Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Jusssst a bit outside: the Toronto Blue Jays preview

It's the time of the year when you sit on a couch for hours with a baseball preseason magazine, a bag of sunflower seeds and your old glove, at least until the manager of The Brick politely asks you to leave before he calls the cops. There aren't enough hours to chew over all the minutia of baseball, but duty calls to preview the MLB season. In the spirit of that, we'll have 30 notes and errata on each team (20 plus 10, eh), in reverse order of PECOTA projection. First up: the Toronto Blue Jays.
  1. 'Lex saves the world. The 32-year-old rookie GM, Alex Anthopoulos, is right on time for a franchise who finally had a moment of clarity and realized it cannot build a winner from trades and free agency.

    Anthopoulos will have as much of a honeymoon period as he needs, since he's both Canadian and pretty smart.

  2. So subtle: The Jays are running a series of TV and radio promos voiced by new play-by-play man Buck Martinez, who was a Blue Jays catcher and broadcaster during the glory days. It's hard not to notice that when Martinez points out "it didn't happen overnight," there's footage from the 1977 home opener followed by a clip of Hall of Famer Roberto Alomar's iconic home run off fellow Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley in the '92 playoffs.

    Judging from that 15-year jump in time, that must mean look out for the Jays in 2025. By then, they'll be in another division and manager Cito Gaston might even be ready to hit Travis Snider as high as sixth.

  3. Lots more to come: Second baseman Aaron Hill (36 homers last season) and Adam Lind (35, plus a .932 OPS) deserve all the superlatives they get. This is not a set-up for a cheap joke about how between Aaron, Adam and a GM named Alex, the Jays are a great Triple-A team.

    Aaron Hill's most similar batter through age 27 is Michael Young. No irony there for a Jays fan!

  4. Why they will not leave Toronto, in four words: They're. Cheap. Cable. Programming.

  5. Why you're scared they will, in five words: Who wants to own them?

    Rogers Communication is a bad corporate parent, but outside of them, it's hard to imagine anyone stepping up to buy the team. (By the way, if you do a Google News search and see a Detroit News headline that says "no Rogers," don't get your hopes up.)

  6. Pre-emptive attack on Vernon Wells: Gaston, whom The Tao of Stieb refers to only as The Manager, wants Wells to hit cleanup, where his career OPS is .772.

  7. Pre-emptive defence of Vernon Wells: One can already anticipate what might get written during the dog days of summer if Wells is scuffling along like last season, when he on-based .311 and slugged .400. He would have a hard time being that bad again (although the power is gone).

    Let's just point out there's some irony in Wells taking heat over a bad contract signed during the reign of former Jays president Paul Godfrey, from journalists who collectively have been affected by deals brokered by Paul Godfrey. Yep, same guy.

  8. You can never have enough young pitching: No one on the Jays roster has ever twirled, tossed or thrown 200 innings in a major league season. Funny, that same factoid came up last season with the Washington Nationals.

  9. That's the Cito logic: Jose Bautista's career split vs. right-handed pitching is .260/.316/.366. That's what you want from a leadoff hitter.

  10. What to look forward to: Lind winning another Silver Slugger Award. Whiny articles from dilettantes who need the "Joe Carter is not walkin' through that door" speech. Overhearing people at Rogers Centre ask if that's the same Alex Gonzalez at shortstop that the Jays had back in 2000. Following centrefield prospect Jake Marisnick's Twitter updates.

  11. Better days: Imagine a Shaun Marcum-Kyle Drabek-Marc Rzepczynski-Brandon Morrow-Brett Cecil starting rotation someday. Don't forget Zach Stewart and Chad Jenkins.

  12. Keeping us on the hook: Marcum and Dustin McGowan are said to be making progress in workouts after both missed all of last season following surgery.

  13. Uh, oh: Left-hander Ricky Romero is in line to be the opening day starter. He's projected for a regression this season.

  14. One Harper campaign which cannot wait. If the Jays are as bad as predicted, and if power-hitting phenom Bryce Harper waits to enter the draft in 2011, it could redeem the whole season. Any and all snarky alliteration (Bottom Out For Bryce?) will be entertained.

    Also, a Harper home run should be called a "Bryce rocket."

  15. Details: Keep an eye Hill's walk rate. He tends to be see-ball, hit-ball.

  16. Codebreaking 101: When a team talks about being more aggressive on the bases, it's code for admitting they'll try to be exciting while scoring precious few runs. Baserunning is about 2 per cent of what makes a winning team.

  17. Brandon is out west: Mop Up Duty figures right-hander Brandon Morrow, the pitcher acquired from Seattle during the Roy Halladay deal, should start the season at triple-A Las Vegas.

  18. ZZ tops: Multiple high fives to the first fan who shows up at Rogers Centre in a Zech Zinicola replica jersey.

    The Rule 5 acquisition would be just the fourth player with a Z surname to play for the Jays.

  19. The phrase "AL East widower" is still not trademarked: The only low-revenue American League teams which have been able to make the playoffs consistently are the Minnesota Twins and Oakland Athletics.

  20. Proof cheapness is not a sense: Five of the Jays' top seven prospects, according to Minor League Ball, were acquired from other organizations. That's what happens when your corporate parent gets rids of scouts and is slavish to the slotting system.

  21. With that being said: There is every reason to be excited about Brett Wallace.

  22. Save the date: Halladay and the Phillies visit Toronto from June 25-27. Would a Halladay return draw a larger crowd than the 24,000 and change which showed up for one of his last starts before the non-waiver trade deadline last July?

    The best pitcher in the game, the San Francisco Giants' Tim Lincecum, also visits for an interleague series in June.

  23. Please, 300 at-bats for Randy Ruiz. Is it too much to ask that a guy who does nothing but hit get a chance to do it in the majors for a full season?

  24. Worth noting: The Jays' Triple-A affiliate in Las Vegas isn't doing so hot financially.

  25. More nostalgia: It's the silver anniversary of the Jays' first playoff team in 1985.

  26. Can't let this slide: The lily-gild Martinez does in those aforementioned spots: "When Roy Halladay first came to Toronto, we didn't know how good he was going to be." True, other than the fact he was a first-round draft choice and made an Opening Day roster at age 21, no one had an idea Halladay would be a good pitcher.

  27. No one gets out without a HIMYM reference: There's a recent episode where Marshall Eriksen travels back in time to punch out his 13-year-old self for smoking.

    That is just like is an alternate reality where 33-year-old Neate Sager travels back to 1990 to tell his 13-year-old self: "Oh, and in 2010, Cito will be managing the Jays and Larry Mavety will be general manager of the Kingston Frontenacs! Deal with it!"

  28. And in case Paul Beeston reads this: Queen's 43, Western 39.

  29. PECOTA says: 72-90, fifth AL East, 736 runs scored, 837 runs allowed.

  30. In English, please: Jamie Campbell should be forced to come back and broadcast every game, as penance.

1 comment:

Dave said...

They might be cheap cable programming alright....unfortunately they are a dull club playing in a mausoleum with no chance to win. In other words, they're no Braves or Cubbies, and Rogers is no "superstation". Unfortunately, by buying the rights to the MLB Network - AND THEN EXCLUDING CANADIANS FROM BEING ABLE TO WATCH IT - they're making it hard for a once baseball-mad nation (who also played it growing up) to be fans. All the more puzzling when you realize they're the ones trying to sell baseball. We can buy NHL Home Ice, NBA, NFL too, but not baseball. Morons.