The big news of the week is the G-20 in Toronto and the Jays' three home games that were then forced to be played in the City of Brotherly Love. Sports is not real life – though it should be.
Should they have moved the Jays games? It seems to me that Philadephia back in 1776 may have had a somewhat more important summit conference involving about 20 guys, a constitution and a new country and stuff like that and nobody told Ben Franklin to go fly his kite somewhere else.
Well, at least Jays' fans on a tight budget can take a “bus-man's Halladay” and come on down to see another ballpark that has hosted back-to-back World Series (although they only won once).
All kidding aside, if last weekend's mess around the Dome was any indication of the turmoil that will be going on downtown in terms of security and out-of-town protesters then the Jays made the right decision.
With all the cages and fences and locked gates and blocked off streets, it was like the Toronto Indy minus the roaring engines and the hot chicks. But, in truth, the Jays might have made the right call but if they made it earlier they'd have given fans a better chance to make plans. I'll be there on Friday when Doc makes his Jays' house call.
Do you see a new ballpark in Toronto's future? The Rogers Centre is a pretty dull place to watch a game (especially when the roof is closed). Nobody uses artificial turf anymore, and almost every other team in baseball is sporting a nice "retro" park.
Also, if they were to build a new park in Toronto, where do you see it going?
Stuart Stark, Toronto
A-The Jays will never get a new ballpark because it would have to be privately financed and they have the greatest bargain in sports going after purchasing the Dome for a song five years ago and therefore they need to make the best of a currently bad situation.
Here are some suggestions. 1) replace the field with grass and make the appropriate arrangements necessary to handle rock shows and the like without tearing up the sod. Other stadiums do. In Arizona when we were there they had some bizarre infra-red blue lights that they bathed the grass in covered areas where the sun don't shine. 2) Full dirt infield like 29 other ballparks in baseball. Those cutouts serve to take away any of the romantic Field of Dreams thoughts that most die-hard ball fans drift into during moments of serenity. 3) Leave the roof open all winter and summer (for the grass) and for the atmosphere. Close it for baseball games only if it's raining within two hours of the start of a game. That means they would need tarps, etc. and the “world's fastest grounds crew” would be forced to slow down. Fans would quickly get used to the new “dress for the weather” mandate just like they're doing in Minneapolis.It's not just the aesthetics of the Jays' baseball mausoleum. A lot of superstar players take a game or two off anytime they have to play on the unfamiliar Astroturf and so the Jays' ticket-purchasing fans are being robbed. The Jays built the last pinball parlour park before the O's changed the art of the stadium with Camden Yards. Timing is everything.
I was wondering if you had any insight into what the Blue Jays will be doing for a closer heading into the hopefully contending seasons, post 2011. I think that you can clearly say that there isn't a potential closer in the pen right now with Jason Frasor, Scott Downs and Kevin Gregg all showing that they aren't fit to be elite in that position. Is there someone else that they have in mind within the system? With so few truly elite closers in the league and the prospect of another BJ Ryan debacle, I don't see where else they could find a closer. Is it possible to win it all without a Papelbon or a Rivera? Thanks!
John Roszell, Toronto
A-I don't believe the Jays need to necessarily worry about who will be their closer in 2012 quite yet. They drafted a good one in that Wojiechowski kid, but they also drafted a great NCAA closer in 2007 a guy named Brett Cecil out of Maryland and now he's in the rotation.
Most great major-league closers spend their minor league careers as starters and then convert later on. This is 1) to get them innings as a professional in order to move up more quickly; 2) to see what their max repertoire is and then narrow it down if necessary just like they are doing with David Purcey. All of the closers at Jays' minor-league affiliates project as middle relievers when they come up to the bigs and then may be able to work their way in as a closer. Looking for outside chances? How about Cecil? How about Brandon Morrow who once was that for the M's and who has straightened out som mechanical issues. How about Purcey? Yes a team can win without a Papelbon or a Rivera, but it's tougher. Look at the Phils' in '08 with a lights-out Lidge then the Phils in '09, losing to the Yanks for want of a closer.
I'm a huge Jays fan and definitely like the way the Jays are shaping up both this year and for the future. My question is about one of my favourite players, Adam Lind: what is wrong with him? Last year, and the year prior, Lind was patient at the plate, and aggressive with the pitches that were "his" - he killed fastballs and off-speed stuff all the same. This year, he seems completely lost. Why hasn't Cito stepped in and gotten him back on track? It seems that Cito was a part of Lind's success in the past, offering advice on having "a plan at the plate", etc. Is it Cito's m.o. to step off and let Lind figure it out? Or has Lind just regressed even with the advice?
Eric Ashby, Toronto
A-Lind is not as aggressive early in counts as he was last year and is taking hittable pitches and getting himself in more “pitcher's counts” where they can mix it up with off-speed and fastball and it becomes more of a guessing game.
When you're slumping as a hitter it always seems that you're guessing wrong. Lind when Cito arrived was a lost sponge looking for success and willing to listen like Plato at the feet of Socrates. At the same time, pitchers had never seen this kid have success before so Lind was able to make adjustments on a one-way street to 2009 success.
After all his success, the pitchers went to the video scouting and it's time for Lind to return service and start the process of rebounding to among the elite hitters. He has been hitting the ball harder lately but a lot of times right at someone. When he is back you will know it because he will start getting hits on balls that he does not hit hard, bleeders and bloops and balls squeezed through the infield. He's having a longer adjustment period because the original plan for success was not of his own learning.
I'm curious about Jacob Marisnick, a Jays' high draft pick from a year ago. I could not find him until very recently, & now I see that he has fewer AB's in pro ball than Marcus Knecht, for example, who was just drafted a couple of weeks ago. Why was Marisnick's progress so delayed?
Bruce Spurrier, Courtenay, B.C.
A-I love Jake Marisnick as a future major-leaguer for the Jays. The 6-4, 200 lb. 19-year old is a righthanded hitter with good speed, a good arm and decent power that will only get better. He signed too late last summer to be assigned to a minor-league roster with only 20 days left in the schedule. He was kept at extended spring and is now playing official games with the Gul Coast League Jays. Remember he just turned 19.
We hear a lot from you and others about Brett Wallace and J.P Arencibia being up and coming stars for the Jays. But I note that there are six players at (Triple-A) Las Vegas hitting .300 or more, not including Wallace, hitting .278 and Arencibia, hitting .284. This sounds very promising. Who is the hitting coach there? Unless I don't keep track enough, I have never heard most of these six mentioned as future possible Jays. Are they career minor leaguers, past major leaguers, or are also they possible future Jays? They are Brad Emaus, a 24-year-old second baseman who is batting .354 in 15 games, after hitting .278 at New Hampshire, Luis Figueroa, a 34-year-old infielder who is hitting .335 after 56 games, Jarrett Hoffpauir, a 27-year-old second baseman who is hitting .333 after 54 games, Jorge Padilla, a 31-year-old outfielder who is hitting .330 after 50 games, Aaron Mathews, a 28-year-old left fielder who is batting .324 after 20 games, and Jesus Merchan, a 29-year-old infielder who is hitting .315 after 39 games.
Bruce Hutchison, Winnipeg
A-If you've ever seen a jackrabbit running through an open farmer's field, that's what hard groundballs are like at Cashman Field in Vegas on a hot, dry day. Thus you have to take batting averages and ERAs with a grain of salt -- and sand. But good for these guys and the batting coach there for his second season is former minor-league slugger with a cup of coffee in the majors, Chad Mottola.
Emaus has had two great springs in a row and in both of them has been cut and sent back to minor-league camp on his birthday. All the best, dude. He's a solid player looking for a position to call his own. Figueroa and Merchan are too old to be prospects and are filling in until the younger Jays' farmhands are ready. Padilla was just sent to the Mets, seemingly desperate for outfield help and Hoffpauir is getting his chance to impress at the big-league level, taking over for Edwin Encarnacion. Because of the playing conditions and life's temptations in Vegas, the Jays keep most of their younger hotshots away from the bright lights until they can move their AAA affiliate by next year.
This was just an interim location for Triple-A because the previous regime prior to Alex Anthopoulos had so alienated the city of Syracuse and the Chiefs that they booted them out and left them homeless. Maybe the Jays will even consider moving Triple-A back to a Canadian city aching for pro ball.
Love the blog...keep up the great work! I was listening to you on the Fan590 the other day and heard you make a reference to Al Leiter's departure and Paul Beeston's straightening that out'. I am very interested to know what you were referring to as I was always a little bitter that Leiter left the Jays after they were so patient with him (and all his blisters!) for so many years...and I remember reading that he left without even so much as making a courtesy call to Gaston or Beeston...which, if true, would have to be considered pretty classless!
Thanks, and I look forward to reading your response on the blog!!!
Reg Thacker, Brooklyn, N.Y.
A-Maybe it's more of a settled thing in Leiter's mind than in Beeston's because Paul has been known to hang onto grudges for a while despite the cheery front. But the Jays back in the day following the '95 season when an ungrateful Leiter bolted for Florida, as an organization that had always taken care of its players as if they were kin, the Jays believed that loyalty was a two-way street.
I think the fact that Leiter didn't believe he owed the Jays anything like a last call was more of a disappointment for the Jays and Beeston and Gillick and Gord Ash than it was what cost them a chance to compete in the late-'90s. Leiter was right as an athlete but wrong as a human being and I think that's what's been settled between Leiter and Beeston. They talk now when they meet. Leiter has grown up.
Brett Wallace is ticketed for first base, I know some scouts think he is too stiff to play third in the majors. Considering their problems long range at third, is it worth a try to see if he can develop into at least an average third baseman? First base options seem plenty with Adam Lind, Travis Snider, David Cooper or one of JP Arencibia/Travis D'arnaud (depending on who wins the catching job)
Kevin Layman, St. John's
A-No. The Jays in their first year under Anthopoulos have been firm in their one-on-one dealings with every player that came to major-league training camp. They cannot turn around less than a year later and say we are changing our minds.
For instance, Brandon Morrow was promised he would be a starter and to get himself ready as such. Thus he is out of any “closer” conversation for the moment. Wallace was told he would be a first baseman. Thus he is out of any third-base conversation. Lyle Overbay was told that he would play every day because he is in his free agent season as long as he is still a Jay. He is still a Jay and thus he plays every day.
Think of this what you will, but in the long-term if the Jays become known as an organization of their word, it is more important than the short term of plugging holes on the fly in what was always a rebuilding season. Some of those guys you mention as possible answers at first base have no chance of ever being considered. It ain't that easy.
Q-I have two questions. With the signing of (Nick) Green do you foresee a trade of one of Mike McCoy, John McDonald or Dewayne Wise? If not, what is the point of adding another player with similar skills when Cito doesn't play the ones he has? Does every team have different signals? Who is responsible for creating the signals?
Eleanor Pakozdi, Port Colborne, Ont.
A-Wise was sitting on the open market for over a month with no takers. Why would anyone be interested now. McDonald is not an important piece to any other team's pennant por wild-card hopes and it would be a disservice to the classiest man on the team to dump him in mid-season for a fringy prospect or cash.
McCoy was claimed on waivers when 29 other teams had an equal chance. He has done nothing as a Blue Jay to increase his value. Every organization has two or three Mike McCoys. Green is a veteran player on a each that is never used. The value of having a player like Green on Cito's bench is that you are not ruining a future, because his future is now.
McCoy may have a future. As for the signs, every team has different signs as per the third base coach of the day and when a player is traded, team's are forced to change signs or risk them being stolen on the info that the departed player knows. I know first hand that every coach needs his own signs.
On my Oakville A's midget team, I took third base for a day just to bust a slump and used my other coach's signs. I have my own nervous tics and twitches and ended up having players stepping out of the box scratching their heads in bafflement because I was calling for steals with the bases loaded and hit-and-run with nobody on base. I should have gone back to my own old signs. Next time I will.
Q-Is there any reason why Cito won't give David Purcey a chance to prove himself as someone that we can count on in the bullpen next year and in the future? In a month in the big leagues he's had only mop up appearances. With Downs being a FA at the end of the year why would AA not want to see if Purcey can become a much cheaper lefty setup man? Doesn't make any sense to me but Cito always seems to have his favorites and until you get into that category you have to pay your dues. Thoughts?
Jason M, Toronto
A-It's a long season and Purcey has already survived one cut on the staff. I love what they've done making him a short-burst reliever. I'm like you. I hpe by the end of the season that he gets a chance for a more significant role. With Downs leaving and Brian Tallet iffy and with Rommel Lewis back in the desert looking for enemy tank movement, there is a need for that replacement setup man.
What can you tell me about Tim Collins, the reliever at AA New Hampshire? Is there any precedent for longevity of success among pitchers his height?
Tony Baer, Madison
A-Collins, a 20-year-old lefty from Worcester, Mass. Is listed at 5-7 which means he's about 5-5. There has always been a traditional scouting bias against short in stature pitchers. Maybe it's because they are starting from a mound and they feel that downward trajectory ois diminished when you're short, but it's more about arm angle than height. Chad Bradford was very tall but scraped his knuckles on the mound on many pitches, pitching like a lights-out-Lilliputian. I recall Buzz Capra of the Braves as one of the few vertically-challenged righthanders to succeed. Lefties for some reason get a pass from scouts when it comes to height and I don't know why.