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Roy Halladay threw seven excellent innings the last time he faced the Red Sox at SkyDome, striking out 10 and allowing just three earned runs, but he settled for no decision, as the April defence and bullpen caved in. Doc has a different team behind him this afternoon, and he's been a much better pitcher in May, winning all six of his starts. Boston, reeling from four straight losses, will counter with Tim Wakefield, who kept the Jays off-balance at Fenway earlier this year. It could be a close one, or the Toronto hitters might just continue to pound everyone.

I'll be at the game with an old friend from Halifax (I'm also looking forward to meeting Mike D for the first time) so I'll check in here this evening. Enjoy.
Spot the contradiction in the following excerpt from a CP report:

The Toronto Blue Jays optioned right-hander Josh Towers to triple-A Syracuse on Sunday to make room for an additional bat as they head into interleague play.

Catcher Ken Huckaby was recalled later Sunday and will join the team Monday.

I guess Doc gets his personal catcher back.

In other news: Doug Creek was moved to the 60-day DL, and likely needs elbow surgery.
Part II of my May report card - this time, it's the pitchers. This month's pitching report card isn't the Gallery of Horror that last month's card was. But beware of dark clouds, no larger than men's hands...
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Itís a new month, so it must be time for a system-wide update on the Blue Jaysí most noteworthy prospects. Most of these guys were assessed in my end-of-April report -- thereíve been a couple of additions and subtractions since then, but most of the cast remains the same. Stats are current to May 30. Comments and questions, as always, are welcome, though I'm away till June 5 and won't be able to respond till then; criticisms will be forwarded to Ontario Agriculture Minister Helen Johns (no relation to Doug).
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I enjoy doing monthly report cards, so here's one for the Jays' hitters for May.
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Yes, batting average does not tell the whole story, but the top five in the AL as of Saturday is worthy of some sort of short story, at least:

1. Hank Blalock, .360
2. Melvin Mora, .351
3. Milton Bradley, .342
4. Rocco Baldelli, .340
5. Michael Young, .333

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Server problems seem to be over, so here's a game thread in progress. Hendrickson has just turned a timely 1-6-3 double play, and the Jays lead 2-1 as they come to bat in the bottom of the third.

Win or lose this afternoon, the Blue Jays complete a magnificent May. A record-setting 21st victory would be a nice touch, and make the standings even more interesting, but no matter what happens today, the big boys of the AL East know they have company.
There's no such thing as "June Fool's Day", but I thought there might be when I saw this announcement from the Blue Jays that they would employ a four-man rotation for the month of June. Doug Davis is slated to hit the pen.
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Jose Contreras is on a torrid streak... he continued his recent dominance over AAA hitters in the Yankees' 6-0 win over the Tigers. I'm not going to pronounce him arrived yet, but he should be ready to take on big league hitters in his next start.
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The Arizona Diamondbacks made a desperation trade yesterday. Despite a rash of injuries to the pitching staff, the 'Backs traded their best young pitcher for an average third baseman. Hillenbrand is a slight upgrade over Matt Williams playing everyday, but not nearly enough to offset the quality innings B-H Kim would have likely provided the rest of the season. Waiting in the wings is one of the top infield prospects around - thirdbaseman Chad Tracy. Look for various clubs to make overtures as the trading deadline approaches: Joe Jr has a history of trading young for old and it could well happen again. Could the Jays be among the teams looking to pry away the AAA third sacker?
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Showdown time again for the Blue Jays, as they welcome the division-leading Red Sox to Skydome. It's fully recyclable righty John Burkett up against found object Doug Davis, in a matchup that should fatten a few OPS marks before the night is out. Good news for Toronto: Josh Phelps is back in the lineup at DH! Mike Bordick gets the start at third, and Reed Johnson leads off and plays right field, with Frank Catalanotto switching to left in place of Shannon Stewart, who's in danger of going on the DL with his bad hamstrings.
In a press conference on right now, it's expected that David Cone is finally, officially retiring. His struggles the last few years will probably dim in retrospect what was a terrific career from an intelligent ballplayer who from all accounts grew from destructive, self-centred jerk to the closest thing baseball had to a statesman. Me, I'll always remember Toronto acquiring him for Jeff Kent and Ryan Thompson (a steal, even today) in '92, and that wonderful strike-three backdoor slider to Rickey Henderson in the ALCS.
Batter's Box denizens aren't the only ones wondering what would happen if the Blue Jays, who entered this season fully expecting to rebuild all year and collect prospects at the trade deadline, find themselves in contention. Dave Perkins asked JP Ricciardi the same thing. Here's what he said:

Best-case scenario, if we can keep the same team and not have to deal anybody, we'll do it. [If the Jays can stay in the wild-card playoff picture], I go sleep on Ted Rogers' doorstep and try to beg, borrow or steal whatever we can get. I hope we're in that situation, to find out. If we've done everything on our end to win, we could hope so.

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OK, since I've got the conch, here's my two cents on the trade that brought BK to Boston and turned Bank One Ballpark into Shea Stadium. (insert groan) Sadly for the Jays, I agree that it's a good trade for Theo.

We shouldn't go overboard in bashing Hillenbrand. For a third baseman, the Hillenbrand of 2002 was a considerably valuable offensive player in a lineup where others get on base regularly. Plus, he offered tremendous durability and some nice positional flexibility that could permit Bill Mueller, instead of Damian Jackson, to spell Todd Walker at second against lefties.

Sabermetric hardliners will always call him an evil, evil man for his lack of plate discipline. But I think an overlooked problem with Hillenbrand is that for a supposed "contact freak," admired by anti-sabermetric types, he strikes out an awful lot: 95 last year. At third, he was error-prone and his defence wasn't great otherwise. Most importantly, his 10-homer pace has squelched any hopes that his power (and Fenway-friendliness) would take off after his respectable 18 dingers last season. All in all, the Red Sox were dealing from a position of strength -- with Freddy Sanchez showing that he's ready (or close to it), and the rest of the infield hitting up a storm lately, Hillenbrand was expendable. Moreover, of all their potential trading partners, Arizona was most dealing from a position of weakness.

Meanwhile, I don't know what Boston's going to try to with their bullpen usage (given their asphyxiating media coverage), but BK seems to be an optimal candidate for the Bill James "Ace Reliever" theorem. The Sox could use his devastating stuff when they need it, and not only should he be effective in key situations, but he can occasionally avoid his residual ninth-inning phobia. (From his public statements, my sense is that it still exists.) One of the criticisms of the non-traditional bullpen deals with the sports psychology of relievers and their "roles"; a variable, high-leverage use of Kim, however, strikes me as better for his psyche in particular.

Oh, yeah -- the series! Huge weekend for the Jays, who should have some decent crowds. Fossum and Wakefield have been struggling, so the Jays should be able to snap out of their offensive mini-funk. Lurch seems to be getting it together, but Doug Davis had better be way sharper tonight against the hard-hitting Boston club than he was against the pressing Yankees on Sunday. I'm finally coming home for the weekend, and I've got tickets for Sunday -- on the off-, off-chance Pedro's up for it, it could be a classic. Use your bench bats, Mr. Tosca!

On to the Advance Scout!
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Is it possible that Roy Halladay's turnaround could be attributed to the fact he's gotten over being separated from his personal catcher? His worst starts were the two immediately after Huckaby was designated for assignment; he then followed up with three middling starts, and has turned it on since, with four gems.
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