Tag Archives: Joey Bats

Jose Canseco: Baseball’s newest sage – and worst speller

Jose Canseco's Twitter account is equally as embarrassing as his book - and his spelling could use some serious fine tuning.

McGILLIGAN: Stand and fight for the truth.

Don’t let any person or group of people take advantage of you.

Fight the liars and hypocrites. Good and honest people suffer too much.

This sounds like the musings of a slightly unpopular high school student who just started a blog. They are not.

Those earnest ramblings come from the mind and thus twitter account of my childhood baseball hero: Jose Canseco.

Time, no baseball and no inner filter from thought to keyboard has produced one of the oddest and most strangely fascinating twitter accounts in recent memory.

He’s part terrible sage, educator, quiz master and well, who knows what else. What I do know is this isn’t the man I idolized growing up, but then again I was basing most of that on the cover of a Topps baseball sticker album and his 40-40 season of 1988.

In order to try and understand the hero of my youth, I decided to decipher some of his tweets from the past 24 hours. The spelling and punctuation are all Jose. (This experiment began at 7:50 ET, April 19, 2012)

19 hours ago – Class in session ,I complete you ,slap a hoe wait I mean hater

Analysis: It obviously isn’t an English class as his commas are in the wrong place. I like that he quickly corrected himself and asked his followers (almost 450,000, how scary is that) to hit a hater rather than a gardening tool.

19 hours ago – Three rusty rabbits ran rather fast

Analysis: Perhaps this is the poetry section of that class he was referring to.

19 hours ago – So if people who tell the truth go to jail that only means one thing. If you havnt been to jail or prison you’re a liar ,right.

Analysis: Grammar is still atrocious. This tweet was in response to a person (@eduardo1garcia) who referred to him as a snitch. The person called him this because Jose asked why our prisons and jails are overpopulated. Got to side with Jose on this one, his being a snitch on baseball’s steroid era has nothing to do with prison overcrowding. Barry Bonds and Rafael Palmeiro are still free men. Well done @eduardo1garcia, you’ve made Jose look logical, not an easy task.

19 hours ago

@JoseCanseco: Come on somebody say something really mean and original

@thematthinrichs: Your balls are literally the size of the marbles they use in Hungry Hungry Hippos

@JoseCanseco: lol,that’s funny but they are not that big guess again

Analysis: Jose shows he doesn’t mind being the brunt of a good joke and has a sense of humour. Not bad for someone who seems totally unhinged. @thematthinrichs does not respond to Jose’s obvious attempt to steer the conversation towards his genitals

19 hours ago – If you shot a bullet and dropt a nickel which one would hit the ground first

Analysis: This is what I like to call Professor Jose, he’s dropping knowledge in the form of questions. My favourite response is the guy who asks if the gun is parallel to the ground and Jose says it is. He then goes on to say he’s shocked that no one got the answer. I have to agree with Jose, its an easy answer because if the gun is parallel to the ground then the nickel would hit the ground first as the bullet would travel quite a ways before losing momentum and falling to the ground. Wait, someone got it….

18 hours ago – Gary root got it ,the answer is at the same time big hug for Gary.

Analysis: Sorry, there will be no hug for Gary. His answer was completely incorrect and the fact Jose thinks its right and couldn’t believe no one got the answer before Gary is awesome.

(Note: Jose’s twitter photo is of him in a Red Sox uniform. Out of all the things on his twitter account, this is the oddest to me.)

On a side note, there’s a lot of racist remarks thrown out by Jose’s twitter followers.

6 hours ago – Yes I know brain of a soft shell turtle

Analysis: I have no idea, this isn’t in response to anything or anyone as far as I can tell.

4 hours ago – Alcoholics,murderes,rapist,drug addicts,child molesters.that makes up 33% of our population

Analysis: This fact is not attributed to anything and anyone. According to Jose’s logic that means every third person you see is capable of doing something unbelievably evil or has a severe drug and/or alcohol dependency. It must be terrifying to live in Jose’s neighbourhood. Apparently it’s filled with alcoholics, murderers (I’m assuming this is what he meant to write), rapists, drug addicts and child molesters. You know who doesn’t live in Jose’s neighbourhood? An elementary school grammar teacher.

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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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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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Jays need to attack starters early and often, Santos will come around

Jays closer Sergio Santos got roughed up again last night, blowing the lead and taking the loss in a 4-2 comeback by the Sox. His command was off and two passed balls cost the Jays. But fret not - it's the fourth game of the season and Santos will find his swagger.

LIVINGSTONE: It wasn’t the prettiest of endings for the Jays last night against the Sox, falling 4-2 to the divisional rivals – but not all is lost like some of the people in attendance last night might seem to think so (Many weren’t necessarily ‘fans’ but people just there because it was opening night and the 500 level is a glorified frat house).

Already people are ripping on closer Sergio Santos for blowing two saves in the first four games of the season. Maybe he didn’t get enough work during the spring – he only threw about five innings or so all spring – and in comparison to the rest of the bullpen staff, many who tossed ten or more innings (Villenueva, Perez, Cordero, Frasor and Oliver all threw ten or more). It’s no excuse for giving up the lead, but Santos, pitching for the first time in the Skydome in front of an energized crowd, it couldn’t been too much for him. Let’s keep in mind the kid was drafted as a shortstop and only converted to the closer position about three years ago. He’s young and still trying to get comfortable in the role. He’s going to be the closer for the Jays and it’s going to take a lot for manager John Farrell and management to remove him from there. He’s in for the long-term, there is no doubt. There needs to be some patience.

Keep in mind: it was the fourth game of the year. Fans jeered and boo’ed Santos off the field after Farrell pulled him with two outs in the ninth. It was shocking, to be honest. I chalk it up to being a sold-out crowd of beer-chugging non-fans (half the row behind us in the 500-level where my season tickets are were passed out by the 7th), but hey, even they have expectations and that includes a pitcher not blowing the lead.

Things will get better for Santos and the two blown saves will be a thing of the past when he is closing out games later in the season.

However, it could be difficult for him to do that if hitters don’t start attacking starting pitchers through the first round of the order. It’s been the theme through the first four games – let the first pitch go, maybe even the second. I can’t think of one hitter outside of Colby Rasmus who hasn’t let the first pitch go in the majority of their at-bats. Brett Lawrie, Edwin Encarnacion and even Jose Bautista are settling into pitchers counts early in their at-bats and end up having to fight to stay alive at the plate. Lawrie has done it for more than 50 per cent of his at-bats.

The potent offense that we saw during the spring and last season exists, but if the team wants to capitalize on it, they have to stop letting starters get their confidence levels in the clouds. Sox starter Felix Doubront should’ve been an easy target for the Jays to open up the floodgates and mash the ball around. But they didn’t. They sat back on a lot of first pitch strikes – even second pitch strikes – and ended up having to settle on breaking balls and junk pitches to try and put the ball in play.I said to my wife during Colby Rasmus’ third at-bat of the game and said ‘I bet you ten bucks he swings at the first pitch’. He’s the only guy who has been doing it more than the rest of the team. While it hasn’t turned into a lot of hits – outside of a 1-for-15 series against the Indians and his crowd-pleasing triple last night – he’s attacking the ball.

Santos shouldn’t have been in such a tight game last night. The Jays had an opportunity to hit Doubront – who was pitching in his fourth-ever game as a starter – and they didn’t take that chance. If the run support is there, Santos won’t be in those tight games against such a potent, dangerous line-up like the Sox. And outside of Santos and the bats, the bullpen has been lights out sand the defense was incredibly solid last night. Rasmus and Lind made two great defensive stops to save runs. If they hadn’t, the game might never have gotten to Santos’ hands because they would’ve been down going into the ninth.

That all said, I can tell you I’m excited to get back to the stadium tonight. It’s been a twenty-year dream of mine to be a Jays season ticket holder and to attend opening night. It was exactly what I expected and more.

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The Write Fielders unscientific guide to the 2012 MLB season

Matt Kemp for MVP? It's possible, and likely, says Write Fielder Andrew McGilligan.

McGILLIGAN: With the season about to start, what follows are my predictions for the 2012 MLB 2012.

I will either be proven a genius (the most unlikely of scenarios) or, like 99 per cent of others making predictions, just plain wrong.

So with that bit of inspirational writing here are my picks:

American League Division and Wild Card Winners

AL East – New York Yankees

Al Central – Detroit Tigers

Al West – Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

AL Wildcard – Texas Rangers and Boston Red Sox

RATIONALE: The Yankees always find a way to win and I have a hard time thinking this year will be different, however, I think it will be extremely tight in the East. I think all the moves made by the Angels might take a few games to come together, but when they do, its going to be fun to watch. There’s no team in the central that should be close to Detroit. The Rangers should get one wildcard spot, as for the other, it’s a tossup between the Sox and Rays, but I give it to the Sox because, well, I like the Sox (no one said this was going to be scientific).

National League Division and Wild Card Winners

NL East – Philadelphia Phillies

NL Central – Milwaukee Brewers

NL West – San Francisco Giants

NL Wildcards – Arizona Diamondbacks and Miami Marlins

RATIONALE: I think the Phillies know the clock is ticking and will be fighting tooth and nail with the Marlins for the East, but pitching gives the Phils the division. So many people like the Reds and Cardinals in the central, but even without Fielder I think the pitching and decent but weaker Brewers lineup can still get it done. In the West, its pitching once again for me as the Giants staff will be too good to have the Diamondbacks wrestle the crown away for a second year.

World Series

Detroit over San Francisco in six games

RATIONALE: I’m big on Detroit this year. A solid lineup with two of the most intimidating hitters around combined with a pitching staff led by Verlander should be enough for World Series crown in Motor City.

And the trophy goes to…

AL MVPMiguel Cabrera – With Fielder doing the job of Victor Martinez providing protection for arguably the best hitter in the game, I see another outstanding year on the horizon.

AL Cy YoungDavid Price – He’s developed other pitches to go with his great fastball and I think this is the year he puts it all together.

AL Rookie of the YearMatt Moore – I was tempted to go with Yu Darvish or Yoenis Cespedes (honestly either one could have been my pick), but I’m going with the Rays rookie hurler Matt Moore to take the honour.

NL MVPMatt Kemp – Can’t see why he wouldn’t be just as great this year as last. New ownership makes it a more stable place to play, which can’t hurt.

NL Cy YoungRoy Halladay – I don’t ever like to bet against Roy Halladay, so I won’t. Chalk up another trophy for Doc.

NL Rookie of the YearYonder Alonso – I wanted to slot in Bryce Harper, but I decided to go out to the left coast and predict Padres rookie Yonder Alonso comes home with the award.

I also have some random predictions I hope come true this year:

– Ozzie Guillen conducts an entire press conference using nothing but Spanish curse words

– KFC tries all season to make Jon Lester and Josh Beckett their news spokesmen to no avail…..John Lackey offers to do it for bucket of chicken and is turned down

– After being thrown out of a game, Bobby Valentine dresses up as Matt Damon, sits next to Ben Affleck near Red Sox dugout and tries to coach using various hand signals being relayed to David Ortiz.

LIVINGSTONE: Predicting anything sports related is either going to make you look like a genius, a bandwagon jumper or a complete moron who was way off the mark.

I’d like to think I can be the genius, but it’s all a guessing game – so I’ll go with being the moron over the bandwagon jumper out of pure respect of taking a gamble rather than the safe bet.

Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista propels the Jays into the post-season for the first time in nearly two decades - and finally, his well-deserved MVP.

With out further adieu:

American League Division and Wild Card Winners

AL East – Yankees

Al Central – Detroit Tigers

Al West – Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

AL Wildcard – Boston Red Sox and Toronto Blue Jays

RATIONALE: The Yankees, while pitching may be a bit of a question mark, have a potent line-up that will likely win 97 games, despite an average rotation with one superstar (CC). Detroit is the sexy pick in the Central, and with good reason. Who else is going to compete with that monster? The West is going to be a shootout this year. I like Anaheim purely for the stronger pitching staff, considering CJ is going to be third or fourth in the rotation after being at the top in Texas. Sox and Jays – I’m calling it. Tampa is going to be in the mix, but the lackluster offense is going to be troublesome down the road. If the Jays can get their rotation woes straightened out, they’ll be strong contenders come September.

National League Division and Wild Card Winners

NL East – Washington Nationals

NL Central – Cincinnati Reds

NL West – San Francisco Giants

NL Wildcards – Milwaukee Brewers and Philadelphia Phillies (odd team out: D’Backs, Dodgers, Braves – all nipping at the heels)

OVER-RATED: MIAMI MARLINS (new stadium, new unis, new players – same whiny Hanley Ramirez. Expect him to bring down the team.)

RATIONALE: My ‘are you f’in’ crazy’ pick. Washington has a strong rotation, a quality bullpen and a strong line-up with young talent ready to breakout (Michael Morse, Ian Desmond, Danny Espinosa and eventually, Bryce Harper). I like Philly, too, but age, injuries and what I predict to be a loss of one of the big arms in the rotation will make them fall short of the division title. Loving the Reds this year. Young, strong pitching, with a solid line-up and an MVP candidate.  San Fran – fixed the top of the order with Pagan and Cabrera and have by FAR the best rotation in the game. Expect a breakout year from Pablo Sandoval and Buster Posey to be in fine form after missing last season. Milwaukee – hell, it could be St. Louis again, who knows. Brew Crew have a good rotation (Greinke, Marcum and Gallardo), closer (Axford) and a good line-up, despite losing Prince to the Tigers. Arizona will come up short when the duo of Daniel Hudson and Ian Kennedy come back to earth.

World Series

Angels over Giants in six games

RATIONALE: The Angels are the real deal. Incredible pitching staff, out of this world line-up. It’ll be a pitching showcase in this Fall Classic, sure to be an interesting one.

And the trophy goes to…

AL MVPJose Bautista – Jays make the playoffs for the first time in 19 years on another massive year from Joey Bats. Don’t count out King Pujols, Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder or Robinson Cano, though.

AL Cy YoungCC Sabathia – Guy just dominates year in and year out. Expect it to be a tight race with the likes of Verlander, Price and Angels’ Jared Weaver.

AL Rookie of the YearYoenis Cespedes – His team won’t make the playoffs, but he’ll have a big year regardless. Matt Moore will be nipping at his heels – and maybe even Yu Darvish.

NL MVPJoey Votto – The kid is going to put together one heck of a year to take his second MVP title. Don’t count out Rockies’ SS Troy Tulowitzki, Dodgers’ Matt Kemp or Washington’s Michael Morse (YEP – I said it!)

NL Cy YoungMatt Cain – Huge contract, huge year. If it’s not Cain it’s Lincecum. Expect dominate years from Halladay, Lee, Clayton Kershaw and Yovani Gallardo.

NL Rookie of the Year Brandon Belt – Originally, I had Alonso here like McGilligan, but I changed my pick once I found out Belt was making the team (see article on Belt from yesterday).

A healthy Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau? Strader says watch out wild card favourites Texas, Tampa Bay and Boston - there is a surprise coming.

American League Division and Wildcard Winners

AL East – New York Yankees

AL West – LA Angels

AL Central – Detroit Tigers

AL Wildcards – Boston Red Sox, Minnesota Twins.

RATIONALE – Ok, ok, the Minnesota Twins. I know. But here it is. The pitching staff is not impressive, but it’s solid. The lineup is not impressive, but it’s solid. And there is a team every year that surprises all the prognosticators, so I’m sorry, I’m not going, Angels, Tigers, Yankees, Red Sox, Rays like every other lazy ass out there.

It’s 162 games. Injuries happen. The Twins, I believe, will DH Morneau more than he even needs. I think Ryan Doumit, with some consistency and health, actually has a chance to outperform his career numbers, and there is an ability to do a bunch of different things with the offence (Span, Willingham, Mauer, Parmelee). Who better with a bunch of different parts than Gardenhire?

If I have to explain the other four, you’re probably picking the Royals and their young and up and coming lineup right now….

I know the Rangers aren’t there, but I have a feeling it’s going to be a year of injury concerns for a number of their players. And really? Three WS appearances in a row? Come on. They’re not the Bills…

National League Division and Wildcard Winners

NL East – Braves

NL Central – Cincinnati

NL West – LA Dodgers

NL Wildcards – Arizona, Colorado

RATIONALE: The Braves are too complete, and nobody else in the NL East quite matches up to that description. I believe, much like my colleague Livingstone, that Cincinnatti got a raw deal of circumstances last season, they have too much talent on both sides of the ball not to be a turnaround story. And I don’t think one playoff run makes David Freese a comparable replacement to ALBERT PUJOLS!! How did any Pujols bashing even start? I would have paid him double.

The Dodgers, yeah, that’s right, the Dodgers. They did it on the back of Ethier and Kemp before (sprinkled with a little Manny of course), they’re going to surprise and do it again. The question marks are over, those guys are going to be hungry to play ball.

Oh, and Kershaw’s kind of awesome.

World Series

Yankees over Braves in four.

RATIONALE: Sorry, but this feels like one of those years where we all love the season, and the only people who like the playoffs are the pinstripers…

And the trophy goes to…

AL MVP – Jose Bautista – In spring training we saw American media attention for Canada’s only team. During award season, we’re going to see what that media attention can do for your squad.

AL Rookie of the Year – Yu Darvish – Pitchers who win 18-20 games win awards. Plain and simple. (Honourable mention: Lorenzo Cain)

AL Cy Young – Ricky Romero – Maybe I watch the team to much, but look at the progression, the peripheral numbers, and the fact that all this left hander has to do is find his pitches to dominate lefties, and he’s actually one of the most dominant starters in the game.

NL MVP – Troy Tulowitzki. I don’t think we’ve ever seen the ceiling. A little health, a little less Ubaldo, and maybe we get to see it?

NY Rookie of the Year – Drew Pomeranz. He’s earned a spot and will start. I love Alonso’s bat, but pitchers get credit for pitching in Colorado more than hitters seem to get credit for hitting in San Diego. So I’m going Pomeranz.

NL Cy Young – Kershaw. I see a Greg Maddux style award dominance here for a while.

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Cecil down increases need for Nash

Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Brett Cecil.

STRADER: Brett going down means Brian Burke needs to chase Rick Nash?

Yep.

No, I don’t think the big forward from Brampton can snap off a slider, but there was one thing on my mind after I saw the news that our 15-game winner from 2010 is going back to AA.

Please god don’t let this become a theme!

Sports writers have a duty. We can’t be homers. We have to look evenly at every situation and report on it how it is, not how we think it is, how we think it might be. Look like you’re favouring a team, coddling a favourite player, and what are you for your reader?

Here’s me doing a little Jays apologizing. But don’t fret, this is not homerism, this is a balanced and well thought out preemptive strike.

Shut the f–k up!

That’s for all the vultures circling the Jays rotation right now. For as many sports writers that look at the depth of talent the Jays have put together and see the light at the end of the tunnel, there will be those, call them the sheen on the glass walls of the fishbowl, that will circle a failure like vultures. Has Brett Cecil regressed? Absolutely. Is there an organizational concern with what once looked like a can’t miss prospect?

Yep.

But does this mean that if Dustin McGowan experiences a set back, if Henderson Alvarez comes back from (??? Superman’s home planet), that we need to see a million stories from a dozen or so sports geniuses who will go back and forth about whether 75 wins is a failure and the starting rotation is the reason, and they should have seen this coming….veteran starter….been saying it all year….Blah blah blah.

I’m certainly not saying don’t pick on the players. I’m not that guy.

I’ll heckle with the best of them. That’s the glory of professional sports.

But is a 75 win season by the 2012 Jays, if it happens, a failure?

No.

Brett can go down. He’s not ready, and maybe won’t be able to get it back.

Alzarez can struggle, he’s 22!!

Lawrie can bat .260, with maybe 15 homers, and learn more about his position and being a professional, these would all be normal. But with the amount of hype surrounding the Jays (Oh man, American writers are picking them for the playoffs, this is all we need…) there are those on the hunt for the pin, and as soon as they find it, they will jam it in the balloon.

Cecil is going down, McGowan’s got a bad foot, the vultures are in the air.

Let me say it here first. The Jays don’t need to make the playoffs. If they do, it’s icing on the cake, enjoy it as such.

But cake is still awesome.

Progression of the kids, growth of the minor league prospects, how is Anthony Gose doing with more major league type off speed pitching? What is Henderson Alvarez working on, a change up that he can throw away from left handers? A slider? A curve?

What are the weaknesses in Brett Lawrie’s swing? What are the holes, and how can he correct them?

How has Dustin McGowan changed as a pitcher now that he’s pitching again? Does he do anything differently on the mound, behind the scenes?

Why Eric Thames over Travis Snider? Can people stop guessing, analyze their motions in the batters box, write a comprehensive piece about their differences and talk to some scouts about what makes one better than the other? Is Thames being showcased while Travis gets work in?

The real wave of talent is coming in Jake Marisnick, Anthony Gose, Noah Syndegard, Drew Hutchison and others. Can we read more in depth pieces about what they bring to the table, or do I just get to read that Gose is fast until I see him with my own eyes?

I’ll reiterate, I’m not saying don’t pick on the team.

Look at the match ups for the first week. Romero vs. Masterson, Morrow vs. Jimenez, Carreno vs. Tomlin (?? – or whatever Carmona is called maybe?), and then we have Alvarez and Drabek facing the Red Sox, and for as many chicken jokes as people want to make, they’re a powerhouse.

I’m a Jays fan, but if they falter, I don’t mind pointing out why. I just don’t want to read the same thing all summer. Our rotation is Romero, Morrow, Alvarez, Drabek and McGowan, with Hutchison, McGuire, Jenkins, Carreno (probably a future reliever) and loads more of live arms waiting, and hunting, for their own spot.

Is our rotation a question mark right now? Yes. But is that a problem? No, it actually isn’t.

Please, can we read stories about baseball and not what baseball geniuses you all are for pointing out something that was obvious at the beginning of the season.

This team is young, the rotation is young. If the season falls apart, I would still take the same rotation into next year with a smile on my face.

So let’s read about what they’re working on, what’s happening on the field, and why.

Not a bunch of easy stories about how a young rotation is going through the problems of a young rotation.

Let Burke go pick up Nash, and halfway through the summer, we’ll leave the same old to the Leafs reporters, okay?

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Can’t help but cheer for Morrow

Expect big things from Blue Jays RHP Brandon Morrow this year after a quality spring (0.52 ERA in 17 1/3 innings pitched).

LIVINGSTONE – Ah, Vogelsong. Definitely a guy you can’t avoid rooting for, especially being on one of the, if not the, best pitching staffs in baseball. It’s hard to remain relevant on a staff with the likes of Madison Bumgarner, Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain – but somehow Vogelsong did it last season.

For me, my Vogelsong – and don’t judge me because I’m a die hard Jays fan – is Brandon Morrow. Yeah, yeah, you’re just picking the guy because he’s on your favourite team. In some respects, yes, but in many, he is the guy this year who will settle into his own and put together an all-star season.

Since coming into the big leagues as a relief pitcher for the Mariners in 2007, Morrow has been on my radar. Sure, he was predominantly a reliever in his first two years (he started five games in 2008), Morrow showed potential to become a quality starter. In 2009 he threw 10 games as a starter and while his numbers weren’t off the charts (1.579 WHIP, 8.1 SO/9, 4.39 ERA), the Jays saw enough to bring him on as a starter and utilize the high-90s fastball, hard slider and twist-em-up change-up to bolster an under-performing rotation.

Yes, the rotation has under-performed the last two years – but Morrow’s shown steady improvement, despite faltering late in games (usually somewhere after the fifth inning). Despite an 11-11 record with a 4.72 ERA, he fanned 203 in 179.1 innings worth of work and finished 7th in the league in strikeouts and his 10.2 SO/9 innings was the best in the American League and third in all of baseball.

If his spring is any indication of what to expect from the hard-throwing right-hander, than a breakout season is in the cards. Morrow allowed just one run in 17 1/3 spring innings for a career-best 0.52 spring ERA. While he’s striking out guys less (7 Ks in his last 12.0 IP) he’s gained a lot of confidence with his change-up and curveball – both pitches that seemingly got him in a lot of trouble last season. Unable to rely on them confidently, hitters tagged him often on his heater and slider.

While I think he’s looking at a big year – I would’ve been faced with a difficult task had he been available by the time I would’ve thought about drafting him.

The last two years have been a tail of two different Morrow’s – the untouchable who would strike out the entire team and the guy who showed no confidence and got tagged for more extra base hits than one could keep track of. When Morrow is on, he is on and looks like one of the elites, but then he comes out and throws an egg of a game and one has to wonder if he is the real deal.

With the potential for the team to put up quality run support on a more regular basis, Morrow could have the safety net of runs on the scoreboard allowing him to focus more on his pitching rather than overpowering the opposition (as we’ve seen with his lower strikeout rate this spring).

And hell – if it’s not Brandon Morrow having the breakout season, it’s going to be a guy like Royals’ first baseman Billy Butler. Playing on a team with a group of young, potential superstars, Butler might finally have the bats around him to thrive. I expect a .300 AVG/30 HR/100 RBI season from this guy. Maybe even more.

Regardless – Morrow is looking damn good and one can only hope he brings his quality spring right into the regular season.

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No Way, Jose? Yes way, Delmon Young.

Delmon Young: poised to be the next Jose Bautista?

STRADER: It’s what every great, and not so great, sportswriter wants to do.

The killer prediction. The real one. No, for all those who have tried it, the New York Yankees are going to win the World Series is not a prediction. Shut up.

The Arizona Diamondbacks are going to win the division is a prediction. (Props to Sports Illustrated’s Dr. Z on the greatest prediction of all time – Giants over Patriots on Feb. 3, 2008 ­– now that’s a prediction). They’re the one nobody sees coming, the one that makes you look like a sports genius. A swami, shall we say?

Prior to the 2009 season, I named my fantasy baseball team, Jose Bautista?Really?? I’m not going to sit here and tell you that I predicted 54, 124, .260, .378, .617. Nobody did. But it was a prediction. I saw something in his bat during his September run and thought to myself, this guy’s gonna make this team. He’s going to win a starting job and play regularly, Cito obviously loved him. Maybe he’ll hit 25 and 85 and surprise a lot of people.

I figured him to be another Wendel Clark. Toronto great, you know? Not quite great, but best in town, so ring of honour and ticker tape parade.

Don’t worry Toronto fans, I’m a Vancouver boy. You’d think Trevor Linden scored 50 a year…

Arguable best player in the game though? Nobody saw that out of Jose. And now, as he backed up one of the best offensive seasons in baseball history (Yep, I’m a steroid era hater – all hail Ken Griffey Jr. The real Barry Bonds. Yeah, we all know it Barry) with 43, 103, .302, .447 and .608 our resident King of Toronto has become the subject of one of the best of the present day baseball off-season predictions.

Who is the next Jose Bautista?

This is my take: (And yes, you will hear that story about my 2009 fantasy team a lot)

His name is Delmon Young, and I believe he is the next Jose Bautista. Granted, Young isn’t going from 15 HR and 54 RBI to 54 HR and 124 RBIs the way Jose did, because Delmon’s already had a great year. 21 HR in the majors is great, I don’t care what anyone says, and 121 RBIs is ridiculous, but there’s another step for Delmon.

He came with a pile of hype when Tampa Bay drafted him in 2003, and probably has even had a day when he went too high in some people’s fantasy drafts. But has he ever been anyone’s first or second rounder consistently? Has he ever been one of those guys everyone wants to draft? Or was he J.D. Drew? (Oh, ok, someone else got him, I’ll just take Markakis…)

That’s what he was supposed to be, and much like we all just watched with Alex Gordon, I think health, maturity and a consistent spot in a talented lineup is going to boost Delmon to the kind of player who can be counted on for 35-40 HR’s and 100+ RBIs every year. He has to work on that strikeout rate, that can come with age, and experience.

Jose did it at 29. Gordon was 27 last year. Delmon will be 27 this year.

Everybody knows who Delmon Young is. But after 2012, he’s going to be one of those guys everyone wants to draft.

LIVINGSTONE will offer his selection for breakout player of the year in Cincinnati Reds OF Jay Bruce. Stay Tuned.

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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.

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