Category Archives: Weekly Things

Three Things From Week Twelve

It was a tough week for the Jays, no doubt about it.  Not only were they involved in interleague action, which they traditionally dislike (Toronto finished 7-11 this season), but they also played both series against contending National League teams (Philadelphia and St. Louis).  To make things tougher on the Jays, their three game “home” series against the Phillies took place in Citizen’s Bank Park in Philadelphia due to the G20 Summit.

With all of that bad conspiring against them, it isn’t much of a surprise that the Blue Jays completed week 12 (June 21 – 27) with a losing 2-4 record.  To make matters worse, while Tampa Bay is slumping and coming back to the Jays, Boston is on fire and has jumped into second.  In the tough AL East, gaining ground is much easier said than done.

Here are three thing that came out of week 12:

1. Home “Not So” Sweet Home

Halladay destroyed the Jays on Friday (from mlb.com)

Furious.  Angry.  Outraged.  Sad.  Devastated.  Take your pick of those words, but any of them could have described the way Blue Jays fans felt when it was announced the series against the Phillies was being shifted to Philadelphia due to the G20 Summit.  Not only did it deny us a chance to see the two-time defending NL Champions first hand, it also destroyed our chance to see the return of the greatest Blue Jay pitcher of all time Roy Halladay.  But after seeing the way Toronto played over the weekend, it might have been a good thing that they were away from the dome, to save them from the wrath of the Rogers Centre faithful.

Despite winning the middle game of the set, the Jays were thoroughly thumped in Philly.  Yesterday they were befuddled by the ageless wonder Jamie Moyer in an 11-2 rout, a game in which Toronto committed a season high four errors.  Friday was the epic duel against the Doc, and the Jays proved to be no challenge to their former ace.  Halladay dominated Toronto for seven innings in an eventual 9-0 Philly victory.  It would have been interesting to see the fans reaction in Toronto upon Halladay’s departure if the series was still here.  One good thing – the Jays will NOT be going back to Philly anytime soon…unless it’s the World Series.

2. Cito Wakes Up

Any other manager would have reacted long ago, but our big and lovable Cito doesn’t like to rock the ship very often.  Of course I’m referring to the vanishing Blue Jays offense.   After tearing up the league in the early part of the season, Toronto’s power and run scoring have gone AWOL in June.  Aaron Hill is still hitting below the Mendoza line, Adam Lind is hitting nowhere near the pace of last season, and even Vernon Wells and Jose Bautista have dropped off.  After a tough 1-0 loss to Chris Carpenter and the Cardinals, Gaston finally reacted.

In hopes of springing the offense back to life, he shuffled Adam Lind and Aaron Hill down, bumped Alex Gonzalez up, and was rewarded with a 5-0 win on Thursday.  The tinkering conitnued on the weekend, with Cito even going so far as to bat Johnny Mac leadoff on Sunday.  Though the results didn’t immediately pay off (only seven runs scored in the three game set in Philly), it’s good to finally see Cito recognizing the problem and trying to fix it instead of letting the boys play through it.

3. Rotation Questions

What a difference a few weeks make.  After going through an unreal stretch where every week a different starting pitcher was dominating and becoming the next ace, Toronto has entered a tumultuous time.  Sure Romero, Marcum, and Morrow are still lights out, but at last check it takes five quality starters to win at the big league level, and with the recent struggles of Brett Cecil and Jessie “Tommy John” Litsch, Alex Anthopoulos might have some tinkering of his own to do.

With Brian Tallet seemingly at the end of his effectiveness, and David Purcey being trusted less than a 3-year old with a rifle, there really isn’t any options at the major league level.  Fortunately for the Jays, there are a few other alternatives.  Marc Rzepczynski finally appears to be coming around at triple-A Vegas.  Though his overall numbers are ugly (3-3 7.01 ERA), he is 2-0 with a 1.98 ERA (13.2 IP) over his past two starts.  Brad Mills is starting to settle down after a few atrocious starts, and way down at Dunedin – though he was just placed on the 7-day DL – Canadian Scott Richmond is 2-0 with a 1.72 ERA (15.2 IP) as he makes his return from injury.  Personally I would give Litsch one more start then demote him for Rzep, but that’s why I watch the games from my couch or the 500 Level, and not the executive suites.  It will be interesting to see what AA does in the upcoming week or two.

Three Things From Week Eleven

The Jays rebounded in a big way during week 11 (June 14 – June 20), winning four of six against NL West contenders San Diego and San Francisco.   After being lit up last week against Colorado and Tampa, this is exactly the type of response that Blue Jays fans were hoping for.  In late June, nearing the mid-point of the season, Toronto is still hanging in the pennant race, sitting only 5.5 games back of the Yankees for first in the AL East, and only 4.5 games back of Tampa Bay and Boston in the Wild Card chase. It looks like we might be treated to an entertaining summer after all.

Here are three things that came out of week 11 of the season:

1. Busy Anthopoulos

Quite a week for Toronto’s rookie GM.  Not only did he get some good news on the field with a 4-2 record and a near home sweep of the Giants, he also got some good news at the gate, as the Jays attracted over 60,700 fans for the series against San Francisco – impressive considering Toronto’s downtown core (especially near the dome) resembles a war zone due to the G20 Summit.  But AA also had some very good news off the field as well.

Staring straight in the face of JP Ricciardi’s 2009 draft pick fiasco (where he failed to sign three of the first four picks), AA got off to a great start by signing 18 of his 56 picks in six days, including three of the first four.  He then followed up his draft pick signings by making a few roster moves – signing infielder Nick Green and optioning Mike McCoy to AAA Vegas, then designating Edwin Encarnacion for assignment, recalling Jarrett Hoffpauir, and activating Scott Richmond from the DL.  Sending McCoy down was a smart move to help with his development, but the EE move has proven to be controversial.  This was the same type of move made with Rios last year that came back to bite them in a big way.  AA is confident that EE will not be claimed on waivers due to his high salary and horrendous performance, but stranger things have happened.  All in all, a risky move, but just another one in a busy week for our GM.

2. Alomar and Quantrill Inducted

So this doesn’t necessarily relate to on-field performance, but I want to take a moment to recognize the achievement of Paul Quantrill and Roberto Alomar.   Both were inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame on the weekend in St. Mary’s, Ontario.  Quantrill appeared in 841 MLB games in his career, 35th on the all time list, ahead of such notable names as Nolan Ryan and Walter Johnson.  386 of those appearances came in a Blue Jays uniform between 1996 and 2001, where he became known as one of the best relief pitchers in the game.

Alomar is of course one of the greatest Blue Jays of all time.  His enshrinement comes as no suprise, as he will likely be making an induction speech into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown in a year or two.  Alomar has always represented the Blue Jays, the city of Toronto, and Canada with dignity and class, and recent rumours might have him joining the Jays in an official capacity sometime soon.

Overall, a great week for both players, and a great honour.  For more detail on the ceremony, please refer to the Blue Jay Hunter, who was in St. Mary’s.

John McDonald after his emotional HR (image from daylife.com)

3. Happy Father’s Day Johnny Mac

One of the most difficult weeks in John McDonald’s life took place last week.  The fan favourite was placed on the bereavement list after the unfortunate passing of his father Jack on Tuesday morning at the young age of 60.  After spending the past two weeks away from the team, Johnny Mac rejoined the Jays on Saturday, the day after his father’s funeral, and saw his first game action on Sunday – which just happened to be Father’s Day.

Stepping to the plate in the bottom of the 9th, with the Jays down by six, Johnny laced the second pitch he saw into the bullpen for his first home run of the season.  The blast sent the Rogers Centre into a frenzy, and the fact that Toronto lost the game was forgotten as the moment was so special.  Post game, McDonald held back tears describing the bomb, saying it was difficult because he couldn’t call his Dad after the game to tell him about it.  Though the week was tough, the finish was perfect, and it couldn’t have happened to a better guy.

Three Things From Week Ten

It was a week to forget for Jays fans.  An awful stretch of six games saw the Jays finish week 10 (June 7 – June 13) a dismal 1-5, including a three game sweep in Colorado.  Gone are the good feelings that Toronto worked up in the first portion of the schedule, replaced by disappointment. 

Despite the struggles, it was’t all bad news for Toronto.  The team welcomed back an injured pitcher, continued to get an all star type performance from another starter, and managed to score more runs against Ubaldo Jimenez than any other team this year.

Here are three things that came out of week 10:

1. Where has the offense gone?

Toronto still leads all of baseball in home runs, but you wouldn’t know it from last week.  In the six games during week ten, the Jays managed to score a measly 10 runs, and were shutout twice.  And it wasn’t like they were just failing to cash in runners on base – they weren’t getting on base at all.

The Jays mustered only 31 hits last week, an average of just over five per game.  Winning on five hits is a very difficult thing to do in major league baseball.  For the week they hit for a .173 average and only reached base at a .256 clip.  They struck out 41 times and took only 20 walks.  Jose Bautista went through an 0-24 stretch.  Adam Lind just looks worse and worse. 

It doesn’t get any easier for the Jays either.  They kick off a three game set in baseball’s friendliest pitchers park tonight – Petco Park in San Diego.  Uh-oh.

2. Welcome back Mr. Litsch

This was supposed to be a good thing for Toronto.  Jessie Litsch, after being sidelined for over a year from Tommy John surgery, made his return to the rotation on Sunday.  The move theoretically should have strengthened the rotation and the bullpen with Litsch replacing Brian Tallet who in turn replaced Rommie Lewis.  Unfortunately, the move did not pay off on Sunday.

Hindsight is always 20/20 but perhaps waiting a bit longer to recall Litsch might have been a better move.  He didn’t exactly dominate in his minor league rehab starts (0-3 with an 8.18 ERA in AAA Las Vegas) so a few more warm-up starts couldn’t have hurt.  Giving up 7 ER in 2.1 IP wasn’t exactly the major league start he was looking for.  With the Jays able to skip the 5th spot over the next few turns, don’t be surprised to see Litsch optioned back down to iron out the kinks.

Brett Cecil been dominant for the Jays (photo from daylife.com)

3. Lights Out Cecil

It seems like almost every week Toronto’s ace of the future is being anointed.  First it was Shaun Marcum, then Ricky Romero, followed by Brandon Morrow.  Now, welcome Brett Cecil to the list.  Through 10 starts in 2010 the young lefty has been brilliant: 7-2, 3.22 ERA, 0.995 WHIP, 47 K to 16 BB.

Even better, since having one of his worst career starts against Texas on May 14th, he has been unbeatable in his last five: 5-0, 1.49 ERA, 0.77 WHIP and 21 K’s in 36.1 IP.  And his oppostiion hasn’t been too shabby in that time (other than Seattle and Baltimore) as he shut down the Angels, the Yankees, and the Rays for Toronto’s only win last week.  The emergence of Cecil gives the Jays four excellent starters in the rotation and should lay the groundwork for a successful team in the years ahead. expired domains . web archive website offline link checker

Three Things From Week Nine

It was called many things.  “The week of doom.”  “The week of truth.”  “Make-it or break-it week.”  Week nine of the MLB season (May 31 – June 6) was huge for the Jays: three games against the best-in-baseball Tampa Bay Rays, and three against the defending World Series champion New York Yankees.  This week was supposed to tell us if Toronto was for real or playing way over their heads.

What can we conclude at the end of the week?  Wel to be honest, not a whole lot.  It was only one week.  There are still 104 games to play this season, meaning that each successive week is just as important, or more so, than the week before it.  But through 58 games, the Jays stand eight games over the .500 mark.  I don’t think anybody thought they’d hear that.

Here are three things that came out of week nine:

1. Mission Accomplished

Last night I heard many things from many people, most of it disappointment.  It’s true – the Jays blew three of the six games against the two top teams in the league.  Ninth inning meltdowns on Tuesday and Wednesday against Tampa stung, but the eighth inning debacle against New York yesterday might have hurt even more.  Fans wanted that sweep, especially since thousands of Yankees fans invaded Toronto to see the games.  But to be upset that Toronto didn’t sweep all SIX games against the Rays and Yanks?  That is absurd.

In March, when looking at the schedule, many would have been fine with winning two games considering how bad the Jays were “supposed” to be.   Last Monday morning I woke up, considered the upcoming schedule, and said I would be happy with a split.  Well, the Jays got the split, and although they will be disappointed in themselves by not winning more, I’m sure they would have taken a split going into both series.  If anything the games against the Yankees showed Toronto’s grit, heart, and character.  Something tells me that if the 2009 Jays blew back-to-back ninth inning leads against Tampa, they would have folded up the tent.  Resiliency is a good sign in a winner.

2. Trouble with Tampa – Blue Jay bullpen woes

After Sunday’s tough loss to the Yankees, many were quick to criticize the bullpen.  But before you react too soon, consider that Toronto actually has (statistically speaking anways) a decent bullpen.  They are tied for 16th in all of baseball with a 4.20 ERA, ahead of teams such as Boston, Anaheim, Oakland, and Cincinnati, and just behind the Yankees (4.19).  Relievers have combined for a 9-10 record and 148 strikeouts, putting them ahead of contending teams like Philadelphia, the Yankees, Minnesota, St. Louis, Boston, and Colorado in that regard.

The problem with Toronto’s bullpen can be summed up in one word – Tampa.  Against the Rays, Toronto’s bullpen has been brutal: 18.00 ERA, 13 walks, 12 strikeouts, and 24 hits allowed in only 11 innings.  Horrendous.  Only Shawn Camp has had any sort of success against Tampa (0.00 ERA in 2 IP).  Kevin Gregg (12.00 ERA), Jason Frasor (31.50 ERA), Scott Downs (27.00 ERA), and Casey Janssen (81.00 ERA) have been downright atrocious.  Take out the record against Tampa and Toronto’s team bullpen ERA drops to 3.19.  And while the pen will still be villified for their collapse against the Yankees yesterday, don’t forget that they didn’t pitch badly in the series against New York – 3 ER in 9 IP, including 6 scoreless innings in Saturday’s marathon.  They might not intimidate, but they have actually been effective.

Adam Lind is off to a rocky start in 2010 (photo from daylife.com)

3. Paging Aaron Hill…Paging Adam Lind…

The Blue Jays sit tied for third in the AL East, 33-25, and only 4.5 games back of division leading Tampa.  And they’re doing virtually all of it without their two best players from 2009.  At this point last season (through the games of June 6th), Adam Lind was smoking the ball to the tune of a .311 average, .908 OPS, 9 HR, and 39 RBI.  This season?  A far different story: .210 average, .649 OPS, 8 HR, and 30 RBI.  Unfortunately, the same thing can be said about 2009 Comeback Player of the Year Aaron Hill.  Through June 6th, 2009: .309 average, .825 OPS, 12 HR, 38 RBI.  Through June 6th, 2010: .186 average, .644 OPS, 8 HR, 19RBI.

Hill appeared to be snapping out of his funk last week, going 8 for 20 in the first five games of the Tampa/NY series’.  But he grounded into a decisive double play with the tying run on first in the eighth inning yesterday to kill any potential rally, a situation he thrived in last season.  Lind looks lost at the plate, especially against left handed pitching where he is hitting a miserable .102 (6 for 59) with 25 strikeouts (he hit .275 vs. lefties last year).  He looked particularly brutal against Tampa lefty Randy Choate in several key situations last week.  While a pessimist will say that last year was a fluke, an optimist will say watch out for the Jays when these two finally get it going. same sites . expired domains . apache web server . link checker .

Three Things From Week Eight

The Jays continued their hot start to the season in week seven (May 24 – May 30).  After dropping two of three to the Angels in Anaheim to start the week, they rebounded by sweeping away the horrendous Orioles back home, a good way to start off a nine game homestand.  The Blue Jays need all of those wins because the going is about to get a lot tougher.  The next 24 consecutive games are all against teams that are over .500, giving the club a great chance to prove that they are indeed for real this season.

Here are three things that came out of week seven:

1. Jose Bautista – Home Run Hitting Machine

While many baseball pundits are looking at Shaun Marcum, Vernon Wells, and Ricky Romero as the biggest reasons why the Jays are overachieving to this point, the biggest overachiever of all is still flying under the radar.  After Sunday’s game, Bautista has 16 home runs, giving him the outright major league lead and tying his career high.  He is showing no signs of slowing down either, if the last week is any indication.  Bautista dominated the Angels and Orioles pitching staffs, hitting .333 with 2 HR, 3 RBI, 6 R, and an incredible .565 OBP by drawing 8 walks.

For those who think that his power pace is unsustainable, chew on this: this surge actually began at the end of last season.  Bautista slugged 10 HR in September/October of 2009, giving him 26 from that point on.  Those 26 HR are more than anybody in baseball over that stretch – including names such as Pujols, Rodriguez, Howard, and Braun.  If he even keeps up a portion of his current pace his next stop could very well be Anaheim for the All Star game in July.

2. AL East is Insane

Everybody knew coming into the season that the AL East was the toughest division in baseball, but this is getting ridiculous.  Eight teams across the entire league have 29 or more victories on the season, and four of them reside in the AL East.  With a record of 30-22, Toronto would be in first place in the AL West, NL East, or NL West, but instead find themselves in third, only one game ahead of Boston who are fourth.  With nine straight games on the schedule against Tampa and the Yankees beginning on Monday, the Jays will be getting their first true test against the elite teams of the division.  They could be in first or fourth when that stretch is done.

But regardless of how they fare, Toronto has a legitimate argument to make for some kind of realignment or playoff system modification.  If the season ended today, Toronto would finish sixth overall in the entire MLB yet miss the postseason.  Texas, Philadelphia, and St. Louis – all with poorer records than Toronto – would qualify.  One look at scenarios like that makes it very difficult not to cry foul.  Maybe adding two additional wild card slots would help take away some of unfairness in the current system.  But the chances of that happening? I would put it at 0%.

3. Perfection from the Doc

Halladay celebrates his perfect game (photo from mlb.com)

Technically this is cheating since he no longer plays for the Jays and this is a Blue Jays only feature.  But Roy Halladay is still beloved in these parts, and his perfect game on Saturday will be celebrated all season long by Jays fans.  The way that he mowed down the Marlins in order (11 K’s, 115 pitches) looked effortless, and seeing him smile at the end of the game brought back fond memories of his time here in Toronto.  What made the game even more impressive was that it came after his worst start of the season, an 8-3 shellacking by the Red Sox.

When Halladay came within one out of a no-hitter in his second career start back in 1998, it looked like it was only a matter of time until he threw one.  The only thing surprising about his perfect game was that it took him 12 years to finally get it.  Unfortunately because of the G-20 summit forcing the Jays to move their series against the Phillies down to Philadelphia, Toronto fans won’t get a chance to truly show him our appreciation both for his time spent here and for his gem.  Never-the-less, congratulations Doc!

Three Things From Week Seven

Week Seven (May 17 – May 23) saw the return of interleague play, a time of the season that Toronto hates.  Since the advent of interleague play in 1997, Toronto is 13 games under .500 against the weaker National League, only better than Baltimore, Kansas City, and Tampa.  At a time of the schedule that is supposed to help AL clubs fatten up their record, the Jays have done the opposite.  This year began no different, as they dropped two of three to Arizona.

Though they managed to avoid the sweep on Sunday, the week was not a good one for Toronto.  They finished with a 3-4 record, and saw continued struggles from Dana Eveland and Aaron Hill, along with new struggles from Kevin Gregg.  Hopefully these are only temporary hiccups to an otherwise incredible season.

Here are three things that came out of week seven:

1. The Revenge of Overbay

The 2010 season hit rock bottom for Lyle Overbay on Monday May 17th.  An 0-4 performance and two brutal errors on the same play had fans screaming for blood at the Rogers Centre.  Thunderous boo’s and chants of “you suck”, “Lyle Overpaid”, and “We want Wallace” serenaded the first baseman as he ran off the field each inning.

Well, maybe Lyle was due to explode, or maybe the booing woke him up.  Whatever the case, he has responded in a big way.  In the next six games of week seven, Overbay went 10/25 for a .400 average, with 2 2B, 1 HR, 4 RBI, and 4 R, rasiing his season average from .181 to .215.  While the numbers might not seem elite, he is finally contributing and helping the Jays win.  If only he can start to rub off on Aaron Hill…

2. Encarnacion Goes INSANE!!!

Edwin Encarnacion - Image from Daylife.com

Edwin Encarnacion became kind of a forgotten man after his injury in April.  The Jays continued to roll right along without him, and with Jose Bautista moving over to third and tearing up the league, many fans were doubting Edwin’s return.  But man did he ever announce his presence in a big way!

Playing in his first game in a month on Tuesday, Encarnacion launched a two-run homer against the Twins.  He then absolutely destroyed Diamondback pitching over the weekend, crushing three bombs on Friday, and then one each on Saturday and Sunday.  Overall, in the six games since his return Encarnacion is hitting .368 with 6 HR, 11 RBI, and 7 R.  He is also playing exceptional defense, maybe proving that he does deserve a spot on this club after all.

3. Bye Bye Eveland

What started off as a great story for Toronto ended in disappointment on Sunday as Dana Eveland was designated for assignment.  The left-hander was brought on just before camp, and surprised many by pitching well enough to make the team.  He started strong out of the gate, winning his first two starts, and sported a 3-1 record with a 3.82 ERA on May 6th.  But the wheels fell off in his next three starts, as Eveland surrendered 17 ER in only 9.1 IP, losing all three.

With Brian Tallet, Jessie Litsch, and Mark Rzepczynski all coming off the DL it was up to Eveland to prove that he still deserved a rotation spot.  When he didn’t, the Jays had no choice but to release him.  It’s hard not to feel sad for the pitcher, especially when he called Toronto the greatest organization he has had the chance to be a part of.  There’s a chance he still ends up in Vegas and makes a return appearance with the Jays, but whatever happens, best of luck Dana.

Three Things From Week Six

Week Six (May 10 – May 16) began on a sour note with the Jays self-destructing in back-to-back losses at Fenway Park, continuing their struggles against baseball’s better teams.  But the week ended with a flurry of victories: a sweep-avoiding win on Wednesday over the Red Sox followed by a sweep of the AL West leading Texas Rangers back in Toronto. 

 The Jays now sit at 23-16, 3rd in the AL East and only two games behind the defending world series champion Yankees for the Wild card.  It’s still early, but it’s hard not to be excited by this young team. 

Here are three things that came out of week six: Continue reading Three Things From Week Six

Three Things From Week Five

The beat goes on for the Jays.  After a 6-1 week five (May 3 – May 9) Toronto finds itself in third place in the AL East, 19-14 overall and 2.5 games ahead of the Red Sox.  With a three game set ready to begin tonight in Fenway, the Jays have a chance to extend that lead and keep Boston’s early season misery going. 

Here are three things about the Jays from week five: Continue reading Three Things From Week Five

Three Things From Week Four

Taking three of four from Oakland at the end of week four (April 26 – May 2)  salvaged a rough start for the Jays, and left them at an even .500 through 26 games.   The week started with three very competitive games against Boston that were at once encouraging and frustrating.  Encouraging because the Jays proved that they could play with elite competition like the Red Sox, but frustrating because they know they can not consistently beat them.  However, the fact that this ballclub, who was predicted to finish dead last, has won an equal number of games as they’ve lost, is a good sign.

Here are three noteworthy things from the week that was for the Jays: Continue reading Three Things From Week Four

Three Things From Week Three

The third week of the 2010 schedule was an up-and-down affair for the Blue Jays. They had their first taste of tough AL East competition with a three game set in Tampa, and finished the week with a 3-3 record. But shoddy bullpen work played a part in all three losses, leaving a black mark on what could have been a stellar week. Starting pitching continues to be a strong spot for Toronto, but poor hitting is putting heavy pressure on the bullpen, which, aside from Kevin Gregg, is crumbling. Continue reading Three Things From Week Three