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Scouting the Yankees, on one level, is pretty easy: "They're the freakin' Yankees."

The Yankees can be hit hard, and can be shut down, but it's hard to do both on any given night, and they do a more effective job capitalizing on opponents' mistakes than any other team of our generation. What's worse, navel-gazing Yankee fans (whose I-only-watch-the-Yankees attitude was overwhelmingly responsible for the poor World Series ratings last year) have been buoyed by the team's hot start, thereby rendering them less sullen and depressed when I taunt them with a Rally Monkey.

This year, Hideki Matsui makes New York even more dangerous offensively, and their starting pitching has been magnificent -- although their bullpen does show signs of weakness, at least while not healthy. Prior to the Matsui and Floyd signings, I thought it was absolutely stunning that the Yankees and Mets could combine to spend nearly $250 million (all figures U.S., of course) and have one above-average outfielder combined: Bernie Williams.

In any event, I'll be in the Bronx tomorrow night for Doc-Mussina. First base, about thirty rows back -- on the off-chance the Jays do anything worthy of fan reaction, they might include us in the "token fans of the visiting team shot." Should be a great game...

On to the Advance Scout!
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It's way too early to draw conclusions, as the sample sizes are too small, but two high-profile Jays prospects are off to good starts.
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Suppose that a man from Mars were to land on Earth, and wanted to know everything about the Blue Jays and their history. What would he need to know? I'm not thinking of the obvious stuff, such as where the SkyDome is or who Dave Stieb was, but the little things that are part of a Jay's fan's memories, prejudices, or common knowledge.
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That's better! My Toronto Walrus jumped all the way from 15th to second in the Batter's Box Fantasy League standings this week, thanks to an 11-1 pounding of the Red Mosquitos, who learned what injuries (Brian Giles) and slumps (Mark Bellhorn and others) can do to your Head-to-Head team. I punted steals early in the draft, and my pitching's still a lot better than my hitting, but timing and luck are huge in HtH, and our matchup was the most extreme example of that so far this season.

Snellville's Gashouse Gorillas put together another solid week to take over top spot. Jonny, the spreadsheet wizard, will check in later with the Roto "standings," which are completely unofficial, but shed some light on strength-of-schedule issues and are useful to help identify your team's weak spots.

Please read on; we need to discuss the league's keeper rules and of course, talk a bit of trash.
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If you'd said on Opening Day that the Jays would be sending their only undefeated starter to the mound tonight in New York, a tall right-hander, then the odds were pretty good I wouldn't have guessed that would be Tanyon Sturtze. And yet here he is tonight, the former Devil Ray who's already matched half his 2002 win total. And Sturtze didn't rack up easy wins against cream puffs -- the Red Sox and Twins can hit a little. Yankee Stadium, of course, is a whole different stage.

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Much angst has been in evidence regarding the Blue Jays' bullpen, which collectively has not had a good outing in some time.

By searching through the game logs, I've compiled some data on Toronto relief pitchers for 2003:

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Because I suspect all us proud Canadians would like a place to sound off on this -- Mike Weir rocks! That was a gripping, thrilling final round, and after seeing his performance, I think Weir must have ice in his veins. That par putt on the 18th to salvage a playoff was just amazing, and his composure was exemplary. Congratulations to a Canadian champion!

And oh yeah, the Jays were stomped on today, getting swept at home for the second time in this young season. Remember, folks -- coming out of the Terrible Twenty with a .500 record would be just peachy. They now have to go 5-3 on the road against the Yankees and Red Sox to do that. Mind you, the road has been pretty good to them so far. And this team has been awfully streaky this young season....
According to Carlos Tosca, that's the key to mental toughness: concentrate on your approach, and accept that results are sometimes random, but your response to those results is something you can control. That's just part of an interesting profile of the Jays' skipper in today's Boston Globe. Gordon Edes also quotes Paul Godfrey about J.P. Ricciardi:

"He's straightforward, direct, and honest. He gave me a plan on Nov. 7, 2001, and since he's been here, he hasn't veered from the plan. He knew what he wants, he's a great judge of talent, and he works very well with everyone around him."

Thanks to one of our longtime BB readers for this link; Pistol has met Harvey Dorfman, the sports psychologist mentioned in the article, and says he was highly complimentary of what the Blue Jays are doing. Tosca acknowledges Dorfman as a tremendous influence, and has encouraged his players to consult him as well. With eight games left in the Terrible Twenty, let's hope the Toronto bullpen has learned how to respond positively to some disappointing recent results. I was at a clinic all day and missed the latest meltdown, but it seems to me Aquilino Lopez can't do much worse than Creek and Miller against lefty batters, and he certainly makes righties look sick.
My turn for some notes, with Craig on child watch (which makes me wonder how he posted so many messages yesterday!). On to the gibberish
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The Twins' losing streak is over, and their ace is on the mound today. The Jays, at .500 midway through their 20-game trial by fire, will start Pete Walker. He'll be on a strict pitch count, probably about 70 tops, so the Toronto bullpen will have to be good.

I won't see much of the game, as a Toronto Baseball Association meeting is scheduled for 2:30, but I'll be checking in here to get your impressions as soon as I get home. It's been very rewarding to have so many people tell me lately that they click on BB even before they go to the MLB scoreboard of their choice.
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As noted in the Twins thread, the Jays have made a wholly expected move and waived Ken Huckaby, replacing him with outfielder Reed Johnson. This move will not be met with howls of outrage from most BB denizens, this one included.

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Well, I know I should be optimistic. But the Twins always seem to play their best ball at SkyDome, no matter how good (or bad) they happen to be at any given time. I always found Tom Kelly clubs, like Sparky Anderson clubs, to be reliably tough to beat on a day-to-day basis.

I remember the Jays earning a hard-fought split in the '91 ALCS in Minneapolis...only to have Puckett, Pagliarulo & Co. dispatch of the Jays in three straight road victories. The Twins are young, and their confidence may be shaky given their recent struggles, but I suspect that they've got a good clubhouse thing going. Last season, I saw the Twins play in both Toronto and Chicago, and they had about the most enthusiastic dugout celebrations I've ever seen in early-season games. And they can still flash the leather, although even Torii Hunter committed a costly error at Yankee Stadium yesterday.

The Advance Scout says: Try and keep the Twinkies fishing at the plate. They've been pressing and impatient, almost to a man, during this slump. Let's see if Lidle, Pete and Lurch can expand the strike zone a little bit and get some easy outs.

On to the Advance Scout!
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Way to go, Brandon Lyon... Grady Little says that if the weather isn't good in Boston tonight, Lyon will join the rotation and start in place of Pedro Martinez in the Red Sox home opener.
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Kenny Rogers gets a second shot at the Jays tonight. Cory Lidle, as I post this, has already thrown two perfect innings so the Twins' offensive struggles might be continuing.
Geoff Jenkins has returned for the Brewers, which helps the Brew Crew immeasurably on defense and should provide an offensive boost as well... provided he is actually healthy.

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