You know what really used to agitate me? Back before the internets, computers used to rely heavily upon the CD-ROM. One of the most popular CD’s was Encyclopedia Britannica. I think it came free with every computer from 1990-95 sorta how those hats in Caddyshack came with a free bowl of soup. Anyway, when you typed “baseball” into the search engine for Britannica, a clip of Joe Carter’s walk-off is the ONLY video that pops up. It’s a great moment in baseball history but isn’t this supposedly America’s game? Alright, truly I don’t really care and I’m not a xenophobe or anything like that, I just thought it was ironic in a little way. Now that we got that business out of the way, lets take a look at your 2011 Toronto Blue Jays starting lineup.
Left field: Travis Snyder. 2010 splits: .255 average, 14 home runs, 32 RBI, .767 OPS. Brief: Pedestrian numbers in ’10 for the 2006 first round pick. Still, Snyder just turned 23. I’m 23 and I consider purchasing groceries an accomplishment so I can’t judge too harshly. Nonetheless, a kid with first round pick potential needs to live up to it. Maybe Snyder can flourish in the Great White North when the eyes of the baseball world are fixated elsewhere this season.
Center field: Rajai Davis. 2010 splits: .284 average, 5 home runs, 52 RBI, .697 OPS. Brief: Big shoes to fill for Davis with the departure of superstar Vernon Wells. However, Davis is no slouch himself. My man can absolutely scoot, 50 STOLEN BASES last year…HOLY CATFISH! If he gets on base he’s going to run, plain and simple. The Jays are going to need as many runners in scoring position as humanly possible. That speed also helps him cover gap-to-gap in center field as well.
Right field: Juan Rivera. 2010 splits: .252 average, 15 home runs, 52 RBI, .721 OPS. Brief: The former Angel should enjoy hitting in Rogers Centre, a friendly ballpark for right-handers. Nonetheless, Rivera, age 32, seems to be the starting right fielder until a young up-and-comer can take his spot.
Third base: Jose Bautista. 2010 splits: .260 average, 52 home runs, 124 RBI, .995 OPS. Brief: THE CHAMP IS HERE! Bautista came out of seemingly no where to win the home run title in ’10. This dude hits some awe-inspiring deep balls. The kind that make baseball fans a little weak in the knees as they watch them soar into the upper deck where Blue Jays fans often like to dress up like empty seats. Just a fun player to watch.
Short stop: Yunel Escobar. 2010 splits: .256 average, 4 home runs, 35 RBI, .655 OPS. Brief: Escobar finally got away from Bobby Cox’s clutches in Hot-lanta. He needs to get on base more, plain and simple. He’s not going to hit for power but only a .337 on-base percentage? –not going to cut the mustard..if they even use mustard in Canada…crazy Canucks…
Second base: Aaron Hill. 2010 splits: .205 average, 26 home runs, 68 RBI, .665 OPS. Brief: Crazy stat for Hill in 2010: .196 batting average for balls hit in the play…I don’t know what he did to agitate the baseball gods, but it had to be something extremely heinous. Hill diligently obeyed Murphy’s Law last season. Maybe he bounces back in’11 with a few more friendly hops to get his mojo going.
First base: Adam Lind. 2010 splits: .237 average, 23 home runs, 72 RBI, .712 OPS. Brief: Not terrible numbers for Lind, especially in the second half when he batted .267.
Designated hitter: Edwin Encarnacion: .244 average, 21 home runs, 51 RBI, .787 OPS. Brief: The direct translation for Encarnacion is “in the flesh”. That has absolutely no impact on his projections this season, but it’s enjoyable nonetheless. What does project is 21 home runs in less than 350 at-bats. Depending on the transition by Lind to first base and thus, Bautista’s status at third base, we’ll have to wait and see if DH is Encarnacion’s position to lose.
Catcher: J.P. Arencibia. 2010 splits: .143 average, 2 home runs, 4 RBI, .532 OPS. Brief: If those numbers don’t make Jays fans salivate then…well frankly I don’t blame them. However, Arencibia hit .301 with 32 home runs in triple-a last season. The numbers are there for the first round pick, if only he can get them to translate to the big leagues.
Alright, see you next week for a starting rotation and reliever preview. One.
Well, another season is almost in the books, and once again, the post season has eluded the Blue Jays. While there were some bright points, Vernon Wells unfortunately wasn’t one of them. A .706 OPS doesn’t even come close to warranting that huge contract extension he got last year so you hope that he begins to step it up in 2008.
Alex Rios, on the other hand, showed that 2006 wasn’t a fluke. He leads the team in hitting (.297) and runs (107) and he’s right behind Frank Thomas with 24 homeruns. Frank Thomas was also worth the price of admission. He leads the team with 25 homers and 91 RBIs. Those two guys were the lynchpins of the offense. Matt Stairs was also a pleasant surprise.
On the pitching side, it looks A.J. Burnett and Roy Halladay were really good and even Dustin McGowan and Shaun Marcum showed some promise. So I like the way the rotation is shaping up. Jeremy Accardo was also a nice touch after B.J. Ryan went down with the injury.
So once again, Jay’s fans are left wanting more. .500 is nice, but in the AL East, it won’t cut it but this team, with a 2006 version of Vernon Wells, should be a lot better then that.
Normally, a split with the Red Sox in a four games series at Fenway park wouldn’t be all that bad but being ten games down, the Jays needed at least one more win to make up some ground. Now they’re a game below the Yankees rather then tied with them like they were at the break and they face another, critical, four game series beginning today.
Alex Rios continues to amaze me. He was shut down in the last two games of this series but he still finished with eight hits because two four hits games to start things out. He’s only had one homerun since June 25th but that one homer put him at a new career high and he’s also getting his share of doubles.
Jeremy Accardo has established himself as a solid closer option and at the league minimum, he’s been quite the bargain. In fact he makes that huge contract we gave B.J. Ryan look kind of silly. Anyway, since June 8th when he lost back to back games, he’s taken only one loss and he hasn’t blown a save. He’s good for a strikeout or two every time he comes out and opponents are hitting just .206 against him. I’ll definitely take it and if he weren’t locked up through arbitration the next few years, I’d say he’d make some decent trade bait with a lot of teams looking for closers.
Roy Halladay has hit a rough stretch, and even though he’s 2-2 in his last four starts, he’s given up five runs in three of those. In fact his best start, in which he gave up just three runs, was one of the losses. His strikeouts are down and his walk rate is coming up and you wonder if he’s nursing another injury (or the same one that had a chance to rest during the recovery from the appendectomy).
Vernon Wells is stuck in the .750 OPS range and you wonder if he’s evern going to get out of it this season. The strange thing is, if he has just a decent second half, he could still end up with 100 runs and 100 RBIs, which is something he’s done only once in 2003.
The Jays kick off a big four game series at Yankee Stadium against the Yankees. Whoever wins the series will lay claim to second place and three out of four might mean the pickup of a game with the Red Sox, who face the Royals. Josh Towers gets the start tonight and he’ll face Kei Igawa. Towers had the best start of his season his last time out with eight shutout innings (and the Jays just won it 1-0) so hopefully he can build on that.
Frank Thomas did it. You know, when the White Sox gave up on him, it never looked he’d get to 500. The he resurrected his career in Oakland last year and then the Jays picked him this year. He’s still only .242 but he belted his 13th homeruns to give him 500 in his career. And then in an odd twist, Thomas was ejected from the game in the ninth inning after arguing a strike call. You don’t see that happen every day.
The Jays are now in second place but the division is turning into a route because the Red Sox are the only team with a record above .500. The Jays are right there at .500 but that’s only good for a 9 1/2 game deficit. And this is with the Red Sox getting swept by the Mariners.
Alex Rios belted his seventeenth homerun in the opener of the Jays series with the Twins and he’s still leading the team in everything. And Roy Halladay has now won five in a row. His latest in the Twins series came despite the fact that he gave up five runs.
Next up for the Jays is three against the currently hot Mariners. Dustin McGowan gets the start in the opener tomorrow and he’ll take on Jarod Washburn. A series win means the Jays have a winning record on Monday.
The Jays lost for the third time in four games and with a twelve game deficit and all of the injuries, you wonder how much longer the Jays can stay where they’re at before throwing in the towel. The Red Sox had that small blip where the looked vulnerable and Curt Schilling being out hurts them, but time is definitely not on the Jays side.
Where the heck has Vernon Wells gone? I know he’s had seasons like this before but a .686 OPS is not what we’re paying this guy big bucks for. At the end of the day, a good season by Wells may mean nothing but the poor performance is pretty discouraging and with the big pay check he’s getting, he may become a poster child for the Jays poor season.
On the other hand, Alex Rios has established himself as a bonafide star. He leads the Jays in most offensive categories and he’s almost right at a career high in homeruns. With an effective Wells, Rios and Wells provide a nice one-two punch with Frank Thomas providing another solid bat for this team.
Of course, once you get past Roy Halladay and A.J. Burnett the pitching thins out pretty quickley. And of course A.J. Burnett is on the shelf again. Of course one pleasant surprise has been the bullpen. Guys like Casey Janssen, Brian Tallet and Scott Downs have all had nice seasons and it makes the money that the Jays threw at B.J. Ryan look kind of silly.
Next up is three against the Rockies, who just got done sweeping the Yankees. The next few weeks are pretty important for the Jays. If they can put a little dent into the Red Sox lead, it might be something to build on. If they slide a bit and they’re fifteen down, it may be time to start looking at 2008.
Will Carroll chimed in on Roy Halladay’s progress and while he doesn’t come out and say it, things appear to be progressing nicely. He says a return late next week is even a possibility and if he can do it without needing a rehab start, all the better.
In the meantime, the weekend series the Jays had against the Phillies didn’t go very well with two losses and only one win. The win was fun though, with Shawn Marcum having another nice start and both Lyle Overbay and Matt Stairs driving in four runs each. Stairs has been a solid pickup and in limited time, he’s posted a .972 OPS. Even if he regresses to around .800, he gives the Jays a quality left handed bat to use off the bench.
Vernon Wells has to heat up though. His OPS is hovering right around .800 and it has to be better for that fat paycheck. I’m optimistic that he’ll turn around but the question is, can he do it while it still matters because the Jays are 10 1/2 games back of the Red Sox.
Next up is a three game series against the Orioles. It’ll be A.J. Burnett going up against Danny Cabrera. Probably the oddest number I saw was the Burnett had more walks then Cabrera so it looks like he’s turned the corner after a tough 2006. Hopefully the Jays can derail that progress.
Looks like I didn’t miss much while I was gone. Our network suffered some internet malfunctions that made it so I couldn’t post hence the abscence. Then again, a nine game losing streak and a Roy Halladay injury isn’t all that much to talk about so i got back just in time when the Jays are starting to pick it up.
They won for the fourth time in the last five games with a 2-1 win over the Orioles. Jesse Litsch made his major league debut and performed about as well as you could ask. He gave up just one run on four hits and three walks with a strikeout in 8 1/3 innings. Welcome to the bigs Litsch.
Vernon Wells, while it’s hard to say that he’s struggling, is still stuck on four homeruns. It sure would be nice to see Wells heat up because that’d go a long way towards the Jays putting together an even extended winning streak.
A.J. Burnett will go for the sweep tomorrow. Still though, the Jays have a long way to go to get back to just .500 so we have to take this one game at a time.
It’s hard to call this one a sweep because Wednesday’s game was cancelled but the Jays took the only game that was played against the Yankees yesterday and in the process, they won their third straight game. A.J. Burnett was fantastic on the mound and he gave up just four hits and four walks with five strikeouts in seven shutout innings.
At the plate, Vernon Wells went three for three with two walks, a run and an RBI in the 6-0 win. Alex Rios also had a nice game and he went two for four with three runs and an RBI. Frank Thomas singled and drove in two.
So the Jays now sit in second, but they’re three games back of the hot Red Sox. Fortunately, the Jays come home and they’ll play four against the Rangers in a wrap around series that’ll go through Monday. Josh Towers gets the start tonight and hopefully he’ll keep the winning streak going.
The Blue Jays have hit the skids and with three losses to the Orioles in the most recent sweep, the Jays have now lost five in a run. At the beginning of the skid, the Jays were in first and now they’ve dropped all the way to fourth place just a game ahead of the Devil Rays.
Most of the troubles have been at the plate, although the offense hasn’t been great either. In the Friday game, A.J. Burnett had a nice start and he gave up just two runs on three hits and five walks with two strikeouts in seven innings of work. Unfortunately the pen gave up three late runs to blow the game. Victor Zambrano gave up the game winner in the ninth although the two runs that Shaun Marcum gave up in the eighth definitely didn’t help. Vernon Wells drove in two runs in the 5-4 loss and Adam Lind finished with two hits, a run and an RBI.
On Saturday, Josh Towers was hit hard and he dropped to 1-2 on the season. He gave up five runs on nine hits and three walks with four strikeouts in five innings. Alex Rios had two hits and a run while Royce Clayton singled twice and drove in a run in the 5-2 loss.
Yesterday, it was more of the same as the Orioles scored just three runs and Gustavo Chacin was hammered. He lost his first start of the season and he gave up six runs on five hits and two walks in just 4 1/3 innings. Alex Rios drove in two of the three Blue Jays runs and Frank Thomas had two hits and a run in the 7-3 loss.
Next up is two against the Red Sox so we can make up some of the ground if we can end the skid. Tomo Okha will throw in the opener tonight and Roy Halladay throws tomorrow.
The Blue Jays hitters just couldn’t it get it going against the Red Sox. They pushed just six runners across the plate in the three games and it took a great start by Gustavo Chacin just to take one of the three games.
In that first game, Chacin and the pen were pretty formidable. Chacin gave up just one run on six hits with three strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings. Casey Janssen and Jason Frasor then closed it out with 2 1/3 of shutout relief. Lyle Overbay singled home a run to tie and then Greg Zaun drew a bases loaded walk to make it 2-1, a lead that would end up standing.
In the second game, Tomo Ohka was only okay and with the Jays scoring just one run, it ended up being a loss. Okha gave up four runs on four hits and one walk with three strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings and the lone run in the 4-1 loss came on John McDonald’s RBI single.
Today’s game was the toughest because Roy Halladay was very good through 7 2/3 but the pen didn’t do their job. Shaun Marcum gave up a two run shot to Manny Ramirez that tied it and then he gave up another run in the ninth to lose it. Halladay finshed with two strikeouts and he gave up two runs (one of which scored on the Ramirez homer) on six hits and three walks. Frank Thomas and Alex Rios each hit solo homeruns and Vernon Wells went two for four with an RBI in the 5-3 loss.
Next up is three at Baltimore. The Orioles have gotten off to a surprising start but it sure would be nice to put them back in their place with a three game sweep.
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