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I feel asleep just after the third inning of Saturday's game when neither team scored a run.  After I woke up, 14 runs had been scored.  Unfortunately, 13 of them were scored by Tampa Bay in a 13-1 shellacking at Ted's Shed.  

This guy could almost pass for Rance Mulliniks!

It was not like the last time the two teams played on a Saturday afternoon in Toronto.Of course, the last time these two teams played on a Saturday saw J.P. Arencibia make the debut of all major league debuts with four hits, including two homers, as the Jays outslugged the Rays 17-11.  It was a day that also featured a promising beginning for "Strasburg Canada", Brad Mills before he was roughed up in the fifth inning that day and wound up with a no decision.  It was not a banner day for either of them or anyone wearing Blue Jay blue.

Ricky Romero looked as bad in the fourth inning as those white and red caps with the black jerseys yesterday.  After three scoreless innings, he was roughed up for six runs in the fourth as he surrendered a grand salami to the left-handed hitting Brad "Hip" Hawpe.  That move made Rays skipper Joe Maddon look like a genius because he had a hunch about Hawpe being successful against Romero.  In all, Romero gave up three hits and three walks while striking out seven but no pizza for you!  Mills allowed three runs on three hits and two walks over three frames but struck out three.  Rommie Lewis lasted of all one-third of an inning as he was slapped around for four runs that included a two-run homer by Kelly Shoppach.   He gave up four hits and a walk and did not strike out anybody.  Capping off an all-lefties day on the hill, David Purcey was the Cy Young of the bunch with 1 2/3 scoreless and hitless frames with three K's and one walk.  Of the nine outs in play, just one was on the ground and that was induced by Lewis.

Lyle Overbay got one run back as he belted a solo shot in the bottom half of the fourth but he wound up striking out with the bases loaded later in the game and that killed any flickering hopes of a comeback like Friday's seven run rally.  Yunel Escobar had a double and two singles as he was the only Jays who reached base more than once.   Vernon Wells, Aaron Hill and Travis Snider all had singles while  Fred Lewis. Adam Lind and Jose Bautista drew the lone walks.  You know the game was going bad when the bench was emptied as Jarrett Hoffpauir, John McDonald, Mike McCoy and Arencibia all saw action.  McCoy and Arencibia were each 0-for-1.

This afternoon, it's Shaun Marcum (12-7, 3.55) on the hill for the Jays as they try to avoid the sweep.  Jeff "Hello" Niemann (10-6, 4.28) is on the bump for Tampa.

In other MLB happenings.....

  • Former Jay Alex Gonzalez is the hero as the Braves beat the Cardinals 6-3 to pull into a tie for top spot in the NL East.
  • The Padres regain sole possession of first place in the NL West with a 1-0 win over the Giants.
  • Jeff Francoeur takes one for the team as the Rangers beat the Yankees again, 7-6.
  • Joey Votto saves the Reds as they beat the Pirates 4-3 in 10 innings.
  • Last but definitely not least, the Jays and MLB honour the victims of 9/11.
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ayjackson - Sunday, September 12 2010 @ 12:00 PM EDT (#222333) #

I'm getting more and more intrigued by the thought of Dave Martinez as our manager.  Maddon/Martinez are not afraid to do the unconventional like starting Hawpe against a lefty with neutral platoon splits and starting a team of RHB's against a change up artist like Marcum.  And in the opening to yesterday's game on Sportsnet, Maddon gave Martinez a lot of props for being one step ahead of him with potential moves.  And I love my 'spos (and so does AA).

BTW, was anybody amazed at the way Jennings closed on Snider's gapper to end the game yesterday.  It looked like he was running on a conveyor belt (in the same direction).  No, I guess everybody had long since turned off the TV by then.

Chuck - Sunday, September 12 2010 @ 12:09 PM EDT (#222334) #

Jeff Francoeur takes one for the team

I find myself disproportionately interested in HBPs. How do they happen? Certainly, inadvertent pitcher wildness is at the root, at least most of the time. There is a high degree of randomness over who gets hit and when, to be sure, but some hitters just seem to get plunked more than others. He is tied for the team lead which I imagine he will own outright soon enough.

Are some hitters targets? Manny Ramirez has 4 HBPs in 37 PAs for the White Sox? Are these a "welcome back to the AL" message? And Jose Bautista is seeing -- and not enjoying -- more and more inside pitches, almost as if AL pitchers are tired of giving up homeruns to him.

Are some hitters just electing to not get out of the way, to make themselves offensively useful any way they can? Brett Wallace has a 34/5 K/BB ratio for the Astros but has taken 7 for the team in his 116 PAs (to help prop up an unimpressive 212/293/308 slash line). Juan Pierre, a starter of dubious value, seems to have decided that he'll do whatever it takes to stay a starter, even if it means not getting out of harm's way 18 times. Too bad he has no alternate strategy to prop up his SLG.

And of course there have been many Ron Hunt types over the years, including Hunt himself (50 HBPs one year as an Expo), who seemed to be going to the plate almost trying to get hit. Craig Biggio wore his body armour en route to his annual 20 HBPs -- though his stats certainly did not need the help for much of his career. Don Baylor, as his hitting skills started eroding, decided he would lean his massive, non-body-armoured frame into oncoming traffic, drawing a career high 35 HBPs at age 37.



Chuck - Sunday, September 12 2010 @ 12:11 PM EDT (#222335) #
Oops, my final sentence in paragraph one was intended to end paragraph two.
ramone - Sunday, September 12 2010 @ 12:11 PM EDT (#222336) #
Blair has tweeted that the jays are now considering bringing up Drabek to pitch this month.
ayjackson - Sunday, September 12 2010 @ 12:15 PM EDT (#222337) #

Drabek has pitched 162 innings this year, compared to 158 in 2009.

ramone - Sunday, September 12 2010 @ 12:36 PM EDT (#222338) #
Lott via twitter says Drabek is starting Wednesday, please don't be on Sportsnet One. 
ayjackson - Sunday, September 12 2010 @ 12:37 PM EDT (#222339) #

There are now 15 teams with worse records than the Jays.  If one (or two?) of those teams pass us, our first round pick will be protected in the 2011 draft.  That means we could sign a type A free agent without losing a pick in the first 50 or so.

That could play a role in offseason plans.  And the name I want to throw out there is Victor Martinez.  He would seem to be the perfect compliment for Adam Lind and JP Arencibia.  He could play more first base as JPA grows into the catcher role and provide an upgrade at first base (over Lind) the rest of the time.  The Sox don't want to sign him for more than two years because they don't need him at first and think he can't catch for more than that.  We don't need him to catch for more than 2 years (according to plan), but do need long term solutions for first base.

Am I crazy?

ayjackson - Sunday, September 12 2010 @ 12:41 PM EDT (#222340) #
John Lott LottOnBaseball    Drabek's innings this year: 162. Last year: 158. 11 minutes ago via TweetDeck

Look buddy, get your own material!

ayjackson - Sunday, September 12 2010 @ 12:45 PM EDT (#222341) #

Among Snider, Lewis and Wise, "The main guy that needs to play is Snider," Gaston said today.

per Lott twitter.

Cito's the best!

ayjackson - Sunday, September 12 2010 @ 12:50 PM EDT (#222342) #
Wednesday's game is on the full Sportsnet network.  (Quick, appear disinterested, lest they don't switch it.)
China fan - Sunday, September 12 2010 @ 12:59 PM EDT (#222343) #
Congrats to Kyle Drabek.  This is a great move by the Jays, and it will definitely bolster the fan interest in the team this month.  As others have argued convincingly in previous threads, Drabek is significantly under his innings limit for the year, he looks like a potential ace of the future, and he will certainly benefit from the major-league exposure, especially in the no-pressure September environment.  This still doesn't mean that he will necessarily be in the rotation next April -- there are service-time issues, as others have noted -- but it now seems a much more plausible scenario than it did a few months ago.  If Jesse Litsch could make the leap directly from AA to the majors, at a roughly similar age, Drabek has a definite chance to do it too.
ayjackson - Sunday, September 12 2010 @ 01:07 PM EDT (#222344) #

Drabek would be doing it with roughly double the number of AA starts under his belt than Litsch had.

SJE - Sunday, September 12 2010 @ 01:47 PM EDT (#222345) #
I have been able to watch the last 2 Sportsnet1 games. They are on 456 Eastlink cable. I have not heard any announcement from Eastlink.
TamRa - Sunday, September 12 2010 @ 03:23 PM EDT (#222346) #
If they apply the 120% to Cecil, he's only got room for one more start, Lott says he's going on Friday and I wonder if that won't be his last this year.

92-93 - Monday, September 13 2010 @ 02:05 AM EDT (#222349) #
I floated the VMart idea a few threads ago. He seems to be a good fit for the team, picking up a compensation pick for letting Buck go while still having your C position solidified. The team could pickup Molina's option and go with Martinez/Arencibia/Molina behind the plate covering the DH position as well in the process. Add JMac, an OF, and a guy capable of playing some 1B and you have a lot of roster flexibility in terms of who to start at 1B, C, and DH on a daily basis.
TamRa - Monday, September 13 2010 @ 03:47 AM EDT (#222351) #
So long as VMart were on board with the progression out from behind the plate then all that is fine.

but the report is one of his priorities is signing where he can stay a catcher.

ayjackson - Monday, September 13 2010 @ 10:25 AM EDT (#222360) #

VMart would likely get plenty of playing time at catcher - breaking into the league at that position is usually a slow process and I wouldn't expect JPA to come in and start 120 games just like that.  Bringing him in as part time DH, part time catcher (maybe even some first base) seems like a good idea to me.

I'd really like to see Mastroianni as that fourth outfielder. 

Mike Green - Monday, September 13 2010 @ 10:52 AM EDT (#222365) #
Victor Martinez would probably hit better if you just played him at first base, and he's apparently a better defender there than Lind. He has value, but a lot less than he did 5 years ago.  He aint much of a defensive catcher. 
Hodgie - Monday, September 13 2010 @ 05:56 PM EDT (#222407) #
There were reports last week that Martinez might not be back with the Red Sox as he is looking for a longer deal than the 2 year contract Boston is reportedly hinting at.

I am wondering how one values a soon to be 32 year old catcher who really isn't a catcher, has a bat that this season at least was only marginally better than Overbay and is looking for a long-term deal.

My initial thought is to like the player but probably not the commitment needed for the likely value returned.
ayjackson - Tuesday, September 14 2010 @ 11:13 AM EDT (#222419) #
I notice now that VMart has a massively odorous platton split this year.  He's only OPSing .646 against righthanders, which is not the optimal weak side.  Last year, and for his career, there was excellent balance between the splits.  I wonder what's going on?
ayjackson - Tuesday, September 14 2010 @ 11:35 AM EDT (#222423) #
I wonder if Rod Barajas might make his way back here this offseason to be co-catcher next year with JPA.  I assume Buck will want a multiyear deal as primary catcher and I'm not certain whether the Jays would prefer the compensation.
China fan - Tuesday, September 14 2010 @ 02:21 PM EDT (#222440) #
If the Jays want to keep Buck around for a few months next year to help out JPA and the young pitchers, they could sign him to a multi-year contract and then trade him at the trading deadline in 2011.   Frankly I think the Jays haven't yet decided what to do with their catching situation in 2011.  That's one of the reasons why they're still giving Buck so much playing time -- they might need him next year and they want him to stay familiar with the pitchers, including the newly arriving ones.  Personally, I can see both sides of the argument.  I can see a solid case for letting Buck leave, taking the compensation pick, and then signing a Barajas or keeping Molina to go with JPA.  On the other hand, I can see an equally strong case, or even stronger, for keeping a  veteran all-star catcher who has posted very good offensive numbers, who works very well with the young pitchers, who likes the team and wants to stay.  It will be very interesting to see how AA plays this one.   I don't really agree with some fans who assume that it's an open-and-shut case that JPA must play the vast majority of games next season.  I think that would cost the Jays a significant number of losses next season, and JPA could develop just as much by playing 60 games at catcher and 60 games at DH and 1B next season, while learning by watching Buck and talking to him a lot.
ayjackson - Tuesday, September 14 2010 @ 03:33 PM EDT (#222449) #

I agree that JPA doesn't have to catch the majority of the games.  I'd like to see him DH and play first a bit to make up the difference.  I'm not sure you keep Buck around if you're planning on trading him in July though, his current value can only go down.  I have to believe he's having a bit of a career year.

And it seems every catcher we bring in is "good with (young) pitchers".  Zaun, Barajas, Buck, Molina.  I'm thinking this is a trait held by the majority of catchers who still have jobs.

John Northey - Tuesday, September 14 2010 @ 04:50 PM EDT (#222465) #
We've all enjoyed Buck this year, but he is 29 thus in the prime age bracket for career years. From age 23 to 27 he hit 234/298/398 82 OPS+ over 1914 PA. For 28/29 he has hit 265/301/487 110 OPS+ over 583 PA. A 100 point jump in slugging at the prime age for peak performance screams at me 'not going to keep it up'.

He has caught 'only' 661 games in the majors and 555 in the minors thus suggesting he could have another 400+ left in the tank which would cover a 3 year deal.

Still, unless JPA has serious issues I have trouble with keeping a vet at a high $ cost plus a first round pick. I just have trouble believing Buck will stay over 450 for Slg% and if he doesn't do that then he isn't going to be a big plus.
Gerry - Tuesday, September 14 2010 @ 05:08 PM EDT (#222468) #

The Jays could sign Buck to a long term deal and plan to trade him later but they won't.  Teams won't take the risk.  What if Buck gets hurt?  What if he stinks?  The risk is too high.

I would be shocked if Buck is back next year.  This is his big chance to cash in and he will be looking for a three year deal.  Also you would be buying high and I don't think AA is about that.  I think he will look for Buck v2, on a one year deal, who he can sign more cheaply and hopefully get a pick for or work a trade.

TamRa - Tuesday, September 14 2010 @ 06:24 PM EDT (#222472) #
I agree, no matter how much Buck likes it here, he would be insane to pass up the chance to hit it big one time.
ayjackson - Tuesday, September 14 2010 @ 06:58 PM EDT (#222473) #

Also you would be buying high and I don't think AA is about that.

Makes you wonder if Bautista will have to play for an offer next year.  He is probably having a career year too.

Vernon Wells signed his extension after a 129 OPS+ year.

Lyle Overbay signed his extension after a 125 OPS+ year.

Aaron Hill signed his extension after a 107 OPS+ year.

Adam Lind signed his extention after a 144 OPS+ year.

Not exactly a great record of value buying.  All career years (except for Hill who's had two poor years and one excellent year since, and VW who had one marginally better year earlier in his career and is at 128 this year).

bpoz - Wednesday, September 15 2010 @ 12:17 PM EDT (#222503) #
Nice career Buck was having but he only played 59 games in 2009. Maybe he felt he had to prove something in 2010.
His good 2010 results should get him some nice offers in the off season. He and his agent IMO should be looking for multi-year with good $ and 1st string catcher deal.

Looks like The AL East will produce 2 96+win teams, which is the usual entry into the playoffs. The Jay's hopes for 96 wins in 2011 look extremely remote IMO.

My conclusion is that 2011 is a "take another step forward year". IMO the odds are Hill/Lind will produce more if healthy. I really hope V Wells can also do better, but this year is quite good. I expect +&- production from Snider & Bautista, so maybe we end up with a net +.

In July we saw a "no playoffs this year" result coming and IMO the Jays built accordingly.
1) If you cannot trade in July for what you want then hang on to the FA's and load up on possible draft picks.
2) Maximize the value of your trading chips (Bautista & F Lewis} and your FAs Buck,Downs,Fraser etc... So then it makes some sense for JPA getting so few ABs. The negatives of JPA's low playing time is somewhat offset by the potential increased value to the expendable Buck.
3) Marcum is having a very good year with 176IP and a 3.50 ERA so he can get you some extremely good trade offers. Or you give Marcum & Bautista long term deals structured in a way that still allows you to trade them later on.

IMO it was gutsy for AA and the Jay's front office to say that 2010 was a building year where they don't expect to contend and so will build. AGAIN. They brought in FAs like A Gon & Gregg that were not high profile. Additions like Eveland,Valdez & F Lewis were big maybes. Even the Morrow/League trade was an exchage of under performers. IMO everything AA did cost little in $ & talent. The Halladay trade was big but it was a forced situation & the $6mil was necessary. The A Gon/U Escobar trade was huge.
I like what AA has done especially at the amateur level.

I am OK with 2011 being very youthful and I don't mind the growing pains. JPA getting lots of ABs. Even trading for a young potential 1st stringer like J Saltalamacchia or someone to share the catching. I don't see Wells, Bautista, Snider & Lewis all getting enough ABs, so Lewis or/and Bautista could go via trade and add an adequate 3rd OF then Lind can be the 4th OF. The young catchers can get extra ABs at DH.
I would be surprised if Cito is back so I expect a new manager. My fingers are crossed that the pitching will be very good in 2011 Even if Marcum is traded I see 6+ good candidates for the SP and the makings of a very good pen even without Downs,Fraser & Gregg. If Morrow & League under achieved before 2010 then there must be other high ceiling under achievers available out there. A good coaching staff should be able to get a reliable pen out of the Jays pitching depth plus any acquisitions. Their biggest challenge is to find a reliable closer.
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