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The Blue Jays
2005-08-05 14:21
by Cliff Corcoran
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

Toronto Blue Jays

2005 Record: 55-52 (.514)
2005 Pythagorean Record: 61-46 (.574)

Manager: John Gibbons
General Manager: J.P. Ricciardi

Ballpark (2004 park factors): Rogers Centre (106/105)

Who's replaced whom?

Aaron Hill has replaced John McDonald (Tigers)
Scott Downs has replaced Roy Halladay (DL)
Dustin McGowan has replaced Ted Lilly (DL)
Brandon League has replaced Matt Whiteside (minors)

Current Roster:

1B – Eric Hinske
2B – Orlando Hudson
SS – Russ Adams
3B – Corey Koskie
C – Gregg Zaun
RF – Alexis Rios
CF – Vernon Wells
LF – Frank Catalanotto
DH - Shea Hillenbrand

Bench:

R - Reed Johnson (OF)
R - Aaron Hill (IF)
R - Frank Menechino (IF)
R - Ken Huckaby (C)

Rotation:

L - Gustavo Chacin
L - Scott Downs
R - Josh Towers
R - David Bush
R - Dustin McGowan

Bullpen:

R - Miguel Batista
R - Justin Speier
L - Scott Schoeneweis
R - Jason Frasor
R - Vinnie Chulk
R - Pete Walker
R - Brandon League

DL:

R - Roy Halladay
L - Ted Lilly

Typical Line-up

L - Russ Adams (SS)
L - Frank Catalanotto (LF)
R - Vernon Wells (CF)
R - Shea Hillenbrand (DH)
L - Corey Koskie (3B)
S - Gregg Zaun (C)
L - Eric Hinske (1B)
R - Alexis Rios (RF)
S - Orlando Hudson (2B)

Perhaps the most overlooked team in baseball this year, the Toronto Blue Jays boast a Pythagorean record that ties them with the Angels for second in the American League. Unfortunately, they're six wins shy of their Pythagorean record, and thus 2.5 games behind the Yankees in third in the AL East and fourth (behind last night's hosts the Cleveland Indians) in the AL Wild Card race.

Exactly how this team is doing so well is a bit of a mystery, especially to the Yankees, who have not seen them since the Jays took two of three from them at the Stadium as April turned to May and Chien-Ming Wang made his major league debut. Digging around, the answer seems to be home field advantage. The Blue Jays are just 25-30 on the road, but 30-22 (.577) at what's now known as the Rogers Centre, where the Yankees will play them over the next three days.

The good news for the Yankees is that they will not have to deal with Roy Halladay, who was the clear favorite for the AL Cy Young before a line drive broke his leg just before the All-Star break. They will, however, have to face the Jays' second best starter, rookie Gustavo Chacin, who boasts a 3.28 ERA, a 11-5 record, and, as winner of the Rookie of the Month awards for April and July (I didn't even know this five-year-old award existed before now, but no matter) is one of the primary obstacles between Robinson Cano and the Rookie of the Year award.

Speaking of which, one way the Blue Jays have been exceeding expectations is they have three legitimate Rookie of the Year candidates on their roster. In addition to Chacon, rookie third-baseman Aaron Hill (.297/.357/.423 – .264 EQA) has been hot on Cano's tail, but with Corey Koskie having recently come off the DL, Hill may be out of the running as he's struggling for playing time behind Koskie (who came off the DL with a seven game hit streak in late July, though he has just one extra base hit, a double, in his nine games since being activated), the suddenly OBP-friendly DH/3B Shea Hillenbrand (.290/.354/.450 – .270 EQA), and the third Blue Jay rookie challenger, shortstop Russ Adams (.274/.342/.452 – .266), whom it seems I was right about after all. Incidentally, Cano's EQA is .259.

As for the veterans, Reed Johnson and Frank Catalanotto have formed a solid left field platoon, and Gregg Zaun has shaken off that scary beaning he took trying to break up a double play earlier in the year to continue to reward the Blue Jays' decision to make him a full-time catcher after nine years as a journeyman backup, and Vernon Wells, after some early scuffles, is at the very least leading the team with 21 dingers and playing the best defense of his career, though his breakout 2003 season is beginning to look like something of a batting average-induced fluke.

Ultimately, what's keeping the Blue Jays afloat is their impressive 4.02 team ERA, which is split fairly evenly between the rotation and bullpen. That said, outside of Halladay, who isn't close to returning, none of the Blue Jay hurlers are having exceptoinally impressive seasons.

Which brings us back to tonight's starter. While those of us with a fondness for wordplay mourn the near-miss of a Chacon-Chacin match-up, the Yankees will throw the surprisingly effective Aaron Small (wins in both starts, 1.13 WHIP) against Mr. Gustavo tonight.

Comments (53)
Show/Hide Comments 1-50
2005-08-05 15:41:56
1.   Cliff Corcoran
And Andy Phillips gets the start at first base on turf against lefty! (batting ninth behind Bernie who's in CF)
2005-08-05 16:13:53
2.   yankz
As much as I don't like his moaning and groaning, it's great to see sheff put his money where his mouth is.
2005-08-05 16:44:44
3.   Cliff Corcoran
Yeah, anyone want to complain about him now?
2005-08-05 16:49:11
4.   Clay Caviness
Usually, when people start in with the "put up or shut up" comments, they're hoping for shut up. I'm glad to see Sheffield going with the put up option.
2005-08-05 16:51:46
5.   Cliff Corcoran
That's what makes him like Reggie.
2005-08-05 17:14:40
6.   rilkefan
Hope Cano reads the walk sign...
2005-08-05 17:17:18
7.   rilkefan
Ok, guess I'll accept a sac fly.
2005-08-05 17:19:57
8.   singledd
2 good quotes from our announcer (Kaye?)
"It's hard to walk Cano"
"And again the Yankess fail to put the screws to the Blue Jays"
2005-08-05 17:28:15
9.   yankz
Small had a no-no through 3.2...yeah, it's nothing to brag about, but I'm really liking Small so far. There's no justification for bumping him, and not Leiter, when Pavano comes back. Joe, please don't give us any "Well, Leit's got experience pitching in these big games, AND he's a lefty."

Is anyone else watching on mlb.tv? For some reason there are no commercial breaks, and you can still here Kay and Singleton between innings. I'm waiting to hear them say something incriminating, so far all I've got is Kay saying there's a hot lady wearing white.

2005-08-05 17:37:41
10.   Dan-el
yankz,

I'm also hearing them during breaks on mlb.tv, waiting for that incriminating comment too.

Posada is taking some godawful swings.

2005-08-05 17:50:26
11.   Marcus
Can I officially start the Aaron Small fan club? This guy either knows how to pitch or he's the luckiest pitcher in the AL (probably a combination of both, with luck dominating the mixture). That DP was crucial.
2005-08-05 17:51:13
12.   tocho
I'm also hearing them, the only funny item is Kay ordering a cheese pizza and eating it like there was no tomorrow. Singleton seems like he's a bona fide nice guy and not just posturing. Kay may be an a..hole.

We got to score at least 2 more runs for Wang, I'm sorry, Small (hard to tell the difference in their effectivity).

2005-08-05 17:51:18
13.   mikeplugh
Small showing his guts to get Catalanotto to ground into a DP with the bases loaded....good stuff....
2005-08-05 17:59:41
14.   Rich
Can someone please tell me why Torre won't use F-Rod. Sturtze and Franklin are warming up again. I can't figure it out.
2005-08-05 18:03:08
15.   Rich
Small escaped again. Nice job.
2005-08-05 18:10:30
16.   yankz
I hope this isn't another case of the Yankee offense scoring a few runs and then going silent for the last half of the game. Although this Jays reliever has looked pretty good.

Tocho, I heard Kay talking with his mouth full, i was cracking up.

2005-08-05 18:15:17
17.   yankz
Embree, ouch...I'm actually with Rich on this one- why not F-Rod? The guy hasnt pitched in a while, and this LOOGY thing hasnt worked recently...
2005-08-05 18:15:59
18.   JeremyM
Embree in, to blow it again? I hope not. Seriously, what does Torre have against Rodriguez? He's pitched very well since returning and has a decent track record. Embree has stunk so far.
2005-08-05 18:16:21
19.   yankz
HAHA...anyone watching mlb.tv, did Singleton just say "Embree's still pitching for the red sox"?
2005-08-05 18:17:27
20.   tocho
You're right yankz, he did say that and I tend to agree.

Singleton's singing and yawning is a bit too much.

2005-08-05 18:18:23
21.   JeremyM
Yes he did. Hope he's wrong?

We need to teach Rodriguez how to drive, since he apparently ran over Torre's dog.

2005-08-05 18:18:23
22.   yankz
Thank god Embree didn't backfire...

apparently, Reed Johnson can sing.

2005-08-05 18:19:17
23.   Rich
I still would have gone to F-Rod, but Embree got out of it.

Two points:

1) Cano has scalded the ball and gotten robbed three times.

2) Giambi needs protection and must be moved up; Posada is a shell of his fomer self.

2005-08-05 18:41:14
24.   Rich
After tonight, the first starter to be bumped from this rotation has to be Leiter.
2005-08-05 18:47:49
25.   jkay
A few days ago, Torre said Small/Chacon are more suited to the pen and Leiter will stay in the rotation.
2005-08-05 18:49:01
26.   Jen
I would say that someone here should call in to Kay's show on Monday to razz him, but then he would probably be self-conscious and not say or do something stupid in the future.
2005-08-05 18:52:31
27.   Rich
If that's what Torre said, it's just one more reason that he isn't suited to be a manager. If he moves Chacon out of the rotation he should be fired.
2005-08-05 18:55:42
28.   Rich
A five run lead, and the overworked Sturtze is warming, not the underused F-Rod. OMG.
2005-08-05 19:02:20
29.   mikeplugh
Now that Sheff is catching grief about his comments, he's backtracking and using the age old athlete's out, "It was taken out of context."

He should keep his mouth shut now, because he's making himself look even more stupid with comments like:

"It happens because you're white and I'm black," Sheffield told the magazine. "My interpretation of things is different. You don't see it the way I see it. You write how you understand it, how you would articulate it, not how I, as a black man, would articulate it."

I see. Race is to blame for YOUR statements. The Times has the whole interview on tape, but it's a white/black thing that created this situation.....not Sheffield's personal stupidity. Ugh.

2005-08-05 19:02:57
30.   yankz
Come on, Rich. F-Rod's not one of the boys.

And we REALLY need a center fielder.

2005-08-05 19:04:00
31.   Rich
Exactly, it's the Groom theory at work.
2005-08-05 19:04:18
32.   mikeplugh
It's all good. We're going to win.
2005-08-05 19:05:13
33.   mikeplugh
...and Boston is going to lose....and Oakland is los-ing.
2005-08-05 19:07:16
34.   yankz
Anyone checked the scoreboard? Boston's getting demolished (by the light-hitting Twins, moreover), and the A's are down late to KC. But the way those teams are playing, it's not over.
2005-08-05 19:08:19
35.   singledd
9th inning, 6-2, 2 on, 2 out. Can anyone remember the last time we won a game withOUT Gordon or Rivera? OOOOOOOOps. Here comes Rivera. Oh well.
2005-08-05 19:09:00
36.   Rich
Now Torre has to waste Mo because Sturtze has regressed due to overwork.

Go away Joe, you have taken far more than you have given.

2005-08-05 19:09:46
37.   Rich
It's not all good. These needless innings take their toll. F-Rod should have been used.
2005-08-05 19:10:05
38.   mikeplugh
WTF....Rivera? How did we get here? Figures. At least it's for 1 out. We're going to win.
2005-08-05 19:10:13
39.   singledd
And nobody, NOBODY should alert Kaye that they are ON between innings. It's great fun waiting for the shoe to drop.
2005-08-05 19:11:35
40.   Rich
I heard that on MLB audio, Kay surveys the um, talent in the stands.
2005-08-05 19:23:42
41.   yankz
singledd- agreed. Plus I love singleton's singing.

And Rich- I think Kay even had the cameraman focus on one particularly pretty woman and said something like "There ya go!!!"

2005-08-05 20:01:08
42.   Alex Belth
I'm not sold on Felix Rodriguez. The guy just doesn't throw enough strikes. He's the kind of the 0-2 count turned into the 3-2 adventure.

Good win for the team. Small, and now Chacon have pitched well in the five games they've started collectively, really giving the team a boost. Leiter was good against the Sox, had another decent outing and two bad ones. If Pavano can come back and be decent, the Yanks might just have a fighting chance yet.

Just wanted to comment about Giambi. I heard Buster Olney on ESPN this evening talking about how it is hard not to be suspicious and wonder if Giambi is taking some kind of performance-enhancing drug again. The thought has naturally crossed my mind though I have no way of knowing what Giambi is putting into his system. The thing that strikes me is comparing the speed of swing now with what it was like in April and May. At the time, I assumed Giambi's career was in critical condition. His swing was long and slow and he was simply getting beat by good pitches. He couldn't catch up to a good fastball. But now, his swing is compact and very quick. Last night, his second dinger came off a breaking ball, but he has been turning around good fastballs too.

It is incredible to see how he's rebounded. Even if he'll never be the hitter he was during his prime years with the A's, I'd say he's back to being a legitimate star hitter. I don't know if it'll last for the rest of the season, but if he ends up with 30 dingers, man, he'll have exceeded most everyone's pre-season expectations.

How can we explain this turn-around? Was it simply a matter of finally getting healthy, first physically, and then mentally?

No matter the answer, Giambi is one of the biggest stories of the season for the Yanks.

P.S. Tino Martinez has done a decent job in the role of back-up first baseman, but anyone notice how much better Tony Clark is doing in the same role out in Arizona? My girlfriend has.

2005-08-05 20:09:50
43.   mikeplugh
Good questions on Giambi Alex.

I tend to be a skeptic on things like sudden resurgences, but in my heart I'm generally an optimist and I take the following stance...

Giambi has been subpar for the Yankees considering his past performance and the money he earns, but if you look at his numbers during his Yankee tenure, he's only been REALLY awful for a little over a season. The 2nd half of 2003 was bad, and his limited service in 2004, were forgettable and embarrassing. Likewise, his first roughly two months in 2005 were dismal, but he seems to have righted the ship. I tend to believe he was getting off 'roids and went through a period of bad health and re-conditioning, off the drugs. Now, just like guys who go through major reconstructive surgery and rehab, he's taken about a season and a half to rebound.

It's a fair parallel, if in fact it's true.

2005-08-05 20:24:25
44.   singledd
Mr. Belth,
Are steroids THAT amazing that they can turn aound a player in a few weeks? Jason went from a .230 hitter to well over .300 in 2 weeks. 2 weeks later he started hitting HRs.
I'm not being sarcastic. I know steroids help... but are they that magical? Certainly, what Jason has done is magic.

While he had it bad before, if he IS using, and gets caught, he could become the most infamous person in all of sports. It is too scary to even think about.

I don't know if Sosa has lost bat speed, or any other of the newly slimmed down players.
There didn't seem to be reason for Giambi to be so bad, and his bat so slow... aside from head problems and general rust/timing issues.

OMG... I hope he's clean. If not, this Disney story will turn into the Chain Saw Massacre.

2005-08-05 20:30:13
45.   sam2175
If people really believe that Giambi is on performance enhancing drugs, then either they have very little faith in Giambi's intelligence or they just cannot put themselves in Giambi's shoes. The guy almost had cancer from his steroid abuse and faced his mortality. Now he should go his happy ways to use performance enhancing drugs and HGH, the same ones that supposedly caused the benign tumor in his pituitary gland?

I will go with the theory that the guy wants to live, and not die, and may have learnt something from the experiences of Ken Caminiti. Whatever happens on the baseball field is probably secondary. I am personally happy he is doing well, and certainly it is the fact that he is hitting home runs that has caught all this attention. And given his past record, skepticism is probably well-earned on his part. I would just hope people would use their minds in understanding Giambi's situation, and why it could be death for him to use steroids. It is simply for that reason, I believe (and hope) he is not using them.

2005-08-05 20:34:33
46.   sam2175
And also about Felix Rodriguez, the guy has 1.59 ERA after All-Star break, has a good track record of pitching effectively, particularly against left-handers. Yet, Joe Torre would not put him in game situations and put in Alan Embree. Today's success would simply result in Embree being trusted more, and hence, putting more Yankee games at risk.

And anybody else thinks that Torre went to Rivera in a hurry just when it became a save situation? I find that outrageous, there was really no need for him to work a third of an inning to pile up on that useless piece of statistic called save.

2005-08-05 20:45:59
47.   Rich
Giambi has commented that ever since Mattingly got him to open up his hips a little sooner, an increase in his bat speed followed. As long as his urine tests are negative, he deserves the presumpion of innocence with regard to steriod use.

Sam makes the case in support of F-Rod.

Torre reflexively goes to Rivera whenever a save situation presents itself, providing further suport for the assertion that you're either one of his guys, and get regular work, or you aren't, and are permitted to become fallow.

2005-08-05 20:46:34
48.   mikeplugh
Sam2175,

I think you hit the nail right on the head about Giambi and his own mortality. While I never want to discount the attraction of fame and success that would lead a guy to disregard his own life for the spotlight, I tend to think that Giambi really saw the light and is doing all of this on his own merit.

On Embree....I think he was smart to use the guy. Embree is a solid pitcher and we've had a season long audition for a good lefty matchup guy. Embree may fill that role and we can move on. Tonight he did what he had to do and moved one step closer to taking that spot in the bullpen.

Frankie Rodriguez is wild in the zone, but I like his stuff. I think he'll get his chances, but Torre needs to see what he's got in Embree. Better we use him in a spot where we're up by 4 runs than try him out in a one run game with the bases loaded and Vernon Wells at the plate.

2005-08-05 20:47:56
49.   mikeplugh
As for Sturtze.....Rodriguez would have been a scary option, but why not try him out in this game.....you are right.
2005-08-05 20:56:33
50.   mikeplugh
BTW....I just read on ESPN.com, in the notes section at the bottom of the game recap, that a Yankee fan proposed to his girlfriend on the Dome's jumbotron and got roundly booed.

Good stuff.

Show/Hide Comments 51-100
2005-08-05 20:59:41
51.   Max
I think it's time for Torre to give F-Rod more chances, but his numbers since coming back are extremely deceptive. He hasn't demonstrated conclusively that he can get people out efficiently, (almost constantly allowing the first or second batter to get on), and he's padded his numbers against some terrible batters.

He's been easy to run on, and was bailed out in two different outings by a runner overstretching a single and a caught stealing (one of Posada's rare good throws), both against Anaheim.

Between Embree, F-Rod and (lately) Sturtze, it is a question of picking your poison. Given that F-Rod hasn't screwed up dramatically since returning, he deserves more chances, but he's far from a sure thing.

2005-08-05 21:56:39
52.   Rich
No one is arguing that F(Felix)-Rod would be a sure thing, only that overusing Sturtze and Gordon makes them less effective, so why not give F-Rod regular work.

Afterall, Embree's season ERA is 7.71, his BAA is .281. While F-Rod's ERA is 4.15, his BAA is .241.

2005-08-06 06:33:36
53.   mikeplugh
It's not Yankee related, but Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly's son Hunter passed away at the age of 8 last night. He was a brave boy who fought the nervous system disorder he was born with for years and the Kellys have raised over $6 million for research on the disease.

Keep them in your prayers.

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