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It's family day in Ontario and Presidents day in the US, meanwhile almost all players should be in camp for the Blue Jays.  Spring training games will start in less than two weeks with intra-squad games coming up next Monday.

Jordan Bastian has a story about the sad off-season for Travis Snider.

Jordan also brings us up to date with camp news including word that Gustavo Chacin is still behind in his rehab. and thoughts on the batting lineup without any decisions.

Jeff Balir and Rob MacLeod blog about a long-term contract for Alex Rios; Travis Snider's injury; and Rios' new mohawk.

Blair's story in today's paper discusses potential batting lineups.  MacLeod writes about Rod Barajas.

Jeremy Sandler in the National Post writes about new Jay pitcher Ryan Ketcher who is deaf.

Monday Is For Families | 34 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
ANationalAcrobat - Monday, February 18 2008 @ 02:01 AM EST (#180125) #
Excellent news: The Jays not necessarily using Eckstein at the top of the lineup!
AWeb - Monday, February 18 2008 @ 09:18 AM EST (#180127) #
Less excellent news: Gibbons/JP seem to think Rios "is on the verge" of being a big RBI guy, which means they don't realize that just letting him hit in the middle of the lineup will make him one almost automatically. Also, Eckstein is mentioned as a possible #2 hitter because he handles the bat, can hit it to the right side, and work a lot of pitches. I won't get into details about how wrong-headed I think that attitude is, but it does get a groan from me. Just keep reminding myself...lineup construction isn't very important, especially on a team without any great OBP guys...letting it go.
Thomas - Monday, February 18 2008 @ 09:36 AM EST (#180128) #
I had no idea the struggles Snider has had to endure the past two seasons. My condolences to him. If anything it makes his performance, especially in the AFL, even more impressive and speaks highly of his attitude and mental approach to the game. Every time I read something about him I come away a bigger fan.
scottt - Monday, February 18 2008 @ 09:40 AM EST (#180129) #
The only thing Rios is missing is consistency over a full year and he's not going to show that if they jerk him around in the batting order. That's just messing up with his head.
greenfrog - Monday, February 18 2008 @ 12:45 PM EST (#180130) #
I think the Jays' front office tends to idealize their players' ability to assume certain roles (leadoff man, cleanup hitter, etc). Last year it was bumping Overbay up to the 2nd slot. Lyle said he changed his approach, to the detriment of his hitting. Maybe this is a consequence of having a lot of average or slightly above-average hitters. It becomes hard to figure out who should hit where.
Chuck - Monday, February 18 2008 @ 01:57 PM EST (#180131) #

The only thing Rios is missing is consistency over a full year

I don't understand what this means. How did Rios not show consistency last year? He surely had month-to-month variations in his performance, but I would think that would be fairly normal. Are you attributing those variations to his movement within the batting order? If so, proving a causal effect might be difficult.

AWeb - Monday, February 18 2008 @ 02:58 PM EST (#180132) #
To be more fair to the management than I was earlier, Rios really did suck last year with runners on base (757 OPS), and was awesome with no one on (920 OPS), so maybe they are remembering that when they don't think of him as a middle of the order RBI guy yet. Of course, in 2006, the numbers were even more extreme, except in the opposite direction (1.017 with men on base, 736 with no one on). But who remembers things from two years ago? And if any hitter feels pressure to change their approach due to a different spot in the batting order, the coaches need to put a stop to that. Don't emphasize getting that runner on second over to third, or worry them with lots of hit-and-runs where they try to force weak contact in order to protect a typically slow Jays runner. Runs will "manufacture" themselves without actually trying to score without getting a hit...weak grounders and deep fly balls happen enough on their own, and a few players can steal a base (Rios, who improved greatly, maybe Wells, who was never on base last year anyway it seemed) if the coaches really think they need to so something out of the ordinary.

The Barajas article doesn't shed much light on what happened last year to the contract situation, but it does make me think of Molina's year here (is Barajas comically slow?), in that he feels he has something to prove, and he should be in a perfect situation to put up good numbers (platooning).  Intra-squad games by this time next week!
scottt - Monday, February 18 2008 @ 07:18 PM EST (#180137) #
How did Rios not show consistency last year?

His power disappeared after the all star break, which is kinda funny since he came close to winning the home run derby.
I don't think that has anything to do with his batting order.

It's natural for a hitter to perform differently with bases empty and runners in scoring positions. After all, the opposing pitcher is not going to give you the same pitches; pitching from the stretch, challenging the weak hitters, pitching around the power bats, trying to induce a ground ball, etc...

Anyway, I'm not worried about Rios and Eckstein. I'm worried about everybody else.
timpinder - Monday, February 18 2008 @ 11:23 PM EST (#180142) #

The latest Blair blog is up.  I'm a little discouraged to hear that Overbay is still feeling vibration in his hand when he makes contact.  If Wells, Overbay and Rolen rebound, have healthy seasons and hit to their career norms, this team could be playoff bound.  If the injuries linger and they continue to struggle though, it could be another frustrating offense to watch.

Magpie - Tuesday, February 19 2008 @ 04:43 AM EST (#180144) #
The Jays not necessarily using Eckstein at the top of the lineup!

Curious. Isn't that where you want to bat the guys who can ... you know... get on base? The only guys on this team who has a better OBP than Eckstein last season are Thomas and Stairs.

Rios would be fine as a leadoff hitter. But I'd much rather have Rios trying to drive in Eckstein than Eckstein trying to advance Rios.
ANationalAcrobat - Tuesday, February 19 2008 @ 09:00 AM EST (#180145) #
I certainly want a hitter who can get on base there, but the most important thing to me is having a good hitter leading off and getting the most at bats. It would be disastrous to have our worst hitter getting the most at bats. Batting him second would be no better though. I was only encouraged by the fact that JP/Gibbons were not firm on the idea of Eckstein leading off, and might be open to playing him at the bottom of the order - where he belongs.
cascando - Tuesday, February 19 2008 @ 09:53 AM EST (#180147) #
What makes Eckstein the worst hitter on the team?  Last year the only Jays with a higher EQA were Stairs, Rios, Glaus and Thomas.  Eckstein was ahead of Rolen as well (.267 to .257)

Also, assuming he isn't hitting leadoff against LHP and given the fact that McDonald will probably come into defend, Eckstein is not going to have the most at-bats.  He'll have the most leadoff AB against RHP and should post a .350-.360 OBP, which is more than you can expect from anyone except the lead-foots (Thomas, Stairs, Overbay)
Original Ryan - Tuesday, February 19 2008 @ 11:03 AM EST (#180148) #
Just a reminder that the winner of this year's Frick Award will be announced at 2:00 PM ET today.
ayjackson - Tuesday, February 19 2008 @ 11:52 AM EST (#180150) #
Apparently, the only firm contract offer that Shannon Stewart has received this Spring is from the Blue Jays.
ramone - Tuesday, February 19 2008 @ 12:07 PM EST (#180151) #
That's interesting, I wonder if they are not liking what they see from Reed this spring?
China fan - Tuesday, February 19 2008 @ 12:07 PM EST (#180152) #
     That's a very intriguing report about Shannon Stewart.   For sentimental reasons, it would be nice if it were true.  But I wonder about its accuracy  (unless it's a minor-league contract offer).   Where would the Jays find room on the major-league roster for Stewart?   Keeping in mind that Reed Johnson, Matt Stairs and Alex Rios have all been signed to fairly hefty contracts for 2008, and Vernon Wells ain't going anywhere.   I'm a little puzzled by this report.
binnister - Tuesday, February 19 2008 @ 12:10 PM EST (#180153) #

OMG!  Check out this prank that was played on a poor Phillies player....

...the poor guy...

John Northey - Tuesday, February 19 2008 @ 01:02 PM EST (#180155) #
Huh. Stewart returning? One does wonder (outside of a AAA deal) what is up. So lets see what the numbers say...

Both are right handed hitters

Stewart - would be cheap and probably incentive based on playing time
Johnson - would cost $3.275 million (1/3rd is what would have to be paid if released before some point in the spring, not sure when it all becomes guarenteed)

Stewart - 101 OPS+, 345 OBP in '07, has been below 345 just once in his career (2005 - 323)
Johnson - 66 OPS+, 305 OBP in '07, has 2 seasons above 340, 3 below in OBP.

Stewart - a LF with a noodle arm who can play CF in an emergency
Johnson - solid at all 3 outfield positions

Stewart - entering his age 34 season
Johnson - entering his age 31 season

Stewart has been a consistent player with OPS+ between 87 and 118 in his full-time seasons. Johnson not so much ranging from his amazing 124 season to his 66 last year

Stewart appears to be the better hitter but by how much depends on two things...
1) Is Johnson really healthy vs 2007
2) How much will age catch up to Stewart

I think the Jays would sign Stewart and dump Johnson only if they feel Lind & Snider are very, very close to the majors while Rios is likely to sign long term. Stewart would save the Jays a mil or two (factoring in cost of releasing Johnson) but also might accept limited playing time better.

I suspect there is a lot behind the scenes we do not know - is Reed being a pain behind the scenes about limited playing time, is his bat unlikely to recover, etc. that affect the Jays likelyhood of going for Stewart.
Marc Hulet - Tuesday, February 19 2008 @ 01:56 PM EST (#180158) #
According to Rotoworld, the Jays also worked out Trot Nixon recently.
China fan - Tuesday, February 19 2008 @ 02:05 PM EST (#180159) #
   Spring training is, of course, the time for hopeless optimism, and everything should be tempered with a note of skepticism.  But still, I like some of the early signs:  Frank Thomas has reported early to camp (the earliest he has ever reported), which suggests that he might avoid the dreadfully slow start that plagued him last season;  and Brandon League seems to be back to his 2006 form.  From today's Star:

   "It's not often every key management person on the Jays staff gathers for a bullpen session during spring training. But yesterday, the entire brainstrust was on hand to watch Brandon League toss for 10 minutes.  League is blessed with one of the best arms in the organization and they were treated to his high-90s heater and wicked breaking pitches. It was exactly what everyone wanted to see."

greenfrog - Tuesday, February 19 2008 @ 02:29 PM EST (#180160) #
The Jays could have a dynamite bullpen if League returns to form.

Overbay's hand is a bit worrying, though. Hard to see him returning to form if he's still injured.
Chuck - Tuesday, February 19 2008 @ 02:53 PM EST (#180161) #
Maybe Stewart is Overbay insurance? Stairs to 1B, Stewart to LF. I'd rather see a LHB, but...
Original Ryan - Tuesday, February 19 2008 @ 02:55 PM EST (#180162) #
Tom Cheek was passed over again.  Congratulations to Dave Niehaus.
greenfrog - Tuesday, February 19 2008 @ 04:22 PM EST (#180164) #
Stewart could also be insurance (indirectly) for Wells. I have a hard time seeing how you go from lacking "the arm strength to lift a two-pound weight from a horizontal position" to being a full-time CF and productive hitter in the big leagues. In the article below, Wells doesn't sound too concerned about his shoulder, but he doesn't exactly sound super-confident either. For what it's worth, BP has red-flagged Wells as an injury risk this year.
natan79 - Tuesday, February 19 2008 @ 10:07 PM EST (#180168) #

If Overbay can't produce, why not have Stairs play first and sign Barry Bonds to platoon with Reed or Shannon Stewart in left field?  Assuming he doesn't go to jail of course...

Joe Sheehan says that "Barry Bonds is a better fit for the Blue Jays he is than for any other AL contender"

westcoast dude - Tuesday, February 19 2008 @ 10:49 PM EST (#180169) #
I'd rather see Russ Adams or Adam Lind than Shannon Stewart or Reed Johnson in LF, at this point in their careers.  If we have to say good-bye to Reed, a million dollar cheque is as good a way as any to send him off.
subculture - Wednesday, February 20 2008 @ 01:18 AM EST (#180171) #
That SI article mixes decent insight with flippant wannabe-cool remarks, writing off Eckstein and Johnson like they're minor leaguers.  Some people might be accused of over valuing 'little guys with heart', but he's overboard the other way.

A few years ago, I felt the Jays offence compensated for lack of star offensive players by having a deep bench, and platooning effectively.  Players were rotated and had regular days off when it made sense, and injuries were fewer and had less impact.  Catalanotto, Johnson, Hinske, Hillenbrand all played big roles off the bench.

Last year, they had more big boppers like Thomas, Stairs, but were really weakened when injuries inevitably happened, and sucked against righties even when the team was relatively healthy.

This year, I'm optimistic b/c I think the lineup has the 'star' talent (Rios, Wells, Rolen, Thomas), but also has good bench depth (Lind, Scutaro, Johnson, Barajas), and much better balance against righties (which accounts for the majority of games).

If the pitching can repeat last year (not easy, but doable with Ryan and League returning), I think we're looking at a 90-93 win team.

If they somehow signed Bonds, and he actually got 500 at-bats (DH, 1b, PH), many people would hate the Jays, but I think they'd win a few games more and get into the playoffs.  Even without roids and with his age, the guy would still be the best hitter on the Jays.

VBF - Wednesday, February 20 2008 @ 02:07 AM EST (#180173) #
I'm considering buying a months worth of MLB.TV for Spring Training, but was wondering that if I buy it now, if it expires at the end of the month, essentially getting 10 days worth of value, or if it expires 30 days or so after I buy it (so I would lose access March 20th). I tried looking everywhere for this answer but was unsuccessful. Thanks!
Marc Hulet - Wednesday, February 20 2008 @ 09:01 AM EST (#180174) #
The off-season MLB.TV will expire at the end of spring training - the end of March, regardless of when you buy it. I had the off-season package last year.
John Northey - Wednesday, February 20 2008 @ 10:54 AM EST (#180176) #
Russ Adams in LF? Ugh. As a super-utility guy who gets out there when it is late and you run out of regular outfielders for some reason I could see it, especially if the Jays are in an NL park, but otherwise...ugh.

Lind I'd love to see more of, but only if his bat reaches the levels of promise shown in the minors. Stewart and Johnson are both decent short term measures.

Now, mixing Bonds for one year with Johnson or Stewart... wow. That could skyrocket the offense and really mess up our opponents as no one does that better than Bonds (outside of Rickey Henderson in his prime - walk him and he steals, pitch to him and he could homer, talk about 'damned if you do, damned if you don't' - he really screwed the Jays up in '89). Odds are any legal actions involving Bonds wouldn't be resolved until next offseason so it could work.

So Bonds/Johnson, Wells, Rios in the OF. Rolen, Eckstien, Hill, Overbay in the IF, Thomas DH, Zaun CA. Stairs backup at 1B/DH/LF/RF. Could be really good.
subculture - Wednesday, February 20 2008 @ 07:03 PM EST (#180190) #
What an experiment Bonds would be.... now I wonder how he and Thomas would get along.... and also the rest of the Jays in terms of dealing with Bonds ego, media attention, and ego.

I just shudder at watching Bonds play any position though, beyond DH.  I watched a game in SF last year (was hoping to catch the record-tying ball), and he is even slower live than on tv, if that's possible.

Could he play 1b and PH?  Give Thomas the occasional day off against tough righties... I guess he'd be eating into Stairs at-bats in that case though.... now that I think about it, I'm against the idea for these reasons... unless we trade Thomas and sign Bonds, but even that seems like a dumb PR and chemistry move...

Chuck - Wednesday, February 20 2008 @ 07:30 PM EST (#180191) #

If Bonds were to magically land on this roster, he would be the team's best hitter, by far, vs. RHP (and quite possibly vs. LHP as well). He'd deserve to start at DH or LF over anyone else currently on the roster.

That said, he ain't coming. There's just no way.


John Northey - Wednesday, February 20 2008 @ 09:41 PM EST (#180193) #
I agree with Chuck that Bonds coming here is extremely unlikely.  If a major injury to Thomas occurred, maybe.  But other than that I just don't see any method that it occurs, and even that way is unlikely (Stairs gets DH role, Lind shares LF, some RH bat gets signed to platoon with Stairs perhaps).
vw_fan17 - Thursday, February 21 2008 @ 01:12 PM EST (#180202) #
True, probably highly unlikely (Bonds coming here). OTOH, if we had traded Rios for Lincecum, things would have lined up a little more favourably..
Move Johnson/Stairs to right, Bonds in left, for example - not saying it's great or optimal, but it probably had a better chance of happening than just signing Bonds out of the blue.

Of course, JP has done strange things before (trading for Glaus when we already had Koskie, for example). Signing Bonds, moving Rios for pitching could still work :-)


Monday Is For Families | 34 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.