This is just a PSA to let all the Bauxites know that Baseball Prospectus
will be having one of their increasingly famous Pizza Feeds in Toronto on September 27.
Details are available on the BP Pizza page
MLB has opened the polls for voting on the 2003 Hank Aaron Awards, which goes to the top offensive player in each league. Carlos Delgado won this award in 2000, and I think he has a good shot at it this year... my votes have gone to Delgado and to Barry Bonds. Incidentally, Vernon Wells is also among the six nominees for the AL award.
The voting booth is at the MLB website
. If you don't want to receive spam from MLB (I like MLB's e-mail; not everyone does) then remember to untick the boxes.
This has been an excellent series. Doc tossed a masterpiece, Kelvim battled, the bullpen came through and there have been plenty of timely hits, especially from Box favourite Josh Phelps. The team has climbed back to .500, with a chance to clinch their season series with the AL's finest.
Tonight's starters underline the difference in philosophy between the Yankees and the Jays. Jose Contreras, all tools and reputation, hasn't produced anything near $8 million in results. Cory Lidle, "rented" for $5 million as a one-year stopgap, has also disappointed, but Toronto isn't on the hook for three more years and another $24 million.
The Cuban righty, who has battled inconsistency and shoulder woes, made five relief appearances against the Jays earlier this year, allowing six earned runs in nine innings, walking six and striking out twelve. He was brilliant against the Orioles in his first start off the DL, only to be rocked by the Red Sox in his latest for seven runs in three innings.
Down on the farm, the Ravens and D-Jays are into their post-season tourneys. New Haven defeated New Britain 3-1 in their opening playoff game, as my man Dave Gassner did his best Jackie Chan impression, dodging bullets all night long (5 hits and 4 walks in 4 innings) but emerging unscathed (no runs, 3 Ks). Alexis Rios' 2-run homer in the first gave the Ravens all the runs they'd need, though the red-hot Tyrell Godwin chipped in with a double, two singles, a run scored and the team's third RBI. The win went to Gustavo Chachin, the Tanyon Sturtze of the Ravens' bullpen, while the one-two relief punch of Jordan DeJong and Adam Peterson closed with 2 1/3 scoreless frames. Catcher Guillermo Quiroz is recovering rapidly from his collapsed lung, so much so that he could play Saturday if he gets medical clearance. To say the least, that's impressive.
Let's hope Kelvim Escobar can reverse his unfortunate trend of pitching worse at SkyDome than anywhere else, and rise to the occasion. He was very good at home against the potent Rangers August 9, so it's not impossible. On the other hand, Kelvim is a very shaky 1-1 with an ERA of 11.88 vs. the Yankees this year. Maybe the new J-bird will inspire him.
Reed Johnson gets a night off; leadoff man Frank Catalanotto is 429/459/743 with two HRs and five doubles in 35 AB off Mike Mussina, a Jays nemesis for years. Kevin Cash also sits; Greg Myers is behind the plate. That means Josh Phelps is the DH against a tough righthander. Good call. Mike Bordick is at SS, batting second.
The link in the headline is to a Washington Post story detailing MLB's plans to extend its Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program to Latin America. Having written a couple of "won't somebody PLEASE think of the children" statements about the terrible toll of drug abuse by Dominican prospects, I'd like to be the first to say "way to go, MLB!" in response to this announcement.
Thanks to Geoff Baker and Richard Griffin for being so generous with their time yesterday and this morning. We're also grateful to the many readers who submitted thoughtful questions.
Griffin has provoked a lot of angry response in Da Box (from me and others) with some work that has been widely perceived as anti-Jays or anti-Ricciardi. I regret resorting to name-calling in the past and will be more civilized next time we disagree. I've praised many of his columns about other subjects, and today's
is great, especially if you're a parent or coach.
Baker's articles have also stirred up a few hornets' nests and drawn criticism in this space, but he's repaid us with kindness, setting this up and inadvertently generating far more publicity for our J.P. interview than we expected. Today, Geoff talks to Mike Barnett, Josh Phelps and Eric Hinske about finishing strong
The inimitable Mick Doherty will post the interview as a series next week. You'll enjoy it.
Not for the Blue Jays, of course, but for three of their minor-league affiliates. It's a far cry from previous years, when Toronto farm teams slogged their way through uninspiring and uncompetitive seasons. This year, the New Haven Ravens (AA), Dunedin Blue Jays (High-A) and Auburn Doubledays (Short-Season A) are all battling for their respective leagues' pennants. We'll bring you semi-regular updates of their progress over the next couple of weeks. New Haven is playing New Britain (Twins) in the Northern Division Championship Series, while Dunedin will be playing the Fort Myers Miracle (also the Twins) in the FSL's Western Division. I'm not yet sure who the Doubledays are playing; their season ends on the 6th.
Talk amongst yourselves -- hijack away!
I'm a baseball traditionalist. I'd prefer to see the next Toronto playoff team look like the one that won two World Series. I'm against cash grabs, and fixing stuff that ain't broke, so don't expect a rave review. I wasn't consulted, anyway. When the Jays, the team formerly known as Blue, were doing their marketing surveys, they took one look at this grey-haired middle-aged dude with a large belly and a large beer and said, "not our demographic."
According to the press release
it's a "dynamic" look. I'm sure it is, but I hate the lettering; middle-aged eyes take at least three blinks to figure out what the hell it says.
The bird is a big improvement, an authentic Fighting Jay. I like him.
Is there another city where the media eat their sports teams alive like Boston? The latest imbroglio involves Manny Ramirez, who missed a critical game against the Yankees with a sore throat, then was reportedly spotted at a hotel bar
later that night -- with a member of the opposing Yanks, no less. You have to get down to the bottom of this article, based almost entirely on a Boston Globe
piece, before you discover that no one has actually confirmed Ramirez, who lives in the hotel, was anywhere near the bar. Shades of a water-skiing Kelly Gruber. Just another reason why pro athletes with an ounce of sense should stay far away from Boston and its gnawing, insecure, self-loathing fans and media.
Instead of rolling to a Cy Young award, the wheels started wobbling for Roy Halladay in August, when he was 2-4 with a 5.40 ERA. He's still having a great year, and going 15-0 for three months is no small accomplishment. Doc will have five more starts this month, and with a good finish can reach 200 strikeouts while winning 20 games. He faces a depleted Yankee lineup this afternoon, with Jeter out, Soriano battling a sore thumb and Giambi in a mini-slump.
David Wells is 4-6, 5.42 in 13 career starts against his former team, and 0-1, 9.00 in two previous outings this year. Poor, misunderstood Boomer is waging a war in the tabloids with his employers again, after his work habits were questioned recently. He whined about being singled out for "one bad start," but he's winless in his last six, allowing 48 hits and an uncharacteristic 12 walks in those 35 innings. Vernon Wells (7-for-12) owns his namesake, and Tom Wilson (6-for-8 with three doubles) should also be in the lineup, but Kevin Cash is being thrown back on the horse, and the red hot Josh Phelps is the DH. O-Dawg and Bordick seem to be platooning; Mike hits second.
Mike Wilner is about to chat with some of the local writers, including Richard Griffin, on The FAN 590.
It's the end of summer. The Jays are out of contention. We all grow relentlessly older. Blah. Here's my August report card for the Jays.
Since I'm in town for the weekend, and spending time with friends and family, I can only come up with a Mini-Advance Scout for this series. I'll be back at my Manhattan perch in time for the next series, where hopefully the tabloids will be screaming disappointment after the Bombers' series north of the border.
It's an interesting series for the Jays, as they've inserted a rare mid-series off-day in order to capture some Tonawanda revenue with a Labour Day tilt. Today's opponent on the mound, of course, needs no introduction; it's a particularly sweet opportunity for Doc to pad his win totals.
By the end of this series, the Jays will have exhausted their responsibility to play their best every night; no more meaningful baseball in 2003, as the last 22 games are against the league's also-rans. They will even be through with their logo and possibly their uniforms; the Jays' new look gets premiered at Roots during tomorrow's off-day, and local advertisements have hinted at the possibility of a "Turn Ahead The Clock Day" on Wednesday; might the Jays be sporting new threads?
Apologies for the brevity this week. Enjoy the series!
On to the Mini-Advance Scout!
And then there were six. OK, twelve. Actually, because of first-round byes, only eight of 20 teams will be in action this week, as the inaugural regular season of the Batter's Box Fantasy League is complete. Snellville Jones' Gashouse Gorillas took command in early May and never looked back -- congratulations!
With a poor prediction after leaping to a premature conclusion, I "awarded" second to Baird Brain last week, only to have Jurgen admonish me for jinxing him. Oops. I figured he couldn't get blanked (he did lose 8-4 to Jicks Rays) and someone would need to be perfect to catch him. Someone was; Billies Bashers rode a 12-0 week against Geoff's Grumpy Group into the runner-up spot and a bye.
The league's best team down the stretch, the Thunderbirds, also enjoyed a 12-0 week, whipping the Fish Candy, but Justin will have to settle for a bye in the consolation round. My staggering Toronto Walrus did not completely collapse, beating Garces_not_on roids 9-3 to hang on to the final spot in the championship bracket. Scott Lucas and his Nation Builders finished fourth, with Gwyn Price's Mebion Glyndwr fifth; both teams enter the playoffs on a roll, winning 10-1 and 11-0, respectively. The winner of their first-round battle could go all the way, with the coveted Ricciardi/Tosca autographed T-shirt up for grabs this month.