Category Archives: Pitcher

Guillermo Mota, welcome to the Hall of Shame

Giants pitcher Guillermo Mota was handed a 100-game suspension for a second violation of the MLB’s drug policy. Well done Mota.

LIVINGSTONE: Congratulations, Guillermo Mota, on your recent entry into the history books – of embarrassment.

Not just personal embarrassment, but embarrassment to a professional sport trying to move on from a dark period where the asterisk could be applied to many records and individual player statistical lines for about two decades (see: Mark McGwire, Jose Canseco, Barry Bonds, Rafael Palmeiro, Roger Clemens, Alex Rodriguez, Manny Ramirez, Lenny Dykstra, etc.)

So you’re the third player in baseball history to test positive for a banned substance twice. The other two? Oakland A’s outfielder Manny ‘I’m going to quit baseball abruptly instead of facing another embarrassing moment in my career’ Ramirez and former Detroit Tiger Neifi Perez. Yeah, I don’t really know the latter either, he apparently made some big double play on a Justin Verlander no-hitter in 2007, a month before being nailed for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.

So, Mota, you’re now, again, among the most dishonorable in baseball. In fact, you’re among an elite group of players who thought they wouldn’t get caught a second time. You’re 38 years old, so the excuse of ‘I didn’t know what was being injected into me’ or ‘I thought it was just vitamins’ doesn’t really fly. You’ve been around long enough to know when something is wrong and, I’d hope, ask questions when someone is about to inject you with something. However, it’s quite possible you just turned a blind eye and said ‘whatever, I’ve got to keep playing’.

Either way, you are among the embarrassing few in baseball who continue to remove a little bit of what purity in the sport is left. Thankfully, you’re not a big name player, like Rodriguez or Clemens or Manny, who have helped lead teams to the promise land. Well, you did win the World Series in 2010 when you were with the Giants, but you struggled and didn’t really help out in winning that series. Thankfully, you fall into the category of semi-no names like Jay Gibbons and former Colorado Rockies pitcher Dan Serifini who were handed 50-game suspensions after failing drug tests.

It’s sad really. In 2012, after all that has gone on with steroids and performance-enhancing drugs – and watching Roger Clemens drag his whole image through the mud being the stubborn man he is – you’d think players would want to avoid this kind of embarrassment – not only for themselves but for their teams, the players and all of professional baseball. The bad example players like Mota set, the win at all costs way of life, will fall on impressionable young players to seek out the same products to make them better ball players.

Whatever the case may be, Mota is another one of those guys we just can’t wait to retire, disappear into the sunset, never to be heard from again.

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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.

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On the plus side, some young closers are strutting their stuff

Baltimore Orioles closer Jim Johnson has been perfect in the save situation, going seven-for-seven to start the season, closing out games with a high nineties fastball in his pitching arsenal.

McGILLIGAN: One of the early story lines this season was the poor performance of closers.

Teams were struggling to shut the door in the ninth inning and seal the win. Veteran guys – solid performers in seasons past – just weren’t getting the job done. Things have settled somewhat since then – injuries are still wreaking havoc in some cities – and part of the reason is new faces seizing their opportunities.

The two best examples of this are Jim Johnson of the Baltimore Orioles and Henry Rodriguez of the Washington Nationals.

Johnson has been perfect in his save opportunities this season (7-7), has yet to allow a run and has hitters off balance as evidenced by opponents mustering a measly.214 batting average.

The Orioles have struggled to find consistency the closer role, only once in the past five seasons has a player recorded two-straight seasons of 20 or more saves (George Sherrill in 2008 and 2009).

Heading into the year, Johnson had racked up 21 saves over the course of three seasons. Baltimore is a bit of a revolving door for closers, but early signs are positive for Johnson and the O’s.

The most intriguing closer-related story is in the National League. After the Nationals watched Brad Lidge blow a few saves, the job was given to Henry Rodriguez who had a grand total of two saves before this year. This season he’s recorded five saves in five chances, has not allowed an earned run and has opponents hitting a paltry .038.

What makes the Nationals situation so intriguing is the eventual return of Drew Storen. In 2011, Storen racked up 43 saves, tied for sixth best in all of baseball. He had minor elbow surgery earlier this month and could return sometime around the all-star break. If he can return to form, and Rodriguez continues his early dominance, the Nationals could have the makings of a great one-two punch for the eighth and ninth innings – in what order might be anyone’s guess.

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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.

A power bat? Where? I’m guessin’ left…

Subs outfielder Alfonso Soriano would be a good power bat addition to the Jays roster - however, the salary he is owed could be an issue.

STRADER: Does anybody get the feeling the Blue Jays aren’t happy with either left fielder?

I am.

One, because AA doesn’t make anything public, and his desire for an impact bat just became public. Two, because it’s not JP Arencibia that’s going to lose his job, I don’t care how many people want to focus on the low batting average.

How would the Baltimore Orioles feel if they’d given up on Matt Wieters?

Pretty dumb, I would imagine.

There’s way more to being a catcher than hitting and I don’t think the organization is as frustrated with Arencibia as some of the fans are.

(That damn debut is going to haunt this kid until he hits….)

No, there is a position on the field that doesn’t seem to be filled by that reliable, crushing, middle of the order bat, just yet.

So, with Anthopolous reportedly telling MLB network radio’s Jim Bowden that a middle of the order bat is his true desire, to “wear down” other teams, it appears that a trial run with a kid for a couple seasons is not what Anthopolous wants. And look around the diamond.

Do you move Rasmus? Nope. He’s looking confident and skilled again, and there’s a speedster in the wings.

Is it Escobar? Nope. Once again, not the power development that has been hyped, but there’s talent waiting on the depth chart there too in a young Cuban who’s looking all world.

No, left field, which I believe in two to three years will be occupied by Jake Marisnick could use a dominant, power-hitting, veteran.

So for fun, ‘cause speculation with the Blue Jays brass is always wrong, let’s take a look at Major League outfields and see if we can find a power-hitting veteran, that would come cheap, is on a team that wants to move him, and also a squad looking to add to their young talent.

Melky….I don’t know….Delmon….would Detroit trade anything right now?….Logan Morrison….is he proven enough?….Brennan Boesch…certainly a lot of talk about his ceiling….Jason Bay…I could only dream he becomes reliable again and lands in Canada….

Nope, I think I found the perfect hole filler. His team will absorb a lot of his contract. He would hit the snot out of the ball in Rogers Centre. And in a couple years, he would happily be replaced by a young outfielder, because he’s in his mid-30s.

Yep, I never thought I would say it, but I want to see Alfonso Soriano in a Blue Jay uniform.

Because of his critics, price tag, and lack of a market, I believe he would only require a couple mid-level prospects to get him.

His OPS is always above .700, this guy can simply hit the ball.

And without having to be the go-to guy in a lineup, he would be an unreal complement bat.

As I’ve said before, I’m patient. I’d rather see Travis Snider for a full season, leave him alone, let him play.

But if we’re going to see 24 and 25 year olds platooned with Rajai, replaced for defensive reasons, not playing against left-handed pitchers, then bring the vet, and wait for Marisnick and Gose.

Maybe Thames and a mid-level pitching prospect would get us Soriano?

And how wicked would he look sandwiched in there with Edwin, Brett, Adam and that dude in right field?

I’m thinking pretty good.

Of course, it looks like my Jenkins prediction was a little out of left field too….

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Angels aren’t lookin’ so heavenly – are they a bust?

Are the Angels already a bust? The 6-10 record isn't a sign of any sort of success considering they spent $300 million in the off-season to bring in a premium bat in Pujols, who hasn't hit a home run for his new club yet and has a mere four runs batted in.

LIVINGSTONE: If the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim don’t start getting it together, that $300-million off-season spending spree is going to look like one of the biggest busts in the history of the game.

I know – we all know – Albert Pujols won’t under perform all season. In a couple of months we will be looking back at the start of the season, the first 16 games that have netted the Angels a 6-10 record good for last place in the division and seven games back of the juggernaut that is the Texas Rangers, and all will be forgotten.

Question is, will it be forgotten?

The Angels went out and landed the biggest free agent slugger in Pujols and the best pitching free agent in former Rangers starter C.J. Wilson with the hopes of putting the team, finally, into a good position to challenge for a World Series title after years of missing the mark. If you look at what the Angels have been doing in the first 16 games of the season, you have to wonder if the team is just too bloated with talent and can’t find a way for all that all-star power to gel together.

Outside of Wilson and Jered Weaver, who both post sub-2.50 ERAs in just a handful of starts into the season (they’re a combined 5-1), the starting rotation has looked anything but lights out.

Dan Haren and Ervin Santana have been appallingly bad. Haren (0-1) has an ERA above 4.00 in his first four starts, and is averaging 65 pitches a game. Santana (0-3) in three awful starts, giving up seven home runs  while putting up a 6.75 ERA. Anything but dominate. Fifth starter Jerome Williams has an ERA of 7.71 and a WHIP around 1.70 and Haren and Santana are both over 1.40

Then there is the bullpen. They’ve been pegged with four losses and have only one save to show for the dismal start. Closer Jordan Walden, who was expected to be a dominate guy in the ninth, has an ERA of 4.15 and a WHIP of 1.62 – on the flip, he’s got a K-per-9 innings of 12.36, which is what should be expected of him. But one save, yeesh. He isn’t getting the opportunity to close games because the bullpen is blowing them before he even gets the chance to warm-up in the bullpen.

Collectively, the pitching staff has an ERA of 4.47, a WHIP of 1.26 and has given up 18 home runs while putting together only eight quality starts. Things need to improve on this front or the bats waking up won’t matter.

Yes, Pujols is putting up underwhelming numbers so far this year. No home runs, four RBI, an OPS of .654 and a batting average of .283. He’s a career .328 hitter. He’ll come around, he started slow last season and came on late to post a solid year for the eventual World Series champs St. Louis. However, when you’re RBI leader after 16 games is your catcher (Chris Iannetta has 8 ribbies) and your home run leader is Vernon ‘I am very much overpaid for what I do’ Wells, things aren’t looking good.

Guys like Peter Bourjos, Alberto Callaspo are hitting in the .200 zone after 16 games, something that needs to improve vastly to bring some stability and fear back into the line-up. These guys were pegged to be integral parts of the batting order and are so far not proving that. I don’t think it will be too long before we see Mike Trout in the line-up (he’s hitting a near-.400 in Triple-A).

No matter what – something needs to be done to get the team ignited.

Are they a bust? For all the hype surrounding this team coming into the season – in some ways, yes they certainly are a bust. Besides Mark Trumbo, who is batting .350-ish, this club isn’t putting together any solid performances a the plate – on the mound, Weaver and Wilson look good, but it’s downhill after those two.

It’s going to be interesting to see how the teams pulls itself together and gets onto a winning road, because the fans won’t patiently wait while this supposed-elite team continues to flounder.

Fantasy update: nothing makes sense right now

Jason Kipnis is off to a slow start - along with much of my under-performing fantasy team, known as Team Beast. Not really a beast right now...

LIVINGSTONE: I made a promise to myself not to spend a lot of my space on this blog writing about fantasy baseball. It’s a big part of my season, wheeling and dealing, looking for sleepers, the whole bit. My wife usually hates it by the middle of the season, especially when I’m trying to move guys into my starting line-up when we’re out on the town.

However, I have to air my frustrations. It’s only a dozen games into the season for most teams and as expected, things are wonky. Wait – not wonky – turned completely upside down. Yeah, that’s more like it.

In one of my first posts on here, I wrote about missing the first 15 rounds of my draft – in a league where I’m the commissioner no less – and how, in the end, I felt my pitching staff would allow me to stay competitive, while I’d have to work to keep a quality line-up of hitters on the field.

If the first 12 games are any indication of what I’m in store for – I might as well give up now. My staff is in utter shambles. I’ve managed to amass four wins all season, two of which came from my bullpen (Tyler Clippard and Johnny Venters), the other two come from Verlander (who really should be 3-0 after two ninth inning meltdowns in his first two starts) and Ubaldo Jimenez (he gave up seven runs in the game, but the Indians put up more than a dozen).

I’m second last or in the basement in five of six categories for pitchers (CG I’m first, but hell, that’s a gimme category), my closers aren’t closing out games. That said though, the guy I expected to pick up saves (Angels’ Walden) isn’t getting the opportunities because his team is under-performing and my other big closer – Drew Storen – is out until at least mid-season. On top, my frankenstein bullpen of Brad Lidge and Hector Santiago aren’t closing games either.

Starters? Oh, well, Lincecum is looking sub-par, I dumped Josh Johnson for a more, seemingly effective Wandy Rodriguez, and picked up sleeper Chris Sale from the White Sox with hopes of bolstering a decent start from Jordan Zimmerman. I also picked up Trevor Cahill with hopes he can bring down my ERA a bit (thanks Johnson, Mat Latos and Lincecum for the 4.50+ ERA).

My bats? Hmmm, started strong, but aren’t staying strong. Cards’ David Freese and Yadier Molina have been hot, along with Giants’ Pablo Sandoval and as of late, Buster Posey. Rockies OF Michael Cuddyer has been a huge hit also. However, Everything else has been a moment in time. Jason Kipnis and Nick Markakis have been under-performing in Cleveland and Baltimore. And losing Michael Morse to the DL is a tough loss after he had a visit with the ‘your season isn’t looking good’ from Dr. James Andrews.

Sigh – I’m ranting now. Hopefully, my team picks it up and gets it going. The thing is, it’s early, it’s baseball, and things can turned around very quickly. It’s what we love about this game, the unpredictability.

Minor League Report: Grab a seat on the prospect bus

The Minor League Report by Write Fielder Matthew Strader takes a look at a couple of up-and-comers in the Jays system. One being Chad Jenkins (pictured above). photo courtesy of Sportsnet.ca

STRADER: One thing I am religious on is scouting the minors, so I figured I would put together a “MINOR LEAGUE REPORT” every couple of days.

I considered for a moment making some attempt at a headline that somehow incorporated “What happens in Vegas…”

But let’s be realistic. Jays’ fans aren’t going to see anyone except position players in need of at bats in Vegas, and we certainly don’t want anything to stay there.

We’re pretty much clear of two starts each for all the minor league arms that are on the radar this season, so here’s a catch up on what’s happened so far with two, and being a sucker for the up and comers, the MINOR LEAGUE REPORT will become a regular part of my repertoire.

DUNEDIN:

From the Florida State League comes statistics on one of AA’s favourites. Asher Wojciechowski. AA loves this kid. There isn’t anything to be determined from an interview with Toronto’s great Greek thinker. Media must become a poker player, read between the lines, listen to inflection of voice, tone, word choices, and try to get a read.

Three weeks ago, I pounced all over a slip of the tongue from Farrell and announced to my colleague Livingstone that Drabek would be the fifth starter. (We did not get on posting that fast enough, it was announced the next day) This past weekend, there were two names that changed the inflection of AA’s voice when he spoke them.

Wojciechowski was one of them.

He loves this kid.

The 6-foot-4, 235 pound South Carolina product was selected 41st overall in the first round of the 2010 first-year player draft. The blog isn’t paying enough (yet) for us to scout these guys live, so we go from the box.

In two starts this year, Wojciechowski has been night and day, yin and yang.

April 7: IP: 4.0 H: 9 ER: 6 SO: 2 BB: 1.

April 13: IP: 6.0 H: 2 ER: 1 SO: 4 BB: 1.

Scouting reports say plenty of fastball, but were pretty down on his secondary stuff in his draft year, calling his changeup insignificant. Until I can see him myself, I go by the stats. If the secondary stuff is weak, it looks like we’re developing another quality swing man here in the ilk of Villanueva. But there is something AA really likes about this kid, so maybe the slider is coming. In 2010, it was lacking movement and averaged 83 mph. Updated reports are calling the slider a plus pitch that he controls to both sides of the plate now. Could this be a future 2-3 starter? When I know more, you’ll know more.

NEW HAMPSHIRE:

The other time, I believe, the Blue Jay GM tipped his cap this weekend was to Chad Jenkins. And here’s my first you heard it hear first!

“Chad Jenkins will get the fifth start instead of Carreno this month.”

It’s a guess, but I’m 90 per cent. Our organization has been consistent with loyalty, so after a competitive showing earlier this month, outside of two Carlos Santana home runs, Carreno could very likely get it again, and I wouldn’t be upset to see him, but I’m predicting Jenkins.

Drafted in the first round of the 2009 first year player draft, Jenkins was known for one thing. Fastball, fastball, fastball. It was heavy, downhill with sinking action and nasty. Big body, durable, strikeouts. He sounded like a first round talent, and then silently, there wasn’t much sound at all.

With the Drabek trade, the Alvarez rise, and the McGowan return, where do you reach to grab a headline as a young starting pitcher in Toronto? Well, don’t worry. Jenkins, from what is being said, appears to have focused on conditioning and begun to progress stuff-wise and mentally, the way an organization looks for a starter too.

The stories out of spring were impressive, and the numbers, at least early in this season, are looking that way too.

In his two starts: IP: 13 H: 10 ER: 6 BB: 1 SO: 7

It’s notable that in his second start he allowed 5 ER and 3 HR, but the way AA jumped to defend that start…the wind was blowing out…it was better than the line shows…this is an organization loving what they’re seeing from one of their emerging talents. I can’t wait to see him.

Scouting reports call Jenkins a power sinker guy now. His number one pitch sits in the low-90s and can reach 95-96 when he reaches for it. Look for that sinker to move the most when it’s dialed back to 92-93, and ride a steadier four seam plain when he guns it.

Jenkins also throws a plus slider, and with downward movement on both is a groundball artist. I know you’ve never heard this before, so be prepared for a shocker – he’s also working on his changeup.

In his draft year, Jenkins was called a potential “workhorse.” If the reports continue to evolve from “pudgy” to “impressive” regarding his physique, he could be a welcome addition to the back of the Blue Jay rotation by year end.

The MINOR LEAGUE REPORT will update the blog on the stats of two AA starters Drew Hutchison and Deck McGuire in the next few days and will also look at the “next wave” in Noah Syndergaard and Justin Niccolino.

 

Bobby Valentine’s (likely) end-of-season apology letter

On the eve of the Leafs apologizing to their fans, I finished this Bobby V apology letter to Red Sox fans for not making the playoffs in 2012….

Apology to Red Sox Fans

From your one and only, Bobby “V” baby,

I’d like to apologize for the performance, execution and conduct of the players this year. In which, by the way, I had a lot of fun – those guys just need to learn to listen and we’re aces kids.

Okay, so we didn’t make it again. And we even finished below the bird team from Canada (man, I’ve never figured out why so many baseball teams are named after birds? I’d name them after cars…) but hey, things are going to get better, right?

I mean, come on….we’re the Sox.

In my opinion, we lost for two reasons this year.

Our starting pitching fell apart, and some nasty blogger labeled poor Dustin the “rubber chicken” and that really got in his head. He’s a sensitive little guy you know. That stupid video game pointed out that he couldn’t hit a high inside fastball and it took him months to adjust.

I know the bullpen didn’t look that great either, but it’s a bullpen, we’ll buy some new pieces.

Starting pitching comes down to two things according to Bobby V, a winning attitude and work ethic, and our guys had neither.

Countless times I would be in the make up chair before the game, and I swear, I could hear the video games on in the clubhouse again. I’d send assistants back to check, but it’s difficult to bark out orders while you’re balancing cold tea bags and cucumbers on your lids. And that’s Bobby V time.

So I would leave it for the weekends, when the games don’t really matter, you know?

It’s Saturday, everybody’s having a good time, I’d bring in some kids from the junior leagues around the city and run drills on fundamentals, like starting the runners with a full count, blocking the plate, and looking good for the camera. The guys’ would love it, the kids would love it.

I know when I was a kid nothing made me happier than a free lunch and a chance to throw the seventh. What? I’m gonna make Jenks do it? Come on. Someone has to go pick up the chicken, we’re not abusing our assistant’s on Saturday’s – we gotta keep the bosses costs down and Bobby V’s salary up.

Why do you think we’re KFC guys?

Now, as for next year, let’s not worry. Buy your tickets, your hats, and your jerseys. Okay, maybe it’s not time to throw a name on the back of that new shirt, ‘cause who knows who’s gonna be here next year right? Who’s going to step up. We do have that Crawford guy for a long time, maybe him? (I’m still really excited to meet him, by the way, seems like a nice kid.)

Meanwhile, listen to my radio show in New York. I’ll tell you everything that’s wrong with the Sox, the audience there is just loving it. I get a rousing ovation everytime I show up for the little side job.

Must have something to do with the sweet sounds of Bobby V…

Until next year folks. Keep my seat warm, I’ll see you sometime around May.

It’s May, right?

 

Bobby V

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From the desk of a Sox fan: Blue Jays opening series

Jays rookie phenom third baseman Brett Lawrie is looking good in the eyes of a Red Sox fan. The best thing for the Jays this week? The Winless Red Sox coming to town for the opening series at the Skydome.

With the first weekend in the books, I’m of two minds on the Jays opening weekend.

So in interest of being fair to both sides of my thoughts, I will present the positive and negative sides of the Jays first three games.

RECORD

Positive: The Jays won two of three against the Cleveland Indians and had a chance to sweep the road series, but came up a run short. Anytime you win a road series, you’ve got to be happy.

Negative: While the Jays did win a pair, they could have just as easily lost all three games. Two extra inning games on the road can go either way.

PITCHING

Positive: Even without a good start from ace Ricky Romero, the Jays won two of three and the bullpen, a weakness last year, did a nice job holding off the Indians bats in the extra inning contests. Brandon Morrow looked good in his first outing, a good sign for all Jays fans.

Negative: Romero didn’t pitch well, Joel Carreno didn’t look good in his start and Sergio Santos blew a save in his first opportunity. The Jays starters were heavily out pitched by the Indian starters.

HITTING

Positive: What more can you say, these guys are never out of a ball game and proved it with late inning and extra inning heroics. Brett Lawrie looks like he’s going to pick up where he left off last season and Jose Bautista has bashed his first homerun. Kelly Johnson had some nice at bats in the series and J.P. Arencibia was the hero in Game 1 with a three-run blast. The Jays took advantage of the Indians bullpen and were one-hit away from possibly sweeping the Indians.

Negative: The trio of Justin Masterson, Ubaldo Jimenez and Derek Lowe dominated the Jays in the series. The trio threw 26 innings, allowed eight hits and three earned runs while striking out 14. That’s a 1.04 ERA for Cleveland starting pitchers. A team with a better bullpen could have made the Jays 0-3. Arencibia had an important hit, but the guy has to get more than one in a series to be an everyday starting catcher.

Colby Rasmus needs to be better at the plate. Unlike my colleague Strader, I don’t believe good defence from Rasmus is enough. He has to hit like an everyday centerfielder, but it’s early and I still believe that he can be a good offensive player.

OVERALL

You have to like the Jays opening weekend. The team played with a swagger and never gave up on any play. Outside of Morrow, the starting pitching wasn’t great, but it wasn’t terrible – basically it was average.

Lawrie is a lot of fun to watch, he gives maximum effort on every play and, as I said earlier, the bullpen looks much improved and Santos should be fine.

My verdict is while there are more positives than negatives, the Jays need to be able to hit starting pitching and not depend on late inning comeback every time, although it is exciting.

The pitching was average and still the team won two games, but now we’re into the part of the staff that is a real unknown.

The good news is the reeling Boston Red Sox are in town. This team is finding a way to lose in spectacular fashion

While Sunday’s offensive explosion was nice to see, Boston has struggled on the mound. Besides Lester’s performance on opening day, the Sox have not had good pitching and the bullpen is a huge weakness as Aceves has blown two saves.

Honestly, it will be a long year in Beantown if Bobby Valentine can’t right the ship.

I expect a high scoring game between the two as the biggest question marks for both are the back end of the rotation.

It should be a great night at Skydome (I’m following fellow Write Fielder Livingstone’s lead in refusing to call it Rogers Centre). Livingston and Strader will be blogging from the stands, so check the site for some instant insight and photos from the home opener.

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