1:05 AM Eastern

See what I did there?  The centrefielder hits a Grand Slam to provide all the offense in the Jays’ third straight win (and 7th in 10), but he was DHing.  The guy who was playing centrefield deserves a good slamming for dropping a very catchable fly ball with one out in the 9th, making the game far more of a nailbiter than it should have been.

First, the good.  Vernon Wells, in his 4th game back, becomes just the third Blue Jay in double digits in homers by hitting that none-out, first-pitch Slam off Kenny Rogers in the 3rd inning.  This comes after back-to-back two-hit games and a return game in which he went 0-for-4 but hit two absolute ropes.  He’s now within one RBI of the team lead, despite missing two months.  By the way, the last time the Jays lost a game in which Wells got a hit was July 6th!

More good – David Purcey.  For the first time, he looked comfortable and confident and  he had a terrific offensive team tied up in knots in his rain-shortened six innings of two-hitter.  Talk about a team that shakes its collective head when it gets spanked by a lefty, Purcey held noted lefty-crushers Magglio Ordonez, Miguel Cabrera and Gary Sheffield to just one soft line single between them.  He’ll get about another eight starts this season, and if continues to show well, could be the answer in the 4th spot next season.

As for the bad?  Well, the REALLY bad was Scott Downs spraining his right ankle on the wet grass while running to cover home plate on an Ordonez single in the bottom of the 9th.  J.P. Ricciardi actually read the text message about Downs’ status aloud on the air as he himself was seeing it for the first time, which was a pretty cool radio moment.  You can hear it below, but the gist is that the x-rays were negative and they’ll rest him for two or three days then re-evaluate.  It didn’t look like a huge sprain, but a leg injury to a pitcher is certainly not something with which one would want to mess.  It wouldn’t surprise me if we didn’t see him again until the middle of September.  Then again, he had the gout last year (I think, might have been the year before) and it only knocked him out for one day, so you never know.  Never mind the fact that it was surprising to see Downs out there in the first place.  With a four-run lead, and Downs having thrown two days in a row, where was Shawn Camp to face three straight righties, with Downs and League ready in case of trouble?
Downs has been the shining star of baseball’s best bullpen, with his 1.25 ERA and 1.06 WHIP, .199 opponents’ batting average and .543 opponents’ OPS heading into tonight’s game.  He’s been durable and dependable, with 54 appearances in 121 games, and the Jays will miss him dearly.  They’re going to need Brandon League to continue to pitch the way he has lately (last 12 appearances – 0.69 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, .174 opp BA, .261 opp SLG) and Jesse Carlson to keep up the resurgence he’s had in the last month (1.84 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, .220 opp BA, .260 opp SLG) – at least for starters.  Downs has developed into one of the best short relievers in the game, but of course, he was drafted by Gord Ash.  No, wait – he was claimed on waivers by J.P. Ricciardi, who needs to be fired.

The not-as-bad-as-maybe-losing-Downs-for-a-while-but-still-pretty-horrendous was, of course, the Matt Joyce deep fly that Rios dropped on the track in the bottom of the 9th.  There was one on, one out, a run already in and the Jays had a three-run lead.  Alan Ashby said it best on the broadcast – when Joyce hit it, Rios thought it was gone, so he kind of turned and jogged towards it as kind of that courtesy “I’m not going to just watch, but I’m not going to do much”.  When Rios saw that it wasn’t going to get out since, stunningly, it’s 420 feet to centre in Detroit, he turned on the jets and actually made it there, but had to try to make a basket catch and just plain dropped it.  Physical errors happen, they’re excusable, but physical errors that come as a result of mental errors are a whole ‘nother story altogether.

I have to admit, I was floored when no one broached the subject with J.P. until the last or next-to-last caller, and Ricciardi basically did the over-the-phone equivalent of throwing his hands up in the air in exasperation.  You can hear it right here:

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Jesse Litsch will make his return to the rotation for the day-game finale of the series, with the Jays looking for their fourth four-game sweep of the season!  And don’t look now, but they’re only two games behind the Yankees.  But the Yankees have been decimated by injury, of course – though I thought injuries didn’t matter.

Rational, reasonable comments are always welcome!

114 Responses to “Slamming The Centrefielder”
  1. 1.

    Ya, you know what matter’s is when your first baseman is hitting under .205 for August. Another O for 3 tonite. How can this guy still be in the lineup, at this rate Wilkerson might be better(is it that bad?)
    Go ahead tell me Mike how he leads the team in OBP.!
    Whats it gonna take another season of this guy being brutal to finally admit your wrong and this guy is done? Oh wait you still think Stewart is better than Johnson. Oh and you think the Jays did better in the Rolen for Glaus swap.

    MW: He leads the team in OBP.

    - tonyMM
  2. 2.

    Hi Mike, I have a kind of weird idea to bounce off you. We know that, depending on who’s in the lineup, the Jays are going to have some guys at the bottom of the order who are… let’s say, offensively challenged. You know, guys like McDonald, Mencherson, maybe even Stairs. Meanwhile, in the National League, where the bottom of the order is traditionally even worse than Toronto’s is now, some managers are starting to bat their pitchers 8th, with the idea being that as the lineups turn over, putting a decent batter 9th increases the amount of runners on base for the top of the order.

    Where am I going with this? Well, the Jays have Adam Lind providing a pretty good spark in the bottom of the order. Do you think it would make sense to bat him 9th, to provide the same boost as you see in the NL when the pitchers bat 8th? Or am I just nuts?

    MW: Honestly? You’re nuts. Lind may well be the best bat the Jays have, why would you want to give him the least at-bats?

    - Tony
  3. 3.

    A few things that I would have ask if it were practical for me to call in –

    Any indication from JP if it was the Jays who claimed Ibanez?

    When will the Jays know what players they can send to the AFL?

    Can JP dispel the myth/rumor that he refuses to approach a player that is represented by Scott Boras? After all, Scott Schoenwies was a Boras client.

    Assuming we ad a big bat DH, wouldn’t the Jays be perfectly satisfied with a practically-perfect glove at 3B who hit at a level around .270/.360/.450 or slightly better? It seems to me that there’s a difference in Rolen not being a .900 OPS guy and being a guy who needs to be replaced.

    I realize of course that I’m asking you and not JP in this forum but at least I’d like to get some of the thoughts into the common conversation.

    MW: Why is it impractical for you to phone in? I thought about asking about the Ibanez thing, but he’s not allowed to talk about waivers publicly, so he wouldn’t have said anything. Snider is going to the AFL, for sure, and last I heard they were trying to get a few more guys in (Campbell, Arencibia, etc.).

    - WillRain
  4. 4.

    Hi Mike,
    What an open and intriguing comment by JP at the end about players being motivated by money and not really caring about winning much of the time.

    I think a lot of the reason why JP gets into trouble is because of his honesty.

    It’s the same as when we jump all over players (e.g. Burnett/Zaun) who make an honest comment.

    JP is ok.

    MW: The problem is, he admitted to a lie once, so now anyone who says he gets in trouble because of his honesty (which is true) is looked at askance.

    - Oz Rob
  5. 5.

    Mike,

    Two questions for you.

    1. When and what was the most recent major change to the MLB rule book? What do you think the next major change will be, and when do you think it will happen.

    2. When and what was the most recent major change to MLB off the field. When and what do you think the next one will be.

    3. Is there any movement to introduce a salary cap?

    I have no idea of the answer to number’s one and three. My guess for two is either introducing a wild card or the Mitchell Report, and video replay.

    Thoughts?

    MW: 1 – I would assume it was the removal of the tie game, about two or three years ago, and the next one will be instant replay. 2 – The drug testing policy, and the next one may well be playoff expansion. 3 – Not that I have heard.

    - Carson
  6. 6.

    Missed talking to you and JP by one call (as far as I know).

    I was going to touch on the fact that is common for the offense to stop scoring if they get the lead early. (Feel free to stat this up, games where jays get an early lead then dont score anymore until games over or they get too far down). Much like tonight!

    The WHOLE team appears to be in the mindset that 2-4 runs is enough and the pitchers will do the rest.

    Now when AJ or Litch pitch they seem to acknowledge that 2-4 runs more then likely wont be enough and they score more often.(though many nights they can be just as bad with AJ or Litch).

    These hitters need a killer approach to hitting regardless of whose pitching or whether they have the lead. MORE runs is a good thing, they need to be greedy in there desire for runs.

    Im not saying the goto the plate thinking they dont want to score anymore runs, but subconsciencly its gotta be a factor.

    MW: These guys are good, but they’re not good enough to only hit when they feel like it, or when they think it’s necessary.

    - Dan
  7. 7.

    Hey Mike. I was wondering if you always have to tell people that your alright or doing well even if you are having a bad day. If your doing your show on a day that is not going well for you personally and someone asks you about your well being, will you give caller ex an honest awnser and tell them “Today is not going so good for me infact” or will you lie through your teeth and say “I’m doing well!” Well would you give us the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth???

    MW: To be blunt, if there’s something going on in my personal life, it’s personal. Why would I declare it to thousands of people listening on the radio?

    - Matt from BC
  8. 8.

    BTW I liked Allan Ashby on the rain delay show. I wouldn’t mind if he makes an appearence on Jaystalk more often, unless you olny want the spotlight for yourself.

    MW: I loved having Alan on The Rain Delay Programme, just as it was great having Jerry on it back in June.

    - Matt from BC
  9. 9.

    Mike

    Thanks for the Blog!

    As great as it has been watching Adam Lind establish himself as a regular and reliable MLB player, it’s been really upsetting to see Alex Rios underperform. I only hope that Cito can find a way to get threw to him. He is a key player on this team and if the Jays want to see the playoffs this year or next, we need to see the Rios of the last 2 last years.

    I’ll be taking a road trip to watch the game tomorrow and say goodbye to my favorite old ballpark in Tiger Stadium. Id suggest that if anyone has the time over the next month to do the same, it’s sad to see her fall.

    MW: Spelling is killing me. But yes, it’s too bad that Tiger Stadium is coming down, but if you’re going to go say goodbye, do it in broad daylight, please, and with a dozen friends.

    - Sean
  10. 10.

    That’ll be a real downer if Downs is out for any length of time, especially with so many big games coming up. I just want to see the club win as many as they can. Finishing ahead of New York would be nice. Do you sense that confidence in David Purcey is growing? If I remember correctly, didn’t he face the Tigers in his first major league start?

    You and I may not agree on everything, but I think we can agree that your memory is a good one. You mentioned the White Sox had a player-manager the other day but you could not remember who it was. Just the fact you remembered they had one was good enough because it was back in 1979. Don Kessinger is who it was. Most of his career was spent with the Cubs. He was a shortstop. He took over the Sox at the start of 1979 and quit around the beginning of August that year. I think he said he was just tired of baseball and retired as both a player and manager. The White Sox replaced him with some lawyer/animal rights activist/legend named Tony LaRussa.

    MW: Purcey’s first start was indeed against the Tigers. I think he’s getting more confident, yes – which I said on the post to which you’re commenting. Someone beat you to the Kessinger, but thanks.

    - Jim in Ohio
  11. 11.

    Guys at the Jays radio broadcasts,

    Sorry to write you a novel here but this team is, if anything, not boring

    I know the Blue Jays need to win almost on a nightly basis, but Downs involvement in the ninth was extremely unwise, especially considering we need his shut down eights more then ever. Yet after pitching two straight games, a critical Red Sex series looming 48 hours later, he was on the hill instead of warming for a tieing run at the plate scenario.

    I also wanted to comment on something Mike said on his show a few weeks ago.

    He basically said that part of the reason that we know we have an above average group of position players (because i refuse to blame any part of the 3 game above .500 Aug 13th ball club on the pitchers… very outstanding year of course) is because we feel frustrated watching the lineup, we know that these guys are not suppose to be average, if we did then we would be saying ” yea there about they should be”… but there not and we know that.

    I completely agree and add that these hitters have to hold themselves responsible for crippling the teams potential record. Everyone wants to swing the bat in october and these guys could have if they had capitalized on the incredible pitching.

    But the past 4 and a half months are in the past… if course. And its time to see how these final weeks of Inter-AL East- competition play out. Now i told myself at the start of the year that 4 back of the wildcard on September 1st
    would at the least provide, a few of the coveted ‘interesting September games’. But if you had told me we would have had the games best pitching top to bottom i might have hoped to be sitting in that wildcard spot. Nevertheless our 62-59 Blue Jays have a few very positive things going for them at 8 games back. Here they are

    1. MOST HELPFUL ASPECT:
    The remaining opponents:
    With 12 vs Boston ,9 with the Yankees and i think a pair of series with Rays remaining, the only scoreboard the Blue Jays need to be watching is their own.

    2. What more can you ask for?… Oh yea THE PITCHING!!! :

    With the best pitching around if Halladay, A.J. , and Marcum stay on track anything can happen and probably will.

    3. Vernon Wells has a chance to earn his plus $100,000 bi-weekly check:

    If there is ever a time to shake away last year and get back to form, its now, and hey, he did win the game tonight for the club. Good or Great play the next six weeks is not farfetched and would be another reason to extend J.P.’s time in Toronto.

    4. We might not have have to chase the Boston Red Sox:

    If the Red Sox keep winning (hopefully 3-9 vs the Blue Jays) it will be hard to slash that 8 game deficit, but the Rays could fall back down to earth. I think most teams would rather chase them then the World Series Champions.

    5. Finally, the knowledge that Stranger things HAVE happened…

    Thanks for reading… if you did. It must not be easy to bring this team and the wonderful game of baseball into so many homes, hearts, and cars but you guys seem to do a very good job. Thank you for that. Ill be listening down the stretch and hoping for the best.

    Stay well,
    Patrick
    ‘ 30 votes for Tom in September’
    Hunt

    - Patrick Hunt
  12. 12.

    Rios is really starting to anger me. Not only did he drop the fly ball, buy he forgot how many outs there were in one inning, running back to first on a fly ball when there were two outs. it wasnt noticed by the announcers on TV..but i sure did. guy’s really, really starting to anger people.

    oh, here’s a name you might wanna try out when appropriate.

    Lyle is very selective and of course walks alot, and he also has his share of caught lookings.. thus I coin a new name for him

    Lyle Voyeurbay. enjoy.

    MW: That’s definitely original.

    - sammy jalalzai
  13. 13.

    Make the introduction to that last post, “Three questions for you.”

    MW: What’s the magic word?

    - Carson
  14. 14.

    Obviously you can’t see these things when watching over the internet, but during my visit this year whilst at games, i thought several times that Rios does not read the ball particuly well off the bat. Times when i saw him take a step back on a ball that then dropped into shallow center for a hit. When is the embarrassment factor likely to kick in with him?

    It does go to show us how good a center fielder Vernon still is!

    This is maybe a false impression of mine, but has Lyle Overbay’s defence declined this year in your opinion?

    Thanks as always

    MW: No, I think Overbay’s defense is still terrific.

    - ukJay
  15. 15.

    Hello Mike

    As always, great job with Jaystalk and I especially enjoy the Wednesday sessions with JP.

    Great pitching by Purcey and he continually looked better after each start.

    Question – in one of the columns, a reporter spoke to Arnsberg and they talked about keeping focus everytime you are out there. If you know a pitcher is starting to lose his focus (and not just rookies), isn’t that a the catcher’s job to take a walk to the mound and have a conversation with the pitcher to bring him back to focus?

    My second question to you, and this is about Purcey – do you think he has the potential to be the #2 or #3 guy?

    Thanks

    MW: Yes, if the catcher notices, he has to go out there and tell the pitcher to give his head a shake. If he doesn’t notice, the pitching coach has to get the catcher to go out there. Purcey? Sure, he can be a # 3 someday.

    - francis
  16. 16.

    I thought JP was right on last night when he discussed todays athlete. Most of them are indeed motivated by money and not passion for the game.
    I mean think about it, if you have earned millions already, and have millions guaranteed no matter how you perform, would you not really care about busting your a** everyday, every play?

    MW: Some people are motivated by pride.

    - Al
  17. 17.

    hi Mike,
    Good to see Jesse Litsch back on the roster, he had a marvolous first half of the season; As for Rios, his error was just that, an error and Vernon had one of the same magnitude @ the beginning of the season which may have beeen worse if I recall correctly, but having said that it was good to see Vernon substantiate his hefty salary by hitting the grand slam. I would send Kevin Mench to the minors and bring up Buck Coates for a look; Scott Downs being injured is a loss, but this gives cito a chance to use jason Frasor and or b.j Ryan in more games. One point on yesterday’s game, I thought Barajas threw out that Detroit player in the second and Eckstein applied the tag perfectly, and who by the way had three hits, and johnny Mac had a hit too. In closing David Purcey looked tremendous and may be ahead of Macgowan who has some major rehab ahead of him, just a thought why not give Overbay the odd day off and have either Zaun or Barajas play first base; thx mike good show as per usual.

    - robert s
  18. 18.

    If Jays go 24-17 rest of the way, they’ll end up with 86-76 which is Cito’s goal for the season. That’d end Cito’s year at an impressive 51-37. Not bad.

    Uptil this point, has the ownership or anybody else in the organization confirmed that he’s coming back next year or it’s just J.P?

    MW: Cito’s goal isn’t 86 wins. He said that he’d like to get the team to 10 games over .500, but then to 15, then to 20. I thought I heard Paul Godfrey address the Cito returning thing, too, in the affirmative.

    - Beburg aka The 88mph man
  19. 19.

    Mike,

    Which Blue Jay do you think has the best baseball I.Q?

    MW: I think probably Scott Rolen.

    - Beburg aka The 88mph man
  20. 20.

    I have a thought about Rios: he’s not done particularly well since the beginning of the season, but he’s doing much worse now in terms of glaring defensive mistakes and base-running glitches. Yes, he’s a superior outfielder with a gun for an arm, and maybe he’s taking his hitting woes out there into the outfield. But I wonder if in fact the problem lies with his relationship with the other players. He’s never had a reputation for playing overly hard. Gibbons once benched him for not running out ground balls, and we know he still doesn’t do that. But this year he seems to have completely lost his mental game. It could be chance, but when the camera pans to him in the dug-out after an at-bat, unless he’s had some big hit–which is a rare occasion–he seems to sit by himself whereas the others seem to sit together. I think it’s possible he’s unpopular among the other players. This gets to him and leads to mistakes, and also sets up situations where he doesn’t trust other players. So when Barajas tells him to slide, he ignores it. Thus leading to even more unpopularity among his colleagues which in turn leads to self-doubt and mistakes on his part. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that he made a really bad base-running mistake yesterday, which I’m sure he heard about in the clubhouse, and then made another really bad defensive mistake today. As well as getting really lucky with a double-play ball that took a bad bounce.

    I don’t see this situation changing anytime soon unless some senior player or coach talks bluntly to Rios and also bluntly to his team-mates.

    MW: That’s pure conjecture on your part, and I certainly haven’t seen anything like that in the clubhouse.

    - reyes
  21. 21.

    Mike – Can you explain why Jerry continues to quote 2 records for the Jays under Cito this season ? Each time he mentions the Jays record since Cito came back he makes a point of also quoting their record minus the first two games. Those first 2 losses under Cito were the tail end of an ugly season-changing 7 game skid, but why would Jerry feel they are an exception.

    MW: You’ll have to ask Jerry.

    - Ian C
  22. 22.

    Hello Mike, your right..That was a pretty cool radio moment that J.P read that Scott Downs report live on your show…I just want to make a comment about Tuesday’s game. I didn’t want to write about it yesterday since I already wrote this huge paragraph & didn’t want to bore you. Just want to give kudos to Cito for leaving A.J in the 6th inning of that game. I know it backfired but stuff like that, A.J & the team can appreciate. Gibbons would of took Burnett out after that home run & if not that, he would of took him out after the double that followed for sure. Gaston came out to the mound after that double & looked like he was giving A.J a boost of confidence, kind of like what happen to Purcey a few weeks ago & told him to get the next batter. It was a pretty cool scene ‘cause Cito was pretty vocal & animated out there for his standards. Forgot who that was, but the next batter lined a single to left field. A.J was still in the game after & the Jays got out of the inning by catching the Tigers steal third. Thanks to Cito that he left him in & it’s one of the reasons A.J got his 15th win that night. The other thing is that I think A.J gets really frustrated at times when he gives up a hit(like that homerun) & takes his anger on the next batter in terms of trying to throw extra hard & try to strike him out. I don’t think this is good ‘cause he should be using his head more & control his emotions out there. Just want to get your comment on that…Anyways, keep up the good work Mike & it would be huge & kind of funny if the Jays can sweep the Tigers today since it’s sweeping or get swept lately for the Jays.

    - David F.
  23. 23.

    Mike,

    Why do some players’ names become public i.e. Sheffield on the waiver list? I thought this was an internal matter within the AL & NL.

    MW: There are always leaks, like Sheffield, Ibanez, Giles, and some people in the media who think it’s a big deal make a big deal about a player being on waivers in August, which makes other media outlets have to cover it so they don’t look like they’re getting scooped, even though it’s not news.

    - Mark
  24. 24.

    Correct me if I am wrong, but the Jays have more grand slam HR this year then all of last year. What an offensive outburst!

    - Shmuel Yitzchok
  25. 25.

    I was at the game both Monday and last night, and am not very impressed with Rios’ play. It seems he just isnt focused. I don’t know if its because he became a new father this year and just wants to go home and spend time with his family or what but he has to start playing better. Monday night he could have easily beaten out a missed 3rd strike, the slide Tuesday night, and now the missed fly ball. If its one error once an a while thats gonna happen, but its starting to become a habit.

    - Denny
  26. 26.

    I am really confused the way Cito is handeling the bullpen, as you mentioned above. Its working now, but there’s a lot of debth which he is under utilising. It would have been nice at least to keep Frasor in for the 9th to get the save.

    MW: If you give Frasor a 3rd inning, he’d be unavailable for today’s game, along with Downs and League. It’s sad that managers manage to get people saves, and it would have been counter-productive to do that with Frasor.

    - Shmuel Yitzchok
  27. 27.

    Mike, one of the recent posts asked about the possibility of a Russ Adams September recall.

    I note that he now has hit safely in (at least) 11 games (every game in August), to numbers of .405/.444/.690 for the month, with 3 HR & 10 RBI.

    True, his total numbers are still down pretty far(.240/.327/.387), but if he continues to light it up for the rest of the month, I think it is not inconceivable that he could indeed get a call in September.

    Also note that Brian Wolfe took the loss last night (4 IP, 5 ER allowed) — gave up two HR’s to the Rochester 2Bman, Matthew Macri, who came into the game hitting .147 in his previous 9 games (5 for 34). With Downs going down, Wolfe picked a rather poor time to have a “stinker”.

    Wolfe’s Syracuse record now 2-2, 2.39 ERA.

    Jeremy Accardo pitched one inning of perfect relief.

    MW: Good point on Adams. As J.P. said last night, Wolfe isn’t a main consideration to replace Downs he has to go on the DL.

    - Norm
  28. 28.

    Hey Mike

    Got a quick one for you.. Would you rather have a guy who gets on base alot or a guy with alot of HRs? Me, I would like to see a guy who gets on base alot more then the power guys who strikeout way to much and hits a HRs 30+ a year..

    MW: I want both.

    - Eddie
  29. 29.

    Hey Mike! Look at this, the Jays fans are ranked 6th in “most loyal baseball fans” according to Forbes.com

    http://www.forbes.com/2008/08/07/baseball-fans-loyal-forbeslife-cx_mw_0807sport2_slide_6.html?thisSpeed=15000

    - Jaybird
  30. 30.

    How come Halladay is not pitching today? Is it so he could pitch against the Red Sox and Yankees?

    MW: That, and because he threw 130 pitches last time out.

    - Shmuel Yitzchok
  31. 31.

    Mike, love the Blog, love the Jays.

    Question: since we are already talking about next year, Who is available via free agency, and who could be available for some young (and really good) pitching arms?

    MW: Asked and answered, many times.

    - Decks
  32. 32.

    Another prospect to keep your eye on — LHP Brad Mills, 23 yrs. old, currently at New Hampshire, where he is 2-1 (0.44 ERA) in four starts. Combined ML record 12-4, 1.89 ERA, 133.1 IP, 147 K, 46 W, WHIP 1.17.

    He has struck out more than a hitter per inning at all three levels, as well as in his 6 games at Auburn last year.

    I looked up a profile on him, and found that he has actually been drafted TWICE by the Blue Jays — in 2006 and 2007. He chose to finish his college degree (Civil Engineering — obviously no dummy!), before signing.

    Apparently he “doesn’t throw hard”, but has a very deceptive delivery — he could be a real comer!

    MW: You mean combined Minor League record, of course. J.P. mentioned him last night when talking about the young pitchers, so he’s on the radar.

    - Norm
  33. 33.

    Hey Mike,

    Is time we start saying: “Thats Alex being Alex”

    That play was routine and he should of made it look easy.

    Always a fan,

    O.

    MW: Should HAVE

    - Owen
  34. 34.

    Mike buddy,

    Its hillarious to hear some fans complain about J.P. Ricciardi.

    What does every team want?
    Pitching.

    What is the hardest commodity to come by?
    Pitching.

    What is the hardest thing to develop?
    Pitching.

    What do the Jays have the best of?
    PITCHING.

    OPEN YOUR EYES, JP has put together a team that has the offensive track records to do some pretty good damage, even without an obvious bopper in the lineup. Along with this offensively underachieving lineup, The Jays have hands down the best bullpen in all of baseball, and arguably the best starting rotation (when healthy).

    It’s just really frustrating to see people call for JP’s head when he has gathered the best collection of the hardest commodity to come by in all of baseball.

    - Andrew (Guelph)
  35. 35.

    It seems we’re not the only ones with a very talented but problematic player. The Yanks are have Rios-type complaints about Robinson Cano all the way down to the recent big contract. I’ve been reading Yankee blogs and it sounds like they’re talking about our guy! No concentration. No commitment. Makes mistakes. Overpaid.

    - reyes
  36. 36.

    Mike,

    Great radio with JP this week. The Downs text message and the Rios reaction made for a very entertaining show. Just wanted to express my thanks for your show and blog – especially the fact that the show is available online. It’s a lot easier to listen to over a cup of coffee in the morning, rather than while struggling to stay awake late at night.

    My question (which will probably be a common one for you today): How do you see the bullpen panning out if Downs is out for a significant amount of time?

    MW: I think League can slide in to work the 8th and they may not miss a beat. Accardo will be back soon, so that’ll help.

    - Harold
  37. 37.

    hi mike waldo from sharon on.i wouldlike to tell i listen to your show after the games.would you olease tellme whAT A WALK OFF HOMER MEANS.YOUR SHOW IS WONDERFUL KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK THANK YOU WALDO

    MW: A walk-off homer is a home run that ends the game, causing the losing team to walk off the field all sad and stuff.

    - waldo
  38. 38.

    hey mike, just read that the jays placed macdonald and wells on waivers; can understand wells on waivers-salary dump in the future trade but why macdonald, he makes a pittance and is a respectable backup and or starter?

    MW: Because everyone in the major leagues is on waivers this month. It’s not news, it’s not a story, and it’s irresponsible of the media to make a big deal out of it.

    - robert s
  39. 39.

    Is it just me or has Rios made a number of weird blunders or plays this last week. It is as if he’s betting against his own team! I also felt that earlier in the game he didn;t run out a hit (as hard as he could) in the hole where renteria made a nice play to get him. I could be wrong though.

    I think what bugs most callers about his nonchalantness is just that. He has that look on his face when he screws up that he doesn’t care which I hope isn’t true but…it’s rather alarming.

    On a more rational note, I do agree with you that Shawn Camp or even Jesse Carlson should have been used in the ninth. regardless, Jays got the win.

    I think JP is bang on when he compared Purcey to a left-handed McGowan. The pitching depth is awesome!

    - Mark
  40. 40.

    So I have heard some radio commentators talk about how getting Stewart and releasing johnson was a bad move from the start. I know you disagree with this but I was wondering why this was such a great move then? The same Commentators (from the fan 590) state that signing Frank Thomas two years ago for all that money was also a head scratcher. Any thoughts and why dont you guys debate these things on the radio? Is there some kind of agreement that you dont do this and are only comfortable shooting down fans that blog these same opinions on your website?

    MW: If any other radio commentator were to ask me about the Stewart thing or the Thomas thing, I’d be happy to engage in debate. But when I appear on their shows, they don’t ask. I’m their guest, I’m not going to steer the conversation into a confrontation with them. If they want to get into it, I’m game.

    - KD
  41. 41.

    First off Johnny Mac should stick to defence and not base running….that was pretty funny to watch. And JP got Downs on waivers…..give that man a raise. Who care, one move does not a GM make. For every good move you defend him with there are more bad moves. At the time would you have thought that Downs would have worked out like he did? Probably not, so dont judge on Downs success becaue according to a few posts yesterday hindsight is irrevelant when judging a GM. If we can judge JP by how downs has turned out than why cant we judge him on how Thomas, and Stewart have not worked out?

    MW: You certainly can judge him however you want, but make sure you include in your judgement that he’s assembled the best pitching staff in the league, and the best bullpen in Jays’ history.

    - KD
  42. 42.

    I don’t care what his problem was. At 69 million dollars you catch that ball if it comes anywhere within a block of you. Rios is the biggest disappointment of the year.

    - Vito From Hamilton
  43. 43.

    Hi Mike,

    I find it amazing that you get upset at sarcastic callers/bloggers and yet your post is extremely sarcastic on a few diffrent points.

    It is so funny that when the Jays win a few games how arrogant people can be, you would expect a GM in 7 years to do some good things but unfortunately our GM hasn’t made enough good decisions for him to keep his job. 7 years is more than enough time to get a team into playoff contention and this hasn’t happened.

    MW: Again, there’s a difference between how a guest should behave and how the owner of the house should behave.

    - Corey
  44. 44.

    Hi Mike
    Arkansas again
    Apparently Ibanez has been claimed off waivers. Do you suppose the mystery team might be the Jays?

    MW: It wouldn’t surprise me.

    - Richard
  45. 45.

    Hi Mike,
    What do you think needs to be done about Rios? We’ve seen an ongoing trend of mental errors and lack of effort/concentration from him all season long. Now, with two such instances occuring in the past two nights (the homeplate non-slide two nights ago, followed by the dropped flyball last night), it makes me feel like SOME action needs to be taken. But where does the line between corrective action end and player embarassment begin? Your thoughts would be appreciated. Thanks.

    MW: I’m not sure what action should be taken. I don’t know if sitting him for a couple of days would help. As far as the embarrassment thing, he seems to be doing a fine job of that all by himself.

    - John
  46. 46.

    How probable is it that B.J Ryan gets traded in the offseason and could they get a big bat for him?

    MW: It’s not improbable that Ryan gets traded, but I don’t think they can get a big bat for him alone.

    - andrew
  47. 47.

    MW: The lack of bloated, ugly contracts is a big thing, so is the fact that they have the best pitching in the league right now. Also big for me is that the core of the team is locked up reasonably for the next couple of years. Oh, and the fact that there are some very good players on their way up.

    I love the fact that Baseball America had ranked the Jays farm system much higher in 2001 and these are people who cover the minor leagues for a living and you who has admited to not paying all that much attention to the minors trys to trump them!! and yes Ash had some bloated contracts but J.P gave 126 million to a guy with what a .326 lifetime OBP against righties! he has Overbay locked up for no real reason. Not to mention Rolen.

    I’d agree with you the team is in better shape now but the fact that you can compare J.P. to one of the worst GM’s in the history of baseball is awfully pathtic.

    MW: Again, rankings of minor-league systems mean as much as pre-season projections.

    - Manny
  48. 48.

    Sure, Downs was claimed by J.P.–and so was Scott Wiggins, along with Bobby Kielty, Miguel Batista, Kerry Ligtenberg, Frank Menechino, and Dave Berg. Yeah, JP has made some great acquisitions. Oh, and let’s give a huge contract to Eric Hinske too.

    As Baseball Prospectus said, Wells and Rios are good players but they can’t carry a team. I don’t really understand why you’re so high on them anyway as they were…Ash picks. Like Halladay and McGowan.

    Mike, the Jays are stuck in baseball purgatory–good enough to give people like you hope and not bad enough to tear the whole thing down. As Vince Lombardi said, you are what your record is, and by his record JP deserves to go. He had to cut the payroll as soon as he came in (fair) but you neglect to mention that he has doubled it since and gotten the same results.

    MW: None of those other guys were claimed on waivers by J.P. Also, why would the fact that Wells, Rios, Halladay and McGowan were Ash picks prevent me from being honest about the fact that they’re very, very good players? That’s just stupid. Ricciardi didn’t double the payroll, by the way, he doesn’t decide what the payroll is going to be, and since the Jays have had the opportunity to use the extra money, they’ve never had a losing season.

    - Will
  49. 49.

    I think it would be great J.P. if went on Prime Time to actually defend himself. I’m not sure why he won’t..is he afraid of getting shown up by Bob? I mean, if J.P. just shows up with the facts, how can Bob make him look bad? Adam Rita, and Bryan Colangelo have both been on Bob’s show recently, why can’t J.P. do the same?

    MW: You’ll have to ask him.

    - Curt
  50. 50.

    Hey Mike,

    What is with your listeners’ love affair with Paul Byrd all of a sudden?

    Two nights in a row now that you’re callers have voiced their displeasure over the Jays not making a play on Byrd?

    The guy pitches one great game against the Jays and all of a sudden everyone wants him?

    The Jays have made a ton of mediocre pitchers look like Cy Young candidates in the last few years – but I guess we should bring em all here!

    I’m thinking J.P. should sell the farm and use any means necessary to bring in Matt Garza, Jair Jurrjens and Greg Smith.

    I hope the Jays can thump Byrd tomorrow so the lunacy ends.

    On a side note – has anyone brought up the possibility that Rios’ recent mental errors and lack of hustle might have something to do with having a newborn baby at home? Perhaps the little one isn’t sleeping well and Rios is just worn out?

    MW: The little one isn’t in Detroit with him, and I’m not sure she’s even in Toronto. Chances are the baby is still in Puerto Rico. As for the Byrd thing, it was the same guy both nights.

    - Richie D.
  51. 51.

    Hey there Mike,

    Like everyone I’ve been somewhat dissapointed with Rios season thus far, but one thing that really stands out is his numbers vs lefties.

    All his numbers from this year follow some trends from 2007, except theyre all just .100 points lower in OPS which I’m willing to write off to a bad year, contract pressure, mechanical issues earlier this year etc.

    In 2006 his OPS was .874, in 2007 it was a dazzling 1.022 and this year its collapsed to a .664!!

    What happened to him? I want our lefty killer back.

    MW: You’re not alone.

    - Corey
  52. 52.

    Hello Mike

    I heard you this afternoon on the radio talking about Vernon and I do not understand fan’s desire to get rid of him. They expect players to be perfect and 100% healthy all the time.. the curse of making big bucks!

    A question – I imagine play- by-play announcers watch the game with much different TV screen and angle than fans do, otherwise, how can they tell that the pitcher is throwing fast ball, or a curve or a swirve? Do I have the right assumption? or is there different mechanics of throwing that is so obvious to some astute observer that would discern what pitchers are throwing?

    MW: We watch the same picture you do. You can tell by how the ball moves what the pitch is or how the batter reacts, assuming you know the pitcher’s repertiore.

    - francis
  53. 53.

    Wait, is this the same Mike Wilner who blasted a caller last night for using the word “backcatcher”? You lost a listener. It’s no wonder the Jays are failing to reel in casual fans with snobby media pundits such as yourself.

    MW: Backcatcher is not a position in baseball.

    - John
  54. 54.

    Hey mike, one question. when i have watched league pitch, the highest he has thrown is 98 but my friend said that he had thrown a 99 mph the game i didn’t watch, i don’t believe him. has league ever thrown a 99 mph this year? i recall 99 regularly two year ago, i don’t know about this year?

    MW: He did hit 99 on the most recent homestand.

    - JaysFan
  55. 55.

    Hi Mike,

    Rios needs a fire lit under his butt. I’m not exactly sure how to do it, but if anyone can figure it out, I think it’s the “Man With the Moustache”, Mr. Cito Gaston.

    His drop of that ball in centrefield was just the next in a looooooooong list of atrocious mental mistakes he has made this season. I don’t doubt that he is ‘trying’, as some guys make it look easy, but man, he is painful at times to watch.

    What do you think, if anything, can get his head in the right place?

    Thanks, as always.

    MW: That’s the best nickname you could come up with for Cito?

    - Jeff
  56. 56.

    What’s wrong with Rios? Do you think he’s actually getting lazy?

    MW: Getting lazy? No.

    - andrew
  57. 57.

    Mike – A bad overall team offense can be frustrating. But somehow we can get past that and come back the very next evening and support our team on the TV, radio, internet. We make the time because we’re passionate and committed. But, when I see Rios play the way he is … it is completely uninspiring. I can take strike outs, getting caught stealing, grounding into double plays… I’ll keep coming back. But a lack of passion and work ethic (or however you want to describe Rios’ problem) from our star player, makes it very hard to watch. That’s inexcusable. To fail is one thing … to look like you don’t care, is just not acceptable.

    This is a pattern from last year. Do you remember the Canseco play he pulled off in Fenway last year, when a fly ball bounced off his head for a home run?

    I wish we had a Prince Fielder that we could unleash on him. I would love to see someone knock some sense into him like Manny Parry had done to him.

    MW: You think that’s what Fielder was doing? Knocking some sense into Parra? I don’t remember a fly ball going off Rios’ head for a homer, it went off his glove.

    - T from NY
  58. 58.

    Mike,
    Your right, it is amazing that the Yankees are a head of the Jays with all those injuries, especially to 3.5/5 of the starting rotation. It would be like the Jays losing Halladay (Wang), Marcum (joba), Litsch (Hughes) and Purcey (Pavano).

    Speaking of injuries, what do you think of TB’s chances with Crawford and Eva L on the DL?

    And how long before VW takes over CF everyday?
    And you never commented on Overbay in the 8 hole.

    MW: I never commented on Overbay in the 8 hole because it wasn’t worth commenting on. Marcum and Joba? Really? I think Tampa will fall back, because injuries matter, and I think Wells is back as the every day CF as of now.

    - JW
  59. 59.

    Hi Mike.

    Quick question. From Aug. 1 – Aug 31 the trading deadline involves players who have to go through waivers before they can be traded? Is this right? If so, do the minor league players that get traded have to go through waivers as well? If not, why?

    MW: Major leaguers have to clear waivers to be traded between August 1 and the end of the season. As for minor-leaguers, I believe that they have to clear if they’re on the 40-man roster.

    - Bob from Guelph
  60. 60.

    What would you think about Overbay batting leadoff? He has a solid OBP but not much slugging – and will have less chances to hit into a double play.

    MW: Fine by me.

    - Gozer
  61. 61.

    Mike,
    though you didn’t do it today, whenever you mention wells’ stats in relation to the rest of the team, you curb his statistical standing amongst his peers by saying that it’s a reflection of the ineptitudes of the rest of the lineup, rather than a sign of what wells has been able to do when healthy…

    i find that to be unfair/inaccurate…

    if you project his #s over 162 games (ommitting the grand slam game, as a 4 rbi game is a bit of a statistical anomaly), he ends up with 21 hr, 109 rbi, and 94 runs…

    naturally, if you include game 3 of the tigers series, those numbers are even more impressive, but i chose to omit them to be fair, and for the effect of showing how impressive his numbers project to be, without that boost…

    21 hrs is probably low for his standards, but 109 rbi would lead a lot of teams, and to amass a projected total of 94 runs when much of his season was played when the jays couldn’t score runs, speaks volumes of what he does for this lineup, IMO…

    i know you never meant what you were saying as a slight towards him, but were rather pointing out that what he was doing when in the lineup wasn’t as overwhelming as his team statistical ranking would suggest, BUT, for all those who call in daily and call for a wells trade, or insist that we’re better off without him, the #s don’t lie…

    and does anyone know if red bull actually does revitalize the mind? if so, for the love of god can we please get an IV of it and hook it to rios’ veins when he’s in the dugout…

    MW: The difference between what you doing and what I’m doing is that I’m NOT pro-rating the numbers over a full, healthy season, which is why it’s such an indictment of his teammates.

    - Jay B
  62. 62.

    Mike,

    Do you actually think Manny Ramirez would come to a small market like Toronto when he thrives in big markets (i.e. Boston, LA)?
    I think he’d look good in pinstripes, don’t you?
    You gotta figure Cashman has to do something significant to save his job after the past few [disappointing] seasons.

    MW: it’d be easier to take your comments seriously if you didn’t use a ridiculous fake name, which I had to edit. Manny would look good in pinstripes, but he’d also look good in white, black and gun-metal grey. I’m not sure if you’re aware, but Toronto is actually a much bigger market than either Boston or Cleveland.

    - Hertz
  63. 63.

    Mike,
    We often hear Jerry and Allan make comments what the Jays are doing wrong and how they could improve. Considering they spend loads of time with the team, do you know if they ever share their insights with coaches and/or players?

    MW: I’m sure they do on occasion.

    - Shmuel Yitzchok
  64. 64.

    Is this pitcher, Gallaraga related to the Cat?

    MW: I don’t believe so.

    - Shmuel Yitzchok
  65. 65.

    Neither is “fireman”, “ace”, “utility”, or countless other slang terms that have been accepted throughout the years.

    MW: That’s where you’re wrong. Backcatcher isn’t even accepted baseball colloquialism, it’s just incorrect.

    - John
  66. 66.

    I know J.P. gets himself in some trouble by sometimes saying more than he probably should, but sometimes I think he deserves a pat on the back, first of all just for putting himself out there and answering questions on Wed. nights and secondly by not always disagreeing with the fans just to protect a ball player or manager. Last night when answering the question about Rios, J.P. said that too many players today are more motivated by money than they are by the idea of winning. I believe this to be true as well, although isn’t it funny when interviewed after winning a division or world series they all come out with crap like …this is why we play, for a chance to win this trophy. Wouldn’t it be refreshing to see one of them come out with truth. I’m pretty sure they would all prefer their $10 million paycheck to lose than they would $1 million to win.

    MW: I don’t know about that.

    - dan from elmvale
  67. 67.

    Listened to the JP show..not bad, not as entertaining as usual, likely because the Jays are winning.

    I think it is time for all those people who felt Gibbons should not have been fired to take that back. JP, the players and most fans (the knowledgable ones anyway) can clearly see that Gibbons was a BIG problem. Thank goodness for Cito and his staff, (thanks Godfrey!) we are playing some great ball now and the stinker players are riding the pine.

    About 10 years ago the Red Wings (I know hockey) had the best team in the NHL but could do nothing come playoff time, enter Scotty Bowman and 3 cups in 6 years. Nobody can tell me, coaches, managers can make a huge difference in sports, from tactical skill, confidence, strategy, almost everything, Gibbons could not even be the shadow of a Cito Gaston.

    After that rant 1 question for you Mike in an interview with Cito it seemed like he made the decision to send Stewart packing..it was just the way he was talking about it, my guess is Cito has quite a bit of power in the organization now, especially because of the results he delivers. Do you think it was essentially Citos decision to release Shannon, or JP had no choice because Cito told JP he would not play. We know it was Citos decision to have Lind come back and send Litsch down ets. so maybe this was as well?

    MW: How is it that we can clearly see that Gibbons was a big problem? And how do we know it was Cito’s decision to have Lind come back? I don’t know who your sources are, but you’re assuming a lot of facts that aren’t in evidence.

    - Matthew
  68. 68.

    If Frasor pitched the 3rd inning yesterday, Downs and League would be available today (and Downs wouldn’t have got hurt).

    - Shmuel Yitzchok
  69. 69.

    You seem greeding Mike.. Question should be can they afford a guy who can do both? Well let me changed that cause we know Rogers can afford it.. Would they Jays spend the money to get a guy who can do both? Who would you want this upcoming FA?

    MW: Greeding? The Jays can afford Manny Ramirez or Jason Giambi – they can both do both.

    - Eddie
  70. 70.

    I’ll be sitting in right-centre field on Sunday at Fenway. I’ll be sure to remind Rios how many outs there are after each AB. Rios is “special”. He needs a “helper”.

    - Matt
  71. 71.

    Do you think Cits has more confidence in Jason Frasor than Jon Gibby did?

    MW: Not anymore.

    - Jay Money
  72. 72.

    Litsch just got pulled after pitching extremely well and holding the Tigers to 4 hits. Excellent start! But our guys are holding a very tenuous 1 run lead courtesy of Lyle Overbay’s home run. I’ll say that again for anyone who missed it, Lyle Overbay hit a hime run. And that’s the difference so far.

    Mike, I don’t understand the waiver system at all. Could you let me know how it works?

    MW: I’ve explained it a few times right here, no?

    - reyes
  73. 73.

    Hey Mike,

    How do you stay sane? Man some of these posters are ‘out’ there.

    You have mentioned that Accardo is close to coming back – I thought I heard last week that they might shut him down for the year.

    Keep up the good work.

    MW: I heard that, too, and had no idea where it came from.

    - Cameron
  74. 74.

    Mike,
    You dont think Marcum is on the same level as Joba? Or is Joba not good enough to be compared to Marcum…

    MW: Joba isn’t at Marcum’s level yet.

    - JW
  75. 75.

    MW: How is it that we can clearly see that Gibbons was a big problem? And how do we know it was Cito’s decision to have Lind come back? I don’t know who your sources are, but you’re assuming a lot of facts that aren’t in evidence.

    …Results Mike, geez, 1 year in business school would have done you good, and results coming a managment style that has so many obvious differences..it is interesting to see that the attempt to achieve results (Gibby, JP) is so much more impresive to you than results themselves, hope I can enter in that dreamland someday

    MW: I don’t know why I keep responding to your comments.

    - Matthew
  76. 76.

    Last night’s play with Rios and today with Wells’ in the 8th are good examples of why Wells is a better centre fielder than Rios. Some people had forgotten that when Rios was throwing guys out at home plate a few games ago. I tuned in at a bad time I managed to get home from work only to see them give up the 1-0 lead. I hope this doesn’t put Frasor as the forgotten man in the ‘pen again but I fear it will. He really does blow up good on occasion but is still an effective guy.

    MW: The problem is how big he blows up when he does.

    - Dilson
  77. 77.

    Crap. They were four outs from a sweep.

    MW: That they were.

    - Jim in Ohio
  78. 78.

    Opps I meant Greedy..

    Dont you think there age is way out there? Is there not any guys we can sign for 5 years or so and lock them down for the long haul? I mean Manny is 34-35 and I think Giambi is even older.. Is there no one younger out there or is that no one wants to play up north?

    MW: Manny is 37. Teixeira is younger, but likely unattainable. No one wants to play up north? What kind of load is that?

    - Eddie
  79. 79.

    A.J. Burnett is statistically having by far his worst year since 2003. (ERA+ of 90) He has a putrid 4.67 ERA, but has received huge run support and has 15 wins.

    I guess he’s no longer a 0.500 pitcher and he finally “knows how to win” (I guess it just took him longer than Jack Morris to master this “skill”)

    I’m sure all of the Cy Young voters out there already have him penciled in somewhere in their top 5.

    Now that “he knows how to win” I’m also sure many astute baseball general managers will be willing to pay many millions of dollars to bring this skill to their team.

    MW: Regardless of whether A.J. had learned how to win this year (I love that), many GMs would have been willing to pay him many millions of dollars this winter.

    - GregJP
  80. 80.

    Mike I’m tired of hearing fans go on and on about the Jays needed to go after a bat this offseason and saying that it’ll come from the shortstop position. There aren’t that many good offensive shortstops in the league let alone the available market. Unless Orlando Cabrera, Derek Jeter, Michael Young, or Jose Reyes become available, who is this mystery shortstop who can hit better for average then eckstein, and play better defense then johnny mac?
    Also I know last year was a write off for Overbay, but serouisly can we ever expect to see him have the year like he did 2 years ago ever again? He’s apparently healthy now,and yes u can give ur OBP stats and compare him with other Jays hitters and say he’s not that bad, but 2 years ago he was getting compared to Olerud.That form is long gone

    MW: Well, he’s two years removed from it and only 31, so I wouldn’t say it’s long gone. He could have a year like he did in 2006 again, or at least one like 2005. As for the first point, I haven’t heard many, if any, people talk about the Jays having an opportunity to pull in a big bat at shortstop.

    - Jesse Colautti
  81. 81.

    MW: I don’t know why I keep responding to your comments.

    I ask that you dont post this, but you will not need to respond anymore because I will not be posting..

    MW: I’m amazed that you ask that I not post what you wrote, because it was no less insulting that anything else you have written here in the past. I’m glad to hear you won’t be with us anymore.

    - Matthew
  82. 82.

    Mike — I don’t know why, but “back-catcher” is used widely in rural Canada especially for softball.

    Maybe it has something to do with the backstop?

    MW: I think it has to do with the fact that they sit behind the batter. In back, as it were.

    - Jim B
  83. 83.

    I understand the waiver wire better than the average fan but what I don’t understand is the secrecy. It seems like the media know anyways because it is leaked (I assume there is no punishment for this). Why not just put it on the internet where fans and less conected media can play GM. At least they should report when a team makes a claim. I am sure that it would make fans realise how it actually works.

    MW: It would definitely be more fun if the process was more transparent, but I think they’re worried it might lead to quite a bit of disgruntlitude among the players.

    - Jim B
  84. 84.

    Hello Mike

    In response to comment 53, I’d like to applaud you for admonishing that caller on his use of the word “backcatcher”….You are 100 percent correct – its not a position and it drives me crazy when I hear it. I imagine that these are the same people who think the Jays are playing the sport of “hardball”, not baseball. Thats another common one that drives me nuts.

    and as for Rios – he plays with his head in the clouds and that will never, ever change, despite his immense natural ability.

    MW: Never ever?

    - sam
  85. 85.

    Vernon Wells and Johnny Mac are on waviers. What your take on this?

    MW: 95% of the players in the majors are, have been or will be on waivers in the month of August. It means nothing.

    - andrew
  86. 86.

    Mike,

    Manny Ramirez would thrive in a big-time sports market…i.e. Boston, LA, New York….he’d never come to a place like Toronto where there’s no passion about baseball like the aforementioned cities.

    MW: Please change the name you post with, it’s really not funny. When did Manny tell you he’d never come to Toronto?

    - Hertz
  87. 87.

    Mike,
    Your crazy if you think Joba hasn’t proven himself to be Marcum’s equal as a starter. He has a 2.76 ERA is his starts this year and it would be better if he didn’t give up 5 in his last start with a tight shoulder.

    MW: My crazy what? Marcum had a fantastic first season as a starter last year, and was leading the league in WHIP and opponents’ batting average when he got hurt this year. Chamberlain has made 12 starts in his career.

    - JW
  88. 88.

    Mike,

    I have heard many people say recently, including today, that they hit mute on the tv and listen to the radio when the game is on. However, when I’ve tried this its quite apparent the tv broadcast is many seconds delayed and these broadcasts have long since stopped airing simultaneously (at least 3 years).

    So next time somebody says this could you please call them a “liar”? If you don’t want to, could you say “Prokopec says you’re a liar.”

    Also, I’ve read your comments on my recent novella, and your replies to some posts which followed.

    I think you’re conceding the major league talent level isn’t much different than when JP came on board. I haven’t heard you disagree that the minor league talent is pretty similar now to what JP inheirited.

    Your argument the Jays are in much better shape now seems to rest on the assertion that JP is somehow more financially responsible than the previous regime.

    Question, in light of JP’s releasing Koch, Lightenberg and Thomas who were being paid guaranteed money after they left the Jays, and in light of his paying a hefty chunk of Hinske’s salary last year while he toiled for division rival Boston, would you not agree JP’s mismangement has cost Rogers about 20 million the last 3 years and that therefore, any argument based on keeping JP based on his fiscal prudence is at best weak?

    MW: Nope. Thomas I’ll give you, but Koch and Ligtenberg were paid a pittance, and Ricciardi had no way of knowing that Hinske would eat himself out of what appeared to be a very promising career. As for the liar thing, the fact that there’s an annoying delay doesn’t mean that people wouldn’t still turn down the TV and turn up the radio. You get used to it, I have.

    - Prokopec
  89. 89.

    Well you know.. You always hear that players in all sports dont want to play in Canada.. Its always been around even when I was in Boston thats all you heard.. Thats why I asked.. Maybe its a myth…

    MW: The money they earn here is just as green.

    - Eddie
  90. 90.

    Hey Mike,
    I’ve been watching the Tigers games on the Detroit FSN feed and the color analyst said that Cito has a reputation for handling a bullpen well. I have never had this impression and I think he’s mismanaged the bullpen in the last two nights. Was Cito a good bullpen manager in his first stint? Does he really have such a reptuation?

    Thanks Mike

    MW: His reputation is whatever it is to whoever is talking about it. That’s certainly a case where perception is reality. I never had thought that Cito had a reputation for being an especially good handler of a bullpen.

    - Jeff
  91. 91.

    Mike…Greg Zaun whines about not playing much
    and then when Cito plays him
    today,he blew the game on that ball he should have caught…Also Frasor did not
    help today either with his
    pitching..Litch did well
    with his pitching..Zaun should sit for quite awhile!

    Robert Goodwin
    London…

    MW: Zaun does usually sit.

    - Robert Goodwin
  92. 92.

    #8.. Programme? Since when have you started using british spellings?

    MW: I always spell it that way. Well, I always spell programme that way.

    - Beburg aka The 88mph man
  93. 93.

    Hi Mike.

    Further to the JP Ricciardi / Terry Ryan comparison:

    I think Ryan had a tougher road to travel than Ricciardi in their first seven years as GMs with their respective teams, and one would expect JP to have had more success to date than that which Ryan produced in his 1st through 7th seasons with the Twins:

    1) As has been mentioned many times in the past, when JP took over the Jays in 2001, he inherited a pretty good set of prospects / young talent from the previous administration (Halladay, Carpenter, McGowan, Wells, Rios, Hudson, etc.). I am not a baseball expert, so I’m not going to claim I know the group of prospects / young talent that Ryan inherited when he took over the Twins in 1994, but I suspect it wasn’t as good as what JP found waiting for him upon his arrival in Toronto.

    2)While JP cut team salary in the early part of his tenue and didn’t have much money to work with, over the past few years he has received significant infusions of cash from team ownership, and it has enabled him to both re-sign the Jays’ players he wanted to keep (Halladay, Wells, Rios) as well as go out and sign some of the free agents he wanted for sizeable amounts of money (Burnett, Ryan, Thomas). Conversely, I don’t believe Ryan ever had the luxury of significant boosts in team payroll to do likewise, and was always in the shallow end of the pool re. MLB team payroll.

    MW: Ryan always was in the shallow end of the payroll pool, that’s for sure, but 88 losses or more in five out of six seasons is pretty ugly regardless. As for the first point, among the young players drafted in the six years prior to Ryan taking over (remember, Halladay was a 1995 pick): Corey Koskie, A.J. Pierzynski, Todd Walker, Torii Hunter, LaTroy Hawkins, Brad Radke, Matt Lawton, Pat Meares, Eddie Guardado, Chuck Knoblauch, Denny Neagle, Marty Cordova, Mike Trombley, Denny Hocking, Damian Miller and Javier Valentin. All of them were still in the Twins’ system when Ryan was hired.

    - james
  94. 94.

    Gotta love that greeding Mencherson guy..Maybe you should inform your “bloggers” that the red squiggly line means you have made a spelling mistake..

    I don’t get why people are all over Overbay..Personally, I didn’t really like him at first but he seems to make the big play at the right time..I think he is a very capable first baseman….He may not hit tonnes of home runs but he has a great glove and can hit for extra bases..

    We can go back and forth with the comparison of the 2001 Jays and this years Jays..The 2008 Jays have not hit more then 2 Hr in one game all season..In 2001, they hit 3 or more HR in 2 games 20 times..

    Pitching doesn’t mean a thing if you can’t hit..

    MW: It was a VERY different era back then. You’re right, though, pitching doesn’t mean a thing if you can’t hit, but you can turn pitching into hitting a lot easier than vice-versa.

    - gump
  95. 95.

    why put wells and Mac on waivers?

    MW: See above.

    - KD
  96. 96.

    If you explained it, I missed it, but I was away and out of internet range for a while a week or so ago. Never mind. I checked it on the ESPN site, and as I understand it, we might have a pretty good chance of getting Ibanez…

    And count me in on not being upset about the loss this afternoon. The bullpen were due a mess-up and I’m not holding it against them. We took 3 of 4 and I think we did damn’ well.

    MW: It’s awfully tough to sweep a four-game series on the road, no matter who the opponent is.

    - reyes
  97. 97.

    DOWN GOES FRASOR
    DOWN GOES FRASOR

    - sammy
  98. 98.

    Ash’s Corner for August 14th. Today’s game is also from 1987, only this time the Astros were at home in the cavernous Astrodome (the 7th wonder of the world, I think) against Dale Murphy’s Atlanta Braves.

    RH Charlie Puleo (5-4, 4.20) matched up with LH Bob Knepper (4-13, 5.92), who was in the middle of a very trying season for the ‘Stros. One of Puleo’s weaknesses was holding runners as 18 of 19 had stolen off him in just 90 IP going in. That might not be so bad against a station to station team, but the Astros were definitely not one of those teams. Interestingly, Knepper’s record was identical to Nolan Ryan’s at the time, despite having an ERA double the size of Ryan’s. As long as writers want to base the Cy Young Award on won/lost record, I will keep hammering away at the fact that it means absolutely nothing when it comes to how a pitcher is performing.

    Charlie Puleo had been signed by the Blue Jays in 1978 and was dealt to the Mets in 1981 for RHSP Mark Bomback. Those of you that missed the Mark Bomback era in Toronto: consider yourselves blessed. He may or may not have been a really decent human being. He was quite charitable on the field though, unfortunately for the Jays. I think I recall the nickname ‘Bomber’ being applied to him due to his penchant for giving up the longball in 1982.

    At least the next time Puleo was dealt, it was for a Hall of Fame RHSP. Yes, that would be the deal after the ’82 season where the Mets tried to make amends with their fans by bringing back 38 year old Tom Seaver from the Reds. If you’re still convinced J.P. Ricciardi is one of the worst GMs you’ve ever seen, then you probably haven’t seen enough baseball. You see in the middle of 1977, the Mets traded one of the greatest starters in The History of Major League Baseball (Seaver) to the Reds for Pat Zachry, a league averagey RHSP, who was later downgraded to a reliever, Doug Flynn (think Johnny Mac), Steve Henderson, a serviceable LF, and Dan Norman, a corner outfielder who retired with an OPS+ of 81. At the time Zachry was 25, Flynn 26, Henderson 24 and Norman 22, so none of them had too much projectability left except maybe for Norman. Let this be a cautionary tale for those who would like to deal Halladay (who isn’t on par with Seaver yet and probably never will be) for “prospects”.

    Due to the length of the preceding meanderings, we’ll just say the Astros won 8-4. Alan Ashby batted fourth and went 2/4 with a walk, a single, 2 runs, 2 Ks and 2 RBI from a 2-run blast off Puleo in the first inning as part of a 5-run rally, which wound up being enough for the win. No Braves stole or were caught stealing against Ashby and the Astros’ jackrabbits had a field day against the poor tandem of Ozzie Virgil Jr early on (2/2) and Bruce Benedict in the late going (3/3). Kevin Bass had 2, and Bill Doran, Billy Hatcher and Gerald Young had the others. Each of those 4 would wind up with at least one 30 stolen base season in their careers. Oh yes, times have definitely changed. That’s it for today,

    MW: I saw Mark Bomback start the Jays’ home opener on a rainy Friday afternoon at the Ex in 1982. He got his head handed to him by the Brewers.

    - Tom the Intern
  99. 99.

    A curse upon weekday afternoon games! It’s times like these that I hate being gainfully employed while the ballgame is on.

    Ruminate on this “5 degrees of Big Train – Doc Halladay separation” nugget I unearthed while on coffee break:

    Walter Johnson played with Ossie Bluege for the 1922 Washington Senators

    Ossie Bluege played with Early Wynn for the 1939 Washington Senators

    Early Wynn played with Tommy John for the 1963 Cleveland Indians

    Tommy John played with Tony Phillips for the 1985 Oakland Athletics

    Tony Phillips played with Roy Halladay for the 1998 Toronto Blue Jays

    MW: Swell. You could have lost a degree there by tying Early to Jerry Howarth.

    - Adrian, co-alumnus
  100. 100.

    “MW: You think that’s what Fielder was doing? Knocking some sense into Parra?”

    You can call it whatever you want, but Fielder certainly took exception to Parra’s childish antics and the fact that he thought he could then take the night off in the clubhouse. Fielder let him know that pouting was unacceptable on that bench, and that if he was going to blow the game he was going to have to sit out there and endure the rest of it with his team. I don’t think it’s such a stretch to think that the Jays would be well served if they had a bona fide superstar like Fielder that could get in Rios’ face and tell him to shape up.

    And this isn’t just me mocking JP, but I really wonder what he knew about Alex when he signed him to the contract – Did he know if he liked baseball? He has certainly had a knack for showing a lack of enthusiasm for it over the past few years.

    MW: Most starting pitchers don’t spend the rest of the game on the bench, regardless of how they’ve pitched. And shoving a teammate in the middle of the dugout is hardly showing veteran leadership.

    - Ari
  101. 101.

    Does it not seem that the team is gearing up for some transactions in a year or so on the pitching staff?

    The starting rotation is in pretty good shape now. In a year or so there could possibly be even more quality pitchers competing for jobs. I guess you can’t ever really have enough pitching but more than five quality starters means someone is expendable.

    Next year it could well be Halladay, Marcum, McGowan (at some point) Litsch, Janssen, possibly Purcey and then they are preparing Wolfe to start as well I believe? Seems like a move/moves will be possible with all this pitching talent but I guess the trick is having enough confidence in some of these lesser known commodities to gamble on moving someone like Halladay. If we are the return on a trade like that could be huge.

    MW: I doubt very much they could get equal value if they deal Halladay.

    - Rob M
  102. 102.

    Scratch Ibanez. The Jays weren’t mentioned at all. Just the Red Sox and Tigers. Do you think there’s anyone else we could go for? Doesn’t sound like we made a play for Giles either…

    MW: I believe that the Jays did, in fact, claim Ibanez. They never would have let him get through to Boston. They didn’t claim Giles, because Boston did.

    - reyes
  103. 103.

    Mike,

    At first I found it unreasonable that you said the Jays had the best Bullpen in the league seeing that your opinion might be biased because you watch every Jays game and their bullpen work and also barely watching the other team’s bullpen work. But after doing some stats research on ESPN + realizing the fact that the Jays started short handed w/o Janssen and Accardo for a long time and all the patch work done with people like Camp/Carlson, I commend you for that assessment. Keep up the good work, not sure on the other hand your comments on McDonald and Rolen being the best fielding SS and 3B though.

    MW: Thanks. There is no better defensive shortstop than McDonald currently playing in the bigs, nor is there a better defensive third baseman than Rolen.

    - Frank
  104. 104.

    “Oh wait you still think Stewart is better than Johnson. ”

    Why do people keep bringing up the release of Reed Johnson? O wait, his .285-.290 BA with 10 hr and 60 RBI would have put this team over the hump. Tell me if I’m wrong, but were the Jays not a .500 team with and without Johnson… Please everyone give it a rest. Plus, I think we’re a lot better off with Lind now, which I’m sure JP saw coming. Stewart was a cheaper bridge to get to Lind than Johnson – neither were going to be here next year anyway.

    Your a beaut Mike

    MW: I’m not sure which of this stuff is sarcastic and which isn’t.

    - Daryl
  105. 105.

    MW: Honestly? You’re nuts. Lind may well be the best bat the Jays have, why would you want to give him the least at-bats?

    Since I’m bored, I believe it’s “fewest” at-bats. Love the blog Mike, don’t take it the wrong way! Reed Johnson corrects my grammar.

    MW: Yeah, I think you’re right.

    - Tim
  106. 106.

    This team isn’t going anywhere yet again. IT’s disheartening to be a fan of Toronto sports. I was so excited at teh thought of the Jays potentially getting Lincecum for Rios and now I see why San Francisco backed down. What a bunm this guy is! No emotion! This guy is getting payed to strikeout and he figures that he’s already got the money locked up so he just plays with 0 emotion. Hopefully Cito will see how bad this guy is in the clutch and ask JP to ship him out of town. I’d rather have Mench playing right field and shove Rios and his .150 average with 2 outs and runners in scoring position o nthe bench to teach that bum a lesson. When I play any sport, I go full out no matter what. I play with heart, passion and 110% effort. RIos needs to learn how to play and stop costing the team games. I remember last year whe nalex cora hit a fly ball and it hit rios’ glove and went over the wall. And when RIos watched a ball stuck on the fence and finally when the ump came he picks it up. (I believe this was against Milwaukee.) I can only think of one clutch hit RIos has had ALL year. And that was the bases clearing double vs Baltimore with two outs. I think Rios should be benched until he learns his lesson.

    MW: Your frustration is very, very apparent. You shouldn’t let it get to you like this.

    - Warren
  107. 107.

    Mike -

    JPs recent comments about players being motivated by money rather than winning sounds like yet another copout on his part. It might be true, but other teams ARE winning. This is just another example of JP NOT taking responsibility for putting together yet another mediocre team, regardless of how they are motivated. And please don’t elaborate on how good the pitching is (although now you will). If the pitching is really good then the rest of the team must be really really bad – because they are still nothing more than a 500 team (give or take a few). Rene

    - Rene
  108. 108.

    Alex Rios head is not in the game he is thinking about flying that chopper of his around the dome after the game.

    - Juke Joint Jim
  109. 109.

    Mike, I apologize if you’ve answered this before, but how do you think Rios reacted to the very nearly-completed Lincecum deal? I’m thinking if my GM admits to offering me up and says he’s just waiting for the other GM’s say-so, I’d be a little put out. Who knows – maybe that’s still in his head?

    I don’t think that’s an excuse for Rios’ play this year, but I’m just interested to get your take.

    MW: I think any hard feelings that Rios may have felt about it were swept away by the massive contract that he signed just over four months later. Also, you have to be a realist about things. If I was being offered in trade for a top-tier young starting pitcher, why is that a bad thing?

    - Mark McDonald
  110. 110.

    Are you on the Prime Time RoundTable this Friday?

    MW: Nope

    - andrew
  111. 111.

    Mike,

    Why did JP place Vernon on waivers? Did it finally occur to him that he got fleeced on that deal (7 yrs $126 million)?

    MW: Argh.

    - Hertz
  112. 112.

    Is this ineptitude of Rios’, just a case of alex being alex,without the hitting ability of manny?

    MW: He’s far from inept.

    - jj stevens
  113. 113.

    What are the chances that JP Ricciardi loses his job?

    MW: A little bit under 50-50, I think.

    - andrew
  114. 114.

    Well your right and I felt the same way about.. I just hear it all the team players dont want to play in Toronto.. I mean look at the Raptors.. They hear it all the time.. Oh and the money is green red blue and etc etc.. Just joking had to throw that in there..

    MW: It’s a myth, something people like to say so that they can sound like they know stuff. And the players get paid in U.S. dollars, hence the green.

    - Eddie
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