Lyle Overbay and Bengie Molina come through for the Jays in extra innings as Scott Downs gets the win. The Jays generated lots of news yesterday with the installation of a new infield, the recall of Vinnie Chulk and another staph infection on the team. With acknowledgements to all who have done this before me, here are ten things I think about the Jays.
1. The big news of the day was the announcement that John McDonald has been installed as the full-time shortstop with Aaron Hill moving to second and Russ Adams to the bench. The theme of the radio pre-game show, from John Gibbons to Jerry Howarth, was that John McDonald deserves this chance. What exactly did John McDonald do to deserve this chance? His OPS+ in the last four years is 62, 47, 51, and 75. McDonald is by all accounts a good guy but to say he deserves this is like saying I deserve to be president of the company I work for because I have been a loyal worker. Of course right after I thought this McDonald hit his first home run in two years. Prove me wrong Johnny.
2. Why the rush to make this move now? When Aaron Hill was learning to play second base at the start of the season, and he hit .195 in April, the message from the team was to be patient, his hitting will come around. Now that Russ Adams is learning to play second he doesn't get the same accommodation? This leads me to ....
3. It's hard to win a division with young guys up the middle. Hill and Adams might not be rookies anymore but young infielders make more errors than veterans, Hill and Adams are learning how to play their position in the majors in real time. Teams who are trying to win now generally don't have the patience to live with the learning pains of young players. This explains why veteran shortstops hang around almost as long as LOOGY's, call it the Neifi Perez rule of contending.
4. Poor defense can split a clubhouse. I have no insight into the Jays clubhouse but when the defense is giving up lots of unearned runs the pitchers can say, "we are making the pitches, it's the defense that is making us look bad." This creates an "us versus them" between the pitchers and the offense. A lot was said today about a message being delivered, the message might be to the pitchers, "here is our best defense, now quit complaining and just pitch already".
5. JP is an emotional person as he has been reminding us this week in reference to his pre all-star outburst. It does seem that he has a knee jerk reaction from time to time, I know all teams make changes but a fan could get whiplash this season from following this team. The infield, the bullpen and the rotation have all seen changes and reversals this season seemingly on a weekly basis. There are more plot twists with this team than on the O.C. When does the club say enough already?
6. Whither Russ Adams? Let's assume for a minute that the Jays brass have determined that Aaron Hill is best suited for second base. The Jays will either have to stick with McDonald or sign another shortstop before next season. Can Adams be the utility guy, or does Adams have trade value to be another teams second baseman? I do think Adams has a chance to be an everyday second baseman, and he might do well for another team, but I hope JP doesn't deal him for spare parts because JP has lost faith in him.
7. When John Gibbons brought in Brandon League to pitch the eighth I wondered how far has Vinnie Chulk's stock fallen? Gibbons preferred a pitcher who pitched two innings twenty one hours ago to a rested Chulk. Hopefully Vinnie's two scoreless innings gets him back up to the middle of Gibby's list.
8. I might be a little late to this one but when do we agree Reed Johnson deserves a full time job? Reed is a much better hitter this year, reportedly due to his off-season workouts with the Giambi's pitching machine. Last season Johnson would fall for the outside slider or fastball in the best tradition of Joe Carter or Nomar. This season Johnson is not fishing outside and really hitting off-speed pitches well. Hands up if you knew Reed has a better OPS against right handed pitchers, over 200 points better in fact. With the Jays budget issues for next season I can see two possible scenarios. The first is that Catalanotto leaves as a free agent and Johnson becomes the everyday left fielder with Hinske as the fourth outfielder. The second scenario is that V-Dub is traded, Rios moves to centre, Johnson to be the everyday rightfielder, and Cat and a fourth outfielder type play left.
9. I think that if JP wants to make a buyers deal at the deadline he will have to trade off his major league roster. The only position player of value in the upper system is Adam Lind and his value is not that high. It's not that Lind is not a good hitter, he is, but because of his defensive limitations I am not sure if a national league team would be willing to trade for him. Also in the AL most DH jobs are locked up by veterans so many teams would not have a spot for him. Other than Lind the best Jays prospects are pitchers, and it's hard to see the Jays trading them with Lilly, and several of the bullpen arms, being free agents after the season.
10(a) The Tigers are good
10(b) Get well soon Ty Taubenheim
10(c) I hope AJ Burnett pitches eight innings today.