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Here's my end-of-season report for the 2003 Jays. Enjoy.


Dave Berg
2003 season in one word: Invisible

A sixth infielder is like a bedroom flashlight. Normally you don't need one, but every now and again there's an emergency. Dave Berg fills the role about as well as anybody. Good teams have guys like this as their 25th man; bad teams have guys like Jacob Brumfield.
Grades by month: A B- F -- D- B
Final grade: C

Mike Bordick
2003 season in one word: Professional

Let's not get too carried away here - Bordick isn't a particularly good hitter. His .340 OBP is respectable, and he can pop a home run every now and again, but good teams have guys who can field like Bordick and hit like, well, Nomar Garciaparra. Having said that, Bordick has been a very useful player this year. He has served as an unofficial infield coach and role model, has played excellent defense, and has done everything his employers have asked him to do. It's a lot easier to root for guys like this than players such as Felipe Lopez. Rumours have it that he won't be back: if he is leaving, he'll go out with a bang, as he batted .304/.380/.393 after the break.
Grades by month: B- C C- A A B-
Final grade: B

Kevin Cash
2003 season in one word: Unidimensional

Mucho mucho defense, but nacho nacho bat. His air of authority and zippy accurate arm behind the plate cause veteran baseball men to dribble tobacco juice on their unifronts in excitement, but he's having trouble getting untracked at the plate, to put it mildly. He'll be given the first few months of next year to get his act together, but Quiroz's footsteps behind him are getting louder.
Grades by month: -- -- -- -- F D-
Final grade: F, but with an option for remedial work

Frank Catalanotto
2003 season in one word: Stylish

Has roughly the same skill set as Rance Mulliniks: good bat control, gap power, so-so defense. Walk total relatively low, but that's partly because he found a ball to hit before the enemy could walk him. Hit only .176/.250/.294 against lefties, which suggests that he works best as part of a platoon combination. Struggled in the summer. Wants to return to Toronto, and probably will.
Monthly grades: A A C+ F A B
Final grade: A-

Howie Clark
2003 season in one word: Redundant

Has roughly the same skills as Dave Berg, Mike Bordick, and Chris Woodward, except that he can't play short (as far as I know). If a reserve infield spot opens up, Clark will be the first in line to take it. He won't hurt the team if he gets it.
Monthly grades: -- -- A C+ -- --
Final grade: B (not enough playing time to rank higher)

Carlos Delgado
2003 season in one word: Batmonster

The whole "Should they sign Delgado?" question might have an obvious answer a year from now. Most of Carlos's awesomeness happened before the all-star break, the four-homer game notwithstanding. After the break, Delgado was .284/.428/.538, and Josh Phelps was .278/.373/.528, which suggests that the two of them are moving towards one another in ability. Having said that, I predict that Carlos's numbers should be good for a while: he's in good shape, he works hard, and he's been durable. His numbers are likely to regress to his 2001-2002 levels, though; after the four-homer barrage and the season-ending grand slam, pitchers aren't likely to give him anything good to hit until about 2006. Batted .267 away from home.
Grades by month: A+ A+ A+ A+ A+ A
Final grade: A+

Eric Hinske
2003 season in one word: Gritty

To me, sometimes it seems like ballplayers go in and out of fashion, like hair styles or hemlines. If there was a "Hot Or Not?" for ballplayers, Hinske would be a Not: his injuries and well-documented defensive problems have dropped him well down the Blue Jays food chain. He also was conspicuously absent when the Jays offense turned into a shark pool for pitchers in June. But it's not as if Eric was a total liability: he whacked 50 extra-base hits - broken hand and all - stole 12 bases in 14 attempts, drew 59 walks, and was better than Ed Sprague at third. (Okay, that last one is damning with faint praise, I admit.) It's obvious, now, that Hinske will eventually lose his battle with third base, but his work ethic should keep him at the position for at least a couple of years. One day, though, he'll wake up and become the next incarnation of Kevin Witt.
Grades by month: C+ C- -- B+ C+ A
Final grade: B-

Ken Huckaby
2003 season in one word: Brief

Not Derek Jeter's favourite player. He will only return to Toronto if Myers and/or Wilson don't return, and if Cash continues to hit below .200. If he does return, the Jays' next postseason appearance will be put off until at least 2005.
Final grade: Incomplete

Orlando Hudson
2003 season in one word: Levophobic

"Levophobia" means "fear of things to the left side of the body." This describes Orlando Hudson to a T - he hit .160/.222/.190 against lefthanded pitchers. In other words, he hit like a pitcher against southpaws. This would rank as another strike against switch-hitting, except that the O-Dog is a natural righthanded hitter, and is hitting much better from his "wrong" side. Has no star potential, and will need to be platooned if this keeps up, but he can help a team with his excellent defense and his hustle.
Grades by month: C- A A C- D- B
Final grade: B

Reed Johnson
2003 season in one word: Hustle!

Seems to be making himself into a quality major league player by dint of sheer effort. Experienced a severe bump in the road in July and August, but recovered in September. The perfect fourth outfielder, and won't hurt you if he plays regularly. Bunts well, runs well, fields well, hustles conspicuously - what's not to like?
Grades by month: -- A A D+ D- A+
Final grade: B+

Bobby Kielty
2003 season in one word: Confusing

Seemed lost at sea for most of his time in Toronto. Switch-hitting is hurting him: he batted .187/.295/.309 against righthanded pitching. Has tremendous plate discipline, and a broad range of skills, but isn't particularly outstanding at anything. Played about as well as Reed Johnson, and occupies the same ecological niche. At some point, when Rios and Gross are ready, the Jays will have some choices to make.
Grades by month: -- -- -- B+ D+ A-
Final grade: B-

Greg Myers
2003 season in one word: Possessed

No one on the planet, including Myers himself, could have predicted that Crash would hit like Carlos Delgado for two months. By August, he'd reverted to being Greg Myers again, which is why no contender tried to pick him up at the trading deadline. The end could come swiftly: Darrin Fletcher had a year like this before crashing and burning, and the two men have a lot in common. Will be in demand as a backup catcher next year: there aren't many lefthanded hitting catchers with power and passable defense out there. And somebody like Baltimore might offer him a job as a regular, which the Jays won't do.
Grades by month: B+ A+ A+ B+ F B+
Grade: A-

Josh Phelps
2003 season in one word: Potential

As expected, experienced some major growing pains in 2003; being on Baseball Prospectus's cover, and becoming subject to its infamous jinx, didn't help. By the end of the season, he increased his walks, cut down on his strikeouts, and was starting to look like the hitter he appeared to be last year. I think he's not going to be as good as Delgado, but he still could be, and you can't say that about many hitters.
Monthly grades: B B- A D- A A-
Final grade: A-

Shannon Stewart
2003 season in one word: Predictable

In Toronto, did everything he usually does: reached base relatively often, ran well, didn't steal bases, looked confused in left field sometimes, threw poorly, and suffered a hamstring tweak. I've always liked him (sorry, Coach): he hits .300 consistently, and never seems to cause problems. Caught fire in Minnesota, as you all know; a writer or two seriously suggested that Shannon deserved the MVP for catalyzing the Twins, which is laying it on rather thick. My guess is that he might wind up in Los Angeles (or Baltimore).
Monthly grades: B+ A- A C --
Final, and final, grade: B+, and thanks for everything

Vernon Wells
2003 season in one word: Unstoppable

Continued improving throughout the season. Hit .344/.391/.542 after the all-star break; his slugging percentage after the break was higher than Delgado's. To give you an idea of what kind of player he is now: next year, he could win the home run title, the batting title, a Gold Glove in centre field, or all three. If he continues to grow at the normal rate of player development, he will be the second-best player in the American League at his peak (behind A-Rod). Is now the best player named "Wells" in Jays history.
Monthly grades: B- A+ A+ A A+ A+
Final grade: A+

Jayson Werth
2003 season in one word: All-Or-Nothing

I was going to put "Werthless", but that's a bit cruel. Dick Schofield's nephew struck out 22 times in 48 at-bats, but had six extra-base hits and 10 RBI's. This suggests a hitter trying too hard to impress the brass. You can't blame him, really - I'm sure he's aware that the Jays have zillions of quality outfield prospects. Ironically, the Jays would probably be happy to trade him to Cincinnati for John Bale right about now.
Monthly grades: -- -- -- F --
Final grade: Incomplete

Tom Wilson
2003 season in one word: Fading

One of the reasons that the Jays are willing to give so much playing time to Kevin Cash is because Wilson faded badly in the second half. After the break, he hit .193/.280/.241 with no home runs and 4 doubles in 83 at-bats. And his defense isn't good enough to make up for his lack of hitting. Still has his plate discipline, but that might not be enough to hold a job, given the number of good hitting outfielders and first basemen on the Jays' roster.
Monthly grades: A A A+ F D- --
Final grade: C+

Chris Woodward
2003 season in one word: Overextended

We should have seen this coming: after all, except for a few occasional bursts of power in Syracuse, his career path to this point screams "utility player". And it was obvious to those of us who were watching Gonzo at short two years ago that Woody was stretched a bit at shortstop. He has a useful role to play on a good team, as he can play all four infield positions, and hits lefthanded pitching well: he was .307/.360/.485 against southpaws. Could be a good platoon partner for the O-Dog at second, or a serviceable shortstop when a flyball pitcher such as Towers is on the mound. Will probably be the Jays' regular shortstop in 2004, as they don't have anybody better above AA ball, and anybody they sign is likely to have a bat of balsa.
Monthly grades: C- A- A- C- C+ F
Final grade: C


Juan Acevedo
2003 season in one word: Uncontrolled

An impressive decline: he went from "closer for the New York Yankees" to "unemployed" in the space of less than a year. From what I saw of him, he looked like a pitcher with good stuff but no idea where it was going - which makes him no better than hundreds of young minor-league wannabees. He might find his range someday, but so might any of the hundreds.
Monthly grades: -- -- -- F --
Final grade: F

Brian Bowles
2003 season in one word: Interchangeable

One of many so-so young pitching prospects hoping for a big break. I see no reason to expect anything from him, but you never know: I didn't expect anything from Jason Kershner, and look what he did.
Monthly grades: -- -- -- -- C --
Final grade: Incomplete

Vinny Chulk
2003 season in one word: Interchangeable

One of many so-so young pitching prospects hoping for a big break. I see no reason to expect anything from him, but you never know: I didn't expect anything from Jason Kershner, and look what he did.
Final grade: Incomplete

Doug Creek
2003 season in one word: Unreliable

The first of J.P.'s Terrible Trio of pitcher signings, Creek had a tendency to be wild and high out there, which made him unsuitable for the late-inning spot lefty situations for which he was hired. Trever Miller has taken this role away in Creek's absence, so Creek is likely up the proverbial, er, creek without a paddle.
Monthly grades: C- D- --
Final grade: Gone, hopefully

Doug Davis
2003 season in one word: Nibbler

Picked up from Texas in mid-season, Davis hung around the fringes of the strike zone and the starting rotation for a few weeks, being beaten unmercifully about the head and shoulders for a bit, before being released. Wound up in Milwaukee, and actually pitched well there, posting a 2.58 ERA in eight starts as a Brewer. His K/IP ratio, both there and here, suggests a marginal talent - somebody who has to hit his spots every time out in order to succeed. Pitching is a lot easier when you can sometimes rear back and blow the ball by a hitter.
Monthly grades: -- D+ F --
Final grade: F, and enjoy the bratwurst

Kelvim Escobar
2003 season in one word: Cyclothymic

Escobar's season was a made-for-TV mini-series: after failing horribly as a reliever, and kicking butt in late spring as a starter, Escobar settled down and became a reasonably consistent mid-level starter. (I never would have predicted I would use "Escobar" and "consistent" in the same sentence.) Still has great stuff, but will he harness it completely before he loses it? Will likely be gone - somebody will offer him a huge contract. My latest guess is Baltimore. J.P. is probably already plotting what he's going to do with the extra draft pick.
Monthly grades: F B+ A C B+ C+
Final grade: B

Roy Halladay
2003 season in one word: Cy!

I don't think I can add anything here that you don't already know. Got his 22 wins in five months - Doc was winless in April. He's not afraid to challenge hitters, which leads to the occasional burst of gopheritis: his 26 home runs allowed led the staff. But his willingness to throw strikes makes him an extremely valuable property, as he can go deep into games without racking up high pitch totals. Pitched 266 innings without significant arm abuse. I don't know whether he'll get the Cy, but in the end it doesn't matter: he's clearly a Cy-calibre pitcher, and has been for the last 2 1/2 years. At this point, only Stieb and Clemens (and possibly Henke) have ever pitched better in a Jays' uniform than Doc.
Monthly grades: C- A A+ A+ C A+
Final grade: A+

Mark Hendrickson
2003 season in one word: Marginal

Lurch dodged bullets all season long, pitching well enough to keep his spot as the fifth starter until September. The return of Pete Walker and the rise of Josh Towers have left Lurch in the, er, lurch; if the Jays use any of their spare cash to sign actual starting pitchers, Lurch may become an ex-baseball player as well as an ex-basketball player. Allowed 24 home runs and 207 hits in 158 1/3 innings, which suggests a pitcher whose stuff isn't exactly overwhelming.
Monthly grades: F C- D- C- D+ F
Final grade: D-

Jason Kershner
2003 season in one word: Surprising

Emerged from nowhere to become an effective pitcher in the second half. (Recall that he couldn't beat out Tam, Sturtze, Linton, or Creek in spring training.) Throws strikes, and doesn't give up too many home runs; if you do that, you're going to be successful in this league. If he drops back a notch, he'll be competing with Trever Miller for the spot lefty job; if he steps forward a notch, he could become the next Paul Quantrill. I'd be worried about arm problems, though: he was apparently gassed by the end of the season. Seems to like it here: had a 2.36 ERA at home, and a 4.58 ERA on the road.
Monthly grades: F -- -- A B A
Final grade: B+

Cory Lidle
2003 season in one word: Disappointing

Obviously battled arm problems all summer: his K/IP was down, and he was being beaten like a gong. At one point, had the worst ERA of any regular starter in the American League, which is an impressive achievement in a league that has Texas and Tampa Bay in it. His chance of getting a big-money free-agent deal has gone down the tubes - at this point, he's probably looking at a minor-league contract with a spring-training invitation. Didn't pitch much worse at the Dome than on the road, so there's a possibility that the Jays might make him a non-roster invitee next year. I doubt he'll want to come back, though, and I don't think anyone here particularly wants him back.
Monthly grades: C+ A F F F C+
Final grade: D

Doug Linton
2003 season in one word: Brief

Served a brief stint as 12th man before being sent out in April. He didn't do well in Syracuse - his win-loss record was 2-10 - which suggests that his second tour of duty in Toronto isn't going to be any longer than his first. The Jays should avoid signing pitchers named Doug next year, since Creek, Davis and Linton all failed to work out.
No monthly grades
Final grade: F

Aquilino Lopez
2003 season in one word: Impressive

His career went in exactly the opposite direction to Juan Acevedo's: A-Lop started the year as a marginal Rule V draftee, only trusted to pitch in lopsided games, and wound up the Jays' closer and bullpen ace, more or less by default. Was sometimes the only reliever that Tosca trusted, which may mean that his arm is burnt out: he struck out only 16 batters in 26.1 innings after the break, which suggests that he has been tested to destruction. Had a 2.38 ERA at home, and a 4.78 ERA on the road.
Monthly grades: C- B+ B+ B- A- A+
Final grade: A-

Trever Miller
2003 season in one word: LOOGY

I keep wanting to call him "Trevor Millor". After an awful start, he settled down some, and served as the club's designated one-out spot lefthander. He did this well enough to set a club record for appearances. Another name in the long list of so-so spot lefties in Jays history, which includes Felix Heredia, Pedro Borbon, Graeme Lloyd, Gary Lavelle, and Dave Geisel. If he gets uppity, the Jays can always go and find another one. Fanned 19 batters in 20 1/3 innings after the all-star break.
Monthly grades: F C D- A C- C-
Final grade: C-

Cliff Politte
2003 season in one word: Slowdown

His stats scream that he's lost some of his stuff: he's still striking out a reasonable number of batters per nine innings, but not as many as he used to, and he's giving up a lot of home runs. This suggests a pitcher who is used to throwing the ball by hitters in certain situations, who is discovering that he can't do that any more. If he fully recovers from his injuries, he may bounce back to being the pitcher he was last year; if he doesn't, he'll have a three to four-year odyssey of reassignments and spring training invitations ahead of him before he figures out how to retire batters without the good heater. My bet, sadly, is on the latter. Had a 2.77 ERA at home and an 8.87 ERA on the road, and a 4.02 ERA after the break.
Monthly grades: B A F -- A- F
Final grade: C-

Dan Reichert
2003 season in one word: Ouch

Wow, that was some pounding he took. Joins the legions of AAA pitchers hoping to refine their craft or learn that one special pitch that will get them back to earning major-league meal money. He could do it, but so could dozens of others.
Monthly grades: -- -- -- -- F F
Final grade: F

Scott Service
2003 season in one word: Unpredictable

This guy is supposed to be a seasoned major league veteran, and yet he pitched like a kid: his K/IP, H/IP and HR/IP ratios were those of a much younger man. When he proved unreliable in close games, he was shown the door. Heck, he was probably booted through the door with great force.
Monthly grades: -- -- B+ D- --
Final grade: Goodbye

Tanyon Sturtze
2003 season in one word: Bleaughghghgh

I will pause a moment here, and allow the bile to settle back down in your throats. Okay, now that we're ready: Sturtze managed to hang on to his job mostly because he's durable. He can go several innings in a pinch, which meant that Tosca never had a severe case of the pitching shorts, despite changing relievers more often than socks. That's about the only positive thing I can say about Sturtze: he was supposed to pitch 200 mediocre innings for the Jays in 2003, and wound up roughly 111 short. Became a lightning rod for the fans' pitching grievances. His major league career may be over as of this moment; however, his road ERA was 4.88, so somebody might give him a chance.
Monthly grades: D+ F C- F F D-
Final grade: F, with great gusto

Jeff Tam
2003 season in one word: Hittable

Surrendered fewer home runs than most of the other cruddy pitchers that made their way through the Toronto bullpen, but was very hittable, giving up 58 hits in his 44 2/3 innings of work. For some reason, Carlos Tosca kept throwing him out there: he finished fourth on the team in appearances, despite not pitching an inning after June. Pitched well in Triple-A, which suggests that he is about to join the legion of Quadruple-A players waiting for somebody's elbow to explode. His 3.27 road ERA suggests that Tam might be better off in someone else's minor league system; legions of Jays fans agree with this sentiment.
Monthly grades: F D- F --
Final grade: F

Corey Thurman
2003 season in one word: Bypassed

Called up in August for his One Big Chance, pitched well in his first start, and then proceeded to come horribly unglued in his next two. He wasn't called up in September, so you have to assume he is history in Toronto - once McGowan and Bush arrive, there won't be any space for the Thurmanator. His K/IP ratios in the majors and minors are good, so he might harness his stuff someday.
Monthly grades: -- -- -- -- F --
Final grade: F

Josh Towers
2003 season in one word: Unsubtle

Has a refreshingly direct approach to pitching: he throws the ball over the plate, and assumes that the batter is more likely to miss it than hit it. When combined with the Jays' offense and the soft fall schedule, this approach led to eight wins in 14 games. But this approach also led to a fantastically high number of home runs allowed: he surrendered 15 big flies in 64 1/3 innings, which is an Ackerian rate of bombing. I can't see him surviving an April in Toronto with the roof closed and nastier opponents, but you never can tell. Attention, stat geeks: how many pitchers have had more wins than walks in a season? Has anyone done it before Towers did it this year? (Maybe Boomer has done it.) Had a 9.26 ERA as a reliever, so if he doesn't make the rotation, it's bombs away.
Monthly grades: -- -- -- -- D- A-
Final grade: C+

John Wasdin
2003 season in one word: Ludicrous

Surrendered 16 hits and 13 runs in his five innings of work as a Jay - which included two starts. Roy Halladay could probably do better than that pitching with his left arm. Had odd numbers in Syracuse - compiled a 5.23 ERA while working 20 2/3 innings for the Skychiefs, and walked only one (1) batter in the process. He is not likely to be back.
Monthly grades: -- -- -- F --
Final grade: Guess

Pete Walker
2003 season in one word: Handy

The vanilla ice cream, or roast beef sandwich, of pitchers: sort of okay, but not memorable. Doesn't like home cooking: had a 5.64 ERA at home, and 3.96 away. Struck out only 29 in 55 1/3 innings, which suggests that he hasn't completely recovered from his arm woes. Will be useful if he completely heals: pitchers who can spot start and help out in long relief in the pen are hard to find. Was better as a reliever, at least based on this small sample size: had a 2.91 ERA out of the pen, but a 6.15 ERA as a starter.
Monthly grades: D- C- -- -- B- B+
Final grade: C

Since everybody has an opinion about the manager and front office, here's mine.

The hardest thing for a manager to do is keep the respect of his players, and Carlos Tosca seems to be able to do that. Since Martinez, Fregosi, and Johnson all couldn't do it, you've got to give Tosca credit. This is even more impressive considering that Tosca didn't play pro ball, let alone major league ball - many major leaguers refuse to listen to someone who didn't make it to the majors themselves. Tosca's strategic quirks have been discussed elsewhere: the good news is that he didn't abuse his starting pitchers, despite having a crappy bullpen, and became a bit more sensible about pitching changes once the pen began to solidify a bit. Overall, I'd say he had a roughly neutral effect on the club.

I can't begin to estimate how well a GM is doing, since so much of what a GM does is hidden from the public. We don't know what deals J.P. turned down. I'd venture that Ricciardi has done a good job so far, but now comes the hard part: it's a lot easier to get from 75 wins to 85 than from 85 to 95 (or 100). Two years from now, we'll have a better idea whether J.P. is an outstanding GM or not.
Blue Jays End of Season Report Card, 2003 | 36 comments | Create New Account
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Mike D - Thursday, October 09 2003 @ 04:02 PM EDT (#88386) #
Outstanding report, Dave. By the way, "Ackerian" is my new favourite adjective, and I will use it in any and all situations.
_Matthew Elmslie - Thursday, October 09 2003 @ 04:28 PM EDT (#88387) #
I think Jim Acker got a bad rap. He was a good pitcher for years, and then one bad year knocked him out of the major leagues and out of the hearts of Jays fans.

What's everyone think of Thurman's removal from the 40-man? (I assume that's what happens when you're outrighted to Syracuse.)
_R Billie - Thursday, October 09 2003 @ 05:13 PM EDT (#88388) #
I've heard no reports that Thurman was claimed (and therefore it's unlikely he'll be Rule V'ed either). If that comes to pass then it's a fine move. Thurman's success as a pitcher is quite undecided and if you can use the roster spot for someone more likely to help in 2004 or someone with a higher ceiling then so much the better. Of course, the same thinking probably went into Lyon's release but I liked Brandon as a pitcher more than Thurman.

Corey's command and confidence with being in the strike zone consistently just isn't there yet and only his changeup is a plus pitch. His 11 strikeouts in 15.1 innings has to be greatly tempered by the 9 walks, 21 hits, and 3 homers over the same span. Keep in mind that included one very good start. His Syracuse numbers were average. He just plain gives up too many baserunners and doesn't have the stuff to make up for it. He'll also be 25 in November so physically he's probably as mature as he's going to get.

I like Corey's makeup a lot. But I don't think he's likely to be snapped up by another team...most teams already have a handful of prospects just like him. I wasn't expecting Brandon Lyon to be taken either, although it was more understandable in his case as he was only 23 with a good track record of command.
Coach - Thursday, October 09 2003 @ 05:16 PM EDT (#88389) #
"Levophobia" means "fear of things to the left side of the body."

Who knew? Thanks for the vocabulary tip. Fortunately for Orlando, it doesn't apply when he's playing the infield -- his range to that side is amazing.

I do have a few quibbles, none of them to do with Shannon Stewart, who I never disliked. He was vastly overpaid and a terrible outfielder, but I completely agree that he "hits .300 consistently, and never seems to cause problems," a lot like Howie Clark.

Towers' numbers as a reliever are skewed by his nightmare outing against the A's, four days after his complete-game victory vs. Seattle. Josh was understandably disappointed at being demoted, and he wasn't ready. There's three homers and six earnies in one inning that I'm inclined to ignore. He was also forced to mop up in the Kerwin Danley fiasco in St. Louis, when the team simply gave up, for good reason. Two more taters.

Cat's "struggle" in the summer was entirely due to his vision problem. When you can't discern a curveball from a fastball, the pitchers soon find out, and you're gonna swing over a bunch of curves.

It's obvious, now, that Hinske will eventually lose his battle with third base

Not to me. A lot of people with less talent and determination than Eric have improved at that spot after shaky beginnings. A certain first baseman in his 30's went from defensive liability to asset this year, and Eric may do the same. I think his injuries affected him psychologically as much as physically, and this year was a painful learning experience.

We don't know what deals J.P. turned down.

Interesting point. I've wondered what offers were received for Lidle and Escobar but rejected, and we may never know. It does seem that J.P. often sets a price and sticks to it, which may keep him from "giving away" talent. Other times, he recognizes the value of addition by subtraction and gets whatever he can in return. Granted, "it's a lot easier to get from 75 wins to 85 than from 85 to 95," but neither is accomplished without a plan, and so far, Ricciardi's is right on schedule.

Great stuff as always, Dave. It's going to be a long six month wait for the April report card.
robertdudek - Thursday, October 09 2003 @ 05:26 PM EDT (#88390) #
Howie Clark isn't going to hit .300 in this league - and he's got much less power than Shannon.
Mike Green - Thursday, October 09 2003 @ 05:38 PM EDT (#88391) #
Where is the love for Orlando Hudson? He delivers basically the same type of performance as Frank Catalanotto with the following differences:

1. hits lefties even less, but plays against 'em because of his glove
2. has somewhat less power,
3. he plays second base very well instead of an average left-field

If you look at Hudson's offensive line against righties and compare it with Catalanotto's and then factor in the defensive differences, it is quite apparent that Hudson is significantly more valuable.
Pepper Moffatt - Thursday, October 09 2003 @ 05:52 PM EDT (#88392) #
Howie Clark isn't going to hit .300 in this league

He's never *not* hit over .300. He hit .302 last year and .357 this year. Would he do it over a full (or half) season? Probably not, but who knows? I don't think we'll ever find out, as the Jays have better options.

Unless you meant that he wouldn't hit *exactly* .300. Yeah, that would be pretty unlikely, unless he only get 10AB next year or something.

Coach - Thursday, October 09 2003 @ 06:07 PM EDT (#88393) #
I was joking. Howie just came to mind as a guy who doesn't make waves and hits for average, which were the attributes Dave admired. Stewart is better than Clark, or Reed Johnson, for that matter. He's not twenty times better, though, and that's the difference in their salaries.
Craig B - Thursday, October 09 2003 @ 06:14 PM EDT (#88394) #
He's not twenty times better, though, and that's the difference in their salaries

He is twenty times darker, though, and according to certain critics that's something that needs to be considered in making every personnel decision.

/fish barrel blam blam
_Kevin - Thursday, October 09 2003 @ 06:20 PM EDT (#88395) #
It may have already been pointed out but Halladay gave up more hits than any other pitcher in baseball. Not a criticism, of course, but I'm curious if anyone has ever won Cy while doing that.
robertdudek - Thursday, October 09 2003 @ 06:50 PM EDT (#88396) #

There are such things as MLEs (with all their limitations, they're still good as a rough guide). Thinking Clark is going to hit .300 or above in the majors given a chance (at his age) is pure fantasy. I thought Coach might be tickling our ribs - I just had to clarify because this is cyberspace and it's difficult to discern humour.

In recent AAA seasons he's shown himslef to be about a .300 hitter at that level, which makes it about .270 at the majors. He's almost 30 and batting average declines as a player ages.
Dave Till - Thursday, October 09 2003 @ 07:25 PM EDT (#88397) #
Thanks, everybody, for the feedback. A couple of comments:

Towers' numbers as a reliever are skewed

Good point. I still think he's going to get pounded next April: even if you take away the five home runs you described, he's still given up ten homers in about 60 innings. An average pitcher gives up less than one home run every 10 innings. And April in Toronto is usually a terrible time to be a pitcher: the roof is closed, and the opposition is usually somebody like Boston or New York.

He could be an effective pitcher - you've gotta like someone who throws strikes - but I'm not going to be entirely convinced until he shows he can do it next year. Hendrickson looked this good this time last year, and Lyon looked this good two years ago.

Cat's "struggle" in the summer was entirely due to his vision problem.

Thanks - I'd forgotten about that.

A lot of people with less talent and determination than Eric have improved at that spot after shaky beginnings. A certain first baseman in his 30's went from defensive liability to asset this year, and Eric may do the same.

I like Hinske, and if effort alone stands between him and defensive competence at third, he'll get there. But, to use your example: despite his talent and determination, Delgado was never able to play the outfield, let alone third base, in the majors - he just doesn't have the physique for it. (If Delgado had been able to play the outfield, he would have been up for good in 1995.) Hinske is a big, blocky guy (and getting bigger, from what I've seen); he might lose the quickness you need to play third. I think he'll be fine for at least a couple of years, thanks to his work ethic.

Where is the love for Orlando Hudson?

Right here! I'm a big fan of the O-Dog. I enjoy watching him play second. He's great on the double play and (as Coach points out) he's great at going to his left. He's not a zero with the bat, either - he just can't hit lefties, at least not yet. He's good enough to be a regular, and the Jays will be able to win with him at second.

Thinking Clark is going to hit .300 or above in the majors given a chance (at his age) is pure fantasy.

I rank him as roughly in the Berg/Bordick class. He's versatile, and he's apparently a hard worker and well liked, so I'd be happy to see him on the team. Not sure he can play regularly - besides, if he can't play short, where would you put him?

Who knew? Thanks for the vocabulary tip.

I had to look that word up on the Internet - I'm not actually that erudite. :-)
Pepper Moffatt - Thursday, October 09 2003 @ 07:31 PM EDT (#88398) #
In recent AAA seasons he's shown himslef to be about a .300 hitter at that level, which makes it about .270 at the majors.

Of course a batter doesn't get 100,000 ABs in a year, so quite often a ".270" hitter is going to hit .300 in 400 ABs.

The thing is Clark is never going to get more than 150ABs in a season.. and in a sample size that small he's going to hit .300 quite often. Heck, he's already done it twice.

Seriously, though.. I was just giving you the gears because you said something that was literally wrong, even if we all knew what you meant. It was a joke.

_Nigel - Thursday, October 09 2003 @ 07:51 PM EDT (#88399) #
I'll throw in my two cents worth on Towers. I agree completely that a guy who throws that many strikes can have a major league job. However, I think that Toronto is not the place for a guy with gopher ball tendencies. Throw him into Seattle and San Fransico as the 5th starter or swing man and he might be quite effective. He might even have a Ryan Franklin type year now and then. He's done enough to give it a try next year, but I wouldn't be surpised if he ends up like Hendrickson this year.
robertdudek - Thursday, October 09 2003 @ 08:14 PM EDT (#88400) #
What I meant was that he wasn't going to hit .300 over a large number of AB - like 1500.
_Jordan - Thursday, October 09 2003 @ 09:05 PM EDT (#88401) #
Count me as very skeptical on Josh Towers -- for all the reasons listed above, and one more: in all his starts that I saw, the batters were just pounding the ball, hits and outs both. The flyouts were screamers to the outfield; the grounders were sharp liners. Towers is around the strike zone so much, the hitters always seem to get a good swing on him. A few feet to the left or the right on a lot of those liners, and Josh would have looked like Tanyon Sturtze v. 2.0. Next April, I'm afraid it'll come to that.
_Lefty - Thursday, October 09 2003 @ 10:34 PM EDT (#88402) #
I think the F rating for Cash was a little tough. With a few exceptions the catchers position throughout MLB is full of weak hitters. At least %60 percent of a catchers role is to provide defense and handle his starter. Cash gets an A for for defense, perhaps he actually had something to do with the Towers mystery.

Further to award an F to a first time call-up catching kid is a bit unfair when he knew it was his defense the brass was watching, knowing full well he wasn't called for his bat.

I'd give him C overall.
Dave Till - Thursday, October 09 2003 @ 10:37 PM EDT (#88403) #
I think the F rating for Cash was a little tough.

Well, he did hit .142 in 107 at-bats.

He could get better - he's young enough to improve. I think the Jays should give him a full shot next year. But he'll have to hit 100 points better to stick around.
_Lefty - Thursday, October 09 2003 @ 10:52 PM EDT (#88404) #
I concede that .142 is totally unacceptable for any major league player and if thats what he hits next year he has to be gone. Though what I'm saying is he came as advertised, a good head and all glove no bat. I would be really susprised though if he doesn't hit close his minor league numbers next year with a larger sample size. As you mention Dave,.100 points would look pretty good to go with that defense. But if I'm Kelvim (shudder)I want Cash behind the plate for my starts, bat be damned.
_Nit Picker - Thursday, October 09 2003 @ 11:13 PM EDT (#88405) #
Hinske had 60 XBH (45 2B, 3 3B, 12 HR), not 50, in his 124 games.
_A - Thursday, October 09 2003 @ 11:26 PM EDT (#88406) #
But if I'm Kelvim (shudder)I want Cash behind the plate for my starts, bat be damned

I dunno, if I'm Kelvim, I realize that my stuff is only on half the time and the rest I need high, high levels of run support...Because of that, a Greg Myers style catcher would definately have its perks for me.
_Lefty - Friday, October 10 2003 @ 12:30 AM EDT (#88407) #
I dunno know myself, I think the general wisdom is that Myers bat this year was completely without precedent.

The reason I used Kelvim as an example is that he throws the ball in the dirt a fair bit and as well teams are always running on him which seems to get him rattled.
_Lefty - Friday, October 10 2003 @ 12:39 AM EDT (#88408) #
But sure though I'd take this yrs. Myers anyday of the week. If he was younger and could give you 120+ games and was named Varitek or Posada. Goes without saying. An offensive catcher who can be a plus on defense is what championship teams have. Cripes, sounds like Pudge this yr. Unfortunately the Jays don't have any of those guys.
_Jacko - Friday, October 10 2003 @ 01:33 AM EDT (#88409) #

I concede that .142 is totally unacceptable for any major league player and if thats what he hits next year he has to be gone. Though what I'm saying is he came as advertised, a good head and all glove no bat.

Troy Glaus, first season:

165 AB, .218, 1 HR, 23 RBI

Manny Ramirez, first season:

53 AB, .170, 2 HR, 5 RBI

Carlos Delgado, first season:

130 AB, .215, 9 HR, 24 RBI

Jim Thome, first two seasons (91/92):

215 AB, .228, 3 HR, 21 RBI

I'm not all that worried about Cash's hitting. Over 400 AB next year, I expect something like .250/.300/.400. Given how good his defense is, that will be just fine.

Bizarre idea #173:

In 2005, shift Hinske to 1B and Cash to 3B to make room for Quiroz.

Hinske is probably athletic enough to play left field as well.
_A - Friday, October 10 2003 @ 02:34 AM EDT (#88410) #
In theory anyone who can hit a 6'4 target from 120 feet away can play third base (though only some of us can do it lefthanded ;-) but that means they *have* to be effective in a powerful way with the stick. Since we know what Cash can do with the 120 feet between home and second, the question is still his offense.

If Hinkse changes his first name to Chuck and learns to play left field in the offseason, I'd be happy trading down in outfield defense to keep those doubles in the lineup (at least until he blows 4 games in one month). Though the replacement at 3rd would need to be an obvious step up from Hinkske's defense while not falling too short (if at all) compared to his offense.

I'm convinced Eric will be trade bait as the Jays try to upgrade their pitching in the not so distant future because his defense is *severly* lacking, even for an offense first club. Plus, if he is shifted to the outfield, we'll have strong minor leaguers who are more talented in terms of fielding and from all accounts should be able to hit with some significant pop, coming up behind him quickly.
Mike Green - Friday, October 10 2003 @ 01:00 PM EDT (#88411) #
As Jordan points out, there is little that separates Josh Towers and Mark Hendrickson. Both could in my view be successful major league pitchers, but they need a good defence behind them. Will they get it?
Named For Hank - Friday, October 10 2003 @ 02:44 PM EDT (#88412) #
Well, [Cash] did hit .142 in 107 at-bats.

And Howie Clark hit .357 in 70 at-bats, .333 in 123 career at-bats. Looks like he improved this year. But yes, I'm certain he'll get much worse next year. :)

Forecasts of doom and gloom strike me as so counterproductive...first Myers wouldn't hit well for more than a month, then not more than two months, then not more than three months, and now he certainly won't next season. Yeah, Myers cooled off in the second half. So did Delgado. Why not give the guy a chance to hit well next year before we write him off as a fluke?

Towers, he pitched well, but he won't next year. Hinske had a broken hand and reportedly other injuries, but his bad season was because he stinks and won't be as good as his first year ever again.

I'm exaggerating, and I'm not trying to single anyone out, and yes, criticism of the team certainly is important, but speculative criticism? C'mon, it's like punching yourself in the face.

Of course, I'm in the Cheer Club, so this is supposed to be my attitude. But for a few minutes there I thought I was reading the regular Toronto media. :)
Pepper Moffatt - Friday, October 10 2003 @ 04:35 PM EDT (#88413) #
I'm exaggerating, and I'm not trying to single anyone out, and yes, criticism of the team certainly is important, but speculative criticism?

I don't mind that.. but I think we're more likely to blow off a good month as a fluke, but if a player has a bad couple of months *cough*Hinske*cough* we think this is a sign that he's done.

Named For Hank - Friday, October 10 2003 @ 04:58 PM EDT (#88414) #
I just find that a lot of people want to believe the negative more than they want to believe the positive. Cash will never get better; Clark will certainly get worse; Hinske's bad season is not attributable to injuries; Myers' season was a fluke.

I think all four of those guys deserve better, but like I said, I'm in the Cheer Club.

By the way, Dave, great report card.
_StephenT - Saturday, October 11 2003 @ 01:21 PM EDT (#88415) #
fyi: I noticed a tentative 2004 Blue Jays schedule in the Saturday Star (page E9) (and I now see it's also on the Jays' web site).

It says the Jays open at home Mon. April 5 vs. Detroit. 6 of the first 9 games are against the Tigers, and 6 of the next 9 are against the O's. The other team in the first 18 is the Red Sox, including (just possibly) attendance at a ring ceremony at Fenway on Fri Apr 9 (Good Friday).

The interleague games are against the NL West again: The Dodgers and D-Backs visit June 8-13, and the Jays make their first trip to Pac Bell and San Diego June 15-20. There are also 6 games vs. "EXPOS" (city, country, hemisphere, etc. for the July 2-4 games not stated, but I'd guess somewhere up the 401).

The Jays don't see the Yanks until July 21, but finish against them at home Oct 1-3. I believe that means Game 7 of the World Series (Jays vs. "EXPOS", I'm sure) would be scheduled for Oct 31.
Mike D - Saturday, October 11 2003 @ 01:56 PM EDT (#88416) #
Good catch, StephenT. Sadly, the Jays are in St. Petersburg for Canada Day and are taking a travel day (!) on Labour Day. On the bright side, though, the Jays do at least get Victoria Day and the Civic Holiday at home.
Coach - Saturday, October 11 2003 @ 03:20 PM EDT (#88417) #
The Jays don't see the Yanks until July 21, but finish against them at home Oct 1-3

Thanks, Stephen. Shouldn't that be a screaming headline?

2004 Jays meet Yanks in October showdown

Obviously, it's an easier April for a change, and May isn't bad, but June is brutal. Two west coast road trips in three weeks, and the interleague slate is tougher -- facing the NL West, you'd prefer to get the Rockies and the Padres, missing one of the big three, but no such luck. Still, we might see some meaningful games in September. Or October.
_Steve Birnie - Saturday, October 11 2003 @ 08:42 PM EDT (#88418) #
On the plus side, the Jays have three consecutive Mondays off in June, which means lots of Halladay. I'm sure they'll do the same as this year and skip the 5th starter in favour of Roy. Maybe even some starts on three days rest...

Boy, wouldn't it be great if those October games mean something. I'm just fearful they'll be playing the Yankees' Sept call ups, as the Evil Empire (TM Larry Lucchino) get ready for the post-season.
_jason - Monday, October 13 2003 @ 03:11 PM EDT (#88419) #
A great post again Mr. Till.

I would like to point out something about Delgado's second half. I remember an interview in the Sun I believe, at the allstar break. It was pretty much a formula piece: Delgado was the mvp at that part of the season, predictions of what he would hit at that level of production, etc. etc. But there was a quote burried in there from Pedro Martinez. What he said was that Carlos was a great hitter who had only one small hole in his swing. Of course Pedro would not reveal the holes location to us the reading public, but sure as shinola his teammates were privy to such information. And as sure as i'm sitting here at a keyboard, those teammates were busy spreading the word to the rest of the league.

Help me ZLC (said with a Princess Leah like pleading) is there any way to find out if this theory holds water, or is it all "full of sound and fury, signifing nothing."
_Matthew Elmslie - Monday, October 13 2003 @ 03:31 PM EDT (#88420) #
I think the theory holds water, but I'm sure that everybody in the league is aware of any holes in Delgado's swing; I can't imagine it's new information. The problem is taking advantage about it. There's a section of Moneyball that discusses a similar hole in Jason Giambi's swing.
_R Billie - Tuesday, October 14 2003 @ 03:35 PM EDT (#88421) #
I don't think it's difficult to guess that the hole is up and in, especially with two strikes. Inside off the plate is where I've seen Delgado look bad the most often.
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