Batter's Box Interactive Magazine Batter's Box Interactive Magazine Batter's Box Interactive Magazine
Blowing smoke out the ears
As I head for the hole
Without a ten-foot pole
I donít like the feeling of being out of control


Josh Towers looked great through three innings, allowing just two singles while striking out three. It fell apart in the fourth inning with Bobby Crosby and Adam Melhuse going deep, Josh wasnít back out for the 5th, and the Aís held on to win 6-5.

Star of the Game: Danny Haren was brilliant through 6, allowing his mates to amass a 5 run lead before allowing a 3-spot.

Unsung Hero: Melhuse, filling in for the suspended Jason Kendall, struck the biggest blow with his 2-run homer in the 4th and later added a single.

For the Jays: Gregg Zaun got the home team back in it with his 2-run jack in the 7th. Reed Johnson delivered two clutch hits, including a double in the bottom of the ninth for his first extra-base knock of the year.

It Really Falls Apart: Ever hear them say that defence doesnít go into slumps? Theyíre wrong. Russ Adams is in such a trough defensively that us eternal optimists are starting to think the Chicken Little radio callers might be right, the Jays may have to start looking at their options. Weíre keen to find a bright side though, and our man Jerry Howarth played up the conviction with which Thrillhouse threw out Crosby in the ninth.

You Be The ManaÖ: Oops, almost ripped off a copyrighted phrase (and Mike Green will be horrified at the second-guess feel of whatís about to follow). Anyhow, Jays manager John Gibbons made some interesting moves.

a) Johnson over Rios in right field, downgrading offence against the best pitcher the Jays will face this week and downgrading defence with the weakest Toronto pitcher on the hill.

b) Pulling Towers after 4 innings despite his not pitching terribly.

c) Scott Downs for just 1 inning. Is there a reason to bring Downs into a close game other than needing somebody who can go several frames?

d) Pete Walker pitching in a close game with Justin Speier fully rested

e) Reed Johnson batting against Huston Street in the bottom of the ninth with Alex Rios on the bench

For the most part, these decisions turned out quite well, and my opinion that Gibbons is a good tactician and very good handler of egos is not swayed.

Boxscore: At your service.

Elsewhere In The East: If thereís one thing in which Iím guilty of schadenfreude itís when it comes to key members of the Red Sox and Yankees struggling mightily. Yes, it brings a smile to my face to see one of the greatest pitchers of all time take a good drubbing, and even moreso in that itís just the latest in what has become a collection of bad starts in the early season for Randy Johnson. Last night it was Boston taking him to the woodshed for 7 runs over 3 2/3. If youíre a Yankee fan (no, donít admit it), you can tell yourself that it was only 5 hits, that 5 of the runs were unearned, that he didnít give up any homers. But you need to worry about the 3-5 K-BB.

On the other side, Josh Beckett snapped off a string of 3 bad starts by going 7 innings charged with 3 scores on 6 hits, 7 Ks without a walk.

Elsewhere In New York: Actually, Philadelphia. Details, details. A prime pitching matchup saw Pedro Martinez for the Mets facing off with Brett Myers for the Phillies. Pedro went 7, striking out 10 and holding the Phils to 4 hits and 2 walks, but they parlayed that into 3 runs. Myers went 8, striking out 6 and conceding 2 runs on 5 hits. Tom Gordon came on for the ninth and was charged his first blown save of the season as the Metropolitans rallied for 2 runs to tie it up. Flash was then assigned his second win of the campaign when his fellow Phillies put together this unconventional two-out rally: Dave Dellucci tripled, Jimmy Rollins was hit by pitch, Chase Utley walked on 5 pitches, and Aaron Heilman threw away a Bobby Abreu grounder. Call it 9 straight wins for Philadelphia.

Welcome To Arlington: The wet noodle Twins came to Texas and blasted Kevin 60-Millionwood for 6 runs in the first and 3 in the second on their way to a 15-5 victory.

Today: Sweet Smelling Chacin faces off against Bland Joe Blanton.

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Rob - Wednesday, May 10 2006 @ 08:00 AM EDT (#146613) #
Pulling Towers after 4 innings despite his not pitching terribly.

Towers was asked what he thought about that, and I thought his response was quite telling:
You've got to earn things around here and I haven't been earning anything.

Keep in mind, this is the guy who earned $5.2 million in the offseason.

We've already seen how 2005 performance doesn't matter to the Blue Jays if you're stinking it up to begin 2006 (Vinnie Chulk, Jason Frasor). This was not the attitude around the team last year at all. And if you think I'm just pulling theories out of thin air here, let's ask Mr. Gibbons (from May 28, 2005):
The game plan here is to get the young guys established and build for the future. We want to be a good, competitive team this year, but that's part of it. If you jumped ship on everybody every time they go bad, you'd never field a team in this league.

He was referring to Dave Bush, who was sent down on May 29. Contrast that with Chulk (May 5) and Frasor (April 28). I suppose if you want to win it all, as the Jays certainly do this year, then you can't wait for guys to figure it out. The main concern I have is that it's no guarantee Dustin McGowan or Francisco Rosario will be any better.
Flex - Wednesday, May 10 2006 @ 08:53 AM EDT (#146614) #
I'm most curious about the Reed for Rios move. It obviously wasn't to rest Rios because if that was the case they'd put Hinske in. Since it was a right hander on the mound Hinske should have been in anyway. Unless...

The platoon is dead. I guess we knew that.
Reed hits Haren really well. Can anybody confirm that?

or possiblly ...

Rios did something to rankle the manager? This kind of makes sense. If you're Gibbons, and you want to sit your young star for some reason and you want to be seen to be sitting him, then you don't put in Hinske because that's easily explained. You go out of your way to replace Rios with a guy who plays on the other side of the field and bats the wrong way for the opposing pitcher.


HoJu - Wednesday, May 10 2006 @ 09:14 AM EDT (#146615) #
According to ESPN.com, going into last night, Johnson was 3 for 10 (1 triple) against Haren. Rios is 0 for 5 vs. Haren. I'm guessing Gibbons just wanted to get Johnson some ABs. He hadn't had more than 1 in any game since May 1st.
Mosely - Wednesday, May 10 2006 @ 09:24 AM EDT (#146616) #
How long before Towers is the Odds man out, and is headed down to Syracuse for a breather?
Twilight - Wednesday, May 10 2006 @ 09:28 AM EDT (#146617) #
Either that, or, to keep the hot-hitting Catalanotto in left.

I'm not denying that anything's going on, but you can't read *that* much into things like this. There's a lot going on behind the scenes that none of us are aware of.

Named For Hank - Wednesday, May 10 2006 @ 09:51 AM EDT (#146618) #
Mosely, Towers can't be sent down -- he has no options.  He'd be lost on waivers.  With Towers, there are three options: play him, trade him, cut him.

Option one hurts, option two won't garner a significant return right now (and the team would likely have to eat his salary), and option three seems like an overreaction.  Yeah, he's had a terrible start, but does anyone think he's done as a pitcher?  I have a hard time believing it.

Mosely - Wednesday, May 10 2006 @ 09:59 AM EDT (#146619) #
Actually, I was just trying to work the Odds reference in there. I already knew all that stuff.


/not really

Craig B - Wednesday, May 10 2006 @ 10:01 AM EDT (#146620) #

or possiblly ...

Rios did something to rankle the manager? This kind of makes sense. If you're Gibbons, and you want to sit your young star for some reason and you want to be seen to be sitting him, then you don't put in Hinske because that's easily explained. You go out of your way to replace Rios with a guy who plays on the other side of the field and bats the wrong way for the opposing pitcher.

Opus Dei.  Their fingerprints are all over this.  Who knows how high up this thing goes.

Jim - Wednesday, May 10 2006 @ 10:39 AM EDT (#146624) #

He'd be lost on waivers.

I highly doubt he'd be claimed.  Who would want to be on the hook for his contract.  He could elect to become a free agent since he's already been outrighted once though.  Anyone interested would just let him hit free agency, pay him the minimum and let the Jays pay the balance of the 5.2MM.

 

Chuck - Wednesday, May 10 2006 @ 02:21 PM EDT (#146640) #
Since Towers is out of options, does anyone know for sure what happens if he is sent to the minors?

1. He is effectively released. The Jays are on the hook for the balance of his contract. Any team picking him up would only have to contribute the prorated portion of the league minimum salary.

2. He has the option to go to the minors or become a free agent. If he chooses the latter, his current contract is dissolved.

Clearly these are two very different scenarios. I am guessing that scenario 1 is in effect since there would be no downside to scenario 2 -- unless Ricciardi feels that Towers might reverse his fortune and become worth the $5M -- and we would have seen it by now, particularly in light of the Frasor and Chulk demotions.

Chuck - Wednesday, May 10 2006 @ 03:15 PM EDT (#146649) #
As for who should play which middle infield position, one can't ignore Hill's (seeming) ability on the pivot. Second baseman often have a blind pivot on doubleplays, which makes it a much more difficult (and dangerous) play than it is for shortstops. While Adams would certainly benefit from the shorter throw at second base (his arm is both weak and inaccurate), there's no telling how he'd do on the DP. Flip-flopping Hill and Adams may have a net negative effect.

At this point, I believe the following (and bear in mind that I have never been bullish on Adams):
* Hill is the stronger defender at both SS and 2B and would be a viable candidate for either position in 2007 (provided he doesn't end 2006 batting .184, of course).
* Adams' future will not be at shortstop. While he may spend the off-season learning to play 2B, he'll likely end up as a utility player, if his bat improves enough to warrant such a role.
* I am expecting the 2007 middle infield to consist of Hill and someone else not currently in the organization.



Mike Green - Wednesday, May 10 2006 @ 03:57 PM EDT (#146650) #

I swear before the Reverend Al Green (alas, no relation) that I have complete faith in Hill's ability to hit.  If he's under the Mendoza line at the All-Star break, I will perform some honourable act to do my little bit to resurrect his bat.

Joanna - Wednesday, May 10 2006 @ 04:28 PM EDT (#146652) #

Theories on Towers being pulled early

-pulled because he was pitching well until a bit of a struggle,  Gibbons wants to keep his confidence up.  Or keep his ERA in check.  Or the team in the game.

-or wants to move Towers to the bullpen in the next few days and doesn't want an arm in his pen to be too tired.

- JP told Gibbons to.  Or Gibbons is punishing Towers.  Or wants to exercise his pen.

I felt bad for Josh last night.  This is a cold, hard, unforgiving bitch of a game.  He was striking guys out, hitting his spots (for the most part), battling.  But a few errors, a few bad pitches and it's 3-0. And he takes a 7th loss even though he pitched way, way, way better than his previous outing.  That's cold!

 

Magpie - Wednesday, May 10 2006 @ 04:54 PM EDT (#146655) #
Theories on Towers being pulled early

I think he wanted to get Towers riled. Towers' confidence has taken a hit, he has sounded very unsure of himself, confused, and generally depressed. Not like himself.  But after last night's quick hook, Towers was irritated. He knows and understands that under the circumstances he has no right whatsoever to complain, and he made sure to say very clearly that he wasn't angry and that he realizes he hasn't earned anything.

But despite everything he said for public consumption, he was obviously irritated, and I think that's the frame of mind Gibbons wants from him. Not trying to figure out what the hell has gone wrong, but peeved and with something to prove. So I'm assuming he'll be starting against Tampa.

As for Adams...I think all I'm going to say today is that the team's single season record for errors by a shortstop is unlikely to be broken. Right now the main difference between Adams' defensive numbers, and Bobby Crosby's, is three bad throws. The difference between Adams' defensive numbers, and Felipe Lopez's... well, there really isn't much of a difference. In this case, it's the difference between their bats that is more depressing and way more significant.

OK, I'm off to the ball park...
Chuck - Wednesday, May 10 2006 @ 05:38 PM EDT (#146659) #
Magpie, for what's it worth, John Dewan's Fielding Bible has Crosby as a plus defender for the past two seasons and Adams a seriously woeful defender. Other metrics have also not been kind to Adams.

The issue, I believe, comes down to more than just errors. I'm not at the games like you are, so you would know more than I, but I wonder if Adams also has to play a shallow shortstop to compensate for his relatively weak arm. If so, this would greatly diminish his range. And if he's going to give us Eckstein-type range, he's going to have to offset that with a surehandedness he's not yet shown.
BCMike - Wednesday, May 10 2006 @ 05:47 PM EDT (#146660) #
While Adams would certainly benefit from the shorter throw at second base (his arm is both weak and inaccurate), there's no telling how he'd do on the DP. Flip-flopping Hill and Adams may have a net negative effect.

You have a vaild point on the pivot, on the other hand if Adams can't handle playing 2b he really has no business playing SS.

Adams probably won't break the Jays record for errors at short, but I don't really think that's the point of the debate(or even that errors are the biggest problem).  This organization chose Adams over Hill despite the very popular belief that Hill was the logical choice. Questioning their decision is very reasonable. It's especially reasonable since Adams has, quite frankly, sucked.
Named For Hank - Wednesday, May 10 2006 @ 06:20 PM EDT (#146662) #
on the other hand if Adams can't handle playing 2b he really has no business playing SS

That leads back to my other question: is second base really just easier shortstop, or does it require a different set of skills?  If it is easier shortstop, why is it so rare to find strong-hitting second basemen?  You'd think teams move over strong-offense/weak-defense shortstops to maximize their value at an identical but easier position.
Mike Green - Wednesday, May 10 2006 @ 07:26 PM EDT (#146667) #
There is not much in the way of in-season defensive statistics. Curiously, Adams has done reasonably well this year on Zone Rating. He seemed to me to have improved in April prior to his current throwing problems.  Overbay's defensive prowess probably helped him. 

Ahh, to be a manager.  Your DH wants to spend some time in the field, and plays first and third.  Your regular third baseman carries a Big Scary Bat, and your regular first baseman carries a friendly glove which makes your shortstop feel at ease. 

Ron - Wednesday, May 10 2006 @ 08:52 PM EDT (#146670) #
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20051101.wblai/BNStory/Sports/

Blair says the Jays are looking at trying to trade for a starting pitching. JP also has his eyes on a SS to replace Russ Adams.

Hillenbrand is being used as trade bait.
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