Category Archives: Red Sox

Youkilis, Middlebrooks and New England Royalty

Will MIddlebrooks has been off to a hot start – but what’s going to happen when Kevin Youkilis returns from the DL? Middlebrooks’ hot start will push The King of Walks to be the King of mashing the ball more.

LIVINGSTONE McGILLIGAN: Will Middlebrooks could be hitting .400 when Kevin Youkilis comes of the disabled list and I’m not sure that would be enough to keep him at third base for the Boston Red Sox.

Middlebrooks isn’t simply up against the incumbent at Fenway’s hot corner; he’s competing with a member of New England royalty.

Here’s a quick overview of New England Royalty:

1.       Any member of the Kennedy family.

2.       Tom Brady

3.       Red Sox players (LIVINGSTONE: Even Billy Buckner??)

4.       Larry Bird

5.       Any other Celtics

6.    Bill Belichick

7.       Patriot players

8.       Bobby Orr

9.    Bruins players

10.   Matt Damon (he was wicked smart) and Ben Affleck

Youkilis is elevated slightly above the average Red Sox player because he married Tom Brady’s sister. This essentially makes him an honorary Kennedy.

In addition to this, Youkilis has been one of the most consistent hitters in Major League Baseball for several years. However, injuries have limited him the past two season and 2011 was the first time he hit under .280 since 2007. Add to this the rocky start with manager Bobby Valentine – for the record, completely Bobby V’s fault – and Youkilis seems to be in decline.

Middlebrooks success since his call up has been a bright spot in an otherwise terrible start to the season for the Red Sox. Middlebrooks is hitting .409 with seven extra-base hits and nine RBIs in four games. According to boston.com, Middlebrooks is the first player since Enos Slaughter in 1938 to have at least one extra-base hit in each of his first five games in the majors. However, he’s not without some injury concerns of his own. Middlebrooks was taken out of Tuesday’s game in the second inning after feeling some tightness in his left hamstring. It’s the second time since his call up he’s been taken out of a game because of the issue.

Once Youkilis returns from the DL, Valentine will have to decide between the two. Given Youkilis history, it’s hard to imagine him not being reinserted into the lineup.

The only way this doesn’t happen is if Middlebrooks marries a Kennedy in the next week and helps the Celtics win a playoff game. The only way for Youk to top that is to announce he and Brady’s sister are having a boy and Belichik declares he’s going to trade up to get him in the first-round to be Tom’s eventual replacement.

Random Note:

A few weeks ago I wrote about how the Red Sox season had a chance to turn around because of the Ben Affleck Movie Release Date Theory. Essentially, any time Affleck has a movie released in October, the Sox win the World Series. Well the trailer for Argo is out with Affleck directing and starring. The movie is set for an October release. In Ben, Red Sox Nation trusts.

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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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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.

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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.

Timelessness and Jamie Moyer

Creeping closer to seniors discounts at local restaurants, Jamie Moyer became the oldest pitcher to win a game in the bigs, a 5-3 victory over the San Diego Padres. Cheers Jamie!

LIVINGSTONE: I’m beginning to look into my future a little bit more these days, especially when it comes to baseball. It coincides with life, maturity, professional desires, life, family, etc. It’s normal, I suppose, so it’s carried over into the ‘what-ifs’ of my sports passions. Will Ben Roethlisberger make it to another Super Bowl? Will The Flyers win a Stanley Cup in the next five years? Will the Leafs ever win one in my lifetime (or my hypothetical child…and their kids.)?

The question that popped into my head last night came on the heals of a new baseball record, now enshrined in the Hall of Fame: Will Jamie Moyer ever retire?

Moyer, at the young age of forty-nine, became the oldest pitcher in history to win a baseball game. Pitching now for the Colorado Rockies, after pitching for almost every team in baseball (that’s not true, but it seems like it, he’s only pitched for eight) he kept the San Diego Padres’ hitters at bay with his lightning-fast 79 mph fastball and his nasty cutter. The Rockies won 5-3.

Moyer, 49 years, 150 days old to be exact, takes the record held by Jack Quinn of the Brooklyn Dodgers, who was 49 years, 70 days old when he set the record.

Wait, the Brooklyn Dodgers? Yep, the record was set on Sept. 13, 1932 when a bottle of Coke was five cents and the Second World War was yet to happen.

It’s an incredible feat. To be able to pitch for 25 years, for eight clubs, play with Ryne Sandberg, Ken Griffey Jr., and Carlos Gonzalez (in three different decades mind you) amass 268 wins and over 2,400 Ks – it’s unreal. Moyer is the third oldest pitcher ever to play in a regular season game (behind Quinn and Satchel Paige who was, get this, 59(!!) when he played in 1965) and is tied for sixth on the oldest player, pitcher or position, to play (he’s tied with the likes of Julio Franco (2007) and Hughie Jennings (1918), among others).

It speaks a lot to not only the longevity of his ability to play – but to the fact he has been able to continue pitching, after 25 years and more than 4,000 innings, without his body, or love for the game, saying that’s enough.

Sure, he gets a paycheck, and a pretty decent one in the grand scheme of life, but at this point in his career, he just seems to want to keep playing the game he loves so dearly.

It’s beautiful.

 

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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 calling out Youkilis makes no sense

 

Sox Manager Bobby Valentine called out Kevin Youkilis for not being into the games physically and emotionally - after sweeping the Tampa Bay Rays. Say what?

McGILLIGAN: This better be some type of genius managerial strategy Bobby Valentine picked up in Japan because that’s the only way his Sunday night comments make sense.

Here’s what Valentine said on WHDH’s SportsXtra show regarding third baseman Kevin Youkilis:

“I don’t think he’s as physically or emotionally into the game as he has been in the past for some reason.”

Kevin Youkilis struggled in the first two series of the season.

There weren’t many Boston Red Sox that didn’t. However, Youkilis hits in a coveted spot usually between Adrian Gonzalez and David Ortiz, so his value is high for a team expected to have one of the best offenses this year.

So when he turned it around in the past three games – all wins against the Tampa Bay Rays – things seemed to be swinging in the Red Sox favour.

Then came the out-of-nowhere criticisms of Youkilis by Valentine following a 6-4 win on Sunday.

In three-straight wins, Youkilis is hitting .400 with three RBI and six runs scored. Prior to the three wins he was 2-20 with six strikeouts and 10 men left on base for a club that went 1-5.

This is why Valentine’s comments make no sense. If you criticize a guy in the media, it usually occurs when he’s playing poorly and the team is struggling, not when things are going good.

Another oddity of the statement is Youkilis “not being emotionally into the game.” This is something no one has ever said about the Greek God of Walks (to be fair I referred to him as the Greek God of Walking Back to the Dugout during his early struggles).

The statement led to some interesting comments from Red Sox leader Dustin Pedroia.

“I don’t know what Bobby’s trying to do, but that’s not the way we do things here,” said Pedroia on MLB.com. “Maybe that stuff works in Japan.”

Youkilis said he was confused by Valentine’s comments and said it wasn’t how he saw it. For his part Valentine apologized to Youkilis and offered this explanation on MLB.com.

“I answered the question that, I think the question was, ‘It’s not Youk-like the way he’s playing.’ I think that was the question I answered,” Valentine said. “I should have explained that his swing isn’t what he wants it to be. The physical part of his swing is frustrating. Frustration leads to emotion. I haven’t seen him break as many helmets as I’ve seen on TV. It just seemed different.

“At the end of the thing, I said I don’t know what the reason is because I haven’t been here long enough. I don’t know why his swing isn’t exactly the way he wants it to be and why he wasn’t throwing as many helmets. I thought it was rather innocuous. Matter of fact, it seemed like they were trying to bang him and I started out by saying how good his at-bats were that day, his two walks.”

The key statement is “I haven’t been here long enough.” I won’t pretend to know the intricacies of major league managing, but if you haven’t been there long enough to form an opinion why make a statement.

This may amount to nothing in the end, but isn’t it too early for the manager to be apologizing for statements (non-Castro related) and team leaders having to step in and defend teammates. Perhaps this is a strategy Bobby V is employing that will have long term benefits and I will look back and call him a genius. Perhaps.

Here’s the thing, the Sox are winning. So if that continue this all goes away, if not we should prepare ourselves for the inundation of stories and call-in shows asking the question ‘Has Bobby V already lost the clubhouse?’

One thing is for sure, there’s not going to be a dull moment this season in Beantown.

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