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It doesn't look promising tonight for the blue birds against the red birds. Woody Williams is having a great season, Mark Hendrickson has been inconsistent. The Cards are playing superb defence, particularly Edmonds, Rolen and Renteria, while the Jays have been shaky, especially on bunts and anything hit to short. Lurch at bat will resemble a typical pitcher trying to defend against Karl Malone in the paint -- embarrassingly overmatched -- while Williams frequently helps himself with the stick.

I'm not suggesting the Jays concede. Carlos Tosca does have a secret weapon; Dave Berg has hit Woody pretty well, and will probably get the nod at third. Delgado and Cat can rake off anyone, O-Dog has really come around, and Tom Wilson, the likely starter behind the plate, has been in a very good groove of late. Hendrickson might even keep the St. Louis hitters off balance for six innings; they've only seen him on video.

If Toronto does lose, there will be much gnashing of teeth among the Chicken Little faction, but in the big picture, it means nothing. They would still be three games over .500, beyond even the most optimistic fan's dreams not so long ago. Over the long season, some very good teams get swept; ask the Angels, Yankees or Red Sox, to name three recent victims. Relax, enjoy the game, and don't worry -- regardless of what happens in any given series, especially one played under strange rules, the Jays are going in the right direction.
Spencer Fordin of has posted an excellent review of the Blue Jays' draft this week. They used 64 percent of their picks on pitchers, and 86 percent on players with at least some college experience -- only seven high-schoolers were tabbed. Toronto selected just two Canadians; they had chosen Aric Van Gaalen, a 6'6" lefty from Edmonton, 16th in 2002, and after a year of junior college, took him again this year, but in the 37th round. Paul Marlow, a 6'7" righty from B.C., is another draft-and-follow candidate as a 46th-rounder.

Also from the Official Site, Fordin talked with J.P. Ricciardi about first-rounder Aaron Hill. Asked about drafting a SS in the first round for two straight years, the GM certainly didn't consider it a problem:

"For all you guys that saw Russ Adams in the spring, the feedback that I got was you liked him. I think you'll really, really like this guy," Ricciardi said to the media. "We'll keep playing both of them at shortstop. If some day they have to play together, one of them flips over. It gives us two real good athletic guys that are going to be offensive players and fit into our philosophy."
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Yesterday marked one year since Carlos Tosca took over from the over-challenged Buck Martinez.

The Jays have gone a pretty impressive 89-78.

In yesterdays Globe and Mail Jeff Blair quotes J.P :

"What Carlos and his coaching staff has done is given us a focus and direction that's allowed us from simply talking about what we wanted to do to actually doing it," Ricciardi said. "It just wasn't going to work with those other guys and I don't mean that as a criticism of them. It's just that Carlos and the staff we now have fits the bill as far as what we were trying to create here."

Tosca's handling of the bullpen drives me as nutty as the next ZLC'er but he deserves a lot of credit for the Jay's turn around the last couple of years.
I wonder who would win a tussle between a Blue Jay and a Cardinal.

Tonight's matchup is Cory Lidle versus Jason Simontacchi, which should allow the Jays' bats to get back to their assault on the record books.

OK, if you're reading this, you're thinking "the site isn't down, I'm reading it right now." But actually, you're just lucky. (Relatively speaking. Not how-did-Ashton-Kutcher-become-a-star-and-date-Demi-Moore lucky, but lucky.)

According to an e-mail sent a moment ago by Technical Wizard Coach KW, "Rogers [the hosting service for this site] has been hit with a DoS attack. A bunch of frazzled techies are trying to keep everything alive, but I think it's going to be an intermittent problem all day, if not longer. The support engineer I talked to says that ... they are bouncing servers and routers trying to deal with this mess."

So some people, like me, can get in. And some, like Coach, can't. And before it occurs to you, NO, I don't know how to launch a DoS attack.

Meanwhile, please stay tuned for the re-launching of Da Box's new pinstripes-driven design. [Bahahahahahahahahahahhahaha!!!]
According to Coach: Rogers (who hosts this site) has been hit by a DoS attack, so people may have intermittent trouble accessing Da Box. The techies at their end hope to resolve the problem soon.

Me, I blame Bud Selig. :-)
Bud Selig picked up an "Urban Heroes Award" in New York last night (the award was for MLB's support of inner-city youth initiatives).
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Who would have guessed that the Jays would begin interleague play with a better record than the St. Louis Cardinals?

Make no mistake -- the Cardinals remain an extraordinarily gifted and dangerous team. But they haven't yet amounted to the sum of their parts, even factoring for their various injuries. Although several of their hitters are having outstanding seasons, the Cards have been prone to collective off-days at the plate. Similarly, although the Cards are loaded with talented gloves, their play in the field has been spotty at inopportune times. And although they've had simply outstanding seasons from Matt Morris and Woody Williams, the back ends of their rotation and bullpen have been tragically Bostonesque. If the Jays can get to the St. Louis bullpen early, they will win games this series, period.

This will be a good challenge for the Jays' dominant hitting attack, who unfortunately draw both of the Redbirds' star pitchers in the series after a month of toying with AL starters not named Garland, Loaiza or (grr) Kennedy. The Jays may be forced to execute in more small-ball situations than to which they're accustomed, but given the roster-wide offensive production of late, just think of the bench they'll have most nights for pinch-hitting!

The Jays and Cardinals have obviously never met in meaningful games, but they do certainly have a bit of a spring training local rivalry. And there's always a great baseball atmosphere at Busch, so the Jays should be up for the series...

On to the Advance Scout!
[More] (1,135 words) Draft Central provides comprehensive coverage of today Entry Draft.

The Draft Show will feature live video of the first few rounds as well as on-the-scene reports, and is available free of charge. An audio version of the entire draft is available from Radio (for subscibers).

John Sickels has a new article up discussing many of the likely first round picks. You're not likely to find as much good info in one place on potential draftees anywhere else online. Curiously, Brad Sullivan is not among those listed.

I'll invite readers to post their predictions for the Jays' first round pick.

That's what the crowd in St. Louis will be wondering. The Jays lineup features an anonymous rookie leadoff man (Reed Johnson, as Shannon Stewart is still sitting but not yet on the DL) followed by a singles-hitting utility man (not my description; merely a casual NL fan's impression of Catalanotto) and a sophomore CF who has yet to put up "three-hole" numbers. I'm sure they've heard of Carlos Delgado, and can appreciate the monster year he's having. But Greg Myers? Unless you're a devoted member of the ZLC -- and many of you were hard to convince -- he's that aging backup guy who hits .220, right? Very few Cards fans will know anything about Orlando Hudson, Howie Clark (starting at 3B against the nasty righty) or Chris Woodward, and while they might recognize Kelvim Escobar's name, I'm sure they aren't too worried about Drew, Pujols, Edmonds and Rolen teeing off three times each against a failed closer.
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A Marlins pitcher being overworked? Say it isn't so! Tim Spooneybarger is complaining of being overused in relief. His arm is tired and he was "concerned" when he was asked to get warm on Sunday after throwing two innings Friday and one Saturday. He's on pace to make 84 appearances and throw 103 innings this year, but if he continues at the pace since Jack McKeon took over from Bobo Torborg, that pace would be 111 innings. Spooneybarger is 23, he's never really been worked hard before, so there might be a period of adjustment before he takes to the increased workload... or blows out his arm.
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The top four teams in the Batter's Box Fantasy league had close matchups last week. First-place Gashouse Gorillas and second-place Billie's Bashers battled to a 6-6 tie, and after leading Baird Brain all week, my Toronto Walrus went to the Carl Pavano well once too often, coughing up three pitching categories on Sunday to lose 6-5. Ouch.
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Division Leaders:
1. Seattle Mariners ------ 55 -- 37-18 -- 0.0 (6-0)
2. New York Yankees ---- 56 -- 33-23 -- 4.5 (4-2)
3. Minnesota Twins ------ 55 -- 31-24 -- 6.0 (2-4)

1. Oakland Athletics ----- 55 -- 32-23 -- 0.0 (3-3)
2. Boston Red Sox ------- 55 -- 31-24 -- 1.0 (1-5)
3. Toronto Blue Jays ---- 58 -- 32-26 -- 1.5 (5-2)
4. Baltimore Orioles ------ 55 -- 28-27 -- 4.0 (5-1)
5T. Anaheim Angels ------ 54 -- 27-27 -- 4.5 (3-3)
5T. Kansas City Royals --- 54 -- 27-27 -- 4.5 (1-5)

Projected Playoff Matchups: Minnesota vs Seattle; Oakland vs New York Yankees

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Thanks to Geoff for alerting us to this in another thread. ESPN's Rob Neyer has plenty to say about the Blue Jays, the four-man rotation and the "patently ridiculous" response of one Richard Griffin. Neyer explains, "In Toronto, J.P. Ricciardi has radically transformed the Blue Jays, both on and off the field ... and yet there remain idiots who simply assume that he doesn't know what he's doing."

There's also a zombie-like cult of statistical seamheads (we are grateful to Griffin for naming us) who get it, and appreciate it. Rob mentions he might have a new favorite team, and his rave review of the J.P. Jays will cause others to take notice of what's going on in Toronto baseball. Maybe even at the Star.
With all three clubs off today in preparation fro inter-league games, this seems an approapriate time to compare and contrast the clubs battling for the division lead.

Starting Staffs:

team ------- GS IP IP/GS RA ERA UER Outs% Krate Wrate BIPavg HRrate GB/FB
Yankees --- 56 370.0 6.6 4.33 3.89 18 .711 .194 .051 .310 .040 0.96
Red Sox ---- 55 315.7 5.7 5.53 5.16 13 .690 .180 .088 .304 .034 0.98
Blue Jays -- 58 341.7 5.9 5.56 4.93 24 .693 .143 .064 .302 .026 1.30


team ----- RApp RApp/G IP RA ERA UER Outs% Krate Wrate BIPavg HRrate GB/FB
Yankees ---- 117 2.09 139.3 4.52 4.39 2 .692 .177 .078 .320 .016 0.80
Red Sox ---- 141 2.56 178.3 5.96 5.55 8 .665 .163 .072 .325 .035 0.93
Blue Jays -- 180 3.10 170.3 5.23 4.86 7 .661 .188 .091 .301 .053 1.01


team ------ Games IP RA ERA UER Outs% Krate Wrate BIPavg HRrate GB/FB
Yankees ----- 56 509.3 4.38 4.03 20 .706 .189 .059 .313 .023 0.92
Red Sox ----- 55 494.0 5.68 5.30 21 .680 .174 .082 .312 .034 0.96
Blue Jays --- 58 512.0 5.45 4.90 31 .682 .158 .073 .302 .044 1.20

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