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On Thursday night, Mark Hendrickson pitched like a man who didn't want to go to Syracuse. This afternoon, his fellow finesse lefty Doug Davis has a similar incentive. If Davis gets knocked around, or walks too many Cubs, Carlos Tosca will have Corey Thurman standing by to take over -- not just today, but the next time the Jays need a fifth starter. With Trever Miller pitching almost every day, another southpaw is needed in the bullpen, so Davis, who unlike Lurch is out of options, will avoid demotion to AAA if he can't hang on to his starting role. Mike Smith is also in the mix; if Thurman isn't the answer, Smitty will get his chance.

It's unreasonable for the Toronto pitchers (and there may be several) to expect their usual awesome run support today. I know, the hitters surprised Kerry Wood with three homers last night, something that's never happened to him before, but Mark Prior might be an even tougher opponent. The 6'5" righty fanned 10 Yankees in his last start, a six-inning win. In his last three starts, totalling 21.2 IP, he's struck out 23 and walked just two. He has a perfect pitcher's body -- long arms and torso, powerful legs -- and amazing poise for someone who won't turn 23 until September. I'm not saying the home team can't win, just that it would be an upset.

I can't criticize the skipper for leaving Josh Phelps on the bench against Prior and getting both Myers (his best lefty DH) and Wilson into the lineup. Howie Clark bats ninth and plays 3B, though his average is now "only" .522 -- I suspected he couldn't hit .600 all year. When Eric Hinske comes off the DL, which will depend on how he looks in batting practice next week, but should be sooner than originally expected, the powers that be will have to choose between keeping the versatile Clark, or whoever they consider the 12th pitcher. I presume that means Hendrickson, Thurman and Smith are battling for two jobs, but nobody around here would shed a tear waving goodbye to Tanyon Sturtze. This isn't the easiest day for Shannon Stewart to return, but I have a hunch he'll be back tomorrow against Estes.
Game 69: A Prior Engagement | 31 comments | Create New Account
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Coach - Saturday, June 14 2003 @ 04:31 PM EDT (#100095) #
Well, Davis wasted no time digging himself a 3-0 hole. After striking out the leadoff man, he issued a walk, then gave up a single to Patterson and and a triple to straightaway CF by Alou, who scored when he was hit by Vernon Wells' throw. That was an unearned run, as it's officially E-8.

The Jays didn't exactly surrender in their half of the first. Reed Johnson led off with an infield hit, and Delgado narrowly missed a homer, pulling a fastball just foul. However, like Cat and Wells before him, Carlos ended up a strikeout victim.

It's not Corey Thurman, but Mike Smith, who's already warming up after an O'Leary leadoff single in the second. I hope Davis has a long, successful stint as a reliever.

Thanks to BB reader Richard for pointing out an audio gem on's Jays Clubhouse page. Scroll down near the bottom and you'll find a radio interview from a few weeks ago, conducted by Todd Wright with Billy Beane and J.P. Ricciardi. You can listen to the 13:26 clip in Real Audio or Windows Media Player format.

There's not much said about the nuts and bolts of running a baseball team, but there are some interesting personal glimpses. The two men call each other "brothers," and their wives are very close friends. J.P. says they don't disagree often, and they keep in constant contact, calling each other after almost every game.

About nine minutes in, the host tries to discuss Moneyball, but Beane tells him not to ask any questions until he's read the book. Billy then shares a story about how the two talent scouts became friends -- over an argument about the professional futures of two college football quarterbacks. As usual, they were both right -- J.P. liked Dan Marino, while Beane touted John Elway.
Coach - Saturday, June 14 2003 @ 04:57 PM EDT (#100096) #
Another walk, another single, and it's 4-0. Davis did strike out three guys in two innings, but has already thrown 44 pitches and allowed six baserunners.

In the bottom of the inning, Crash drew a leadoff walk, then Wilson hung tough to get the count full (when Prior misses, it isn't by much) and fought off two great 3-2 pitches before being frozen by an absoultely perfect curve. O-Dog managed a single to right, and Woody also managed a long at-bat before going down swinging. That's five K's, if anyone's counting. Howie Clark grounded out to strand two. The encouraging thing for the Jays is, they're making the kid work -- he's at 49 pitches through two.

Davis just gave up a single to Alou to start the third; I'd declare his "audition" over and see how Smith does.
_Jacko - Saturday, June 14 2003 @ 05:10 PM EDT (#100097) #
Prior has nice numbers through 2 IP (2H, 5K) but one stat really stands out -- he's thrown _49_ pitches already. As long as the Jays stay patient and keep battling, he'll be gone after 6 innings, and they can feast on the soft underbelly of the Cubs bullpen for 3IP.

There's a lot of talk on TV about productive outs, i.e. advancing runners, hitting the ball to the right side, etc.

This appears to be all wrong. The most productive out, especially against a pitchers who is mowing people down, is one which takes a lot of pitches. If a pitcher is hot, the sooner you get him out of the game the better.
Coach - Saturday, June 14 2003 @ 05:10 PM EDT (#100098) #
Cat reached on a brutal muff by Karros, then Delgado yanked another one out of the park to cut the lead in half. With this team, it's never over.
Pepper Moffatt - Saturday, June 14 2003 @ 05:10 PM EDT (#100099) #

Carlos is unstoppable this year. 66 pitches through 2 2/3rds. I wonder if this is going to be a 130-140 pitch game for Prior. I wouldn't bet against it.

Coach - Saturday, June 14 2003 @ 05:21 PM EDT (#100100) #
His players must love Carlos Tosca. Showing far more patience than I would, he stuck with Davis, who rewarded that faith by walking a lefty batter on four pitches. But then, for the second time in the game and third in 24 hours, Howie "Brooks" Clark started a 5-4-3 DP to bail out his pitcher.
Pepper Moffatt - Saturday, June 14 2003 @ 05:39 PM EDT (#100101) #
Alright... 1st and 2nd, nobody out. Delgado at the plate! Prior at 90 pitches. I wonder if he'll last past the 6th.

Baseball Prospectus has the Cubs with the 7th best bullpen in the majors, but getting Prior out of the game would still be a big plus.

Coach - Saturday, June 14 2003 @ 05:53 PM EDT (#100102) #
Cat started the fifth with a single up the middle, hustled to second on a wild pitch during a 4-pitch walk to Wells, then advanced to third on Delgado's fielder's choice. Unfortunately, though both catchers battled hard through a bunch of very tough pitches, Crash swung through a 3-2 hook, and Tom Wilson took the hat trick on a wicked fastball. It was the eighth K for Prior, who is at 105 pitches, so there's hope for a comeback.

Woo-hoo! Karros tried to take an extra base on the "weak" arm of Catalanotto, who bare-handed a shot off the wall and threw a perfect one-hopper to O-Dog. Frankie's getting it done with the bat and the glove since being moved to left.
Pepper Moffatt - Saturday, June 14 2003 @ 05:54 PM EDT (#100103) #
Question for those in the Toronto area:

Has the media picked up on the success of the Jays at all? Have you noticed any more coverage? I'm only in Toronto 2-3 days a month, so I can't really tell. Even in the summer, though, the coverage always seems to be "Who hates who in the Leafs front office" and "What brand of cigar does Pat Quinn smoke" and "How does Mats Sundin avoid getting hangnails". Has this changed at all in the last month?

Pepper Moffatt - Saturday, June 14 2003 @ 06:01 PM EDT (#100104) #
Sweet.. Clark gets a triple *and* knocks Prior out of the game.

There's no way the Jays can send him down now. Not the way he's played.

_A - Saturday, June 14 2003 @ 06:06 PM EDT (#100105) #
When the Jays' are on a torrid streak (ie May), there might be mention of a BJ win on the top of the Star's from page, aside from that we're lucky if the Jays are even on the front page of the sports section...This weekend the Jays can be found around pages 3-5 in the sports section because of the US Open.

This is just one more piece of evidence that proves justice is never served.
Coach - Saturday, June 14 2003 @ 06:12 PM EDT (#100106) #
Mike, there's been a bit more talk about the Jays on radio and TV, and slightly more favourable reporting in the papers, but there's still an element of surprise at the team's success, as if they're doing it with mirrors. The "experts" outside Da Box didn't see it coming, so it's taking time for them to catch up to what we've been saying for six months.

Hard to believe that Davis lasted the longer of the two starters. Farnsworth isn't much of a break for the Jays hitters; the guy throws gas. Tosca countered with Tanyon Sturtze, who all too often throws kerosene on fires he set, but not today -- a tidy 1-2-3 seventh with two strikeouts gives his mates a chance to rally.
Pepper Moffatt - Saturday, June 14 2003 @ 06:15 PM EDT (#100107) #
I'm surprised Baker didn't bring in Remlinger or Guthrie to face Cat. I guess I'm just used to a lot of pitching changes.

Pepper Moffatt - Saturday, June 14 2003 @ 06:25 PM EDT (#100108) #
I know a lot of you have criticized Tosca in the past for being too strict with the RLRLR thing, but I wish he had done it today.

I'd rather have the righty Wilson after Delgado than the lefty Myers. By doing so, you make Baker make a decision when Wilson comes up: Does he leave Remlinger in there to face a righty (good for us) or does he take him out for a righty (good for us, because the bullpen is depleted, and he may have to leave the righty in there for Myers).

Pepper Moffatt - Saturday, June 14 2003 @ 06:26 PM EDT (#100109) #
Instead Tosca ended up switching Phelps for Myers. I would have done the same. Now our bench is weakened instead of their bullpen.

_Donkit R.K. - Saturday, June 14 2003 @ 06:31 PM EDT (#100110) #
It's like we're facing Escobar.... getting men on, but just not pushing them past the plate.
_Donkit R.K. - Saturday, June 14 2003 @ 06:50 PM EDT (#100111) #
"I'll express my doubts as it happens.... I think they should have left Sturtzey in there." is what I tried to post as Tosca walked to the mound to retrieve Tanyon. Miller got the out, so I guess I could have been wrong, but I still think Tanyon could have finished the eigth and maybe even went into the ninth.
_Donkit R.K. - Saturday, June 14 2003 @ 06:55 PM EDT (#100112) #
And Politte looked good to, going 1-2-3 in the ninth, so I guess my point is moot, and it's up to the batters against (probabaly) Borowski.
Pepper Moffatt - Saturday, June 14 2003 @ 06:55 PM EDT (#100113) #
Is Alex Gonzalez the most overrated player in Blue Jays history?

_Brent - Saturday, June 14 2003 @ 07:01 PM EDT (#100114) #
Good job for Wells for getting that ball in for a single to center field. Here comes our big papa...
Pepper Moffatt - Saturday, June 14 2003 @ 07:01 PM EDT (#100115) #
I'm not surprised Delgado walked. If I'm Borowski, I want absolutely nothing to do with him.

_Donkit R.K. - Saturday, June 14 2003 @ 07:16 PM EDT (#100116) #
Not to say he's in the same ballpark as Alex Gonzalez (and this might be considered sarelige) but could you say that George Bell is overrated? I recently saw him voted as the greatest Blue Jay ever ahead of Alomar, Stieb, and Delgado. I must admit, I never saw him play, so that could be working against my opinion of him. After seeing the poll I checked his stats, albeit briefly, and saw two very very good seasons (one of which was great) and a bunch of good ones. I know this could get me stoned if any of you met me personally, but it's just a thought.
_StephenT - Saturday, June 14 2003 @ 07:52 PM EDT (#100117) #
I listened to the WGN telecast (Carey & Stone did a fine job and expressed a lot of appreciation for the pressure the Jays' offense was putting on Prior). WGN is also doing Sunday's game.

I still watched the Sportsnet videofeed (side-by-side picture) for the straightaway centre-field camera angle (when they weren't playing games with the camera). I'd watch the pitch on Sportsnet, see its location, then a second later see the pitch on WGN, and the pitch usually looked a lot further to the left (from the camera's perspective) but not consistently so. (WGN was using the conventional left-centre-field camera.) Most of the ball-strike calls look correct from the straightaway camera (except that strike 3 on Delgado) but I can't tell a ball from a strike quite often from the conventional distorted angle.

Wells didn't make a throwing error (I believe it was Woodward on the relay). And Remlinger was left in to face the righty Wilson (and struck him out), presumably so he could face Hudson the next inning (who is believed to be worse against lefties).
_Eric - Saturday, June 14 2003 @ 08:30 PM EDT (#100118) #
Brief Hijack:

NY Times - Blue Jays Hiding Weaknesses Under the Bats

Found it on Baseball Primer, and it's a decent article about our amazing offense and terrible pitching.

I found this quote interesting:

Because the Jays oppose the Yankees and the Red Sox 12 times next month, July could dictate how long they contend. The Jays swept series from both the last time they played. With a payroll of $53 million, Ricciardi is not sure how ownership will react if the Jays keep soaring and he wants to add some players before the July 31 trading deadline.

Is this the first time J.P. has said that he would like to **add** players at the trading deadline?
_Shane - Saturday, June 14 2003 @ 09:47 PM EDT (#100119) #
For those interested, Brandon League has been promoted to Dunedin, and Jason Arnold is on his way to losing his third game in Triple-A.
Joe - Saturday, June 14 2003 @ 11:02 PM EDT (#100120) #
Paul Godfrey said on a Jays broadcast that, should they still be in the running after their 12-game stint with the Yankees and Sox, he might be knocking on Ted Rogers' door, begging for some extra money.
Coach - Sunday, June 15 2003 @ 11:00 AM EDT (#100121) #
Both Godfrey and Ricciardi have said it's premature to discuss being buyers instead of sellers at the deadline until they play Boston and New York again. If they're still near (or in) first place at that point, J.P. has to formally request a change in his budget, and even if P.G. agrees, he has to get approval from Ted Rogers.

There will be loud wailing from some quarters if familiar names are traded while the club appears to be in contention. However, anyone who expects the much wealthier Yankees and Red Sox to stand pat is delusional. Renting a couple of extra pitchers for two months (while watering down the farm system, don't forget) might let Toronto keep up with their high-rent neighbours, but there's no reason to expect that suddenly, they would become the East favourites. The Jays could spend money they don't have and be "stuck" with valuable assets they would have preferred to deal for help in the future, only to miss the wild card by a game or get eliminated by the West winner in the first round.

Whatever the Jays receive for any (or all) of Lidle, Escobar and Stewart near the deadline will be considerably more than if they just walk away next winter. I'm not saying "dump them," but if the right offers are on the table, I hope J.P. accepts. Whether they go in July or January, that's about $20 million in salaries saved for 2004 alone; part of that will bring in a new starter or two, either free agents or in their contract year.

Get used to the revolving door, folks. When your budget is half (or a third) of your competitor's, you have to be creative. This time next year, we'll be tearing out our hair over Delgado's impending departure. If he doesn't waive his no-trade to rejoin his best buddy Green in L.A., I'm sure the Jays will make Carlos a qualifying offer, but if it's about "security" (as in dollars and years) he'll do exactly what Jim Thome did. If there were still four million fans a year at the Dome, J.P. could make a competitive bid, but his hands are tied by empty seats.
_Jurgen - Sunday, June 15 2003 @ 11:18 AM EDT (#100122) #
There will be loud wailing from some quarters if familiar names are traded

I think the Jays's profile in the city is low enough that J.P. will have plenty of wiggle room to continue to do as he pleases without risking incurring the wrath of the masses. (I can't help thinking of the Twins resigning Hunter to a big contract despite a plethora of superb young OFs under the rationale that he's a fan favourite. Is that what fans really want?)

I didn't get a chance to see yesterday's game (and I don't have cable so I can't catch the Cubbies on WGN). Nobody really commented on Prior's stuff. How good does that kid look up close? His delivery looked so effortless on the clips I saw.
_Curious George - Sunday, June 15 2003 @ 11:52 AM EDT (#100123) #
How will the Yankees and Red Sox poor farm systems acquire anything useful? I think their options are somewhat limited.

Will Cory Lidle and Shannon Stewart really be worth prospects that are better than those that could be chosen with the compensatory picks (which haven't been done away with yet) the Jays will recieve? They were both in the A group last season.

If Kelvim continues to pitch half as well as he has, why in the world would he not be re-signed?

Personally, I would do a Stewart + B- prospect for Colon deal once the White Sox give up.
_Chuck Van Den C - Sunday, June 15 2003 @ 01:17 PM EDT (#100124) #
How good does that kid look up close?

He was striking out people with hard 3-2 curves in the strike zone. Amazing poise. Definitely looked like Cy Young material.
robertdudek - Sunday, June 15 2003 @ 06:49 PM EDT (#100125) #
Filling those seats depends on creating the perception that the Jays want to win. If the Jays are in a race and they sell off some valuable assets, there will be a bunch of people who will feel like they've been stabbed in the back. Whether that stance is a rational is completely beside the point.

Don't forget the revenue side of the equation. Pennant race (win or lose) = more fannies in the seats and more eyeballs watching on TV = more money for next year.
Game 69: A Prior Engagement | 31 comments | Create New Account
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