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Four wins, two losses, and a tie. Not that anyone's counting. There's more interesting stuff to consider this spring.

There are at least four, and possibly as many as seven, roster spots that will be determined by what goes on this spring. Which makes Dunedin far more interesting than last year, when there was a mild bit of uncertainty about exactly one roster spot. Not much of this year's suspense involves the position player. The nine regulars are Zaun, Overbay, Hill, Clayton, Glaus, Johnson, Wells, Rios, and Thomas. The backup catcher will almost certainly be Jason Phillips, with Sal Fasano heading to Syracuse. The backup infielders will probably be John McDonald and Jason Smith, and the backup outfielder will be Matt Stairs. The Jays have been trying assorted infield candidates in the outfield (Smith, Roberts) to try to achieve a little more flexibility.

The real action this spring is on the pitching staff. We have a quinella* underway to determine the last two spots in the rotation. The contenders come out of the first week with John Thomson at the head of the pack, followed by Josh Towers. Ohka and Marcum each had an early stumble, but there's still a lot of track to be covered.

In the bullpen, Ryan, Frasor, League, and Downs are safe as houses, although we'll have to see whether League opens the season on the roster or the DL. Contenders for the other three spots include Accardo, Tallet, Rosario, Walker, and possibly even Davis Romero and Ryan Houston. If Shaun Marcum isn't in the rotation, and it seems unlikely that he will be, he also could very easily end up in the pen.

Anyway, this first week, the fellows who did most to help their case to be in the bullpen come Opening Day were Rosario, Accardo, Walker, and Houston.

* "quinella" - a type of parimutuel bet, in which the bettor must pick the two horses which finish first and second, but need not specify which will finish first.
Week One: Not in the Books | 53 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
timpinder - Thursday, March 08 2007 @ 01:30 AM EST (#164153) #

Even though out of the gate Thompson and Towers have looked the best, I imagine that Towers is at a real disadvantage.  Is it safe to say that the 5th spot in the rotation is Ohka's to lose?

As for the bullpen situation, Rosario has been racking up the K's so far.  If he could even come close to his 2006 AAA numbers he'd be a very nice addition.  With Ryan, League, Downs, Frasor and a break-out performance from Rosario going along with a lot of depth, the Jays could have a very strong bullpen.  Competition is great and it will be fun to see which hurlers pitch well enough to secure the final 2 or 3 bullpen spots. 

paulf - Thursday, March 08 2007 @ 09:46 AM EST (#164157) #
Apparently Yahoo thought so little of Towers' chances of returning to that he's been removed from their fantasy baseball games. Now I'm pulling all the more for him to make it. Strangely, Carl Pavano is still in the game.
Ryan C - Thursday, March 08 2007 @ 10:22 AM EST (#164159) #

I would say that Ohka probably has a leg up on the competition for the 5th spot just by virtue of the fact that he was brought in as a free agent and he had much better numbers last year than Towers.  However I would hope that his advantage isn't so great that he is handed the job if Towers clearly and significantly outpitches him in spring training.  If Josh shows that he's back on his game then he deserves another shot.

And I would be very surprised if Accardo doesn't make the team.

John Northey - Thursday, March 08 2007 @ 10:45 AM EST (#164160) #
For some reason my gut keeps telling me that Zambrano is going to make the team.  Probably due to his being the only guy the Jays have control of for 2 years, his great potential, his determination. 

An interesting sidebar is Ryan Houston getting 2 saves in his 3 games while only allowing one baserunner.  Getting saves at this time of the spring is normally a sign you are not viewed seriously as you are facing the weakest hitters on the other team (regulars long gone by the end) but still, it is interesting.  Last year he was very wild in AAA (38 BB in 66 IP) but also solid for K's (68 in those same 66 IP).  Might he force the issue and sneak onto the roster?  There are normally one or two surprises in the spring and he could be one.
China fan - Thursday, March 08 2007 @ 10:53 AM EST (#164162) #

    I have a hunch that Royce Clayton won't be as bad as some fans are expecting.   A lot of vitriol and contempt has been poured on the guy by fans who glanced solely at his offensive stats from the past year or two.   The word from training camp has been more positive than his critics would suggest.  He is apparently in great shape ("the body of a 25-year-old", according to one report) and a very positive influence on Hill and other young players.  Ricciardi and Gibbons seem to have a lot of confidence in him.  He has vast experience, and I think he will stabilize the shortstop position.   I don't think he will be as much of an offensive sinkhole as some predict.    Look at it this way:  the Jays spent most of last year with John MacDonald at shortstop, and Clayton will inevitably be an improvement over that.    He only needs to be better offensively than MacDonald and better defensively than Russ Adams.  If he does those two things, the Jays will be stronger than last year at the SS position.  And I think he will achieve both of those objectives.


Jonny German - Thursday, March 08 2007 @ 11:10 AM EST (#164164) #

[Zambrano's] great potential

I don't see it... 2003 was his best year by a good margain, with a 108 ERA+ in 188 innings - and a ridiculous 106 walks against 132 strikeouts. Not to mention that right now he's coming off major surgery.

By way of contrast, Josh Towers' best season was just 2 years ago and feature a higher ERA+ (120) in more innings (209) and better peripherals (as a whole) than Zambrano's peak.

Squiggy - Thursday, March 08 2007 @ 11:21 AM EST (#164165) #
A couple of stories in the Toronto papers today about Jason Smith, the Rule 5 pickup, seems to be impressive in the early going. One article mentions that "the Jays have done well with Rule 5 pickups" but this comment was not qualified (I think it was Griffin). Off the top of my head, i could not recall any recent success stories - anybody else know who he may be referring to?
Noah - Thursday, March 08 2007 @ 11:25 AM EST (#164166) #
Im not positive about recent rule 5 success stories, but I believe that Jays grabbed a young man named Kelly Gruber in the early 90s or late 80s.

Ryan Day - Thursday, March 08 2007 @ 11:25 AM EST (#164167) #
Ricciardi got a couple good, cheap seasons from Corey Thurman and Aquilino Lopez via the Rule 5.
Gwyn - Thursday, March 08 2007 @ 11:27 AM EST (#164168) #
Recently the best pick was probably Aquilino Lopez from Seattle in 2002, he had a good run in Toronto for a little while.  Griffin is almost certainly referring to the earlier days of the franchise when guys like Upshaw, Bell, Manny Lee and Kelly Gruber were Rule 5 picks.
MrPurple - Thursday, March 08 2007 @ 12:28 PM EST (#164169) #
Mike Wilner on the FAN 590 this morning seems to think something is 'going on' with this B game being played with all the Regulars against the Phillies. He mentions that Phils GM pat Gillick covets Rios and this game is to be some kind of showcase. He mentions Lieber and Rowand as possible return for the Jays. Im not sure I like the idea of this possible trade very much.
Original Ryan - Thursday, March 08 2007 @ 12:38 PM EST (#164170) #
He mentions that Phils GM pat Gillick covets Rios and this game is to be some kind of showcase. He mentions Lieber and Rowand as possible return for the Jays. Im not sure I like the idea of this possible trade very much.

I've been a supporter of Ricciardi since he got to Toronto, and while that support has diminished somewhat in recent years, I've generally given him the benefit of the doubt.  That said, if he pulls the trigger on the above trade, I'll be campaigning for his immediate dismissal.
kinguy - Thursday, March 08 2007 @ 12:51 PM EST (#164173) #
Not so much success recently, but back in the day, the Jays got Willie Upshaw, George Bell, Jim Acker and Manny Lee through the Rule 5 Draft.
HollywoodHartman - Thursday, March 08 2007 @ 01:00 PM EST (#164174) #
A few days ago's John Heyman wrote that:

" Phillies G.M. Pat Gillick showed up at a Blue Jays game last week, then brought his right-hand man Charlie Kerfeld a couple days later. Gillick, who's unafraid to gamble, made the trade of the winter when he acquired righthander Freddy Garcia from the White Sox to bolster his rotation, and there's speculation that he may have interest in talented outfielder Alex Rios. If the Phillies were able to trade for Rios (or perhaps Reed Johnson), they might consider dealing Aaron Rowand to San Diego for Scott Linebrink. While the Phils are comfortable with Tom Gordon as closer, they're concerned about their middle men beyond righty Ryan Madson. The Blue Jays would want pitching in return for the talented Rios, and Philly's top prospect, lefty Cole Hamels, is the logical match. Regardless, it will take a lot more than Jon Lieber -- who has been said to be on the block -- to land Rios."
AWeb - Thursday, March 08 2007 @ 02:41 PM EST (#164183) #
Hey, if Spring games meant nothing, they wouldn't keep score...I for one am happy when a pitcher does well. Nice job Ohka!

Trading Rios for pitching would officially put Lind into the majors, I would assume. This might mitigate the loss of Rios (offense comparable, defense downgrade). Though as I harped about in a previous comment a while ago, the Jays have no depth anywhere. Outfield is the only (non pitching) position I see 4 players, including Lind, as legitimate above league average options. Trading from this strength makes superficial sense, because who else could the Jays trade for a top pitching talent aside from their top pitching? But then they're one injury from watching Matt Stairs everyday, or the return of Dave Berg (OK, maybe not that bad).

A trade like Rios/Hamels would add to the Jays upside (everyone healthy and good!), but make the downside much worse: now 1 OF injury from no clear, good, options, to go with 1B, 3B, 2B, C (I've already made it clear I don't think we have a good SS option now, and sworn to let it go.).  Who feels like gambling?

Gerry - Thursday, March 08 2007 @ 03:11 PM EST (#164184) #
Talking about the Phillies Jays discussions but going in a different direction.... Charlie Kerfeld is still in baseball?  I would have figured he would be running an auto body shop somewhere and hunting and fishing in his spare time.  For those youngsters out there Kerfeld was the 80's version of Bobby Jenks.  A big, big guy who had a couple of great years in the bullpen for Houston then faded away.  As I remember he was a "character" in the best sense of the word.
Jevant - Thursday, March 08 2007 @ 03:48 PM EST (#164186) #
Nice article by John Donovan about Thomas and the Jays in SI today.  Always nice to see the major sports news reporters talk about the Jays.
Paul D - Thursday, March 08 2007 @ 04:58 PM EST (#164188) #
Has anyone heard anything about Jo Matumoto  yet?  I don't think he's pitched in any of the games, and I wonder how he's doing.  I'd love to see him end up in Syracuse as starter.
Manhattan Mike - Thursday, March 08 2007 @ 05:36 PM EST (#164190) #

Jo did make an appearance for the Jays. On Tuesday, he allowed two runs, walked three and got one out when he relieved in the ninth inning in the game against Tampa.

He was then assigned to the team's minor league camp.

Eric Purdy - Thursday, March 08 2007 @ 05:41 PM EST (#164191) #
Jody Gerut was released by the Pirates earlier today. He missed all of last year due to knee problems and is still struggling with them this spring but I hope Ricciardi at least takes a look at him. He could be a definite upgrade defensively as far as fourth OF's go (all this is assuming the knee injury hasn't ruined him defensively) and has shown some competence with the bat before.
Smithers - Thursday, March 08 2007 @ 10:15 PM EST (#164199) #
Not the best news, it seems that Ryan Patterson broke his arm after being hit by a pitch in today's game against the Red Sox, according to Jordan Bastian's blog.  No word on how serious it is or how long he'll be out for yet.

Mylegacy - Friday, March 09 2007 @ 12:08 AM EST (#164201) #

Bad news about Patterson.

Slightly better news...I've been lurkin' on some Red Sox blogs and they're startin' to sweat about their bullpen. The ex-Mariner annointed as Paps-2 has an era over 8.00 and Timlin, who has yet to throw ONE pitch in a pre-season game is being penciled in. Has there ever been a team that looks as good as theirs everywhere except the bullpen? I see bullpens as winning 20+ games and saving 35+ on a good team.

55+ games...those wins and losses will spell the difference between glory and damnation.  I see the smoke, but do I see brimstone, fire and that dude with the horns and pointy tail (no... I'm not talkin' about Steinbrenner)? How often are the Sox going to have to sit the fat lady back down as they blow another one?

To quote Jackie Gleason (ya I know it shows my age) "How sweet it is!"

Gerry - Friday, March 09 2007 @ 09:35 AM EST (#164203) #

That's a bad "break" for Patterson, he was playing well in spring training.  Hopefully the three weeks of spring training left means he could be back in May.  The National Post reports on Patterson being hit but say he wasn't hurt, ouch!

Speaking of mistakes, the Star's game in a box has Marty Janssen coming out of retirement (and changing his name from Janzen) to give up the big hit to JD Drew yesterday.  Casey Janssen would beg to differ.

unclejim - Friday, March 09 2007 @ 01:18 PM EST (#164207) #
For those still nervous about J.P. on the trigger, Bastian's Blog has some reassuring news.

Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi told reporters Friday that he is not looking to trade Rios, especially for Phillies starter Jon Lieber. "You can blame Jeff Blair for all those Rios-for-Lieber rumors. You can write that," joked Ricciardi, giving the Globe and Mail writer a hard time. The Phillies covet Rios, but a deal might only be realistic if Philadelphia was willing to part with pitchers Cole Hamels or Brett Myers. Said Ricciardi: "They won't trade those guys."

Game has just started against the Astro's and for the first time we've got the full Jay's lineup on show.


Not a bad lineup, I wonder how close this is gonna be to the lineup in April ?

VBF - Friday, March 09 2007 @ 01:22 PM EST (#164209) #
If anybody wants to know, you can listen to today's game via  AM 790 Houston.
fozzy - Friday, March 09 2007 @ 01:31 PM EST (#164210) #
Blue Jays on the radio and the babes of the day; nice find VBF.

It would be great if someone was able to post a link for working feeds for these spring training games; I've been using Radiotime, but it's pretty hard to find the actual game with it lately.
Original Ryan - Friday, March 09 2007 @ 01:53 PM EST (#164211) #
For paid subscribers of MLB.TV, the MLB Radio package is now included and today's game featuring Jerry Howarth and Alan Ashby is available.  Ashby is getting the bulk of the play-by-play work for the internet-only games, presumably to get more comfortable in the role.

Adrock - Friday, March 09 2007 @ 02:40 PM EST (#164218) #
I just got back from spring training--for any of you that haven't ever been down, I highly recommend the trip.

One of the downsides to this year's trip was that owing to scheduling, rain delays, and a trip to the Phillies' stadium in Clearwater, we only saw 1.5 Jays games, rather than 4, and have little to offer in the scouting department, other than: Tomo Ohka looked awful. It's nice to see him bounce back against the hated Red Sox--there's hope for him yet.

On an off-field note, the players BBQ put on by the club for season ticket holders was once again an outstanding event. All of the players except the Big Hurt were there to serve food, sign autographs, pose for pictures, etc.

A fine time for any baseball fan, even those who, like me, put away the autograph book a long time ago. For the most part, the players were friendly and accommodating, and Royce Clayton served up some excellent pulled BBQ chicken, we can only hope he is as successful at the plate.

One exception: AJ Burnett is a jackass. He was a jackass last year, and again this year. It's no surprise he was disliked in Florida, and if he manages to make it through his tenure as a Blue Jay without a significant blowup with his teammates it will be a credit to their incredible patience and good humour.

If he wins 15+ games, I am sure it won't be an issue, as talent trumps just about everything, but if he starts to struggle on the mound, look out.

To end on a positive note, Roy Halladay and Vernon Wells were very friendly and accommodating to the fans, proving you can be supremely talented and a class act at the same time.
Mike Green - Friday, March 09 2007 @ 03:15 PM EST (#164220) #
Speaking of a bench outfielder, Gabe Gross seems to be out of a job in Milwaukee despite a very nice 2006. He'd be an upgrade on Matt Stairs if the price was right.
Flex - Friday, March 09 2007 @ 03:21 PM EST (#164221) #
Based on my brief interaction with AJ, I fully concur with the jackass description. Good to see it put so plainly.
Ron - Friday, March 09 2007 @ 04:11 PM EST (#164222) #

One exception: AJ Burnett is a jackass. He was a jackass last year, and again this year. It's no surprise he was disliked in Florida, and if he manages to make it through his tenure as a Blue Jay without a significant blowup with his teammates it will be a credit to their incredible patience and good humour.

Why was he a jackass? Care to share some details?

VBF - Friday, March 09 2007 @ 04:58 PM EST (#164223) #

Yea, I'd love to know what exactly he did. He's been nothing short of what women would refer to as a "sweetie" in Toronto. He signs autographs, smiles for pictures, waves to his name being called and whatnot. Players don't have to be "on" for the fans all the time and they don't have to like the media.

And besides, Burnett's the guy who's gonna bean Shea this year. We need him.

timpinder - Friday, March 09 2007 @ 05:03 PM EST (#164224) #
What did Burnett say or do that makes you think he's a jackass?  I'm just curious.
subculture - Saturday, March 10 2007 @ 12:31 AM EST (#164225) #
Gabe's lefty bat could sure help this lineup.... or Hinske.... or Koskie (pre-injury of course)....  does John-Ford Griffin have a shot at edging out Matt Stairs for a spot on this team?

Man, I'm praying for Russ Adams to realize he's better than Clayton and reclaim a spot on this team.... a solid-hitting lefty shortstop that can throw reliably, how sweet would that be?

And why is there any debate about batting Thomas after Glaus?  Similar offensive players, but Glaus runs about 5 times faster....  Glaus scored from first several times last year on Overbay doubles..... I know Thomas will not be doing the same.

Also, shouldn't Rios/Johnson be in the top 2 spots?  Overbay can protect Thomas, and doesn't run that well either.

ayjackson - Sunday, March 11 2007 @ 03:42 PM EDT (#164246) #
Doc was perfect in four innings today; BJ less so.  Rosario had another solid appearance.  And lefty Jason Smith has just about secured a roster spot, too - another two hits today.
Thomas - Sunday, March 11 2007 @ 04:33 PM EDT (#164247) #
Former Blue Jay Ricardo Jordan (15 pitching appearances in 1995; traded with Howard Battle for Paul Quantrill that offseason) was in his local newspaper recently, but not in a positive light.
Rob - Sunday, March 11 2007 @ 10:31 PM EDT (#164250) #
does John-Ford Griffin have a shot at edging out Matt Stairs for a spot on this team?

JFG won't hit as well, won't play the outfield as well (which is really saying something), and will ruin the Jamie Campbell Says "New Brunswick" Drinking Game. Other than that, yeah, sure.
AWeb - Monday, March 12 2007 @ 11:38 AM EDT (#164259) #
How has Halladay reinvented himself this spring? 4 perfect innings in a spring training game with only one ball hit out of the infield sounds a lot like old Halladay. Is he replacing the cut fastball, which might be hurting his arm, with something else (I hope with the gyroball)?
Week One: Not in the Books | 53 comments | Create New Account
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