Player Hater's Ball - April & May Edition(s)

Picture courtesy of King Jordan (sorta)

If you noticed, and judging by the daily hits on sitemeter you have not, we missed last month's edition of hate.  Fittingly, we saved up and decided to unload an extra helping on Mike Wilner.  Anybody that has called in to Jays Talk has more than likely been trashed by this "expert".  Friend of the site, Mr. Ike Stake, called in after a game early last year and asked simply if Travis Snider was going to get some at bats against left handed pitching.  It was the first question of the night and dickhead Wilner made sure to set the tone for the show by stating: First of all it's Snider, not Snider.  He then went on to rant about how Snider couldn't hit lefties and should be happy with a platoon role to start his career.  He then cut Ike off without giving him an opportunity to respond.  Typical Wilner.

In all fairness, most of the calls he receives are from idiots.  And I guess if I was in his chair, I would get a little tired of it to.  But Mike, we don't call you for a fucking English lesson and quite frankly you are not schooled in either the language, sports broadcasting of even journalism for that matter.  You have a degree in psychology remember?

Here is a quote from Mike:

"I played youth softball growing up, and played league baseball for six or seven years at Bond Park and Sentinel. I caught a no-hitter once, and once threw out five guys on the bases in a League Championship game -- those were the highlights."

Good for you sir.  You played softball and league (not rep) baseball growing up.  Guess that qualifies as baseball experience.  I once played tee ball and have a degree in underwater bingo, can I get on the radio please?

So just how did Wilner get on the radio anyways?

It all started back in 1988 while he was still at the U of T learning to understand the role of mental functions in individual and social behavior.  He got a gig at CIUT, a campus and community radio station found @ 89.5 on the FM dial.  Within a year, he was anointed the title of sports director.  He also worked for Toronto’s Cable 10, where he hosted a show "Let's Talk Sports" from 1989 to 1995.  He then took a job in 1995 with 680 NEWS covering sports for them.  In 2001 he jumped over to the Fan 590 to cover baseball for them.  Mix in a little minor league play by play for the Welland Pirates, Watertown Indians and Hardware City Rock Cats and what do you have?  Experience.....I guess.

That's what is says on paper.  What it doesn't say is how he got the job.  I'll bet his friend Keith Law had something to do with it.  Let's look at the facts:
  • Wilner started as the third man in the booth in 2002.
  • J.P. got the job as GM of the Blue Jays after the 2001 season ended.
  • KLaw was on J.P.'s original staff.
You get what I'm laying down?

Wilner says: "I just got lucky, and worked from there."  Sure you did Mike.  Your friend got you the job, that's not luck.  The least you can do is admit it.

Wilner is quick to point out that he does not actually work for the Jays.  His paycheck comes from the Fan 590, which is part of the Rogers Media umbrella.  Rogers Media is a subsidiary of Rogers Communications.

Question: Who owns the Blue Jays, the SkyDome, Sportsnet and the Fan 590?
Answer: Wilner is full of shit. 

We here at 1BlueJaysWay always take our heckling to the next level.  Always.  So here is a bit of personal info on Wilner.  I must say, he is a very private man but that just makes the search more challenging.....and we like that!

His full name is Michael Samuel Wilner.
He is born in 1970 not 1969 as it is reported.
He is a Pisces.  Which is a fish.  Some of the bad traits of that sign are as follows.  Tell me if any of these sound familiar:
  • Escapist and idealistic
  • Secretive and vague
  • Weak-willed and easily led
He grew up in the Bathurst and Steeles area.
He is a Jew.  He said it, I'm just relaying the message.
He resides in Mississauga.
He has a mail order bride from Argentina.
He has two daughters.
He enjoys dice based fantasy baseball games, specifically Dynasty League Baseball.
He has a face for radio.
He has a weakness for the brilliant and cheesy music of the 1980s
He really hates it when you call him the voice of the Blue Jays or when you pronounce a players name wrong.  So you know what to do next time you get through now.....

Samuel Wilner, as he will now be known in these parts, will be on hand June 17th in St. Marys @ 7pm to play in a "celebrity" slopitch game.  I guarantee this chump has zero game.  So much so, that I will call on my childhood friend to take some pictures of his performance and demand that they are exclusive to us here at 1BlueJaysWay.  Stay tuned.

If you want a chance to spike him breaking up the double play or perhaps go elbows up, you can buy some tickets for a draw to play in the game.  I think it would be a fucking awesome idea to pool some money together and buy out the rest of the tickets.  Then we find the biggest ex football player / juice monkey in southern Ontario, jack him up with some Red Bulls and teach him how to "play the right way".  Just a thought.  Who is with me?  

In closing, I will send it over to Silky Johnson for a few words.  Go ahead Silk.

"We are the Time-Haters. We've traveled back in time... to call ya a cracker."


Looks as though Samuel has done it again!  In advance of the biggest series of the year to date, he has been given "the weekend off".  Say what you will about the optics of said decision and how it equates to censorship.  But knowing how Wilner conducts himself and his business, I am pretty sure he deserved whatever he got.  And personally, I think it looks good on him.....   

How does it feel to be on the other end of the phone Samuel?

Now, moving forward, he really has but two options:

1) He tones it down and tries to play nice with the other children.
2) He comes back even more insufferable than before.

Is there really any doubt which way he goes on this one?


Jenkins, Lugnuts power past Silver Hawks, 4-3

SOUTH BEND, Ind. – Chad Jenkins tossed six shutout innings and the Lansing Lugnuts (29-21) received three solo home runs in a 4-3 victory over the South Bend Silver Hawks (23-28) on Sunday afternoon at Stanley Coveleski Regional Stadium.
The victory ended the Lugnuts' three-game losing streak while simultaneously halting the Silver Hawks' three-game winning streak.
Jenkins (4-3), the Blue Jays' 2009 1st round pick, worked out of a bases loaded jam in the first inning and dominated the Silver Hawks lineup afterward. The 22-year-old right-hander scattered seven singles while striking out five.
Lansing built an early 2-0 lead against South Bend starter Brad Gemberling (0-3) on an Oliver Dominguez bases-loaded plunking in the second inning and an A.J. Jimenez home run in the fourth inning.
After South Bend halved the deficit on Errol Hollinger's RBI single in the eighth, Brad Glenn and Oliver Dominguez each homered for the Lugnuts in the ninth inning. Those insurance runs would prove crucial.
In the bottom of the ninth, David Nick launched a two-out, two-run homer off of Lugnuts closer Steve Turnbull. Chris Owings flied out to right field on the very next pitch, ending the game and giving Turnbull his 12th save in as many opportunities.
Lugnuts right fielder Brad McElroy was hit by a pitch in the fifth inning to reach base in his 24th consecutive game.
The Nuts and Hawks play the finale of their four-game series at 7:00 p.m. on Monday, with right-hander Ryan Tepera (5-1, 3.68) going for Lansing against South Bend left-hander Mike Belfiore (1-4, 2.78).
Tickets to all Lugnuts home games are available for purchase online at www.lansinglugnuts.com, at the stadium box office, and by calling 517-485-4500.
# # #

Lansing Lugnuts Baseball
Cooley Law School Stadium
505 E. Michigan Ave., Lansing, MI 48912
Phone: 517.485.4500; Fax: 517.485.4518

Bonus Coverage!

Here is a conversation between Jesse and I after the post went up:

Golden Arm: Jenkins coming around? His line looks solid!

Jesse:  He looked absolutely excellent, and it was noticeable immediately.  Very, very sharp.  It’s my hope that he goes up to Dunedin during the All-Star Break in June.

Golden Arm: Is there a normal time frame on this type of promotion?  Or is it case by case?

Jesse: Entirely case by case.  Rule of thumb, from my experience, is that you go 1) by month (like with Strasburg being in April for Double-A, May for Triple-A, etc.), or 2) by mid-season.  That’s why I’m thinking he moves up at mid-season.  This being his first pro season, they’re going to tread carefully though.  The biggest key for him right now is getting consistency out of his two-seamer and improving his change-up.

Game 51 Recap: That's two in a row! For us...

Good afternoon fellow Jays fans! A beautiful day, a tad too hot for this guy so I decided to enjoy my couch and watch a Jays game.

Nothing too exciting today and it was over quickly, Ricky must have had somewhere to be this afternoon.

Let's get to the good stuff:

Lewis continues to impress, first pitch the Jays saw today went to left and Freddy started the day off with a double. Almost looked like he wasn't going to make it home until Wells drove him in with his own double.

The Jays scored 3 in the first frame and none of those runs came in off a home run. That was a nice change, I get worried that all these bombs will dry up and we won't be able to score. A worry hitting coach Dwayne Murphy doesn't seem to have. See the bad section later.

It was nice to catch a game without Buck mis-pronouncing players names. But there is a bad side to that coin. Again see the bad section later on.

Looks like the seven spot is suiting Lyle just fine, hit his 3rd homer in 2 days. Glad to see him come around and start doing, well anything. The Angels are now looking for a first basemen after some seriously bad luck yesterday.

Ricky pitched well, only walked 2 and struck out 7 earning the fans some free pizza and doing it all on only 102 pitches for his second complete game of the year. Amazing the difference when he isn't pitching in front of his family. Just looked at his stats and this one looked like a done deal from the start, day games, on turf and at home he's been solid with an era well under 2.

Sam Cosentino started to talk about Ohman's scoreless streak and one pitch into his day J-Bau launches one. Then the wonderful announcer starts again and BOOM Gonzo lifts one out. 6th time this season the Jays have gone for back to back jacks.

The three homers today lifts the May total to 53 and the record for a month is 58. We've got Garza tomorrow night, so it's not looking like we're breaking the record.

Speaking of records, J-Bau has tied the Jays monthly homerun record with 12. That ties him with Cruz Jr and Delgado. This record has a chance to be broken since Jose has been going nuts this month.

Like I hoped, the Jays completed the sweep.

Now on the bad:

Dwayne Murphy was interviewed before the game and was asked about the low average's and on-base percentage and basically came out and said that they are over-rated and outdated stats and that they don't tell the entire story. Then asked about all the homers and said, the homers are nice, it just means we're scoring. Wow, cheerful guy. Not sure what would excite this guy.

Like I said earlier, Buck wasn't in today. But that gives us Sammy C and holy crap this guy is even worse. No show of emotion at all, hello Mr Monotone.

Ricky's first inning balk was just a sign of things to come, but with a better result a few innings later when he picked off Patterson trying to steal.

John Buck came up in the first and the third with runners on and both times did nothing, one strikeout and one pop up. His bat seems to have cooled a wee bit.

Gonzo made a couple of strange errors today. The first one was a ball that E5 should have had and Gonzo almost seemed surprised that it got to him and made a brutal throw that missed the bad by 15 feet. Then later he was attempting to make a Tony Fernandez type throw and it just dropped out of his hand. For a guy that was praised for his defense he's seems to have made more then a few errors so far this season. Although he prolly gets to more balls then most giving him more chance at an error. Ya, let's go with that.

That's all I've got, like I said it was a fairly quiet game.

A couple of things from Halladay's perfect game:

Apparently the Florida Marlins in a very classy move have given Roy the rubber from the mound.
Roy was back at the stadium at 8:45 this morning working out and someone said, you couldn't sleep in after throwing a perfect game yesterday? Classic Roy response, "I can sleep in during the winter".

Looking ahead:

Tomorrow the first place Rays come to town.  I wonder how many of their criminals will be "detained" at the airport?

Garza (5-3) Vs. Morrow (3-4) with a 7:07 start.

Weekly Round Up : May 24 - 30

Consider this your required reading for the week.  The Natural.  Has a nice ring to it.

Courtesy of our boy Jay Ballz @ PhoulBallz

Halladay, generally a very composed individual, showed emotion after the final out was recorded, smiling big, for all to see. With 2 outs in the 9th inning, Halladay induced a grounder to third baseman Juan Castro, who ranged left, spun around and quickly threw out former Phillie Ronny Paulino, at first base, to lock up the landmark game in the lore of Philadelphia baseball.
Roy Halladay is now Mr. Perfect.

So the one night I shut it down and get some much needed sleep and Roy does this?  Go figure.  I wonder if the Philly faithful are still worried about trading away their prospects for this guy?  I think not.

Callum from Mop Up Duty was live blogging the game.  Great job as always.

Courtesy of Baseball Prospectus:

DL: You’re off to a great start this season. Why?
 VW: I try to be consistent, I think. I got into so many bad habits last year, whether it had to do with my wrists or my head or whatever the heck was bothering me. It was kind of a strange time. I went into the offseason, had the wrist surgery, and kind of had a chance to step away from the game, clear my head and be with my family. What I went through last year changed me mentally and made me stronger. Coming into the season, it was just go out and try to be the best player I can be.

Nice interview with Vernon.  Once Hill and Lind get going, he should get a lot more RBI opportunities.   
 RIP little Gary Coleman

Courtesy of John Lott @ The National Post:

The transformation of Jose Bautista began in a clubhouse video cubicle last July, with Cito Gaston and Dwayne Murphy looking over his shoulder and whispering words of wisdom.
He had heard the message before. This time, something clicked.
"I just remember sitting there in the video room looking at the film, comparing [my swing] to other people," Bautista said. "Wording it the way they did, what they said just made total sense."
Gaston, the Toronto Blue Jays manager, and Murphy, the hitting coach, chant the same mantra to every struggling hitter: Start your swing earlier. 

Did you know that Bautista and Wells together have hit more homeruns than any other duo in baseball with 28?  Now that they are hitting back to back in the order, I wonder what happens when Snider returns?   

Courtesy of CBS:

Now, nearly two years later, Marcum has finally confirmed his usefulness. In some ways, he has even exceeded expectations, walking a career-low 2.0 batters per nine innings, which is especially impressive considering control is one of the last things to return following surgery. He still has the same respectable strikeout rate. He still has the same cut fastball that keeps hitters from making solid contact. Over his last 35 starts dating back to his semi-breakout 2008 campaign, he has a 3.22 ERA and a 1.11 WHIP, which is the stuff of Cy Young contenders. 

I think he may be deserving of an All Star Game nomination.  We can't vote on pitchers as fans but I hope the people that do have taken note of his brilliance this season.   

Courtesy of Forbes:

Baseball fans pour through the turnstiles to see certain teams and avoid others like the plague. The top 5 draws (based on percent of stadium capacity for which tickets were sold for both home and road games) this season have been the Red Sox (87%), Phillies (86%), Yankees (83%), Twins (82%) and Cubs (82%). The bottom five are the Blue Jays (46%), Athletics (48%), Mariners (49%), Royals (50%) and Reds (50%). I think most of the explanation is based on three factors: winning, star players and television (either national or cable). The top 5 draws have at least two of these factors going for them while the bottom five have at most one. It also tells me that teams that focus too much on Money Ball rather than paying up for superstars do more harm for the popularity of the game than good.

Interesting analysis by the author.  When will the fans start to come back and watch this exciting team? 

Courtesy of ESPN: 

• Who's on Fausto?: Here's one to keep your eye on. We keep hearing the Blue Jays will have money to spend if they're still in the race. And one player they clearly have their eye on is resurgent Indians pitcher Fausto Carmona.
"They're definitely tracking Carmona," one scout said. "They've probably watched a dozen Carmona starts in a row, going back to spring training. Every time I've seen him, they've had a guy there who wouldn't normally be there, guys who were only coming in for a day and then leaving."

Anytime I hear Carmona's name, I think of this.  Good times.

Courtesy of Sportsnet:

Hey Buck, what is the purpose of the necklaces that the players, mostly pitchers, wear? Dave Walters
BUCK: I just asked the Jays trainer the theory behind the necklaces as I wasn't sure. He told me they are Titanium and are thought to have an impact on the ionic composition of the body. The necklaces are said to help the body bring the chemical balance closer to normal and give the player a "refreshed" feeling. The same is thought about the copper bracelets you see some golfers wear. I am not sure how effective they are but the players wear them an awful lot. 

That takes care of that.  Thanks Buck.  

Courtesy of Globe Sports:

Paxton Affair Update:

Paxton was expected to be drafted higher last year, but teams feared both his bonus demands and Boras, called “one of the shrewdest and best-prepared negotiators in sports” by Beeston. Toronto offered a bonus in excess of $873,000 (all currency U.S.), the figure recommended by MLB’s head office, but it was not enough, and Paxton was one of two highly drafted Canadian pitchers who did not sign with the Jays.
“I don’t really know what their motivation was, or what their tactics were,” Paxton said. “It’s too bad we couldn’t get something figured out. We both kind of agreed to disagree.” 

Paxton is 1 -1 with a 5.11 ERA in 3 starts pitching against a bunch of nobody's.  Fuck em.  Looks good on him.

Courtesy of CBS:

Frasor sees velocity return: Toronto RP Jason Frasor lost velocity on his pitches earlier in the season and was worried that he could no longer dial it up like he used to. Frasor, however, told MLB.com that he is back to throwing as hard as he knows he can and it has helped his confidence of late. "I just kind of like to throw everything as hard as I can and see where that gets me," he said. "But it came back and hopefully it sticks."
(Updated 05/26/2010).

Fantasy Analysis
Frasor has given up one run over his last 11 innings with 11 strikeouts. Prior to that, Frasor had struggled with a 9.35 ERA over his first 10 games of the season. He has clearly turned things around but remains nothing more than a low-end middle reliever for the deepest of AL-only leagues that use true middle men at this point. 

Remember the good old days?  The Blue Jay Hunter sure does.


Game 50 Recap: It's Been A While

That right there is the grip used for quite possibily the best change up in the Major Leagues.

I have been watching as many games as I can. The west coast swing made it quite difficult to stay up and give you all a report. With the boys back in town for what use to be known as Flashback Fridays, I had a chance to make some notes.

Aaron Hill is running MUCH better. He didn't hesitate to advance to second base on a poor relay throw after his solid RBI single in the first inning. He even tagged up on a medium fly ball and went to third, eventually scoring on Bautista's triple. Neither of those leg plays were possible even a week ago. Important to have that speed in the two hole. He also homered on an 0 - 2 fastball / mistake that was up in the zone in the bottom of the 6th.

Buck Martinez referred to the Rogers Centre as the SkyDome during the Wieters at bat in the top of the 2nd. Wonder if there is a fine for that?

John Buck really controlled this game from behind the dish. He helped Marcum get out of trouble all day and made some huge blocks on balls in the dirt. That gives the pitcher confidence to throw the breaking ball in any count, in any situation. Buck even went to the outside indicator after veteran Miguel Tejada got to second base. As a former catcher, I was disappointed in the fact that I did not really know what the purpose of those signs were. Obviously, they are signals similar to the fingers but after a few phone calls to the crew, jaysaremy2ndfavoriteteam informed me that they are usually used to signal to the middle infielders on attempted pitch location. He used to be a shortstop, you see. Fucking little guys.

Roberto Alomar made a brief appearance in the booth with Pat and Buck. He is in town for the roll out of his new clothing line called Second 2 None.  After sucking The Cito's dick for a bit, he stated: "There have not been a lot of big, big numbers offensive wise" when discussing the Jays style of play this year. Apparently he has not been watching to close.  I wonder if he is going to stick around for a little Men's C slopitch on Monday night in Georgetown?   I'm being serious.  Click that link right now.

Starting pitcher Shaun Marcum had to work for this W. He struggled with his command a little bit but he was able to get out of a few jams and strand the base runners. In the 6th inning, his final inning, he reaches back into the tank and K'd the side. Impressive performance.

His line: 6 IP, 6 Hits, 0 ER, 2 BB, 7 K, 106 Pitches

How do you not mention V Dub?  He hit a laser beam in the bottom of the 6th inning giving him 12 on the year. It also put him second on the career all time list for home runs by a Toronto Blue Jay with 204. He now trails only King Carlos and his 336.


I will end with this: my prayers have been answered.  Lyle fucking Overbay and his .197 average got moved down in the order.  Thank fuck.  He responded with an 0 for 3.  Shocking.


Five Jays named to FSL North All-Star Team

First place Jays get two pitchers, two catchers and an infielder

Dunedin, FL The Florida State League announced their rosters for the 2010 Florida State League All-Star Game in Viera on Saturday, June 12, with five Dunedin Blue Jays players being selected to make the team.

Starting pitcher Henderson Alvarez, catchers Travis d’Arnaud and Yan Gomes and infielder Tyler Pastornicky were all voted to the team by team managers, official scorers and beat writers.

Dunedin closer Matt Daly was added to the team as a substitution after Tampa pitcher Hector Noesi was promoted to Double-A.

Both Tampa and Dunedin ended up with five selections, with Brevard County, Clearwater and Lakeland each having four. Daytona had three selections. South Division leading Bradenton led all teams with seven selections overall.

The Dunedin Blue Jays were at the top of the FSL North Division after Friday night’s action at 31-18 overall, and it was due to the hard work of their all-stars.

Alvarez, 20, has gone 5-1 with a 2.42 ERA in nine starts this season, striking out 31 and only walking nine. The right-handed starter was named the #5 prospect in the Blue Jays system by Baseball America at the start of the season.

D’Arnaud, 20, hit his fifth home run of the season on Friday night and is hitting .309 this season with 22 RBIs. The catcher has a team best .543 slugging percentage. He was acquired in an offseason trade that sent Roy Halladay to Philadelphia in exchange for d’Arnaud, Kyle Drabek and Michael Taylor.

Gomes, 22, is batting .286 on the season with 10 doubles and 14 RBIs. Also a catcher, Gomes is in his second season of professional baseball after being drafted in the 10th round of the 2009 draft out of Berry University.

Pastornicky, 20, is batting .263 and has split time between shortstop and second base this season. He has three home runs with 19 RBIs and has stolen a team-high 13 bases.

Daly, 23, has 14 saves in 15 opportunities with Dunedin this season, tops in the Florida State League. He has allowed a run in only three of his FSL-best 22 appearances this season.

Anyone else starting to get a bit nervous?

It's been a while since my last visit here @1BlueJaysWay, I've been stuck away on an island...but this time that pesky smoke monster is finally dead...

What brings me here this evening; is I'm getting a bit nervous...as some of you might know, I'm the glass is half full kinda guy around here...but after the rough past 10 we've had and what lies waiting for us next week and even the month of June, I'm getting a little uneasy...

It was this time last year + 1 Day to be exact that we just lost our NINTH game in a row and that was the tailspin that put us out for the rest of the year. We all remember how our hopes and dreams of a contending Toronto Blue Jays were crushed once again...

That brings me to this year, we've got a series against the Orioles this weekend and jesus f'in christ we better take at least two from them, if not sweep them...they're 15-33 before heading into this weekend...this of a team that was supposed to do better then us by most magazines in Feb and March...

Then we've got Tampa for 3, then the Yankees for 3 and then another 3 versus Tampa and THEN, then we start a run of 15 interleague games...ugh...for the record the Jays are 109 and 123 in these games...but I would have thought it would have been a lot worse, they never seem to do well against the NL teams...

I've been loving catching parts of games that I can watch and I'm loving watching the highlights in the morning...this is a great team to watch, they always seem to be in the game until the last out and I love that...there is no fall down and die this year...the Jays have something to prove, to the fans, to management and most importantly, to themselves...

But, the other half of the glass of me is just waiting for the carpet to be pulled out from under us and for us to come crashing down to reality...I really hope it's not in June because I really want this ride to last as long as it can...this was a team that some had predicted would lose a 100 games and be last in the AL East if not the bottom 2 or 3 in the American League...

If we can make it through June, who knows how Boy Wonder will start thinking about July and the trade deadline that lies ahead in the distance...


Catching Up With Former Blue Jay Chris Michalak

Former Blue Jay hurler Chris Michalak is currently the pitching coach for the Class-A level affiliate of the Washington Nationals, the Hagerstown Suns. Originally drafted by the Athletics in 1993, Michalak also pitched for the D-Backs, Rangers and last with the Reds, in 2006, during his Major League career. Michalak has hung around as a minor league stalwart in recent years, pitching for the Nationals, Marlins and Blue Jays organizations in the past few seasons. 1BlueJaysWay correspondent Jay Ballz had the opportunity to chat it up with Michalak this week and that interview lies ahead. 
Can I get some comments from you on the ups and downs so far this season with Hagerstown's pitching staff?
As of late, we've been- before these last two games- we've been pretty consistent. Our guys have been pounding the strike zone and getting batters to put the ball in play and our defense has been making the plays behind us. We've been doing okay and had a nice little run these past two weeks. And then we have a game like Wednesday (Suns' staff allowed 11 runs in a loss to Lakewood) but they're young and they're learning and they're starting to put some stuff together. Hopefully, they can keep it that way. 
As a veteran guy, who isn't too far removed from your own pitching career, what do you tell young guys when they struggle or when there are mistakes made behind them in the field?  
The biggest thing that a lot of these young guys fall into is, when things aren't going their way, they try to do too much. And all that we ask them to do is what they're capable of doing...executing their pitches, their fastball doesn't need to be any harder and their curveball doesn't need to be any sharper, they just need to execute the pitch and locate. That's the biggest thing that these guys need to learn, is that they just have to trust their stuff. 
Are there certain pitchers on the staff that you are extremely confident could have success at higher levels? 
I think all these guys definitely have a shot to pitch at higher levels if they trust their stuff. That's the biggest thing...is to gain confidence in themselves. 
What has the transition from player to coach been like for you?  
It's been fine, it's been good. I've been lucky to have this opportunity to stay in the game. I feel very fortunate that the Nationals gave me the opportunity to do this. It's been fun and I enjoy it and it's a lot of the same ups and downs as you go through as a player. 
What was the process like leading to you obtaining the job with Hagerstown as pitching coach?  
Basically, I was still asking around to see if anyone was interested in me pitching for them. I called the Nationals, I had been with them before, and knew a lot of people in the front office and among the on-field staff, and asked if there was any interest in me pitching, and they said that they were full, but they did have some interest in me as a coach if I was ready to start coaching. Things fell into line and I thought it was a good opportunity for me to start my coaching career. 
At what point did you know that you would eventually become a coach?  
Probably since I started playing this game. I really enjoy the game and I had been a player for so long, it just becomes a part of you. 
During your later playing years in the minor leagues, had you already taken on that role a bit, playing with so many younger guys?  
Guys would ask me certain things about how to go about your business and how to get prepared and things like that, and that was fine. When I was coming up, there were always some older guys who I would go and pick their brains and see how it was, so it's just part of the baseball family. People just pass things down. 
What was the process like catching on with the Toronto system last year, as a pitcher?  
With Toronto, it was a unique situation in that I still wanted to pitch. They gave me the opportunity to pitch, but still with the understanding that if things didn't work out that I was going to take over their pitching coach duties in the Gulf Coast League. So, I was in their extended spring training, doing pitching coach duties, staying in shape and pitching some innings there. I went to triple-A for four days, because they had some guys hurt and I also went to the Florida State League. And there were no other teams that were interested in me, so once the Gulf Coast League started up, I finished the season coaching there. They had offered me a job back, but the Nationals came through with this out of nowhere, while I was still looking to pitch, and this seemed like it was a better fit for me. There's no ill will with the Blue Jays, they're a quality organization. I just felt like this was a better fit for me and my family.  
What would you say are some key differences between the Toronto and Washington organizations?  
The pitching philosophies are still the same at this level. Throw strikes keep the ball down. Not much difference...  
What are your thoughts on former Blue Jays manager Buck Martinez?  
Buck's a good man. He told me that I made the staff in 2001. He's a very good man, a very kind man and I have nothing but good things to say about Buck. I see him once in a while and we cross paths and he's always got a smile on his face. 
How did you like calling Toronto and SkyDome home?  
I love that city. I loved playing there. I loved being part of the Blue Jays. Pitching up there was a great experience for me and the fans were very, very kind to me. I really enjoyed pitching there for them and even when I came back as a visitor, they were still kind to me. It's a quality city.

Follow Jay Ballz on Twitter by clicking HERE


What Is It Going To Take?

Every time I read a column about your Toronto Blue Jays and our "fast start" it seems to end with: But, they can't keep up the pace.  And to tell you the truth, I don't really believe we can keep up with the big boys either.  Our schedule in June, August and September is in a word, brutal.  We have the tag as a rebuilder, a team that was suppose to be uncompetitive and the "experts" are just taking those factors into account when reaching the conclusion that we can't stay in the race.  It has been beaten into my head and yours.

However, as of right now, this team is in the race.

I know it's still relatively early and as I said we have a tough schedule going into the dog days of summer.  But I can't help but feel like once we get Snider and Litsch back, there is enough talent on this roster to win our fair share of games.  Our rotation of Marcum, Romero, Cecil, Morrow and Litsch doesn't have a true ace but what it does have is some good arms that can keep us in ball games.  The bullpen is relatively good when compared to others around baseball.  I don't think I need to talk about the offense.  As I'm sure you have heard, it's pretty solid.

So what is it going to take?

We need 95 wins to make the playoffs.  Only once since 2005 has a team made it to the second season in the AL and not had that win total.

As I look at the roster, the only place we can truly upgrade is first base.  And we have some guy named Wallace in AAA waiting in the wings, so you have to figure that there will be no moves made to acquire a bat at that position.  The rest of the spots are held by players that are solid Major Leaguers, both with the bat and the glove (expect E5 at third).  So if we are going to make a run, I think it is fair to say, it's going to be with the guys we have now.  What if you put Bautista at one bag when Snider comes back?  Quick fix.....

Is it good enough?

According to Blair, Neyer and an anonymous ML executive, it is not.  Wilner mentions it almost every night on Jays Talk.

I guess we will have to wait till mid July and see what our record is then.  We have always needed the stars to align for a chance at meaningful baseball in September.....Is this the year?

     I just watched this movie again.  You should too.


Lugnuts split twinbill with Caps, 3-0 and 7-1

LANSING, Mich. – The Lansing Lugnuts (27-18) split a Tuesday night doubleheader with the West Michigan Whitecaps (17-29), falling in the opener 3-0 before cruising in the nightcap to a 7-1 victory at Cooley Law School Stadium.
In Game 1, Michael Rockett's two-run double backed a masterful effort from 19-year-old West Michigan starter Giovanni Soto.
Soto (4-3) tossed a four-hit complete game shutout, striking out six, to outduel Lugnuts prospect Chad Jenkins. It was the second four-hit seven-inning shutout against the Lansing lineup in four days, matching the Saturday performance by Great Lakes' Will Savage.
Jenkins (3-3) struck out five while allowing three runs on eight hits and two walks in 5 2/3 innings in the loss.
In Game 2, Aaron Loup (3-0) limited the Whitecaps to just two hits and one run in five innings and the Lugnuts banged out three consecutive RBI doubles in a four-run first inning on their way to the easy win.
Every member of the Lansing starting lineup had a base hit by the third inning, and the Lugnuts finished the game with 12 base hits to increase their league-leading team average to .274. West Michigan spot-starter Victor Larez (3-6) bore the brunt of the assault, serving up six runs on nine hits in just 2 1/3 innings.
Eric Eiland added a two-run triple and Ryan Goins doubled twice to spearhead the winning cause.
Nestor Molina allowed a hit over two scoreless innings to close out the victory.
The Lugnuts and Whitecaps will play the third game of their four-game series on Wednesday at 7:05 p.m., with Lansing starting right-hander Ryan Tepera (4-1, 3.55) against West Michigan right-hander Ramon Lebron (4-2, 3.63).


Eiland’s walk-off caps Lugnuts comeback

LANSING, Mich. – Mark Sobolewski's home run tied the score in the bottom of the ninth and Eric Eiland's RBI single in the tenth inning completed a thrilling Lansing Lugnuts (26-16) 5-4 victory over the Great Lakes Loons (27-16) on Sunday afternoon at Cooley Law School Stadium.
The win brought the third place Lugnuts within three games of first place Lake County in the Eastern Division race. 28 games remain in the first half.
Trailing 4-0 in the sixth inning, Brad McElroy's solo home run against Great Lakes starter Josh Wall snapped a streak of 24 consecutive scoreless innings for Lansing's offense.
Though the Lugnuts trimmed the deficit to a run in the eighth inning on an A.J. Jimenez RBI single and an Eiland sacrifice fly, the situation looked dire after Oliver Dominguez was caught stealing and Ryan Schimpf struck out swinging to open the ninth.
But Sobolewski came through, taking Loons relief ace Steve Smith long to square the score at 4-4. It was the first gopher ball served up all year by Smith, who entered the game with a 0.87 ERA.
In the tenth, Balbino Fuenmayor drilled a one-out double against Great Lakes' fireballing closer Luis Vasquez (1-1). Fuenmayor was replaced by pinch-runner Chris Hopkins, who came racing for the plate on Eiland's sharp line drive to left-center.
Dustin Antolin (2-2) earned the victory for Lansing with a scoreless top of the tenth inning.
Both Sobolewski and McElroy collected three hits and scored two runs in the winning cause for the Lugnuts.
Nuts right-hander Dave Sever allowed one run on six hits in five innings in his first start since April 20th. Matt Wright allowed three runs (two earned) in an inning of relief, with Scott Gracey pitching shutout ball from the seventh through the ninth innings.
The Lugnuts and Loons play the finale in their four-game series on Monday night at 7:05, pitting Lansing left-hander Evan Crawford (3-1, 2.75) against Great Lakes right-hander Brett Wallach (3-0, 2.81).


Weekly Round Up: May 17 - 23

Consider this your required reading for the week.  I could tell you the real story but I think that would get me in a pile of trouble.....

Courtesy of Roto Authority:

In turn, 27 pitchers lost at least 1.0 mph:
  1. Ricky Romero - 1.2
  2. Brandon Morrow - 1.0
A couple of our boys lost some zip on the old number one.  In the case of Morrow, it's probably due to the fact he has been converted to a starter.  Some pretty impressive names on the list if you want to check it out.

Courtesy of The Biz of Baseball:

Kevin Millar became a cult hero for Red Sox fans with his iconic "Cowboy Up" rallying cry after joining the Red Sox in 2003. He was a key member of the Red Sox 2004 World Series Championship team. The 12 year major league veteran, played for 4 different teams (Marlins, Red Sox, Orioles and Blue Jays) compiling a .274 career batting average with 170 home runs. Since retiring in April of this year, Millar also recently joined MLB Network as a studio analyst.

Fuck. This. Guy.  He is going to make more money now than if he was playing.....Scab.

Courtesy of MLBTR:

This was expected to be a consolidation year for the Blue Jays - set the bargain-basement rotation loose, let Travis Snider develop, trade away veteran relievers.  Instead, rookie GM Alex Anthopoulos has to be considering making midseason upgrades for a once-improbable playoff run.
The offense has three glaring issues: designated hitter, first base, and second base.  In other words, Adam Lind, Lyle Overbay, and Aaron Hill have disappointed, and it is to some extent balancing out surprising contributions by other hitters.  We're talking of samples of less than 200 plate appearances for each, so it's very possible the best course of action is to just give each player more time to rediscover his 2009 form.

When MLBTR starts talking about if we become buyers.....yikes.  Everyone just leave us alone and let us continue to smash the shit out of the ball in peace.  Make sure to check out the comments, a whole lotta people saying stay the course Alex.

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

Ricky feels there are misconceptions about his home town that need to be corrected.
“That there’s gangs, that it’s unsafe, that there’s a lot of killing,” Romero began. “That’s the misconception. I never had a problem. Was there gangs? Yes, actually there is. But what neighbourhood is out there that’s a tough neighbourhood where there are not. That’s why I feel like I’m strong. I don’t let anything get in the way of what I’m trying to do. I’m so driven and so proud of where I come from that it’s in my roots and I’m never going to forget it.”
Gabe has not had the same on-field success at Roosevelt as did his brother, although coaches from Cal-State Fullerton and Long Beach St. are coming out to have a look at the senior pitcher. If personality and respect count in these decisions, Jays pitching coach Bruce Walton believes that Gabe will be a success. The younger brother joined Ricky in Oakland last season and Walton spent some one-on-one time giving him lessons and watching him handle the major-league environment.

Dick gets an exclusive with Ricky and his brother.  Nice read.

Courtesy of Yahoo Sports:

Toronto Blue Jays right-hander Dustin McGowan, sidelined since July 2008 because of shoulder surgery and a subsequent knee injury, is throwing and playing catch. Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos says Friday that McGowan is throwing from 60 feet and his right shoulder rehabilitation is going well.
McGowan left a game on July 8, 2008, because of a sore right shoulder that required surgery. Delays in rehabilitation, including right knee surgery, sidelined him for all of 2009.
Right-hander Jesse Litsch (elbow surgery) is eligible to come off the 60-day DL the first week of June. Lefty Brian Tallet will pitch next Tuesday for Triple-A Las Vegas as he attempts to return from a 15-day DL stint because of left forearm stiffness.

Help is on the way folks!  Number 5 guy Dana Eveland is probably going to lose his job soon.  Not to sure who else is on the block.  Bullpen has been pretty good.  Is there maybe a trade coming?  If so, who do you want to see gone?

Loons end Lugnuts' streak with doubleheader sweep

LANSING, Mich. – The Lansing Lugnuts' (25-16) eight-game winning streak came to a punchless end on Saturday night, halted in a deja vu-filled pair of 2-0 losses to the Great Lakes Loons (27-15) before a crowd of 8,314 at Cooley Law School Stadium.
With the evening's outcomes, the Loons leapfrogged the Lugnuts into second place in the Midwest League's Eastern Division.
In Game 1, Great Lakes starter Will Savage (3-1) earned the victory with a four-hit shutout, striking out six Lugnuts batters in the process.
The Loons supported their veteran right-hander with a Blake Smith RBI double in the first inning and a Christian Lara sacrifice fly in the second inning against Lansing starter Ryan Shopshire.
Shopshire (2-3) twirled a complete game in the losing cause, allowing seven hits and two walks while striking out three.
The dual complete games marked each team's first such performances of the season.

In Game 2, Great Lakes scored a pair of first inning runs, including another RBI double from Smith and rode fine efforts from Elisaul Pimentel and Rubby De La Rosa to the victory.
Pimentel (3-3) picked up the win, striking out seven while scattering two hits and five walks in five innings. De La Rosa notched his second save of the year with two scoreless innings, whiffing four.
Lansing spot-starter Nestor Molina (3-2) suffered the loss, allowing four hits and two runs in 4 2/3 innings. Aaron Loup (1.0 inning) and Casey Beck (1.1 innings) each allowed two hits in scoreless relief efforts.
Ryan Schimpf hit safely in each game for the Lugnuts, but the Midwest League's top hitting team was held to only eight base hits in 47 at-bats.
The Lugnuts and Loons play the third game in their four-game series on Sunday at 2:05 p.m., pitting Lansing right-hander Dave Sever (1-1, 3.43) against Great Lakes right-hander Josh Wall (0-2, 4.50).


Random Jays Facts!

All stats are before the start of play today, May 22nd.

25 - 19 overall record.
.568 winning percentage.
2 games back of the wild card.
6 games behind the division leader.
6 - 8 record in 1 run games.
14 - 8 record on the road and 11 - 11 record at home.

We lead the Major Leagues in:

Hitting Stats

At Bats with 1507
Doubles with 110
Home Runs with 72
Total Bases with 705
Slugging Percentage with .468
Extra Base Hits with 188
Ground Outs with 367
Air Outs with 367

Pitching Stats

Innings Pitched with 394.2
Strike Outs with 339
Wild Pitches with 25

Fielding Stats

Put Outs with 1184

We are in the Top 5 in the Majors in:

Hitting Stats

Runs Scored with 224 (tied 4th)
Runs Batted In with 220 (3rd)
Strike Outs with 361 (2nd)
Times Caught Stealing with 5 (4th)
Grounded Into Double Plays with 24 (4th)
Total Plate Appearances with 1674 (3rd)

Pitching Stats

Wins with 25 (tied 4th)
Saves with 15 (tied 2nd)
Save Opportunities with 21 (tied 2nd)
Hit Batters with 18 (3rd)
Ground Outs with 473 (4th)
Percentage of Ground Outs vs Air Outs with 1.70 (5th)

Fielding Stats

Total Chances with 1692 (2nd)
Assists with 486 (2nd)
Errors with 22 (tied 5th)
Double Plays Converted with 47 (5th)
Fielding Percentage with .987 (tied 4th)
Runners Caught Stealing with 14 (tied 4th)

Any thoughts?


Tepera tames Dragons for Nuts’ 8th straight win

DAYTON, Ohio – Brad McElroy homered and Ryan Tepera pitched into the ninth inning as the Lansing Lugnuts (25-14) won their eighth straight game, 3-2 over the Dayton Dragons (18-22) on Thursday night at Fifth Third Field.
After the Lugnuts took a 2-0 lead in the first inning, Tepera (4-1) allowed RBI triples in the second and third innings to tie the score before clamping down on the Dragons lineup. The Texan right-hander set down 15 batters in a row between the fourth and ninth innings, exiting after Henry Rodriguez's one-out single in the ninth.
Steve Turnbull relieved Tepera and recorded the game's final outs for his tenth save in as many chances.
McElroy's home run provided the difference, a line shot to right field against Dayton starter Justin Walker (1-5) with one out in the fourth inning.
Lansing shortstop Ryan Goins extended his hitting streak to 10 games and his on-base streak to 16 games with a bunt single in the first inning.
The Lugnuts next return home for an eight-game, seven-day homestand at Cooley Law School Stadium. First, the Great Lakes Loons come to town for a four-game set, with the opener scheduled for Friday night at 7:05 p.m. Nuts right-hander Ryan Shopshire (2-2, 5.98) will oppose Loons right-hander Will Savage (2-1, 2.53) in the starting matchup.

Marcum and Neyer

We had a Shaun Marcum sighting in Dayton today. Shaun's grandmother passed away -- condolences to his family -- and it made sense from a locational standpoint for him to get in a side session here with the Lugnuts.
As a habitual Rob Neyer reader, this piece on the Jays caught my eye.
The finishing quote, after Rob gives his reasons why he distrusts the Jays' start: "I wish I had better news.... But I just don't see these Jays as better than a .500 team, and I think they're probably more likely to finish below than above."
I'm not one to try his hand at forecasting the future, whether in politics, weather, or sports. There's too much uncertainty. Unless key injuries pop up, I'm going to keep on riding the optimistic wave -- even though I understand where Rob's coming from and see the potential pitfalls.
It helps, too, that I didn't expect as much from this year as I expect in the years to come, so all of this current success is gravy.
Your thoughts?
(Our game tonight is currently being threatened by a potentially toxic scrap-iron fire. Man oh man.)


A Lesson in Minor League Pitchers, Over-Simplified

If you know how to throw at least one good pitch... you're in Rookie ball or Extended Spring Training.
If you know how to throw at least one good pitch AND you know where it's going... you're in Single-A.
If you know how to throw at least two good pitches AND you know where only one of those pitches is going... you're in High-A.
If you know how to throw at least one or two great pitches and one good pitch AND you know where only one of those pitches is going... you're in Double-A.
If you know how to throw at least one or two great pitches and one good pitch AND you know where those pitches are going... you're in the Majors.
It's true. A pitcher who can command great stuff is only stuck in Triple-A if his Major League team is stalling to save money later on (Washington, Strasburg) or has no open spots in their starting rotation (Tampa Bay, Hellickson).
Triple-A is the placeholder league -- and that's why it's great to see the Blue Jays' Triple-A hitters (I'm looking at you, Brett Wallace) mashing the ball on their way to upcoming promotion.

Lugnuts rout Dragons, 9-3, for 7th straight win

DAYTON, OhioThe Lansing Lugnuts (24-14) knocked out 13 hits and used another quality start from Chad Jenkins to rout the Dayton Dragons (18-21), 9-3, on Wednesday night at Fifth Third Field, the Lugnuts' seventh victory.
Ryan Schimpf set the tone three batters into the game, lacing his first home run since Opening Day -- also, coincidentally, at Fifth Third Field.
Every Lugnuts starter hit safely, with Ryan Goins, Brad McElroy, Balbino Fuenmayor, and Eric Eiland each notching a pair of base hits. In the process, shortstop Goins extended his hitting streak to nine games and his on-base streak to 15 games.
The offensive barrage came in support of the 22-year-old Jenkins (3-2), Toronto's 2009 first round pick, who struck out seven batters while allowing only a trio of sixth inning runs in seven strong frames.
The Lugnuts received scoreless work from their bullpen, with Dustin Antolin pitching the eighth and Aaron Loup handling the ninth inning.
Dayton starter Josh Ravin (2-3) suffered the loss, gashed for nine hits and seven runs (five earned) in 5 2/3 innings.
Lansing goes for a eighth straight win and a sweep of the host Dragons on Thursday at 7:00 p.m. Nuts right-hander Ryan Tepera (3-1, 3.86) will oppose Dayton left-hander Justin Walker (1-4, 6.57).
The Lugnuts return home on May 21st to open a eight-game homestand. Tickets to all Lugnuts home games at Cooley Law School Stadium are available for purchase online at www.lansinglugnuts.com, at the stadium box office, and by calling 517-485-4500.

"Off-Day?" Say what now?

Here, now, a regular post from me instead of my Lugnuts game recaps!
Full-season Minor League Baseball teams play 140/142 games in a year between April 8 and September 6, which doesn't leave too much room for off-days.
There's one day off in April, one day off in May (Monday), six days in June (four of those for the All-Star Break), three days off in July, and one day off in August.
Considering that the Lugnuts spent their April off-day playing Michigan State University in the Crosstown Showdown... and this team gets just one scheduled day off between April 8th and June 6th. Yes, everyone roots for rainouts.
So how did we spent that off-day? Sleeping, mostly. We were on the road, in rainy Dayton, Ohio. Not the best place to have a day off -- but you take it anywhere you can get it.
Still, this team doesn't look too tired. The Nuts are in the midst of a seven-game winning streak built on great offense, great defense, and great pitching. Today top prospect Chad Jenkins put forth seven strong innings and the lineup collected 13 hits in a 9-3 rout.
The Lugnuts are 24-14 now; at this same time last year, they were 14-24.
Is it a long season? Yes, but if you're winning, that's a good thing.

Lugnuts win 6th straight, 6-3 over Dayton

DAYTON, OhioOn Tuesday night at Fifth Third Field, Balbino Fuenmayor went 3-for-4 with three RBIs and the Lansing Lugnuts (23-14) doubled up the host Dayton Dragons (18-20), 6-3, for their sixth straight win.
Fuenmayor lined a two-run single to cap off a four-run third inning against Dayton starting pitcher J.C. Sulbaran (3-2), and then finished off a two-run eighth with another RBI single.
That provided enough offense for Lugnuts starter Evan Crawford (3-1), who allowed two runs over five innings to earn the win. Dave Sever struck out four while giving up a run in three relief innings, and Steve Turnbull pitched a perfect ninth for his ninth save in as many opportunities.
The Dragons had their opportunities but went 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position and committed three errors that led to four unearned runs.
A fluke play cost Dayton another offensive chance in the seventh inning. With Efrain Contreras at first base and one out, Frank Pfister crushed a fly ball over the glove of leaping left fielder Eric Eiland and off the wall. An overly-cautious Contreras retreated to first base as Pfister obliviously passed him on the basepaths. Alert home plate umpire Jeff Klinghoffer immediately ruled Pfister out. An Alex Oliveras strikeout later and the inning was over.
Lansing goes for a seventh straight win on Wednesday night at 7:00 p.m., sending right-hander Chad Jenkins (2-2, 3.59) against Dayton right-hander Josh Ravin (2-2, 2.52).
The Lugnuts return home on May 21st to open a seven-day, eight-game homestand.


Bret Hart Rocks Blue Jays Jersey, Wins Title

Legendary professional wrestler Bret "The Hitman" Hart appeared at WWE's live Monday Night Raw program this week in Toronto's Air Canada Centre. Hart opened the show by walking into the arena sporting a Blue Jays jersey, to the delight of the hometown crowd.

Hart undoubtedly is the most successful Canadian pro wrestler in history, having won multiple world titles and other championships throughout his career. Hart had been retired from active wrestling for years, after suffering from post-concussion syndrome in late 1999-early 2000. However, he returned to WWE this year for a stint that was supposed to be a one-time return to face WWE owner Vince McMahon in a match at this year's Wrestlemania.

That brief return has been extended as, somehow, the 52-year-old Hart has been convinced to sign an extension with WWE and was challenged by MTV Real World alum and United States champion Mike "The Miz" Mizanin. Bret Hart defeated Mizanin on Monday night to become WWE's United States Heavyweight title holder. Good luck was no doubt brought The Hitman's way because of his chosen baseball affiliation.

1BlueJaysWay wishes the Hall of Famer continued success and great health going forward in his wrestling endeavors.

Photos courtesy of WWE.com
Click here to check out footage of Hart's Toronto Raw opening.
Follow Jay Ballz on Twitter by clicking HERE


Really Early Elias Free Agent Rankings

In a much earlier post, I discussed the Elias Free Agent Rankings in detail.  Consider it a prerequisite for this post.

MLBTR has put up some "projected" rankings.  I'm not sure what formula they used, nor can I vouch for the accuracy of said formula.  But it is something and it effects some potential moves for your Toronto Blue Jays moving forward this season. 

First we will head over to Cot's Baseball Contracts and get some data on our players contract status.  From that I can say that the following players are able to file for free agency in November, 15 days after the World Series ends:

Lyle Overbay
Scott Downs
Jason Frasor
John Buck

The following players have an option that may be exercised for the 2011 campaign.

Kevin Gregg
Jose Molina
Alex Gonzalez

The rest of our boys are under club control next season.  Let's not speculate about the options to much because you have to think the only one that will be debated is Kevin Gregg's: 

11:$4.5M club option or $8.75M club option for 2011-12 ($0.75M buyout) 

I guess the brain trust has to decide if they want to pay him 8.75M over the next two years to help out the back end of the pen.  Based on his early performance I have to say that seems reasonable.  But there are still 123 games to go and a lot can happen.

Anyways, back to the point.  According to the data provided by MLBTR here are the rankings for our actual free agents:

Lyle O for today: 42.222
Scott Downs: 69.887
Jason Frasor: 67.029
John Buck: 58.036 


Lyle fucking Overbay is a whopping 18 points away from being a type B free agent.  If he doesn't pick it up SUBSTANTIALLY then when he signs with another team we will receive no compensation ie draft pick(s).  He may be lucky to get a major league contract offer at this rate.  As we learned from the Rod Barajas signing, a major league deal must be inked in order to receive compensation.  All hopes of getting a decent prospect in return for this stiff via trade just went out the window.  Which begs the following questions: 

Why the fuck are we still running him out there everyday and in the five hole no less?  
Is The Cito doing a Kevin (scab) Millar circa late 2009 and giving him playing time so he can get a decent contract for another team next year? 

John Buck is just barely a type B.  Which is good news.  He is going to have to keep up the production in order to hold onto that status.  If we offered arbitration and he declines the offer, then we could get a sandwich pick between the first and second round of the 2011 Amateur Draft.  He is making a tidy 2 million this year.  There are no guarantees he declines the arbitration offer which would cockblock our catching prospects for another year.     

Scott Downs is a borderline type A free agent which is a double edged sword.  We would receive the signing teams first round pick, unless it is protected (top 15) then we receive a second rounder, and a sandwich pick.  Most teams do not want to give that much up to sign a reliever especially one that is not a closer.  Provided he maintains that status he may get squeezed on the open market.  It may end up that we resign him for cheap just before spring training.  It would be preferred that he drops a bit in the rankings and becomes a type B.  That would make the decision to offer him arbitration much easier.

Jason Frasor is in the upper tier of type B guys.  It would be great if he stays that way.

Kevin Gregg is an interesting thought exercise.  He is a projected type A and if he keeps mowing down hitters and racking up saves, he will remain that way.  Do you decline the options, offer him free agency and then hope he declines?  What if he accepts?  Do you exercise the options and keep him around through the 2012 season?  Or do you trade him and demand a high level prospect in return?  


Type B relievers are the way to go.  We can demand a sandwich type prospect in return at the deadline and expect to get it.  Travis d'Arnaud was a sandwich pick.  Downs and Frasor could net this return.  I have to figure that Downs will drop in the rankings and I'm pretty sure he won't get many save opportunities this year in order to ensure it.

If some team wants Buck and is willing to pay that price we have to ship him out.  We get nothing for him if he drops out of type B status, which is possible but not likely.  I have the feeling he accepts the arbitration offer.  No real reason to support that but I think he wants to be here.

Kevin Gregg is the X factor.  His free agent status and contract make it very difficult to say what his future will be with the club.  I think that if he keeps the type A status then we exercise his options.  If he drops to type B, then we decline and offer him arbitration.  And if someone offers us something good for him then we trade him.   

Alex Gonzalez will be a Blue Jay in 2011.  We can talk about him later.