Batter's Box Interactive Magazine Batter's Box Interactive Magazine Batter's Box Interactive Magazine
Game day. Players, coaches and reporters milled about the floor of the closed SkyDome, scattered here and there in conversation, observation and instruction. Men leaned on the batting cage, watched line drives sail to the outfield and chatted about the game. It was the afternoon of the Jays’ first interleague match against Pittsburgh, and the daily machinations of a major-league team -- which most fans rarely see -- were proceeding at their usual pace.

Third baseman Eric Hinske, rehabbing from wrist surgery, had his glove ready and was eager to take infield practice. But he was going to have to wait a little longer, because his defensive instructor, third-base coach Brian Butterfield, was taking the time to grant Batter’s Box the first of four exclusive interviews with the Blue Jays coaching staff.
[More] (1,272 words)
After erasing old whatsisname from one more line of the club record book with his ninth straight win, Harry Leroy Halladay should extend his streak tonight against a team he absolutely owns. How does 4-0 with an ERA of 0.93 sound? That's what Doc did to the Orioles last year, winning twice at Camden Yards and allowing just one earned run there in 14 IP. Batista has a lifetime .125 OBP against him, Conine .200, Gibbons .250, and so on. Some hot hitters may be about to cool off in Maryland.

There's no Shannon Stewart sighting yet, but "Ty" Johnson should be leading off anyway, after his magnificent Sunday, becoming the fourth hitter in 110 years to hit a leadoff HR and a walkoff in the same game. Dave Berg may also be less than 100% healthy, or his "occasional starter" status has been downgraded; Bordick's at 3B again and the O-Dog never rests. The Jays hitters, who held their own against Cubs starters Carlos Tosca called "animals," should enjoy the southpaw stylings of Omar Daal (opponents' AVG .323) for as long as he lasts, then get into a Baltimore bullpen that has a 7.23 ERA over its last 10 games, and has walked 53 batters in its last 121 innings. This could be fun.
We're finally here, Gentle Readers: The first three of nineteen -- count 'em, 19 -- games with our divisional opponent, the Orioles. Their hitting might cause a problem or two for the shakier members of the Jays' staff, but Baltimore's rotation might make the Toronto brain trust a little more forgiving in their critiques of the unbalanced schedule.

Offensively, the O's have surprised. The Flanagan/Beattie Franken-GM have preached patience at the plate, and most Orioles not named Deivi have responded. According to Peter Gammons, the Orioles gave up on Sarge's son because Gary Jr. wouldn't buy into the new philosophy.

And then there's Melvin Mora. There have been naysayers posting here at the Box, but I stand by the following: Mora has played like an All-Star, he will be an All-Star, and he should be an All-Star. Yeah, I was probably also one of the guys who guffawed when some "sucker" wound up with him in the 19th round of the rotisserie draft. But all Mora's done is work counts, rip line drives all over the field (and even out of the park on occasion), and supply reliable defence no matter where he's played.

But the Orioles have surrendered some serious hit totals, mostly from the starting staff; Oriole hurlers have been tagged to the tune of .280 by opposing hitters -- and they have yet to face the Jays!

Memorial Stadium and its "Oriole Magic" did in Toronto clubs time and again in the '80s, but Camden Yards has been one of the Jays' favourite opposition venues since it opened. Ponson will be a challenge in the shadows of Thursday's 3:00 matinee, but starts by Halladay and Escobar similar to what they've shown recently should get the Jays' road trip off to a flying start.

On to the Advance Scout!

[More] (1,209 words)
It's not quite the SI Cover Jinx (or, as Josh Phelps can attest, the Baseball Prospectus Cover Jinx), but getting noticed by Peter Gammons isn't always such a great thing. Pete has a tendency to highlight a team or player just after they've peaked, so the Jays had best hold on tight. Pete's latest column doesn't tell us much new, but it does have these two observations:

"We'll be prepared for whatever direction needs to be taken in another month," said Ricciardi. "Either way, this franchise has moved forward. If we can stay in it, the excitement and interest in the club will hasten our return to the days when the Jays were the No. 1 show in this town."

One hundred percent spot on. And then there's this beauty, which should be the talk of the local sports press for a few days:

Curt Schilling called a Toronto coach to tell him he'd like going to the Jays, but while Jerry Colangelo has to clean up his books this offseason, whether or not he'd trade Schilling (one GM rumor is to Atlanta) in July with Randy Johnson also coming back is questionable.

If you can unscramble the twisted grammar, there's a vintage Gammons trade rumour there for you. Take note: 99% of Pete's rumours are as sturdy and reliable as cheesecloth. This one, I think, will prove no exception.
Rosie DiManno of the Star is an acquired taste, and some people never acquire it. Personally, I find her work insightful and satisfying up until the point she gets self-conscious about her subject, which happens about half the time with baseball. But this is a fine piece on the Father's Day sleepover at the Dome on Saturday and Sunday. I wasn't there, of course, and I get borderline homicidal if I'm kept awake late at night anyway, but I'd be interested in hearing about the experience from anyone who did.
Many of Mike's fellow owners endorsed the Moffatt Plan of beating Snellville 11-1 last week, but something happened -- they played the games. The Gashouse Gorillas, still on fire, melted down the Reykjavik Fish Candy 8-3 to move 42 games over .500 and extend their lead to a dozen over my Toronto Walrus. Seems like every week, I win my match, only to lose ground in the standings. I'm not complaining; edging AGF 7-5, while Baird Brain and Billie's Bashers suffered rare defeats, gives me a bit of a cushion in second. Both Mebion Glyndwr and Red Mosquitos are charging into contention, with five teams now bunched within 2.5 games of third in the race to make the championship playoff round.
[More] (650 words)
The latest Baseball Prospectus Week In Quotes features this little gem from Roger Clemens, stating why he plans on going into the Hall of Fame with a Yankees cap:

"I became a Hall of Famer here... If I'd have listened to people there [in Boston], then I'd have been done. Not people. One person that evaluated my skills and he didn't take the time to get to know me."

Have the years 1997 and 1998 been completely erased from Clemens' memory?
Much better notes than mine are available, you know. Also, check out the Score Bard's main page for his "The Chat Wrap of J. Morgan Prufrock", possibly his greatest poem to date.
[More] (539 words)
An excellent series concludes this afternoon. I'm against interleague play for well-documented reasons, but I also dislike football scores, so this has been entertaining. Yesterday was the first time in over two weeks the Jays were held below five runs; an offensive explosion may be imminent. Shawn Estes is not as intimidating as Wood or Prior, and Cory Lidle, back on his regular routine, is due for a really good start.

It's the platoon lineup, except for Dave Berg, as O-Dog deserves to be in there every day now and lefty-killer Mike Bordick plays third. J-Zone (on Sportsnet right now for those with Canadian cable) has a Catalanotto feature and a look inside the Jays' "war room" on draft day.
The result of too much coffee, access to a perl compiler and half an hour to kill.

Very simply, the number of posts/the number of threads.

I realise that this does not bear close sabermetric scrutiny and I am working on TC (Threads created), COA (comments above average) and KAP (Keyboard Abuse Points).

Fittingly Coach is batting a Bonds-esque 1.450 while Craig and Jordan are neck and neck for second place.

Personally I am in Huckaby-land.
[More] (328 words)
It may be assumed that pitching every 5 days (on 4 days' rest) is normal for the modern day starting pitcher. That's probably true of the top pitcher on staff, but less so for the bottom of the rotation. Off days and rainouts mean that the bottom end of the rotation is often pushed back - and so many pitchers start a significant number of games on 5 days' rest.
[More] (599 words)
Earlier this week, the Blue Jays rewarded Simon Pond and Dustin McGowan with promotions to AAA and AA, respectively. There was a lot of speculation regarding what other changes would follow. Today we got at least part of the answer:

- Brandon League: promoted from Low-A Charleston to High-A Dunedin
- David Bush: promoted from High-A Dunedin to AA New Haven
- Jordan De Jong: promoted from High-A Dunedin to AA New Haven
[More] (732 words)
It's sad that in all the talk surrounding the resignation of MLB's vice-president in charge of umpires, Ralph Nelson, that no one has thought of its impact on the children... er, umpires.
[More] (817 words)
The Jays have scored 425 runs in 68 games (thats more than they got in a whole season in 1981), that puts them on pace for 1012 on the season should they be able to keep up this wacky pace.

There is a pretty exclusive club of 1000 run scorers. Since 1900 only 4 clubs have done it:

Yankees : 1930 1931 1932 1936
Red Sox : 1950
Indians : 1999
Cards : 1930

In today's Star, Geoff Baker has an interesting profile of Frank Catalanotto. It sounds like Frank Sr. is a lot of company. Cat, whose high school coach still calls him "little Frankie," would have been justified in giving up the game under the kind of parental pressure he faced as a 9-year-old, but Jays fans are very lucky he didn't.

This story is reminiscent of Eric Hinske's dad not allowing him or his brother to swing in Little League until they had taken two strikes. Such fathers credit themselves for making their offspring "mentally tough," and live vicariously through their children's accomplishments. With the notable exception of football's unfortunate Todd Marinovich and his idiot scion Marv, we rarely read about the downside of such selfish behaviour. If that's the price of big league success, I'm glad my kids couldn't afford it.