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This week's previews come to y'all from an Advance Scout Icon who appreciates Rays beat writer Bill Chastain almost as much as I do. Take it away, Rob Pettapiece:

Alex probably figured his week of finals was bad enough without bringing the Devil Rays into it. So here I am, and here we are at yet another Toronto-Tampa Bay series. And no, I'm not sick of scouting the Rays. Why do you ask? The copyeditor is getting tired of this team, one would infer, since Saturday's headline read "Rays, Jackson lose in multiple ways." Read on anyway to learn more about Jonny Gomes' new career, Shawn Riggans' absurdly long scouting reports, Joe Maddon's man-love for his shortstop, and Akinori Iwamura's friend named Nuts.

On to the Advance Scout!

Disney plus the Devil Rays? The unholy alliance started in May, with three "home" games against the Rangers at Disney's Wide World of Whatever in Orlando. Did it go well? Carl Crawford didn't enjoy it at all ("The only thing I liked is that we won three games there"), Jonny Gomes' Chrysler 300 got clipped on the highway on the way, and the writer, who was certainly not Bill Chastain, could use a geography lesson: "Tampa Bay first extended its fanbase south toward its soon-to-be Spring Training home in Port Charlotte, and now is making an effort to stretch the zone westward as well." The least expensive ticket prices advertised were $15 US, which is just a little bit ridiculous.

Rotation rotations: Short version: Seo and Fossum out, Howell and Sonnanstine up from AAA.

Long version: After an early May loss in Baltimore, Joe Maddon broke down Jae Seo's poor outing thusly: "He threw a couple of decent breaking balls, but his bread and butter pretty much is fastball location and changeup location, and it just wasn't there tonight." Let us pause and reflect on all the good Bill Chastain has done for this world. And now we move on to another bit of Chastainity, as he found a nice way to say Seo and Edwin Jackson suck: "The presence of Seo and Edwin Jackson in the Rays rotation is making the prospect of putting together a sustained winning streak a difficult proposition." So, after Friday night's game, Andy Sonnanstine and J.P. Howell were promoted from Durham, Casey Fossum went to the bullpen, and Jae Seo was DFA'd. Jackson still remains.

On the morning of May 20, Seo, Fossum, and Jackson's ERAs were 7.80, 7.80, and 7.78. That's gold, Jerry.

Andy Sonnanstine: I wonder how well pitchers fare in their ML debut when they face Roy Halladay. Sonnanstine struck out RHB at a much higher rate than lefties this year in AAA and last year in AA. Only struck out one batter in his last start, May 31 vs. Ottawa, Lou Collier. Thanks to small sample size, that dropped his K/9 from 9.3 to the chart-visible 8.4. Sir Chastain, doing my job for me through quotes from backup catcher Shawn Riggans: "He pounds the zone. His game is either going to go one way or the other. He's either going to dominate you or you're going to pound him because he throws so many strikes. He uses three different arm angles, from up top, three quarters, and low three-quarters. Three pitches from each arm angle, excellent control, he doesn't walk many guys. He's working on coming inside a little more. Down and away is his money pitch, fastball down and away; slider in the same location. The one problem he has is coming inside, sometimes it leaks out over the plate. He can still throw fastballs by guys with his deception." Sonnanstine didn't get any advice from Maddon, nor will he be allowed to call his own pitches on Tuesday. Don't think, meat: "I want to keep his mind as uncluttered as possible."

Scott Kazmir: You know him.

Edwin Jackson: Tampa Bay is 1-9 when he starts this year. The one win came when they were down 5-3 heading to the bottom of the 8th. So yeah, he hasn't really helped the team win much. He somehow struck out nine batters in six innings against Toronto last month, with another nine in six last Monday vs. Detroit. Saturday, not so much. The Royals knocked him around and he knew it: "I don't know if it's back to square one, but it's a couple of squares back." He's not as bad as his traditional 0-7, 7.77 line indicates, but still. Ouch. Adam Lind homered in the third inning of that game, which is not significant on its own, but when you consider that Lind nearly killed Jackson last September 16, perhaps Edwin was looking to get him out for a change. Those seven losses in a row? Bryan Rekar did it to start 2001, but the Devil Rays' record is Tanyon Sturtze's 0-8 start in 2002.

Mike Wilner on Greg Norton: "For all we know, Greg Norton is the Mark Messier of baseball. But nobody will ever know, because he's surrounded by crap."

Akinori Iwamura: Singled off Sean Henn to start off his North American hit counter, but his first career hit was against now-Dodgers closer Takashi Saito, about whom you will read more anon. In Akinori's last four full years in Japan, he averaged 32 homers but he is quite a bit behind that pace after suffering a right oblique strain from April 24 to May 27. Contributes a diary to as told through his interpreter, which includes fun phrases such as, "We were celebrating so excitedly that my teammates fell on top of me. I was the smallest and I was on the bottom of the pile. It was awesome." He also shared: "I'm looking forward to becoming a father. Right now we just have a toy poodle named Nuts." Or, "I went to pick up a flat-screen TV the other day at Best Buy and a lady came up to me and asked if I was the guy who played for the Rays." Apparently, Japanese TV-buyers constitute a minority in St. Petersburg. That TV came in handy after Saturday's game, as he could have watched himself on Sportscenter, getting poked in the eye by a foul ball.

I hope you enjoyed reading that, because Akinori won't play this weekend.

Elijah Dukes: Great inside-out swing. Not sure how to show that in his batted-ball data, but this amateur scout thinks it's true. I assure you I only meant one thing by that "powerful swing" statement; his most recent troubles could lead one to believe otherwise. And the St. Pete Times is on notice after they sort of forgot that whole journalism thing and equivocated on the meaning of "complimentary newspapers."

Rocco Baldelli: To hell with Torii Hunter's Spiderman persona. Maddon thinks Baldelli is Superman: "The rubber track, with his athleticism, he's going to leap tall buildings in a single bound." He's been less like the Man of Steel and more like the DH of Glass, with the Rays' abundance of 7-8-9ers and his recent hamstring strain. Rays Index calls him Bubble Boy, and not because he doesn't like the Moops. He probably won't play, either.

Brendan Harris: "I really like guys like him, makeup guys, guys who do the little things on their own. He really likes to play the game. He comes prepared on a daily basis. I watched his skills. I heard all about his ability to drive the ball to right center, and he's showing us that, he has a real fine throwing arm, he's showing that. I'd heard that maybe defensively he wasn't able to cover all the infield positions. But he's shown me that was incorrect immediately. He's very good at all three spots, and I think he could play some first base. And we could use him in the outfield, too. So he's a very valuable member of the team...He does everything right. He's a true pro."

Now tell us what you really think, Joe Maddon.

He (Harris, not Maddon) was part of that four-team Nomar trade in 2004 in which Les Expos traded away Orlando Cabrera for 50 AB of Harris, 14 innings from somebody named Francis Beltran, and old friend Alex Gonzalez, who took off for San Diego soon after. That one worked out well.

Raul Casanova: Called up when Shawn Riggans suffered a strained elbow again just a few days after recovering from same. Through age 27, Casanova was most similar to Gregg Zaun, but they've certainly diverged since then. Minor League Splits doesn't have his stolen bases listed, but without loss of generality, I'm going with 0-for-0.

Carl Crawford: Back in the #3 hole after a brief stay atop the order. You think Maddon knows something? His 1-2-3 hitters are first-second-third on the team in walks and one more walk from Crawford puts them 1-2-3 in BB% as well among full-timers. When Crawford hits with power, he pulls it; if he hits a homer to left field during this series, I'll buy you a coke. I'll make this point every time Alex forces me into writing a Devil Rays Scout: Crawford keeps getting better. Improved his walk-to-strikeout ratio in 2004, his basestealing in 2005, his hitting against LHP in 2006, and now his OBP sits at a career high .357. Three of his most-similar players through age 24 are in the Hall of Fame. He has, however, been held to a .240/.255/.260 line in his career against Halladay.

Al Reyes: Has thrown the ninth inning three days in a row, with a total of 46 pitches. Hasn't topped 30 pitches yet this year. Maddon seems to be using him as a pure 1-inning closer: 26 appearances, 21 of which came in a D-Rays' win, 25 of which were three outs long (the other was a "get some work" game). He'll come back to Earth soon.

Jorge Cantu: In his mind, he can still play second base.

The Demoted Jonny Gomes: Oh, to be 25 years, 6 months, and 2 days old again: after the Rays' 10-8 win over Toronto on May 24, 2006, Gomes' career line was .270/.370/.533. The rest of '06 didn't go well (.175/.280/.318) and he's often suffered the ignominy of playing twice a week as a 9-hole DH this year. Gomes is not allowed to finish a game in the outfield unless his team is losing by nine runs. Please read that sentence again, as it's one of my favourite ever written. As you might expect from a DH who hardly plays, Gomes is now bored with baseball and considering a career in pro wrestling. "I can't imagine the adrenalin rush those guys get. That's the main event. Everyone's watching you." His last line indicates he is very aware that he plays for the Devil Rays.

Well, not anymore -- he was sent down to Durham last Monday and wasn't too happy about it (is anyone ever happy?). Maddon said, "Jon wants to be a part of the first-rate team that wins the World Series," giving pissant bloggers everywhere a setup so easy, it's not even sporting.

The Credit Section: Batted-ball data and Leverage Index are available at Fangraphs. K/G, BB/G, and HR/G are from The Hardball Times and are "per games pitched" except for Sonnanstine, whose stats are per 9 innings. K% and BB% are strikeouts and walks as a percentage of plate appearances; GB%/LD%/FB% are expressed as percentages of balls in play. Minor-league stats are from Minor League Splits. Some AL average stats had to come from, I'm afraid. Everything else is available at The Hardball Times or Casey Fossum's LI of 0.82 is based on two relief appearances.
Advance Scout: Devil Rays, June 5-7 | 55 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Mike Green - Tuesday, June 05 2007 @ 12:23 PM EDT (#169277) #
Thank you for not mentioning the Gleeman-Green bet.  Dioner Navarro is falling shy of even modest expectations for him.  Wieters must be awfully tempting for the Rays around now...
Gerry - Tuesday, June 05 2007 @ 12:25 PM EDT (#169278) #
How did Mike D get on the Colbert hit list?  And why Bill Madlock, is Colbert a Jays fan?
hugo - Tuesday, June 05 2007 @ 12:39 PM EDT (#169280) #
I've often thought he should be, just so he can adopt Casey "Tek" Janssen as his hero/mascot. But I can't imagine he would be, not being a huge fan of Canada.
Alex Obal - Tuesday, June 05 2007 @ 01:01 PM EDT (#169282) #
It's time for Tip of the Hat/Wag of the Finger.

Tip of the hat to: Rob.

Wag of the finger to: Shawn Camp!, who is off to a rotten start as indicated by his 1.83 WHIP. Here are Camp's stats by year from 2004 to 2007:

K/BB: 3.19, 2.15, 2.79, 1.40
GB%: 56.1, 54.9, 57.3, 62.3
BABIP: .318, .371, .346, .369

Career 2.52 K/BB, 56.8% GB, .347 BABIP... 1.52 WHIP(!).

Camp is 31. Perhaps the Devil Rays could be coerced into giving him away cheap if they think he's doomed to bad hit rates forever, or if they think he's lost some of his ability to miss bats. The Jays could use short relief help, a serious groundballer with good peripherals like Camp should be much more effective than this, and one would assume Camp's trade value is at an all-time low right now...
3RunHomer - Tuesday, June 05 2007 @ 01:16 PM EDT (#169284) #
Everyone please take time to thank the Rays for the gift of a Jackson start. By all rights the Jays should be facing Jason Hammel instead.
Mick Doherty - Tuesday, June 05 2007 @ 01:44 PM EDT (#169285) #

Carlos Pena is hitting .313/12/31 with an OPS+ of 163????

Who knew? Is he finally Living Up To The Hype (c. 2001)?

Chuck - Tuesday, June 05 2007 @ 01:54 PM EDT (#169286) #

The Jays should be especially pleased to be missing James Shields, whose outstanding work has received very little recognition. He and Kazmir form a nice, young one-two punch. All the team needs now are a 3-4-5 combo who can get their ERAs under 7.00, which is where the bar is currently set.

Last year I made disparaging remarks about Ty Wigginton. I argued that TB shouldn't be wasting ABs on a guy with such a low ceiling (my poor choice of wording at the time made it seem as though I felt that players of the 320/440 ilk have no value, which is not the case, particularly when they are as cheap and versatile). While Wigginton rewarded TB with a fine 2006 (330/498), he is trolling in more familiar circles thus far this season, and I once again find myself wondering why he's gobbling up so many ABs. With an entirely healthy roster (which, admittedly, TB does not currently have), should he do any more than perhaps a little platooning at the infield corners.

Ron - Tuesday, June 05 2007 @ 02:07 PM EDT (#169288) #
People have been saying you should look out for the D-Rays because of all their young talent for about 3 years now. Once again, it looks like they will finish under .500 this season.

The D-Rays are clearly loaded with young talent on the 25 man roster and in the minors, but I would like to see results in the W-L department. They held on to Cantu and Gomes too long which has hurt their trade value. I'm afraid it looks like the same thing is happening to Rocco. If you're the D-Rays would you trade Delmon Young or Carl Crawford for Rich Harden?

Mike Green - Tuesday, June 05 2007 @ 04:24 PM EDT (#169304) #
Rob's little note that Tampa's DER is last in the AL should be highlighted.  The team FIP of 4.85, while not great, is getting there, but the defence is horrendous.  It seems to be mostly ground-ball defence that is the problem.  Can they fit Iwamura, Brignac, Upton and Longoria into an infield that works?
alsiem - Tuesday, June 05 2007 @ 04:39 PM EDT (#169305) #
I loved this Advanced Scout.  I'm not sure what I found so funny but I was killing myself.  To all those Rays fans, everything is funny if you wait long enough.
christaylor - Tuesday, June 05 2007 @ 04:59 PM EDT (#169308) #
I have to agree with Ron. Being loaded with young talent is fine, but there comes a danger in believing your own hype a little too much. No group of young talent will ever be distributed correctly as to make a coherent team. By not trading you end up with strengths and glaring weaknesses - the Rays have a bunch of young hitters and young stars in the OF and an ace (maybe now what looks like a number two starter) and well - not much else. The log jam also hurts players development of players as they hit the major leagues (Upton?)

The Rays GM has got start to pick and choose and then deal for the pieces that fill in the puzzle. In addition to a deal like Rob mentioned, trade some potential for some quantity and get some rotation depth and some pen help. Shed one of those potential stars for those sorts of pieces the Jays have in spades (Marcum, Janssen, Taubenheim). For the Rays sake, I hope they pick the player(s) who'll be duds (if only they traded Gomes or Cantu!) but it is better to deal than to sit on a flawed team concept. I know it'd mean the end of number one pick after number one pick, but a tradition of losing can't be the best environment to develop young players.
braden - Tuesday, June 05 2007 @ 07:56 PM EDT (#169322) #

Odd that Halladay just had another rough third inning. In his past four starts, he has had three disastrous third frames. And the only other one was his last start, against Chicago in which the White Sox had runners on second and third with nobody out.

I'm sure it's just a strange coincidence but I wonder if it's something mental. Odd as that would seem. Though Doc did have some well documented problems with that way back when.

scottt - Tuesday, June 05 2007 @ 08:09 PM EDT (#169323) #
Looks like he could have used an extra day as well. Hopefully that's all this is because I don't think he's gonna make it through 5.

braden - Tuesday, June 05 2007 @ 08:15 PM EDT (#169324) #

Three of Doc's last four starts (mind you, with the appendicitis in between) have been absolute disasters. If it weren't for the gem against the White Sox, we'd all be ready to jump off a building at this point.

Simply because it's Doc, I can't help but think there's something wrong. Whether it be an injury, mental, or he's tipping his pitches. The real Roy Halladay just doesn't pitch this poorly, this often.

Rob - Tuesday, June 05 2007 @ 09:51 PM EDT (#169327) #
The Rays GM has got start to pick and choose and then deal for the pieces that fill in the puzzle. In addition to a deal like Rob mentioned, trade some potential for some quantity and get some rotation depth and some pen help.

Emphasis mine, and I feel obligated to point out that I am not Ron. The only trade I mentioned was Brandon Harris, which I don't think is a deal anyone should imitate anytime soon.
Sherrystar - Tuesday, June 05 2007 @ 10:06 PM EDT (#169328) #

Wow... I've been waiting for a comeback like this all year... awesome!

Here's hoping the Big Hurt ends it with a hit here in the 9th!

scottt - Tuesday, June 05 2007 @ 10:16 PM EDT (#169329) #
Of course, they walked Thomas. And Glaus. Hill too while they're at it. Oops. That was the game.
AWeb - Tuesday, June 05 2007 @ 10:18 PM EDT (#169330) #
Wow....a leadoff walk to start the ninth and a "walk off" walk to end it for Hill. Wow. Anyone who decided to leave the game or turn it off early:

12-11 Jays win!!!

Leigh - Tuesday, June 05 2007 @ 10:18 PM EDT (#169331) #
How about some love for Josh Effing Towers, holding them down for the win.
ChicagoJaysFan - Tuesday, June 05 2007 @ 10:19 PM EDT (#169332) #
Adam Lind is on a hell of a run right now. 7 for 11 with 2 doubles and a homer in his last 3 games.  Hopefully this is a sign of good things to come. With Overbay out, a big lefty bat will help out a lot.

HippyGilmore - Tuesday, June 05 2007 @ 10:22 PM EDT (#169334) #

What an amazing game!!! We've all been waiting for one of these for what seems like forever! And we don't all have to spend all night depressed about Doc. He'll figure out whatever his problem is (Probably tipping pitches) and fix it, so the team picking him up tonight is huge. Maybe the breaks are finally starting to go our way!!!

Alex Obal - Tuesday, June 05 2007 @ 10:24 PM EDT (#169336) #
Right there behind ya, Leigh. Towers now sits on 33 K and 5 BB. How long can it be before he gets another kick at the rotation?

Craig B - Tuesday, June 05 2007 @ 10:27 PM EDT (#169337) #
Well that was absolutely bloody marvelous, so much so that I had to interrupt my frenzied dancing to come here and share.

Even before Lind came to the plate, when Orvella came out for the ninth, knowing how wild he can be, I thought "let's get the leadoff man on and go from there... we have a chance."  What a wonderful, wonderful inning, from Vernon smacking that thing right on the bolts, to Aaron Hill's perfect at-bat against a cold pitcher with the bases loaded and infield in (he's going to try to keep the ball way down, so let him beat himself - and he did).

This could be the turning point of the season; it's imperative to keep the foot on the Rays' necks the rest of this series.

Dave Till - Tuesday, June 05 2007 @ 10:32 PM EDT (#169338) #
I confess that I gave up on the game, but it's not all my fault. Whenever I had the game on, the Rays scored runs. Had I been watching in the bottom of the ninth, Toronto would not have come back to win. I'm willing to take one for the team here.

But what is wrong with Doc? The TV broadcasters were speculating that he was tipping his pitches: they were hitting the first pitch time after time. His pitches were up and they weren't moving much. I'm afraid that he's trying to pitch through an injury and is about to go kaboom. But I'm a pessimist that way.

Original Ryan - Tuesday, June 05 2007 @ 10:33 PM EDT (#169340) #
I'll admit that I had given up on this game.  I actually spent much of the night watching CNN's coverage of the Republican debate instead.  After turning off the TV for the night, I refreshed the Jays box score on my computer to see how the game finished, only to find out the Jays had scored five in the 9th to tie it and were still batting.  Fortunately I was able to see the final two pitches of Hill's at-bat.

What a game!  After all of Toronto's bullpen struggles early this year, it's nice to see another team have a complete meltdown.

AWeb - Tuesday, June 05 2007 @ 10:39 PM EDT (#169342) #
I'm sure someone will recall, but is this the biggest bottom of the ninth comeback in Jays history? I know they've overcome larger deficits over the course of a game, but down 5 in the ninth, scoring 6, that's pretty damn special.
Pistol - Tuesday, June 05 2007 @ 10:39 PM EDT (#169343) #
My connection to the broadcast cut out in the top of the ninth and I just shut it down.  Then I had BBTN on and saw the highlights of the night up to the point where it was tied and I caught the intentional walk and Hill's walk.

I find it hard to believe that Halladay has an injury after being so dominant the previous start.  I can't imagine him being that good while being hurt.  Sometimes you just don't have it.

westcoast dude - Tuesday, June 05 2007 @ 10:44 PM EDT (#169344) #
Nice to see Stairs settling in at first, and Phillips picking up Sal and hitting a double himself. When Lind figures out how to run the basepaths, it's hello, Murderer's Row.  Bottom line was, Doc got shelled but Josh won the game.
Ron - Tuesday, June 05 2007 @ 10:48 PM EDT (#169345) #
It's funny hearing all these post game callers wondering if Doc is still injured. This is the same guy that dominated the White Sox a couple of days ago. I realize 3 of his last 4 starts have been brutal but I chalk it up to nothing more than a few awful games.  He will be fine. I've noticed when excellent pitchers have a few bad outings, fans and the media always like to speculate if they are injured or not. People have a hard time accepting even the great pitchers go through bad stretches.

HippyGilmore - Tuesday, June 05 2007 @ 10:51 PM EDT (#169346) #
Since it seems a lot of people missed the Sportsnet broadcast, Pat Tabler was making a big deal about how he was almost certain Roy was tipping his pitches based on experience and the way the Rays were reacting to what he threw. I had to admit, I agreed with a lot of what he said; it seemed like they particularly knew when the cutter and the curve were coming, almost every time. Granted, he still threw some terrible pitches, but I think (and maybe hope) there's more to this theory than the idea that he's pitching through an injury and we're close to hearing the dreaded "Out indefinitely" announcement.
Matthew E - Tuesday, June 05 2007 @ 10:59 PM EDT (#169348) #
C'est magnifique... mais ce n'est pas la guerre.
Ryan Day - Tuesday, June 05 2007 @ 11:34 PM EDT (#169349) #
Y'know, you go down to the Dome to watch Roy Halladay face the Devil Rays, and you certainly don't expect it to take three hourse. You certainly don't expect the opposition to score double digits.

I admit it: I was sorely tempted to leave early; the first five innings were pretty awful, and the next three were uneventful aside from some nice relief pitching. Jason Frasor should officially be out of the doghouse, and it's time to do something with Josh Towers; either give him another shot at the rotation, a meaningful role in the pen, or punt him to AAA. This pitching once every two weeks business is ridiculous. Brian Wolfe was okay, but there's no reason not to try and get 4 or 5 innings out of Towers when you're getting whupped.

Man, can Adam Lind hit. Aaron Hill ain't so bad, either. And hopefully, this is the turnaround point for Vernon Wells.

I was impressed that Stairs hung in against Fossum. Not that hanging in against a guy with a 7.91 ERA should be too hard, but I was lamenting the lack of pinch-hitting options.

I think I've become a Howie Clark fan. Not that I think he's particularly good, but I really just noticed the bio that flashed on the jumbotron during his at-bat: He was drafted in the 27th round in 1992. Guys like that shouldn't be in the majors 15 years later.

Somewhat tragically, this was maybe the most boring finish to a 6-run ninth-inning comeback you could imagine. It started off great, but then everything after Stairs' double felt anticlimactic: Walk... wild pitch... walk... walk... It was less a triumph of hitting than yet another embarrassment of the Rays' pen. Like watching a three-legged chihuahua try and pull a sled through the arctic.

Don't get me wrong: It was awesome and I loved it. But would it really have killed Hill to hit a Grand Slam?

Yes, yes, I'm greedy. Great, great game.
joemayo - Tuesday, June 05 2007 @ 11:34 PM EDT (#169350) #
Early in 2003, I believe, the Jays scored 6 runs in the bottom of the 9th to beat KC.  I remember sitting out in RF for that comeback...what a game!!
Magpie - Tuesday, June 05 2007 @ 11:37 PM EDT (#169351) #
I was in the house (and to my surprise so was Liam, who phoned me from his seat immediately after it ended) and strangely enough, I never thought they were out of it. Despite the fact that they had overcome a five run deficit in their final at bat exactly once in franchise history.

Must be the Devil Ray factor. They are truly a special team.

Jeff Blair mentioned to me that he thought Doc was tipping his pitches "just like a few years ago" - I didn't see that, but he sure wasn't hitting his spots. He had lots of velocity, lots of movement, but no command at all. And everything was up in the strike zone. Vernon made more plays behind him than the infielders, which is not the way it's supposed to go for Halladay.

Since when did Josh Towers start missing bats? He's getting an ungodly number of swings and misses. This is new.

We weren't sure if Fasano hurt himself on the double - something looked wrong as he was approaching second base - or on the passed ball. But it looked like the passed ball caught him bad, because he was obviously in a lot of trouble afterwards...

Mike Green - Tuesday, June 05 2007 @ 11:38 PM EDT (#169352) #
I didn't agree with Maddon's intentional walk decisions in the ninth inning, particularly the second one to Glaus.   It might take a little while, but pretty soon opposing managers are going to start paying Hill some R-E-S-P-E-C-T. 
China fan - Wednesday, June 06 2007 @ 12:27 AM EDT (#169354) #

    I know it's too early for scoreboard-watching, but the Tigers lost and the Jays are now within 4 games of the wild card. 

    Meanwhile, what about Matt Stairs?  A clutch hit to tie the game in the 9th inning, and then he scored the winning run.  He is leading the entire team in batting average, OBP and SLG. 

    Where are all the people who denigrated Stairs as a terrible player in the off-season and early in the season?  Isn't it about time for us to admit that Stairs was a very shrewd acquisition?  Yes, his defence is occasionally lacking, but he's been exactly what the Jays hoped for in every other category.  By platooning with Lind, he has allowed the rookie to make the difficult transition to full-time player.   His slugging has helped to ease the problems caused by the power outage from Thomas.   He has been a great pinch-hitter, and now he's a capable replacement for Overbay at first base.  Where would this team be without him?

VBF - Wednesday, June 06 2007 @ 12:44 AM EDT (#169355) #
Fasano was out there for a few very very long innings, and a ton of up and down movement. I would guess his leg charlie horsed on him from the lactic acid. Those things can be a real nuissance, not to mention when you're a big guy and the team has its running game out and the pitcher is getting hit hard, it can be a little overwhelming.
Dez - Wednesday, June 06 2007 @ 01:24 AM EDT (#169356) #
What a game.. I kept looking to the bullpen to see if Al Reyes was going to start warming up, but despite the save situation being created, he never did. When I saw Camp come in, I started laughing. What was Joe Madden thinking? Looking it up, Reyes had pitched in 3 straight games. I guess he was unavailable?
Nolan - Wednesday, June 06 2007 @ 02:00 AM EDT (#169357) #

Wow, that was the game I was waiting for.  I agree with Magpie and some other posters here in that when I got home from work and saw the jays down 3 runs and then 5 runs, I still felt optimistic.  Usually at that point I just check back occasionally to see if the situation's changed, but today I kept with it.

Like watching a three-legged chihuahua try and pull a sled through the arctic.

Man, I laughed outloud at this and I think I woke my parents up.   Thanks.

Dez - Wednesday, June 06 2007 @ 05:10 AM EDT (#169360) #
I'm rewatching the 3rd and 4th innings on, trying to get a better look at Halladay's pitches.  It doesn't seem to me like he was tipping his pitches.  It's just that the Rays were mosty sitting fastball, and the natural movement was bringing them over the heart of the plate.  That two seam fastball or sinker to Upton was just so fat coming on a 3-0 pitch.  I only saw one curveball hit - Delmon Young somehow golfed one.  I can't understand why he didn't try to establish his curveball eariler, or anything offspeed.
scottt - Wednesday, June 06 2007 @ 07:01 AM EDT (#169362) #
I think Reyes threw something like 46 pitches in 3 consecutive days against KC and was unavailable.

I thought the Jays could probably get the first 8 runs back, but I wasn't so sure about the 3 runs the bullpen gave.

Wednesday: Kazmir and Reyes.  Winning this would put them back at .500. 

Craig B - Wednesday, June 06 2007 @ 07:23 AM EDT (#169363) #

I didn't agree with Maddon's intentional walk decisions in the ninth inning, particularly the second one to Glaus. It might take a little while, but pretty soon opposing managers are going to start paying Hill some R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

Actually, that's one situation where I don't disagree with the IBB decision, especially with one out. In the bottom of the 9th in a tie game, the runner on third is the only one who matters; setting up the runners so he can be forced significantly increases the chances that you can get out of the inning without giving up a run. What's more, setting up the force means you can now get entirely out of the inning with a double play.

I know that walking them loaded removes the "safety valve" that a walk gives you otherwise, which makes it an uncertain play. But of course the "safety valve" only ends up putting you in the same position. But many times, I'd rather try a couple of pitches low and if I fall behind, then walk the hitter.

What I *don't* agree with, is bringing a cold guy out of the pen (Corcoran didn't have time to get really properly warm) and asking him to hit spots. Corcoran knew he had to keep the ball well down to prevent Hill from hitting one to the outfield, but ask a cold guy to do that and he's not going to be able to throw strikes.

I don't pin this loss on the Tampa relievers, actually, except in a "collective responsibility" sense. This one's on Joe Maddon, who made a small mistake early on by inserting Orvella (who tends to be wild, instead of going immediately to Corcoran or Camp) and then compounded it over and over into a big mistake by overreacting several times during the course of the inning. Maddon kept swapping in relievers who couldn't possibly have had time to get warm, and instead of trusting his last instinct he kept second-guessing himself. I think the Fossum switch may have been the worst; instead of trusting Camp (who was throwing pretty good stuff) to get Stairs, he went to a lefty he knew he was going to have to pull after one batter. I would also pin a share on Casanova, who simply has to get that ball, which was not a very difficult one to snag.

I don't have my copy of "The Book" with me, and I'd like to see what Tango and mgl have to say about walking them full in the ninth and what the numbers say. They may well not be with me on this one...

laketrout - Wednesday, June 06 2007 @ 08:19 AM EDT (#169364) #
Ryan Day - Wednesday, June 06 2007 @ 09:15 AM EDT (#169365) #

During HIll's at-bat, I was worried about the utter lack of speed on the bases in Stairs, Thomas, and Glaus. If the Rays had just gotten one  ground ball, they could have been out of the inning; as long as it wasn't hit to Upton, anyway. And even without a double play, you've got a decent chance of throwing Stairs out at home, and he'd need a pretty deep fly ball to score.

But Frank Thomas hasn't shown much lately, and Glaus is in a slump. Meanwhile, Aaron Hill has got it going on in a serious way. I'd have taken my chances with Thomas.

Mike Green - Wednesday, June 06 2007 @ 09:40 AM EDT (#169366) #
Ryan has my thinking. 

Corcoran has had some control issues.  I'd much rather have him facing Glaus or Thomas aiming for the K or the pop-up where the walk doesn't matter than facing Hill aiming for K, pop-up or groundball where the walk does.  Actually, with a right-hander in there and no other real options, I would be fearing Hill and Lind much more than Thomas and Glaus, so with the winning run on second,I would have told Corcoran to go get 'em.

Mike Green - Wednesday, June 06 2007 @ 09:52 AM EDT (#169367) #
Very few have doubted Matt Stairs' ability to hit.  It was plain even before the homers starting coming that they would.  The idea that he is a capable 4th outfielder is what many of us disagreed with.  When Overbay comes back, I would definitely be in favour of giving Frank Thomas a couple of days off per week against right-handed pitching and keep Stairs fresh that way.
NDG - Wednesday, June 06 2007 @ 10:02 AM EDT (#169370) #
I was also surprised at Tabler's comments about tipping pitches, because from what I saw Halladay just looked bad.  His curve wasn't impressive  (it wasn't biting like his 2007 curve, nor did it have the big break of his old curve, pretty much a recipe for disaster).  He couldn't locate his fastball at all, and lost a couple mph off of it (yes he was topping out at 92, but was regularily around 88 - 90, which is about 2 mph off what he normally does).

Hopefully it was just a bit of tired arm as the second start after a layoff might instigate and he'll be back to normal his next start. Actually I'd be sure this was the problem if it weren't for the two horrible starts before the appendicitis.  While i'd like to think they're unrelated, that may be more just the scary thought that they might not be.

Chuck - Wednesday, June 06 2007 @ 10:03 AM EDT (#169371) #

What he said. And what he said.

Walking Thomas was a mistake. From TB's perspective, if Thomas walks (sadly, his only real offensive tool these days), then he walks. And if Glaus, who strikes out and pops out a whole lot, walks with a base open, then he walks. Neither Thomas nor Glaus should have been allowed to walk for free. While Hill certainly is the team's biggest DP threat (perhaps a factor in Maddon's thinking), his improved batting eye has meant that he's less likely than in the past to chase the shin-high pitches that have GIDP written all over them.

I only picked up the game in the 9th during Thomas' plate appearance. When I saw him being walked, my train of thought went like this: the team has scored 11 runs, Thomas is being walked so he must have played a big role in that (yay, he's on his way back), etc. It was a surprise to look at the boxscore and find that Thomas had merely singled in four at-bats and that Maddon was showing Thomas a level of respect more appropriate pre-2007.

Rob - Wednesday, June 06 2007 @ 12:10 PM EDT (#169381) #
I think Reyes threw something like 46 pitches in 3 consecutive days against KC and was unavailable.

If only the Advance Scout mentioned Reyes. Then we could be sure!
#2JBrumfield - Wednesday, June 06 2007 @ 12:33 PM EDT (#169383) #

Missing the 10:13 GO Train was worth it last night!  I'm glad I stuck around and a big reason why I stuck around was I left the game 4 years ago when they rallied to beat K.C. with a 6 run comeback in the 9th.  D'OH!  This helps make up for it!  The Jays were down 8-1 in that game before winning, just like last night. 

My theory for the victory was the spirit of Dave Berg.  I wore my newly purchased #2 Berg game worn jersey from 2003 at the game.  Berg scored the winning run in that game against KC and #2 Aaron Hill helped win the game with his plate discipline by drawing the leadoff and walkoff walks to win it.  That's my story and I'm sticking to it! 

Or maybe it was VBF in his Scott Downs jersey getting lots of screen time on Jays Vision during the 9th inning rally. 

Last night just seemed too good to be true and I didn't go nuts until Stairs' drive touched green to score V-Dub with the tying run.  I know Maddon didn't want to use Reyes because he pitched 3 days in a row but I question why he brought in Corcoran to intentionally walk Thomas, he should've let Fossum do that before he left.  You don't bring in a pitcher and ask him to intentionally walk the first batter he faces.  No wonder he couldn't find the strike zone with a map!

I'm glad for Josh Towers, 4 K's and 1 unearned run in 2 innings to get the W.  It's weird seeing him not wearing his socks up anymore.  I didn't recognize him coming out of the pen.   Jason Frasor also had a nice line of 4 K's in 2 frames.  It's good to see him get things back on track too.  If we can just get Doc straightened out, maybe this won't be a lost summer after all!

I still can't believe they won because I figured they used up their comeback mojo over the week-end.  I can't ever recall a Jays team coming back from the number of fairly big deficits in a row that they have recently.  They come back from 3 runs down twice against the Sox Saturday and Sunday and a 7 run deficit last night.  What's next, a Tomo Ohka perfect game? :)

John Northey - Wednesday, June 06 2007 @ 01:22 PM EDT (#169387) #
Just noticed the Jays are now 2 games up on Baltimore for 2nd. The D-Rays are now 24-32 for a 429 winning percentage. What is sad is that is almost their best percentage - 435 in 2004 with 70 wins is their high water mark.

So, the Yankees are 4th 2 1/2 back of the Jays. Jays are 9 back of Boston and not yet in contention for the AL East title but should Boston fall apart the Jays are in the best position. Detroit is 4 ahead with 2 teams between them and the Jays for the Wild Card. Those teams are Seattle (unlikely to keep it up) and Oakland (uh oh). The 3 division leaders are within 1 1/2 games of each other with Boston being the leader (Angels and Cleveland are the others).

Wow, things are getting interesting again. Who'd have thought with Halladay losing his appendix and having a few ugly starts, BJ DL'ed, Thomas slumping, Glaus DL'ed for 1/2 the time, Johnson out and Lind not hitting that well in place of him, our catchers having a 603 OPS which is better than our shortstops 589 (ugh) that this could be the case?

Wonder why? I hit a suprise checking the stats on ESPN. From the 7th inning on the Jays OPS is 807 while our pen is holding the opposition to a 591 OPS. Wow. For innings 1-6 it is 740 Jays vs 778 opposition. Namely everyone vs the Jays from the 7th on hits like our shortstops have and hits worse than our catchers. Wow.
Mike D - Wednesday, June 06 2007 @ 07:27 PM EDT (#169400) #
I agree with Craig entirely -- if you're going to both change pitchers and issue an IBB, you *have* to let the outgoing pitcher toss the wide ones.  Poor Corcoran had a hard enough task  without getting "iced."

As for my being "on notice" on the Report...this isn't the first time and it won't be the last.  He often confuses me with...bears.

BigTimeRoyalsFan - Wednesday, June 06 2007 @ 11:21 PM EDT (#169411) #
Some observations from tonight's game (and the team in general) :

1- Lind is a TERRIBLE base runner. Someone really needs to sit down with the kid and teach him the ins and outs of running the base paths. Or have him stand on 2nd during practice and have to read balls off the bat.

2- Why does everyone think Rios is so fantastic defensively? I can't remember even one amazing catch this season, and to me he seems extremely lazy (see #3) in the outfield, especially in cutting off balls. The double down the line to the corner early in the game I thought he definitely should have had, just that the effort wasn't there. As well, in the 8th, he could have cut off the second straight double before it hit the wall, but he just seems slow in chasing them down, almost like he lets them get to the wall. Maybe it's because he has a strong arm, but the rest of his defence in my mind is way overrated.

3- Someone needs to get on Rios' ass about how he gets out of the batter's box. He's extremely slow, and it's even worse because we all know he has decent speed. On that double play grounder he hit into, it's because he chose not to run it out. And this isn't something i noticed just tonight ; all season I have felt he is very lazy out of the box and in trying to run out groundballs. Terrible approach for your lead-off hitting tablesetter.

4- Frank Thomas stinks. Why on earth is he batting #3? Honestly, at this point, I'd have him bat either #7 or #8. I am sick of hearing that it's going to come it's going to come. Send him down to AAA and let him figure it out there for all i care (obviously I realize this will never happen), but stop wasting middle of the order at bats on him. Other than that grand slam a couple of weeks into the season, he almost NEVER comes up with a clutch RBI. It has been downright appalling, and he almost makes me miss Shea Hillenbrand. I don't know why management didn't figure it out ; that even before the Overbay injury, Stairs should have been DHing against RHP, with Thomas going against LHP. Until he proves he can put a good swing on the ball and not just hammer the occasional mistake pitch once a week, we need to stop thinking of him as a tremendous hitter and see him for what he is - a .220/.350 guy who is absolutely killing us out of the DH hole, and should not be an automatic insert into the lineup everyday, and CERTAINLY not in the 3-4-5 spot if he does play.

5- Josh Towers has the peripherals I need to see to believe he should be the one to get the next shot as the team's #5. in 36 2/3 innings he has 33k to match only 5bb, along with a 1.26whip. fantastic #s out of ur #5 hole, even with his currently inflated 5.15era

6- It's extremely stupid to have Ohka not pitch for 10+ days and then just throw him out there and expect much. At least they should have him throw an inning or two out of the pen 5 days after his last start. But to just have him sitting there getting a start, then waiting 2 weeks for his next, on off on off is just plain stupid management, and in my mind is the reason they are getting such terrible outings out of that last pitching spot. Define someone's role, AND STICK TO IT

7- I'd really like to see Casey Janssen the starter. With Frasor showing he might be ready for some real innings again and Tallet also pitching real well, not to mention the impending arrival of League, maybe it's time we see what a HEALTHY Janssen can do (in last year's first half, probably before his "injury" that he pitched through, he put up a 4.73era in 78ip - also not bad for your #5)
TangoTiger - Friday, June 08 2007 @ 11:44 AM EDT (#169540) #


I reply to you here

VBF - Friday, June 08 2007 @ 02:56 PM EDT (#169560) #
Frank Thomas stinks. Why on earth is he batting #3? Honestly, at this point, I'd have him bat either #7 or #8. I am sick of hearing that it's going to come it's going to come.

He's not doing what he's paid to do, but he's not exactly hurting the team. His .370 OBP suggests that while he's not hitting the big three run shot, he's letting the guys behind him have a chance for the grand slam.

It might be a good idea to bat Rios behind Thomas and having Hill lead off or Reed when he gets back. Rios has been our best hitter and could benefit well having the OBP machine Thomas in front of him.
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