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One year ago, Blue Jays fans were coming off a season filled with highs, looking forward to the imminent return of the 2003 Cy Young award winner and the 2003 MVP runner-up at first base.

Well, we all know how that turned out.

The question for this year is—can last year possibly be repeated? Can the 2003 level of play even be approached? Of course anything can happen. Youneverknow. But what's likely?

Well, I frankly haven't a clue. I have a feeling that the Jays are going to surprise a lot of people who were blinded by the incredible, unbelievably bad things that happened last season. Will they contend? Almost certainly not. But the Jays aren't the 27th worst team in the league.

Their imminent success rests on the shoulders of one man - Roy Halladay. His right shoulder, mostly; in particular, whether it'll be the shoulder that pitched 266 innings in 2003, or the shoulder that limped (if you'll pardon the metaphor) through 133 innings last year.

The truth, as in many things, lies somewhere in-between. Halladay says he's ready, but nobody—including Doc himself—really knows until he gets up there on the mound. If he's worried about a twinge in his shoulder—or worried about worrying about one (and on and on)—he won't be the right Doc. I have a feeling it's going to take him a few outings, if he's fully healthy, to really become the pitcher we, as fans, have relied on in the past; it'll take a little bit of time before he knows whether his shoulder really is game-ready.

Which, appropriately enough, brings us to the events of yesterday's game against the Phillies. Halladay pitched 6 innings, striking out 7 (but walking 3, which is somewhat uncharacteristic of Roy). He also gave up a home run, his third of the spring; in recent years, Doc has given up about one homer per 10 IP, so that's about par for the course, especially in spring training.

In short, Halladay looks ready, but I don't think I'll be able to shake that strange feeling in the pit of my stomach until I see him in action.

Jays: A small crowd team?

Batter's Box readers often criticize the Blue Jays for performing poorly in front of large home crowds. As their theory goes, if you really get shellacked in front of a big crowd, you're going to turn a bunch of potential repeat customers off of the product all at once.

Well, I have a very basic training in statistics—being a math student, after all—and the biggest lesson I took from those courses is that I should never, ever trust anybody's observations. When it comes to personal observation, everybody is wrong sometimes, and most people are wrong most of the time. We tend to remember more exciting things most vividly, and then report those vivid memories as facts.

Even though the numbers are small, I think we can draw some conclusions about them. (Note: I'm only concerned with home games here.)

	N	Wins	Losses	Win%	RS	RA	Pyth Win%
All	81	40	41	0.494	392	430	0.458
>30000	19	10	9	0.526	95	92	0.514
>35000	10	4	6	0.400	43	55	0.389
>40000	6	3	3	0.500	25	34	0.363
At first blush, it looks as though there's not much to the claims that the Jays are a small-crowd team. After all, they performed at around the same level regardless of how many fans were at a game. But, glance at the Pythagorean win percentage, and you'll find that it seems as though the Jays scored fewer and fewer runs (relative to the opposition) as the crowds got larger and larger. Again, we can't infer causation or even correlation here, because the numbers are so ridiculously tiny. But what we can do is say "Hm, last season the Jays didn't score as much as their opponents in home games when the crowd was large." Fluke? Maybe. (Like I said, basic statistical training.)

Returning, though, to the stat that matters most to this study, the wins and losses—well, they speak for themselves. The Jays did not lose more often in home games with large crowds, period.

Spring Training: Halladay's back? | 48 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Dave Till - Thursday, March 31 2005 @ 08:11 AM EST (#108248) #
I don't think we need to get too alarmed if Doc starts a bit slowly. Here's his stats for April, 2003: 4.89 ERA, 38.2 IP, 49 H, 9 BB, 29 SO. That year, he got a bit better after that. :-)

Pitching is an inherently hazardous and unpredictable occupation, so you never know, but I think that Doc will be a solid starter this year. He might not reach his Cy Young form, but I don't think he'll be a problem.
Jim - Thursday, March 31 2005 @ 08:15 AM EST (#108249) #
Almost certainly not. But the Jays aren't the 27th worst team in the league

If they were the 27th worst team wouldn't that make them the 4th best team? :)
sweat - Thursday, March 31 2005 @ 08:16 AM EST (#108250) #
NDG - Thursday, March 31 2005 @ 08:16 AM EST (#108251) #
Joe, you may want to run the 2003 crowd numbers ... Despite the great season I believe the Jays were something like 1-7 with 35K+. I think that's where the large crowd theory took effect.
baagcur - Thursday, March 31 2005 @ 08:23 AM EST (#108252) #
One theory would be that bigger crowds would come when the team are playing a superior opposition who would tend to keep the Jays run production down
check it out
Pistol - Thursday, March 31 2005 @ 08:41 AM EST (#108253) #
Quiroz hurt his shoulder and is out for a few weeks.
kpataky - Thursday, March 31 2005 @ 09:12 AM EST (#108254) #
With Quiroz hurt, they might just send Huckaby down to Syracuse and keep Myers and Zaun up in the bigs.
Gwyn - Thursday, March 31 2005 @ 09:26 AM EST (#108257) #
A couple of trades in the division yesterday. Baltimore sent Matt Riley to Texas for Ramon Nivar. Boston finally gave up on Byung-Hyun Kim and traded him to the Rockies for Chris Narveson, Charles Johnson and cash.
perlhack - Thursday, March 31 2005 @ 09:30 AM EST (#108259) #

CBC Sports: the Red Sox have traded Byung-Hyun Kim to the Rockies.

Kim, 26, was traded Wednesday to Colorado for minor-league left-hander Chris Narveson, veteran catcher Charles Johnson and an estimated $2.6 million US to help offset the disparity in salaries between Kim and Johnson. The Red Sox immediately released Johnson...

H Winfield Teut - Thursday, March 31 2005 @ 09:34 AM EST (#108260) #
Quiroz down again, what an elbow once, lungs once, now his back, I think we have the new Captain Fiberglass. Al Leiter, Tom Evans and company would be proud.
Named For Hank - Thursday, March 31 2005 @ 09:53 AM EST (#108262) #
According to David Shoalts in this morning's Globe and Mail, J.P. will announce a couple of roster moves today, and it is "expected" that one of them will be the release of Ligtenberg.
Ryan Day - Thursday, March 31 2005 @ 09:54 AM EST (#108263) #
Quiroz down again, what an elbow once, lungs once, now his back, I think we have the new Captain Fiberglass. Al Leiter, Tom Evans and company would be proud.

Quiroz is kind of the opposite: He got pneumonia and played several games with a freaking collapsed lung, got hit by a pitch and broke his hand, and now he's injured his back. The guy seems incredibly durable, but even more incredibly unlucky.

Evans, conversely, would injure himself while putting on a hat.

Ryan C - Thursday, March 31 2005 @ 09:58 AM EST (#108264) #
One theory would be that bigger crowds would come when the team are playing a superior opposition who would tend to keep the Jays run production down

That certainly makes sense to me. Our biggest crowds of the year come when the Yankees and Red Sox are in town. And those two teams just happen to be two of the biggest spenders and best teams in all of baseball for the past couple years.

Heraclitus - Thursday, March 31 2005 @ 10:04 AM EST (#108266) #
A note to those with Season Passes:

When I heard about the 2-for-1 deal, I was a little steamed, seeing as I bought mine pretty much when they came on sale. To offer 2-for-1 right before the season starts seems like a good way to punish those who bought early.
With that in mind, I went with a friend to the SkyDome last night to pick up our Season Passes and opening day tickets. The ticket-seller was exceptionally nice, and when we asked about the 2-for-1 deal, she admitted that it was being applied retroactively, so if you bought yours before this offer, you can get a second one if you call the ticket agent who dealt with you when you originally bought.
This is, as yet, unconfimed -- my friend is going to call today and find out. But anyone who bought earlier should shake the cage a little (not in the least to give their opinion on what's looking like a sorta preditory marketing scheme).
Mike Green - Thursday, March 31 2005 @ 10:07 AM EST (#108267) #

Captain Fibreglass

That's harsh, don't you think? Quiroz played with a collapsed lung. It reminds me of all those stories about Eric Davis when he was young, questioning his motivation because he was injured a lot. Those questions ended when he developed cancer in his 30s, and came back remarkably after that.

Catching is tough on the body. You have to almost expect injuries. That's why it is always a good idea to have a bunch of serviceable young catching prospects in the system. But for now, let's hope that this injury heals completely and Q can return to the fine form he was showing in spring training.

Joe - Thursday, March 31 2005 @ 10:27 AM EST (#108271) #
Of the top 6 attended games last season, 5 of them were against the Yankees; two at the end of August, and the last three games of the season. The only other game with 40000+ attendance was the home opener vs. Detroit.

In fact, of the 19 games with 30000+ people, 10 of them were vs. the Yankees. 2 were against Boston, 2 against Tampa Bay, and then Detroit, Texas, Arizona, Cleveland, and Baltimore each got one.

So, yes, the highest-attended games tend to be against the Yankees. The Jays' record in those games, though, is 4-6. Not out of line with their overall season or their home record, and certainly in line with the other numbers I've seen. I'll look at 2003 at some point in the future to see if there's an appreciable difference.
The Bone - Thursday, March 31 2005 @ 10:53 AM EST (#108273) #
According to the Star today Gibbons was quoted as saying its going to be Chulk and Walker in the bullpen meaning the 7 man pen will be


And Ligtenberg is likely to be released, while Miller and Glynn will have to clear waivers or be traded
Rich - Thursday, March 31 2005 @ 10:56 AM EST (#108274) #
That's exactly the bullpen I would use. It's time to cut bait on Lightenberg. Props to all those who criticized his deal as too long and too rich at the time it was signed.
Rich - Thursday, March 31 2005 @ 11:18 AM EST (#108280) #
After checking the thread (, it seems that most people liked the signing, although many thought it was a modest overpayment. Mike Green, step up sir, as the man who clearly stated the second year at 2.5 million was a lousy decision.
Ron - Thursday, March 31 2005 @ 11:21 AM EST (#108282) #
If Kerry does get released, Mr. Rogers can't be happy he's paying 3.5 mil for 2 players that aren't even on the team.

I would send Chulk down and Kerry.
Ron - Thursday, March 31 2005 @ 11:22 AM EST (#108283) #
I meant keep Kerry with the Jays.
Mark - Thursday, March 31 2005 @ 11:37 AM EST (#108286) #
I agree with Ron. Just because you have money to blow that doesn't mean you should blow it. Why not keep him as the 7th guy out of the pen, pitch him in non pressure situations and see if he has any value. If anything start League in AAA for a month and give Ligtenberg a chance. I know they say League has nothing to prove there well at least do it as an extended spring training. He has struggled this spring and admits that he is not very confedent right now. Why not give him a month to get confident in AAA? If you can pawn terry adams into something I am sure Ligtenberg, once he proves last year was an aberation, has some value. I think JP sent his message that results are what count regardless of salary when he dumped Koch. For me this is different because Ligtenberg has not been that bad.
Justin (T-Birds) - Thursday, March 31 2005 @ 11:56 AM EST (#108287) #
This sentiment about Ligtenberg's salary keeps popping up in the bullpen discussions, and it shouldn't. They're not "blowing" any money by releasing Ligtenberg (save the marginal $320,000 or so of his likely replacement). It's a sunk cost that is not at all germane to the bullplen construction.

The bad decision (as it turns out?) was at the time of the signing; whether he should be released or not only depends on whether you think his replacement (Chulk/Walker) will provide a better return than Ligtenberg + $320,000.
Mike Green - Thursday, March 31 2005 @ 12:10 PM EST (#108289) #
Thanks, Rich, but I certainly wasn't alone in this respect, as you can see from the thread you linked to.

I have no opinion on whether Ligtenberg should be released now. I might if I had spent 2 weeks in Florida watching him and the other contenders, but alas, I didn't. I must admit to being a Vinny Chulk fan, and it does please me that he is likely to be on the club.

Acknowledgement of one's past mistakes (or at least the refusal to be bound in the future by them) is a good quality for management. The approach to Koch and Ligtenberg this spring is a fine sign with respect to the developing approach of the Ricciardi/Gibbons era. I am hopeful that the maturity we see here will influence the team's handling of the 1b/dh/corner OF situation.
R Billie - Thursday, March 31 2005 @ 12:11 PM EST (#108290) #
The only reason to keep Kerry would be to try to turn him into something around the mid-season trade deadline. It's unlikely that the Jays would have brought him back after this year.

So the question becomes, is the team better off trying to develop Ligtenberg into an asset or giving one of the other arms a chance to show their stuff in the bigs?

I do agree with folks who say League should be in AAA but that's just because I want him to try to make it as a starter. Even if League was put in Syracuse, I would probably still lean towards not keeping Kerry. His hip isn't going to allow him to pitch back to back games very often and chances are the Jays could gain more out of developing one of Chulk, Walker, Glynn, or Miller as minimal salary players at the major league level.
Four Seamer - Thursday, March 31 2005 @ 12:14 PM EST (#108291) #
This sentiment about Ligtenberg's salary keeps popping up in the bullpen discussions, and it shouldn't. They're not "blowing" any money by releasing Ligtenberg (save the marginal $320,000 or so of his likely replacement).

And it may not even cost them that, assuming Ligtenberg is picked up by another team for the minimum, relieving the Jays of that portion of Ligtenberg's salary. Team X's contribution to Ligtenberg's $2.5 million balances out the cost of his replacement in the Jays pen.

That said, I'm not sure I agree with the move. He seems to be pitching reasonably well this spring and I would have thought his track records merits an opportunity to demonstrate that last year was an injury-riddled aberration (although maybe he isn't going to get any healthier). I thought it might be the sensible thing to do if they needed a roster spot to avoid having to expose Miller to waivers, but he doesn't appear to have made the team either.

NDG - Thursday, March 31 2005 @ 12:14 PM EST (#108292) #
Actually it probably won't even cost the extra $320K, since some team will likely pick Ligtenburg up. Actually it wouldn't surprise me if Kerry gets $500 to $700 K for his services. Which as i understand it, would only leave the Jays responsible for the difference between that and the $2.5mil owed. Am I correct?
NDG - Thursday, March 31 2005 @ 12:17 PM EST (#108294) #
Actually I guess it would surprise me since there's no reason for Kerry to ask for more since he gets the same amount no matter what. Okay so back to $320K.
R Billie - Thursday, March 31 2005 @ 12:18 PM EST (#108295) #
I don't think there would be any bidding for him. His salary is going to be $2.5 million no matter where he plays. It won't matter to him how much of it is coming from the Jays and how much is coming from his new team.

All that Ligtenberg would have to decide is the team he wants to sign with who will owe him the minimum.
Justin (T-Birds) - Thursday, March 31 2005 @ 12:24 PM EST (#108296) #
Ligtenberg's numbers certainly look ok, but observationally it may not be the case. I'm not totally convinced that he should be released, but it is nice to see that they now appear willing to release guaranteed contracts though, after the experiences with Sturtze and Berg (to an extent). There seems to have been a shift in recent years for all of MLB, with teams now more willing to make moves like this.
Pistol - Thursday, March 31 2005 @ 12:24 PM EST (#108297) #
"It's a sunk cost that is not at all germane to the bullpen construction."


If you keep Ligtenberg around, because of his contract, over somebody else that is better than him you're not getting any value from Ligtenberg.

It's also possible that the Jays aren't on the hook for all of Koch's contract either. It's possible that they only owe him 45 days termination pay (which was brought up in a Primer thread).
kpataky - Thursday, March 31 2005 @ 12:25 PM EST (#108298) #
The Sun article said Quiroz hurt his shoulder - not his back as many of you have said in this forum. It doesn't mention how, but I envision a collision of some sort.
Named For Hank - Thursday, March 31 2005 @ 12:30 PM EST (#108299) #
Koch seemed to think that the Jays would have to pay him his year's salary, from his comments in the Elliot piece the other day. He stated that he wasn't going to sign anywhere else so that the Jays would have to pay him every nickel while he relaxed.
Justin (T-Birds) - Thursday, March 31 2005 @ 12:30 PM EST (#108300) #
As for potentially losing Justin Miller/Ryan Glynn on waivers, I think that we need to be wary of overrating our own team's players. All 30 teams have players just like this that are right on the bubble. While it's possible that one or both of them may be claimed, realistically they are both emminently replaceable and I wouldn't make their waiver status an overriding concern in determining the bullpen jobs.
Mike Green - Thursday, March 31 2005 @ 12:40 PM EST (#108301) #
Kevin, the Toronto Star article I linked to describes both the area of Q's injury and the mechanics of the injury. It indicates that it was a repetitive strain injury of the upper back behind the shoulder while participating in throwing drills. Toronto Star BBRSS= cake; Toronto Sun BBRSS= blue raspberry jello.
Named For Hank - Thursday, March 31 2005 @ 12:47 PM EST (#108303) #
Damn you, now I want jello.
The Bone - Thursday, March 31 2005 @ 12:54 PM EST (#108304) #
I think the real worrisome part of Ligtenberg's spring is the 4 homeruns in 9 innings!! - his ERA means he has either been really lucky or he has been cashing in other people's runs
Gerry - Thursday, March 31 2005 @ 01:16 PM EST (#108309) #
Jays dropped six players today, the only person of note being Ken Huckaby.

Per Mike Wilner there are 29 players left in camp, 28 if you leave Lilly out. Ryan Glynn, Kerry Ligtenberg, and Justin Miller look to be the last three likely cuts.
Joe - Thursday, March 31 2005 @ 01:33 PM EST (#108314) #
Gerry, by dropped do you mean released or reassigned to minor league camp?
Ron - Thursday, March 31 2005 @ 01:38 PM EST (#108316) #
I believe SF had an article on Kerry a few days ago that said he was healthy right now.

He hasn't been horrible this spring and I see no harm in lettiing him start the season with the Jays. If he bombs like Hentgen than you can release him during the season.

I disagree about League having nothing to prove in the minors. He hasn't even pitched in AAA yet. Going from AA to the Majors is a huge jump. League has struggled with his command and I see no harm in sending him down to AAA to start the season.,

Needless to say I'm against the release ot Kerry right now.

King Ryan - Thursday, March 31 2005 @ 01:44 PM EST (#108317) #
I am also against the release of Kerry. Look at his track record. The guy should almost certainly have a bounce-back year next year. You have to pay him anyways; might as well give him a shot to prove he's healthy and can perform to his pre-2004 levels.
Gerry - Thursday, March 31 2005 @ 01:47 PM EST (#108318) #
Reassigned to minor league camp. In Huckaby's case he could probably refuse.
Gerry - Thursday, March 31 2005 @ 03:44 PM EST (#108355) #

Roster has been set. Ligtenberg has been cut, Miller is being sent down, needs to clear waivers to get there.

Lilly was hit by a batted ball on the ankle today, he has gone for X-rays.
Ron - Thursday, March 31 2005 @ 03:53 PM EST (#108357) #
I disagree about cutting Ligtenberg but hopefully everything works out for the Jays.

It's obvious looking back now that the signing was a mistake by JP. His track record on bullpen guys has been shaky at best.

Congrats to Walker and Gross who forced JP's hand in keeping him around.

ST is way too long ......... I'm ready for the real games to begin!
R Billie - Thursday, March 31 2005 @ 04:02 PM EST (#108362) #
Depending on what happens with Lilly's ankle, it seems that Pete Walker might be the new #2 or #3 pitcher. I hope Miller doesn't get claimed because the Jays will probably need the depth.
H Winfield Teut - Thursday, March 31 2005 @ 04:02 PM EST (#108363) #
What i meant was Quiroz is now the one who always seems to be getting hurt, hence the Captain Fiberglass. There is no question he has a tough heart, anyone that can play with a collapsed lung is a gamer in my book. But you can not deny he seems to be injured a lot more than the average bear.
Gerry - Thursday, March 31 2005 @ 04:25 PM EST (#108373) #
I started a new thread for the 2005 roster decisions.
Spring Training: Halladay's back? | 48 comments | Create New Account
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