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Jays/Royals Series Review

Scott RolenThis is going to be a quick one because I moved home from Kingston yesterday and really haven’t gotten settled in or anything yet. Thus, I’m on a junk computer for the time being. Additionally, I’m still unpacking and exhausted from alcohol, and I’m a little too excited for the Raptors game tonight to think about anything else.

Now, that’s a whole lot of excuses for something that’s really not a big deal, so I’ll get into it shortly, but I wanted to make everyone aware: The Raptors can still win this series. Sure, 3-1 is a big hole and at times they’ve looked awful, but I still contend that when the right lineup is on the floor, the Raps are a better team than the Magic. We’ll see tonight, I guess. Speaking of the right lineup…

Big kudos to John Gibbons for being willing to shake the order up. This is actually a benefit of losing Frank Thomas, who can only hit 4th or 5th, because now everyone in our top-7 has the flexibility to hit just about anywhere in the order. I’ve been upset with Gibbons in the past for too many small lineup tweaks (and this is still the case, to a degree), but a wholesale change to try and shake the offense out of a slump is commendable. It worked out, too. More on that in a second.

Friday April 25 - Kansas City 8, Toronto 4
This was a tough one to swallow, both because the Jays blew an entirely winnable game and because watching this one cost me a few percentages on my Consumer Behavior exam mark the following morning, I’m sure. The Jays seemed to have it wrapped up until A.J. Burnett started throwing cut fastballs. Seriously. Burnett has never thrown cut fastballs, and threw a half dozen or so in that disastrous 8th inning. Why? Who knows, it’s A.J. Burnett. (Note: Burnett has a cutter in MLB 2K8, too, which is just bizarre. He doesn’t throw these!) That wasn’t even the most frustrating part, as Scotty Snake Face did his job, getting a double play grounder that Gritty Pluckstein bobbled. Yes, he makes that play 99.99% of the time, but the reason the team has Johnny Mac is for a late inning defensive replacement. The logic that if the Jays blew the lead they would need Eckstein’s bat in the 9th is ludicrous, since you’re increasing the chances of needing that bat and…gahh, frustrating sentence. Regardless, the Jays only put up four runs, falling victim to uber-rising star Zach Greinke (1 earned over 7). Oh, and Scott Rolen returned to go 1-for-3 with 2 RBI, immediately making him the most productive Jay over the past week.

Saturday April 26 - Kansas City 2, Toronto 1
This one was frustrating because I watched while waiting to drink following my final exam (perhaps ever). Marcum looked freakin’ awesome yet again and has me very excited for his potential this year, something I wasn’t super high on from the season’s outset. Who is Luke Hochevar, you ask? Well, he’s the next pitcher in the long list of “young mediocre pitchers that stifle the Jays.” 11 left on base this game, ughhh. At least Soria’s save had some fantasy value for me.

Sunday April 27 - Toronto 5, Kansas City 2
I felt like Adam Banks at the end of the Iceland game in D2 after this one, yelling “Hey, we got one!” (I was not slashed in the wrist immediately after.) The Jays broke the 6-game slide with some luck and some excellent bullpen work, and the new look lineup debuted to fair results. Rios leading off is a great call if he has the green light, and it allows the 3-6 part of the order to be broken up with an extra lefty. Eckstein hitting 2nd…meh, but the rest looks good and it’s nice to see that nobody (openly) had an ego about the shake up. Rolen looked great again going 2-for-5 with a home run and Rios buoyed the offense with two great base running plays. Litsch looked good for the first time all year, and then the strange bullpen move went down - BJ in the 8th, Carlson in the 9th. Let me explain. Ryan hadn’t worked in a few days and with an off day Monday, the Jays risked him facing the Sox this week without having pitched in a week. If the Jays blew the lead in the 8th, Ryan couldn’t have pitched the 9th, so they had to get him into the game in the 8th. It’s depressing to look at it that way, but the team had lost 6 straight so, y’kno, not a bad idea. It’s also a nice reward for Carlson, who has been insane so far.

Looking Forward
No ‘quick hits,’ ’short hops,’ ‘bunt singles,’ or ‘Josh Towers meatballs’ or whatever I call those point form notes. The Jays take on the struggling Red Sox from Tuesday to Thursday before returning home for a 4-set with the other color of stocking, the Chicago White Sox. The Jays need to take advantage of the Red Sox at their worst right now, and the pitching match-ups suggest they can. It’s Halladay against Lester to start it off, and they also see Wakefield (not in the Dome, thankfully). The Jays pitching situation is somewhat unclear with the off-day Monday as the pitchers are currently out of rotation. Halladay is a certainty, but the team may jump Burnett to Tuesday to re-align the rotation as they want it, pushing McGowan to Thursday. Can you expect a sweep in this series? It’s possible, but 2-of-3 is more realistic and probable. Hopefully Rolen can continue his hot return and the new lineup clicks. Oh yeah, hopefully Lind manages to score that first hit soon, too, because that’s something that can really weigh on a young player mentally.

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13 Responses to “Jays/Royals Series Review”

  1. Erik Says:

    If my gut feeling is right and Rios stays at 1 and Eckstein moves to 2, I am going to be very upset. That said, I liked the creativity that Gibby showed on Sunday to shake things up. Unfortunately, let’s not lose sight of the fact that we only manged to score 3 runs until the 8th inning where we had some breaks go our way. Also, how often does a single score someone from first?

  2. khandor Says:

    Still think the Jays current batting order isn’t short of a left-handed stick with some pop?

    After watching the way he has constructed team after team, in Toronto, built in this manner … JP is the source of the problem with the Blue Jays.

  3. Blake Murphy Says:

    I agree with that, for sure, as does he, apparently. You can’t really lay the blame on Gibbons right now for the lack of offense. Eventually, the players have to hit.

    Yes, it’s early, it’s bad luck, it’ll even out, etc, etc, but right now it looks like this team just isn’t that good.

    And Khandor…I still think that the left handed stick isn’t as relevant as “power bat” is…I never disagreed with needing some more power, I just don’t get hung up on the lefty thing too much.

  4. khandor Says:

    Gibbons gets no credit from me for batting Alex Rios in the No. 1 spot.

    IMO JG is a poor baseball manager.

    BTW … could you pass along a quick update re: Russ Adams?

  5. Blake Murphy Says:

    Russ has struggled of late, but went 1-for-4 today to raise his average to .244. He was 2 for his last 19 heading in and hasn’t had an extra base hit in 8 games.

    An interesting but useless note is that he hits WAY better on the road than at home, meaning the Syracuse faithful have probably turned on him like Jays fans did.

    Syracuse is still pretty hot, though, at 17-10, 1 game back in the division. You can chalk that up to starting pitching as only one started has an ERA above 4.00.

  6. Erik Says:

    I don’t buy the lefty righty thing. This team needs anybody that can hit, in particular someone that can take the ball deep. It’s embarrassing when we get back to back great pitching performances and can’t manage more than 1 run in those games. That said, there is too much talent at the plate for this to continue. If they keep getting on base like that are, we’ll be o.k. once some of the big hits come.

  7. khandor Says:

    What are the career split averages for Rios, Wells, Rolen, Hill, Eckstein and Stewart vs Righties & vs Lefties?

    The additional hits this team would be picking up with another left-handed bat in the everyday line-up, vs Right-handed pitchers, would be coming from (A) the opposition’s inability to deal as effectively with a Left-handed hitter, as much as (B) the increased batting average, on-base percentage & slugging average of the Blue Jays Left-handed hitters who perform better vs Rightie hurlers.

  8. Blake Murphy Says:

    Currently, the Jays batting average is .250. That is just brutal. .338 OBP is no longer great either. The team is actually hitting .261 against righties and .201 against lefties. OPS is .713 vs. .634.

    The biggest concern, then, isn’t that the Jays can’t hit righties, it’s that they can’t hit anyone, lefties and righties together.

    Check this for more.

  9. khandor Says:


    That’s not what I was getting at.

    When determining how effective a specific batting order is likely going to be against a specific starting pitcher it’s important to consider how an individual right-hander pitcher fares vs lefty batters, in general, and not merely what the hitters in today’s line-up are capable of doing vs a right-handed pitcher, in general.

    For example …

    Aaron Hill (2B) might be ‘even’ vs Righties and vs Lefties

    but today’s mound opponent (Wakefield) might be decidely ‘worse’ vs Lefty batters …

    in which case it would behoove John Gibbons to get that extra L-handed bat in the line-up, at 2nd base, for today’s game … even though Hill is just as good vs Righties or Lefties.

    Baseball is such an intricate game of precision managerial maneouvres that even one slight advantage for a single at-bat in an average ball game can tip the balance one way or the other, when it comes to W’s & L’s.

  10. Blake Murphy Says:

    Oh I agree with you on that last part dude, you just asked for the numbers so I found them. One at bat can have a huge effect…I’m just not sold on the notion that we must have a lefty power bat vs. just a power bat, period.

  11. khandor Says:

    Substitute an everyday left-handed power bat in place of Lyle Overbay (1B) - say, like either Ryan Howard or Carlos Delgado - then I might agree with you.

    However, with the current line-up, and only Overbay hitting from the left-side, there are almost zero hits (never mind power shots) being picked up from a Rightie Pitcher’s inherent/customary point of weakness.

    During his time in Toronto, JP has consistently shown that he has no idea how to put together a major league team capable of getting to a World Series some day in the future.

    None whatsoever.

  12. Blake Murphy Says:

    Okay, I’ll concede your point here, since it’s a philosophical one we have debated at length now.

    Assume you’re correct and the Jays do need a power hitting lefty bat, but also work under the constraint that Godfrey has told you absolutely no Bonds. What do you think is our best option to fill the void? Do we:

    -move some of our OF depth
    -move some of our young SP
    -move some of our bullpen depth
    -wait until the offseason (and if so, who do we target)

    Just curious as to what you think the best route is, assuming J.P. had a clue.

  13. khandor Says:


    I think you should look at the situation from the opposite perspective.

    Instead of deciding what areas the Jays should be dealing from, it’s more more important to determine first which players out there might be available right now that could fill Toronto’s need for a Lefty power bat.

    IMO, left-handed power-hitting is almost always at a premium in the major leagues and one of the Jays major problems that I can see is that 3 of their everyday power spots

    Wells (CF)
    Rios (RF)
    Rolen (3B)

    are occupied by Right-handed hitters


    2 of their everyday power spots are occupied by players who DON’T really strike much ‘fear’ into opposing pitchers or their managers hitting from the Left side

    Overbay (1B)
    Stairs (DH).

    Of the established Left-handed power bats out there today, who might be available because they’re struggling right now?

    And which ones can play either CF, RF, 3B, 1B or DH?

    (after you figure out this, then you can decide from what area of potential surplus might the Jays be able to reach into to swing a deal for that specific player)

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