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The Jays dodge their opposition's ace for the third consecutive series...

... but there's still one matchup that worries me this weekend, and it's tonight's. 25-year-old sophomore righty Scott Baker has only made one start in the majors this year, but it was a good one. Like his opponent tonight, Jesse Litsch, Baker pitched into the ninth in winning his 2007 major-league debut, a 5-2 defeat of Dave Bush and the Brewers at Miller Park. Baker is a sinker-slider pitcher who had an amazing 41:4 K/BB ratio in 41.1 innings in Rochester with a groundball rate in the high 40s. His sinker supposedly forgets how to sink when major-league jitters get into him: he gave up 17 homers in 83.1 innings last year as a rookie. That wasn't the case in Milwaukee, where Baker surrendered J.J. Hardy's 14th Yahtzee of the year on a belt-high meatball on his second pitch of the game and then proceeded to let no more than 5 of the next 30 hitters reach base. Baker can miss bats: he struck out 16.4% of hitters with a 3.88 K/BB ratio in the majors last year, and was hurt as much by his .359 BABIP against as he was by the homer issues. I think he's a keeper. Litsch will be in tough.

Saturday starter Ramon Ortiz is pitching for his fourth team in four years. He doesn't really do anything well - he hovers around the Michalak line and won't altogether kill himself with walks, but he's not a groundball pitcher at all and he certainly isn't overpowering. In 2002, he rode a .247 BABIP to a 3.77 ERA, a 15-9 record and a steady stream of one-year, $3-million contracts from teams desperate for experience in their 5th rotation slot as long as he wants 'em. Ortiz brings a moving fastball (probably his best pitch), a slider and a change to the table. He has a 11.76 ERA in his last four starts.

After two matchups of reasonably similar pitchers, Sunday's game features a huge clash of styles. Carlos Silva gets the privilege of facing Blackjack Burnett. Everyone knows how Silva rolls. Lots of low-90s sinking fastballs in the strike zone, strikeouts be damned, hit 'em where they ain't if you can. He also throws a slider, curve and change, and his favorite strikeout pitch is probably the slider, but those are mostly just for decoration. There's about a 4 in 5 chance you're getting a fastball no matter what the count is. Silva suffered from Towers syndrome last year, as his walk rate regressed toward the mean and his homer rate doubled. Nobody can really survive that. Silva's 2005 remains one of the most amazing seasons of this decade: 9.5% strikeouts, 1.2% (!!!) walks, 7 innings a start and a sparkling 3.44 ERA. He faced 749 hitters and walked nine of them. That's just freakish. Silva has never struck out 10% of hitters in a full season. He's on pace to do that this year, but it's very early. For comparison's sake, Burnett hasn't failed to strike out 20% since 2001.

The Twins' bullpen is a bit banged up. When compared to the Jays' situation, the Twins are in no position to complain - Joe Nathan, Juan Rincon and Patrick Neshek are humming along as usual. But Jesse Crain is out for the year with a torn rotator cuff and torn labrum, and lefty ace Dennys Reyes is on the 15-day DL with shoulder inflammation. In their place the Twins have summoned three completely uninitiated reinforcements from AAA: righty Julio De Paula and lefties Carmen Cali and Jason Miller. With Reyes and Crain down, Matt Guerrier has been presented with more innings and more leverage than he's ever seen before, and he's handling both with flying colors.

With Joe Mauer sidelined by a quad injury, the power on this team is... concentrated. This year, Justin Morneau, Torii Hunter and Mike Cuddyer have combined for precisely 7.5 times as many major-league homers as the other 10 hitters on the active roster combined. Fortunately for the Twins, they get their catcher back next week.

In 1226 major-league PA, Jason Tyner has never homered. In his career he is slugging .315, with .045 isolated power. John McDonald (.346, .069) is fully qualified to laugh at both of those numbers.

Shortstop Jason Bartlett underwent an MRI exam yesterday on his neck and shoulder, passed, and is unlikely to head to the DL. He's been experiencing odd pains off and on all season: "I saw a chiropractor before spring training, and she mentioned there might be some whiplash symptoms. The neck thing has been lingering, and I wonder if it's making the other thing sore." He'll probably return at some point this series.

The Credit Section: Batted-ball and Leverage Index are available at Fangraphs. K% and BB% are strikeouts and walks as a percentage of plate appearances; GB% is groundballs as a percentage of balls in play. Minor-league stats are from Minor League Splits. Everything else, most notably the AL average statistics, is available at The Hardball Times.

Advance Scout: Twins, May 25-27 | 16 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
BigTimeRoyalsFan - Friday, May 25 2007 @ 04:24 PM EDT (#168567) #
maybe this is crazy to say, but from what i remember of the last 2 seasons, the blue jays absolutely own johan santana. opening day last year comes to my mind, when halladay outdueled him. the jays can have a harder time against soft tossing guys like wakefield or trachsel, so who knows if missing aces is such good thing or not.
Mike Green - Friday, May 25 2007 @ 04:43 PM EDT (#168568) #
One week ago and the Jays would have gotten Sir Sidney rather than Scott Baker, but missing both Mauer and Santana is good enough in my books.  It's quite a step down from Bartlett to Punto too.  Let it roll...
ahitisahit - Friday, May 25 2007 @ 06:25 PM EDT (#168569) #
If I'm not mistaken, none of these games are televised :(. I guess I'll have to use gameday on
Magpie - Saturday, May 26 2007 @ 12:51 AM EDT (#168581) #
maybe this is crazy to say

You're not crazy. Santana is 2-3, 4.15 against Toronto in 9 games (6 starts). Only one other AL opponent has been rougher on him (he's 2-2, 5.72 in 7 starts against Texas.)
GregJP - Saturday, May 26 2007 @ 09:25 AM EDT (#168583) #
I'm confused. 

1.  This team is not making the playoffs this year.
2.  Matt Stairs is playing and Adam Lind isn't.

Can someone more intelligent than I am explain this to me.

CeeBee - Saturday, May 26 2007 @ 11:39 AM EDT (#168588) #

"Can someone more intelligent than I am explain this to me."

I certainly don't profess to be more intelligent, more knowledgeable or somehow clairvoyant but maybe it''s one or more of the following

a.) Stairs is Canadian, Lind isn't.

b.) Stairs has a rifle arm.

c.) Stairs is a future hof'er.(Canadian, not American)

d.) They don't want to rush Lind.

e.) Stairs is making more money so they have to justify the expense.

Non of the above are to be taken seriously but then again, maybe, just maybe one of them is the real reason.

China fan - Saturday, May 26 2007 @ 11:44 AM EDT (#168589) #
    I don't claim to be more intelligent that you, but I don't think the Jays can afford to throw in the towel in May.  What about the fans who've bought tickets?  You can't tell the ticket-buying fans that the team is going to stop trying.  If you decide to fill the lineup with prospects -- just to give them some major-league experience, even if they are playing far worse than an established player -- then you'd basically be giving up on the season and admitting that you're not trying to win.  Few teams would do that in May.  Maybe in August, but not in May.  Should they bench Frank Thomas and bring up Chip Cannon, just to give him some playing time in the majors, because Cannon is a prospect and Thomas won't be here in a couple years?  Really, the team has to play to win.  Also, the prospects -- including the pitchers -- won't get much useful experience if they're surrounded by disgruntled veterans who have given up on the season.
CeeBee - Saturday, May 26 2007 @ 11:54 AM EDT (#168590) #
China fans reason is better than all of mine put together though I did like the hall of fame idea just a little bit.
VBF - Saturday, May 26 2007 @ 02:37 PM EDT (#168600) #
I'm quite, *quite* sure that the fans who attend the games would MUCH rather see Lind than Stairs. If I had a dollar for everytime I heard someone bitch about Stairs defence at the RC, I would be very rich.

I think Gibbons is trying to jumpstart the other players (Wells, Thomas, Overbay) by getting that hot bat in there. Who knows how many games we'd have won in the last week if Stairs wasn't playing. I know it's thinking short-term, but I think that if management is thinking short-term solutions on offence and long-term solutions in pitching (Accardo, McGowan, Marcum, Litsch) this team could go on a run. We won't go on a run if McGowan and Marcum don't step up, but Lind breaking out or not will not decide the season.

That's what I think they think anyways. I'd just as rather have Lind out there because I believe he will turn a corner soon enough, but I do believe this team has as legitimate shot of making the playoffs as the Yankees or Twins or Athletics do.

VBF - Saturday, May 26 2007 @ 02:39 PM EDT (#168601) #
Not to mention, Gibbons knows he's got a really young rotation right now and what better way to give them that confidence boost than getting that extra run support for them out there in Stairs.

But not to worry, Stairs won't continue his reign of terror for too long, and around that time Lind will find his stroke. It's still good for him to be up here and to get that instruction from the veterans and coaches.

vw_fan17 - Saturday, May 26 2007 @ 05:33 PM EDT (#168608) #
I'm quite, *quite* sure that the fans who attend the games would MUCH rather see Lind than Stairs. If I had a dollar for everytime I heard someone bitch about Stairs defence at the RC, I would be very rich.

Interesting. Do they take into account the THREE HUNDRED POINT difference in OPS between Stairs and Lind right now?

OF is a power position. Lind is, right now, 8 and 11 points better than McDonald and Clayton. And we keep talking about them being a "sinkhole" at the SHORT STOP position. If that's the case, Lind right now is the bottomless pit in LF. And, given that he was doing better early on, imagine how badly he's played the last little while to get down to 633 OPS - probably in the 500-550 range!

Jays OPS:
Glaus: 934
Stairs: 933
Rios: 896
Overbay: 809
Hill: 805
Wells: 769
Thomas: 748
Phillips: 676
Lind: 633 (Road OPS - 60 AB: 459)
McDonald: 625
Clayton: 622

So, we bench (almost) the club's best hitter in favour of a bottomless pit, to get a little better defense?
I think Lind should go back to AAA to get a little more experience - I'm sure there are plenty of replacement level outfielders who could hit 600-633 OPS for us while he gets better..

GregJP - Saturday, May 26 2007 @ 05:53 PM EDT (#168609) #
I believe that Lind will turn the corner much like Markakis did last year for the Orioles, but that's not going to happen sitting on the bench.
I think Lind needs to be playing every day.....if not in Toronto, then in Syracuse.

Glevin - Saturday, May 26 2007 @ 07:14 PM EDT (#168611) #
Sending Lind back to AAA would be idiotic. They didn't rush Lind at all. He was dominant in the high minors last year and hit very well in the majors as well and he has nothing left to prove in the minors. The Jays just need to be patient with him and give him some time to turn things around. Stairs is 39. I am not against giving him 2 or 3 starts a week, but they should not be sitting Lind for him at all.
MondesiRules - Saturday, May 26 2007 @ 09:44 PM EDT (#168612) #

I must be in the minority, but I'd rather see Stairs play anyday over Lind...

VBF - Sunday, May 27 2007 @ 10:35 AM EDT (#168618) #
Interesting. Do they take into account the THREE HUNDRED POINT difference in OPS between Stairs and Lind right now?

No, but they do realize that Lind has a  future with the Jays past 2007 and that if they're going to contend in the next 5 years, he, unlike Stairs is going to have something to do with it.

Obviously with the current bench Gibbons has no choice, but having Matt Stairs in left field in the bottom of the 12th inning is inexcusable.
ChicagoJaysFan - Sunday, May 27 2007 @ 07:19 PM EDT (#168631) #
Personally, I watch Jays games because of the excitement and them having the potential to win the game I'm watching. Sitting the only guy on the team with an OPS over 1 for someone with a sub .300 OBP is the last thing that I would want to see.  The Jays may not make the playoffs this year (I think that ship has sailed), but there is no reason for them to turn into the Devil Rays.

They've already got Philips and Clayton adding nothing to the line-up.  They don't need to make matters worse by benching their best hitter for one of the worst (if you go by OPS+, Stairs leads the team at 160 and Lind at 64 is ahead of only Fasano (47) and MacDonald (62)).

Lind should be in AAA.  While I don't think the Jays rushed him to the majors, 40 good games in AAA is not enough of a sample set to say for certain that he's learned everything he can there.
Advance Scout: Twins, May 25-27 | 16 comments | Create New Account
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