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The Blue Jays take a .500 record into their last April game. Roy Halladay will try to end the month on a winning note before the team heads out on a six game road trip.

Halladay has been his usual outstanding staff, far and away the best news on the pitching staff. A.J. Burnett has been erratic; he's been very hard to hit, but he's been walking people at a rate that brings back memories of Mitch Williams. But I don't expect that to continue. The back end of the rotation is as clouded as ever. Gustavo Chacin has the ugliest ERA (5.60) and the prettiest W-L record (2-1), and provided the fewest innings per start of any of the five April starters. Tomo Ohka has been getting a little better each time out; yesterday's outing was his best yet. Neither of them is striking out even 4 batters per 9 innings, though. Which is a tad worrisome.

As for the other spot, Towers out and Zambrano in - I'm not particularly surprised. If a team has options, or thinks they do, a pitcher like Towers will always be on the shortest leash.

It's one of those weird baseball things. Everybody talks about how those bases on balls will kill you - general managers and coaches, managers and analysts. Everybody knows that the best pitch in baseball is strike one. Everybody says it, but nobody believes it. As soon as they see some hotshot with a 95 mph fastball, they turn into teenage girls, swooning over Justin Timberlake. Which is why pretty well every staff in the majors features five guys who can hit 95 on the radar gun for every one who walks fewer than two hitters per nine innings.

I'm fairly indifferent to the switch myself. I assume Zambrano will get his chance, and then it'll be John Thomson's turn. His rehab appears to be progressing nicely. By which time, Gustavo Chacin will probably have hurt his elbow again. I now assume the back end of the rotation will be a revolving door. This team has lots of options, and they'll probably make a point of going through them all.

I'm a Towers fan, and I wanted him in the rotation because of his upside - Towers at his best is better than Zambrano at his best, or Ohka at his best, and probably Chacin at his best. But we haven't seen it, and the team has other options. And when a pitcher like Towers, who doesn't look like Justin Timberlake...

Towers, it seems to me, is a pitcher in transition. He's becoming something new, and he's not quite there yet. He's neither the fine control artist of 2005 nor the walking disaster of 2006. And he isn't the scuffling, almost league-average guy of the years before that. I have long believed that pitchers go through a change of life around ages 29 or 30, and this Josh Towers is unfamiliar to me. Since when does he strike out 8.2 hitters per nine innings? He did this in the spring, too. I paid no attention at the time - it was spring training, and I assumed a few AA hitters were involved. But he's continued right along. He's becoming something new, I don't know what, but he's not there yet.

Towers hasn't pitched extensively out of the bullpen since 1997, his second year as a pro, when he made 30 of his 48 minor league appearances as a reliever. Just 9 of his 87 major league games came in relief. It's odd, though - the first pitcher Towers reminded me of, when he first arrived in Toronto, was Paul Quantrill. The Mighty Q washed out as a starter, but had a number of outstanding years in relief. Quantrill, of course, had as resilient an arm of any pitcher I have ever seen - Q preferred to pitch every other day, and never had a sore arm.

But Towers really isn't much like Q - neither of them walk anybody, and they both give up lots and lots of hits. But Quantrill was an extreme ground-ball pitcher who never gave up home runs, either. Towers gets many more ground balls than he used to, but he's still vulnerable to the Big Fly. And Quantrill was basically a one-pitch guy - sinking fastball, low and away, again and again and again. It didn't work twice through the order. Towers is a fastball-slider guy, who mixes in the occasional off-speed pitch. When he was on top of his game, he turned out to be more like Brad Radke than anyone else. But that was the old Towers. I don't know what we have now.

If Zambrano doesn't get it done, they'll turn to Thomson. If that doesn't work, one presumes they'll give the Kids a Chance. Marcum and Janssen have both done some impressive things in April - they've both done some unimpressive things as well. Marcum's mistakes have drawn more attention - giving up home runs in the late innings will get noticed. Marcum allowed 4 homers in just 12 innings. You can't succeed doing that. Janssen didn't do that. Janssen doesn't believe in the three true outcomes. In his 13.2 innings, he allowed 0 homers, 1 walk, and struck out just 2 batters. The ball was always in play, but at least it was always playable. But you can't succeed doing that, either.

Doc is the pitcher of the month, obviously. And Aaron Hill gets my vote as player of the month. It's awfully close, because Vernon Wells had a nice April as well. Wells can play better than he did, though - I think this is about as good as Hill can get. It's plenty good enough. Curiously, Hill and Wells had almost identical offensive numbers.

Honourable mention to John McDonald. Not just for the 10 game hitting streak - he's slugging .605. John McDonald! If he goes 1-22, he'll still be hitting .300. And face it folks - who on this team is more likely to go 1-22 than Johnny Mac?

Well Jason Smith, obviously. Jason Phillips... yeah, I think so (oh, Jason, it's OK to mix in an extra base hit from time to time.) And I can easily see Royce Clayton pulling that off. I suppose Sal Fasano's also got that sort of thing in him, although he'd probably mix in a few HBPs along the way...

30 April 2007: Treading Water | 84 comments | Create New Account
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Jordan - Monday, April 30 2007 @ 09:18 AM EDT (#166877) #

Everything considered, a near-.500 mark coming out of April is probably acceptable. On the one hand, the team lost its third baseman and #5 hitter, its left fielder and leadoff man, and its closer in the space of about a week. Not many teams could breeze through that, and the Jays have at least not collapsed, as the Yankees seem to have done already.

On the other hand, April's schedule was not that tough -- the Tigers and Yankees played a lot weaker in reality than they looked on paper coming into the season -- and there were about five games in there that the Jays really could have won. Gibbons' bullpen management and Ricciardi's horrible bench can probably account for about half of those. (Where would this team be if Matt Stairs had had to play left field instead of Adam Lind?) The club was dealt a mediocre hand in April, but management underplayed it anyway.

There's no point bellyaching about the bench anymore, though -- what's done is done, and the only change likely to come soon will be of the 25th-man variety. For better or worse, the 2007 Jays will be a team of about 7 or 8 Grade-A players backed up by a whole lot of Cs and Ds elsewhere.

I'm not greatly fussed about Towers' demotion, though I think the team is fooling itself if it thinks Zambrano is the answer to any question worth asking. I said before the season that the team will have to mix-and-match its available starters and go with the hot hand whenever possible. Whether Ricciardi and Gibbons can actually pull that off will be the key to the season.I wouldn't have pulled the plug on Towers this quickly -- not with that K rate -- but it's abundantly clear that Ricciardi and especially Gibbons have no confidence in Towers anymore, so this was inevitable. I don't see Josh finishing the year with the Jays, and I don't see them getting much in return for him if stays in long relief. Magpie is probably right that the Jays will waste a few starts on Zambrano and Thomson before giving Janssen the opportunity, but I'd go with Casey right now. His current K rate is an extreme aberration -- it was 6.75/9 in Syrcause last year and 7.89/9 for his minor-league career; he will strike out more batters.

The Jays are going to send three position players to the All-Star Game this season -- Wells, Rios and Hill. By the end of May (hopefully much sooner), Hill will be leading off and the lineup will really start clicking with a Hill-Overbay-Wells-Thomas-Glaus-Rios combo (the less said about the bottom third of the order, the better).

One last thing -- very quietly, the Jays are 11-2 in SB-CS, fifth in the league in stolen base percentage. Nice start.

Mike Green - Monday, April 30 2007 @ 09:22 AM EDT (#166878) #
So, you think April, 2007 is as good as it gets for Aaron Hill?  In the immortal words of Randy Bachman, you aint see nuthin' yet. 

He's going to get on base 38% of the time in his prime, as pitchers start to show him some respect. Great ballplayer.
Mylegacy - Monday, April 30 2007 @ 10:44 AM EDT (#166883) #

Magpie, when you wake up from your dream...the truth about Towers will return to you and you'll realize his problem is, and always will be, his stuff is just TOO close to being slaughtered. Every pitch...if it misses by 2.54 centimeters (1 inch to us oldies)...BANG, to the moon. Towers is a GREAT 4th or 5th starter on a contending AAA team, or the Royals (maybe). The time has come to move on...Janssen and or McGowan MUST be in the starting rotation by mid-May for us to have a chance.

If League had been League and Ryan had been Ryan...sigh...NO QUESTION...we'd be eye ball to eye ball with Boston, and more than likely they'd be looking up at us. are right about Hill. This guy is going to grow up and become Molitor.

ChicagoJaysFan - Monday, April 30 2007 @ 11:15 AM EDT (#166885) #
My last comment on Towers, but what's most interesting about him this year I think is that when he's a strikeout pitcher is also when he gets hit really hard.  He has two games this year where he's had more than a K per inning.  In those two games, he's given up 4 homers, 2 doubles, and 2 triples, and 15 hits total, in 47 batters faced.  It's a sample size issue (as are the K rates when they're driven by two starts), but maybe when he's striking people out, he's pitching differently and his mistakes are more hittable than when he's pitching for contact.

It's really weird looking at his starts though - he's either striking people out and getting hit hard, or else he's not striking people out and he's walking them (4 walks in 12 innings in the other 2 starts).

Chuck - Monday, April 30 2007 @ 11:19 AM EDT (#166886) #

He's going to get on base 38% of the time in his prime

Hill may well become Mr. 38%, I won't argue that. But to do so, he will have to fight the same inclination he shares with Wells and Lind: swinging at chest high fastballs. While Wells does occasionally park one of those over the left field fence (though perhaps not frequently enough to warrant chasing those pitches), that can't be part of Hill's game. Once he limits his strike zone to a nice tight little square, he'll be takin' care of business.

Is Hill's future as the team's leadoff hitter? I would imagine so, though I expect a couple of factors are preventing that transition from taking place right at the moment: (a) Reed Johnson is still considered the leadoff hitter and Rios merely a placeholder, to eventually return to the more appropriate role of table clearer rather than table setter, (b) Hill is succeeding where he is, and perhaps Gibbons is reluctant to want to mess with something that's working.

Some other random comments (knowing I run the risk of looking like Steve Simmons):

* Jason Smith's abysmal strike zone judgement is growing very tiresome. His one offensive skill is isolated slugging, and if he isn't doing anything on that front, there's not much he brings to the table.

* Vernon Wells' 298/368/543 has seemed awfully quiet, almost certainly a function of the particular games I have seen. His OPS is virtually identical to last year's.

* Adam Lind's most impressive single stat to me has been his 7 walks to go with his 48 AB. He's definitely not going to the plate looking for walks, but he's taking them when they're being offered. It's nice to see that discipline so early. In a world where Hill is the team's leadoff hitter, Lind as it's #2 man looks fine to me.

* Both Overbay and Thomas look awkward at the plate. I don't know that I've ever seen either lunge so much at pitches.

* What happens when Zambrano's turn on the carrousel comes to an end? Do we just trade him for Kazimir? Would anyone be foolish enough to do that? I imagine that Magpie is right, and that Thomson is next in line. I am getting the feeling that Janssen and Marcum will only get their chances once all the veterans have had their turns.

* Funny that Gustavo Chacin's capital from the 2005 season has earned him so much lattitude, while Towers' hasn't. To me, the whole lot of the back-end starters are pick-your-poison types, so if the organization sees something to favour one over another, then who am I to judge? I don't know that I could slot any one of them ahead of any of the others at this point.

* The Shaun Marcum fan club might consist of just two people (Mike G and myself), but I remain optimistic. Those hanging breaking balls have been a disaster, but those 17 K in 12 innings must portend good things. No? I will concede that Marcum's 2007 is looking eerily like Brad Lidge's 2006, so maybe you can strike out 1.5 men per inning and still not be effective.


China fan - Monday, April 30 2007 @ 11:28 AM EDT (#166888) #

    Jordan, your proposed lineup would put Adam Lind in the bottom third of the lineup.  But then you add, dismissively: "the less said about the bottom third of the order, the better."   Why such a sweeping dismissal of Adam Lind?  You don't like the guy?

    Also, you seem to be claiming that one-quarter of the Jays losses can be attributed to "the horrible bench".    Can you identify the three losses that you blame on the "horrible bench"?  And I assume that everybody else on the team, including Thomas and Overbay, played wonderfully in those three losses, but their heroic efforts were sabotaged by an error by Matt Stairs or Jason Smith, is that correct?

Jordan - Monday, April 30 2007 @ 11:29 AM EDT (#166889) #

The Shaun Marcum fan club might consist of just two people (Mike G and myself

Three. I've liked Marcum all the way through the minors and have generally placed him above Janssen. He may well be more valuable to the team as a reliever right now, but he'll contribute more than gopher balls to this team soon enough. That emergency save against the Tigers showed me a lot.

Jordan - Monday, April 30 2007 @ 11:57 AM EDT (#166890) #

My error on Lind -- I counted Johnson out of the lineup and forgot to reinsert Lind in his place. But I still think Hill and Overbay should bat 1-2. Much as I like him, it's asking a lot of Lind to maintain a .357 OBP all season. When the pitchers start adjusting, he's going to go through the same desert that Hill went through after his hot start.

Much as as I'd love to spend the morning going through the box scores for April to identify the losses attributable to Matt Stairs' inability to play the field or Jason Smith's 567 OPS in 17 games, I'll take a pass. But if you'd like to make the case that the bench has been expertly assembled and hasn't damaged the team's winning percentage, go right ahead.

Frank Markotich - Monday, April 30 2007 @ 12:07 PM EDT (#166891) #

After reviewing post-game comments on this site for the first month, I would like to set out some basic general principles I'm sure we can all agree on to eliminate unnecessary repetition for the balance of the season.

Important Note: the following only apply after a loss.

1. Any opposing batter who hits a home run should have been intentionally walked instead.

2. Any relief pitcher who allows a run should never have been in the game at that point.

3. If the infield was playing in and a ground ball gets through, they should have been playing back for the double play.

4 (a) JP Ricciardi should be fired for the poor roster construction which led to this loss.

4 (b) John Gibbons should be fired for the inept managing which led to this loss.

In the future, posters can simply quote the appropriate number rather than going on for several paragraphs. This will not only save valuable time, but the reduction in typing required will mitigate the risk of painful repetitive strain injury.



China fan - Monday, April 30 2007 @ 12:14 PM EDT (#166892) #

   If someone wants to claim that half of the 5 worst losses were due to the "horrible bench", I think the burden of proof is on him to find some evidence to support the claim.   The Box is supposed to be the place for empirical evidence, rather than sweeping generalizations.   I'd like to see evidence of even a single game this year where the box-score would put the blame on the bench for the loss.  I thought if you're going to make the sweeping generalization, you would have had at least one game in mind.  But apparently not.

     It's pretty difficult for any GM to "expertly assemble"  the perfect bench, because baseball is an imperfect world.  There are hundreds of real-world factors that prevent any GM from assembling the ideal bench.  I haven't seen anyone provide evidence that the ideal bench could have been easily assembled in the off-season.  The only name that is constantly mentioned is Eric Hinske, but there's no evidence that Hinske is easily available at a cheap price.  A year ago, most people wanted to dump Hinske and his huge salary, but now apparently some people think that Hinske could have single-handedly prevented half of those 5 frustrating losses.

    As for Jason Smith -- his low number is easily outweighed by John McDonald's .600 slugging average.   You can't cherry-pick the worst player on the bench and pretend that the entire bench is hitting as poorly as him.  That's not a fair argument.  If you're condemning the entire bench, you've got to consider everyone on the bench, not just one player.  When you said "horrible bench", did you actually just mean "horrible Jason Smith"?  And can several losses be blamed on Jason Smith?   Personally I think we need to have higher expectations of the $10-million hitters, not the $500,000 role players.

owen - Monday, April 30 2007 @ 12:16 PM EDT (#166893) #
(a) Reed Johnson is still considered the leadoff hitter and Rios merely a placeholder, to eventually return to the more appropriate role of table clearer rather than table setter, (b) Hill is succeeding where he is, and perhaps Gibbons is reluctant to want to mess with something that's working.

Chuck I agree with you, especially regarding Aaron Hill.  I wrote a fairly longwinded (and my very first) post on the same topic late last night, which you have captured using an element of pithy that I often lack.

As for the revolving door of the 3-4-5 spot, while I find it impossible to disagree with almost all disparaging comments made about Chacin, I don't know that Ohka is necessarily going to last very long, either.  I know that yesterday's line looks really good, but in my opinion he was really lucky to get out of there alive.  I mean come on, he walked 3 and struck out 2, throwing 60 strikes in 102 pitches?  Well, that's what he has done his whole career so it's no surprise ... but it's also the reason why he rarely throws 100 innings in a season, even in the National League.  It didn't kill him last night, but it came darn close.  In the first couple innings, he only got outs when guys scorched the ball to the track but juuust not quite out (Juicy McSteroids just missed another one), or when they ripped the ball in Aaron's direction but he "Robertoed" them back to the dugout.  Or when they were caught stealing.  Not when they were overwhelmed by Tomo's ability to, you know, pitch.

I can aknowledge that he settled down after the first few frames, and benefitted from a trust that Gibbons only puts in his pitchers when they have a 6 run lead and there is nobody left in the pen. But on the whole, I think that Ohka was a hair away from turning in another 4ER, 5 inning start.  If we remember that he came into the game with that sweet 6.23 ERA and that his MO really is 4ER, 5 innings with too many walks, we may as well just think of him as a more durable, right handed Gustavo and get read to replace him, too, by the end of June.

owen - Monday, April 30 2007 @ 12:22 PM EDT (#166894) #
And Chinafan, I think you are absolutely right.  In particular, I would say that Adam Lind counts as part of the 'bench', and JP definitely knew all along, that he, you know, existed and would probably fill in if Reed got hurt - hence the non-signing of the Cat.  And Lind hasn't played like a horrible bench player, as much as he has played like a solid everyday hitter, thus far.
Rob - Monday, April 30 2007 @ 12:35 PM EDT (#166895) #
Much as as I'd love to spend the morning going through the box scores for April to identify the losses attributable to Matt Stairs' inability to play the field or Jason Smith's 567 OPS in 17 games, I'll take a pass.

According to WPA, Stairs (-0.52) and Smith (-0.54) are indeed in last place on the team. But Stairs, as far as WPA says, hasn't been the worst hitter (or even the third-worst hitter) in any of this team's losses. It doesn't help his case, though, that the Jays ran off that winning streak late in the month without any help from him.

As for Smith, he's contributed a positive WPA to exactly three games so far: April 7, when he singled but didn't score in the seventh and struck out with two on and two out in the eighth; April 12, when he walked in the eighth and later scored, but the Tigers won 5-4; and April 20, when he walked in the seventh and later scored, but the Orioles won 5-4.

I'll leave John McDonald's heroics to someone else, since I can't stomach that on a nice day like today.
tmlfan4ever - Monday, April 30 2007 @ 12:55 PM EDT (#166896) #
The guys over at do weekly power rankings based on "adjusted standings". These "adjusted standings" are comprised of expected win/loss records deriving from a number of factors including run differential, equivalent runs and strength of schedule. Based on these rankings the Jays roll in at #3 in the entire MLB (With an adjusted record of  14.70-9.30). While these figures are strictly hypothetical, it is worth noting that this is indicative of two things: For one, the Jays have done an excellent job of "treading water" given the injury bug that has ripped through this team. BUT more importantly, the Jays have clearly played better than there 12-12 record indicates. For everyone reaching for the big red panic button, try to keep this month in perspective. Let's give the Jays some time to a) get healthy; and b) put together consistent efforts from all 4 contributing bodies: offense, defense, the rotation and bullpen on a day-by-day basis.
Hodgie - Monday, April 30 2007 @ 12:55 PM EDT (#166897) #

"Much as I like him, it's asking a lot of Lind to maintain a .357 OBP all season. When the pitchers start adjusting, he's going to go through the same desert that Hill went through after his hot start."

It is certainly possible that will happen, but hardly a given. Entering his fourth year of professional baseball, Lind has shown the remarkable ability to adjust almost seemlessly to each level. Beginning this season, he has yet to post a batting average less than .310 and his worst OBP is .357. I realize it is still a small sample size, but in 121 Major League plate appearences spanning his two callups, he has now drawn 12 walks and is getting on base at a .388 clip.

Of course, he will have his slumps as all hitters eventually do, but given his track record (minors and majors) I think a .360+ OBP is a prefectly reasonable expectation of him this year.

John Northey - Monday, April 30 2007 @ 01:03 PM EDT (#166898) #
Just took a look at the standings and noticed something. The Jays are exactly where they ended last season, 2nd in the AL East. Despite all the injuries and weird moves by Gibbons (Stairs pinch running? Stairs??? C'mon, use a pitcher like Josh Towers who if he gets hurt you don't mind). 1 1/2 games out of the Wild Card (Minnesota has it at the moment). 2 1/2 ahead of the Yankees.

Things could easily be better (especially if they watched certain pitchers offseasons closer) but no matter how frustrating it has been with the close losses the Jays are right there after the first month. To steal a line from figure skating, you don't win the title in April but you sure can lose it. But even then, in 1989 they won a division title after starting 12-24.

Bid - Monday, April 30 2007 @ 01:36 PM EDT (#166899) #

Jordan writes, " But I still think Hill and Overbay should bat 1-2. " Someone else mentioned Lyle lunging at the ball. A much smarter baseball observer than myself told me that Overbay's two-hole obligation to hit behind the runner has him trying to pull too much and it's messed up his swing. That sounds right to me, and I think he should hit third or lower down (as in 2006) depending on the pitcher.

Whatever John Towers' future might be, his recent past--ever since he disappointed those who gave him the big contract--has been full of leash-jerks. I hope he kills in the pen.

Finally, any time the Rangers want to run the directionally impaired Sosa out in right (or any other) field, is good times by me.


mathesond - Monday, April 30 2007 @ 01:51 PM EDT (#166900) #

Finally, any time the Rangers want to run the directionally impaired Sosa out in right (or any other) field, is good times by me.

Hear hear!


Jordan - Monday, April 30 2007 @ 03:21 PM EDT (#166905) #

The Box is supposed to be the place for empirical evidence, rather than sweeping generalizations.   I'd like to see evidence of even a single game this year where the box-score would put the blame on the bench for the loss.  I thought if you're going to make the sweeping generalization, you would have had at least one game in mind.  But apparently not.

Exactly one: Matt Stairs' inability to play even a decent outfield contributed substantially to Josh Towers' first loss of the season April 10 against Tampa; an adequate outfielder would have made plays that staunched the bleeding and kept him in the game. But then, I'm sure you'll say that the regulars made errors of their own and that the bench is just fine -- oh wait, you already said it.

But whatever. I freely concede I have no interest in parsing a month of boxscores to continue this conversation, so if you want your climbdown from the "half the losses" statement, here it is. Not that that changes in any way the bench's suckitude. But as I said in my original post, there's no point continuing to complain about the bench, so this is all I'll say on the subject henceforth.

By the way, if you want to know what "The Box is supposed to be the place for," it's this: when you question someone's assertions around here, you do it congenially and you put in the effort to produce some "empirical evidence" of your own, as Rob did in his post above. Please don't give me lectures on what this site is about.

actionjackson - Monday, April 30 2007 @ 03:21 PM EDT (#166906) #
Not to bludgeon it to death, but what if the Jays decision to remove Towers from the rotation was not based on numbers at all? I know we here at the Box like to look at the numbers for explanations and that subjective evaluations are below objective ones on the food for thought chain, but what if it was based on mound comportment? Don't get me wrong I love Josh, but he does have the mound comportment of a gopher, cranking his neck this way and that, sensing danger at every turn, while Ohka looks like he needs a cattle prod to get him out to the mound every inning. Ohka and Chacin for that matter are more like house cats: "What me worry?". Perhaps you could even go as far as putting Ohka in the 3-toed sloth category as nothing seems to faze him. The world could be falling apart around him and he's chomping on his gum looking completely disinterested. He certainly doesn't give any indication that he's stressed out by the responsibilities of being a starting pitcher on a contending major league team. Chacin's pretty good at the poker face too and I think that demeanour is more appropriate to the role of starting pitcher, where you will get yourself into jams and keeping your cool can help you get out of them with less damage. Obviously if the ability isn't there to match the calm exterior than this post is hogwash, but as we've been discussing there's not much to choose from objectively between these three, so maybe you have to look at the subjective. I know which two pitchers I'd feel more comfortable playing behind. Just a thought.
Pistol - Monday, April 30 2007 @ 03:22 PM EDT (#166907) #
As for Jason Smith -- his low number is easily outweighed by John McDonald's .600 slugging average.   You can't cherry-pick the worst player on the bench and pretend that the entire bench is hitting as poorly as him.  That's not a fair argument.  If you're condemning the entire bench, you've got to consider everyone on the bench, not just one player.

Well, here they are:

John McDonald   38 0.447 0.462 0.605 1.067
Jason Phillips   32 0.313 0.353 0.313 0.665
Matt Stairs   30 0.267 0.333 0.300 0.633
Jason Smith   41 0.220 0.273 0.293 0.565

McDonald is hitting well, but he's a career .244/.285/.321 hitter over 1000+ ABs.  I'll bet he hits closer to a .600 OPS the rest of the way than a .800 OPS.

Phillips and Stairs are nothing to brag about and Smith is simply overmatched.

The A's just picked up Ryan Langerhans for just about nothing (PTBNL or cash).  He'd be an upgrade on Stairs and could cover all 3 OF positions.  The Jays should do some digging for someone that could do that and for someone that can cover 1b/3b (like a Russ Branyan).

The Jays could have had Todd Walker for a reasonable price as well prior to the season (not that he's playing well, but at least has a history of it).

But a poor bench is a minor problem.  The Yankees never have a good bench and they manage to make the playoffs every year.
dan gordon - Monday, April 30 2007 @ 03:53 PM EDT (#166909) #

Stairs' career OPS is about 100 points higher than Langerhans'.  In both 2005 and 2006 Stairs was better in HR, RBI, AVE and OPS, and so far this year, Langerhans is hitting .068 and slugging .098.  He is not a good hitter.  With 3 excellent defensive outfielders (Wells, Rios and Johnson), the Jays' needed a bat more than a glove for their 4th outfielder.  Stairs is clearly the superior hitter.

I'm surprised at all the complaining about the Jays bench.   

FanfromTheIsland - Monday, April 30 2007 @ 03:55 PM EDT (#166910) #
The Shaun Marcum fan club now has 4 members.
actionjackson - Monday, April 30 2007 @ 04:06 PM EDT (#166911) #
I prefer Marcum to Janssen, who at some point will run out of luck, if he doesn't start striking out hitters. To me, neither is particularly suited to work past the 7th inning, i.e. both should be long relievers/early set-up men, although I'd be happy to stick Marcum in there late when he stops leaving fat change-ups and sliders over the heart of the plate. It is very early in the season though, so the usual small sample size cautions apply. I'm happy to see Frasor, Accardo, and Downs getting most of the high leverage situations lately and Towers and Tallet should be held back for the lowest leverage situations possible. Please put me down for membership in the Shaun Marcum fan club and enter my resounding "NO!" to the question of whether he should be sent out to Syracuse to resolve his long ball issues. Not yet anyway.
Mike D - Monday, April 30 2007 @ 04:11 PM EDT (#166912) #

My personal take on what steps the club should take as it goes forward from 12-12, assuming that JP strongly prefers not to add a bat or a bullpen arm via trading pitching prospects (which I would definitely look into, since Thomas and maybe Burnett are only here for this season and next).

1.  Cut Smith loose and replace him on the roster with someone capable of supplying average outfield defence.

2.  Strictly limit the use of Stairs to (a) pinch-hitting for the shortstop and (b) infrequently spelling Thomas and Overbay.

3.  Stretch out Downs, permitting him to face intervening righthanded hitters between lefties in an inning.

Of the five soul-crushing frittered-away wins (this club really should be 15-9, at least), I don't blame Gibby for three of them -- for the Detroit and Tampa Bay losses, the right guy was on the mound but his arm didn't cooperate, and for the Texas loss, the right guy was on the mound and had an uncharacteristically poor outing.  I do believe that Gibbons managed the bullpen very poorly in the Boston and Baltimore losses.

I really believe that the team and roster should be managed carefully (and in a non-defeatist way) through the Johnson and Ryan injuries, because with the Yankees currently in disarray and the Red Sox enjoying what will be their most healthy period of the season, this division actually might be winnable this season.

Marc Hulet - Monday, April 30 2007 @ 04:24 PM EDT (#166913) #
Having Stairs on the team is really hurting the Jays, well having three DHs is hurting the team (Thomas, Stairs and Glaus while hobbled). I would like to see Stairs jettisoned for a left-handed bat that can play the field.
Barry Bonnell - Monday, April 30 2007 @ 04:25 PM EDT (#166914) #

Gibby said on the morning show that Towers was removed from the rotation because the team simply wasn't winning ballgames when he was pitching.  Strikeout ration and other stats be damned.

This is why Chacin gets some leeway methinks; because even with his less than impressive stats the team seems to win more that it's fair share of ballgames when Gus is on the mound.

Jevant - Monday, April 30 2007 @ 04:45 PM EDT (#166915) #
To be sure, we've had our fair share of soul-crushing losses early on.  But the bottom line is, every team has a number of those each year.  That's the beauty (and curse) of baseball. You simply don't win every game you "should".

At the same time, I'd tend to agree that having 2 guys who really shouldn't be in the field much, if at all (Thomas, Stairs) and 2 guys on the roster with almost exactly the same role (McDonald, Smith) seems a little much.  I didn't like the Hinske trade when it happened, and of course it looks especially bad now.

The Jays brass must have really liked Smith's ST and left-handedness.  Same with Stairs.  If they don't trust Stairs in the OF (and they shouldn't from the look of things), they are going to need to either find another OF in a hurry, or call someone up.  Because he's not working in the OF (and if he's not there, I don't see how he really fits on this team). 

It is ironic how these things turn around quickly.  I remember when we got Koskie, everyone said we had too many 3rd basemen.  Now, thanks to Mr. Hillenbrand and Mr. Hinske, we're down to one.  If they can find someone who could play 3rd and 1st in a pinch, that would be really nice.

I'm not too worried about the pitching staff.  Nobody's bullpen is perfect, nor is anybody's starting rotation.  And the depth in the rotation is really encouraging.

seeyou - Monday, April 30 2007 @ 04:51 PM EDT (#166916) #
Looks like Syracuse pitcher Matt Roney just failed a drug test:

Too bad, sounds like he was having a decent start to the season, and with the bullpen panning out the way it is, we might need all the depth we can get.

owen - Monday, April 30 2007 @ 04:53 PM EDT (#166917) #
There is a clear preference in the box for Marcum of Janssen and I don't quite understand it.  Is it just DIPS theory?

I mean, Janssen has got more done for the Jays, both last year and this year. I guess the roughly 100 innings we have available to compare Janssen to Marcum are too small a sample size to draw any real conclusions apart from the observation that Marcum strikes out alot more than Janssen, but I think what is equally clear is that Janssen has far better command of his pitches, both inside the strike zone and out of it.  Marcum gives up jacks because his stuff isn't there when he thinks it is going to be, and the breaking ball hangs; Janssen knows what his slider is about to do, and throws it accordingly.

Basically, the only reason I can see to prefer Marcum is that he strikes more guys out.  But do people really feel, when watching the two pitch, that Janssen is lucky to get out of innings alive, while Marcum is an adjustment or two away from solving is HR problems and sticking in the majors?  To me, this season in particular, Janssen has looked excellent, both in the Spring and in the real games, and if we are thinking about "mound comportment", I know that I feel much more comfortable right now, as a fan, with Casey on the mound.
Mylegacy - Monday, April 30 2007 @ 04:53 PM EDT (#166918) #

Owen, I wanna' make sure I've got the jist of your above comments, so I've taken the liberty of paraphrasing them...

After writing a longwinded first effort, last evening, that was (apparently) lacking in a reasonable amount of "pithy,"... you proceeded through the numbers 3 - 4 - 5 revolving doors where (also apparently) it is impossible to disagree with almost all disparaging comments...except when juicy McSteriods made Aaron "Robertoed" back to the dugout.

O...K... I guess that is why Yogi always said, "99 and a half % of this game is half mental."

Owen, I think you're gonna' fit in here just "swell." 

Ron - Monday, April 30 2007 @ 04:56 PM EDT (#166919) #
If they don't trust Stairs in the OF (and they shouldn't from the look of things), they are going to need to either find another OF in a hurry, or call someone up.  Because he's not working in the OF (and if he's not there, I don't see how he really fits on this team).

Based on the fact the Jays continue to trot out Stairs in the OF, they do trust him. A lot of teams probably would have pulled the plug after seeing Stairs fumble around in his first appearance this season. Heck a lot of teams probably wouldn't have used him in the OF in the first place.

Whether we like it or not, Stairs will continue to see time in LF and RF.

owen - Monday, April 30 2007 @ 05:02 PM EDT (#166920) #
well, mylegacy, you've pretty much got it.  I think that Hill shouldn't lead off because he's comfortable where he is right now, I think Ohka is just as bad (or worse) than Chacin and Towers, and I think that Sammy Sosa is best described using improvised monikers which are meant to be pejorative and reference his previous chemical enhancements.  I also think that Yogi has his fractions right, and that he and I could have sat down and had a long conversation and understood each other perfectly.
Mike D - Monday, April 30 2007 @ 05:17 PM EDT (#166922) #

To be sure, we've had our fair share of soul-crushing losses early on.  But the bottom line is, every team has a number of those each year.  That's the beauty (and curse) of baseball. You simply don't win every game you "should".

You're generally right, of course, but it's unfortunately not been a "fair share."  The Jays' bullpen has lost five games, and each time they were entrusted with an eighth- or ninth-inning lead (or multiple leads).  The Jays have only won two games off opposing relievers, and both of those wins were in tie games in which Halladay pitched (in other words, it wasn't at all far-fetched to win them).  They are 0-5 in the "soul-crushing" category.  Even if you allow for two such losses per month, that would make the Jays one game back instead of four.

Chuck - Monday, April 30 2007 @ 05:24 PM EDT (#166923) #

I still believe that Stairs was seen primarily as cheap DH insurance, good to start the 25-30 games that Thomas wouldn't, and less as someone who would actually take the field.  I can't believe his role as 4th outfielder was much more than nominal, with Lind to eventually assume the role for real after a stint in AAA.

With Johnson hurt, everything has changed, of course, and roles and time tables have been altered accordingly.

Until Johnson returns, the team can certainly use a real outfielder, preferably a RH bat who can serve as a defensive caddy for Lind and sometimes platoon mate when Lind needs a rest. Whether that new player (have I just described the 2005 version of Reed Johnson?) should supplant Stairs or Smith, I'm not entirely sure (at the start of the year, the case seemed stronger for MacDonald being the odd man, rather than the LH Smith, but his Splendid Splinter imitation and his history with the organization have likely bought him the edge).

Based on talent alone, I'd say that Stairs easily trumps Smith. But there are factors in Smith's favour. Basically, Glaus is proving much wobblier than Thomas, so it is the former who needs the backup more than the latter (this surely has to be a surprise given the recent health records of the two men in question). Further, Smith was a rule 5 pickup and can't be sent to AAA whereas Stairs can.

dalimon5 - Monday, April 30 2007 @ 05:36 PM EDT (#166924) #


I agree. Put me in the Janssen camp. I think Marcum will be just fine, although I definitely agree that his control is off, especially with the offspeed change up. I am still scratching my head after he served up a change to Manny, in the strike zone.

In terms of make up, for pitchers, my list goes as follows (Think Papelbon-like):

1. Halladay
2. Ryan
3. Downs
4. Janssen

Lastly, what does everyone think about Burnett? Unlike Halladay, Ryan and a lot of other good pitchers who I see walking halfway from the mound to the plate after every pitch, to anxiously get the ball back from the cather...Burnett kind of just takes his time with everything. Obviously this doesn't mean anything bad, but every time I see him pitch (I missed last NYY game), opposing hitters almost ALWAYS take more time outs than when they face, say, Halladay. Maybe there are trying to get to AJ's mental concentration?

One more thing: Sometimes I read the posts on this site and just smile. You guys hit the nail on the head so to speak. I swear I was THIS close to saving one so I could call JP and read it verbatim.
John Northey - Monday, April 30 2007 @ 05:40 PM EDT (#166925) #
Gibby said on the morning show that Towers was removed from the rotation because the team simply wasn't winning ballgames when he was pitching. Strikeout ratio and other stats be damned.

Argh!!! Chacin gets the W due to massive run support year in, year out while Towers has been the tough luck pitcher. Neither gets to swing a bat so how on earth can you use run support to decide who gets to start and who gets to sit on the bench?!? I really thought this stuff was cleared up a couple of years ago but obviously not.

Run support for Josh - 3 runs, 2 runs, 2 runs, 3 runs.
Run support for Chacin - 5 runs, 7 runs, 2 runs, 3 runs, 9 runs.

If Josh was in Chacin's slot and pitched the same he'd be L, W, L, L, ? (with 9 runs to work with) while Chacin in Josh's slot would've been L, L, W, L. Things worked out for the Jays since the team won 3 rather than 2 of those games.

I guess Gibbons and JP are following the Jack Morris vs Dave Stieb theory that Morris was better as he 'had the ability to pitch to the score' even though no proof of this has ever been shown beyond the raw W totals.
Mike D - Monday, April 30 2007 @ 05:47 PM EDT (#166926) #

I actually did some research into soul-crushing games thus far this season after Saturday's loss.  Only Seattle has not played in a soul-crusher this season (meaning a game in which one of the teams had an eighth- or ninth-inning lead and lost the game).

Of the other clubs...

Boston is 3-0.  Milwaukee, Texas and the Dodgers are 2-0.  Minnesota is 1-0.

Arizona and the Mets are 3-1.  Washington, Tampa Bay, St. Louis, San Francisco and the Angels are 1-1.

Atlanta and the White Sox are 3-2.  Pittsburgh, Houston, Baltimore, Oakland, Cleveland and the Yankees are 2-2.  Kansas City, San Diego and Cincinnati are 1-2.

Florida is 1-3.

Colorado and Detroit (!) are 3-4.  Philadelphia, generally considered the most snakebitten team, are 1-4.

And then there's Toronto at 0-5.  Not only is that statistically unlucky, those odds are magnified because the bullpen has generally pitched well for the Jays this season.

Chuck - Monday, April 30 2007 @ 05:48 PM EDT (#166927) #

Lastly, what does everyone think about Burnett?

Nuke LaLoosh. He needs to breathe with his eyes or wear Susan Sarandon's garter belt or something. The machinery is great but could use a CPU upgrade.

Magpie - Monday, April 30 2007 @ 05:50 PM EDT (#166928) #
Towers was removed from the rotation because the team simply wasn't winning ballgames when he was pitching.

I'd be much, much happier if he'd said they didn't like the way he was throwing the ball, if they thought he was giving up too many hits, if they thought he was losing his focus from time to time. But utterly moronic statements like that from the people running the team scare the crap out of me. No one wins consistently with run support of 2.5 per start. No one. Not even Johan Santana.

Well... Sandy Koufax in the mid 1960s. Maybe. But no one else. Ever.
Magpie - Monday, April 30 2007 @ 05:53 PM EDT (#166929) #
He needs to breathe with his eyes

It's possible that he's pitching with fear and ignorance. Just a little misunderstanding...
China fan - Monday, April 30 2007 @ 07:15 PM EDT (#166930) #

    Jordan, I'm sorry that you think my verbal defence of the bench was lacking in congeniality. It wasn't intended to be uncongenial and I apologize if it appeared to be so -- but at the same time I didn't think it was congenial for you to say that four members of the Jays are "horrible" -- especially when one of them has a .600 slugging average.

   Your latest conclusion is that Stairs "contributed" to one defeat with his poor fielding.  I can agree with that, but I think a lot of players have contributed to the 12 defeats and some of the bench players have contributed to the 12 victories too.

AWeb - Monday, April 30 2007 @ 07:53 PM EDT (#166931) #
Since Gibbons has been taking a lot of heat lately, full marks to him tonight starting Macdonald at SS. He may not be an incredible fielder (reputation aside), but he's clearly a better choice to play short with Halladay on the mound. With that said, he'll likely boot 5 grounders tonight.

Also, Hill isn't just hitting homeruns lately, he's trying to hit homeruns. At least that's my impression. I don't recall seeing an all-out uppercut swing from Hill before this year (at least not one that connected), but several of his homers have been the swing for the fences type (as opposed to line drive carries over wall type). There's something satisfying seeing a guy who usually tries for the liners take a shot at the deep ball. And succeed.
jayfanbrooklyn - Monday, April 30 2007 @ 08:54 PM EDT (#166934) #
has anyone heard anything about Chacin being injured and McGowan taking his spot in the rotation? I swear I just heard Jerry mention that on the broadcast
Sanjay - Monday, April 30 2007 @ 09:02 PM EDT (#166935) #

They just announced on the television broadcast that Chacin has been placed on the 15 Day DL.

They don't know who will be called up yet, but speculate that either McGowan or Towers can take the rotation spot.


Gerry - Monday, April 30 2007 @ 09:04 PM EDT (#166936) #
I heard the same, Chacin is going on the DL.
Barry Bonnell - Monday, April 30 2007 @ 09:15 PM EDT (#166937) #
Apparently on the Fan they said McGowan would take his spot on the rotation.
jsut - Monday, April 30 2007 @ 09:42 PM EDT (#166939) #
Wilner said they were speculating, but that 'everyone though' that McGowan would take the spot.
actionjackson - Monday, April 30 2007 @ 09:52 PM EDT (#166941) #
I'm hoping they don't call up McGowan yet. I just think it's too soon. I think he needs some extended success at AAA first. I thought that was what J.P. went out to get the veteran insurance for: to give the kids time to get their confidence. He has been killed by big league hitters over the last two years. Give him 3 months and let him have some good results and then bring up and see what he's got. What about Towers? Where's Thomson at with his rehab assignment? It would be foolish to put Marcum/Janssen in the rotation on back to back days with Zambrano, as the bullpen would be really strained. They haven't made a reciprocal move yet, so we'll see what happens. There are a lot of options though, which is a nice change from last year.  ;)
AWeb - Monday, April 30 2007 @ 09:56 PM EDT (#166942) #
Calling up Mcgowan or not is a test of how much JP dislikes Towers. He explicitly said several times this spring that they wanted to give McGowan several months at AAA to build up his confidence. Towers is an obvious choice for a fill-in in the rotation, and would hardly have to miss a turn. Assuming those are the two options they are considering, will they swallow their pride and give Towers another chance, or break with the plan and give McGowan the starts? Also, since Zambrano is a given to only last 4 innings at best in a few days, even if it's going well, they can't stretch out Janssen (assuming he's next in line?) to the rotation.

My opinion: I would assume Chacin won't be back in 15 days, given his elbow problem history. If Thompson could be ready (has anyone heard an update lately on him?), give the starts to Towers, see how he does, and then let Thompson replace Towers or Zambrano when he's ready. If Thompson is a long ways off as well, and you have at least 3-4 starts to fill, I'd go with McGowan. The whole year is one continual roll of the dice at this point, might as well let it ride on the best upside available.

Gerry - Monday, April 30 2007 @ 10:03 PM EDT (#166944) #

Matt Michael from the Syracuse Post-Standard spoke with McGowan after the Chiefs game tonight and McGowan confirmed to Matt that he will be starting Thursday in Cleveland.  Look for confirmation shortly on Matt's blog.

ChicagoJaysFan - Monday, April 30 2007 @ 11:09 PM EDT (#166947) #
Calling up Mcgowan or not is a test of how much JP dislikes Towers.

I think that is oversimplifying this decision.  If they move Towers into the rotation, then they have to in turn dip into the minor league staff for the bullpen.  The bullpen there hasn't had too many great performers so far that are on the 40-man roster (Ryan Houston has the best ERA of anyone in the 'Cuse bullpen that's also on the 40-man roster and at 5.79, that's more a case of winning by default than anything else).

I think it's more a fact that they feel McGowan is the best (only?) AAA pitcher that can help the big league time right now - I at least find that more plausible than an anti-Towers conspiracy.
Mylegacy - Monday, April 30 2007 @ 11:16 PM EDT (#166948) #

This is tough for an atheist to admit...but...there is a god! Not only will McG get the call...but he replaces Chacin, who is, in my opinion, the weakest of the 3 - 4 - 5 guys. In earlier threads I've speculated that if the Jays are to seriously contend Janssen and McG would be in the rotation before mid-May. One down, one to go.

As Fred Flintstone would so eruditely exclaim, "AH DUBBA DUBBA DOO!" 

greenfrog - Monday, April 30 2007 @ 11:36 PM EDT (#166951) #
From Curt Schilling's blog (

"Verlander, Harden, Hernandez, Burnett and Cabrera. If I had to list the 5 most electric arms that are starting pitchers in the big leagues that would be my five. There are a ton of incredible arms, young ones, starting to make their mark, but if you want to talk about pure stuff, velocity, this would be my list. These five guys can hit 100 mph on any given night."

Dez - Monday, April 30 2007 @ 11:37 PM EDT (#166952) #
Chacin has only been weak because of his injury, whatever it is. Two starts ago, I could tell he was hurting, after pitching really well for 3 innings and then exploding. It's a shame.. At this point, maybe Chacin has to start thinking about surgery. Waiting out the pain is not likely to work for him.
Dave Till - Monday, April 30 2007 @ 11:47 PM EDT (#166953) #
Sorry to hear about Gus. At least the Jays have a few options available to them.

I'm okay with Dustin McG coming up. This is his last option year: the Jays have to find out sometime whether he's actually going to be able to help them, and now is as good a time as any.

Aaron Hill has a lot more upside than I thought. He's 25 now; he could very well keep improving for another two years. He could wind up hitting like Jeff Kent and fielding like Orlando Hudson.

And weren't there a lot of people saying that Halladay was about to enter his decline phase because his strikeout totals were falling? Can we point these people out now, so that we can laugh at them?

Jdog - Monday, April 30 2007 @ 11:50 PM EDT (#166954) #
Please point them out, as they really do need to be laughed at
Matthew E - Monday, April 30 2007 @ 11:55 PM EDT (#166955) #
And weren't there a lot of people saying that Halladay was about to enter his decline phase because his strikeout totals were falling? Can we point these people out now, so that we can laugh at them?

I'm one of them.

His strikeout totals were falling. It is worrisome.

If they aren't falling anymore, if they're rising back up to a higher level, I'll stop worrying.
timpinder - Tuesday, May 01 2007 @ 12:41 AM EDT (#166956) #

I've been a big MKGowan supporter, and I'm really looking forward to seeing him pitch on Thursday.  Like MyLegacy, I've also stated on numerous occasions that if the Jays were to make the playoffs this year they'd need a break-out performance from MKGowan.  Now he'll get a chance early in the season.  MKGowan's TJ surgery is behind him, he's discovered and is controlling his diabetes, and this may finally be his time.  I just hope the promotion isn't too soon.  I see what actionjackson is saying, some more time in AAA probably would have been better for MKGowan, but the Jays were going to have a tough time contending with another three months of Chacin, Ohka, Towers and/or Zambrano.

I haven't been this nervous or excited about the return or debut of a pitcher since Halladay came back from the minors in 2001 to face the Red Sox.  I'll have my fingers crossed.

Mylegacy - Tuesday, May 01 2007 @ 12:50 AM EDT (#166957) #
I confess. I too was a Roy doubter. The whole last half of 06 I thought he was bravely playing with some serious injury. I am over the moon happy I was wrong. Tonight he was simply masterful. What a clinic.
China fan - Tuesday, May 01 2007 @ 03:25 AM EDT (#166959) #

   Interesting that the Jays went for McGowan, rather than Janssen, as the replacement for Chacin.  Is it possible that the Jays might perceive Janssen long-term as a reliever, rather than a starter?   If they see him as a starter, it seems odd that they keep passing up the chance to put him into the rotation to replace Towers or Chacin.

    On another subject -- I'm doubtful that John Thomson will play much of a role this year for the Jays.  I could be wrong, but Ricciardi seemed very down on Thomson in the final week of training camp -- even before his injury -- and made it clear that Thomson wasn't going to crack the rotation.   He seemed clearly to be inferior to Ohka and Towers in JP's mind at that point.  His rehab in the minors now might just be a favor to the guy, to give him a chance to catch on elsewhere when he has recovered from the injury.  Unless he is now making an unexpected comeback that has changed JP's mind.

JayFan0912 - Tuesday, May 01 2007 @ 08:00 AM EDT (#166961) #
I would start McGowan today instead of burnett - the bullpen is well rested after the CG by halladay, and only one useful reliever was used on sunday (marcum IMO shouldn't be anywhere near the mound when the game counts).  I'd start burnett tomorrow with zambrano following ... just to give the bullpen some rest in case McG or zambrano get a quick exit.

I think it's probably too early to put janssen in the rotation. First, he is really needed in the bullpen (I'd even give him some save chances), and second, his fastball is likely to go down a few MPH in the rotation. I'd wait until ryan and league come back, and then make a move.

Dave Till - Tuesday, May 01 2007 @ 08:07 AM EDT (#166962) #
After thinking about it again this morning, I'm not sure whether people who were worrying about Doc's declining strikeout rates were worrying needlessly or not.

In 99 out of 100 cases, declining strikeout rates are a cause for concern. But I was thinking that Doc might be the exception: he wasn't getting hit hard, and he was pitching a lot of innings with low pitch counts.

Now I'm wondering whether he has been spending the last year or so making adjustments - trying to find ways to get hitters out that reduce the strain on his arm. Or maybe he wasn't at peak fitness for a while.

Regardless of what was actually happening, it's great to see him in top form. Right now, I wouldn't trade him for any other pitcher in baseball. Even Johan Santana.

laketrout - Tuesday, May 01 2007 @ 08:37 AM EDT (#166963) #

Can we have both Halladay and Santana?

Halladay is attributing his increased strikeout rate to improved command of his curveball.

DH - Tuesday, May 01 2007 @ 08:48 AM EDT (#166964) #
McGowan makes sense given he's been throwing 90-100 pitches in AAA vs. Janssen who has maxed out at 27 in his relief role i.e. like Zambrano, it will take some time to stretch Janssen out, and thus makes sense to reward McGowan. Though, if I'm not mistaken, McGowan is now out of options so if this stint doesn't work out he'll be subject to waivers. Can anyone confirm that?
jayfanbrooklyn - Tuesday, May 01 2007 @ 08:59 AM EDT (#166965) #
Avail - Tuesday, May 01 2007 @ 09:03 AM EDT (#166966) #
Hi Guys, first post on the box, love the discussions here though. Here is to hoping I don't prove a fool.

I have to admit I was worried about Doc myself at the beginning of this year. While he didn't get tagged in his first couple of starts, I thought he looked a little dull and not really fully locked in on his pitches. It wasn't until Mags hit that solo off him that I saw him "being doc halliday".

I think his decreasing K rate was on everyone's mind last year. I noticed this also accompanied a slight loss in velocity (or the gun at the RC is slow) as I was observing Doc throwing 89-92 where he usually hits 91-94. Perhaps two successive injury years took their toll on him and he wasn't fully fit for the entire 2006 season? Certainly this year he looks stronger and I'd argue his pitches have more bite.

After the game last night he said he adjusted his arm slot on the curve to get more bite on it, and that pitch is accounting for a major percentage of his K's this year. Sounds like we have a partial explanation there.

I also wasn't the least bit surprised to see him come out in the 9th. I think until we see the bullpen back to strength (or at least until they stop blowing his leads for him) you are going to see Doc finishing a lot more of his own games. Same likely goes for Burnett, they will both see their pitch counts run a little higher if it means one fewer inning in which our bullpen can bleed runs.

My comment on Towers (because everyone has to sound in) is that I agree that chacin/ohka/towers are pretty much 3 different brands of the same poison, but with Chacin there seems to be some intent to make him a long term part of the team. With Towers I think the org knows he's done after this year so they probably don't feel much need to either cater to his ego or give him and chance to work through his problems. Better the time goes to someone who IS a part of the teams longterm plans. I'd argue that person should be Jansen at this point (McGowan shouldn't be rushed since this is their last kick at the can with him).

I think they are intent on keeping Jansen in the pen at this point though so we at least have one reliable mid-long reliever available who can be relied upon.

I want to see Accardo start getting some more time. He's been excellent this year and watching Saturday's game where they pulled him out for the suckage that was Jason Frasor was painful to watch. Especially since I defended this move (and Frasor) to my wife who immediately said "he's the closer? wasn't he really bad for us last year?".

sometimes women see right to the heart of the matter :)

Maldoff - Tuesday, May 01 2007 @ 09:10 AM EDT (#166967) #

Once again, I think the Jays have blown it with regards to their young pitchers.  McGowan should NOT have been called up at this point.  While he was pitching well right now, he needs to sustain his performance and control a little more before being fed to the wolves. The easier solution would have been moving Towers back into the rotation and calling up a long reliever (i.e. Geremi Gonzalez).

I certainly hope Dustin proves me wrong, but I think this is the wrong decision.

Ryan Day - Tuesday, May 01 2007 @ 09:25 AM EDT (#166968) #

I think McGowan is the way to go. Yes, you could replace Chacin with Towers, Marcum, Janssen, Gonzalez, or whoever, but only Janssen would offer real improvement (and the Jays would rather keep him in the bullpen, which is understandable even if I disagree).  McGowan might get knocked around, but he also might - just might - finally turn it on and do what people have been hoping for for the last few years.

It's a gamble, but the payoff could be big. And the Jays are owed a bit of good luck for this season.

Christopher - Tuesday, May 01 2007 @ 09:44 AM EDT (#166969) #

As Fred Flintstone would so eruditely exclaim, "AH DUBBA DUBBA DOO!" 

My word, have you ever watched the Flinstones before?

Ryan Day - Tuesday, May 01 2007 @ 09:46 AM EDT (#166970) #

Adam Lind is now a 330/392/563 hitter in the major leagues.

(in 33 games, making it almost completely meaningless, but still: Neato.)

Avail - Tuesday, May 01 2007 @ 09:51 AM EDT (#166972) #
the problem with McGowan is that the team has limited options with him now. This year is his last "kick at the can" so to speak, given which I think they need to be more cautious about rushing him back. He could be a tremendous asset for the team (and for my dynasty keeper league :) ) but I worry if they rush him back he will just prove to be ineffective again. I agree that at some point he is going to have to make that breakthrough, I just think that 4 starts at AAA is not exactly "developing" him.

What can you do though, this team's pitching staff is a disaster right now outside of Halladay and AJ (who isn't exactly the model of consistency himself).

Jim - Tuesday, May 01 2007 @ 10:08 AM EDT (#166974) #

There is a clear preference in the box for Marcum of Janssen

Who has two thumbs and thinks that Janssen is a much better prospect.  This guy.

timpinder - Tuesday, May 01 2007 @ 10:11 AM EDT (#166975) #
I'd question the timing of MKGowan's promotion more if he had options left, but he had to come up at some point this year.  Otherwise he'd almost certainly be gone before 2008.  Ideally he should have had a few more starts in AAA, but what can you do?  Chacin's injured, and in my opinion, MKGowan's the best arm available right now.  His stuff is good enough to get away with a few walks if his command isn't quite where it should be.
timpinder - Tuesday, May 01 2007 @ 10:22 AM EDT (#166976) #

I'd take Janssen over Marcum as a starter.  Janssen's 6'3" and Marcum is a generous 6' 0".  It seems to me that Janssen's frame is more suited to starting than Marcum's.  I think Marcum would have more value in the bullpen though, and his K9 rate has been better than Janssen's in both the minors and majors.

#2JBrumfield - Tuesday, May 01 2007 @ 12:56 PM EDT (#166986) #

I noticed this also accompanied a slight loss in velocity (or the gun at the RC is slow) as I was observing Doc throwing 89-92 where he usually hits 91-94.

At the game last night, Doc did mix in the occasional 92 and 93 MPH fastball so it was good to see he can still amp it up a little when he needs to.  It was good to see him go the distance and having the extra off day with the Yankees rainout last week didn't hurt either.  He had to work a little to get out of the first but he was just dealin' the rest of the night.  He even inspired Matt Stairs to make a nice running catch in the later innings.  Another positive was winning without Vernon Wells.





Avail - Tuesday, May 01 2007 @ 01:18 PM EDT (#166989) #
I think we take for granted that he can (and very occasionally does) throw in the upper 90's. Part of his transformation in 2000,2001 was realizing that just because he CAN throw that fast doesn't mean its going to make him a better pitcher. I would always rather see someone (ahem*AJ*ahem) spot their pitches in the low 90's then be wild at 100mph. Of course if you can locate and hit 100 thats awesome, but I think in any sport a slight loss in speed/power is usually worth it for a gain in accuracy.

Baseball is too infatuated with raw speed, ignoring the fact that if you just pound the zone with 100mph fastballs major league hitters can and WILL tag you once they make their adjustments.

iirc this is exactly what makes Leo Mazzone a god amongst men. He preaches the ability to locate and change speeds, more about disrupting the hitters timing that just blowing pitches by them.

Chuck - Tuesday, May 01 2007 @ 01:33 PM EDT (#166992) #

or the gun at the RC is slow

Assuming that SportsNet is simply conveying the results from the RC gun, I'd argue that it seems fast, not slow. Brandon McCarthy hit 100 mph and it went totally unremarked upon. I'm wondering if what I imagine to be a fast gun has engendered a blase attitude among the comtentators.

Bid - Tuesday, May 01 2007 @ 01:44 PM EDT (#166996) #

The gun at the RC is certainly slow relative to the (utterly wonky) Sportsnet gun. Last night it had Doc's sinker consistently at 90-92, and that might be a bit slow. What we really need though is a weight gun...Roy's two-seamer must be among the all-time heaviest...he must have thrown 70 of them, and the only one hit may have been Wilkerson's excuse-me double. We were right behind the plate, and I don't remember seeing more than a couple of pitches above the belt. The tweaked curve is awesome and the delivery looks the same as the sinker to my mildly educated eye.

One of Roy's most underrated weapons is pace. 'Work fast, throw strikes, change speeds'...was that Weaver? Very few batters are as ready to swing as Doc is ready to truth, mostly they're to unprepared to call time and step out. Such a great performer...Burnett need look no further for a model (performative language, that.)



AWeb - Tuesday, May 01 2007 @ 02:03 PM EDT (#166999) #
The radar gun on TV has been messed up for the last week or so. It often just defaulted to showing 100mph, not just for McCarthy. Sometimes it would briefly flash the actual speed, then jump to 100 immediately, and several foul pops also registered that speed.  Technical glitch. The fans weren't reacting to it either, so I assume it was a TV issue, not a radar gun in the dome issue.
timpinder - Tuesday, May 01 2007 @ 04:15 PM EDT (#167011) #
The reading on the speed measuring device could vary from "radar gun" to "radar gun", depending on where it's placed in relation to the pitcher.  If the radar is directly behind home plate and aimed at the pitcher's release point, it should be pretty accurate.  However, the more off center the radar is, or further from directly behind homeplate, the greater the cosign angle effect and the lower the reading.  The cosign angle effect will increase as the ball gets closer to the plate, so if the radar doesn't pick up the ball until just before it crosses the plate and is, say, the equivalent of 3 seats to the right, it may produce a reading that is actually a few MPH slower than the actual speed of the baseball.
timpinder - Tuesday, May 01 2007 @ 04:17 PM EDT (#167012) #
Anyway, that might explain why the speeds seem to vary from park to park sometimes.
Magpie - Tuesday, May 01 2007 @ 06:33 PM EDT (#167028) #
not a radar gun in the dome issue.

Definitely not the gun in the dome. I was working McCarthy's start. I have no idea what it said on TV, but as far as everyone in the building were concerned, McCarthy's fastball was stinging the gun at between 88-90. Which is what it looked like.

Even last year, Doc was cranking his fastball up to 94 mph. At late as the eighth or ninth inning. But only if he felt like it. Most of the time, he didn't feel like it. One gets more movement and more control by taking a little bit off the heater. I'm now completely convinced that Doc spent 2006 experimenting with that very fact.
actionjackson - Tuesday, May 01 2007 @ 08:00 PM EDT (#167030) #
When I saw Ohka hit 100 mph on the Sportsnet "Radar Gun" on Sunday, I knew the readings were being cooked for some pitches. It may be a default thing for when the gun fails to capture the pitch accurately. Quite an annoying bug that.
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