There is always the option of focusing on other projects and letting the chips fall where they may, eh.
It has worked wonders for Joe Posnanski's first-place Cleveland Naps in the SHL. All the tinkering and tweaking can't seem to budge the All-Time Jays out of their even-Steven routine; bearing in mind that this is just data representing flesh-and-blood baseball men, the club went just .500 in August (12-12). It's going into September with the same two-game lead it had on Aug. 1.
There are some success stories with the Las Vegas-to-Toronto shuttle. A.J. Burnett (4-1, 4.08, 1.17 WHIP) has been nails, though, with the club winning in his last five starts. Juan Guzmán, shades of Doug Linton during the 1992 pennant race, matched up well in a spot start against Randy Johnson, allowing the ATJs to pull out an eventual extra-inning win on a Freddie McGriff homer in the 10th. That victory, in the middle of a series win over D-Rocks (three out of four), is keeping the team in first place.
Inserting Willie Upshaw in left field on a hunch hasn't worked out. He went 2-for-4 with a triple in his debut, but after that promising start, has pulled a Nortel lately and is hitting .260/.296/.360. Orlando Hudson has had his moments, hitting .391 (9-for-23) as an occasionally fill-in third baseman (he even had to go behind the plate for one inning in a game after both catchers had been used).
The hitting, outside of Carlos Delgado and his league-leading 1.055 OPS and Devon White tearing it up in August (.318/.368/.471 for the month), has been garden variety. The upshot here is that the Jays have a chance to go on a run after their Sept. 1 game vs. Poz's stacked Clevelanders, since their next five series are all against sub-.500 clubs. Their eight games left vs. their pursuers, the D-Rock and the Seattle Mariners (three games back), are all at home, where the club has played .600 ball this season. Here's the remaining schedule.
Sept. 2-5: Home to Fla./Tampa Bay (38-83)No one said it would be easy. The hard is what makes it great, kids. A couple notes from the last fortnight of imaginary baseball.
Sept. 6, 8: at Chicago White Sox (59-62)
Sept. 9-11: at Kansas City (49-72)
Sept. 13, 15-16: vs. Milwaukee (52-69)
Sept. 17-18: at Baltimore (54-67)
Sept. 19-20, 22-23: vs. Ariz./Col. (62-59)
Sept. 24-25: vs. N.Y. Yankees (62-59)
Sept. 26-27: at Boston (76-45)
Sept. 29-30: at Minnesota (69-52)
Oct. 1-2: at Pittsburgh (73-48)
Oct. 3-4: at L.A. Dodgers (60-61)
Oct. 5-8: vs. Seattle (61-60)
King Carlos: First baseman Carlos Delgado leads the SHL in OPS (1.055) and slugging (.634), ahead of a couple guys named Lou Gehrig and Reggie Jackson. He also has team-leading Triple Crown stats (.324, 31 homers and 87 RBI). The leaderboard only gives the top five players in each category, but presumably his .421 on-base percentage is sixth-best in the league. Present-day Jays coach Gene Tenace, who plays for San Diego, is fifth at .422.
How nice would it be to have a DH? Don't ask. Fred McGriff sits on the All-Time Jays bench since he's blocked by Delgado. Meantime, his Atlanta self is on-basing .400 and slugging .607 with a team-leading 24 homers. His 1.007 OPS is fourth in the league.
The Toronto iteration of Troy Glaus has not been totally bad (.246/.323/.436, 15 HR, 53 RBI in 289 at-bats). His Arizona self, meantime, is leading the league with 37 homers, two ahead of Seattle Mariners DH Ken Phelps.
Bullpen bolstered: Sidearmer Mark Eichhorn and lefty B.J. Ryan, between them, allowed only two earned runs in 20 1/3 innings in August. Ike has a 0.77 ERA in 31 appearances, shades of 1986, when he almost won an ERA title as a rubber-armed reliever for the Jays.