Posted on: March 3, 2012 8:43 pm
By Matt Snyder
The 2011 Blue Jays were 81-81, despite blowing an AL-worst 25 saves. So the task heading into the offseason for general manager Alex Anthopolous was pretty clear: Improve the bullpen. And he did, in trading for Sergio Santos and signing Francisco Cordero, among other upgrades. If the Blue Jays can knock off 10-15 of those blown saves and basically play similarly in every other aspect, they'll have a great shot at one of the two wild card spots. And the good news for the Jays is that they appear a bit better in other aspects than last season, like getting a full season from Brett Lawrie, to name one example.
Major additions: RHP Sergio Santos, RHP Francisco Cordero, LHP Darren Oliver, RHP Jason Frasor, OF Ben Francisco, IF Omar Vizquel
Major departures: C Jose Molina, RHP Frank Francisco, RHP Jon Rauch
1. Yunel Escobar, SS
2. Kelly Johnson, 2B
3. Jose Bautista, RF
4. Adam Lind, 1B
5. Edwin Encarnacion, DH
6. Brett Lawrie, 3B
7. Colby Rasmus, CF
8. Eric Thames, LF
9. J.P. Arencibia, C
1. Ricky Romero
2. Brandon Morrow
3. Henderson Alvarez
4. Brett Cecil
5. Dustin McGowan
Kyle Drabek is also in the mix.
Closer: Sergio Santos
Set-up: Francisco Cordero, Casey Janssen
Important bench players
OF Rajai Davis, OF Ben Francisco, OF Travis Snider, C Jeff Mathis, IF Omar Vizquel
Prospect to watch
Catcher Travis d'Arnaud, one of the players who came over in the Roy Halladay trade, just turned 23 years old and is considered a top 20 prospect in all of baseball. He hit .311/.371/.542 with 21 homers in 114 Double-A games last season. And while Arencibia hit 23 bombs last season, he also had a paltry .219 batting average and .282 on-base percentage. He struck out 133 times while only walking 36. So it's entirely possible he struggles mightily and is replaced by d'Arnaud at some point this season. Or maybe the Jays trade one of them? We'll see, but keep your eye on d'Arnaud's progress. Many believe he's special.
Fantasy sleeper: Henderson Alvarez
"Alvarez wasn't considered a high-profile prospect at this time last year, so understandably, his 10 starts during a late-season trial weren't enough to put him on most Fantasy owners' radars. But consider just how impressive those 10 starts were. Better yet, consider how impressive his final eight were. He pitched at least six innings in each, posting a 3.06 ERA and 1.06 WHIP. He also issued only six walks during that stretch. Six. In 53 innings. And this isn't some soft-tosser who took the league by surprise simply by throwing strikes, a la Zach Duke in 2005. Alvarez throws in the mid-90s. He has top-of-the-rotation stuff to go along with a good feel for the strike zone and has already tasted success in the heavy-hitting AL East." - Scott White [Full Blue Jays fantasy team preview]
Fantasy bust: J.P. Arencibia
"Arencibia was one of five catchers to hit 20-plus homers last year, and he did it as a rookie. But before visions of Mike Piazza start dancing in your heads, keep in mind he was especially old for a rookie, turning 25 before the start of the season. He's 26 now, which means he's already in the thick of his prime, which means what you see with him might be exactly what you get. And it's even worse than it looks. Arencibia hit only .219 in 2011, which is discouraging enough, but when you consider he got worse over the course of the season, hitting .199 over the final four months, you have to wonder if his excessive strikeout rate makes him a sitting duck against major-league pitching." - Scott White [Full Blue Jays fantasy team preview]
Morrow has a huge breakout campaign, giving the Jays a potent 1-2 punch in the rotation. Alvarez blossoms into a good No. 3 while Drabek realizes his potential and has a huge second half. Lawrie enters stardom early and Rasmus reaches his potential, making the offense even more potent than before. Plus, the new back-end of the bullpen is dominant. That gets the Blue Jays into the 90s in victories and they win a wild card.
The Jays just didn't do enough to close the gap, as they still aren't good enough to finish ahead of any of the following, at the very least: Yankees, Rays, Red Sox, Rangers or Angels. Instead, they're more on the same footing as the Royals and Indians. Thus, it's another fourth-place finish for the Blue Jays, who haven't made the playoffs since 1993.
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Tags: 2012 spring training, Adam Lind, AL East, Ben Francisco, Blue Jays, Brandon Morrow, Brett Cecil, Brett Lawrie, Casey Janssen, Colby Rasmus, Dustin McGowan, Edwin Encarnacion, Eric Thames, Francisco Cordero, Henderson Alvarez, J.P. Arencibia, Jeff Mathis, Jose Bautista, Kelly Johnson, Kyle Drabek, Matt Snyder, Omar Vizquel, Rajai Davis, Ricky Romero, Sergio Santos, spring training, spring training 2012, Travis d'Arnaud, Travis Snider, Yunel Escobar
Posted on: December 3, 2011 4:15 pm
By C. Trent Rosecrans
What if players were only permitted to stay with the team that originally made them a professional? No trades, no Rule-5 Draft, no minor or major league free agency ... once you are a professional baseball player, you stay in that organization. This series shows how all 30 teams would look. We give you: Homegrown teams. To view the schedule/past entries of this feature, click here.
The American League East is the biggest, baddest division in baseball -- in large part because of the deep pockets of the Yankees and Red Sox, but also because of the drafting and development from the Rays. Somewhere in the middle is the Blue Jays, a team that could be a giant in maybe any other division in baseball. In our exercise, the Blue Jays have an argument as one of the best teams in baseball, largely because of a stout rotation.
1. Reed Johnson, CF
2. Aaron Hill, 2B
3. Michael Young, 1B
4. Adam Lind, DH
5. Vernon Wells, LF
6. Alex Rios, RF
7. Ryan Roberts 3B
8. J.P. Arencibia, C
9. Cesar Izturis, SS
1. Roy Halladay
2. Chris Carpenter
3. Ricky Romero
4. Shaun Marcum
5. Alfredo Aceves
Closer - Brandon League
Set up - Marc Rzepczynski, Tim Collins, Brandon Lyon, Dustin McGowan, Casey Janssen
Long - Jesse Litsch
Notable Bench Players
Orlando Hudson, Felipe Lopez, Casey Blake, Travis Snider, Eric Thames.
That rotation, are you kidding?
There's Rios and Wells -- two of the most overpaid players in the game. Those two are not just overpaid, they're also not very good. Eric Thames could step in for either one. There are some decent players on the bench, but not a lot of pop.
Comparison to real 2011
The 81-81 season was seen as a step forward for the Blue Jays in 2011, but with this lineup the expectations would be much, much higher. The rotation alone makes this team the favorite in the AL East in our hypothetical. The offense lacks the impact of Jose Bautista, but there's enough to support the pitching staff. Not only is this team better than the real Blue Jays, they have a shot at winning it all.
Next: Colorado Rockies
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Tags: Aaron Hill, Adam Lind, AL East, Alex Rios, Alfredo Aceves, Blue Jays, Brandon League, Brandon Lyons, C. Trent Rosecrans, Casey Blake, Casey Janssen, Cesar Izturis, Chris Carpenter, Dustin McGowan, Eric Thames, Felipe Lopez, homegrown, J.P. Arencibia, Jesse Litsch, Jose Bautista, Marc Rzepcynski, Michael Young, Orlando Hudson, Reed Johnson, Ricky Romero, Roy Halladay, Ryan Roberts, Shaun Marcum, Tim Collins, Travis Snider, Vernon Wells
Posted on: October 11, 2011 11:27 am
Edited on: October 11, 2011 12:00 pm
By Matt Snyder
Another season gone, another disappointment for 29 teams as one is immortalized forever. Let’s take a look back at 2011 and forward in Eye on Baseball’s R.I.P. series...
Team name: Toronto Blue Jays
Record: 81-81, 4th place in AL East, 16 games back
Manager: John Farrell
Best hitter: Jose Bautista -- .302/.447/.608, 43 HR, 103 RBI, 105 R
Best pitcher: Ricky Romero -- 15-11, 2.92 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 178 K, 225 IP
2011 SEASON RECAP
The Jays played .500 ball pretty much throughout the season. By month, they were one game under .500, two over, three under, four over, two under and two under, respectively. That's the very definition of an average baseball team, but there are mitigating factors. Namely, the Jays are playing in the best division in baseball, trailing the Yankees, Red Sox and Rays. If you removed those three teams from the schedule, the Jays went 60-48. So you can argue this is already a very good baseball team caught in the wrong division. Of course, they aren't going to be getting out of the AL East anytime soon, so there's no use in thinking about what could be.
They're actually set up to have a legitimate shot at the division. The Yankees are aging and have pitching questions, the Rays have monetary issues, the Orioles aren't close yet and who knows what happens with the Red Sox? The Blue Jays will need steps forward from young players like Kyle Drabek, Brett Cecil and either Colby Rasmus or Travis Snider. They also need to shore up the bullpen. The Blue Jays were ninth in the AL in bullpen ERA. Saves and blown saves are flawed stats, but 33 saves against 25 blown saves doesn't bode well in close games. Only the Astros had a worse save percentage in 2011. I'm not necessarily of the opinion that a team has to have one closer and always use him in save situations, because sometimes a three-run lead in the ninth doesn't need maximum protection, but each team should have one reliable guy to shut down the opposition and Toronto lacked that for most of the season.
The good news for the Blue Jays is that they are in position to increase the payroll, reportedly pretty significantly, in the next two seasons. That doesn't mean it's all happening now, but a big splash is coming.
Jose Molina, C
Kelly Johnson, 2B
Edwin Encarnacion, 3B/DH ($3.5 million club option)
Shawn Camp, RP
Frank Francisco, RP
Jon Rauch, RP ($3.75 million club option)
Tags: Adam Lind, Adeiny Hechavarria, AL East, Blue Jays, Brandon Morrow, Brett Cecil, Brett Lawrie, Casey Janssen, Colby Rasmus, Dustin McGowan, Edwin Encarnacion, Eric Thames, Henderson Alvarez, J.P. Arencibia, Jesse Litsch, Joel Carreno, Jose Bautista, Kyle Drabek, Matt Snyder, Prince Fielder, R.I.P., Ricky Romero, Travis d'Arnaud, Travis Snider, Yunel Escobar
Posted on: August 26, 2011 1:05 am
By Evan Brunell
Adrian Gonzalez, Red Sox: Including Wednesday night, Adrian Gonzalez homered on three consecutive pitches, with the latter two coming in the first two at-bats of Thursday's game, helping pace the Red Sox to a 6-0 victory. Gonzalez's second homer of the night was estimated at 448 feet, just one foot less than Jacoby Ellsbury's blast off of Felix Hernandez in July for the longest Sox homer of the season. A-Gon now has 23 homers on the year, five in the last three games. Before Tuesday, he hadn't homered since July 30. Gonzalez finished 2 for 4 with three RBI.
Jeremy Hellickson, Rays: Jeremy Hellickson twirled a beaut on Thursday, shutting down the Tigers 2-0 by going seven strong, giving up two earned runs, a walk and six hits. He struck out seven, but four of those came in the same inning. That was made possible by Austin Jackson opening the top of the third with a strikeout, reaching first on a wild pitch. Ramon Santiago, Delmon Young and Victor Martinez all then followed with whiffs, all four of them whiffing. The rookie's ERA was further shaved to 3.01, and it's difficult to imagine he doesn't walk away with the Rookie of the Year award.
Russell Martin, Yankees: Martin had a game to remember on Thursday, going 5 for 5 with two home runs. The backstop has been a zero on offense since the first several days of the season, but has heated up the past week, with another strong game coming last Friday. Between these two games, Martin's OPS has skyrocketed to .761 on the year, up from .689 on Aug. 16. That's a fast turnaround in OPS for someone who has played the entire season.
Phil Hughes, Yankees: The Yankees won 22-9, so there were plenty of lousy A's players who took the mound and blew up. In fact, all six Oakland pitchers in the game gave up at least one run, led by Bruce Billings' 1 1/3-inning relief effort, giving up seven earned runs. But we're profiling Hughes here, who took a major step back in his return from a mysterious drop in velocity that saw him knocked around in April. After four straight strong starts, Hughes gave up six runs in 2 2/3 innings to the punchless A's, who rapped out seven hits despite grabbing no walks and whiffing five times. Hughes failed to capitalize after a poor A.J. Burnett start that might have seen New York trim its rotation back to five men and boot Burnett. But now, who knows?
Adam Lind, Blue Jays: It was a golden sombrero day for Lind, who whiffed four times in five hitless trips to the plate. Lind also went 0-for-4 on Thursday and is mired in a slump over his past several games and in the month overall, with his OPS dropping from .807 to start August down to .749 by game's end, unable to solve the Royals, who started Jeff Francis. Lind had come back strong from a dispiriting 2010, but thanks to the slump, his bounceback year looks far less impressive than it did earlier in the season.
Tyler Clippard, Nationals: Fangraphs has two statistics for relief pitchers, called shutdowns and meltdowns, that is essentially saves and blown saves for relievers as a whole, allowing for better comparison. Coming into Thursday's game, Clippard had 34 shutdowns and six meltdowns, which is an excellent ratio. Well, you can add a meltdown to that statistic, as Clippard gave up three earned runs in just 2/3s of an inning against Arizona, allowing the Diamondbacks to pad their 2-1 lead to 5-1 in a game they would eventually win 8-1.
For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: June 21, 2011 5:54 pm
Edited on: June 21, 2011 6:07 pm
By C. Trent Rosecrans
Sometimes a Twitter apology isn't enough -- or at least that's what Blue Jays starter Ricky Romero believes.
MLB.com's Gregor Chisholm tweets Romero wanted to make sure his teammates knew he wasn't "calling them out" and his comments were misinterpreted -- or at least sensationalized.
Following a 2-0 loss, Romero had some frustrated comments about the team, which has scored just 13 runs in the nine games he's started that the Blue Jays went on to lose. Overall, he's 6-7 with a 2.98 ERA.
"All I can do is just pitch," Romero said. "I can't worry about the offense and what they do. I’ve always said this at one point we can’t rely on [Jose] Bautista, we can’t rely on [Adam] Lind. We've got to get somebody else to step up and get on base and drive them in. These guys are getting pitched around. Everyone's got to step it up or else we're not going to be winning ballgames. This team doesn’t revolve around one or two guys. Everyone's got to put in their parts. That's how we win ballgames."
This morning he tweeted this:
I don't know that any of his teammates took it as him "calling them out," just a pitcher that was frustrated after losing a close game. I'm pretty sure there were frustrated Blue Jays hitters saying the same thing, just nobody was asking them.
Expect this "controversy" to blow over quickly.
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Posted on: June 18, 2011 12:52 am
Edited on: June 18, 2011 12:54 am
By Matt Snyder
Adam Lind, Blue Jays. Think Jose Bautista is the only Jay who goes yard with regularity? Oh, how mistaken you are. Lind hit a home run for the fourth consecutive game Friday night. The two-run, seventh-inning blast put the Jays on top for good in a 3-2 win over the Reds and was Lind's 15th on the season. Because of injury woes, Lind's only played in 45 games, too. His OPS is over 1.000 and he's only one year removed from a 35-homer, 114-RBI campaign. He's not Bautista, but he demands more attention than he's been getting. It's one of the best 3-4 lineup combos in baseball, actually.
Doug Davis, Cubs. Davis walked into Wrigley Field Friday afternoon with an 0-5 record, a 5.90 ERA and a 1.86 WHIP. He hadn't even remotely resembled a major-league pitcher ... until Friday ... against the Yankees. Yes, the team with Curtis Granderson, Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez and Robinson Cano through the middle of the lineup. Davis completely handcuffed them, taking a shutout into the eighth inning. He finished with 7 1/3 innings, three hits, one earned run and three walks with four strikeouts. The only run he allowed came when Sean Marshall allowed an inherited runner from Davis to score on a base hit in the eighth. Meanwhile, the Cubs have now won four of five against the Yankees and Brewers after a 2-11 stretch.
Daniel Hudson, Diamondbacks. The 24-year-old right-hander was traded to Arizona from the White Sox for Edwin Jackson during the 2010 season. Friday, he squared off against not only the White Sox, but Jackson too. Needless to say, Hudson made a statement. He went the distance, allowing only three hits, one walk and one earned run in gathering his eighth victory of the season. That had to be pretty satisfying. It was probably just as satisfying that the D-Backs moved to within a half game in the NL West while the White Sox remain 5-1/2 back in the AL Central.
Rick Porcello, Tigers. We could probably put the whole Tigers' pitching staff and defense here, but Porcello's the one who got the ball rolling. After being spotted a 1-0 lead -- and it really should have been more, so this was an all-around team effort of futility -- Porcello coughed up eight hits, two walks and six earned runs in three innings. By the time the game ended, the Tigers had surrendered 14 hits, 10 earned runs, three unearned runs and a 13-6 loss. With the loss, the Tigers fell back into a first-place tie with the Indians. As an aside, that AL Central race is going to be awesome. Nothing would surprise me.
Padres' first inning. If you throw out the bottom of the first inning, the Padres took it to the Twins Friday night. It's just that you don't get to pick and choose like that. The Padres committed an error, a wild pitch, a passed ball and then allowed three hits -- including a Michael Cuddyer three-run homer -- en route to a five-run inning for the Twins. They were even given a gift when Ben Revere stole third but slid past the bag and was tagged out by Chase Headley. But the result was a 5-0 Twins lead and the final score was 6-5 Twins. That's a bad, bad inning.
Orioles' situational hitting. OK, let's figure this one out. The Orioles had 18 hits. Derrek Lee, Nick Markakis and Adam Jones combined for 13 of them, yet those three also combined for just one run and zero RBI. The Orioles lost 8-4. That's some pretty fine work to waste that many knocks. Britt Ghiroli of MLB.com points out it's the first time since 2007 a team had 18 hits and four runs. On the flip-side, the Nationals scored eight runs on just 10 hits. They mixed in six walks -- while the Orioles had zero. Maybe take a few more pitches, O's? Either way, leaving so many on base isn't going to get the job done.
For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: May 24, 2011 10:14 am
Edited on: May 24, 2011 11:02 am
By Evan Brunell
FUENTES BLOWS UP: Brian Fuentes, the Athletics closer, had some strong words for manager Bob Geren after losing his seventh game of the year. He's now blown five of seven tie games and Fuentes isn't happy about the skipper's communication skills, saying Geren has handled his communication with the reliever poorly.
"There’s just no communication," Fuentes says. "Two games, on the road, bring the closer in a tied game, with no previous discussions of doing so. And then, tonight, in the seventh inning, I get up. I haven’t stretched, I haven’t prepared myself. If there was some communication beforehand I would be ready to come into the game -- which I was, when I came into the game, I was ready. Just lack of communication. I don’t think anybody really knows which direction he’s headed."
Fuentes really shouldn't be complaining about being brought in during a tie game on the road. The general rule of thumb is that you deploy your closer with a tie at home or lead on the road, but that doesn't mean everyone has to follow that tenet -- not to mention that rule of thumb is a pretty weak one. You bring in your best reliever for the situation that demands it most, end of story.
That aside, it appears as if Geren doesn't have the right pulse on Fuentes -- or maybe even the bullpen as a whole. Fuentes says it's difficult to adhere to what appears to be a random schedule, instead of being afforded time to stretch and prepare for coming into the game in the eighth or ninth. Again, we're seeing "established" rules for closers with no reason for being established causing problems. In Fuentes' defense, however, he didn't trailblaze these established rules -- he's just following them and it's easy to see how he thinks they're a valuable part of his preparation. From the manager's perspective, though, Fuentes may have very well been the best choice to come into the seventh inning. The problem is when you don't communicate effectively.
"I thought he misspoke," Fuentes said of when he first learned Geren wanted him in the game in the seventh. "I thought it was some sort of miscommunication, but he said, ‘No, you’re up,’ so I got up and cranked it up. You can’t try to guess along with them. Very unpredictable."
Fuentes adds that this hasn't been a situation that's been slowly getting worse; rather, it's fairly recent and Fuentes first became displeased when Oakland traveled to San Francisco this past weekend. Or maybe it's because Fuentes has a 6.48 ERA in 8 1/3 May innings.
"I think the games in San Francisco were some unorthodox managing," he noted. "I thought it was maybe the National league thing, that maybe that had something to do with it, but [Monday] was pretty unbelievable."
Just don't expect Fuentes to be the one to initiate communication. He's going to leave that up to Geren.
"I can’t predict the future. If he decides to take that step, then there will be communication. If not, I’ll make sure I’m ready from the first." (MLB.com)
LOSING CONFIDENCE: Wins and losses don't matter from an evaluation perspective, that much is clear. But for a pitcher, it can be pretty demoralizing to see an 0-7 mark next to his name, like John Danks is dealing with despite a 4.34 ERA that is plenty good enough to keep him in the rotation, as manager Ozzie Guillen said. "It’s getting harder and harder," Danks said. "That's the blunt truth. But like I said, it doesn’t do me any good to sit and dwell on it or feel sorry for myself. I got to come in ready to work and have myself ready for my next strart. That’s how I’ll go about it." (Chicago Tribune)
RANDY POFFO, BASEBALL PLAYER: Before "Macho Man" Randy Savage became a sensation in the wrestling world, he was an aspiring baseball player with a tremendous work ethic who just didn't have the talent to go beyond Class A. But that didn't stop Savage, whose real name was Randy Poffo, from trying. (Sports Illustrated)
SAVAGE HOMER: When Brewers GM Doug Melvin heard that Savage had died, it took him a while to figure out that Savage was the same Poffo who played in the minor leagues. "I think he hit a homer off me," Melvin said, hearkening back to 1972 when the two would have been on opposing rookie-ball teams. Unfortunately, Melvin was unable to verify this, as he could not find boxscores. (MLB.com)
MOVING ON: It's hard to, but Francisco Rodriguez is trying to move on from the much-publicized altercation with his ex-girlfriend's father last season. Rodriguez is off to a fantastic start as closer and appears to have made major strides mentally. (New York Daily News)
MANAGING FOR THE FANS: In case it's not clear for you just yet, Jim Leyland manages for the fans, not with fans. Leyland didn't take too kindly to being second-guessed for taking Rick Porcello out of a game in which he was one-hitting the Pirates after eight innings with 84 pitches. Closer Jose Valverde finished off the win, and Leyland went on a rant Monday about being second-guessed. (Detroit Free-Press)
START 'ER UP: The Cardinals will put Mitchell Boggs into the rotation at Triple-A after the reliever was demoted in a bit of a surprising move on Monday. The transition to the rotation isn't permanent, but it will afford St. Louis some security in rotation depth as well as allow Boggs to fine-tune his secondary offerings. (FoxSportsMidwest.com)
GOING OPPOSITE: David Ortiz seems to be taking a page out of Adrian Gonzalez's book, as Big Papi is going to the opposite field more than he ever has before, banging balls off the Green Monster. Of Ortiz's 27 hits at home so far, 14 have gone the opposite way. Compare that to a full-season total of 16 in 2008. (WEEI)
MOVE THE WALLS: Padres manager Bud Black might be getting sick of the decrepit Padres offense. Black has avoided all comment about possibly moving the walls of Petco Park in, but admitted Monday he thought there was "room for discussion." (MLB.com)
GLOVE MAN: What can't Eric Hosmer do? All the focus has been on Hosmer's offense, but he sports a pretty good glove too. Alcides Escobar thinks so, smiling enthusiastically when asked about Hosmer's defense. (Kansas City Star)
SLOW AND STEADY: Adam Lind still hasn't played in a game since May 7 thanks to a sore back, but that could finally be coming Wednesday. Once Lind returns from his minor-league rehab assignment, he'll return to first base but will see starts at DH mixed in to ease him back physically. (MLB.com)
DAT DUDE: Brandon Phillips' Twitter account is among the best in sports and has turned him into a marketing machine who fans adore. That's quite a ways from the kind of person he was in Cleveland. This is a nice profile of Phillips and how Twitter has impacted him. (MLB.com)
SELLING OUT: The Double-A Dayton Dragons are at 799 consecutive sellouts and if all goes according to plan, July 9 is when the Dragons will take out the Portland Trail Blazers for most consecutive sellouts in sports history. However, 40-60 tickets a game for the 7,230-seat stadium remain, although the team does not appear concerned about that posing an issue. (Dayton Daily News)
Tags: Adam Lind, AL Central, AL Central, AL East, AL West, Athletics, Blue Jays, Bob Geren, Brandon Phillips, Brewers, Brian Fuentes, Bud Black, Cardinals, David Ortiz, Doug Melvin, Eric Hosmer, Francisco Rodriguez, Jim Leyland, John Danks, Mets, Mitchell Boggs, MLB Rumors, NL Central, NL East, NL West, Padres, Randy Poffo, Red Sox, Reds, Royals, Tigers, White Sox
Posted on: May 20, 2011 12:29 pm
By Evan Brunell
HAFNER HURT: Indians DH Travis Hafner is hitting like it's 2006, as the oft-injured DH is roaring along at a .345/.409/.549 clip with eight doubles and five home runs in 127 plate appearances.
Sure, that average is over his head, but he's still geared up to have a quality season. It's about time, as Hafner has been one of the game's most overpaid players as he succumbed to injuries following his four-year, $57 million deal signed during the 2007 season. He's been a major reason why Cleveland finds itself in first place, and has helped fend off any type of decline that could have happened once Grady Sizemore hit the disabled list.
Unfortunately, Hafner may be joining Sizemore on the DL with a sore oblique. He was taking swings in the batting cage prior to Wednesday's game when one swing left him unable to swing any more. After being a late scratch, Hafner plans to get the injury checked out Friday with a MRI.
"One of the big things was how it felt [Thursday] morning," said Hafner. "It wasn't worse. That's kind of encouraging."
Obliques are the scourge of baseball these days, and unfortunately for Hafner, he's probably going to have to go on the DL and could be out for a month or more. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
LEYLAND'S BACK: Jim Leyland still lives in Pittsburgh, but he hasn't been back in the stadium as an opposing manager since 2006, his first year with the Tigers. Leyland, of course, is well known for his 11 years managing the Pirates in the glory days, back when Barry Bonds was manning left field. (MLive.com)
RJM: A nice story about Ricky Romero and J.P. Arencibia's night on Thursday. Romero went seven strong while J.P. Arencibia crushed a home run that eventually gave the team a 3-1 victory. Both players were reeling from the passing of a two-year-old fan after a battle with leukemia. (Toronto Star)
UNPRECEDENTED: Jose Bautista's leap from last man on the bench to the best hitter in the game is still tough to wrap one's head around. But it's not the last time such a leap has been made. The closest comparable? Seattle's Bret Boone, who jumped in relevancy from 1999-2001. Of course, the likelihood that Boone used steroids is high, but unless you're really reaching or just hate Bautista/the Blue Jays, the same questions are not there for Bautista. (Fangraphs)
TURNING THE CLOCK BACK: It's always entertaining to see players wear throwback uniforms. Sometimes these uniforms are preferable to the current set... sometimes they're nice memories or a way of learning more about history. Sometimes, they make us burst out laughing. History's being profiled Saturday when the Red Sox and Cubs wear 1918-era uniforms. (Boston Globe) Here's a look at what you can expect -- the 1918 uniforms of the BoSox and the 1918 road uniforms for the Cubs. And yes, no logo for the Red Sox.
FLIPPING THE BIRD: Sometimes I wonder if we take ourselves a little too seriously. Andre Ethier, who was slightly irritated with a photographer prior to Monday's game, flipped him the bird before adding the other hand to the equation. Ethier joked about the situation before Thursday's game before issuing a standard mea culpa. "I wasn’t [angry] at all. If you’re going to stand there and take the same picture for 15 minutes, what’s the difference between the first and the 15th minute? It just got kind of annoying. I guess I slipped up, and that temper you guys sometimes like to write about, got ahead of me and I didn’t use my head and use the best judgment in that situation. I made a mistake of it and it’s unfortunate." Don't we have better things to worry about? (Los Angeles Times)
DISLIKED: Are the Cardinals the most disliked team in baseball? Let's look at the evidence. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
WHERE'S ALLIE? When talking about Pittsburgh Pirates pitching prospects (try saying that four times in a row), the conversation invariably turns to Jameson Taillon and Stetson Allie. Except that Allie is nowhere to be found on the stats pages. That's because he's been at extended spring training, working on his windup and a lack of control. Things have progressed to the point where he is nearing game action. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
LIND ETA: Adam Lind won't be back with the Blue Jays for at least 10 days and is still a week away from baseball action in his recovery from a sore back. (Sportsnet via Twitter)
WHO'S OUT IN BALTIMORE? When Alfredo Simon returns to the Orioles' bullpen on Sunday, someone's gotta go. Bet on one of Brad Bergesen or Chris Tillman, as Jeff Zrebiec writes. Both -- especially Bergesen -- have been very poor in the rotation and the team can go with four starters for several days because of Brian Matusz's looming return late next week. (Baltimore Sun)
JOHN SMOLTZ RULE: John Smoltz effected a rule change in minor-league baseball while on a rehab assignment with the Red Sox in 2009. Now, major-league pitchers on rehab starts down on the farm can use major-league baseballs in games. (MLBlogs.com)
TWITTER CLOSED: Tony Sanchez closed his Twitter account amid what we thought were the Pirates being too sensitive about players going on Twitter and expressing a personality. However, Sanchez closed his account on his own (although a stern talking-to from the brass didn't help). Sanchez was benched three games for criticizing umpires. (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)
GOLD: A pretty neat promotion the Angels are putting on in which fans will get an autographed baseball from a player. Those lucky enough to end up with a gold baseball will then get to meet that player and get four tickets to another Angels game. (Orange County Register)
DL-BOUND: Joe Blanton is returning to the DL and will take Shane Victorino with him. The Flyin' Hawaiian has been hobbled the last few days and now the Phillies have decided they can't wait for him to heal much longer. Don't expect Domonic Brown's promotion, as GM Ruben Amaro continues to hold Brown back. (Wonder if it has to do with service time?) Anyways, expect either Delwyn Young or Ronnie Belliard to get the spot. (CSNPhilly.com)
NO MORE TOBACCO: The call to ban all types of tobacco in baseball only got stronger with the Diamondbacks' CEO Ken Kendrick calling for such a ban. (Arizona Republic)
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Tags: Adam Lind, AL Central, AL East, Alfredo Simon, Andre Ethier, Angels, Blue Jays, Brad Bergesen, Cardinals, Chris Tillman, Cubs, Diamondbacks, Dodgers, Domonic Brown, Indians, J.P. Arencibia, Jim Leyland, Joe Blanton, John Smolz, Jose Bautista, MLB Rumors, NL Central, NL East, NL West, Orioles, Phillies, Pirates, Red Sox, Ricky Romero, Shane Victorino, Stetson Allie, Travis Hafner