About last night

Photo courtesy of Cubby-Blue by Tim Souers

Photo courtesy of Cubby-Blue by Tim Souers

Sure, the fashionable thing to do today is to blame the Jays as a team for blowing the game against the Royals last night. Toronto ran the bases like a pack of idiots, made questionable defensive decisions and the pitchers weren’t all that good either, so you can’t blame the loss on Kevin Gregg.

All of those things may be true, but I still blame Gregg.

And Cito.

Look, maybe the Blue Jays deserved to lose last night. But the fact is that they had the lead in the bottom of the 10th. Today, people seem happy to say “they deserved to lose!” but if the Jays hold on last night, today everybody’s saying “sometimes you need to win ugly. That’s the mark of a good team. This bodes well for the future!!1″

Anyway, the point is this: The Jays had the lead and 3G blew it. Uncle B.J.’s Wild Ride is only fun when the cars don’t come completely flying off the tracks.

Gregg couldn’t even hold on to the closer’s job last year IN THE NL CENTRAL. If Drew’s crystal ball is seeing things clearly, and I have no reason to believe it’s not, Cito needs to remove Gregg from the closer’s role about two months ago.

On the Yunibomber

Quoth Mike Wilner:

In the 7th, with two out and the tying run on third, Jason Kendall hit a ground ball into the 5-6 hole, past a diving Edwin Encarnacion.  YEscobar was there backing up, but for some reason he bare-handed the ball, again didn’t get much on the throw and again bounced it – but this time Overbay couldn’t make the scoop and the tying run scored.  If Escobar catches the ball with his glove, then he gets a better grip and has plenty of time to make a good, strong throw – the inning is over with the Jays leading 3-2.  Does that mean they win?  Not necessarily, because then Gregg comes in in the 9th instead of the 10th and who knows what happens, but Escobar needs to learn to make the safe, routine play when the razzle-dazzle isn’t necessary.

Normally I’m right there, nodding along to whatever Wilner’s on about. But this is different. I’ve watched this specific play about a dozen times now and, for the life of me, I cannot see how “making the safe play” leads to Yuni throwing out Kendall on this play. Escobar barehanded the ball because it was the only way he had a chance of making a play.

Seriously, watch the video. If Yuni gloves the ball and then has to transfer it to his throwing hand, does he come close to having a shot at the out?

About these ads

The summer’s just began and it’s already half over

If you ever find yourself driving through New Brunswick, you’ve got two options: Take the Trans Canada and weave up and down through the province; or you can take the Plaster Rock Highway.

The Plaster Rock Highway is basically a two-lane road that cuts through the wilds of northern New Brunswick. It’s got very little traffic and you can pretty much go as fast as you’d like — as long as you keep an eye out for wildlife roaming out in front of you.

The first time I travelled up that highway, I was probably about 10. And I was bored. All I had to look at on that long drive were trees and the occasional oncoming truck. Then, standing alone in the forest, I saw the Halfway Inn. I thought it was just about the funniest thing ever. I was pretty lame.

The Toronto Blue Jays have reached the halfway point of their season. With a record of 41-40, the team has outperformed almost all predictions of what it’d be all able to achieve this season.

But looking back on the last few seasons, the Jays are pretty much where their recent history suggests they’d be. The following are the team’s records at the halfway point for the last little while:

  • 2009: 42-39
  • 2008: 38-43
  • 2007: 39-42
  • 2006: 46-35
  • 2005: 41-40

So Toronto’s got a history of hovering around the .500 mark at the season’s halfway point. What does that mean? Apart from the fact we’re all a little lucky to back a team that can play at such a level in such a division as the AL East, not much.

What can Jays fans expect in the second half of this season?

The pessimistic answer: As the innings pile up, the talented young starting pitchers get hurt (see: Marcum, Shaun) and/or start getting tired and losing a bit of their mojo. The “OBP is overrated, just grip it and rip it” approach that the manager and the hitting coach have with the offence leads to the team scoring next to no runs as the opposing pitchers adjust and the power all but disappears. Cito continues to piss away games with his poor decision making.

The optimistic answer: The Jays manage to sell high on guys like Bautista and Gonzalez. Trades and the eventual injuries open up spots for the young guys and we get an even better look at the team’s future. Snider returns and doesn’t show any signs of lingering wrist trouble. Hill and Lind finally turn it around and help offset the inevitable slides of most other people on the team. Cito continues to piss away games with his poor decision making.

During which I put on my tinfoil hat

As I’m sure everybody and their dog already knows, Edwin Encarnacion has been designated for assignment and, assuming he clears waivers, will be the Las Vegas 51s third baseman for the foreseeable future. Coming up to Toronto is Jarrett Hoffpauir, a career minor leaguer who’s put up some ridiculous numbers in Sin City so far this year.

E5′s taken a lot of heat this year, and rightly so. His defence is only slightly north of atrocious and his effort appears to be so lacking that Jerry and Alan have taken to deriding him during the radio broadcasts. It only makes sense to send him down to make room for a guy (Hoffpauir) who’s having a great season in AAA.

BUT

E5 didn’t have to be sent down to open up a spot for Hoffpauir. Not if the Jays hadn’t brought in Nick Green, anyway.

Nick Green is a bad hitter and not much of a spectacular fielder either. He’s a utility guy who mainly plays 2B/SS/3B. Essentially he’s Johnny Mac, except that Johnny Mac is excellent in the field and is light years ahead of Green in terms of being a defensive replacement.

So if Green is worse defensively than the Prime Minister of Defence, why is he on the team?

Is it because Green is a better hitter off the bench than Encarnacion? Nope.

Cito says E5′s going to Vegas because he’s hurt. That could be, but isn’t that what the DL is for?

Anthopoulos may be screwing with Edwin so he can’t get a big arbitration deal, but that doesn’t seem like something a general manager who’s trying to create a good working atmosphere would do.

Here comes the tinfoil hat

This to me seems a move made by a general manager whose hands are tied by Cito. With The Manager’s insistence on only changing the lineup almost never, maybe AA felt that if Hoffpauir was simply called up (and Green never brought into the picture) that The Hoff would be nailed to the bench and not get a chance to show what he can do.

Cito is loyal to his guys after all. E5 is (was) in the lineup, so he must be one of Cito’s guys.

Remove Encarnacion from the picture and Cito’s forced to make a change at third.

It’s not the way a team should be run, but Cito shouldn’t be managing one to begin with.

The bright side of death

The Blue Jays offence is sputtering. Aaron Hill and Adam Lind don’t appear to be snapping out of their funks to save it, either.

Cito Gaston continues to demonstrate what managers are not supposed to do, while the manager of a team the Jays are chasing in the A.L. East may have figured out how to beat Shaun Marcum.

Toronto has lost 6 of its last 7 games. Meanwhile, the Yankees and Red Sox seem to be picking up their games.

Add this up and you get a pretty ugly picture of where the Jays are headed. But who wants to look at that kind of stuff?

I know I’d normally be all doom and gloom in a post like this but, like the song says, “always look on the bright side of death.” So that’s what I’m doing and it’s surprisingly easy.

First off, the Jays weren’t supposed to contend this year. The fact that they’re playing better than .500 is a nice sweet little bonus. So there’s that, but that’s not why I’m excited.

I am excited because over the next three games we get to see Shaun Marcum, Brett Cecil and Ricky Romero pitch. In San Diego. Pitcher’s park of pitcher’s parks. These are guys who usually dominate no matter where they go, but in San Diego? It promises to be an embarrassment of riches.

Sure San Diego is playing really, really well. Sure, the Jays have a history of losing to tonight’s Padres starter — Jon Garland’s got a career record of 11-2 against Toronto. None of that matters. You know why? Because this Jays team is not supposed to win.

Sure, I like to see them win; I’ll likely continued to get aggravated with Cito for his ridiculous decisions; and I’ll likely to continue to complain about lost games that the Jays should have won.

Ultimately though, this is a year about developing players. Toronto’s got a trio of pitchers who are pretty amazing already and now we get to watch them go in Petco. Even if Toronto loses every game 1-0, enjoy it while you can. Marcum, Romero and Cecil should look even more amazing in San Diego.

A link dump that’s (mostly) about being unhappy with Cito

Fire Cito

Playing .500 ball over the course of two series against the Tampa Bay Rays and the New York Yankees is nothing to sneeze at, but it is frustrating to watch the Jays put up a 3-3 record over those games because they probably should have won at least 5 of the 6. Cito needs to go. Mismanagement of the bullpen costing the team games against those they’re chasing in the A.L. East is one thing, but refusing to help develop players (in a year that was meant to be about developing players) is a whole other level of incompetence.

“I can see sometimes that he needs some work here or there, but I think that’s something that whoever’s here next year will address,” Gaston said. “The only thing we’ve told Fred is that when the ball’s hit right at you, just make sure you go to your strong side.”

Cito is a fine hitting coach, but he’s not a good manager.

Dwayne Murphy is not a good hitting coach

This is a little old, but still warrant mentioning. Speaking to Yahoo’s Tim Brown, Toronto hitting coach Dwayne Murphy dropped this doozy:

“I think on-base percentage is an overrated stat,” Murphy said flatly. “Those guys getting on base, most of them aren’t getting them in. Give me somebody who drives them in after that. I need guys who can drive the ball.”

What I want to know is, if nobody’s getting on base, who are the sluggers going to drive in?

Oh right: Themselves.

And nobody else.

Kevin Gregg is not a good closer

Since (and including) May 12, Gregg’s pitched in 10 games for the Torontos. Over that stretch, he’s been absolutely horrendous.

An ERA of 10, an opponent’s OPS of 1.088, a WPA of -1.106 and that’s just scratching the surface.

The man couldn’t keep a closer’s job in the N.L. Central and is struggling in the A.L., but Cito refuses to take the job from him. Can explain this?

On questioning Cito’s use of the pen

I’m not even going to get into Mike Wilner’s suspension from the FAN for the duration of the Yankees series. Stoeten (here) and Drew (here) have pretty much said everything I’d say about it. Jeremy Sandler’s got a good take on the situation as well.

The Draft

The MLB draft goes tonight. If you’re the type who gets worked up about kids who will probably never amount to anything and, if they do, won’t do so for at least a few years, the draft is for you! Personally, the only thing that interests me about the draft is the approach the team is taking to.

Approach and philosophy is everything — that’s why I get geeked about international free agents when the Jays are involved. If you care about the approach, then Shi Davidi’s got a good piece on the Jays’ strategy you might enjoy.

Into the players? Check out the Drunks or Mop Up Duty. They’re on that ball.

Remembering the GBOAT (via Walkoff Walk)