Some minor news today, with the Jays finalizing the Minor League deal for Japanese lefty Ken Takahashi. Word is that Toronto is also nearing another Minors deal with first baseman/designated hitter Kevin Millar. Jays also claimed reliever T.J. Beam off waivers this week, adding another body to the spring mix.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, I’ll get to the second edition of the E-mailbag. We’ve also been given the go ahead to run mailbags again on club sites, but it will now be called “Inbox.” I’ll probably roll out the first one when I get down to Florida for Spring Training next week.
Just wondering what the status is on Aaron Hill? Is he expected to be ready to go for Spring Training, and are the Jays expecting him to be the everyday second baseman? Thanks.
Hill should be fully recovered from last season’s concussion and ready to go for spring. That’s what the Jays are saying and that’s what Hill has told me this winter. Of course, we’ll know for sure once we can watch him running through drills down in Dunedin. If he’s healthy, which he should be, I don’t see why he wouldn’t be Toronto’s regular for second — in the field and probably in the lineup, too.
In your opinion, do you believe the ‘Cito effect’ last season was legit, or just a fluke? I don’t have the numbers with me, but I know the Jays drastically produced a lot more than they did earlier in the year under John Gibbons. Can a manager have THAT much influence over a team? Will that translate into next season with this group?
Here are some of the statistics:
Under Gibbons: 35-39 record, .231 with RISP, 49 homers
Under Gaston: 51-37 record, .285 with RISP, 77 homers
The Jays also scored more runs per game and had a higher slugging percentage under Cito, but the on-base percentage went down. Based on the numbers, I think the “Cito effect” was legit. The players all thought it was legit as well. This could be for a number of reasons.
First, a managerial change shows the players that no one is safe — not even a skipper who is a long-time friend of the general manager. That alone could be enough to motivate players to start focusing better and taking things up a level. Beyond just that, though, Gaston and the revamped hitting coaching staff implemented a different philosophy.
It’s been written to death, but Gaston emphasized having a plan at the plate and he also tried to have stability with his lineup. He put players in certain spots and tried to keep them there unless injuries or other circumstances dictated a change. It’s Cito’s view that players are more comfortable when they come to the park knowing they’ll be in the order and where they’re probably going to be hitting.
Will the changes carry over to this season? Obviously, there’s no way to answer that. What I do know is that Gaston is itching to get to work this spring on continuing what he started last year. Rios is a player that Gaston keeps mentioning as one he wants to really work with on his approach at the plate. Gaston is also hoping for more production from the corners.
It’d be hard for Toronto’s offense to be worse than it was last season.
Jordan, we are planning to see the Jays on the road somewhere this summer. Since you have been around baseball a lot, is there one city you would recommend?
My favorite cities to visit are Boston and San Francisco, though I usually look forward to the non-baseball related sites. Both cities are beautiful and have great museums and dining. Also, being a runner, these are two great cities to head out on a long run because, while urban, they have great scenery. I love running along the Embarcadero in San Fran or by the Charles River in Boston. I’m also big into history, so Boston appeals to me in that way, too.
Now, moving on to baseball. San Fran still rates high because AT&T Park is gorgeous. I’d also highly recommend Seattle. The city is fantastic and the ballpark is great, and not too far from Vancouver. A lot of Jays fans come to Seattle when Toronto is in town and it’s often a rowdier crowd than at Rogers Centre.
If you don’t want to head all the way to the West Coast, Chicago is great as well, though I’m biased because I’m from there. You could catch the Cubs and the Sox while in Chicago and there’s plenty else to do in town. They have great architecture tours there and the food is awesome. Of course, New York is New York, and you’ve got two new stadiums there this year.