10:50 PM Eastern

It’s amazing what the Blue Jays can accomplish when they’re not playing a team that’s in a playoff race.  Stack the Jays up against another second-division team and wondrousness occurs.  With the only goal remaining in this season being to avoid 90 losses, the Jays improved to 26-18 against the current under-.500s of the American League.  Hey – that works out to 96 wins over 162 games.  Yee-ha.

Randy Ruiz was MIA again today – Cito Gaston said over the weekend that Adam Lind’s shin is still sore from being hit by a pitch in the first game of the just-concluded nine-game road trip, so Lind can’t play the outfield, which means Ruiz can’t play.  I’m not sure about the whole Snider-as-the-left-fielder thing anymore, since he played right field in T-Bay on Saturday night.

I just think it’s incumbent upon the Jays to get as long a look as possible at Ruiz while they have the chance in a series of meaningless games from now to the end of the season.  How can you know he can’t do the job when he’s never shown he can’t do the job?  I get that Jose Bautista has a really good arm and stuff – he does, and he’s a ton of fun to watch in right field, but a team with aspirations to contend for a championship does not have Jose Bautista playing right field every day.  I have my doubts that he’s even tendered a contract this winter.

It’s too bad that Ruiz doesn’t play shortstop or the outfield, what with Marco Scutaro and Joe Inglett both likely shelved for the rest of the season – Inglett with an oblique thing and Scoot with an exploded heel.

David Purcey looked terrific tonight, holding down an Orioles team that’s even more dead in the water than the Blue Jays are.  He clearly ran out of gas with two outs in the 8th when he walked Cesar Izturis – a man to whom I think even I would have a hard time issuing a base on balls.  To me, that was it, but Cito gave him two more hitters, then yanked him before he had a chance to take the loss should the game have gotten away.  Congrats to Purcey for win number one on the season – he’s definitely in the running for a spot in the rotation next year.

Kyle Phillips showed something as well tonight.  After getting nailed in the family jewels in the first inning and living to tell about it, Phillips made a terrific throw to get the extremely quick Izturis trying to steal second in the third.  If he can hit – and early indications seem to be that he can – maybe the Jays have something here.

Travis Snider’s two-run single in the 8th was big for him, and for those of you who feel that Vernon Wells doesn’t show enough emotion on the field – check out his reaction when Brian O’Nora called him out at first on a throw that he beat.  Not enough to get him tossed again, but something for those of you who want something.

Here’s tonight’s MNF-shortened edition of The JaysTalk, for your listening pleasure:

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Rational, reasonable comments are always welcome!

27 Responses to “That’s More Like It”
  1. 1.

    Hi Mike.

    I just don’t get your continuing support for Overbay in the clean-up spot. His average with RISP since the All Star break is .071. Not surprisingly, the big Owe has a grand total of 16 RBI for the months of July, August and September combined!

    And Mike, just like pitchers, hitters react to their situations. Not all relief pitchers have what it takes to pitch the ninth inning. And not all hitters have what it takes to hit well with RISP. Sadly, Overbay is simply not up to the task.

    MW: This year. But how do you explain the fact that Overbay was pretty good at hitting with RISP before he broke his wrist in 2007? Overbay very obviously had “what it takes” to hit with runners in scoring position in 2004, ’05 and ’06 – how did that facet of his character get removed?

    - Joe
  2. 2.

    Encarnacion has 24 RBI during the same period (July, August and September). And how brutal has he been?! (OK. Encarnacion has started to heat up just in time for October.)

    MW: Not brutal at all – at least outside August. Encarnacion had a .901 OPS in July, when he drove in 11 runs, and is at .842 in September, having driven in 10.

    - Joe
  3. 3.

    Hi Mike

    What’s up with Scutaro? I see above you say he has an “…exploded heel.” That sounds painful/serious. Bad break for him if that hurts his value in the free agency contract sweepstakes.

    I completely agree with you on RRR. I’ve enjoyed watching him play and can’t understand why they don’t at least get him some pinch hit ABs. I’d like to hear Cito, JP or AA explain what they’re doing with him and what the plan, if anything, is for him next year.

    Keep up the good work Mike – season is almost over.

    MW: Scutaro has a torn plantar fascia, which is basically the same as an exploded heel. It may well hurt his value in the market this winter, because it’s a tough, tough injury to overcome.

    - Senior Felix
  4. 4.

    I was a little disappointed yesterday when the Jays couldn’t muster a couple more runs for Halladay. I’m thinking his outside shot at the Cy Young Award is toast now.

    I used to think Greinke should be the guy. It seemed like he was shutting everyone down, but then I did some checking. I found the differences in strength of schedule to be surprising.

    I looked at the six guys in contention for the Cy: Greinke, Halladay, Felix Hernandez, Sabathia, Verlander & Beckett (I suppose Scott Feldman could be here, but he doesn’t have the innings).

    The four highest scoring teams in the AL are the Yankees, Angels, Red Sox & Rays. Here’s how many times each of the six have faced those four teams:

    Zack Greinke – 4 (thusfar, zero against the Yanks or Sox)
    Felix Hernandez – 8
    Justin Verlander – 7
    CC Sabathia – 8
    Josh Beckett – 11
    Roy Halladay – 16

    Each of these pitchers has around 30 starts. That means Halladay faces, on average, the best offences of the league, during every other start. He is consistently facing the best hitters, and is usually beating them. The other guys get way more opportunities to beat up on the weak. Halladay’s career stats would be through the stratosphere if he played in another division.

    For comparison, here are their starts against the four worst offences (Seattle, KC, Chicago, Detroit):

    Greinke – 12 [3*] (plus two more in Houston & Pittsburgh)
    Hernandez – 6 [2] (plus one in San Diego)
    Verlander – 7 [3] (plus one in Houston)
    Sabathia – 8 [7]
    Beckett – 5 [5]
    Halladay – 5 [3]

    *[The numbers in square brackets are starts against Oakland & Baltimore, who could easily slip into the bottom four.]

    So Halladay also gets the fewest breaks against the softer teams. It’s a real testament to his mental fortitude.

    If I had a vote, it would be for Halladay. Greinke is definitely not the guy. And, it shouldn’t be Sabathia either. Though, it probably will be him.

    MW: Good research. Unfortunately, it’s far more research than most of the Cy Young voters will do.

    - Rome
  5. 5.

    Mike,

    I’ll admit, I haven’t been watching as regularly of late. It’s hard to stay on top of the Jays over here, and they haven’t exactly been demanding my attention lately. But I have one question and one comment.

    I saw your post yesterday complaining about the inbalanced schedule. While I agree that it’s unfair (especially with a wild card playoff spot up for grabs), I wouldn’t hold your breath for it to change. Even the Jays wouldn’t vote to change it. They value the revenue off the extra Yanks and Sox games too much.

    As for my question: Is the resigning (and over-paying) of Marco Scutaro inevitable? I feel like the Jays are getting trapped into paying for a career year.

    MW: I think the Jays would gladly vote to balance the schedule. They’d lose three home dates each with the Yankees and Red Sox, true, but they’d pick up three against the Tigers, which would be nice and could help to rebuild that old rivalry. And, of course, they’d have a chance to make the playoffs. As for Scutaro, I don’t think they’ll be trapped into overpaying for a career year.

    - tj in france
  6. 6.

    2 things Mike:

    1.) Have you noticed the vast change in demeanor from Vernon? He’s strutting around and has lots of body language signs with an attitude that says, “I don’t care what you think about me.”

    2.) As much as I like Halladay and don’t want him to leave, it’s really sad to see how well he’s pitched this season and only has a 15-10 record to show for it. He just looks defeated and tired. If he played for teams like the Yanks or Red Sox who have better offenses than the Jays, I’m 100% certain that he’d win at least 23-25 games a year while losing no more than 5-6.

    MW: 1 – No, not really. 2 – Don’t be.

    - Joachim
  7. 7.

    Mike, what do you think about trying to sign Blalock next year? I think he may be a free agent in ’10 and when healthy, he can generate some power, which the Jays could use.

    MW: Blalock will indeed be a free agent this winter. You’re right, when he’s healthy, he has a decent power bat. But do the Jays need another guy who has trouble staying healthy?

    - BG
  8. 8.

    Hey Mike,

    Any thoughts on this article suggesting that the Cubs try to trade Milton Bradley for Vernon Wells:
    http://myespn.go.com/blogs/sweetspot/0-5-81/What-s-to-be-done-with-Milton-Bradley-.html

    Obviously it’s just speculation at this point but the Cubs would be one of the few teams that could take on Vernon’s salary. Do you think the Cubs would actually be willing to take the whole contract in exchange for taking Bradley off their hands?

    I appreciate that this would be selling low on Vernon but I think any chance to get out from under that salary should be taken even if it means trading for a time-bomb like Milton Bradley. The savings of around $65 million would easily be worth the risk.

    Keep up the good work!

    MW: The savings would actually be $86 million which brings up the question – wouldn’t the Cubs simply be better off releasing Bradley and eating the $21 million left on his deal?

    - JJM
  9. 9.

    michael,
    if i remember correctly the most puzzling move that the jays & j.p. made this winter/spring was resigning j. bautista.
    but not for the reason he wasn’t serviceable at all for the team (because he in fact is) can play various positions, great arm, some hr. power etc…
    i recall your thoughts were more in line with the fact that they decided to pay something like $4M + in order to keep him on their roster for this current campaign when so many quality players were still hanging about unsigned this winter only asking for a similar type deal (or in fact less.)
    am i right on that one? is that what they payed him this yr. michael & was that what your thoughts were on the subject at the time?
    because you were most certainly correct if so…..
    that was alot bread to spend for jose. especially under the circumstances of how they were clearly budgeting their payroll & roster this yr.

    MW: The Jays are paying Bautista $2.4 million this season, and my thoughts at the time (you could look it up in the archives) were as you said – it was too much money especially given the fact that there were a lot of players of his calibre on the market having to settle for far less. They’ll run into the same conundrum with him next year.

    - darrell bishop
  10. 10.

    M-Dub,
    Vernon for Milton Bradley.
    Make it happen!

    MW: I wouldn’t do it if I were the Cubs.

    - slobberface
  11. 11.

    Found the 10 Questions with Rios, great piece of audio. Well done on that front, although I think my 3 year old sister could have givin you better answers.

    Kudos yet again to Johnny Mac for hitting yet another majestic shot out of left field. That’s a new career high for him.

    - T.J.
  12. 12.

    Here’s hoping next season the Jays go entirely with kids like Phillips (now singing soprano), lind, hill, romero et al…along with the contracts to VW they’re stuck with.
    In this division, if you can’t spend piles of cash like NY and Boston, you’ve go to build from the ground up like TB. That means taking your lumps until the kids come around.
    You pay for wins tomorrow with losses today.

    MW: Toronto won’t be willing to pay as many losses as the Rays did.

    - marc
  13. 13.

    I agree that Ruiz d=should be in there every day. It’s fine to say that he is an AAAA player but how will you know until you give him a chance? He could turn out to be a David Ortiz. The Twins thouight the same thing about him. I also don’t know why everyone is upset about the attendance. This is the worst position the Jays have been in since probably 1982. The games don’t mean anything and these are school nights so families will stay home unless there is something on the line. Look at he other teams way back and it is the same. I will drive 1.5 hours to see tonights game (I live in Cannington) but I am a real fan and have been for over 60 years. It’s a long off-season with nothing but violent sports so I’ve got to see as much baseball as I can!

    - Mark Edwards
  14. 14.

    Is it possible to train Lind or Snider to play first base during the off-season? I know they wouldn’t be great but enough to play 30 games or so? Why or why not? Thanks

    MW: Why would you want either of them to play first for only 30 games or so?

    - Glen
  15. 15.

    Mike…
    a) Glad you’re back!! Blue Jay baseball is not a lot of fun right now, but you make it better with your great gift of being a people’s person. The Fan590 is a better station because of you.

    b) Worry might be too strong of a description, but Mike do you think the Yankees are pondering their playoff rotation? Sabathia is strong, but A.J. and Chamberlain as we speak, are 50/50 and Pettitte’s arm/shoulder is iffy.

    MW: A – Thank you. B – They have a couple of pressure-free weeks to sort things out. I wouldn’t say they’re worried, but I’m sure they’re pondering.

    - chris m.
  16. 16.

    Is it possible that Cito is simply an unforgiving, slightly bitter, too proud manager that cannot be crossed; contrary to his gee whiz Jerry we win as a team and we lose as a team interviews. My sense is if you don’t conform entirely to Cito’s way, you don’t play, or, at least, you don’t recieve his vote of confidence.

    MW: I don’t think it’s quite that cut and dried.

    - Will, Oshawa
  17. 17.

    Please read Bruce Arthur’s column in today’s post, “After so many years of pointless baseball the Jays have exhausted their fans’ patience”. It says it all.   I used to have seasons tickets. I gave them up after the strike season, not because of the strike, but because it was clear the Jays had chosen not to compete. Great decision. They’ve accomplished nothing since then and it looks like they’re again choosing not to compete. A total overhaul is required. If Rogers won’t make the investment needed to field a competitive team there is no reason
    to retain ownership. I guess we will find out when the new President is appointed. Will it be Kansas City here we come?

    MW: I don’t agree with that thesis statement at all. But change “their” to “Toronto sports” and you’ve got something. It’s just another perpetuation of the conventional (but incorrect) wisdom that the Blue Jays have been a terrible team for the last 15 years.

    - JC
  18. 18.

    mike, would you trade vernon for rios right now straight up?

    MW: Hmmmm, that’s a good question. You save almost $50 million and you get a better defensive centre fielder, but you get a guy who has just completely fallen off the map the last month or so. I would probably still do it.

    - jackson
  19. 19.

    Mike, any idea why the Jays were unwilling to sign several of their top draft picks this year (Paxton especially)? Surely the team had cash to spare, not least because they jettisoned Rolen and Rios in July and August, respectively. And didn’t Beeston say that the team was going to redouble its efforts to build a strong farm system?

    I would like to think that the organization will make the most of what could be a monster draft in 2010 (because of the extra picks to compensate for the non-signings this year and, possibly, additional picks for Scutaro and Barajas), but I have my doubts. How can it make sense for a team in the position Toronto is in to miss a golden opportunity to rebuild the farm system? And if the team refuses to invest in high school and college players, how do they propose to compete–ever? I don’t get it.

    Sincerely,

    Baffled.

    MW: You’re a little late to the party with this one. Your question has been asked and answered in this very space dozens of times. The Coles Notes version is that I think the Jays do want to invest in their future and in their draft choices, they just don’t want it to be open season, bonus-wise, and they felt their draft picks wanted too much.

    - Geoff
  20. 20.

    I was at the game last night. Good game. Jeff Blair is in this morning’s Globe calling for a complete house-cleaning at the Rogers Centre. That would include Cito Gaston. I’m a big fan of Cito’s, but I agree he’s made some odd decisions this year. If they get a new manager I won’t kick and scream too much.

    MW: Too much? So you’ll kick and scream some?

    - isabella reyes
  21. 21.

    Mike…Did you find it odd that Posada’s biggest worry after the Carlson dust-up was that he hoped his kid(s) didn’t see it? If they ever get a copy of the 2003 ALCS and his shouting match with Pedro M., they’ll get a new education in language they don’t need and that should worry him also.

    MW: If he really hoped that his kids wouldn’t see it, he shouldn’t have started it.

    - chris m.
  22. 22.

    MW: Too much? So you’ll kick and scream some?

    Yep. I will. But only a little.

    In other news, how nice to see our guys getting a walk-off instead having to watch the others celebrate while the Jays stand around glumly.

    MW: Why would a Cito exit be greeted with any kicking and/or screaming, other than what happened from 1989-93?

    - isabella reyes
  23. 23.

    Its nice to win games, and I’m not complaining here…. but it seems very unlikely that George Sherrill (sp?) would have managed that 9th inning the same way. If you beat a team that’s just throwing guys out there to see what they can manage…. does it mean more or less if your team is doing essentially the same thing?

    I know every fan plays ‘wait until next year’ but here’s how I see it. Toronto needs to find.

    A first baseman who hits lefties.
    One corner outfielder/DH.
    A catcher.
    A shortstop.
    A closer.

    They also have to hope for a healthy,legit, #2 and 3 starter.

    What magic land are all these players going to grow out of? And how is Rogers going to afford them?

    MW: Rogers has all kinds of money, so it can afford anything it wants to. First basemen who hit lefties and corner outfielder/DHs are abundant in the wild, so that shouldn’t be a problem. I have put forth a theory as to how the Jays can acquire a shortstop (J.J. Hardy), though they may just re-sign Scutaro if they can do it cheaply enough, and there will be catchers available on the trade market, though none are all-stars. I believe the Jays have four guys in the bullpen right now who would be fine closers. Starter-wise, Felix Hernandez seems to be on the market – why is everyone simply awarding him to the Red Sox?

    - Greg W
  24. 24.

    Hi Mike…..missed the walk off….its pretty hard to give up a night to watch this team. I’ve often wonder what the players think when they are sitting there and watching the game unfold before their eyes. When you watch the visiting teams come into the Rogers Centre doesn’t it seem like some managers are making all kinds of moves to help out their teams, like lefty versus lefty, sinkerball pitcher to induce an inning ending doubleplay ball, a pitch hitter to counter a pitching change and so on……but Cito just sits there. Do you really think that any of the players sit there and question themselves why Cito doesn’t make many moves? Who is the manager in Vegas? I read an article that said Scutaro has been playing with a sore heel and that Cito has been asking him….”Are you okay to go tonight”, and being Scoot’s big audition for free agency Cito keeps putting him out there. If this is correct and Scoot’s been playing hurt it reminds me of how he used to manage his team when he had his elite 8 back in 92…..why when your so many games out of it would you put a players health at risk?

    Thanks Mike

    MW: If Scutaro wanted to play, was continuing to produce and wasn’t hurting himself, then I have no problem with him being in the line-up – since there isn’t a young shortstop at whom the Blue Jays would want to take a look. As it turned out, though, he wasn’t not hurting himself. I do think a lot of players sit there and silently wonder why Cito makes or doesn’t make the moves he does or doesn’t.

    - Mark Feeley
  25. 25.

    comment #10
    Ya I know…

    M-Dub,
    Anything special going on for Sunday? You going to be in the tent or anything? I’ve got an extra Chad Billinglsey Rookie-Card you can have. You have to promise to display it somewhere prominently in your home, or at least on your night table beside your alarm clock.

    MW: Nothing special happening Sunday as far as I know.

    - slobberface
  26. 26.

    Mike…Did you find it odd that Posada’s biggest worry after the Carlson dust-up was that he hoped his kid(s) didn’t see it? If they ever get a copy of the 2003 ALCS and his shouting match with Pedro M., they’ll get a new education in language they don’t need and that should worry him also.

    MW: If he really hoped that his kids wouldn’t see it, he shouldn’t have started it.

    I’ve said it before on this blog that, for me, Posada’s angry on-field finger-waving demeanor and his confrontational yelling at opponents is a big red flag. You combine this behavior with the late career surge in offensive performance with the bat and you’ve got two red flags – i.e., red flags for PED use.

    So, for me again, not only is this guy a complete jerk but he is also a likely PED user as well. I can’t wait until he’s retired.

    MW: That’s hardly enough proof to make that kind of accusation.

    - Jamie
  27. 27.

    MW: Why would a Cito exit be greeted with any kicking and/or screaming, other than what happened from 1989-93?

    What happened between 1989 and 1993 was pretty major. No Jays manager before or since has ever accomplished anything like that. So I think Cito Gaston deserves some respect for that. If and when he goes I’ll be sad to see him gone.

    You may not like or respect him as much as I do, but I suspect we have very different tastes in Blue Jay Upper management. You won’t be sad to see my guy go. When your guy goes it’ll be a jubilee at my house.

    MW: It’s not a question of a lack of respect for what Cito’s teams accomplished between 1989 and 1993, nor is it a question of like or dislike. But why should the fact that he was able to guide the team to championships 16 and 17 years ago factor into whether or not he’s getting the job done now?

    - isabella reyes
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