Archive for February, 2011
Monday, February 28th, 2011
5:36 PM Eastern
Told you it wasn’t going to last all spring!
It did last 24 2/3 innings, but with a runner on first and two out in the 7th, Mike McCoy ripped a double down the left-field line that scored Eric Thames and the Jays were on the board for the first time in the fake-game era of John E. Farrell. The long-awaited run cut the Phillies’ lead to 6-1, and the Jays added a couple more in the bottom of the 9th off Canadian Scott Mathieson. Jonathan Diaz doubled off the glove of a diving third baseman Carlos Rivero, Thames tripled him home with a rocket over the head of centrefielder Michael Martinez, and Anthony Gose scored Thames with a sac fly to right.
So the drought is over, ended by guys who aren’t going to be on the team in April (save for McCoy, probably), and the fanbase can exhale. Adam Lind walked and smacked another opposite field double, and Yunel Escobar made another sensational defensive play in the hole to start off the ballgame, but those were about all the highlights.
The Blue Jays made five errors in the game, though they only amounted to one unearned run. John McDonald couldn’t get the handle on a bouncer to his left; Escobar double-clutched a routine grounder by John Mayberry, Jr. and, as a result, his throw to first was late; J.P. Arencibia threw low to second on a Placido Polanco stolen base attempt, allowing the ball to squirt through McDonald, which allowed Mayberry to score from third; John Tolisano pulled David Cooper off the bag at first with a wild throw, and Diaz booted a Rivero grounder, recovered, then threw wildly to first.
Jo-Jo Reyes, starting for the stiff-necked Kyle Drabek (who didn’t look too bad walking around), was as terrific in the first inning as he was erratic in the second. That first saw him throw just 10 pitches, 8 for strikes, in a perfect frame. In the second he issued a pair of four-pitch walks and a couple of runs, throwing 21 pitches, only 9 of them strikes. Granted, the defense didn’t help – the McDonald error happened in that inning, and with the bases loaded, Carlos Ruiz hit what looked to be a harmless fly ball to right, but Juan Rivera couldn’t catch up to it as it drifted in and towards the line, and it fell for a two-run single.
Tomorrow, the Jays are in Lakeland, with Ricky Romero starting against the Tigers’ top pitching prospect, Jacob Turner. Romero is scheduled to throw three innings, followed by Zach Stewart for two. David Purcey, Wilfredo Ledezma, Mike Hinckley and Sean Henn will finish up, with Winston Abreu along for the ride if the game goes to a tenth inning.
The position players on the travel squad are: J.P. Arencibia, Ryan Budde, A.J. Jimenez, Jose Molina, David Cooper, Jonathan Diaz, Edwin Encarnacion, Brett Lawrie, Mike McCoy, John McDonald, Mike McDade, Rajai Davis, Anthony Gose, Darin Mastroianni, Corey Patterson, Moises Sierra, Eric Thames and John Tolisano.
Plenty of audio to pass along today – starting off with John Farrell’s post-game comments. Among other things, Farrell talks about how well Lind’s swing looks, how much of an impression Thames is making, and how the Jays are trying to change Gose’s approach at the plate. A couple of clips from Lind are in here, as well:
Here’s a little one-on-one I did with Roy Halladay following his two innings of two-hit shutout (note – all these one-on-ones are about two minutes long each):
Here’s my conversation with Jo-Jo Reyes:
And here’s Eric Thames:
Finally, Michael Weiner was in camp this morning – the head of the MLB Players’ Association making his annual stop as part of his tour of all 30 camps, filling the players in on what’s going on as far as all the union stuff goes. The Collective Bargaining Agreement expires at the end of this season, though there doesn’t seem to be any sort of threat of a labour disruption. That could change, though, if the owners try to put contraction on the table, as has been rumoured. Weiner (with whom I have a particular kinship since our names only differ by one letter), talked about the rough labour history in baseball, and how the 1994 strike still weighs on everyone’s minds when they sit down at the negotiating table.
He said that he doesn’t think the owners will try to negotiate a salary cap, but that they may try to get a mandatory slotting system in for draftees, which the union would consider to be a form of salary cap. He said that the majority of his constituents would favour an expanded playoff system in the abstract, but they’d have to figure out a way to make it work to satisfy all parties. He also mentioned that the drug testing program expires along with the CBA, but that the union wants baseball to have the best testing program in sports. Instead of just putting clips up, I’m including the entire scrum that Weiner did with the media for your listening pleasure:
That’s it for now – I think my nightly constitutional will happen pre-dinner tonight, so if anyone wants to find me on Twitter around 6:30 pm Eastern or so, I’d be happy to do some live tweet/chatting about the Blue Jays.
Rational, reasonable comments are always welcome – and look, they’re being answered!
Sunday, February 27th, 2011
4:53 PM Eastern
Of course they will!
Two games into spring training without the Blue Jays having scored a run may cause some panic among a certain segment of fandom, but really it doesn’t mean a single thing. It’s an old saw that the pitchers are ahead of the hitters in the early part of Spring Training, but what it really is is just dumb luck at this point. Heck, they’ll probably score seven runs of Roy Halladay tomorrow.
The only run of the ballgame, off Henderson Alvarez in the 6th, was unearned. Detroit’s ninth hitter, Andy Dirks, reached on an infield single and DJ Will Rhymes came up intending to bunt him over to second. The bunt was too short, though, dropping right in front of the plate and giving Jose Molina a brilliant opportunity to take care of the lead runner. But Molina’s throw was wild and bounced into centrefield, moving Dirks to third, from whence he scored on a sacrifice fly by Victor Martinez.
That was it.
Marc Rzepczynski made a strong statement in the competition for one of the final rotation spots, throwing two perfect innings, 30 pitches, 20 strikes. He struck out a pair, including lefty-killer Martinez, got a pop-up and a ground ball and gave up a well hit fly ball each to Magglio Ordonez and Ryan Strieby, both caught for outs.
Jesse Litsch followed, and while he wasn’t as impressive (he allowed a soft line single to Don Kelly), he pitched pretty well his own self. After starting off by giving up that base hit, Litsch retired the next six hitters he faced – two ground balls, two fly balls (one of which, by Martinez, was caught by Moises Sierra at the base of the wall in right),a pop-up and a strikeout of Magglio Ordonez.
Rzepczynski and Litsch are in a pitched battle for one of the final two spots in the rotation, along with Kyle Drabek, Scott Richmond, Jo-Jo Reyes, Robert Ray and maybe even Zach Stewart. I’d say Litsch and Drabek are the leaders at the moment, but Drabek’s stiff neck that got him scratched from tomorrow’s start may have something to say about that, though the Jays say he’s only going to miss one turn.
One defensive highlight away by which I’m still blown three hours later was a play made by Adeiny Hechevarria in the third. With a runner on first and nobody out, he was crowded up the middle, in double-play depth, and Audy Ciriaco hit a grounder into the hole to his right. It was a ball that most shortstops wouldn’t be able to get to, and almost all the ones who could get to it would have to take it on their backhand. But Hechevarria got such a great jump on the ball, and is so quick, that he was actually able to circle around it and pick up the ball with his glove between his legs, facing home plate. Just fantastic.
I spoke to Zep, Litsch and Molina – the gathered audio is here, for your listening pleasure:
Before the game, manager John Farrell regaled us with a couple of tales of his playing days, since he wrapped up his big-league career with the Tigers. In his final major-league start, while he says he was getting his tail kicked by the White Sox, Farrell felt something hit him in the arm and wondered if the fans had started throwing things at him. He looked down and saw that he’d received a gift from a seagull passing overhead – it had hit his cap and trickled down onto his arm.
By the way, he did get his tail kicked by the Sox, allowing five runs on six hits in only 1 1/3 innings, but he made one more start after that, losing to the Royals. I wonder if his memory has just combined both games – they were both pretty forgettable on his end, I’m thinking.
He also talked about stopping Paul Molitor’s 39-game hitting streak as a rookie in 1987. Molitor went 0-for-4 against Farrell that day in Milwaukee, as the Jays’ eventual skipper threw nine innings of three-hit shutout. But Farrell had help in ending the streak, because the Indians didn’t score, and Molitor was on deck in the bottom of the 10th when Rick Manning singled off reliever Doug Jones to drive in the winning run. The Brewers got a walk-off win, but they were booed by their own home fans!
Tomorrow, the Jays play a team other than Detroit for the first time this spring, taking on the Phillies at the FAES. Roy Halladay will start against Jo-Jo Reyes. Then it’s back here to Lakeland again on Tuesday. We won’t be broadcasting either of those games, so keep an eye on my twitter feed for updates @InTheWilnerness! I’ll be around tonight again, sometime between 7:00-9:00, not quite sure, going on my big 5-7 mile walk around the condo complex, so if anyone wants to do sort of a live chat over Twitter about the Jays, I’m happy to chat then.
The second edition of The JaysTalk in 2011 was terrific – so great to be talking baseball again – here it is for your listening pleasure:
I have to add this – on the way to the ballpark today I was listening to a radio station down here that was rebroadcasting an old Casey Kasem Top 40 countdown from some week in 1972. Man, the music people listened to back then was scary. Granted, there was some good stuff, like “Black Dog” by Led Zeppelin and “Mother and Child Reunion” by Paul Simon – heck, even “Brand New Key” by Melanie was a cute little song. But Joe Tex’s “I Gotcha” was downright disturbing, and the Chakachas’ big hit “Jungle Fever” really was just, well, it should have been on the soundtrack of an adult film. What were you thinking back then?
Ratonal, reasonable comments are always welcome – and I’m answering them!
Here’s today’s edition of the “Miked Up Live!”:
Saturday, February 26th, 2011
5:20 PM Eastern
The Blue Jays weren’t at their wall-banging best in their Fake Opener, getting shut out by the Tigers before a nice gathering at the FAES in Dunedin.
Scott Sizemore’s two-run double off Jesse Carlson was the big blow, but Brett Cecil and Robert Ray gave up a run each in their two innings each of work – Cecil’s on a pair of groundouts after a leadoff double, Ray’s on a two-out single after he hit a guy and wild-pitched him to second.
Offensively, the Jays managed just five hits, two of them singles by Yunel Escobar.
Among the highlights of the four innings I saw before heading off to the clubhouse to grab tape – a sensational play by YEscobar in the second inning, going deep into the hole to snag a grounder and making a very strong, accurate throw to get the out; a nice sliding grab to his right by John McDonald, and a nice scoop at first by Adam Lind on the bounced throw; a scorched line drive by Edwin Encarnacion to left on which Ryan Raburn had to make a leaping grab; a well-hit double into the left-centre gap by the guy about whom no one is talking – Juan Rivera (Mr. Career-OPS-Just-15-Points-Lower-Than-Vernon-Wells’), and a rocket hit by Lind in the first inning that hit the top of the mound, which took all the speed out of it and turned it into an easy out.
In talking to Cecil after the game, he wasn’t thrilled with his performance, but he’s pleased with where he’s at for the spring; Bautista spoke about this being the first spring in which he’s secure about a job, and talked about where he’s going to hit. I also spoke to Ray about his performance, and he praised both J.P. Arencibia and John Farrell, talking about how much better things will be for the pitchers having one of their own as the manager. You can listen to all those clips right here:
It was fantastic to be back on the air with Jerry Howarth and Alan Ashby, and I hope you all enjoyed it, too. That first baseball broadcast of the year – even though it’s a game that doesn’t count – always feels amazing. Something you’ve been waiting for all winter long is back, the familiar voices, familiar sounds of the game – it puts a smile on my face and I hope it does on yours, too. Summer is just around the corner, no doubt.
We also had our first edition of The JaysTalk of 2011, and it’s right here, for your listening pleasure:
Tomorrow, it’s the Jays and Tigers again, with Marc Rzepczynski throwing the first two innings against Detroit righty Max Scherzer. It’s the first road game of the spring, and having to hop across I-4 to Lakeland there may be an opportunity to have one of the greatest culinary experiences there is – breakfast at Waffle House. Heck, I might even run into good ol’ Trampus, King of Waffles!
Here’s the Jays’ travel roster for tomorrow’s game: Winston Abreu, Henderson Alvarez, Joel Carreno, Alan Farina, Sean Henn, Rommie Lewis, Jesse Litsch, Rzepczynski, David Cooper, Jonathan Diaz, Encarnacion, Adeiny Hechevarria, Brett Lawrie, Lind, Mike McCoy, Brian Jeroloman, A.J. Jimenez, Jose Molina, Anthony Gose, Darin Mastroianni, Moises Sierra, Eric Thames, John Tolisano, Matt Nuzzo, Justin Jackson and Matt McQuail.
We’ll be on the air at 12:30 PM Eastern with the pre-game show for a 1:05 first pitch. Jerry will have an interview with Adam Lind, I’ll be getting some Oscar picks from a few of the Blue Jays (John McDonald weighs in on Best Documentary Short Subject!) and we’re hoping to have Alan with John Farrell, as well.
Remember to follow me on Twitter @InTheWilnerness – I’ll likely be on to do kind of live a tweet/chat sometime around 9:00 PM Eastern or so as I take my nightly 3 1/2 mile walk through the condo complex (maybe I’ll go seven miles tonight) – and remember to check in on our live blog during the broadcast tomorrow.
Rational, reasonable comments are welcome, and will likely be answered!
Here’s the transcript from today’s “Miked Up LIVE!”:
Friday, February 25th, 2011
4:00 PM Eastern
The youngsters had the upper hand in the second fake game before the real fake games get started tomorrow, with the Gray team dropping the Black team 4-2.
David Cooper, the Jays’ first-round pick in 2008, hit a two-out, two-run double off of Carlos Villanueva in the 5th inning to put Gray on top to stay, yanking a line drive into the right-centre field gap to score Mike McDade and Darin Mastroianni, who had extended the inning by drawing a two-out walk. Villanueva did wind up striking out the side over the 31-pitch frame, but not without the damage done. The other Gray runs came on an RBI fielder’s choice by Eric Thames that cashed an unearned run in the 4th (more on that below) and an RBI infield single by A.J. Jimenez off Rommie Lewis in the 6th.
Both Black runs came in the first inning off a struggling Brad Mills. The lefty used 12 pitches to retire the first two hitters, then gave up an opposite-field gap double to Adam Lind which was followed by back-to-back RBI singles by Jose Bautista and Juan Rivera. Then, in something that wouldn’t happen in a real fake game, the inning was stopped because Mills had thrown 29 pitches. He only needed eight to get through a 1-2-3 second, though.
Brandon Morrow looked awfully strong – and the kids he was facing were pretty overmatched. Though he struggled with control, throwing only 18 of 32 pitches for strikes, Morrow only walked one in his two hitless innings of work, and only allowed two balls to be put in play. He struck out four, and Mike McCoy and Brian Jeroloman each managed to hit a ground ball.
Octavio Dotel was sharp in a 1-2-3 third, popping up Adeiny Hechevarria and Darin Mastroianni and whiffing Cooper, Shawn Camp pitched the 4th and gave up the unearned run, but got weak ground balls from each of the first four hitters he faced before Travis D’Arnaud hit a liner to centre that was caught for the inning’s final out. Jason Frasor and Casey Janssen each looked good as well, both striking out a pair and getting a groundout, with Janssen also allowing a double to Bautista, though it was a high fly ball that the wind caught and yanked away from Mastroianni.
The Cuban shortstops each stood out on defence in this one, and not always for the right reasons. We saw the ugly and the brilliant in Yunel Escobar on back-to-back pitches in the fourth. After McCoy singled with a ground ball that hit the third-base bag, Brett Lawrie followed with a grounder up the middle. Escobar gloved it cleanly, then pulled a little razzle-dazzle action, flipping it behind his back to second to try to start a double play. Problem is, his backhand flip wound up nowhere near second base and John McDonald had to go pick it up in right field. Eric Thames followed with a first-pitch grounder in the hole between short and third, and Escobar ranged to his right, made a beautiful diving grab and fired to second for the out.
The razzle-dazzle is allowed in a fake fake game, I guess. We’ll see how well it goes over starting tomorrow.
As for Adeiny Hechevarria, he again showed a lack of awareness about his baserunner defensively. In the second inning, Edwin Encarnacion hit a grounder on which Hechevarria had to come in to pick it off the dirt. He did, very nicely, but then rushed a throw to first when he didn’t have to, and needed McDade to short-hop it for the out. Chances are, this being his first exposure to this sort of environment, that Hechevarria is trying his best to impress the heck out of everyone at every opportunity. He really doesn’t need to, and he’ll figure that out soon enough, I hope.
After the game, John Farrell gave updates on Aaron Hill (won’t play tomorrow, though he’s taking part in all drills, want him to be 100% symptom-free with the sore quad), Travis Snider (35 swings in the cage, felt good, still no running or throwing yet) and Frank Francisco (long-toss today after bullpen session yesterday, will throw a bullpen every third day instead of every second and be ready to get into a game during the second week of games). Also, Jon Rauch threw another bullpen today and felt good, and Scott Podsednik took some cuts in the cage, though he’s still walking gingerly and isn’t yet able to run. He didn’t think he’d be in jeopardy of not being able to start the season, though.
Farrell talked about his line-up as well, and says he hasn’t decided how to stack Lind and Bautista. It seems they’ll hit third and fourth, we just don’t know in what order. Lind no longer has a problem with batting in the clean-up spot – Farrell says it’s a sign of his maturation as a player and a hitter that he isn’t “playing into those intangibles or making too much of it.” He’ll likely flip-flop Lind and Bautista between third and fourth most of the spring until he figures out which combination he prefers. The key is both to give Bautista appropriate protection and to not stack up the righties too much. So far, Juan Rivera has been hitting in the 5th spot, but neither Hill nor Snider have played yet, and both of them are candidates to hit there, too.
All the audio I collected after the game – Farrell, Cooper and Lind – is here for your listening pleasure:
Tomorrow, it’s our first broadcast of the spring, with the Jays hosting the Detroit Tigers here at the FAES in the first of a home-and-home. Brett Cecil will start, and is scheduled to be followed (in order) by Robert Ray, Jesse Carlson, David Purcey, Luis Perez, Wilfredo Ledezma and Mike Hinckley. The pre-game show begins at 12:30 PM Eastern along the Blue Jays Radio Network, so be sure to join us. There will be live chatting right here at www.fan590.com and if you’re not already following me on Twitter, you can find me @InTheWilnerness.
I know yesterday I said I’d show up on twitter in the evening to answer some questions and I didn’t – turns out I had some issues with getting settled in here in Florida. Those are done with now so I should be on at some point tonight while I take my nightly constitutional, and if you see me, I’d be happy to engage in a little back-and-forth.
Rational, reasonable comments are always welcome, and now more likely to be answered.
Thursday, February 24th, 2011
4:00 PM Eastern
The Blue Jays took the field at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium (hereafter to be known as The FAES) to take on…..themselves, in the first of two intra-squad games before the real fake season starts on Saturday afternoon with Brett Cecil on the mound against the Tigers (we’re on the air at 12:30 PM Eastern! Woo-hoo!).
It was a 5 1/2 inning game dominated by pitching, with only five hits overall. Both Ricky Romero and Zach Stewart pitched two perfect innings, with Romero disappointed by the fact it took him 28 pitches and Stewart garnering rave reviews for his efficiency, control, strong sinker and the way his ball moves.
Kyle Drabek, who took the mound during infield practice with a bubblegum bubble stuck to his cap, needed only nine pitches to get through his 1-2-3 inning that included a strikeout of J.P. Arencibia on back-to-back 94 mile-an-hour fastballs.
Speaking of infield practice, which was back at the Bobby Mattick complex this morning, it was a real treat to see Arencibia, Jose Bautista, Yunel Escobar and Edwin Encarnacion on the field taking ground balls from Luis Rivera. The pace was quick, the smiles were huge, and they were all screaming in Spanish and laughing pretty much the whole time. I’m not sure if Adam Lind, Aaron Hill and John McDonald felt left out, but it really was something to see.
Back to the game – Jose Molina scored the game’s first run, teaching a couple of young players some valuable lessons in the process. Molina hit a slow roller to short on which Adeiny Hechevarria came charging in, making a nice play on his backhand on the run. Without realizing who was running, though, Hechevarria made a quick, rushed throw from a terrible angle and it wound up about 10 feet over the head of first baseman David Cooper. The young Cuban had all kinds of time to stop, get set and make a good throw, but only because it was Molina running – a fact of which Hechevarria was, apparently, not aware.
The other lesson was taught to Anthony Gose, who caught a shallow fly to centre off the bat of Yunel Escobar after Rajai Davis had singled. When Gose caught the ball, Molina tagged up, and did a little two- or three-step decoy, the harmless type that almost never leads to anything – but when Gose didn’t throw, Molina kept going, and wound up safe at third as Gose’s eventual throw was off the bag and had to be short-hopped by Brett Lawrie. Molina then scored on a groundout by Bautista.
Speaking of Lawrie, he made the defensive play of the game, charging hard in and towards the line, scooping up the ball and throwing a bullet in one motion to nail the very speedy Rajai Davis at first.
Adam Lind passed all the tests at first base, even recovering very nicely from bobbling a grounder off the bat of Eric Thames. Lind kept the ball in front of him, didn’t panic or hurry, and fed Joel Carreno for the out.
Corey Patterson took Alan Farina deep in the 5th for the game’s only homer, and Mystery Minor Leaguer Matt Nuzzo followed with a double off the right-field wall – he later scored as Davis reached on a Lawrie fielding error for the 3-0 final, favour of the Black Team.
After the game, I went into the clubhouse and got comments from John Farrell, Ricky Romero, Zach Stewart, Corey Patterson and A.J. Jimenez, who threw out Davis trying to steal in the 5th. Here it is, compiled for your listening pleasure:
Having jumped into the Twitterverse, I was happy to twoot the play-by-play of the game, and will do so again tomorrow as we do Black versus Gray once again. But only intra-squad games.
Part of the whole Twitter thing seems also to be re-tweeting and answering questions from you, my fine followers @InTheWilnerness. Generally I’m going to try to take advantage of the 3 1/2 mile walking path where I’m staying, and over the course of those walks most (every?) evening, I’ll be on Twitter and we can interact that way!
Comments are welcome, as always, and this season I’m going to try to get back into the habit of answering them!
Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011
10:35 PM Eastern
I’m reporting to Spring Training on Thursday morning, one day after the ailing Scott Podsednik, and so that there’s something new and entertaining for you from this side of things, I have started up my very own Twitter account!
You can find me @InTheWilnerness, a name inspired by the great John E. Lott, fine scrivener for the National Post. I’ll be twooting on a regular basis on all things Blue Jayic, as well as some items of a more esoteric nature, most of which will likely have to do with what song is stuck in my head at any particular moment in time, a recent triumphant Word Mole outing, the excitement of an impending Birthday Chang’s or whatever else strikes my fancy (that I think will be entertaining or amusing). I was thinking my first twoot would be “what is it with all these television commercials nowadays?” but I’ve decided against it.
That first one should have led you here, but I still have to figure out how to do that. Have faith, and feel free to follow me and get lost in the Wilnerness!
Now, onto the final pre-Florida mailbag – all questions are actual unedited comments from actual readers and listeners:
When will you and Jerry begin airing spring training games? Feb 26? Say yes…
Yes – how’s that for service! And don’t forget Alan Ashby! We’ll be broadcasting every weekend game along the Blue Jays Radio Network, and once a week there will be a game on mlb.com for your enjoyment, as well!
hey mike really happy to see the jays lock up bautista for a while i have a question about something else though, why was rajai davis available to the the jays it seems they didn’t give up too much to get him, i mean like how many guys in the majors can steal 50 bases?
It’s all about timing. The Blue Jays wouldn’t have been able to acquire Davis at such a low price a year ago, when he was coming off a terrific season. But he didn’t play as well in 2010, was getting more expensive, and the A’s outfield got a lot more crowded over the last year with the acquisitions of David DeJesus, Josh Willingham, Conor Jackson and Covelli Crisp. That said, Danny Farquhar and Trystan Magnuson aren’t exactly chopped liver. They paid a higher price to get Davis than they did for, say, Cory Lidle, may he rest in peace.
This could be a stupid question, Are non media people allowed to walk onto the Blue Jays spring training complex, to watch the players? on non game days.
I’m pretty sure the answer is yes – though you can’t walk on the field or anything like that, and that only applies to the Bobby Mattick complex, not the actual stadium itself, which is closed to the public on non-game days. And there are no stupid questions – or something like that.
Is there even the slightest, uber-remote chance that Lawrie’s spring forces the Jays’ hands into having him start at 3b and moving Bombo Rivera to DH? And what of Corey Patterson. Does he have any mojo left? He was once so promising in every way as a 5 tooler back in the Cubs days.
Yes, there is the slightest, uber-remote chance, though if Lawrie makes the team, I think that Rivera would move to the bench and Edwin Encarnacion would stay as the primary DH. I will say, though, that the chance of Lawrie breaking camp with the Blue Jays is less than 1%. As for Patterson, he’s coming off a decent year with the Orioles and can still play a terrific centrefield. I would have said he was a long shot to make the team before Scott Podsednik’s plantar fasciitis flared up, but then Scott Podsednik’s plantar fasciitis flared up. Patterson has never had the ability to get on base with any kind of regularity as one of his tools, though.
Hey Mike, Do you think Mcgowan will get into the rotation?
I’d love to see it, but I have my doubts. I’m rooting hard for Dustin to succeed, but I’d say it’ll be nearly impossible for him to break camp in the rotation. If he keeps progressing and stays healthy, though, we could see him in there at some point this season – which would be incredible.
Havent been following the blog too closely so i apologize if this question has been done to death: What is going on with Chad Cordero? I was excited to hear we signed him but have heard/read nothing since. Loved him on the Nationals, before he got hurt, and hes a first round Expo pick so you know AA loves him. Whats the deal?
Chone (or something),
Cordero has come up with a bit of a sore shoulder, so his long shot to make the team has become quite a bit longer. He’s a terrific no-risk reclamation project, but I don’t know that it’s fair to assume that Alex Anthopoulos loves him just because the Expos drafted him in the first round.
It seems that the Pacific coast league is not desirable as a training ground for Blue Jay prospects. Can the jays ditch L.V. as their AAA affiliate after 2012? What AAA teams are going to have contracts run out? What teams would you consider to be ideal affiliates for the Jays?
I agree with you, the Blue Jays would likely rather have their AAA affiliate somewhere else. They’re stuck in Vegas for at least another two years, though, as when the music stopped in 2010, all the other chairs were taken, just like in 2008. They can indeed move after 2012, but there has to be an opening. I think Buffalo is the absolute ideal place for a Jays’ farm team, but they have the Mets and there’s no reason to believe they’re unhappy with that set-up.
A couple friends and I were having this discussion last night and I was wondering if you wanted to weigh in.
Last Season both Jose Bautista and Shaun Marcum emerge as leaders in the club house. Both are liked and respected by the other players. However, they moved Marcum and kept Bautista, in keeping Bautista they stressed not only his work ethic like they did with Marcum, but also his Character.
Are we right in concluding that though Marcum worked hard and was considered a leader in the Club house that he was not the kind of Character Leader that the Blue Jays (Anthopolis) was looking for on his team?
No, I don’t think that’s a reasonable conclusion to make at all. Marcum and Bautista are wholly different players with different pros and cons to keeping or moving them attached. The Jays have a surplus of young pitching, Marcum was the oldest and most expensive of the bunch, and he landed them a top young hitting prospect. Where they’re short is in players who can hit for power, get on base and defend. That – far more than character – is why they kept Bautista and moved Marcum.
Well, that’s it! The next you hear from me will be Thursday with a report from the Jays’ first intrasquad game in (hopefully) sunny Dunedin, Florida! Unless you come across something InTheWilnerness first!
Thursday, February 17th, 2011
11:00 PM Eastern
To no one’s surprise, the Blue Jays announced this evening that they’d signed Jose Bautista to a five-year contract worth $65 million guaranteed, with a club option for a sixth year that could take the overall value of the deal to $78 million.
To my surprise, there was no out-of-the-box surprise creativity to it – no out clauses, no multiple-year options, no nothing, just a regulation deal. It doesn’t include any performance incentives, nor is there a no-trade clause.
So now that we have all the information in front of us – is it a good deal?
The answer is, as it was before, that it depends on who Jose Bautista is. If he has, in fact, become a productive middle-of-the-order, .850+ OPS guy on whom it can be counted to produce such numbers on a regular basis, then yes, it’s a good deal. If he regresses to become the .750+ OPS guy who hit 14-16 home runs and who doesn’t hit right-handed pitching – the guy he was before September of 2009 – then it’s not.
Shame I can’t break out the good ol’ crystal ball and figure out what’s going to happen over the next five years.
There are a few things we do know, though. We know that Bautista has an historical season in his rear-view mirror, that he has actually accomplished a 54-homer season, a .995 OPS, a season in which he’s walked 100 times and both driven in and scored 100 runs. It’s not something we think he might be able to do someday, it’s something he has done.
We also know that Jayson Werth, with only three very good seasons to his credit – none of which were nearly as good as Bautista’s 2010 – signed a seven-year, $126 million deal this winter, and that that kind of contract would very well have been awaiting Bautista had he had a 2011 that was even 2/3 as good as his 2010.
As well, we know that the Blue Jays have money to spend on the people they believe will be part of what they hope will be a perennial championship contender beginning next year or the year after, and sustaining itself for the foreseeable future.
No matter how you see Bautista, this contract is a huge gamble. The Blue Jays are accepting more of the risk than he is, given his track record, but he’s still leaving a potential $50+ million on the table. The Jays’ outlay was going to be at least $7.6 million this year – and given Bautista’s track record, there’s more reason to believe the Jays would have won the arbitration hearing than not – so they’re ponying up an average of $14.1 million from 2012-2015 that they otherwise wouldn’t have been required to.
Alex Anthopoulos believes that Bautista can produce at a rate worthy of such salary over the next five years, and he could very well be right. So many in the game seem to believe that Bautista is no one-year wonder, but I caution again that in the off-season following every one-year wonder’s big year, people have fallen all over themselves trying to show why this guy is different, why this guy is legit. Maybe Bautista is. I really hope he is. But the Jays just bet $57 million that he is.
Still, if they lose that bet, it hardly cripples the franchise. Rogers has money, and they have said for a couple of years now that they won’t be shy about spending it when the time is right. Since he took over as GM, Alex Anthopoulos has spent money on beefing up the scouting department, on international signings, on over-slot bonuses to draft picks and to help make a couple of trades happen, but this is the first time he’s spent it on a big-time, big-league contract.
I don’t see Jose Bautista going back to being a below-average hitter who can’t stay in the line-up and who can’t hit right-handed pitching. I don’t think I see him as a perennial all-star, either. But he’s definitely a guy worth having, who can be a game-changer with his defense (though he’s going to be at third base this year, for sure, and maybe for the entirety of his Jays career depending on what Brett Lawrie can handle defensively), and surrounded with pieces like Travis Snider, Adam Lind, Yunel Escobar, Aaron Hill, Rajai Davis, J.P. Arencibia and, eventually, Lawrie, he can be a productive part of what’s shaping up to be a very good offense.
Earlier this winter, I had suggested that a three-year, $40 million contract to Bautista would be a good thing for the Jays. Quite obviously, he wasn’t prepared to give away his one big shot at huge money for a commitment that short. The deal he signed is for basically the same average annual value as the one I suggested, it’s just two years longer. They may regret paying Bautista $14 million for each of his age 33 and 34 seasons, but they may not. He’ll only be 34 when the contract expires, and while that’s past his prime, it’s not as though they’re locked into paying him huge money until he turns 37 or 38.
As I mentioned before, Anthopoulos has certainly earned the benefit of the doubt. I applauded him in the past for gambling on guys like Brandon Morrow, Brett Lawrie and Anthony Gose. In those cases, he gambled talent. In Bautista’s case, he gambled money.
For the first time in a few years, we get to talk about someone who is staying in Toronto, and that’s a good thing. Over the past few years, this city has said goodbye to Roy Halladay, Vernon Wells, Chris Bosh and Mats Sundin, among others. Bautista isn’t in their company – not yet – but he’s the biggest and baddest Toronto has to offer right now, and he’s sticking around.
That’s not to say I believe this signing is a P.R. move ordered from on high (like the Wells contract was) – but that it’s a change from what we’ve recently become used to, and even if Bautista can’t live up to it, it’s nice to see a Toronto team take the shot.
Thursday, February 17th, 2011
12:38 PM Eastern
It certainly appears as though the Blue Jays and Jose Bautista have agreed on a long-term contract that will pay the club’s 2010 landslide MVP $65 million over the next five years, with a possible option for a sixth year at another $13 million.
Bautista, who was in Arizona awaiting his arbitration hearing tomorrow, is scheduled to be back in Dunedin soon, which clearly indicates that there won’t be a hearing, which means there’s a deal done, and they likely don’t want to announce anything until he’s there. Another clear indication that a deal is done is that the Blue Jays have scheduled an announcement for 5:00 pm Eastern this afternoon.
If the numbers are right, it’s a longer term deal than I thought the Blue Jays would be willing to sign, given the price, but I don’t want to try to analyze it until all the facts are in, until the announcement’s been made and until Alex Anthopoulos and Bautista have both said their piece.
It’s kind of why I don’t love posting about things that are “about to happen” and then posting again about those same things once they actually happen. I generally like to save the posts until the thing actually happens so that we have all the info and there’s not so much repetition.
I believe that Alex has earned the benefit of the doubt over the year and a half he’s been in charge, and that he’ll have strong and solid reasoning to explains what appears to be a pretty big gamble. Or maybe that’s just it – it’s a pretty big gamble, same as the ones we applauded when he acquired guys like Brandon Morrow, Anthony Gose and Brett Lawrie.
More to come later this afternoon!
Wednesday, February 16th, 2011
7:05 PM Eastern
The Blue Jays added to their outfield depth this afternoon by signing soon-to-be 35 year-old Scott Podsednik to a minor-league contract with an invitation to Spring Training. While plenty of players get signed to minor-league invites, Podsednik’s deal is a little more significant because chances are he’s going to get a whole whack of playing time with the big club this season.
He’s a speedy left-handed hitter who has never finished a full (and healthy) big-league season with fewer than 30 stolen bases (he’s done that six times, with a career high of 70 for the ’04 Brewers). Podsednik hit .300/.349/.406 against right-handed pitching last year, split between the Dodgers and Royals, and was a similar .297/.352/.429 against righties the year before. For his career, he’s posted a .735 OPS against righties, .677 against lefties. For Podsednik, though, OPS numbers have to be taken with a grain of salt – because for him, the “S” doesn’t count.
This is a guy who doesn’t hit for power, and that’s OK. You might remember Podsednik as the guy who went deep in the bottom of the ninth inning of Game 2 of the 2005 World Series, a walk-off shot that gave the White Sox a 7-6 win over Houston on their way to a sweep (I know our very own Alan Ashby remembers it very well). It was Podsednik’s second home run of that post-season, which was two more than he hit over 507 at-bats during that regular season. He has 41 career homers in 10 seasons, but he also has 41 triples. His strengths are his legs, and his ability to get on base at a better than average rate as a platoon guy against righties.
So how does this last-second signing fit in with the 2011 Blue Jays? Right now the Jays are looking at an outfield of Travis Snider in left, Rajai Davis in centre and Juan Rivera in right. Word is they’re looking to move Rivera, though generally with Alex Anthopoulos, word doesn’t get out if there’s something actually happening.
I know there was talk across the webosphere earlier this winter that Podsednik would fit in well as a platoon-mate with Davis, but I believe that the Jays want Davis in the line-up every day – one of the reasons he got a two-plus year deal last month. I think that Podsednik fits in either as a platoon partner with or as a replacement for Rivera. That may lead to him playing centre with Davis shifting to right, or it may lead to Podsednik in left with Snider moving to right. I asked Anthopoulos about shifting Snider over on the conference call this afternoon, and he said it was something that had been discussed, but that he wanted to talk to the players concerned before saying anything in the media.
Podsednik doesn’t have the arm for right field, but he can play centre, though probably not as well as Davis. Overall, Anthopoulos said that Corey Patterson is currently the Jays’ best defensive centre-fielder but then, the signing of Podsednik probably pushed Patterson off the roster, because the newer new guy’s bat is so much better.
Anthopoulos also went out of his way to point out Podsednik’s reputation for character and integrity, and said he was a guy who would be a great model for the younger players.
It’s an exciting signing, because it brings the club a step closer to being the “Go-Go Blue Jays”. There’s potential for Podsednik and Davis to combine to steal over 100 bases this season – how much fun would that be?
Comments and future mailbag questions are welcome – the Bautista decision looms!!!!
Tuesday, February 15th, 2011
11:50 PM Eastern
As I mentioned on The Jeff Blair Show this morning, my first reaction upon hearing that Jose Bautista’s arbitration hearing, originally set for yesterday, had been postponed, was shock. I’d never heard of such a thing happening before (though the Cardinals and Albert Pujols did the same thing on the same day). My second reaction was a smile and a shake of the head, thinking “is there anything Alex Anthopoulos can’t do”?
The decision whether or not to sign Bautista to a long-term deal – and Bautista’s decision whether or not to sign said long-term deal – is an extremely tough one.
A year removed from his first-ever shot at free agency, Bautista is coming off an MVP-calibre season. More than that, an historical season, as he joined Babe Ruth as the only players in major-league history to hit at least 50 home runs and at least 35 doubles, score at least 100 runs, drive in at least 120, walk at least 100 times and steal as many as five bases in a single season.
But, and I’m not telling you anything you don’t know here, he’d never accomplished anything close to that before.
With 54 homers in 2010, Bautista more than tripled his previous career high of 16. His OPS of .995 was more than 200 points higher than his previous career high, and 2010 was the first of Bautista’s seven big-league seasons in which his OPS was higher than the major-league average.
Yes, it was his first legit don’t-have-to-look-over-your-shoulder shot at an everyday job, but the truth of the matter is that Jose Bautista became a major leaguer in 2004, and since then has had exactly FIVE months in which he’s produced at an all-star level. Four of those months came last season, the other was September of 2009.
Many people are convinced that Bautista, at the age of 30, has completely changed who he is as a hitter, and maybe he has. But look back at over a century of big-league baseball and you’ll find way more one-year wonders than you will players who went from below-average utility guys to perennial all-stars in their late 20s and early 30s.
Please don’t take this as a shot at Bautista. I’m not saying that I believe that he’ll go back to being the .750 OPS, 15-homer guy he was prior to the 2010 season. But I also don’t believe that he has “emerged” to the point where anyone can be sure that he’s going to be an all-star year-in and year-out.
And therein lies the dilemma.
How much money (and how many years) can the Blue Jays feel comfortable committing to a guy who has only had one good year, regardless of how great it was? And why on Earth would Bautista accept an offer that the Jays deemed reasonable, given the fact that if 2011 goes even nearly as well for him as 2010 did, he’s likely to be offered a nine-figure contract on the open market next winter?
I know a lot of you think Bautista is different. He changed his swing, pitchers should have figured him out by July or August but he kept on destroying everything on the inner half, he didn’t slow down.
I really don’t want to rain on the parade, but that’s what people have believed about EVERY one-year wonder there’s ever been. “Yeah, there were all those other guys, but THIS guy is different.” Maybe he is. I really hope he is. But the odds are against him.
Still, what it comes down to is money and term. If it were me, I’d grit my teeth and offer Bautista something along the lines of three years and $35-38 million, with performance bonuses up the wazoo and an option for a fourth year. I don’t know that he’d take that, though, with a Jayson Werth-ic payday potentially staring him in the face.
I do believe, though, that Bautista and the Jays are very close to agreeing to a deal – and may have even already settled on the nuts and bolts of it – and I don’t expect them to go into the hearing room in Arizona on Friday.
Truth is, I can’t wait to see what Alex has come up with. He’s put together some very creative contracts in the past – Aaron Hill’s comes to mind immediately – and he’s done a great job getting free agents to sign deals with club options. I have a feeling that this contract winds up having plenty of options and opt-outs and many different scenarios through which the Jays are protected financially if Bautista goes back to being his old self and Bautista reaps major rewards if 2010 was, indeed, his new normal.
We’ll find out sometime over the course of the next three days.