Category Archives: Catcher

Jays line-up needs a shake-up

Like last season, Adam Lind looks lost at the plate. Time to mix it up in the Jays line-up?

STRADER: I love the guy. I do.

He seems like he’d be your best friend. His wife is Canadian. He loves the city. And I do love his swing.

But it’s enough already.

It’s time to move Adam Lind down in the lineup.

The vultures are circling Jose Bautista, and I understand why. The lack of 3-4 power is getting sooooooo frustrating.

But Joey Bats can’t move. He can go from the third hole to the fourth, I don’t mind that, but in my opinion he’s still one of the most intimidating bats in the league, we’re still seeing him intentionally walked, and he’s clearly pressing. He’ll break out.

But Adam Lind, yick. Besides 26 HR’s in a shortened season last year, he isn’t performing like a clean up hitter. His OPS against righties has hovered around .750 for three seasons now, and he struggles against lefties. That simply isn’t good enough for a clean up hitter in the AL East. I don’t want to see the kid given up on. I think he’s going to win a gold glove at first in the future, but I wouldn’t push for Lyle Overbay to be the clean up hitter in the AL East, would you?

Somebody on the team is seeing the ball well.

Somebody had an unbelievable 2.300 OPS against the Seattle Mariners.

Somebody is looking like the natural hitting machine you want in the RBI position.

That guy, is Edwin Encarnacion.

Sing it Nacho…

When the fantasy has ended
And all the children are gone
Something good inside me,
Helps me to carry on!

I ate some bugs,
I ate some grass,
I used my hand,
To wipe my tears

To kiss your mouth
I break my vow
No no no, no no, no WAY JOSE
Unless you want to
Then we break our vows together

Encarnacio-hooooon
Encarnacio-ho-ho-ho-ho-ho-hon
Encarnacion
*Diduliduliluli!*

Encarnacio-ho-ho-ho-ho-ho-hon
They are ready for you now.

Farrell has reportedly said it’s going to take 100 at bats for him to make any drastic lineup changes. So we have approximately two more weeks to wait and see if he’s fed up. I am.

So, here is what I would propose.

 

1.     Rasmus (yes, Johnson walks more, but I think Rasmus has the ability to if given the responsibility, and I want speed at the top. Real speed. Triples, steals, etc.)

2.     Escobar (He’s struggling, no doubt, and I think the ability that Hecchevarria showed in the spring might be in this guy’s head, but being in the two-hole, being asked to hit and run, bunt, move guys over, might get his bat going)

3.     Bautista (I still have to believe he’s the best bat on the team)

4.     Encarnacion (.323, .381, .667, 1.048, 8 2B, 8 HR, 21 RBI – we don’t even really need to discuss this, do we?)

5.     Johnson (He’s got pop, I want to see it utilized.)

6.     Lind (Maybe 7, ‘cause Lawrie looks amazing, but let’s still give him a prominent role before we bury him)

7.     Lawrie (I expect a response from Livingstone about seeing him third. But in my opinion, he’s 21, I want to see him brought up slowly)

8.     Thames (He’s hitting, but he still doesn’t look like a scary superstar to me)

9.     Arencibia (And I’m sorry JP, but Mathis looks like he’s finally figured out his major league bat, and was a very highly touted prospect himself, so my one note here is I’d like to see Jeff a little more often right now. Maybe twice a week)

That’s what I think Jays fans. Let me know what you think.

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Arencibia shouldn’t apologise for Twitter-spat – and here is why

Blue Jays catcher JP Arencibia called out a sports journalist on Twitter last week. Matthew Strader has his take on the situation.


STRADER:
With the mini-twitter gate that surrounded JP Arencibia last week, and the articles I’m still reading about it, I suddenly began to wonder, why is my industry filled with a bunch of wimps?

A radio reporter from New York called Arencibia out for his low batting average.

Arencibia tweeted back, have another donut, and sports reporters of the world unite! I’ve read column after column about how Arencibia shouldn’t have done it. He went too far.

My colleague Livingstone and I discussed that day whether Arencibia, and his fellow twitter-addicted Blue Jays (Romero, Lawrie…etc.) would be asked by the organization to shut down their accounts.

It seemed plausible at the time. Organizations don’t like negative press. And athletes’ seem to get into trouble on social media all the time, so were we going to lose the insight into these players’ lives?

We haven’t, and I don’t know if anything was said to Arencibia behind closed doors, but I listen to what I’ve listened to on the radio in the past week, and read what I’ve read in the papers, and I wonder who is in the wrong here? Because every sports writer and broadcaster I’ve heard think Arencibia is, and I can’t help but think…are you kidding me? What did he do wrong?

How is it any different then what sports reporters do, and why should he be held to a different standard? Because he makes millions? Oh, yeah, right. If my paper decided to suddenly pay me $4-million a season, and Major League baseball suddenly changed the structure so that catchers made $60,000 a year, things would be completely different…..pfffft….

I don’t need to mention any names here, but here are the quotes I’ve read this week.

“They’re chokers….”

“He should be fired…”

“He’s lazy…”

“He sucks…”

“He’s fat, and out of shape, and it’s embarrassing….”

Okay, so let’s turn to the radio for some insightful and classy analysis.

“They don’t know how to play the game…”

“He sucks, and he knows it, his family knows it, I bet when he was born his parents looked at him and thought he’s gonna suck…”

“The guy should lose his job…”

“It was the worst performance I’ve ever seen and it’s what you get from this guy all the time…the worst…”

“Off with his head…Off with all their heads…”

“They are the biggest chokers in sport…”

I don’t need to continue. Everyone knows what I’m talking about.

Now, let me qualify this by saying I’m happy with all of these comments. I love the soap opera. We don’t ever find out anything great. The dressing room doors are like iron curtains, and we dig and dig and dig for insight. Players are trained to give media savvy answers, clichés really, about 110 per cent and it’s all about the team…blah blah blah. We die for an honest comment.

So if some dude decides to call Arencibia out, and Arencibia decides to call him out, then good, set up the ring, and let them go.

But Arencibia should apologize? He went too far? It was personal?

Give me a break.

It’s personal to say a guy sucks at his job. It’s personal to say a guy should lose his job.

If I write that somebody sucks, which I might, ‘cause really, the Red Sox suck, then they have every right to call me a skinny wuss who couldn’t make it past tee ball. ‘Cause I couldn’t. And I don’t need a bunch of dudes behind their keyboards to get their backs up and come to my defence. It’s okay guys. I can handle it.

I’m not a p—y.

If I were Arencibia, the next time I hit a jack, I’d make sure to have a box of donuts in the dugout, I’d grab one, look right into the camera, and chow down while holding up my Major League jersey.

That would be TV I would love to watch.

Can Ben Affleck predict the World Series?

Ben Affleck + movie release dates + Red Sox = A World Series title.

Who knew rock bottom would look this way.

I didn’t think David Ortiz wouldn’t be among the AL batting leaders at rock bottom.

I wouldn’t have imagined a pitching staff with Jon Lester, Josh Beckett and Clay Buchholz would be part of rock bottom.

As for the bullpen, that’s what a rock bottom pen looks like.

Bobby Valentine as the manager of a team hitting rock bottom? That seems to be more and more likely each time he talks or has Ortiz and Kelly Shoppach try and steal bases.

Despite the doom and gloom of the early 2012 Red Sox season, there is a slight sliver of hope.

I present the ‘Ben Affleck movie release date theory (BAMRDT).

When Affleck has a movie scheduled for release in Oct., rest assured the Red Sox are going to the World Series.

Surviving Christmas – Starring Ben Affleck. Release date Oct. 22, 2004.

Gone Baby Gone – Directed by Ben Affleck. Release date Oct. 10, 2007.

I will admit Gone Baby Gone is a far superior movie to Surviving Christmas and gets points for double Affleck action as Ben’s brother Casey stars in the film. However, quality of films has no bearing on the BAMRDT.

As you may have noticed, in one film Ben is an actor and the other a director. A singular focus in each.

This brings me to 2012 and…..

Argo – Starring and Directed by Ben Affleck. Tentative release date Oct. 12, 2012.

This fits the BAMRDT criteria, but that release date is not set in stone. Warner Bros. could wreak havoc on the theory, but for now everything seems to be in place. Here’s what imdb.com says about the plot: “As the Iranian revolution reaches a boiling point, a CIA ‘exfiltration’ specialist concocts a risky plan to free six Americans who have found shelter at the home of the Canadian ambassador.”

I have no idea if that sounds good or not, but the BAMRDT does not require the movie be good, just released in October. However, with this year off to such a poor start surely not even the BAMRDT could possibly save it. This may very well prove to be true, but Affleck sensed this and thus ratcheted things up on his end. He’s an actor/director in Argo – a double focus. Ben knew the lack of off-season signings and hiring of Valentine would require some extra magic on his part to reverse the trend and selflessly decided to pull double duty.

If this theory pans out, I’m nominating Affleck for all-time president of Red Sox Nation.  If the BAMRDT doesn’t pan out, I know what movie I’ll be going to see rather than watching the World Series in October.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Biggest Bash of them all

20120406-210543.jpg

STRADER: Alomar’s or Carter’s?

Which one was bigger?

By now, every die hard Jays fan knows I’m talking about dingers, not…anyway…

A walk off to win the World Series, at home – that is the stuff of legends.
But Alomar’s was a moment. An undeniable moment. We hadn’t won anything yet. Blue Jay fans remember watching that series and thinking, geez, we’re really giving Oakland a fight. We might, have a chance here? And then Eckersley came in. It was game four. It was game over, and probably series over if Oakland took that 3-1 lead. I mean, come on, it was 51 of 54 during the regular season, it was Eckersley.

Alomar hit that home run and we all had a collective moment. We all put our hands in the air. No dancing. No screaming. Just hands in the air, and a collective moment of disbelief. A breath in that hurt our chest.

He tied the game, and the Jays won the series.

It was something we hadn’t had before.
As fans, we got to live in that space between losing and winning and watch our team be the team that comes back, the team that finishes when it’s ahead.

We were witness to a moment as fans when you realize you’re watching a winner.

I just watched a major league record 16 innings, a three run shot that will be legend because of its timing, and I don’t want to talk about either. I want to talk about moments. A catch, and a simple tap of a manager’s arm.

I watched a major league record 16 innings, and I can’t stop thinking about the bottom of the fifth. Our starter was looking shaky. Romero was rough but he was hanging in there. And then a line shot got laced to centre. It was hooking toward the gap. Last year that ball falls.

It falls, the inning is extended further, and things really fall apart.

Outfield defense was an identified need, and it had been clearly answered.

Colby will be criticized for his average. We can all sense it now, it permeates the city. If he continues to struggle, Rasmus is going to be the name we always hear on the radio. Read in the paper. See on the TV. It’s gonna be a Rasmus summer. But this team didn’t need offense. It needed outfield defense. Romero needed that catch.
In 2012, he’s going to get it.

And my hands went in the air.

Romero couldn’t finish this game. (I was secretly hoping it wasn’t going to be a superstar seven inning comeback performance, ‘cause I’m still hoping to fleece him from my buddy Germain in our fantasy league) Farrell was going to have to make the walk, tap his arm, and call in relief. The comeback was going to be tough. Masterson was showing signs of being unhittable, it should be Mr. 5.65 ERA to hold things down, or dribble a few hits, a few walks here or there, maybe give us a chance. But this time, when Farrell goes to tap his arm, it’s Jason Frasor, Casey Janssen, Oliver, Cordero…

It’s all men we’re used to seeing in one run game eighth innings, two run lead seventh innings. I was excited in the off-season, but it took 16 innings for me to realize the Cadillac this bullpen was going to be. And one tap of the arm to see that it was going to be there all season. None of our games are going to be easy on opposing hitters. What kind of gravy is this?

It was the game with a five man infield, and maybe the biggest double play in Blue Jay history.

A ninth inning comeback, our home run king showing in game one, hey, don’t forget the king.

But I can’t stop thinking, that in the bottom of the fifth and the top of the sixth, I was witness to a couple moments.

A catch, and a tap.

And what moments they were.

Going the depth route on draft day

One Write Fielder took a strategic position depth approach to his draft. Will it pay off?

STRADER: Napoli in the fifth round?

“First one off the board for Strader…”

Actually, no boys, that one was right on the board, and you can suck on my Napoli/Avila duo all the way until September.

You see, more than any other sport, fantasy baseball is about organizational depth. (I will be using this very thing to shred my colleague’s diatribe about how the Sox/Yanks/Rays are still ahead in the east soon) Think about it this way.

If I have a starting catcher who can put 30 out of the park, and 100 on the board, how much is that worth?

What if I have two? Starter and backup?

How deep is this position around the major leagues? How many catchers can do that?

So, I say to my buddies who are struggling with Yadier and Miguel as their starters, and on the constant hunt for a backup that will give them a competitive 10 and 50, good fuckin’ luck. I’m takin’ Napoli early and making sure my catchers outscore the rest in the league by 30 per cent.

I rank my fantasy baseball team picks by position as much as overall ability. Second base is another great place for a falloff. You have your Dan Uggla’s, Dustin Pedroia’s, and the king, Robinson Cano.  Phillips tantalizes people every year, Ackley has people wondering, Asdrubal, are you for real? (‘Cause I can still play you at second?)

And Utley, will you be healthy?

There are so many question marks in this position, there are so many inconsistencies, that finding consistency can put you leaps and bounds ahead of the next guy. If you sacrifice a star outfielder who’s a consistent 25 and 90 to get a second basemen who’s a consistent 20 and 80, who’s going to be harder to duplicate?

Do you take Adam Jones early, to keep that strength in your outfield, or do you realize that outfielders are a dime a dozen, and guaranteeing yourself a strong second base platoon will be way harder to do off the waiver wire.

Besides, somebody always comes out of nowhere (Luis Gonzalez, ahem….) in the outfield. Watch the waiver wire there, not at second.

Catcher, second, short stop, relievers and third base. They’re the most difficult positions to ensure strength from top to bottom.

Use your first or second overall pick to secure your ace, and throw in another quality starter between rounds 3 and 5, and then focus on your depth chart.

Trust me.

You’ll take a bunch of crap from your pool buddies for drafting Napoli in the fifth round, and then rub it in their faces in September.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,