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It was almost two years ago when Kent Williams, Craig Burley and I ran into each other online at Baseball Primer, the Grand Central Station of baseball blogs. Because we'd never likely have met otherwise, Batter's Box owes at least some of its existence to Primer, which is just one reason why you should visit and sign the guest book today for the 10,000th Clutch Hit celebration at Baseball Primer. There've been highs and lows, triumphs and Petco threads, but in the end, if Primer didn't exist, someone would have to invent it. Sincere congratulations to Primer from Batter's Box!
Few ballplayers earn a nickname from their new team's fans before they even touch down in the city, but the Blue Jays' newest starting pitcher, Miguel Batista, is already firmly entrenched in the local lexicon as "El Artista." I forget who came up with the rhyming moniker -- step forward, forgotten Bauxite! -- but it's as good a description of his passion for poetry, literature and "a great chat" as it is of his crackling fastball and excellent strike-zone command. Thanks to Jason Robar for catching this profile of Batista in the latest Star. "Not everyone in Toronto will like me," predicts Batista -- personally, I can't understand why he won't become one of this city's most popular and sought-after athletes in short order. Bienvenido, Miguel!
Josh Boyd has, very simply, a great job. He writes about minor-league baseball for a living, and as a National Writer with Baseball America, he does it for the Bible of the minor-league baseball world. Heís young (31), recently married (to Michelle, last fall), and filled with tremendous enthusiasm for the game of baseball. How can you beat that?

So when we went looking for an expert to comment on the Blue Jaysí farm system, we didnít have to look very far. And when Josh responded to our cold-call e-mail asking for his time and insight, he didnít hesitate in agreeing. Pleasant in conversation, deeply knowledgeable about his subject matter and unafraid to offer strong opinions, Josh was great to correspond with, and weíre delighted that he agreed to become the latest person to sit down for a Batterís Box Interview.
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With writers everywhere talking about their Hall of Fame ballots, it's time we at Batter's Box polled the faithful (and ourselves) on what our votes would be if we had a vote.
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There's one thing I don't understand about the offseason rumours surrounding the Jays. According to reports, the Jays have attempted to trade Orlando Hudson for just about everybody on the planet.
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After 129 messages on our previous hijack central, the time is right to move to a new thread. We can begin discussion with the A's latest deal, Mark Redman for. last year's Rule 5er Mike Neu and a player to be named. Is this the best the Marlins could get for a guy who won 14 games for the World Champs? As Thomas noted in the last hijack central, Redman may not stick with the A's; hopefully, he can be swapped for an ace relief pitcher or a hitter, two things the A's need. And badly.
Impartial national columnist and Twins fan Aaron Gleeman offers an "outsider's" perspective of the AL East power struggle and says the division could boast four of the league's best "five or six" teams if the Orioles add two more superstars.

If my team, the Minnesota Twins, were in the AL East, I think the prospect of dealing with those four teams over the next several seasons would be even more depressing than the weather here in Minnesota. There's a very real chance that either Toronto or Baltimore could win over 90 games next season and not even come particularly close to the playoffs, let alone first-place.

Aaron feels bad about our local nine being resigned to a third-place battle. Some impatient Jays fans feel the same way, but I am grateful every day just to have a contending team. I suggest that everyone save their sympathy for the Devil Rays.
Okay, former catcher Steve Christmas (Reds, White Sox, Cubs, 1983-1986) is too easy. Besides, with a career OPS+ of 27, he won't play much.

We could nickname White Sox hurler Dave Frost "Jack," one supposes. Minnesota pitcher Jeff Holly, up for a late '70's, early '80's cuppajoe is there. We could even team him with once-top-phenom Mike Ivie for a "Holly and Ivie" battery.

Who else makes this team? Read on for the inspiration behind this question -- thanks, Toledo Mud Hens! -- and to give your suggestions.

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By virtually any measure, it was a very good Winter Meetings for the Blue Jays. In the week leading up to the event and the weekend itself, the Jays grabbed the starter they wanted in Miguel Batista at a more than reasonable price, and added a solid reliever and possible closer in Justin Speier at little organizational cost. They also picked up an interesting arm in the Rule 5 Draft, while losing no one in return. The PTBNL count stands so far at Sandy Nin (confirmed), Dave Gassner (highly likely) and one more -- useful players with upside, but nobody critical to the team's future so far. Tim Worrell and Tony Graffanino would ahve made it a just about pefect session, but you can't always get what you want. So it's been a very good off-season -- but according to the local scribes, at least, it's not over yet.
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A thread for conversing on the general subject of the Montreal Expos.

BREAKING NEWS: the Expos signed Crazy Carl Everett to a two-year deal today worth $7 million.
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This has been a moderate success the first couple of times we've run it, let's see what happens now.

I'll start off. HOW ABOUT THEM LEAFS!? I am not a Toronto fan, but I am mightily impressed by how they are playing. Now that they've stopped trying to goon up on every team they meet, and have cut the dirty play and the whining, it looks like they are focusing instead on playing tight team-oriented hockey. An amazing transformation.
Scheduled to start at 10:00 am EST this morning, the annual Rule 5 Draft might contain more risk than reward for the Blue Jays this year. With a stronger 40-man Jays roster in place and a relatively weak field expected to come available, there will probably be no Aquilino Lopezes or even Jason Duboises out there to be acquired. At the same time, the Jays have left a number of intriguing players unprotected for other teams to feast on. And when it's all over, Toronto will also pay the piper for their earlier deals: Minnesota (Bobby Kielty), Oakland (Ted Lilly) and Colorado (Justin Speier) will be selecting their Players To Be Named Later afterwards. The Jays' family will be a little smaller by later this afternoon; stay tuned to this thread to get all the details on who's arriving and who's leaving.
Having passed 116 comments in our previous Hijack Central, it's time to open a new thread. Big things are a-brewin'; feel free to post about anything and everything going down in the Big Easy.

Breaking News: Blue Jays acquire RHP Justin Speier in a three-team trade that sends LHP Mark Hendrickson to Tampa Bay and LHP Joe Kennedy to Colorado. Join the discussion below!
Bauxites made quick work of the previous Hijack Central; feast your gently smiling jaws on a new thread.
A very charitable Richard Griffin calls the Jays the best team in the East, dollar for dollar, and talks with J.P. about the game's changing fiscal landscape.

"I flew down with all the Red Sox guys," Ricciardi said of his flight from the family homestead in Boston. "They all looked miserable, to be honest with you. All these guys being talked about as being dealt are all the big-money guys. Teams are finding out that outside of the Red Sox and Yankees, who can handle those contracts? They strap you so much financially. Maybe they'd rather have the flexibility more than one player. You can ask (Yankees GM Brian) Cashman and Theo (Bosox counterpart Epstein)."
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