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Mark Hendrickson has dodged the bullet and remains in the rotation. As long as he's careful with Sweeney, I think Lurch can do well again tonight. He's been excellent in three of his last four starts. Very few Royals have ever seen him, and the same applies for most of the Jays and 23-year-old lefty Chris George.

Carlos Tosca told Jerry Howarth on the radio pregame show that Eric Hinske's wrist is feeling better, and Dave Berg has a stiff neck, which explains why he hasn't been used much lately. Once again, the skipper bats Bordick second; Mike's playing third while Hinske enjoys another night off. Catalanotto makes a rare start against a lefty, because he's 4-for-6 off George.

The Blue Jays hitters got off to a pretty good start against some stingy pitching staffs, so it was expected that their solid offensive production would continue against weaker opposition. That, indeed, has happened: the Jays are now third in the AL in runs per game at 5.71, trailing the Red Sox (6.13) and the Yankees (6.08), but solidly ahead of the homerun-happy Rangers (5.38).
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In any given baseball game, the "impossible" can happen. For example, last night the Tigers beat the A's, with Steve Avery getting his first save in 15 years as a pro, and Cleveland, with a rookie pitcher facing Freddy Garcia, beat Seattle. So the D-Rays can win this afternoon, even though their pitcher's ERA has been above 8.00 for the last three years.

Soft-tossing lefty Jim Parque, (maybe) 170 pounds, with a history of arm trouble, had his most promising start in ages last week. It was "only" the Tigers -- keep in mind the Jays have scored more than twice as many runs as Detroit this season -- but he had a no-hitter through six innings. He threw 100 pitches, just 57 for strikes, walking four while striking out just two, as the shutout improved his 2003 ERA to 9.24. Although Parque has had success against Carlos Delgado in the past (1-for-12 with 5 strikeouts) he has generally not been a lefty-killer, so I won't be surprised if Cat and Hinske are also in the lineup.
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Instant karma's gonna get you. This article (which I lifted from our friends at Fanhome) lauding Jays pitching prospect Vince Perkins ran in yesterday's Charleston Daily Mail. That night, Perkins got rung up like a Walmart sale: 4 runs on 6 hits and 3 walks in 3 innings (Dick Scott was in the stands; maybe a little stage fright?). That pushed his ERA all the way up to 1.83. No big deal: Vince was overdue for a thumping, and he still struck out 6 in 3 innings. His promotion to Dunedin isn't too far away.

Nonetheless, I think the author of the piece, as well Vince's manager, might be letting their enthusiasm run away with them a tad.
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Shannon Stewart was pulled from the game in the ninth after he complained of tightness in both hamstrings.

"He told our trainer he was sore in one leg in the seventh, and then it was both legs in the ninth," Tosca said.

This is exactly what Shannon was trying to avoid by working out with Desai Williams, but it's a chronic problem, and the reason I stopped legging out triples in about 1975. In the same piece, by Mark Zwolinski in today's Star, Cory Lidle admits to concentration lapses late in games, especially with big leads, but also says he's pitching like he did last August. His honesty on both counts is refreshing.

Elsewhere at, Richard Griffin says the main difference between Rocco Baldelli and Jayson Werth is opportunity. I hope he's right, but I'd make that trade in a heartbeat.
According to Yahoo's postgame summary, Carlos Tosca is quoted as saying that Kelvim Escobar will take Tanyon Sturtze's spot in the rotation. As well, Yahoo reports that Jayson Werth will be sent to Syracuse.

Any word as to who'll be taking Werth's place?
I got an e-mail (well, me and 4,400 other subscribers) from Kevin Goldstein of The Prospect Report, indicating that he's going to be on The Fan 590 tonight circa 9:40 pm Eastern (8:40 pm Central). You can listen online here. I presume that he'll be asked about Blue Jays prospects, so it would be worth tuning in to hear what he has to say.
Eric Neel of scribed this article about Billy Beane and the A's philosophy of stat-driven scouting along with a heavy preference for college players. The piece contains many quotes from other GMs, including a few other "small-market" guys like Terry Ryan of the Twins and everyone's favorite flogging boy, Allard Baird of the Royals. (Nobody mentions J.P. Ricciardi or Keith Law, but we know their philosophies.) The astute BB cabal has discussed many of these issues, and I -- and others, of course; I didn't come up with this notion -- have maintained the absolute key to the A's success is Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder, and Barry Zito. I've said it before, and I'll keep saying it: those guys aren't around, we're not talking about Beane quite so much.
I received this e-mail through I thought it was worth posting here, and inviting any BB readers who wished to do so to visit the site and leave a message.


To whom it may concern:

I'm not sure if you are aware of this or not, but on February 22nd, 2003, Carl Riccio, my cousin, a 17-year-old junior at Watchung Hills High School in NJ, broke his neck during a high school wrestling match. Carl was an undefeated wrestler and a star baseball player. This tragedy made headline news across the country. These accidents occur only twice a year in the sporting world.
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The newest Skychief gets a rude welcome to AAA, and the hits just keep on coming for the New Haven Lumber Company. Here's the latest farm system news.
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Tampa rookie Dewon Brazelton was a 2001 first-round pick (third overall) who got a huge bonus to sign, after going 13-2 in college, with 154 strikeouts and 24 walks in 127 IP. Still only 22, with limited pro experience, the righty faces a tough lineup tonight.

Cory Lidle held the Rangers to four runs in six innings last time, and was superb in his previous effort, a 3-hitter against Anaheim. He's going for his fifth win in six starts.
An interesting piece by our old friend Rich Griffin in yesterday's Star deserves a few comments (none of them venomous). Griffin spoke with Paul Godfrey, who said there'd be no salary dump trades at the end of July and that the Jays would be pushing hard for a balanced schedule in future.

Griffin took from this that Shannon Stewart won't be dealt at the deadline, but I don't think one can assume that. Salary dumps have nothing to do with Shannon, who's on a one-year contract and who will unquestionably be playing elsewhere next season. By contrast, Raul Mondesi and Alex Gonzalez, underperformers locked into long-term deals, were salary dumps of the highest order. Stewart will leave the team in July if he can bring good value in return; if not, he'll be allowed to walk out the same door through which Jose Cruz Jr. strode last winter.
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It's a game of inches, and Roy Halladay noticed that his pitching arm was an inch or two too high during his delivery. He corrected that before his start against Anaheim, and it was vintage Doc as a result. Very good news for Toronto; very bad news for the rest of the league.

Halladay and Lidle look to be rounding into shape as reliable #1 and #2 guys for this team. That leaves, potentially, five guys to fill the rest of the rotation: Mark Hendrickson, Tanyon Sturtze, Doug Davis, Kelvim Escobar and Pete Walker. My guess is that Hendrickson goes to long relief and Walker stays in the pen, leaving Sturtze, Escobar and Davis in the 3 through 5 spots. But if I ran the zoo, Sturtze would be in the pen and Hendrickson, who has more upside, would be allowed to build on his two recent strong starts.
Oh, those pesky Devil Rays.

Tampa has a banged-up lineup that should be contained by the Jays' starters this week -- although all bets are off in Joe Kennedy starts, as far as the Jays are concerned. The cross-body-throwing lefty has been pure Kryptonite to the Blue Jays since he entered the league.

As for the rest of Tampa Bay's pitching staff, the "Tigers Conundrum" applies: Does a weekend against the Tigers soften up a pitching staff before a series against actual big-league hitters, or does it inject a little confidence into the rotation that will help them out against a squad like the Jays? Time will tell.

Though it's far from a foregone conclusion, a sweep will position the Jays above .500 and might start a little buzz around the GTA and the baseball world. Let's hope the Jays keep up their league-leading approach at the dish...

On to the Advance Scout!
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Next to Doug Creek, only Jeff Tam has suffered more slings and arrows early in this 2003 Blue Jays season. But as this item in today's Star indicates, he's slowly starting to turn things around. Frankly, Tam, Creek, Miller and the rest of this pen need to do just that: there's no one in Syracuse ready to take their place, and the Jays certainly aren't going to go trade for bullpen filler in a rebuilding season. Then again, if the starters keep going 6 innings or more every time out, the relievers won't be run out there so often. There's reason to believe the worst is behind this staff.