9:25 PM Eastern

I’m just assuming.

I can’t think of any other reason that the Blue Jays would put on such a pitiful display both with Halladay on the mound on Saturday and with his main competitor for the Cy Young Award on the mound today.

Yesterday’s travails are well-documented in the previous post.  One would think that, given the events of yesterday, the Blue Jays would want even more to stick it to Cliff Lee both to show the world (or at least those portions of the QEW and I-90 between here and Cleveland – no one else is really paying attention) who really ought to have started the All-Star game and whose claim to being the best starting pitcher in the A.L. is more legit.

Instead, it was an entire afternoon of “thank you, Cliff, may I have another?” (Of course, it might have something to do with the fact that baseball isn’t a game that can be won by motivation, intimidation or “wanting it more”.)

The bats weren’t as awful as they were in rolling over for Paul Byrd yesterday.  The Jays had at least a man on in each of the first five innings against Lee, and they hit some balls awfully hard.  They just didn’t score. Grady Sizemore made a couple of nice catches on the warning track to take extra-base hits away from Vernon Wells and Marco Scutaro, Adam Lind flied out to the base of the wall in left and Alex Rios did the same in centre, and Shin-Soo Choo made a really nice play to run down a David Eckstein gapper at the track in left-centre.

Of course, his next time up, Eckstein was asked to bunt with runners at first and second and nobody out in a game his team trailed 3-0 IN THE FIFTH INNING!  I’m not going to go on my usual diatribe here about that decision, but I will say that if your confidence in a hitter is so shaky that you’d want him to give himself up in that situation, you shouldn’t be hitting him at the top of the line-up.  Personally, I’d have put the hit-and-run on, which is something I’m not sure I’ve seen Cito Gaston do at all since he took over.

I saw Scott Rolen in the clubhouse before the game, walking towards Cito’s office with trainer George Poulis, so I figured something was up, though I wasn’t sure he’d land on the DL.  It’s probably the best thing.  I’m no doctor, nor did I stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night, but I couldn’t quite figure out how intensive therapy plus a day off or so a week was going to get Rolen’s shoulder right.  Maybe two weeks of nothing but intensive therapy will help, or maybe he’ll need another surgery, though it’s tough to imagine Rolen wanting to put himself through that a fourth time.  They’ll miss his glove badly, but they certainly won’t miss his post-June bat.  He’s hit .172/.291/.242 since the calendar flipped to July.

Rolen’s injury means that Marco Scutaro will be the everyday third baseman, with Eckstein and Joe Inglett likely platooning at second and John McDonald standing firm at shortstop.  Mac has started seven games in a row, and it appears now that Cito couldn’t take him out of the line-up even if he wanted to.  But why would he want to?  Two more hits for Johnny Mac this afternoon though, like the other six Jays hits, they didn’t amount to anything scoreboardically.

Vernon Wells is back, after a two-day rehab.  He went 0-for-4, although he did bust it down the line on his grounder to second in the 3rd – a good test for the hamstring.  Wells crushed the ball to centre in his first at-bat, on a line, but right at Sizemore.  It’s a huge indictment of the Blue Jays’ hitters as a group that Vernon, despite having missed nearly NINE weeks of the season, stands second on the club in home runs and third in RBIs.  Lyle Overbay, a favourite whipping boy by you comment-type-folk out there, has played 50 more games than Wells, and yet has one fewer homer and only four more runs batted in.  He’s scored 19 more runs, so that’s at least something.

On The JaysTalk, you may have heard me mention that A.J. Burnett isn’t talking to me.  When I asked him for a few minutes this morning for The Blue Jays This Week (you know, since he’s leading the team in wins with a career-high number and all), he declined.  When I asked why, he informed me that he didn’t like what was being said about him on the radio station.  He didn’t seem to understand that the fact that it wasn’t me saying those things made a difference – but I’d be almost as disappointed if he was complaining about me, given the fact that the things I say about him and his teammates are fair.  I mean, if you can’t handle the truth, get out of the kitchen.  Or something.

Regardless, you, the fans, will not be hearing from Allan James Burnett on the radio anymore.  Sorry to have to pass along the bad news.  A.J. has been a different sort of guy from his first day with the Jays.  I wouldn’t say alternating  hot and cold, but you definitely don’t always know who you’re going to get.  In his first meeting with the media he was cordial, gracious, friendly and seemed pretty terrific.  Then, in his first Spring Training, I want to say that it was after his third start (he hadn’t yet gotten hurt) that he tore a strip off a group of us reporter-types for “crowding his locker” – despite the fact that we were about five feet away waiting for him to grace us with his presence.  The ups and downs have continued from there – he was great to me this spring, for example – so I don’t know if this is just another “down” or if this is for good.  If he never talks to me again, it’d be a shame, because you, the listeners, want to hear from the players, I think.  That’s why I’ll keep trying, anyway, if only for another seven weeks or so.  Then I won’t have to deal with him anymore.

Here’s today’s The JaysTalk for your listening pleasure:

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Reasonable, rational comments are always welcome.


119 Responses to “Roy Halladay’s Teammates Hate Him”
  1. 1.

    This team needs more Dave Berg.

    MW: No team needs more Dave Berg.

    - Flaming Moe
  2. 2.

    MIke – Why make such a big deal about Burnett’s silence – didn’t Scott Downs’ do the same thing during his consecutive scoreless inning streak? I remember going to a game years ago and seeing Fergie Oliver ‘How about them Bkue Jays?’ giving players cash money for interviews. Does that still go on? Ultimately itis the fans that pay the gigantic salaries players are making so I think AJ should talk to you and the rest of the media no matter what. I read online that Ashby was fired from his former play by play job because he was to critical of the Astros. I find that unbelievable because I watch every game on TV with the sound turned down and you guys turned up. To do your job properly you guys have to be critical – you can’t be Rogers’ company men and also AJ should speak to you – he has millions of reasons to do so!

    MW: I pointed it out about Downs as well. With Burnett it’s a personal thing, evidently. He’ll talk to everyone but me. I had to point it out because I don’t want you all to wonder why you never hear from A.J. I have never seen anyone giving money to a player for an interview.

    - Daniel
  3. 3.

    Just wanted to throw my 2 cents in on the McDonald debate. I think that on a team that is good-great offensively, you can afford to play him every day (like they did the second half of 2006).

    But on this team that has been pretty much horrible offensively all season long, you can’t afford to have another hole in the line up. Mac had a vareer .278 OBP. Eckstein and Scutaro are better hitters and I don’t think neither are liabilities on the field (although Eck’s had his moments).

    Question: Now that Vernon is back and Lind seems to be firmly in place as the everyday leftfielder, do you think the Wilkerson experiment, assuming no one else in the OF gets injured, will finally come to an end

    MW: I think Wilkerson goes straight to the bench, definitely.

    - Pramit
  4. 4.

    Mike,
    Do you think it was a bit premature and untimely to grant Cito an extension into 2009? Losing to Cleveland at home is a disgrace and some players need to be shipped out. I wonder if Mr Godfrey and J.P. have had their contracts extended too?

    Alex Rios’s inattentiveness and lack of productivity may be due to the size of his contract.If you recall this was experienced by Dave Stieb
    after he signed his million dollar contract and wrote his infamous “Tomorrow I Will Be Perfect” book. Money took his mind off the game.I don’t suggest Rios start writing a book but please reestablish your priorities.

    MW: Cito hasn’t been signed to an extension for 2009, nor has Paul Godfrey. J.P. is under contract through the 2010 season.

    - Mark
  5. 5.

    Grow up A.J! you are 31, don’t act like a 13 year old.

    Speaking of that, what Jays player has the best relationship with you?

    Since I am on the extra-curricular stuff today, I’d love to know what players are roommates on the road.

    MW: Players don’t have roommates on the road anymore. I have a good relationship with a lot of the Jays’ players – the best is either John McDonald or David Eckstein, I think.

    - Beburg aka The 88mph man
  6. 6.

    Reading something like that about the talented AJ Burnett, just makes you appreciate the class of Roy Halladay. Thank you Roy for being the everyday work-hard, good attitude, picture of what every ‘big-leaguer’ should be. May he mentor the younger pitchers and continue to give to charities like; Doc’s Box.

    Mike, does Burnett seem to be a high baseball IQ kinda guy, when you converse with him? I often wonder if he’s somewhat like Esteban Loaiza with more talent, in that he seems to really need motivation to think of how to pitch certain batters and strategize, rather than just get up there and throw his good stuff…

    I continue to enjoy your comments.

    MW: I don’t think Burnett is a dumb guy, nor do I think he has an especially high baseball IQ.

    - McMahon
  7. 7.

    It really doesn’t surprise me about Burnett. I don’t think he had a friendly relationship with the media in Florida either, especially in the final year before he became eligable for free agency. Looks like hes just going to do the same thing again. I can’t wait for the team that signs him to a monster deal and then has to watch him go on the DL at least twice in a season. If Roy is Dr. Jekyll, AJ is definately Mr. Hyde.

    - Derek I
  8. 8.

    Michael of the Ballyard:

    That’s awfully funny that you mentioned that about AJ today; I was planning on asking sometime really soon how he’d been treating the media this season, since I remember several reporters — you and Blair, particularly — blogging during the spring that he’d been much more friendly with the media than usual, and wondering if it’d continue into the season. I guess that answers that, though.

    How do you feel about The Varsity based on your time at U of T? Is it a respectable journalistic institution and is it a useful stepping stone, to any greater degree than most student media?

    If you don’t mind my asking, which college did you go to & what major did you wind up with?

    Is student media political or is it generally very merit-based?

    MW: Never having worked at The Varsity, I can’t say. I think it was a respectable student-journalistic institution, but my experience is almost 15 years in the past. I went to New College, majored in psychology and Ethics, Society and Law.

    - JCL
  9. 9.

    Hi Mike,
    Remember before Gibbons was fired how everyone was agonizing over how bad our offence was, but the silver lining was that “it had to improve”? Well, that offensive outburst against Cincinnati soon after Cito was hired sort of gave us the false impression that the offence was improving.

    The reality is that we’ve been scoring runs with smoke and mirrors…now with less than 2 months left in the season we can start asking again “when is the offence going to wake up” but I’m starting to think it’s not going to happen.

    AJ sounds like a fundamentally unhappy person. Maybe he just needs a hug.

    MW: I don’t think A.J. is unhappy at all, I think he loves his life.

    - Oz Rob
  10. 10.

    I am SICK and TIRED of seeing Johnny Mac in the line-up or even on this roster. Don’t give me this “he got two hits” nonsense. David Cone had two hits in the World Series.

    An all defense, no hit shortstop like Manny Lee batted .255/.305/.323. That’s Ted Williams compared to Johnny Mac’s at 33 which is .191/.253/.258. Alternative metrics show (see the fielding bible) that Mac’s defense is AVERAGE and even if we assumed he had the best range of any shortstop in the world, it does not make up for the number of outs that he makes.

    Meanwhile, we have David Eckstein’s .352 OBA sitting on the bench and not even pinch hitting when behind. Eckstein and Macdonald have the almost the exact (Eck is slightly higher) fielding percentage, and Macdonald’s range factor is *slightly* higher. These are facts. You can dispute fielding stats and metrics, but you can’t dispute that Macdonald costs more outs with his bat than he does with the marginal amount of plays he makes compared to a guy like Eckstein.
    But the legend lives on and now it has infested the management of the team.

    MW: Can something be infested by legend? Regardless, the reason that John McDonald is in the everyday line-up isn’t because Cito Gaston got caught up in the groupthink. It’s because Cito has no use for Eckstein and thinks that McDonald’s offensive deficiencies are outweighed his defense.

    - Jim B
  11. 11.

    Hey Mike
    I have figured out why JP wont say who the pirates asked for, for Bay. If he tells us on WWJP people will start to rip him. If he says Pittsburgh wanted Snider and Cecil, fans will say now ya thats good a high price. But in a few years when Snider and Cecil are in the MLB and say are a bust and dont live up to the hype then the fans will rip him for not getting bay when they had the chance. He has taken alot of heat while he has been here and he does not need any more.
    Thoughts

    MW: No General Manager will publicly comment on what players he offered in a trade that he didn’t make, nor would he usually comment on what players were requested by another GM.

    - Paul
  12. 12.

    Well thanks Mike..I’m honored that I have finally impressed you..Maybe you can tell my wife because I am having trouble impressing her everyday…

    We have been talking about signing Ramirez, Giambi and Thome but how about Pat Burrell?..He is available next year and has hit more then 20Hr 8 seasons in a row..Juan Uribe would look good at short and how about Joe Crede at 3B..Crede has had some back problems but he should be ready to play full time next year..I didn’t realize there were so many good free agents next year..We all want to sign Ramirez but lets be realistic here..He will most likely end up in New York..Who do you think we have a legitimate chance to sign?

    MW: There aren’t that many good free agents available next year, and Uribe and Crede don’t count. You’d replace Rolen with another guy who’s coming off a major surgery? Burrell is a very good hitter, but I don’t know if he’s ready to DH yet, and he’d probably price himself out of the Jays’ range.

    - gump
  13. 13.

    Can we get some love for Dan Reichert please?

    - Jay Money
  14. 14.

    The Burnett situation you describe above is unfortunate. It might be better to have a good, solid reputation behind you as an exceptional baseball player before you do this type of thing. Eighty wins and slightly above .500 does not make him exceptional in my eyes, nor does his “career high” twelve wins or whatever it was this deep in his career.

    Sounds like it wasn’t the Marlins, or Jack McKeon or the Blue Jays, but it’s A.J. himself.

    Don’t let the door hit you in the ______ A.J….

    - Rob M
  15. 15.

    A J Burnett is pathetic making millions and unable to take critcism? grow up pal despite your talent I for one can’t wait for you to get out of town.

    - Juke Joint Jim
  16. 16.

    Mike:

    Is there a chance that Scott Rolen’s shouder injury is a new one?

    He dropped a ground ball on Friday and then made a one bounce throw ( that appeared catchable ). On the play his glove was back between his legs and it appeared that his arm was pushed back even further when the ball hit.

    For the rest of the game, between plays, his left shoulder was lower than the right and he appeared to be holdong the arm tight to the body.

    I believe that he may have wrenched the shoulder on the play.

    AJ

    MW: He may well have.

    - Alf Johnston
  17. 17.

    Hey Mike,

    I think you are more than fair with A.J. or any comments regarding him. It’s unfortunate that he seems to be holding you in the same breath as others. Maybe he’s just building himself up to when he says “I’m opting out”!

    Back to the offense. Do you have any idea what they need to or will do in the off-season? They can’t possibly stand pat can they? I realize that everyone is way below their life-time averages but it would be a tough sell to the fans to bring the back as status quo.

    MW: It would indeed – I think they at least upgrade shortstop and DH offensively, if not more.

    - Cameron
  18. 18.

    Heck, we might as well have Craig Grebeck, Frank Menechino, Chris Gomez, Jeff Frye, Chris Woodward and Mickey Morandini gracing our team again…

    MW: At the same time?

    - Cory
  19. 19.

    AJ is AMAZING!!!!!

    - Mike
  20. 20.

    Damn I hate being right like posting here the Indians would sweep!
    I’m also right about Wilkerson, Overbay and Rolen being useless.

    And furthermore I can guarantee you this team will never amount to anything until “Rover”(Overbay and Rolen) are gone. We have to improve at 1st and 3rd! The Jays MUST somehow unload these 2 guys for the team to have a chance in the upcoming seasons!

    This you can take to the bank no matter how Wilner trys to spin it, period. The Jays will be no better than .500 with those 2 on the team!

    PS I love the Blog and radio show Wilner hosts the guy does a good job!

    MW: I thought I asked for reasonable, rational comments! At least it got good at the end.

    - tonyMM
  21. 21.

    Why are you so sure Burnett is going to leave?

    MW: Because only an idiot would stay for two years and $24 million when he could get 4 years and $40 million as a worst-case scenario (unless he gets hurt). Actually, it would have to be an idiot who had an even bigger idiot for an agent.

    - Richard
  22. 22.

    i’m so sick of the jays.
    mike, are you still playing softball? tell us a good story.

    p.s. johnny mac is becoming a folk hero.

    MW: I didn’t play this past week, but I will this week.

    - diego
  23. 23.

    Hey there Mike,

    In your opinoin, what is the percentage that we can see May June production from Rolen next year and why.

    Also if we wanted to trade for a JJ Hardy or Alcides Escobar from Milwaukee, what would it take? Cecil plus a bit?

    MW: A lot more than Cecil plus a bit. The Brewers are trying to win this season. I have no idea what this percentage is that Rolen will be able to get back to that level of production next year, those types of predictions are foolish. If I was to say 90% and he didn’t, then the answer would be “well, I said there was a 10% chance he wouldn’t”, and vice-versa.

    - Corey
  24. 24.

    Hey Mike

    I have never been a big fan of Mr.Burnett. He has all the tools to be an exceptional pitcher but it never comes to fruition. He is inconsistant and injury prone, and i won’t shed a tear when he opts out of his contract.

    Now he is not talking to you Mike? Does this crybaby realize that you have defended him on numerous occasions throughout the season? The thing i find most amusing about this situation is that he longs to pitch in a “hardcore baseball city”. If he can’t handle the scrutiny in Toronto, how will this delicate flower deal with the pressures of pitching in a place like Chicago or New York?

    I figure Sheets and Sabathia will be out of the Jays price range, but maybe we could sign a couple of cheaper options like Lowe or Wolf. Another possibility might be to sign Juan Cruz and put him back into the rotation.

    One other question. I see Pavano is starting to throw in the minors again. Would you take a chance on him or a guy like Prior?

    MW: I would definitely take a cheap chance on Prior or Pavano. I’m not a Cruz fan, though.

    - rick
  25. 25.

    DONT WORRY MIKE ABOUT BURNETT, YOU’LL ALWAYS HAVE DAVE BERG.

    MW: Berg was always willing to talk, he was just Dave Berg.

    - Dave Brantford
  26. 26.

    Burnett not speaking to you shows he does not pay attention to who is saying what. I can certainly support the notion that you have been one of his most ardent defenders. In fact, I’d have to say you’ve been his staunchest supporter. Maybe he’s trying to burn every bridge behind him on the way out of Toronto so he won’t feel bad about opting out of his contract. You’ve got a psych degree, maybe you’ve heard of that sort of thing.

    MW: I cut the second paragraph, I don’t know why you thought this was an appropriate forum for that.

    - Jim in Ohio
  27. 27.

    Manny is an awesome dream, but JP has never negotiated with and signed a Scott Boras client (or at least no one currently fits the bill). It’s a shame too, because if they could grab Manny and Lowe (also a Boras client) I think they’d be contenders. Lowe and his 60+ GB%s would be awesome in front of the Jays infield, he’d probably put up similar numbers to a Ben Sheets.

    Callers always ask who the Jays are going to go after, and you don’t typically mention Raul Ibanez. JP tried trading for him, so he might try signing him, and if he can get him on a 2 year deal it makes sense. He’d provide some LH pop at LF/DH. As for Delgago, the Mets are picking up that option for 12m unless they plan a serious run at Teixeira, so you can probably scratch off Delgado too.

    MW: Who told you the Mets were picking up the option on Delgado? You’re right, though, Ibanez will be an off-season plan C or D at DH.

    - Ari
  28. 28.

    Hey Mike, you know what a pre madonna is right? Otherwise that was a cleaver comment you left me on your last blog. See I check the blog more than once in 24 hours. Good for me. Not so good for the Jays. There really isn’t much to say about the Jays other than that the hitters arn’t hitting. I think thats why you have been disagreeing with soo many callers as of late. People come up with these elaborate ideas that they think would fix this team but right now they are a hell of a mess! I can’t imagine adding one star player into this lineup would help them much because this team is just soo screwed up now! Jaystalk is actually more enjoyable than the average Jays game this season! No offence Mike but something is wrong here!

    MW: I know that Madonna broke onto the music scene in 1983, and everything before her arrival, I assume, is “pre Madonna”.

    - Matt from BC
  29. 29.

    BTW I forgot to mention that I hope AJ’s beef is not with you personally. Jays fans just don’t seem to like him and infact dispise him! This will only make it worse and when he makes a return to the dome in another uniform, the Jays fans will boo him till the air turns blue! There is no way he’s sticking around after this season. If AJ ever writes a book someday I wouldn’t be supprised if he took David Wells lead in saying he thinks the Jays are the worst fans in baseball. His treatment has been unfare!

    MW: I don’t think any Jays fans despise Burnett, and if they do, I don’t know what they’re thinking. I also don’t think that his not talking to me will have any effect on how he’s treated when he comes back to town in another uniform.

    - Matt from BC
  30. 30.

    Hi Mike,

    Jon Miller, during ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball broadcast, spent a few minutes praising all the things Reed Johnson has brought to the Cubs. I thought for a minute about his comment on Reed’s ability to “make things happen.”

    Mike, was there ever an interest from the Blue Jays Organization in acquiring Jim Edmonds or Brian Giles? These two outfields would have offered a much better potential reward than Kevin Mench and Brad Wilkerson…

    MW: The Jays tried to sign Giles when he was a free agent three years ago, and he went to San Diego. Edmonds wasn’t available until after the Jays had signed Mencherson.

    - Axel
  31. 31.

    Mike Wilner in the Grill Room.

    MW: “This is bloody CFL where three-quarters of the team make the playoffs”.

    MW: “Aren’t the Argos 2-6 every year”.

    MW: “Nothing matters in CFL until week 12″

    LOL. three legendary quotes.

    By the way, did Wheeler call you J.P’s PR guy in jest or he was serious? I thought it was a bit of a cheap shot.

    MW: G-Dub likes to give me crap about the Jays.

    - Beburg aka The 88mph man
  32. 32.

    Hi Mike,

    BUNTING? REALLY? When you’re down by 3 in the 5th inning???

    That’s not questionable managing… it’s just stupid.

    Shame about AJ, would have liked to hear what he had to say… I’m sure he’ll get ripped for it.. (but it’s okay for Scott Downs, right?)

    MW: When did I say it was OK for Scott Downs?

    - tc
  33. 33.

    Hey Mike

    Now do you see why this team is no better than a .500 team? Sounds like a familiar symphony from the players and J.P. Don’t you think? Who else gets swept by one of the worst teams in baseball AT HOME, but the Blue Jays!

    MW: Now I have to look it up. The first-place Diamondbacks were swept at home this year by San Francisco. That’s all I could come up with in 2 minutes.

    - Danny from Maple
  34. 34.

    I listened to most of the game on the radio, then watched the final 3 2/3 on T.V. What a difference, as to the play by play and commentary between the two medias. All I will say is, it is a good thing there is a visual, to go along with the T.V. crew. On the other hand, Mike, there is no need for a visual with you 3 Amigos, “theatre of the mind” works very well, with you guys.

    I hope, Rios, while sitting on the bech, was taking notes of how to get a jump on fly balls. Sizemore and his counterparts, were on the move for fly balls at the “crack of the bat”. Alex, sometimes, appears to have the “deer caught in the headlights” thing going on. Hey, maybe the guy needs eye glasses – can’t think of any other reason, why, he has that split second hesitation of late when locating a fly ball. Really obbvious on the last two balls hit to him. He, still has a great arm however – then again, he can through acurately to home plate, so maybe it’s not an eye thing and just a wondering mind.

    Mike, you had placed a question mark in your response, to my comment, as to a phrase I used yesterday with regard to Rios running out, catching, then dropping that fly ball – “hey, look what I found”. That phrase, is reserved for guys who surpise others and even themselves at catching a ball, they, never expected to catch. He may have been so surprised, he dropped it! Enough of Rios and trying to figure out, what it is with him. If, it is due to being down about his play this season – it makes absolutely no sense, to go out there and make things worse.

    No kidding, when I saw Cliff Lee and his ball cap on the tube. The first thing I thought of, was, “illegal substance” – meaning, of course something he rubs on his hand before leaving the dugout – or something on the ball cap. Sure, the Jays should have questioned that, why not. Sure didn’t look like only rosin debris to me.

    Thanks.

    MW: I think you’re way too hard on Rios. Defensively, he’s very, very good far more often than not.

    - Bob -
  35. 35.

    Aj is gone at the end of the season anyway, so I wouldn’t worry too much about him. I’m not one of the detractors–the guy can pitch and he’s cute!–but if he wants to be a prima donna that’s fine. He’d got a month and a bit before he can go and be a prima donna somewhere else.

    I saw your comments on Manny on the previous entry. He’d be a great dh if we could get him, and I guess we play Boston enough times that we could make a good pitch for him. But I’m a little wary of hiring a guy whose stated interest is to stick it to his former team.

    Now I have a question: Assuming AJ goes, and knowing that Thomas’s money is over at the end of the season, how much payroll is available for spending in the off-season? And is any of it reserved already? Perhaps to bring Johnny Mac back, or some bullpen guys.

    MW: McDonald is already under contract for next season. There should be about $30 million availableor the Jays to spend, assuming the payroll stays at $100 million.

    - reyes
  36. 36.

    I doubt, if Manny would want to go to the Yankees. Big George, was adament about Johnny cutting his hair when he joined the Yankees. Think Manny would cut his hair – then again, who wouldn’t jump through hoops or do what it takes to join the Yankees!

    I could see him playing for the Jays, as he has said in the past, T.O. is one of the places he would also like to play. No player, in baseball, is going to go out of his way just to get “even” with his old ball club, as some of you have suggested. They do what’s right for themselves and of course the almightly $$ speaks volumes. As for Manny being Manny, let him be Manny, especially when he pounds the ball out of park. He, would look great wearing the Jays logo on his chest. The Jays, just won’t have the dough to bring him here however. The hair, I would be with George on that one!

    Tough pill to swallow as to Scott Rolen. Still a good deal to get him here despite his numbers this season. Kudos to him for going out there everyday hurting, like he was. He will be back. The comparing of Glaus to Rolen is just plain old dumb! Different league, different pitching and a different playing surface for him at home. Gotta chuckle at those of you, who love to compare apples to oranges!

    Get ready, the next 7 games for the Jays – 6-1! The one loss, will be an extra inning game in Tiger town. Right back into the thick of things as a result. See ya.

    Thanks.

    MW: I’m not sure if that would be considered blind or cock-eyed optimism.

    - Bob -
  37. 37.

    This could be stretching the limits of reasonable and rational far beyond breaking point. But why not check out St. Louis this off season, after swapping 3rd Basemen last year, might they be interested in doing something simalar this year with 1st Basemen?

    I was watching the Cubs/Cards game last night and was staggered to hear from Jon Miller, Troy Glaus leads all M.L. 3rd Basemen in fielding percentage (i know you don’t put to much weight on fielding percentage) but he is also hitting 270 with 21 homers and 71 rbi’s. I know it all depended on health, but never in a million years would i have thought we might end up with the short end of the stick on that trade.

    Before the season began i thought Angels would beat Cubs in 6 for the World Series. In sports over the years i have often felt certain teams were almost destined to win a certain title. I’m now feeling that with the Cubs this year. What say you?

    Sorry about the totally unreasonable irrational comments today, just the mood i’m in after this crappy weekend (but i wasn’t spewing any hate!)

    MW: I appreciate the lack of hate-spewing. I don’t feel that sense of destiny with any team this year, but I rarely do.

    - ukJay
  38. 38.

    Hi MIke,

    I agree with you about bunting in the fifth. Why would you give an out away to arguably the best pitcher in the AL???? Eckstein can hit. The odds of him hitting in a DP are slim and they down 3-0 in the fifth.

    OK MIke, Last night I was lying in bed when I thought of a Jays- Indians trade.

    To Cleveland-
    CP- Bj Ryan

    To Toronto-
    DH- Travis Hafner

    I know it’s a little fantasy trade, however it could be a starting point for negotiations for thetwo teams. Hafner would be a great DH, and Ryan is a great closer. Cleveland has some other good bats like Sizemore, Victor Martinez, Shin soo choo (especially this weekend), Andy Marte who I think will fully develop by next season. The Indians don’t have a closer and could use one to help their 8th and 9th inning woes.

    BJ Ryan is an expendable candidate because of Scott Downs performance this year. DOwns is one of the best relievers in baseball and is oen of the league’s best kept secrets. Also, Accardo will be back and so will Jannsen. This makes BJ expendable. It also gives us a DH which we have eneded for so long. Tell me what you think.

    MW: I think that Travis Hafner hasn’t hit since 2006, and don’t know why the Jays would want another one of those guys.

    - Warren
  39. 39.

    I know Hafner hasn’t had the best two years, but a change in scenery could potentialy help him. It’s a risk worth taking.

    - Warren
  40. 40.

    That bunting in the 5th inning was awful, just awful. You’re down 3 runs and you bunt, I couldn’t believe it. Also, and I hate to complain about these in-game decisions, but in all three games against Cleveland John McDonald was permitted to hit in the 7th inning or later with the team down and a better hitter on the bench who can play his position on the field. Just a little thing that probably wouldn’t have changed the outcome, but it seems like lifting McDonald in those situations would be a no-brainer….

    - Mike M
  41. 41.

    Yesterday would have provided the perfect opportunity for Gregg Zaun’s dog to make a return visit, and leave his considered thoughts on the Jays this weekend, out in left field.

    - ukJay
  42. 42.

    Hey Mike. Boo Hoo AJ won’t speak to me. The problem with media people such as yourself is that you base your opinion of players dependant on how they treat you. Get over yourself. If I were AJ, I wouldn’t speak to any of you either. You ran with the rantings of JP when he questioned his make up, ability to handle pain, called him a fourth starter. How’s Litsch doing. I told you how the Jays should be handling Burnett right now. Fire JP, and sign AJ for whatever it takes. The tandem of Halladay and Burnett is the best 1-2 in the AL. Their hitting is a mess, and they must build pitching. Also, this is just a hunch, but I don’t think any of the top free agents are coming to Toronto in the off season. The franchise is at a low point in its history. One last point, from the where are they now category. Ohka, Thomson, V Zambrano, Wilkerson, Mench, Stewart, Glaus.

    MW: Again – reasonable and rational.

    - DaveB
  43. 43.

    Mike, don’t let AJ Burnout get to you. He has no regard for the fans but for himself. What a big suck. Fans can’t stand him and his .500 so let him fade into oblivion. I have no need nor desire to listen to AJ talk. He’s paid to pitch and too much I might add. They don’t tell you much anyway so what’s the big loss? I’m tired of overpaid underperforming whiney babies and JP has to stop bringing these kinds of guys in here, that is if my a miracle he’s still here himself next year. My money says no.

    - Vito From Hamilton
  44. 44.

    Hi, Mike:

    I was down at yesterday’s game (first one this year — about time!), and was pretty impressed with Lee’s pitching, especially his strike to ball ratio. I also noted that even though the Jays had eight hits off him, they went only 0 for 4 with RISP, meaning that the hits were well scattered and often came after two outs.

    In my opinion, although the “race” is still close, Lee virtually clinched the Cy Young this weekend, with Halladay’s (undeserved) loss, coupled with his own shutout. It’s going to be really hard for the voters to overlook his 16-2 record (and counting), especially when you take the ERA into account.

    Also agree with your opinion of Cito’s atrocious bunt call. I can’t understand why, when you need a “big” inning (down 0-3), you would willingly give up an out?

    Finally, in respect to the bunt itself, I was extremely disappointed that Eckstein went down the third base line with it. I realize that that is the “normal” call, with runners on 1st and 2nd (try to make the 3rd baseman field it), but considering that Lee is a Lefty, and a good fielder, and also that Garko is a RH thrower, my call would definitely have been to go down the 1st base side. This would have precluded any throw to third, and at least led to a successful sacrifice.

    One final thought — next time the Jays are scheduled to face Lee at home, they should move the fences in 10 feet! Four or five flies to the base of the wall — yikes!

    - Norm
  45. 45.

    Mike,
    You pointing out vernon’s Jay’s ranking does tell a story, so does the fact that 3 players currently 32 hr, 40% of the Jays total of 79.

    You said:
    Scott Rolen – 1 month, Vernon Wells – 2 months, Aaron Hill – 4 months, Dustin McGowan – 3 months, Jeremy Accardo – 3 months, Casey Janssen – all season. Does anyone else stack up to that?
    How about Boston?
    Bartolo Colon – 2 plus months
    David Aardsma – 1 month
    Mike Timlin – 3 weeks
    Josh Beckett – 1 week
    Clay Buchholz – 1 month
    Daisuke Matsuzaka – 3 weeks
    Curt Schilling – season
    Tim Wakefield – 2 weeks
    Mike Lowell – 2 weeks
    Julio Lugo – 3 months
    David Ortiz – 2 months

    MW: For Boston, none of Colon, Aardsma,Timlin, Buchholz and Lugo are as signficant as any of the players on the Jays’ list, and only one of Beckett, Lowell and Matsuzaka missed more than two weeks. Also, they knew Schilling was out for the season before the season, allowing them the opportunity to replace him.

    - JW
  46. 46.

    “…I’ll keep trying, anyway, if only for another seven weeks or so. Then I won’t have to deal with him anymore.” That, in a nutshell, is why Burnett is not talking to you. Because you have repeatedly publicized your perception that he will walk away from the Jays at season’s end no matter what.

    I don’t mean to be harsh, but I don’t think your comments about Burnett leaving have been fair. To me, anyway, he has come off as wholly sincere when he has said, over and over again, that there’s as good a chance that he’ll stay as a chance that he’ll leave.

    True, many, if not most, players in professional sports these days are driven exclusively by money, and they’ll go wherever and whenever they’ll get the biggest paycheck. Unfortunately, however, you and others assume that this attitude is shared by players such as Burnett, who may actually place greater emphasis on other factors. Who knows what he’s thinking? We know what he has said, and I, for one, have no reason to doubt him.

    I honestly don’t think it’s so far-fetched to imagine a player in Burnett’s situation deciding to stay. He likes the city, he likes his teammates, he loves Brad Arnsberg, I assume he loves having Halladay around, and, if he is realistic about the team, he knows that it’s not far off from winning. He already has loads of money. It’s unfair for us to assume that all he cares about is getting more money, especially when he’ll be getting millions either way. I can easily see why Burnett would be offended by those kinds of comments.

    MW: As far as your second paragraph, that’s the difference between you and me – I have met the man, and spoken to him on numerous occasions. As for the first, that’s not why A.J. isn’t talking to me, I’m reasonably sure he has no idea who I am.

    - Shmuel
  47. 47.

    AJ not talking to you is just plain unprofessional. When an athelete is making 10 million per season, he has a responsibility not only on the field, but also in helping market and promote the ballclub. I cannot say I am suprised because this prima donna behaviour has followed AJ throughout his unfullfilled injury prone career. I for one will be happy when he is continuing to underachieve for a new club next spring.

    - Dave J
  48. 48.

    mike,
    would the jays be able to afford
    Manny,Hudson and Sheets

    MW: Only if they make some cuts elsewhere.

    - Jazz
  49. 49.

    tis true the Jays stunk this weekend, but they kind of stunk too against Oakland, and still managed to win….they didn’t tear the cover off the ball against Oakland…I don’t think the hit a homerun, and they won one game where they only had four hits…..those wins just hid the fact that the Jays still hit very very bad.

    MW: The Jays scored 21 runs against Oakland, averaging 5.25 per game. They scored four runs against Cleveland, averaging 1.33 per game.

    - Mark
  50. 50.

    I don’t really blame AJ for declining to talk to you. I know you’ve been fair to him, but many of your colleagues at the FAN have not. Your going to blame him for not knowing which guy said what from which radio station?

    MW: Nope, but there’s something to be said for getting your side out if you feel that you’ve been treated unfairly. Also, it was pointed out to him that I have been nothing but fair.

    - Shmuel Yitzchok
  51. 51.

    Correction, Barajas hit that moon shot, but then the jays never got another rally or string of hits again till the 7th inning on that game.

    Nonetheless, we need hitting.

    PS: Is there not someone in the minors that can do what Wilkerson can do? Actually check that..I would not want someone in the minors to do what Wilkerson does.

    - Mark
  52. 52.

    Mike

    I was at the game yesteday and you are right, the jays were pathetic.. again…

    You have compared the Jays with the Angels a few times, stating that they have almost identical run scored and run given up.

    I had a chance to watch the Angels a few times in the last few weeks and the difference between the two team is – The Angels consistency execute well on crucial situations while the Jays do not. I think that is the key – consistency, as you have indicated. Case in point: Yesterday, Rios had two hits. Not a bad day statistic wise but in the fifth inning,with one out and two men on base, he grounded into a double play, thus killing the rally. This seems to be a common theme this year….. Jays had 9 hits yesterday with nothing to show.

    Like you, I think they need a scary bat and someone who can hit consistently for average. A Mike Lowell type hitter. Anyone like him available as a free agent next year?

    MW: I don’t see Lowell as a scary bat. The argument that the Angels execute better in crucial situations falls short when it’s pointed out that they’ve scored almost exactly as many runs as the Jays have.

    - francis
  53. 53.

    I was just wondering if we are going to be seeing Aaron Hill again this year? Or is this a long term injury that we need to be worried about, that could carry into next season. I sure hope not or the search for a second baseman will be a top priority in the off season I would suspect.

    MW: I doubt we’ll see Hill play again this year, but there won’t be a high-priority search for a second baseman in the off-season.

    - Lee Coates
  54. 54.

    Hello Mike,
    Scott Richmond gets no run support.
    Anyways, do you think he can try to go over 6, maybe even 7?
    Thanks

    MW: I’ll take six innings and three runs every time out from Richmond.

    - Cral
  55. 55.

    Hi Mike, I live in Peterborough and feel like I am the only Jays fan alive(besides my family). Sometimes I will talk about the Jays to the non-fans and it seems like every one thinks the Jays suck. I’m serious, you would think we were the Pirates or something. Is this how it is in all cities with teams that play about .500 when we know that they are better? Is it because of the media? I don’t know if you have experienced this in Toronto.

    MW: The casual fan thinks the Jays are terrible.

    - Ross Cruikshank
  56. 56.

    Why oh why does someone who makes the kind of money that AJ does, even give a hoot what is said on the radio. Apparently he has not listened closely, as you keep the rowdies from hanging him in effigy. These Jays should be thankful that it is you who advocates for them on their behalf. I don’t think that you could be anymore fair than you are. He should be grateful to you.

    I really think that with this team with basically 4 non pitchers who are regulars, Wells, Rios, Lind and Overbay that we are doing good to be at even. I wrote a couple of weeks back, and the fact of the matter is, we are running subs out there each day. They would not be subs if they had shown that they could be more than that. Not criticizing them at all, Stairs, Inglett, Scutario, Zahn, McDonald, Barajas, Mench, Wilkerson, Eckstein are nice role players, they would strengthen any teams bench. But, when you look at the teams that are contending, they have guys that will pretty much pull 145 – 155 games a year and are consistent at the plate and in the top 2/3 of the order.

    I have watched, and I really think that they need to fill this roster with more starters, not more bench guys.

    Thank you Mike for all of the hard work that you do, and for taking it on the chin for this team. Your passion is apparent, and it is respected.

    MW: Hill and Rolen aren’t bench guys, they’re just hurt. But yes, they do need to go out an get a DH in the off-season, at the absolute least.

    - Jim
  57. 57.

    Mike,

    Cito had Eck bunt in that situation because he knows, in usual circumstances when your 3/4 hitters are coming up with runners on 2/3rd with 1 out you usually get at least 1, sometimes 2 and hopefully 3. Not sure if you were watching the same game as I but Rios torched Lee the first 2 at bats and Wells had a crunch in there too (sadly for an out). He is moving runners into scoring position for his big bats, I have seen so many managers do this in baseball, I agree more so in the national league but this team is horrible at hitting, this hitting team JP has put onto the field this year is awful and as a manager you have to be very creative to score runs. Gibbons would have done what you had preferred which is not bunt, where did that get us earlier in the season, or the past several years under Gibby? I am sorry but I watch a lot of baseball (all teams) and no team seems to have as feeble as a lineup as the Jays on paper and off paper. Lastly, when you are down 3-0 getting a run or 2 can help, you dont have to get them all at once.

    Sorry to see Rolen go down, but I truly believe we become a better hitting team with him out of the lineup. Hopefully he will be back to form next year.

    MW: Congratulations on watching a lot of baseball. You’re right in that you don’t have to get all the runs back at once at that point in the game, but by bunting your SECOND-PLACE HITTER, you’re all but ensuring that you won’t.

    - Matthew
  58. 58.

    Thank god rolen is out. i feel more than pleased at the news. i have nothing against that guy but the only reason a manager would stick him into the line up without sending him down with those horrible numbers is just becuase he is SCOTT ROLEN and he has a name to live up to. The tv broadcasters at times say that ” there is a sign of improvement for rolen” or “he looks more comfortable now” honestly, i just laugh at those comments sometimes. I see no sign of improvement and i stay firm with my perception, i just can’t believe in anyone who says that he looks likehe is going to be coming out of this slump. I don’t know whats wrong with his shoulder but i don’t ever recall a player who’s played with a shoulder injury for a month or however long he has playn with it. Especially shoulder injuries, They have to be dealt with and taken care of early.

    - JaysFan
  59. 59.

    Ash’s Corner for August the 11th. Today’s spotlight game is actually a Blue Jays game. On August 11th, 1978 the first place Kansas City Royals came to the Ex to face the last place Blue Jays. The pitching matchup was RH Dennis Leonard (who had won 20 in ’77 and was on his way to 21 in ’78) for the visitors and LH Balor Moore (eventual final career record: 28-48) for the home 9. On paper it was a lead pipe cinch for the Royals, but as 2008 Jays fans are all too painfully aware, they don’t play the games on paper.

    In the 2nd inning Ash ripped a 3-run HR off Dennis Leonard to break a 2-2 tie and put the Jays up 5-2. In the 4th inning Ash stung a lead off double to RF off RH Randy McGilberry and scored on (wait for it Mike) back to back sacrifice bunts by Luis Gomez and Rick Bosetti to make it 7-3 Jays. In the 5th LH Steve Mingori got Ash to fly out to CF, leaving runners at 1st and 2nd. Mingori was still pitching in the eighth when Ash sacrificed Dave McKay up to 2B. Unfortunately, (wait for it Mike) McKay did not score. In the 10th LH Al “The Mad Hungarian” Hrabosky got Ash to ground out to 3B and one out later the Jays had lost 9-8, in a much harder fought contest than could’ve been anticipated going in.

    Defensively for Ash, well the pitching was crap, but what can you expect from a parade of Balor Moore, Tom Murphy, Mike Willis, and Victor Cruz? Ash was 1 for 2 in nailing base stealers that day. Both of the attempts came against Victor Cruz, who had a similar delivery to Luis Tiant, if I recall correctly. In the middle of his windup there was Victor with his back to the hitter looking out at the CF scoreboard. I don’t imagine that made it too easy on his poor catchers. Nonetheless, Ash managed to throw out Amos Otis in the 9th. Little Freddie Patek drew a two out walk in the 10th and was off to the races, stealing 2nd and scoring the eventual game winner on a single by Clint Hurdle (yes, that Clint Hurdle).

    Hrabosky mowed ‘em down in the 10th and that was that, but Ash did everything he could to ensure victory for his team that day. It just wasn’t meant to be I guess.

    Until tomorrow,

    - Tom the Intern
  60. 60.

    As someone who thinks teams don’t need prototypical 3-4 duos to succeed and then cited the Mets and Cubs as examples, I think you’re the perfect guy to answer this question (end of sarcasm).

    You pointed out the pitiful fact about Vernon Wells being second in HR and third in RBI despite missing 9 weeks. I’m wondering if this is the worst power hitting team in recent history. They currently have 79 and most likely will not hit more than 95. Sure, HRs have gone down drastically the last two years, but even considering that, the Jays with 79 so far just seems ridiculous.

    MW: It certainly does seem ridiculous, but the Jays aren’t last in the majors in homers.

    - Shawn
  61. 61.

    When AJ told you he wasn’t appearing on the radio again, was he polite about it? Or was it one of those “bad AJ” moments?

    As in, did he say just say “I’m not talking to the radio guys anymore” or “Screw off, I’m not talking to you radio guys anymore, you big fat buttheads.”?

    (Self-censored for the sake of the children)

    Oh, and I’d ask your reaction to Shannon Stewart’s release but I assume by the time this comment appears on the blog there will be 40 above it asking the same question.

    MW: He wasn’t terribly rude about it, just said that he wasn’t going to talk to me. You’re the first to mention Stewart – I’m not surprised that he was released.

    - Tyler
  62. 62.

    This team is going to lose fan interest very soon at this rate (if it has not already). I have been a fan of this team since ’77 and was a season ticket holder with group of friends for 3 years but gave it up a couple of years ago from frustration with this club. I still catch most games partially, either by radio or TV, but it is hard to get behind a team that keeps winning a couple and then nosediving again, constantly toying with us. I really feel for Halladay. If this garbage ball continues he is going to want out of town any way possible. It is time for a(nother) culture change for this team, right from the top (Godfrey) down. Cito as much as I respect what he did for us almost 2 decades ago is not going to magiacally turn this group into winners. They are just not that good… a bunch of second stringers and castoffs from other clubs. And nice to see Stewart released today. Another great pickup by JP!

    - Rick M
  63. 63.

    M-Dub
    Can we just admit it now?
    The jays are crap.
    I dont care what their records ends up being.
    Or what circumstances people can come up with.
    They’re crap.
    They’re boring to watch.
    They have no personalities. They have no pop.
    Everyones laaaaaid back.
    Its horrible.
    please admit it too.

    MW: Yeah, having the best pitching in the league is certainly crap.

    - slobberface
  64. 64.

    Mike,

    1) I know hindsight is 20/20, but JP must be feeling pretty stupid having released Shannon Stewart knowing that Reed Johnson is having a pretty good year. 2) I cannot figure out why AJ is p****d off at you. I think his only possible gripe with you is your assumption that he’s gonna opt out of his deal at years end. Other than that you’ve been pretty fair in your commentary of him and on many occasions you’ve defended his career .500 record. Oh well, I guess you’ll just have to kiss and make up sometime soon. Thanks Mike.

    MW: 1 – You could have stopped at hindsight is 20/20. 2 – As I said above, I’m confident A.J. has no clue who I am or what I have ever said about him on the radio.

    - Vinnie from Hamilton
  65. 65.

    What’s a Dave Berg?

    MW: A fair question, and one not often asked.

    - Shawn
  66. 66.

    Ok so I know the Reed Johnson debate has been going on all year but with todays release of Stewart it makes it that much worse that we released Reed. Now it looks like we released Reed for Mench/Wilkerson. How does that help the ball club? This was a bad move from the start, not because Reed Johnson is an MVP type player but because he was better than what we had..and more importantly what we now have.

    MW: Except that among the possible scenarios had the Jays kept Johnson: 1 – He would be playing every day in LF at an average level, keeping Adam Lind in Syracuse; B – He would be a back-up outfielder making over $3 million. Neither is a good option.

    - KD
  67. 67.

    The Jays make a move in a year, Wilner rebuts, the Jays end up doing or correcting to what Wilner said. (Amazingly, the same goes for the Leafs and McCown over the usual 18 month period). Sure wish they would replace J.P. with Wilner (and Fletcher with Bobcat).

    MW: Huh?

    - THEFAN fan
  68. 68.

    ugh… season’s done… Jay’s hate Roy.. It’s been so difficult to watch this team play… People always say to me, how can you watch baseball? it’s so boring! … no, the sport is great, its this team that’s boring…

    at least the WBC ain’t too far off… we’ll actually bear witness to some interesting baseball for once..

    but I’m sure the Rogers Centre promotions staff will still have their movie prize packs and cigarette crushing competitions instead of focus on a game that a few of us in this city actually like.

    oh and one final rambling thought… why the heck do jays’ fans boo so much? Rolen makes a throwing error on Friday, the whole stadium’s booing.. the umpire calls an outside pitch a ball, everyone’s booing.. Weren’t they booing the ballboy yesterday?

    - Arj
  69. 69.

    Hey Mike,
    Whatever happened to the scrappy Frank Menechino?

    MW: He couldn’t get back to the bigs after leaving the Blue Jays.

    - Randy
  70. 70.

    Mike
    What is the team attitude?
    The pictures of the dugout seem to show the guys giving up. They look completely listless. Is this true? Have they given up?

    MW: Not at all. Teams look flat when they’re not hitting, that’s just the way it is.

    - Richard
  71. 71.

    That’s too bad about AJ – that is a lack of professionalism. When you get paid nearly $450,000 per start, one would think he would understand that working with the media is part of his job. Don’t the Blue Jays have a PR person that speak to players to remind them of their media obligations. Why do players get to pick and choose who they speak to? It’s part of their job. Isn’t it?

    MW: It should be.

    - T from NY
  72. 72.

    So, I’m playing GM here and I’m looking at 3B and 1B as areas to upgrade in the winter. SS and DH is also on my list but I’m prioritizing here – 3B first since we have nothing from within the organization. I don’t want to hear the name Ahrens till 2010 or later. 1B and DH – I could get creative with Snider, Lind and Arencebia in Spring Training.

    So, there are two teams that I think I could work with – Colorado and Anaheim. Both seem to have someone they can deal – 1. Atkins who would be a good fit for us. 2. Brandon Wood or Chone Figgins … one would assume it would take a Snider to get Brandon Wood, so I might have an opportunity to get Figgins for cheaper – perhaps a Brandon League and young outfielder or catcher in the minors. Atkins might take another player – maybe a AAA pitcher like Litsch.

    What are your thoughts on that?

    MW: It would take quite a bit more than that to get Figgins or Atkins.

    - T from NY
  73. 73.

    Hi Mike!

    It was great to meet you on Saturday at the end of your pre-pre game show outside the building once known as Skydome.

    Check out this link for the photo of us!:
    http://aneezkanji.blogspot.com/2008/08/miked-up.html

    Question: What the heck happened to the tops of the dugouts? (The only thing that looked worse in the dome were the Jays’ batters)!

    Aneez

    MW: It was great to meet you, too, thanks for stopping by the tent! The tops of the dugouts are being redone. It looks disgusting and unprofessional and I can’t imagine why they couldn’t have waited until the Jays were out of town to do it.

    - Aneez
  74. 74.

    Well, Stew got the axe, which should add some ammo for those who have been second-guessing the move since day one. Too bad it didn’t work out, because he really did seem the better bet to be a productive bat in the spring training battle with Highsocks McHustle.

    MW: Yes, he did.

    - Justin
  75. 75.

    So they released Shannon Stewart. And I just checked Reed Johnson’s stats. He’s got a .300 average with 6 home runs. I would say we came out on the wrong end of that, wouldn’t you? I’ve said this before, Ricciardi has an amazing instinct for signing someone who is going to have a lousy year. It’s not his fault his has such a horrible talent. He’s signed guys I really thought would work out, like Scott Rolen. But he signs ‘em and they get hurt/have a bad year/lose interest/whatever.

    MW: Lose interest? And I can’t believe you actually believe there’s more to that theory than just coincidence.

    - reyes
  76. 76.

    Mike – Before I ask this question, I want you to know that I was a fan of JP and I think he’s done a fair number of good things here, and he’s been unlucky with injuries and a lack of performance by key players this year. Before him, I was so used to seeing our best players leave Toronto, but with him he not only kept our best players (Delgado and Carpenter hurt) but also attracted others to come here. I was thrilled the day we resigned Doc, Wells and Rios; the winter meeting after he brought Overbay and Glaus; then AJ and Ryan. He brought energy and a sense of confidence which was missing for a while. And by 2010 or 11, we might also look back at the draft of 2007 and thank him for it.

    BUT, there were two moves this year where I think his decision making has left a lot to be desired and the consequences of which have cost us this season.

    1 – Cutting Frank Thomas and NOT having a legit backup plan. I’m ok with the reasoning of cutting Frank, but not having a suitable replacement player is just confusing. And this is not a hindsight thing – the day that happened, I knew Stairs wasn’t going to be that everyday DH we needed to give opposition pitchers something to think about when they went up against us. Then we see Wilkerson, Mench, Eckstine in that role.

    2 – Trading Glaus for Rolen, BUT not having a backup plan for 3B. Knowing we have nothing in AAA at that position and knowing Rolen’s shoulder was a risk, it’s inexcusable not have a contingency plan. I understand Glaus wanted out, and I am not thinking that was a horrible trade by comparing their production this season. I think that was a bad trade because JP had to have known it was risk and did not have a backup plan.

    I am just taking a guess here – but we’ve probably lost 40 HRs because of a banged up 3B and an invisible DH. We might also have seen a better version of Rios and Lyle with an above average big bat in the lineup. That production might result in 6-10 more wins and we’d be in the race for the AL East crown.

    I don’t know if JP should lose his job because of two bad decisions – it’s not my place to say this. But if this pattern of decision making and lack of forward planning continues in 2009, shouldn’t he be held accountable? At the very least, wouldn’t you criticize our GM for this?

    Regardless, I want to see him back and take us to the top in 09 – it’ll make the journey sweeter to have gone through this mess this year.

    MW: There were back-up plans in place for both circumstances, they just didn’t work out. The reason Shannon Stewart was brought in was because the Jays believed he was someone who could be counted on to play every day in the event they lost Thomas or Stairs. Marco Scutaro was here to be the contigency plan in case Rolen got hurt, but circumstances changed there, too.

    - T from NY
  77. 77.

    “That’s why I’ll keep trying, anyway, if only for another seven weeks or so. Then I won’t have to deal with him anymore.”

    You sound virtually certain that A.J. won’t be back next year. Do you know something we don’t know? Apologies if you’ve covered this elsewhere.

    MW: Burnett has an opt-out clause in his contract and he and his agents would be idiots not to exercise it.

    - Dan Daoust
  78. 78.

    Hey Mike,
    Get ready for the Reed Johnson comparisons again, now that Stewart has been released and Johnson is hitting .300 (almost .270 against righties). I was hoping Stewart’s return would mean an end to Wilkerson.
    Since I live in Germany and it’s too late at night to call in, I would love if you could ask JP why Lydon, Coats or Smith aren’t being given an opportunity over Wilkerson.
    Thanks Mike

    MW: You won’t stay up until 5:00 AM to get in on Wednesdays with J.P.? What kind of fan are you?

    - Jeff
  79. 79.

    Could you imagine what it would be like if Carlos Delgado came back to Toronto? I know it is highly unlikely but it would be pretty weird. Anyways, isn’t Adam Dunn a free agent too? Do you expect an American league team going after him as a DH?

    MW: I expect several teams to go after him as a DH.

    - Adam
  80. 80.

    Wilner, just wanted to thank you for saying: “…but if you’re just going to call in and say: ‘This guy stinks, this guy stinks, and this guy stinks,’ then I’m sorry, you’re an idiot.” Real Talk. Keep it coming.

    - sundog
  81. 81.

    Shannon released? I thought he was the better option than Reed? I though he was the solid .300 hitter that was going to help solidify our hitting? I realize we have Lind and do not need Shannonm, but very hard to swallow when we gave up Reed Johnson (in essence) to get Shannon. I know I have said for the most part I have hated on JP too much but this season is becoming a clown show. He is better suited to reduce payroll and rebuild in a cost effective way, I am not sure he has any clue on how to take a mediocre team to the next level, the last 5 years (I am giving the first 2 years as a grace) being proof of that. What are the next few years going to look like, 7 years of building?

    - Matthew
  82. 82.

    The Jays sucked Pre-Madonna, let’s not think about those days. Let’s think of the future – Snider, Cooper, Arencibia, Rios, Hill, Lind, Cecil, Purcey, McGowan, Marcum.

    All good younger players with a high ceiling. I think the key now is Overbay and Wells returning to form and to sign/trade for a shortstop, 3b (if Rolen’s shoulder doesn’t heal) and a DH. I think we’re closer than a lot of people think and I think the under 5 years making the play-offs is bang on – meaning we’re probably 2-4 years away.

    That said, my question for you is – do the new players have to be 4 and 5 hitters? I think that they do, but if so, does that fit into the budget?

    p.s. sounds like Manny is out as a possibility as he wants to “punish” the Red Sox and sign with the Yankees.

    MW: But a week ago, Manny said he wanted to end his career as a Dodger.

    - Masterclark
  83. 83.

    Hello Mike,

    Since you’ve never really answered this question, what objectively will it take for you to conclude that J.P. Ricciardi no longer deserves to run this baseball team?

    I don’t want to get into specifics since I’ve tried that before here (as have other fans), and you’ve tended to dismiss most of the arguments against his tenure and for firing him. As is your right. However, I’m simply curious against what standard you’re judging Ricciardi and what it would it take for YOU to decide that someone else should take over.

    Thanks,

    MW: He would have to make the team worse, both for the present and the future.

    - Alex
  84. 84.

    Just when you thought it was safe, Kevin Mench is back. I almost threw a celebratory party upon his demotion, only to be crushed when I hear of his imminent return.

    Im surprised that Stewart was released although he had been getting his hat handed to him in A ball.

    How did Dunn get through waivers when the dodgers themselves could have blocked the deal?

    MW: The Dodgers didn’t claim him, and he got through to Arizona.

    - sammy
  85. 85.

    Hi Mike … from the title I thought you had some more Jamie Zaun material on “The Doctor”. Wow, is it ever going to be a long six weeks in Blue Jay fandom until the end of this season.

    My big question for the day is … do you think JP made a waiver claim for Adam Dunn? I can think of a few cellphone jokes but won’t irritate you.

    RM

    MW: He didn’t have the opportunity to put in a claim, the Diamondbacks beat him to it.

    - Ron from Hamtown
  86. 86.

    Hi Mike,

    Who do you think is better now? Arizona or LA? NOw that Adam Dunn (Aaron Dunn as Jim Kelley called him) is a Dback.
    It disgust me how guys like JIm Kelley and Bob McCown are such know-it-alls. Jim Kelley says this at parting shots that made me laugh. He said something along the lines of, “Now the Dbacks havew signed aaron dunn unlike JP”. These guys don’t know anything about baseball. I can’t stand sportscasters who act as know-it-alls when they barely know anything. I know you can’t comment on this, but just wanted you to know that I think you are the best voice for the Blue Jays and baseball. I love your show and your blogs and although I may disagree with you at times, I know you kow a lot about baseball.

    - Warren
  87. 87.

    I read and enjoy your blog daily Mike, and admire your dedication.

    I’ve read that Snider won’t be called up this Sept, can you confirm/refute that? What about Cooper?

    Thanks.

    MW: J.P. has said that Snider won’t be called up this September. Cooper? Not a chance.

    - Gozer
  88. 88.

    yo M-Dub, if AJ opts out what do we get as comp?
    Is it really 2 first rounders?

    MW: If he signs with a team that finishes in the top half of MLB this year, the Jays likely get that team’s first-rounder plus a sandwich pick between the first and second rounds.

    - slobberface
  89. 89.

    will you ever admit that reed johnson was a better choice for the team than shannon stewart?who cares about lifetime stats when someone is on the downside of their career, clearly johnson has more upside and more years to prove it and just a very likeable gamer

    MW: Nope. At the time (which is all the info we had to go on), Stewart was the better choice for what the Jays wanted.

    - dr ron
  90. 90.

    I’m sorry AJ is so crabby. Give him his space, smile occasionally and he’ll come around. I haven’t dealt with athletes as much as you have, but I have known my share of moody man-boys.

    MW: This time, though, he didn’t even seem like he was in one of his moods.

    - Joanna
  91. 91.

    Not sure but I feel like posting my 3rd today, I have been missing in action lately…

    Is it true Fasano said “that” about Rios (in the field? I dont think fattys with lambchop moustaches who stink at baseball should be making any comments, especially a guy who has made 2 of the last 3 all star games and will be an all star again.

    On another note Mike, did you hear primetime today, boy did they lay into JP. I hope he sticks to his word (which may be tough for his type) and take the media on as he suggested he would. I know he would get smoked because it seems like thay have a bag of 1000 undefendable topics, but it would be fun!

    - Matthew
  92. 92.

    Could it be because you’ve said that AJ Burnett would be stupid not to take that opt-out? I hope that was the case and he remains a Blue Jay for two more years!

    I can’t really think of other reason why AJ would be mad at you… usually people bash him and you defend him.

    MW: I’m sure he has no idea who I am.

    - Jaybird
  93. 93.

    Mike, I’ll say this in the most rational way I can: AJ is a good pitcher, he’s just not a likeable guy in person–actually, he’s a headcase. I’ll gladly take the 2 first-rounders at the end of the year.

    MW: Have you met him?

    - James
  94. 94.

    I wish someone could get Vernon Wells to clean up his language when he is in the batter’s box. Does he not realize that there are children in the park as well as watching the game on television? And we wonder why some children use the foul language they do?

    MW: They hear far worse at school than they ever hear from Vernon at the plate.

    - Ken
  95. 95.

    Mike,

    When they calculate Press Freedom Index for different countries, do they include sports journalism as well?

    - Beburg aka The 88mph man
  96. 96.

    MW: Congratulations on watching a lot of baseball. You’re right in that you don’t have to get all the runs back at once at that point in the game, but by bunting your SECOND-PLACE HITTER, you’re all but ensuring that you won’t.

    …Again Mike – our SECOND PLACE HITTER is batting .265 with 1HR and is 1 for his last 10..let Cito do the managing, as I have said several times if you and Gibby were managing Inglett, Scutaro, Lind, Barajas, Overbay up in the lineup, Mcdonald would not be happening every day, not to mention the Downs/Ryan 8/9 combo..

    On another note, Scutaro plays a pretty sweet 3b..very impressed!

    MW: If you’re concerned that the second-place hitter isn’t very good, then why is he hitting second?

    - Matthew
  97. 97.

    Mike, once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, three times is enemy action.

    He signed Stewart over Johnson and Johnson did better. He dealt Glaus and got Rolen–and I thought it was a great idea–but Glaus is doing better. He signed Eckstein over MacDonald and Macdonald is doing better. That’s just this season. He signed Thomas to a two or three year deal after Thomas had a great year with Oakland. But Thomas never had a good year with us. He signed Corey Koskie. Who did lousy. Yes, some of his signings worked out. Who knew Matt Stairs would have such a good 2007? But in the main he hasn’t done well in that area. I’m not the only one who thinks this. At some point I think we have to look at his record and say ‘enough’. That will almost certainly happen at the end of this season and a lot of us will be thrilled when he’s gone. Sooner or later someone has to come in and fix this team and he has shown he’s not able to do that. And as you know, I think his management style is a major part of the problem.

    MW: The fact that you’re not the only one who thinks this lends nothing to your argument, by the way.

    - reyes
  98. 98.

    Hi Mike,
    I have to disagree with comment #4 about Dave Stieb. No way did Stieb ever let up because of a contract. He was one of the most intense competitors we’ve ever had (grumpy perhaps) and had arm problems after the 1985 season. He wrote his book after he’d bounced back from those problems as well.

    This has me thinking…how many Jays fans these days actually know much about the old Jays? You’re at the ballgames, what do you think is the average age demographic of a dedicated Jays fan these days?

    MW: I don’t do a lot of crowd-scanning, but there are plenty of people who walk by me in the tent who are in their early 20s and younger.

    - Oz Rob
  99. 99.

    “MW: Who told you the Mets were picking up the option on Delgado? ”

    Everyone thought it was a 16m option with a 4m buyout, but it isn’t. It’s 12m with a 4m buyout, which means it’s an 8m decision for the Mets to keep Delgado. So I really think it comes down to if they are making a run at Teixeira or not.

    http://www.northjersey.com/sports/mets/Delgado_awaits_his_fate_with_the_Yankees.html

    MW: The $12M buyout is mutual, so Delgado has to agree to it, too. But again, you said the Mets were picking it up, that it’s a done deal.

    - Ari
  100. 100.

    Cito has no use for Eckstein? Makes no sense. He has performed exactly as the Blue Jays should have expected. He is third in the team in OBP!

    MW: And yet – true is true.

    - Jim B
  101. 101.

    Hi Mike,

    Re player managers:

    Don Kessinger

    From what I’ve read the reason there were so many star player managers in the 1920′s, 1930′s was financial. When star players careers started to decline the owners thought they could better justify their ‘relatively’ high salaries by having them serve the dual role, at the same cost – saving the salary of a manager and prolonging the box-office value of the star.

    Re Overbay:

    Can BARELY imagine another team taking him as a one year stop-gap until a better prospect is ready (don’t think his ability to walk will impress too many GMs; also, the second year remaining on his contract would be problematical). With that in mind – assuming big Lyle continues not to produce in 2009 and Snider does: either Snider or Lind ends up at first by the All-Star break, and Overbay’s fate is left to the gods…

    MW: Kessinger! That was the White Sox guy! Thanks for that.

    - Ken
  102. 102.

    Hi Mike,

    my opinion on JP Ricciardi is that he is about a .500 GM, just as his team is a .500 team. He has done some good things (I like AJ and BJ, and his drafting record seems good and the outlook on his more recent drafts is quite optimistic), but he does a lot of bad things as well. His lack of action at trading deadlines, his propensity to go after washed-up players he identified as good years ago, his fairly frequent slip-ups with his tongue (Dunn, BJ’s injury, blasting Zaun for responding to a question, etc.) all come to mind.

    All in all, I must say I am not really a fan of his, but I don’t hate the guy (professionally or personally).

    I realize the Jays are okay, they look as if they have some promise, but they have been showing that for years. There are good GMs out there, better than the mediocre JP. Guys like Billy Beane, Theo Epstein, Brian Cashman (I realize these two have a lot of money to play with, but that doesn’t guarantee the success they have been quite consistent with). Minnesota always finds ways to compete.

    I guess this is getting long, but I suppose my opinion is that if they Jays have a shot at a hotshot GM of some kind, maybe it is time they dump JP. If not, let him continue.

    Thanks Mike!

    - Rory
  103. 103.

    Hi Mike,

    You said no about Hafner, but you want Hank Blalock. Please explain ur reasoning.

    MW: Blalock is a free agent who would cost nothing but money, and not that much. Hafner would cost B.J. Ryan, and he is owed almost $60 million until the end of 2012.

    - Warren
  104. 104.

    Question based on the decison to sign Stewart:

    Was Johnson picked up on waivers, or are the Jays paying his salary – like they are with Thomas?

    MW: Johnson was released, and was paid the $533,000 or so owed him by the Blue Jays (it was a non-guaranteed contract, so the Jays only owed 1/6 of the base salary).

    - Ken
  105. 105.

    MW: (Regarding choosing Stewart over Johnson) Nope. At the time (which is all the info we had to go on), Stewart was the better choice for what the Jays wanted.

    Mike,

    I am honestly puzzled by your logic. The obvious way to assess someone’s judgement and skill in assessing talent is by comparing what has happened against what was expected. There really is no other way since no general manager ever deliberately makes a decision thinking that it won’t pan out. We could make similar analysis about the release of Thomas, about making the Glaus for Rolen trade, about signing Mench and Wilkerson. They could have, maybe should have, worked out, but they didn’t. (And to be fair about other GMs, e.g. Gord Ash’s trade of Michael Young).
    You made fun of a guy who brought in the idea of 20-20 hindsight, but that IS largely the way that we evaluate decisions — in baseball and in life. You leave home without an umbrella because the sky is blue, but it soon starts to rain and you get wet. The decision to leave the umbrella at home was wrong even though you had every expectation of staying dry. And the only reason you know it was the wrong decision is that you’re wet. That IS 20-20 hindsight.

    And looking at the BIG PICTURE, J.P. Ricciardi could have been, maybe should have been, a good general manager. But he isn’t because we want a contender, and for 7 years, he hasn’t given us one.

    I find very surprising your standard for firing J.P. “He would have to make the team worse, both for the present and the future.” By taking a .500 team and keeping it that way for 7 years, he has certainly lived up to it. But why wouldn’t that standard be, “He would have to keep the team mediocre year after year?”

    MW: Because, again: Big Picture. This team is in far better shape than it was when Ricciardi took over. I don’t know how many different ways I can say that. Your point about hindsight is completely lost on me. No one knows what will happen in the future, only what all the information that they have gathered says SHOULD happen.

    - Alex
  106. 106.

    Okay, let me try it one more time with hindsight. You are right that we can’t predict the future. So when you leave your house without an umbrella because the sky is blue, the information you have gathered tells you it should NOT rain. Fair enough. However, sometime during your trip it DOES rain and you get wet. So, it’s by use of hindsight that you realize that your decision to leave the umbrella was wrong. Obviously, if it happens just once, hindsight is misleading. But if there is a pattern, then your leaving the umbrella at home is a result of bad judgement, not of bad luck.

    To leave the metaphor, you and I have a completely different way of looking at the Big Picture. There is no need to say what you’re saying differently — I get it. You keep talking about the team being in better shape than when Ricciardi took over. Mike, it’s been seven years! You could have said that legitimately in 2004 or 2005. But at some point the bar has to be set higher than improving on Gord Ash. Shouldn’t it? And if so, when — in 2010, 2015? Should we go for the Leafs’ standard?

    MW: Am I missing something, or do the Blue Jays not have the best pitching in the league? When did that stop mattering? As for your hindsight argument, you’re completely wrong. It’d be the weather guy’s fault.

    - Alex
  107. 107.

    Ok Mike, fair enough about Blalock. But, is he enough to be an everyday DH for us?

    MW: He’d be an improvement, not the ideal, but an improvement.

    - Warren
  108. 108.

    quote…

    Who else gets swept by one of the worst teams in baseball AT HOME, but the Blue Jays!

    ….unquote

    TB was swept in FOUR at Cleveland just before the break.

    The Yankees were swept in three by Detroit in NY as April turned to May

    The St Louis Cardinals were swept in three at home by the Royals.

    MW: OK, but the first one doesn’t count.

    - WillRain
  109. 109.

    “MW: The fact that you’re not the only one who thinks this lends nothing to your argument, by the way.”

    Mike, the fact that I”m not the only one who wants Ricciardi gone is the least important part of that argument, and you know it. You could have countered by pointing to good signings. Scutaro for example has been an excellent acquisition. He’s picked up great ancillary players and he’s done well with pitchers. But his record on core position player signings is miserable. He’s had a good run. It’s over.

    - reyes
  110. 110.

    Granted, you have met and spoken to Burnett, and I have not.

    Regardless of whether he recognizes you personally, his problem with the radio station might very well be what I’m saying. If that is the issue, then he’s right to direct his frustration at all the FAN radio hosts, since they all seem to say the same thing, i.e. they assume that he’s going to leave. I single you out only because, after all, this is your blog and I’m writing to you.

    MW: I doubt that’s his problem. He knows he’s leaving. His problem with the radio station is likely that he’s often referred to as an overpaid, injury-ridden .500 pitcher.

    - Shmuel
  111. 111.

    In answer to your question (post #93), yes, I have met A.J. Burnett. He’s the only celebrity I have ever run into that has refused me a quick 2 second picture. He was not in a hurry, either.

    MW: Good to know.

    - James
  112. 112.

    “MW: Because, again: Big Picture. This team is in far better shape than it was when Ricciardi took over. I don’t know how many different ways I can say that. Your point about hindsight is completely lost on me. No one knows what will happen in the future, only what all the information that they have gathered says SHOULD happen.”

    Thats great that he has made them a better team, but they still are not a great team. We dont want better, we want a contender!!

    MW: I appreciate that.

    - KD
  113. 113.

    “MW: Except that among the possible scenarios had the Jays kept Johnson: 1 – He would be playing every day in LF at an average level, keeping Adam Lind in Syracuse; B – He would be a back-up outfielder making over $3 million. Neither is a good option.”

    No. After Thomas was released, Lind could have come up and platooned with Johnson in left field and dh’d occasionally. As for the contract, your pal JP gave it to him, so he must have assumed Johnson could play every day if necessary. Until nice bright shiny Shannon Stewart came into JP’s sights. God, agents must love him!

    MW: What a terrible thing it is to have a General Manager who is always looking for something better than what he already has.

    - reyes
  114. 114.

    comment 88
    In regards to comp if AJ opts out.
    thanks for answering that.
    Now i must ask.
    Why?

    MW: Why not?

    - slobberface
  115. 115.

    Mike –

    Regarding the injury comparison between Red Sox and Blue Jays. Sure not all Bosox injuries have been to the big guns. But for you to characterize the injury situations as you did is totally misleading. Sure not every Bosox injury has been to a big gun and not every player missed prolonged time. But any one of the following injured players was and is far better and important than ANY Jay, injured or otherwise (with exception of Halliday): Ortiz, Lowell, Beckett, Matsuzaka, Schilling. Just wanted to point out that, as usual, your analysis seems biased and bent toward protecting JP and defending (irrationally) the terrible job he has done. And by the way, yes, they knew in advance that Schilling would miss significant time, but he still has to be replaced.
    I am sure if Halliday missed the entire year you would use that as another crutch.

    MW: Nah, because the Jays wouldn’t miss Roy Halladay if he was out the entire year. Schilling was supposed to be their 3rd, maybe 4th starter this year, and they had lots of lead time with which to replace him. Great comparison, though.

    - Rene
  116. 116.

    I have issues with “[h]e knows he’s leaving.” Unfortunately, that type of assumption reflects a mentality so engrained in popular opinion that it doesn’t surprise me you wouldn’t think it could actually upset a player.

    MW: There’s no chance that’s what’s upsetting him. As I have told you, I’m quite confident he has no idea who I am or anything I’ve said on the radio.

    - Shmuel
  117. 117.

    lol
    why you gotta be like that M-Dub?
    Im not being a smartass. Im asking honestly.
    When we signed AJ we didnt have to give anything up did we? Why do other teams have to give something up now? Is it because hes in an option year?
    I guess what im asking is: Does AJ fall into some sort of free agent category? what are the constituents?

    MW: The Jays did give up a first-round pick when they signed Burnett, and a second-rounder for signing Ryan.

    - slobberface
  118. 118.

    ok cool.
    so why do we get more than a 1st round pick for him now?
    what do we get if a team in the bottom half of the league signs him?

    MW: They also get a sandwich pick between the first and second rounds, like the Marlins did when the Jays signed Burnett. Those sandwich picks appear out of thin air. If a bottom half team signs him, the Jays get a sandwich pick and that team’s second-rounder. I don’t know what you get.

    - slobberface
  119. 119.

    MW: I don’t know what you get.

    Awesome.

    MW: Thanks.

    - Mark McDonald
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