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2010 Blue Jays roundtable: Answers, part 3

 

Carl Crawford: Future Blue Jay if a couple of panelists get their way.

 

So here we are. The fourth and final episode of this year’s post-season roundtable. If you’re playing catch-up, I advise you to read the introductions, then go for the first and second set of answers. If you’re already up to speed, here you go, the final set of answers:

A clerical error results in you being GM long enough to make one move this off-season. What move do you make and why?

Drew: I try and pry Alex Gordon out of the cold, dead hands of Dayton Moore.  Too much talent to give up this year.  I’d overpay, relative to what everyone else offers.  Everybody and their sister will try and rip Moore off because the Royals are idiots, I’d make an almost fair offer and give him a winter of Buttering up.

Ian: Sign Carlos Pena. I don’t know where this stemmed from, but I think it’s a wise move to go and get him because if the Adam Lind at first base experiment fails, Pena can step in and play solid defense at first. If Lind finally gets his big boy glove going, then Pena reverts to designated hitter. The only problem is Scott Boras is Carlos Pena’s agent, so you know he won’t settle than anything less than a 2-3 year deal.

Cole: Hire a new manager who will play young players with high upside who are the future of the organization and not feel obliged to play veterans on their way out of the organization just to make sure they can get a good contract in free agency.

Paul: In a perfect world I would sign Carl Crawford. HA! But that’s never going to happen. The Jays need base hits and speed at the top of the lineup. I would try to trade* John Buck for that. I would also shop around Bautista to see what’s on the market for him. There’s no way he puts up numbers like that again.

Chris: Throw a ton of money at Carl Crawford and sign the hell out of him. Dude gets on base, runs like a madman and is just all around excellent at baseball. Anytime you’ve got a chance to add a guy who just turned in a 6.8 WAR season, I say you do it.

(* Buck is a free agent after this season, but let’s not overreact. Letting Buck walk is tantamount to trading him for a draft pick and some financial flexibility, OK?)

Do you realistically see the Jays competing for a playoff spot next year?

Drew: Only if more things break their way.  They need to avoid down years and injury again and hope the Yankees and Red Sox are too old and not completely re-tooled. Be like the Padres in everything except the “gagging away the division lead” part.

Ian: As 2010 has shown us, anything is possible. A team that was supposed to finish well under .500 and even last in the American League East has defied logic and posted 80+ win seasons for the last 7 of 9 years. The Blue Jays could be even better next year, but a playoff run would be contingent on two out of the three AL East juggernauts imploding for them to really have a chance in 2011.

Cole: I am the eternal optimist in this sense so my heart says yes even though my head says probably not. However, if there’s one thing I’ve learned in baseball it’s that you never really know. There are so many unknowns involved that until you get out there and play the games it’s hard to say. Let’s keep in mind that this year a lot of pundits had the Jays finishing in last in the East and potentially losing 100 games. They far exceeded that expectation. What’s to say if they are predicted to finish third and win 85ish game next year that they can’t exceed expectation and win 90+ and contend? Hustle and heart, baby.

Paul: Yes. If I didn’t I wouldn’t be a fan.

Chris: As currently constructed, there’s a chance, but there are a lot of ifs attached. If the pitchers keep on pitching like men, if Bautista doesn’t fall off a cliff, if Snider develops further, if Wells doesn’t go back to sucking and Lind and Hill don’t suck again, the team’s definitely got a real chance at competing. But all of that’s assuming Anthopoulos doesn’t completely revamp the team…

Closing thoughts: Is there anything not addressed by the above questions that you’d like to say about the Jays?

Drew: I really hope Jose Bautista hits 30 home runs next year so everybody will just leave him alone.

Ian: I think the one big thing we learned in 2010 is that the Toronto Blue Jays are a very talented group of players who are just on the cusp of hitting their stride. With the starting staff comprised of Marcum, Romero, Morrow and Cecil, they gave the team a great chance of winning night after night. Not very many clubs are fortunate to have as solid a rotation as the Blue Jays, and I definitely think we shouldn’t take it for granted.

Cole: I found this season to be tremendously enjoyable and I’m looking forward to 2011.

Paul: I would like to say having lived in Toronto since March, going to Blue Jays games is an awesome way to spend a few hours. Which leads me to the question: Why don’t more people come to the games?? There’s 3 million people in this city and we fielded an exciting, home-run hitting team that was fun to watch. Yet Toronto was in the bottom 5 in total attendance this year only ahead of teams like Pittsburgh, KC, and Baltimore…teams that totally suck. Come on Toronto. Support the Jays!

Chris: As exciting as the 2010 season was at times, I’m far more excited about this team’s future. Cito’s gone and the young guys will get a chance to play! Snider will (or should) finally get a real chance to show his potential and we should get a better idea of exactly how The Plan will play out now that Anthopoulos won’t be handcuffed by a manager whose sole goal seems to be helping veterans get better contracts.

And that concludes the roundtable. Hope you’ve enjoyed reading. Once again, I want to say a big thank you to Drew, Ian, Cole and Paul — without your contributions, this wouldn’t be possible.

Check back next year for the next edition of the roundtable, something which the team will hopefully force us to hold off on until November. Of course you can always come back before then if you’re so inclined.

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2010 Blue Jays roundtable: Answers, part 2

Adam Lind -- biggest letdown among players on the 2010 Blue Jays roster?

Welcome back. Wondering what this post is all about? It’s our annual post-season roundtable! Read the introductions here and the first set of answers here. On to the questions…

Who was the biggest letdown?

Drew: Gotta be Lind.  I think most people expected Hill to come back to Earth.  I was sure Adam Lind was slump proof.  I was wrong.  Such as shame that his all-world approach went away when times got tough.  His second half was actually half-decent, but he was so bad for so long in May and June, his numbers never recovered.

Ian: The conjoined slumping twins (Hill and Lind) were obviously a disappointment, but more specifically Aaron Hill. I’m more confident that Lind can turn things around next season, yet I’m much more worried about Aaron Hill. It feels like not only did his offense drop off significantly this season, so did his defense. It’s gotten to the point where I can even see Hill’s at bat unfold in my head: breaking ball low and inside, Hill takes a couple of hacks and strikes out. And that’s not something you want from your second baseman who still has 4 years (albeit 3 club options) left on his contract.

Cole: Aaron Hill obviously springs to mind and also I was a bit letdown by Travis Snider as I assumed he would have “broken out” by now, so to speak. I’m not ready to render him a ‘bust’ yet and obviously his lack of playing time throughout the season had an impact on this, but I think we had all hoped he would have become the hitter he’s supposed to become by now. However, still no rush as he’s still a young gun.

Paul: Kevin Gregg for my money. Didn’t trust him all season long.

Chris: I have a feeling that most people would pick either Aaron Hill or Adam Lind. In that sense, I’m not different from most people, but I give Lind the nod over Hill because I never expected Hill’s offence to match what he did last year.

Who will be in the Jays’ five-man rotation in 2011?

Drew: Romero, Morrow, Cecil, Rzepcyznski, Drabek.  Been a slice Shaun Marcum, but your ceiling is nigh.

Ian: I think we can all agree that the core four of Marcum, Romero, Morrow and Cecil will be back, but it’s that coveted fifth starter’s position that will be up for grabs next season. Kyle Drabek has shown he’s ready to pitch in the major leagues, yet the Blue Jays still have so many talented starters who could also slot in. I’m going to go with the dark horse candidate and say Marc Rzepczynski will be the number 5 starter in 2010 behind the four horsemen.

Cole: Romero, Drabek, Morrow, Marcum, Cecil.

Paul: Romero, Marcum, Morrow, Cecil, Drabek…..that’s amazing to write down on paper!

Chris: Barring trades or injuries, Shaun Marcum, Ricky Romero, Brett Cecil and Brandon Morrow should hold down their spots for the duration. The fifth spot is Kyle Drabek’s to lose, but if even he doesn’t lose it, I doubt he’ll start the season in Toronto. I expect the team will hold him back in an effort to better control his service time and use some like Jesse Litsch to start the season off. R-Zep I like, but I just can’t shake the thought of him working out of the bullpen.

If you could anoint one player as a Blue Jay of the Future, who would it be?

Drew: Travis Snider.  So young, so big, so fun, so good.

Ian: Considering the unusually high turnover rate when it comes to faces of this franchise, I’d have to so with a sure bet and a long-term deal and say Ricky Romero. It’s tough to believe he’s just finished up his sophomore year in the big leagues, but with his attitude and work ethic, Romero is wise beyond his years. I know he said Doc is the enemy now, but maybe some of the Halladay intensity unknowingly rubbed off on RR Cool Jay.

Cole: Kyle Drabek.

Paul: I gotta say Brandon Morrow. After the no-hit game I fell in love with the guy. I hope he becomes an Ace of this staff. And if he plays like he did this season, Jays fans will be eating plenty of free pizza.

Chris: He should be the Blue Jay of the Now, but due to injuries and misuse by Cito, I’m sticking with Travis Snider. I’m imaging him developing into a real masher next season and staying that way for years to come.

Alex Anthopoulos has been very busy since taking over as general manager. What move of his has had the biggest long-term effect on the Blue Jays?

Drew: Right now I’d say not trading any potential free agents at the deadline.  Compiling draft picks could pay huge dividends in the future.

Ian: When AA traded Brett Wallace, he definitely set back the clock on the long-term first base solution by a few years. Wallace would be with the Blue Jays right now (probably sitting on the bench though), but at least we’d know that he is the guy at first for the next 5+ years. Now we don’t even know who’s playing first base next year. It was a big gamble to take, and sometimes you have to bet big to win big.

Cole: If you’re looking long-term than obviously his increased efforts in scouting and signing players from all over the globe will have a big impact. For the first time in a while when an interesting name pops up I now actually feel like the Jays are a player again, which is always nice.

Paul: Outside of the Halladay trade, I’d say getting Morrow for League.

Chris: Trading an overachieving Alex Gonzalez for Yunel Escobar has got to be his best move so far. The Jays have been struggling for years shore up the shortstop hole and with Escobar, the team has gotten a lot stronger up the middle. I just wonder how Adeiny Hechevarria feels about this.

Still here? Awesome! We’re now a little more than 3/4 of the way through this year’s roundtable. The final instalment will go up this weekend. Hope you’ll come check out the thrilling conclusion.

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2010 Blue Jays roundtable: Answers, part 1

VW — second best Blue Jay this season?

Welcome back! The following is Part 1 of the answers to the questions posed in this year’s post-season Blue Jays roundtable. If you’re curious who’s answering the questions, I suggest you read this. Now that you’ve read that (or not) I present to the first of three sets of questions, with three questions each. Confused? Me too! Anyway, here we go:

What was the best play, moment or game of the Jays’ 2010 season?

Drew: It has to be the big home run Bautista hit off David Robertson, his 40th on the season.  The staredown, the ultra-slow trot.  Everything about it was awesome and enjoyable in that “shhh this victory isn’t hollow I don’t care what you say” kind of way.

Ian: The best moment and game were one in the same: August 23rd against the New York Yankees. Jose Bautista carried the Blue Jays to a narrow 3-2 win over the New York Yankees on account of his two home runs. More specifically, the moment from 2010 that stood out in my mind was the staredown Jose Bautista gave David Robertson after he hit his second home run in the game.

.      Prior to that moment, Bautista was brushed back by Ivan Nova with an inside fastball and tensions boiled over as the benches cleared. Rather than retaliate with his fists, Bautista fought back with his bat and let the longball do the talking. I was fortunate enough to be there in person at the game, and it was an epic moment I will never forget.

Cole: I particularly enjoyed Brandon Morrow’s brush with a no hitter and all the other ones throughout the season, even though they ended up in heartbreak at the time they were great moments.

.      J.P. Arencibia’s first game in the majors was also very poignant, as was Toronto fans actually being good baseball fans for once and giving Jose Bautista a well-deserved curtain call.

Paul: The best moment of the Jays’ 2010 season was the Brandon Morrow near no-hitter. I was at the game nursing a nasty hangover in the 500’s. It seemed like another typical game until around the 5th or 6th inning when the K’s started piling up and the Rays started going down. By the 9th inning you could feel the electircity in the building. I hate Evan Longoria for breaking up the no-no but the good news is I got over my hangover pretty quick.

Chris: Probably because I was there in present and had an excellent seat (Thank you, G20 Summit!), but J.P. Arencibia’s debut was definitely the highlight of the season for me. Not only was it an unreal performance, but it gave me another game — along with Canada-U.S.A. at the World Baseball Classic — that I can look back on and think fondly when I get annoyed with the fans in Toronto. Some of them do get it, and some do appreciate greatness when they’re seeing it.

Jose Bautista: American League MVP?

Drew: I think it still has to be Josh Hamilton.  Numbers, ballpark aided as they might be, are comparable in many ways plus the invaluable defensive contribution.  I think Jose has a better case than me and many media members believe, but Hamilton still gets the nod.

Ian: Transplant him onto any playoff contending team, and Jose Bautista is unquestionably the American League MVP. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case and we have to delve into the whole argument about how MVP’s should help get their teams to the playoffs. That being said, I wouldn’t give Jose Bautista the MVP award, but I’d certainly put him in the top three, maybe even as high as second place.

Cole: Do I think he should be given the award? Yes, a case can certainly be made. Do I think he will be? No, I do not. I think a player in a non-major MLB market and/or a non-playoff team has to really go above and beyond to win the award away from someone who might be an easier more mainstream choice.

Paul: Probably not. I compare Bautista’s year to Cecil Fielder’s in 1990. Cecil finished second in voting to Rickey Henderson and I think Jose will finish second or maybe even third to Josh Hamilton and Miguel Cabrera. Usually the AL MVP goes to a player whose team made the post-season so my guess is Hamilton.

Chris: I’ve got another post in the worked on this topic, so rather than stealing my own thunder, I’ll just say yes.

Other than Bautista, who was the best Blue Jay of 2010?

Drew: Ricky Romero.  Best numbers, most innings, still learning.

Ian: Lost among the hysteria of what has been Jose Bautista’s monster season, Vernon Wells has quietly strung together his second best season as a Blue Jay. Statistically, he’s been the best centre fielder in the American League and the sixth best outfielder in the American League. With this bounce back year, Vernon has shown that he needs some protection in the lineup to truly be deadly.

Cole: A lot of Blue Jays had surprisingly good seasons. I would have to say the best in terms of overall contribution however might have to go to John Buck. Not only did he far exceed expectations with the bat, but he seemed to do a good job with the Jays pitching staff and together with Molina turned what was expected to be a big negative for the team into a positive.

Paul: I’m gonna say Vernon Wells. Everyone has been on Vernon the past couple years for really sucking it up despite being paid so much money. If you look at his stats, Vernon had a good year.  He finished 2nd in team batting with .273 Batting average, 2nd in HR’s and RBI . Even better he had the most at bats of any Blue Jay meaning he was healthy!! He also had the most hits and the most doubles. Atta Boy Vernon!  Take a breath, the pressure’s off, for now.

Chris: Shaun Marcum. Debating who the Jays’ best pitcher was this season seems pointless. A valid case could be made for just about any of the four main starting pitchers, but I’m going with Marcum. Not only did he lead the starters in ERA+, WHIP, BB/9 and K/BB, he assumed the leadership role amongst the pitchers that Doc left vacant. Say what you will about intangibles, when you’ve got a young, inexperienced staff, it doesn’t hurt to have someone reminding them to “pitch like a man.”

That concludes Part 1 of the roundtable answers. If you enjoyed this, you should probably be aware that Part 2 is scheduled to go up tomorrow.

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2010 Blue Jays roundtable: Introductions

Hey there! Enjoying the playoffs? How about that Halladay, eh? And Lincecum, he’s something else, isn’t he? Yeah, the playoffs have been pretty great so far. The only real problem with the playoffs is that the Jays aren’t part of them.

Well, if you’re a Jays fan looking for a diversion from the playoffs, you’ve come to the right place. It’s time again for the annual Infield Fly post-season roundtable in which I ask some questions that I and other (better known and more knowledgeable) people answer.

And the better known and more knowledgeable people taking part this year, in no particular order, are:

Drew: Proprietor of the always-entertaining nerditry and liberated fandom you can find at Ghostrunner on First, Drew can also be found contributing to Walkoff Walk and The Score’s new baseball blog, Getting Blanked. You should probably also follow him on Twitter.

Ian: This guy may be the hardest working man in the Blue Jays blogosphere. If you want to know what’s going on with bobblehead promotions or the facial hair developments of Jays players, The Blue Jay Hunter is the first place to go (oh, and the site’s pretty good for info on the game, too). Ian’s also the founder of the Bautista Appreciation Society, president of the Toronto chapter of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance and should really be followed by you on the Twitter.

Cole: Reporter and columnist for the largest newspaper in New Brunswick and probably the biggest Jays fan I know in the real life. Cole’s been a part of the panel since the beginning (before it was on this site, even). Despite living in New Brunswick, he attends more games in person each year than most people who live in Toronto.

Paul: You know how The Score does that Drafted show? I only have basic cable, so I wouldn’t know myself except that Paul Brothers won it last year. He’s a cool guy, he knows his stuff, he tweets AND he’s on TV, so everything he says is true.

And then there’s me:

Chris: I am a guy who does some things. One of those things is convincing the people listed above to write for my site — thanks, guys!

Now that that’s taken care of, we can get to the questions. But not right away. Posting all of this at once would make for one unbearably long post. So the answers will be divided up into three parts, the first of which will already likely be bumping this down the page by the time you’re reading it. If not, you’re awesome! Thanks for reading the blog at weird hours.

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Toronto fire services

When the Jays signed Kevin Gregg, I didn’t think it was a very good move. Overspending on a reliever who’s been declining for a couple years — in the N.L. Central no less — and counting on that guy to be your closer in the A.L. East? Seems like questionable decision making at the very least.

Then I read Tao’s great post about the Jays’ closer carousel. It reminded me of some thing I’ve said in the past about what teams should be doing with their best relievers — use them when the game’s on the line, not just in the ninth when the most useless of counting stats is at stake. Taking this view, the signing of Gregg is still not a great one, but it’s not as bad as I once thought.

Scott Downs and Jason Frasor free to pitch in high leverage situations that aren’t the ninth inning? Sign me up!

Some other stuff

In case it wasn’t obvious from the above, I don’t have a whole lot to add to the discussion right now. So here are some links!

• Roundtable time and I’m in two of them! Mop Up Duty’s got the first part of their massive 2010 preview roundtable up and Cardinals blog C70 At the Bat has a Jays roundtable up as well. Check them out and marvel at my inconsistency in picking a breakout player for this year!

• Shaun Marcum gets the nod for opening day and the fan club rejoices.

• Star investigative reporting guru does a nice little feature on Toronto’s sabermetrics adviser Tom Tango. It’s a good read and includes the opinion that it’s not always the worst thing in the world if a batter lays down a sac bunt. Heresy!

• Deadspin heaps some disgusting love on Cito, highlights a video of a man in a Cito mask snorting coke and gives some much deserved and undisgusting love to GROF.

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Blue Jays roundtable, 2009: Part 3

If you’re just joining us now, welcome to the third installment of the 2009 Blue Jays roundtable, in which a select group of bloggers, insiders and fans answers a series of questions about the Blue Jays season that was. The first installment (including info about the contributors) can be found here, while the second installment can be found here. On to the questions…

Oh, Cito. I wish it didn't have to end like this. I really do. But you've given us no choice. The panel has decided you have to go.

Oh, Cito. I wish it didn't have to end like this. I really do. But you've given us no choice. The panel has decided you have to go.

If you could anoint one player as a Blue Jay of the Future, who would it be?

Chris: He’s a Blue Jay of Right Now and will be “of the Future” as well: Adam Lind. I really believe he’s just going to keep on getting better.

Squizz: I’d hope whoever it was, they had a serious case of contagious talent, since this pathetic franchise needs more than one player of the future, that’s for sure. It’s weird to say Aaron Hill, since he’s already been around for a while, but he’s still only, what, 25? There’s a distinct chance his powerful year at the plate could have been a Riosian fluke, but what the hell, you’ve gotta hitch your wagon to some horse. Hill over Lind just because he’s more solid defensively and the man stole home against the Yankees.

Cole: I would like to be saying Travis Snider, but he’s still got a lot of work to do, if this season is any indication. However, then you remember that he’s only still 21 and everything will hopefully be ironed out in a couple years.

.      I just realized you might have meant who is a player on a different team that we might like to see on this team. If that’s the case, maybe Mr. Pujols likes Canada? Perhaps Hanley Ramirez wants the chance to be able to tour the CN Tower before EVERY home game? Hmmm, not so much? One can dream.

Katy: As in a franchise player? Probably Snider. Or Romero. He’s a future ace in the making I think.

Eyebleaf: Travis Snider. He is destined for stardom.

Tao of Stieb: It’s still Snider. He’s still young, and he’ll really hit his stride in the next three years.

A clerical error results in you being GM long enough to make one move this off-season. What move do you make and why?

Chris: FIRE CITO. Because he insisted on using Millar far too often. And he doesn’t really know how to do any in-game managing. but mostly because of Millar.

Squizz: I move myself to Sweden and change my identity.

Cole: Wow, that’s pretty serious business and the move would be different depending on a number of things (if Scutaro and/or Barajas have already resigned, for example).

.      I’m a little concerned in the outfield, since at this point we have Vernon Wells who is obviously going to start, Travis Snider who is likely going to start but hasn’t really proven much, Jose Bautista who I like as a super utility but definitely not as a starter and Adam Lind, who I suppose will be DH, or perhaps 1B, as Cito seems too frightened to play him in the OF.

.      That being said, we need a starting OF-er, so I loosen the old purse strings and go bring J. Bay into the fold. It would do wonders for the marketing with the whole Canada bullshit, but more importantly, he’s good at baseball. However, I’m still not convinced the Red Sox will just let him walk. Everyone is talking as if he’s automatically a free agent, but I don’t necessarily see it that way.

.      Realistically though, all of this hinges on the Jays having more payroll. So I suppose I go to Tony Viner or Nadir Mohammed or whoever calls the shots with Rogers and try to get the payroll closer to Red Sox/Yankees level.

.      Oh, if Kevin Millar is still on the team, I also make sure that’s not happening anymore. Thanks for the memories MR. MILLAR, but your ‘veteran presence’ is no longer needed – in the middle of our lineup, or anywhere near a 25 man roster that could even try to begin to convince its fanbase that it is competing.

Katy: I’d fire Cito and get a coach that actually works well with the players. The change in that dynamic alone is enough to pull the best out of what we already have, so it’s probably the cheapest solution to maximize the playing potential of everyone currently on the team.

Eyebleaf: Only one? There’s too many to make. Jason Bay. Oh Canada. Get the best players available, period.

Tao of Stieb: Fire Cito. Because I don’t know that I’m going to make it another year with him as the Manager.

Is there anything not addressed by the above questions that’d you like to say about the Jays?

Chris: This was one of the most frustrating seasons I can remember enduring. From the steep drop after the amazing start to J.P. apparently abandoning plans of competing in 2010 and watching Cito consistently mismanage games… it was a bit much. But it can only go up from here, right? Right??

Squizz: While it’s seemingly all doom and gloom, in the “little details that mean nothing but still kinda make you smile” department: Johnny Mac set an all-time career high in round-trippers this past season, with four. And he only played in 73 games! Had he been our full-time shortstop, he could have hit 8 1/2 dingers! As for the Jays in general… they frustrate the shit out of me and make me wonder why I bother caring at all… but then again, so do most other things in my life, so I think this team and I are made for each other.

Cole: I’m excited about the Alex Anthopoulos era. I am however feeling that it’s quite unlikely the Jays will field a competitive team in the next two or three years. Still though, there’s a lot to cheer for on this team and a lot of your promise.

.      The 2009 Toronto Blue Jays were an awful team, but I’m still a proud Blue Jay fan. I know I’m alone and a lot of people hopped off the proverbial bandwagon this season, but hopefully once spring returns to the air we can all enjoy once again hoping and wishing that the stars align and we can return to Toronto post-season glory.

Katy: Act like you want to win. I know it’s not entirely their fault, management sucks and ownership is more concerned with making money than winning. But if you play everyday like you’re going to get fired if you don’t perform, I think you’d see a big change. Players just need their management to believe in them, coaches and owners included. The fans already love them.

Eyebleaf: Believe. It’s a new era. The Alex Anthopoulos era. $120 million payroll!!1 Playoffs!!1 Who knows, perhaps even a pennant. Dare to dream…

Tao of Stieb: I know it is hard to conceive of this now, but I really believe that the Blue Jays have some of the pieces that will make them a winner in the coming years. (I guess I’d have to think that, or I’d go a little crazy.) Even with the crappy season that they had, one extra win every two weeks this year would have made the Jays a playoff contender. With a little luck and some smart moves to fill in the gaps, I think they can find those extra wins…and still finish third in the AL East.

And there you have it. The mammoth three-part wrap up of the Jays’ 2009 season is done. Thanks again to our wonderful contributors: Squizz, Cole, Katy, Eyebleaf and Tao of Stieb. This wouldn’t have been possible without your help.

Check back next year for the next edition of the roundtable, something which the team will hopefully force us to hold off on until November. Of course you can always come back before then if you’re so inclined.

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Blue Jays roundtable, 2009: Part 2

If you’re just joining us now, welcome to the second installment of the 2009 Blue Jays roundtable, in which a select group of bloggers, insiders and fans answers a series of questions about the Blue Jays season that was. The first installment (including info about the contributors) can be found here. On to the questions…

Adam Lind -- biggest letdown among players on the 2009 Blue Jays roster??

Adam Lind -- biggest letdown among players on the 2009 Blue Jays roster??

Who was the best Blue Jay of 2009?

Chris: Aaron Hill. Adam Lind was the best hitter, but Hill’s defensive contributions tip the scale.

Squizz: Aaron Hill. All-Star, Comeback Player of the Year, so on and so forth. I mean, when’s the last time the Jays had a slick-fielding, 30/100-slugging second baseman? Oh yeah, never.

Cole: Adam Lind. Everyone gets all horny about Aaron Hill’s season, but the fact of the matter is Lind did about the same things offensively Hill did, but with a much higher OBP.

Katy: Aaron Hill. Unquestionably.

Eyebleaf: This one’s a 3 way tie between Lind, Hill and Doc. Lind because he became the hitter we all hoped he would become; Hill because he bounced back from a devastating concussion in fine form; and Doc because we should never take him for granted.

Tao of Stieb: Lind and Hill had great years, but it’s pretty hard to wrest the crown of “Best Blue Jay” from Roy Halladay’s hands.

Who was the biggest letdown?

Chris: Alex Rios. Dude’s got so much talent, yet it feels like letting him go (for nothing!) was a great move.

Squizz: Adam Lind. If you recall, after the season opener, he was on pace for 162 homers and over 900 RBI. He didn’t even come close to delivering. Shameful.

Cole: I think it’s pretty obviously Vernon Wells. I’m not big on the ‘trash Wells at every turn’ mentality, but he was a huge letdown for the club this year and it’s scary to think how good the Jays would have been in the beginning if Wells and Rios were both hitting too.

.      Regardless, if the Jays are to have success, Wells needs to be a part of that. I’m really hoping he bounces back next year. As much crap as he takes and as below par as he was this year, I’m really pulling for the guy and I do believe in him. I’m calling it here. Comeback player of the year in 2010 – Vernon Wells.

Katy: How about BJ Ryan?

Eyebleaf: Vernon Wells. Who else? What a nightmare of a season. I figured he’d get it going eventually, but it never happened. Nevertheless, I defended him until the end. I don’t think it’s possible for him to be that bad again. I believe in Vernon Wells.

Tao of Stieb: It’s probably unfair to say this, but I had really high hopes for Travis Snider this year. He’s still young, and I still believe that he’s going to be great, but his season was a bit of a letdown.

What does the future hold for Marco Scutaro?

Chris: A few respectable seasons that don’t live up to what he did in 2009. Hopefully those seasons are played in Toronto, because who’s going to take his place?

Squizz: McCain Fruit Punch commercials?

Cole: Hopefully a nice career-ending contract that will take care of all the next generation of Little Scutaro’s. Is that contract coming from the Jays? I’m not sure. Honestly though, I could throw Scutaro into the ‘big surprises’ category too, as this guy was just a workhorse this year and did a phenomenal job.

.      I think everyone was shocked with how good his everyday defence was at SS (I still don’t understand how he plays SS with such a huge glove. Looks like a CF-ers mitt, but I digress).

On top of that he gave us a semi-legitimate leadoff guy. His patience was just great (hardly ever seemed to chase balls out of the zone) and it seemed he really took to being an everyday player and to having a role as a leadoff guy.

.     I’d say it’s probably 50/50 on whether or not the Jays resign him. I don’t think he’ll command THAT much of a deal, but I assume he’ll want at least two to three years, maybe $4 to $6 million per? That isn’t anything more than speculation, but if he does the job he did this year, I would be happy to pay that.

.      The fact he got injured at season’s end could perhaps play in the Jays’ favour, as he might be a less valuable commodity now due to concern over his health.

Katy: I think if the team wants a chance they need to re-sign him for next year. His offence unfortunately means more to the team right now than Jonny Mac’s incredible defence, which Scoot isn’t bad at either. Therefore he’s more valuable. (Please learn to bat this off-season JMac, and you will be a legend!)

Eyebleaf: He’ll be back in Toronto, patrolling shortstop and batting at the top of the order. What a season. Viva Venezuela.

Tao of Stieb: Two more years where he puts up about 85% of last year’s numbers, and then a few years in the National League to end his career.

Who will be in the Jays’ five-man rotation in 2010?

Chris: Assuming they keep Doc and that McGowan is healthy, I’m hoping to see Halladay/Marcum/Romero/McGowan/whichever of the young arms wins the fifth spot in spring training.

Squizz: Well, they operated on a 38-man rotation this year, so this question is a bit restrictive. Halladay will start the season, since he’s been so devalued as to make any offseason trade pointless. We obviously have to pray for Marcum and McGowan to come back. Romero looks like he’s booked his spot. And then some patchwork of Litsch, Janssen, Tallet and, I dunno, Josh Towers?

Cole: Hmmm, let me be optimistic that the Jays will actually ‘go for it’ and spend some money next year, and that that will mean Halladay stays:

Halladay/Arm acquired via trade or FA – Wilner’s plan mentions Felix Hernandez… yes please! / Marcum / McGowan / Romero

.      Okay, I guess I’m also counting on injuries not playing an issue and everyone being healthy. Ummm, that is a pretty sexy rotation.

.      Now, let me be more realistic on what an opening day rotation could look like, presuming they aren’t going for it and Halladay gets traded:

Romero / Arm received back from Halladay / Marcum / Cecil / Zep-chin-skee.

Katy: Doc, Romero, Marcum, Rzep, and Cecil, although those last 2 spots are really up for grabs.

Eyebleaf: Doc, Romero, Marcum, Cecil and R-Zep. We can’t wait for Dustin McGowan forever, and Brian Tallet is best suited to come out of the bullpen.

Tao of Stieb: Marcum, Romero, Rzepczynski, Cecil and whoever comes back in the Halladay trade.

And so ends the part two of the roundtable. Come back Monday for the exciting conclusion!

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Blue Jays roundtable, 2009: Part 1

 

The best game of the Toronto Blue Jays' 2009 season.

The best game of the Toronto Blue Jays' 2009 season.

 

Back in the fall of 2007, I was asked to participate in a season-ending roundtable to wrap up the Blue Jays’ season. Since that blog is now dormant, I decided to steal the idea.

So what follows is the first of a three-part post featuring a few people who know their stuff answering 10 questions about the Toronto Blue Jays. Your panelists, other than myself, are:

Squizz: driving force behind one of Canada’s top soccer blogs, occasional poster to the site you’re looking at right now and author of the dormant blog from which I stole the roundtable idea.

Cole: Reporter from Atlantic Canada and Blue Jays optimist who has been saying “this is the year” every season since Toronto last reached the playoffs. Also a member of the original panel.

Katy: A former Jays employee. Check out her tumblr — fun baseball stuff keeps popping up.

Eyebleaf: Ever-optimistic blogger behind the excellent Sports and the City. Curious about the Jays, Leafs, Raptors or how much you should hate Vernon Wells? Check out his site.

Tao of Stieb: Proprietor of the best Blue Jays blog that ever did grace the Internet, the Tao of Stieb.

And now for the questions…

What was the best play / moment / game of the Jays’ 2009 season?

Chris: Scutaro stealing second on a walk. I have never seen anything like that before, and I doubt I ever will again.

Squizz: It was not so much a single moment as a period of time — the first month and a half of the season when the city seemed willing to delude itself into thinking this was a legitimate playoff team. It’s tough to remember now, but the excitement was palpable. I was too cynical to be sucked into the hype — and for being right, my reward was another shitpile of a season and a frightening city-wide descent into pessimism, apathy and hostility.

Cole: Surprisingly, for such a poor season, there were actually many great moments. Obviously, the walk off wins at the beginning of the season were nice and a welcome change from past years when it seemed the Jays would never win walk offs. Although, they were kind of spoiled by the end of the season when the Jays GAVE UP a number of walk offs, including more than one to the Yankees.

.      There weren’t any walkoff winners quite as poignant as Gregg Zaun’s grand-slam last season (I have no shame in admitted I was teary-eyed), but there were some good ones for sure – Overbay’s two-run bomb in the 12th inning back in April and Hill’s walkoff double late in the season (if for nothing else than to restore a little joy in Blue Jay Land).

.      The whole Yankees bean-ball brawl also was kind of a highlight, as it was nice to see Jesse Carlson stand up for his teammates. On the topic of bean balls, Halladay beaning Ortiz in retaliation for Papelbon ending Lind’s season was also pretty nails too. Man, I hate Papelbon. I originally wrote this before his choke job in the ALDS, but now that that has happened, joy is once again restored. I like to think in some way this was karmic retribution for him ending Lind’s season, but, perhaps (and hopefully) it’s just a sign of a new suckier Papelbon who we can mock without mercy when he looks in with that douchey glare and then quickly has to turn over his shoulder to watch ropes through the infield.

.      I would have to say overall, however, that nothing beat the excitement (and eventual result) of AJ versus Doc at the Dome. The season was young, the Jays were atop the division, it was a hugely anticipated showdown and it worked out just how everyone hoped. I’d say that’s my number one.

.      It’s funny because it was a dreadful season, but I still have a lot of great memories of it. I suppose that’s mostly from the 27-14 part of it though.

Katy: That’s a tough one…when you are there for every single home game you have a lot to choose from. I’m going to say Doc vs. AJ was insane this year.

Eyebleaf: It happened early, when the Jays were the kings of the AL East; A.J. Burnett’s return. Doc handled it, as we knew he would, and the atmosphere at the Rogers Centre was nothing like I had ever experienced. It felt like playoff baseball.

Tao of Stieb: The Doc-A.J. showdown is the one thing that clearly stands out in retrospect. Maybe that reflects bad on the state of the team, but it felt like a playoff game with the way that the Dome was packed and the Jays were the focus, even in the midst of hockey playoffs.

What was the biggest surprise of the 2009 season?

Chris: Aaron Hill. I think every expected him to be respectable, nobody (that I know of anyway) expected him to have a season quite like that.

Squizz: The fall from grace of Cito Gaston. He rode back into town on a white horse last season, reigniting the passions of even the most casual baseball fans… of course, once the bubble burst, we realized he was riding a wave of nostalgia more so than competence. Still, the virulence directed at this formerly-beloved Toronto sporting figure by season’s end was depressing — it’s always a shame when a local hero has their great victories overshadowed by late-career events (see Favre, Brett).

Cole: I think the emergence of Aaron Hill and Adam Lind would be a pretty easy choice here.

.      We always assumed these two guys would blossom into good ballplayers, but the numbers they put up were kind of foolish. It will be quite interesting to see if they can continue that sort of production and I’m actually going to be a bit of a pessimist and say I think it’s doubtful we’ll see both these players hit over 30 homeruns next year. I’m hoping though.

.      Honestly, I think Aaron still has more development as a hitter. Dude just doesn’t walk and if he could learn to be more patient, the numbers he put up would have been amongst the best in the entire league (they already were in many cases, I know, but his OBP isn’t exactly mind-numbing). I know it’s a catch 22 though, as if he’s not aggressive as he is, perhaps he doesn’t hit as many homeruns. Hey, I’m selfish, I want his 35+ homeruns, 100+ RBIs AND a .400 OBP.

Katy: Scutaro.

Eyebleaf: I’d have to go with the immense failure that was Alex Rios. If you would have told me at the start of the season that Rios would struggle so badly and eventually be claimed on waivers, I’d never have believed you. Oh Alex, what was supposed to have been…

Tao of Stieb: Adam Lind’s emergence. I had figured that he’d possibly contribute 20 homers and 75 RBI if he had a good year, but he really reached a whole other level this season.

Where did the season go wrong?

Chris: I didn’t think it was a bad move at the time, but the season went wrong back in 2008 when Cito was brought in.

Squizz: When I started almost letting myself believe all of the hype that was constantly swirling around me. Then boom, rotation explodes, bats get silent(er), losing streaks and another long, languid summer of meaningless baseball. It may be a little narcissistic to think the sporting gods have it in for me, but I can’t come up with a better explanation.

Cole: I’m going to go ahead and say it went wrong during that faithful series against Boston where the Jays got swept, en route to their nine-game losing streak. Damn you Wakefield. That much is obvious though, I suppose.

.      Really though, even with that nine-game slide, the Jays had built themselves up enough of a cushion that they weren’t even in bad shape at that point. So really, I don’t think there’s any one place you can pinpoint. The season probably went wrong when the team went north with the 25 man roster we had, because it obviously wasn’t good enough to win – the only kick to the nuts was that we were deluded into thinking they were good enough to win by the boner-inducing 27-14 start.

Katy: Complacency in player attitudes and in ownership. It’s supposed to be a sports team first, business second, but not everyone sees it that way and make decisions accordingly.

Eyebleaf: The season went wrong right from the get go. The 27-14 was the last thing this team needed. It wasn’t a contender to begin with, and the hot start put pressure on everybody. It all went wrong when Snider got sent down, and Litsch got hurt, and Wells and Rios became black holes in the lineup, and Millar played so much, and when Cito couldn’t put together a lineup to save his life. It went wrong in every which way after the salad days known as the 27-14 start.

Tao of Stieb: The night that the Jays faced Tim Wakefield and suddenly stopped hitting for the next two weeks. Basically everything fell to pieces after that.

And so, after 1514 words, you’ve reached the conclusion of the first installment of the 2009 Blue Jays roundtable. Come back on Saturday for part two to find out who the biggest letdown of 2009 was (it’s not who you think!) and Monday for part three to see what one move each of our panelists would make in the coming off-season.

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