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Or, put differently, some questions about the first 20 games on the Jays schedule, 19 of which are in the books and the last of which takes place on Patriots Day in Boston tomorrow morning. I suggested back in the spring, when reviewing the schedule and taking into account the fact this team had a steep learning curve ahead of it, that no one should be shocked if the Blue Jays were 6-14 at this point. Should they cough up another loss tomorrow, this team will have hit that sorry prediction square on.

So these are the questions that spring to mind this Easter Sunday:

1. How the hell did this happen?
2. Are these guys really as bad as this?
3. What should be done now?

As I'll attempt to show in this entry, the answers to those three questions are (1) oh, they earned it, all right, (2) No, and (3) Be concerned, but also be patient.

1. The Jays got to 6-13 the old-fashioned way. They were beaten soundly both by superior opponents and by themselves. Here's a quick glance at some of the key statistics after 1/8 of a season:

Hitting (ranking out of 14 teams)

BA: 7th
OBP: 7th
SLG: 8th
R: 7th
HR: 9th
BB: 3rd
K: 1st
SB: 14th
SB%: 14th

The main offensive stats are middle-of-the-road, which actually reflects the pretty awesome potential of this offence. Only four of the regulars are hitting at an acceptable clip so far:

Player----------OPS
Delgado--------1.088
Catalanotto-----.894
Wells-----------.782
Stewart--------.780
Woodward------.711
Phelps----------.690
Hinske----------.596
Hudson---------.522

As you can see, most of the damage has been done by the top of the lineup. Carlos and Cat are playing a little above their heads, but Wells and Stewart are pretty much where you'd expect them. It's the youngsters who are stinking the joint up in the early going: those lower four guys have a collective BB/K rate of 25/68, led by Eric Hinske's dreadful 4/22. All of those players are better hitters than this, but either because of slumps or superior pitching, or both, they're really scuffling right now. The next 20 games should give them an opportunity to vent their frustration on lesser pitchers, regain some confidence at the plate, and start striking fear in a few pitching staffs around the league.

The team BB and K rankings pretty much reflect the offensive philsophy of this organization: lots of walks, lots of strikeouts and lots of home runs, so that's working. Except the home runs aren't (9th in the league). The Jays also rank third in the league in Pitches Seen per At-Bat: they're working the count as instructed, though query whether they've been doing much useful with that knowledge. Further, as has been discussed here before, the Blue Jays don't run --- they stole their first base of the season this afternoon, which puts them on pace to steal their second around Memorial Day; after a 71/18 SB/CS ratio last year, one of the best in the majors, Toronto is on pace to post an 8/40 ratio this season.

Some Oakland A's fans have been heard to complain that even when their team is winning, the walk/strikeout/homer offensive style is boring to watch. I'm here to tell whoever is interested that when a team with that offensive style is losing, it's excruciating.

Pitching (out of 14 teams)

ERA: 12th
Saves: 12th
HR allowed: T13th
BB: 12th
WHIP: 12th
K/BB: 13th
H/9: 11th...

...and, well, you get the idea. In case you're wondering, the teams ranked below Toronto in these categories are the Tigers, Rangers and Devil Rays. The pitching, in short, has not been good. And it has not been all the bullpen's fault:

Halladay: 0-2, 4.96, 32 IP, 43 H, 8 BB, 26 K
Lidle: 2-2, 5.92, 24 IP, 27 H, 4 BB, 25 K
Sturtze: 2-1, 5.09, 23 IP, 20 H, 15 BB, 11 K
Hendrickson: 1-2, 6.97, 20 IP, 32 H, 5 BB, 13 K
Walker: 1-1, 2.60, 17 IP, 10 H, 7 BB, 6 K

Now, there's no question that some of the secondary numbers are pretty good: Halladay and especially Lidle have posted terrific BB/K ratios. But they're also getting tattooed on a fairly regular clip, and it ain't been infield singles. And while it's true that the relievers have been letting the inherited runners score, it's also true that the starters are leaving entire cocktail parties on base when they trudge off the mound.

There is, I think, particular reason to be a little concerned about Roy Halladay. In 34 starts last year, Roy allowed 10 home runs; in 5 starts this year, he's allowed 5. Last year, he hit 7 batters all season; he's already plunked 3 in '03. He's getting ahead in the count, but he's not finishing guys off. He seems to be missing just enough -- not by much, only a few inches -- but enough so that hitters are able to catch up with him. He has not pitched at all like an ace, during a stretch when his team really needed him to do just that. The stopper has been Pete Walker, and folks, that ain't good.

But of course, let's not forget that pen:

Escobar: 0-1, 18.00, 5 IP, 11 H, 3 BB, 7 K
Tam: 0-1, 5.59, 9 IP, 13 H, 11 B, 5 K
Politte: 0-1, 4.70, 7 IP, 11 H, 3 BB, 8 K
Creek: 0-0, 7.20, 5 IP, 4 H, 6 BB, 2 K

The question that goes begging here is, are we considering the opposition? The Yankees have a truly awesome lineup, and the Red Sox can knock you around 1 through 9: they're the two top offences in the game right now. The problem, of course, is that in such a small sample size, it's hard to tell the chicken from the egg: are the Jays getting hammered because these offences are so good, or do these offences look so good because they're lighting up a AAAA Toronto staff? The answer is somewhere in between, but we won't know exactly where in between for another month or so.

A few other pitching numbers to consider: the Jays have issued 11 intentional walks to lead the league; so what's a few more baserunners between friends, anyway? But at least one thing is going right: the team's groundout/flyout ratio is 2nd in the league, which is how this staff has been constructed. The pitchers are inducing the grounders. Which brings us to our next topic:

Defence (ranked out of 14)

Errors: 14th
Fielding %: 14th
Double Plays: 4th
SB allowed: 14th
CS: T10th
SB-CS: 14th

Our eyes have not deceived us: the Jays have been the worst defensive team in the league thus far. I don't have the slightly better defensive stats like Range Factor and Zone Rating, but I'd be surprised if the Jays would score much better in those.

And the numbers above don't reflect what Kent accurately calls "E-10s," the mental errors that don't show up in box scores but that prolong innings and allow runners to move into scoring position. It doesn't reflect the horrible throws from right field or the dadaist approach to second base taken by Orlando Hudson. Though the squad ranks 4th in double plays, that's more a reflection of the extreme groundball nature of the staff and the masses of opposing runners littering the basepaths. And as has also been noted here before, the Blue Jays seem utterly indifferent to the opposition stolen base: 18 runners have successfuly swiped bases against just 3 caught stealing, and if Toronto pitchers are working to keep baserunners close, they must be using the power of positive thinking, because I've not seen a whole lot of throws to first.

To sum up: this team is deservedly 6-13, and in some ways it's remarkable they have the 6 wins. Some of this, I think, can be fairly attributed to tough opposition. But too much of it can't: fielders botching both routine and difficult plays, starters unable to hold leads or sometimes even give the batters a chance, relievers arriving on the mound with gasoline tanks, and a managerial strategy that treats stolen bases as acts of God and invites way too much second-guessing.

2. Are these guys really as bad as this? Is this what the balance of the season will look like? I think the answer to that question has to be no. As noted, the batters have yet to really hit their collective stride, and Halladay and Lidle just have to improve. While Frank Catalanotto will never be a great right fielder, he and his teammates can work to minimize their defensive limitations and make the most of the skills and smarts they do have. This time last year, many fans were calling Carlos Delgado the worst defensive first baseman in the league; this year, he's already made several terrific plays and has won raves for his glove. Defence can be learned, enough at least to reach a league-average level. It's up to the coaches to instruct, the players to learn and execute, and the manager to assign consequences for failures in either area.

I think allowances should be made for the schedule, but not huge ones: the Jays fancy themselves a contender on the rise, and contenders on the rise are expected to hold their own with the top teams, to at least look respectable while getting beat. The Jays could well have finished this stretch at .500: three or four winnable games were lost in the late going. But it's an old saw that bad teams find a way to lose games. The Yanks, Sox and Twins are tough opponents, it's true; but they're tough in part because they do precisely the things the Jays haven't done: make the difficult plays, get the critical out, and generally execute with the game on the line. These 20 games provided a measure of how far the Blue Jays are from the upper echelon of the American League, and the result could not be clearer: the Jays have a long way to go.

3. So now what? Does the team panic, blow the whole thing up and start from scratch? Well, of course not, and no one is seriously suggesting it. We, the loyal fan base, have been saying over and over for the last few months that this is a major reconstruction project underway here, and that there will be learning curves and growing pains. But like all fans, we look for the upside and envision the best possible outcome, so it's no surprise we're disappointed. But the watchword has to be patience, and then when that's used up, more patience. JP has never talked about contention before the 2005 season, and if that seemed overly cautious in March, it seems wildly optimistic today. The truth is, he's probably right.

On Opening Day last year, three-fourths of the 2003 infield and the 2003 DH were in the minors; the 2003 right fielder was playing second base in Texas; and the 2003 centrefielder and #3 hitter was a long-hyped prospect with serious question marks. The #2 guy in the rotation had two wins for an Oakland powerhouse at the '02 All-Star Break, the #3 starter was on his way to one of the worst seasons by a starter in 10 years, the #4 guy was in Syracuse, and the #5 starter -- the de facto ace so far this year -- was in the Mets bullpen. Folks, these ain't the '27 Yankees. They aren't even the '93 Blue Jays. Out of today's 25-man roster, you can count on exactly three players -- Halladay, Wells, Hinske -- to be on the next Blue Jays playoff team.

But while patience and realism are required, there's no cause for despair. This team will not lose 100 games, or even 90. The young hitters will perform better, because they have the track records, both in the majors and the minors, that prove it. The rotation will settle down -- none of the starters will be this bad over a full season, not one of them. The bullpen will continue to evolve -- Jason Kershner will soon be followed by Dan Reichert, and don't be shocked if Corey Thurman surfaces around July. Even the manager will come around, growing more willing to set his intelligent baserunners loose and to instruct his pitchers to throw over to first base once in a damn while. If anyone wants to wager that the Royals will finish with a better record than the Blue Jays this year, I will happily take that bet.

So take heart: the Rays and Tigers and Orioles are coming, and hay will be made while the sun shines. But then the Angels will come, and the Mariners and Athletics and Dodgers and Giants, and soon the Yankees and Red Sox again. The next 142 games will not be a cakewalk. So watch for improvement: look for Aquilino Lopez to get more critical setup work, for Mark Hendrickson to finish off guys on 1-2 counts, for Orlando Hudson to maintain his concentration on every ground ball. These are the benchmarks of real progress, and while the W-L record should improve accordingly, in the end the standings truly are a secondary concern.

We are watching an organization that had grown flaccid, overstuffed and mouldy, trying now to shake off a decade's worth of rot and institute a whole different culture. This ship will not turn on a dime, and it won't always be easy to watch; God knows the last 20 games sure haven't been. But keep the faith, watch for the gradual and then the sudden improvement, and try to bear the losses with as much long-term vision as possible. Think positive: the darkest times are over, and better days are yet to come.
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_DS - Sunday, April 20 2003 @ 08:59 PM EDT (#90121) #
It's always tough to watch a team struggle like the Jays are currently. You really do have to keep an eye on the big picture, and hope the pitching gets sorted out sooner than later. Hopefully these growing pains are temporary, and a healty dose of the weaker teams in the AL will help them gain some much needed confidence.
_the shadow - Sunday, April 20 2003 @ 09:34 PM EDT (#90122) #
congratulations Gideon on a very well thought analysis of the Jays situation, a great read,only hope all the Jay doubters read it and keep the faith.
_Gwyn - Sunday, April 20 2003 @ 09:51 PM EDT (#90123) #
One of the great tru-isms in sports is that you're team is never as good as it looks when you're winning and never as bad as it looks when you're losing.
_Shane - Sunday, April 20 2003 @ 09:53 PM EDT (#90124) #
Throughout this first nineteen games, scads of people allude to this "terrible twenty" schedule, some saying it doesn't mean much to lose to teams supposedly better than the Toronto Blue Jays, as though this first twenty games is some line you cross and then it's "home free". Look at that record, look at those stats, just remember how they've lost all these games. They're losing games in every fashion you can. What makes you think the current Jays are so much better than the White Sox, Texas, Kansas City, even Tampa Bay, that wins are going to be so much easier to come by, really? Try to be impartial.

Twenty seven days into his new GM job, J.P. Ricciardi told Jayson Stark: "I'm going to make mistakes. I know that. But I'm not afraid to make mistakes. If I make them, at least they're going to be aggressive, well thought-out mistakes."

Outside of what you think should have/could have happened, a Woodward foul ball here, a Tosca fable there, no matter how often you pucker up to Ricciardi's arse at every move he makes, and you know who you are, "mistakes" no mater how big or small, have been made. It's probably safe to say Mr. Ricciardi probably sees them, and is doing what he can to counter it -- A third lefty reliever isn't coming to town just because Doug Linton is of no use, it's because one or two special 'batters box' favorites have failed along with him. Ricciardi says what he means, he's going to have some great success and as well as failures, just as any aggressive GM would. He can admit his "mistakes" so should some others, then we can start dealing with reality again.
Dave Till - Sunday, April 20 2003 @ 11:05 PM EDT (#90125) #
One optimistic note: I was listening on the radio today, and Doc appeared formidable in the early going - retiring lots of batters on the first pitch, and inducing several little squibbly ground balls. He came unglued in the 7th, though, so he's not quite where he was.

The Jays have also been a little unlucky, from what I've seen (or heard): lots of hard-hit balls hit right at people. That's what happens when a team is in a bad stretch.

I don't think the Jays' weaknesses should be a surprise, really. Most of the bullpen are retreads (except Proven Closer Escobar, who is on his own planet, or something). Three-fifths of the starting rotation are prospects or retreads. Catalanotto isn't a right fielder, really. And many of the kids aren't used to making the sorts of adjustments major league hitters have to make in order to stay up. It shouldn't be surprising to see Woodward, Hinske, Phelps, and Hudson struggle: recall Carlos Delgado's career path, for example, to get an idea of how long it can take for a hitter to establish himself.

Speaking of which: wow, since when did Delgado become a superior fielder? He's made more diving plays at first this month than he has in his entire career to this point. And he's hitting a ton. Ye gods.
_Shane - Sunday, April 20 2003 @ 11:17 PM EDT (#90126) #
However, let's not forget yesterday when Delgado reminded everyone that he's a slugger playing a decent firstbase, whe he flubbed a two run scoring ground ball, which unfortunately "rattled" the stoic Doug Creek, who then walked another left handed batter, his forte.
_King Rat - Sunday, April 20 2003 @ 11:30 PM EDT (#90127) #
Shane,

I think you're being a bit negative. The team has played poorly-you sort of have to to go 6-13. But they haven't been the reincarnation of th '62 Mets or anything. Yes, Carlos muffed a grounder yesterday. Sure, Creek and Tam and Miller have been less than stellar out of the bullpen. And you're right that they will doubtless have trouble against the other teams as well. But as bad as the Devil Rays? I've heard of rose-coloured glasses. You sure you aren't wearing your dismal grey-tinted glasses?

I think this is a case of a number of key players struggling simultaneously. Some of them will snap out of it reasonably soon, and the Jays will start to win again. Others will continue to struggle and may get replaced. Down the stretch last year, a weak schedule and a bunch of guys hitting their strides simultaneously led to a great finish, but noone started printing 2003 playoff tickets. Likewise, we shouldn't start buying Tigers gear to hide our embarrassment because of an out-of-synch start against a brutal schedule.
robertdudek - Monday, April 21 2003 @ 12:01 AM EDT (#90128) #
Tam is not a great pitcher, but he isn't as bad as he's shown so far. The high walk total is very uncharacteristic for him. Are you claiming that a pitcher who's had excellent control over his career has suddenly become the Wild Thing? I think we'll have to wait a few more months and see what happens.

T Miller and Linton are minor league pitchers, nothing more. Creek I'm less optimistic about, because his K rate is down and he has a history of walking a lot of guys and giving up homeruns.

It's clear that Lopez is a keeper and I have confidence that Politte will regain the consistency he had last year.

Escobar is a different story. I don't know if it's better to dump him now or wait until the deadline and try to make a deal, but I don't think he'll be on this team when August rolls around.

The rotation: Doc and Lidle are going to be fine - they've run into some excellent hitters. Even so, their K/W ratio has been pretty good and I'm not worried too much about Doc's homeruns.

Sturtze is a replacement level starter - he's here to eat innings. Hendrickson has decent control and I think it's likely he'll be a league-average starting pitcher this year.

Ditto for Pete Walker. Once Justin Miller gets through extended spring training, Walker will go back to the bullpen.

The offence will be above average - Josh Phelps has been hitting the ball hard, though his average isn't really climbing yet. Hudson should do much better against weaker pitching and Hinske will rebound.

I still think this team will win 84 games, which is a slight but real improvement over last year's club.
_Shane - Monday, April 21 2003 @ 02:00 AM EDT (#90129) #
We observe things differently, "dismal grey-tinted glasses" is a nice touch. Are you perhaps a Mutant Ninja Truttle fan, 'cus that's a purdy name.

I didn't say they were a dud, perhaps you're suggesting I did. I've tried to point out that just because you finish a twenty game stretch against Yanks/Sox/Twins that it doesn't mean all the problems to date just go away. Other teams have a say in future outcomes, yes? They don't just roll over, because you like your teams "potential".

You can be as optimistic as you like when it comes to the bullpen composition. If you're enamored with the "career" statistics of "career" journeyman relievers like Tam, Creek, and even Miller fill your pants silly. For instance, if you think there's so much talent there within Tam & Creek that their last seven months of horrid statistics are just a faze soon to blow over and unleash their truer versions, be my guest, run to the pony show and bet your pension on it. Time will prove us all, management down to fans, right 'er wrong, it's as simple as that, and that's the fun of it.

I never made comments about Lopez, Politte, or Strutze, but since you brought them up. When for example, Tanyon starts giving out walks like hand-jobs that's not great, but like Mr. Dudek likes to point out, statistics show he's going to do that, it's par for his course. However, it's in my perspective to point out that when he starts to excessivley walk people, you don't make up some imagined excuse for it, that's why he's Taynon Sturtze, the one with limited control. Quit spinning it as someting else.

No words from my mouth ever claimed the '03 incarnation were of playoff caliber. I've only said that winnable games are winnable games, regardless of who your competition was, unlike some, who seemingly don't find a difference between losing games and giving them away.

So you can snipe at my differing views as you wish -- and that's cool, but there's enough back slapping going on in here most days that the last thing any fruitful, creative conversation or 'blog' needs is more stagnant "yes" men, trying to avoid being taken to task for seeing differently.
_King Rat - Monday, April 21 2003 @ 02:53 AM EDT (#90130) #
Geez, take mild issue with someone over comparing the Jays to the Devil Rays and you provoke a five paragraph hissy fit.

Shane, relax. Nobody thinks the Jays are going to the playoffs. Nobody did before the season started. Noone is disagreeing that they've been pretty bad over the first nineteen games of the season. And of all the people to accuse of liking the bullpen, I'd have thought I'd be among the last.

I didn't bring up Tam, Sturtze and Lopez, but I assure you that if I did I wouldn't have been defending the first two. That said, they're not expected to be world beaters-they're marking time. That doesn't mean I don't want them to be world beaters-it just means that after I get over my initial frustration at the latest implosion of the bullpen I don't write it off as the end of the world. There's a lot of room for improvement. I hope it's made. But I don't see cause to go on jeremiads against the front office because Jeff Tam isn't pitching as well as expected and Tanyon Sturtze is as mediocre as advertised.

Everyone who calls themself a Jay fan are frustrated with the bullpen and the defence-of course they could have been a damn sight better than 6-13 with a better job in either department. And lord knows I think Ricciardi's made mistakes. I just think that it's early to be fulminating, which, you'll forgive me, you seem to be doing. Let's see if the team plays better against easier opposition and after time to get out of the ruts that some players seem to be in. If they'll still playing this badly well into May, then I'll join you in castigating the front office. I doubt they will be.

Incidentally, while the Turtles were a wonderfully absurd action cartoon, the handle has nothing to do with them. Splinter wasn't a king, after all.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go put my glasses on...
_Dr B - Monday, April 21 2003 @ 04:42 AM EDT (#90131) #
T Miller and Linton are minor league pitchers, nothing more.

Below I quote a post by Gideon, relevant detail repeated below.
Point is, Trever Miller was dominant last year in the minor leagues. Check out the strikeout to walk ratio, and the strike out to innings pitched. Not too shabby. He was also quite good in 2001 too. He may yet fail to make the jump to the major leagues (and he hasn't succeeded much there in the past) but I think his minor league numbers give him a better chance than Doug^H^H^H^H most.

Quoting Gideon:

The Reclamation Begins, or, A Tribute to Jim Steinman

Trever Miller

2002: Louisville
9-5, 3.18 ERA, 65 G, 0 GS, 82 IP, 76 H, 23 BB, 80 K
2001: Pawtucket
3-11, 5.20 ERA, 33 G, 15 GS, 116 IP, 142 H, 34 BB, 93 K

Unlike Doug Linton, one could hardly blame the Red Sox for jettisoning travelliní lefty Trever Miller after that ugly 2001 season in Rhode Island. But if the Sox had looked closely, they wouldíve seen a very attractive 34/93 BB/K ratio in the midst of the debris. I donít have a detailed breakdown of Millerís 2001 stats, so I donít know how much of his pummelling came during his 15 starts. But Miller hasnít started a major-league game since 1998, and there may be an excellent reason for that.

Gerry - Monday, April 21 2003 @ 10:11 AM EDT (#90132) #
Shane said:

When for example, Tanyon starts giving out walks like hand-jobs that's not great, but like Mr. Dudek likes to point out, statistics show he's going to do that, it's par for his course.

------

I am trying to figure out if Shane is talking from experience or from some personal knowledge of Mr. Sturtze.

Based on my experience, I would read that statement and think Tanyon is giving out walks like David Wells. I guess I need to start to hang out with Shane and my "satisfaction" should increase.
robertdudek - Monday, April 21 2003 @ 10:23 AM EDT (#90133) #
Shane,

The Blue Jays' pithcing was even worse in April 2002 than it has been so far.

Rob Neyer wrote a silly article last year concluding that the Orioles were better than the Jays and that Toronto was roughly equivalent in talent with Tampa Bay. We all now how many games each team won last year.

Top quality ballclubs are able to expose weaknesses that lesser teams can't. Those walks and homeruns allowed have something to do with the New York and Boston hitters, don't you think? Do you think Sturtze is going to walk 5 or 6 D-Rays in 5 innings? Not likely.

All I've been saying is that the pitchers we've got are (for the most part) performing a little worse than expected. In particular, Tam, Politte and Escobar are better pitchers than what they've shown. Pointing that out is not the same as claiming they are world-beaters.

The defence has been the biggest concern, in my mind. I've never seen Stewart play worse defence than he has this year. The catching defence is sub-par, though not horrible, and I don't even want to talk about right-field. On a brighter note, it looks like Hinske has straightened out his throws.

The Jays are 6-13: with league average defence, I'm convinced they could have gone at least 8-11, possibly 9-10. That is what I would have expected against such stiff competition from a team that has a talent level of about 84 wins.

If you think I'm one of the apologists, please state who it is I'm apologizing for.
Gerry - Monday, April 21 2003 @ 10:40 AM EDT (#90134) #
Jays bullpen stats from last week (Monday - Sunday).

18 2/3 IP
19 Hits
22 Walks
20 K
12 RA
4 HR

Even if we exclude Tam's implosion on Friday the bullpen is walking too many hitters.
_Shane - Monday, April 21 2003 @ 01:31 PM EDT (#90135) #
Bring 'er on boys. I'm throwing hissy fits and givin' out hand jobs, how special. Congradulations Gerry, assuming that's your name, atleast you had the guts to put your insulting implication next to your name. And Mr. Rat, with all do respect, I am relaxed, why don't you try and carefully read the posts. There are others making points in here besides you. I never addressed either you or Robert, though obviously at the time, the two previous posts (your & Robert's) were the ones I was responding after. Robert brought up Stutze, Politte, and Lopez, not you, you know how I know this, I read them, try it out.

Robert, thanks for leaving the slander to others, as always, good conversation is coming from your corner. I see you points, but some of them i'm not quite on board with.

The pitching was worse this time last year, sure was, it was horrible, but I don't see how that's relevant as a barometer to this year. Your sayng, as do some others, that Tam/Creeek/Miller have career stastists that should prove themselves out, last year it was Prokopec, Lyon, Smith, Cassidy and J. Miller who made up those shellings. So shouldn't '03's veteran bullpen core be held to higher standards, than unproven rookies? '02 April pitching and '03's is apples andd oranges, there should be less acceptance of this years squads shortcomings, and I don't see how there comparable.

As far as this tougher competition thing. If we've watched the games, I don't think Creek and Tam have really failed or been beaten by superior teams/hitters. Tam to me is a nibbler, he throws a lot of balls, a lot, and I don't see how anyone can say it's because "well it was the Yankees" --insert rolling thunder sound effects. Same with Creek. His stuff doesn't look good. He throws a lot of pitches high, ones almost no one would swing at, so I don't believe I can say it was superior batting eyes/approaches that have caused his performance.

Obviously, I think, like yourself they could have easliy won 3 to 4 games they've lost already. The defence is weak. But, in those particular games (first Sox series, & second Twins series) I don't think you can honestly say it was the defence that cost them the easy wins. It was the bullpen, and stats will show that out.

Robert, i'm not labelling you as one of the apologists, or one of the professional excuse makers, they don't seem to be attending todays tribunals. You in particular deal with stats and opinion, while leaving the spin to some others.

So again, I don't have a problem with acquiring Tanyon Sturtze, i've taken issue with those who make excuses for him. We all knew what we were getting, and when the results are what they are, say it so, don't blather it's because of something else.

I like opinions, who doesn't, the stronger the better, and I don't mind expressing them.
Coach - Monday, April 21 2003 @ 01:32 PM EDT (#90136) #
So much to respond to; great work, Jordan.

The Jays got to 6-13 the old-fashioned way. They were beaten soundly both by superior opponents and by themselves.

Both types of losses are especially hard to take in the close ones; a lot of winnable games did slip away.

the Blue Jays seem utterly indifferent to the opposition stolen base

If they decide that 11 pitchers is enough (and right now, Doug Creek is edging toward Doug Linton's spot on the bubble) they could go back to the three-C idea and promote Kevin Cash. Opponents will only test him once. I'm OK with the idea, because Wilson is a great pinch-hitter who has value at 1B defensively, and his C skills are best-suited for the #3 role.

the Jays fancy themselves a contender on the rise

Uh, not really. Some very astute Jays fans, including me, are very excited about that possibility, but only the most optimistic are thinking about a 2004 wild-card bid. I hope your statement becomes true in the spring of 2005. I'd say the Jays' self-assessment should be pride in completing the first part of their mission on budget and ahead of schedule, and confidence that they will achieve the next step.

the Rays and Tigers and Orioles are coming, and hay will be made while the sun shines

I'm also looking forward to Texas. I love to watch A-Rod, the "real" Blalock is exciting, and Mark Teixeira is intriguing. The over-under for the three games should be about 50, and I think Toronto can win a couple of the shootouts.

the darkest times are over, and better days are yet to come.

Amen. Short-term and big picture.
_Dr B - Monday, April 21 2003 @ 10:18 PM EDT (#90137) #
I love watching A-Rod too. I almost think his bat is corked though with the effortless way he launches opposite field homeruns. That's pure jealousy speaking :-). He is also a smart hitter. I remember watching Justin Miller pitching to A-Rod and threw him a slider -- perhaps A-Rod's one weakness. Justin Miller's slider has a fair bit of break and A-Rod flailed away at it for a strike. Miller threw another: same pitch, same results. I was sitting there thinking, "Great stuff, Justin! But please, please, please, whatever you do, on the next pitch don't throw another slider."

He threw another slider.

A lucky fan in the left field seats gained a souvenir.
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