Mailbag_art.jpgSome 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.

So keep firing questions to jordan.bastian@mlb.com or bluejaysmailbag@gmail.com.

Hey Jordan,
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.
Allan, Halifax

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?
Jeremy, Hamilton

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.




  1. gsjays

    In 2003, when he won the American League home run title and the AL Most Valuable Player award as a shortstop for the Texas Rangers, Alex Rodriguez tested positive for two anabolic steroids, four sources have independently told Sports Illustrated.

    Rodriguez’s name appears on a list of 104 players who tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs in Major League Baseball’s ’03 survey testing, SI’s sources say. As part of a joint agreement with the MLB Players Association, the testing was conducted to determine if it was necessary to impose mandatory random drug testing across the major leagues in 2004.

    When approached by an SI reporter on Thursday at a gym in Miami, Rodriguez declined to discuss his 2003 test results. “You’ll have to talk to the union,” said Rodriguez, the Yankees’ third baseman since his trade to New York in February 2004. When asked if there was an explanation for his positive test, he said, “I’m not saying anything.”


  2. gsjays

    In my opinion, the MVP award Stray Rod recieved in 2003 should be stripped and the high numbers he put up in years 1998 to 2005 should all be asterized in terms of whether he gets in the HOF or not.

    But there is a bigger issue here that just got exposed and that is why did Major League Baseball award the MVP award to Stray Rod in 2003 when they knew he tested positive twice.

    How hypocritical is that?

  3. gsjays

    The bigger point on this A-Rod issue for me is the hypocricy of Major League Baseball with a major league assist from the players union. MLB, with the approval of the players union ordered this test in 2003 to determine whether it was necessary to invoke mandatory drug testing.
    The test results came back to both Major League Baseball and the players union which showed 104 players tested positive, including A-Rod, so mandatory testing was instituted in the spring of 2004.

    Major League Baseball and the players union got a court order sealing these test results, to ensure fans didn’t know how soiled baseball had become. They tried to bury the problem and even awarded the MVP to A-Rod, who tested positive twice, which I think is outrageous behaviour by MLB.

    If baseball wants to truly get over this soiled era, both Major League Baseball and the players union should allow the US government to release the entire 2003 results they’ve siezed, instead of fighting the action.

    Lets get all the cheaters out in the open now so fans know who the real heros are. Records and awards from that era should be adjusted to reflect the true winners, not the ones who won by cheating.

    By the way, voting results for the 2003 MVP award were as follows:

    Alex Rodriguez, Rangers 242
    Carlos Delgado, Blue Jays 213
    Jorge Posada, Yankees 194

    So, if Carlos didn’t test positive and A-Rod did, I believe Carlos Delgado should be awarded the MVP, and it should be stripped from A-Rod.

  4. gsjays

    If Major League Baseball and the players union want to reinstate baseball’s credibility they should immediately take the following steps.

    1) Release the full test results from 2003 to the fans.
    2) Change the rules so any player caught using PED’s receives an automatic 60 day suspension on the first offense, 1 year on the 2nd and lifetime on the 3rd. Three strikes and you’re out. Any positive test result is released to the public. The list of offending PED’s to be identical to the Olympic committees list.
    3) Amend all player contracts to allow teams the right to cancel any player agreement if the player tests positive.
    4) Analyze all player awards from the period, strip them from players who tested positive and award them to the player who garnished the most votes and was clean.

    As fans who pay exorbitant prices for tickets, we have rights and should demand these changes take place or boycott the game.

  5. gsjays

    Robert-A few, but clearly not enough.

    Garry-I think we get a sandwich pick. I can’t believe Boston signed him. What did you think of the Camp signing?

  6. gsjays

    I’m not sure about Camp either. He was fine at the start of the year when batters hadn’t seen his sinker before, but they got to him in August (era of 8.10) and September ( 6.75), so I’m wondering if they figured him out and started teeing off on him. We shall see, I guess.

  7. gsjays

    When the New York Yankees re-signed Alex Rodriguez in the fall of 2007, they envisioned the “clean” alternative to Barry Bonds – the knight in shining armor who would erase the stain of steroids from the all-time home run record, and they would bask in the glory of it with their brand, according to New York Daily News baseball columnist Bill Madden.

    Now that A-Rod’s pursuit looks as counterfeit as Bonds’, they should do what’s best for the organization: Cut him loose — no matter the cost. As difficult as it is to imagine eating $270 million, the Bombers will be making a statement, not just for the Yankee brand but for baseball as a whole. They will be applauded for it. The Yankees operate under two basic tenets: The relentless pursuit of championships and the fierce protection of their brand. If they are going to remain true to both, then they have no choice but to sever ties with Rodriguez. This winter the Yankees invested $423 million with the signings of CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Mark Teixeira. All of that figures to be offset now by the reports that A-Rod was a steroid cheat.

    Everywhere the Yankees go this spring and into the season, they will be greeted by choruses of “A-Fraud!” and “A-Roid!” And if you think A-Rod wilted under the pressure of big games before, just imagine his delicate psyche now under the heightened scrutiny of the media and fans. Don’t think for a minute that Derek Jeter and the rest of A-Rod’s teammates are privately reveling in his exposure as a true phony, as some people are suggesting. This affects all of them, and their pursuit of championships is hindered by his being a constant source of unwanted turmoil.

    New York Daily News

  8. bob6k

    I’m interested in learning more about Gene Orza and how he tried to manipulate the test results. Please let me know your souce. If you’d rather do this directly, my working E-mail is below!

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