Batter's Box Interactive Magazine Batter's Box Interactive Magazine Batter's Box Interactive Magazine
In Canada, and across the baseball universe, most people slight one of the game’s best pitchers every time they say his name. Roy Halladay, the ace of the Toronto Blue Jays, got his nickname -– Doc –- because he’s a Colorado boy, like the famous Old West gunslinger, "Doc" Holliday.

That’s how Roy’s family pronounces their surname: “Holiday.” If you’re reading it, and have never heard it spoken correctly, it’s easy to make the mistake; the first three letters spell HAL, like the computer in 2001: A Space Odyssey. But the first four letters are “hall,” and that’s the way Doc says it, so why shouldn’t we?
[More] (326 words)
Pistol referred to this in another thread, and while there's no earth-shaking news, it's worth a look. Alan Ryan of the Star talks to a "very happy" J.P. Ricciardi about his budget and other financial matters. Paul Godfrey reminds enthusiastic Jays fans (guilty, sorry) that the team is only at the second stage of a four-part rebuilding process, and credits the GM for his patience, while J.P. says this about Roy Halladay:

"Next year, we'll definitely be thinking about doing something long term."

That's a vague commitment to an extension, but there's no hurry: Doc is a Blue Jay for three more years via the arbitration process, which begins in earnest next weekend. Now it's time to play a Batter's Box guessing game -- what do the five arb-eligible Toronto players want, and what will they get?
[More] (421 words)
Peter Gammons gets some people riled, but I find him harmless and amusing, especially compared to certain local columnists. He's well-connected in several front offices, and can always be counted on to pass along juicy rumours. In his latest, Gammons takes a look ahead at the upcoming season, including some fun lists, based on his personal poll of executives and scouts.

Mark Hendrickson's honourably mentioned as a potential impact rookie, Jason Arnold is named as a freshman to watch in the second half, Vernon Wells "could vault to star level," and Jeff Tam is among the "innocuous acquisitions who could surprise," but somehow the 2003 Blue Jays aren't included as a team that will outperform expectations.

Also on, favourable commentary from Jayson Stark and Jim Caple on the announcement by the Commissioner that home-field advantage in the World Series will be determined by which league wins the All-Star game. What a crock! If an exhibition game is going to matter so much, why not use the spring training standings? (I'm joking.) How about a coin flip? Though I'm against the whole concept of interleague play, doesn't it make more sense to use those results? Actually, nothing's wrong with the status quo of alternating. This is yet another Selig overreaction to yet another mess he created himself. Blue Jays Consultant (Baseball Operations) Keith Law, who marks his first year with the organization today. For a quick trip back in time, take a look back at the lengthy Baseball Primer thread that his announcement precipitated. Law's move from Baseball Prospectus to a major-league club was greeted by Primates roughly the same way as was Richard Dreyfuss's ascension to the alien spaceship by the scientists in Close Encounters -- congratulations on achieving our collective dream, you lucky stiff.
[More] (293 words)
Better. Richard Griffin should know better. The same wannabe-GM who recommended Moises Alou as the best possible free-agent signing of last winter continues to vent madly in all directions. The Toronto Star columnist's latest begins with "some serious whining" (his words) about the changing baseball economy, but cites the contract of Joey Hamilton as evidence. Earth to Rich -- like you, Hamilton is incredibly lucky to have a job at all.

With nothing else to complain about, the bastion of credibility and fairness trots out the year-old Vernon Wells-as-DH plan as proof of the Jays' "posturing," gets his knickers in a twist over the idea of Little Cat playing RF, and whines on:

In fact, it says here that current second base starter Orlando Hudson, not a Ricciardi favourite (runs too much on the bases and at the mouth), will be dealt before the end of the spring and that Catalanotto will be returned to the infield.

"It says here," is true, and O-Dog is the current starter, but the rest of that sentence is merely the opinion of an increasingly unfunny clown who never lets "facts" get in the way of his agenda.
The team's Official Site has an update on the play of several Blue Jay farmhands in the Domincan, Puerto Rican and Venezuelan winter leagues. Apparently, and unsurprisingly, the Venezuelan season shut down on Dec. 2 due to the unrest there. Hopefully the team is in touch with all its players (nine Toronto minor leaguers were playing in the Venezuelan Witner League) and they can be brought out soon, or at least before the season starts.

[More] (198 words)
In today's Sun, give Mike Rutsey credit for sticking to the facts in this conversation with J.P. Ricciardi about the Oakland connection common to so many Jays deals, and his friendship with former mentor Billy Beane.

Best things about this piece? It might keep the lead witch-hunters from writing something similar for a while, and the great closing JPR quote:

"It's not easy to deal with 29 people," he said of the other GMs. "It's my job to be as creative, open-minded and aggressive as I can be. But there's just some clubs where even if its a layup for them, they're not going to make the deal.

"The bottom line is it's easier to deal with people who want to make deals. I've had as many discussions with Kansas City and the Mets and people like that as I've had with Billy, but we're just not able to get things done with those teams."
A quick hit from the Jays' MLB page on new right fielder Frank Catalanotto. Nothing earth-shattering here, though a couple of items are slightly noteworthy:
[More] (226 words)
"I like it,'' says Toronto GM J.P. Ricciardi flatly. "I think they're on to something.''

"I think it's great,'' adds Oakland GM Billy Beane.

The most innovative MLB front office minds agree that Theo Epstein is doing the right thing in Boston by not employing a Proven Closer. This report, by Sean McAdam of the Providence Journal, mentions the biggest reason most teams won't change:

(Grady) Little may find he will have to manage egos as well as innings as the experiment unfolds. Today's players are notorious for their need to have specified roles and the inherent uncertainty of the committee approach is bound to unnerve some.

Are you listening, Kelvim? If it can be "sold" to the pitchers involved, it's not only a more flexible approach, it's less expensive. Here's J.P. again, on baseball's reluctance to break with tradition: "We get afraid to do something because conventional wisdom tells us it can't be done.'' The new and improved Blue Jays are fearless.
And a few foul balls off the end of the bat: Boston signed Bill Mueller (a generous $4.5 MM over two years) to play third and bat second, but won't that make Shea Hillenbrand suitors, if any exist, lower their offers? Also in the "take my 3B... please" department, it looks like everyone is telling the Expos that they won't accept Tatis, no matter how enticing Colon or Vasquez would make the package. Joe Randa is still free to a good home; that is, K.C. would accept a "C" prospect from anyone willing to pay him, and Jose Hernandez or Tyler Houston are FA options, but Tampa prefers Chris (insert devilish joke here) Truby, while the Rockies signed long-ago Jays draftee Chris Stynes, who will need a huge Coors effect to make a significant contribution at a power position.

Albie Lopez is the Royals' answer to their abysmal pitching? "We see him as a guy who can bridge the gap for our young starters to the tail end of the bullpen," general manager Dullard Baird said. If that's true, expect Albie (43-56, 4.73 career) to pitch four or five innings, every game.

What else is new? The Sporting News believes that George Steinbrenner is the most powerful person in sports. Bud Selig (#3) does not.
[More] (309 words)
That's Brad Fullmer and Robert Fick elbowing Dave Justice out of the way up front. Fullmer accepted $1 M for one year, from a team that would have been forced to offer him at least 3.5 times that amount -- and might have had to pay him over $4 MM -- in the arbitration process. He "stays" with his world champion teammates (and took a home-town discount; he might have held out for $200,000 more from someone) while Fick, a very similar player, having accepted his value in the new economy, jumped at the chance to hit for a winner. He told the L.A. Times the Braves made the same offer to all three lefty DHs and waited for one to accept.

I've been rebuked here before for saying the "C" word, and because only about 26 teams are participating, and that-which-must-not-be-named must be unanimous, I guess it isn't happening. I'm not complaining, either. 1) I've railed for years at arbitration being the single most inflationary factor in the game and B) it's about time owners came to their senses.

My previous little joke about rolling back ticket and beer prices bombed, but even if you think Disney should put the entire $2.75 million in Fullmer savings into its pocket, are MLB fans ready to insist on a freeze?
At long last, it's official: the Blue Jays welcomed the prodigal John-Ford Griffin today. The outfield prospect was dealt to Toronto from Oakland in exchange for long-time Blue Jays farmhand Playertoo B. Namedlater.

Opinions vary on Griffin -- mine is probably the least positive, since I see his top upside as Paul O'Neill (hopefully without the personality), and his downside as the guy Paulie was infamously traded for, Hal Morris. That's not a range that gets me excited, but he still should be a useful player for the Jays, at least. And if he outstrips this projection, so much the very better.

Who will head west in return? No indication yet, but no doubt that will be released soon. One more detail out of the way, and the reconstruction continues apace.
The results are in: Eddie Murray and Gary Carter will enter the Hall of Fame this summer. Both richly deserved the honour. Bruce Sutter topped the runners-up with 53% of the vote, while Jim Rice scored 52% and Andre Dawson exactly 50%. Ryne Sandberg, surprisingly, only garnered 48%.

I wonder: whose cap will Gary Carter wear to the Hall of Fame? His best years were as an Expo, but his World Series ring was as a Met. Or do the players even have that choice anymore, after Dave Winfield auctioned his cap to the highest bidder?

Fun fact: though Carter was a lifetime NLer and Murray will always be identified with the Orioles, these guys were teammates on the 1991 Dodgers.
ESPN's Hot Stove Heater turns its sights on the Blue Jays today, and I have to tell you, it's a bit of a dud. There's little here in the way of incisive commentary, just a summary of the year gone by and a restatement of the obvious about the team. The "in-depth" section is on Ricciardi, and provides nothing that we haven't heard or seen before.

Whereas the two previous Hot Stove subjects garnered top-flight analysts (John Sickels for the Twins, Gary Huckabay for the Diamondbacks), the Blue Jays evidently drew the short straw and got Kieran Darcy, a writer for ESPN Magazine. I don't read that particular publication, and based on this turgid sample of the quality of writing, I'm not likely to start soon. It's neither exaggeration nor hubris to say that better Jays analysis can be found on this site any day of the week. Thumbs down.
First, apologies for not writing more here at Batter's Box, something I hope to rectify in the coming weeks.

Second, since Coach has advertised for openings in his fantasy league, let me abuse my vast array of power in this forum to advertise for prospective owners in my sim league, the Three Run Homer League, which is heading into its eighth year of operation.
[More] (324 words)