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The Jays bullpen tried to give this one away, but the Twins defence wouldn't hear of it.



Now that was a fun game.
For the first six Innings AJ was pretty well cruising. He was spotted a couple of runs by Inglett and Snider in the third, and although the Twins offense was looking a bit fiesty Burnett never really looked in trouble. Things changed in the seventh, AJ was running out of gas and giving up base runners. Gaston gave him a chance to work his way out of it, but eventually he pulled him with the bases loaded and two out. Downs came in and wasn't on form at all, he coughed up the lead on a three run double to Mauer. BJ Ryan wasn't at his best either and he gave up another run in the ninth, but, in between times uncharacteristically weak defence from the Twins gifted a couple of runs to the Jays and at the end of the ninth it was tied at 4-4. In extras Toronto clearly had their noses in front. They had a chance in the tenth when Rios had a one out triple, but Gardenhire walked Wells and Lind to get to Thigpen and Overbay and got out of the jam. The Twins were not to survive the 11th though, a Rolen double and a Snider single set up the walk off hit by Hard Hittin' Johnny Mac - of all people. Lot's of good baseball in this one, I particularly enjoyed the hard fought at bats by Snider and Thigpen against the Twins bullpen late in the game.

That's the eighth win in a row now for the Jays over the Twins and finally sees them broke the 5 game over .500 glass ceiling.

It was a late finish so WWJP is this week TWJP.

Game Day: The Jays have the brooms out for Litsch against Slowey. 7:07PM.
TDIB 04 September 2008 | 47 comments | Create New Account
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Dave501 - Wednesday, September 03 2008 @ 11:34 PM EDT (#191802) #

A very disterbing development manifested itself in the 10th.  Thigpen is actually Joey Lawrence the third.  Whoa!  If that guy makes the 25 man roster next year, I'm going to cry.

althought,it appears I was wrong a couple months ago when i vented about League no being able to throw a strike, so hope Joey proves me wrong as well.

unclejim - Thursday, September 04 2008 @ 05:12 AM EDT (#191809) #
Not related to the game but here's an interesting read from the UK newpaper The Observer

click here

This guy is a reasonably well know DJ/football media personality.

As another UK based Blue Jays fan, its nice to know I'm not so alone over here ;)

Jays2010 - Thursday, September 04 2008 @ 05:28 AM EDT (#191810) #

As we are at the beginning of another meaningless September, let's take a look at the claim that JP uses the division as a crutch for the fact that the Jays are never in a playoff race. Like everyone else, I am tired of hearing JP say this, but you will never hear the Twins or White Sox admit that they would be out of a playoff race if they were in the AL East. While in the past I would never have said that the Jays deserve a playoff spot in the AL, they at least deserve to be in a race this year, in my opinion. I won't even get into run differential, though I do not see how the fans can complain about JP when he puts a team on the field that outscores their opponents by more than half a run/game, though the Jays do not know how to distribute runs correctly in order to maximize wins. If anyone actually has a reliable statistic that predicts how a GM can control run distribution effectively, please share it.

The AL East is 40 games over .500 vs the other 2 AL divisions, while they are 14 games over .500 vs the NL

The AL Central is 24 games below .500 vs the other 2 AL divisions, while they are 26 games over .500 vs the NL

The AL West is 20 games below .500 vs the other 2 AL divisions, while they are 6 games over .500 vs the NL

First off, the AL is vastly superior to the NL. So for all those Kevin Towers lovers who claim that he's a brilliant GM because he makes a lot of minor transactions every year and is active in this sense, lets see his paper-thin roster survive the AL in general and the AL East in particular. Iíll even let him bring Petco to the East Coast. JP makes these same minor transactions and this is one of his strongest attributes as a GM.

There is no way for me to say that the Jays are better than the Rays or Red Sox because we all reside in the AL East so the wins, more or less, indicate the superior teams (insofar as I am focussing on how divisions affect wins, not run differential, for example). We are close enough to the Yankees so I will not say that they are significantly better than us either, though I will also look at some of their numbers. Lets also take a look at the Twins, White Sox  and Angels. Since the AL East is the litmus test of a quality team, I consider how teams play against the AL East in comparison to the rest of the AL.

Records vs the AL East; Record vs AL opponents outside of AL East

Blue Jays 27-26; 37-30

Yankees 31-28; 34-28

Angels 28-15; 46-31

Twins 9-18; 54-40

White Sox 13-20; 53-35

Notice that even though the Angels have a modest run differential (+57) in relation to their win total, they DO beat up on the AL East as well as the other two divisions so for this I have to give them credit. Also, the Angels have played 43 games vs the AL East (vs 27 for the Twins and 33 for the White Sox respectively) due to the fact that they have a four-team division. This is a major disadvantage; it cancels out the advantage of having a 4-team division, in my opinion. As the stats show, the Twins and White Sox both do poorly against the AL East. In addition to this, the Twins are 18-19 and the White Sox are 16-12 vs the AL West. There are two areas where these teams are superior to the Blue Jays: records vs their division and records vs the NL

The Twins are 36-21 vs the AL Central and 14-4 vs the NL. The White Sox are 37-23 vs the AL Central and 12-6 vs the NL. The Jays are 8-10 vs the NL, one of only two AL teams with a record below .500 vs the NL (Indians are 6-12). This is something the Jays have struggled with and this has kept them slightly over .500 the last 3 years. In fact, they have a .500 record vs the NL in the last 3 years, and the AL always has quite a few extra wins floating around due to the NL's inferiority.

Another random observation: the lowly Baltimore Orioles are 32-30 vs the other 2 AL divisions and 11-7 vs the NL. They have a poor record due to their 20-39 record within the AL East. This is not to say that the Orioles are better than the White Sox because they are a combined 6 games over .500 vs teams outside the AL East, while the White Sox are only 3 games over .500 vs teams outside of the AL Central; this ignores the fact that the Orioles never face the AL East in their out-of-division games (obviously!). Rather, I think the Orioles are a good example of a team that could potentially be .500 in any other division in baseball (they are only -36 in run differential, and I can only assume that they would be a positive if their RD vs the AL East was factored out).

Overall, these statistics more or less show, in my opinion, that the Red Sox, Rays and Angels are the class of the AL, while New York and Toronto are 4th and 5th respectively. The only thing that could further the argument that the Twins and White Sox are better than the Blue Jays is the fact that they have superior records vs the NL; however, I do not think this has as much of an effect as the division that each team resides in. The major factor is that the Twins and White Sox play in a division that is only 2 games over 500 when factoring in all the extra wins coming from the NL.

The Twins and White Sox play 76 games each vs teams in their own division and someone HAS to win these games. I certainly do not consider this a measure of a quality team; a 5 team triple A division would have a similar distribution of intra-divisional wins.

The Blue Jays play in a division that is 60 games over .500, and somebody HAS to lose these games.  In other words, I cannot see how the Twins/White Sox would have any shot in the AL East this year, while I would predict the Jays to, at the very least, compete for the division in the Central and, based on these stats, win the division. I consider the Jays the 5th best team in the AL if wins are actually based on talent, not schedule/division, and they are within striking range of the Yankees. If I look at the NL, the Cubs are the only team with a RD that is significantly better than the Jays; also, all of these teamsí RDís are primarily based on games within their own league, which is clearly inferior. Even a solid team such as the Milwaukee Brewers would not be in a position to trade for CC Sabathia if they played in the AL, and, thus, they would have a significantly lower winning %. This does not even factor in that the AL East probably wears down the Blue Jays, while the Twins and White Sox are probably refreshed by their AL Central/AAAA opponents. Thus, the Jays are probably more weary through out the year than their AL Central counterparts, which may relate to their mediocre record vs the NL.

So there you have it. In my opinion, the 2008 Toronto Blue Jays are the 6th best team in MLB in 2008 (though only the 4th best in the AL East), within striking distance of being 5th best, though we are missing the playoffs yet again. UmmÖFire JP!

 

Jays2010 - Thursday, September 04 2008 @ 05:42 AM EDT (#191811) #
Slight correction to the previous post. The Jays are actually 46 games over .500 (not 40) vs the AL West & Central combined; these equals out to the 46 games below .500 that the Al Central and West are combined vs the AL East.
bird droppings - Thursday, September 04 2008 @ 06:01 AM EDT (#191812) #

unclejim,

I live in London and have been over here for about four years now. When I opened up the Observer on Sunday I couldn't believe it. I actually did a double take. I love Collin Murray and I love the Blue Jays - hence the shock.

I find it very hard to get across to people here in the UK why I love baseball so much. Comparing it to cricket does the game absolutely zero justice and I think Murray has done a good job trying to explain why he loves the game and the Jays. I am back in Canada for a couple weeks beginning the 13th of September - lucky that there is a homestand then. I have toyed with the idea of popping down to see the Croydon Pirates (baseball team near London) but it's just such a pain to get down there.

lexomatic - Thursday, September 04 2008 @ 07:27 AM EDT (#191813) #
The obvious solution is not to try and switch divisions, but lobby for the return of a balanced schedule. This would increase competitive balance by a) not having one team beat up on an inferior division (angels - though they'd still be good) or b) by not having the leagues best teams beat each other up and exclude each other from the playoffs.
does someone with too much time want to do a bizarro world scenario extrapolating records to fit a balanced schedule for the AL?
c;mon , you know you wanna
mp - Thursday, September 04 2008 @ 08:05 AM EDT (#191815) #

Uncle Jim

Thanks for linking to the Oberver article. I'm another London based Jays fan. I seldom post here but I read pretty much every day - one day I may even get to add to my whole 1 Jays game attended in person! (Sept 2000, an ugly 8-1 loss to the Mariners).

Ozzieball - Thursday, September 04 2008 @ 08:23 AM EDT (#191817) #
Not related to the game but here's an interesting read from the UK newpaper The Observer


"Shaun Marcum of Toronto Blue Jays throws the first pitch against David Eckstein of the Boston Red Sox at the Blue Jays' home opener at the Rogers Centre in April this year in Toronto, Canada. Photograph: Dave Sandford/Getty Images"

He was a traitor all along!
Jimbag - Thursday, September 04 2008 @ 10:56 AM EDT (#191821) #
I don't know what it is about articles or books (like Me and DiMaggio) that make me smile, but they always do.

Easy enough to forgive the Eckstein and Alomar errors.

Wildrose - Thursday, September 04 2008 @ 11:57 AM EDT (#191822) #
While in the past I would never have said that the Jays deserve a playoff spot in the AL, they at least deserve to be in a race this year

Good post. Others agree with your rankings of the Jays in this particular season.

I think the key though, is that relative strength of schedule is somewhat variable year/year.  In 2007 A.L. West teams actually had a superior overall record against their A.L. East opponents for instance. Division strength goes up and down.

Moving forward, with the resurgence of a young Tampa team, the massive revenue streams of the Yankees new ball park coming on stream and the continued solid management of the Red Sox, this division will be tough.

I'd love to see a return to a balanced schedule, but frankly that is wish casting. It's simply not going to happen. Really the ball is  Mr. Ted's court. If he wants  this team to win he has to step to the plate with a significant  cash infusion or find a G.M. who is innovative enough ( easier said than done) to compete in a difficult situation.

Basically I don't think they will do a damn thing  . This corporate entity is content to remain on the periphery of contention and make a modest profit on a yearly basis. Something is going to have to change for this team to be truly competitive.
John Northey - Thursday, September 04 2008 @ 12:21 PM EDT (#191823) #
One major reason for an unbalanced schedule is seen in the 1994 AL West and the 2008 NL West. There is a strong desire not to have sub-500 teams in the playoffs and a balanced schedule would skyrocket the odds of seeing another 1994 (the 4 worst teams in the AL were all in the same division) or what is near in the NL West (Arizona is just 36-47 vs East/Central/Interleague while LA is 41-45 - even beating up on their own division they still are just 71-68 and 70-70 respectively).

Optics are important and by doing this you help pull down the records of divisions that are too strong, ala the AL East, while helping the weak ones, ala the NL West.
Jays2010 - Thursday, September 04 2008 @ 12:44 PM EDT (#191824) #

Even with a balanced schedule, I find it hard to believe that the Jays would finish any higher than third in our division this year. I just want to see the teams that make the playoffs be the most deserving. Frankly, I like football's 12 playoff team format and considering how much more revenue there would be in the game not only from playoff games, but also playoff interest, I think it makes sense. Even if they do maintain that only 8 teams make the playoffs, I'd prefer that there be two divisions (hence two division winners) and two wildcards. With this format, I think the Jays would definately be in a playoff race this year, if nothing else.

jmoney - Thursday, September 04 2008 @ 12:55 PM EDT (#191825) #
I think a good way to fix some of these balance issues is to collapse both leagues back to two divisions. Balance the schedule, and let each division winner (and two wild cards for the best records outside of the division winners) go to the playoffs.
John Northey - Thursday, September 04 2008 @ 01:21 PM EDT (#191826) #
Ignoring strength of schedule, where would the Jays be in a two division 4 team playoff?

East: Tampa Bay first place
West: Angels first place
Those  two teams have the best records in the AL and are on the two coasts so it is a safe bet they'd be in separate divisions and would be leading.

Remaining two spots and games back...
Boston - 82-57 easily in
Chicago - 78-61 4 games behind Sox, but in playoff position
Minnesota - 77-62 1 game back of a playoff slot
Yankees - 75-64 3 games out of a playoff slot
Blue Jays - 72-66 5 1/2 games behind the Twins
No one else is above 500

That would've made these last few games much more exciting as the Jays would've been forcing their way back into a race.  5 1/2 with 3 teams to pass would've been tough still, but at least it would've looked possible vs the 9 1/2 they actually are out of a playoff slot by.  A two wildcard system with 3 divisions (where the two wild cards have a one game playoff) would put the Jays behind Minnesota and just 4 1/2 out of the playoffs.

Of course, the old NHL/NBA system would put the Jays into the playoffs as the 7th seed with a 4 1/2 game lead on the #8 position (Texas) and 5 on the #9 (just missing) position aka Cleveland.  The old two division format would have the Angels and Rays in with Chicago/Minnesota/Boston trying to play catchup and the Jays 12 1/2 out.  The pre-1969 method (just the best from each league goes to the World Series) would have Tampa leading by 1/2 a game over the Angels and 3 over Boston for one heck of a race to the finish.
Ducey - Thursday, September 04 2008 @ 01:56 PM EDT (#191827) #

I can't see the Yankees and Boston wanted a balanced schedule as they likely have the highest attendance/ ratings for their respective games against each other.  This lkely helps out the national TV contract as well.  Plus teams would have to travel more - everyone would be barking about that. 

Not going to happen.

Is it really that hard for the Jays to compete? 

Look at this year.  I have the benefit of hidsight but what if:

1)the Jays had kept Reed Johnson, avoided Shannon S and brought up Lind sooner?  Their Outfield would have likely produced enough offense and would have been better able to  withstand the Wells injury.

2)JP had not given Thomas the vesting option in his contract.  Either Thomas would not have signed which would have allowed JP to pursue a different scary bat or to have a Stairs/ Thomas platoon at DH.  This would have added some offence too.

3)If JP had drafted Tulowitzki instead of Romero, there would not be a big gap at SS.  Tulowitzki did not have a great year this year due to injury, but last year was great and you have to think that he would be the solution at SS for the Jays for a long time.

4) It seems that JP tried to control every aspect of the on field performance through Gibbons.  This seems to have resulted in the offence focusing on going deep into counts and trying to walk.  Hit and runs were rare and as a result there were many DP's.  Many of the players mentioned this with the firing of Gibbons.  This seems to have contributed to poor years across the board - something that seems to have corrected itself since Cito took over. A better approach at the plate may have helped.

Maybe another GM  makes those decisions rather than the ones JP made.  In any event, I think that had the Jays made the four decisions outlined above, they would have been much better this year and possibly last year as well.  This is not a direct criticism of JP, it is only to point out that the Jays might not have been that far out of it this year had they just made a couple of better decisions.  Leading the AL East is hard - not impossible.  Heck, the Rays have a couple of ex Jays starting in the outfiled.

 

FisherCat - Thursday, September 04 2008 @ 01:57 PM EDT (#191828) #

As it is, in the past I've only partly felt that the AL East was a reason for the Jays' lack of meaningful games in September.  BUT, this year I'm convinced that them being in the AL East has played NO part in this September being like every other in the JP era.  There is just no excuse for having arguably the best all-around pitching staff AND defense in the AL and not even being a factor in the race.  Add to that the sudden leapfrog of Tampa over the Jays into respectability, and you can no longer say that the division is crutch.

John Northey - Thursday, September 04 2008 @ 02:28 PM EDT (#191829) #
Good ol' second guessing. Many of us liked Johnson more than Stewart, but not by much and saving a couple of million made sense at the time. If Johnson was here playing everyday in LF then Lind wouldn't have been up until after Thomas was released or only when injuries hit the outfield hard. In short, he'd have been here no more than a couple weeks more than he really was, or less.

Thomas as a platoon player would not have occurred under any circumstances. He quite simply would not have accepted it, vesting option or not. He said so himself. Now, not signing him might've been better but at the time no one thought Stairs would be adequate as DH so someone else would've been signed.

Tulowitzki has been bad this year - 245/318/376 76 OPS+. Last year, when he was viewed as great, he hit for a 108 OPS+. Would've been nice vs Johnny Mac but not a HOF'er by any stretch.

What surprised me about Tulowitzki though is his defense. His RZR has been 803-861-886 (innings=220/1375/680) vs Johnny Mac's 837/845/816 over 661/799/402 innings. So a guy who hits for a 76 OPS+ in a bad year, 108 in a good, and fields as good or better than Johnny Mac. Now _that_ is impressive. I always assumed he was mediocre defensively due to his bat - an old base assumption that hurts the rep of guys like A-Rod while helping the Gonzo's of the world. Shows me why I should always check the facts.

Now, what would've happened in a world where JP took the guy after the guy he took each season in the first round?
2002: Scott Kazmir instead of Russ Adams - dang that'd be nice
2003: Ryan Wagner (89 ERA+ reliever) instead of Aaron Hill - think JP did good here
2004: Timothy Elbert (3.12 ERA in minors, 3 games in majors in relief) instead of David Purcey - I prefer Purcey so far
2005: Tulowitzki instead of Romero - discussed to death
2006: Christopher Marrero (A+ 805 lifetime minor league OPS OF 19 yrs old) instead of Travis Snider - JP did good here it looks like
2007 & 2008 - too soon to tell anything

So, Kazmir and Tulowitzki plus a poor reliever or Hill, Snider, Purcey, and Adams. If Hill recovers and Snider becomes what most think he will then it is close but still a loss. If Purcey develops too and/or Tulowitzki fails to return to 100 OPS+ level then I'd put JP ahead of 'next pick'. Although a rotation headlined by Halladay-Kazmir would be sweet.
92-93 - Thursday, September 04 2008 @ 02:53 PM EDT (#191831) #
I am so sick and tired of people around here bringing up this Tulowitzki thing. He hits .250/.320/.381 away from Coors, and Ric Romero is a 23 year old LHP. Please stop. Or at least wait until 2013 to evaluate.
Brito - Thursday, September 04 2008 @ 02:57 PM EDT (#191832) #

As another UK based Jays fan, that article gave me a lot of pleasure so thank you unclejim.

I especially liked the reference to Doc and his jersey - the man is a legend.

Still waiting to have to board the plane and go straight to the RC for a September pennant chase... (sigh)

 

 

 

 

Moe - Thursday, September 04 2008 @ 03:06 PM EDT (#191834) #
I think Kazmir is/was a Boras client and there may have been signability issues, not sure. So the only real screw-up is Tulowitzki -- that's a big one, but overall JP has drafted better than his repuation. The bigger problem are his FA acquistions and maybe the lack of willing to take a big chance in a trade, which is something you need to beat NYY and BOS without having to go through years of high drafts like Tampa (I know it's not quite that easy to explain why they are so good). But this is part of the Jays business model; no risk, don't be too far out of it than we can keep saying "there still is a chance" and "for sure next year" and sell enough tickets, because no one knows much about baseball around here anyways.

On a different topic, it seems Seattle may finally tear things down and start from scratch (no real surprise), I wonder what the price tag on A. Beltre is? He has one more year (12mill) on his contract and his offensive numbers are not as bad as the reputation but not really worth 12mill. If they dump him, he could help the Jays: Play him at 3rd whenever Rolen can't and DH the rest of the time. Not great, but (1) it's a 1 year deal, (2) he is in a contract year (we know what he did last time) and (3) he might not cost much in terms of prospects if the Jays eat all the money. Since he can play 3rd (and I assume 1st) I'd rather have him than Giambi on a 3 year deal.

Jays2010 - Thursday, September 04 2008 @ 03:51 PM EDT (#191836) #
Ducey...

Is it really that hard for the Jays to compete? 

Look at this year.  I have the benefit of hidsight but what if:

When you only point out JP's errors, you are not giving him credit for his accomplishments. It's not like I think he's a top 5 GM or anything, but, really, look at how playing in the AL East has affected them. Beyond the big three of the Angels, Red Sox and Rays, there is no way to deny that the Jays/Yankees deserve to be the team battling for the 4th playoff spot if playoff spots were determined by how good a team actually is, instead of being determined by division/schedule. This does not even factor in run differential, which as I have said before cannot be attributed to a GM's foresight or lack thereof.

Basically what I'm getting at is this...do people think that the reason the Blue Jays aren't battling for a playoff spot is more due to JP's ineptitude as a GM or the inequalities of the schedule/divisions. To me, it is quite obviously the latter.

John Northey - Thursday, September 04 2008 @ 03:52 PM EDT (#191837) #
Adrian Beltre? He of the 107 OPS+ lifetime? Of the 327 OBP lifetime?

Nah. I'd rather see Snider in there. Snider is looking good so far, seeing a few line drives off that bat and a few clutch hits so he doesn't seem overwhelmed by the majors. He might hit as good or better than Beltre. Now, if we traded Rolen and put Beltre in at third that just might work. But Beltre in DH mainly? Nah.

Note: Beltre became a ML regular at 20, has been above 120 in OPS+ just once, over 100 just 6 out of 11 seasons, yet has 1573 hits at age 29 along with 241 HR. Mix in a gold glove and over 1500 games at third base and you just might have a HOF'er here as 2000 hits and 300 HR are near locks and 3000 hits and 500 HR are not out of the question. Tells you what a big element that early start is.
Moe - Thursday, September 04 2008 @ 04:14 PM EDT (#191838) #
I don't expect 2004 again, but he has a low BA/BiP this year, so he should do better next year than this one. OPS+ of 110-115 for a DH is not great, but better than what we have this year. Plus the insurance at 3rd.
I'd rather pay 12m for that for 1 year than 3 years for some aging DH. Of course, I'd not want the Jays to give up a lot of prospects, so this comes down to how badly do the Mariners want to shred payroll and how many teams are interested. It's a long shot, but clearly worse things could happen.
Clifford - Thursday, September 04 2008 @ 04:14 PM EDT (#191839) #

Giambi is 37 and has only had spells of being dangerous this season. A mistake to even consider.

But must agree with Moe's comment about Jays' business model. It's too bad when J.P. departed Oakland he didn't pack some of Al Davis' outlook on winning. This year has been highly entertaining to baseball fans--pitching and defence will keep most games close (see: Minnesota the past two evenings)--but, in my opinion, I'd rather see  a "damn the torpedoes" commitment to winning rather than just putting on a good show.

To riff on Ducey's comment above, to his list of poor choices I'd say, again, my opinion, that the Jays should have added to their anemic line-up a certain Mr. B.Bonds, one of the greatest hitters of all time, certifiably clean of PEs for the past three years, and unfairly and for racial reasons  blackballed by the sports media and the panjamdrums of baseball. Toronto's line-up game after game this year probably made at least 40 SPs in the league salivate with anticipation. 1-9 there was simply no one to fear. There is no doubt in my mind that Barry would have made a major difference.

But Godfrey/Rogers and the other team owners demanded that Bonds be sent to the cornfield.

Toronto should have stood up to baseball and for justice, since Bonds has not been tried or found guilty yet, and signed him because he would have helped us immeasurably. But did we complain when Darold Knowles was traded for himself to help the Tigers beat us? No. Or many other instances which could be cited? No. We go along, we avoid controversy, we accept also ran staus. We pay for collusion fines that we had nothing to do with. And so on, and so on.

Let me also state that I do disagree with Moe that nobody hereabouts understands baseball.

Ducey - Thursday, September 04 2008 @ 04:29 PM EDT (#191840) #

Fellas,

I am not trying to bring up the Tulowitzki think again or to criticize JP in retrospect.  I am just saying that with substantially the same team, but with a few different decisions, the Jays would be a better team.  This to me points to the reality that the Jays could have contended in the AL East this year.

Heck, the are probably two dozen other decisions JP could have made that would have led to an even better team.

If the Jays could have contended, and the Rays are contenders, it really undermines the idea that the strength of the division is an insurmountable problem.

 

John Northey - Thursday, September 04 2008 @ 04:30 PM EDT (#191841) #
The danger of 'damn the torpedoes' is you tend to have a heck of an ugly spell after it without any guarantee of success. That approach leads to trading away every prospect you got to try to win now (see Ash trading for he who shall not be named among others).

I agree that, especially once Thomas was dumped, the Jays should've signed Bonds. However, MLB seems to have unofficially banned him thus it wasn't an actual option. Dumb, but the way it is.

The Jays have at least been viewed as 'if things break right' contenders. Some teams haven't even had that in years (KC, Pittsburgh, Tampa before this year, Washington, Baltimore, Milwaukee for a decade before the last 2).

So, damn the torpedoes and full speed ahead - losing many of the top prospects of today for a few more wins in 2009 - or continuing to develop from within for a few more years and not doing the big trades until the Jays actually win 90 in a season again.

I grew up with the early Jays and enjoyed watching Bell/Moseby/Barfield develop, seeing Alfredo Griffen then Tony Fernandez at SS, etc. However, the team had to do that (bring up kids and not trade them) for almost a decade before going for it in 1991 (McGriff/Fernandez for Carter/Alomar, misc. for White) through 1993 (Karsay for Henderson, Kent for Cone). That decade was frustrating, with just 2 division titles, but boy was it fun seeing how they developed. Everyone knew who Fernandez, Bell, Barfield, Moseby, Stieb, Key, Henke, ... were. Now we have a chance for that again with Hill, Wells, Rios, Lind, Snider, Halladay, Marcum, Litsch, McGowan and hopefully a few others. The key is for JP (or whoever comes in next) to keep strong drafts and to start getting non-drafted players into the system (such as Tiny Tim).
greenfrog - Thursday, September 04 2008 @ 05:26 PM EDT (#191842) #
Here's a potential poll question, if the powers-that-be need an idea: assuming AJ opts out of his contract, should the Jays convert Scott Downs to a starter in 2009? Personally, I say no - he's too valuable as a reliever, and the Jays have quite a few potential starters (including a few lefties on the way). But it's an interesting debate.
FisherCat - Thursday, September 04 2008 @ 05:30 PM EDT (#191843) #

I'll throw my 2 cents in on the whole "if JP made a couple of different moves" theory.

I think we're all in agreement that JP's most sucessful moves during his tenure have been the "small" moves he's made.  You know the complimentary additions of Zaun, Downs, Accardo, McDonald, Barajas, Tallet, et al.

It's the "key" big ticket moves such as expensive free agents, trades, contract extensions and 1st rnd draft picks that haven't had the impact that their "supposed" to have.  Glaus helped, but broke down.  Same may go for Rolen.  AJ pays dividends ONLY when the season is out of reach.  Russ Adams, a bust.  Hinske, Wells, Rios & Hill (health I know) all subpar after signing extensions.  Thomas, need I explain?

I just think, with Tampa taking the bull by the horns this year and with JP never really getting everything to click once.  A change is needed.

Jays2010 - Thursday, September 04 2008 @ 08:30 PM EDT (#191844) #

I disagree (to an extent) in regards to JP handing out poor contracts (either for free agents or for his own guys). Rather, I'd say that they are mostly "average" contracts, with a couple of poor ones with Thomas and I suppose Rolen. VW is not a JP extension and the fact that uncle Teddy was actually at that press conference suggests to me that the contract was about optics over all else. I consider it a Godfrey contract. Guys like Glaus, Overbay, Rios, Burnett etc are not horrible deals; they're all pretty much mediocre or slightly above/below; this is one reason we have a slightly above average team in many ways (though in 2008 I'd say the division/schedule imbalance is a key factor in this).

The drafting, until recently, has more or less focussed on average players as well; hence, no JP draft pick has made an all-star game (although I do think Lind and Hill will have a chance from the group drafted before 2006, though they'd probably be occasional all-stars at best); there are, however, quite a few solid players from the 2002-2005 drafts, with more to potentially still come.

For the most part, I think JP is good at not making major mistakes. He may be one of the best GM's in the league in this regard. However, he doesn't do enough vital things well enough to make this a 90+ win club annually (although I think that this may change pretty soon). Quite frankly, his 2002-2005 drafting in combination with his 2006-2008 free agent spending is perfect for the NL and I suspect he'd have a top 5 team in the NL every year, specifically with pitchers like Marcum, Litsch, Jannsen etc.

As much as it is a running theme on this site that JP is an average GM, I'd say he was below average for the first 4 years and is improving on the job so he is a slightly better than average GM at this point. I'd still cut bait after 2009 if this is not a 90 win team, but lets give him one more shot to see what he can do because a lot of money is tied up until 2010 (including JP's contract).

Dave Till - Thursday, September 04 2008 @ 10:07 PM EDT (#191846) #
It's too early to get too excited about Travis Snider. Right now, the pitchers are challenging him because they haven't found his weaknesses yet. He'll need to make one or two adjustments before he becomes a star; Wells had to do it, and so did Lind.

But he'll be a really good one, I think.

China fan - Thursday, September 04 2008 @ 10:38 PM EDT (#191847) #
This over-aggressive promotion of Snider has really damaged his development, hasn't it?   It seems to have really screwed up his swing.....
braden - Thursday, September 04 2008 @ 10:41 PM EDT (#191848) #

It's too early to get too excited about Travis Snider.

Screw that.  I'm on Expedia right now booking a room in Cooperstown for July, 2033.

scottt - Thursday, September 04 2008 @ 11:22 PM EDT (#191850) #
Right now, the pitchers are challenging him because they haven't found his weaknesses yet.

I don't think he was challenged when they walked him to set a 5 run inning.

Won't the pitchers at AAA just pitch around him? Looks to me like the bottom of the order on the big club is a great place for him right now.


brent - Friday, September 05 2008 @ 06:30 AM EDT (#191852) #

BTW, if you want to see the youngest players promoted to the majors by JP, just go to the thread before this one near the end http://www.battersbox.ca/comment.php?mode=view&cid=191851. JP has been a somewhat different GM since the payroll increase. I would like to thank the Jays again for mangling the Twins this series to rub it in the face of Griffin at the Star. BTW, does anyone think the team would play like this under Gibbons at this point? Who is going to be the back up catcher coming out of spring training? Could it be Thigpen just to keep the seat warm for Jeroloman and later Arencibia?

The real money question is if it is better to fire JP sooner than later to make sure that LaCava doesn't leave the team to be a GM somewhere else? I think the Jays should not allow any teams to talk to him.

Dave Till - Friday, September 05 2008 @ 07:54 AM EDT (#191853) #
Won't the pitchers at AAA just pitch around him? Looks to me like the bottom of the order on the big club is a great place for him right now.

It'll depend on how quickly major league pitchers find his weak spots - every hitter has them, except possibly Pujols - and how well he adjusts when they do. I have no doubt now that he will be a very good hitter, but he might not be one in 2009.

Recall that the Jays have had many prospects who did well their first time through the league: Phelps, Lind and Wells all had good end-of-season trials, and then hit a speed bump on their way to success. (Phelps never was able to adjust.) Jose Cruz Jr. hit for more power in his first year than he ever did after that.

Right now, Snider is proving that he can hit major league pitching when the pitchers are simply trying to beat him with their best stuff without worrying about trying to locate it. That's the first step - and it's an impressive step to have achieved at the age of 20. But he's got one or two more steps to climb yet. (He could adjust very quickly, and become one of the game's great stars - there's no ceiling for him right now.)
zeppelinkm - Friday, September 05 2008 @ 08:43 AM EDT (#191854) #

Watching Snider battle Nathan to a 3 - 2 count and then ripping a single on a slider (yes, a slider thrown in the 3 - 2 count) that was down and away from him made me go "yes, this is it, this is what we've been waiting for". It was like, foreshadowing in a good book...  He's got what it takes, it appears. As Dave said, we'll have to see how he adjusts to pitchers adjusting to him.

My gut says he should start 2009 in triple A and then be called up when there is an injury to one of our outfielders or Overbay. And then he's here to stay.

 

 

 

ayjackson - Friday, September 05 2008 @ 09:18 AM EDT (#191856) #
I thought it was a splitter, it seemed to move down and away from Snider, whereas a slider would move towards him.  I haven't seent a replay though.
John Northey - Friday, September 05 2008 @ 09:49 AM EDT (#191857) #
Phelps has always seemed odd to me. Here is a guy who has had OPS+'s of 138-113-92-100-minors-135-10 AB's. The 92 was the year the Jays dumped him, the 100 was followed by a minor league season, then he hit like his rookie season in 2007 but had to sit in AAA all year this year hitting 291-373-568. Last year he mixed in 17 innings behind the plate so he can be useful - third catcher, first baseman, DH. Yet he doesn't seem to really get much of a shot. Since his horrid 2004 he hasn't had 200 plate appearances in a season, just a total of 370 PA's total in 4 years. Against lefties he has hit 295-361-496 which is fairly solid for a mix-and-match platoon.

In my mind Phelps is exactly what the Jays need for 2009. A right handed hitter who can be an emergency catcher and fill in at DH for Snider and/or Lind whenever a left hander is on the mound. Thus both Lind & Snider face some left handers but when they get a day off we have someone who can hit to come in. Plus he'd be good to hit for McDonald (anytime) or Inglett (vs a LOOGY whenever Inglett starts).

To me the ideal team for 2009 is...
CA: Barajas & whoever
1B: Overbay
2B: Hill
3B: Rolen
SS: McDonald
LF: Lind
CF: Wells
RF: Rios
DH: Snider
UT: Inglett/Scutaro
PH: Phelps or another RH basher

Snider and the outfielders rotate, mixing Overbay into that as well (Lind can play first iirc). Perfect world we get a 14 man bench and keep Bautista or get an actual outfielder onto the roster.

With McDonald a starter and a backup catcher who can't hit (most likely) we'll need a good pinch hitter. Inglett/Scutaro/Bautista are useful guys but all 3 is overkill and Bautista is a 100 OPS+ guy at best who is viewed as an outfielder who can cover third in an emergency rather than a third baseman who plays the outfield.

Of course, on third thought I see Bautista has hit LHP to the tune of 259/360/461 which is a bit worse than Phelps but not horribly so (lose 35 points of slg%). The Jays could do worse than him, but I can't help but think there is a slugger, if not Phelps then someone, who can really help off the bench late in the game while giving Snider and/or Lind and/or Overbay (if the other two have great years and Overbay doesn't) a few days off vs tough LHP's.
GregD - Friday, September 05 2008 @ 10:01 AM EDT (#191858) #
What's really impressed me thus far with Snider is his ability to hit opposite field.
Mike Green - Friday, September 05 2008 @ 10:16 AM EDT (#191859) #

It's too early to get too excited about Travis Snider...Screw that.  I'm on Expedia right now booking a room in Cooperstown for July, 2033.

You figure that he's only going to play until he's 40?  That's an awfully pessimistic take!

Old man Pythagoras now has the Blue Jays with the 3rd best "record" in the AL, and the third best "record" in the AL East.  Watching the Twins, it is easy to see their weaknesses, particularly on the left side of the infield and in the outfield. They've got three great players (Mauer, Morneau and Nathan), some decent starting pitching and a pretty weak supporting cast. 


zeppelinkm - Friday, September 05 2008 @ 10:35 AM EDT (#191860) #

AY: I think you're right. My memory says Snider "went down and away" to get it, whereas a slider would have to start way outside for a LH hitter to have to go down and get. Plus, I think Nathan throws more splitters then sliders so it would more likely be the off speed pitch he goes to in critical 3-2 counts.

Either way, it was supurb piece of hitting for a 20 year old in a pressure packed situation.

AWeb - Friday, September 05 2008 @ 10:50 AM EDT (#191861) #
Minnesota surprised me with just how tiny they are. They have two players listed at 5-9, another couple at 5-11 or 6-0. For reference, John McDonald is listed at 5-11. I say "listed at", which in sports is notoriously and oddly inaccurate. Not much wonder they (the Twins) keep getting called a scrappy, fundamentally sound team, they look like they must be. Meanwhile, Toronto is a far superior fielding team, steals bases just as well, has more power (well, HRs anyway), and better pitching. If Minnesota wasn't hitting .310 with RISP this year, the White Sox would be running away with it. If the Jays were hitting .310 with RISP instead of .250, well, that's a sad thought experiment right now. I know we've seen the worst of the Twins this year, what with a season series sweep, but it's really frustrating to think the Jays are well behind them.

Has Toronto ever lead the majors in run prevention before? Because they're there right now. Aargh...The Jays have literally the best pitching/defense in the majors, and still need to run off 20 wins in a row to make the playoffs.
China fan - Friday, September 05 2008 @ 10:58 AM EDT (#191862) #
John Northey, that's an interesting lineup, but why do you call it the "ideal" lineup when the Jays will clearly have enough money to buy an off-season free-agent or two, plus enough pitching depth to maybe make a trade or two?    The amount of available money in 2009 can be calculated in different ways, but it's gotta be at least $10-million to $15-million.  And a trade or two should be expected.   Between the money and the pitching depth, the Jays can upgrade on at least one or two positions.  If Snider is good enough to be the DH, then the Jays will be chasing a shortstop at least.  JP has a habit of trying to upgrade at one or two positions in every off-season, even though it often doesn't work.  He's been tinkering with 3B for the past two seasons, he might tinker again.  He might decide that Overbay is not producing enough to be the 1B so he could try to upgrade there.  Even when JP claims that he "likes his guys", he usually goes into the offseason with an eye to improving at least a couple of positions, and I'd expect that again this year.
Hodgie - Friday, September 05 2008 @ 12:03 PM EDT (#191872) #

"Right now, Snider is proving that he can hit major league pitching when the pitchers are simply trying to beat him with their best stuff without worrying about trying to locate it."

Dave, I am just curious what you are basing this statement on. If you were contending that opposing pitcher's weren't sure how to pitch to Snider as of yet I would whole-heartedly agree, but I can't imagine that they would just abandon pitching and start throwing it up there with a "here it is kid, try and hit it" attitude. He may be only 20, but he is still one of the premier hitting prospects in the game and every team is well aware of that.

John Northey - Friday, September 05 2008 @ 02:56 PM EDT (#191890) #
I called it the ideal lineup as the only spots that I'm doing anything with that isn't (necessarily) in house are RH pinch hitter and backup catcher.  Ideally we'd find a new #1 catcher, a power hitting gold glove shortstop, and up the talent in other places as well.  Realistically, given what JP has been saying, next year is a continuation of this season with kids getting mixed in.

We might be surprised and see Overbay traded and a power hitter brought in but as I've pointed out before the 2010 budget is very, very tight.  No decent free agent will take a one year deal unless they have major issues (injuries for example) and I think none of us want the Jays counting on dumb luck (which going for those guys normally involves). 

A rotation of Halladay/Marcum/McGowan/Litsch/Purcey to start with Cecil and Mills in the wings and Richmond (among others) in AAA for emergency starts is nothing to sneeze at.
A bullpen of Ryan/Downs/Carlson/Tallet/Frasor/League/Camp/Wolfe/Accardo/Janssen is overflowing with Wolfe & Janssen contenders for the rotation.

Outfield of Wells/Rios/Lind/Snider is overflowing and only Snider is a real question mark. 

Infield though... Overbay/Hill/Rolen/McDonald with Inglett/Scutaro/Bautista is killer defensively but this year has had OPS+'s of 107/82/99/44/109/84/94 respectively (Overbay & Inglett only ones over 100, no one over 110).  Hill, if healthy, should get back to the 100 range, leaving only McDonald as a black hole but mixed with Scutaro could be endurable if we have a good PH on the bench.

Catcher, with Barajas and whoever, isn't likely to help much but should be average for catchers in offense while (again) above average in defense with Jeroloman & Arencibia charging hard to take it over.

Going through it the only spots to blow cash to make a real improvement would be 1B/DH while trading away Overbay and shortstop.  1B/DH should be easy to find (if Rogers is willing to spend) but would cause a budget crunch next year unless a team takes Overbay and most of his contract which seems unlikely to me.  I'd love to see Teixeira or Manny Ramirez but both would cost way more than Rogers would be willing to spend and would create logjams most likely as time goes by.  Both would want 5 year (or more) deals for $100 million (or more).  Giambi is a former steroid guy and JP avoid those like the plague.  I'm sure there are other sluggers out there too.

DH does look most likely with Lind moving to first and Snider/Wells/Rios the outfield.  But how much will the Jays spend?  Will they be given the resources to go after a premium guy or do we get another Frank Thomas situation where a hangover is likely?  The Jays shouldn't do anything there unless they both trade Overbay and get someone who can hit for a 120+ OPS+ minimum.

Thus my 'best case' is staying put, getting minor parts added in, and watching for any surprise bargins that emerge.  The extra cash for 2009 should be used to open space in 2010 by extending Halladay with a contract that pays him little in 2010 but lots in 2009 (big bonus), perhaps signing Snider long term too with a big bonus to keep room in 2012 and beyond.

Mike Green - Friday, September 05 2008 @ 03:27 PM EDT (#191893) #
If the club decides to keep Snider to start 2009, Mench would be a perfectly acceptable right-handed portion of a platoon in my opinion.  I wish that the club would give him some at-bats against lefties. 

The club does need someone between Scutaro/McDonald/Hill and Justin Jackson as a shortstop in the organizational chart. 

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