The Last Homestand

After a 3-3 showing on their recent road trip, the Jays head back to Toronto for their last appearance in front of the home crowds. Coming up are three final series: three games each against Tampa Bay, New York and Boston.

With 16 games left, the Blue Jays find themselves in the role of a spoiler, rather than a team hunting for the playoffs. A .500 record from here on out would give Toronto a 84-78 record. That’s short of where the Jays would’ve liked to have been at season’s end, but I think that’d be a decent mark, considering all the issues the club has had this year.

When the season began, there was one glaring weakness that I saw within the Jays. Sure, the 25-man roster looked strong when Opening Day arrived, but the depth behind the Major Leaguers didn’t seem to be a crop of players that would be able to step in and keep the team in a playoff race. Lo and behold, that’s what happened with injuries to A.J. Burnett, Gustavo Chacin, Alex Rios, amongst other issues.

The young fill-ins had their strong stretches, but it’s unrealistic to think guys like Casey Janssen or Ty Taubenheim — both pitched in A ball the year before — for example, could step up and instantly be a Jered Weaver or a Justin Verlander. The big league experience will help all the young players that helped out for next year and beyond, though.

Anyway, I’m looking forward to getting back to Toronto. I’ve only been home for about three days in the roughly the last three weeks. Given that fact, I’m going to be taking a day off on Friday. I’ll be back behind the keyboard starting Saturday.

Until then, here’s some notes to tie you over:

–Roy Halladay threw off a mound on Wednesday and appears to be set to start on Friday. If he doesn’t, Toronto manager John Gibbons said he would still probably pitch this weekend. Gustavo Chacin would pitch on Friday if Halladay couldn’t go. As of right now, the rotation will be Halladay, Ted Lilly, and Chacin in the three games against Tampa Bay.

–Alex Rios continues to sit due to a bone bruise in his right hand. He jammed his hand while hitting some time last week and hasn’t been able to grip a bat well since. He has played as a late defensive substitution lately, but hasn’t hit in a game in six games. No word on when he’ll be starting again.

–Third baseman Troy Glaus has been working through a tough slump lately. Gibbons said it looks like Glaus’ swing is a little long, which is a tendency that big power hitters tend to have sometimes. Gibbons bumped Glaus down to the No. 5 hole on Tuesday and sat him on Wednesday. I assume he’ll be back in the lineup on Friday.

–John Hattig and Adam Lind have been pretty impressive since joining Toronto. Hattig, who was called up when Toronto traded Eric Hinske, has hit .462. Lind, who was the Eastern League MVP this year, has posted a .464.

–Reports indicate that the Blue Jays are on pace to lose around $22 million this year. That’s roughly the amound of payroll Toronto added during its busy winter. Even so, owner Ted Rogers has said he’s willing to increase his club’s payroll for next year.

14 Comments

one thing i would like to see riccardi do is keep lind in the big leagues and let catalnotto go. lind is the same player, except cheaper, younger, and possibly a better hitter. use cat’s money to go get pitching!

Let’s see adding to the payroll is going to help how? if the players don’t change the wins don’t increase. McDonald,Adams,Wells,Glaus,
Molina,Barker,Speier,Walker, all could either be trade bait, released, or not offered a contract, to be replaced by a short-stop, a back-up catcher and pitching. Meaningful change,comeon JP you are not married to any of these guys.

I agree with the comment on keeping Lind. The only problem with him is he is pretty bad in the outfeild. But we can count on Reed Johnson to be out there 90% of the time next year. Use Lind as our DH, I dont think he would mind, where as Catalanotto expressed he wants to play more in the feild. But anyways on my my though, I was wondering what will happen to Russ Adams next year? He looked good at the plate yesterday, and if he can keep it up I was wondering if he could play himself back into a starting job? I know he still has potential, and could be a adequate 2nd baseman. He just needs to get his confidence back. He did hit 300 a couple years back when they first tried him out. If he gets on a little run can you see Riccardi sticking with him, or would he still bring in somone else? Maybe if they brought in a right handed second baseman they could platoon Adams and Him, and wait untill Adams shows he could handle the job. You can always trade one of them for a prospect if the situation calls, and it doesn’t hurt to have depth either.

I’d be cautious to not put too much weight into those numbers that were reported by the Jays. It’s not uncommon (especially with the upcoming CBA) for teams and corporations (for that matter) to play with their numbers and present themselves in an unfavourable way to gain the sympathies of the league–especialy now in the days of revenue sharing and Selig’s annually cash bonus he gives to the Jays.

Rogers is smart. They wouldn’t increase paroll if they felt it would be sunk cost. Don’t put too much stock into these numbers.

As for Catalanotto, he’s been just fine in a platoon situation with Reed. Lind can DH and rotate around with Cat with some left field duties. You hate to start Lind off as DH (because his D would go to **** and if he can’t hit his value is toast and who wants a DH hitting .250?) but it may be a decision they have to make.

The Jays have made great strides this year and there are just two things that I want to see for next season.
First, we need a quality shortstop, even at the expense of losing Wells (and his salary), since we have the young bats to compensate.

Second, we need a manager who can take us that next step. I have had serious problems with Gibbon’s bullpen managent all season. The recent road trip shows a similar lack of skill in managing hitters. Twice Macdonald was up in the sixth with the bases loaded. The first time, with one out, Gibbons left him in and he grounded into a double play. I figured that he had to have been left in for defensive purposes – but Adams was put into the field in his place at the bottom of the sixth! The second time, with two out, I breathed a temporary sigh of relief when I saw Macdonald return to the dugout. Then, with all the bats on the bench (again!) Gibbons brings in Adams – 0 for 9 against the pitcher with 1 hit in his previous 15 at bats. Guess what happened? The madness must end!

I would be very cautious in falling in love with Adam Lind. Yes he’s been successful at every level in the Jays system, but I don’t think the Jays are quite ready to leave a starting OF spot open for him next spring. “Cat” should be available for relatively cheap money, so why not keep him. Russ Adams is unfortunately worthless as trade bait, Kevin Barker is your prototypical 4A player and Pete Walker is most likely to retire. I think the Jays are best served to package Wells & McGowan (Dustin is out of options anyway) to get premium top level starting pitching/SS/C prospects from the Angels, Rangers (Matthews Jr?), White Sox (Podsednik?), etc. Another FYI, Reed Johnson unfortunately is not an everyday OF :(

This team with a another quality pitcher and good health could produce a 100 win season. That would be very close if not good enough to finish 1-2 or win the wild card. Lets assume that Burnett stays healthy, thats at least another 7-8 this year with the way he’s been pitching as of late. Throw in another 5-7 wins from Chacin and we are right in the hunt of the wild card this year. All the haters like (rbbrooks)need to get back on the band wagon, its going to get better. My suggestions whould be to due what ever it takes to sign Vernon Wells. Lets see if we cant aquire **** or 2B, let Molina go and try to find another starter who can win 10-12 games.

You guys have to admit, when healthy and pitching well, the line-up of Halladay,Burnett,Lilly does show some promise. As for the offense, Id say the line-up of Johnson,Rios,Wells,Glaus and Overbay matches up as well any anything in MLB.

I have to reply to some of these comments, they really bug me! First of all “mmracing” is right we must do whatever it takes to sign Wells, why does everyone want to trade the best centerfeilder in baseball?? No matter who we get in return it will not replace this guy! “jjb19″ do you even watch the games? cause honestly what makes you think Reed Johnson is not an everyday LF? You could argue he is one of the best Defensive LF in the game, and his bat isnt too bad either!(over .300 AVG over 10 hr) a great leadoff hitter, what else could you ask for? It’s amazing what some people can come up with! Nobody was saying they are giving a starting spot to Adam Lind, that would go to Reed Johnson. What we are saying is we could use Adam Lind as a DH, and use him sparingly in the OF when we want to give Reed a day off. His Defence may take a few years to come around, who knows it may never come around? But his bat is to valuable to waste. Sure its only been what 10 or 12 games, but this guy can hit, obviously he wont keep up this pace, but he is .300 hitter for sure.

I agree with using Lind as a DH, but my concern is that we had a DH (Hillenbrand) at the start of the season and he wasn’t even playing all the games at DH. Gibbons likes to rotate bench players through the DH slot, which I think comes from his NL background, where pinch hitting for pitchers and double switches give you a change to use all your bench players. Gibbons knows that giving all your bench players the chance to play makes everyone them like you, which has some value, but sometimes there’s more value (at least in the AL) in putting all your best hitters in the lineup every day.

The whole DH situation and the way Gibbons handles it, is just wrong. While I am certainly aware that Hillenbrand was not happy as the DH and there were also some other issues. he should have played everyday. He was, has always been and will continue to be a .300 hitter with good power. That said, we will never know the whole situation and we cant change whats happened. However, this garbage of rotating the DH everyday or every other day simply doesnt work. While its nice that Gibbons wants to please everyone and keep them happy, maybe whats needed is a strong fist instead. How can anyone get on a roll, if they only play on/off daily?

On the same lines, if your big players need a day off.. Wells/Glaus, thats fine but on several occations he gave them a day off after they had a big game??

Comparing Gibbons to Torre cant be done, but for this example, I will. Torre manages to win, not to please the players or fans. Yet all his players respect him and trust him. It has nothing to do with how much they each play.

1.) Russ Adams has neither the endurance to play a full season at any position nor the skill to play shortstop. He is also not worth platooning. Dump him.
2.) Vernon Wells is a wonderful player, but if we can retain Catalanotto, and call up Lind, we can use the salary Wells would deserve after next season to get a legitimate #2 or #3 or #4 starting pitcher. We then send Reed into centre field and keep Cat in left.

3.) Gibby is okay. I don’t think the Jays’ll win a playoff berth under his reign, because lower salary teams need talent in their management, and Gibby is just okay.

4.) We absolutely require the signing of a strong middle infielder. Aaron Hill stays.

5.) Get a great catcher. Molina was okay. Not worth the salary difference over Zaun, but you can’t have a weak thrower to second with a bevy of ground ball pitchers as starters. Phillips is NOT the great everyday catcher we need.

All of this is fact. No debate.

All of this is fact, no debate? LOL.

1. Agree

2. LOL, sure thats what the Angels thought when they let Glaus go. With-out the power Wells adds, it just wont work. (unless they get a bat in return for him)You need the extra 30-40 hr’s Wells adds. As for a legitimate #2 starter, everyone but yourself can see we already have that in Burnett. Yes he has some heath issue’s but thats life and he’s signed to a long, huge contract. As for the #3 spot, if you throw out only a couple of spots, Lilly has been really good this year and there isnt alot of other pitchers availible. I would like to see another pitcher as well, but who?

3. Gibby might be ok, but we need more then ok, to win.

4. Totaly agree.

5. Last time I checked “great” catchers dont grow on trees. There is only a handful of great catchers in the league now!? I will agree that Molina and Phillips are not the answer though. I can deal with Zaun unless something better is availible.

mmracing and jasonw’s comments sure hit home.
Here is my thoughts in point form.

1. Sign Wells – Power, avg and defence in one player are hard to come by

2. Resign Lilly. He has finally met expectations. Remember how long it took Carpenter. Also not a lot of projected no 2 pitchers this year as free agents

3. dump Adam or trade for prospect. Sign a real short stop or trade for one that is ready to play in the majors

4. Like you Gibby, but too many errors – bye bye

5. Sign Zaun, handles the pitchers better, he beafed up in the off season and I do believe he handle most of the duties last year did he not.

6. Sign Aaron hill to a long term contract extension

7. Pse settle on 1 DH.

8. Bull pen. is shaping up, I think it will be fine next year even if Spier doesnt return (hope he does).

9. My thoughts on the rookie pitchers. They weren’t ready to step in when injuries occured this year, but a lot of potential and with another year and the experience they gained, who knows.

Finally, I am optomistic for next season and can’t wait ot see who they sign. Go Jays Go.

Needs:

SS

#3 and #5 starter

Re-sign Zaun

Veteran relief pitchers

– Adams should have to earn a job next year. Hill should stay at 2B. Don’t sign Lugo!

– Chacin is a good #4 and if Lilly doesn’t want to return, #3 and #5 must be signed or looks like McGowan might be the only legit candidate. Janssen needs another year in AAA ball and Marcum should be in long relief.

– Zaun has proven he can handle everyday, no more this platooning.

– Some cheaper veterans relievers to help out League, Tallet, Accardo etc. especially if Speier leaves

Now we are seeing what a healthy Burnett and Chacin could have done. Starting pitching wasn’t a problem this year, the injuries were. But JP has learned the lesson finally, you can never have enough pitching.

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