After an extended break from blogging, I’ve decided to start again. Lots has happened since the end of the 07 season. Big news of course was the Mitchell Report and Roger Clemens but I’m sick of hearing about steroids and HGH so I will not write anything on this. On to actual baseball/Blue Jays related matters!
Despite saying the Blue Jays were going to have a quiet offseason and they were happy with the team as it stood, J.P. Riccardi did make a few moves of significance bringing in David Eckstein and Scott Rolen which I’ll discuss in a seperate post. A number of smaller personnel moves were made by bringing in utility infielder, Marco Scutaro, backup catcher Rod Barajas (thank goodness Rod backed out of the contract with the Jays last year!), and former Blue Jay Shannon Stewart.
Not all has been quiet on the injury front either. B.J. Ryan is returning from Tommy John surgery, the question is when will the Jays’ closer be ready? We get our first look at B.J. today as he makes his spring training debut. A.J. Burnett slammed his finger in a car door and sheered off half his fingernail on his right index finger which has resulted in him not being able to throw his curveball in spring training. For all accounts, he should be ready to go for the season and has been able to pitch effectively thus far without the use of his curveball. The biggest injury news surfaced this week with Casey Janssen being shelved for the season with a torn labrum. This injury is a costly one but I don’t believe it will have that big of an impact on the Jays’ fortunes this season and I will discuss further in a seperate post.
Other issues worth discussing as spring training roles on is who will be the Jays’ fifth starter and who is going to play left field? It looks like Jesse Litsch is the odds on favourite for the fifth starter role with Janssen out for the season. As for left field, Matt Stairs will be platooning with somebody but will that somebody be Shannon Stewart or Reed Johnson. There is even talk that the Jays may have both Stewart and Johnson on their opening day roster by carrying one less pitcher.
I should be putting up more posts regarding the Jays new additions, anything that occurs during spring training and my thoughts on how the team might fare this season. Being buried in snow in Ottawa all winter, believe me when I say that I can’t wait for Opening Day!
It appears Troy Glaus may have been on steroids while with the Angels. I’ll wait to hear what Troy has to say for himself but I’m expecting a denial or some sort of explanation that they were prescribed for him. We’ll see what happens. I’m just getting really tired of hearing about players possibly receiving shipments or steroids or HGH every week.
Now on to what has been happening on the field of play. The series in Boston wasn’t a complete disaster as Vernon Wells’ homerun allowed the Blue Jays to avoid the sweep in a series that they needed to win at least two games. The 13-10 game was interesting to watch. I had turned the channel when it was 10-1 and came back to the game and it was 13-10 and then was angry with myself for not watching the entire game. What can you do?
Dustin McGowan had another strong outing last night as the Blue Jays took the first game against the Devil Rays. They have to win almost every game here on out so sweeping the D-Rays is a must. Otherwise it is time to get the youngsters into games to get some at bats and major league experience. This means playing Thigpen and Lind more and getting Josh Banks into a game and maybe even give him a start in the rotation. Don’t get me wrong, I think the team needs to put its best line-up on the field until they are mathematically eliminated from the wild card race but the chances of making the playoffs are remote so it won’t hurt to start preparing for next season.
A.J. Burnett gets the start today. I’m hoping A.J. can get some victories in the last month of the season to better his W-L record so that media types like Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star can ease up on the talk of him only being a .500 pitcher. A.J. has pitched really well at times this year and was outstanding in August going 2-1 with a 1.63 ERA. A 10 win season for A.J. wouldn’t be great by any means but may give him something to build on next season.
If some of my loyal readers have been wondering where I was for the past week or so, I was on vacation and had no access to the internet at any point in time. I was on a canoe trip in Algonquin Park (in Northern Ontario) so I didn’t have access to much!
The Jays continue to tease and then disappoint. Dropping two of four to Kansas City was extremely disappointing but taking two of three from the Angels was a nice surprise. A sweep of the Orioles was probably needed to have any sort of playoff hope but the win yesterday to take the series was nice. It has just been one of those cup half empty/cup half full type of seasons for me. Given all the injury problems this team has had, the fact that the Jays are still on the periphery of the playoff race is somewhat amazing. The fact that the cornerstones of the rotation besides Roy Halladay have been Shaun Marcum and Dustin McGowan has also been a nice surprise. The starting rotation has been the strength of this team. The disappointment has been the team’s offense and their inconsistency. If the offense showed up to more games this season, especially since the all-star break, this team would be seriously battling with the Yankees and Mariners for the wild card.
Now all Jays fans can hope for is ‘one of those runs’ where they win ten in a row or nine of ten or some other extended winning streak. The problem is that we’re into the last two weeks of August and the Jays are slated to go on a west coast trip at the end of the week where they usually go to die every season!
What I find funny is that after Yankees fans being on suicide watch in May and June, they find their team four games out of first in the AL East and only a half game out of the wild card lead. Now I bet that most Yankees fans are expecting them to catch the Red Sox. I’m curious to see what people’s predictions are for who will win the AL East and I’ve posted a new poll asking this very question. The Yankees definitely have talent but I wouldn’t mind if they missed the playoffs this year.
How about the Cardinals? Where did they come from? I figured once Carpenter was put on the shelf for the season they would be done. But here they are only four games back of the Cubs for the NL Central lead. Of course they have dropped two straight to the Cubs but if they can salvage a win today, they’re only three games back with over a month to play.
Oakland comes to Toronto tonight for a three game set. Marcum vs. Blanton in game one.
I’ve been quiet for a few days now. I’ve been watching the Jays but I just haven’t been inspired to write anything about them. They swept Texas which was nice but I wasn’t about to praise the team until I saw how they would fare against the Yankees.
I went to Monday’s game in Toronto as it was a holiday. The game was good except for the fact that the Jays continue to fail to put team’s away when they have the chance. The let the Yankees and Pettite stay in the game and then paid for it.
Last night was when all the fireworks happened. A-Rod got hit and cried about it as I knew he would and the benches cleared…twice. I’ve shared my thoughts on A-Rod before so I won’t go into it again other than saying this. If A-Rod doesn’t want to get thrown at, he should stop acting like a complete a**hole and be a professional. He should have just taken his base and let Clemens even the score later on in the game (which he did by nailing Rios in the seventh).
What ticked me off was that after things got back to normal, Josh Towers had completely lost his focus and the game went down the toilet. It is hard to ‘send a message’ when you let the guy you’re ‘sending the message’ to score. After it was 7-0, I turned the t.v. off as I wasn’t going to waste my time watching my team lose badly to a team who are so boring to watch. Yes the Yankees score a lot of runs but every at bat takes an eternity and as soon as their pitchers get in trouble they hold conferences at the mound after almost every batter. Oh well, I’m probably just being petty and it obviously works for them as they get to the playoffs every year.
What bothers me the most is that the Jays can beat the Yankees. Sure the Yankees are the more talented team but the difference is not what it used to be. The Jays had Monday’s game in hand and let it slip away and they were never in it yesterday. Mind you, the pitching matchups for the first two games in the series heavily favoured the Yankees so it’s not a huge surprise that they’ve won the first two games of the series. It just bothered me that the team totally lost its focus on Tuesday night and didn’t give themselves a chance at winning this crucial series.
The balls were flying out of Rogers Centre last night. The Jays had four homeruns and the Twins countered with three. Surprisingly enough, the Blue Jays were able to hit four out on Johan Santana, a career high for Mr. Cy Young. Frank Thomas did the most damage by going yard twice in the game.
Shaun Marcum battled all night against the pesky Twins and was awarded the victory despite yielding four runs. The bullpen trio of Janssen, Downs and Accardo held the Twins in check to secure the win.
What bothered me is that all the Jays runs were a result of homeruns. It’s great that they hit a few balls out but I’d like to see them string a bunch of hits together to cash in runs. Mind you, up against Johan Santana, I should just be thankful they scored any runs!
A few things impressed me last night. The first was Curtis Thigpen gunning out Nick Punto attempting to steal second. With the camera angle TSN was showing (from centrefield), the Thigpen’s throw got to second base before Punto was even in the screen. Kind of makes you wonder why the Jays’ didn’t give him any starts at catcher earlier in the season.
Another was a play Matt Stairs made in the fifth. The Twins had runners on first and third with nobody out. Luis Castillo hit a grounder to Stairs who was playing first. Stairs saw the runner break for home so instead of going for the conventional 3-6-3 double play, he charged at the runner (Tyner) breaking for home and got him in a run-down. Troy Glaus ended up tagging Tyner out and as this was happening Nick Punto who had been on first was trying to make it to third on the play. Glaus quickly turned and threw to third where Clayton was covering and he tagged out Punto to complete the double play. Marcum was then able to get out of the inning unscathed.
Dustin McGowan goes for the Jays tonight as they attempt to extend their winning streak to four games. The blue feathered ones have now won four of their last five and their offense seems to be getting in gear. I’m still not convinced the offense can remain in gear but I hope tonight goes a long way in convincing me.
Coming back from Boston, I was pretty pumped. My friends and I just happened to luck out and have tickets for the two games the Jays won, we were greeted warmly by members of Red Sox Nation and had a great time in the fine city of Boston. Then the team loses three straight to the Yankees that could have gone either way given a few clutch hits and some clutch pitching from the bullpen. As you could tell from my previous few posts, I was livid.
Normally I direct my hate at the Yankees as is custom for many fans and bloggers. All this does is result in angry comments from Yankee fans on my blog and then I get told that I’m just jealous and Toronto s*cks etc. etc. However the past series had as much to do with the Jays failing to execute as it did with the Yankees playing well. Game one of the series was a 6-4 loss which the Yankees outplayed and outhit the Jays and deserved to win. Game two was the disasterous ninth inning that included the Yankees running wild on the Jays and Accardo’s infamous balk causing the game to go into extras and we all know how that turned out. Game three was when the Jays decided to go 1 for 15 with runners in scoring position and had no chance of maintaining the 1 – 0 lead they were holding onto into the seventh. Game Four finally saw the team come through with a few clutch hits and saw the bullpen close it out to end a disasterous series in New York on a high note.
It is this high note that I’m going to try to feed off of heading into tonight’s game. Jesse Litsch goes tonight and after watching him keep the Red Sox in check last Sunday afternoon, I’m hoping he can have another solid outing against a strong team in the Mariners. The Jays get to face the cerebral, Miguel Batista who can struggle with his control at times and maybe, just maybe, the Jays put the wood to him and score some runs early.
A win tonight would mean a two game win streak and maybe the Jays can carry that momentum into Saturday’s tilt. Josh Towers has been okay of late and hopefully he continues to gain confidence and pitch well in front of the home crowd. Who knows, the Jays may be able to put up some runs for him and win a third game in a row?
Sunday, the ace of the staff is on the mound and one always has to expect the team is going to win with Roy Halladay on the mound. It doesn’t always happen but it is about as safe of bet as you’re going to get with the 2007 Blue Jays.
There we go a four game win streak and awaiting Minnesota’s arrival. What’s that? Oh right, we haven’t played a game yet.
Positive thoughts, positive thoughts….
It is finally here. After my friends and I planned this trip in April, I have been counting down the months/weeks/days until my first trip to Boston and the historic Fenway Park. Tonight my friend Andrew and I are driving to Montreal, staying there for the night and then early tomorrow morning we’ll make our way to Boston where three of our friends from Toronto are meeting us.
We’re catching tomorrow night’s Jays/Red Sox game, spending Saturday exploring the city and then attending Sunday afternoon’s series finale. I have wanted to attend a game at Fenway since I was about six years old and saw the Green Monster on t.v. for the first time. Going to Wrigley Field last year was amazing so I’m hoping this trip to Fenway is equally great. The bonus of the Boston trip in comparison to the Chicago trip is that I’m seeing the Jays play.
The next few series for the Blue Jays will most likely define their season. Sitting well back of the wild card and even further back of the division leading Red Sox, a bad end to July would surely put the team out of playoff contention. The schedule is not friendly to Toronto as after four games in Boston they head to New York for four games against the Yankees before returning home to host the Mariners and then the Twins.
Off to Boston!