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Pop quiz: which of these 26-year-olds with a mid-90s fastball would you want?

Pitcher A
2002 Texas
4-3, 6.22, 17 G, 15 GS, 94 IP, 113 H, 16 HR, 35 BB, 70 K
2001 Texas
5-5, 7.18, 18 G, 18 GS, 105 IP, 130 H, 23 HR, 47 BB, 64 K
2001 Cincinnati
0-5, 5.48, 9 G, 9 GS, 44 IP, 46 H, 9 HR, 17 BB, 33 K
2000 Cincinnati
7-8, 5.00, 26 G, 26 GS, 140 IP, 130 H, 32 HR, 73 BB, 112 K

Pitcher B
2002 Oklahoma City (AAA)
5-0, 4.06, 12 G, 11 GS, 75 IP, 70 H, 10 HR, 25 BB, 55 K
2001 Louisville (AAA)
2-2, 3.33, 5 G, 4 GS, 27 IP, 32 H, 4 HR, 4 BB, 26 K
2000 Louisville (AAA)
4-0, 3.73, 6 G, 6 GS, 41 IP, 35 H, 6 HR, 13 BB, 47 K

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Catcher, actor, comedian, and broadcaster Bob Uecker has been awarded the 2003 Ford C. Frick Award. Richly deserved.


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Rob Neyer's latest is an excellent interview with the man who succeeded J.P. Ricciardi in Oakland. Asked how someone gets into a job many of us envy, Paul DePodesta brings to mind Branch Rickey's recipe for luck -- opportunity meets design.

"You have to be really lucky. That's a huge component, but there's just not much you can do about it. But you can do everything possible to put yourself into position to take advantage of an opportunity, which is doing your best to increase your luck. I went to work in the Canadian Football League and the American Hockey League, because I wanted to get as much experience in sports as I possibly could. I tried to meet as many people as I possibly could, so that should there be an opening in baseball or football or whatever, I was going to find about it, and I was going to fight for it."

Working in the CFL and AHL? That's determination. Studying at the University of Beane is a just reward for his efforts, and that will benefit a team smart enough to hire him as their next GM. The last graduating class was exceptional.
After yesterday's game, Cory Lidle told Mike Rutsey of the Sun, "I didn't have command of my fastball last time... today I talked to Willie (Tom Wilson) before the game and we were going to bust every hitter inside with the first pitch. When I have command of my fastball I work the inside part of the plate." More (from MLB.com) on Cory and his game plan:

"I throw two different speeds with my curveball. I'm trying to get the feel for the slower curveball, which I haven't had," Lidle said. "I threw a few good ones today, and I was happy with that. For the most part, I was happy with today because I worked ahead and threw strikes with all my pitches. That's what Spring Training is for."

Here's the box score from yesterday; Stewart and Hudson went deep, on pitches the great Roy Oswalt wouldn't have thrown in a regular season game. I expect the Fort Myers lineup to take the bus ride to Lakeland today; Hendrickson faces the toothless Tigers. Something resembling the real Jays may start in home games vs. the Phils tomorrow and the Yankees (TV; Sportsnet) on Saturday.
A while back, as one of the projects I was working on while I was unemployed, I dived into old microfilm records and collected interesting Jays-related quotations from newspaper articles. (I hope someday to make a book out of them.) Here's some I collected from September, 1985. They're all from the Toronto Star.
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ESPN.com hockey analyst Terry Frei recently posted the four thousandth article this week to bemoan the NHL's ridiculously late trading deadline

What caught my eye, though, was a throwaway funny line buried between the lede and the actual analysis:

"Chemistry" is the fifth-most overused word in sports (behind "focus," "hopefully," "respect," and "athleticism") ...


Which set me a'thinkin' ... what are the most overused words in sports? Particularly, baseball. These are words, not phrases ("We gotta take 'em one game at a time ... they really came to play today ..."). Rules clarification: hyphenated phrases that act as one word ("multi-talented" and "five-tool") are OK.

I'm was gonna go with "respect," but Frei mentioned it already, and I want to focus on hopefully not disrespecting him. So I will opt for ...
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Jamey Newberg of the reliable Newberg Report has just posted news that the Minneapolis Star-Tribune has announced (that makes this an announcement about an announcement about an announcement) the Twins' signing of veteran lefty Kenny Rogers.

Primarily rumored to be headed to Boston, Chicago's South Side, Toronto or back to Arlington, Texas on May 1, Rogers will presumably fill the role of injured Twin lefty Eric Milton.



In a typically engaging essay (Cy's the Limit?") posted to Da Box earlier, Coach Kent posed the following query:

" ... how do you think Doc compares to other AL starters? Not long-term, just for the upcoming season. Or, to ask the question another way, who do you think are the leading contenders for this year's Cy Young award?"

The reaction and discussion (still ongoing at this writing) ignores one teensy point: those two questions (who are the AL's top starters? who are the leading contenders for the 2003 Cy Young Award?) are only barely related.

In the more than quarter century (1977-2002) of the post-Sutter era of closers dominating baseball's decision-making on pitching, the 26 AL Cy Young winners have fit pretty easily into four distinct categories, with some overlap -- and Halladay is Alfonso-Soriano-leads-the-AL-in-walks unlikely to fit any of the four. The one exception to the quarter-century rule (there's always one), as we will see, is a name that should be familiar to Blue Jays fans.
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Another good-news piece on Orlando Hudson, this time from Jeff Blair at the Globe & Mail. While it makes regrettable reference to The Comment, it's a good piece showing the positive contrast in both Hudson and his teammates between last year and this year. It also demonstrates that JP and the O-Dawg are on good terms and that Ricciardi appears to have no plans to move Hudson at the moment.

The Jays' middle-infield plans might have gotten a bit of a jolt this week with the eye-opening play of 2002 first-round pick Russ Adams, who showed terrific bat control and a workable defensive skill set that could be improved. The idea had been that Adams would move to second, where his range and arm are better suited; add this to Dominic Rich's presence, and you can see why O-Dawg trade rumours are so common. But if Adams proves himself capable of playing shortstop at the major-league level, presenting the possibility of an Adams-Hudson DP combo through 2006, then the organization could end up with a multiplicity of nice options.
Somebody took his happy pills! Richard Griffin has only nice things to say about Roy Halladay and his latest superb outing:

He threw a dozen curveballs at varying speeds, 11 of them for strikes and a couple of them first-pitch strikes. Even threw a changeup or two. He had movement on both sides of the plate and had hitters off-balance and fouling pitches off their own toes, always a sign a pitcher's good stuff is behaving.

Griffin, in a very good mood, even has a compliment for the Tosca/Ricciardi regime. As some of us prepare for fantasy drafts, and just to test everyone's prognostication skills, how do you think Doc compares to other AL starters? Not long-term, just for the upcoming season. Or, to ask the question another way, who do you think are the leading contenders for this year's Cy Young award?
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In a story that's managed to fly under the radar in the Canadian press so far, the Blue Jays are trying once again to exact a monetary payment from Major League Baseball "to compensate for the weak Canadian dollar." The commissioner's office is reviewing six possible plans that would create a continuing contribution from MLB to the Jays to offset revenue disparities between the US and Canada. One would like to think the Expos would also benefit from this, but one would like to think a lot of things.

Anyway, it's an interesting effort by Toronto, and it might actually work: Paul Godfrey and Ted Rogers certainly talk Selig's language whenever he needs them to (e.g., labour issues), and getting some love from MLB on the currency-exchange front appears to be one of the benefits. Even if it does go through, however, I don't expect to see the team's payroll grow accordingly: at Rogers Inc., as at all big companies, this kind of rebate would go straight to the bottom line.

But this did put me in mind of a fascinating pair of discussions at Primer and FanHome that conclusively showed that this whole situation has very little to do with "currency exchange" or the like. It has to do with the fact that Canada is, in comparison to the United States, a noticeably poorer country.
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Well, we've had a month to nominate, vote, ruminate and compile ... and the list of 10 pre-season nominees for the prestigious first annual Batter's Box Andujar Award -- the ceremony soon to be recognized worldwide as the "YouNeverKnows" -- is now complete.

Here's the click-for-more teaser: A Jay finished second. The 10 nominees play for 10 different teams; six hitters, four pitchers. Eight different players received first-place votes, but nobody received more than one first-place vote. Oh, and you'll find a much-requested rules clarification.


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The latest fine piece by Spencer Fordin on the Official Site is about Chris Woodward. He's a likeable young man with a fantastic attitude; the only "knock on Wood" is his durability -- he hasn't suffered serious injuries, but is often dinged up.

Fortunately, his recent hamstring pull does not appear serious (though I'll be concerned if he doesn't start today) and we can look forward to 500+ AB and 20 taters in his first full season as a regular. Knock on wood.
4-0 Toronto, behind four innings of one-hit ball by Doc Halladay and an Eric Hinske 3-run blast. What I heard of it on MLB Radio sounded like an excellent team effort.

Mike Hansen's posted a recap of his spring training trip, and I want to thank him again for donating the grand prize for the Batter's Box Fantasy League. In addition to bragging rights, the playoff champion will receive a Jays T-shirt, autographed by Mike Smith, Carlos Tosca and J.P. Ricciardi. Way to go, Mike!
It has not been a good spring for the San Diego Padres. First Trevor Hoffman was sidelined for at least half a season with shoulder surgery, and now comes news that Phil Nevin will miss the entire year after separating his shoulder making a diving catch in a spring game. If you believe bad things come in threes, you might want to avoid Ryan Klesko in your roto drafts later this month.

I should feel sorry for the Padres organization, but I'm having difficulty, because I don't see why Nevin was out in left field in the first place. Nevin was a perfectly fine third baseman when the organization decided that Sean Burroughs, who'd never played a game in the major leagues, was important enough to bump Nevin over to first. Burroughs flamed out last season, but he's back for another try, and this time Nevin was moved to the outfield, where he hadn't played since a 12-game sojourn in 1999. I wouldn't blame him if he unleashed some serious venom on the organization in the next few days.

Kevin Towers gained a lot of respect, particularly in sabrmetric circles, for his deft assembly of a promising young team on a shoestring; some of that shine is now fading. You can't blame the GM for injuries, but you can question his shifting of established stars to make room for overhyped rookies; maybe this is a little karmic payback in action.