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An 0-2 changeup.... meh.

Today's game isn't on regular TV, but you can pick it up on the Rogers preview channel (399 in Toronto.)

It is, one must admit, deeply irritating to give up hits on 0-2 pitches. Cito Gaston is old-school enough to get very irritated indeed by this sort of thing (as you will recall from his discussions, on the mound and in the dugout, with Brian Tallet in Kansas City.) What can you do. I don't particularly buy the real old-school thinking that you throw a waste pitch on 0-2. No. You're ahead of the batter, so go get rid of him and get after the next guy (or in the case of Asdrubal Cabrera last night, head on into the clubhouse and pound some Budweiser.)

Anyway, let's move on.

I'm watching Lakers-Rockets after the Jays game. Getting irritated, as always, by Kobe Bryant. Just watching him. And it occurred to me - this is exactly how I respond to Alex Rodriguez. Awesome player, and so irritating. Are there any other hoopsters who remind me of baseball players?

First one I thought of was Allen Iverson and... Rickey Henderson! He's smaller than the other guys, his game is utterly unique, and his personality didn't exactly roll off an assembly line.

I dunno... Tim Duncan and Albert Pujols? Just relentlessly, awesomely great and almost bland about it?

I await your input.

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jjdynomite - Tuesday, May 05 2009 @ 11:48 AM EDT (#199391) #
Even though the former plays a predominantly offensive role and the latter plays a defensive role, I would have to say a PG like Chauncey Billups, and Doc.  Both of them are unassuming presences who make their teammates far better than they would be individually (Chauncey with the Nuggets' offensive sets, Doc with mentoring the Jays' rotation plus giving the infield D lots to do).

Maybe it's something to do with the thin air; both Chauncey and Doc are from Denver, perhaps enhancing a "we're all in this together" kind of instinct as opposed to the individual play exemplified by coastal players like the NYC/Miami A-Rod and Philly/LA Bryant.

/armchair psychologizing off
Maldoff - Tuesday, May 05 2009 @ 11:54 AM EDT (#199392) #
Tom Brady....don't know why. Maybe the pretty-boy looks, maybe that he is SO overblown by the media. Maybe the butt-chin. Just don't like him!
braden - Tuesday, May 05 2009 @ 11:56 AM EDT (#199393) #

"If Rickey Henderson can't practice, Rickey Henderson can't practice. It is as simple as that. It ain't about that at all. It's easy to sum it up if you're just talking about practice. We're sitting here, andRickey Henderson supposed to be the franchise player, and we're talking about practice. Rickey Henderson mean listen, we're sitting here talking about practice, not a game, not a game, not a game, but we're talking about practice. Not the game that Rickey Henderson go out there and die for and play every game like it's Rickey Henderson's last but we're talking about practice man. How silly is that? ... Now Rickey Henderson knows that Rickey Henderson supposed to lead by example and all that but Rickey Henderson not shoving that aside like it don't mean anything. Rickey Henderson know it's important, Rickey Henderson honestly do but we're talking about practice. We're talking about practice man. We're talking about practice. We're talking about practice. We're not talking about the game. We're talking about practice. When you come to the arena, and you see Rickey Henderson play, you've seen Rickey Henderson play right, you've seen Rickey Henderson give everything Rickey Henderson's got, but we're talking about practice right now. ... Hey Rickey Henderson hear you, it's funny to Rickey Henderson too, hey it's strange to Rickey Henderson too but we're talking about practice man, we're not even talking about the game, when it actually matters, we're talking about practice ... How the hell can Rickey Henderson make my teammates better by practicing?"

Mike D - Tuesday, May 05 2009 @ 12:19 PM EDT (#199394) #

I think of Tony Parker and (a younger) Derek Jeter as comparable.

Eddie House and Tony Pena (Sr.) bother me in very similar ways.

And I consider Mark Hendrickson to pretty much be the equivalent of...Mark Hendrickson.

Magpie - Tuesday, May 05 2009 @ 03:59 PM EDT (#199399) #
These guys don't quit, do they?
Flex - Tuesday, May 05 2009 @ 04:26 PM EDT (#199401) #
That sure was an exciting game to listen-to/watch-on-Gameday. Despair turned to elation in the space of about ten minutes.
Ryan Day - Tuesday, May 05 2009 @ 04:51 PM EDT (#199403) #
Scott Richmond was the April Rookie of the Month:

Not hugely meaningful, but a nice surprise.

truefan - Tuesday, May 05 2009 @ 04:52 PM EDT (#199404) #
Good to see Cecil's first outing.  Thought he handled the pressure well; striking out Choo in the first inning with runners at first and third....  Sloppy fielding by several didn't contribute to an easy afternoon.  Would be interested in comments by others about the hit-by-pitches:  is Shoppach known for leaning in and taking one for the team?
Magpie - Tuesday, May 05 2009 @ 05:02 PM EDT (#199405) #
is Shoppach known for leaning in and taking one for the team?

He's not exactly known for it - he's Kelly Shoppach, he's not known for anything - but he's now been drilled 7 times in less than 60 plate appearances. He was hit 11 times last year in just over 400 PApps.

In completely unrelated news, the civil suit filed against Roberto Alomar by his ex-girlfriend has been withdrawn. According to Alomar's lawyer, the suit has been "withdrawn with prejudice" - if I'm right (lawyers in the house?), that means it can not be filed again.
Chuck - Tuesday, May 05 2009 @ 05:06 PM EDT (#199406) #

is Shoppach known for leaning in and taking one for the team?

Looking at the numbers below, he does get hit quite a bit more than average. Whether that's due to where he stands or whether or not he leans in excessively, I cannot say.

Shoppach career (prior to today): 18 HBP in 768 PA for a HBP rate of 2.34%
AL as a whole, 2009: 136 HBP in 14062 PA for a HBP rate of 0.97%

Glevin - Tuesday, May 05 2009 @ 05:09 PM EDT (#199407) #
" is Shoppach known for leaning in and taking one for the team?"

He leads the league in HBP despite not playing every day, so I think that's a yes. It was a pretty messy series and I'm happy I wasn't at this game. I hate games where managers make tonnes of pitching changes mid-inning. There were 7 pitchers who threw less than an inning today. There have been many people talking about how poorly Wedge has managed this year and I think I saw it in this series. Garko mashes lefties but for some reason was sitting against Cecil. Also, his use of the bullpen today was absurd.
Magpie - Tuesday, May 05 2009 @ 05:24 PM EDT (#199408) #
I'm happy I wasn't at this game.

I'm not. I was supposed to go. And Liam phones me at about 12:15 and I say "Hey, what's up?"

"Uh, you coming or what?"

And pretty soon I'm saying "A 12:30 start? Are you kidding me? It's Tuesday! They never play day games on Tuesday."

Followed by me spending the next 15 minutes trying to find the Rogers preview channel so I could add it to this post (cunningly prepared ahead of time).
seags83 - Tuesday, May 05 2009 @ 05:40 PM EDT (#199409) #

Let me get this straight, are we talking about practice?

And thanks to the Batter's Box elite for keeping Aaron Hill at the top of this page - he is truly remarkable.

Oh, and has anyone noticed who's 2nd in the majors in RBI's??

westcoast dude - Tuesday, May 05 2009 @ 05:47 PM EDT (#199410) #
Six in Blue Jays seventh reminded me of Fourth Game 1993 World Series when Carter singled, Olerud walked, Molitor doubled scoring Carter, Fernandez singled scoring Olerud, Borders walked, Henderson singled scoring Molitor and Fernandez, White tripled scoring Borders and Henderson. Both started with a one out single, this time Raul Chavez' single--he of the St. Patrick's Day birthday--Snider single, Scutero walk, Hill single scoring Chavez and Snider, Rios single scoring Scutero, Lind hit a home run scoring Hill and Rios, and Rolen hit a home run. Murderer's Row, 2009. Overbay and Wells missed out this time, back then it was Alomar and Castillo--and he won the game.
westcoast dude - Tuesday, May 05 2009 @ 06:00 PM EDT (#199411) # was seven run today. Never mind.
scottt - Tuesday, May 05 2009 @ 06:15 PM EDT (#199412) #
Seems to me the Jays have been better against relievers than against starters. Or maybe they've played a bunch of teams with awful bullpens.

Rookie of the Month is especially nice in April.

Good to see Snider getting out of his slump.

Posada just went on the DL which takes him out of the picture for next week's series. I don't think we'll see Francisco Cervelli behind the plate in Toronto, but you never know.
Frank Markotich - Tuesday, May 05 2009 @ 07:16 PM EDT (#199413) #

A couple of random observations from attending this afternoon's game.

Cecil isn't afraid to pitch inside, is he? Besides the hit batters, after DeRosa hit a long drive just foul, Cecil buzzed him high and tight on the next pitch.

Travis Snider seemed to have noticeably cut down on his swing, concentrating on making contact.

James W - Tuesday, May 05 2009 @ 07:54 PM EDT (#199414) #
Regarding Shoppach's HBPs, both times they were simply inside pitches that he leaned into.  He made absolutely no effort to avoid the pitches, and then after the second one, he had the gall to have a pissed-off look on his face.  Pro-tip:  If you don't enjoy being hit by the pitches, try getting out of the way.
Mike Green - Tuesday, May 05 2009 @ 08:17 PM EDT (#199415) #
Thanks, Frank M and others, for the in-person observation.  That's a fine debut for Cecil, any way you slice it.  2009 just got a little bit more interesting.
JohnL - Tuesday, May 05 2009 @ 08:48 PM EDT (#199417) #
2009 just got a little bit more interesting.

It does keep getting more so, but it's already been pretty interesting.

I've particularly enjoyed in the last couple of days seeing Richard Griffin listing the Jays at #2 in his "power rankings" (and enjoyed even more, his comment, "In the words of Evil Roy Slade: 'Makes you want to spit, donít it?' ". Another treat was catching a little bit of Bob McCown and Jim Kelly (one of the least appealing people I ever hear on radio) this afternoon going on about how exciting it is to follow the Jays this year.

How things change...
snider - Tuesday, May 05 2009 @ 09:13 PM EDT (#199418) #
While it's good to see that Rios is slowly getting out of his early hitting funk, is it time to throw in the towel on expecting Rios to be a power hitter?   I still get the impression that various media personalities think that Rios is a 30+ HR guy who just needs to "get in the groove".   I find this perplexing given his career to date (HR derby aside) and wonder what Cito's feeling on this is.  

Also, is it just me, or is Rios' ability to make great defensive plays diminishing?  I seem to remember thinking he would make a good center fielder one day but I certainly don't get that impression this year.  He has misplayed a number of catchable balls this year.
92-93 - Tuesday, May 05 2009 @ 09:37 PM EDT (#199419) #
My defensive thoughts :

I think as a whole we've been too kind about the Jays D this year, probably seeing things through our rose-coloured glasses from the last few years.

Wells is done as a CF, he looks just awful and slow out there. Rios has been his predictable self, showing good range but a tendency not to actually record the out (Minnesota comes to mind); his throws are typically strong but off-line. Snider has been surprisingly athletic in LF, and today were his first real troubles of the season.

Overbay has been his usual steady self at 1B, but Rolen looks a bit off at 3B. He's made a bunch of errors on plays that for him are typically routine, and yesterday even made a bad mental error. More surprising has been his throwing errors, because his arm is usually golden. Scutaro has kept up the good work at SS with a couple of bad throws mixed in here or there, but it's his counterpart up the middle that worries me. Aaron Hill has not looked anything like the Hill of 2006-2007 in the field. He's had a hard time with the shallow pops hit over his head (maybe a little apprehensive from last year), but I'm more surprised with what appears to me to be diminished range and much "harder" hands. It seems he's had a hard time with quite a few grounders this year - he's bobbled a whole whack of routine grounders and luckily still had the time to throw to first, but only because of his position. With guys like Halladay, Cecil, Litsch, Marcum, and Richmond the up-the-middle defense is vital, and as good as Hill has been with the bat, I'd really like to see him get back to where he was with the glove.
greenfrog - Tuesday, May 05 2009 @ 10:17 PM EDT (#199420) #
Jays catch a break with Posada on the 15-day DL and the Yankees in town next week. Jorge is a career 309/391/523 hitter at RC and career 305/397/534 against Toronto.

Of course, A-Rod could be back by then...
Alex Obal - Tuesday, May 05 2009 @ 10:23 PM EDT (#199421) #
And yet the Jays are still 4th in defensive efficiency, tops in the AL (ahead of Oakland, Seattle and Tampa). It's amazing.

I would love to see a very focused analysis of Vernon Wells compared to other centerfielders. People seem to have very strong opinions about his defense one way or the other, but their arguments tend to give off more heat than light.
TamRa - Tuesday, May 05 2009 @ 10:23 PM EDT (#199422) #
I find this perplexing given his career to date (HR derby aside) and wonder what Cito's feeling on this is.  

Wilner quoted Beeston and Cito extensively after the State of the Franchise Dinner and among the points was this:

He added that the team needs Lyle Overbay and Scott Rolen to hit.  He says he expects 20-25 homers from Overbay, 25-30 from Rolen and even more from Alex Rios, who Cito said is going to be a superstar.  Gaston was asked about Riosí not-infrequent focus issues, and asked for patience, saying that Rios is young yet.

That's not the only occasion on which Cito has expressed that opinion.

Magpie - Tuesday, May 05 2009 @ 10:40 PM EDT (#199423) #
The Zone Ratings for all regular centre fielders:

NAME                     GP    GS    INN      TC    PO    A    E    DP   FPCT      RF      ZR
Carlos Beltran, NYM    24    24    211.1    48    47    0    1    0     .979    2.00   12.438
Vernon Wells, Tor    27    27    242.2    56    53    3    0    1    1.000    2.09   12.339
Cameron Maybin, Fla    23    21    182.2    45    45    0    0    0    1.000    2.23   11.578
Aaron Rowand, SF    22    22    181.2    45    44    1    0    0    1.000    2.24   11.311
Shane Victorino, Phi   23    23    206.0    55    54    1    0    0    1.000    2.40   10.545
Brett Gardner, NYY    22    16    154.1    41    40    1    0    1    1.000    2.39   10.537
Jordan Schafer, Atl    25    25    218.0    60    59    1    0    0    1.000    2.48   10.217
Jacoby Ellsbury, Bos   26    25    224.1    63    62    1    0    0    1.000    2.53   10.206
B.J. Upton, TB    20    20    169.2    48    48    0    0    0    1.000    2.56    9.958
Coco Crisp, KC    26    26    226.0    64    62    0    2    0    .969    2.47    9.938
Chris Young, Ari    26    24    215.0    65    65    0    0    0    1.000    2.72    9.431
Curtis Granderson, Det 25    25    219.2    69    67    2    0    1    1.000    2.84    9.058
Rick Ankiel, StL    22    20    182.0    58    58    0    0    0    1.000    2.87    8.879
Franklin Gutierrez, Sea  23    23    210.2    69    68    1    0    1    1.000    2.96    8.739
Grady Sizemore, Cle    25    25    216.0    70    70    0    0    0    1.000    2.92    8.714
Ryan Sweeney, Oak    18    16    140.2    46    43    2    1    0    .978    2.90    8.630
Carlos Gomez, Min    19    13    125.1    42    42    0    0    0    1.000    3.02    8.476
Willy Taveras, Cin    22    22    198.1    66    63    2    1    0    .985    2.95    8.470
Nate McLouth, Pit    19    19    166.0    54    52    2    0    1    1.000    2.93    8.426
Michael Bourn, Hou    25    23    207.0    67    64    2    1    0    .985    2.87    8.403
Mike Cameron, Mil    24    24    212.2    73    71    2    0    0    1.000    3.10    8.274
Adam Jones, Bal    24    24    205.2    75    72    3    0    0    1.000    3.30    7.867
Torii Hunter, LAA    21    21    176.0    63    63    0    0    0    1.000    3.22    7.841
Matt Kemp, LA    26    24    214.0    77    73    4    0    2    1.000    3.24    7.753
Dexter Fowler, Col    21    17    161.1    59    57    1    1    1    .983    3.24    7.661
Small sample size (and other caveats) apply. But it ain't how you look...
Magpie - Tuesday, May 05 2009 @ 10:45 PM EDT (#199424) #
I've noticed a few people wondering if there's any news on Ben Sheets. On April 22, Jerry Crasnick of ESPN reported as follows:

At the moment, Sheets is rehabbing in Texas from February surgery to repair a torn flexor tendon in his right elbow. He's still "several weeks away" from beginning a throwing program, said agent Casey Close, who is leaving Sheets' timetable for a return open-ended at this point.... He'll be a more attractive commodity when the first-year player draft passes in June. After that, any team that signs Sheets will no longer have to surrender draft-pick compensation in exchange for Milwaukee's offering him salary arbitration in December.

snider - Tuesday, May 05 2009 @ 10:50 PM EDT (#199425) #
25-30 from Rolen and even more from Alex Rios

That's what I was afraid of and I guess explains why Cito has Rios batting third.   

Rios has hit 41 HR's in his last 344 games and is averaging 15 HR's per 162 games for his career.   I am doubtful that at age 28 his power numbers are going to double going forward.  

But Cito knows best I guess...
ayjackson - Tuesday, May 05 2009 @ 11:17 PM EDT (#199429) #
UZR/150 has Wells as the worst CF in the Majors.  Beltran, Rowand and Maybin are up there too.  Go figure.
ANationalAcrobat - Tuesday, May 05 2009 @ 11:36 PM EDT (#199433) #
Scott Downs is amazing: 15.1 innings, 20 K, 0 BB, 8 hits, 1 ER.
tecumseh18 - Tuesday, May 05 2009 @ 11:47 PM EDT (#199434) #

Here are my basketball/baseball equivalents (Toronto edition):

Chris Bosh = Doc (contract status)

Jose = Aaron Hill (um, the D will will return after complete recovery, right?)

Jermaine O'Neal = Frank Thomas (let's just not talk about these guys, OK? But I still like JO. Hurt, not so much)

Sam Mitchell = Gibbons (but Triano sure as hell ain't Cito yet, although he has helped the youth along)

MoPete = O-Dawg (except for how well Orlando is doing now)

Bargnani = Rios (he's great ... he sucks ... he's great ... he sucks)

Matrix = Rolen (crafty veteran)

Anthony Parker = BJ (really good ... a couple of years ago)

Vince = Vernon (man, did we overpay in so many ways to keep those guys happy)

Or I suppose Vince could represent Carlos, but the circumstances of departure were sorta different.


Waveburner - Tuesday, May 05 2009 @ 11:56 PM EDT (#199435) #

UZR/150 has Wells as the worst CF in the Majors.

And 21.4 extra runs worse than the second-worst guy? He looks awful to me, but I wouldn't have thought that bad. That's a serious issue. Depending on how much stock you put in the numbers of course.

The_Game - Wednesday, May 06 2009 @ 03:38 AM EDT (#199439) #
Comparing Bosh to Halladay is an insult to Halladay.
greenfrog - Wednesday, May 06 2009 @ 07:11 AM EDT (#199441) #
I actually see Scutaro as a good comp for Jose. Scrappy, overachieving, team player, plays a key position. There's also the Latino (or Spanish-speaking) thing.
Mike Green - Wednesday, May 06 2009 @ 09:51 AM EDT (#199447) #
Both UZR and RZR have had Wells as way below average for last year and this year.   Subjectively, he was never good on the ball in front of him, but was excellent going side-to-side and back.  He still takes good routes to the ball on the plays in the gaps, but he has lost a step or two and you notice it particularly on the ball over his head. 

The metrics say that the Jays infield defence this year has been great, led by Rolen and Scutaro.  Subjectively, my opinion is that the infield defence has been great, with everyone contributing.  Brian Butterfield is a god.  Scutaro was by all accounts (subjective and objective) a somewhat below average defensive shortstop when he arrived in Toronto.  He clearly is not that now.  Butterfield wasn't able to work his magic with Russ Adams, but for just about everyone else, the improvement has been obvious.

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