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Aaron Sele makes his first start of the season. Even at his best, Sele is rather hittable. The Jays will score some runs, but, as always, the question is if they will prevent them. Enjoy the game, night owls of Toronto.
Today's column by Richard Griffin in the Star doesn't bash the home team, it takes the entire game to task, especially the AL. Griffin makes some good points, which echo my sentiments: juiced baseballs, bigger (juiced?) hitters, and watered-down pitching have reduced strategy and made the walks-and-homers philosophy essential. Baseball will never return to the days of 1968, when pitchers ruled the earth and nail-biting 2-1 games were commonplace, though a few steps back in that direction would be a good start. I'm glad the Jays are among the teams built to outscore the opposition, but 16-5 games (like NY-Seattle last night, in a "pitcher's park") aren't very exciting.

After last weekend's pasting by the Jays, the Halos got well this week -- thanks to home cookin' and a visit by the Tribe. The Angels are still vulnerable, especially if the Jays can give Aaron Sele a rude re-introduction to Major League Baseball. Of course, the Jays definitely do not want to have to face the back end of Anaheim's bullpen down more than one run.

For those of us from outside the GTA, this is another series in which MLB.TV has elected not to show any of the Jays' games. Bah, humbug.

On to the Advance Scout!
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The final game in Texas goes at 2:05 Eastern, and we get to see whether the Jays can get back to scoring mass numbers of runs. They have the right pitcher - Ryan Drese - to hit. Cory Lidle goes for the Jays; he's trying to win his fifth game before the quarter pole, and if he can do that I'll call it a successful start to his season, 4.80 ERA or no.

Drese has walked 15 men in 15.1 innings this year, and he's the sort of pitcher who the patient Jays approach is designed for.

The game's not on TV, but is on the air on FAN 590, as well as 900 CHML in Hamilton.
I've been impressed all year by Cory Lidle's stuff. He throws harder, and has better command, than I thought. His April wasn't great as a whole, but he now has three wins and a no-decision in his last four starts, and put everything together in his latest masterpiece: a solo shot by Salmon, singles by the Kingfish and GA, one walk and five strikeouts -- a tidy 103-pitch complete game. That's how Cory was pitching last August, and it's all you could ask from a #2. Not only did he use all his pitches, he kept the hitters off-balance. Lidle shook off Wilson constantly, and like the catcher, I rarely guessed what he wanted to throw or even the location. Neither did the Angels.

Today's assignment is more difficult against this great lineup. Hank Blalock is really impressive; he looks strong at 3B and his bat has lightning in it. A-Rod settled the Gold Glove thing once and for all -- I'm sure Mike Bordick was as amazed as the rest of us at the clinic Alex put on last night. Juan Gonzalez is the laziest player imaginable; it's as if he thinks playing the outfield or running the bases is an imposition. But he's a very tough out right now. So's Everett, whose catch off Hinske last night was sensational. Mea Kulpa's blown calls, on the appeal (Eric stumbled, missed the bag with both toes, but obviously got it with his heel) and on 3-2 to Cat, decided that game. He was awful, and Hollowell, behind the plate today, also owes one to the Jays; I expect better umpiring in our high school league.

It's a 2:05 start, a rare game I won't see or hear for at least a few innings. I'll be back here about 7:00 to find out what I missed. I hope Raffy can wait one more day for #499, and I wish Ryan Drese and/or Todd Van Poppel lotsa luck.
The Toronto Star has fantastic coverage of the Pastime today. The best standings and box scores page, legible weekly stats, and a front-page Mark Zwolinski preview of the CBL; the new independent league "hopes it can mirror the unexpected success of several independent U.S. hockey leagues, which have entrenched themselves in local communities with aggressive marketing and consistent rosters." I hope the Sunday night TV games on The Score create stars and they sell lots of jerseys.

Allan Ryan's Off The Wall is full of the useless information that fascinates many of us. In Geoff Baker's game report, he quotes Tosca on Delgado's "new swing" -- it's obvious to me that in addition to the mechanical changes he's made, big Carlos has a new philosophy. More great stuff (the renowned Player Index and Baseball Watch) is available only on waymoresports.com, but your 50 cents will be well spent on the paper.
Earlier on BB, Coach started a discussion of Michael Lewis and his book Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game. With the White Sox coming to Oakland this week, Sox GM Kenny Williams has said he wants to speak to A's GM Billy Beane. It will be interesting to see who else wants to speak with Beane when the book is released later this month. Baseball Primer had a thread related to this discussion; here's BB's chance.
Most Texas hitters have had success against Tanyon Sturtze. Last week at home, trying not to walk anyone, he gave up 11 hits in 3.1 innings; it's hard to imagine him dominating the Rangers. The Blue Jays have never seen Joaquin Benoit, but the Indians got to him in the fifth and knocked him out in the sixth in his other 2003 start. The 25-year-old Dominican righty began the year in AAA Oklahoma City, where he was 2-1, 4.03 in five starts, totalling 29 innings. His 2002 record in the AL (59/58 K/BB, 5.32 ERA) suggests another shootout tonight, and maybe the bullpens will decide this one.

According to the Yahoo preview, Frank Catalanotto is back in his customary #2 spot and playing RF; Werth had a good game last night, but it's a relief to see Cat's OK. Wilson's behind the plate; the catchers continue to share the workload evenly.
From today's typically excellent ATMREPORTS e-mail newsletter by Lee Sinins, this nugget of information goes to prove that Ben Johnson ain't the only Canuck On Wheels (ooh, unfortunate acronym there) ...

"Rockies RF Larry Walker ... tied the record for most career SB by a player born in Canada, tying the mark set by Terry Puhl." Note: Corey Koskie may be in the Top 5 by the end of this season.
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Warning: if you dislike Richard Griffin-bashing, you'd best move on to another thread.

In today's Star, happy-go-lucky Griff examines the plethora of ex-Jays who are setting the major leagues on fire, contrasting them with the sorry lot of current Blue Jays who have been so putrid thus far. The implication, as always, is that it's only ever been about dumping salary, cutting loose valued veterans for little in return. If he has a point beyond that, it's difficult to tell, since the column simply tapers off at the end.

Fine as far as it goes, in theory: JP isn't immune from criticism for his player moves, in these or other parts. But Griff, as usual, doesn't seem interested in telling the whole story: he fails to characterize unusually hot starts as exactly what they are, and doesn't provide enough context to the impugned transactions. These are the former Blue Jays identified by Griffin as thriving cast-offs: Jose Cruz Jr., Raul Mondesi, Tony Batista, Brad Fullmer, Alex Gonzalez, Esteban Loiaza, Brandon Lyon, Dan Plesac, Billy Koch, Paul Quantrill and David Wells. Let's take a closer look at each of these ex-Jays.
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Peter Gammons's latest column has a few Blue Jays references:

- Buck Showalter has nothing but good things to say about Toronto's young position players, particularly Josh Phelps and Vernon Wells. Wells is compared to a right-handed Jim Edmonds, which is interesting. Edmonds didn't walk more than 60 times a season for his first six years in Anaheim; he hasn't walked fewer than 85 times a season in his three years in St. Louis. Patience is learnable.

- The trade value of Shannon Stewart, Cory Lidle and Kelvim Escobar is discussed -- nothing new there, except that Escobar is touted as a setup guy, circa Octavio Dotel or the old Felix Rodriguez. That's actually quite intriguing to think about, but there's a problem: Kelvim lifetime with the bases empty: 1.80 ERA. Kelvim with runners aboard: 8.16 ERA.

- Jason Arnold's pitching lights-out. But we already knew that.
Uh-oh. Catalanotto's sitting this one out with a sore back. Hinske bats second. Hudson's seventh, RF Jayson Werth eighth. Doc will surrender a few hits and runs, but he should get plenty of support.
Sammy Sosa. Barry Bonds. Soon, Raffy Palmeiro and maybe Fred McGriff.

And now, Da Box.

I don't have anything to say here, I just wanted to be the one to post the 500th entry.

Here's the next 500 ...
Jordan's article on closers got me thinking about one of my favorite topics, a proper World Cup of Baseball where MLB players would compete. In particular, his "2006 dream staff" caught my eye.
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A hearty thanks is in order for John Gizzi, who came through with an Advance Scout pinch-hitting appearance that would have made even Rance Mulliniks proud. Since Gitz ratted me out, I might as well admit to being in Las Vegas for the entire Jays winning streak. For many, many reasons, as much as I support "taking one for the team," I should let you know now that I would not be amenable to suggestions that I head back to Sin City until the Jays lose. On the bright side, our entire party did manage to avoid ill-advised marriages.

So the Jays have turned things around with pitching and defence. It should be all too fresh in the Jay hurlers' minds, though, that the Rangers lineup can put up a lot of crooked numbers (sometimes, sadly, even with a straight number preceding it). The formula for beating Texas has been simple: Keep the ball in the park, and be patient with their pitching. It's just a matter of executing the formula against A-Rod, Palmeiro, Blalock, and the rejuvenated Gonzalez and Everett.

At least the Jays snapped their multi-year, 10-game losing streak against Texas last Thursday. The most notable memory from the Metroplex for Jays fans, I think, is Nolan Ryan's last no-hitter on a muggy night at Arlington Stadium. I think Joe Carter's "TOROTNO" jersey might also have been infamously donned in Texas.

Doc has his work cut out for him as he tries to cut back his gopher balls. Blow in, sweet winds of Texas. Blow in.

On to the Advance Scout!
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