Sunday, August 26, 2007


Sunday -- Angels 3, Jays 1: The scrutiny devoted to Gregg Zaun is bound to pick up a little more after he popped out with the tying run aboard in the sixth and had a throwing error on a stolen-base attempt that allowed L.A. to tack on an insurance run.

Zaun, coming into today's game, had a .690 OPS as a catcher — below league-average for his position. Is that what fans should settle for?

Saturday -- Jays 9, Angels 2: Consider that a market fluctuation, the Jays putting up nine runs and the Angels' Maicer Izturis and Howie Kendrick pulling a rock on the bases.

Izturis made the last out of the fourth inning at third base. Lo and behold, it cost the Angels a run since Kendrick had somehow managed not to touch home plate by the time Izturis was tagged out.

(Does anyone remember a game at old Exhibition Stadium in '88 where that scenario -- runner gets tagged out at third for the third out just as a teammate was reaching the plate -- happened once on each side? Lloyd Moseby took his time getting home, only to have Fred McGriff thrown out at third; a few innings later, the same thing happened to the Tigers, but the run counted. Fortunately for the Tigers, Matt Nokes, a catcher, on that night, could get from second to home faster than the Shaker.)

Let the record show that Mike Wilner had a pretty savvy caller (looking at you, The Tao of Stieb) call in to suggest a trade that's semi-halfway close to plausible: Adam Lind and a pitcher for Cleveland shortstop prospect Asdrubal Cabrera.

Cabrera, who's 21, has put up an .837 on-base plus slugging in the pitcher-friendly Eastern League. Unlike Sergio Santos, his long-term destination is actually shortstop -- words such as "Gold Glove candidate" are being bandied about.

Look, more people calling in to advocate for John McDonald to play every day -- one guy compared him Tony Fernandez as a young hitter. Our head's about to explode.

Friday -- Angels 3, Jays who cares: At least Roy Halladay wasn't half bad after piling up a big pitch count in his last out -- the hitters were bad in full, but what else is new?

What was with starting seven righty hitters vs. Jered Weaver, who is getting raked at a .300 clip (.773 OPS) by left-handers? (Righties are hitting .258/.717 against him.)

Sunday, 3:30 -- Angels righty Kelvim Escobar (14-6, 2.85, 1.19 WHIP) vs. Dustin McGowan (8-7, 4.19, 1.29 WHIP): Be wary, very wary -- the Jays don't hit their old friend very well.

Thursday -- Jays 5, Angels 4: Our earlier suspicion that great-field, no-hit shortstop John McDonald (pictured) wears the championship belt as the Toronto's most beloved marginal pro athlete has been confirmed.

He didn't even play in this game and still was Topic Du Jour on the post-game show. It's teeth-gnashing to this A-hole baseball know-it-all to see the respect for Johnny Mac's great fielding get dumbed down. (Drunk Jays Fans was on about this a while back.) He hasn't played enough to be a Gold Glove candidate.

Every sports city has this phenomena, but in Toronto there's a functioning ideology that venerates the likes of Bill Berg, Tie Domi, Matt Bonner, Lou Franschetti (who was actually recognized at the Maple Leaf Gardens closing ceremony) as part of a grand cavalcade of adequacy. People twist themselves into half-baked pretzels trying to argue the greatness of someone who's merely good. Why can't they just nut up and admit it's safer to identify with John McDonald and his limited skills? That way, you never get hurt the way you do when you align yourself with a player fow whom the sky's supposed to be the limit (see Culpepper, Daunte; and Moss, Randy, Minnesota Vikings 1999-2004). Hey, it's human nature.

People who should know better are trying to convince themselves McDonald can do the job and trotting out Grade 7 arguments. Some stugots called in to The Fan 590 and asked Mike Wilner why the Jays can't put up with McDonald's hitting since, well, National League teams put up with pitchers batting in the No. 9 spot. Guh. Maybe because they play in the American League with the designated hitter rule?

For pity's sake, tonight Sportsnet's Rance Mulliniks managed to work in a contention that Johnny Mac "doesn't get a lot of credit" for his fielding and McDonald wasn't even playing.

The irony is that the most valuable defensive shortstop in the American League, the Angels' Orlando Cabrera, actually was on the field tonight. Not long after Mulliniks' comment, Cabrera made a Gold Glove play, dashing into the outfield to catch a little looper that had more spin than a Roger Federer topspin forehand at Roland Garros. The Sportsnet guys noted it was a nice play, but didn't mention anything about a Gold Glove.

The other kicker to this is that the Jays actually have a Gold Glove candidate in the infield in Aaron Hill, who's right up there among American League second baseman.

Oh, and we love John McDonald's defence too. The reality is, as Wilner pointed out, he's by far the worst hitter among all shortstops with 200 plate appearances.

Right, there was a game: Young Jesse Litsch was good enough and fortunate against the majors' best home team.

Two Angels lefty-hitting regulars, Chone Figgins -- who's hotter than the creators of Superbad this week -- and Casey Kotchman didn't play. Left-handers were raking Opie for an .830 on-base plus slugging coming into the game. This win was the great organizing principle looking down beneficiently and saying, "Awwwwww, what the hell, these guys deserve a break, we've been messing with them a lot lately."

How else to explain Matt Stairs capping some two-out lightning (four straight hits in the fith) with a go-ahead two-run double? He's only supposed to be good for "an occasional Stairs long-ball." Some smart guy said so!

That's all for now. Send your thoughts to


Pete Toms said...

From what I gleen from the Fantasy News on ESPN, don't expect to see either Figgins or Kotchman this series - a bit of a break for TO. Of bigger concern to LA ( are they LA ? ) are the recent struggles of Shields. Seattle is only 1 game back.

Jeff Blair, back to covering the Jays, thank god, ( I don't think Robert MacLeod is much of a ball fan ) after covering Bonds and having a holiday, reported a few days back that the Jays aren't gonna be making any notable player moves this offseason. I don't expect much either.

I haven't seen rumors but would the Jays move Burnett? More importantly, is there a market for AJ? His 11 million per year ( neighborhood estimate ) doesn't look as absurd as it did a few years back. You really don't get a lot for that kinda money right now in the pitching market. There are probably worse gambles out there.

I also think that the Jays might "do something" to generate some optimism in the GTA. It's tough to come back with the same cast after a crap season and tell the faithful that their luck will be better this year and they'll win. A lot of Jays fans would be happy to see him gone. He's come to represent the pampered, spoiled, tempermental, selfish contemporary athlete.

Is anybody notable leaving or is the core returning intact?

Tyler King said...

The only big ones that are free agents are Stairs and McDonald.

And JP would be an idiot to move Burnett when his value is this low - he'd have to eat up a big chunk of his salary and get very little in return. Instead, let him pitch. When he's healthy, he helps the team quite a bit.

Pete Toms said...

Tyler, I'm with you, I don't think AJ is leaving either. I'm just tryin to stir the pot a bit. I don't necessarily think the Jays would have to eat any of his salary though, as I said, his salary doesn't look as bad as it did.

So what are Godciarrdi gonna peddle this winter and spring? New Manager & good health in 08? I'm in JP's corner, I think this is a good team over 162 games if everyone is relatively healthy but it doesn't play very well in the papers and on talk radio during the offseason.

BTW, I read that Wells is in line for some whopping bonus money. When I see the Jays talking about payroll, does the number they quote include this money. I think it's in excess of 10 million or something like that, it's significant.

Pete Toms said...

Trade conjecture, we baseball fans enjoy nothing more!

Cabrera is a good prospect. He recently supplanted Barfield as the Indians everyday 2nd baseman and last nite was moved up to the 2 spot in the Indians order. Whether or not this is the situation in 08....we'll see how Cabrera performs the remainder of the season.

As for the Indians OF, yes TOS is on to something, it has been a problem for them ( see acquisition of Lofton ). Nixon has disappointed and I don't think will be back. Guitierrez has been a true find but beyond that....The Indians best OF prospect Crowe has been decent at AA this year, Choo's season was pretty much a write off due to injuries ( I think he's a 4th OF ) Barton is a CF not a corner OF, Francisco I think is another 4th OF type.

Yeah, it's plausible, think JP heard it?

Tyler King said...

Considering the alternative was Rod Barajas, he of the barely over .700 OPS without the redeeming blocking skills of Zaun, he definitely should be starting. If not him, who? Thigpen?