Covering the Bases: Game 1

Frasor.jpg“Covering the Bases” is a new feature I plan on doing after games this season. I will address four things learned or witnessed in each contest, similar to the more often-used Good, Bad and the Ugly format. Hopefully it will generate some good debate and discussion.

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FIRST: Jason Frasor blew his first save opportunity of the season. Oh no! Now his trade value with sink! Or he won’t be worth a compensation pick! There’s a closer controversy! Give the job to Kevin Gregg! Give it to Scott Downs!

It’s one game, folks. Don’t go pushing  the panic button just yet.

When Frasor (right, photo courtesy of Getty Images) has command of his changeup, he can be one of the best in the biz. It’s best to write this one off for now and see how he develops as the closer as the season goes on. Did he look great on Sunday? No. Did  the Rangers tear the cover off the ball? No.

One thing you can count on, though, is that Frasor can deal with a poor outing better now than a few years ago. He said he’d prefer not to have two days before the next game, but Frasor has learned how to have a short memory — something he struggled with when he was younger.

“That’s the product of blowing a lot of games,” Frasor said. “You kind of learn how to deal with it. Unfortunately, I have 48 hours to think about it. But I’m six years older than I was when I first started — first started blowing games. It’s a little easier now.”

SECOND: It was no fun no matter how you slice it, but Frasor felt especially awful about how Monday’s opener ended due to the great performance from Shaun Marcum. In his first start for the Jays since September 2008, Marcum carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning. He allowed three runs on two hits with six strikeouts and one walk. It was exactly the type of showing Toronto hopes to see from its new staff leader throughout this season.

“It was a lot of fun,” Marcum said. “I never expected that. I don’t think anybody ever expects to have a no-hitter going. All in all, I felt good.”

THIRD: A lof of fans might be quick to make a big deal about the E-5 that will appear in the box score of Monday’s 5-4 loss to the Rangers. It didn’t come back to bite the Jays at all, but third baseman Edwin Encarnacion — much criticized for his defense — made an error in the fourth inning. Depending on who you ask, it could have been ruled an infield single. It was a hard-hit grounder from Michael Young that Encarnacion bobbled, retrieved and threw off target to first base. At first look, I thought it was an infield hit.

HOME: As promising as Marcum’s performance was, Blue Jays fans probably loved seeing the great offensive showings from Vernon Wells and Adam Lind. The 3-for-3 showing from Lind, who belted a solo homer and also drew an intentional walk, was more expected. There’s a reason Toronto just handed him a long-term contract. The showing from Wells — 3-for-4 with one homer and three RBIs — was a pleasant surprise. If the Jays are going to outperform expectations this year, Wells will need to have a great season.

Wells believes he’s going to have plenty of chances to succeed with Jose Bautista, Aaron Hill and Lind hitting in the three spots in front of him. “It’s fun to watch. I’m going to have a lot of opportunities to drive in some runs with those three guys ahead of me. Hopefully I’ll drive in a few more than I did today.”

~JB

17 Comments

I said it in the last post and I’ll say it again, I don’t like Frasor as the closer, never have and I probably never will. His fastball is flat, his slider isn’t very sharp, and when (key word is when) his new changeup works he is decent, but I have yet to witness him throw it consistantly for a prolonged period of time. I just don’t think he can handle the job. I would love to see a comination of Downs and Janssen handle the 8th and 9th. I don’t think the team has to nessecarily name a “closer” depending on the situation you could go with your lefty or righty. I don’t think there is anyone who deserves the lable closer right now. True there is alot of baseball left to play, but with some really good arms in then pen if Frasor doesn’t turn it around soon I think they will look to other guys. Some other candidates that I wouldnt rule out are Gregg, Accardo and Valdez. Even if Frasor is saying all the right things, im not falling for it. (sorry for the negativity, just my opinion)

Glad I wasn’t the only one who thought Encarnacion shouldn’t have an error, it should have been ruled an infield hit.

Frasor simply didn’t have his change up today, the first one he threw was high and about 1 foot outside. It didn’t surprise me he blew up since that is his out pitch.
He did a great job last year in the role and frankly the only option to replace him is Downs and Downs is much too valuable in either the 8th inning role or as the lefty specialist. We might re-consider the makeup of the pen and have an additional lefty or Cito’s options will be limited.

I really don’t consider Gregg or Valdez to be a better option dt005 and frankly don’t think Accardo should have even made the team. I also expect when either Carleson or Purcey are ready, Accardo is the guy sent down. Accardo was good in the role of closer when he had good control of his splitter, but he hasn’t had it since 2007.

Very positive outing from Marcum and great games from Wells and Lind. I don’t see Marcum capable of going much beyond 80-90 pitches for the foreseeable future and I expect Cito would have replaced him today at the start of the 7th inning if Marcum didn’t have a no hitter going.

Frasor shouldn’t feel so bad because the title for bullpen blow up of the day goes to Jeff Samardzija of the Cubbies who managed only 1 out, gave up 2 hits, walked 3, had 2 errors committed and gave up 6 runs of which 4 were earned for a nifty era for the year of 108.00.
Of course Carlos Zambrano, the Cubbies starter today wasn’t a lot better and went only 1.1 innings, gave up 6 hits, walked two, and gave up 8 earned runs so his era is a sparkling 54.00…..Maybe Jason Heyward rattled Zambrano with his 3 run homer in his first major league swing….lol

In addition, the other point that hasn’t been made yet, is we should probably have never gone into the inning with only a 1 run lead.
Overbay had the bases juiced, one out with two strikes and let the 3rd strike go down the mid outer part of the plate with his bat on his shoulder for the 2nd out.
A fly ball gets one, a single gets 2 and a double gets 3 because Vernon’s on first and Overbay keeps his bat on his shoulder-I assume trying to work a walk because he was facing a lefty and even Overbay knows he can no longer hit lefties.

The point is Overbay should have been pitch hit for with Ruiz. It was hard to tell whether Overbay had been called before the left hand pitcher came in to face him, but it doesn’t really matter.
Clearly the rest of the league knows Overbay can’t hit lefties, so everyone in the ballpark knew a left hand pitcher would be coming in, which is why Ruiz should have been up there instead of Overbay. The advantage with Ruiz in this circumstance is he hits both righties and lefties, whereas Overbay hasn’t hit lefties for a long long time.

In this ballpark, against that offense, the Jays should never expect 1 run to stand up, just like they never expect 1 run to hold up in Fenway. ….Ruiz should have been at bat not Overbay.

i never understood why the closer has to be the guy tht throws 90+. Take marcum for example, he maxed out at like 88mph and had a no-no going because of his command and great stuff. if u look at the best arm in the pen (arsenal wise) its clearly janssen. he might not be able to hit 95mph but he has good command of his pitches and has a number of pitches tht he can use to get a player out, which is what a closer should do. and there’s an old saying, the faster it comes in, the faster it goes out.

@gsjays – completely true, i was thinking tht cito left overbay in because he was going to pinch hit for buck (with molina on the bench, i dont see why not). but when he didnt pinch hit for either of them, i was shocked. I think cito left them in there because it was the first game of the season and he didnt want to lower anyone’s confidence by pinch hitting for them but tht shouldnt matter when ur trying to win a game. Pinch hit for one of them, there confidence will prolly go down, but everyone else’s will go up

We should always play to win which is the best confidence builder for everyone, but we didn’t do that today. A bench is there exactly for these circumstances, but unless Cito starts to use it, we might as well just leave the guys in the hotel.

Let’s look at the bright side — with Cito making the on-field decisions this year, our draft position can’t help but improve! Every time he sides with a veteran — for reasons only known and understood by Cito — we get closer and closer to drafting the first overall pick!
Maybe this is why Antho/Beeston were reluctant to hire the “real” field manager this year???

I actually think the offense was the most to blame in this one. We did give Marcum a early 3-run lead, but we were playing in Texas! The Jays needed to keep pounding Feldman, and it seemed like we let up on him for a couple innings. Although, to his credit, Feldman hung in there and managed to salvage the game. This year the lineup has to provide sufficient run support, given our lack of experienced pitching. I want to see 7 runs on the board regularly!
http://homerfoodandhistory.mlblogs.com/

To the Ruiz situation, there is another side to the story I don’t think you guys are thinking of.

1. You want the best defense on the feild for the late innings, and Lyle Overbay is far and away the better defender of the two.

2. What really are the chances that Ruiz is going to get a hit in that situation, probably at best 3 in 10. They were against Toronto in the first place, then if it doesnt work out your stuck with an inferior first basemen trying to preserve a lead.

3. Overbay has faced Darren Oliver with some success. In 17 plate apperances he has hit .294 with 3 doubles, and 4 RBI’s. Randy Ruiz has faced him once and didn’t get a hit.

I too would like to see Ruiz get a chance to hit more often, It definatly crossed my mind at the time in the game that it was a good spot to give him a chance, but I don’t think the descision to keep Overbay in the game was a really bad one.

dt005, there’s always more to the story. Fact is when fielding stats are compared Ruiz isn’t as bad on defense as a lot of folks tend to think.
Over 11 seasons in the minors his fielding percentage at 1st base is .982. Overbay is better-but not by as big of an amount as you would think at .995.
Remember when reviewing this stat to also consider Ruiz played on minor league fields whereas Overbay’s numbers were on MLB fields, a significant difference.
All things considered the difference between them on defense is as Rogers described Jays losses-a rounding error.
Overbay did hit lefties earlier in his career, but slid precipitously over the last 2-3 years, so his stats against Oliver would depend entirely on when he faced him.

Well, we didn’t actually need a hit, although that would have been great, but a fly ball to the outfield scores a badly needed run. That being said, successful teams always play best percentages to win which, imo, all things considered means Ruiz is sent in to hit.

gs: the difference in fielding is bigger than it looks from the numbers. Ruiz is pretty good, but Ruiz will miss nearly 2 plays in 100 chances, while Overbay will miss 1 play in 200 chances. Ruiz’s record was built while playing entirely on grass, while Overbay played a large percentage on turf. Plus, Overbay has one of the top arms in baseball, and with the bases juiced in the 9th with the play to home, there is nobody you want out there better than Overbay..

I say Frasor gets a Mulligan on this one. With the addition of Vladdy, Texas has one of the best batting orders in the League, and Jason stepped right into the middle of it. A month down the road, same guys, with a few more innings under his belt, and it would likely be a better outcome.

Yerouttaheah-No sure your numbers are, but even assuming they are, I still would take Ruiz in that situation over Overbay every time for the following reasons:

1) Ruiz hits both lefties and righties with power, Overbay does not hit lefties at all and has less power.

2) In addition Ruiz is much more aggressive at the plate, whereas Overbay tries to work each at bat for a walk. What we needed was add on runs, our best chance of that was with Ruiz hitting either a fly ball or getting a hit-putting the game out of reach.

3) A 1 run lead in this stadium against this team, giving them 2 at bats is unlikely to hold up most days. We needed add on runs just like we would in Fenway.

4) By the way Overbay played about 50% of his career on grass. But my take is one way or the other minor league parks are not where near as consistent as major league parks, so grass in minor league parks delivers a lot more bad bounces than major league grass or turf. But that being said, for that 1 time per hundred chance differential, I’d take the chance, since imo, there’s little chance to win with only a 1 run lead in this circumstance.

5) Point is Overbay isn’t going to be here next year, Ruiz might and it was a great opportunity to test Ruiz under a pressure situation.

Lets hope we take it to them tonight and put lots of runs on the board.

gsjays, if you go back to 2006-07 before he broke his hand, he hit .284/.287 against lefties (better than his lifetime BA), and in 2007, he hit lefties better than righties. He has swung the bat well this Spring, so he needs a chance to continue. If I had the choice between a 10 year veteran with a proven record, and a rookie, I’m going with the vet every time. I’m with Cito on this one. He’s your every day first baseman; he’s going to hit against both lefties and righties, and you don’t want him looking over his shoulder every time he comes up with a lefty on. As far as aggressiveness goes, I have seen RR come up in those situations and strike out swinging for the fences. In this case, a walk would have scored a run. And Ruiz only hits .279 against lefties anyway (stats courtesy of baseballreference.com).

ITS OFFICIAL!!!! TORONTO STAR Cuban shortstop ready to join Blue Jays after obtaining U.S. visa
Morgan Campbell
Sports Reporter
ARLINGTON, TEXAS ? Blue Jays prospect Adeiny Hechavarria has secured a U.S. visa and will report to the Blue Jays? Florida training complex by week?s end, his agent says.

Bart Hernandez, who represents Hechavarria and several other Cuban defectors, says the highly-touted shortstop is still in Cancun, Mexico but will soon depart for Dunedin, where he will undergo a physical exam before officially joining the Jays.

Hechavarria agreed to a four-year, $10 million (U.S.) contract with the Jays in mid-March but the team still hasn?t officially announced his signing, remaining silent while the former star of Cuba?s junior national team waited for his visa.

The 21-year-old is considered one of the top pro prospects among more than 20 players who defected from Cuba last year but figures to start his Blue Jays career in the minor leagues.

Obtaining a visa is the last of several bureaucratic hurdles Cuban defectors must clear before they can play in the majors, and sometimes the process moves slowly.

The week before Hechavarria?s deal, fellow Cuban defector and Cancun resident Leslie Anderson signed a four-year contract with the Tampa Bay Rays but is awaiting his visa and still hasn?t joined the club.

So while fans and media wondered exactly what happened to Hechavarria in the weeks since he agreed to join the Jays, Hernandez says the wait for a visa was relatively stress-free.

?It?s not a delay. It?s just a normal process,? he said. ?It normally takes about two weeks and that?s just how long it?s been taking.?

When Hechavarria left the island in 2009 he was Cuba?s top young shortstop, a prospect on par with Red Sox shortstop-of-the-future Jose Iglesias, who had defected a year earlier.

He batted just .247 over his two seasons with Santiago of Cuba?s National Series, but has impressed big league scouts with his glove, his vast range and his physique. At 6-foot-1 and 170 pounds, and with room to fill out, Hechavarria has drawn comparisons to Cubs outfielder Alfonso Soriano.

When the U.S. Treasury Department ?unblocked? Hechavarria earlier this year, freeing him to sign with any major league team, most observers expected him to join the New York Yankees, the team best equipped to win a bidding war.

But when the Yankees began discussing a contract extension with shortstop Derek Jeter, Hechavarria reportedly lost interest in the club, allowing the Blue Jays to scoop him with a four-year, $10 million offer.

Along with confirming Hechavarria?s visa status, Hernandez also confirmed the spelling (commonly misspelled as ?Adeinis? or ?Adeinys?) and the pronunciation (ah-THEY-nee eh-CHA-ba-ree-ah) of his client?s name.

Whew! The silence was getting deafening. Welcome to Canada, Adeiny. I think his .247 average is misleading. I read somewhere that he was a rookie coming off the bench for Santiago de Cuba, so wasn’t getting regular at bats. I think the Jays can fix that in a hurry.

I like having Jason Frasor as the closer because I think that he does a very good job. He WILL blow a save once in a while – he’s not perfect, but I think he’s perfect for the closer spot for the jays.

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