Tag Archives: John McDonald

Kelly Johnson? Yes, please

Oh man. There are a lot of things for Jays fans to be excited about so far this season: Colby Rasmus looks like he’s figuring it out; Edwin Encarnacion has figured it out to the point that he’s been officially handed the cleanup hitter’s role; Brett Lawrie is being Brett Lawrie and that gets people excited even if he’s not yet playing as well as he’s capable of playing; the pitching!

Yes, there’s a lot of to be excited about. But there’s one guy who seems to be flying under the radar. Perhaps it’s because he doesn’t seem to have a personality that lights the world on fire. Perhaps it’s because his offensive production isn’t the flashiest. Perhaps it’s because your Toronto Blue Jays had to trade John McDonald and someone other scrub to get him. Continue reading

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Johnny Mac gets a shot at the playoffs

I never thought anything could make me root for an NL West team other than the Giants, but now I know I was wrong.

John McDonald can do that to a guy.

McDonald and Aaron Hill were traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks (who are one game up on the Giants at the time of writing) this afternoon for second baseman Kelly Johnson.

The press conference is going on right now and, from the sounds of it, McDonald and Hill both want to come back to Toronto. McDonald even said he’s already talked to Alex Anthopoulos about that possibility (he’s a free agent after this season).

McDonald’s defence and work ethic are enough to win over fans and coaches anywhere.

Hill’s been great in the past, but has struggled both this season and last. He seems like a perfect “just needs a change of scenery” candidate and there’s a real possibility a move to the NL and it’s AAAA competition could be just the change he needs.

As for who the Jays are getting… Anthopoulos has been after Johnson for a while now. After the 2009 season, the Jays were rumoured to be trying hard to sign Johnson to play leftfield, but Johnson chose the D’backs because he wanted to stay at second. I think it’s safe to say he’ll be taking Hill’s spot in the infield when he arrives in Toronto.

Hill and Johnson are both 29. Hill’s got parts of seven seasons under his belt, has a career slash line (batting average/on-base percentage/slugging) of .265/.318/.413 and has been worth 15.9 wins above replacement, while Johnson’s posted a .260/.342/.442 and 14.2 WAR during his time in the big leagues.

Statistically, it seems like the Jays won this trade by a slim margin. So, while I’m sad to see Johnny Mac leave, this does appear to be a good move for the Jays overall.

 

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Lunchbox Hero and the Safety Squeezers

One game can make all the difference, can’t it? Coming into tonight’s game against the Yankees, it seemed like people were fixated on the losses to the Red Sox, the slumps the Jays’ sluggers were going through and John Farrell’s seeming insistence on using Octavio Dotel against left-handed batters.

I tuned into tonight’s game during the eighth inning. I can’t speak to what happened before that, but what I saw afterward was pretty inspiring.

The bottom of the ninth. Down two to the Yankees. Mariano Rivera on the mound. This is not a situation many teams have been able to overcome. Ever.

Over the course of his career, Rivera had 566 saves in 615 opportunities. That’s a 92% success rate. That’s a pretty slim chance the Jays are going to win.

But win they did.

Yunel Escobar, Jose Bautista, Adam Lind: They all reached base. Travis Snider did not.

Escobar scored. Lind moved Bautista to third. Literally everybody’s favourite Blue Jay (if that’s not true, it should be) Johnny Mac comes to the plate.

Beginning the season, when the Jays were doing great, fans everywhere seemed excited about the running game and the willingness of the team under Farrell to take chances. Then, when the Jays started losing, the running game was the first target of many fans’ ire (and, in some cases, rightfully so.)

People criticized Cito Gaston for sticking to his guns, but Farrell does that, too. Last night, with the Prime Minister of Defence at the dish and down a run to the Yankees with Rivera on the mound, John McDonald executed a perfect bunt and Bautista came home to score on a safety squeeze.

Let me say that again: John McDonald laid down a perfect safety squeeze bunt against Mariano Rivera to tie the game.

It was a thing of beauty.

Of course, asking for Rivera to take the loss in addition to blowing the save would be too much, and he got out of the inning. Extras. A good enough top of the 10th from Jon Rauch and the Jays again got a chance to end the game.

Ivan Nova comes in and Edwin Encarnacion immediately singles. Jayson Nix and Escobar proceed to hit deep fly outs, but E5, often slammed for a lack of hustle, runs his little heart out on those two flies. The man wanted to win, wanted to be the one to score the run that capped the comeback against the Yankees.

Two outs and Snider, who was 0-for-5 in the game had struck out three times — once apparently breaking his bat over his knee in frustration — comes to the plate. The same Snider who came into the game with a slash line of .151/.250/.245 and who seems to have been touted as a “bust” by impatient Leafs fans for years now.

But since you’re reading this, I assume you’re not one of the Snider doubters.

Snider comes to the plate and what does he do? He justifies your love.

Lunchbox Hero.

If you read this hoping for some kind of insight why what happened happened, I’m sorry. Sometimes when you witness something great, you just need to get it down.

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Alex Rios v2.0?

I’ve been working on a post about how I’m ready for the trades to begin. About how I’m ready for the roster to turn over, for the team to officially give up the chase for the playoffs this year and start really rebuilding.

I was hoping the Jays would move people like Bautista, Buck, Overbay and Gonzalez.

Especially Gonzalez.

Nothing against him personally, it’s just that I was hoping to see Johnny Mac on a daily basis again.

Well, I got my wish. Alex Gonzalez is gone. But, just like wishes granted that wish-granting monkey claw, the wish backfired. Johnny Mac isn’t going to get the daily start at shortstop.

Yunel Escobar is coming back. Not having more than basic cable means I don’t watch the ridiculously high amount of Braves games that I used to, so I don’t know much about him at all. General consensus seems to be that the Braves are selling low; that Escobar’s got a ton of talent — at the plate and in the field — but that he’s just having an off year.

Escobar’s also got the reputation of being a space cadet.

Alex Rios v2.0? If Toronto is to Escobar as Chicago is to Rios, I think we can all be pretty happy with this trade. (Except that we’re not going to see Johnny Mac on a daily basis.)

There were more parts to the trade!

Tim Collins is gone. The other two guys, I don’t really care about. I am sad to lose this great story though.

Collinsecum!!!1 no more.

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During which I put on my tinfoil hat

As I’m sure everybody and their dog already knows, Edwin Encarnacion has been designated for assignment and, assuming he clears waivers, will be the Las Vegas 51s third baseman for the foreseeable future. Coming up to Toronto is Jarrett Hoffpauir, a career minor leaguer who’s put up some ridiculous numbers in Sin City so far this year.

E5’s taken a lot of heat this year, and rightly so. His defence is only slightly north of atrocious and his effort appears to be so lacking that Jerry and Alan have taken to deriding him during the radio broadcasts. It only makes sense to send him down to make room for a guy (Hoffpauir) who’s having a great season in AAA.

BUT

E5 didn’t have to be sent down to open up a spot for Hoffpauir. Not if the Jays hadn’t brought in Nick Green, anyway.

Nick Green is a bad hitter and not much of a spectacular fielder either. He’s a utility guy who mainly plays 2B/SS/3B. Essentially he’s Johnny Mac, except that Johnny Mac is excellent in the field and is light years ahead of Green in terms of being a defensive replacement.

So if Green is worse defensively than the Prime Minister of Defence, why is he on the team?

Is it because Green is a better hitter off the bench than Encarnacion? Nope.

Cito says E5’s going to Vegas because he’s hurt. That could be, but isn’t that what the DL is for?

Anthopoulos may be screwing with Edwin so he can’t get a big arbitration deal, but that doesn’t seem like something a general manager who’s trying to create a good working atmosphere would do.

Here comes the tinfoil hat

This to me seems a move made by a general manager whose hands are tied by Cito. With The Manager’s insistence on only changing the lineup almost never, maybe AA felt that if Hoffpauir was simply called up (and Green never brought into the picture) that The Hoff would be nailed to the bench and not get a chance to show what he can do.

Cito is loyal to his guys after all. E5 is (was) in the lineup, so he must be one of Cito’s guys.

Remove Encarnacion from the picture and Cito’s forced to make a change at third.

It’s not the way a team should be run, but Cito shouldn’t be managing one to begin with.

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You gotta love Johnny Mac

Two days ago, John McDonald was at his father’s funeral. Today, on Father’s Day, he hosted a group of kids and their dads before the game. Then, in the bottom of the ninth, he did this.

The only way it could have been more powerful is if it had helped the Jays come back to win, but as Vernon Wells said after the game, “Wins and losses don’t really matter at that point.”

It’s often been said that baseball is more about family than it is about being a game — hell, they made a movie about that — and this is one of the perfect illustrations of that.

I don’t have the time to do anything deeper about this at the moment, but it’s not really necessary. The above video from the excellent John Lott and this from Jordan Bastian really say everything that needs to be said.

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Alex Gonzalez? *facepalm*

When the Blue Jays signed John McDonald to a two-year deal yesterday, there was a lot of consternation among Jays fans. Sure people were happy to have a fan favourite back, but you can’t expect to win with an all-glove no-bat shortstop in a lineup that has trouble producing the runs needed to win, can you?

Well, no need to worry! Alex Anthopoulos had no intention of The Prime Minister of Defence being the team’s starting shortstop. No, as every Toronto fan’s favourite reporter tells us, AA had another all-glove, no-bat shortstop in mind for the starter’s job.

Ladies and gentlemen, your 2010 Toronto Blue Jays shortstop, Alex Gonzalez!

To be fair to Gonzalez, he does have a pretty good glove. Fan Graphs has him ranked eighth in the majors in UZR and fifth in UZR/150 among shortstops. And he did hit for .284/.316/.453 in 44 games after joining Boston last year, but he can’t be expected to keep that pace up. Especially since he’s averaged .247/.294/.395 over his career.

Call me crazy, but I just don’t see what Gonzalez offers that Johnny Mac doesn’t.

UPDATE: MLBastian is filtering the details of the Gonzalez signing as he gets them. Definitely worth following if you’re not already. Apparently the deal is one year with a club option. Gonzalez will make $2.75 million in 2010 and stands to make $2.5M in 2011.

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The Toronto Blue Jays are no longer a team to be trifled with

Yesterday was a good day for me in terms of being a Blue Jays fan. Everyone knows about the brawl (JOHNNY MAC PUNCHED GIRARDI IN THE FACE!!!), but on top of (and earlier than) that, Jeff Blair on Prime Time Sports talking about his article that includes quotes from Nadir Mohamed.

It must be noted that Blair didn’t actually speak to Mohamed himself  — the quotes were pulled from an interview another Globe staffer did with him — but Blair and McCown ended their talk by raising the possibility that a $130-million payroll for next year doesn’t seem to be out of the realm of possibility now.

Far-fetched, I know, but it got my hopes up.

And then there was the brawl and my spirit was lifted even higher.

There are only 17 games left. 75% of this season’s been a severe pain to watch, but once the off-season rolls around, I know I’m going to miss it. I’m going to make the best of the time that’s left and enjoy this team while I can.

As for tonight, if I’m Brian Tallet, I drill a Yankee in the 1st and send a message to the league: “The Toronto Blue Jays are no longer a team to be trifled with.”

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