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Nothing would please me more as a Blue Jays fan than to be wrong in my fantasy advice regarding Cory Lidle. Citing his slow starts the past two years and the wicked early schedule, I suggested passing on the Jays' new #2 starter in your drafts, then trading for him in mid-May. A very good outing today against a strong Cincinnati lineup is changing my mind; Lidle seems ready to go. Here's the game story and box score from MLB.com.

Cory showed hes a baseball player, not just a pitcher, with a hit and some excellent baserunning to score the game's first run - he even looked ready to slide, but fortunately, that wasnt necessary. He pitched neatly out of a second-inning jam, and otherwise had masterful command. Lidle was lifted an inning early, but Im not sure what the supposed problem was, and the pitcher looked annoyed at the cautious decision by his handlers.
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Episode I: Food For Thought
Monday, a new feature will launch on Da Box ... call it Baseball's Hall of Names. Or maybe Name That Team. It's always so tough to come up with a good name for something. In the meantime, here's some background, part essay, part history, part word game.

[Obligatory Confusing Gammonsian Quoted Lyric Lead]:
Like the singing bird and the croaking toad
I've got a name; I've got a name
And I carry it with me like my daddy did ...

-- Jim Croce

Like most baseball fans, I grew up talking about the great game with my dad -- yes, per the lyrics above, we have the same name -- who saw DiMaggio at The Stadium and turned 16 the year Mantle debuted. The two Micks (the centerfielder and the psychologist) even share a birthday, though dad is four years younger than the Commerce Comet.

In our conversations -- and they still pop up from time to time -- we would speculate about life's great mysteries. For instance, what current players would eventually be enshrined in Cooperstown? Rose? Obviously. This kid Schmidt? Let's see how he turns out ...

And often, we would spend time trying to create "All-Star" lineups based on arbitrary rules involving names of players throughout the sport's history.

The All-Food Team was a favorite.
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Waymoresports reports here that the Jays have released Pasqual Coco after he allegedly stole between $500 and $900 from pitcher Diegomar Markwell.
While the overall message comes as no surprise -- the A's announced that they will not re-sign Miguel Tejada -- the timing is extraordinary. I can't remember a situation where a team has pre-emptively said it will not retain a player because of financial reasons before the player's walk year has even begun. Political posturing for the A's to get a new stadium out of the city of Oakland? Perhaps. A depressing scenario being replayed again? Definitely.

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On the front page of Baseball Primer, another in the series "Looking Forward to 2003" has been posted. It's an eclectic mix of analysis and commentary. A prediction of 83 or 84 wins for the 2003 Jays? Geez, any poster on this site could have come up with that.
OK, time to readjust those pre-draft rankings. I get a lot of letters from readers of my ESPN fantasy columns, and generally point them here for in-depth analysis, but I've been saying all along that Frank Catalanotto and Orlando Hudson are both good bargains at 2B. In an AL league, the possibility of a trade diminishes O-Dawg's value, but in a MLB universe, he's a solid pickup. Cat, on the other hand, is still bothered by his chronic sore back, and didn't play in yesterday's slugfest. It's not time to panic, but Cat may not be ready to answer the bell as an everyday RF, so the Werth-Ryan-Colangelo-Aven-Wise battle takes on more significance.

By the way, speaking of injured Jays, the box score says it was Justin Miller, but it was actually lefty Trever Miller who pitched (very well) yesterday. The RH, being brought along slowly, is expected to get an inning or two this afternoon; the frontrunner as #5 -- Pete Walker -- starts today in Kissimmee vs. the Astros. Good news yesterday included good AB from Hinske against lefties, and continued hot sticks for Woodward and Hudson.

Plenty of other stuff I don't have time to comment on, like the sad end of Mick Doherty's illustrious career as an ESPN Yankees correspondent. I'm hoping to catch up later tonight; carry on without me. :)
Yankees fantasy correspondent Mick Doherty was waived by ESPN.com because he refused to accept changes to his handshake contract. After four years, covering two teams with his often brilliant prose and occasional baseball wisdom, for the "reward" of a byline and a free fantasy game, MED deserved better.

Though I'm not very happy about it, or how it was handled, I posted a new Jays column today instead of tendering my resignation. I made a commitment I'm going to honour, but the gig won't be as much fun without Mick, and suddenly, it feels like my last year.

Doherty once a week is better than most writers every day, which ESPN forgot. They apparently had a "replacement" standing by, and pulled the plug on Mick's final piece after it was on the site for just a couple of hours. It is reproduced here, because it's my site, and I can:
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I was going to post some wry commentary on Jayson Stark's latest humor column -- he is generally trying to be funny, isn't he? -- when I read the following stunning statement from Tim Kurkjian's latest missive:

The years 1967 and 1971 were the only ones in which two players hit their 500th career home run -- this season, there could be four: Sammy Sosa is one away, and Rafael Palmeiro (10), Fred McGriff (22) and Ken Griffey Jr. (32) are close, too. The 500 Club will expand from 17 to 21. Get used to it. It probably will get to 30 in 2004.

Now WAIT a minute ... Kurkjian is saying -- it's right there, I've read it for other interpretations and can't find any -- that between Opening Day 2003 and the close of the 2004 regular season, thirteen players are going to hit their 500th home runs.

Let's look at that for a moment ...
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I'm not sure if anyone previously posted this article on prospect Dominic Rich, but it is yet another fine one by my favourite Blue Jays writer - John Lott.

Rich is quite stocky for a young 2nd baseman, which may cast doubt on his ability to avoid injury at a high-risk position (presumably, by being less nimble than a typical middle infield prospect).


Be proud, Coach. We passed the 30,000-hit mark yesterday (at least, I think it was yesterday).

This site is taking off. Hopefully we can keep our fans coming back for more.
The official site of Seligball has endured criticism about usability over the past few years, but the breadth of services now available is astounding.

Tonight, check out the live broadcast of a Red Sox-Yankees spring training contest, offered free of charge.

MLB.TV promises to be a valuable service to baseball fans everywhere. The price of the season package is comparable to Extra Innings, and the month by month rate is quite reasonable. The site claims that approximately 45 games a week will be available, subject to local blackout. The archive feature might become an invaluable tool to the baseball researcher (since even a hardcore fan can't watch more than a couple of games at the same time). It will be a godsend to baseball fans living outside of North America.

If you have sufficient bandwidth and processing speed, this might be the answer to all your baseball prayers. The Blue Jays-Yankees game 2 weeks from today is on the spring schedule

Thanks to the BB reader who found this Tampa Tribune column by Joe Henderson about the Jays manager, who says, "Teaching is more important now than ever. Players are coming into the major leagues at a quicker rate, and you have to continue to teach.''

If the Jays play as well this season as many of us think they will, expect more recognition for Tosca from outside the GTA. However, I have a hunch that the definitive look at the Little General will be part of the eagerly-anticipated 2003 Preview on Primer, penned by Ontarians Craig Burley and Robert Dudek in their spare time between contributions to this site.

Here's the game notes and box score from yesterday's loss by the "B" team in Lakeland. Today vs. the Phillies, Sturtze gets the start, and if Frank Catalanotto doesn't play, I will be officially concerned about his back.
Yesterday's 5-3 loss to the Tigers wasn't terribly interesting -- Kelvim Escobar should have to run laps for giving up a home run to Shane Halter, and Aqualino Lopez got knocked around a bit, but it was truly rewarding to see Mike Moriarty back in action and scoring runs. Today it's Tanyon Sturtze against Randy Wolf -- and don't expect the Jays to light up the Phillies' up-and-coming ace this time around. But there's continued good news all the same.

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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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