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Happy Canada Day, boys and girls. The Jays will spend this holiday weekend in Seattle trying to cool off the rampaging Mariners, who just swept Boston in a thrilling three-game set. Seattle trails Wild Card leader Cleveland by 2.5 games, and has 4.5 games on the Blue Jays. The Jays can't catch the M's this weekend, but they do have a great opportunity to do some damage against some of Seattle's weaker pitchers.

The M's run differential is a modest +7. Aside from their leadoff man and maybe their catcher, none of the M's hitters are having incredible years. Their lineup has just been solid from top to bottom once you account for the park they play in. They also have benefited from two outstanding seasons from their two outstanding under-the-radar bullpen arms.

Jarrod Washburn
is this team's solid #2 starter. He gets the ball tonight. He isn't amazing but he might be the next Jamie Moyer someday. He doesn't throw hard - he's usually around 86 - but he's very happy to throw lots of high fastballs regardless, even to righties. That stupid-like-a-fox approach has served Washburn very well over his career: his platoon splits are very small over the last four years. He's in a happy place, as Safeco, with a park factor of 95, is one of the most pronounced pitchers' parks in the AL.

Washburn has indeed played as a big flyball pitcher in every single big-league season, so take his neutral GB/FB numbers with a grain of salt. He throws a slider, curve and changeup for decoration, and probably gets crushed when he's leaving those up, but his MO is all about the fastball and getting popups (and 404-foot sea-level flyouts to dead center). With Washburn ahead in the count you're still very likely to see a fastball. His 16.7% popups-per-fly rate is very high and consistent with his pitching approach. To prevent any kind of complete-game four-hitter shenanigans, I'd probably hypnotize the team and make them think they're facing some lefty who pitches up and throws 91 instead of 86, like Ted Lilly or something, and see if that helps them get around on the super-inviting belt-high heaters. Of which there will be many.

The only Jay who's really owned Washburn is Reed Johnson, who (my sources tell me) is unavailable tonight. Royce Clayton has taken Washburn deep twice.

Miguel Batista, the artist formerly known as Strikey, goes tomorrow. I think I vaguely remember him pitching for the Jays a couple of years ago... Anyway, he's still the same guy, with his arsenal of 57 known pitches (at last count). He throws in the low-mid-90s, sometimes with really nasty tailing movement and sometimes not. He also tends to fall mad(dening)ly in love with his cutter, just like in the good ol' days. Royce Clayton has taken Batista deep once.

Jeff Weaver goes Sunday. I, too, am shocked that he's survived this long in the AL with the same team that signed him during the offseason. But don't believe the ERA; his BABIP is very high and his peripheral numbers are decent. He's not this bad. Weaver brings lots of pitches to the mound: a moving low-90s fastball, a tight slider, a slow curve, a change and a tendency to pitch sidearm sometimes, ostensibly to annoy righties. Is it just me or are all the guys who do that also all the headcases? Royce Clayton has not taken Weaver deep, but Troy Glaus is 2-31 with four walks and Vernon Wells is 9-29 with two walks and three homers.

J.J. Putz has been the best closer in baseball this year. I can almost make it all the way through his last name without snickering. The gag reflex usually kicks in sometime during the 'ts' sound at the end, which I instinctively read as a long consonant. Everything Putz throws is hard - high-90s fastball, slider, and the splitter he added last year that became his #1 strikeout weapon and helped him take the leap to Elite Closerdom. When Putz falls behind he mothballs the splitter until he evens the count with fastballs. He leads all major-league relievers in WPA.

Setup ace Brandon Morrow was the Mariners' first-round pick in the 2006 draft, 5th overall out of Cal. He overcame diabetes to become a top draft prospect. Ryan Quinn of had a sweet story on that a year ago. Some 13.5 months ago, Pistol listed Morrow's atrocious 2004-05 college stats and noted, "He went from an erratic reliever to a top flight starter. These type of players make me nervous." Silencing his doubters, Morrow has proven that his gift for erratic relief is still perfectly intact. He's put up more walks than strikeouts as the Mariners' full-time top setup guy. He seems like the kind of pitcher who can be coaxed into throwing nothing but fastballs with a walk or two. However, he's showing tons of poise for a 22-year-old reliever and seems to have a very bright future ahead of him.

George Friederich Sherrill is an awesome lefty who might be a nice cut-rate closing option for somebody someday. Given how easily Rafael Soriano was pried away from the Mariners, that notion isn't quite as farfetched as it sounds. Sherrill's got alarming flyball tendencies, but he throws in the low 90s, has a nasty slider (plus curve, plus change!), eviscerates lefthanded hitters and reminds me of B.J. Ryan in so many ways.

Eric O'Flaherty is a 22-year-old lefty reliever from Walla Walla who wallowed in A-ball from 2004 through last spring until something clicked. He powered through the M's farm system as a closer last year to earn an August callup. His name is awesome. He has LOOGY written all over him; the Baseball America prospect annual says he benefits from pitching fresh.

Ryan Rowland-Smith is yet another lefty. He's a 24-year-old Aussie who had pretty good success at AAA, so the M's called him up to be their 12th man in response to injuries to Jake Woods, Mark Lowe, Chris Reitsma and others.

Roy Halladay might want to stay away from contact on Saturday. It's singles' day at the ballpark. Rimshot! (Too soon? But the Jays won Monday...)

Position players! Yeah, this team has some of those too. Who's interesting here? Uh, let's start at the bottom. Not only is Willie Bloomquist still in the major leagues, but he's hitting .282! Bloomquist's played every position this year except pitcher and catcher. He's a good fielder, but if I were an M's fan I'd be really unnerved by the fact that Bloomquist has started four of Seattle's last six games, including three in a row at the same position. That's a dangerous path to start down. If that happens in each of the next two weeks too Bill James might start growing wings and flight attendants. I'd much rather have John McDonald bat with the game on the line than Bloomquist.

Outfielder Jason Ellison, acquired from San Fran for Travis Blackley, is a human highlight reel as Seattle's late-inning defensive specialist. He's played in 45 games but only come up to bat 32 times. He has fantastic range, a rocket arm, and fantastic range. (The range is worth mentioning twice.) He tends to replace the less mobile Jose Guillen in right in the late innings, giving the Mariners a tremendous outfield alongside the guy in center. Ellison also has some replacement-level offensive ability: he hit .264/.316/.361in righty hitters' hell as a part-timer in 2005, and .406/.447/.536 in 46 AAA games last year, though he struggled in 91 PA with the Giants. The bad news is he's 29.

I'd never heard of backup catcher Jamie Burke, but apparently he played in 52 games for the '04 White Sox. He's off to a nice little start as Kenji Johjima's sidekick, too. Johjima himself is one of the most accomplished hackers in the league. He just swings at the first pitch he likes and hits it hard. That formula has been even more successful this year than it was in '06.

And Ichiro is still awesome.

The Credit Section: All offensive stats, pitches per PA for pitchers and league average stats are from the Hardball Times. Pitchers' stats and leverage indices are from Fangraphs. Minor-league stats are from Minor League Splits. K% and BB% are strikeouts and walks as a percentage of plate appearances; GB% + LD% + FB% = 100. Rowland-Smith's stats are from AAA. His name is way too long for that to fit in the chart.

Advance Scout: Mariners, June 29-July 1 | 21 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Mike Green - Friday, June 29 2007 @ 09:41 PM EDT (#170889) #
What's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.  Shaun Marcum has an opportunity to reduce that nasty HR/fly rate on Sunday. Of course, with it being a day game after a night game and Jason Phillips still the likely starter, he's going to have keep Ichiro either off first base or nailed to it.

Alex0888 - Friday, June 29 2007 @ 11:30 PM EDT (#170891) #
I like the use of the Royce Clayton factor with these pitchers. I wonder how much merit this statistic has. I guess after this series we can see how many wins we get out of teams that Royce has taken the starters deep with.
westcoast dude - Saturday, June 30 2007 @ 01:07 AM EDT (#170892) #
Frank Thomas was taking Putz's 0-2 fastball all the way. It was the only good pitch he got.
Ron - Saturday, June 30 2007 @ 01:19 AM EDT (#170893) #
Vernon Wells is still chasing high pitches out of the strike zone. This has resulted in a lot of pop ups and harmless flyballs. It was nice to see the Jays battle back in the 8th to make the game interesting. JJ Putz has to be one of the most under-rated players in the game.

Before the game, Gibbons refused to comment on AJ's tantrum the day before. For those that missed it, after AJ was pulled, as he was walking back into the dugout, he tossed his glove into the stands and ripped off his jersey. Gibby said it was an in-house issue that was taken care of.

Lefty - Saturday, June 30 2007 @ 02:33 PM EDT (#170900) #

I hate to raise the luck factor, but McGowan didn't get he best fileding performance behind him early. Balls got by each of Aaron Hill and J-Mac early. These balls are normally fielded cleanly. Troy Glaus dropped a ball that he tried to barehand it , resulting in a stinger on his fingers.

These mis-cues and McGowan's wild pitch caused the Jays to be down four runs in two.

As the game wore on Toronto's infield fielding improved but the hole was too deep, but on the whole the offense was fine.

Grover certainly felt a momentum shift and was so desperate that he brought his closer in for 1 /23 save. With the Jays fighting to get back into the game and the Seattle bullpen usage, perhaps the rest of this series is set up nicely.

Highlight of the night though was my 13 yr. old son getting his new Rawlings baseball signed by a number of BlueJays including Vernon Wells and Big Frank Thomas. Frank laughed when my son challenged him to a pilow fight.



Craig B - Saturday, June 30 2007 @ 09:07 PM EDT (#170902) #
I'd just like to take a moment to thank Major League Baseball for once again putting the Blue Jays on the road on yet another holiday weekend that doesn't conflict with a U.S. holiday weekend.  The new people who put together the schedule SUCK at their job.  They should give it back to the old couple who did such a good job of it for so many years.

We occasionally get a Canada Day series, but I can't remember the last time the Jays were at home over the Victoria Day weekend.

Craig B - Saturday, June 30 2007 @ 09:25 PM EDT (#170903) #
Just to follow up my little bitch fit on the scheduling, when the Jays have three homes games over a long weekend this August (versus Texas on the weekend and the Yankees on the Monday) it will be the first time since 2002 that the Jays have played three home games on a summer long weekend (this doesn't count Easter - too much figuring for me there and besides, the roof is always closed).

Not since the Labour Day weekend in '02 have the Jays had this... so that is *18* straight long weekends that the Jays have been on the road for all or part of the long weekend.  The worst crimes were the three times that the Jays played at home on the Saturday and Sunday, and then had a freakin' TRAVEL DAY on the holiday Monday, when everyone has nothing better to do than go to the ballgame!

Seriously, they should take the people who make the schedule, line them up against the wall, and do something very, very unpleasant to them.  I'm sick of this nonsense.

Year  5/24  7/01  8/01  9/01

2007  road  road  home  half
2006  half  half  road  half
2005  half* road  half* half
2004  half  road  half  half*
2003  half  half  road  half
2002  half  half  home  home

(* : played at home on the weekend and had an off-day on the holiday)
Lefty - Saturday, June 30 2007 @ 09:55 PM EDT (#170904) #

Excuse my ignorance, but do teams not have the ability to make some general requests to the MLB scheduling process? If they do, then what input have the Jays made to the schedule makers?

It seems we have this debate year in and year out on Da Box. Why not get an interview with the team on this question?


Lefty - Saturday, June 30 2007 @ 10:03 PM EDT (#170905) #

If it cheers you up any, there are quite a few Canadian's pretty happy with the schedule makers Canada Day plans this year. I'd estimate theres a couple thousand Jay fans in Seattle this long weekend.

You can't get a room in Seattle this weekend unless you booked in advance.

Out here its quite an event, Vancouver radio stations are giving traffic and border information to fans driving down I-5.

ahitisahit - Saturday, June 30 2007 @ 10:26 PM EDT (#170906) #

I know Wells wasn't going to be hitting leadoff long term, but he is a black hole batting 3rd. I thought he played pretty well during the win streak when he was batting 1st. I guess winning and gaining games on the Red Sox is not part of the plan this year.

Craig B - Saturday, June 30 2007 @ 10:27 PM EDT (#170907) #
I was thinking of this, actually.  It's great that the B.C. fans can get some game action and make a worthwhile weekend out of it, not having to be back at work until Tuesday.

ramone - Sunday, July 01 2007 @ 02:07 PM EDT (#170910) #

This is from Rotoworld:

Blue Jays placed RHP A.J. Burnett on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to June 29.

Could the Blue Jays handle injured pitchers any worse? Burnett threw 130 pitches, went on the DL with a sore shoulder after his next start, was rushed back after missing just two turns and is now right back out again. He might have to be written off for the rest of the year at some point.

Blue Jays recalled RHP Jesse Litsch from Triple-A Syracuse.

Litsch apparently will start in A.J. Burnett's place this week. He had a 6.62 ERA and a 1.70 WHIP in four starts for the Jays back in May. It's possible that he'll establish himself in the rotation this time around, but he's not an option in AL-only leagues just yet.
tstaddon - Sunday, July 01 2007 @ 02:27 PM EDT (#170911) #
So, Mike Hargrove just resigned. A little odd, to say the least. Maybe he's got his eyes on a return to Baltimore...
Squiggy - Sunday, July 01 2007 @ 02:44 PM EDT (#170912) #

Blue Jays placed RHP A.J. Burnett on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to June 29.

I think many of us saw this coming, but it still really stinks. Realistically, it's getting tougher and tougher to imagine the big playoff run coming, and easier to imagine A.J. being out for a long while. Bummer.

AWeb - Sunday, July 01 2007 @ 03:07 PM EDT (#170913) #
Hargrove resigning : if he's really just burned out and doesn't want to do it anymore (the travel, the media pressure, the millionaire little boy egos), then power to him. I've always been surprised how long some people stay in the game despite making millions. I guess the previous 30-50 years weed out those who feel this way, but I can't imagine something I'd like to do less than fly around the country every few days, sleep in hotels, and do a job that everyone is convinced they could do better. Let alone if I reached retirement age, had a family at home, and millions in the bank.

Burnett : This is a screw up all around the organization. Firstly though, I blame Burnett for coming back and pitching if he wasn't ready. At a certain point, unless the player cooperates and gives accurate information, there's nothing the trainer and organization can do. Most of us here have probably kidded ourselves into thinking an injury was ready (ankle sprains, sore elbows, knees) when we really knew damn well it wasn't, but we generally aren't paid millions to make sure that we don't do something stupid like that. Very frustrated, and now willing to admit this season just isn't going to end with a miraculous playoff birth. Time to move onto acceptance, from the previous denial. This team is setup to be around .500, if things go reasonably well. At least most of the young players have played well this year.

China fan - Sunday, July 01 2007 @ 03:30 PM EDT (#170914) #

   I hope people will finally stop unfairly blaming Gibbons for all of Burnett's injuries.   It's increasingly clear that Burnett is not entirely honest in his dealings with the team, and this is contributing to the tensions between him and management.   Last week, for example, he had assured the team that he was fine before the last game, but the radar gun made it obvious that he lacked his normal velocity.   I suspect this was part of the reason for the blow-up between Gibbons and Burnett, when Burnett threw his glove into the stands.  Even after that game, Burnett continued to tell the team that he was fine.  Consider these comments by Gibbons after the last game:   "He (Burnett) said he feels fine, so that's all I need to hear ... he'll get another start....  He feels fine and that's what we want to hear."    Well, it's obvious now that Burnett was not fine at all.

   I know the Jays are being extremely careful to avoid the appearance of conflict between Burnett and Jays management.  They have been extremely terse in their comments about the last two disciplinary incidents, refusing to discuss them at all.   I know that a lot of fans believe that these incidents were trivial.  But, reading between the lines, I find it hard to avoid the conclusion that there is some kind of pattern of distrust between him and management.

Ron - Sunday, July 01 2007 @ 04:06 PM EDT (#170915) #
AJ is paying a visit to Dr. James Andrews tommorow. Arnsberg said AJ was still feeling a little sore.
Mike Green - Sunday, July 01 2007 @ 08:24 PM EDT (#170918) #
Noticing that the Jays had Clayton/Thomas in the starting lineup today, it is clear that the spinning wheel has got to go round.

I hope that Litsch isn't inserted into the starting rotation on an indefinite basis.  Like Janssen last year, he's not ready yet.

PaulE-O - Monday, July 02 2007 @ 10:01 AM EDT (#170925) #

I don't blame Gibby, I blame Arnsberg

I still for the life of me don't understand how this guy has a job.












dalimon5 - Monday, July 02 2007 @ 01:00 PM EDT (#170932) #
 The second best bullpen in the AL league. Great numbers from his is Arnsberg to blame? Give me a break. As for China fan...I think you absolutely need to blame Gibbons. He has mismanaged several games this year (keeping Marcum in against Ramirez, bringing him in the next day again to blow the next game, the mishandling of Towers, etc etc). There are those in the organization who feel that Burnett just needs to pitch through the pain. That may be a fair assesment. But let's be realistic... would you ever let Halladay go 130 pitches? On consecutive starts? If he had been on the DL 9 times before? I think everyone knows the answer to this question. Maybe if Burnett got even just a little bit of the Halladay treatment, then he would be less AJ Burnett-like (in terms of sore shoulder). We are paying them the same amount, aren't we?

Maybe if Gibbons gave Towers even a tenth of the extra inning workload he gave to Burnett, then both of those pitchers would be better off. But hey, at least these managerial mistakes finally spell the end for this cowboy. He is gone at season's end. Anyone care to start the search for new GM? Time to cowboy down.

dalimon5 - Monday, July 02 2007 @ 01:05 PM EDT (#170933) #
And one last thing, for the life of the guy, can everyone please stop picking on AJ? The guy is trying to pitch through pain, trying to fit in, trying to live up to his contract. Injuries happen. Especially to the top pitchers in this game. Look around the league. The numbers have been there for Burnett, just like Ryan, so why, why do we want to bash on him so much, without bashing the real culprits. I'd rather have AJ for half a season than Wells for the entire season as a ghost of last year. Let's be realistic, if the hitting was there, then Burnett would just be gravy on top of our stellar rotation.
Advance Scout: Mariners, June 29-July 1 | 21 comments | Create New Account
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