What happens in the Distillery District…

Las20vegas_1TORONTO – … stays in the Distillery District. The Jays threw quite the shindig for season-ticket holders tonight, treating them to a Vegas-style partay in Toronto.

There were blackjack tables, Vegas-type showgirls strolling around, plenty of quality food, an open bar (I was working, so, no, I did not partake), and an impressive assortment of prizes for those in attendance to take home (cars, trips to Cuba, memorabilia).

Those in attendance also had an opportunity to mingle with Vernon Wells, Dustin McGowan and Jeremy Accardo. Highlights from their chats with the media were that Wells is feeling 100 percent, McGowan has been throwing off a mound and had been training in Florida for two weeks already, and Accardo has been throwing for months, moving beyond his more laid back winter program of years past.

I squeezed in some of the highlights in an article on bluejays.com, but obviously not everything made the cut. One topic that McGowan and Wells weighed in on was the Mitchell Report, which included Toronto catcher Gregg Zaun’s named. McGowan said he had dinner the other night with Zaun and said talking with the catcher hasn’t been awkward at all. Wells admitted that he was actually looking forward to hearing who was named when the report came out.

Here’s their comments on the Mitchell Report:

"It’s something they had to deal with eventually. Hopefully they can just get it all in order and get the testing set up where it helps in the future. … I just had dinner with Zaun down in Florida. It’s not awkward. He’s my teammate and he’s like family to us. He needs support and we’re here to give it to him."
– McGowan

"I was kind of looking forward to it coming out. I wanted to see what it was all about and see who was going to be in it. You have your thoughts and your suspicions on who’s done it and who hasn’t. It’s part of life and unfortunately it was a part of the game for a while. That’s why we made a concerted effort to rid our sport of things like this and try to get to steroid use and hopefully there will be a test we can come up with for HGH and this wont be a conversation anymore.

"I know in our clubhouse that we’ll probably make a joke out of it and make fun of [Zaun] about it. You make decisions, whether it’s true or false what came out in the report, you can defend yourself and prove your innocence. Unfortunately, in this situation, you’re guilty until proven innocent. You speak out and tell the truth and if people believe you, they do. If not, whatever you did in your personal life, hopefully you made the right decisions.

"It’s unfortunate for the guys who did make good choices and decided not to do things like that. If anybody wants to challenge me on it, I’ll take a lie detector test — it doesn’t matter to me. I’ll be the first one to do it. I’ve got nothing to hide. For me, I know personally this doesn’t bother me one bit."
–Wells

Wells said he finished his rehab last week and began hitting against a pitching week last week as well. He also worked with new hitting coach Gary Denbo in early January. Wells said Denbo had been studying film and the two bounced ideas off each other for the coming season.

Wells had this to say:

"It’s an open relationship. We’re just talking and trying to make me the best hitter that I can be and he’s very passionate about what he does. He was the first to tell me, ‘I don’t care what you’ve done in the past — you can do better.’ I fully believe that."

Wells also weighed in on John McDonald going from the projected starter at short to the bench after the Jays signed David Eckstein:

"You talk to Johnny Mac and he’ll be the first to tell you that he just wants to win and that’s the kind of attitude we need from people on this team. Obviously, I think he played well enough to earn a spot, but when you have an opportunity to go out and  get somebody who’s always been an everyday player and has won championships, which is the biggest thing, he knows how what to do to win ballgames and we need more guys like that."

NEW LOOK: You probably noticed that the blog looks a little different. I figured now’s as good a time as any to usher in a new look for 2008. I’ve also been lazy with the links on the left side of the blog until now. I linked to other good Jays news sites, other MLB writer blogs, and the Web sites that I frequent. I didn’t link to other Jays blogs, but a few of my favorites include Drunk Jays Fans, the Tao of Stieb, the Mockingbird and All Your Base Are Belong to Rios. Also, you can now see my ugly mug, along with the beautiful Mrs. Bastian in the updated photo there on the left.

Goodnight all.

11 Comments

Continuing from last blog:

I don’t think that J.P is the best drafter. Maybe we could get the old Jays GM to help JP out in drafting. First of all the guy before him drafed Wells, Halladay and Rios, he also drafted Michael Young and couple of other good players with different teams which i forgot. (Who drafted Hill?)

Also a couple of devastating mistakes the Jays made were:

Picking Russ Adams instead of Kazmir in the draft (would be good for solid 3rd in our rotation) AND letting go of Michael Young. He could’ve ended our shortstop woes.

Dont forget he had Troy tulowitski, who is as good or better than Michael Young, in hand too.

Jordan, awesome work and thanks for the link. I was thinking of how I might be able to scam my way into that Distillery District thing, but I got nothing. Oh well.

Since the Mitchell Report was being talked about, any chance Frank Thomas’s name came up? It’s interesting that the other guys seem alright with it, but I’m curious as to how Frank– who had some clubhouse issues with Zaun, no?– will react. Actually, maybe I’ll have to post about this.

Guys, I wasn’t going to say this, but you’ve got to be kidding me about this draft stuff. The same people who whine about Tulo now are the ones who would have had a bird if the Jays had drafted a third SS in a row.

And check out the sequence about the Kazmir/Adams draft in Moneyball. The Mets grudgingly took Kazmir– he was something like sixth on their board.

Also, Michael Young was traded by Gord Ash in the (AWFUL) deal for Esteban Loaiza.

And you have to remember that in his early years JP had to cut costs, both in terms of signing picks and MLB talent. The best way to do that was to make safer picks– i.e. college players. To compare his early returns to what Ash was doing with more high risk/high reward guys is pretty unfair. I think.

Good points, Stoeten. I did a mailbag earlier this offseason explaining why the Jays would’ve gone with Romero instead of Tulo in the 05 Draft. It made sense at the time, definitely. Hindsight is a funny thing, huh. And, Thomas never was brought up. I’m sure he’ll be more of a topic come Spring Training when we can get him and Zaun. They didn’t necessarily have clubhouse issues per se. There was one incident where Thomas expressed some anger over a player mingling with the opposition in the weight room and he was pretty much referring to Zaun. I think they discussed the matter, but it was hardly a heated exchange or one that caused any in-house friction. As months went by, I think that story got a little blown out of proportion. — JB

It’ll be interesting to see what happens to Tulo in the next year or so…if he slides or regresses, will everyone come back and recant their assertions that JP is an idiot drafter?

Marty Cordova and Erik Hinske had good rookie campaigns too, lest we forget.

Man… I think Tulo is for real. Yeah, I’m giving JP a hefty bit of credit on that one, it’s true. But 3 shortstops in a row? I’d have been going nuts over it myself, I imagine.

Vernon sounds pretty sincere in those comments. He also sounds bitter and angry. He seems, to me, to be holding a grudge against the players that have used steriods, which I believe is an appropriate reaction. Heck im bitter and I didn’t even get past the level of high school baseball.

We all know that Vernon is a guy that works very hard. It has to be difficult for him to see guys trying to get a quick advantage and succeeding without putting in the work.

After the amount of struggles that he has been through, especially last season. I can understand how seeing all these players indicated in steriod use being be a kick in the face to him, especially.

Just a small point, homerjeremy:
what PEDs do is accelerate the healing process, so you can recover more quickly after a workout. The benefit only comes because PEDs allow you do MORE work, not less. That still doesn’t excuse the fact that these guys are climbing on the backs of their peers, and have diminished the sport in the process.

Jordan,
Thank you for the links. The more, good information I can have to get my Blue jay fix the better. Does Frank Thomas plan on reporting a little earlier this year ? I want him to avoid another slow start to the season again, especially when Toronto opens up against New York and Boston. Also, have the jays lost complete faith on Brandan League’s ability to be a top notch reliever again ? because if he can then that strengthens my opinion that Casey should be in the rotation.

gnorman, I was just commenting on the tone of that quote from Vernon.

Good point. I know that you have to put work in with performance enhancing drugs. Anabolic steriods, although they do boost tesoterone levels don’t just magically make you stronger.

The work that Im speaking of, was specific to the batting cage and other drills of that nature, where Vernon spends a large amount of his time.

Guys taking steroids probably don’t have to spend as much time in the cage. They don’t have to work on their craft of being a more precise hitter, as much. Steriods have given them the bat speed and the power crush balls over the fence without the need to practice techniques that other players take quite seriously.

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