Batter's Box Interactive Magazine Batter's Box Interactive Magazine Batter's Box Interactive Magazine
The Tigers in the playoffs? The Red Sox in third place? The Royals losing 100 games? (Okay, ignore the last one.) It appears there is a new order in this league, or at least two isolated events that allow me to come up with some sort of introduction to this, the last day of the season.

Jays 6, Yankees 5: Alex Rodriguez and Gary Sheffield, the latter contorting his body and increasing his swingular velocity to inhuman levels, went back-to-back to spell the end of Shaun Marcum's day early on. Four Toronto runs in the seventh against as many pitchers put them on top for good, though, and they added another one when the Yankees just kinda forgot Vernon Wells was on second base. (That sure didn't look good in hindsight after Bobby Abreu's eighth-inning single.)

I had a feeling that Jeff Karstens' day would, or should, end soon after Gregg Zaun came up in the seventh, and sure enough, he was removed after the Yankee first baseman (who wasn't even Sheffield) screwed the pooch on a routine 4-3. Facing the delightfully irrelevant Mike Myers, John Gibbons decided his "defensive specialist" was a viable pinch-hitting option and this time, it was Robinson Cano's turn to make the error that wasn't ruled an error. Alex Rios got the real run-scoring hit with a monster triple and that was it.

Joe Torre sure LaRussa'd his way through that seventh, eh?
- Myers replaces Karstens
- McDonald reaches on error
- Beam replaces Myers
- Rios triples
- Villone replaces Beam
At this point, I expected Reed Johnson to replace Frank Catalanotto and then Torre would attempt to bring in Kyle Farnsworth, damn the rulebook!

Aside: are lefty relievers like Myers looked down upon like punters? You think Sal Fasano likes squatting 100 times per day while Myers makes almost three times as much for doing less than one-third as much?

Second aside: Yes, I know I derided the choice of John McDonald and he went on two collect two official hits. I stand by my original statement.

A Note: Jamie Campbell prefaced the bottom of the seventh with "The Jays have made all kinds of changes here." I don't know about you, but replacing one catcher with another and performing the now-standard "McDonald to SS, Hill to 2B, Adams to bench" move doesn't exactly span the set of all possible changes. They still employ Warren Sawkiw, after all.

Doesn't He Read? Joe Torre sat Jorge Posada yesterday, ignoring Alex's Advance Scout "advice".

The Hook: John Gibbons always seems to pull his starters early, but it's probably due to the personnel available rather than his tendency to yank 'em when he can. The Jays rank 12th of 14th in innings from their starters, at 896.2 including Marcum yesterday, or about 5.6 innings per game. (Gotta love those crazy decimals in innings pitched tallies.) The reason I say it's a team thing, not a Gibby thing, is that the only pitchers above that team average are Roy Halladay, A.J. Burnett and Ted Lilly. Exactly two of the other pitchers have starting ERAs below five: Marcum and Ty Taubenheim (who squeaks by with 4.99).

Ted Lilly and Roy Halladay finished the year with 32 starts, and since the list of the "others" looks like Casey Janssen (17), Gustavo Chacin (17), Marcum (14), and Josh Towers (12), Lilly-boosters can add another argument to their arsenal: Would you really want three of those pitchers in the 2007 rotation?

Goulet Watch: Toronto, tied with Boston entering Saturday, had already won 12 of its 19 games against the Sox to claim the just-made-up tiebreaker for second place in a division. Thus, a Toronto win and a Boston loss would "award" the Red Sox their first-ever Robert Goulet Memorial Trophy For Copacetic Third Place Achievement. Well, Boston played the Orioles after the Toronto win and things were going well for them before they trusted the 2006 Mike Timlin with a ninth-inning lead. A two-run Kevin Millar single later, the Orioles had a 5-4 lead. Three outs later, that became a 5-4 win. So congratulations to the Boston Red Sox: the Goulet is yours!

Today, the expected rain in New York may eliminate any chance of Game 162. For everyone else, it's either "161 down, 1 to go" or "173 down, 0 to go", depending on your view.

Other Races: The Astros, winners of 9 of their last 10, were down to their last chance as one more loss meant the 83-77 Cardinals would clinch the NL Central. They won 5-1 to stay alive for now.

The N.L.West is one of those psuedo-races; the loser still gets to play next week, they just have to play the Mets instead of the Cardinals. Nonetheless, the Dodgers and Padres were tied at 86-74. David Wells -- who, I must admit, I never really hated -- held the Diamondbacks scoreless for six innings until Stephen Drew, wearing an un-baseball purple uniform, hit a homer off Cla Meredith into the un-baseball swimming pool in right field. (I remember touring Bank One Ballpark and never one feeling like I was in a baseball stadium.) No matter, San Diego still won 3-1 and Los Angeles rode Julio Lugo, J.D. Drew and Greg Maddux to a 4-2 win of their own. Short version: they're still tied.

Assuming that the wild card winner in the Not-so-good League will fall to the Mets, then I'm hoping for a loss by LA today. Jason Schmidt, your mission is to outpitch Derek Lowe and if you can contribute to an early defeat of the Los Angeles Dodgers...well, we're past gratitude and into a full-blown mahalo.
TDIB Sunday: Welcome To The Future Of [The] America[n League] | 25 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
danjulien - Sunday, October 01 2006 @ 11:03 AM EDT (#156299) #
Wasn't it just yesterday we were sitting at opening day?  So much hope...Bengie hitting that home run...the entire stadium chanting B.J. B.J. B.J. to our new closer!  There was so much hope and you know what everyone?  We took a step in the right direction this year because at worse we'll end up tied with the Red Sox.  Take away the inter-league records and we'd be well ahead of them.  There are positive signs for next year with the top duo of Halladay/Burnett and hopefully the lefties Lilly and Chacin.  Joe Torre said the other day that the Jays are the team he'd least like to face in the playoffs because of our devastating top three starters.  It sucks that the season has to end yet again without a playoff berth but we had some good times this year..just wait 'til next year :)
westcoast dude - Sunday, October 01 2006 @ 11:41 AM EDT (#156302) #

I checked in to around the fifth inning with the Jays down 3-1 and noted Davis Romero was pitching and figured, "Hey, this should be good."  Sure enough, the bullpen held the line and Rios came through in the clutch.    What an AB! Two called strikes to start with put Alex on the defensive and time seemed to stand still. He played with the count, getting a groove, and then (shades of Vlad) punched a ball down and away into the corner. 

Jeter and Rios are the Class of Clutch.

John Northey - Sunday, October 01 2006 @ 07:24 PM EDT (#156313) #
Wah, it's over!  (yeah, I watch Just for Laughs Gags too much)

So, now that all is said and done and the stats are locked in until 2007 what happened?

800+ OPS - 2005 - Griffin over 13 PA (might be his whole career too) and Catalanotto over 475 PA (818)
800+ OPS - 2006 - 10 players led by Lind (just 65 PA, hopefully a lot more to come) and ended by - you got it - Catalanotto at 816 over 499 PA

Love that.  A rookie getting his first September call up leads the Jays both years in OPS and is the only guy over 900 (Wells finished at 899), and the guy closest to 800 while going over was Cat.

Middle infield watch... OPS - PA
Aaron Hill 2005 727-407 735-606
Russ Adams 2005 707-545  600-280

Ugh.  Adams had a lower OPS than Hill had plate appearances.  In the end McDonald had 286 PA vs Adams at 280 - doubt anyone saw that one coming.

Rios - finishing 3rd in OPS in the outfield was not surprising (just needed one of the other 3 to have an off year).  But... he did it with an 865 OPS finishing behind Wells 899 and Johnson's 869.

300 hitters in 2005 - Griffin and Cat
2006 - Lind, Hattig, Taubenheim (1 for 3), Johnson, Overbay, Wells, Rios, Hillenbrand (pre-SF), Catalanotto.

Fun looking at that stuff.

Qualified for ERA title - 2006-Halladay & Lilly, 2005 - Towers & Chacin
Y'know, I'd have thought having Halladay & Lilly being the healthy ones would've helped.

ERA Sub 3...
2005 - Marcum (8 IP), Halladay, Speier
2006 - Ryan, League, Speier

ERA Over 5...
2005 - Whiteside, Miller, Gaudin, League, McGowan, Lilly (only Lilly over 50 IP)
2006 - Towers, McGowan, Rosario, Schoeneweis (pre Cin), Accardo, Walker, Chulk, Janssen, Marcum, Chacin
In '06 4 of these guys got over 50 IP including Towers who was the worst at 8.42 ERA (thanks to a good last outing)

I know my markers are arbitrary here, but generally I see a sub-3 ERA as 'great' and above 5 as 'bad' while the 3's and 4's are solid. 

In 2006 the Jays finished 12th in the majors for runs scored (809) after finishing 8th in 2005 (775).  I suspect we all are caught offguard by that stat.  However, in 2005 the Jays were amazingly efficient in runs scored while this year I think they were a bit below expected (not sure on that count).

Runs allowed - 2006 the Jays finished 9th (754) vs 2005 finishing 12th (705).  Another "wha?" stat.  How did that happen?  Well, lets shift to AL only...2006 - Jays 5th, #1 in the AL East.  2005 - 6th, #1 in the AL East.

Hrm.  Who'd have though.  2006 vs 2005 and the Jays are in pretty much the same spot in rankings for offense and pitching both years.  Weird as it sure didn't feel that way did it?

Now what?  In 2005 it seemed clear the Jays needed hitting and as this year wound down it seemed clear it was pitching yet the numbers show the Jays are in the same boat as last year vs the league as a whole.

I guess a big difference is last year we didn't know who would play in various offensive positions while this year (pre-trades and figuring all free agents are gone) we have to worry about catcher (both free agents) and either SS or 2B unless Adams has a big comeback which I honestly don't see happening.  Lind should fill in the left handed hitting DH/LF slot that Cat leaves open.  Johnson appears to be a solid guy in LF while Rios should be solid in RF and Wells is Wells (again, I'm assuming no trades at this point).  1B is set nicely as is 3B and Hill appears solid at either 2B or SS.  Pitching has a closer, an Ace and #2 and a few guys in the pen and that is it.  Lots of prospects and guys who appear on the edge of flopping (Chacin I just don't trust with that K rate, and counting on prospects to fill a rotation is scary while Towers cannot be counted on at all at this point). 

So, this winter the priorities...
#1 - Catcher - sign someone or there will be lots of passed balls and wild pitches :)
#2 - #3 & #4 slot in the rotation - figure it out, ideally with a guy as good or better than Lilly for #3 while using Chacin as part of a trade to get a better #4 option (someone out there is bound to buy into the 'knows how to win' stuff).
#3 - Shortstop - I'd rather not see John McDonald get over 250 PA's again.
#4 - Vet to play backup outfield/DH/1B as backup to Lind and spare part to cover Hillenbrand's role in '07
#5 - Better utility infielder than John McDonald in case Hill pulls an Adams plus I'd rather not count on Hattig as an injury backup for Glaus.
CaramonLS - Sunday, October 01 2006 @ 09:04 PM EDT (#156316) #
Barely a peep out of BB for the Grimsley names, I'm shocked guys.

Did it not shock anyone that Clemens was named?

js_magloire - Sunday, October 01 2006 @ 09:09 PM EDT (#156317) #
I believe Grimsley didn't pin steroids to Clemens but "athletic enhancers" something or other. My gut says he took something like amphetamines or some other PED thats not steroids, IF grimsley is saying the truth.
VBF - Sunday, October 01 2006 @ 09:13 PM EDT (#156318) #

The Players Choice Awards, as compiled by Mike Wilner:

  • Best Pitcher: Doc Halladay (HM: B.J. Ryan)
  • Rookie of the Year: Shaun Marcum (HM: Casey Janssen, Adam Lind)
  • Most Valuable Player: Vernon Wells
  • Most Surprising Player: Aaron Hill (HM: Overbay, Reed, Rios)
VBF - Sunday, October 01 2006 @ 09:19 PM EDT (#156319) #

There is absolutely no motivation for Jason Grimsley to lie in a federal avidavit. This isn't small claims court, if Grimsley is caught lying, he faces 5 years for each count of perjury.

I suppose if he wanted, he could create stories to buy himself leverage to cut a deal, but I'm quite sure he's aware that a) The feds will find the truth and b) lying is an extremely serious offense and that he could spend the next 40 years in jail if he chooses to.

He will never spend another day on a professional baseball field, so there isn't any last ditch attempt to "save" his reputation. It's way past that now.


danjulien - Sunday, October 01 2006 @ 10:27 PM EDT (#156320) #
Hardball Times have put up some defensive awards.  Both Hill and Rios get some recognition for all their great work and the LF tandem again gets attention. 
Hardball Times
Baseball Views from the North

John Northey - Sunday, October 01 2006 @ 10:42 PM EDT (#156321) #
I listed backup infielder only as the 5th priority - ie: after everything else is set and if you have cash left then look at it otherwise don't bother.  After all, RF, CF, 1B, 3B, one of 2B/SS are all set as is closer and most of the pen so at #5 there wasn't much else to go for.  Maybe improve the pen before improving backups for the infield but who here really wants McDonald as the only real backup available?

As to Chacin, yes he has done well in W-L and I keep going 'maybe he will be great' but if I take away my Blue Jay rose coloured glasses I see a guy who, while young (just 26 next year) had a 5.05 ERA during an injury filled season this year.  A guy with under 5K/IP and a who strikes out less than 1 1/4 times as many as he walks.  Both major warning signs.  In '05 when he had his 3.72 ERA he K's just 5.36 per 9 and struck out just 1.7 per walk, both marginal figures for long term success.  To me he could turn out great but I'd not bet the farm on it.  Look for a team that is impressed with the win total and who thinks he is a 'crafty lefty' and will give up way too much in trade and then do it.  If a guy like him was offered to the Jays in exchange for, say, League would you take it?  I wouldn't but some team out there might do it and if so the Jays should take advantage imo.

danjulien - Sunday, October 01 2006 @ 10:47 PM EDT (#156323) #
So essentially, you'd be happy trading Chacin for a League-type reliever?  League who just now has finally brought it all together?  I don't know about that, it's a toss up, starters are DAMN valuable these days.  We can see what happened this year with the Jays, we need starters.  It's gonna be a tough decision but unless Chacin's value is VERY high, I say keep him.  I think other teams will be scared off by the injury and what not and his value to his current team will be higher than his trade value.  But debate's always good :)  Of course having said that, I know that League's VORP was better than Chacin's and I know that he was awesome this year..I just don't want to give a Padilla 9 million when I can have Chacin for much less money.
Paul D - Sunday, October 01 2006 @ 11:26 PM EDT (#156324) #
Did it not shock anyone that Clemens was named?

Shocked?  Quite the opposite, Clemens is pretty much the first guy I think of when I think of pitchers on steroids.  The crappy part is that there's always some doubth when players play well into their 40s, particularly if they're big, strong, emotional guys like Clemens.
TDIB Sunday: Welcome To The Future Of [The] America[n League] | 25 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.