Alas, this will be the only October baseball played by the Fighting Jays. And after three pulsating games in Detroit, the
meaningfulness of the games played by the Jays couldn't take any more
dramatic of a turn than to check into the Bronx for three days against
a team coasting towards yet another division title. That
doesn't mean there's nothing to play for; two games out of three will
bring the Jays
back to 86 wins, just where they were three years and several million
dollars ago. If that sounds familiar, you're either Mike Denyszyn, or
your memory is scary-good.
As Mike D also said last year, "please feel free to offer comments and criticism about how to make [the Advance Scout] better". We hope you enjoyed reading these just as much as we enjoyed scrambling between classes to find out just how well Delmon Young hit lefties in Triple-A (answer: not very). The final Scout for 2006 features Tom Cheek's #1 Fan, a new infielder, and several other men making a fair bit of coin.
On to the Advance Scout!
General: Yup, they've got one sick lineup. Anytime the No. 9
hitter hits .340, it's just not fair. The description from MLB.com is
amusing, calling this "a lineup that acquired Abreu from Philadelphia
near the trading deadline for good measure". It's remarkably accurate,
as Bobby Abreu was really just thrown in there ... Hit 4 million fans
for the second time in two years, making them just the second team to
do it more than once. The Jays, of course, topped 4M from 1991 to 1993
... Scored 16 runs on Monday and 16 again on Wednesday. It seems like
they can only be kept down when Daniel Cabrera goes all Dave Stieb on them.
(Had Cabrera closed the deal, the absence of Derek Jeter and Alex
Rodriguez from the lineup would have been the big talking point, not
his pitching performance. But it's not like it was like Eric Milton's joke-of-a-no-hitter
or anything.) Chacin-Marcum-McGowan should have fun ... Robby Cano
broke up the no-hitter in the ninth; both him and Cabrera hail from San
Pedro de Macoris and are -- or maybe were -- quite good friends. Joked
Cabrera: "I've got to talk to him when I see him. I know him too well,
never thought he'd get me with a base hit in the ninth inning. He's not
my friend anymore." ... Randy Johnson won't pitch this series, nor will
he pitch until Game 3 of the ALDS. Back problems and all ... Since
David Letterman's Top 10 list featuring Randy Johnson after his perfect
game was remarkably accurate (#1: "George Steinbrenner just offered me a billion dollars to sign with the Yankees"), let's take a look at the "Top Ten New York Yankees Excuses" ...
Mike Mussina: Hit on the thumb by a line drive last Sunday, and as he left the game, the theme from Ghostbusters played on the Tampa Bay broadcast. I'm not sure if those events are related somehow. He seems to be fine and will make the start on Friday ... Having perhaps his best year as a Yankee, though 2003 or 2001 have their arguments as well. It's just as well, too -- did you know he was making 19 million dollars this year, making him the fourth-highest-paid Yankee? ... Deep bag of tricks: fastball, curve, K-curve, change, splitter ... Pregame music is "The Zoo" by Scorpions ... If you're reading this, then odds are you know who Mussina is (he's pitched in the A.L. East for 16 years now) and thus, there is really no need for you to read any further. So let's check out Mr. Karstens instead ...
Jeff Karstens: Tale of two Trenton Thunder players here for you: Player A at age 22: 169 IP, 7.8 K/9, 2.2 BB/9, 0.9 HR/9 and a 4.15 ERA. Player B at age 23 and 24: 231 IP, 6.8 K/9, 2.3 BB/9, 0.5 HR/9, 4.36 ERA. If I told you that Player B was Chien-Ming Wang, would your powers of deduction be enough to determine which other sinkerball pitcher is Player A? ... Nonetheless, you know you're a relative nobody when your multimedia page at MLB.com consists of highlights of other players on your team ...
Jaret Wright: Could possibly be the Game 4 starter if that game is required and Torre chooses him over Cory Lidle. This start may go a long way towards deciding that, so if you want the Yankees to be defeated in the playoffs, hope for a 1-0 win by the Jays on Sunday ... Doesn't suck as much anymore, but is still wildly overpaid. Ted Lilly is going to be a very rich man, hopefully with a non-pinstriped employer ... Wright has yet to break 200 innings in a season, and won't do it this year ... This list of numbers is great in a non-statistically-significant way: ERA by year, 2001-2005: 6.52, 15.71, 7.35, 3.28, 6.08 ... Quite the devil vs. RHB; not so much against lefties ...
Gary Sheffield: Yes, that's Gary Antonian Sheffield at first base. And no, he's never played there before this year. That's just how bad Jason Giambi is in the field ... Preliminary scouting of Thursday night's game against Baltimore reveals him to be the anti-Hinske: he has no instincts for the position. But, really, how many of us are experts at something after doing it for three hours per day for a week? ...
Brian Bruney: Righthanded power pitcher who was called up late in the season and has recorded more than a strikeout an inning ... He was given a shot at closing with the Diamondbacks last year, but didn't really work out in his two months on the job, and he was released in late May of this year. After rehabbing stretched ligaments in his elbow, the Yankees signed him and gave him a shot at pitching in Columbus, where he posted a 13.8 strikeout rate in 14 innings this year. Bruney still has walk issues, but he could be another decent power arm in the Yankees' surprisingly deep bullpen ...
Derek Jeter: You can look at this two ways. If you prefer average with runners in scoring position, he's gone .281, .261, .3847 the last three years. Or, if you prefer THT's "Clutch" stat, the jump seems even bigger: -5.9, -10.3, 7.9 ... He's also hitting about .390 on balls in play. Some of that is explained by his increase in line drives, but come on. (Joe Mauer, Reed Johnson and Robinson Cano are second through fourth, if you're wondering. Not surprisingly, three of those guys are 1-2-3 in batting average.) ... Has 96 RBI on the season, and Torre said that if he has to reach 100 for "somebody to decide to vote for him, then we're really in trouble" ...
Jorge Posada: Owns Shaun Marcum. 4-6, a walk, three homers. That's pretty close to the threshold where batter-pitcher matchups start to matter. Not quite there, but close ...
Alex Rodriguez: Is making about $26,000,000 this year ... Has a low line drive rate, which can't help him hitting in Yankee Stadium ... His pitches per plate appearance is down to 3.8 from 3.9 and 4.0 the last two years. That could be a sign of pressing at the plate. Or it could not. Who knows ... His K/BB rate is right in line with where it's always been - 139/90 ...
Mariano Rivera: Mostly being rested for the playoffs: he was out with a strained right forearm from August 31 up until September 25. He's probably making a cameo appearance on Saturday and that's it ... His strikeout rate took a dive this year, and his opponents' OPS rose almost 100 points (granted, they're still hitting like John McDonald), but he's still as Sandman-like as he's ever been ... Pitched the seventh inning in a 16-1 rout of Tampa Bay on Monday, which must have been quite bizarre. (That is, pitching the seventh, not beating the D-Rays) ...