Category Archives: Skydome

So you’re saying there’s a chance…

Ricky Romero’s start against the New York Mets could be a big opportunity for the Jays to get back into the winning ways many fans expect from the squad.

STRADER: I would hate to say that Stephen Brunt stole my thunder, ‘cause really, he’s a messiah of sports writing, and I’m, well, a pretender. But he stole my thunder.

I was going to write about how it’s time to see what John Farrell is made of. After Lawrie’s blow up (I don’t think doing it is right, and I certainly think it’s a suspension, but I’m willing to admit I would have thrown the helmet right at Miller…) it became clear to me that it is time for the Jays to calm down.

Umps are petty.

They have too much power.

And for all we know, they don’t face much retribution either, outside of a well-thrown beer.

With the team facing five series in a row against winning clubs, I thought, oh man, this isn’t good. The first one is the Yankees, and it’s Drabek and Hutchison pitching. This could get ugly.

They could pitch well for their respective ages and experience levels, and the squad could still be looking at five losses in a row going into the Mets series – interleague always seems to be a tornado for the Jays – and oh man, the stories would begin about Lawrie disappointing the team, the young staff showing it’s true colours, yadda yadda yadda…

So it was time for Bautista to take a bad call, for Escobar to stop waving at where he believes the running lane is, for Encarnacion to just get punched out.

Shut up and play ball boys. You’re better than that.

And then Drabek goes out and shows why he was such a highly touted prospect.

Hello Yankees. Here’s my nasty sinker. Deal with it.

8-1, you have to be kidding me.

Now, there’s a chance.

A chance that this run against winning squads and first place squads could result in a turnaround for the record, and the standings. Bautista could keep hitting bombs. Tweaks to the lineup could continue to work out.

Can someone please write about how good D’Arnaud is again? ‘Cause everytime it happens, Arencibia goes medieval on the baseball…

And there’s a chance.

This time, I think it falls on Romero.

Hutchison is still so young, so inexperienced, that to expect a Yankee sweep tonight, a win from him – even though he gets lucky and draws Phil Hughes instead of the tilted hat killer – would be asinine. The Yanks are the Yanks. They’re resilient.

A win by the Jays tonight, like so many things with this team this season, has to be considered gravy.

But tomorrow Romero will go against the Mets. Romero has a chance to get this team back on a good train. Dominate, and open up the weekend for Morrow, Alvarez and Drabek again, who will more than likely give us a chance to win when they toe the rubber.

There’s a chance tonight could be 9-1, but don’t listen to the happy voices today, who will immediately be angry voices again tomorrow if it is, set the brim of your cap low, remember that you’re Ricky Damn Romero, and attack.

We need you.

And then there’s a chance.

I’m also emboldened by one other thing. Lawrie is appealing, and it will be heard by the league.

So there’s another chance.

I believe the league made a statement when they handed him four games.

Ok kid, like the genius words of Chris Rock describing OJ Simpson, I wouldn’t have done it, but I understand.

Now, with the appeal, they can make another statement.

What Lawrie did was wrong. But take a game off of his appeal, and you’re also acknowledging that what Miller did was equally as wrong. Major League Baseball can’t punish umpires for bad calls. We can’t have replay for balls and strikes. Managers would begin arguing everything they disagreed with. It’s the nature of competition, and the human umpire is part of the beauty of baseball.

But just like everyone who will scream for a guy to lose his job when he’s hitting .160, Miller didn’t do his job. I don’t care about code, or circumstance.

His job is simple. He is to be an impartial judge to an entire game. No matter his personal feelings.

Getting plunked is part of the code. But it has consequences.

Not stealing a bag in a blowout is part of the code. Do it, and it has consequences.

What Miller did was deliberate. It was intentional.

I acknowledge as a fan of the game that umpires cannot be punished.

But give Lawrie back one game, and there’s a chance Major League Baseball acknowledges, that they understand.

 

 

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Hey Lawrie, let’s refocus that intensity. You also deserve a suspension.

Jays third baseman Brett Lawrie is looking at some form of suspension after a temper tantrum over two poorly called strikes against him in the bottom of the ninth resulting in his ejection.
photo from Toronto Star

LIVINGSTONE: The Jays have looked like a team who left its defense at home the last three games. Seven errors in three losses resulting in nine unearned runs – six coming in the 7-1 loss to the Rays Monday night and three again Tuesday night, on four errors, against the divisional rivals.

The frustration seemed to boil over Tuesday night for a team determined to compete, but coming up short defensively. Bright side? The Jays have turned 50 double plays in 37 games according to mlb.com, six more than the Baltimore Orioles. Sadly, however, they’ve committed 41 errors in 38 games (37 in 37, but tack on the four from Tuesday night and there you have it). That’s anything short of good. They lead the league in errors and the fielding – both infield and outfield – has been a big part of the Jays struggles. Let’s not forget the seven blown saves so far this season – but defense wins championships, or at least plays a huge part of it, and the Jays certainly aren’t playing in the field like contenders.

But that’s neither here nor there. What really needs to be said in this post is with respect to Brett Lawrie. Jays fans young and old alike love this kid for his high energy approach and league-leading level of intensity. He plays every game like it’s a game seven in the World Series. Fans love it – even fans from other teams can appreciate his youthful energy. He brings something to the game that isn’t seen in many organizations and it’s a breath of fresh air (cliched?) for a club – and a fan base – dying to be relevant again.

But he went too far Tuesday night when he threw one of the biggest temper tantrum’s seen in recent memory. Down a run in the bottom of the ninth, Lawrie came up to bat with one out. With a 3-1 count, closer Fernando Rodney threw what looked like – and even someone sitting in the 500-level at the Skydome could see it was – ball four and made his move for first. Home plate umpire Bill Miller wasn’t having it and called it a strike. Visibly frustrated by the call, Lawrie stepped back in and took what looked to be ball five high and outside.

Lawrie made two steps toward first before Miller called strike three throwing Lawrie into a fit of rage. He went straight at Miller and in the process, slammed his helmet at the feet of the umpire, bouncing it off the side of his leg. Miller looked stunned by the move and Lawrie continued to scream every obscenity in the book at the veteran umpire. It took coach Brian Butterfield to keep Lawrie from getting back into Miller’s face. Mere minutes after and about fifty f-bombs later, Manager John Farrell was ejected.

Don’t get me wrong: Lawrie had every right to be upset about the two terrible calls made by Miller. They dictated how the end of the game would go, and in a 4-3 game, it was far from over. It seems Miller took Lawrie’s initial move to first personal, like he was showing up the seasoned ump.

Sportsnet baseball guru Mike Wilner said something to this effect in the post-game show on FAN590 and I would agree. Miller made it about him.

Even if that fifth ball, high and outside, had ended up in the dirt three feet in front of the plate, Miller would’ve called it a strike. Lawrie’s reaction, however, was completely uncalled for. The frustration didn’t have to be such a spectacle. Argue the strikes, get tossed, curse at the umpire, but the reaction was that of a guy who needs to figure out how to get his emotions in check. At 21, Lawrie has a long way to go before he matures and it certainly showed Tuesday night.

Last year, Yadier Molina, catcher for the St. Louis Cardinals, got five games for bumping an umpire over a bad call. If Lawrie gets less than 10 games, I’d be surprised. It could end up being more, as Wilner pointed out, if the league disciplinarian determines Lawrie was intentional in hitting Miller with his helmet.

Lawrie deserves to be suspended and I hope that kind of embarrassing display doesn’t happen again. That’s not what the Jays are about. Sure, the passion and intensity is there, but it needs to be channeled into making quality plays on the field, picking good pitches to hit and then hitting the cover off the ball.

The opportunity for the Jays to be contenders is in their grasp. Discipline and focus is going to get them into the playoffs. They need to find it quick.

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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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D’Arnaud and Marisnick – two faces of the Jays future

Blue Jays prospect Jake Marisnick is one of the young faces expected to be an integral part of the future of the Toronto team.

STRADER: Didn’t exactly keep up the every two day commitment, but I’m sure all the other young fathers out there will join me in saying…leave it alone…

The MINOR LEAGUE REPORT will look at intriguing bats this week, and to me, there are four young Jay bats everyone wants to know about.

With apologies to Mike McDade and Moises Sierra, sorry guys, but one more consistent season please, then we’ll talk.

And for all those Adeiny Hecchevaria fans (I’m one too!) we’re gonna give him his own page later this week.

Anthony Gose – Born: August 10, 1990. 6’1” 190 pounds. Bats left.

Drafted: Second round (51st overall) of the 2008 first year player draft.

Is there a more intriguing talent in the outfield? I’m going to argue yes later in this piece, but boy, you’ve got to be something to outduel this guy for the front page of “I can’t wait to see him in Toronto” magazine.

Gose runs. I wouldn’t be surprised if eventually his nickname has something to do with Forest Gump, ‘cause man, the stories of the speed. In the 2012 spring session, Gose was said to have scored from second on a 55-foot groundball to the opposing third baseman.

WHAT??

But what has always marred the speedster are questions about his bat. Defense is not a struggle for this kid. Scouting reports call him one of the best defensive outfielders in the minor leagues.

Ok, so can he hit?

He answered that last year in AA with a resounding, yes I can, but his strikeout to walk ratio is still going to need some work, and appears to, at least so far, still a-hunt him this season.

In 2011, Gose hit .253, .349, .415 in New Hampshire with 20 doubles, 7 triples, 16 home runs and 59 RBI’s in 509 plate appearances. Couple that with 70 stolen bases in 85 attempts, and scouts and fans begin to drool.

However, mark him down for 154 strike outs compared to 62 walks, and the scouts begin to flinch.

This season, Gose is batting .224, .313, .306 in AAA Las Vegas with 3 doubles, 2 triples and nine RBI’s in 85 plate appearances. The averages can’t be critiqued until we see at least 200 AB’s, but the power is still there, and six stolen bags in nine attempts isn’t terrible.

It’s the 26 strikeouts to 10 walks that need to be monitored.

Travis Snider – Born: February 2, 1988. 5’11” 230 pounds. Bats left.

Drafted: First round (14 overall) of the 2006 amateur entry draft.

He’s out of options, so the Jays have to be careful, and a lot of voices like to call him AAAA, but I really want to see this kid for a full season.

We’ve seen what confidence can do. Jose, you’re going to start, everyday, go to it….

Adam, you’re my guy, no more up and down, go to it….

Man I want to hear those words spoken to this kid.

Rushed to the Majors and dubbed “The Franchise” by some of his teammates, things looked great one April when Travis began slugging the ball (anybody see those two jacks into the upper deck of the Metrodome?) like he was supposed to. But the curveball began to baffle him, and down he went.

Scouting reports detail power to all fields. A quality base runner that could get better, and a better defender then most would expect from a power hitter.

But Sniders’ professional life has been filled with ups, and downs, and now, we as fans have to wait again while Thames toils in the field, and Snider toils in AAA Las Vegas.

His numbers, again, are awesome.

Will they finally translate to the Majors? I have a feeling we’re going to find out soon.

In 74 plate appearances in 2012, Snider is hitting .405, .476 and .703 with 10 doubles, four homeruns and 23 RBI’s.

Tack on two stolen bases, and it looks again as if AAA is simply going to do nothing for this guy.

Earlier this season I wrote that left field may be the only place for Anthopolous to add the impact bat he’s hinting at. I hope Snider is it.

While I prophesized that Alfonso Soriano would be the best of the vets, the patient fan in me would like to see Travis get a full season.

Take another look at that birth date. It feels like we’ve been waiting for him forever, but this young talent is only 24.

Travis D’Arnaud – Born: Febraury 10, 1989. Bats right.

Drafted: First round (37 overall) of the 2007 first year player draft.

Earlier this season, critics were calling for Arencibia’s head and D’Arnaud to be called up. Arencibia’s average was low, and D’Arnaud was coming off an MVP season in AA, and looked like the second coming of Pudge with a .311 avg, 21 HR’s and 78 RBI’s.

But Arencibia, it would seem, isn’t the only young catcher to suffer from a slow start.

D’Arnaud is batting .239, .333, .373 with one homerun, six doubles and seven RBI’s in 67 plate appearances.

It’s not too bad, but considering he is in offense friendly Las Vegas, it’d be nice see Snider-like numbers from the A plus prospect.

He’s described very simply in all scouting reports.

More than enough defense to play everyday, and a bat that will one day feature in the middle of a lineup.

Considering the pitcher he was traded for, let’s hope so…

Jake Marisnick – Born: March 30, 1991. 6’4” 200 pounds. Bats right.

Drafted: Third round of the 2009 draft.

This is the guy I can’t wait to see. His line is constantly that of a basketball player. There are simply numbers everywhere, and that has been the book on him since Toronto scouts began drooling about his ceiling.

Jake does it all.

He’s minding centre field in single A Dunedin, but I would look for a promotion to double A (where we know all the quality arms are) this season to see what he can really do.

Marisnick is the definition of five tool, and comparisons to Brett Lawrie will begin once he gets closer to the show and more people see the athletic ability that he brings.

His defense is sound, and his all around athletic ability, well that’s going to translate into a guy who can do it all. Maybe one day he becomes a corner outfielder and focuses on power, but with a bat like his, who cares?

Let’s look at the line so far in 2012.

Marisnick is batting .266, .372, .481 with seven doubles, two triples, two homeruns and 10 RBI’s in 79 plate appearances. Add in four stolen bases, as the giant of a kid also has supreme wheels.

Marisnick is the once in a lifetime prospect every organization hopes for, now it’s time to cross fingers, toes and whatever else that this isn’t Billy Beane, and he will translate that talent to the pros.


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