July 2009

Game 103: Toronto at Oakland

What a day. You’ll have to forgive me for getting this blog post up a bit later than usual, but it’s been a little hectic around these parts, what with Roy Halladay not being traded and Scott Rolen being traded to Cincy prior to today’s deadline.

In short, the Blue Jays weren’t blown away by any offers for their ace, so he’s staying put. GM J.P. Ricciardi said he’d still be open to listening to offers over the winter, but hoped the proposals would be better than they were this month. Unlikely, since Halladay’s value was at its highest now, when he could’ve been had for a season and a half.

As for Rolen, it came as a bit of a shock that he was traded with only a few minutes left before the 4 p.m. ET deadline. On the surface, the trade didn’t really make sense for the Reds. Then, we find out Rolen requested to be traded closer to home for what Ricciardi called “personal reasons”. I was told it was something related to his family.

It actually worked out well for the Jays, because Rolen’s value was as high as it’s been in years. After four seasons of dealing with left shoulder issues, Rolen was putting together a fantastic campaign and playing Gold Glove defense once again. As a result, the Jays got two pitchers (reliever Josh Roenicke and Minor Leaguer Zach Stewart), along with third baseman Edwin Encarnacion.

Roenicke will join the Jays’ bullpen on Saturday, with reliever Jeremy Accardo being optioned to AAA Vegas. Stewart will tote his 1.67 ERA ERA (across these Minors levels this year) to Vegas as well. Ricciardi said they ultimately see Stewart as a starter, but some Toronto scouts think he could reach the bigs faster as a late-inning reliever.

I will say this, I will miss watching Rolen play. He never ceased to amaze on defense and I loved his old-school, head down, full sprint around the bags after hitting a homer. Rolen has his quirks, but he was easy to talk to and was great to the print media. I’m sure Halladay will miss having him behind him scooping up grounders as well.

Today’s lineups:


Thumbnail image for athletics.gifOAKLAND ATHLETICS (43-58)
Fourth place AL West, 17.5 GB

1. Adam Kennedy, 3B
2. Rajai Davis, CF
3. Kurt Suzuki, C
4. Jack Cust, DH
5. Ryan Sweeney, RF
6. Tommy Everidge, 1B
7. Eric Patterson, LF
8. Mark Ellis, 2B
9. Cliff Pennington, SS

Starter: LHP Dallas Braden (7-9, 3.74)

Thumbnail image for BlueJays.jpgTORONTO BLUE JAYS (49-53)
Fourth place AL East, 13.0 GB

1. Marco Scutaro, SS
2. Aaron Hill, 2B
3. Adam Lind, DH
4. Kevin Millar, 1B
5. Vernon Wells, CF
6. Alex Rios, RF
7. Jose Bautista, LF
8. Rod Barajas, C
9. John McDonald, 3B

Starter: RHP Scott Richmond (6-5, 3.69)

Don’t forget, you can follow me on Twitter: @MLBastian

~JB

Game 102: Toronto at Seattle

Today’s lineups:

Thumbnail image for BlueJays.jpgTORONTO BLUE JAYS (49-52)
Fourth place AL East, 12.5 GB

1. Marco Scutaro, SS
2. Aaron Hill, 2B
3. Adam Lind, DH
4. Scott Rolen, 3B
5. Alex Rios, RF
6. Vernon Wells, CF
7. Kevin Millar, 1B
8. Rod Barajas, C
9. Jose Bautista, LF

Starter: RHP Roy Halladay (11-3, 2.62)

mariners.gifSEATTLE MARINERS (52-48)
Third place AL West, 7.5 GB

1. Ichiro Suzuki, RF
2. Franklin Gutierrez, CF
3. Jose Lopez, 2B
4. Ken Griffey Jr., DH
5. Chris Shelton, 1B
6. Kenji Johjima, C
7. Jack Hannahan, 3B
8. Chris Woodward, SS
9. Michael Saunders, LF

Starter: LHP Ryan Rowland-Smith (0-1, 3.48)

Don’t forget, you can follow me on Twitter: @MLBastian

~JB

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Game 101: Toronto at Seattle pregame

While standing outside the visitors’ clubhouse at Safeco Field this afternoon, Blue Jays third baseman Scott Rolen walked out of the room, stopped by us writers, suddenly looked stunner and pointed back toward the locker room.

“Did you guys know they’re thinking of trading Doc?” Rolen deadpanned.

“Where’d ya hear that?” one scribe jokingly replied.

“From Doc!” Rolen said. “He just told me. I can’t believe it.”

Meanwhile, Halladay was at his locker, putting on his Jays uniform. The good doctor is still here and he’s still scheduled to start tomorrow for Toronto. Today was the self-imposed “deadline” that general manager J.P. Ricciardi set for potentially trading Halladay, but it looks as if these talks will keep going.

Ricciardi did not return several messages. Not a big surprise there, since J.P. has been offering up no comments for the most part since Halladay’s last start. What we know? Jays and Phillies are still talking, but Philadelphia may be turning its attention to Jarrod Washburn and Cliff Lee given the Jays’ asking price for Doc.

One of the Phillies’ top officials is here in Seattle to keep an eye on Washburn’s outing tonight and for Halladay’s start on Wednesday. I’ve heard conflicting reports about whether the Jays have someone scouting Phillies shortstop prospect Jason Donald today, and depending on where you’re browsing the web, the Red Sox may or may not have made an offer.

Elsewhere in Bird Land, the Jays activated righty Scott Richmond on Tuesday and optioned reliever Drik Hayhurst to Triple-A Las Vegas. Brian Tallet will remain in the bullpen, considering he has already chalked up a career-high in innings. Adam Lind has the day off and Vernon Wells is temporarily in the No. 3 hole in the lineup.

UPDATE: Told that the Jays do have a scout in Lehigh Valley to watch the Phillies Triple-A team (Jason Donald and Michael Taylor are playing). Also, interesting that there is no representative from the Jays front office on this trip to Seattle. I’m also told that no front-office types are scheduled to travel to Oakland. Just a thought: If Toronto does decide to trade Halladay — the face of the franchise — wouldn’t that be something he’d be informed of face to face? I’d think so. So, if the general manager shows up on the West Coast, it likely means something’s up.

Today’s lineups:

Thumbnail image for BlueJays.jpgTORONTO BLUE JAYS (49-51)
Fourth place AL East, 12.5 GB

1. Marco Scutaro, SS
2. Aaron Hill, 2B
3. Vernon Wells, CF
4. Scott Rolen, 3B
5. Alex Rios, RF
6. Lyle Overbay, 1B
7. Kevin Millar, DH
8. Jose Bautista, LF
9. Raul Chavez, C

Starter: LHP Marc Rzepczynski (1-2, 2.82)


mariners.gifSEATTLE MARINERS (51-48)
Third place AL West, 7.5 GB

1. Ichiro Suzuki, RF
2. Franklin Gutierrez, DH
3. Mike Sweeney, DH
4. Chris Shelton, 1B
5. Jack Hannahan, 3B
6. Rob Johnson, C
7. Chris Woodward, 2B
8. Michael Saunders, LF
9. Ronny Cedeno, SS

Starter: LHP Jarrod Washburn (8-6, 2.71)

Don’t forget, you can follow me on Twitter: @MLBastian

~JB

Game 98: Tampa Bay at Toronto pregame

Thumbnail image for wells.jpgLet’s take a break from all this Roy Halladay stuff for a minute, ok? No? Fine. A report indicates that the Phils rejected an offer from the Jays that would’ve swapped Halladay for Kyle Drabek, J.A. Happ and Dominic Brown.

Moving on…

Let’s turn to the fans’ favorite punching bag this season: center fielder Vernon Wells. More to the point, have you seen his home-road splits this season? Take a look:

IN 47 GAMES IN TORONTO

.168/.238/.295, 4 HR, 17 RBI

IN 47 GAMES ON THE ROAD

.332/.364/.505, 6 HR, 22 RBI

As I’ve written numerous times this season, no one is more frustrated with Wells’ showing this year than Wells himself. He finally put together a nice little 10-game run before the All-Star break, but then came down with a bad flu bug and missed three games. Since then, he has gone 2-for-16 at the plate, entering Saturday’s game.

Manager Cito Gaston was asked if there was any way to explain the drastic difference in Wells’ numbers at home versus on the road. If you were at Rogers Centre on Friday night, you might have heard the loud boos directed Wells’ way all evening. Gaston said that could have a little something to do with it.

“I can hear the fans starting to boo him,” Gaston aid. “Whether you believe it or not, you hear that. You hear that. When they boo you on the road, you just try to kick their butts even more. But when it’s your own fans, it certainly gets to you a little bit more. But that hasn’t always happened — this has just happened lately. So, I’m not sure.”

Gaston also talked some about right-hander Casey Janssen, who was activated from the DL on Thursday and optioned to Triple-A Las Vegas rather than being called up to rejoin the Jays. The manager said Janssen isn’t quite ready to come back, but when he does, the pitcher will likely be a reliever again.

Asked if Janssen was being viewed long-term as a reliever again, Gaston said he wasn’t completely sure.

“I have different thoughts about guys in bullpens and guys that start that have bad arms,” said Gaston, referring to Janssen’s recent shoulder woes. “To me, I’ve always thought that maybe the bullpen was the worst thing for you, but everybody seems to think — and maybe he’s proved that, too — that he’s better off in the bullpen. I don’t know.

“You start, you rest for a couple of days, and then you throw again, and then you pitch again. But in the bullpen, you can be up and down, two or three days. I haven’t quite figured that one out yet, but maybe he’s different. I haven’t had him in the bullpen, so we’ll see what happens.”

Today’s lineups:

Thumbnail image for Rays.jpgTAMPA BAY RAYS (53-44)
Third place AL East, 6.5 GB

1. B.J. Upton, CF
2. Carl Crawford, LF
3. Evan Longoria, 3B
4. Ben Zobrist, SS
5. Pat Burrell, DH
6. Carlos Pena, 1B
7. Gabe Kapler, RF
8. Willy Aybar, 2B
9. Dioner Navarro, C

Starter: LHP David Price (3-4, 4.86)

Thumbnail image for BlueJays.jpgTORONTO BLUE JAYS (47-40)
Fourth place AL East, 12.5 GB

1. Marco Scutaro, SS
2. Aaron Hill, 2B
3. Adam Lind, DH
4. Scott Rolen, 3B
5. Kevin Millar, 1B
6. Vernon Wells, CF
7. Alex Rios, RF
8. Jose Bautista, LF
9. Raul Chavez, C

Starter: LHP Brian Tallet (5-6, 4.95)

Don’t forget, you can follow me on Twitter: @MLBastian

~JB

Game 97: Tampa Bay at Toronto pregame

JP.jpgHappy Halla-Day everyone. If this indeed the swan song of the good doctor in Toronto, let me just say that Roy Halladay has been a joy to cover over the past few seasons.

But, anyways…

We tried to chat some with GM J.P. Ricciardi before the game tonight, especially considering he altered his story about Halladay presenting the team with a list of teams to which he’d approve a trade. Ricciardi was in no mood for talking.

“We’re not talking about Halladay,” Ricciardi told reporters. “I’ll talk on the 31st. There’s not else to say.”

Fair enough, I guess. I mean, what else is there to say, really? Ricciardi said a whole lot on Thursday and ended up having to clarify a bunch of his comments. It’s possible that Ricciardi also irked Halladay a little by some of the things he revealed.

Here’s what we know: the Phillies continue to be the front-runner to land Halladay in a deal, there are at least four teams considered to have serious interest, and the Jays have run a list of teams by Doc to see where he’d prefer to be moved, if he’s moved. There were rumors that a deal was close with Philadelphia and could be finalized in the next 24 hours. That was inaccurate.

On Friday afternoon, manager Cito Gaston said he had Halladay penciled in the rotation well beyond the Trade Deadline. Asked what he thought about having to change his rotation in the event that Halladay is dealt, Gaston replied: “I don’t even want to think about it.”

Everyone seems to be chiming in on this Doc Halladay saga these days, too.

MLB Commissioner Bud Selig was asked about the Halladay rumors on Sirius XM radio and had this to say:

“We’ll see what happens. I’m hearing conflicting versions. They may get rid of him and today I was told by somebody with pretty good inside knowledge that they won’t get rid of him. Now whether that’s true or not, I don’t know. And, you know, clubs are going to start bidding it up.  On the other hand, if they know [the Jays] can’t sign him then they’re doing the smart thing.  So the Jays are going to have to make a reasoned judgment at some time: where are they better off in the future?  I’ll tell you one thing: they can get a lot for him and Doc Halladay is a great pitcher.”

“They’ve got to send him where they think they can get the most. I won’t make a judgment on that right now. I think, from everything I’m hearing – and that could change now, you know, this is a very fluid situation – but I think if he gets traded he’s going to wind up in the National League.”

Today’s lineups:


Thumbnail image for Rays.jpgTAMPA BAY RAYS (52-44)
Third place AL East, 6.5 GB

1. B.J. Upton, CF
2. Carl Crawford, LF
3. Evan Longoria, 3B
4. Carlos Pena, 1B
5. Ben Zobrist, 2B
6. Pat Burrell, DH
7. Gabe Gross, RF
8. Michel Hernandez, C
9. Jason Bartlett, SS

Starter: RHP Matt Garza (6-7, 3.80)

Thumbnail image for BlueJays.jpgTORONTO BLUE JAYS (47-49)
Fourth place AL East, 11.5 GB

1. Marco Scutaro, SS
2. Aaron Hill, 2B
3. Adam Lind, DH
4. Scott Rolen, 3B
5. Lyle Overbay, 1B
6. Vernon Wells, CF
7. Alex Rios, RF
8. Rod Barajas, C
9. Joe Inglett, LF

Starter: RHP Roy Halladay (11-3, 2.73)

Don’t forget, you can follow me on Twitter: @MLBastian

~JB

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Ricciardi: Doc not interested in extension

During a radio interview on The FAN590 prior to Thursday’s Blue Jays-Indians tilt at Rogers Centre, general manager J.P. Ricciardi shed a little more light on why Toronto is suddenly willing to shop ace Roy Halladay.

“What’s changed is Roy has told us that he’s going to test the free-agent market,” Ricciardi said.

Halladay is under contract for $14.25 million this season and $15.75 million in 2010, which is the final year under his current deal. The Blue Jays originally planned on discussing an extension with Halladay this coming offseason, but Ricciardi’s comments make it clear that’s not going to happen.

The chances of Toronto retaining Halladay seemed slim already, considering the fact that the club has trimmed its payroll and the pitcher has expressed that he wants to have a chance to play October baseball. With the Jays in fourth place in the AL East, and a rotation filled with injuries and young arms, contending soon doesn’t seem realistic.

Halladay is scheduled to start for the Jays on Tuesday in Seattle and Ricciardi doesn’t want the pitcher taking the mound with the thought that he might be traded in the following three days leading up to the July 31 Deadline. Ricciardi said Toronto’s internal deadline of Tuesday is flexible, depending on how close the club might be to a deal.

“If we’re down the road with something, obviously the deadline can fluctuate,” Ricciardi told reporters earlier Thursday morning. “If we’re not down the road by the 28th, nothing’s going to happen.”

The team considered to be the front-runner to land Halladay continues to be the Phillies. Even though Philadelphia is believed to be opposed to including top pitching prospect Kyle Drabek in a possible deal, the Blue Jays sent assistant general manager Tony LaCava to scout Drabek’s latest start on Wednesday.

The Brewers are also considered to have serious interest in trading for Halladay. Other teams who have been tied to Halladay in various reports include the Dodgers, Cardinals, White Sox, Rangers, Red Sox and Yankees. Ricciardi said only a few teams have approached him with serious interest.

“Some are serious and some I would say are delirious,” Ricciardi said during the radio interview.

–JB

Game 96: Cleveland at Toronto pregame

knee.jpgChatting with manager Cito Gaston today, us scribes decided to see if there were any updates on injured starters Shaun Marcum and Dustin McGowan. A pretty routine move for a relaxed afternoon pregame session.

Marcum made a successful rehab start on Tuesday, but there’s no established timetable for his return to the rotation just yet. McGowan? He had knee surgery a few weeks ago.

Stunned silence from the reporters.

“What, you guys didn’t know that?” Gaston asked.

Umm, no. And I’m pretty sure we’ve asked how McGowan was doing at some point over the past couple weeks. But, I digress. Back to the point.

According to general manager J.P. Ricciardi, McGowan — already on a long road to recovery from the right shoulder surgery he had July of last year — blew his left knee out while running during routine conditioning drills. He had surgery on July 9 to repair cartilage and Ricciardi said the pitcher needs roughly six weeks to recover from the operation.

It’s another setback for a pitcher who was supposed to be a legit No. 2 guy on the staff by now. That was before his shoulder issues came up last season. Back in May, when the Jays were on the road in Atlanta, I spoke with McGowan after he began working through some long toss sessions and he sounded optimistic about his progress.

He just can’t seem to catch a break.

When it was clear that McGowan’s pace made him a long shot to return early this season, as the team initially hoped, the chances of him returning at all this year became slim. Now, there’s zero chance you’ll see McGowan back with the Jays this season. At this point, given this latest setback, all Toronto can do is wait to see how McGowan looks come Spring Training.

Today’s lineups:

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Indians.jpgCLEVELAND INDIANS (37-58)
Fifth place AL Central, 13.5 GB

1. Grady Sizemore, CF
2. Asdrubal Cabrera, SS
3. Shin-Soo Choo, RF
4. Victor Martinez, DH
5. Jhonny Peralta, 3B
6. Ryan Garko, 1B
7. Ben Francisco, LF
8. Jamey Carroll, 2B
9. Chris Gimenez, C

Starter: LHP David Huff (4-4, 6.60)

Thumbnail image for BlueJays.jpgTORONTO BLUE JAYS (47-48)
Fourth place AL East, 10.5 GB

1. Marco Scutaro, DH
2. Aaron Hill, 2B
3. Adam Lind, LF
4. Kevin Millar, 1B
5. Vernon Wells, CF
6. Alex Rios, RF
7. Jose Bautista, 3B
8. Rod Barajas, C
9. John McDonald, SS

Starter: LHP Marc Rzepczynski (1-1, 2.50)

Don’t forget, you can follow me on Twitter: @MLBastian

~JB

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Game 95: Cleveland at Toronto pregame

What does it mean if the Blue Jays do decide to trade ace Roy Halladay? Asked that question recently, catcher Rod Barajas smirked, knowing that he and the reporters surrounding him all knew exactly what such a move would mean in terms of the direction the organization was heading.

It would mean the focus has shifted toward being competitive in 2010, or perhaps even further down the road.

“We don’t want it to happen,” Barajas answered. “We’d like to keep fighting and giving ourselves an opportunity to do something. If Doc’s gone, then that pretty much means…”

Barajas paused, realizing where he was going with his thought.

“… it means that we’re not looking to win this year,” he continued. “Not so much win, but compete for a playoff spot. We hope it doesn’t happen, but if it does, it’s almost like you’re looking to next year.”

The reality is that the club was looking ahead to 2010 before this season began. That changed some when the Jays got off to their hot start. Given the recent slide, though, it makes complete sense to question if contending next season is realistic with the current nucleus of players.

Even with all that being very much the case, the players inside Toronto’s clubhouse don’t want to believe that there isn’t enough time to still make a run at the playoffs this season. Obviously, having Halladay leading the young rotation would be necessary for that type of miracle turnaround to happen.

Rookie Ricky Romero doesn’t like that people are dismissing the Jays already.

“What would be better than making a run with our young pitching staff when people are counting us out?” Romero said. “People are saying we’re no good, this and that. To me it just lights a fire under my skin and I want to go out there and just do the best I can.”

Chatted with Vernon Wells today about his thoughts on the whole Halladay saga. More on that later on bluejays.com.

Today’s lineups:


Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Indians.jpgCLEVELAND INDIANS (37-57)
Fifth place AL Central, 13.5 GB

1. Grady Sizemore, CF
2. Asdrubal Cabrera, SS
3. Victor Martinez, C
4. Travis Hafner, DH
5. Jhonny Peralta, 3B
6. Ryan Garko, 1B
7. Ben Francisco, LF
8. Luis Valbuena, 2B
9. Chris Gimenez, RF

Starter: RHP Carl Pavano (8-7, 5.13)

Thumbnail image for BlueJays.jpgTORONTO BLUE JAYS (46-48)
Fourth place AL East, 10.5 GB

1. Marco Scutaro, SS
2. Aaron Hill, 2B
3. Adam Lind, DH
4. Scott Rolen, 3B
5. Lyle Overbay, 1B
6. Vernon Wells, CF
7. Alex Rios, RF
8. David Dellucci, LF
9. Raul Chavez, C

Starter: LHP Ricky Romero (7-4, 3.25)

Don’t forget, you can follow me on Twitter: @MLBastian

~JB

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A pre-Deadline deadline for Doc?

halladaycaptip.jpgIf the Blue Jays are going to pull the trigger on a trade that sends ace Roy Halladay to a contender for a blockbuster package of players, the deal isn’t likely to be of the last-minute variety. In fact, Toronto may be inclined to set an internal deadline prior to the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline.

“If you ask me today if we’re going to trade Roy Halladay, I’d say no,” Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi told the New York Times. “Something could happen between now and the Trade Deadline, but this isn’t something that’s suddenly going to happen with someone on the 30th.”

As things currently line up, Halladay is scheduled to start on the road against the Mariners on July 29. According to the report in the NY Times, Ricciardi indicated that he doesn’t want Toronto’s ace taking the hill in Seattle with the thought that he could be dealt in the two days following his start.

Beyond that aspect, the Blue Jays would likely become sellers in the event that Doc is dealt. If Toronto is blown away by an offer and opts to trade Halladay, doing so before the 30th would give the club more time to shop some of its other players. Other Jays players involved in rumors include Scott Rolen, Alex Rios, Vernon Wells, Lyle Overbay, Jason Frasor and Scott Downs.

SIDE NOTE: I will not be at the ballpark tonight. For some Blue Jays’ updates, you can follow @BlueJays or @e_gilbert on Twitter. Catch you from the ‘yard tomorrow.

~JB

Game 93: Boston at Toronto pregame

Today’s lineups:

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for RedSox.gifBOSTON RED SOX (55-35)
First place AL East, — GB

1. J.D. Drew, RF
2. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
3. Kevin Youkilis, 3B
4. David Ortiz, DH
5. Jason Bay, LF
6. Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
7. Jason Varitek, C
8. Mark Kotsay, 1B
9. Nick Green, SS

Starter: LHP Jon Lester (8-6, 3.87)

Thumbnail image for BlueJays.jpgTORONTO BLUE JAYS (45-47)
Fourth place AL East, 11.0 GB

1. Marco Scutaro, SS
2. Aaron Hill, 2B
3. Adam Lind, LF
4. Scott Rolen, 3B
5. Lyle Overbay, 1B
6. Alex Rios, CF
7. Kevin Millar, DH
8. Rod Barajas, C
9. Jose Bautista, RF

Starter: RHP Roy Halladay (10-3, 2.85)

Don’t forget, you can follow me on Twitter: @MLBastian

~JB

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