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With the trade deadline approaching, I thought it would be a good idea to pick one central place where we can discuss all the trades (and yes, trade rumours) that happen. This should be a good place to visit to get any breaking news, etc.
Richard Griffin raves about the newest Blue Jay in the Star this morning. He also tries out "Beane-heads" as a new epithet for the enlightened, and drops a silly rumour:

If Kielty can do the job at major-league levels, then Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi can begin dreaming of an off-season in which he successfully clears Delgado and his $19 million (U.S.) off the roster. The Jays would do it, even if they were forced to eat a portion of the final year.

Somebody's dreaming, all right. Delgado's no-trade clause is a significant obstacle, and since his salary fits in next year's budget, why give up his production? Carlos will almost certainly be gone in 2005, unless he decides to take a substantial discount (in money and years) to stay in Toronto. But nobody is pushing him out the door.
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The major league leader in victories seeks his 15th tonight, as the Jays try to extend their Yankee Stadium win streak. Roy Halladay can equal Roger Clemens' team record for consecutive decisions without a loss, and the way he's been pitching, you have to like his chances. Doc handled the Yanks on short rest in his last start before the break, then tossed a brilliant complete game against the Red Sox in his latest. Another strong performance tonight will make the Cy Young whispers that much louder.

With Andy Pettitte on the hill, I was expecting a few lineup changes, but there's no sign of Jayson Werth or Mike Bordick, as Carlos Tosca sticks with the guys who were hot last night. That means three lefties (Cat, Delgado and Hinske) and two switch-hitters, one of whom (Hudson) isn't very good from the right side. The other (Kielty) has a .724 OPS vs. RH, but it's 1.045 against southpaws. Tom Wilson is another whose splits (.705 to .964) are extreme, and Reed Johnson's (.738 and 1.135) are ridiculous so far. Hitting lefties used to be a Toronto weakness, but not any more.

If the Jays stay as relaxed and confident as they were last night, this should be just as much fun to watch. Unfortunately, I won't see it. We're having cable problems at home again, so there's no Internet access and I'll be listening to the radio.

Hereís one of the many little-known difficulties of being a baseball fan in Newfoundland: evening ballgames donít start till 8:30 pm, and can reliably be counted on to not finish till well after 11:00. Combine that with numerous family events during my week-long trip to The Rock, and this is why I havenít laid eyes on a game in several days. It used to be worse, actually: when matches started at 7:30 ET instead of 7:00, it was 9:00 in Newfoundland. And west coast ballgames didnít get underway till midnight. We Jays fans had a lot of crosses to bear growing upon the east coast.
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Ouch! It hurts to fall from what I thought was a pretty secure second place and wake up this morning in third. Baird Brain enjoyed a brilliant 11-0 week against Chatsworth, while my team got thumped 10-2 by the Thunderbirds. Every week, I confidently assume that my hitters will keep me in the match, and hope that my pitchers will take a category or two, but no strategy is immune to disasters in Head-to-Head play.

Carlos Delgado, obviously tired from carrying the Jays and the Walrus on his back all season, sported a nifty 143/294/214 line for the abbreviated week. Milton Bradley chipped in with 133/235/333 and Bernie Williams was so bad (071/235/143) I traded him. When Marlon Byrd and Scott Spiezio are your hitting "stars," you're in trouble. Three of my starters didn't even pitch, and the ones who did were awful. Enough of this whining -- Jurgen wants to see the standings.
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The Terrible Twenty in April and the first ten games of the Dirty Dozen have exposed the young, improving Jays as a team that isn't ready -- yet -- to defeat the Beasts of the East. There are no more illusions of contending this year, which may be a good thing. The pressure's off; the Jays can stop trying too hard and just play ball.

Tonight, a pitcher I like a lot (Mark Hendrickson) faces one I loathe (Jeff Weaver, Chronic Underachiever). I was surprised and disappointed eight days ago, when Weaver pitched his best game in a long, long time to handcuff the Jays at the Dome. Tonight, it's possible he'll let the home crowd get into his head -- Lord knows, there's not much else in there -- or maybe, the more relaxed Toronto hitters will have a better approach. Lurch has to accept that he's not going to pitch a perfect game. Six innings of minimizing the damage would be a successful outing against an awesome lineup that's in a very good groove.

Carlos Tosca doesn't want Bobby Kielty to get too comfortable. The newest Jay is at first base tonight, with Delgado the DH. I really like the switch-hitter in the 5-hole betwen Carlos and Eric Hinske; it means Kielty might get to tee off again on a lefty reliever (see Fossum, Casey). Interesting that Tom Wilson is the catcher; with a lefty going tomorrow, I was sure it would be Myers again tonight. Crash was 2-for-4 yesterday, but he may be hurting.
Which Jays club will show up for the Yankee series this weekend? The reeling Jays that got bombed by the Bombers in April here, or the doubles-happy lineup that swept New York away in May?

It's just a two-game whistle-stop for the Jays this time before the Jays return home. It's somewhat melancholy to consider, but even a two-game sweep will render our not-quite-ready-for-prime-time club just 5-7 in the pivotal 12-game stretch against Boston and New York.

The Yankees are playing excellent ball, particularly offensively. Mark Hendrickson shakes off the rust and tries to take advantage of Death Valley in left-centre tonight; I'll be there. Doc goes for his Fantastic Fifteenth against Andy Pettitte tomorrow night.

On to the Advance Scout!
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I've been thinking lately (always a dangerous practice, I know), and was wondering:
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It's certainly not baseball-related, but here is a nice article about blogs from the BBC.

A fine article, yes, but a story about blogs that did not mention Aaron Gleeman? No tea for them!
Bob File started for Dunedin in their 1-0 victory, pitching a 3-up, 3-down first inning. Vince Perkins (now 4-4, 1.25 in High-A) went the next five frames (2 hits, 5 BB, 5 K) to earn the win, but he's walking way too many at this level. File's return to active duty is a pleasant surprise, and Carlos Tosca said yesterday he could be back with the Jays before the end of the season. We all remember File's 60 appearances in 2001, with a 5-3 record and 3.25 ERA, but last year was a disaster. He suffered an oblique strain, and eventually had surgery to remove a portion of his collarbone. Speaking of rehabbing relievers, Cliff Politte is scheduled to pitch for Syracuse on Tuesday and Thursday, then rejoin the Jays next weekend if he's deemed ready.

New Haven had a field day in Akron, pounding 19 hits in a 9-1 romp. Cam Reimers (7-3, 2.90) scattered six hits in seven innings, didn't walk a batter and fanned eight. John-Ford Griffin, now slugging .474 with 13 HR and 73 RBI, was 2-for-3 with a pair of walks, and Alexis Rios boosted his league-leading average to .350 with a 3-for-5 effort. The Ravens, hitting .301 as a team, are leading their division.
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The inimitable John Gizzi did as he pleased in taking his Jimmy Fallonesque turn at Da Box's "Weekend Update" last week -- from nowhere, actually, he did so twice -- and while I hope that doesn't make me Tina Fey, here are a few thoughts to chew on during a slow July Sunday nearing the century mark in games for this 2003 season ...

Roy Halladay may be the American League's best starting pitcher so far this season, but is there any more surprising ace in baseball than Sidney Ponson? Sir Sidney notched his 13th win of the year yesterday, and the Rangers really must be considering whether or not a knighthood might turn around Chan Ho Park ...

Speaking of the Rangers, much was made of the fact that the recent "All-Star" Game (seriously ... with Lance Carter in uniform, can you bring yourself to write "All-Star" without putting the phrase in quotes?) featured opposing starting pitchers in Jason Schmidt and Esteban Loiaza ...
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The Jays, about 16 hours after snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, must either regroup, or settle for a split of this series. It's the great Pedro Martinez taking on journeyman John "Way Back" Wasdin and his 45.00 ERA. They shouldn't even bother to play it, right?

Not so fast. A Toronto win is unlikely, not impossible. Wasdin knows Fenway Park pretty well; he's pitched there 90 times (7 starts) for an 11-5 record with two saves. In 182 IP, he's walked 51 and struck out 138; his ERA is 4.30 with the Monster looming over his shoulder. Sure, he got lit up in his Toronto debut, but it was a very tough spot and he deserves another chance. The guy does have a perfect game in AAA this season.

Pedro is 6-2, 3.19 in 13 career starts against the Jays. But he hasn't faced the 2003 version, and had a 4.70 ERA against last year's team, which batted .295 against him in four meetings. Tosca the master juggler is at it again, stacking his lineup with seven lefty swingers. Reed Johnson sits, with versatile Bobby Kielty in right. Cat's in left, and Howie Clark is the DH, leading off. These Jays won't roll over -- this could be a better game than you think.
A little over one week ago, we invited readers and authors to post a mid-season list of the top 10 Blue Jays prospects.

To create a composite list, I chose an MVP-style point system with the top prospect receiving 13 points, #2 receiving 10, #3 receiving 8 points and on down the line to 1 point for #10. In other words, points were awarded on a 13-10-8-7-6-5-3-2-1 basis.
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Something has to inspire the Jays' slumping starter. He's been absolutely awful recently -- 0-2 with a 14.54 ERA in July, 2-5 and 9.20 over his last eight starts -- and the Red Sox love hitting against him. Coryís allowed a .354 AVG in two outings against them this year, and is 1-2, 7.12 in five career starts and five relief appearances vs. Boston. Bill Mueller, David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez are a combined 10-for-16 off Lidle in 2003; Mannyís 6-for-12 lifetime.

Cory is well aware that his career record prior to this year was 5-15, 5.17 in the first half, and 20-7, 2.92 after the break -- could that knowledge restore his missing confidence? He also watched Doc and Kelvim shut down the BoSox the last two nights, so there's at least a chance he'll follow suit.

Ramiro Mendozaís a perfect 2-0 (allowing just one earned run) since returning from the DL; heís gone five strong innings each time, beating the Yankees and Jays. Carlos Tosca keeps inventing new lineups, and I like what he's done tonight. Of course, Vernon Wells is back, and he's gone deep twice, doubled and driven in six runs off Mendoza in just six AB this year. Mike Bordick is 5-for-13 lifetime against the righty, the shaky-fielding Chris Woodward just 1-for-5, so who would you play at short? Howie Clark is the DH, batting second, with Bobby Kielty in the 5-hole and Tom Wilson (2-for-3 off Mendoza) hitting sixth. I have a hunch that the Jays, in a positive frame of mind, will score a few runs, so if Lidle does find his groove, it could be another good game.
The CBL is shutting down for the year, with plans to re-emerge in 2004. You can read the full details from the CBC. The league will shut down following the All-Star game on July 23 in Calgary.
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