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The Twins' losing streak is over, and their ace is on the mound today. The Jays, at .500 midway through their 20-game trial by fire, will start Pete Walker. He'll be on a strict pitch count, probably about 70 tops, so the Toronto bullpen will have to be good.

I won't see much of the game, as a Toronto Baseball Association meeting is scheduled for 2:30, but I'll be checking in here to get your impressions as soon as I get home. It's been very rewarding to have so many people tell me lately that they click on BB even before they go to the MLB scoreboard of their choice.

Craig is awaiting the arrival of his first child, so I'm sending out best wishes on behalf of everyone in Da Box and pinch-hitting for him here in the Notes department:

The Tigers have eclipsed even the '62 Mets for futility, becoming the first team ever to start consecutive seasons 0-9. Last night they made Esteban Loaiza look good. Of course, the ex-Jay hurler often teases his teammates and fans early in the season before losing interest.

Detroit's troubles are not temporary, but the feel-good Royals story is. I'm happy for Tony Pena, and the 8-0 start will probably help K.C. finish third in the division, but that pitching staff and Michael Tucker leading off will not sustain a .500 record, and Brent Mayne will not win the batting title. I probably underestimated them a bit, and definitely overestimated the Tribe. In an AL pool with cash on the line, I own Bard, Phillips and Hafner -- it's already "wait until next year" time in that league. :(

K-Rod, off to a shaky start, notched his first career SV last night, a two-inning job, as Troy Percival wasn't needed. Chan Ho Park won ugly -- 7 walks in five innings -- and sadly, for those of us who drafted him, Mark Teixeira is still not starting against RH pitching.

Los Expos are unbeaten in San Juan, and if you get WPIX (NY) you can watch the second game of that historic series tonight. Good column by Richard Griffin in the Star today, pointing out that the "home" fans care more about "their" players on either team than they do about the outcome, and that this clever cash grab by MLB won't save the franchise.

Enjoy the game!

Game 11: Home Underdogs | 98 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Coach - Saturday, April 12 2003 @ 12:52 PM EDT (#90704) #
Forgot to ask -- who was that impersonating Randy Johnson last night? The resemblance was amazing, except for the actual pitching.
_King Rat - Saturday, April 12 2003 @ 12:54 PM EDT (#90705) #
This site is invaluable for Jays fans outside Toronto. I know that it's the first sports site I check when I want to know what's going on, and I'm sure I'm not alone. Thanks to Coach and the rest of the ZLC for creating and maintaining this great site.

As for today's game, I've very excited that it's on TV, as it's going to be the first game other than the opener that I'll have been able to see this year. Internet radio not working for me, I've been reducing to following live online boxscores and reading the comments of more Toronto-area posters than myself. While I can't think of a better stopgap solution, I'm looking forward to seeing the team in action.

I'm encouraged by the .500 start. With a bit of luck (or marginally better play,) they could have been at .700 now, and against what we all know is brutal opposition. I think they may throw a scare into the more established contenders for the wild card. While I hate the wild card in principle, all I want from the Jays is relevance. Give me American commentators talking about them in July and August as anything other than 'sellers' in the trade market, and I'll be happy.

Finally, in the unlikely event that Craig cares anything for the best wishes of a stranger who posts as a royal rodent, I hope for the best for him and his family.
_King Rat - Saturday, April 12 2003 @ 12:56 PM EDT (#90706) #
I keep wondering, given the brutal starts of some of the more established pitchers in the game, if we're seeing a spectacular collapse of the pitching old guard, before the youngsters mentioned in another thread here take over. I hope not-Johnson is awesome to watch-but he and Maddux in particular have looked brutal this year so far. And yes, I realize that it's still really early.
Craig B - Saturday, April 12 2003 @ 01:33 PM EDT (#90707) #
Well, Hinske still doesn't have any singles, but if he hits some of those nobody will mind. 1-0 Jays.
_M.P. Moffatt - Saturday, April 12 2003 @ 01:44 PM EDT (#90708) #
That homer had to feel great for Hinske... We all know he's going to come around, but I imagine a line of .125/.176/.250 after 9 games has got to be frustrating for a competitor like Eric.

I hope Pete ends up getting the W in this game, as I need it for my fantasy team. I'd like to see Pete get a full-time spot in the rotation.

Craig B - Saturday, April 12 2003 @ 01:47 PM EDT (#90709) #
I know Tosca likes the pickoff play at second, the "timing" or "daylight" play. But I hate it with 2 out.
_Justin B. - Saturday, April 12 2003 @ 01:53 PM EDT (#90710) #
Thoughts on sending Wells there? I know the conventional wisdom says to try for the run there with two outs, but the bases would have been loaded for Hinske. Tough to say.
_M.P. Moffatt - Saturday, April 12 2003 @ 01:53 PM EDT (#90711) #
Ooooh.. intentionally walking Carlos to get to Phelps with Wells at 2nd and 2 outs. I can understand the logic of the move, but Phelps is no slouch.. something like that could really backfire.

Where is Aaron?

robertdudek - Saturday, April 12 2003 @ 01:59 PM EDT (#90712) #
Orlando Hudson continues to have the bobbles. I'm not worried; I think management should give him the time to work things out.

That baserunner was quickly erased when Greg Myers showed Ken Huckaby how to throw out a basestealer.
Lucas - Saturday, April 12 2003 @ 02:01 PM EDT (#90713) #
Where is Aaron?

You rang?
robertdudek - Saturday, April 12 2003 @ 02:05 PM EDT (#90714) #
Blue Jays hard hit ball count: Wells 2, Hinske 1
_M.P. Moffatt - Saturday, April 12 2003 @ 02:06 PM EDT (#90715) #
I just wanted to hear the views from the enemy camp on the intentional walk. :)

Lucas - Saturday, April 12 2003 @ 02:09 PM EDT (#90716) #
I'm generally not in favor of putting men on base for Josh Phelps, but Carlos usually kills Radke, so...

The Twins just had an "Aflac" trivia question that asked, "Who holds the Toronto record for single-season batting average?"

The answer is Olerud, but they just said it was Paul Molitor, .341 in 1994.

How does that mistake get made?
_Gwyn - Saturday, April 12 2003 @ 02:10 PM EDT (#90717) #
Doesn't Delgado pretty much own Radke ? Maybe that was the reason.
Lucas - Saturday, April 12 2003 @ 02:12 PM EDT (#90718) #
Carlos Delgado career vs Radke (before today):

.391/.451/.761 with 5 homers in 46 at bats.

Lucas - Saturday, April 12 2003 @ 02:22 PM EDT (#90719) #
I am, however, in favor of walking Catalanotto in all at bats following a caught stealing...
_Scott Lucas - Saturday, April 12 2003 @ 02:27 PM EDT (#90720) #
[Toronto's] 20-game trial by fire

20 games? Meh. The Rangers play their first 25 games against Anaheim, Seattle, Oakland, New York and Boston. Arguably, the Rangers' trial-by-fire is 28 games, since their following series is at... Toronto.

Anyway, congrats on treading water thus far. Thanks to the people I've met on this blog, I don't actively hate the Jays like I did in the late 80s and early 90s, when they beat the Rangers steadily and handily.
robertdudek - Saturday, April 12 2003 @ 02:31 PM EDT (#90721) #
Jays' fifth:

Wow, what a horrendous decision to try the hit+run/straight steal with a 2-1 count on Cat.

The first four batters of the inning went deep into the count, moving Radke's exit from the game a bit closer. Mr. Radke decided he didn't want to give Vernon fastballs and served him 2 beautiful changeups.

Hard hit ball count: Vernon 2, Hinske/Cat 1 each.
_M.P. Moffatt - Saturday, April 12 2003 @ 02:44 PM EDT (#90722) #
Good to see Pete get out of that jam. I have no way to watch the game.. how is Pete looking today?

robertdudek - Saturday, April 12 2003 @ 02:49 PM EDT (#90723) #
Pete's location was spot on. Only the two hits that provided the Twins' lone run were hard hit. 61 pitches for 6 innings and now.... on to (Cripple) Creek.... who has just given up a homerun to lefty Mientkiewicz.
_Justin B. - Saturday, April 12 2003 @ 02:53 PM EDT (#90724) #
Happened to be reading this about Trever Miller on Propectus' website during Kielty's at-bat:
"His curve is good enough to be a strikeout pitch against lefties, while the rest of his repertoire lets him face right-handers without being abused (which can't be said for the other Jays' lefty, Doug Creek)."
_M.P. Moffatt - Saturday, April 12 2003 @ 02:55 PM EDT (#90725) #
This isn't really second guessing because I was saying this a few months ago, but...

Why is Doug Creek on this team?!? It's pointless having Doug Creek on the same team as Ken Huckaby, as that's the only guy he can get out on a regular basis.

_King Rat - Saturday, April 12 2003 @ 02:57 PM EDT (#90726) #
Is Doug Creek the new Pedro Borbon? Ouch.
_Chuck Van Den C - Saturday, April 12 2003 @ 03:07 PM EDT (#90727) #
Is Doug Creek the new Pedro Borbon? Ouch.

Would that he were only that good!

The Jays might be better off ditching the two lefty relievers they have and just going with an all righty bullpen. Neither can be counted on as even a simple LOOGY, nor have either ever done anything in their careers to warrant any optimism this year.

There will always be more lefties hitting the waiver wire, as there always are. I'd rather find one there or scare up a minor league FA than stick with the two we have.

Having a lefty-free bullpen is not exactly the best design, particularly when you are carrying 7 (!) relief pitchers, but is there any reason to bother sticking with either of the two lefties we currently have?
_Sir Elton John - Saturday, April 12 2003 @ 03:10 PM EDT (#90728) #
I see Tosca's lefty-righty alternations haven't scared Gardenhire from bringing in a lefty reliever.
robertdudek - Saturday, April 12 2003 @ 03:13 PM EDT (#90729) #
I guess it's not true that Delgado can't HIT lefties. HHB: Wells 2, Hinske/Cat/Delgado 1 each.
robertdudek - Saturday, April 12 2003 @ 03:20 PM EDT (#90732) #
I'm going to be generous and give Wilson an HHB (the pithc was down and in - excellent hitting).

OKay second-guessers: Would you rather have Hinske versus Romero or Wilson versus Hawkins?
_Carlos Tosca - Saturday, April 12 2003 @ 03:22 PM EDT (#90733) #
Who ever was going to get the hit, thanks.
_M.P. Moffatt - Saturday, April 12 2003 @ 03:28 PM EDT (#90734) #
Wilson is 226/296/356 against righties.
Hinske is 191/276/324 against lefties

Last year (career might be misleading in this instance)
Hawkins WHIP 0.87 BAA .200 against righties
Romero WHIP 1.22 BAA .211 against lefties

I don't think there's a huge edge either way, but I probably would have made the switch.

Of course, now both Hinske and Romero are out of the game, which you have to consider as well.

_Ron Gardenhire - Saturday, April 12 2003 @ 03:31 PM EDT (#90735) #
"Mmmmm, Battle of the bullpens. Things are going to turn out OK. Thanks for the win J.P."
_Brian Butterfie - Saturday, April 12 2003 @ 03:36 PM EDT (#90736) #
Meanwhile in the dugout...

"Nice snag Carlos. Here's an idea, Delgado you play second. Orlando, you go man firstbase, you stink."
Gitz - Saturday, April 12 2003 @ 03:37 PM EDT (#90737) #
I can't watch the game and have yet to see Politte pitch, so ... what's wrong with him? Is his velocity down or anything?
Lucas - Saturday, April 12 2003 @ 03:37 PM EDT (#90738) #
I think my Kielty Revolution may finally be gaining some momentum...
_Sean - Saturday, April 12 2003 @ 03:44 PM EDT (#90739) #
On the contrary, Politte was hitting 94 on the gun and pitched well vs. Boston where he retired Manny Ramirez in a 13 pitch AB. He was quite unlucky in giving up the HR later in the inning. Today? I haven't been able to watch much of the game, so someone else will have to enlighten us.
_Random Canadian - Saturday, April 12 2003 @ 03:46 PM EDT (#90740) #
Damn lets get this thing over with....Weir up by 6 strokes!
_M.P. Moffatt - Saturday, April 12 2003 @ 03:55 PM EDT (#90741) #
Gee, where would the Jays be without a "Proven Closer" on their team?

We make fun of teams who trade for one and overpay.. but is really keeping one on your team any worse than trading for one?

Gitz - Saturday, April 12 2003 @ 03:55 PM EDT (#90742) #
Thanks for the update re: Politte; he seems to have been less sharp then he was last year, so I'm pleased it's nothing physical.

On a separate note ... I don't think Phelps commands the respect yet to warrant not intentionally walking Delgado in key situations. We all know Phelps will be a monster one day, but for now I imagine Carlos will receive a good number of free and discounted walks.
_Random Canadian - Saturday, April 12 2003 @ 03:59 PM EDT (#90743) #
Not what I had in mind..........!
Gitz - Saturday, April 12 2003 @ 04:04 PM EDT (#90744) #
This doesn't help Escobar's trade value.
_Navin R. Johnso - Saturday, April 12 2003 @ 04:05 PM EDT (#90745) #
Roll the ugliness...
_Ryan - Saturday, April 12 2003 @ 04:06 PM EDT (#90746) #
\This doesn't help Escobar's trade value.\

Escobar's ERA of 27.00 could probably help the Tigers.
Gitz - Saturday, April 12 2003 @ 04:11 PM EDT (#90747) #
Escobar could indeed help Detroit -- as a hitter.
Gitz - Saturday, April 12 2003 @ 04:11 PM EDT (#90748) #
Escobar could indeed help Detroit -- as a hitter.
_Another random - Saturday, April 12 2003 @ 04:16 PM EDT (#90749) #
Will we see Johan vs. Carlos?
_Another random - Saturday, April 12 2003 @ 04:17 PM EDT (#90750) #
....guess not....
robertdudek - Saturday, April 12 2003 @ 04:17 PM EDT (#90751) #
Politte was let down by his corner outfielders. Cat was shaded to the alley but really, Koskie's double was just a lazy fly into the corner which the leftfielder should have run down. With two out Shannon had a ball tailing away from him. It was catchable and Shannon should have made a diving attempt, since diving and missing and playing the ball on a hop would have cost the same in terms of runs.

The linescore for Escobar is ugly, but he threw the ball fairly well. Rivas' leadoff hit was a slow roller up the middle and I'm a lttle surprised Woody wasn't shading him that way. Jones hit a sharp single to centre. Hocking was ready to give up an out but Myers failed to catch a slider down (don't know if he was charged with a PB but he should have been).

After the walk, the infield was forced in and two weak ground balls which are normally outs were not (fielder's choice-safe at the plate and an easy DP ball sneaking through because of the drawn-in infield).

Tam looked good today: just like yesterday, almost everything the Twins hit was on the ground. I think that Creek has shown that he doesn't belong on a major league roster. The defense (except for Delgado, Wells, and Bordick off the bench) has been highly suspect.

The Twins have a much stronger bullpen and a much better defence, which is why they are playoff contenders and the current Jays' team isn't.

I'm a little dismayed that Aquilino has not been used more often, since he's been (by far) the most effective reliever this year so far.
_Another random - Saturday, April 12 2003 @ 04:18 PM EDT (#90752) #
Wanna call anothe rhomer for Josh, Aaron? Please....?
_Cristian - Saturday, April 12 2003 @ 04:19 PM EDT (#90753) #
Escobar will be the first to remind you that he was being brought in to a non-save situation. He can't be expected to do well if there isn't a save on the line.

I'm hoping that Escobar's way out of Toronto mirrors the Homer Bush path--outright release.
_Another random - Saturday, April 12 2003 @ 04:20 PM EDT (#90754) #
The walk was let's see if we can avoid the DP, at least.
_Another random - Saturday, April 12 2003 @ 04:22 PM EDT (#90755) #
Here comes Everyday Eddie....Brodick is .500 against lefties this year (albeit 2 for 4)....3 for 5 would be nice
_Rita McNiel - Saturday, April 12 2003 @ 04:23 PM EDT (#90756) #
It ain't over until the fat lady sings.
_M.P. Moffatt - Saturday, April 12 2003 @ 04:24 PM EDT (#90757) #
Somewhat OT, but I just got this week's issue of The Sporting News, and Griffin thinks Huck's time is over with the Jays:

"C Ken Huckaby is an N.L.-style player on a team that believes offense is all that matters. Because RHP Roy Halladay loves to pitch to Huckaby, it was believed Huckaby's jon was secure, but management already has discussed the subject and will not let his status as a personal catcher stand in the way of a move that would improve the team."

This leads me to a few questions:
1. If Ken Huckaby is an N.L.-style player, how come none of the 16 teams in the N.L. wanted him?
2. If the Blue Jays believes that offense is all that matters, how come J.P. allowed Huckaby to join the organization?
3. If the Blue Jays got rid of Huckaby and improved the team, would that be a bad thing? (Griffin seems to be implying that it would be)
4. Is Griffin the only TSN writer who routinely bashes the team he writes about?

_Shane - Saturday, April 12 2003 @ 04:24 PM EDT (#90758) #
Three completely winnable games lost in a row! Ladies and Gentleman we've got a Buck Martinez "winning" streak on the go.
_Another random - Saturday, April 12 2003 @ 04:24 PM EDT (#90759) #
Can we have Rita gagged?
_Another random - Saturday, April 12 2003 @ 04:27 PM EDT (#90760) #
And that's the ball game.....they teased us in the ninth but it was too little too late
_Ryan - Saturday, April 12 2003 @ 04:28 PM EDT (#90761) #
\3. If the Blue Jays got rid of Huckaby and improved the team, would that be a bad thing? (Griffin seems to be implying that it would be)\

Of course it would be. Griffin would have less material to work with if the team improved itself. :-)
_M.P. Moffatt - Saturday, April 12 2003 @ 04:32 PM EDT (#90762) #
I wouldn't blame Tosca, Shane. I think if any blame is going to be assigned, it should be toward JP.

The roster design on this team is awful. With Cat in RF, this team is dying for a backup OF who can be used as a defensive replacement. Yet the Jays are carrying *3* catchers and *12* pitchers. JP has given Tosca a shell of a bench and a bullpen full of spare parts that don't fit too well together. Overall I think JP's doing a terrific job turning around this franchise, but let's face it.. the bench and the bullpen stink to high heavens.

First he needs to clean house in the bullpen. Escobar has got to go. Creek has got to go. When J. Miller comes back, that's an 11 man staff which is more like it. I'd like a 10 man staff, so I could see parting with Tam, T. Miller, or Linton.

Huckaby has got to go. I don't think he will any time soon, hence all the beer offers I kept making to people. I don't mind having a good defensive catcher, but he's not one at all. It's not like he shuts down the running game and he gives up a ton of passed balls. Baseball Prospectus had him as a -3 defensively last year, which makes sense.

With 3 spots open, the Jays could get another decent bat on the bench, and a CF who could cover one of the corners to protect a late lead.

_Mick - Saturday, April 12 2003 @ 04:41 PM EDT (#90763) #
Will we see Johan vs. Carlos?

Wouldn't that matchup just unbearably confuse "Santana" fans everywhere?
_Another random - Saturday, April 12 2003 @ 04:46 PM EDT (#90764) #
Nice observation, Mick....

M.P. - As far as overhauling the bullpen, I think Rocker would have been a nice fit if we weren't beaten to the punch....nothing like a poor pitcher who just so happens to be a bigot as well! Could ahve really repaired the fragile clubhouse! Maybe for a forth outfielder who can play good defense at all three positions AND help the bats off the bench? I hear Jose Canseco is available....and maybe even everyone's second favorite "overshadowed borther" (behind Frank Stallone of course), Ozzie Canseco! I didn't watch a lot of baseball in Jose's prime but I hear he was a defensive wizard! ;-)
_Another random - Saturday, April 12 2003 @ 04:48 PM EDT (#90765) #
....somehting about how he always sued his head...? :-)
_Another random - Saturday, April 12 2003 @ 04:48 PM EDT (#90766) #
**sued = used**
_Another random - Saturday, April 12 2003 @ 04:48 PM EDT (#90767) #
**sued = used**
robertdudek - Saturday, April 12 2003 @ 04:54 PM EDT (#90768) #
I think it would be an absolute mistake to get rid of Tam if he can continue to pitch the way he has the last 2 days. Tons and tons of weak grounders which the infielders have done a fairly poor job of converting into outs. The defence will eventually turn it around.
_Shane - Saturday, April 12 2003 @ 05:01 PM EDT (#90769) #
Ya, I'm not reallt bagging on Tosca per say, he's using the tools given to him, ie. Doug Creek. But, just watching these games being given away is hard to take. I mean anyone can predict a lot of the negative sh*t that's taking place before some of these moves are even made.

J.P.'s great, but I hope if he has a stubborn bone in him, he can admit it quick, because as some are saying, Doug Creek looks like a total rightoff. As far as Jeff Tam, his margin for error has always been minutely small, and I know he's a groundball guy who apparently needs extreme usage, but when he gets dealing ball after ball, that's just not going to work.

Lopez is pitching extremely well thus far, but he's a rookie, blah blah, so Tosca seems to be sheltering him so that he can run the 'Gas Man' Tam out there (had to say it, it ryhmes) Creek, Miller who's not getting lefties out, Politte's not quite churning yet, and there's still mopey Escobar who pouts because he never got a long term deal, or he pouts because he wants to know his role, or he pouts because he sucks. There's 21 pitchers on the team, and only four or five of 'em strike anybody out. The pen needs revamping, Yes.

Catalanatto's limited in RF, the whole planet knows, but when they finally get that fourth outfielder I hope he can hit. Someone has to be able to come off the bench, because slumps or not, if Hinske's or Phelps are getting pinch hit for at this rate, Mike Bordick and Berg doing the trick in the late innings is going to be sad.
Gitz - Saturday, April 12 2003 @ 05:17 PM EDT (#90770) #
The defence will eventually turn it around.

Is this possible? When good hitters slump, they'll come back; this much we know. When a good pitcher is elevating his pitches or missing his spots, eventually he'll turn it around. The point is they're good. Bad hitters and pitchers, on the other hand, don't slump. They simply aren't good. The same goes for defence. If you're a butcher in the field, it doesn't matter if it's April or August, you're a butcher. Forgive the George W. Bush dualistic and painfully simplistic "good" vs. "bad," but if the Jays aren't "good" defencively, they're not likely to "turn it around."

This brings me to a fundamental flaw, albeit a minor one, in part of the A's mind-set the last few years. They know how to acquire cheap bullpen talent like Tam and other unorthodox -- i.e. don't throw 99 MPH -- pitchers, but the problem is that they are more dependent on having a good defence behind them. And it's no secret he A's defence is lousy, with the exception of Chavez and, now, Singleton. The A's bullpen lacks and has lacked a power set-up guy like Dotel or even Politte, and of course these guys can't be found in the weeds. However, there is no way to underestimate the value of a strikeout in the 8th inning of a one-run game and a runner on third with one out. The A's have lacked that guy for three years -- to be fair, so have a lot of teams -- but they have failed to address it, instead relying on guys who, for the most part, keep the ball in play. There are some guys in the A's 'pen with respectable K rates, but there is not a pitcher down there who is unhittable in the sense power pitchers are unhittable when they're mowing 'em down.
_Shane - Saturday, April 12 2003 @ 05:57 PM EDT (#90771) #
To go right along Gitz's logic lines, comes the obvious, the kissing cousin' Jays & A's share near all same values, the bullpen for one. Tam wasn't good enough for the A's ascension anymore, but good enogh for the Jays sloppy seconds. Unless it's been proved elsewhere to be the opposite, Tam a ground ball pitcher, clutching with white knuckle death grip on a MLB roster spot, has gone from pitching no more than nine games on turf per season to what, ninety three games on turf in '03 as a AL East Blue Jay. Isn't that a concern? What the blank is Creek's excuse?
_M.P. Moffatt - Saturday, April 12 2003 @ 06:04 PM EDT (#90772) #
The A's of the last few years weren't *that* bad defensively. Tejada is average, Hatteberg is a great defensive 1B, and Velarde was one of the best 2B's in the league. I think people tend to overstate the shortcoming(s) of the A's.

_Shane - Saturday, April 12 2003 @ 06:16 PM EDT (#90773) #
Mr. Moffatt grab your hat and eat it and start passing out those beers, Huckaby has just flown the coup. Designated for assignment, here comes Reed Johnson. I'll be over here in the corner eating crow too, Huckaby didn't cling to life as long I had been saying either. Of course we didn't have Mr. Law whispering sweet 'roster' nothings in our ear like Coach. Darn to be right.
_The Huckaby Ann - Saturday, April 12 2003 @ 06:19 PM EDT (#90774) #
Damn, that was faster than I thought. I mean, I posted my roster complaint at 4:32 and this annoucement came at what.. 5 maybe?

JP: You're obviously reading my posts. The next thing the Jays need to do is give me a pair of seasons tickets. This would ensure a wild card birth.

robertdudek - Saturday, April 12 2003 @ 06:35 PM EDT (#90775) #
They're not good defensively, but they aren't this bad either. In any case, changes to the roster may be made that bring in good defensive players and/or strikeout pitchers that rely less on the defence.

Hudson and Hinske were much better than this last year on defence so I expect them to play better.
_Ryan - Saturday, April 12 2003 @ 06:38 PM EDT (#90776) #
I'm a little surprised Huckaby was dumped this quickly as well, but I'm also wondering if the team's coming trip to New York this week played a role. The media undoubtedly would've been all over Huckaby for the Jeter play, and this could've been a pretty big distraction for the rest of the team.

Johnson is supposedly pretty good defensively and has historically been an on-base freak. It makes more sense to have him sit on the bench than Werth.
_benum - Saturday, April 12 2003 @ 06:57 PM EDT (#90777) #
...and there was much rejoicing.
It's like moving from the NL to the AL; we don't have to let a pitcher bat at the bottom of the order anymore (a catcher who hits like a pitcher).
Gitz - Saturday, April 12 2003 @ 06:58 PM EDT (#90778) #

Having watched the A's rise to power, I can state unequivocally they ARE that bad defensively, or at least they have been the last four or five years. It was nice having Damon out there for a full season, but his abysmal hitting more than negated his defensive value. Terrence Long may not be the worst hitter in the league, but it's close. However, he was certainly the worst center fielder in the league, and, while much has been made of his move to left field improving the A's defense this year, the fact is he is a drag on the team there, too.

And I don't care what the fancy-schmancy super-dupery sabermetric fielding numbers say, but Hatteberg is, at best, average, as are Ellis, Tejada, Ramon Herndandez, and Dye, who can barely cover the gap or the RF line. Dye is a shell of himself as an OF, which is too bad; he was once top-notch, and he's the only Athletic who can reach home plate on fewer than 24 hops.

So, to summarize, for this year at least:

1B - OK/below average
2B - OK
3B - In good hands
C - Poor
CF - Fine
LF - Poor
RF - Poor

I have lost count over the years how many catchable balls have dropped in front of Long, Dye, Giambi, Grieve, et al, and Tejada has thrown his fair share of routine grounders to Los Angeles. Of course, this is major nit-picking, since the A's seem to be generating quite a number of wins ...
_Jordan - Saturday, April 12 2003 @ 07:02 PM EDT (#90779) #
There's now a separate thread on Huckaby for those who are interested.
_Jordan - Saturday, April 12 2003 @ 07:23 PM EDT (#90780) #
In terms of the defence, I think we can all agree that it's been something of a horror show lately. But I think Robert is right in saying they'll eventually come around, assuming a lot of practice and simple game experience.

Recall that Hudson and Woodward were in lovely Syracuse, New York this time last year, and it's not surprising that they've got some early-season shakes. Hinske started off looking like a burly Kim Batiste last season, but he really came on in the second half. If these guys have the character we believe they have, they should respond well to the serious infield drills likely awaiting them. They have one of the best teachers in the game in Brian Butterfield, and a backup shortstop with a top defensive reputation, to get them there.

And in any event, it's not like they're going anywhere -- these are the growing pains that accompany the arrival of young players who need to learn the finer aspects of the game at the major-league level. I admit it's not pretty to watch, especially when these gaffes are costing this team winnable games against tough opponents, but it's necessary and inevitable. My suggestion is that when they boot yet another ball in May, grab a beer and think ahead to the happy day when you can tell people you saw these guys when they were greener than onions.
Craig B - Saturday, April 12 2003 @ 07:51 PM EDT (#90781) #
It was depressing, frustrating, and not very well played.

The infielders look like they need to relax. Gitz said The same goes for defence. If you're a butcher in the field, it doesn't matter if it's April or August, you're a butcher.

I think this is absolutely wrong. Look at how errors cluster for fielders... fielding is as much a skill as hitting, takes as much work as hitting, and needs good coaching and constant adjustments. Major league fielders practice it constantly, for one thing... if it were just natural, why would you need to practice?

As for the pitching staff, I don't know who slipped the don't-care pills into Escobar's Gatorade, but I'm heartened by Robert's characterization of the performance. Walking Hocking was just sloppy, he CANNOT hurt you. Once again, though, he wasn't very good in a non-save situation. I'm not saying it's deliberate, but you wonder if maybe he can't help that a bit. He looked sharp on April 5, otherwise not, and I seem to recall last year that he didn't pitch very well in non-save situations, but I may be wrong. (He had a 5.28 ERA in 29 innings last year when he didn't have a save or a blown save, not really that bad compared to the rest of his performance but definitely worse)

Doug Creek is simply unacceptable. He can't locate his pitches, and if you don't know where it's going at least some of the time I don't think you belong in the majors. He fell behind all three hitters, 2-1 and 2-1 and 2-0, and the left the next pitch in a real good hitting area each time. I know he has good stuff, but that is not enough; it's not like this is Sidd Finch up there. Lopez needs to be used, *needs* to be used.

Walker was great... zero complaints from me, he did everything right really. He probably could have gone nine, and won the game, if he hadn't been working out of the bullpen this year (he only threw 61 pitches? Outstanding). I wonder, actually, if he could have gone another couple of innings.

After the way the Yankees shut down the Twins' hitters, the way we've let them score on us is sobering. That said, this is a good team and we scored well on them too.

If Reed Johnson is a godsend, you have a problem with your bench. That said, Johnson is a godsend and it's incredibly encouraging to see that he has come back from his injury woes.

Anyway, the sky is hardly falling. If we can win tomorrow, we'll be 6-6 and remember this is the Terrible Twenty. .500 is *good* right now.
Craig B - Saturday, April 12 2003 @ 07:53 PM EDT (#90782) #
OK, Jordan's post makes me realize I really need to relax. It's fine. This is early season, where we should be finding out stuff like whether Creek is doneski and whether Cat can handle right field.
Gitz - Saturday, April 12 2003 @ 08:34 PM EDT (#90783) #

Yeah, you're right about defence being a skill. However, it seems to me that players don't tend to improve as the season goes on (Hinske being a notable exception to this rule last season), and there is a fair amount of natural ability in range factor, which is sort of akin to bat speed: either you have it or you don't. There's isn't much you can do if your foot speed and reaction time aren't good. When I played baseball, fielding, for me, was much "easier" than hitting. No matter how many ground balls I took at third, I never felt I was improving or getting worse. The more BP I took, however, especially when I started switch-hitting, the more I felt I knew, and the better I got at it. Of course, trying to juxtapose my "skills" with those of Chris Woodward is a bit specious, to say the least. Our experiences, obviously, are quite different.

And, of course, I know NOTHING about the Blue Jays defense; I was thinking out loud (in print?) about how fielding, because it is the one thing practiced more than anything (200 ground balls as opposed to 30 swings in the cage) doesn't seem to fluctuate as much.

I have a unique perspective in having seen a lot more A's games than most people on this board, so what I notice about them, you're going to start noticing the same things about your Jays. You take the good with the bad, and in this case, it's that the A's are not a fundamentally sound defensive club. It' simply not part of the philosophy.
_Shane - Saturday, April 12 2003 @ 08:40 PM EDT (#90784) #
Nothing wrong with relaxing, or even being lazy or even being disinterested, as long as you're doing it as a fan. I doubt the Jays brass likes watching a problem keep sticking it's worn out face in front of victory. Catalanatto is going to be the rightfielder, there's no real choice otherwise. He'd have to field real badly and often to get taken out of rightfield because there's nowhere else to put him until Shannon Stewart turns into Cinderella or Hudson turns himself into Jeremy Affeldt. And still, it's safe to say he cost Halladay one run in his last start, but it wasn't Frank that cost them the game, it was the four runs the bullpen handed over in the 8th & 9th innings that saved the Red Sox a$$.

Doug Creek? Maybe we already know what he is? A crappy broken down lefty who pitched like a dogs lunch last year. But, they're paying him $700,000 so I guess he's not going away until we all find out, one way or the other. They could atleast give Miller a few of those late inning situations that Creek's failed at. Who knows, maybe he'll suck less.
Coach - Saturday, April 12 2003 @ 08:42 PM EDT (#90785) #
Of course we didn't have Mr. Law whispering sweet 'roster' nothings in our ear like Coach.

Shane, if I was as well informed as you seem to think, I wouldn't have "guessed" wrong about Huckaby (and Linton) in the first place. My style of public speculation hasn't changed since I began writing my ESPN column more than a year ago. I'm right more often than most, but I swing and miss on occasion. I'm not afraid to trash a Jays decision (see Lawrence, Joe) and I praise the ones I agree with.

This site was barely a week old when we got a comment from "Keith L." to which I responded with a mixture of amusement and disbelief. Since then, Mr. Law has corrected me by e-mail a couple of times for other factual errors and/or omissions, and that's appreciated. He even had lunch with three of us once to encourage us, and praised the quality of discussion in Da Box. We talked as much about other baseball Web sites and other teams as we did about the Jays, and we were more interested in his opinions of the 2002 draft class than the 40-man roster -- we already knew those guys.

My impression is that Keith (and his boss) are very interested in what thinking fans have to say about their team, and that's why they visit our little site. They read the papers, too. If I hang the "Cripple" nickname on Doug Creek, or rant about too many catchers, that's no different from certain columnists insisting Cat was brought in to play 2B -- it's an opinion, it could be unfair or wrong, and it might not be very popular in the front office, but to their credit, the Jays have never complained. Nor do they try to tell us what to say, and as far as "inside information" -- I wish.

It was obvious to me that Huckaby's days were numbered the moment they signed Myers. It was a clear statement that they weren't going to continue the Huck/Wilson experiment, in which neither could hit righty pitching. Last year, Darrin Fletcher failed in the Myers role, but in a lost season, there was no panic to replace him. Had Fletch played even close to expectations, Huck would never have been necessary. Kenny should be as grateful for his time in Toronto as Crash Davis was for his 21 days in the Show. Here's another prediction: Reed Johnson is as temporary as Huckaby was; his value is in being able to give Stewart or Wells a day off if they get banged up, but he won't stick around once it's decided Werth is ready.

I'm not sorry I missed most of today's game; it must have been agonizing to watch. I saw the Hinske blast before I left and heard Cat's shot on the radio just before my meeting started. So it wasn't much fun to hear about the exploits of Creek and Escobar on the drive home, and I'm just beginning to get caught up on this thread. To be continued...
Pistol - Saturday, April 12 2003 @ 08:58 PM EDT (#90786) #
Am I the only one that thought that should have been an out at home in the 9th inning? It still would have been bases loaded with one out, but I thought it was a bad call.

I can't believe Creek is coming into a game right now with a lead. Doug M shouldn't be able to take lefties deep.

I actually have the most faith in Lopez of anyone in the bullpen.

Having Huckaby as a 3rd catcher was sure noticable in the 9th. I wasn't against having him, but that opened my eyes up more today.

122 pitches for Kerry Wood. Wow.
_Shane - Saturday, April 12 2003 @ 09:38 PM EDT (#90787) #
Hey Coach, Buddy, I was joking. When I first posted on your site you contacted me on January 16th and told me about you're then recent correspondence and lunch meeting with Keith Law, you asked I not mention it online, and I didn't. I didn't see this as some gay contest of right and wrong, so it's unfortunate that you've perhaps taken it as such. No malice had been intended, i'm a sarcastic bastard, sue me.

If anything, "whispering sweet 'roster' nothings" was a quick little aside that I thought sounded humorous. The posts whole purpose was to say that I had previously made numerous comments, and stated certain guesses ever since Greg Myers signed that happened to rival your outlook and perhaps those of others.

Now, that some of my catcher/roster-spot guesses have fallen short, and I WAS WRONG and you and other posters were right, I was admiting it. And as i remember it, they're were fun little wagers and lines drawn in the sand along the way from anyone with a view on the whole as I once put it, "three headed Catcher monster". Anyone who read the 'Box' could easily see which readers/posters thought 2 catchers/3 catchers/who-which-and-where. I was giving you you're props. You were right, I was wrong. That's what I was saying. This is for fun isn't it? We're not auditioning for GM positions here are we?
_King Rat - Saturday, April 12 2003 @ 10:11 PM EDT (#90788) #

I was shouting at the TV when the ump made that call. In retrospect, while I think it was the wrong call-Cerutti's babbling only irritated me more-you can't blame the umpire for making it, because it was obviously a bang-bang play and Hudson skipped the throw. One of those 'if the defense does it right, it's an out, if not, he's safe' kind of things. I'm still fuming about Escobar. The guy is a space cadet. How on earth do you walk Denny Hocking when he starts the at-bat trying to BUNT?!?!?!?
Gitz - Saturday, April 12 2003 @ 10:19 PM EDT (#90789) #

Certainly you weren't talking about me, Coach ...
Gitz - Saturday, April 12 2003 @ 10:20 PM EDT (#90790) #
Ooops. I tried to quote Coach's "I'm right more often than most ... "

There's only one thing worse than a bad joke: a bad joke with no context! D'oh!
_rodent - Saturday, April 12 2003 @ 10:22 PM EDT (#90791) #
Sure it was the wrong call, but if Hudson doesn't throw a slider in the dirt, the ump gets a decent look maybe and makes the call.
_Mick - Saturday, April 12 2003 @ 11:01 PM EDT (#90792) #

There's only one thing worse than a bad joke: a bad joke with no context! D'oh!

Certainly you weren't talking about me, Gitz ...

-- Doherty
Coach - Saturday, April 12 2003 @ 11:36 PM EDT (#90793) #
No harm, no foul, Shane. I was just concerned that you, or anyone else, would let your imagination exaggerate the connection between the Jays' front office and a bunch of fans spewing their opinions on a blog, no matter how charming, insightful and good-looking some of us may be. I was amazed that Keith even noticed Batter's Box, thrilled that he enjoyed what we were doing, and even more excited to find out that J.P. likes the site, but as of yet they're not asking for our advice on personnel matters, and vice versa on BB content.
_jason - Sunday, April 13 2003 @ 12:05 AM EDT (#90794) #
Hey,... um.... Kielty is good.
_King Rat - Sunday, April 13 2003 @ 12:33 AM EDT (#90795) #

I agree. That's essentially what I was trying to say, though I may have garbled it-wrong call, but Hudson's fault for making it one. It was an extremely frustrating inning all round though, between Kelvim's arson act and the general irritation of a five-run Twins rally.
_Chuck Van Den C - Sunday, April 13 2003 @ 08:02 AM EDT (#90796) #
Robert: The linescore for Escobar is ugly, but he threw the ball fairly well.

I have a feeling that I'm not alone in disagreeing here, Robert.

He went 2-0 on the the weak hitting Rivas before grooving a fastball that was sent back up the middle.

He did get ahead of Jones 0-1 but ultimately served up a fat, hittable pitch.

He then pulled his normal stunt on a weak hitter trying to bunt. "There's no way you're bunting off me, man, I'm walking you." While Myers probably should have caught the wild 2-1 pitch, what reason on earth has Escobar got to go 3-1 on someone that, as Cerutti pointed out, was trying to make an out?

Escobar is the most infuriating type of athlete to me: a (four) million dollar arm governed by a ten-cent brain. Like Juan Guzman before him, he'll never excel until he realizes that (a) he ain't good enough to nibble and (b) he's got to just throw the bloody ball down the middle and let it's natural movement takes its course.
_Peter - Sunday, April 13 2003 @ 08:16 AM EDT (#90797) #
Somehow Richard Griffin and good column don't seem to fit together.
Dave Till - Sunday, April 13 2003 @ 08:19 AM EDT (#90798) #
Thomas Boswell once wrote: "Never judge a major-league ballplayer in a unit of time shorter than a month." I agree that Creek and Escobar look useless, but (a) everybody has a bad couple of games now and again, and (b) the Jays don't really have anybody better. I don't think Jason Kershner is the answer; if he was, the Padres wouldn't have waived him, and he would have made the club out of spring training.

I'm glad the Jays actually have a fourth outfielder: it'll be nice to have someone who can come in as a defensive replacement for Cat.

When Werth is ready, the Jays may trade Stewart for pitching and move Cat to left.

As for the defense: the occupational hazard of trying to build a team on the cheap is that everybody you acquire is going to have some flaws. If Catalanotto had any defensive ability, given his obvious hitting skills, he'd be a Yankee or Red Sock right now, and making much more money.

Except for Cat, the Jays' defense isn't that bad. Stewart has awful instincts in left, and no arm, but he catches anything he can get to. Wells is amazing in center. Hinske is OK at third, though not exceptionally mobile. Woodward is adequate. Hudson has good range and is good on the DP; he's just raw. He'll get better. And Delgado seems to have improved at first this year.

What we're seeing are the flaws that are going to keep the Jays around the 85 win level. They just aren't in the same league as the Yankees, Red Sox, and Twins, but we all knew that before the season started. Let's look forward to watching the Jays play teams like Detroit and Baltimore - when the opposition is weaker, the Jays will look much better. (I think even Doug Creek could probably get the Tigers out right now.)
_Richard - Sunday, April 13 2003 @ 11:09 AM EDT (#90799) #
Amen Dave,the season is still young.
robertdudek - Sunday, April 13 2003 @ 12:04 PM EDT (#90800) #
"I don't think Jason Kershner is the answer; if he was, the Padres wouldn't have waived him, and he would have made the club out of spring training."

I disagree with the logic behind this. Try this one: if Tom Henke were the answer, the Rangers would have never gotten rid of him. Are the Padres immune from making bad decisions? They had a lot of pitchers to look at last year and decided that Kershner was not in their plans.

And we all know that who makes the club out of spring isn't always an indication of the 25 best players in the organisation.

Let's get Kershner up here and see what he can do.
_M.P. Moffatt - Sunday, April 13 2003 @ 12:40 PM EDT (#90801) #
My impression is that Keith (and his boss) are very interested in what thinking fans have to say about their team, and that's why they visit our little site. They read the papers, too. If I hang the "Cripple" nickname on Doug Creek, or rant about too many catchers, that's no different from certain columnists insisting Cat was brought in to play 2B -- it's an opinion, it could be unfair or wrong, and it might not be very popular in the front office, but to their credit, the Jays have never complained. Nor do they try to tell us what to say, and as far as "inside information" -- I wish.

I think the thing I respect most about JP, Keith, etc. is the fact that they have a plan and are sticking to it. While I might not always agree with the plan (or know all its details, which I certainly don't), they're not going to let criticism by Griffin, Ulmer, or Coach stop them.

I think the organisations that scare me the most are the ones who cave to public opinion. Even if they're educated opinions like ours.

As I'm sure I've mentioned a million times, I'm the economics guide at The site gets literally thousands and thousands of hits a day... which I love because it means my writing gets a lot of exposure, but I get a *lot* of e-mails a day. Some are from other economists and are usually pretty intelligent. I also get a lot of thoughtful e-mails from non-economists. Unfortunately, I also get a lot of inane e-mail from people who personally admit they don't know the first thing about economics and have never taken a course in it... or they took Economics 101 about 12 years ago. Yet they still think that their ideas are brilliant and if they could just get the government to implement their plans, the world would be a better place.

It must feel that way to JP some days to listen to the columnists and to read stuff written by us. I would hope we're in the "thoughtful outsiders" category, but still. Having never worked in a major league front office, there's a heck of a lot I don't know. So when I say the Jays should do X, there are probably a lot of good reasons why X wouldn't work that I don't know about. It's still a lot of fun for us "outsiders" to debate the merits of moves; that's why I come here.

The point of this long rambly e-mail is that I'm *very* glad to see that the Jays front office isn't just going around polling the fans asking what they want.. instead they're doing what they *know* is right and they're going to do it no matter what anyone (including us thinks). At the same time, I'm glad they're letting us say whatever we want and isn't (openly) looking down on us.

So Jays front office... keep doing what you're doing. Even though I think your roster construction leaves a lot to be desired. :)

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