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Archive for category Baseball

The Jays Steal Signs?…C’mon Son

Update: At Tao of Stieb, Tao and Chris Jones have a great discussion on the topic worth giving a read.

So, according to this ridiculous “investigative” article from ESPN, the Jays are well-known sign stealers, and use it to an unfair advantage, and everyone knows it.

Well then. 28-27 at home. Ouch.

The article focuses mainly on the 2010 season (the only year that their data supports their theory, completely ignoring that said stats were normal in 2009 [same coaching staff as 2010] and 2011 [if it was working, why stop?]), and blends anecdotes from anonymous sources with manipulatively described statistics to make it seem an obvious conclusion. Because, uhh…they were so good in 2010. Seriously…their home record was better in 2009 with normalized home run rates, and they’ve apparently stopped using the system successfully. Get real.
More after the jump!

Henderson Alvarez Gets the Call, Will Start Wednesday

The Toronto Blue Jays have made another roster move with a look towards the future, sending left-handed reliever Wil Ledezma to Triple-A and giving rising-star prospect Henderson Alvarez the call up to the Majors. Alvarez will make his debut Wednesday night at home against Oakland, although his role the rest of the way remains unclear.

It’s a pretty favorable situation to be called up into. With Carlos Villaneuva on the DL with a forearm strain, the team had an open rotation spot, and rather than give it to converted bullpen arms like Jesse Litsch or Luis Perez, they chose to roll the dice and let Alvarez get his feet wet prior to September. Alvarez gets to face a relatively punch-less Oakland lineup that ranks 25th in the Majors in scoring, and is second to last in the American League.
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Brett Lawrie’s Debut Weekend, Play-by-Play

On the odd chance you somehow haven’t heard, Toronto Blue Jays’ top prospect Brett Lawrie made his MLB debut this weekend, joining the big league club for the three-game series in Baltimore. Lawrie, of course, is the Canadian uber-prospect acquired from the Milwaukee Brewers in the offseason for Shaun Marcum. He is also the most important fantasy add of the season, the future face of the franchise, the man-crush of all baseball-bros, and undisputed king of Edward Forty-Hands.

Hyperbole was out in full force all week in anticipation, but baseball scribes tend to be more low key on the weekend, so you may not have heard about his exploits, baseball or otherwise. Allow me, then, to take you through his debut weekend, play-by-play.
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Examining Travis Snider’s Career Path to Date

For the second time this season and the fourth time in the past three years, the Blue Jays have optioned Travis Snider to the minors.

Ugh.

Now, the club certainly has its reasons for this, some of which I can’t put forth a compelling argument against. Still though, it rings wildly counterproductive for a team in the later stages of a rebuild to not give ample opportunity to a 23-year old former top prospect.
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Blue Jays Acquire Colby Rasmus in Whirlwind Deal

No lie, I was planning on writing today before the news broke. I had planned to start Part 1 of a three-part series updating my devoted readers (cough) on the state of the Blue Jays farm system at different levels.

Well, the Double-A New Hampshire Fisher-Cats took a hit today. See ya, Zach Stewart, it was nice while it lasted!

Jays Acquire Rasmus, Spare Parts Fly All Around
The big news of the day, of course, is that the Jays have acquired centerfielder Colby Rasmus from the St. Louis Cardinals as part of two trades (or a massive three-way, if you prefer to look at it as such). For the Jays, the trade essentially boils down to Colby Rasmus for Stewart, Marc Rzepczynski, and a potential type-B free agent compensation pick. I’ll break it down on a team-by-team basis momentarily, but for now…

This is something to be excited about.
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Road Rash - The 2010 Pittsburgh Pirates

By Stuart Wilkinson

The Pittsburgh Pirates are making a run at history. If you take their record at face value, this team just looks like a standard addition to the Pirates record-breaking eighteen year losing streak. Nothing to see here, move along.

If you take a deeper look at MLB’s standings, however, something should pop out at you. The Pirates have won 14 games on the road this year. They’ve played 67. That means the team is clicking along at a road winning percentage of 0.209. That means for every ten games the Buccos play on the road, they win two. That’s not going to get it done in the juggernaut-laden NL Central.

I don’t blame this team for playing poorly away from the friendly confines of PNC Park. There are some tried and true explanations for the poor road performance: young players, lack of talent, Bob Nutting being evil, etc. What interests me is how this record of futility stacks up against other bad road teams in the history of baseball and what it means for the team’s future.

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So, Uhhh, Remember Alex Rios?

Hey, remember Alex Rios? He was one of the Jays top prospects for several years, burst onto the scene with a frustrating one-home-run rookie season, and then spent the next four and a half seasons tormenting Blue Jays fans by showing glimpses of superstar potential but never figuring “it” out? He of the crippling 7-year, $70M contract? He of the infamous revocable waiver placement, claim by the White Sox, and lack of revocation by the Jays? (Read: they gave him to the Sox to be rid of his contract.)

Remember him? Pretty good looking guy? Jerk to fans? And that unfulfilled superstar potential?

Well, uhh, shame on you, J.P. Ricciardi.

While Rios is unlikely to ever be “worth” his monstrous contract, he has been a revelation on the field so far this year, turning into exactly what Jays fans had always hoped he’d become. And yes, this could be yet another tease, but we’re now dealing with a 140-plate appearance sample size, and the production is not altogether unexpected (again, that potential!).
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How to Split the Playing Time When E5 Returns

“Why don’t you quit making blogs, try and make some money?” - Fabolous
“Yup, I’m back stuntin!” – Fabolous

Fabolous sent me home and brought me back. This makes no sense. What an awful way to return to writing. Whatever.

Anyway…

A great deal has been made around Blue Jay Nation of late as to what lineup changes are coming when “E5” Edwin Encarnacion returns from the disabled list (in roughly two weeks time). The crux of the confusion is that Jose Bautista has filled in admirably at third base, Travis Snider has been swinging a hot bat, Fred Lewis has been an absolute revelation since he was plucked from San Fran, and there may not be enough at bats to go around when Encarnacion returns.

Cito Gaston has said E5 will resume the starting third baseman’s role when he’s healthy, which certainly made Lyle Overbay’s hamstrings cringe. Cito’s plan, then, will either see Lewis head to the bench or see Lewis and Bautista platoon in the outfield with Snider bouncing between left and right. I am giving Cito the benefit of the doubt that this will not, in any way, limit Snider’s at bats, but Cito has done more questionable things in the (recent) past.
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Is Roy Halladay the 2009 Cy Young Winner?

Most Blue jay fans probably don’t realize that the team is still playing right now. For those that do, they would have witnessed (or at least known about) two phenomenal starts from Roy Halladay down the stretch.

On September 25, in what may be his last start at Rogers’ Center as a Jay, Halladay spun a gem against the Mariners, to the tune of 9IP, 0ER, 7H, 0BB, 9K. It was a complete game domination we have come to expect, though that doesn’t make it any less spectacular.

On September 30 at Boston, in what may be his last start as a Jay, period, Halladay shut down a potent Red Sox lineup, posting a mesmerizing 9IP, 0ER, 3H, 2BB, 6K. Again, complete dominance we have come to expect and take for granted.

While many are hopeful that these won’t be his last starts as a Blue Jay, it would be a fitting way to end a 12-year tenure where he has set franchise records in almost everything. His career line stands at 148-76 over 313 appearances (287 starts), 1.20 WHIP, .255 AVG against, 3.43 ERA, 1495 K, 2046.2 IP, 49 complete games, and 15 shutouts.

Arguing Halladay as one of the best pitchers of all time is an article for another day, and his place as the Greatest Blue Jay Ever is simply not up for debate. What he has brought to the franchise and the city is one of those unspeakable experiences being sports fans affords us; we can not describe it to a non-Jay fan, but every one of us will somehow hurt if he leaves the team this offseason.

But this piece isn’t meant to be a pre-emptive goodbye or reminiscing. Instead, the point of this article is to posit one more time a debate that Jays’ fans have argued for a decade now:

Be it resolved that Roy Halladay should be the 2009 AL Cy Young Award winner.
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American League Playoff Races

There’s a reason baseball fans crave September. It’s certainly not the declining temperatures, shortened hours of sunlight, or hockey buzz that comes with the month. Instead, it’s September call-ups, it’s statistic tracking, and it’s playoff races.

And as I write this on September 3rd (it will be updated after the games tonight to be posted September 4th for your enjoyment), I’m starting to feel the excitement. The first few weeks of September, they say, is just a gateway to the winter in the sports world. Football training camps and fantasy drafts prepare us for the mid-September start of the NFL season, NHL and Olympic hockey training camps get most Canadians excited, basketball season is just an earshot away, and October…baseball playoffs…are just around the corner.

But the excitement to come is no reason to ignore the excitement happening around you at present. The MLB playoff races have already gotten hot; they are beyond the heating up stages. Races in nearly every division and complicated Wild Card scenarios are abound, making us all pay closer attention just a little earlier than it seems we usually do.

So here, heading into the first weekend of September, with a full month to go before playoff baseball, is a look at all of the teams still contending and their schedules down the stretch (American League only today…National League early next week!).
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