10:30 PM Eastern

Brad Mills has a degree in engineering.  He’s a smart guy with an obvious interest in how things work, probably in science, space, cool stuff like that.  Therefore, one would think that Brad Mills would have done me a favour seeing how I wanted a quick game today so that I could drive the wife and kids cross-state to see tonight’s launch of Space Shuttle Discovery from Port Canaveral.  The shuttle was supposed to go up this past Wednesday, when I was still home, but they postponed it to this evening, giving me a chance.

It takes a little over 2 1/2 hours to drive from Dunedin Stadium to Titusville, allegedly the best viewing place for non-ticket holders (if you buy a ticket, you had to show up at noon for the 7:43 PM launch, and I was kind of busy then being on the radio and stuff).  That meant that if the Jays-Reds game was quick – say 2:20 or so – I’d be through with the post-game at 4:00 and on my way, having sent in all my tape and wraps and stuff, by 4:15 or so.  No problem.  And I didn’t think 2:20 was too much to ask.  After all, all I had heard about Mills all spring was “works quick, throws strikes”, and he was scheduled to throw five innings.

Today, though, Mills didn’t throw strikes.  He worked quickly, but used all 75 of his pitches to get through just four innings of work.  Four innings that took just over an hour and a half.  Still, despite the five walks, Mills managed to minimize the damage, only allowing two runs.  And he would only have given up one had Joe Inglett been able to corral a relatively routine double-play ball off the bat of Edwin Encarnacion with the bases loaded and nobody out in the 4th.  Inglett, getting a look at shortstop to see if he can be an emergency fill-in, kicked it a bit, and had to settle for only the out at first.

Still, Mills wasn’t despondent after the outing, as Brett Cecil was Friday after having walked four in his four innings.  Maybe Cecil knew what was up, though, since he got sent out today along with four others, including Mike Maroth (shocker), Adam Loewen and Ken Takahashi (he was still here?).  And yes, I didn’t mention the other guy because I have forgotten who it was.

Mills talked about what a great opportunity it was for him just to be in big-league camp, and that regardless of where he winds up to start the season, he’s thrilled to be able to pick the brains of Brad Arnsberg, Bruce Walton, Cito Gaston, etc., while he’s here.  He also said, though, that he thinks he’ll get the ball again in five days (he hopes – I hope so, too).

One would think that I wouldn’t like Mills, him having ruined my chance to see a shuttle launch live and me not having seen him pitch well despite all the hype, but I do like him.  Nice kid, for sure, and I dig his herky-jerky delivery.  He’s all arms and legs, and throws his glove at the hitter before coming with the good old over-the-top delivery.  Evidently that puts some real bite on his 12-to-6 curveball, but he didn’t have much of a curveball today.   I don’t think he’ll get sent out before his next start, a la Cecil, but I think that one of Richmond and Clement have a better chance of breaking with the big club than he does.

After Mills left, they decided to go extras, and three hours and 16 freakin’ minutes after we started, Curtis Thigpen belted a monster shot to left field off Carlos Fisher, on which Jonny Gomes took one quick look and then started jogging back to the dugout.  I’m pretty sure he beat Thigpen to third.

Good for Thigpen who, along with Russ Adams, has been a forgotten man this spring.  Thigpen’s homer was his second of the spring, and Adams has very quietly had a terrific Grapefruit season with the bat.  Russ was 1-for-2 with a walk today, he’s hitting .368 on the spring.

Not so good for me, since we didn’t get off the air until 5:00, and there was no chance I was going to make the shuttle launch.  Oh, well, maybe they’ll do it again next spring.

Remember to check us out on mlb.com for Monday afternoon’s Jays-Red Sox affair.  Roy Halladay is scheduled to go five against Justin Masterson, and I have a feeling he’ll manage to do so.  It’s a web game, so chances are I’ll get a couple of innings of play-by-play, that’ll be cool.

Rational, reasonable comments are always welcome.

38 Responses to “It Is As Though They Knew”
  1. 1.

    none of these backup Catchers look good at all. And Barajas isn’t much to write home about, lets pray Arencibia actually pans out.

    MW: I’m not sure how you can say that Chavez hasn’t looked good this spring. But you can go ahead and pray if you want to.

    - Pee Wee
  2. 2.

    Barajas seems to be swinging the bat well at the World Baseball Classic. What do you expect from Rod and what do you anticipate the catching situation to be like this season for the Jays?

    MW: I think Barajas plays about 3/4 of the time through the end of July or so, then depending on where the Jays are and how Arencibia is doing, we may see J.P. come up and take over.

    - Brett V
  3. 3.

    Hello Mike, Do non-roster spring training invitees have to clear waivers (eg. Adams and Thigpen) to be sent back down to AAA ? Do you think that Adams’ spring is having any impact on whether Mgt will reconsider his position with the team ? Does he not have more versatility than either Inglett or Bautista … given that he has played SS in the majors with a not-to-bad range factor (probably now reduced due to minimal playing time over the last few seasons) and his arm strength has supposedly improved. He’s not starting quality SS but still as a backup to Scutaro I believe he’s still preferable to the other two. Where he stands relative to McDonald’s strictly glove/no bat is a toss up dependant upon how well Scutaro’s defense plays out. If it is good then I could see McDonald being traded or released and Adams making the cut ahead of Inglett. There really are a lot of varibles involved but Adams has his foot jammed in the door…

    MW: Adams doesn’t have his foot jammed in the door. He has hit very well this spring, but his defense has been sub-par, to say the least. There’s no way he’s more versatile than Inglett or Bautista, because they’re both far superior defenders. And no, non-roster invitees don’t have to clear waivers, because they’re not on the 40-man roster.

    - Jim Carson
  4. 4.

    Hi Mike,
    Has Curtis Thigpen suddenly become the front-runner for the backup catching job? Barrett hasn’t really performed up to expectations so far, so could Thigpen crack the roster?

    MW: No, Thigpen isn’t the front-runner by any means. He homered yesterday to win the game, but is still hitting just .222 for the spring. I think Chavez is the clear front-runner right now, but there’s plenty of spring left.

    - Ian
  5. 5.

    That’s cool, Mike. I’d love to see a shuttle launch one day.

    Have you had a chance to see much of Jannsen? I like him a lot. He was pretty dominant in 07, and I’d love to see him be able to regain his old form. Does it look like he’ll make the rotation?

    Great job as always

    Thanks

    MW: I’ve only seen Janssen pitch the once, but he looked just like his old self. I don’t expect him to be dominant, but I do expect him to be in the rotation.

    - James H
  6. 6.

    Hi Mike,
    There are just over three weeks of spring training left and I am excited! I wanted to relay a funny story. My 5 year old was asking about the Jays last week and asked about AJ Burnett. I told him that he’s no longer with the team because he was a free agent and signed with the Yankees. He then asked if Doc would ever be a free agent and when I said ‘yes, maybe’ he broke into tears and took almost 15 minutes to calm down! He has one baseball card, Doc’s from the year after he won his Cy Young award, and he absolutely loves him! I hope he stays a Blue Jay forever or I’m going to have some explaining to do!

    Also, if the number of innings pitched this year is going to be an issue for guys like Mills and Jansen, would it make sense carrying 6 starters and having Mills and Jansen take turns starting, pitching 6 innings with the other one slated to pitch the final 3 innings? That way, you could get consitent work for them and 140-150 innings out of each of them. Does this idea have some merit or is it simply undoable?

    Thanks and keep up the GREAT work!

    MW: We won’t be seeing a 6-man rotation with Janssen and Mills piggybacking on each other. As for Halladay, it’s a little early for your son to learn about the cruel business side of the game, but it may be unavoidable.

    - Chris
  7. 7.

    Couldn’t the Jays have found 1.5 million dollars to pay for Pudge?
    Wouldn’t he be an improvement over 120 games of Rowdy Rowdy Barajas?

    MW: Probably. Yes.

    - Jordan
  8. 8.

    Mike, how did Matt Bush look today?

    MW: After the bomb he gave up to Jeff Bailey on his first pitch, he looked pretty good.

    - Darren
  9. 9.

    Hi Mike,

    I am a bit disturbed as to why Blue Jays brass hasn’t yet extended Roy Halladay. At the very least, some kind of market correction would be in order given the fact that his salary is significantly below market. The Jays have done this in the past (e.g., with Pat Hentgen I recall), so why not now? If I was Roy, I’d be fuming that even A.J. now has a higher salary. This just isn’t right Mike.

    MW: It’s not entirely up to the Blue Jays, for starters. Also, he signed a contract and he’s prepared to honour it.

    - Jamie
  10. 10.

    Mike…Too bad about missing the launching, especially for the children…Reminds me of going to games when Juan Guzman started and was in his heyday. I enjoyed the wins, which were commonplace for Guzman, but we had to pay the babysitter overtime or if the wife stayed home, the “big children” couldn’t go out for refreshments after the game because of its length. And 5:30 a.m. comes early with or without beer. Wouldn’t a young Juan Guzman look good in the Jays’ rotation now?

    MW: Am I really supposed to answer that?

    - chris m.
  11. 11.

    What’s going on Mike,

    I’m just curious what happened to Ricky Romero, is this guy still underperforming? To my knowledge he finished last season strong and considering he was a top pick of ours in 2005 I’m itching to see some action from this guy. Did he pitch at all this spring?

    Also wanted to comment that I’m happy to see us building up our farm system again. We have a lot of good young prospects, and outside of them being all pitchers, all outfielders or logjammed somewhere else for once we have a nice mix.

    3B – Kevin Ahrens
    C – Arencibia
    1B – David Cooper
    2B – Scott Campbell
    SS – Justin Jackson
    OF – Travis Snider
    P – Cecil, Rzepczynski, Romero, Mills

    Lastly, I heard you talking about baseball Bibles on your show the other day and I stumbled upon an interesting stat concerning Alex Rios, in the last 3 years Sabernomics says that he has “saved the most runs” out of any outfielder in the game. Impressive indeed, but it leads me to wonder if it’s time for him and vernon to switch positions. a) to alleviate stress on vernons hamstrings. b) to hide his armstrength. c) to improve our centre field range factor.

    I also hear that Travis Snider has a cannon of an arm. Perhaps shift Vernon to Left, Snider to Right and Rios to centre. Rios and Vernon shade right to hide Travis’ range and perhaps we could have one of the best defensive outfields in the game.

    MW: Romero is still in big-league camp, and had been scheduled to pitch in today’s now-cancelled “B” game. As for the Wells/Rios thing, Rios may well be a better defensive centrefielder right now, but like Derek Jeter at shortstop (and I’m in no way comparing Vernon in CF to Jeter at SS), Vernon will have to be the one to give way.

    - David
  12. 12.

    Dopriak.

    MW: Huh?

    - stoeten
  13. 13.

    Hey Mike! Great to have you back blogging on a daily basis. I missed reading it during the off season. Looking forward to another entertaining season of Jays Baseball!

    How did you and Ernie get along during the WBC? I remember he had some words for you after he was terminated last season.

    MW: Ernie had some words for me well before he was fired last season, but we got along just fine at the WBC.

    - Cam
  14. 14.

    Adams is doing what he had to to get back on the Jays radar but he may never play in the majors again. He’s 28 and this will be his 7th year in the system. Great pick JP, ignoring your assistants and scouts who wanted Kazmir.

    Anyways I agree Chavez is the leader for the backup job, he’s throwing guys out, picking them off, and has hit better than Barrett (which you could probably do this spring Mike). I don’t think Thigpen has much of a chance even though Cito seems to like him.

    Who’s gonna take the 3 bullpen spots up for grabs? Accardo and Wolfe shouldn’t be anywhere near a major league roster they way they’ve pitched.

    MW: Wolfe is hurt and Accardo has pitched a grand total of 6 1/3 spring innings. You can’t seriously base an evaluation on that, can you? I think Accardo, Frasor and League get the three spots.

    - Paul
  15. 15.

    Hey Mike,
    I was at the game yesterday and what was up with Angel Sanchez he made 3 error’s including a throwing error. I was wondering why Russ Adams was playing left field I thought he was an infieldier?
    Thanks

    MW: Adams’ best position is bat.

    - Paul
  16. 16.

    I find it interesting that Russ Adams was such a high draft pick and yet his defence is sub-par as you say. Why did JP draft him so high especially considering his defensive short comings must have been evident in college.

    MW: J.P. Ricciardi was the only guy in the whole world who liked Russ Adams. If he hadn’t been in charge, Adams probably would have been taken in the 17th round.

    - Marc
  17. 17.

    Mike.

    I heard Stephen Brunt on Prime Time earlier this evening mention that if Team USA doesn’t make the WBC seni-finals that MLB may have to look at pulling the cord on the WBC permanently. I like the tournament, but if American players and fans and media don’t care enough about it, maybe that option has to be considered. Look at the attendance in Miami. I have doubts that it will see the light of day in 2013. I hope it does, as I said I’m sold on it, I’m not sure other people are.

    Peter, St.Catharines

    MW: I doubt the plug will be pulled. I think that it needs to be at a different time of year, because 90% of the sports radio/TV coverage down here right now is on the NCAAs. Last night, the USA/Puerto Rico elimination game wasn’t on ESPN because they had women’s college hoops.

    - Peter
  18. 18.

    So it would seem, based on reading recent Cito quotes, that the earlier chatter of Snider being sent to AAA to start the year was just that..chatter. he is gonna start the year up with the big boys.

    as for Mills…Cito said that he is ahead of Cecil…how did this happen this fast? Is it one of those situations where Mills is less talented yet more polished? or is it the old “we dont mind as much if he gets destroyed as we would the golden boy getting destroyed?”

    lastly, are there any veteran free agents left out there we might be interested in getting on the cheap as the season approaches and maybe some of these guys are realizing they DONT HAVE JOBS!

    MW: Mills has lit it up this spring and really put himself on the radar. Cecil is still the better prospect, but Mills may be closer to the bigs. Maybe not, but he certainly is right now. As for the veteran free agent thing, if the Jays didn’t want to pony up two million bucks for Ivan Rodriguez, then the answer is probably not.

    - generalzod
  19. 19.

    M-Dub,
    Too bad about the Space Shuttle.
    Now for random comparisons followed by your expert opinion:

    Danks Vs Floyd
    Pence Vs Kemp
    Markakis Vs Quentin

    MW: Sorry, too involved in Jays stuff to get into that.

    - slobberface
  20. 20.

    Mike,

    Well, another year is upon us. I was at Rogers Centre for the Canada – Italy game. My dad and I were hoping for a quick game to catch the GO Train an hour earlier heading back to Burlington. Not as much of a big deal as missing a shuttle launch, but you never get the quick games when you need them.

    Based purely on your opinion, how do you see this roster panning out and who are the 5 starters to begin the year?

    MW: I think I’ve already given my idea of how the roster will look. For me, the starting four will be Halladay/Litsch/Purcey/Janssen with the 5th spot going to either Clement or Richmond.

    - Aaron Ker
  21. 21.

    advice re: shuttle launches

    Definitely worth the effort next time. We were in Orlando in Nov. and drove over for the event. Go south on the main road (A1A?)into Cocoa Beach until you get to the plaza with the Publix on the west side. It’s before the pier, not too far. On the ocean side it’s residential. We asked at the visitor centre where to go, arriving at around 3pm and were told we were late for the good spots but that some home owner might be selling lawn space. We lucked out as the road we took towards the beach opposite said Publix had meter parking (25 cents/hour) right beside the beach access. After hanging out on the beach we walked to the plaza to the beer and burger joint for dinner and came back for the show. Only downfall was the return trip traffic jam. Like the DVP at rush hour. Brutal!

    MW: Good advice.

    - Barb & Win
  22. 22.

    What is the likelihood of both Lane and Millar making the team? Has Wade Miller made an appearance yet?

    MW: Both? Won’t happen unless Wells starts the season on the disabled list. No, I haven’t seen Wade Miller yet.

    - Travdaddy
  23. 23.

    Chipper Jones was quoted as saying he did not like the format of the WBC. Here is an excerpt from his interview:

    “We stayed in Toronto for a week and played three games. I don’t know if you ever stayed in Toronto, but it’s not exactly Las Vegas. To say that we were plucking our eyebrows out one at a time would be an understatement.”

    I’m a little shocked by this statement, given that Toronto has to be one of the top 5 largest cities in North America, with a vibrant night life and world class restaurants. Is Atlanta that much more exciting?? Any thoughts on this Mike?

    MW: I have several thoughts. Chief among them – Chipper Jones is an idiot.

    - BG
  24. 24.

    Why didn’t JP look at I-Rod? He may be past his prime but he’s still on a completely different level than what they have at that position. If $10 mil for Thomas wasn’t a problem then why would $1.4 be for Rodriguez?

    MW: You can’t really compare Thomas to Rodriguez, the payrolls were very, very different.

    - RiccardiSucks
  25. 25.

    hey man i just wanted to ask you about a fantasy trade. What do you think about me trading Santana and Vladimir Guerrero for Jacoby Ellsbury and Derek Lowe. I need Basestealing thats why Ellsbury is in there and also that both the players im giving away are day to day. Think its fair?

    And who’s going to be the backup catcher this season? Love the blog & show

    MW: If you need basestealing, sure, though Santana is a lot better than Lowe. I think Chavez is ahead in the battle for the back-up catcher’s job, but I think the Jays would rather take Barrett.

    - Joey
  26. 26.

    Hey Mike

    I don’t know if you have read Chipper Jones’ comments recently but he said that he would not play in the WBC unless they change the format and if they don’t play in Toronto.

    He goes on to insult Toronto, saying that it’s not exactly Las Vegas and was plucking his eyebrows during his stay.

    Do these players have the right to say this about other cities?

    MW: Of course they have the right to say that. We’re in a free country, you can say whatever you want so long as you’re willing to face the consequences.

    - Gagan
  27. 27.

    Any thoughts on big ol city boy Larry Wayne “Chipper” Jones Jr.

    What a classless human being.

    MW: Hey, there’s so much more to do in Atlanta than there is in Toronto.

    - Chris
  28. 28.

    Hey Mike,

    Check out the Yankees website under “Yankee Stadium”. They have a 3D Seat Selector in the drop-down. It shows the view your seat would have from anywhere in the stadium. Pretty slick….worth checking out for sure.

    - DJJAY
  29. 29.

    I’ve never read a scouting report on Mills. I’ve only seen the numbers. You mention his curve, but does he touch 90 with his heater? What else does he have?

    MW: He does touch 90, and he has a very good sinker.

    - pete
  30. 30.

    Hey Mike,

    I know that in Japan, the seams on their balls are different, allowing for more spin. For the WBC, are they using the MLB regulated balls or another type of balls? This definitely puts one region at a disadvantage.

    btw, any if any spring training games will be broadcasted on the fan? With the Raps and Leafs out of the playoff races, it’ll be nice to have the media focus more on baseball.

    MW: The WBC baseballs I saw looked pretty normal. We have already broadcast several Jays games on the Fan and will broadcast several more, including Thursday night’s against the Yankees.

    - James from Mississauga
  31. 31.

    Hi Mike. I am kinda’ funny guy with stats in baseball and I know you are to I.E. OBP. which is realy important over the long haul.. but one of the stats, TO ME, that fly’s under the radar is the inning eater pitchers.. A starter could have a record at the end of season at 10 and 15 and to the lamen this looks bad , but meanwile he has logged a ton of innings and didn’t tax his bullpen.. I know this I.P.stat doesn’t go unnoticed within management but I am curious with all your blogging fans , and your call in fans, what would you think , over the long haul of calls and blogs, would you consider that people dont give enough credit for as a stat.. Thanks Mike..

    MW: I wouldn’t say I’m a funny guy about stats. I would consider that people don’t give enough credit to most second-generation stats. Most people still like the big three Triple Crown stats for hitters, and won-lost record and ERA for pitchers (and saves). As for the inning-eater thing, anyone can go out there and be mediocre for seven innings.

    - FLIPPER
  32. 32.

    If Russ Adams’ best position is his bat. Do you think he could ever break the club as a DH? (not saying this year by all means) That would mean Lind playing first and Overbay being traded. Or is his only future as a big leaguer simply a bat off the bench?

    MW: I don’t think he ever makes the Jays as a DH. His best position is bat because his glove is poor, not because his bat is anything special.

    - Jeff
  33. 33.

    Mike. Here’s my suggestion for the WBC. It takes place in July, with no All-Star game taking place. 10 teams take place, divided into 2 pools of 5. The first-place teams in each pool get a bye to the semi-finals.In the quarter-finals the 2nd place team in one pool crosses over and plays the 3rd place team in the other pool, with the winners advancing to the semis. Then the winners of the semis advance to the championship game. It’s exactly the format used in the World Junior Hockey Championship (without the 3rd place game), and it would take at most, 2 weeks to play without any major disruption to the regular-season. As much as I love the All-Star game, I wouldn’t miss it if the WBC was done in this format? What’s your thoughts Mike?

    Peter, St.Catharines

    MW: Two weeks is a major disruption to the season, which is an issue. Also, a mid-season WBC would have managers and GMs tearing their hair out even more, I think, and we’d see just as many, if not more players pressured to not play.

    - Peter
  34. 34.

    hey mike,
    with the way jason lane is playing, do you think he’ll head north? and if yes, in what position? bench player?

    MW: No, I don’t. Nor do I think it matters how well he plays.

    - nick
  35. 35.

    Mike,

    It seems Cito is trying Bautista out at SS, and I have heard he looked good there today.

    Is it time for JMac to be let go? It seems he is less useful now than ever.

    Only since Inglettt has options, I would like to see a bench of Bautista/Millar/Lane/catcher.

    What do you think?

    MW: I don’t think you’ll see John McDonald released to make room for Jason Lane.

    - andy mc
  36. 36.

    Mike…I remember Willie Hernandez getting 32 saves for Detroit during their great season of ’84 and thinking this guy was the greatest…Now K-Rod gets that in 2-3 months…Mike, is it really the starter’s salary or arm concerns that has managers giving the ball over to the closers more and more?

    MW: It’s neither of those things. Starters, with very rare exceptions, aren’t expected to throw eight or nine innings anymore.

    - chris m.
  37. 37.

    Re Chipper Jones dumb comments:

    Well…maybe he’s right – Toronto ISN’T Las Vegas…

    Toronto ISN’T Atlanta either; I spent four days there (or was it forty?) and the thing I remember most vividly was a prison chain gang doing roadwork downtown while guards covered them with rifles from a truck. Maybe that’s the kind of thing Chipper yearned for during his stay.

    I also remember a promo for an ESPN biographical show on Chipper that purported to “go behind the headlines”, or something; the promo was a provocative clip of Chipper’s mother saying she was “disappointed in him”… As she should be now.

    - Ken
  38. 38.

    Mike….You stated that it’s neither salaries nor potential arm woes for the frequent use of closers, and that’s fair. But even the casual sports fan has heard the pundits state that athletes today are bigger, faster and in better shape than players of yore. But it’s the likes of Sandy Koufax, Bob Gibson or Jack Morris that seemed to have the upper hand in the stamina department, despite not being as fit according to some experts, as guys today who barely break 200 innings…..Roy Halladay appears to be the exception to the rule among today’s starters.

    MW: Halladay is the exception, for sure, but the closer has developed into what he is today over the last 30 years for good reason. That guy is usually a far better option than a starting pitcher who is facing a hitter for the fourth time.

    - chris m.
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