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Today's edition of Aaron's Baseball Blog features an article written by a very special guest : Me!

It's more basketball stuff. I promise to get back to baseball by the time pitchers and catchers report. Promise. By the way, I can't stress this enough : if you don't read Aaron's blog every weekday, you are missing out. You *do* want to be one of the cool kids, don't you? The best part is, usually there's nothing whatsoever by me.
In the latest edition of the Pinstriped Bible, Steven Goldman looks at the Blue Jays, and throws in his D-Rays appraisal for no extra charge. He admits he underestimated Vernon Wells, credits the Jays with "baseball smarts" for replacing Frankencatcher with Crash & Cash, and gets off some great lines, as usual.

Anyone who has seen Phelps show Roger Clemens' fastball who's boss knows he has more power than Harry Nilsson had high notes.

Goldman, not much of a Hudson fan, suggests Cat could play second when Toronto's "fly-ball mavens" are on the hill. That's an interesting theory, with no chance of happening. At least Steve is bullish on Eric Hinske, and his conclusion is spot on -- "They'll go as far as their pitching can carry them, because offense won't be a problem."
I have been pouring too much time into basketball research recently, but there have been some side benefits. I have developed two metrics which I will explain briefly, that measure a player's defensive contributions. These are not perfectly original, however I believe that no such metrics have been developed before.

Incidentally, look for me in an upcoming Aaron's Baseball Blog discussing more basketball-related stuff.
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Winter still reigns in most parts of Canada, but on the Toronto baseball beat, you can see the first signs of a spring thaw. Ken Fidlin wrote a strongly positive column about the Jays' chances in 2004 and beyond in today's Sun (assuming you can find the column amidst all the sidebars and advertisements). Thanks to Jimmy Key's Christmas Lights, my favourite Box moniker, for the link.
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Thanks to Steve Z. for this find. Kevin Gray of the Manchester Union Leader spoke to J.P. Ricciardi about his new "home" team:

"Iím a New England guy. I think New Englanders love baseball . . . and they understand the game a little bit more than the average fan. I would love to see us have a long-term relationship with the people in Manchester. Itís got a long history of baseball. I grew up right down the street in Worcester, so itís an easy commute for me. I think our kids get to play in the weather that theyíre going to play in at the big-league level in April. I like the Eastern League. Thereís a lot of nice things that fit here for us."

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On ESPN.com recently, Tim Kurkjian reported the possibility of a baseball World Cup.

The idea is that, in March of 2005, teams representing 12 or 16 countries would meet in the tournament. Kurkjian notes some of the very intriguing potential rosters - United States, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Mexico, Cuba and Japan. No mention of the Canucks.

So, extremely prematurely, what would the Canadian roster look like?
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In the soon-to-be posted biographies on our Roster page, I let it be known that my favourite all-time Blue Jay is Tom Henke. This morning, I found an article in the Star that reminds me why that is. Henke was in town for the Sports Celebrity Dinner (and as an aside, that event consistently draws some huge names) to benefit Easter Seals, and I didn't know till now that this event has extra meaning for Tom: his youngest daughter Amanda was born with Down's Syndrome in 1986. This is a nice little story of how the family managed, and about a visit with one of the steadiest, sturdiest and most accomplished players ever to wear a Blue Jays uniform.
Nothing illuminating to offer from this part of the globe, but I am the exception, not the rule for Da Box. I am certain Bauxites have something to say, even in the dead of winter, and here is the place to say it. Enjoy the weekend!
The Box is not the only baseball web site with a new and improved look. RotoWorld, already my pick as the class of the fantasy reference league, is looking svelte with a tidied-up look, better navigation, and less prominent advertising.

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The Blue Jays staff were out in force last night as the caravan's rolled into Syracuse and Manchester to promote the upcoming season. JP talked Blue Jays and Red Sox in Manchester. The Syracuse caravan featured Marty Pevey, the new manager with a more "rah rah" attitude, and stories on local pitchers Scott Cassidy and Mark Lukasiewicz.
Many of our loyal readers read Moneyball in 2003. If you did not read it you have heard it discussed here many times. JP Ricciardi worked with Billy Beane and Paul DePodesta in Oakland, and although JP had left when Michael Lewis was writing the book, JP's philosophy is closely aligned with Oakland's front office.

Some criticisms of Moneyball suggested that Michael Lewis did not get all of his facts straight, that he embellished certain stories for dramatic effect. So what is the truth?

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No doubt about it, getting exposure in Batter's Box is the key to securing work in major-league baseball. Just kidding, of course -- Josh Boyd, who gave us an extensive overview of the Blue Jays' minor-league system just weeks ago, has long had great credibility within the game, which is one reason why he's left his position as National Writer for Baseball America to join the San Diego Padres as an area scout, responsible for the Eastern Seaboard area. As Gerry McDonald, who reported the news, observed wryly: "We got him to talk just in time." Batter's Box sends its best wishes to Josh in his new position.
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The Blue Jays 2003 print advertising campaign, prepared by Toronto agency MacLaren McCann, won the 2004 National Sports Forum ADchievement Award last week in Chicago as the best in sports. The other finalists, from more than 100 submissions, were the Oakland Athletics, Seattle Mariners, Toledo Mud Hens, Ohio State University and Russell Athletic. Jim Bloom, the club's Director of Consumer Marketing, says, "The Baseball North campaign was designed to strike a chord and connect Toronto fans with the players and the team. The success of the creative arranged through MacLaren McCann was validated by increased game attendance, as well as a surge in television ratings and traffic on bluejays.com. To have an award of this nature to cap off these results is quite an honour."
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In the Story on Cory thread, Dave Till wrote this:

I'm wondering whether pitchers traded to Toronto tend to go into shock when confronted with the SkyDome in April. Balls tend to fly out of the park when the roof is closed and the heat is on. An established pitcher, when he realizes that some of his routine fly balls are carrying over the left-field fence, may become discombobulated.

So, I thought I would investigate what I like to call the ShockDome factor.
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The site's tagline says, "Baseball news and analysis from a Canadian perspective," so we would be remiss if we didn't keep one eye firmly fixed on the Mary Celeste of major-league baseball, the Montreal Expos. The 'Spos are in the news today because RDS, Quebec's all-sports station and sister to TSN, will televise 20 games this season -- a pittance for most teams, but a gasp of breath for the Expos, who had only 14 games on RDS last season and were otherwise televisually unavailable here unless they happened to be playing the Braves, Cubs or Blue Jays.
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