so early in the season. I probably contort myself in more positions trying to wring a justified hope for the season (every season) than most. So maybe the cynics’ view balances mine, but sheesh…I’d rather be the one to say a game like this one shows the true potential of the Jays ’08 then any of the heartbreakers or stinkers previous…

    MW: Weathers wasn’t as bad as Arroyo and Majewski. I don’t know why everyone is in such a hurry to get down on the team, either. Actually, I do. It’s the Leafs’ fault.

    - Todd Rivers
  14. 14.

    sorry to burst your bubble, but the reason you are on radio mike is not because you are a baseball “expert” but because you have a radio voice. just like rumack and eric smith. and the reason the sportsnet guys are on tv is because they have pretty faces! yikes mike toth pretty?

    MW: I definitely don’t have a radio voice.

    - rocco
  15. 15.

    mike, jp says he spoke to dunn, dunn says he never did. who is lying? it is possible dunn played a prank and had someone else call him but that would be pretty juvenile. but we also know JP’s track record when it comes to telling the truth.

    MW: See above.

    - rocco
  16. 16.

    Mike – you mentioned Scutaro started all of Citos’ games thus far – I believe Johnny Man was in there at short when Doc was pitching last game – wasn’t he?

    I don’t believe Cito has Scutaro in there playing any favorites or anything like that. I do believe what we are seeing right now is his line-up until someone “goes south” as to either defence or offence with the odd switch due to l/r starting pitchers or maybe Johnny Mac when Doc is pitching.

    There is most certainly a different approach at the plate – not for everyone but looking at Rios for example – Wow what a difference – seeing him intentionaly trying to “pull and elevate” the ball is something we haven’t seen in a long time from him.

    For the most part the hitters apporoach is more aggressive. When, as a team, your hitting about 40 odd home runs less than last season at this time – something was changed in the approach and mentality at the plate prior to this change in coaching and hitting philosophy.

    Hitters, just like infielders for example, throwing to first “unconciously” are using “muscle memory” (Rolen is a perfect example)it becomes “routine”. Don’t mess with mechanics!

    I was told many times when playing this great game that when you try to change the message from the “head to the body” as to hitting in particular it creates “too much thinking” and “less re-flex” as to putting the ball into play.

    Of course it is not all changing around due to one or two coaches – and like you said Mike and I believed also – “this team is just too good – not to be hitting”! However a new approach at the plate is most certainly present and pleasing to see.

    One of your callers last night was going on and on about the “relaxed atmosphere” that Cito brings etc. etc. – made me chuckle a bit as I believe Gibby brought that everyday to the ball park win or lose most certainly not any difference that way in the dugout from what we see anyway. Cito and the new coaches do bring a presence as to experience and success – that is for sure.

    Nice to see this club hit like they have early in games – best way to put a pitcher off his game!

    Keep up the good work Mr. Wilner – I thought last night on “Jays Talk” you handled the couple of “coaching and manager” callers exceptionally well!

    Thanks.

    MW: McDonald did play short in Halladay’s last start, but Scutaro was leading off and playing second.

    - Bob
  17. 17.

    You really have got to enjoy games like this, and of course, not read into them too much.

    Last night I really enjoyed the commentary between you, Jerry and Alan as it really was a breath of fresh air to see the team’s bats come alive.

    Wow, is Scoot making a name for himself or what? When I heard Scoot and Ingy were batting 1-2 (and I missed Sunday’s game completely) my first thought was “are you kidding me?” but boy was Cito right on this one.

    It will be interesting to see what happens when Aaron Hill returns and seriously, he can’t be more anxious than now to get back on the field.

    The team as a whole looks more relaxed, they seem to be having fun again and the “let ‘er rip” mentality seems to be less pressure for this offense.

    The Jays though, if they want to have any chance, will have to sweep both Cinci and Atlanta and salvage that 4-8 interleague record (well now 5-8) to a respectable 10-8. That would put them at 42-41 and with a 7 game winning streak going into the 2nd half of the season.

    But ya, I know “one game at a time.”

    MW: If they don’t sweep Atlanta and Cincy, the season won’t be over.

    - Angelo
  18. 18.

    Hi Mike,

    While I’m not going to say “they’re fixed” after 2 solid games at the plate, I’m liking the more aggressive approach the Jays seem to be taking now. Seems that “swinging at pitches” might pay dividends. I’m not saying they weren’t trying to get hits before, but perhaps a different mindset at the plate will help this team.

    Nice to see Rios (8/19, HR, 3 2B since Cito’s return) hit a long ball too.

    Hopefully they can keep it up.

    - Kevin
  19. 19.

    Hi Mike,

    In the middle of all the nice things that happened yesterday, the outstanding performance by AJ Burnett has gone a bit overlooked… Hopefully, there are no more imaginary trade talks.

    Nice game, nice change! Even if the Jays do not make a come back, I feel the team has changed towards the right direction.

    - Axel
  20. 20.

    I”m assuming Ricciardi wouldn’t get much for Eckstein alone. Who do you think will go into that package? I’m not a Burnett-ripper, but he’s an obvious trade given his contract. Supposing JP packaged Eckstein, Burnett and League–which I think is a fairly good and desirable threesome–who do you think he’d get and who do you think he’d go for? I’m assuming he’d be talking to NL teams, since 2 out of 3 of those players are NL originally and well-known over there.

    MW: Actually, Eckstein started his career in the American League, won a World Series with the Angels and everything. I don’t think the Jays will be trading Burnett unless they want to throw up the white flag on the season.

    - reyes
  21. 21.

    If Scutaro is going to play everyday s/s, how will that work? He’s basically a bench player I believe, but he’s played almost every game this year because of injuries etc. Will he be able to go the distance as an everyday player? This isn’t a knock, because I think Scutaro was one of the Ricciardi hires that I thought really worked out. I’m thrilled we have him. But I’m worried about overworking him. I’d like him back and healthy next year!

    MW: Scutaro hasn’t had this kind of workload since his rookie season. He’ll have to get a lot of breaks from McDonald if Eckstein goes.

    - reyes
  22. 22.

    I do not know why you praise Gibbons and his staff. The man was an a** and could never make a decision on his own without getting confirmation from the other a** (J.P.). We are glad to see him gone and there was no one better to replace him than Cito; The only man to have ever brought something to this city in a very long time. Second good move J.P. has ever done, next to ridding us of the big hurt…whatever!!! Ontop of that, that Denbo was a mistake from day 1. When I read that on BluJays.com that Brantley was gone and Denbo was in, I thought that was a huge step back. Cito has always had a great mind for this game and I wish him and his coaches the best of luck. You are a great rep for the Jays, but Mike, your praise for Gibbons makes me wonder. I don’t know how many times my wife and I scream WHAT! to some of your comments pertaining to John. The man was a lousy manager. Yes I know you see all the games, but my friend, we do too. I am also a ball player, and I questioned Gibby at least once in every game for the past 4 years. John was probably a nice guy, we wish hime the best, but I am telling you, the city, the province, hell the country is tickeled in having old Cito back…THIS COUNTRY HAS GOT HIS BAck my friend. If there is any man on Earth for this role, it’s him. We love you Cito. Make us proud once again!! Dayton and Maria Smith…Jays Fans!!!

    MW: Your comments near the end at least stopped me from thinking that you’re just parroting the common misconceptions about John Gibbons, but I have to question what you were watching if you think he was a lousy manager. You must like bunting. Certainly the name-calling is completely unnecessary.

    - Dayton and Maria Smith
  23. 23.

    Mike, good to see some hits falling in (and a few falling “out”) at last.

    For me the two turning points of the game were Rolen’s HR in the first, which turned a potential 1-0 lead into 4 and later 6, and the DP to end the second, when AJ was on the verge of giving most of the 6-0 lead back. After that he settled down and pitched really well.

    That was a great DP, which brought back memories of a few similar turns by J-Mac and Aaron last year — I thought I was having flash-backs!

    Onward and upward!

    - Norm
  24. 24.

    On the DP, forgot to mention that the Reds turned almost a carbon copy late in the game, which will go unnoticed because of the score at the time.

    Just goes to show that it’s not always “how or how many”, but “when”, that’s important.

    - Norm
  25. 25.

    G’day Mike!

    Funny – my first thought when I saw the starting lineup that 1-0 Friday game in Pittsburgh was “I wonder if David Eckstein is the next to go…”

    Joe Inglett has earned every right to stick around… We’ve seen him play a fair bit of 2B, but what’s his defensive value as a shortstop?

    Enjoy your day!

    MW: Inglett’s defensive value as a shortstop is negligible.

    - SS
  26. 26.

    Mike,

    I read a report last night on mlb.com that talks about a miscommunication in communication between Adam Dunn and JP Ricciardi.

    Basically the story indicates that JP Ricciardi has stated that him and Adam Dunn have ironed things out via phone, where Adam Dunn claims no such communication has taken place.

    What’s the story here?? Is this another JP fabrication? Or is Adam Dunn simply adding fuel to JP’s already burning reputation.

    Do you feel that this story could affect the Blue Jays come free agency this offseason?

    Here is the link:

    http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20080624&content_id=2994063&vkey=news_mlb&fext=.jsp&c_id=mlb

    MW: See above, and no.

    - Mark
  27. 27.

    Mike, So after playing in a hard fought softball game last night where I went 3-4 with a couple of singles & a monster triple; I proceeded to turn on my television to the channel where I thought my beloved Blue Jays were playing. Instead, I find this team who was smacking the ball all over the place. I think they even scored 6 in the first inning?!?!

    Anyways, any idea who they were Mike? I wonder if the Blue Jay players were watching and maybe picking up some tips?

    Your expertise would be greatly appreciated as I am perplexed and would really like to know more about this team.

    Thank you Sir,

    MW: No clue. After all, everyone has been saying all year that this is a group of average to below-average hitters, no? OK, maybe not everybody.

    - The Rat
  28. 28.

    Mike,

    With Lind and Scutaro seeing more playing time as of late, what do you think the future holds for Shannon Stewart & David Eckstein? I know Cito is very familiar with Shannon from his earlier Blue Jays days, so I’m assuming he’ll give him a look before any decision are made…Do you concur?

    MW: I don’t. I think that Stewart is a bench player when he comes back, if there’s even room for him. As for Eckstein, the future is cloudy, for sure.

    - Bernard
  29. 29.

    What do you think Eckstein would bring back in a trade? Honestly I’ve never been a huge fan of his since without consistent and solid D, he has been basically one-dimensional for the Jays (and even the hitting could be better). So if they could bring a draft pick or something in return, I’d do it. Scutaro and JMac can do the job just fine. All of that presumes of course that Hill finally ‘undizzies’ and Inglett can keep it going.

    MW: You can’t trade draft picks in baseball. I’m not sure what the market would be for him, and Hill’s condition is a lot more serious than just being dizzy.

    - Paul Ryan
  30. 30.

    With the same sense of sarcasm you used in pittsburgh and said something to the effect of “Cito really got the bats going”, I say “Cito really got the bats going.” Great game last night.

    - kevin
  31. 31.

    Here’s another interesting point to ponder: David Eckstein has a career average against Arroyo of .323, yet doesn’t even get into the game against him.

    He certainly seems to have fallen “off the charts” as far as Cito is concerned.

    MW: I don’t think Cito really considers that sort of thing.

    - Norm
  32. 32.

    What’s the deal with JP apologizing to Dunn. Did he speak to him or not? Also, did he bail out of tonights’s talk show yet?

    MW: He thought he did, but didn’t. He’ll be on the show tonight.

    - Shmuel Yitzchok
  33. 33.

    Mike,

    Can you please ask JP tonight if he really spoke with Adam Dunn…There is a rumor going around that perhaps an Adam Dunn impersonator called JP and spoke with him..JP says they spoke, but Dunn denied it….I guess this means one of them is lying…and based on JP’s past history…you know the rest…

    Thanks.

    MW: See above.

    - Bernard
  34. 34.

    Mike, I’ve ready in a couple of places that JP really micro manager, like telling the recent depart Gibby which player to play and where to bat? Is that true from what you know?

    MW: Not true.

    - Jeremy
  35. 35.

    Mike

    Do you know Assistant GM Alex Anthopolous very well? Just curious why he is often referred to as an “up and coming” GM candidate. Is that just due to his age? In other words, how do you distinguish yourself under a GM with a so-so record?

    MW: You distinguish yourself by being creative, innovative and smart. Alex has most definitely done that.

    - Dan
  36. 36.

    Hey Mike
    I am wondering if a baseball has ever touched the roof of the rogers center on a popup thanks

    MW: Nope. The roof is over 30 stories above the playing field.

    - Trent
  37. 37.

    Hi Mike,

    You have forgotten more about Baseball than i will ever know, i haven’t posted for a couple of days, (still reading though) while trying to think of a semi inteligent question or comment, so apologies if it’s hardly unique.

    Firstly, i fully understand your point the Jays main failing under Denbo was not nessasarily hitting, but cashing RISP. But if the evidence continues to mount that Denbo may have been at least part of the problem. How much do you think J.G. can attribute blame for his firing on Mickey Brantleys firing last year? given that hitting was the only real problem of HIS 08 Jays (evidenced by May). Of course M.B. was a coach J.G. didn’t want to lose in the 1st place.

    Secondly, Do you think the Jays are likely to call up spot starters before the A.S.B. and utilize days off on the 3rd & 7th, to go with a 4 man rotation where possible? or do you think they will bring someone up full time until Marcum returns?

    MW: They’ll only need a 5th starter on Saturday, and then again the day before the all-star break, so I think spot starters are the way to go. Evidence is mounting that Denbo was at least part of the problem, it’s true. I’ve said many times that I didn’t think Mickey Brantley deserved to be fired last year.

    - ukJay
  38. 38.

    Hi Mike – Game of the season so far. I’m glad some of us don’t give up on the season so early and stick behind these guys.

    When you go without water for days on end, that first glass may look like fine champagne. But, it’s not champagne. Last night’s game will mean nothing if we can’t win this series and the next. We’re nearing the halfway mark in the season. Being .500 at this point would be a nice psychological edge. Maybe more for the fans than the players.

    Does the team actually look at standings at this point in the season?

    MW: The players are certainly aware that they’re in last place and that they have a losing record.

    - T from NY
  39. 39.

    MW: I have always thought this offense was good enough.

    Your not the only one who thought that Mike. Problem is you’ve been dead wrong.

    In regards to the Trade Vernon question to which you said the worst thing a team can do is trade low on a player. but wouldn’t you agree trading low on a player is better then hanging on to a player until he’s untradable. which he probally is already.

    MW: Probably. To your first point, I have been dead wrong – so far. But there’s still over half a season to be played.

    - Dan M
  40. 40.

    Hey Mike,

    Seems like old times with Cito, Tenace and Leyva back in the nest. I read somewhere that Joe Carter was around after the game and caught up with Cito.

    What’s Joe up to these days and do you have any idea why he was around (flashback Friday??).

    Anyway, this team has a wonderful history of winning and it’s great to see these pieces around. It reminds us of the pride we all have in being fans of the Jays.

    MW: Thanks for being the first commenter to spell “Tenace” correctly. I don’t know why Carter was here, other than to congratulate his old manager. It’s Devon White’s Flashback Friday, I believe.

    - Scott
  41. 41.

    I have a feeling that Eckstein is done with the Jays. Since his injury he was hitting over .300, but he hasn’t started since Cito took over. McDonald is a much better defensive backup than Eckstein. Do you think there is interest in Eckstein, and what should the Jays expect in return?

    Any idea what will happen when Stewart returns from injury? Is he going to be let go and Wilkerson held onto, or Wilkerson the one to walk the plank?

    Let’s hope the offense keeps rolling. How long can the Jays ahve an 8 man bullpen? What’s the domino effect when Accardo is ready to come back?

    MW: Eckstein did start, Saturday against the Pirates. Your first two questions have been answered above. They’ll have an eight-man bullpen until Saturday, when either John Parrish gets called up or they go with a “Charlie Wholestaff” start. When Accardo comes back, I’ll bet they get rid of one of the lefties.

    - Aaron Ker
  42. 42.

    Hiring Gaston tells me the organization had not a plan when it was decided Gibbons had to go. Gaston is a PR move to sustain ticket sales until end of the year when a suitable manager replacement is found along with Riccardi’s.

    MW: Not an uncommon perception.

    - David
  43. 43.

    nice entry, M-Dub.
    last nights game was great from th RF “bleachers”…Bruce got it pretty good. Almost 30,000 was nice to see too. Get to see Roy tonite from the good seats…IF you were shopping Eckstein what do you think we could realistically get back?
    Burnett, Zaun and Eckstein for SOTO!!! LOL

    MW: Yeah, that’d happen. See above.

    - slobberface
  44. 44.

    Hi Mike,

    The one thing Cito has done is help take some of the dead wood out of the starting order. When I took my Dad to the game on Father’s Day, the first thing he did was look at the lineup, Mench? Wilkerson? McDonald hitting with Litsch on the mound? Where did these players come from and why are they starting? He had some valid points. I love that Cito plays the same guys pretty much every day, but still finds playing time for the scrubs off the bench to keep them fresh. I think Wilkerson is a sound ballplayer, however should start VERY rarely with the like of Stairs, Rios, Lind in the fold. Gibbons fell in love with Mench and Wilkerson..not sure why..Cito I am certain was behind the Mench down Lind up move

    I am going to the game tonight, looking forward to seeing Roy take to the mound.

    MW: Remember, Lind wasn’t an option when Gibbons was here.

    - Matthew
  45. 45.

    Hey MIke
    I had a qiuck question for you.
    My friend and i are having this debate and we hope you can settle it for us.
    If you reach on an error with 2 outs do you get an rbi.
    The scenero we have been debating is there was a runner on third with 2 out i hit the ball to the ss he over threw first the run scored do i get an rbi???
    Thanks Mike

    MW: No, you don’t.

    - Paul
  46. 46.

    Hi Mike,

    The Jays season was over as
    long as JG was managing.

    I’m only back writing because
    Cito is back. This move was so
    obviously from Paul Godfrey and I’m sure has shaken JP a
    little (if not alot) as JP’s
    no longer the power broker he’d been up until the change.

    I’ve been so surprised by the
    sense of negativity (via either surprise, shock, dismay, disbelief or disdain in the media over Cito’s return.

    But, win or lose, the move to
    Cito is pure genius for Paul
    as it’s a no lose for the organization. If it doesn’t
    work, he can say he needed the
    time to find Cito’s and JP’s replacements. If it works, the
    decision on whether to extend
    will be the new GM’s.

    Meanwhile the hitters are proving that a difference was needed. There’s no way the team scores 14 if JP (via JG) was calling the shots.

    It’s too bad that John’s idea of putting Scutaro at leadoff and Inglett in the two won’t get more credit for him.

    But the alternating left/right balance in the line-up is Cito’s marker and now either Vernon or Rios could be trade targets to get that LH power bat.

    So what about:

    Eckstein (for this year) and
    Hill ( for the future)

    Burnett (for this year)and 1 of Accardo/League/Tallet/Wolfe)
    (for the future)
    in a package with (preferably)
    Wells or Rios for a trade for that big hitter?

    Texas,Cincinatti, Pittsburg
    Houston, the Mets might all
    find some merit with that?

    I still would like Boggs
    and Bradley from Texas.
    What versatility that could
    bring and Texas has too many
    outfielders giving a 2 for 1
    in the outfield some merit.

    MW: I really don’t want Bradley, and I know you love Brandon Boggs, but I’d rather have Wells and Rios. I think that package you’re talking about is too mix-and-match, as well as being far, far too much. Why would a rebuilding team want Burnett and Eckstein?

    - BRick from Oakville
  47. 47.

    Mike,

    Do you have any idea what happened to Pete LaForest this year? Looked like he had an awesome year in AAA last year, and was released by Philly after like 15 at bats this year……

    MW: He’s a thirty year-old catcher with no track record of success in the majors, so teams wouldn’t be falling all over him. I don’t know what the deal is this year, though.

    - Stevie H
  48. 48.

    Hahahaha….I almost fell off my chair laughing to death when they canned Denbo last week….what goes around comes around!!

    MW: Again – why?

    - Mickey Brantley
  49. 49.

    Mike, just a quick comment/question about the shortstop situation. I understand that Scutaro is swinging the bat well right now so you want to have his bat in the lineup but Eckstein was hitting pretty well too as I recall after he came back from the DL. Also, is it just me or is there a reason why Scutaro has been a career backup player and Eckstein has been a starting shortstop? It’s great for Cito to make a decision based on Scutaro’s last four games but I just don’t think the career numbers lie and in pretty much every offensive category (except for slugging) Eckstein is significantly better. Going with Scutaro just seems to be a bit short sighted to me? Just wondering what your thoughts are.

    MW: I agree, but our opinion stands in stark contrast to so many of the people out here who insist that track record is of no value.

    - Heather
  50. 50.

    Mike, will J.P be on taking questions on air tonight?

    MW: Yup.

    - Chris Jones
  51. 51.

    I won’t say too much about last night since all the points i’d make were addressed last night and you more or less pooped all over them LOL!

    I will say this, i’m liking the aggression from the hitters. I haven’t seen the guys play so loose and have such free n’ easy swings like that in a LOONG time.

    I’m sure you didn’t hear the TSN broadcast but man that was eerie when Pat Tabler was talking about how Rios will start hitting more HRs again and then like a pitch or two later he hits it out of the ballpark!

    Anyways tonight should be a real fun game. I just hope Roy doesn’t get a screaming line drive to the head again.

    As for Eckstein, i’m also very surprised by how Cito doesn’t seem to care too much for him. I guess he’s doing what Ashby had been saying on the radio the last couple weeks or so about how old time managers would just put in the guys who get it done regardless of who they are.

    - Chris F.
  52. 52.

    Scutaro is playing well, but I really like Eckstein at short. His on-base is better, he makes contact and his defense is underated. Plus he wears out pitchers with all of those foul balls. But this town never really fell in love with him because of Johnny Mac.

    As much as I love Johnny Mac, he never has been able to hit and I always thought his defense was flashy but overated. It is starting to show some holes this year.

    The problem with getting rid of Eckstein is that if Rolen goes down (given history that is not out of the question) you have Scutaro to man third. Scutaro is a really valuable asset for this team because of his ability to play 7 positions.

    MW: I wouldn’t put Scutaro in centrefield. I don’t think that Eckstein’s defense is underrated, nor do I think that McDonald’s is overrated. But you make a good point with Scutaro as insurance policy.

    - Jim B
  53. 53.

    Hi Mike,

    I know you steadfastly believe that Denbo was not THE problem with the Jays up until his firing, however, after seeing the team play in Pittsburgh this past weekend, there is a MUCH different ‘air’ about the hitting on this team.

    Using the argument of dismissing the influence of Denbo/management on the hitters is, in my opinion, very short-sighted. I know that a turn-around can’t happen as quickly as it appears to have happened in regards to their hitting style, but from what I’ve encountered thus far in life, if you do not listen to/carry through on with what your superiors (ie. Denbo et al) are telling you to do, there are consequences. So to say that the hitters could have just ignored Denbo is not appropriate. One need not look any further than Matt Stairs’ comments in the National Post on Sunday, “Denbo made me forget how to pull the ball, as it was not what he preached.”

    As many callers said last night, the proof is in the pudding.

    Sorry I didn’t get a chance to call you from Pittsburgh after one of the games, but my cell phone wouldn’t allow me to dial a 1-800 number from the US… very strange!

    Thanks, Mike!

    MW: That is very strange, you should have found a pay phone! The hitters didn’t look all that different on Friday and Saturday in Pittsburgh, but have looked different lately. The pudding is still in the very, very early stages of being cooked, I was stunned by Stairs’ comments.

    - Jeff
  54. 54.

    So I’m sitting on my couch, watching the Stairs’ sac fly in 1st inning thinking, “Great…runners on 1st and 2nd, time for ol’ double play.” Then WHAM! TGBJOAT goes yard! All I could do is yell and jump around my living room like an idiot. What a fun game for us Jays fans.

    In reference to Eckstein, I definitely think they should trade him. I like the guy but I think we’re more than covered this year and next with Scutaro and Mac, and I don’t want to see the little guy languishing on the bench. Any thoughts on what we could get for him? I’m thinking like a ‘B’ prospect at best for him (unless of course we packaged him, I did note the Reds are on their 5th SS, I’m just sayin’), but it’s better than a kick in the butt right?

    On another matter I read in the National Post that JP has asked Denbo to be a roving hitting instructor to replace Dwayne Murphy. All I can say is, please for the love of everything holy no!!! The last thing our farm system needs is his hit-it-the-other-way crap that seemed to work out oh so well at the big league level, corrupting the prospects. It’s all well in good to go the other way but when you harp on it it ends up being just as bad as trying to pull, you hit dribblers etc. See your pitch and hit it. I could totally be an MLB hitting coach, no?

    P.S. Why the heck did that guy that posted the other day ask you if Jerry or Allen are Jewish? What an odd question for a baseball blog.

    MW: I get lots of odd questions.

    - Sean Court
  55. 55.

    Mike, I don’t agree with you that this is a “fun” team to watch.

    2003 was a great, 2005 and 2006 were fun too, but the last two years have been pretty dull, I think. Maybe I’d rather just watch a great offence than great pitching, but I don’t recall having a lot of fun watching this team so far. You do?

    MW: It seems as though you’d rather watch a great offense than great pitching, indeed. I think the pitching on this team has been incredible to watch, though the hitting has been terribly frustrating.

    - Andy
  56. 56.

    Michael of the Ballyard:

    You *cannot* seriously chalk up the surge in production to coincidence and pretend it isn’t directly related to change in hitting coach. You tried to several times on the show.

    Stairs & Rios are on record as saying that Denbo’s approach hindered them. Rance Mulliniks said during the third batter of Cito & his staff’s first game that he could already see a difference in approach.

    As per your oft-repeated question of why the hitters could continue listening to them… does it matter? They did, and now that they don’t have to and things are changing.

    Anyways, let’s just go over why they might have, since it seems important to you. One guy almost explained it to you last night but he wasn’t quite quick & articulate enough to do it properly.

    Denbo was paid to instruct the hitters as he saw fit; the players’ job ddescription includes listening to their coach and incorporating his suggestions.

    Think about it practically: every day when those guys take BP, he was behind the cage telling them to do things his way. After every swing: ‘no, stay back on the ball, take it the other way’ (provided that was his philosophy — which it seems it was, as per what Stairs said). The hitters can’t just turn around and say ‘no, sorry.’

    It would be both illogical and impractical to expect the players to totally tune out someone who their job requires them to listen to.

    Anyways, I’m going to be in Europe for the next little while and will probably use your blog as my main source of BJ’s info, so, uh, do good.

    MW: I’ll try. I’m sure the players feel freer to do things differently now, and that’s having an effect (though it didn’t help at all after Inglett’s homer tonight), but the fact remains that if someone is instructing you do to something that is making you fail, you tune them out. These are pro athletes, and many of them have no time for coaches, believe it or not. There were no repercussions for not doing things Denbo’s way, no one was going to get benched for pulling a ball. Lastly, it’s human nature to always look for something to blame rather than take personal responsibility, sad as that is. Hence all the buses running over Denbo right now.

    - JCL
  57. 57.

    First off great to hear you on the big show with Bobcat the other day, great work. Your an awesome radio guy and the more we hear you the better. Anyway nice to see us beat up on struggling pitchers. If I’m not mistaken May started out with the Jays doing the same thing, confidence when your at the plate can help a lot. Anyway it might be early for this but can’t think of anything else. Say we go into next season a 500 team, and AJ leaves. What are the Jays 3 biggest needs that a possible free agent could fill?

    MW: Starting pitcher, shortstop, DH. Assuming Hill is healthy.

    - Nick
  58. 58.

    By the end of the year who do you think will be the starting SS McDonald or Scutaro & Zaun or Barajas. What do you think they can get for Eckstien & Zaun(Barajas has been playing really well offensivly recently & is better defensivly).

    Also do you think Carl Crawford would be a better fit for the Jays then Rios as he steals more bases, hits for avg. & has some power. Of course I hear Rios has good speed I just never see the Jays steal many bases. Is that just a philosophy or because they can’t?

    You do a great job & I appreciate your feedback.

    MW: Barajas is not better defensively than Zaun, though he has a better throwing arm. I’m not sure Eckstein is out of the running for the shortstop spot yet – it wouldn’t shock me to see him in there Thursday. I think Zaun will get more time behind the plate than Barajas, and Scutaro will get more time at short than McDonald, but Eckstein may yet win that job back.

    Crawford is a terrific player, and one any team could use. But Crawford and Rios have almost exactly the same career batting average (CC .295, Rios .287), on-base percentage (CC .331, Rios .338) and slugging percentage (CC .437, Rios .446), and Rios is under contract for four extra years.

    - DMills
  59. 59.

    Mike I absolutely love your blog. You’re the greatest.

    But I would agree that the jays are no where near fixed, Snell and Arroyo have been absolutely terrible. If the jays couldn’t mustar offense against those guys then i think they’d be pretty competitive with your softball team

    MW: Thanks. Like I said, though, they’d made a lot of bad pitchers look good this year, and they did a good job against a good one in Aaron Harang.

    - Eric Spearin
  60. 60.

    Oh by the way Mike, Denbo has been offered the Minor League Hitting Instructor job?!?!?! (As quoted on bluejays.com)

    Come on, really?!?

    MW: Really

    - The Rat
  61. 61.

    Mike, I’ve been pondering this for a couple weeks now. Prince Fielder & Ryan Howard seem like pieces (Fielder in particular) that their teams are hesitant to lock up for reasons that seam to revolve around their size and lack of defense.

    My thought had to do with the Jays seeming need of a legit power bat that is a threat to launch a ball when they step in (like Delgado was). With Rios & Wells locked in for a long time and Lind & Snider “the future” in the outfield, maybe the best place to add would be 1B/DH. What do you thing it would take to land either of these sluggers in the offseason (I would pre-fer Fielder, but for sentimental reasons).

    Would the package have to include Snider? Would either team consider Rios, who is locked into a relatively team-friendly contract? It’s not that I don’t like Rios, but to get a stud, you may have to give up a proven one.

    Sorry for the rant, but I really would like to hear your thoughts on the subject.

    Keep up the excellent work.

    MW: That didn’t seem like a rant. I’d be very surprised if either Howard or Fielder were available. The package would probably start with Marcum and/or McGowan and Snider.

    - Jarrett
  62. 62.

    Wowsers! Nice pasting of the Reds byt the Blue Jays last night, but I remain guarded with respects to any meaning this explosion might have. I would be interested in knowing in how many games after their (Jays) last ten blowouts have they managed to score more than 1 or 2 runs? Legit question, Mike.

    MW: You? Guarded? I don’t believe it! After the Jays last 10 double-digit scoring outputs, they have scored 5, 2, 10, 5, 7 (this season), 8, 5, 3, 2 and 3 (last season) runs.

    - Vito From Hamilton
  63. 63.

    Hi Mike
    Was fun watching the bats come alive,especiallyRios.Almost a full 2 months without a homer.Unbelievable.I don’t think the coaching change had much to do with the offence the past couple of games.What I do believe is that the players just relaxed.It can be and probably was that with the firing of Gibbons the players had a new begining knowing that they can no longer save a mans job and that can be a gigantic relief.I’ve said before that when things go bad like the hitting has this year an end is the only thing that can save the team.Unfortunately for Gibbons.Any way I liked the lineup with Scoot and voodoo Joe at the top gave us moer power in the middle.It seems that Rios has become more agressive at the plate.The most noticeable aspect of the last few games is that the hitters are not fouling off as many balls as before.It has only been a few games but I hope it continues.Like you mentioned before if the players only accomplish their average numbers this team should score some runs in the second half because they have alot to make up for.
    mario
    Go Jays!!!

    - mario
  64. 64.

    Mike, on the tv broadcast of the game Tuesday, there was the mention of David Weathers being on the 92′ World series team. Is he and Timlin the only active players out there from the 92′/93′ team? wasn’t Delgado part of the team in 93′?

    MW: ARE he and Timlin the only active players? Delgado had two plate appearances for the ’93 team, so it’s up to you to decide if he counts. Jeff Kent was on the ’92 team, but traded mid-season for David Cone.

    - tony
  65. 65.

    Mike, thanks for putting the extendo JaysTalk on the web. It’s handy to be able to listen to it the following day.

    MW: My pleasure.

    - Tom
  66. 66.

    Mike,
    What do you think the Jays could get in return for Eckstein?
    A guy for the Major league roster? or Would you go for a prospect?

    MW: I’d go for a decent prospect, if they’re sure they have no use for Eck.

    - Denny
  67. 67.

    Mike, just curious if the jaystalk will be put up for podcast, or download. I really enjoy the show, but im not always on the computer for 30-45 mins at a time to listen to it all.. Love the show keep it up. Sorry if this has been asked before. I also dont have the time to check all the comments

    MW: If I have time to answer all the comments, you should have time to check them! I don’t know about the podcasting.

    - pete
  68. 68.

    hi mike do you think Robert Ray can come to the jays this year with marcum out

    MW: No, I don’t. He started the year in A-ball and has only had three starts in AA, though they have been great. He pitched a complete-game, 5-hit shutout on Tuesday night (no walks and 10 Ks!), so he’d only be on three days’ rest for Saturday even if they wanted to do it.

    - jack poster
  69. 69.

    Hi Mike,
    Well it is only two games and that doesn’t mean much but at least we have had somethng to cheer about.The hitters are not going to keep this up but they are showing signs of being much better than they were before.I suspect the approach has much to do with that.It is good to see Lind off to a good start.He will still have his bad days but he is gaining the experience and confidence he needs.All in all things are looking up.Even AJ had a strong game.

    - Paul McCreath
  70. 70.

    The writing in as someone else thing is just a fun little way for people to make statements or ask questions while being somewhat original about it. What’s the big deal? I think most of them have been pretty funny, and I doubt they’re actually fooling anyone into believing it’s an authentic comment. Guess ya never know though.

    You said something to the effect of “I don’t think I have a better sense of what’s going on than the players on the field”. Do you really believe that Mike? I think that in a lot of aspects(not all, and probably not even the majority), you think you know things much better than the players on the field, and you’d probably be right in thinking that.

    I was disappointed with the fans reaction to Dunn. I didn’t see a single clown nose, and hardly anyone in my section was even cheering for him. Plus, I was too far up for him to hear my “Don’t worry Adam, we think he’s a clown too” comment.

    By the way, your reaction to the caller talking about Richard Griffin was priceless.

    Caller(paraphrased): “Yeah, but he’s a professional journalist, his opinions are going to be reasonably backed up by his information right?”

    MW: (Dead silent)

    MW: You think I know things better than the players on the field do? I don’t think that.

    - Dan W
  71. 71.

    Do you think Red Sox Nation would mind awfully if we half inched ‘Sweet Caroline’ as our in between innings get the fans on their feet & cheering Blue Jay anthem?

    If not, what would be your choice as said anthem?

    MW: Come On Eileen? Head Over Heels? No, wait, I’ve got it – One Night In Bangkok! I love that song.

    - ukJay
  72. 72.

    Mike how stupid was it of J.P. to say he was raised to tell the truth? I mean he’s opening himself up for people to take shots at him.
    What do you make of this I called him he didn’t call me J.P. and Adam Dunn stuff. It really doesn’t seem to me that Dunn is lying. which could only mean J.P. is

    MW: I don’t think either one of them is lying. I also don’t think it’s possible to be a front-office executive in pro sports and not lie.

    - Dan M
  73. 73.

    His Wilnerness,

    Now we have reached the stage of the season where one might reasonably expect the Rays to start dumping pay roll, what do you think it would take to get Carl Crawford? (apart from a miracle that is) As we are already barely clinging on by our fingernails to the very boundarys of feasable reality, what about if we throw Scott Kazmir into the bargain?……Goodbye Brian Tallet???

    MW: I’d do that.

    - ukJay
  74. 74.

    Hi Mike,

    I don’t think the Jays hitting woes are solved either – they’ve been up against two subpar pitchers in the last two games, so runs haven’t been difficult to come by. I am optimistic about Cito’s new regime though. Hitters seem to be more agressive, and are making the pitchers throw strikes. This is good to see, and I hope the Jays keep it up.

    - Ian
  75. 75.

    So now J.P. wants us to think he’s been duped by a prank call? Goodness.

    I don’t think J.P. has done a terrible job as far as his baseball related moves have been, but he also hasn’t done a great job either. And in MLB if don’t have results in 7 seasons then you are out. Factor in the off-field gaffes that he’s made and I think the choice is clear, J.P. should go at the end of the season.

    - Matt S
  76. 76.

    I, like yourself, didn’t believe that a coaching change would have much of an impact. I refused to believe that a hitting coach could have such an influence on an entire team.

    Stairs’ comments in the Post made me doubt myself…the last two games even more so. And while they have definitely faced some bad pitching, they’ve looked a lot more comfortable at the plate. It doesn’t seem like they’re feeling their way through the at-bat so much.

    Besides…bad pitching should beat bad hitting, but bad pitching should be mashed by good hitting. While I’m still not sure, I’m starting to believe.

    Had you a chance to talk to the other hitters Re: Regression under Denbo?

    MW: I haven’t, much to my chagrin. I got to the park good and early today, but computer problems prevented me from getting onto the field before batting practice. Then I spent most of the time gathering TBJTW stuff, interviewing Dunn and Griffey.

    - Clay
  77. 77.

    “With Cito coming in, he specifically asked for his own hitting guy. That’s why we made the move with Gary. It wasn’t because of anything Gary did. It was just that we wanted to honor Cito’s request to have his own guys here. It’s unfortunate for Gary, but he’s kind of a victim of circumstance.”

    J.P. Riccardi On Gary Denbo.

    Good to hear the man running our team was happy with the hitting insturctor so far this year.

    MW: He didn’t say that.

    - Dan M
  78. 78.

    I am really bored at work. Please post any comments that are ready to go up. Thank you.

    MW: Sorry about that.

    - Alex B
  79. 79.

    AJ burnett for Matt Laporta?

    you like?

    MW: Matt LaPorta the first-rounder from last year who is currently OPSing 1.000 at AA at 23 years old? Yeah, I like that. The Brewers won’t, but I do.

    - Dan M
  80. 80.

    22 runs in 2 games starting to turn the corner? or to early to get excited?

    MW: Too early to get excited.

    - Jeff
  81. 81.

    Very interesting article regarding Denbo.

    http://blog.baseballdigestdaily.com/blog/_archives/2008/6/23/3759154.html

    Stairs was not a fan, stats seem to back him up.

    - Bmac
  82. 82.

    Mike….are you ok? where are the comments?

    I miss you :(

    MW: Sorry.

    - The Rat
  83. 83.

    If you like nostalgia how about Pat Gillick back as GM?

    MW: I think he’d come back as President, not sure about G.M.

    - Steve from NJ
  84. 84.

    mike the orioles are doing pretty decent right now. still think they’re doomed for the worst season ever?

    MW: Nope, I’ve come off that one. I’m now just saying that they’ll lose 100 games.

    - Howard
  85. 85.

    Listening to the Jays talk from last night, i was left with a vague nagging suspicion that you are perhaps not the greatest fan of all Richard Griffens body of work. Would this be a reasonable assumption to make?

    MW: I like Rich Griffin a lot.

    - ukJay
  86. 86.

    Mike,

    First off vis-a-vis the Blue Jays numbers when they swing at the first pitch through the first 78 games:

    .317/.324/.459

    Not bad. You can find them any time at baseball-reference, the mother of all statistical baseball websites. There’s a page in there for the 2008 Toronto Blue Jays and there’s a link to the 2008 Batting and/or Pitching Splits. Enjoy the feast.

    Secondly, the final numbers for Gary Denbo’s offense:

    74 GP, 297 R, 49 HR, 277 RBI, 282 BB, 429 K, 84 GDP

    .258/.336/.377, 4.01 R/G, .231 BA with RISP

    Not pretty. They spent all of one day this season with a slugging average above .400 (It was .419 through April 8th), under Denbo. Ugghh!!

    The “new” hitting triumvirate’s record through 4 games (Warning: extreme small sample size alert):

    4 GP, 25 R, 5 HR, 24 RBI, 17 BB, 19 K, 6 GDP

    .329/.405/.490, 6.25 R/G, .442 BA with RISP

    Of course, we need more data, so I’ll continue to track this and post a couple of updates throughout the year. I’ll be particularly interested to see the numbers when the Plate Appearances under the new regime approach the PA under Gary Denbo (2851). Obviously, no conclusions can be made right now, it’s just nice to see line drives, pull hitting and general aggressiveness. Makes for a more enjoyable viewing experience. Not that I expect to see over 6 runs per game from this crew, but if better hitting helps the pitchers relax, it could make for a win-win situation.

    MW: How do you have a higher obp than batting average when you put the first pitch in play?

    - Tom the Intern
  87. 87.

    So I have a question about the old/new hitting coach. When Denbo was hired, one of the pluses given about him was how much of a proponent he was of video work. At the time, I thought this was a good idea. Even now that Denbo is gone, I still think it’s a good idea. However, Gene Tenence strikes me as someone who might be a little more old school. Have you heard anything about his views on video?

    MW: He doesn’t think it’s the be-all and end-all, for sure.

    - Tony
  88. 88.

    Mike,
    Do you have proof that the hitters didn’t tune Denbo? And if they did tune Denbo out, or if some of them did, why would we expect to see better results?

    Finally, if Denbo was an aweful hitting coach, is it fair fetched to think that Rios, a young player, might not realize that his coach is hurting him?

    MW: I have no proof of tuning or otherwise. I’d expect to see better results by tuning him out if he was ruining them, because if you stop being ruined, then you’d get back to normal, no? Rios isn’t that young, and he’s not stupid. I think he could just look at his numbers and see that things weren’t going well.

    - JW
  89. 89.

    I’d rather have Matt Holliday than Adam Dunn right now. I really like Dunn, but Holliday hits .292 with RISP, opposed to Dunn’s .200.

    At least that’d be one spot in the order where hitting with runners in scoring position isn’t a problem.

    MW: Hitting with runners in scoring position isn’t a repeatable skill.

    - Jason
  90. 90.

    Hey, let’s have some love for A.J., shall we? I mean, after the second, and lost in the fourteen runs, he threw a heck of a game out there. Should have got a mention in your blog.

    I’m not a fan of Burnett’s, really, because I’m never sure who’ll be on the mound in his starts. But, when he does show up, he’s as dominant 2nd guy as there is out there.

    Figures that when he does have one of his upswings, it’s lost in an explosive gem by the offence.

    MW: I didn’t mention A.J. at all? Really? He pitched very, very well.

    - Matt
  91. 91.

    Mike,

    I am sooooooo happy. DARCY TUCKER IS GONE! Wooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!! I hated the guy more than any other athlete. Just couldnt stand him!!!

    All Jays fans and Mike!

    THE BEER IS ON ME!

    MW: This would be the Blue Jays blog.

    - Beburg Zehri
  92. 92.

    Hi Mike. What’s your thoughts on why JP would tell the media Adam Dunn called him when Dunn emphatically denies? It’s not like JP is dealing from credibility here – he who says “it’s not lying if we know the truth”.

    I had admired JP in the past for being upfront – but sadly, he has the reputation now for being less than truthful.

    How could this downturn in JP’s reputation not harm the entire organization?

    MW: Easily, the cheques still get cashed. And I don’t think J.P. is lying about the Dunn thing.

    - Travis
  93. 93.

    Burnett looked pretty good and was able to keep his concentration the whole game! Now they know the secret, score 11 runs for him in the 1st 2 innings for now on!

    - Mark
  94. 94.

    Wilner,

    Have you read this one:

    http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2008/baseball/mlb/06/25/bonds.independent.league.ap/index.html

    If J.P’s willing to go after Mench and Wilkerson can’t see why he can’t take a flyer on Bonds, seeing how it won’t cost him much.

    I read that Matt Stairs is hitting less than .200 with RISP and less than .200 at home is that true?

    If that’s the case, it gives J.P that much more reason to go after Bonds.

    MW: Bonds isn’t going to happen. Stairs is hitting exactly .200 at home and .200 with RISP.

    - Bobby
  95. 95.

    Mike, which blue jays right now would make the AL all star team?

    MW: Marcum, Halladay, maybe Ryan.

    - andrew
  96. 96.

    I loved those 89 Blue Jays..Jimmy Key, George Bell..Lets not forget John Cerrutti..He was a good broadcaster..He didn’t have alot of power but he found a way to win..He reminds me of Shawn Marcum..

    It seems as though those Rays may be for real..They are hangin in there..Any chance they will be in the hunt for a wildcard?

    MW: I still don’t think so. We’re not at the halfway point yet.

    - Ray
  97. 97.

    OVERBAY! NO! NOT AGAIN!!! ARRRGGGGH..

    - Vito From Hamilton
  98. 98.

    I’m sure it’s too late by now, but would it have been worth calling up either Parrish or Purcey (both lefties) to pitch tomorrow and bumping back Litsch one day?

    Litsch has been less sharp of late and the extra day (which he was expecting before Marcum went down) couldn’t hurt, but mostly I’m looking at the Reds’ optimal lineup and it seems very susceptible to left-handed pitching. Bruce, Dunn, Griffey and Votto are four of their best bats (save Brandon Phillips) and all hit from the left side.

    So wouldn’t calling up the spot starter — who is almost certain to be a lefty — a day early make sense? (Especially if it’s Purcey, whose regular turn would have been tomorrow and could throw on regular rest.)

    MW: It wouldn’t be a terrible idea, but the Jays do have four lefties in the bullpen.

    - Matty
  99. 99.

    Mike, I don’t like Wolfe. He does nothing to inspire confidence. The Jays are trying to tell me that they can’t do better than that? HE’S A DISASTER!

    MW: You’re hilarious. Nothing to inspire confidence except an obp against of about .287 going into this game.

    - Vito From Hamilton
  100. 100.

    Why didn’t the Jays walk Bruce in the 10th to set up the double play? I know Adam Dunn is on deck, but Bruce is just as good a hitter. Plus Dunn has been struggling lately. Just thought that was a little strange.

    MW: Why would you put an extra runner on base in that situation? And Dunn VERY rarely hits the ball on the ground, the chance of a DP isn’t that good.

    - Wesley
  101. 101.

    Bye Mike, see you after the next 3 game winning streak.

    MW: At least you realize it.

    - Gary
  102. 102.

    I’m so sick of this baseball team Mike. They really are a loser. No two ways around it. Let’s see. Score just enough to tie even though you had a million chances to even take a lead. Key double play balls kill any chance to take a lead (see Overbay for which the guy is notorious for). Bottom of the ninth, with chance to win, guys on, see Wells come up and try to hit a homerun rather than just get a base hit. Pop up and yell Damn It. Next guy Stairs has stars in his eyes too. Same result. Put Wolfe in. See Wolfe do the exact same thing as he has always done in his all his appearances which is walk guys to set up the table for Carelson to come in and lose the game. Bottom of the ninth, Jays go down 1-2-3 like they have a flight to catch and lose another 1 run ball game after 12 meaningless runs the game previous in this case. This team is compeltely GUTLESS, and predictable Mike. Absolutely putrid. I’m disgusted. That’s all for now.

    MW: You do realize that Wolfe had walked exactly two hitters all season before tonight. Vito, you’re going to die early if you let every loss get to you like this.

    - Vito From Hamilton
  103. 103.

    Mike please stop. Get rid of Overbay. He’s killing us.

    - Vito From Hamilton
  104. 104.

    “MW: All indications are that they’re going to the farm for Saturday’s starter.”

    When I suggested League, that was your response. What changed over the day, and what were the original indications that they’re going to the farm?

    MW: Did the Jays announce a starter and not tell me?

    - Ari
  105. 105.

    I thought the decision to have Adam Lind bunt was terrible. When it comes to deciding between Adam facing a righty or Scutaro I want Adam up there swinging, so I didn’t understand that.

    MW: That’s good, old-fashioned, try-to-scratch-out-one-run baseball! Most people love it!

    - Dilson
  106. 106.

    Yo Mike. You know why Gibbons got fired? Gibbons has no passion for baseball. He dosn’t even like the game, he just wanted to collect his paycheck. You look at his lazy attitute on the bench, looking like a know it all. I hope the next time John Gibbons comes to the Rogers Centre as another manger, I hope they throw stuff at him and curse him for him having no passion.

    MW: Please illustrate to me the difference between Gibbons’ attitude on the bench and Cito’s.

    - anton
  107. 107.

    Hey with Rios’ home run last night, he has now tied Felix Hernandez (the Mariners’ pitcher) for home runs since May 2nd … quite an accomplishment. That’s exactly what teams are looking for out of the right field position.

    - Peter B.
  108. 108.

    And why do you keep on defending Gibby? He clearly cannot motivate this team to hit. He dosn’t excurte more passion from this club. I also can’t stand the way he talks. He looks like a dummy speaking and a guy who just dropped out of high school. Does this guy know any vocabulary. We don’t need stupid texans like him.

    MW: You’re very close to being banned.

    - anton
  109. 109.

    What is John Gibbons doing right now? I bet he’s thinking about how dumb he is and why he’s dumb old hick who dosn’t know anything about baseball. He freeloaded and stole Ted Rogers money. I hope Ted Rogers charges this guy and takes away John Gibbons house and all this belongings.

    - anton
  110. 110.

    Just admit it mike. John gibbons is a horrible manager and horrible person is a criminal and should be excuted.

    MW: OK, that’s it. You’re done.

    - anton
  111. 111.

    But Eckstein can’t get much by himself, so who would you package with him and what would you want in return? A slugger? A good shortstop who could bat lead-off? I was at the game today and my heart sank as I saw the bases loaded with no one out in the 7th(?). I knew there was a damn’ good chance we wouldn’t even score one run, and sure enough, we didn’t. It’s frightening how my heart sinks when I see the heart of the order + Overbay, because it seems that a lot of the time, the hits are gotten by the back 3. So I’d like to see a slugger. Matt Stairs has been terrific but he’s getting older and not hitting as well this year.

    MW: You can’t get a slugger for a package that includes Eckstein unless you give up what you would have gotten for a slugge in the first place.

    - reyes
  112. 112.

    Hi Mike,
    Interesting to see all the comments about Eckstein and Stewart. Well before the season started I was feeling pretty good about the Jays chances and was happy they’d signed John MacDonald. I only get back to Toronto from Oz around Aug/Sept each year which is when the Jays seem to play better and for the last few years, this has also been when MacDonald has played almost full-time.

    My perception is that his defence creates a palpable buzz of excitement with the team and fans alike. At least that’s the vibe I pick up on and I guess you can’t quantify vibes. But when I first read that Eckstein was signed, I couldn’t believe it. Nothing against him as a player, but it signalled a red flag for me and I just saw it as upsetting the balance of the team. Then the exact same thing happened with Reed Johnson/Shannon Stewart. It just gave me another perception that JP has a tendency to shoot from the hip with personnel, grabbing players without considering the group dynamic.

    Call it the Curse of David Eckstein (baseball is a superstitious game), but I think these moves have plagued us all year. We have to get rid of these guys in order to move on. And I have nothing against either player.

    Seems that it’s already happening.

    MW: It may be, but I’m not with you on the curse.

    - Rob
  113. 113.

    Mike, you claimed that Overbay creates the fewest outs on the team right? but actually if he hits into a bunch of dp’s then isn’t he creating 2 outs? obp doesn’t factor that in. for example let’s say a guy had a .350 obp in 500 pa, if he hit into 20 dp’s and you subtracted it from his obp, his obp would then drop to .310. That’s a huge drop. And gdp is a huge stat that you conveniently ignore because you are creating 2 outs and killing scoring opportunities. and you like to compare youkilis, but he had a good ops last year and has few dp’s. face it overbay is a below avg 1b at most of the important stats hr, rbi, slug%, ops, dp’s.

    MW: If you have an obp of .350 in 500 plate appearances, that means you have reached base 175 times. If you hit into 20 double plays, and you want those to count extra, then you’d be 175/510 for an obp of .343. That’s not a huge drop. .350 to .310 is indeed a huge drop, but it has no basis in reality.

    - rocco
  114. 114.

    Question: Name the former Blue Jay who won a Cy Young Award but was never selected to an All-Star team?

    Answer: Pete Vukovich. Vukovich, who was selcted by the Jays from the Chicago White Sox in the original 1977 expansion draft, posted a 7-7 record in his only season with the Jays. He was traded in 1978 to the St. Louis Cardinals for Victor Cruz and Tom Underwood. John Scott was also included in the deal. Scott was the only former Blue Jay Jerry Howarth could not find when he did his “where are they now” research a few years ago. I don’t know if Jerry ever found him. Vukovich was later traded to Milwaukee where he led the Brewers to the 1982 World Series and posted an 18-6 mark, which was good enough to beat out Jim Palmer for the AL Cy Young. Arm problems shortened Vukovich’s career. he only posted an 8-16 record after 1982. Flanagan was a good guess. He was named to only one All Star team—1978, and did not play in the game.

    Speaking of the worst effort ever for a starting pitcher, Arroyo was bad, my my vote for the worst I have ever seen in my 38 years of following baseball would be a disasterous start by former Blue Jay Jim Clancy on August 3, 1989. That afternoon, Clancy was pitching for the Houston Astros against the Cincinnati Reds. Clancy faced seven men and all seven scored. Clancy gave up six hits and one walk and left with the score 5-0 and two men on. In came Bob Forsch and he really threw gasoline on the fire. 17 of the first 18 Reds reached base as the Reds had a 14-0 first inning lead, the bases loaded and only one out. The lone out was pitcher Tom Browning’s groundout to the first baseman, and this was all in the first inning. Cincinnati went on to win 18-2. The Reds half of the first inning lasted over an hour. Top that if you can.

    MW: I don’t know if I can. I’m impressed by my Flanagan guess now! It’s almost right, since he didn’t play. Dig me!

    - Jim Branscome
  115. 115.

    Mike, is Anton abusing crack or having a bad day something? I’m all for Gibbons firing as well but to take mean spirited personal shots at a guy who has already paid a heavy professional price for a team that deserved the blame in it’s entirety is pretty insensitive to say the least. Jerry once said on the air that John married the prettiest girl in Texas. I have not seen her for myself but if his peculiarities are good enough for her your insults of the man are rendered meaningless. If he still has the ammo to attract the babes then all the more power to him!

    - Vito From Hamilton
  116. 116.

    Mike — re your response/question to Post #86 (first pitch in play) — Tom’s post seemed to be based on “swinging at first pitch”, not (necessarily) “putting first pitch in play”.

    If so, then it would indeed be possible for a better OBP than BA.

    However, my interpretation may be a matter of “semantics”, in which case the question would be legitimate and Tom would have to provide the explanation.

    MW: Why did you put quotes around semantics? I’m pretty sure Tom was talking about putting the first pitch in play.

    - Norm
  117. 117.

    “It’s the Leafs’ fault.”

    Now I realize this is partly tongue in cheek, but I have heard you mention writing some sort of article on this in the past? Any chance you could explain or give me a link to where you’ve previously talked about this?

    “After all, everyone has been saying all year that this is a group of average to below-average hitters, no?”

    You seem to be implying that a group of average to below average hitters can’t score 14 runs in a game. That’s absolutely preposterous. You gotta quit going after the fans with small sample sizes to prove a point just because they do it to you. You’re the expert Mike, not us.

    “You think I know things better than the players on the field do? I don’t think that.”

    In a lot of ways, absolutely not, but in other, sure. I think a lot of players know better about the things they personally need to do, but a lot don’t have a great grasp for the game in general. A lot of players still think bunting with a man on 2nd and none out in the top of the 3rd of a 0-0 game is a good idea. Statistically, it’s not. Now I know about the phrase “Statistics mean nothing to the individual”, in that in each specific situation, maybe that player will be right. But in the long run, if the statistics say one thing and if an unjustified number of players have another idea, some of them must have the wrong idea.

    All you need to do is look at someone like Joe Morgan to know that there’s a lot of aspects of the game that the players use their instincts on, and their instincts are wrong at times. I realize Joe does know a lot about the game, but it’s hard to argue that all of his points really make sense. I’m never going to question Vernon Wells for swinging at a 2-0 pitch. He’s in the box, he knows his capabilities. But if every player was swinging 3-0 and hitting hitting with a .700 OPS in those cases, then yeah, I think they’d have the wrong approach and bystanders would probably know better. Players don’t need to understand the game to do their jobs. That’s (partly) what managers are for. They’re there because of their talent, not their baseball IQ.

    I’m now just saying that they’ll lose 100 games.

    Whaaaattttt? On June 25th, at a time when the Orioles were 39-36, you say you STILL think they’re going to lose 100 games? That would take a 43-119 pace, by a team that has already gone 39-36. The possibility of this is almost non-existant. Mike Wilner has officially gone insane lol.

    And I’m 99% sure the Anton persona is being put on on purpose. Could be wrong though.

    MW: I can’t give you a link, I haven’t got a clue which post I talked about the Leafs ruining sports fandom in Toronto, but I’ve talked about it a couple of times. I’m not implying that a group of average to below-average hitters can’t smack up a 14 – it was more a shot at all those who called the Jays a bunch of crappy hitters who could be no better and yet were all climbing on the “they can hit now because Cito’s back” bandwagon. I believe in the Orioles, they can do it.

    - Dan W
  118. 118.

    What I meant, Mike, was that when I suggested League you brushed it off ; then on the JT you referred to it as a possibility. Originally you had responded that all indications are that they were going to the farm. So I was wondering what changed over the day that now you thought it was a possibility, and what were the original “indications” that a call-up was coming?

    MW: The only thing that made me think it was a (remote) possibility was the fact that League had yet to get into a game. They will call up John Parrish, as suspected.

    - Ari
  119. 119.

    When I read post #86, I saw Tom saying “…The Blue Jays’ numbers when they swing at the first pitch”, and you response saying “…when you put the first pitch in play”.

    I put quotes around semantics because I wasn’t sure whether this was — technically speaking — a matter of semantics. The definition of the word “semantics” is given in Free Online Dictionary as “the meaning or interpretation of a word, sentence, or other language form E.g. We’re basically agreed, let’s not quibble over semantics”.

    I’m still not sure whether the above fits this definition, hence the use of the quotes, to indicate my belief that it was at least “close to” semantics, if not “bang on”.

    MW: At least you didn’t use air quotes. I hate those.

    - Norm
  120. 120.

    Mike,

    In answer to your question about the OBP being higher than the batting average when the first pitch is the deciding pitch of the plate appearance, there have been 5 hit batters on the first pitch this year. It’s not technically putting the ball into play on the first pitch, but the first pitch was the deciding pitch of those 5 plate appearances.

    MW: OK, I’ll give you that leeway.

    - Tom the Intern
  121. 121.

    So it was in a blog post, not some other form of article online? That helps. Sometime in March might be a good guess?

    MW: What was?

    - Dan W
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