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That was a sweet win. Doc was good, but not at his overpowering best. And the Jays were not particularly lucky. How many times exactly did they line a ball hard and directly at a defender with runners on base?

But, today, I want to talk a little bit about one play. Here's the scene. 6th inning, one out, 2-1 good guys. Aaron Hill on 2nd, Eric Hinske on 1st, Alex Rios at the plate. Sal Fasano catching for the Os with Ponson on the mound. Gibbons starts the runners, Gomez covers third, and Rios grounds one into left field to score Hill, with Hinske stopping at second. If the runners had not been started, it could very well have been an inning-ending 5-4-3 DP. Orlando Hudson followed with a 2 run double, and that pretty much salted the game away.

Starting both runners is a fairly unusual strategy. In the particular situation, what a manager most fears is a lack of contact and the runner being thrown out at third. Rios does swing and miss fairly often, and has failed to make contact on the hit-and-run a number of times this season. However, Fasano is not known for his arm, and throwing over Rios would not be particularly easy. Hill runs well, and the element of surprise ensures that he'd have a fair shot of stealing the bag even if Rios did not make contact.

So, yes, let's admit it. This was a game where small ball played an important role. I still prefer the 3 run homer every time, but 6 runs on offence is a good day any way you slice it.

On to the bullpen report for the last 2 weeks. With Pete Walker moving to the rotation on Wednesday, John Gibbons now has a 6 man pen. One would think that this would lead to somewhat longer stints on average for the relief staff. Batista's outing of 1.2 innings on Wednesday might be the first of many.

Here's the chart:

(entrance inning/batters faced/opp. GPA)

date Batista Speier   Frasor   Downs     Schoen      Chulk      Walker
Ju 10     							 6.0/8
Ju 11 8.2/2            7.0/4              8.0/3       6.0/6
      .350             .175               .425        .433
Ju 12        7.0/2
Ju 13 -----------------another Doc complete game----------

Ju 14 8.0/6  6.0/4              4.1/6     8.0/3
      .517   .175               .200      .000
Ju 15 8.0/3            7.1/2              7.1/1       7.0/4
      .000             .375               .450        .525
Ju 16 -----------------day off----------------------------

Ju 17                  7.0/5              6.2/2       5.1/4      2.1/11
                       .090               .225        .113       .234
Ju 18 8/0/4  6.0/7
      .363   .200
Ju 19                  8.0/6              7.0/4       5.1/6
                       .150               .113        .275
Ju 20        7.0/6
Ju 21 8.0/3            7.0/5    5.0/4                 5.1/7
      .000             .430     .775 (!)              .200
Ju 22 7.1/5  7.0/2     5.1/5              6.2/1
      .000   .475      .140               .000
Ju 23                                                 8.0/3

Interestingly, Batista struggled in a couple of appearances early last week, but has been excellent over the last 8 days. With the ace reliever role seemingly well taken care of, the rest of the pen has fallen into place as well. Scott Downs appeared in only 2 games over the 2 week period, but figures to see much more work, now that Walker is in the rotation.

A little bit of smallball and Bullpen Report v.6 | 11 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Jonny German - Friday, June 24 2005 @ 10:22 AM EDT (#120533) #
So is the six-man pen here to stay? Is Gross a big-leaguer at least until Koskie comes back? The one concern I'd have is getting enough playing time for Gross. Let's see... how do the starts break down over a 6-game week?

C: Zaun 5, Huckaby 1
1B: Hinske 4, Hillenbrand 2
2B: Hudson 5, Menechino 1
SS: Adams 5, Hill 1
3B: Hill 4, Hillenbrand 2
LF: Catalanotto 2, Gross 2, Johnson 2
CF: Wells 6
RF: Rios 5, Gross 1
DH: Catalanotto 2, Hinske 1, Hillenbrand 1, Hill 1, Gross 1

So that gives me:
6 starts: Wells, Hill
5 starts: Hinske, Hillenbrand, Adams, Hudson, Zaun, Rios
4 starts: Gross, Catalanotto
2 starts: Johnson
1 start: Menechino, Huckaby
0 starts: McDonald

I'm pretty happy with that alignment. Johnson suffers the most from the effort to get at-bats for Gross, but the fact is Sparky shouldn't be getting regular starts against righties. He already comes in defensively for Cat very frequently, and he'd also be well-used as a pinch hitter against lefties.I'm probably giving Hinske more time than he deserves. If Hill ever cools down, he could sit 1 day per week... and Wells could sit once every two or three weeks just to stay fresh. As soon as a legitimate backup catcher is acquired, and that can't come soon enough, I'd sit Zaun twice a week.

As for the pitching staff, the next move I'd like to see is Bush up from AAA and into the starting rotation, Walker back to the pen, Downs to AAA. Or, even better, McDonald to AAA and Downs sticks around until Rosario or Miller is ready to come up...
PeterG - Friday, June 24 2005 @ 10:30 AM EDT (#120534) #
I'm thinking Miller is just about ready to come up -perhaps awaiting a deal involving someone from the pen. Speier? The Bush timetable seems about right. Perhaps it will coincide with Lilly being dealt and Walker remaining in the rotation.
Jordan - Friday, June 24 2005 @ 10:36 AM EDT (#120535) #
Is it time to start talking about Vernon Wells?

After his usual miserable April, it was widely argued (by me, among others) that Wells would rebound, as usual, as the weather warmed up. But while the power has returned, the on-base skills haven't. Wells in his career has posted a 900 OPS in May and 958 in June; so far in 2005, those totals have been 838 and 817, respectively. But there's more to it than just a near-junk stat like monthly OPS. Wells does not look right at the plate. He seems to be guessing a lot, and guessing wrongly, on the next pitch that's coming.

He seems particularly clueless on breaking pitches: against a struggling Daniel Cabrera the other night, with the bases loaded and nobody out, Wells swung and missed on ball four and ball five, breaking pitches away and out of the strike zone. It's baseball gospel that those are hitters' situations in which you focus on getting exactly one type of pitch in one part of the strike zone and driving it, ignoring everything else. Wells didn't, and I've seen him not do that a lot this year.

More worrying, though, is that play in centerfield against Baltimore -- you know the one, where Wells strolled over to pick up Miguel Tejada's single up the middle, and Tejada hustled down to second base for the double. As Jamie Campbell said in the booth, meaningfully, "That is not a play you expect from a Gold Glover." It was such an embarrassment that JP Ricciardi brought it up on his post-game radio appearance, and John Gibbons told the media tersely that it had "been addressed" internally (both of these items from Jeff Blair's notes in the Globe today).

Wells became a father last weekend, so there's certainly cause for him to be distracted. But this is not a sudden thing: after what seemed like a breakout 2003, Wells was only ordinary in 2004 and he's sitting at .246 this morning. Frankly, much like Eric Hinske last year, I'm no longer expecting a big breakout and rebound from Wells this season. I'm just hoping he can reach his 2004 output.

I'm not in any position to judge whether or not Wells is at 100% in his focus or his efforts this year; fans can't tell anything sitting in the ballaprk or watching on TV. And I'm not ready to call Wells a disappointment, because there's still time for him to save his season and become more Bernie Williams than Mike Cameron with the bat.

But you have to feel a little for Ricciardi, who signed Wells and Hinske to five-year deals as the cornerstone of the franchise's revival. Nobody, not even his harshest critics in the press, doubted the wisdom of those deals; but Hinske has failed to live up to expectations, and Wells is starting to tread close to the same line. I don't like the vibes I'm getting here at all.

Gerry - Friday, June 24 2005 @ 10:54 AM EDT (#120536) #
On Wednesday night, watching Wells, I said to my wife "I wonder if Wells needs to have his eyes checked." I agree he looks totally out of synch at the plate.
PeterG - Friday, June 24 2005 @ 11:06 AM EDT (#120539) #
Put me in the camp of those favouring the oft talked about exchange invloving Wells and Wilkerson. I just think Brad is more of a Jays type player than Wells. I imagine JP would have only done this if he could get Schneider too but no way the Nats do this now when they are in 1st place. Wells-Wilkerson even up. Last year I wouldn't have done it. I would now.
westcoast dude - Friday, June 24 2005 @ 11:20 AM EDT (#120541) #
Last weekend when there was no Wells there were no wins, either.
By percentage who, when stepping to the plate, is most likely to plate a run? The Dude.
This team has jelled now with Walker in the rotation. Don't change anything unless guys go down.
Fasten your seatbelts, Baby.
Flex - Friday, June 24 2005 @ 11:25 AM EDT (#120542) #
I agree with all of Jordan's well-made points about Wells. It's disturbing to see the defacto leader of the team playing with such a lack of focus and intensity. The play involving Tejada may actually have been the best thing that could have happened, shining a spotlight on Wells' lackluster effort.

I fear that what we're seeing is a player's ego becoming larger than his talent. Wells seems very good at rationalizing his mistakes and failures -- witness his explanation for the Tejada play, quoted by Blair, that the only problem was his throw was a little off-line. And his poor hitting is never because he's not focused, not playing well, not reading pitches well, it's because "I'm always a slow starter. I'll get it going."

Sorry, it doesn't wash any more. No debating his potential. His potential is huge. It just seems that his heart is tiny.
Mike Green - Friday, June 24 2005 @ 11:29 AM EDT (#120544) #

Here are the batting stats this year of AL CF regulars. Vernon Wells has the most power of the bunch, and is about average in speed. Yet, his BABIP is a pitiful .243. He's definitely popping up too often and that is contributing. His G/F ratio of .82 is very low, and unusual for him (last year, it was 1.2).

My take on this is that Vernon is pressing. With the departure of Carlos Delgado, Wells was anointed "the man" at the beginning of the year, despite coming off a mediocre season from him. I suspect that Wells would be happier and perform better with the spotlight off him. The arrival of Aaron Hill did seem to help, and his struggles this week may be due to lack of sleep from the new baby as much as anything.

I don't think JP will end up regretting the Wells contract. I expect that Vernon will end up the season in the .270 range with good pop and good defence in centerfield. That has significant value.

SimonB - Friday, June 24 2005 @ 03:54 PM EDT (#120602) #
*I fear that what we're seeing is a player's ego becoming larger than his talent.*

This statement interests me. I just finished ragging on Wells in another topic, and while I didn't specifically say it like that, that is exactly the problem I was getting at. It seems like he's COMFORTABLE, and feels he's 'made it', and maybe doesn't have to put in the effort that guys like Reed Johnson do. I hope that isn't the problem, but it sure looks like it.
Pistol - Friday, June 24 2005 @ 04:12 PM EDT (#120608) #
Even if Wells plays at his current level for the life of his contract he still's worth it. He'd just be a huge disappointment after 2003.

To me he's easily the most frustrating player to watch on the Jays, although mostly because he has talent. I find myself saying 'don't strikeout' or 'don't hit into a double play' whenever he's up in strong RBI situations.

I wouldn't be adverse to trading Wells - I think Rios can handle CF just fine - it'd be a matter of getting better value back.
VBF - Friday, June 24 2005 @ 04:31 PM EDT (#120610) #
To me he's easily the most frustrating player to watch on the Jays, although mostly because he has talent. I find myself saying 'don't strikeout' or 'don't hit into a double play' whenever he's up in strong RBI situations.

I agree with this. This season is long but over, and it wasn't too long ago that he was on pace for 30+ home runs. I'm more disappointed than anybody about his tail off after 2003, but I do think he's going through an adjustment period with the departure of Carlos Delgado. I don't think he was overprotected by having Delgado in the fourth spot, but I do think that his role has changed since, and he's struggling to fit it. I can't give a solution to his problem other than time, which he does have, if we're to be in contention by 2006, but I think (and I'm not turning this into a crazy proposition for a star player thread) if we could acquire a big bat, Vernon could go back into his old role of being the best overall contact hitter in all aspects, of the lineup, as supposed to being the big bopper, which I speculate he's trying to be.

I do have a problem with people ragging on his work ethic or his "heart". I don't know how much more or less intensity he has than any other player, but I do know that it cannot be measured by how many times he yells out, or throws his bat, or has an angry look on his face. To assume that he has no emotion because he stays quiet and walks back to the dugout after a strikeout in a clutch situation is just wrong. In fact, I would need several hands to count the times he has tossed his bat or yelled out if that's what people have to see to judge his intensity.

An indication that he does play with emotion and intensity, is the fact that when he strikes out in a clutch situation he doesn't go to the bench and make conversation with the other players, he doesn't laugh at something else, and he doesn't go and make conversation with the other players, some of the things that people had a problem with when Carlos Delgado was in town.

A little bit of smallball and Bullpen Report v.6 | 11 comments | Create New Account
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