Since releasing the first 500 Level Fan reader mailbag a few months ago, the 500 Level Fan inbox has become flooded with questions and queries just begging for another one. (Of course by flooded I mean two emails from friends…)
Regardless, with yesterday being one of the slowest days on the sports calendar and no baseball to speak of until tonight, it’s time to roll it out.
So sit back, relax, and enjoy. You might just learn something.
First off we hear from @TOSocialEvents, who sent in an unfathomable five questions!
Q – Who is the best player in all of baseball right now and will Jose Bautista win the MVP in 2011?
A – From the tone of that question I would assume that the asker (Mah-Cus) thinks that Bau is the best player in MLB. I have to agree. I thought last year he was one of the top-5 in all of baseball, and this year he is on pace for the same amount of HR, but is hitting 84 points higher! 84 points!!!! His OBP, Slugging, and OPS are also higher than last year, and with 5 steals, he just might reach double digits. He also leads all of baseball with a 6.6 WAR. So yes, I think J-Bau is the best player in all of baseball. Will he win the 2011 MVP? I think he should, but I bet he won’t – too many idiots will vote for Adrian Gonzalez because Boston will make the playoffs.
Q – Who is more of a lock for future success – J.P. Arencibia or Kyle Drabek?
A - Tough one, but I’ll surprise even myself and say Drabek, mainly for one reason. Toronto traded the face of the franchise for him, and will not let him fail. I think he has the stuff to succeed, he just needs the mental part to catch up. I think it will in time. J.P. will be good, but I think KD will be better.
Q – What do you think Jon Rauch, John Farrell, and Adam Lind enjoy as night caps?
A – Booze. I love booze. I have no inside information on this, and no real idea why I’m saying what I’m saying, but I think this: Rauch = beer, Farrell = red wine, Lind = whiskey (or something hard like gin, rum, or vodka). No idea why. If anybody actually knows, let me know.
Q – Is Ricky Romero one of the top-5 pitchers in baseball? If not, how does he stack up against the top-5?
A – No, I don’t think so, but it’s not because he’s not good enough. There are so many good pitchers right now, and if I had to pick five I’d probably choose Roy Halladay, Justin Verlander, Cliff Lee, Tim Lincecum, and Felix Hernandez (not to mention a ton of other guys who just miss, like Cole Hamels, Jered Weaver, CC Sabathia, and on and on…). Romero isn’t that far away, and I think he might get there. The main reason why he isn’t? 2009. That was when he made his major league debut. The others have all been around for at least two years longer. Pitchers need time to learn the league and make adjustments. Romero’s numbers are getting better each year. In a few more years, he could very well be there.
Q – If you went for a beer with Gregg Zaun and he asked you to order for him, what do you get?
A – Flying Monkey’s Hoptical Illusion. Confirmed.
Moving along, from old friend @JSmart1982 (AKA Nudathan AKA Robocop) comes two questions with the same underlying theme:
Q – Do you think the Big Hurt is in the top-50 players of all time?
Q – Who is the most feared player in midseason classic history? #thebighurt
A – According to baseball reference, in terms of WAR the Big Hurt is the 64th best player of all time. But many of the guys ahead of him played so long ago that they don’t count (at least to me). So yes, I put the Big Hurt in the top-50 players of all time. When he was good, he was real, real good. Is he the most feared hitter in midseason classic history? In 5 All-Star AB, he hit .800 with a 2.233 OPS which is pretty good. But he looks like a big Teddy Bear at the plate, so nobody’s afraid of him.
Let’s check in with @altrendy, a man who loves gin, 500 Level Fan, and smoking pipes.
Q – Who is Alex Andreopoulos and is he really only 39?
A - Most people first met Alex at the HR Derby, when he pitched to Jose Bautista (and dominated him). He has been the Jays bullpen catcher for the past 9 seasons, and despite his aged and weathered appearance, is indeed only 39 years old. He made it as far as AAA in the Milwaukee organization before calling it a career. And he is CANADIAN!
Q – Second half questions – do you agree that the second half is really a “hitter’s half” as it has been described, and will the Jays pitching staff fall victim to late-season fatigue?
A - I’m not sure if there are any supporting numbers, but in theory there are two good reasons why the second half should be better for hitters. 1 – balls travel further in the warm summer air than they do in the crisp spring air, and 2 – pitchers generally tire as the season wears on. Speaking of fatigue, Toronto’s relievers might fall victim to fatigue, but I don’t think the starter’s will. Romero is a horse, Reyes left a lot of games early so his inning should be down, and both Cecil (minors) and Morrow (DL) missed time. The biggest question mark might be Carlos Villanueva, who isn’t used to being a starter.
Q – If the Jays are going to make a run, when in their schedule do you likely see that happening?
A – Looks like their best chance is in the month of August, beginning August 5th. That begins a stretch of:
- 3 in Baltimore against the crappy O’s
- 3 at home vs. the crappy A’s
- 3 at home against the Angels
- 3 in Seattle
- 4 more against the crappy A’s in Oakland
- 3 back at home against the crappy Royals
That is the best bet. If all goes well, the Jays will go 15-4 in that stretch and move up the standings.
Q – Surprise prediction of the second half of the season?
A – A member of the Jays will hit for the cycle, but it won’t be who you think (Bautista, Escobar, Lind, etc.). It will be….Johnny Mac. Book it.
The last word for this edition of the mailbag goes to @dsharpdavis, a man who has been described as the hardest working man in show business and the biggest Gary Kendall fan in the history of Earth.
Q – Can you change the name of your column from Mailbag to Malebag, to attract the ladies?
A – I can and I will.
Q – In your opinion, which current Jay most embodies the spirit, beauty, and athleticism of the great Tony Fernandez.
A - First of all – nobody will ever be Tony. He combined the intelligence of Einstein, the generosity of Mother Teresa, the artfulness of Michaelangelo, and the speed of Secretariat. But on the current team I can sometimes see bits of him in Yunel Escobar. Yunel plays shortstop with a similar flare, and was mentored by Tony in the offseason. Esky has bit more power and not as much speed as our hero, but he comes closest to replicating the greatest player in the history of professional sports.