Weekly Round Up : Feb. 15 - 21

Courtesy of Batter's Box:

BB: You said in an earlier interview that the organization uses first person evaluation for defense rather than the new defensive metrics. Many of our readers saw Vernon Wells miss a lot of balls at the wall that, in our readers opinion, he would have caught in previous years. Did the organization see the same and was it just that there were a lot of close plays in 2010 or did you think that Vernon, because of age and body type, might have lost a step or two?
AA: I think the interview you're referring too may not have captured the meaning of my comments. Principally, we rely on first person evaluations for defense but we do use defensive metrics to either support or dispute what our scouts are seeing with their eyes. We continue to explore defensive metrics and incorporate them into all of our defensive evaluations. In Vernon's case, the metrics did indeed indicate that Vernon did not have a strong defensive season. However, in examining all the criteria and in using all the tools at our disposal, we believe Vernon will have a much stronger year defensively in 2010.

Consider this your required reading for this week.  Great stuff by the team over at Da Box.

Paxton Affair Update

Courtesy of Baseball America:

The Kentucky Court of Appeals on Friday denied UK lefthander James Paxton's request for interlocutory relief, which was essentially an appeal of the circuit judge's denial of his request for a temporary injunction that would allow Paxton to play without having to meet with NCAA investigators.  Paxton's attorneys were hoping the courts would assert Paxton's right of due process under the school's code of conduct, which would mean he would not have to testify against himself in an NCAA hearing. Media reports surfaced last summer quoting a Blue Jays executive saying that agent Scott Boras handled Paxton's negotiations after the Jays drafted him in the supplemental first round. That would be a violation of the "no agent" rule and would render Paxton ineligible to participate this spring, in all likelihood. Paxton attorney Rick Johnson said in an e-mail that his side would determine by Monday whether or not to file another appeal with the state's Supreme Court.  "Given that this case was one of first impression and of national importance, and given that it directly addressed whether or not student-athletes are entitled to the same civil rights as everyone else, it is very disappointing that the court of appeals did not even address our constitutional arguments," Johnson said.  "In the meantime, the number one senior college baseball player (in the nation, according to BA's preseason rankings of the top prospects by class), who has been accused of no wrongdoing, and who remains eligible to play and is a member in good standing of UK's baseball team is being withheld from play, because of UK's irrational and unsubstantiated fear of the NCAA, which is just one of many points missed by the court of appeals."  It's looking more and more likely that the Wildcats will be without their ace lefty in 2010.

The clusterfuck shitshow continues.....Yawn, next.

Courtesy of Globe Sports:

Afterward, McGowan said all feels fine with his comeback although neither he or the Blue Jays are certain how hard he may be throwing as the club is holding back using the radar gun to gauge his velocity. “That's a no-no,” explained a Blue Jays official. “Guys try to hump up and they hurt themselves.”  The Blue Jays are reluctant to use the radar gun on their pitchers, especially those who are trying to return from an arm injury, as it tends to make them want to overthrow trying to push the speed higher.  “That thing (h)as wrecked more arms,” Dr. James Andrews, the noted U.S. orthopaedic surgeon who has saved the arms of many a baseball player, once noted. McGowan is not sure how hard he might be throwing, but doesn't really care at this stage in his recovery.  “Right now I feel pretty good,” he said. “I feel like I'm letting it go pretty good. Not quite 100 per cent yet but a couple more bullpens I think I can really start turning it loose.”  “Everytime I grabbed that curveball it feels like I've got a softball in my hand,” he said.

A few weeks ago, before we signed Gregg, I put up a post about McGowan.  In it, I threw out the idea of letting him close out games for us at some point this season.  I made the following suggestion, if he were to ever head to the mound in relief:  He could drop one maybe even two of his pitches out of the arsenal, preferably his least effective and/or the one that causes him the most pain in his wing, and still have the stuff to do it.  I guess we now know which pitch that would be.....

Courtesy of Jordan Bastian:

Dustin McGowan slid his fingers over the seams of the baseball that rested in his glove. Years of experience told him that he was holding the ball in the correct manner, but the grip felt completely foreign to the Blue Jays pitcher.  McGowan had not thrown a curveball in 561 days. Third inning. Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts at the plate. First pitch. McGowan sent a breaking ball diving low and inside for a ball. After working four innings that afternoon for Toronto, the young pitcher left the game with an aching right shoulder.  McGowan is also out of player options, putting the Blue Jays in an interesting position. If Toronto wants to send him to the Minor Leagues, McGowan would first need to clear waivers, giving other teams the opportunity to claim him. In order to avoid that process, Toronto's options are limited to placing McGowan on the disabled list to open the year or bringing him north with the team.

Can we at least talk about him going to the bullpen?  Obviously he has more value to the team as a starter but at this point doesn't it make sense to cap his innings and maintain his health?

Courtesy of KFFL:

Toronto's Rogers Centre SkyDome suppresses home run output by about 1 percent, according to traditional team-adjusted park factor calculations. Fascinatingly, though, the primary reason isn't the park's dimensions. In fact, as a percentage of total outfield flies, the park sees 19 percent more home runs than expected.
The reason: Teams playing at the Centre Dome have hit the ball into the ground a full 2 percent more often than the same teams playing elsewhere, the fifth-highest rate of grounders in the league. Thus, getting the ball into the air in the first place represents half the battle.  John Buck, the Jays' new catcher, hits a ton of flyballs, often for power, and moves from the Kansas City Royals' homer-stealing Kauffman Stadium to Toronto.

Interesting take on our home park.  I wonder how much of the high groundball rate we can attribute to the departed Doc and his nasty pitch repertoire?       

Courtesy of The Sporting Hippeaux:

Meanwhile, the Jays have two young, twenty-something catchers, J. P. Arencibia and Kyle Phillips, each of whom now have had considerable experience and moderate success at AAA.  There is absolutely no reason to believe the combo of Arencibia and Phillips would be any worse, at least offensively, than Buck and Molina, or Buck and Castro.  Even if they were, getting them experience in the big leagues during a season in which Toronto must be considered a rebuilding franchise, seems a worthwhile proposition...seem, in fact, very much like the definition of "rebuilding."  Even if Anthopoulos and Gaston have reservations about going with two rookie catchers, I still can't understand why they need THREE hopeless veterans.  What a nightmare the past year has been for Blue Jays fans.

A closet Jays fan on the West Coast questions our "rebuilding" strategy.  I can't say I disagree with him.  More and more it looks to me as though we are going to need to trade our veterans for prospects BEFORE we can even start rebuilding.....

Courtesy of You Don't Know Dick @ The Star:

The positive news for Toronto fans is that, with all these young pitchers in serious competition, the team should rack up impressive win totals in Grapefruit League play. 

Isn't that like being the valedictorian of summer school?  The comments section of his article this week seemed abnormally tame.  I wonder if Dick is paying his friends and family to write in nice comments?  Or maybe, just maybe Dick decided to think before he sat down to preform his magic this one time. 

Jordan Bastian provides some insight from spring training on You Don't Know Dick via twitter:
I had forgotton how hard and violent Rich Griffin of The Star types on his laptop. Take it easy! It's not a typewriter!  LINK
Griffin just attempted to type softer for our sake. "It's not working out," he said. And now he's pounding away again.  LINK 
Griffin is now blaring rap music from his laptop to help drown out the loud typing.  LINK

I better start to watch what I say about him because clearly Dick is a GANGSTER!  I wonder what he was listening to.....Anybody want to take a guess?  I'm thinking maybe N.W.A.

Courtesy of MLBTR:

The Mets have come to terms with Rod Barajas on a major league deal worth at least $1MM, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter). Rosenthal says the 34-year-old catcher can make $1MM more in easily attainable incentives.  Since the Type B free agent agreed to a major league deal, the Blue Jays will receive a supplemental first-round pick (#41 overall) as compensation. Barajas turned down an offer of arbitration earlier in the winter and it probably cost him. He made $2.5MM with the Blue Jays last year and it would have been a surprise to see the club offer a significantly reduced salary. The Blue Jays, who signed catchers Jose Molina and John Buck, would not have obtained the compensation pick if Barajas had signed a minor league contract.

Courtesy of Kenny Rosenthal: 

Carlos Delgado, 37, underwent hip surgery this week for the second time in nine months, according to his agent, David Sloane. He will be out four months, but still plans to play this season, Sloane said.  Dr. Marc Philippon, the same surgeon who repaired Alex Rodriguez’s hip, reconstructed the labrum in Delgado’s right hip and also performed a micro-fracture procedure on his hip socket.  Delgado currently is on crutches, but already is riding an exercise bike and no longer taking medication for pain, Sloane said.

Nice to see Kenny got the story right on try number two.  He did I complete one hundred and eighty degree turn from this story published just over a week ago.  WTF?  No way Delgado feels a twinge in Puerto Rico, meets a doctor based in Colorado, gets checked out, gets the results of being checked out, decides on whether to do surgery and finally has the surgery in the eight days between those two stories.  Yeah, not happening.  I bet he was lied to by the agent.

Point being, not even a month ago in front of the cameras, The Cito firmly put his mouth around Delgado's cock at the state of franchise address even after his new boss Boy Wonder said no.  AWKWARD.  Now Delgado goes under the knife again.

Simple Question: Is there any chance the lame duck field manager doesn't go out with a bang in his final season?  Keep reading..... 

Can I Get A Quote, Please?:

"I think that will probably be the most competitive part of spring training." — GM Alex Anthopoulos on the open battle for spots in the rotation.
"When there are opportunities to get more athletic, to bring more athletes into the organization through the Draft and so on -- guys that can bring the element of speed and certainly bring defense to the table -- that's something that from a personal standpoint I'd love to add to this organization.
"Again, things need to line up for that to happen and it's not something that can happen overnight. But I think it's something that, as we move forward, we're going to try to put a little bit more of an emphasis on."
"We're definitely starting to address it from a player development standpoint,"
"We added a baserunning coordinator this year. We're excited about him -- someone to spend a little more time to focus solely on that. We never had that before, at least since I've been here."
"I just don't think we have any pure basestealers,"
"Certainly, we have a lot of guys that are capable of doing it, but the opportunity has to present itself. You don't want to run for the sake of running. You don't want to run into outs. Maybe we'll be a little more aggressive on the basepaths, but I really believe you have to have the personnel to do it.
"Right now, we're just not a team that's equipped with a lot of speed."
"It's an exciting brand of baseball when you can play defense and add speed,"
"One thing about that is it plays in all parks. People talk about trying to build a lineup and a team for their ballpark and so on. Well, speed and defense plays all over the place."
"We're trying to create a culture around here,"
"It's important to me that when we watch minor-league games, we play the game the right way, all our players are doing that and being taught that, from base-running to hitting the cutoff man, to wearing the uniform the right way.
"We're going to hand out awards for those little things."
“It was in-depth — many, many hours of interviews — and, as a result, I feel like we’ve been able to address the concerns that everyone had,”

“I think it has blown over,” The Cito said.
“I think some of our guys got suckered into it. Players are going to stick up for each other. There may have been some individual dissatisfaction but I don’t think that reflected the feeling of the whole team.
“When Gillick and Beeston were here before, the one thing I remember is if we had some bad people around, we got rid of them, didn’t keep them around. I think maybe that if there were some people here who were troublemakers, that they’re not here anymore.
“I expect that will help us get back to an attitude of ‘Let’s go out and play ball and not try to run the team ourselves.’ ”
“My door is always open, once again I will tell that to these guys in spring training. If there’s something you don’t like that’s going on, come in and tell me. I’ll listen.
“You can never make everybody happy. You’re not going to get everybody to like you. Do you think everybody in their clubhouses likes (Tony) La Russa? Or (Lou) Piniella?”

“It’s going to be very interesting, in baseball you can never be surprised at what you see. The anticipation of what we might see is kind of exciting. It could be painful. It could also be very good and lots of fun.”
“I’ve been a part of this organization for a long time and I’ll still be a part of it for the next five years and I think it’s going to be an exciting time.”   
"When people ask me about knowing this is my last year this is the way I look at it: I’m excited about the direction we’re taking,” 
“I know (Gonzalez) hit ninth his whole career, but if we move Hill successfully to No. 3 and Lind to hit No. 4 — and that’s not carved in stone because I want them both to be comfortable — then maybe Gonzalez could slide into that second spot. We’ll take a look at it.”
“I’m not counting Snider out, hopefully he comes around and is the kind of player we hope he’s going to be. He has a big future with us.
“I hear only good things about (Wallace), I’m going to have to wait and see. As far as I can tell, we did pretty well with these kids. You always wonder about the one who got away (Halladay) but that’s in the past.”

"I don't think I ever got to a point where I didn't think I could go back to Toronto," The Doctor said.
"I loved playing there. Going back for another year wouldn't have been the worst thing that ever happened. I always had that in the back of my mind."
"Anytime you want to be a part of something you watch it,"
"It does get hard. For me it was more about wondering how are you going to stack up, how are you going to handle this and how fun could it be? It was harder than most years this year.
"I never wanted to look forward to going anywhere other than Toronto. But knowing that things had gotten close and the team I had the best chance to go to was in the World Series made it tough. Not only that, but one of your friends is pitching against them. It was a lot of mixed feelings."
"It's part of it, there were times in Toronto you could hear every single guy yelling at you. I don't know what's worse, 40,000 or five guys you can actually hear. (Philly's) a challenge. They expect to have a good team and they expect people to perform. I expect the same thing. I would probably boo myself. It's just too good of a team to disappoint the fans."
"For those guys (young pitchers), it's important that they create their own identities,"
"That's something Chris Carpenter and I got caught up in, trying to live up to people that had been (with the Jays) in the past. It's important for those guys to make themselves stand out, create their own way."

"With my luck, I'll match up against him, just like in Toronto," GAY J Burnett laughed of his failed return to the Rogers Centre. "I've heard that he's been working out and he's already a legend. One of (the Phillies') front office people's sons goes to school with (my son) and I was talking to him and said, `Wait till you see this guy.'
"And now he's already a legend."

"Everything that Doc brought to the game is going to be missed," new pitching coach Bruce Walton said.
"The fortunate thing is that he was here, we all learned from him in his 10 years. Romero got to spend a year with him; Marcum got to spend two or three years, Frasor, Downs, (Jesse) Carlson, all these guys, so that's a plus. Everything we've learned from him we're still going to do.
"We're going to miss his leadership and we're going to miss his unbelievable performances during the season and his consistency."
“With Roy Halladay it was kind of fun last season,”
“We took for granted that we pretty much had a day off when he started. We knew Doc was going to get us back on track if we had a two-game skid, or keep that three-game streak alive.”
My philosophy is 'pound down,'"
"It's just a simple term that means pound the strike zone down in the zone. Make the hitter work. 'Pound down' means throw strikes downhill, just like Arnie taught. It means attack, throw strikes and pitch down. Pound down. That's my philosophy. That's my motto. It includes three or four aspects.
"Yes, get ahead. Yes, attack. Yes, we're going to throw strikes down in the strike zone. We're going to throw strikes at the knees all the way across the strike zone. We're going to make you work and get your hits down there. We're not going to make it easy on them. We're not going to throw belt-high strikes where everybody wants it. It's nothing that they haven't heard.
"That's part of me and that's something that I will retain and something that I will really preach."
"We have room to make mistakes down in the zone,"
"It might not mean pounding down to both sides of the plate right away. Let's pick one and pound down. If we miss on one side of the plate or the other and they're misses down, we're going to be better off than missing up. I think this is going to help them simplify what they need to do right away."

"I had a chance to come in and be a starter, and I think Toronto wanted me because of what I'm good at — helping run a staff," new catcher John Buck said.
"I was 17 at the time and the Astros had Zaun and Brad Ausmus behind the plate,"
"They wanted me to learn how to help a staff, it was ... your whole existence to help pitchers.
"It's nice to get hits, too, but they pounded the defence into me all the time."

"No, it hasn't changed me," 2009 first round pick Chad Jenkins said.
"If anything, it's been the pressure. People think certain things about you and you try to live up to them, and that's what can make it worse. I'm trying to work as hard as I can and not stick out for anything unusual."
"That was the hardest part, waiting for the right deal."

"The whole numbers thing with players is something that's going to happen," reliever Jesse Carlson said.
"When you lose a guy like Roy you don't go out and replace him easily."

"I'd love to see more bags (stolen bases and base running)," Aaron Hill said.
"I just hope our younger guys realize the chance they have here. There is a lot of opportunity in the organization for them to step up and make the big leagues. That chance doesn't come along often.
"It's a great time to be a Blue Jay."

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