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Jeff Blair reports that the Jays and John Gibbons have agreed to an extension through the 2008 season. The deal will reportedly pay Gibbons $650,000 in 2008.

This seems like a pretty good deal for the Jays. If Gibbons does a great job with the Jays this year they'll have him under contract for a bargain price (no manager makes under $500,000) and if they want to replace him they only have to pay off one year at an amount similar to a journeyman.


I'm always amazed that the stories out of spring training are identical in each paper just about every day, give or take a day. The latest story seems to be the Jays pitchers need to hold runners better.  Jordan Bastian's notes column wraps most of the items up.

And if you haven't bookmarked the Globe's spring training blog you should. How else would you know Blair's a fan of Sponge Bob Square Pants?
Jays Extend Gibbons Through 2008 | 88 comments | Create New Account
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GregH - Monday, February 19 2007 @ 10:08 AM EST (#163622) #
On The Fan 590 radio station this morning, Gibbons denied that any deal had been struck, but indicated there had been conversation and implied that something may get done shortly.
Squiggy - Monday, February 19 2007 @ 10:26 AM EST (#163624) #
This is great - another low-risk move. Gibbons, while seemingly a nice enough fellow, has done nothing to justify a larger $, longer deal. If the Jays stink in 2007 they can cut ties with limited damage. This way the "lame-duck" stories will end and Bob Elliot at the Sun will be able to sleep at night.
Pistol - Monday, February 19 2007 @ 11:20 AM EST (#163627) #
If the Jays stink in 2007 they can cut ties with limited damage. This way the "lame-duck" stories will end and Bob Elliot at the Sun will be able to sleep at night.

Well, if the first part of that is true I don't see how that would change Gibbons' 'lame duck' status.  The only difference now (once it's signed) and a week ago is $650k, which is essentially nothing.  But unless you're an established manager you're not making too much money - there's only a handful of managers making over $1 million.  The odd thing to me is that it's just a one year deal - that's not making much of a commitment to the manager.

Of course, I thought the whole 'lame duck' story was pretty silly to begin with.  I think it's something they teach in sports journalism school because you see it across all sports.  I wonder if journalists have Mad Lib type templates for things like that.
Magpie - Monday, February 19 2007 @ 12:09 PM EST (#163629) #
I'm always amazed that the stories out of spring training are identical in each paper just about every day

How many days until we see one on how they want to improve their fundamentals?
braden - Monday, February 19 2007 @ 01:00 PM EST (#163632) #

I'm always amazed that the stories out of spring training are identical in each paper just about every day

I just can't wait to find out who's in the best shape of their life.

Mike Green - Monday, February 19 2007 @ 01:17 PM EST (#163633) #
It's not well known, but after Crash Davis' career as a manager flamed out in Visalia, he got a job feeding spring training copy for the ink-stained wretches!
A - Monday, February 19 2007 @ 01:25 PM EST (#163635) #

I'm always amazed that the stories out of spring training are identical in each paper just about every day

I'm guessing all the beat writers are looking for something -- anything -- to turn into a story since there's no ball actually being played. So whatever nifty sound bite Gibbons puts out during the daily scrum turns into the day's "news."

What scares me a little is how most writers will write the same (topical) story almost identically. I think it speaks to how journalists are taught their rather ridged craft.

Ron - Monday, February 19 2007 @ 01:41 PM EST (#163637) #
By only offering a 1 year extension, it's obvious the Jays aren't totally sold on Gibby. Which makes this extension pointless. The Jays would have been better off just waiting until the end/or near the end of the season to decide his fate. If the Jays tank this season, $650,000 would also go down the drain.

The lame duck status thing is a bunch of hogwash. You actually think the players wouldn't give 100% because they know their manager isn't under contract for next season? I highly doubt it.

Craig B - Monday, February 19 2007 @ 01:43 PM EST (#163638) #
But Ron, while it's true that players will still give 100 percent if their manager doesn't have a multi-year contract, there's a very real risk that they won't give *110* percent.  As we all know, that extra imaginary 10 percent is what makes the difference between a team of winners and a team of... um... non-winners.
VBF - Monday, February 19 2007 @ 01:57 PM EST (#163639) #

If anybody's still mulling over the idea of heading down to Cooperstown for the Hall of Fame game, featuring the Jays and Orioles, there still seems to be a bunch of tickets on sale. They were available a couple days ago but I managed to pick up 6, so they aren't few and far between. Should be a great way to spend Victoria Day.

JayWay - Monday, February 19 2007 @ 02:10 PM EST (#163642) #

Jeff Blair spent a few minutes discussing the Gibbons extension on XM a moment ago. Here’s a recap.

-          The timing was right for an extension. Blair believes that by the time the year is out Gibbons will have been granted another extension, this time for upwards of three years.

-          Apparently the deal was ironed out between JP  and Gibbons in little over 10-minutes. The rest of their meeting was spent ranking 80s hair-metal bands.

-          One of the reasons Wells re-signed with the Jays was the positive clubhouse atmosphere fostered under Gibbons.

-          Gibbons’ reputation for bullpen management is very strong and held in high regard by people around the Major Leagues. One such individual, BJ Ryan, told Blair that he was impressed by the fact that on only one occasion this past season was he called up in the bullpen without being brought into the game.

Barry Bonnell - Monday, February 19 2007 @ 02:59 PM EST (#163646) #

VBF, do they generally use bench and minor-league players for the HOF game?

VBF - Monday, February 19 2007 @ 03:30 PM EST (#163648) #

The Jays are in Philly on the Sunday, and in Baltimore on Tuesday, so who knows if anyone on the big club would be going to Cooperstown. My guess though is that it might be intriguing to a few guys on the team and perhaps they'd go play an inning or two as a novelty. Had the team been in Toronto the weekend before, I imagine more players would show up. Chances are we see someone from Syracuse on the mound, or maybe someone on an injury assignment, like a Zambrano.

Still, to see those jerseys playing on Doubleday Field is pretty cool.

Pistol - Monday, February 19 2007 @ 03:39 PM EST (#163649) #
By only offering a 1 year extension, it's obvious the Jays aren't totally sold on Gibby.

You could argue that Gibbons isn't sold on his security if he's accepting only a one year deal.
Rob - Monday, February 19 2007 @ 06:33 PM EST (#163652) #
...and Adam Dunn, and Kyle Davies.

I'm here until Opening Day, folks.
Pistol - Monday, February 19 2007 @ 10:29 PM EST (#163663) #
I'm here until Opening Day, folks.

Slacker.... Dustin Pedroia

Geoff - Monday, February 19 2007 @ 11:11 PM EST (#163666) #
This just in...from Miguel Tejada

"I'm going to be a different Miguel. Believe me," he said. "I'm going to be totally different. I'm going to be more on time. I don't want to say that I'm going to be the first one here, but every day, I'm going to be one of the first to get to the field. I'm hungry. I'm hungry to win and I'm going to try to do anything that I can to make this team win."

He is a blessed ball player but he'll say the darnedest things. I wonder if Miguel will bite off a few Oriole heads this year. Or if it will be big news the first time he's late for anything. Or how long it will be before he demands to be traded.

Geoff - Monday, February 19 2007 @ 11:15 PM EST (#163667) #
And for all your best shape at Spring Training news ... check here.
Geoff - Monday, February 19 2007 @ 11:18 PM EST (#163668) #
Who wants to predict that Daniel Cabrera will win a Cy Young now that he can see better than ever before?
Craig B - Monday, February 19 2007 @ 11:25 PM EST (#163669) #
I hate to tell Daniel Cabrera this, but home plate don't move, son.
laketrout - Tuesday, February 20 2007 @ 12:01 AM EST (#163671) #
Gibbons’ reputation for bullpen management is very strong and held in high regard by people around the Major Leagues. One such individual, BJ Ryan, told Blair that he was impressed by the fact that on only one occasion this past season was he called up in the bullpen without being brought into the game.

So while relievers may like this as they know when they warm up they're likely going into the game, it shows that Gibbon's rarely will change his mind once he's decided to pull the current pitcher.  Hence, you saw the frustration in pitchers like Speier and Lilly when they got pulled earlier than they thought they should have.
Chuck - Tuesday, February 20 2007 @ 07:15 AM EST (#163678) #

"I'm going to be a different Miguel. Believe me," he said. "I'm going to be totally different."

February 15 to ball players is the equivalent of January 1 for the rest of us. A bunch of resolutions that will never be kept. There's no point fighting one's true nature. I yam what I yam, said Popeye.  

mathesond - Tuesday, February 20 2007 @ 09:06 AM EST (#163684) #
This has nothing to do with being in the best shape of his life, but Baseball Analysts has an article up about Brandon League
Pistol - Tuesday, February 20 2007 @ 09:21 AM EST (#163685) #
Barry Bonnell - Tuesday, February 20 2007 @ 09:43 AM EST (#163686) #

Dayn Perry om the Jays chances:

greenfrog - Tuesday, February 20 2007 @ 10:06 AM EST (#163689) #
Perry is cautiously optimistic about the Jays' chances of contending for a wild-card spot.

My only criticisms of his otherwise well-balanced analysis are (1) he never mentions Chacin (Perry envisions a 3-4-5 of Marcum-Thomson-Ohka), and (2) he writes that Frasor, League and Accardo collectively "did not pitch well". Add Perry to the list of commentators who missed the mark on League, who was an effective (and promising) short reliever last year.

I agree entirely with his assessment of our shortstop situation:

'Last season, Clayton "hit" .258 AVG/.307 OBP/.341 SLG for the Nationals and Reds, while the average NL shortstop put up a batting line of .272 AVG/.331 OBP/.406 SLG. Clayton has been a comfortably sub-optimal hitter for most of his career, and at age 37, he certainly doesn't figure to get any better.'

huckamaniac - Tuesday, February 20 2007 @ 10:38 AM EST (#163692) #
The picture with Rosenthal-Gibbons interview has Ernie Whitt taking Ted Lilly out.
Ron - Tuesday, February 20 2007 @ 02:12 PM EST (#163701) #
It's Feb 20th and 2006 "All-Star" Mark Redman is still on the market. And no, I'm not suggesting the Jays sign him.
I thought somebody would give him a 3 year/21 million contract based on his proven veteran status.

He probably priced himself out of the market during the early and middle stages of free agency and now might have to settle on a minor league contract with an invite to spring training.

Chuck - Tuesday, February 20 2007 @ 02:39 PM EST (#163702) #

Perry is cautiously optimistic about the Jays' chances of contending for a wild-card spot.

I have often defended Perry in these circles, but today's piece did exhibit some sloppiness.

Backing up Halladay and Burnett in the rotation are Shaun Marcum, Thomson and Ohka.

While Chacin may be no better than Marcum, he is the more likely #3 at the moment with Marcum slotting in anywhere from #4 to #7.

Scott Downs was outstanding, and Brian Tallet was solid. The rest of them — Jason Frasor, Brandon League and Jeremy Accardo — did not pitch well.

I think he got a few of the names mixed up. Could he have really meant:

Brandon League was outstanding, and Scott Downs was solid. The rest of them — Jason Frasor, Brian Tallet and Jeremy Accardo — did not pitch well.

This would sure seem closer to the truth.

Ryan Day - Tuesday, February 20 2007 @ 02:40 PM EST (#163703) #
Sandy Alomar picked up a spring training invite from the Mets. Who would have thought his career (such as it is now) would last longer than Roberto's?
Ryan Day - Tuesday, February 20 2007 @ 02:59 PM EST (#163704) #

This would sure seem closer to the truth.

 Except that Tallet did pitch well. Too many walks, but he held batters to a .238 BA (lefties to .220), and tightened up his control in the second half and held batters to 238/331/324.

 It's also not too much of a stretch to call Scott Downs outstanding in relief: 2.77 ERA, held batters to 197/280/345 in 61 innings.


VBF - Tuesday, February 20 2007 @ 03:31 PM EST (#163705) #

VBF, do they generally use bench and minor-league players for the HOF game?

Now that I see that the Chiefs have a game that same night, and the Jays have an off day, we might see more players from the big club than I thought. Of course they could decide to call up the Auburn Doubledays...

Bruce Wrigley - Tuesday, February 20 2007 @ 03:59 PM EST (#163707) #

Teams normally do make a large number of callups for the Hall of Fame Game, but as the Doubledays' season doesn't begin until at least June, I don't think any Auburn players will be making the trip from extended spring training in Dunedin.

ayjackson - Tuesday, February 20 2007 @ 05:44 PM EST (#163709) #

I wouldn't think that they'd want to disrupt the starting rotations of the Jays or the Chiefs.  I'm thinking a spot start for Francisco Rosario or a rehab start for Victor Zambrano - or somehting along those lines.  If nothing along those lines is available, I wouldn't be surprised to see Ricky Romero or Jesse Litsche flown in from extended spring training.  What have other clubs done in the past when it comes to starting pitchers for this game?


Mike Green - Wednesday, February 21 2007 @ 09:38 AM EST (#163719) #
Neil deMause has an interesting list of the worst free agent contracts over at BP Unfiltered. The ten worst contracts all went to pitchers and big power hitters.  No middle infielders, high OBP/speedy outfielders or catchers made the list.  Looking at the market for second basemen this off-season, it's easy to see why.
greenfrog - Wednesday, February 21 2007 @ 12:30 PM EST (#163724) #
There's a good piece on Brandon League's progress to date on

SheldonL - Wednesday, February 21 2007 @ 02:53 PM EST (#163727) #

It's an interesting(really amusing) article about any potential "Jeter & A-Rod" tension between Thomas and Glaus concerning who will be in the cleanup spot. It's funny because the media got their fill with the Gibbons extension campaign and now have managed to find another "story".

Anyway, it got me thinking about the batting lineup which according to Gibbons may look a little something like this:

1 Johnson
2 Overbay
3 Wells
4 Thomas
5 Glaus
6 Rios
7 Zaun
8 Hill
9 Clayton

He said that he's flirting with the idea of putting Overbay between Glaus and Thomas. I'm a little concerned that (arguably our best hitter) Rios is being left out here. I'd love to see the following lineup:

1 Rios
2 Johnson
3 Wells
4 Thomas
5 Overbay
6 Glaus
7 Clayton
8 Hill
9 Zaun

It may seem peculiar at first sight but I think that your best hitter should get the most possible AB's. This way Rios can get upwards of 600 AB's. Johnson's a good OBP guy so Wells and Thomas should have plenty of RBI opportunities. Overbay is a better hitter than Glaus and his many doubles would certainly get Wells home but he may find that Thomas' speed will keep him from some doubles. Glaus is a thumper so the 6th spot isn't so bad. Clayton at the 7th spot certainly looks dubious but I put him there so that Hill and Zaun (good OBP guys) can be table-setters for Rios!

Any thoughts? I mentioned a similar limeup to VBF a couple of years ago (that is, the idea of your best hitter leading off with traditional "table-setters" hitting 8 and 9) and he absolutely detested it!

timpinder - Wednesday, February 21 2007 @ 03:29 PM EST (#163729) #
As much as I love Rios and believe he could be the Jays' best hitter at some point, he just hasn't proven himself consistently yet.  If he were to produce in 2007 like he did before his staph infection in 2006, I'd still prefer to have that power in the number 2 or 3 spot.  A homerun or tripple is more valuable if there's a guy on base in front of you.
greenfrog - Wednesday, February 21 2007 @ 04:33 PM EST (#163730) #
I think the most likely lineup (at present) against RHP is:


I could see Gibbons flipping Glaus/Overbay if he thinks Glaus's feathers will be ruffled if he hits 6th. However, I like Overbay hitting 5th. It makes the lineup more balanced. It will be tougher for opposing managers to throw a nasty RHP reliever against the middle of the order (eg pitching around Thomas to get to Glaus, who has great power but also kills a lot of rallies). I think as Glaus moves out of his prime, he's better suited to hitting 6th, at least in this lineup.

I don't think Overbay should bat 2nd. He's just too slow.

Johnson was a great leadoff hitter last year and IMO should start the season at the top of the order. It's hard to argue with a .390 OBP. I'd like to see Rios, who has more power, hit 2nd or 6th.

I don't see Clayton lasting that far into the season as the starting SS. Too little offense for the big bad AL.
A - Wednesday, February 21 2007 @ 04:57 PM EST (#163731) #

I'd go with this for Opening Day:

1 Johnson
2 Overbay
3 Wells
4 Thomas
5 Glaus
6 Rios
7 Zaun
8 Clayton
9 Hill

Johnson isn't called Sparky for nothing. Good things happen when he gets on base (and that's not infrequently.) Plus, without a whole lot of pop in his bat, we won't be missing many 3-run homeruns because he was hitting lead-off. My first notion was to put Rios in the 2-spot but I think to start the year with as little pressure as possible on him Overbay should bat second with Rios at #6. If Rios kicks it into high-gear (as expected) then bump him up to 2 as a show of confidence. And if we're facing a particularly deep bullpen then that might be cause to bat Overbay between Thomas/Glaus. At the bottom of the order I like a 9-hitter who can set up the top of the order, hence Hill. And Zaun is an easy choice to hit ahead of Clayton.

SNB - Wednesday, February 21 2007 @ 06:09 PM EST (#163733) #
I agree wholeheartedly with A. First of all, Rios really struggled down the stretch last year and I don't think he's a lock for the two-hole - as good of a hitter as he was in the first half, he really seemed to regress to his chasing tendencies of 2004-5 towards the end of the year. Overbay in second spot is tremendous - yes, he's slow, but we're not going to steal a ton of bases as is. I would love to see Overbay's doubles and walks ahead of Wells' and Thomas' power. This way we do wind up with Wells-Thomas-Glaus, a glut of RH power hitters, but we split up Overbay and Zaun nicely. We also have a Bill James lineup going, with a prototypical leadoff hitter in Rios batting behind our worst hitter in Glaus, giving us a great shot to come right back in the second inning every time Glaus kills a burgeoning rally in the first. Additionally, if Rios can rediscover his power stroke, he becomes a terrific sixth hitter in the traditional mold, with the ability to pick up the slack where Thomas and Glaus fail.

I think the weakness of a lineup with Overbay batting fifth will be the prevalence of innings with a runner stranded on second, as Overbay's dozens of doubles are followed by Glaus K's. A guy with a .370 OBP and the ability to consistently hit 50 doubles has a lot of value - and in order to maximize that value, I think the ideal slot in the lineup for him is the #2 hole.

greenfrog - Wednesday, February 21 2007 @ 06:36 PM EST (#163734) #
At the bottom of the order I like a 9-hitter who can set up the top of the order, hence Hill.

This logic seems circular to me. You give up your chances of keeping a rally going (by bringing Clayton up) so that you have a modestly better chance the next inning (by leading off with Hill)? If this approach actually worked, why don't you see NL teams batting their light-hitting pitchers 8th and moderately better position players 9th?
greenfrog - Wednesday, February 21 2007 @ 06:44 PM EST (#163735) #
First of all, Rios really struggled down the stretch last year

Actually, Rios struggled in July and August, after his injury. He regained his stroke in September, when he hit .333/.371/.606. He was also 3 for 4 with a double in October. Was this a fluke, or did Rios finally return to his early-season form? I don't expect him to hit .330 this year, but I think he'll have a strong season if he stays healthy.

Magpie - Wednesday, February 21 2007 @ 06:49 PM EST (#163736) #
Two big slow right-handed hitters in the middle of the lineup - I think I'd hit Thomas 4th and Glaus 5th but I don't think it makes much difference either way - is normally a formula for a zillion double plays. Gibbons took some heat last year for starting runners with someone like Glaus at the plate - but Glaus hit into 25 DPs anyway (after hitting into just 7 with Arizona in 2005). I think Gibbons needed to do more of it, not less, and this year will be no different.
King Ryan - Wednesday, February 21 2007 @ 08:34 PM EST (#163737) #
They did some studies in "The Book" about having a "second lead off hitter" bat ninth.  I recommend reading it (The Book).  In any case, their conclusion was that it does work, but only if your ninth hitter is absolutely terrible (like a pitcher.)  So NL teams should be batting their pitcher 8th, but AL teams don't have much to gain by swapping the normal eighth and ninth.

Unless Clayton actually hits like a pitcher, which I guess is possible.  Ugh...

Rob - Wednesday, February 21 2007 @ 09:57 PM EST (#163738) #
Actually, Rios struggled in July and August, after his injury.

And how. In his first 100 PAs after returning to the lineup, he hit .209/.250/.275. Six walks against 24 strikeouts (five of which came in his second game back).

That batting line was made worse, of course, by the Jays ignoring his comments while on rehab in Syracuse and rushing him back before he was ready. That bothered me then and still does now.
SheldonL - Wednesday, February 21 2007 @ 10:04 PM EST (#163739) #

This is radical but when I see leadoff guys getting 60-100 AB's more than 6th hole hitters, it bothers me. Soriano's not a "prototypical" leadoff guy but I don't argue against him hitting in the leadoff spot because he gets a few more AB's(I'm estimating 30 more than he would if he hit 3rd or cleanup). That's because it gets him 2-3 more homers and about 9 more hits, which is better than what your "prototypical" leadoff guy produces in terms of OPS(pretty safe estimate).

So, wouldn't it make sense for your best hitter (prototypical 3rd hole hitter) bat lead-off followed by your next two best hitters but keep the "prototypical" clean up guy. And in the 8th and 9th spots, you would put guys with high OBP's. That way your lineup looks as follows:

1 Prototypical 3-hole hitter (Wells)
2 Next best hitter (Rios)
3 Next best hitter (Overbay)
4 Cleanup guy (Thomas)
5 Power bat (Glaus - we have the luxury of having 2 "cleanup" guys)
6 Hill
7 Clayton(or whoever our shortstop ends up being)
8 "leadoff guy" (Johnson)
9 prototypical #2 batter - high OBP (Zaun)

This way, we maximize AB's from our better hitters while keeping the "table setters" mold in tact. It's pretty radical, but I think it'll maximize runs!

greenfrog - Wednesday, February 21 2007 @ 11:18 PM EST (#163740) #
Rob, I agree with you about management's handling of Rios last summer. I thought he was rushed back as well. He looked totally lost at the plate (and noticeably underweight) for several weeks.
A - Wednesday, February 21 2007 @ 11:31 PM EST (#163741) #
This logic seems circular to me.

The idea is that you've got more options using a better hitter at #9 than #8 whether a weaker #8 starts, continues or ends a rally. If #8 starts or keeps a rally going then #9 will get you back to the top of the line-up. If #8 records an out then #9 has a better chance of getting on base to start a rally if there is still one or two outs left in the inning. At worst, #9 leads off the next inning and you've got something going again with two high OBP guys (9, 1) setting the table for 2,3,4. It's better than, say, Hill getting on base with 2 outs and then Clayton wastes the baserunner as the #9 hitter when the top of the order is on-deck ready, willing and able to cash in.

Is it a sure-fire way to score more runs? I think it might add a run here and there but it's not the secret to a great offense. Are there pros and cons? Absolutely. But I think it provides a strategic advantage because there's a better chance your hitters at the top of the line-up will get to bat with a man on base. So if I were the manager that's the choice I'd make.

...why don't you see NL teams batting their light-hitting pitchers 8th and moderately better position players 9th?

I'm not sure why. I think it would be to their advantage to bat the pitcher 8th, especially because in the later innings when your team is putting together the rally that'll make or break the game the pitcher is highly unlikely to bat for himself anyways.
Alex Obal - Wednesday, February 21 2007 @ 11:55 PM EST (#163742) #
I have only two pressing lineup suggestions:

1. Overbay should bat second against righties. He should not bat fifth. He is too good at reaching base to hit after Thomas. He absolutely must not bat sixth, perish the thought.

2. When Adam Lind inevitably starts starting in left against righties, displacing Reed, the Jays should seriously consider hitting Gregg Zaun leadoff. He's put up a .361 OBP the last three years. He's averaged 4.2-4.3 pitches per PA over that span. His 4.2 last year would have tied him for 5th in the AL among batting title qualifiers. His relative lack of power makes him a good fit to hit behind whichever below-average hitter occupies the 9-hole, and Lind's presence breaks up what would otherwise be seven straight righties from 3 through 9.

2a. With Lind DHing, Reed in left and Thomas taking a day off, I'd probably stick with Reed in the leadoff spot for continuity's sake. It feels right.
Barry Bonnell - Thursday, February 22 2007 @ 10:38 AM EST (#163745) #

Anyone else beginning to love Frank Thomas?

Scroll down to see what he did for Lyle Overbay in exchange for Lyle giving him his number.

Barry Bonnell - Thursday, February 22 2007 @ 10:55 AM EST (#163746) #

Bob Elliot interview with Shea Hillenbrand. Take it with a grain of salt but there are some very interesting things said about the Blue Jays clubhouse.

Chuck - Thursday, February 22 2007 @ 11:13 AM EST (#163747) #

"In 2005 I'm an all-star, selected by my peers"

Er, not exactly sport. You were selected by a manager (or perhaps a committee of managers) because of a silly rule requiring at least one player per team. You happened to be stinking it up less than your teammates so you got the nod. You had no business being at an all-star game.

SheldonL - Thursday, February 22 2007 @ 11:21 AM EST (#163748) #

Who needs General Hospital, Days of Our Lives...heck, even WWE Smackdown!
I like this, it's pure entertainment!

Did anyone read the Matt Stairs article in the Star? It's about Griffin's soft spot - Canadian baseball players.
He actually thinks Stairs is going to get 300 AB's!

AWeb - Thursday, February 22 2007 @ 11:30 AM EST (#163750) #
Does Da' Box have another Hillenbrand thread in them? I saw nothing in that article that suggested anything other than Hillenbrand didn't like being held accountable for his words, actions, and on-field performance. He thinks the team was better off playing him all the time, despite better hitters being available at all three spots he could play in 2006 (Overbay, Glaus, Catalanotto). He got pissed off by being left out of the lineup for one day after he returned from adopting a baby. He thinks he should be able to tell coaches and GMs how to do their jobs better, while he is working for them. He's allowed to act out in frustration, but takes immediate offense when other do. Nothing much new there. If he was a better player, it could've been ignored, but there just wasn't any compelling reason to keep an average hitter/below average fielder with a large contract and larger ego.

A - Thursday, February 22 2007 @ 11:30 AM EST (#163751) #

Anyone else beginning to love Frank Thomas?

I'll admit that I was pretty skeptical about the whole "New Man" image Thomas was selling but he can't fake the kind of class he showed with that gift to Overbay. Most guys would have just gone with the Rolex.

Pistol - Thursday, February 22 2007 @ 11:34 AM EST (#163752) #
You were selected by a manager (or perhaps a committee of managers) because of a silly rule requiring at least one player per team.

If I remember correctly it wasn't that - the Jays had other players that year (at least Halladay).  I believe it was because Ortiz was a unanimous pick among the different voting groups and in that case the player that finishes 2nd among the players vote makes the game.  Regardless he made it based on a silly rule, not because he was an All Star caliber player (it was a really weak DH year too).

What's the deal with Bob Elliot?  Is there this big demand to read about former Jays in spring training in Arizona?  It seems that's all he's writing about this spring.
VBF - Thursday, February 22 2007 @ 11:45 AM EST (#163754) #

I'm somewhat surprised that the entire Hillenbrand story seems to have magically come out several months after the incident. And considering Shea's track record of whining to the media, I'm surprised he kept these 'stories' in for so long. That or he just had alot of time to make them up, which I don't doubt.

Anyone who actually goes to the effort and exhausts time into ripping and then cutting up the flag of their team's country up--well that says alot about their character and their ability to manage frustration.

In the end, every player swallows their pride to be part of a bigger and better success. If everybody was Reed Johnson, the world would be a better place. Let's just hope the Che revolucion disciples have been eliminated.

GrrBear - Thursday, February 22 2007 @ 11:53 AM EST (#163755) #
Bob Elliott won't be happy until J.P. is fired, Pat Gillick returns to the Jays, Cito Gaston is hired to replace Gibbons, and all of Bob's scouting buddies are returned to the fold.

But at least he doesn't have an agenda.

I think Bob, Steve Simmons, and Richard Griffin must compare notes on how to maintain grudges long past their expiry dates.

sweat - Thursday, February 22 2007 @ 12:12 PM EST (#163756) #
It boggles the mind, that Shea thinks not playing a guy is somehow against the rules.  You pissed off management, and now they dont want to play you?  Wow.
Ryan Day - Thursday, February 22 2007 @ 12:19 PM EST (#163757) #

I know the interview was supposed to make Hillenbrand look like a good "tells it like it is" kinda guy who was wronged by the Big Bad Blue Jays, but man, it didn't work. It's a big deal that Hillenbrand - the DH - didn't play much when the Jays played in a National League park? Because for some reason Overbay or Glaus should have been sitting on the bench instead?

 Geez. Elliott's usually... well, he's not usually subtle, but he's seldom this blatant. One thing I find about Griffin is that when he's writing stories about the players, he's actually pretty reasonable and even-handed (and quite a good writer); it's only when he delves into "analysis" he becomes unhinged. Elliott can't seem to let go at all.

Original Ryan - Thursday, February 22 2007 @ 12:51 PM EST (#163758) #
I haven't seen this mentioned yet.  The winner of the Frick award will be announced at 2:00 ET this afternoon.

Keep your fingers crossed for Tom Cheek.

Mylegacy - Thursday, February 22 2007 @ 01:18 PM EST (#163759) #

Richard Dawkins wrote a GREAT book recently called "The God Delusion." Obviously Mr Dawkins made an error, he should have titled it "The Deluded Hilly." Our friend Hilly has issues, maturity, intellegence who knows, I'm just glad he's gone. 

From what Hilly says I'll take 9 Zaunnies, please.

Original Ryan - Thursday, February 22 2007 @ 01:58 PM EST (#163760) #
Denny Matthews of the Royals won the Frick award.  Maybe next year, Tom.
Magpie - Thursday, February 22 2007 @ 02:58 PM EST (#163761) #
What's the deal with Bob Elliot?  Is there this big demand to read about former Jays in spring training in Arizona?

I noticed that, too. And what struck me is that Elliot essentially invited both Lilly and Speier to dump on their former team and neither would play along. You'd think the fellow had an agenda or something.

Anyway, Lilly was specifically asked if he would like to... revise and extend his remarks regarding his confrontation with Gibbons. Lilly said everything he said at the time - they both over-reacted, they sorted everything out the next day - was true then and true today. And added for good measure that he and Gibbons continued running together and had a good long chat after the season ended.

As for Speier, he and Ricciardi agreed that the Angels had made him an offer he couldn't refuse, which didn't prevent Speier from calling Jays management after he'd gone to Anaheim to tell them how much they were going to be impressed by John Thomson.
Mike Green - Thursday, February 22 2007 @ 03:20 PM EST (#163762) #
Cool guy, Frank Thomas.  Got the cold facts and the warm emotions both down right, just like the guy in the Spenser novels.
Ron - Thursday, February 22 2007 @ 04:04 PM EST (#163764) #
Interesting tidbit from Blair's blog:

It was the first day of live batting practice at the Blue Jays facility and reliever Brandon League surprised some of the team's braintrust when he appeared to have lowered his arm angle.

Pitchers, sheesh!

Needless to say, the powers that be were not amused.

"You always seem to get somebody who shows up trying something new," general manager J.P. Ricciardi said. "We'll have to get on him to get the arm back up. We'll want him to get it back to where it was, a little higher."

China fan - Thursday, February 22 2007 @ 08:48 PM EST (#163766) #

     A lot of Bauxites are completely misreading the Elliott interview with Hillenbrand.  Go back and look at it carefully.  Elliott is very skeptical of Hillenbrand's version. He makes it clear from the start that Hillenbrand's comments are self-centred and self-interested.  He compares Hillenbrand to a Doyle Alexander or a George Bell as a clubhouse dissident.  He points out that a lot of people are not going to believe or sympathize with Hillenbrand's version.  Does this sound like someone who is using Hillenbrand in a "blatant" campaign against Ricciardi?  A lot of people here are so hostile to mainstream sportswriters that they assume everything they write is a conspiracy.

    What's significant about Elliott's interview with Hillenbrand is the new detail that it provides on the turmoil in the Jays clubhouse last year.  For example, he gets Hillenbrand to admit -- for the first time -- that he wrote "Play for yourselves" and "This ship is sinking" on the clubhouse whiteboard.  We've had versions of these quotes before, but this is the first time that Hillenbrand himself admits what he wrote.  (Elliott was smart enough to give Hillenbrand enough rope and let him hang himself with his own words.)  This interview is one of the most detailed accounts of the most explosive incident in Toronto's 2006 season. As fans of the team, I think we need to hear these details -- not suppress it because we don't like the writer who wrote it.

    The interview also raises some interesting questions about Vernon Wells and his work ethic.  Now, admittedly, Hillenbrand could be completely lying about this, but there might be a kernel of truth somewhere in his comments.  There are two new details here:  1)  in 2005, JP was "ranting" about Vernon's lack of work ethic;  2) in July 2006, just before the Hillenbrand incident, Vernon called a clubhouse meeting to defend himself from a teammate who complained that Vernon pulled up on a ball that should have been caught.   This suggests that even Vernon's own teammates sometimes wonder if he is working hard enough.

    Okay, a lot of us will completely dismiss Hillenbrand's comments, but I personally think there might be a kernel of truth here.  After all, JP seemed uninterested in giving Vernon a contract extension until after his failed attempt to spend $100-million on Lilly and Meche.  Isn't it quite possible that JP has some lingering concerns that Vernon doesn't work hard enough?  It might be an unfair perception, but I think this adds to the mix of information that we have about Vernon and his massive new contract.  Again, I think it's worthwhile to have Hillenbrand's comments on the public record, even if they have to be treated with some skepticism.

    Finally, I think a lot of people are misunderstanding the role of the mainstream writers at this time of year. The Sun and the Globe have one writer at the Jays camp and a second writer (Blair or Elliott) who roves around the other various teams. The second writer, naturally, should interview people who are of interest to their Toronto readership.  If you were a Toronto-based writer who entered the clubhouse of the Anaheim Angels and you bumped into Shea Hillenbrand in a talkative mood, would you refuse to publish his comments?  I think, in this case anyway, Elliott did a reasonable thing by chatting with Hillenbrand and asking him about the most explosive incident that happened last year.  There was nothing in the interview that made JP look bad, so why do people misread it as a campaign against JP? 

GregH - Thursday, February 22 2007 @ 10:16 PM EST (#163767) #

Again, I think it's worthwhile to have Hillenbrand's comments on the public record, even if they have to be treated with some skepticism.

You may be right about the public record - but anything from Hillenbrand has to be treated with more than just "some skepticism".  Hillenbrand is a liar.

When this story was reported on The Fan 590 radio station this morning, Bullpen Show host Mike Hogan replayed a short part of an interview he had with Hillenbrand after the incident last season.  Hogan asked Hillenbrand directly if he had written either of the now infamous comments on the Jays clubhouse whiteboard.  Hillenbrand's answer was a flat no.

I would not believe what Hillenbrand says about any player - especially a player as superior to him as is VW - or, really, about anything.


VBF - Thursday, February 22 2007 @ 10:45 PM EST (#163768) #

Regarding Vernon Wells' work ethic and teammates' "response"-- that could also be interpreted as a small core of players like Hillenbrand who have too much to say for themselves in a desperate effort to raise themselves a few bars on the employee platform. The "Let's bring the star player down a little closer to us" philosophy.

I also don't read much into the priorities of Ricciardi, and giving money to Meche and Lilly before Vernon. Strengthening the rotation was the target of the offseason, and the only chance this team had/has to compete. I think that having a solid third and fourth starter for the 2007 season was more urgently needed than giving an extension to Vernon Wells, who would've played 2007 regardless.

And even though we may only have the perspective of the fan, I think that changes to Vernon Wells' work ethic have been fairly visible. It was talked about in Spring Training last year about how Vernon was spending more time on his own game, and the results backed up the stories about an increased work ethic.

Mylegacy - Friday, February 23 2007 @ 01:33 AM EST (#163772) #


OK, some of you are are getting CLOSE to crossing my "nobody disses my main man Vernon" line...

VW is, wait for it... a 6' 1" 225 pound (TWO HUNDRED AND TWENTY FIVE POUND!!!!) Gold Glove center fielder! This guy is an 800 pound GO-RELLA playing a Gazelle's position. IF he did not pace himself he'd have broken down years ago. He's a Gold Glove, 30+ homer center fielder. He's a center fielder that will one day be a Gold Glove, 30+ homer right or left fielder.

He is HUGE. He soars like an eagle, he covers more ground than a cheetah chased by a pride of lions, the ball is magnetically attracted to his glove, he is a PURE PLEASURE to watch.  

Enjoy this man EXCEL in CF while we can, then enjoy this man EXCEL in a corner spot for years after that. JP, you signed a winner.

Is it April yet?


Barry Bonnell - Friday, February 23 2007 @ 09:33 AM EST (#163776) #

There was nothing in the interview that made JP look bad, so why do people misread it as a campaign against JP? 

You don't think J.P alledgedly ranting and raving about Vernon and Hinske to another player makes J.P look bad?

Barry Bonnell - Friday, February 23 2007 @ 09:36 AM EST (#163777) #

Something to worry about: Brandon League's shoulder. From Blair's blog:

"On the field, I’m getting the sense that there is growing concern about Brandon League, who is being relied upon to pick up some of the innings lost when setup man Justin Speier left as a free agent. League pulled a hamstring last week. Now, he has a stiff shoulder after looking, frankly, like a guy with a sore arm during a couple of throwing sessions.

The Blue Jays are fudging League’s status, but he might need further medical examinations before the nature of the injury is known. Never a good sign, however it's spun."

Chuck - Friday, February 23 2007 @ 09:49 AM EST (#163778) #
League changing his arm slot would be consistent with the speculation related to his health issues. Nothing like going sidearm to lessen the misery.
costanza - Friday, February 23 2007 @ 10:38 AM EST (#163779) #
  Why does the Elliott/Hillenbrand story have to have an "agenda"?

Stephen Brunt talked about the article on the radio yesterday (before he and McCown talked to Elliott about it on-air), and referred to it as the standard story that's written every spring -- the writers go talk to every former Jay, and see if they have anything "interesting" to say.

Brunt mentioned that it was something he did every year -- most of the time, the players have little of note to say, but if you can get someone to "go off" on his former team, you have a story.  He mentioned the Tony Fernandez interview, in which Tony said that God would "smite" the Blue Jays for their behaviour.  (During the on-air interview with Elliott, they talked about hunting down these type of stories every spring, and I think it was actually Elliott who brought up the Fernandez interview).

But, I'm sure some will still believe that it's just Elliott pursuing his "agenda"...

Chuck - Friday, February 23 2007 @ 10:45 AM EST (#163781) #

The interview also raises some interesting questions about Vernon Wells and his work ethic.

Before John Olerud was canonized, he was often accused, whilst a Jay, of not seeming to care enough. Critics, observing his reserved demeanour and lack of visible passion, concluded that he was, ipso facto, indifferent and lackadaisical.

Vernon Wells, not one to wear his heart on his sleeve either, may also be opening the door for similar accusations, particularly from fans and players whose behaviour is overtly passionate. In Shea's world, a true "competitor" looks and acts like he does, shooting from the hip, exhibiting no impulse control and binding and gagging the little interlocutor in his head who would otherwise vet what his brain conjures and his mouth spews.

To judge a player's attitude or work ethic based solely on the evidence of their outward behaviour is foolish. While Greg Zaun's (and, in some quarters, Shea Hillenbrand's) overt feistiness resonates well with fandom, none should presume that the lack of same from the more even-tempered players suggests a lesser amount of passion, or a diminished work ethic.

Joanna - Friday, February 23 2007 @ 11:23 AM EST (#163783) #

Vernon is chill.  The only time I've seen him visibly fired up was once last season when he was tossed from a game for arguing with an umpire.  He yelled at him from the dugout.  I must say it was kinda hot.  But I don't expect it out of him all the time.  People assume he isn't trying because he makes things look effortless.  He is very smooth and very slick.  It's part of the fun of V-Dub.  That and him yelling "g*d damnit!!" when he misses his pitch.

As for Shea,  good lord, boy, please stop talking.  The whole thing is so dumb.  It's the wounded male ego at it's worst. Now, I'm not the biggest JP fan.  Shea talking about the pressure JP was putting on Gibbons to win and egos smarting everywhere has a ring of truth.  I wrote a post saying as much right after the whole incident last summer.  But move on, please. I beg all of you attending the game against the Angels in August (if Shea hasn't already been benched, started to whine and forced to park his trailer in a new town), not to boo.  Please no boos.  Look away.  He was never here.  Booing only feeds the whole wounded individualist "no one understands me.  I stand alone" idea he has of himself.  Just don't look. Just don't look.  It's got Paul Anka's guarantee...

Ryan Day - Friday, February 23 2007 @ 11:33 AM EST (#163784) #

Perceived player attitudes are totally fickle, and often depend on what sort of story the media is looking for and how the team is doing. I remember when Mondesi came here and everyone talked about his intensity and how he played at 115% - despite stories of being a malcontent in LA. And sure enough, he came to TO, he hustled and made great plays, and he was everything the team needed - particularly compared to Carlos Delgado, who apparently just wanted to hit home runs and collect his salary.

  A couple years later, malcontent Mondesi was long gone and we were hearing about how the Jays missed Delgado's calm, veteran leadership.

  Vernon - like Olerud, I think - seems to be a pretty quiet, low-key guy, and some people can perceive that as indifference or laziness; at the very least, it's easy to lay commentary on it, since there's nothing obvious to the casual observer to contradict it. Some people just want a Paul O'Neil type who'll smash water coolers and bat racks after every strikeout. (unless it's Eric Hinske, I suppose)

SheldonL - Saturday, February 24 2007 @ 02:32 PM EST (#163805) #

Carlos Delgado, who apparently just wanted to hit home runs and collect his salary.

Ok, I hope that's not a shot at Delgado. Delgado seemed to be very comfortable in Toronto and he played really well. His defense was underrated and his bat...well, his bat speaks for itself. If all he cared about was homers he wouldn't have consistently slashed singles the other way to battle those silly infield shifts!

Vernon Wells is a different personality and I think he's one of the few athletes who realize that it's just a game. It doesn't mean that he doesn't care about his team's performance. It just means that he can control what's in his realm(ie, plate appearances, base running, playing defence). He's an awesome Gold Glove center fielder who probably deserved a Gold Glove in '03 but was overlooked because of flashy outfielders like Torii Hunter, who make the highlight reels. Hunter is true performer because sometimes he doesn't need to dive but he does anyway 'cause it looks good and gives fans entertainment value! Wells has such enormous range(especially going back to the fence for balls) that he doesn't have to dive (and when he does, you he really had to - you appreciate him because of that). Moreover, he makes it look effortless and we criticize him for not giving it his all!? As previously mentioned, he's a large fellow who can't afford to play carelessly in the outfield(see Griffey Jr.). He's an awesome talent and we should be happy that we've got him locked up for the next 4 years!

Ryan Day - Sunday, February 25 2007 @ 12:20 AM EST (#163811) #
Ok, I hope that's not a shot at Delgado.

No, definitely not - just a snide comment on the (for a time) popular media perception of Delgado. Remember: The Jays never won anything with him, so he can't have been that valuable!  (Until he left, that is...)
actionjackson - Sunday, February 25 2007 @ 02:52 PM EST (#163819) #
Anyone who doesn't think Wells has a burning passion for the game should try and dig up a copy of that first game back from l'Affaire Hilly (as opposed to L'Affaire Lilly) against the Yankees when he smashed the walk-off, winning homerun off Mariano Rivera. The raised fist and the boyish grin, ahh, it looked like victory, like nothing could stop them... except of course the Pacific timezone. Gotta work on that one this year.

As for Hillenbrand, I have one word to describe him: NARCISSIST and a bloody malignant one at that. Most professional athletes are narcissistic in one way or another otherwise they wouldn't be where they are. However, generally it is the benign form of narcissism. Mr. Hillenbrand needs professional help pronto before he really hurts someone important to him. Of course being narcissistic that statement should be revised to ... before he really hurts himself. As a narcissist though, he probably sadly won't realize he needs help until it's too late.
actionjackson - Sunday, February 25 2007 @ 03:18 PM EST (#163820) #
And here is the footage of Mr. Wells big shot off Mo (scroll down to July 20, 2006, click on Wells' walk-off shot). Hillenbrand was DFA'd during the July 19th game against Texas and Gibby's pre-game media scrum was bigger than Joe Torre's. What a fabulous series and then what a disastrous west coast road trip. Not shown in this video is Vernon raising his fist in triumph as he rounds 1B and the aforementioned grin lighting up the Rogers Centre. What a great 2006 moment.
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