10:20 PM Eastern

And what has he done?  Well, he has pitched himself right into the conversation for a starting job with the Blue Jays when the season opens in two weeks.

I had never seen Romero pitch before, and I certainly wasn’t blown away what he did today, but he was fine.  He threw a first-pitch strike to almost every batter he faced through the first three innings, and got out of his rhythm in the fourth before finding it again after a couple of hitters.  He was helped out by some crappy Cincinnati baserunning and some terrific defense by John McDonald (no less than three big-time webgems, which Cito Gaston called “Just another day at the office for Johnny Mac”) , but in the overall, he certainly pitched well enough to give the Jays a chance to win, which is exactly what you want out of your fifth starter.

Romero’s five innings of two runs on seven hits (all singles), two walks and five strikeouts stack up well with Scott Richmond’s 3 2/3 of two runs on nine hits, no walks and five strikeouts in Fort Myers Sunday, and they beat the crap out of Matt Clement’s ugly afternoon the same day.

Romero, Mills and Richmond are in a race for the last two spots, and I don’t know who has the edge between the lefties despite the fact that Mills has already been crowned the 4th starter in some corners.  I’m pretty sure Richmond is going to make it, although Cito mused before the game that he might move Jesse Litsch to the third spot in the rotation if he took three lefties.

I do know that Romero will get another start in an “A” game, and that Clement more than likely won’t.

Aaron Hill had two hits today, stole a base and was thrown out at the plate in the first inning, going in hard, but sliding, though still colliding with Reds’ catcher Ryan Hanigan.  I held my breath seeing Hill go in hard at the plate, and it looked like Hanigan knocked him in the head as Hill tried to slide through his legs, but Hill told me that he was worried about Hanigan, since Hill spiked him on the leg on the way in.  Hill was fine, and says that he has to play the way he did before he got hurt.  As for the stolen base, he really looked terrific.  Beat the throw by plenty and had great acceleration over the last 40-50 feet.  Hill says that he has the green light this season, and expects to steal more as the two-hitter in order to give Alex Rios and Vernon Wells a better chance to drive him in.

Speaking of Wells and Rios, there was some fun interplay between them in the outfield today.  In the 4th inning, with Jay Bruce on first and nobody out, the Reds put the hit-and-run on and Jeff Keppinger hit a line drive to shallow centre.  When Wells caught the ball, Bruce was standing on second with the requisite “oh, crap” look on his face.  A halfway-decent throw, and he’s meatcake.  Unfortunately for the Jays, Wells spiked his throw, and it didn’t even make the dirt around second base, hitting the outfield grass and taking a few hops before Randy Ruiz hauled it in with Bruce standing safely on first.

Wells was hearing it from his teammates, and he flipped his glove to the ground, put his hands on his hips and turned his back to the infield in mock disgust.  The next batter singled to right, and Rios came up throwing and nailed Bruce by plenty going in to third.  He then turned to Wells and said “that’s how you do it.”

Travis Snider was supposed to make the trip but didn’t, staying behind to DH in a minor-league game.  He’s expected to be in the line-up for the Phillies game on Tuesday, as is Marco Scutaro, who red-eyed back from L.A. Sunday night.  It could be the first time all spring that all nine Opening Day starters are in the line-up together.

Only three games left in FLA for me before I head back again.  Man, does the tempus fugit.

Rational, reasonable comments are always appreciated!

68 Responses to “So This Is Ricky”
  1. 1.

    Hey Mike. Two weeks to go til home opener and I am pretty jacked. Im in a group of about 20 that will be there on April 6 ready to start the new season. I wanted to ask you what you think happened to Curtis Thigpen? I noticed that after the game today he’s batting .148 and in his 57 career games(I know its a small sample) is only batting .229…I remember hearing this guy was suppossed to be a solid hitter. Is he just going to be a late bloomer or did the Jays completely miss the mark with him? Also, its great to hear the team is giving Hill the green light this hear…I think he can swipe 20 bags at least….Thanks Wilner, take care…

    MW: Curtis really stalled as a hitter after he reached AA, which happens to a lot of guys. I don’t think that when a second-round pick doesn’t make it you can say they “completely missed the mark on him”, though. Way fewer than half the players picked in that round ever make an impact in the bigs.

    - trevor
  2. 2.


    Is BJ really throwing in the low 80s as SI has reported? If you don’t know, could you find out for us?

    Is Brian Wolfe injured still? Who are the Jays’ RH relievers going to be? Accardo seems like the guy from April 2008 as opposed to the 30+ save guy of 2007. Does he have Shawn Hill forearm syndrome?

    Where did Romero top out on the gun today, and what is his max pitch speed? Does he have a nasty curve or any off-speed filthiness?


    MW: B.J. is really throwing in the low-to-mid 80s, and it’s a concern. Wolfe is going to pitch on the weekend. There’s no gun for us to see in Sarasota, so I have n o idea where he topped out. He didn’t look especially filthy, but he got the job done.

    - andy mc
  3. 3.

    Michael of the Ballyard:

    It was nice of you to stop and talk to me at the Red Sox game last week.

    FYI, I am watching the WBC championship, and Rick Suttcliff (sp?) has said several times that the role of a manager in the outcome of a close game is profoundly important. He also quoted a manager he had with the Dodgers (forget the name, sorry) that said that in a one-run game, the outcome is decided solely by the manager.

    How do you feel about that, in relation to your ‘managers don’t affect outcomes’ worldview?

    MW: I respect Sutcliffe’s opinion, but I obviously disagree. In fact, I think it’s a massive load of crap that a manager can solely decide the outcome of any game. That manager, whoever he is, sounds like a guy who won a lot of one-run games one year. A manager’s job is to put a player in a position in which he’s likeliest to succeed. Very often a manager makes the right move and it doesn’t work out, and often a manager makes the wrong move and comes out smelling like a rose.

    - JCL
  4. 4.

    oh…i was excited for clement…any chance he could work out the kinks, or is his career just over?

    MW: It could be over, but he’s young yet. Everyone says it looks as though he’s getting back to his old self, so he may yet be able to recover.

    - jp
  5. 5.

    Mike please tell me you watched the Final WBC 09 game tonight. That was the best baseball game I have seen in years.

    MW: Sadly, I couldn’t keep my eyes open after the 9th, but I lasted that long, at least.

    - Renegade
  6. 6.

    Quick question, Mike — Do you know (yet) whether Mike Maroth has made his decision as to whether to go to AAA or ask for his immediate release?

    - Norm
  7. 7.

    We have all read and heard a lot about Mills, Cecil and Romero and it will be interesting to see how it all shakes out.
    Who do you see as their repalcements coming up behind them?

    MW: Well, two of them aren’t going to make the team, so they’d be their own replacements, no?

    - Allan
  8. 8.

    HOW ABOUT THE WBC!!!! Four years is too long to wait for another one!

    MW: Yeah! Let’s do it again in November!

    - Scotty D
  9. 9.

    Hi Mike
    A general question:
    Will there be a reprise of Jays Talk in this space going forward?
    I can’t listen lve but enjoyed the replays last year

    MW: Definitely. It’s kind of touch-and-go in the pre-season, but when the bell rings, there’ll be a JaysTalk in the blog every night.

    - Richard from AR
  10. 10.


    How good is young Darvish you think? Do you think he’s a superstar material in MLB? I love the guy, he’s got some phenomenal stuff, all at age 22.

    MW: I think he’s terrific, but he says he’s never going to play in North America.

    - Beburg
  11. 11.

    Hi Mike, Any idea where to find spring training box scores for the AAA Vegas Jays? Have you had a chance to see Matt Bush throw?


    MW: No, I don’t think they even keep them. Yes, but only a little, and from the right-field corner.

    - Steve
  12. 12.


    curious as to why Ben Sheets is still unsigned (last I looked anyway). Would you take a run at him or stay the course with what the Jays have?


    MW: He had surgery and won’t be able to pitch until mid-year, at the earliest.

    - Howard
  13. 13.

    I really didnt watch the 2007 season when marcum and dustin came up to replace oka and towers, but what and do you see any similarities with bringing up the young guys this season? are they less ready for the big leagues than marcum and dustin were in 2007? and finally with outfield looking good offensively this year, do you think the x factors will be overbay and rolen?

    MW: I think Cecil is ready, but I have my doubts about Mills and Romero. I do think that Overbay and Rolen’s bats will play a major role in the success or failure of this team, yes.

    - nick
  14. 14.

    Hey Mike,

    Any chance you will post your predictions for the upcoming season like you did last year? I know it opens up opportunity for mockery (i believe you selected John Gibbons to win manager of the year in 2008), but it is fun to look back and see who was picked.

    Its nearly impossible to do this with any accuracy, however i’ll take a shot anyhow :

    AL East – Yanks
    AL Central – Indians
    AL West – Angels
    Wildcard – Red Sox

    AL Cy Young Beckett (Doc 2nd again)
    AL Rookie Price
    AL MVP Sizemore
    AL Manager Eric Wedge

    NL East – Mets
    NL West – Dodgers
    NL Central – Cubs
    Wildcard – Marlins

    NL Cy Young Ricky Nolasco
    NL Rookie Tommy Hanson
    NL MVP Hanley Ramirez
    Manager Joe Torre

    MW: I’ll probably throw something up before the season starts, but it’s an exercise in futility.

    - rick
  15. 15.

    So Mike, based off what you’ve seen so far can we expect to see any more power from Overbayand Rios?

    And what is the over / under on the number of games Rolen and Wells play together?

    MW: Yes, I think we can, and I’m going to say 126 1/2, and I’ll take the over.

    - JW
  16. 16.

    Hey Mike,
    I know this has nothing to do with the Jays but what were your thoughts on the WBC finale?
    There was a few mind-blowing plays and you could just feel the intensity of the game…Korea just kept fighting….
    Also, do you ever think Yu Darvish will make it stateside despite saying he will stay in Japan? (Johnny Damon said he would never be a Yankee…lol)

    MW: It definitely was a hell of a game – I don’t know why they pitched to Ichiro in the 10th, though. For Darvish, see above.

    - Randy
  17. 17.

    Hi Mike. You say Romero got some help from the PM of D. Do you happen to recall if any of those nine(!) hits of Richmond’s the other day looked playable? In other words, do you think having zero starters behind him ended up being a disadvantage?

    MW: Honestly, I didn’t see any of Richmond’s outing beyond his 5th inning pick-up of Clement, because I was in the Jays’ clubhouse.

    - LJ
  18. 18.

    I think Alex Rios will be the American League MVP this year.

    - Zack
  19. 19.


    How did Accardo look? Any signs of his old self?

    I am a little concerned that he, League, BJ, and Downs all have inflated ERAs (over 9). Since I am only reading box scores I feel like I am missing something. Anyone you are concerned about at this point? It is getting on in spring now with teams breaking camp in a week.

    Thanks as always.

    MW: I only saw the triple that Accardo gave up, so inconclusive. There’s concern about Ryan, for sure, but looking at a spring ERA is about as useful as determining a batter’s efficiency at the plate by his shoe size.

    - Darren
  20. 20.

    Mike, I’m torn. I know the Jays are going to score plenty of runs this year. This time, it’ll be pitching that lags.
    Is it wrong for me to root for Burnett to blow out his arm?

    MW: Kinda.

    - marc
  21. 21.

    I thought the Jays were suppose to have signed Shawn Hill from the Nationals. Instead he signed with the Padres. What happened there?

    MW: He was a free agent and smart enough to see that there was an opportunity to pitch half his games at Petco.

    - Jeff G.
  22. 22.

    2 questions-
    Are you buying the Stephen Strasburg is the Messiah movement?
    And are you a fan of Curt Schilling’s candidness?
    -Here’s to the hope that the Jays don’t perform like the Raptors this year!

    MW: Nope. Kinda, but I think he’s just a little too much of a self-promoter.

    - Eli
  23. 23.


    I was just wondering why the Jays were so adamant about developing Brett Cecil as a starter? I doubt BJ has too much more left in him, and I’ve read that Cecil likes closing. Plus the Jays seem to have enough good left-handed starters in the system… thoughts?

    MW: You can never have enough good starting pitchers in the system, and wouldn’t you rather get 200 quality innings out of a guy than 55?

    - Nick
  24. 24.

    Mike, do you think the Jays might be thinking of keeping Romero in the majors all year to preserve an option on him for 2010? As I understand the system, he has one left for either this year or next year, so by saving it for next year they could avoid a situation where they’d have to get rid of Romero before next season starts. I know it’s a year away, but from today’s vantage point he’s probably behind 7 guys (Halladay, Marcum, McGowan, Litsch, Purcey, Cecil, Mills) in the 2010 pecking order.

    MW: It’s an interesting idea, actually.

    - Darren
  25. 25.

    Hey Mike,

    What’s the deal with your poop fetish?
    I see: “crappy” Cincinnati baserunning, beating the “crap” out of Matt Clement’s ugly afternoon, and a requisite “oh, crap” look on his face.
    Your nitpickiness is legendary, so we can assume there’s some anal retentiveness going on here. Butt, really, you may want to try out some new, less potty-centric, words.
    Just having some fun; I know you have a great sense of humour. Here’s hoping the Jays kick some ass in 2009!

    MW: Just trying not to be too filthy. I need more clean curse words.

    - Evan White
  26. 26.

    Hey Mike, Hope you’re enjoying Florida. Thoughts on Tampa sending Price down because they don’t have options on Hammel and Neimann? Are either likely to get moved/on anyones radar?

    What are the chances that Millar makes the Jays? Do you think he will stunt the growth of Lind/Snider by eating into their at bats?


    MW: I think the Rays sent Price down more because they want to cap his innings at 170-180 this season, and it’s easier to be a four- or fove-and-dove guy at AAA for two months. Millar makes the team, and takes away at-bats against lefties from somebody, probably Lind, but maybe Snider.

    - Rahil
  27. 27.

    Hey Mike,
    I’m not sure if you heard Corey Koskie’s interview on XM’s Home Plate station with Joe Castellano. He talked about his disdain for how he was (NOT) used in the WBC. He could not believe that he wasn’t given a shot to start in the tournament (let alone get any time). He talked about how he was the team’s best hitter throughout the exhibition, but was never given a chance to help the team in the tournament. All in all it was a very insightful interview, with Koskie showing a loathing for his time with MLB after his concussion, saying that he was treated as a “commodity”, and a “piece of meat”.

    MW: He was treated that way, no different than many other injured players. But I can see why he’d be so upset at not having been used in the WBC. On the other hand, he did mention how playing four innings in the field in pre-tournament action – without having to make a play – absolutely exhausted him.

    - booty
  28. 28.

    Hey Mike, a couple months ago I won a game of Beatles trivia and was supposed to get a tape of Blue Jays related music from the late eighties I think.

    I never received it!! Maybe that’s a good thing but it would have been cool for a laugh.

    MW: That sucks! I’ll try to remember to talk to Scott Douglas about it. You should have had that tape.

    - Chris Jones
  29. 29.

    firstly, webgem(s) & meatcake? well played my friend….
    secondly, had a thought that i’d like you to comment on. after witnessing our man (b. league) coughing up a spring training hairball in yesterday’s tilt,
    if the bullpen of this toronto team (from top to bottom) isn’t as efficient & lights out as they’ve been in the previous 2 yrs, do you think it’s pretty much a given that they’re going to be somewhere south of 81 wins this season?
    me thinks so i hate to say…

    MW: If the bullpen’s no good, the team won’t finish above .500. I’m with you there.

    - darrell bishop
  30. 30.

    Mike, do you think Romero suddenly being back in the race is about service time for Cecil and Mills?

    Also just curious if Bautista is actually a viable option at ss, or is this strictly spring training only action?

    MW: No, I don’t. No, he’s not.

    - Clint
  31. 31.

    Mike, If Janssen’s set back is a short one and is pitching well, do you see him coming back as a starter and knocking one of the incumbents back to the minors or does he move back to the pen?

    MW: I think he’s ready to come up and start by the end of April.

    - Ken
  32. 32.

    Mike sorry for the second post…any word on Country Strong (Kyle Farnsworth) coming to the Jays? He’s real strong Mike. Would like to see him setting up for the Jays

    MW: Two in a row is fine. Five or six is what scares me. Farnsworth is strong, but he doesn’t throw strikes a whole lot, which is an issue for me.

    - Ken
  33. 33.

    what do you think of leaving Snider in the minors for a month to delay his service time for one year. i’m sure you saw this suggested by Bart Given on his blog. maybe give Lane a month to show himself as a spring training anomaly? It seems somewhat petty but with a player of his potential you want him for as long as possible.

    MW: Why not just sign him to a Longoria deal in May instead?

    - jeremy
  34. 34.

    I’m hearing some bad things about the Beej, specifically that he’s throwing in the low 80s. Any truth to that?

    MW: Yep.

    - Flaming Moe
  35. 35.

    How furious would you be if Schilling was snubbed a ticket to Cooperstown b/c of his lower win total?

    MW: Not furious at all. Those things don’t make me furious. Vexed, maybe. Bert Blyleven deserves to be in the Hall before Schilling does.

    - Jamie
  36. 36.

    What i’m liking about how our lineup sits this year is how we don’t have a Stairs or Thomas type that can’t or shouldn’t be in the field sitting at the DH position. We have guys that can play the field which means we could and should have a rotation of sorts with Lind, Snider and Wells taking turns at DH. Everyone should stay relatively fresh and considering the Jays play over half their games on turf I’m sure Rios could use the DH as a “day off” once a month as well. I would expect Lind to DH most often with Snider and Lind switching positions from time to time. If Snider’s knee keeps barking he may see more time at DH than Lind to start the season. Snider won’t stay in the 9 hole for long!!

    - Ryan
  37. 37.

    What are the chances the Orioles win more games than the Jays? I have been constantly debating this subject in fantasy leagues.

    MW: There’s a chance, but I don’t think there’s much of one.

    - Jeff
  38. 38.

    Hey Mike,

    I just found out that I’m coming down to my first ever home opener!!! It’s going to be awesome and I’m super-excited for that!

    I was reading a while ago that Russell Branyan was going to get the bulk of the playing time at 1B for Seattle this year and I’m just wondering what kind of numbers do you think he is capable of putting up with a full-time job?

    MW: Given 500 at-bats, Russ will only use about 340 of them because he walks so damn much. I could see him hitting 35-40 homers if he manages to keep the job, even in Seattle.

    - Justin from Ardtrea
  39. 39.

    Jason Lane is a major league hitter swinging a decent bat this spring.

    Why not take him to the majors instead of Bautista.

    Rolen/Inglett/Scutaro/Johnny Mac/Hill can handle 2B/SS/3B. Why keep Jose Bautista instead of Lane if Inglett/Scutaro can already play anywhere Bautista plays?

    MW: Because they’re more committed to Bautista and because one good month from Lane doesn’t erase the last three years. I’m interested, too, how you define “major-league hitter”. Lane hasn’t been a passable major-league hitter since 2005, and even then he only has an OBP of .316.

    - Ken Pagan
  40. 40.

    hi mike,
    Wish the jay’s would keep up jason lane, could sure use his power as they didn’t sign abreu or giambi. Maybe they could dump overbays salary or dump it along with a pitcher-scott downs perhaps? thanks for the great blog mike

    MW: You’d trade Downs and Overbay for Jason Lane???????

    - robert.s
  41. 41.

    hi Mike;

    What is the status of pedro martinez or byrd? The jays should sign one pitcher to bolster their staff after casey janssen had the reoccuring shoulder ailment. Is there anyone else the jays can take a cheap flyer on? thanks for the estudious reports from duneidin.

    MW: I’d rather have Cecil and Janssen in the rotation than Pedro and Byrd at this point, and both of them will be available by mid-May, if not sooner.

    - robert.s
  42. 42.

    Nice to see Hill going in hard like that (I saw it on the highlights), though I also held my breath for a bit. I kept expecting the broadcaster to say something like, “After a hard slide at home plate the Jays second baseman is day-t0-day with headaches as a result of post-concussion syndrome.” Glad it didn’t happen that way.

    And on the Ricky Romero front, I must say that without disparaging this young pitcher too much it seems to me like the Jays are scraping the bottom of the barrel at the bottom of their rotation a little bit. There really is no solution to this as far as I can tell, but I am not terribly optimistic with their starting pitching this year. Will it be yet another see-saw campaign? Hitting up – pitching down; pitching up – hitting down. Let’s hope for the best.

    - Vava
  43. 43.

    Hey Mike,

    For a guy that has spent the better part of the last 2 seasons blasting callers asking for more bunting and more stealing (e.g. you said you should never bunt unless you have runners on 1st/2nd in the 9th with nobody out) how do you feel about the best 2 teams in the world Japan and Korea? Bunting and stealing bases is what separates these teams from the others (big time small ballers).

    Anyway, I am glad Cito is on board now as he likes to bunt and steal a lot more than our previous managers (recent past).


    MW: That’s not what makes Japan and Korea better than everyone else in a short, single-elimination semi and final.

    - Mateo
  44. 44.

    with regards to my last question about which guys are ready: since you said cecil is ready why isnt he the one in the mix and not romero or mills? and dont you think they are ready or they dont have the big potential?

    MW: I think that Cecil has easily the biggest potential of the bunch. He’s got number-one stuff. I don’t think Romero is ready, and I’ll be surprised if Mills is particularly successful out of the gate, having had no time at AAA. Cecil isn’t in the mix because they want to protect his innings, much like the Rays and David Price.

    - nickb
  45. 45.

    Hi Mike; Aramark’s website said “Toronto Blue Jays fans are in for a real treat with the overhaul of Rogers Centre’s menus, completely remodeled dining locations, and updated concession stands with new equipment and new exteriors and signage that reflect the city’s heritage.”

    Do you have any insider info as to the revised menus? I was at the WBC and it was business as usual….

    MW: There is already signage that reflects the city’s heritage. That info may be a year old.

    - Zack
  46. 46.

    What do expect from David Purcey this year?

    MW: What do I expect? I expect him to be a solid 3 1/2.

    - Ryan McCallen
  47. 47.

    “MW: Why not just sign him to a Longoria deal in May instead?”

    I’ll argue this point from 2 fronts. If you owned the Jays and looked at JP’s record of long term deals (see Wells, Ryan, Hinske) would you let him go out and sign another 6 year deal?

    From Sniders front …. Longoria will earn $44 mil over 9 years if the Rays pick up the 3 option years. Theres a good chance Snider will make more than that just during his 4 arbitration years.

    MW: Look at the long-term deals that Ricciardi has actually been behind: Wells’ first contract – worked out great. Hinske – miserable. Halladay – couldn’t be better. As for the Snider front, Longoria was far more hyped coming up, and he signed because you don’t turn down that kind money, period, when you’re guaranteed nothing. Snider won’t be a Super 2, with his extra 31 days service, so he’ll only be eligible for three years of arbitration. Ryan Howard made a record $10 million in his first crack at arbitration, and that was after being rookie of the year and winning an MVP. I think you’re aiming at bit high, there, thinking Snider that kind of money could be available to Snider through arbitration.

    - Matt
  48. 48.

    1:30 am
    Mike, do you think the Jays might be thinking of keeping Romero in the majors all year to preserve an option on him for 2010? As I understand the system, he has one left for either this year or next year, …

    Mike, can you please explain why he only has one left?

    MW: That’s my bad. I assumed that the commenter did, in fact, understand the system and I didn’t double-check. Romero was added to the 40-man roster this winter, which means he still has all three of his option years remaining.

    - Simon
  49. 49.

    Gotta wonder whats going on with this so called “race” for the final 2 spots in the rotation..These guys look like the Leafs racing to 4th place in the old Norris Division..

    Mills and Richmond have been giving up too many hits and Clement is done..That leaves who?..Romero?..Purcey and Halladay can throw the ball hard but to have 3 guys (litch, Mills, Richmond) who have to hit their spots, is asking for trouble..

    When the Jays had Halladay, Burnett and Mcgowan on the mound, you saw some smoke..Follow that up with a guy like Litch and teams were seeing different styles of pitching..Keeps teams a little off balance..

    The Jays have 3 pitchers with basically the same style..They give up more hits then IP..Save Halladay, all 4 (Litch,Pucey,Richmond,Mills) will give up more hits per IP..They won’t walk too many guys (decent WHIP) but they will give up a ton of hits..Who haven’t we seen yet that can throw some smoke?

    Maybe this season the Jays will hit the ball but still loose because they can’t pitch..I think they win 75 games this season..

    MW: You had me right up until “loose”. Litsch and Richmond aren’t similar-styled pitchers, despite the fact that their stats look kind of similar. You’re right in that there’s no Nolan Ryan in the bunch, and they are asking a lot from a lot of unproven guys. But Casey Janssen sits waiting in the wings and so, probably, does Matt Clement, who’s either not done or has everybody so far into his corner that they’re all willing to lie about the progress he’s making. Brett Cecil lies in wait, as well, and he’s nothing like the other lefties. There will not be long leashes on any of Purcey, Mills and Richmond once May comes along.

    - Ray B
  50. 50.

    “MW: Because they’re more committed to Bautista and because one good month from Lane doesn’t erase the last three years. I’m interested, too, how you define “major-league hitter”. Lane hasn’t been a passable major-league hitter since 2005, and even then he only has an OBP of .316.”

    Did Cliff Lee’s Cy Young erase his awful 2007? Does Jason Lane have to turn it around for an entire year in ‘AAA’ to get a sniff? J.P won’t take the hottest bat for the team because he’s “more committed” to a reserve infielder/outfielder not projected as a starter?

    Play with stats all you want:

    Jason Lane had a 26 HR season and has a career .457 SLG in the majors. Perhaps he’s swinging the bat well now as he did in 2005.

    Bautista has a career .398 SLG and .324 OBP. You mentioned Lane’s .316 OBP in 2005, but Bautista’s OBP last season was .313, so what’s your point?

    MW: My point is that .316 OBP was FOUR YEARS AGO, and he’s been just awful since. You don’t think that Jose Bautista has had a hot 60 plate-appearance stretch over the last couple of seasons? You don’t think Lane has hit just like this over the course of a month sometime in the last three years? You ask if Lee’s 2008 erases his 2007, and you act as though that’s the same as saying that Lane’s 53 Grapefruit at-bats erase the last three seasons.

    - Ken Pagan
  51. 51.

    so, ummm… has there been any good news stories so far from the jays’ spring training camp?

    I don’t know what’s more depressing, the front page (worst recession ever) or the sports page (another jays pitcher stinks it up or injures himself).

    I have questioned Arnsberg’s condition programme for a few years, because I think the jays suffer a disproportionate number of pitching injuries in comparison to other teams. But, obviously you can’t argue with the staff’s performance last year. I’m torn I suppose, I just don’t understand why guys are going down all the time. Just one year I want things to break right for the team.

    MW: So does the team.

    - Paul O
  52. 52.

    I read somewhere (can’t remember where) that the Jays might send Accardo to the minors (or cut him), due to lack of space in the bullpen

    Considering the issues that Ryan is having with his speed, is there a chance that Accardo might come north?

    MW: Regardless of Ryan’s issues, there’s a chance Accardo could come north.

    - Sam McLean
  53. 53.

    Mike. Do you think the Jays have a good chance to get off to a good start in April this year, which has been their downfall the last few years. I think there’s an opportunity for a good start, they don’t play the Yankees until May 12, the Red Sox until May 19, and won’t see the Rays until June 29. Your thoughts. Have a good trip home.

    Peter, St.Catharines

    MW: Take a look at the Jays’ schedule and results in May 2008 and in June 2008 and then decide if you ever want to make assumptions or projections based on scheduling again.

    - Peter
  54. 54.

    how short of a leash will b.j be on to start the season and who is next in line to close

    MW: Very, and Scott Downs.

    - dave
  55. 55.

    So if Jason Lane has been “awful” the last 3 seasons, as you say, then why did J.P. bring him in? And why has Cito given him 53 spring at-bats if he’s been awful the last 3 seasons? Not like there were any Jays playing in the WBC.

    The fact that a utility player like Bautista with a .398 SLG and an OBP last year of ,313 is the one to whom J.P. is “more committed” as you say seems to be flawed.

    Throw out last year, the last three years, even throw out Lane’s 2005 season . . . the fact is, in March 2009, Jason Lane is swinging a bat as good as anyone in baseball. But his spot on the major league roster seems blocked by a utility player who has proven nothing.

    MW: J.P. brought in Lane as insurance, as a guy who has been a lefty-crusher in the past and could be again, and who’ll hang in Vegas unless and until he’s needed. Why has Lane gotten so much work this spring? It can’t be because Vernon Wells missed a month injured and Alex Rios was gone three weeks for the WBC, now, can it? And as to your last point – Lane is swinging the bat as well as almost anyone in baseball right now. And so is Jose Bautista.

    - Ken Pagan
  56. 56.

    One thing to feel pretty good about is that there are a LOT of options for the rotation as the season goes along. If it’s Mills and Romero now, then Janssen, Richmond, Cecil, and Clement are all waiting in the wings if someone falters. And if they don’t falter, then the team will be in great shape (because they’ll be winning, in theory). Cecil, Mills, Romero, and Janssen all have decent potential (that is to say, I don’t really feel Richmond and Clement do), so if one or two of them work out then the team is looking great going forward. Should be an interesting year to see what they have pitching-wise. Let’s all be positive, every star pitcher and hitter has to start somewhere, and maybe for a couple of these guys, that time is now (or, more specifically, this season).

    - Mike M
  57. 57.

    Mike after last year do you think pedro martinez’s career is done? and what do you think of signing him to the team?

    MW: I would still love to see Pedro be the Jays’ 4th starter right now, but not at his price.

    - nick
  58. 58.

    2009 Spring training stats:

    AB 26
    Avg 462
    OBP 532
    OPS 1.072

    AB 53
    Avg 358
    OBP 375
    OPS 1.111

    Bautista’s having a good Spring too. Nice to have Lane in AAA anyway. I’ll bet that he’ll end up getting 50-100 AB’s with the Jays anyway.

    - RM
  59. 59.

    Mike….A lot of talk up here in Toronto while you were in Florida, was about the Ovechkin “over-celebration” on his 50th goal…Switching gears back to baseball, what’s your personal take on certain guys’ homerun strolls (Manny) or strikeout celebration (Burnett or Zambrano)?….. It’s somewhat ironic that Posada will be catching A.J this year, because last year Burnett did one of those aforementioned fist pumps after a Posada whiff and the t.v. camera caught Posada yelling at A.J something that was anatomically impossible.

    MW: Some stuff is emotion and comes out in the heat of the moment, and that’s fine. I don’t like it when it gets to the point of showing the other guy up, though.

    - chris m.
  60. 60.

    I agree that Cecil is going to be very good.Mills will be as well but he may need some more time.If Marcum can come back next year as his old self and BJ can’t coax some more velocity out of his fastball why don’t the Jays start to think about possibly giving McGowan a shot at closing?If he rcovers fully I think he’d make a good one and it would cut his innings done.There’s been a few good starters convert to closer after injuries with success and it may make room in the rotation next season.

    MW: I think McGowan is too young to consider a move like that. I’d still rather have him try to make it as a starter and see if he can.

    - Terry
  61. 61.

    Hey Mike
    Do you have any ideas with regards to the B.J situation. Jordan Bastian semi compared him to League a couple years ago. Is it possible that they over exerhted him and brought him in to early after the surgeory or do you think this is unrelated to post surgeory symptoms?

    MW: I don’t think this has anything to do with the Tommy John surgery. I have no idea why he’s not throwing hard, could very well be a “dead arm”, but those tend to come and go, and this has been pretty constant.

    - James
  62. 62.

    I’ve noticed that some people are down on Jose Bautista. I have no problem with the guy if he plays 50 games at 3rd and has an OBP of .324 as he has done in his career because there simply is not a better player out there that is available. If Rolen does what he did last year and Bautista chips in with about 8 HR and 25RBI in 200 atbats, the Jays will have 20HR and 75RBI out of the 3rd base spot. I’ve heard about infielders that are available like Jeff Baker but is he really any better then Jose Bautista? Being close to the team, is there any buzz about the Jays making a minor deal. I’ve heard Chin-lung Hu being linked to the Jays. What do you know about that guy? Do you agree that Bautista makes more sense then Inglett because he has some power?

    MW: Hu wouldn’t be a minor deal, he’s a highly-coveted shortstop prospect. I’ve heard the Jays are sniffing around. I actually like Inglett over Bautista. He can do more defensively and gets on-base more, though he doesn’t have the power.

    - Domenick
  63. 63.

    From the boxscore, Halladay was pretty sharp today. However, none of the wire stories said much about Ryan’s performance. How did he look?

    MW: I don’t know. I was on an airplane.

    - Sam McLean
  64. 64.

    Yes Mike, I did look, 20-10 in May, but 10-16 in June. You’re right. On another note, with the trade of Curtis Thigpen, is J.P Arencibia (right spelling?) in line to back up Barajas and maybe take over the #1 spot at some point this season? Another peeve of mine, why do people say back-catcher? They’re catchers. Thanks Mike.

    Peter, St.Catharines

    MW: Hopefully you looked closely and saw that they went 20-10 in what was supposed to be a “tough” month, schedule-wise, and 10-16 in an “easy month”. J.P. Arencibia’s status has nothing to do with whether Curtis Thigpen is in Toronto, Las Vegas or Oakland. Arencibia will start at AAA this year and maybe take over the top spot at some point this season.

    - Peter
  65. 65.

    Not sure why there is such a debate about Jose Bautista and this Lane character..The Pirates, Orioles, Rays, Royals, Mets, Pirates (again) and the Jays have all acquired Jose Bautista but Riccardi is the only one to give him a 2.5 million contract..He is usually 2nd or third on the depth chart for a reason..

    Why would Riccardi invest so much salary in a bench player when the Jays have no cash??

    Jason lane had a decent season 4 years ago..I guess 1 month in the spring erases all that..

    Don’t get me wrong I think Jose Bautista is a pretty consistent hitter and has some power but I think Inglett deserves better..He looked good last season especially when he batted first..Cito let him play and he did very well..I think Inglett is a better overall player then Jose Bautista..

    MW: I do, too. The fact that Bautista got $2.4 million is a factor of service time, nothing else.

    - Ray B
  66. 66.

    Wins is a meaningless pitcher’s stat. – Mike Wilner

    MW: Wins tells you nothing about how a pitcher actually pitched.

    - Jamie
  67. 67.

    MW: Wins tells you nothing about how a pitcher actually pitched.

    how so? when you pitch… you need the ability to make the CRITICAL pitch at the CRITICAL time. yea i know run support w/e, but still, cliff lee knows how to get out of jams and make the pitch when it is down to the wire. i could care less if one pitcher allows 20 hits and wins 8-7 than a pitcher who allows 1 hit and loses 1-0. That pitcher doesnt know how to make the critical pitch at the right time

    MW: I’m not sure there’s ever been anything written here with which I have agreed less.

    - Robert
  68. 68.

    From post # 66:

    “i could care less if one pitcher allows 20 hits and wins 8-7 than a pitcher who allows 1 hit and loses 1-0. That pitcher doesnt know how to make the critical pitch at the right time”

    2 quick questions for you, Robert…

    so this pitcher in the 1-0 loss made one mistake, and you say that the 8-7 pitcher didn’t make mistakes when it mattered, correct?

    well, even if the 1-0 pitcher didn’t make that mistake, he still doesn’t get the win, so what does the ‘W’ or ‘L’ tell you about the way he pitched that day, anyways?

    as for the 8-7 winner, how does it not matter that he’s given up 7 runs, and causing his offense to better that? unless that NL pitcher went 8 for 8 with 8 HR that day, i don’t see how putting your offense in such a hole can ever be seen as meaningless…

    there are so many more questions that your post brings up, but i won’t ask them until you can give a reasonable answer to those 2…

    - Jay B
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