Saturday, January 30, 2010

Random thoughts on Everything and Nothing

I don't want to come across like a drama queen here, friends, and I certainly don't mean to leave the impression that posting here at the Tao's joint is anything but good times for me. Otherwise, why would I bother, ya know? That being said, the dead of winter - especially the 6 weeks or so leading up to spring training - aren't exactly the most inspirational of times to be posting regularly about a baseball team. I find I have a million thoughts (OK, a dozen.....OK, OK, a few) running through my mind, but none postworthy in and of themselves.

So, uh, yeah.... here they are:

When you consider the limitations surely in place, it's hard to imagine Alex Anthopoulos' term as GM getting off to a better start. He could not possibly have faced a more difficult task to begin his tenure (Halladay), and made out at least as well as anyone could have expected. His enthusiasm is contagious, and I want to buy what he's selling. It's nice to see his efforts to bring baseball back to relevance in Toronto getting some well deserved pub, and I, for one, am excited about the way he's shaping not only the team, but the organization as a whole.
Speaking of rebranding (reshaping, whatever...) the organization, am I the only one who's mildly surprised that we haven't seen a uniform change? I know it's an easy (and frequent) bitch for us blogger types, but now seems like the perfect opportunity to bring the Blue back to the Blue Jays field gear. It's not that I even dislike the current unis (and I'm even amongst the tiny minority who prefers the "T" cap to the "official logo" cap), but they just seem to be.....temporary. So how's about it, Beest? I know we're all sick of embracing all things nostalgic with the team, but surely a compromise (coloured in blue) can be found, no?
So, new field turf for 2010. This is a good thing. Downing pints in Windows restaurant (edit: Arriba Lounge?) last season and looking down on the turf, I was amazed that a major league (baseball) team played 80+ games on that patchwork.
Not to stir a hornet's nest, but I can't believe this article by Griff hasn't received more play. Some pretty "Days of Our Lives" type stuff in here regarding The Manager's fave, Casey Accardo (see what I did there?). I'm not even going to try and connect the dots in there. Here's hoping Accardo puts it all behind him and reminds us how good he can be (recall: 2007).
For no real reason, I can't shake the feeling that one of Justin Jackson or Kevin Ahrens will bounce back this season and show the form that made them worthy of their draft position. Despite awful seasons in '09, they're both still young, and I find it a little disheartening that everyone has seemingly up and quit on them.
Along those lines, one of Henderson Alvarez, Gustavo Pierre, and Moises Sierra will put up the type of season that vaults them into top prospect-dom. One of them will also put up the type of awful season that forces me to use the "they're still young!" theme next year. I'm nothing if unoriginal.
I'm all for free speech (obviously) and would be loathe to here anyone's being muzzled, but I think the Jays exec should consider sitting down next year in advance of the annual State of the Franchise chat and, you know, get their collective shit together. "Delgado doesn't fit."...."I'd love to see Carlos back here."....and so forth.
I'm so excited about one pain free mound session, it's ridiculous. And I don't want any part of jinxing it, so I'm not even going to discuss it further.
How many more days until pitchers & catchers report? BUILDING!

Friday, January 29, 2010

A few of my favorite things

So, we've managed to sneak away for a moment from massively self-serving discussions of strategic directivity and other such conference talking notes ("look-in-awe-at-my-PowerPoint-and-tell-me-I'm-pretty!") to catch up with you crazy kids.

So how's it going, anyways? Any news?

Even though our spirit-crushing work schedule has us in the dumps, there is redemption just hours away. We're getting ready to head to warmer climes tomorrow for a week, and that's a good thing. Not just for us, you understand, but for all Jays fans. Because, if the tradition holds, the second we leave the country and check out of the baseball info-grid for a few days, the Jays will do something stupendous. Stupendously awesome? Stupendously awful? Who knows? But know that something is coming. (Maybe you can start building the stencil for the Johnny Damon Blue Jays t-shirt stencil right now...)

Beyond the possibilities of some major move being made (and the Ack hopefully showing up to work on time to comment about it in our absence), we have other reasons for the raised spirits.

For instance: Did you know that a drunken rant, when put forth in the presence of an excellent Jays blogger, can be the germ of great post? Because somehow, Drew at GRoF wove our angry old man routine about stats nerds ruining the world into a golden post on the dilemma of Aaron Hill. (Believe!!!1) It's like we wrote an awesome post, without even having to write it!

Another reason for a little sunshine and happiness in our world is the stellar grade we received from the Drunk Jays Fans in their annual report card on the media and bloggeratti. An A! We got an A! Just think what we would have had if we we we didn't use we we we all the time. WE!

(Confession time: I kinda hate the "we" thing, and had intended to drop it at the turn of the decade, but a friend told me that the blog would totally lose its voice if I did. And even if I didn't believe it, I didn't feel like I could take the chance. "We" it is.)

A final reason for some joy: A very deserving man will be inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame. We were thrilled to see the news that Allan Roth, one of the true innovators in the statistical analysis of baseball, will be inducted into the hall in St. Mary's Ontario this summer. Alan Schwarz talks a lot in his book The Numbers Game about Roth's role in evolving the way that numbers are used to understand the game. Mazel!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Staring into the nothingness

These are not the best of days for this Blue Jays blogger.

It would really be helpful to have something of consequence to which we could react in some charmingly pithy manner, thus filling our self-imposed daily quota of blogginess and leaving you all wanting to come back for more tomorrow. And, hopefully, the next day.

Sadly, life gets in the way, and we find ourselves crushed under deadlines and unable to find the space to breathe for a moment and even think about anything other than the unanswered emails and the unfinished tasks and the countdown towards the moment when all of this comes to some frantic conclusion and we can get everything back to normal. Which is not for a few days, anyways.

All of this is, we suppose, our way of saying sorry for the lack of any meaningful posts. It's not that we don't have stuff to say...but we just don't have the time to craft it into something that is worth your while. As a consequence, we've ended up sitting on posts and getting scooped (back to the drawing board on that one), or letting things languish until they barely seem interesting anymore.

Some days, we wish this was all we did, and we could walk away from the daily grind of spirit-crushing duties and menial responsibilities and regale you all with 100% Tao-ness every day, all day. Alas, it isn't so, and something has to suffer. This week, it's the blog.

But about that Brian Bocock move?

Monday, January 25, 2010

The dearth of remaining free agent talent has me talking to myself

You know that the free agent pickings are slim when you spend at least a half hour trying to talk yourself out of your inexplicable interest in seeing Felipe Lopez return to the Blue Jays.

Mind you, he did post a very respectable .810 OPS last year, along with a 4.6 WAR in his time split between the Diamondbacks and Brewers. And he strikes out about half as often as he used to when he first made it to the big leagues.

What are we saying? Where the hell would he play?

Well, he has put up a career UZR/150 of 6.0 at third base, even if he hasn't ever played there with any regularity.

Really aren't there any options that are more compelling than Felipe frick'n Lopez?

Well, there's Melvin Mora.

What's wrong with you? Are you drinking again?


Next, you're going to sing the praises of some "innings-eater" who can't strike guys out...

You mean like "Jonny Sinkers" Garland?

...or some rusted out shitbox arm-injury-waiting-to-happen...

Hey! Erik Bedard is a good Canadian boy!

...or call for the return of Orlando Hudson so that we can move everyone out of their positions.

What can I say? The O-Dog does make a pretty tasty combo. I'm a sucker for nitrates!

This is embarassing. You should be ashamed of your interest in these marginal non-entities.

Sorry, I missed that last part. I was looking up Ryan Garko's career lines. .899 postseason OPS! Clutch!!!1

You're not even trying to maintain any semblance of dignity, are you.

Chad Tracy! He's awesome in MLB 2K! (After I fart around with his attributes...but still!) And he's a ginger! We need a ginger quorum!

People, look away, please. We implore you.

Noah Lowry, FTW!!!

Saturday, January 23, 2010


Shoveling the inches of snow off my driveway this morning, it hit me about as hard as the heart attack I was sure was imminent (dude is out of shape): man, do I miss baseball.

That's the thing about the dead of a prairie winter - it makes you crave the things you love about summer that much more. And for me, that's baseball. Even if your team is in full-throttle (re)building. Even if the biggest news of late is the additions of depth arms like Shawn Hill, Zach Jackson, and Merkin Valdez. That's not necessarily a knock on Anthopoulos - nobody could rightfully expect the (re)build to be complete after one offseason.

Even still - and I've mentioned this before - I can't shake the feeling that there's still one bullet left for AA to fire. There have just been too many "mentions" of the Jays young pitching depth (& opposing GM inquiries) and holes elsewhere in the organization. Maybe there's a deal there. Maybe not. I dunno.

I do know this - if the rest of the offseason is going to be filled with speculation about the Jays poking around the dregs of the remaining free agent pool (have at Miggy Tejada, Orioles.....have at him).....then bring on spring training. Like, right fucking now.

Ya gotta feel for Rod Barajas (don't you?)
Speaking of the dregs of the FA pool, look who's pretty much the only free agent catcher out there without a job. Rod Barajas, that's who! I have to say - and hindsight is fantastic - I think we all saw this coming, didn't we? You can't really expect to draw multi-year attention on the heels of a .258 OBP, can you? Evidently not.

Hey Rod - hurry up and sign a god-damned contract, will ya? We've been looking forward to that compensation pick ever since you earned type-B status.

Friday, January 22, 2010

The Blue Jays finally lock up Shawn Hill

We say that they "finally" signed him, because the Jays seem to put a lot of effort into signing this guy who has put forth such underwhelming results over his five year career (218.1 IPs over five seasons, and he's a starter). Isn't this the second or third time they've tried to sign him?

Hill's coming off Tommy John surgery in June, and has missed significant time over his career to injury. And while he's rebuffed the Jays' advances in the past, the good Canadian boy now sees fit to bring his broken down carcass back to top side of the border. Welcome back, son! The Timbits are over by the chesterfield!

If nothing else, at least we won't have to hear Bob Elliot breathlessly describe Hill's potential and his super-duper Canadianess. But on the down side, his presence on the team would necessitate Aaron adding a letter to the back of his jersey to distinguish between the Hill boys. And frankly, we'd rather just toss Shawn on the scrap heap rather than having our aesthetic sensibilities offended by an "A. Hill".

Friday Rock Out - LCD Soundsystem, "Tribulations"
We like this song, because it is dancey, but in a way that we can handle with our lack of dexterity and our cro-magnon rhythm and flow. Happy weekend!

LCD Soundsystem

DFA Records | MySpace Music Videos

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Jays will look at just about anyone at this point

Fresh of the trade for Manny Mateo MerkinBall Valdez, the Jays are apparently prepared to watch Eric Gagné sweat and strain away a year's worth of Chez Ashton poutines at a workout somewhere in the Florida sun. (Of course, this is one of those internets reports, and you can't trust a goddamned thing that's said on the internets these days.)

The Jays' willingness to look at Gangné leads us to this question: We know that you can never have too many arms, but at what point does following that truism creep over the line to goofy self-parody?

Okay, we're mostly kidding about that last bit. It's probably a good thing that the Jays, under Alex "Doogie" Anthopoulos are being all OCD about making sure that they get someone at every workout, because who really knows what you might find. And it doesn't cost them anything to show up and have a look see.

Of course, the depressing part about this for us is that the Jays could bring in 100 bullpen arms, and we know that we're still going to have to sit through 60 Shawn Camp outings this year. (And yes, we know he put up okay numbers, but we have an irrational hate-on for Shawn Camp. Can't help it. It drives us batshit crazy when we see that guy running out of the pen.)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Carlos Delgado is not highstepping through that door

And for his next trick,'s Noah Coslov will tell all the children that they are getting a wicked BMX bike, and then after they get all excited and build ramps and jumps and mud moguls in the driveway, he'll tell them that he made a mistake, and that he had heard it from Santa Claus. Except that Santa doesn't exist. Sorry kids!

In a way, we're kinda relieved to come to the realization that King Carlos is not coming back to Toronto. (Unless he is. Nevermind. Sorry.) As much as our sentimental side would love to see Delgado pull on an ugly black Jays cap once again, his addition would only serve to further complicate the 1B/LF/DH conundrum of figuring out where we find room in the field and the lineup for Lind/Overbay/Ruiz/Snider/Wallace/Dopirak/Bautista/etc...

Beyond that, we'd just finally worn down Drew from Ghostrunner on First so that he'd climb aboard the Randy Ruiz love train, a train that was goin' off the tracks, over the rail, off the bridge and into the water if Delgado were to make his triumphant return to Canada.

Ruiz or Delgado? Delgado or Ruiz? We would have been torn between two sluggers, feelin' like a fool.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Randy Ruiz rakes, refuses to relent's Noah Cozlov tweeted this morning that "GMs should be all over Randy Ruiz" given his play in Puerto Rico this winter. Moreover, he notes that Ruiz is playing first and left field (really?), and that he is in the "best shape of his life".

( really can squeeze a lot into 140 characters!)

How well is Ruiz doing in the PR? In 26 games (96 ABs), he's put up seven homers and 27 driven in, while posting a 1.017 OPS (.423 OBP, .594 SLG) for the Indios de Mayaguez. In spite of not having played the full slate of games (he's about 10 short of the other leaders), he ranks second in HRs, OPS and RsBI, seventh in runs scored.

Quibble if you must about the quality of pitching that Ruiz has faced in Puerto Rico, just as some may have tried to do in attempting to pull at the threads and show his August-September to be nothing more than an illusion. (Although looking at the list of dudes who Ruiz took deep last year - Beckett, Wakefield, Pettitte, A.J., Joba - it doesn't seem as though he cheated us.) Maybe we're an apologist for some ghost of a chance that Ruiz will just keep on hitting, and become a cornerstone of the offense. But it seems to us as though he's done everything that he can to prove his worth to this team, and short of hitting a homer every game, we're not sure what it would take to keep him in the lineup or even on the 25-man roster.

(Of course, it doesn't help Ruiz that he'll need to keep himself in the seemingly impenetrable good graces of The Manager. We don't even want to start down the road of trying to understand what goes on in The Manager's head. The process is simply too maddening.)

Leading into the 2010 season, there is an abundance of choice for the Blue Jays when it comes to their 1B/DH/LF positions. It seems as though we're constantly reminding ourselves of possible options for those positions. "Oh yeah, what about Brian Dopirak?", or"Golly gee, I totally forgot that we still have Lyle Overbay", or "Why don't I care more about that Cooper kid?"

Or most importantly: "When do the Fake Spring Games start so that I can start poring over the boxscores to make fake arguments distinguishing one dude from the other?"

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Sifting about for golden prospects

For the second time this month, we found ourselves with a copy of Baseball America in our hands. BA, as the cool kids call it, is like the Barely Legal of prospect porn. (So we're told.)

The first copy was an ancient edition (circa 2002) stumbled upon as we were sifting through and unpacking boxes of baseball marginalia. The other was a brand new edition, picked up this week at the newsstand. Leafing through both, we found it instructive to learn from the older edition to get a sense what the most recent list of future Jays might mean.

The 2002 copy included a run down of the top prospects for the NL East, including the Expos. Among those on the list for the Expos were some future stars, including Brandon Phillips and Grady Sizemore. Also on the list were some players who had decent-to-marginal careers (Brad Wilkerson), a few guys who barely made a dent (Zach Day, Justin Wayne), and a bunch of guys who flamed out completely (Donnie Bridges, Josh Karp, Luke Lockwood, Eric Good).

And the Expos weren't an especially exceptional case that year. The Mets, for instance, had a few superstars in the making (Jose Reyes and David Wright), but at the top of their list was Aaron Heilman, who seven seasons later has turned into a serviceable middle reliever, but not much else. The rest of the list included a couple of uninspiring arms (Jae Seo and Tyler Yates), along with some "who-dats?" such as Corey Wright, Grant Roberts, Jamie Cerda and Pat Strange.

In fact, as we've scoured back through some of BA's top prospects over the years, we've found that less than half of the annual top 10's do much, and usually only one or maybe two players on each of those lists become something special.

With that in mind, we turn to the latest edition, complete with the post-Halladay trade prospect list for the Jays. That list looks a little something like this:

1. Kyle Drabek, RHP
2. Brett Wallace, 3B
3. Zach Stewart, RHP
4. J.P. Arencibia, C
5. Travis D'Arnaud, C
6. Chad Jenkins, RHP
7. David Cooper, 1B
8. Henderson Alvarez, RHP
9. Jake Marisnick, OF
10. Josh Roenicke, RHP

The Tao's Prospect Analysis - aka Pissing in the wind about lists
With the lessons of the past as prologue, we've been looking at those names and their associated descriptions in the dead-tree edition, and trying to sort out which of these we think might be golden, and which are just shiny pebbles. We'd never even attempt to present ourselves as sun-dried scouts, especially since we've seen exactly one of these guys play.

Our hope is that this class of ten is the exception, and that they all end up playing long and storied careers, but if we had to take a stab at it based on their progressions, we'd figure that Arencibia, Jenkins, Cooper, D'Arnaud and Roenicke may end up in the dustbin of Jays history, while Drabek and maybe Stewart could be stars. (You can pick your stars and scrubs by picking them out of a hat, and we'd have a hard time arguing with you.)

We'd love to think of Alvarez as the future superstar, but hearing that he tops out at around 89 mph makes us wonder how much of his extraordinary run in the NY-Penn League will translate. He's only 19, so there's time for him to put some meat on his bones and turn into the Venezuelan Pedro, which makes us cast wistful thoughts towards what he might do for the Jays some time after 2014ish.

The Wild Cards for us would be Jake Marisnick and Brett Wallace. Marisnick really hasn't played much against men who are paid to play the game for a living, but is described as having a "good body." (In case any of you girlie-girls were wondering.)

Wallace, on the other hand, has a great body...if your archetype for great bodies is something along the lines of the American Dream, Dusty Rhodes. (More to love, ladies!) And as much as we keep hearing about what a great looking swing Wallace has, we look at the numbers and see a guy who tore up pitching when he was armed with a carbon-fibre death club, but who has posted progressively declining OPSs with each successive level of pro ball. Wallace has posted an .815 OPS in 106 Triple-A games over his career so far. As a point of comparison, Travis Snider, who is two years younger, posted an OPS of 1.043 in 66 Triple-A games.

If you've made it this far through our meandering mess of useless speculation, the rather uninspiring conclusion is that we have no idea what this list means, and whether if there is anything of real value amongst the most recent list. It's not exactly a crapshoot, but given the dearth of real meaningful information that any of us has on any of these guys, it's hard to start slotting these names into the lineup of the playoff-bound powerhouse of our dreams.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The scandal will not end here

And by scandal, we are referring to the fact that we as baseball fans in Canada are still unable to watch the MLB Network. So even if we had the inclination to tune into yesterday's teary-eyed revelation of what we all knew all along, we wouldn't be able to because there is no way to see the MLB Network in Canada.

(Unless you own a grey market dish. But we wouldn't advocate that. Because it is illegal. And wrong. Although maybe not as wrong as depriving baseball fans of baseball content through this long and lonely winter. One would think that if a company had some interest in a baseball team, and interest in stoking the fires of baseball fandom, then maybe they would get off their fucking duff, make use of the CRTC license that they already hold, and slot the MLB Network onto their digital dial, somewhere in between the NFL Network and CBS College Sports and the Big Ten Network...all of which are available in HD so that we can enjoy weeks old football games and women's hockey matchups between Michigan State and Nortwestern. Which must be fascinating to someone.)

Truly, this is a scandal that should shake baseball to it's pillars.

(And if anyone is thinking that launching MLB Network in time for the start of the baseball season is a cracking good idea, they should know that we baseball fans would gladly watch any old game or content or talking head gasbag forum to fill that baseball hole in our lives right now.)

And as for that other guy
The funny thing about the apology of the Slammin' Ginger is that those who called for him to come clean over the years are unlikely to be satisfied with his admission, because they never really cared if he came clean. They just wanted proof, and his word was the only thing they had to go on.

Having read the quotes (Thanks MLB Network PR folk! Convenient! And prompt!), we're actually left with a feeling that McGwire may have done more damage than good with his admission. What he said last night was as carefully scripted as his congressional non-statement, intentionally leaving lots of room for people to make excuses for his actions and rationalizations for his Hall-worthiness.

We actually liked Mark McGwire as a player, even when we suspected that he was unnaturally gifted. We liked McGwire in spite of our suspicions because - and this is easy to forget now - there were a LOT of guys who looked suddenly and suspiciously massive in that era, and we never saw the use in getting bogged down with the "who's-doing-what-with-which-results" question.

In fact, we regret even writing this, because we're certain that the comments are going to devolve into a prolonged discussion of "Values!" "Morals!" "Played the game the right way" "Cheaters!" "Rewarding criminals!" "Fair!"

But if you're so inclined, then have at it. Although we'd prefer that you spend your time worrying about how to get the MLB Network in Canada.

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Reds get it on credit

Oddly enough, we felt some relief when we heard that Cincinnati threw down $30 million to lock up Aroldis Chapman's services for the next six years. If the Reds would like to pay the Cuban defector $1 million this year, then back load his deal so that they keep paying him for the next ten years, like a delinquent credit card bill that's been run up on dubious trinkets, then so be it.

It's entirely possible that he'll end up being everything that we is promised to be, and that this deal will come off as a bargain. But we'll confess that we were beginning to get antsy at the idea of the Jays forking over $23 million given the uncertainty that surrounds young Mr. Chapman.

(Which, we realize, sounds like an incredibly convenient rationalization just after the Jays missed out on this intriguing piece as part of the Eternal Building Process. And it probably is. But seeing as how so many of you Tank Nation-types espouse a policy of perpetual short-term prudence towards some mythical contention date, always just two or three or four years away, we hope you'll cut us some slack if we didn't feel like adding a big contract for a guy who might just be a big chucker and not much else.)

Saturday, January 9, 2010

It's the journey

Regardless of how the Aroldis Chapman affair plays out, Blue Jay fans are already winners. As has been repeated ad nauseam, the fact the Jays are willing to stick their collective noses in on a coveted free agent such as Chapman is telling.

Telling in that it shows that Anthopoulos has Beeston's - and therefore Rogers' - full confidence to transform the club as per his vision. Telling in that the owners, who have been slagged numerous times by numerous sources (present company included) for not spending, are willing to commit financially to make it happen. And telling in that the Anthopoulos-led Jays are not willing to simply concede defeat to the "big boys" when it comes to pursuing players who fit the vision.

You know what else this last week (or so) has done? It's given us something to dream on. Dunno about you folks, but I've been working through future rotation scenarios in my mind's eye - Marcum/Morrow/Chapman/Cecil/Romero? But then what of young Kyle Drabek, seen as the key cog to the Halladay deal? Or how about blogger favorite Rzepczynski? Last year's first rounder Chad Jenkins? And what if McGowan can get past his shoulder problem? That's a lot of talent - unproven as it may be - from which to piece together a rotation. In fact, ignoring the Chapman dream, it's clear to see the Jays are commodity rich in the major league arms race. Which leads to this thought....

Does it not seem inevitable that AA has another trick up his sleeve? What's the one area in the Toronto system (in the post-Halladay era) that Anthopoulos himself has mentioned as being coveted by other teams? The Jays young pitching. Where is the team's surplus? Young pitching. Where are the Jays needs as we build towards contention? Just about everywhere but young pitching (and the outfield, 1B, and 2B...but you see where I'm going with this). In other words - especially if the Jays land Chapman - maybe hold off on ordering up that custom Romero/Cecil/Rzepczynski jersey for a few weeks.

One more thought on what the pursuit of Chapman might mean, if you tend to read into things like I do (I pray to all that's holy that you don't): it signals a re-entrance into the Latin American market for players that made the Jays a model franchise in the halcyon days of the club. George Bell, Carlos Delgado, Tony Fernandez, Alfredo Griffin, Damaso Garcia, Manny Lee....hell, I'll even throw a Nelly Liriano at you. The Jays would be wise to re-emerge as a favored destination for their countrymen. More dreams, I guess.

A note on the Zach Jackson acquisition
To the critics: simmer the fuck down. It was borderline shocking to read the caustic and sarcastic comments throughout the blogosphere comment sections regarding this move for Toronto.

In case you haven't been paying attention, the Jays have "lost" the immortal Brians Burres and Bullington, along with Fabio Castro and whomeverthefuck else this offseason. That's a lot of Vegas innings to fill. And not every player on the minor league roster is destined to be a star. They're called organizational players, and every team has them.

Yes, even the Yankees (Josh Towers, anyone?).

Sunday update
Chapman signs with an NL team? Good thing I was stressing the "journey, not the destination" angle...

Friday, January 8, 2010

That funky four-hole

If there was one Jay that we felt pretty good about going into next season, it was Adam Lind. There's something about the ease with which he hits the ball hard that makes us think that his performance is the most likely to be repeated.

Some of that easy-breezy feeling just left our being with a big sigh when we read this article from Jordan Bastian on, wherein Lind indicates that he'd rather not hit in the cleanup because "There's just something funky about that four-hole." Oh, dear.

What's worse still is that The Manager has also gotten into Lind's head on this. Rather than reassuring Lind that such thoughts are irrational, negative and unconstructive, and assuring the Jays' best hitter that he can do any goddamned thing he wants up there because he's an awesome hitting machine, The Manager has taken to reinforcing the notion:

"If that's in his head, then it's not a good place to put him. We have to find somewhere else to put him."

Would it kill The Manager just to let a little sun shine into his players' worlds? Does he have to feed into their own inherent negativity?

Although his math was askew, Yogi Berra had it right when he said that "ninety percent of this game is half mental." In the early chapters of Dirk Hayhurst's The Bullpen Gospels (which can be pre-ordered right here at, and will be well worth your while, but more on that later), the Garfoose speaks at length about the debilitating power of his own negative thoughts, and the work that he had to do to battle back against his own self-doubt in order to progress and transcend into a better pitcher. It's a very revealing part of the book, and one that makes us worry a bit about Lind, the guy that we were so sure of.

(Mind you, if we we were making up the lineup, we'd hit Lind third anyhow. But there's probably no good for our own sense of well-being that can come from trying to make sense of The Manager's lineups.)

Friday Rock Out - The Hold Steady
To be honest, we haven't totally figured out what we think of the Hold Steady. But this is as good a rock'n'roll song as we can think of at the moment, so enjoy. Happy Friday, and congrats on making it through your first week of the new decade.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Rehashing the Hall of Fame vote

Literally, at the end of the day yesterday, we were left with this thought on the Hall of Fame voting shenanigans: We all want it both ways.

As a baseball fan, we still appreciate the fact that the our sport's Hall of Fame is the most discerning of all the major North American sports. But then it drives us nuts when players who are probably deserving get hung out to dry for a year or ten as their candidacy gets wrung through thoroughly.

We like the fact that players' careers get a thorough review, although it drives us batty when a minority of the voters bypass the tangible evidence and choose to focus on intangibles like "heart" and the ability the invoke "fear". And with Jim Rice last year and Andre Dawson this year, we've had two consecutive marginal Hall of Famers get in based on those ephemeral, immeasurable qualities which seem only to be known and understood in the addled minds of aging sportswriters.

(And it seems to us as though some of these guys are working hard to get their generation of ballplayers into the Hall while they can, which is a shame.)

As for the writers, it seems like they want to have the authority to elect whoever the hell they want, and they don't want to discuss it with all of you pissants who are too focused on your empirical evidence to understand what imposing physical specimens Dawson or Rice were. At the same time, they'd like for you to please read their column in the Upper Schenectady Community Observer and Bugle as they tell you why they'll never vote for a baseball player who spits, because spitting is abhorrent.

(We don't know how to break it to those guys, but every Major League Baseball playing surface and dugout for the past century has been covered in a layer of salival expactorations. So, you know...maybe we shouldn't get up on our hind legs quite so much about a single moment in time.)

As frustrating as yesterday's result was for Blue Jays fans, we have to acknowledge that the significant majority of voters understood Roberto Alomar's excellence, and recognized that he was a deserving candidate. If we're honest about it, we figured he glean about 80% of the vote, so he came up about 20 votes shy of what we imagined. We imagine that he'll make it in next year, although after yesterday's result, we're not about to bet our house on the whims of a bunch of geriatric jerkwads and grandstanders who comprise 27-odd percent of the voting pool.

At some point yesterday the Globe's Jeff Blair, likely regretting the day that he decided to follow so many Jays fans on Twitter, implored those of us who were losing our shit to "relax", and noted that "we're not curing cancer here". There may be a fair point in there somewhere amongst the disingenuous, clichéed "cancer" argument, although that kinda feels like those moments when Jon Stewart gets cornered on a serious issue and suddenly plays the "Hey! I'm just a comedian!" card.

And beyond that, we figure the reason why there are 400-plus men and women who are rightly or wrongly employed as baseball writers across the continent is because so many of us have placed an outsized importance on the sport.

Yeah, sure. Ultimately, baseball's not important. But that's beside the point, isn't it? Should we all be piling into laboratories in the tens of thousands to observe the Polymerase Chain Reaction assays undertaken by scientists? Rooting for them to defeat cancer? (We're more partial to ELISAs, to tell the truth. Much more viscerally exciting to observe.)

So the Hall of Fame matters, and it doesn't matter. Rant on either way.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Will the august Hall call upon Robbie?

A few years ago, we might have relished a day like today. We would have anticipated sitting by the computer, waiting anxiously to hear the news from the Hall of Fame on the possible induction of Roberto Alomar.

These days, the anticipation devolves into a full day of neurotic self-flagellation, as we start telling anyone who'll listen how we don't even really care about these things anyhow, because it is all governed by a bunch of out of touch writers and goofballs, and it's all a sham.

Maybe this year will be different, seeing as how Alomar is generally considered to be at the top of his class, and has a reasonably good shot at getting in. Setting ourselves up for disappointment, we have already started to envisage the classic Blue Jay logo as it might appear on a bronzed plaque.

There's been plenty written about why Robbie belongs in the Hall, so we'll spare you our fumblings around his career numbers. We take the legitimacy of Alomar's candidacy as an article of faith, and as such, we'd look like a fool trying to explain our rationale. (Not unlike the vast majority of Hall voters...but we digress.)

If you're interested, I'd instead recommend two other articles, which do a pretty good job of making Alomar's case. Stephen Brunt's piece in yesterday's Globe was typically excellent and established Alomar's crucial place in the team's history (it all got great when he arrived, and went to hell after he left, although not solely because of him). Neate Sager at Out of Left Field broke down Alomar's candidacy using the Keltner test, and makes a better case than we ever could. He also makes a great case for Tim Raines on a regular basis, which has thus far been for naught. (Ouch...we just felt our stomach tighten.)

The announcement comes this afternoon at 2 PM. Govern yourselves accordingly. We'll probably be jumping for joy or weeping in sorrow somewhere on the internets shortly after the announcement.

Our Ballot, If We Had One
There was a time when we might have been a total hardass about the Hall of Fame balloting, and we would have worked hard to discredit just about everybody's candidacy. As Brunt quite rightly noted, the voting for the Hall has taken on an "air of high moral dudgeon" in recent years.

So being the jovial and generous sort that we are, here's who we would have included on our ballot this year: Alomar, Mark McGwire, Bert Blyleven, Tim Raines, and Edgar Martinez. We'd think long and hard about Fred McGriff, Barry Larkin and Andre Dawson, and we'd feel bad about excluding Dale Murphy.

We'd also cast a thought towards Pat Hentgen, who doesn't have the numbers for Cooperstown enshrinement, but should probably get his name up on the Rogers Centre facade. (Sometime after Jimmy Key is put up there...but again, we digress.)

UPDATE! 2:06 PM! With Post-Announcement Outrage!
What a fucking load of horseshit. Andre Dawson gets in, and Alomar doesn't. Suddenly, I hate the stupid Hawk. Not even the best former Expo on the ballot.

Can't wait to hear the explanation for this from bloated turds on why Robbie was left off their ballots.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Corner boys don't get no respect

With all of the mid-winter rosterbation going down these days, there are lots of plans be floated by armchair GMs who have pretty much got their fingers on the pulse of what is going down with the Blue Jays. (Or so we think.) Most of these are looking ahead several years, as though we could just sim through the 2010 schedule and get right to the good stuff a year or two down the road.

But the fact is that there is still a 162-game slate ahead of this team next year, and you can't just flush it down the toilet and expect that the beleaguered fan base is going to put up with it. Tank Nation might sound like a clever idea, but this is a team that has lost a lot of currency, and has to be ready to put up a fight next year.

With that in mind, the odd thing that we keep noticing (or tripping ourselves up with) is the fact that barely anyone even acknowledges the existence of the two Major League veteran corner infielders that are currently under contract and on the roster.

Maybe it is a sign that, with the new regime and the new decade and the dawn of the Eternal Building Process, people are ready to cash in on Lyle Overbay and Edwin Encarnacion. They'd rather think forward, beyond 2010, towards the day when Brett Wallace will waddle around at first base and something (lord help us) will patrol the other side of the diamond.

But the odd thing about this is just how much we've all diminished the contributions (or potential contributions) of the two guys that's we've got. Overbay posted a WAR of 2.0 in 2009 and Encarnacion posted the same number in his last healthy season ('o8), which aren't league-leading numbers by any stretch, but they are at least positive contributions.

And that doesn't even account for the forgotten 1B/DH Randy Ruiz, who ripped it up good (10 homers / 1.019 OPS in 115 MLB at bats) when he finally got his shot. Nor does it account for Brian Dopirak, who put up an .876 OPS versus the PCL in 232 ABs (versus Wallace's .870 in 203 ABs in the high and dry offensive air out west.)

The Jays probably aren't the only team with a bunch of 1B/LF/DH types cluttering up their 40-man rosters, but we might be the only team to have disregarded the potential contributions of half of those players before pitchers and catchers report.

Monday, January 4, 2010

We're hip to a Delgado comeback

At the risk of sending our personal favourite Jays blogger into paroxysms of rage (sorry, Drew), allow us to give into sentimentality and nostalgia for a moment as we suggest a return engagement in Toronto for Carlos Delgado. (Who just returned to action in the PR Winter League...Topical!)

Before you pile on too quickly and let us know that we're becoming a dunderheaded old softy, we'll acknowledge right up front that this is a kinda bad idea. Bringing in Delgado would, as Keith Law noted last week, take at bats away from Adam Lind, Travis Snider and/or Brett Wallace. And that wouldn't be a good thing.

Having said that, we're not exactly convinced that you can pencil in the McGuire Twins in for a full season of good health and the same 30 homer, 100 RBI season that Lind put up last year. Provided Delgado comes in with a reasonable contract demand, he could be a very compelling low-risk, high-reward reclamation project for 2010. Delgado, who posted a 38 HR/118 RBI/.871 OPS in his last healthy season, could provide significant offensive punch in the middle of the Jays' 2010 lineup, while satiating the market's need for a recognizable "face of the franchise" type.

Essentially, this comes down to a question about Wallace's progression (does he need MLB at bats to improve?) and Snider's defense (does he need to play left, pushing Lind to DH and Delgado out of the picture?) Also worth considering is what would happen to the lineup of The Manager were provided a piece like Delgado, because The Manager likes his old reliable guys in the middle of the lineup, come hell or high water. But would King Carlos be any worse of an option than Kevin Millar? (Of course, Delgado wouldn't accept Millar's role, so this is probably all moot.)

Okay, fine. It's a lousy idea to bring back Delgado. But I'm a sad Peter Pan right now, and I want some comfort. I want to believe that Delgado could come back and recapture some semblance of his former glories, and that he could be a part of something more than just a year of hell in Tank Nation.

Vic was my Elvis

If there's a note of sadness or detachment that runs through the posts around here over the next little while, it might have something to do with the fact that one of our greatest inspirations died over the holidays.

This line has probably gotten tired by now, but we'll throw it out there one more time: Vic Chesnutt was my Elvis. There's no singer or writer who has enthralled me nearly as much as Vic did. He was an astoundingly self-aware writer who clearly loved words (which is less common than you'd think), and exploited the full musicality of the language. He wrote beautifully with an uncommon literacy on his own faults and fears, and often addressed his own mortality. (It's made some of his songs almost too painful to hear so soon after he took his own life.)

We've penned about 1200 posts around these parts, but we'd hang it all up if we were ever able to turn a single phrase as eloquently and profoundly as Vic Chesnutt. We miss him.

Vic's Tiny Desk Concert
For those of you who are so inclined, here's a brief acoustic taste of Vic at NPR's All Songs Considered's Tiny Desk Concert series in April of this year.

Everybody's talking about this new decade

Hey kids! Happy New Year and New Decade! Didja miss us? Really, we didn't figure that we'd take that long of a break from blogging and amusing you, but it is amazing how many menial tasks Mrs. Tao could find for us to do around our new house. Apparently, all those boxes won't unpack themselves.

(And once again, many thanks are due to The Ack for keeping the content fresh around these parts in our prolonged absence.)

We really wish there was more to write about on our first morning back, but the past couple of weeks have offered us little to discuss other than decade retrospectives and a shit-tonne of emails about Murray Chass' disdain for poorly written press releases. (We'll spare you our thoughts on both.)

Alas, for today, you'll have to settle for a bit of a link dump.

Alex the Ant gets another backrub from the Toronto press corps: Okay, so I like Cathal Kelly as well, and I enjoy his slightly different take on the Jays' new GM. Reading the couple of paragraphs, I'd anticipate Alex's first coronary episode to come some time before the All Star Break. (Pace yourself, young man!) But really, I just want to get past the honeymoon stage, because this whole love-in with Antholpoulos is getting a little off-putting. Like PDA's on public transit.

Something about the Eternal Building Process from a Baltimore perspective: Someone on MASN's site draws comparisons between the Jays and Orioles' rebuilding. Which scares the crap out of us. (We're nothing like them! We hope and pray!)

Let Edwin Encarnacion be a cautionary tale: We used to live across the street from a convenience store that sold fireworks, and generally they'd be sold to drunken idiots at 2 AM on a weekend night, who would proceed to light those fuckers up and shoot them at one another or at the side of our building. So when we heard that EE took one in the face (and there's a fielding/reaction time joke in there somewhere), we sincerely hoped that it would serve as a warning to the rest of the nimrods out there who play fast and loose with pyrotechnics. But then again, if all of you idiots would like to kill and maim one another with your stupidity and your caveman-like fascination for bright and burning things, then have at it.

(Hey, when did we get so frickin' grumpy?)

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Sunday quick-hitter: Links edition

Chasing down a few Blue Jay relevant links as we usher in the first working week of the New Year....

Personal fave Cathal Kelly brings it within this column profiling Alex Anthopoulos. Granted, Kelly could convince me that his cohort Griff would make an excellent GM with his writing, but in all seriousness, it's stories like these that have me believing the Jays are in good hands. The more I see and hear of Anthopoulos, the more I trust in what he's doing. Building, baby. Building.

Would the Jays really move Travis Snider? TSN's Daan (not a typo) De Kerpel would have you believe they might. It seems to me that this possibility has been kicked around and dismissed, but it's a scenario worth discussing, I guess.

While I'm vehemently against the idea, you'd have to think any deal would bring back an equivalent blue-chip prospect at a premium position for the team. Still, can't see it. I don't think De Kerpel is entirely off the mark, though - I do think AA longs to make one more major move, but I think it might involve dealing some of the young pitching the Jays have accumulated. It just makes too much sense.

Take a look at some of the names that could fill the rotation when Anthopoulos plans to roll out a competitive club: Marcum, Romero, Cecil, Morrow, Rzepczynski, Drabek, Jenkins, Mills, Ray....not to mention Litsch and McGowan, if they can get past injury issues.

And....there's the Chapman issue. I still think it's a longshot for the Jays....but you know that management has to have a plan in place if the scenario does come to fruition, right? The old saying goes that you can never have too much pitching, but it makes more sense for the Jays to capitalize by converting that surplus of arms into talent at positions otherwise lacking. Don't think AA is sleeping on this one....

Friday, January 1, 2010

The $25M (?) question

So, I guess there really was something to the early reports that the Jays might be in on Cuban defector Aroldis Chapman, he of the 100 MPH fastball and inevitable Randy Johnson comparisons. This being a Blue Jays blog and now being the dead of winter, I'm going to beat the carcass of the horse too - should the Jays get in on the $25M (estimate - whaddya want?) gamble, or shouldn't they?

Perhaps understandably, early reactions across the blogosphere and throughout the comment sections are mixed. $25 million is a lot of cash for a franchise on the rebuild. We've seen enough albatross contracts in these parts to be wary of handing out that kind of money to a less than sure thing. Aren't there any veteran arms on the market the Jays can bring in for that kind of a guarantee?

Yes, but, uh....for what purpose? An innings-eater (somewhere, Jeff Blair is frowning in my general direction) would be of benefit to the club, reducing the workload required from the Jays young stable of starters (though really....aren't there enough "young starters" in the system on whom to divvy up those innings?).....but a $25M innings-eater would be a waste of resources for this team. For those kinds of dollars, at this point in time, for this team in's upside or nothing.

Lost in this discussion is the aspect that really intrigues me, though. The Jays - and Rogers - just might be in this thing for real. If throwing in $6M to facilitate the Halladay trade - for the prospects the front office desired - wasn't proof positive of ownership's commitment to seeing AA's vision through, then pursuing Chapman only adds to the evidence.

The Jays may not - or more likely, probably will not - win the bidding war for The Player, but the fact they're in the game tells me that the organizational workings are different now than they were a year ago. And that's something, anyway.

Or it could just be my new 2010 optimistic outlook wreaking havoc on my better judgement, and I'm merely setting up for further disappointment. But....nah.