4:43PM Eastern

The Blue Jays must have known that I had a sim-geek-league rookie draft to get to tonight, because they took down the Phillies in a crisp two hours and seven minutes.

Brandon Morrow walked two and allowed a ground single in his five innings of work, striking out only one while getting seven ground ball outs and three infield pop-ups.  His fastball control left him in the second inning, when he issued both walks and only seven of the 19 pitches he threw were strikes, but scathe-wise, he emerged from that frame relatively un, and went on to retire nine straight Philbos at one point.  His pitch count was low – about 60 for the five innings of work – so much so that he had to go to the bullpen after he was done and throw 15 more.

It’s been quite the spring for Morrow, who is so far doing a very good job transforming himself from thrower to pitcher.  That might not be good news for people in fantasy leagues who pick him up in order to jack their strikeout totals, but it seems to be good news for everyone else.

Here’s what the trying-to-get-to-be-Halladayesque righty had to say after the game:


Morrow and Clifton Phifer Lee engaged in a nice little pitchers’ duel, with Lee striking out seven without a walk over his six innings of five-hitter, but Lee was the one who blinked.  The Philly lefty got lucky in the first inning when Kelly Johnson led off with a single and stole second, but then didn’t score on Jose Bautista’s double off the right-field wall.  Either Johnson read the ball poorly or it carried a lot more than he thought it would, but KJ was at second tagging up on the play, so he could only manage to get to third.  The Phils’ outfielders just assumed he would score, and the throw came into second base.  Strikeouts by Adam Lind and Edwin Encarnacion got Lee out of that jam.

Bautista doubled again his next time up, in the 4th – this time a laserbeam off the left-field wall that seemed to take less than a second to get there.  He daringly stole third and this time, Lind drove him in.  Lind’s third RBI of the spring came on a bouncer that got through the right side of the infield for a base hit.

The Jays’ other run came in the 8th, when Travis Snider came off the bench and drilled a hard line drive to straightaway centrefield that Scott Podsednik just plain dropped.  Johnson followed with a double down the right field line to score him.

Snider was 0-for-1 with that scorched liner, Eric Thames got the start and went 0-for-3 with a hard-hit fly ball to left, a pop foul and a strikeout.  Thames also threw his glove in the ring as The Battle For Left Field(TM) rages on.  He made a really nice running catch of a hot shot by Ty Wigginton that seemed ticketed for the gap in left-centre.

Darren Oliver and Jason Frasor each threw a perfect inning of relief behind Morrow and Carlos Villanueva to finish things up.

For the second straight game in which they’ve both played, John Farrell has had Yunel Escobar and Kelly Johnson flipped at the top of the line-up, with Johnson leading off.  I like the idea, as I mentioned a couple of days ago.  The move mitigates Johnson’s strikeouts to an extent, and even with them, he’s capable of getting on base at a high rate.  Escobar is a very solid hit-and-run man to go with all the other positives he provides at the plate.  Yes, it has the Jays stacking righties at the top of the line-up a bit, which makes it even more difficult to move Adam Lind out of the clean-up spot should that be required, but both Escobar and Bautista are guys who can hit right-handed pitching just fine.  I don’t know if that set-up is one they’ll continue to use, but I hope they give it a real shot.

John Farrell spoke about that, as well as about Morrow, after the game:


Before the game, Alex Anthopoulos held court with the media, and touched on several subjects.  Included among them was the idea that Travis Snider might make this team as the centrefielder, pushing Colby Rasmus aside.  The General Manager’s response to that was “Zero chance.”  We also discussed yesterday’s firestorm on The Twitter brought about by my disagreeing with the notion that Adam Lind has been one of the very worst hitters in baseball the last two years – Anthopoulos says that he believes in Lind because he’s won batting titles in the minors and has “always hit”, and because of 2009 and the first half of last season, but he does believe this is a “big year” for Lind as far s proving himself goes.  He also said that since the Blue Jays won’t need a 5th starter the first time through the rotation, the winner of that job (likely Dustin McGowan) will remain in Florida to get another start in.  If it’s McGowan, though, the Jays wouldn’t be able to manipulate the roster to add another player in the interim, because he’s out of options and can’t be sent down.

Here’s most of what Anthopoulos had to say – I had to switch batteries mid-stream:


The Blue Jays hit the road to Port Charlotte Friday night to take on the Tampa Bay Rays.  Brett Cecil will get the start against David Price, and he’s expected to throw five innings.  Drew Hutchison is scheduled to take the next three, The rest of the travel squad for that game is as follows: Drew Carpenter, Jesse Chavez, Robert Coello, Yan Gomes, Jeff Mathis, David Cooper, Jonathan Diaz, Edwin Encarnacion, Mike McCoy, Luis Valbuena, Chris Woodward, Rajai Davis, Ben Francisco, Anthony Gose, Travis Snider, Eric Thames, Ruben Gotay, Brian Bocock, John Tolisano, Ricardo Nanita and Brian Jeroloman.

I won’t be at that game, since there’s a Sportsnet590 The Fan event around here tomorrow night.

Please give me a follow on The Twitter, you can find me @wilnerness590.

Comments are welcome – I read them all and respond to most!


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14 Responses to “Shutting Out The Phils”
  1. 1.

    “but scathe-wise, he emerged from that frame relatively un” That seriously almost made me spit out my coffee, that was a good one Mike!!

    Onto the idea of Johnson leading off, it may be true that this might put him on a mindset of making more solid contact and cutting down his strikeouts, but would that not also cut down his homeruns? As a leadoff hitter, getting on base is your number one priority, so with a more conservative approach, he would be less likely to hit homeruns as a result. I actually would not mind the trade off as he may actually find it more beneficial for him to make solid contact. Your thoughts??

    MW: Give George Carlin credit for the scathe-wise thing, I have been wanting to use that for years. As for KJ, I don’t think he’ll change at all. In his good years, he’s been a very good on-base guy – that’s his game.

    - Antony
  2. 2.

    Can I recommend Duracell next time Mike?

    - Lee
  3. 3.

    Great work! Thank you for keeping Jays nation up to date. L’chaim!

    - Victor
  4. 4.

    A propos of nothing, can you please confirm or deny one thing for me.

    Somebody told me that earlier in the spring Anthony Gose scored from second base on an infield out to first.

    In 4 decades of watching baseball, I’ve only seen that happen once.
    Back in the eighties the Expos were playing the Phillies and I saw Gary Matthews score from second on an infield out to first.
    I remember Gary Carter looking at the first baseman with his arms spread wide and a look of ‘you’ve got to be kidding me’ exasperation on his face.
    First baseman evidently napping on the play.

    Anyways, do you know if Gose really scored from second on an infield out this spring and if so, wow, – hope his hitting can match his running.
    He must have the brazen instincts of a jewel thief to pull a move like that off.

    MW: Yes, Gose did score from second base earlier this spring on a groundout to the pitcher by Travis Snider.

    - Pat
  5. 5.

    So who do the Jays take north? Can they take 5 OF’s to Opening Day? The way I see it the starters are LF – Snider (higher ceiling than Thames, gotta give him one more chance), CF – Rasmus, RF – Bautista. Davis needs to be there for off the bench speed and defence and Francisco for off the bench right handed pop. Thames to Vegas to wait and see if Snider or Rasmus flop.

    MW: With Francisco hurt now, it appears as though they’ll only break with four outfielders. It seems too as though Thames continues to have the edge over Snider in the Battle for Left Field (TM), though they’re both having terrific springs.

    - Too Many Outfielders
  6. 6.

    Hello Mike

    Not sure why Jays fan are so hard on EE. Looking at his numbers, he has done quite well. Yes, he is not Prince Fielder or Pujoul, but I think 80-90 RBIs for him is totally doable.


    MW: RBIs are really out of his control, very dependent on whether or not his teammates are on base when he comes up. I think he can have a very good offensive season, though.

    - Francis
  7. 7.

    Love the blog. Can you talk to the techy’s about getting a better mobile version of your blog? It’s really frustrating to read on my phone. Thanks!

    - ~julie~
  8. 8.

    I’ve been a huge Snider fan since his first AB in the big leagues. I really don’t think he has been given enough chances to prove himself. Last year he was sent down before he had even 100 ABs. On one hand AA raves about his talent and potential, but yet wont give him a decent chunk of consecutive ABs to find out how good he is. I don’t think Snider has had more than 150ABs in a row at any stage in his career? With all due respect to Thames, Snider is a WAY better fielder and a hitter. I know the stats don’t support my argument but once and for all, I want Travis to have a full season, 550-600ABs. He’s the real deal. Let’s not waste his talent.

    - Beburg
  9. 9.

    I see more complexity in the Snider / Thames situation than just a battle for left field. On the surface, they are both promising young players, each appearing to be ready for the major leagues on a full-time basis, fighting for one position. Dig deeper, and I think the battle involves, to some extent, Edwin Encarnacion, Adam Lind, Ben Francisco, and even Colby Rasmus (though the latter to only a limited extent).

    My team would be structured as follows: Snider is the every day left fielder. Thames is the DH, and Lind the 1B. Given Edwin’s versatility (his being able to play 1B, LF, and DH), he would be inserted in the lineup (replacing any one of the other three) very frequently based on R-L splits, etc, as required.

    Snider is a good athlete and could also occasionally play CF if required. If Edwin is hitting well and Lind struggles at the plate, then I would make Edwin the every day 1B. I’m not giving up on Lind – I am hoping he will rebound, but it is important to consider the contingencies.

    The problem with putting Thames in LF is that it pushes Snider, both a better fielder than Thames, and a guy who can play CF if needed, effectively off the roster. Sure, you could keep him as the DH – but why have Snider as the DH and Thames as the every day LF? That would be unwise. So unless you take the view that Snider is just not going to cut it in the majors (not sure how you can come to that conclusion), then the Jays need to find a way to keep these guys on the roster. Otherwise you trade Snider, which, in my opinion, is not the thing to do now as I doubt you would get full value.

    In the setup I have proposed, you also don’t need an extra utility outfielder (sorry, Ben Franciso), which frees up another bullpen spot – I think, though I admit that my counting skills are prolifically unreliable.

    Good job covering spring traning so far, Mike. It is much appreciated.

    MW: You don’t actually want an eight-man bullpen, do you? Aside from that horrifying thought, you make a lot of good points. I don’t think they want to force John Farrell to juggle his bench to the extent that your set-up would require, though, nor do they want to close the door on Thames as a left fielder by making him primarily a DH.

    - Sandy
  10. 10.

    what is going on here? winning virtually every day, no serious injuries to speak of, everyone playing well, the young guys geeting better and better by the day it seems, no trade talk to speak of, no fa signings to bolster the lineup, no extreme controversy in the press, no impending firings, status quo day in day out.
    blah. blah. blah…
    it’s driving me nuts i tell you.
    tell them to throw us a friggin’ bone here michael would you? c’mon…
    it’s reminding me of the “stand pat” days of the blue jays from yrs. ago….
    and just look what that led to right?
    sorry. bad example to illustrate my point. never mind…

    - darrell bishop
  11. 11.

    Mike…A dark horse by definition according to my copy of Webster’s is: “a little known competitor or candidate that wins unexpectedly.” With all the positive chatter from media of other teams concerning the Blue Jays that the round table from Prime Time Sports is mentioning, does that remove the “little known” or “unexpectedly” part from the above definition?

    MW: Not at all. If you consider what the baseball experts south of the border are saying and what the vast majority of baseball fans believe, a Blue Jays playoff berth would be incredibly surprising.

    - chris m.
  12. 12.

    Mike, What does Eric Thames do better than Travis Snider? I feel like I´m missing something here, Snider runs better, defends better, and has more upside than Thames. And its not like Thames blew everyone away with his offensive stats last year, its arguable if Snider got that many at bats he would´ve had similar stats, including strikeouts. I just don´t know why this is Thames´s job to lose.
    And please don´t say its because Thames had improved his arm strength, there´s so much more to defense than that, and anyone who has seen the two play can´t rightfully claim that Thames is even close to Snider defensively

    MW: What does Thames do better than Snider? So far, hit in the major leagues.

    - Jesse C
  13. 13.

    Mike, I know it’s only spring training, but when was the last time the Jays had such a great spring? ….It’s hard to not feel excited about the season ahead with all this winning.

    MW: I don’t know when the last time the Jays had such a great spring was, and the reason for that is because, as much fun as all the winning is, it doesn’t count.

    - Johnny
  14. 14.

    I am truly flummoxed.

    Should it be “scatheD-wise” ?

    I can’t decide.

    - James (double steal guy)
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