Batter's Box Interactive Magazine Batter's Box Interactive Magazine Batter's Box Interactive Magazine
Two in a row is a beginning, with a very favourable pitching matchup this afternoon. Cory Lidle (2-1. 3.33 vs. the Royals over the last three years) is the logical choice over 22-year-old Miguel Asencio (15 hits and 5 walks in 10 IP against the Jays in 2002) -- the righty, indirectly responsible for Corey Thurman coming to Toronto, has good stuff, but walks more people than he strikes out. Toronto's patient hitters should have some fun today, and we can expect the everyday lineup. K.C. has just 11 pitchers (no bullpen lefty; perhaps J.P. could give them Creek) and I doubt Wilson or Carrasco is available, so we may see quite a bit of Albie Lopez, who is having a surprisingly good year. Yet-to-be-used Jeremy Hill, called up from Omaha when Affeldt went on the DL, might have to mop up. Fantasy owners, start your Blue Jays.

Half empty? Toronto is in last place in the division, 11th in the league. Half full? Almost everything that can go wrong has, so far, and they're just 6 1/2 games out of the AL wild card spot with 138 to play.
We wouldn't think of passing on Jeff Bagwell, who collected his 2000th career hit today against the Expos in the tenth inning, an uncharacteristic infield dribbler. Bagwell has been one of the best players of our time, a terrific all-around player unfairly ignored playing in Houston. Bagwell can hurt you with his glove, stealing bases, or by hitting for average, or hitting for power, or taking a walk.

Way to go, Jeff. Given what he has meant to Houston over the years, I would have to say that Bagwell-for-Andersen is without a doubt the worst trade of all time.
Or should I say, "The Secret Super-Agents Who Have Abducted, And Are Posing As, The Royals?"

In all seriousness, KC has been feasting on bad and/or slumping teams en route to their wholly unforeseeable 16-3 start. They've been pitching well, fielding well and taking good approaches to at-bats, but they've also been the beneficiaries of errors and startling mental breakdowns by opponent after opponent. (Hello, Blue Jays...) It'll be interesting to see how the brimming-with-confidence Royals fare against the big boys. Having said that, they still have an awful lot of games against Detroit and Cleveland on the schedule..

We all "know" that they're not as good as their record, but consider this: Of all the teams to start 16-3 since 1940, all have made the playoffs except the '87 Brewers, who went on a 12-game losing streak in May. Even those Brewers, however, won 91 games.

Not only would 91 wins be an absolutely superlative achievement for Allard Baird and Tony Pena, but that would mean that the state of Missouri would, at the very least, see meaningful AL baseball for the first time in a long, long time. Remember, no playoffs since Sundberg...But who are we kidding? The '03 Kansas City Royals can't win 90, right? Right???

On to the Advance Scout!
[More] (759 words)
In the Star today, Dave Perkins writes about the SARS scare:

It is bad news, though. Bad news for small business. Bad news for big businesses. Bad news for the Blue Jays, who need this like they need, uh, a left fielder who doesn't know which base to throw to after six years in the big leagues. This is one time it's even safe to feel sorry for them.

Hear, hear. Even the snide remark about Stewart, who as a LF is a fine hitter. One of my best friends is a Professor of Infectious Diseases and Microbiology in the Graduate School of Public Health at a large U.S. university. He's shocked at the decision by WHO and we both suspect it might be politically motivated; someone wanted to pin an Advisory on Beijing and when they looked at the criteria they were using, Toronto fit. It's unfair and unneccessary, but the damage is done. I will be at tonight's game, and unlike the Royals, won't be wearing a filter mask and latex gloves.
The great thing about baseball, of course, is that there's always something new under the sun. The latest exhibit comes from sunny Daytona Beach, Florida, where teenaged Cubs prospect Jae-kuk Ryu is in hot water after nailing an osprey during pregame warmups. Apparently ospreys are a semi-endangered species in Florida, and killing or injuring one gets you a misdemeanour charge. The report makes no indication of whether it was accidental (cf. Dave Winfield, Randy Johnson) or intentional.

Apparently, this kind of incident also gets the xenophobic neighbours on your back. One outraged resident reportedly wants the pitcher "deported" back to South Korea. Charming. You think if it was a strapping white high school kid who brained the bird, they'd be calling for him to be deported back to Texarkana? Ryu's lucky he's not from France. Charlie Lea might have been run out of town on a rail.

Anyway, the Cubs demoted Ryu to their Lansing affiliate in the Midwest League, and I hope that was out of concern for Ryu's safety at Florida State League ballparks, or maybe as a face-saving PR move, rather than actual punishment. Because if Jae-kuk Ryu gets demoted for injuring a bird, why then, Ben Christensen deserves to be cut loose by the organization altogether, wouldn't you think?
Interesting piece in today's Globe from Jeff Blair. The Jays brass, apparently, has been sufficiently impressed with Frank Catalanotto that they're planning to bring him back in 2003 as their everyday left fielder. The Cat himself says that left field is his favoured position going forward, and that he quite likes being in Toronto.
[More] (198 words)
You have to go all the way down to Charleston before you get a dominant pitching performance from a Jays' minor leaguer, in what was a slugfest-kind of day. But what a performance it was.
[More] (608 words)
As expected, it's a night off for Carlos Delgado. Josh Phelps is at 1B and Greg Myers bats cleanup; Jayson Werth (hitting seventh) gets the start in RF and Cat's the DH. Jays pitcher Tanyon Sturtze, in the city he calls home, faces his former teammates. He's walked a dozen batters the last two starts, in part because you don't want to be down the middle against those Yankee and Red Sox hitters. Tanyon doesn't have to be perfect; his mates will get him some runs against Jorge Sosa, and there are several fresh arms in the Toronto bullpen, including the reliable one.

I will make no predictions; it would be nice for the Jays players and fans to win big, as everyone's holding their breath these days with even a three-run lead.
Toronto fans came out to Skydome in force to witness Game 1 of the Ultimate Showdown between their All-Star Jays and the 1977-2002 All-Star Yankees, but a heavy taste of Ragin' Cajun and too much of a young Indiana lad nicknamed Donnie Baseball sent the crowd home disappointed.

Yankee lefty Ron Guidry, fresh off a 25-3 Cy Young campaign, tossed a complete game three-hit shutout and punched out 13 Jays, while receiving more than enough support from a pair of Don Mattingly two-run homers as the Yankees claimed the first of this best-of-seven by the score of 6-0.

"I felt good today," admitted the soft-spoken Guidry ...
[More] (566 words)
In the absence of proud new dad Craig B, your humble correspondent is here to provide some news and notes from around the majors.
[More] (475 words)
Rain washed out the Hew Haven Ravens, driving the entire ballpark crowd into a booth at the local Denny's. The Skychiefs and Alley-Cats only wish rain had wiped out some sorry pitching performances.
[More] (341 words)
The Blue Jays have the "A" team in against Victor Zambrano. After facing some tough opposition in his first four starts, LH Mark Hendrickson can be just a little more aggressive with his fastball tonight. It's a good opportunity for Lurch to build some confidence and prove he belongs in the rotation. I can't think of a better night to start a winning streak.
I threw together some stats for the Jays through the 'terrible twenty'
[More] (64 words)
Well, the Terrible Twenty is finally behind us and the Jays are off to Tropicana Field -- among the more bizarre venues in sports, and a stadium that has been surprisingly unkind to the Jays since the spectacularly unsuccessful Tampa Bay franchise joined the American League.

The Rays' Achilles heel has been, without question, starting pitching. Tampa starters are conceding home runs, giving up base hits, issuing walks and generally failing to eat innings. While some of us here at Batter's Box -- yours truly definitely included -- have bemoaned the Jays' wildly risk-averse offensive strategy against the stellar staffs of Minnesota, New York and Boston, this appears to be a series where patience at the plate should lead to a boatload of runs in the Bay. Now, if only the Jays could concentrate in the field and get some relief from the bullpen.

On to the Advance Scout!
[More] (643 words)
Some more awfully attractive pitching lines in the minors, not to mention some breakout performances at the plate, in a 3-0 Monday for Toronto's farm teams.
[More] (293 words)