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That must be what it feels like to be rooting for the opposition when Doc pitches.

Wang does his best Halladay impression, the bad Ted Lilly showed up, the new mercenaries got lots of hits, A-Rod was beaten to the base by a throw by ten feet and still wasn't out, McGowan was lit up - you know, one of those nights; again.

Star of the Game: Chien-Ming Wang induces more groundballs than anyone, and he significantly addded to his total last night. He only strikes out a couple of guys a month (evidently a very democratic guy) which is not supposed to be inidicative of success (at least over the long term), but he does a lot of other things very well - he's best in the AL at denying the long ball and fifth in line drive percentage, add to that a very decent 2.4 BB/9 and you have a very effective package. He sure gave the jays more than they could handle last night, going eight shutout Innings and scattering just four hits. His low k-rate is a mystery to me, he seems to consistently throw 95 and has a lot of movement on his pitches, that's the sort of make-up you would expect to lead to good K numbers.

For the Jays: No-one distinguished themselves last night, Wells managed a couple of hits, Glaus had a dinger in the ninth, Downs settled down a little and was effective in the seventh and eighth after he'd let McGowns baserunners score in the sixth. Blah.

Here, but I wouldn't advise looking at it.

Elsewhere in the East: Tampa Bay lost to Detroit, Eric Bedard had a rare poor outing and lost to King Felix and the Mariners and the Red Sox edged the Indians as Carmona lost control in the ninth and gave up a couple of runs on two hit batsmen, a walk and a double.

BP: Geoff Baker had a nice piece in The Star yesterday explaining what is actually going on in batting Practice.

Today: Afternoon game in the Bronx: Marcum goes for the good guys against that guy who like ice-cream.
TDIB: Jays 2 - Yankees 7 | 53 comments | Create New Account
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Dave Till - Thursday, August 03 2006 @ 09:38 AM EDT (#152333) #
I've been critical of the Star's baseball columnists - often! - in the past, but I really liked Baker's column yesterday. It told me something I didn't know about baseball and the Jays.
Mike Green - Thursday, August 03 2006 @ 09:49 AM EDT (#152335) #
Last night featured another Molina start against a right-handed pitcher.  Sigh. Fortunately, the stars are aligned for Marcum.  Zaun will get the start this afternoon against Lidle, I expect.
Jordan - Thursday, August 03 2006 @ 09:57 AM EDT (#152336) #

Jeff Blair, the friendliest of Canadian baseball writers to the Jays front office, rips AJ Burnett in his column today (Insider-only, or check out the print edition). Starting with: "It's time for A.J. Burnett to grow up," and going on from there, it's as harsh a denunciation of a player as I've seen Blair make; even Shea Hillenbrand didn't get this sort of treatment.

Part of it may be Blair's personal pique at bring regularly blown off by Burnett for interviews or even conversations, and who knows whether Ricciardi quietly suggested a media beating for a pitcher for whom the kid-glove treatment doesn't appear to be working. But the fact remains that Burnett has disappointed badly in his first season with Toronto. There's no indication he's in any way a changed or better pitcher now than he was in Florida. Whatever magic dust Brad Arnsberg was using in Miami seems to have been confiscated at the border.

JP Ricciardi's legacy in Toronto will be the free-agent signing of AJ Burnett. Whether Burnett blossoms into a dominant Cy Young candidate for a playoff contender and makes Ricciardi look like a genius, or he remains an enigmatic presence that wilts under the spotlight and sucks up much of the pitching budget for an also-ran, the die is cast. This was no panic move -- JP tracked Burnett for years before he signed him and made the pitcher his top off-season priority. The Blue Jays, though, will not contend unless AJ Burnett becomes the pitcher JP Ricciardi thought -- and maybe still thinks -- he can. I don't see any way around that.

Dave Till - Thursday, August 03 2006 @ 10:26 AM EDT (#152337) #
I should check out the Blair article - it's probably a very good read.

I just took a look at Burnett's numbers for this year as compared to last. Here's what I noticed:

- His walks are down and his home run rate is way up. This suggests a pitcher who is trying to challenge the hitters too much. Is he trying to earn his contract all at once? Or is having trouble with his command, and is sometimes making his pitches too good?

- Despite his low total of innings pitched, Burnett is tied for the team lead in unearned runs allowed, with 6. (Pete Walker also had 6, oddly enough.) And I can recall at least two occasions in which routine double play grounders were messed up behind him, and two outs were turned into no outs. It's hard to recover from that even if you have nerves of steel.

Mike Green - Thursday, August 03 2006 @ 10:29 AM EDT (#152338) #
Blair rips Burnett in print; Ricciardi praises him on the radio. If there's a motivational strategy  here, I honestly don't see it.

Anyways, what Burnett needs is not to have a fire lit under him.  He's plenty intense enough.  Instead, what he needs is calm guidance (you'll be more effective if you work in more changeups) and instruction on his move to first, and reassurance that he is pitching all right, even if the team loses.  Whether Arnsberg and Ricciardi are able to deliver the "soft" help he needs is the question.

Paul D - Thursday, August 03 2006 @ 10:31 AM EDT (#152339) #
Somewhat off topic, but I'm not sure where to put this.

Here's an article by Keith Law on how waivers and options work.  Which has been a point of discussion here before.

(For the life of me, I can't figure out how that link button works.  Is it because I'm using Firefox that it doesn't work?)

Pistol - Thursday, August 03 2006 @ 10:55 AM EDT (#152341) #

Here's the Google run around to read the Burnett article.  From reading the comments here first it wasn't nearly as much of a ripping as I expected.

For those that want to use the slick link tool it's really easy.  Type your post in the box like you normally do.  To add a link highlight the text where you want the link to be (like 'Google run around' above) and then look to the formatting toolbar above the text box.  Just to the right of the undo/redo icons is a chain - this represents the link button (chain link - get it?).  Press the button and a box will pop up.  From there you just need to paste the link into the URL line and hit ok.

If you don't have the toolbar it's probably minimized - just click on the arrow above the comment box.

This works just fine in Firefox - especially since Joe, who did the work behind this, is a Firefox disciple.

Mike Green - Thursday, August 03 2006 @ 12:50 PM EDT (#152353) #
Hill starts at short and Roberts at second this afternoon, according to Gameday.
Joanna - Thursday, August 03 2006 @ 10:34 PM EDT (#152388) #

Being paid a lot of money to do less than what you were asked to do, even 4 million dollars, would not be fun.  These guys have so much pride and so much ego, they take it as an insult to their manhood if they get benched. Listen to what Shea said, what Javy Lopez said and what Bengie is saying.  I'm always surprised when people say "why are they complaining, they have so much money, they should be satisfied with just that."  If you are gonna be paid lots of money to do nothing and be of little use, you might as well change your name to Paris Hilton.  Any player worth anything wants to play everyday and they are never satisfied with less than that. 

And I know Bengie doesn't defend behind the plate with his body like Zaun. I like Zaun better. That passed ball was not good, even though Lilly took the blame for it himself (crossed signal), it was definitely on Bengie.  It's the 1-2 that I like.  It's so much better than last year.  People have short memories.

And VBF, I agree.  I know they can't afford it. That's all I keep hearing. So tired of hearing that.  But re-sign Vernon Wells.  Or at least trade him for something really, really good.  And not for just for "prospects and a player to be named later".

Joanna - Friday, August 04 2006 @ 11:26 AM EDT (#152409) #

Okay, this is the last thing I'm saying on this matter.  Bengilina is overweight and if he is unsatisfied with his playing time, he should work on his defense. I still like him.  That being said, when I wrote that any player worth anything wants to play all the time, I meant players in general, not just Bengie. A manager should want guys with drive.  Zaun and ( I never thought I'd say this) Hinske went about it the right way.  Shea and now Bengie, not so much.  But, as it usually goes, when the team starts struggling and in the midst of an ugly, ugly road trip, the complaints and frustration are going to come out.  Shea started complaining about playing time  in that ugly road trip in Colorado. JP's infamous rant after that series in KC.

I think the art of  "male ego" management is probably one of the most under discussed and underrated  skill of managers.  In order to play this game at this level, one has to have a pretty high opinion of themselves and an unwavering, fundamental belief in one's own abilities. And it's managements job to navigate these egos, to know how to encourage without offending. When to stroke the ego and when (and how) to tell the guy to stop being a baby. I don't think the management of this team has mastered that art yet.  It's probably their egos.

Mike Green - Friday, August 04 2006 @ 03:02 PM EDT (#152424) #
Here's your Friday afternoon puzzler.  Chad Gaudin. Three questions:

1) which is his best season so far?
2) what is he likely to do in 2007?
3) what does Gaudin's 2004-2006 tell us about FREE JASON FRASOR, and relief pitcher's fluctuations in general?

Alex Obal - Saturday, August 05 2006 @ 04:16 AM EDT (#152449) #
Chad Gaudin, huh. He's got a 66.8 WPA and a fairly well-defined role (mop-up guy and sometimes righty killer) in a winning team's pen this year, so I'd say 2006 has been his most successful season so far, in spite of the worrying walk rate. The A's are smart to put him in situations that are either relatively low-leverage or full of righties. This gives Gaudin every possible opportunity to refine his command and get really good as a result while still contributing to a good major-league team. Even if he doesn't put it all together, he's still a useful guy for Oakland to have around.

I suppose the moral of the story is that a reliever's full season is a small sample; a half season is a very small sample; a couple of weeks are almost insignificant, so you should stick with your relievers through the bad times if you have a good reason to. I would think that last bit rings particularly true when the guy who's had a couple of bad weeks has been a very effective reliever for a year or two previous. Since relievers pitch infrequently, I suppose their slumps feel longer to management than they actually are. Wait... wait a minute... this wasn't a puzzler, it was just another excuse to say FREE JASON FRASOR! (Which, of course, the Jays should do. Soon.)

I think Gaudin is still going to have trouble against lefties unless he finds a way to hide the ball really well or develops a plus changeup, but I'd pencil him in as a Useful Toy for next year. If he can elevate the strikeout rate against righties a bit more or maybe get a few more grounders, perhaps he forces his way into a more prominent setup role and makes the A's consider shopping Duchscherer.
TDIB: Jays 2 - Yankees 7 | 53 comments | Create New Account
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