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I tune into the game yesterday through an online feed, and who do I hear doing play-by-play? Mike Wilner. I have only heard him do one inning before -Ė the first inning on the day of Tom Cheekís tribute. I believe Reed Johnson hit a homerun.

Mike Wilner, or Wiener Milk, is clearly a Box favourite. So why is this important?

I love Tom and Jerry as much as anyone, but I canít describe how good Mr. Milk was, especially in bottom of the fifth inning in. It's 1-0 Reds. Frank Menechino hits a homerun. Wilner goes nuts. Then Alex Rios hits a homerun. Well, you can imagine what came next. I was sitting there, grinning like a fool. Never before have March HRs been so much fun.

Now, heís not a complete homer like others on the radio around the American League. On his postgame show last year, there were many instances of him showing unbiased judgement towards the Blue Jays for something, be it Rios and his sunglasses adventure or him directly asking Carlos Delgado about his situation last July.

On the other hand, he could act different when the Jaysí opponent does something good; like Charlie Steiner during his guest innings last year on the FAN. You know, unenthusiastic and bored. And I should point out something bad about him, just to be somewhat impartial. He gets too excited over strikeouts and minor plays. There. Thatís it. "STRIKE THREE LOOKING!" was a bit loud for my tastes, especially within the nature of a baseball game, and Wilner is usually a calm and steady radio voice, so you donít expect a scream. Vernon Wells beat out an infield grounder and Wilner got too worked up again, but this doesnít take anything away from his ability.

Tom Cheek...well, we all know who he is. Jerry Howarth is another good announcer, and a fine gentleman in his own right. So I hope Iím not advocating broadcast mutiny when I suggest Mike Wilner is not only the Play-By-Play Announcer of the Future, but the best option for the FAN radio network right now. In this fanís opinion, heís that good. I just hope he doesn't end up like Josh Phelps, the former First Baseman of the Future, because I'm sure Mike Wilner does not want to fall apart in his third year and get traded, then go to St. Petersburg and the ugliest stadium in the majors. (Olympic Stadium was the previous worst, but that's another story.)

Jamie Campbell stopped by with Jerry at the end of the game, and gv27 immediately reminded us why he was a great choice for the play-by-play job. He sounds like an intelligent fan, as one would expect from his interview with our own Thomas Ayers, and I can't wait for this season. I know it will be better than 2004, to say the least.

Oh, the game? Well, Josh Towers was very good yesterday. Wilner said he was pitching differently than usual. He was knocking batters off the plate, and his pitches were dancing, not looking like the Towers of old, the "here-it-is-now-hit-it" mentality of the bulldog we know and love (or love to hate). But you can read Towers' quotes -- and there will be good quotes, it is Josh Towers after all -- elsewhere, so I won't go on about him anymore.

Back to Wilner. Some of us remember Frank Catalanotto's stint in the booth last year, and dare I say that we might have a pretty good prospective broadcasting duo here in Toronto? Obviously, Cat has some years left in his career, but I can't help but think how cool it would be when he retires and you could have Mike & Frank set to take over the Tom & Jerry job. If this happens, which is based on nothing but fun to speculate about nonetheless, the former two will have to go a long way to match the terrific career of Tom Cheek and Jerry Howarth. Also, Tom's health problems might put an end to his work soon, but who's to say Jerry won't continue his fine work for many more years?

It's a nice problem to have, you know. Many teams don't have one decent broadcaster on television or the radio, and here we have no less than four.

And, as always, if you find a good baseball article out there, share it with us. Don't just link to it though -- tell everyone why they should read it. Is there a funny quote from someone? Did someone get traded? Is Rickey back at age 56? If there's something worth reading, let's hear about it.
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Noah - Monday, March 21 2005 @ 09:49 AM EST (#106829) #
I see that the jays removed 4 from the big league camp yesterday. The only one of note was Quiroz along with Carlson, Nannini and bauxite fav spike lundberg. Was I the only one disappointed with the use of Quiroz at camp this year. I expected him to really get a shot to prove himself but it seems as though his playing time was really limited. I mean i could be mistaken it just seemed like he got the least amount of playing time out of him, Zaun, Myers and Huckaby. You'd think they'd want to give the time to the catcher of the future, but who knows...

Here's hoping he goest down to AAA and proves himself ready by midseason.
Gerry - Monday, March 21 2005 @ 10:06 AM EST (#106830) #
Spring training stats:
Quiroz    18 AB's .444 ave
Zaun      15 AB's .333 ave
Huckabay  13 AB's .308 ave
Myers     12 AB's .083 ave
Looks like Q got a good chance and impressed.
Mike Green - Monday, March 21 2005 @ 10:46 AM EST (#106833) #
It is disappointing, but understandable, that Quiroz would be sent down. His performance, both offensively and defensively, suffered last year due to his injury.

The organization would have to possess a hefty risk tolerance to decide that his improvement in the Winter League and in spring training merited a big league job in April.
Cristian - Monday, March 21 2005 @ 10:48 AM EST (#106834) #
I forgot about Wiener Milk. Itís probably time to find a decent anagram for Jamie Campbell. Iíve got a suggestion: Maple Cable Jim. Seems to fit doesnít it? It's at least better than gv27. Iíve also got some anagrammed advice for Jamie Campbell as he takes over the play by play duties for the team: Becalm Pale Jim. Eerily appropriate, donít you think? At least itís more appropriate than my other anagrammed advice: becalm jam pile.
Original Ryan - Monday, March 21 2005 @ 11:13 AM EST (#106835) #
For Campbell, I personally like Jail Cap Emblem. His partner in crime could be Dr. Prison Fence.
dp - Monday, March 21 2005 @ 11:29 AM EST (#106836) #
What's it gonna take for Gross to get a roster spot? It seems absurd to me that they'd send him to AAA rather than push aside one of the vets and see if he can keep up his great hitting into April and May. This seems very similar to the Werth situation last year, where they kept Johnson, who obviously had less talent, instead of Werth. Of course, they're not going to deal Gross (I hope not anyway), but the idea of playing Hillenbrand, Johnson, Hinske and F-Cat ahead of him seems a little counterproductive.

Also, I've been away- why the decision to cut Koch, how much did it cost, and do you agree? What're the major decisions that've been made in the last week? I've heard Batista to the 'pen- is this true, and if so is he the closer? Thanks.
Named For Hank - Monday, March 21 2005 @ 11:36 AM EST (#106838) #
Koch was a gamble that didn't look like it would pay off, so they jumped ship on him early, maybe in the hopes that someone else would pick him up for a tryout and save the Jays some dollars on his guaranteed contract.

Batista is the closer and appears to be doing well in the role so far.

I'd like to see Gross up with the big club, but I can wait for an injury or a trade to come along -- I'd rather not lose a player just to see the potential of a player, and if one of Johnson, Hillenbrand, Hinske or Cat has to go to put Gross on the roster, then why not wait a couple of months to see if he's the real deal or if this is just a happy little Spring Training burst?

Is there a negative to keeping him in the minors aside from us not getting to see him every night?
rtcaino - Monday, March 21 2005 @ 11:44 AM EST (#106840) #
Iíve heard some of Wilnerís play by play too, and he is awesome. I agree he would be a very good selection. However, I heard that he does not want to travel very much, perhaps due to having a young family. This is just hear say however, and if anyone knows any better please chime in.


Also, I posted this a while back in the Sicklesí Top 20 Prospects thread and never got a response. So I will re post it now. Itís general question about the organizationís lack of major league ready sluggers.


ďĒCaino - Thursday, March 10 2005 @ 04:08 PM EST (#105443)
I wonder what the possibility of the Jays acquiring a solid young first baseman is. I guy like say... Adrian Gonzalez from Texas. Sickles gave him a B rating, and ranked him their 5th highest prospect. Obviously you need to give up something to get something, so I propose we offer a package of Hinske and Batista... guys, I'm messing with you. In all seriousness though, what would it take to acquire such a guy? Perhaps pitching prospects like a Marcum or a Vermilyea??

Sickles had this to say about A-Gon;
"Adrian Gonzalez is blocked at first base and also pops up in trade talks. He needs an opportunity, and if he doesnít break through somewhere this year the ticking on the clock will get much louder and his grade will treadmill." ďĒ
Pistol - Monday, March 21 2005 @ 12:01 PM EST (#106841) #
the decision to cut Koch, how much did it cost

I initially thought the Jays were on the hook for the entire $900,000, but I read something that said if a team cuts a player prior to March 30th they only owe him 45 days severance. I hadn't heard that before, so perhaps it's not accurate, but it would partiallly explain why the Jays were willing to cut Koch now instead of hope that he turns it around at some point.

Does anybody definitively know anything about this?

dp - Monday, March 21 2005 @ 12:03 PM EST (#106843) #
I think the problem with keeping him in the minors is twofold:
1) you're not rewarding performance- I know it's only spring training, but the guy's hitting the snot out of the ball. He's obviously worked hard at improving his game.

2) he's a better option than the guys playing ahead of him. If you want to see the team win, you've got to play your best players. I'll stick to my bet- Gross gets 300+ PAs, he'll have better OPS numbers than Hillenbrand, Rios and Cat. I'd actually rather see Rios in AAA, which I know makes me sound crazy...

Early in the season, there doesn't seem to be the need to carry too many pitchers. Why not give him the chance to fail? Rios/Wells/Gross is a great OF. Cat and Johnson become backups. Or hell, send Hinske to the bench, start Hillenbrand at 1B and use Cat as the DH. But don't make decisions to maximize the playing time of guys who aren't getting any better...
Dave Till - Monday, March 21 2005 @ 12:05 PM EST (#106845) #

What's it gonna take for Gross to get a roster spot? It seems absurd to me that they'd send him to AAA rather than push aside one of the vets and see if he can keep up his great hitting into April and May.

The problem, as I see it, is that the Jays don't really have any big hitters coming up behind Gross in the system. If they push a vet aside and give Gross the job, and Gross then proves that his spring numbers were a fluke, the Jays open another gaping hole in a power position.

At this point, I'd send Gross to Syracuse to see if he can continue his hitting there. If he does, the Jays can then clear a space for him.

sweat - Monday, March 21 2005 @ 12:08 PM EST (#106846) #
Reward Gross for a short but excellent spring, and screw over Rios for playing well when they needed him, during last years injured blue jay OF period? Gross knows if he had played well last year he would be playing this year. He also knows that if he continues to play well this year, he will finish the year with the bluejays, and start next year with them.
dp - Monday, March 21 2005 @ 12:18 PM EST (#106848) #
But it isn't like this is the first time he's hit well- his minor league track record is solid. I've done the comparison before- he's been a better hitter than Rios. I'll stop these Man-Crush style rants now. Just seems like Hillenbrand/Cat are keeping the Jays from doing the right thing in this situation, which was my problem with the combination of moves in the first place. You're essentially playing Hinske ahead of Gross, which seems plain stupid.

Just because I've been out of the loop, I'm not sure how keeping Gross costs them one of the vets- at worst it just pushes them to the bench, right?
Named For Hank - Monday, March 21 2005 @ 12:27 PM EST (#106851) #
If you want to give Gross a roster spot, it has to come from somewhere. So, you either send someone to the minors or trade someone away. Who's going down to the minors? Not any of the guys you want to see out of the way for Gross to play, that's for sure. A pitcher? Well, if the Jays want to rethink how they construct their team, maybe. But again, who's it going to be? Are you putting Batista back into the rotation in that scenario? I doubt that would fly.

Regarding rewards for performance: how do we know he hasn't been rewarded? For all we know the Jays gave him a new car. This, I think, is a weak argument. If Gross starts the season in AAA, then they'll surely tell him that he's the next guy up as long as he keeps ripping it up down there. And then, when there's an injury or an intriguing trade possibility, Gross will be up with the big club.

I think that if he's down in AAA at the start of the season it'll be very permanent and very short, so much so that I took him with my last pick in a H2H pool on the weekend.
rtcaino - Monday, March 21 2005 @ 12:30 PM EST (#106852) #
Wilner is going to be on the Bullpen on the Fan 590 soon. They're on a 20/20 sports update now, and I think college hoops are up next. So I'm guessing Mr. Milk will be on at 12:40 or so.

Also, On the Fan website they have Riccardi being interviewed by the morning show guys. It's from five days ago, so it's a bit dated, in addition to not being totally informative. But you may want to check it out if you have not yet. He talks about Gross, Verducci, Lilly, Chacin, our new closer, and the difference between this spring training over last years.


""You're essentially playing Hinske ahead of Gross, which seems plain stupid.""

I agree that all things being equal, Gross gets the playing time. However, you must consider that we owe Hinske $10+ million over the next two years. That's an expensive utility infielder. The ideal scenario would be for him get him off to a good start, and then hopefully trade him. I just don't see this happening.
But at any rate, it could happen, and thereís no point further decreasing his value by pinning him on the bench to start the season.
Flex - Monday, March 21 2005 @ 12:31 PM EST (#106853) #
"it'll be very permanent and very short"

Which two things don't belong together? I'm confused...
dp - Monday, March 21 2005 @ 12:31 PM EST (#106854) #
Rios didn't play well last year- he hit a very empty .286, no power, less than a walk every 10 PAs, as a corner outfielder. That's not good. I'm not saying he won't be better this year, but until his great year at AA, Rios was a pretty bad hitter in the minors. Not trashing him, but his '04 was considered a success despite only yielding an OPS+ of 83.
Named For Hank - Monday, March 21 2005 @ 12:34 PM EST (#106855) #
Somehow I substituted "permanent" for "temporary". That's what you call the Monday Morning Not Enough Coffee Blues.

Except it's lunchtime. Bah.
Pepper Moffatt - Monday, March 21 2005 @ 12:43 PM EST (#106858) #
Perhaps pitching prospects like a Marcum or a Vermilyea??

More than that. Most likely in the Aaron Hill/David Bush spectrum of prospects.

I don't think it's worth it. Gonzalez's numbers aren't any better than Eric Crozier's. Where would you play Gonzalez?

Jim - Monday, March 21 2005 @ 12:48 PM EST (#106859) #
The idea thing for Hinske would be for him to perform up to the contract that he has. Stranger things have happened.
Ducey - Monday, March 21 2005 @ 01:13 PM EST (#106866) #
"Just because I've been out of the loop, I'm not sure how keeping Gross costs them one of the vets- at worst it just pushes them to the bench, right? "

Is Gross going to make the difference in this years team being contender? I am not sure that his production can realistically be expected to exceed Cats, Shea or even Hinske. Even if he would beat out Hinske in terms of production, how much would this make a difference?

However, if they keep the vets on the field they have a chance to maximize their ability to produce in the first half. This might even mean they surprise a few people. If not, hopefully you can then trade Cat, Shea, or Hinske for some value (if there is a good deal to be made at the deadline). At the very least Shea will be ranked higher in terms of compensation if he leaves as a free agent.

Gross has had a good spring but sure struggled in September against big league pitchers in real games. If he is ready, he should have no problem dominating AAA. If he does, then you worry about it. Otherwise, why reduce the value of one of your vets, (and upset them by sitting them) based on spring numbers?

Given the likelihood of injuries and trades, there is no way Gross stays in AAA (if he hits) for more than 3 months anyway.
rtcaino - Monday, March 21 2005 @ 01:13 PM EST (#106867) #
""Where would you play Gonzalez?""

I'm not really thinking for this year per se. I just threw Gonzalez out there as a prospect who is blocked in his organization and therefore could be acquired.

As it stands, we have a mini log jam of mediocre First Basemen and Designated Hitters. I don't see any of Cat, Hinske or SH being a long term solution, let alone being on the team in '07.

Jordan - Monday, March 21 2005 @ 01:19 PM EST (#106870) #
If Gross is sent down to start the year in Syracuse, I'm sure it'll be preceded by a pep talk from Gibbons or Ricciardi, along the lines of "Keep doing what you're doing and you'll be back up here before you know it." With Catalanotto very unlikely to stay healthy while playing the outfield, I fully expect Gross to be back in the bigs to stay by May.

In hindsight, of course, Gross's spring training breakout could cast doubt on the Hillenbrand acquisition (although the real clunker, as I've said before, was the unnecessary and unwarranted two-year extension for Cat). But what can you do? Few people, other than true believers like Mike Green, foresaw Gross putting it together so quickly, and the Jays would be a lot worse off were they opening this season with Eric Crozier as the regular left fielder.

It's never a problem having too many hitters -- prospects eventually find a place to play, while veterans usually have the presumptive right (by both fiscal and clubhouse laws) to keep their starting job as long as they're playing well. While I didn't like the extension for Cat, the fact remains that he's on the team now and is part of the mix -- ditto for Hillenbrand and Hinske -- and trading veteran bats is pretty much the last thing this team should be doing when they're trying to finally have a solid April in front of a near-captive Toronto sports audience.

The other thing is that by this time next year, when Gross is the unquestioned starter in left field for Toronto, this will all be long forgotten.
Mike Green - Monday, March 21 2005 @ 02:19 PM EST (#106884) #

Jays 4 Communists 1

a few true believers like Mike Green

I'm not sure I like that association in today's political climate.:) Actually, I am surprised and delighted by Gabe's burst of power. What I said and thought was that he would be at least as good, if not better, than Cat in left-field, taking into account both offence and defence.

Anyways, the team does have options. They could rotate Cat, Hillenbrand and Hinske through the DH/1B slots, as well as using Hillenbrand or Hinske to back up Koskie. Gross could take Menenchino's (using Adams to back up Hudson in the event of injury with McDonald at short) or Johnson's roster spot, or the team could go with 11 pitchers. I'd prefer the latter option. But, as Jordan says, the team does seem to prefer seniority over even a modest amount of risk.

Pistol - Monday, March 21 2005 @ 03:55 PM EST (#106958) #
The other thing is that by this time next year, when Gross is the unquestioned starter in left field for Toronto, this will all be long forgotten.

This sort of reminds me of the time when Vernon Wells was the DH because there was no room for him with Stewart, Cruz, and Mondesi in the OF.

Wildrose - Monday, March 21 2005 @ 06:04 PM EST (#107019) #
I think we need to remember Cattlatano brings other things to the table beyond his hitting ability. Reading the Verducci story in S.I., I was struck by how much Cat seemed like a genuinely good guy and clubhouse leader. I know some stathead types dismiss this sort of thing, because it nearly impossible to measure or quantify, but it does have some value. Given his ability as a hitter and the other intangibles he brings to the table , 2 years at $5,000,000 is not an inordinate number to spend in todays market for this type of production.

As for Gross I've always liked him. I'd even say I prefer him to Rios. For me, Gross has more power, much better strke-zone command (which I think is the most important tool a young hitter can have) and while not as good a defender as Rios, is still quite able defensively.

Having all these options is not a bad thing, but rather an opportunity for improvement.
6-4-3 - Monday, March 21 2005 @ 08:14 PM EST (#107034) #

I'm pretty sure that this is the right place to link to things, so . . .

Korean cartoonist Choi Hoon has been doing "year in review" bits for all the MLB teams. Currently up is, you guessed it, your Toronto Blue Jays featuring Lilly, Rios, Batista, Wells, Hinske, Delgado, and Halladay.

It's in Korean, but it features the funniest / most disturbing renditions of Lilly, Batista, and King Carlos that I've seen. If you flip back, there's previews for pretty much every other team (it's alphabetical).

Craig B - Monday, March 21 2005 @ 08:35 PM EST (#107037) #
Aagh! This guy has burned an image of Carlos into my mind that I do not want to have there. Get it out, get it out!
6-4-3 - Monday, March 21 2005 @ 08:47 PM EST (#107040) #

That's nothing. You should see his Tony Batista

At least I can understand why Carlos is buck naked. Tony? No idea.

VBF - Monday, March 21 2005 @ 09:24 PM EST (#107044) #
First Mr. Sparkle and now this.
King Ryan - Monday, March 21 2005 @ 10:22 PM EST (#107049) #
Damn, I really want to know what those cartoons say. Surely somebody here can speak Korean?
6-4-3 - Monday, March 21 2005 @ 10:44 PM EST (#107052) #
I don't speak Korean, but I've read translations for some of Choi's comics, so, here's my guess (given my total mastery of Korean Baseball comics):

BEST PLAYER: Ted Lilly. (Lilly blushes) "Ooh, I'm so honored!" Gibbons: "We're not that good . . ."

Alexis Rios (no idea. Probably something like "Yikes" with Zaun saying "Take it easy!"

Miguel Batista (Caption: Torn apart! or, maybe: No Decision!) (on left, "Starter") "You should go other there." (on right, "Closer") "No, you belong with him."

Vernon Wells (on his leg is the "incarnation" of his leg injury) Flag in background: Jackpot! V-Dub: Ouch! "Injury": Not so fast!

Hinske: No idea. None. Probably some joke about him being Rookie of the Year.

Carlos:
Headline: The King (or maybe Emperor) has no clothes!
Carlos : Do I look good?
Advisor: Yes, you look as good as always!
(Tag attatched to Carlos'leg: 99 RBI)

Roy Halladay:
No idea. Some joke on "nice and warm down here", maybe.
Craig B - Monday, March 21 2005 @ 11:06 PM EST (#107060) #
It's not Delgado's nudity I object to, it's the ridiculously excessive thongularity of his garment that disturbs.
6-4-3 - Monday, March 21 2005 @ 11:08 PM EST (#107061) #
Now now. Without that thong, what would be holding up his "99 RBIs!" sign?
King Ryan - Tuesday, March 22 2005 @ 12:14 AM EST (#107066) #
Nice, 6-4-3.

Want to try your hand at the Rangers?

6-4-3 - Tuesday, March 22 2005 @ 06:05 PM EST (#107146) #
Sure thing. (again, no knowledge of Korean, just guessing here)

Mark Teixeira: Headline: The T-Rex Grows . . . Showwalter: "Excellent . . ." Other Guy with grin "He'll keep growing"

Michael Young: Headline: A-Rod isn't missed. Ranger A "I've got the funny feeling that something's missing" Ranger B "Odd . . . I've got that feeling too . . . but what?" Ranger C "No big deal" A-Rod "Hey! Over here!"

Kenny Rogers: I have no idea what the 10 in the headline refers to. Without that, I'd guess he's saying something like "After all these years. my net worth keeps going up!" or something.

Blalock: Again, no idea. Bad guess: Headline: Texas' brave leader . . . Blalock: (Fight! Fight!) Ranger one (on right) We'll fight till the end! Nix (on left): This won't end well. (looks like an Alamo reference)

Cordero / Drese: Headline: Power transfer! Middle Guy: More power! Left guy: We're almost done! Right guy: Still needs more!

Alfonso Soriano: Headline: Exiled from the Yankees. Soriano: (grunts of effort) Young: What's with him? Ranger #2: He thinks that he's in a prison camp.

Chan Ho Park: [Korean cursing deleted]. Ok, actually I'd like to know what's being said here.
Gitz - Tuesday, March 22 2005 @ 06:26 PM EST (#107149) #
Thongularity! Outstanding stuff there.
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