Batter's Box Interactive Magazine Batter's Box Interactive Magazine Batter's Box Interactive Magazine
You were third in the East last season. And frankly, you've grown really tired of seeing the same team finish on top every year. What to do...

Pythagoras says you should have won almost 90 games last season, although you did no such thing. So perhaps one good move would be to replace your generic closer with a hard-throwing lefty ace The fact that you're spiriting said ace away from a division rival is just a happy bonus, of course.

Your best player is your centre fielder, a splendid two-way player just reaching his prime years. But he had been asked to be the centre of the team's offense in 2005, and had proven not quite up to the task. What you need is a Big Scary Bat to carry some of the offensive load. And you obtain one in a trade, a bonafide slugging star, with a lengthy resume of hitting 40+ homers and drawing 100+ walks.

And now you're ready to rumble. Right? And last night, the Mets made it seven wins in a row. The new closer, Billy Wagner, collected his third save. The new Big Scary Bat, a fellow named Carlos Delgado, has driven in 9 runs in 9 games. And Tom Glavine struck out 11 while improving his record to 2-0, 1.50.

Oh - did you think I was talking about the Blue Jays? Well, we can talk about them, if you like.

The outlook wasn't brilliant for Ricciardi's crew this night .Scott Downs tried to sneak a fastball past Paul Konerko in the second inning, and was promptly and justly punished for his presumption. From that moment on, Downs seemed very reluctant to throw anything that was actually in the strike zone, and the White Sox moved out to a quick 5-2 lead.

But were the Fighting Jays discouraged? We do not think they were. Gregg Zaun led off the top of the fifth with a double, and took third when Alex Rios followed with a single. Rios alertly moved up to second when Dye missed the cutoff man. Aaron Hill delivered one run on an infield grounder, and Russ Adams lined an RBI single over Iguchi's glove to bring the Jays to within one run. A Catalanotto single put two men on base for Vernon Wells - but V-Dub inexplicably reverted to his 2005 form, flailing at the first pitch and popping out harmlessly to the infield. And man, was he upset with himself afterwards...

But this year, Vernon has help. Just as Darrin Fletcher was talking about how your True Star is a man who can deliver the key two-out hit - Troy Glaus delivered they key two-out hit in very impressive fashion, going down to get a tough outside pitch from Vazquez and lining it into the right field corner. "Behold Liam, for he is a mighty warrior!" I cried in true Homeric fashion, and I do expect to sing the Song of Troy many times this season. The Blue Jays were suddenly on top. Lyle Overbay quickly cashed in Glaus, and the Jays never looked back.

Star of the Game - Troy Glaus is a mighty warrior indeed, carrying a powerful and thunderous Stick - epic deeds are in store. Is it not nice to have a Big Scary Bat around the house again?

Unsung Hero - There were several. Shea Hillenbrand finally broke out with three hits, including a two-run homer to start the scoring, not that Shea ever seems to actually enjoy any of it. Lyle Overbay's four hits almost got lost in the shuffle. Gregg Zaun had not one, not two, but three doubles, and Vernon Wells extended his hit streak to 10 games, and hit yet another home run. Pete Walker and Vinnie Chulk each threw three scoreless innings out of the bullpen (although Walker could only strand one of three runners he inherited from Downs.)

For the Sox - Joe Crede went 4-4, and Pablo Ozuna, filling in for that Pod Person, had three hits including a two run single that put the White Sox ahead in the second inning.

Defensive Play of the Game - I'm going to go with Aaron Hill's diving stop on Cintron's grounder up the middle to third. He managed to flip the ball to Adams in time to get the forceout, even if they couldn't get the double play. With the bases loaded and just one out, getting an out instead of allowing a two-run single was huge. The most impressive defensive play of the game was Crede's remarkable diving stop on Reed Johnson's shot down the line. But there was no way Crede could throw him out, and Sparky promptly scored on Wells' homer.

Defensive Misplay of the Game - The White Sox made two rather mysterious errors, but the worst play was Dye overthrowing the cutoff man by thirty feet on Rios' fifth inning single. Rios alertly took second, and the Sox could not play for the double play that would end their trouble.

DP Watch - Shea Hillenbrand was back in the lineup, and along with his three hits he provided us with a 361 DP, something we don't see all that often. That's 6 GDP in just 9 games for Hillenbrand. He's on pace to ground into 96 DPs, which would of course be a New World Record. The mark to beat is 36, set by Jim Rice in 1984. What is the Toronto team record, you wonder?

Well, Doug Ault hit into 20 GDP in 1977. His mark stood until Rico Carty returned in 1979 - at age 39 and with two bad legs, it's a miracle the Beeg Mon only hit into 21 double plays. George Bell matched Carty's total in 1988, but no one would surpass it until Ed Sprague was given regular work. Sprague hit into 23 GDP in 1993, which still stands as the team record. Vernon Wells (in 2003) and Hillenbrand (in 2005) have both managed to hit into 21 DPs with the Blue Jays. George Bell, of course, would go on to GDP glory with the White Sox, grounding into 29 of the accursed things in 1992, to set the White Sox team record.

Boxscore - Uh, over here.

Elsewhere - Two outstanding pitching duels. Curt Schilling and his Bloody Red Sox edged the Ancient Mariner, Jamie Moyer, by a 2-1 count. Schilling scattered three hits, and is off to a 3-0, 1.64 start. Even better was the contest in St.Louis, where Aaron Harang and the Reds beat Chris Carpenter and the Cardinals 1-0. Cincinnati is off to a 7-3 start and Mick is trying to tell everyone that "I told you so." And so he did...he was just Ahead of his Time.

And the Yankees lose!

The... Yankees... Lose...
TDIB: Weekend Edition | 47 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Andrew K - Saturday, April 15 2006 @ 08:43 AM EDT (#145206) #
The highlight of the game, for me, was Jamie Campbell's home run call for Vernon's: "Ding Dong! Avon Calling!" I think we should push for this to become the regular call.
jvictor - Saturday, April 15 2006 @ 11:01 AM EDT (#145211) #

Some random thoughts early in the season.

- How much weght has Rios gained.  He was due for some gain at this stage of his life.  If that gain has come across his torso hubba, hubba.

- I noticed it early and have been following the trend since.  The Jays are scoring a lot of runs with two outs, sometimes starting rallies with two out and none on.  It's a good thing but I don't know how long it can last.

- Is Lyle Overbay an Olerud clone.  Good defence, medium power and oodles of doubles.  The swing he put on the homer last night made me feel young again.  He has to work on his trot though; Olerud's made him look like a dog that had shat on the carpet.

- I was watching the opener at a bar and, from afar, saw VW at the plate.  This had me confused; wasn't Rios due up? did I miss an out?  turns out it was Rios, and, from afar their stances do look similar.  Couldn't say that last year.

- There are a few kinks I want to see worked out - pitching mostly - but overall colour me enthused about the Jays prospects this year.  And I can't wait to see A.J. later today.

budgell - Saturday, April 15 2006 @ 11:10 AM EDT (#145212) #

How about the great game by Darrin Fletcher?  Witty, insightful comments, correctly identifying key at-bats/pitches.   Former ballplayers who are successful colour guys have a knack for conveying the big league "experience" without sounding condascending.

Is it the personality of those drawn to catching or the years behind the plate, involved in every pitch that make ex-catchers the best managers and colour guys?

Does Syracuse need a colour guy?  Are we out of options on Tabler?


Pistol - Saturday, April 15 2006 @ 11:14 AM EDT (#145213) #
To make room for Burnett the Jays sent Tallet to Syracuse.

Rios got his second straight start against a RHP last night and had hits in both games.  It looks like he's starting to take ahold of the RF job.

I thought it was odd that Zaun would start two straight games, but the Jays probably decided that Molina and Zaun would each play one game yesterday and today and the pitching matchups made sense to go with Molina today against Buerhle.

It'd be good to see Burnett go at least 6 innings today.  The Jays could get real thin in the pen without it.  Chulk and Walker I assume are unavailable today, leaving the Jays with 4 relievers.  Right now it's good that they have 12 pitchers.

The Jays have *9* players hitting at least .333.

90ft_turnleft - Saturday, April 15 2006 @ 11:23 AM EDT (#145215) #

Great summary Magpie.

I agree as well with your summation of the rather dour looking Shea even when he has a good night at the plate.Yes he is labeled as an intense player but for him it seems intense and joyless go hand in hand.It isn't just this season either for I saw much the same demeanour last season as well.It always looked as though his intensity overtook his fun for the game,especially the games such as last night when he hit extremely well.

Either way though I don't have much of a problem with his confounded countenance unless/until it upsets the chemistry 'applecart' of this team.

Why does it always appear that the Cat runs to catch every fly ball exactly like I would run from my ghosts and boogymen in the night terror filled dreams I periodically had as a child.The oxymoronic metaphor 'like running in quicksand' seems apropos.

I loved the shot of 2 very relaxed pitchers in A J and the Doc during last nights game.Made me think that if they indeed seem so relaxed it would be hard to imagine either thinking that they have any serious arm issues.

I'm looking forward with a bit of trepidation and even more anticipation to A J's start today.

Hopefully he will enjoy the offensive explosive support most of the other starters have had thus far.

Maldoff - Saturday, April 15 2006 @ 11:28 AM EDT (#145216) #
I'm not worried about the pitching stats. Don't have the numbers to back this claim up (maybe someone could help me out), but I think in general hitters get off to a better start than pitchers. Just seems like they need more time to warm up. And good to see a solid performance by Chulk last night. Here's hoping he turns into the 6th inning monster again (with Speier, Frasor and SS LOOGY in the 7th and 8th).
Andrew K - Saturday, April 15 2006 @ 11:32 AM EDT (#145219) #

I too thought that Fletch was great. Really interesting, and I enjoyed him reading the signs for us, along with a bit of psychology of pitch selection. I was particularly impressed when, on seeing a replay of a pitch which was better than he had said, he corrected himself. Not many commentators admit it when they are wrong. 

I thought he was great last year, too. I wish he was the full-time man. He and Campbell make a good pairing.

Dr. Zarco - Saturday, April 15 2006 @ 11:52 AM EDT (#145221) #
Pistol, I too was surprised that Zaun got the start. In my real-life platoon of Molina/Zaun in our Barfield league, I left Molina in my lineup, and seeing how I'm playing you, I could have used those three doubles in our tight offensive matchup.

What a terrific game to be at. 18 hits and 13 runs. I seem to catch the Jays here in Chicago on good offensive days. Let's hope that carries onto today. Some other thoughts:
-Hill's play was terrific. He had another nice rangy play on the grounder that Overbay got a piece of, but Walker was slow getting over.
-Vernon's HR was a BOMB. Just a rocket. That and Dye's were just no-doubters.
-Watching Walker and Downs throw Ball 1 was infuriating. Chulk had a nice outing.
-Once again, US Cellular is simply a terrific place to watch a game. One of the best I've been to, I hope y'all can make it there sometime to catch a game. It's one of the things I'll really miss when I leave Chicago in a few months.
-Can't wait to see Burnett live today. Hopefully he can keep the momentum going. My seats today have the radar gun nicely in view too. Perfect day for baseball, enjoy the game!
Mike Green - Saturday, April 15 2006 @ 12:03 PM EDT (#145222) #
In today's Star (print edition), Gibbons is quoted as saying the RF platoon is still on.  Presumably, that means Hinske gets the start in right field tomorrow. 

The reasoning for this decision is elusive. Perhaps the thought is that Hillenbrand's edge on Rios with the bat outweighs Rios' advantage on Hinske in the field and his advantage on Hillenbrand on the bases.

Jonny German - Saturday, April 15 2006 @ 12:18 PM EDT (#145224) #
I think other important considerations are

(a) managing egos
(b) keeping everybody sharp
(c) not commiting to Rios before he's really proven himself. This could just be a hot streak.

After thinking about it, I thought the decision to have Zaun start last night was absolutely correct. I'm sure it's easier as a hitter to play two consecutive days rather than having a day or more off in between, and it saves Molina from starting a day game after a night game.

Rob - Saturday, April 15 2006 @ 01:03 PM EDT (#145225) #
I'd also like to add praise for Fletcher's job last night. He identified things before they would happen (I forget the exact example, but I noted it at the time) and didn't apply much reasoning after the fact. Plus, he was generally funny to listen to and seemed to be having fun.

Contrast this with Warren Sawkiw, who, after Reed Johnson singled in the 7th (and scored on the Wells HR), went with something he says a lot. It was similar to "Reed told me he was feeling good today and it's not a surprise to see him get on base there" which is not really good analysis. Especially compared to Fletcher, or Rance Mulliniks from last year.
Fawaz - Saturday, April 15 2006 @ 01:06 PM EDT (#145226) #

Further to Jonny's point, I think Gibbons has done a fine job so far in terms of running the right line-up out there each night. We've seen the MoD out there exactly as frequently as we need to (not much at all), I'm happy that Zaun isn't being treated as a true back-up and I think the outfield platoons are being measured perfectly.

Scarred by Carlos Tosca and Jeff Tam, I continue to pay close attention to the bullpen. If Downs is moving to the bullpen, I'm struggling to see the point of keeping Pete Walker around (side note: he did a fine job last night, though I really would have preferred to have seen Speier or Chulk come out in the third to get out of the bases loaded jam and have Walker come out in the fourth). I understand that any team with Ted Lilly taking the mound every five days would do well to stock up on long-men, but the Jays do have McGowan working out of the bullpen in Syracuse and if that's going to be his role I think he's a better choice for the big club.

Thomas - Saturday, April 15 2006 @ 01:16 PM EDT (#145231) #
I wonder how much of it might be attributed to hearing Tabler on a regular basis and the others periodically, but I agree with Rob and others that Fletcher was fantastic last night and that I always look forward to hearing Mulliniks in the booth. They both add insight that Tabler doesn't seem to and I always enjoy hearing Fletcher talk about situations as a former catcher. Also, both seem willing to allow for some dead air and don't feel the need to constantly fill every second with some type of chatter.
Anders - Saturday, April 15 2006 @ 01:25 PM EDT (#145233) #
not commiting to Rios before he's really proven himself. This could just be a hot streak.

I think they have to commit to Rios though, at least eventually.  He's 25, and he's either going to be a good major league player or he isn't. I realize the Jays are contending, but he needs to sink or swim, and he wont do either playing 40% of the time in a platoon. Eric Hinske has already established what he is as a major league player - a guy who will hit doubles, walk a bit, play a couple of defensive positions passably, and not do anything well enough to be an above average major league player. Alex Rios has the potential, whether he realizes it or not, to be an all-star calibre player in addition to being a centre fielder playing right field. On top of this, Hinske isnt even light years ahead of Rios in terms of actual production versus righties - the 3 year OPS splits are 750 to 714 for Hinske. When you factor in defense, the gap between their proven skills is lessened.

All I'm saying is that if the Jays are really going to step it up this year, one of the people they need to suceed is Alex Rios. All the other Jays, except the middle infielders I suppose, have long major league track records indicating how they are likely to perform. You can be cynical about Rios, after all, he has struggled in almost 2 years of big league playing time. Given the potential he has though, it would be silly not to realize how much he could help this team if he succeeds, especially when compared to what we already know Hinske is going to do.
Flex - Saturday, April 15 2006 @ 01:27 PM EDT (#145234) #
Speaking of lineups, I want to say I'm a big fan of Rios hitting second. One big benefit, presuming the platoon persists, is to give him one more at bat a game than he'd get further down in the order. Over the course of the season that'll help to even up the ABs between him and Hinske.

It also gets him into the game sooner, which I think may be important for someone still trying to settle into a new stance. And hitting in front of Wells can only help get him more strike-zone fastballs to hit, which may be the biggest plus of all.

It wasn't an obvious choice by Gibbons, and I think he deserves some credit for going that way.
Anders - Saturday, April 15 2006 @ 04:29 PM EDT (#145239) #
It also gets him into the game sooner, which I think may be important for someone still trying to settle into a new stance. And hitting in front of Wells can only help get him more strike-zone fastballs to hit, which may be the biggest plus of all.

It wasn't an obvious choice by Gibbons, and I think he deserves some credit for going that way.

I'm gonna have to go the other way on this one, for a couple of reasons. I'm not sure Rios hitting second instead of 6th helps him settle into his new stance, someone would have to explain the reasoning behind this. As for the batting, each place in the batting order is worth 20 extra ab's over the year (or thereabouts), so if you want Rios to get those at bats, thats fine I supose. That being said, the fact that he doesnt draw walks or get on base frequently make him a poor choice to hit in the 1/2 hole. He just drew his first walk today, and unless he keeps hitting .400+ he wont be a good top of the order hitter.

Also, I thought the myth of the protection had been resolved a while ago - it's not evident at all that hitting in front of a good hitter aids you in hitting better.
greenfrog - Saturday, April 15 2006 @ 05:24 PM EDT (#145241) #
Some game observations:

- Burnett looked pretty good. His location was off here and there--he got burned twice by Konerko--but in general I thought he pitched well. He really got shortchanged by the plate ump in the 1st. With two outs, he threw a nasty curveball against Thome that was called ball four instead of strike three, setting up Konerko's first home run.

- Not a great day for the Jays' middle infielders (at the plate and in the field). Adams's throw from the hole on one play was pretty much a Hail Mary pass.

- Anyone else wonder whether Gibbons should have sent Rios and Wells with Glaus at the plate? (I can't remember which inning this was.)

Chuck - Saturday, April 15 2006 @ 05:28 PM EDT (#145242) #
Also, I thought the myth of the protection had been resolved a while ago - it's not evident at all that hitting in front of a good hitter aids you in hitting better.

Sadly, it's not been resolved in these parts (nor on SportsNet).  Wells' success is due to Wells alone. Attributing it to Glaus is facile and miles away from anything resembling objective analysis.

Cause and effect is tricky business. Just saying something is so doesn't make it true.
Chuck - Saturday, April 15 2006 @ 05:32 PM EDT (#145243) #
Anyone else wonder whether Gibbons should have sent Rios and Wells with Glaus at the plate? (I can't remember which inning this was.

Anyone else wonder why Molina was allowed to bat in the 9th with Catalanotto, Hinske and Zaun all on the bench? Gibbons appears to be deluded over what exactly Molina is. He's a good hitter for a catcher, and appears to be able to pound LHP. But there's no defense for him facing the RH Jenks representing the tying run in the 9th inning, not when there were numerous other options.
Mike Green - Saturday, April 15 2006 @ 05:42 PM EDT (#145245) #
The whole question of whether a hitter performs better when a good hitter follows than when a poorer hitter follows has been studied a number of times, by Bill James, by Tango and MGL and by others.  There is no evidence in any of these studies, some of which are large, that "protection" provides any benefit.

I know this doesn't resolve the question, but hopefully any references to the benefit of "protection" will be qualified, at least.  How's that, Chuck?

Glaus on 1st, 1 out in the ninth, down by 2, Jenks on the mound and Molina and Hillenbrand due up.  Are the baseball gods mocking me for "You Be The Manager"?  Is there something wrong with me for yelling at my radio when both Molina and Hillenbrand are left in to hit, with Zaun, Catalanotto and Hinske on the bench? All I do know is that it is a bad sign for a fan to be rooting for the hitter not to hit into a DP.

Dr. Zarco - Saturday, April 15 2006 @ 11:29 PM EDT (#145252) #
Anyone else wonder whether Gibbons should have sent Rios and Wells with Glaus at the plate? (I can't remember which inning this was.)

I remember this quite distinctly (it was the top of the 6th). I'm also quite sure that Wells missed a steal sign. Rios was stealing on the pitch and Wells was not. I also thought since Rios was stealing he might have been able to just keep truckin' around 3rd and score on the DP.

That inning was a real killer. Buehrle was in complete control til then, a walk and a single put him in trouble.

I was really excited to see Burnett live, and he looked decent. Most fastballs were around 94-95. It just appeared he was lacking that knockout pitch. The Mrs. had a keen observation around the 3rd that he was having a tough time getting swings and misses. Too many foul balls to spoil good pitches.

The Sox defense was terrific. It's no secret that Crede's a great defensive player, but Iguchi chipped in with a few gems. What a terrific play he made in the 9th. I don't care who was running, a bad throw will allow even Bengie to make it safely, and push Glaus to 3rd. Ballsy, and it worked. Hill showed the first chink in his defensive armor. Didn't matter for score, but drove up Burnett's pitch count a bit.

Hopefully tomorrow will bring a series win and a Happy Easter to all (not that one depends on the other...).

Named For Hank - Sunday, April 16 2006 @ 12:30 AM EDT (#145256) #
I'm also quite sure that Wells missed a steal sign. Rios was stealing on the pitch and Wells was not.

Jerry Howarth on the radio said the same thing, that he thought Wells had missed a sign.
Mike Green - Sunday, April 16 2006 @ 11:29 AM EDT (#145261) #
Think yesterday was bad?  Imagine you were Vincente Padilla after the unpleasantness of the 5th and 6th innings of the Oakland-Texas tilt
I hope that our friends in Texas were not watching that short, sharp torture session.

js_magloire - Sunday, April 16 2006 @ 07:04 PM EDT (#145281) #
To respond to your statement Greenfrog, I just read the book moneyball (which I could not put down, it was my favourite book in a long time), and J.P. was head of player development / scouting or something like that with the Oakland A's (I don't remember the exact title). So if anything we should have faith in his ability to judge prospects and talent and such. However, I don't get his support in Hillenbrand, who was bashed in the book as someone who is overrated (because of the lack of walks).
TDIB: Weekend Edition | 47 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.