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Jayson Werth gets the start in RF (and bats second) against Tampa lefty Joe Kennedy. Dave Berg is at 2B (hitting ninth) for the same reason. With three hockey playoff series going the limit tonight, this may not be our busiest game thread -- happy channel flipping.
Through all the comical misplays in the field, the self-immolating bullpen, the lack of base-stealing and cautious running of the bases, the strength of the 2003 Blue Jays has been hitting.
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Nothing to do with Jordan, it's a racetrack term meaning an eighth of a mile. Today, if the baseball season was a mile race, the Blue Jays would be approaching the 220 yard marker. In track and field, or thoroughbred racing, they don't worry much about that split; it's too soon to be meaningful. The opening quarter time is considered worth recording, and we should have a better idea about the 2003 Jays when they complete the next 20 games. It's fun to look at them through a microscope, but binoculars are useful too.

Radio only on the FAN 590, first pitch shortly. The Red Sox have chosen to rest Nomar and Todd Walker. Damian Jackson and Bill Mueller up the middle are not quite as scary. It's Lidle's turn to shoulder the weight of the team's slump; let's hope he responds positively.
Three weeks of play, three different first-place teams in our Yahoo league. I'm aware that my sudden rise to the top of the standings is about as significant as the K.C. Royals' fast start. My pitching (except for Cliff Politte) has been superb, as Jason found out in a 10-1 shellacking -- 61 IP, 3 W, 5 SV, 2.21 ERA, 0.95 WHIP and 3.07 K/BB should earn a few category wins in most matchups, and this week it was good enough for a 6-0 split. Heading into a collision with Billies Bashers, with the Gashouse Gorillas on deck, no trash will be talked here -- I'm not overconfident, just cautiously optimistic.
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It's not easy to lose 9 of 10; you have to do a lot of little things, wrong. The standings this morning are embarrassing; last in the East, second-worst in the league. The statistics aren't much better: last in fielding percentage and errors, worst in both facets of the running game -- basestealing and SB allowed -- 12th in team ERA, and so on. Disappointing? Sure. Time to panic or give up? Sheesh. An ace-like start by the ace will give this club a good chance to win today (catching and throwing the ball better behind him will help) and it won't require a complete overhaul to turn this team around. The Terrible Twenty is 90% over, and an 8-12 mark through that brutal stretch can still be salvaged.

Jason Kershner's arrival and Doug Linton's departure weren't unexpected, nor are they the last of the roster moves; it's a minor tweak in a positive direction. There are (for now) three lefty relievers in competition amongst themselves to avoid the axe; maybe that will inspire Doug Creek (who got his man yesterday, only to be betrayed by Delgado's glove, then was rattled enough to lose the next lefty batter). On the radio, Tom Cheek speculated that Jayson Werth would join the big club in Tampa, with Reed Johnson being returned to Syracuse. Werth's been hitting well (1.001 OPS) in Florida, and Tosca isn't aftraid to use him -- again, not an earthshaking adjustment, but it can't hurt.
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Yesterday at 2:20 p.m., Jay William Burley became the youngest member of the the ZLC. Mother and son are doing fine, and efforts continue to scrape Dad off the ceiling. Jay, a 7-pound, 12-ounce, switch-hitting, ambidextrous pitcher, is a likely Blue Jays' draft-and-follow selection in June, 2021. At just under two feet, he's not as tall as some prospects, but those Burleys are crafty. Congratulations and best wishes to Craig and his family.
Or, put differently, some questions about the first 20 games on the Jays schedule, 19 of which are in the books and the last of which takes place on Patriots Day in Boston tomorrow morning. I suggested back in the spring, when reviewing the schedule and taking into account the fact this team had a steep learning curve ahead of it, that no one should be shocked if the Blue Jays were 6-14 at this point. Should they cough up another loss tomorrow, this team will have hit that sorry prediction square on.

So these are the questions that spring to mind this Easter Sunday:

1. How the hell did this happen?
2. Are these guys really as bad as this?
3. What should be done now?
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Matinees today (1:20) and tomorrow (2:05), followed by breakfast baseball at 11:05 Monday morning, as that's Marathon day in Boston. I'll be listening to Tom and Jerry today (and wishing Mike made the road trips) as we're leaving shortly to visit the in-laws, but it's also on Sportsnet and NESN. I expect there will be a hockey game on TV when we arrive, so I won't see or hear much of the later innings; I'll have to get the inside scoop from the ZLC tonight.

Tanyon Sturtze takes the ball for a team that's lost 8 of 9 and needs a lift. The big righty was very tentative in his Yankee Stadium start, walking seven, but he did beat the Red Sox in his previous outing, and as a Massachusetts boy, pitching in Fenway has some extra meaning. The Jays usually hit Derek Lowe well enough, knocking him out in the fifth at SkyDome 11 days ago, so Tanyon won't need to toss a shutout. If he throws strikes -- and his infielders catch the ball -- he could be 3-0, a far cry from the 4-18 debacle of 2002. If Tanyon turns it around, maybe Mr. Halladay will build on that Sunday. If not, there's extra (self-inflicted) pressure on Doc tomorrow.

First-guessing the lineup, I'm hoping Woodward is good to go, as Bordick, 2-for-14 since Chris got hurt, is living up to his good-glove, no-hit rep. I'd like to see Berg (especially his .919 OPS) at 2B, with the excitable, erratic Hudson on the bench. I don't care how many highlight-reel plays Orlando makes -- they do not cancel out the easy ones he muffs. Last night, what was already bad enough (Tam had turned a 3-2 lead into a 4-3 deficit) was made much, much worse when O-Dog mishandled a ball right at him and failed to make the inning-ending double play. The kid was playing with joy when he first came up last year, and that does make him fun to watch, but now he's pressing, and hurting the team. If a little vacation doesn't help, I have a vision of a longer trip in Hudson's future.

MLEs, translations of minor league stats to a major league context, were pioneered by Bill James. Conceptually, they are the first cousins of park neutral batting stats. Both attempt to adjust for distortions of the statistics created by the various venues in which professional baseball is played.

James found that by applying the appropriate park, league and level of competition factors, a player's performance in AA or AAA, translated to the big leagues, was a surprisingly accurate predictor of what that player would do in the major leagues.
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Finally, the Terrible Twenty concludes. The Jays would do well, really well, to come out of Fenway with a split. Boston's hot hitters are staying hot, and their cold hitters are getting warmer. Maybe someone can step up with an Ernie Whitt/Junior Felix/Joe Carter-type big Fenway performance.

I'm still not crazy about the Beantown bullpen, in part because I'm not comfortable with the one-bad-outing-and-you're-demoted strategy, at least from a psychological perspective. Now, if a reliever has several Ramiro Mendoza outings in a row, then by all means I support handing him a mop. Even the bullpen, though, is showing glimmers of hope (read on below), thanks to a couple of unlikely saviours. The Red Sox are looking dangerous...

On to the Advance Scout!
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Mark Hendrickson faces a tough assignment tonight, with the Green Monster looming for Boston's righty bats. Knuckleballer Tim Wakefield goes for the Sox. According to the Yahoo preview, Mike Bordick gets his fourth consecutive start at SS, so Chris Woodward's shoulder must still not be 100%. As anticipated, the Jays aren't going with a strict C platoon -- this is one of those nights that Greg Myers gets a rest while Tom Wilson starts vs. the right-hander. It's on Sportsnet and the FAN, but I think I'm going to watch the Boston TV feed on WSBK. Enjoy.
According to a message I received last night from SABR member Bill Hickman, Reed Johnson's MLB debut yesterday afternoon made him the 15,999th player in major league history. The next player to make his debut will be number 16,000. Let's keep an eye out for the next debutant.
Gee, who to root for? The guy who endured multiple surgeries on his arm and legs, persevered into his 30's, finally got a chance last year and was brilliant in his emergency start, or the more talented, but incredibly immature jerk? Even though I own Jeff Weaver in a couple of fantasy leagues, I don't like him; either does Mike Sweeney. The pitcher, a fan of Jerry Springer, has been a security guard on that thought-provoking TV show, and also showed his class in harrassing a woman who (doing her job) chastised him for smoking dope on the team plane. Jon Heyman of Newsday commented a couple of months ago on his (entirely expected) reaction to the subsequent lawsuit:

Jeff Weaver didn't sound too concerned that the Tigers had to pay $200,000 to the flight attendant who sued them after she was mistreated by Weaver and other Tigers. "Out of sight. Out of mind," Weaver said.

The rude, crude dude is 3-4, 5.68 against the Jays over the last three years, and he has a 5.45 home ERA since donning pinstripes. Delgado (1.431 OPS), Wells (1.333) and Hinske (1.500) have hit him extremely well -- here's hoping all those trends continue this afternoon. No TV, but it's on the FAN 590.
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If you're not familiar with WhatIfSports, please read this cautionary tale called "I See Dead People" from the great Sports Guy, Bill Simmons.

Now, thanks to WhatIfSports, Da Box is proud to bring you the first-ever What If Jays Series, as the All-Time Jays team faces off with the All-Time Yankees team in a seven-game series. But first, we need some help in finalizing the rosters of the two teams.

Now, to be fair ...
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There's my answer to "where's Woody?" -- in today's Sun, Mike Ganter's notes explain the absence of the team's starting SS -- Chris strained his left shoulder diving for a ball late in Monday's game. It does not sound too serious.

We also learn that Phelps reminded his manager he still has shin pads, and that Reed Johnson's debut will probably come Sunday against Casey Fossum, a pitcher he's familiar with. I thought we'd see Johnson in RF last night, but after Berg's sixth inning double, Tosca (wisely) kept his bat in the lineup, and despite the inherent defensive risks, Dave got another hit in the eighth and now has a .919 OPS. Why didn't Johnson and his glove come in for the ninth? Well, if the Yanks had tied it up -- a distinct possibility against El Flako -- Berg would have been the second hitter in the tenth.