The Bullpen: Jays' trades show they're writing 2012 off
Reliever Brad Lincoln was picked up by the Jays from the Pirates for outfielder Travis Snider.
VOLUME IX, August 6, 2012
The Jays made a couple of moves at the trade deadline, bolstering the bullpen by acquiring Brad Lincoln from the Pirates for Travis Snider; and Steve Delabar from the Mariners for Eric Thames. Earlier in the month, in what amounts to a deadline month deal, on July 20, Jays’ Alex Anthopoulos orchestrated a 10-player trade with the Astros, obtaining J.A. Happ, Brandon Lyon and David Carpenter for Francisco Cordero, Ben Francisco and five more prospects. Despite what the Jays may say, they were dealing for next year, writing off 2012.
PREVIOUS EDITIONS OF THE BULLPEN:
If they win additional games and if they finish above .500, that’s a bonus, but the fact is that when they realized they were going to be unable to suitably recover from the devastating pitching injuries that took place in June, around the time they played in Milwaukee, they decided internally to look forward. Three acquired relievers and a No. 3-4 starter are not the moves of a contender.
Lyon is pitching on an expiring contract, eligible to be a free agent, likely to be gone, while the Jays are hoping that the strong-armed Carpenter, who was immediately sent to AAA-Las Vegas, can come to training camp next year and win a job in the bullpen. The Astros deal was based on futures.
Meanwhile, how about the fact it took the Jays three weeks to tell Brett Cecil he wasn’t doing the job, before giving Happ a chance to start. What were they thinking? Obviously not wild card. Consider that in June they had a revolving door going in terms of their five starters, because of the injuries to Brandon Morrow, Kyle Drabek and Drew Hutchison and then when they actually acquired a legitimate major-league rotation part, they wouldn’t give him a job because of Cecil, Aaron Laffey and Carlos Villanueva. The Jays are clearly not playing for the post-season.
But some clubs are. Here is a list of five teams that made things happen, trying to grasp the ring and leverage their way onto the dance floor, hopefully into late October.
1. Dodgers: For a long stretch of games early this summer, the Dodgers bats went astonishingly cold. Ned Colletti watched as the confident Giants caught and passed them, so Colletti went out and did something about it. The Dodgers already have perhaps the best player in the NL in Matt Kemp and the best starting pitcher in Clayton Kershaw. They should, by all rights, dominate the division, but they annually have too many holes, both on offence and on the pitching staff.
The Dodgers are going for it now under new, deep-pocketed ownership. They acquired SS Hanley Ramirez from the Marlins to replace the injured Dee Gordon. Ramirez less than two years ago was one of the elite offensive players in the National League. He has never been in a pennant race.
They traded for OF Shane Victorino from the Phillies to bat at the top of the order and play left field. He has played in a lot of post-seasons and is a positive clubhouse influence. Then in early August, the Dodgers acquired Joe Blanton to bolster the rotation. He’s a solid 4-5. If the Dodgers don’t make it to the playoffs, their fans know they at least went out with guns blazing.
2. Rangers: Once the dominant team in the AL, the two-time defending league champs needed a boost, as well as a rebound from their main man Josh Hamilton. With problems in the rotation, including season-ending injuries to Colby Lewis and Neftali Feliz, with the failure to launch of Roy Oswalt, they went hard after Ryan Dempster from the Cubs and landed him.
In a separate deal, GM Jon Daniels acquired former NL rookie of the year Geovany Soto from the Cubs, to help out a struggling Mike Napoli. They released Yorvit Torrealba.
3. Angels. The Halos entered the season with what was commonly regarded as the best starting rotation in the AL, but Ervin Santana has struggled and Dan Haren has not been the dominant No. 3 starter that was expected. As such, the Angels reached out to the Brewers and acquired Zack Greinke, who is eligible for free agency at the end of the year. It would seem to be a perfect spot for Greinke, a large market without oppressive 24-hour-news-cycle coverage and a clubhouse where he is not expected to be a leader. Plus, a team that has a chance to win this year.
4. Tigers. Over in Motown, the Tigers were expected to run away from the AL Central and hide. It hasn’t happened. Thus, Dave Dombrowski, with his sights on the division lead and the wild card, pulled off a solid deal with the Marlins to bring in a badly needed INF Omar Infante and Anibal Sanchez, who fits in at the back-end of the rotation. In August they also picked up utility player Jeff Baker. Infante has experience with the Tigers and a comfort level. Consider that the Tigers are in contention despite Justin Verlander and Jose Valverde not being the force they were a year ago, but with Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder as the most feared duo in the AL.
5. Pirates. The NL Central is up for grabs. The Reds have been unbelievably hot and have sailed past the Pirates, who have not slumped as much as it is that the Reds have been hot. GM Neal Huntington acquired OF Travis Snider from the Jays, LH Wandy Rodriguez from the Astros, 1B Gaby Sanchez from the Marlins and RH Chad Qualls from the Yankees.
The Pirates deadline moves are not the most earth-shaking in baseball, but in their division, with the fact that this club has not finished above .500 since 1992, it’s a signal to the clubhouse that they want to win this year. The Reds are tough, but there’s always a wild-card spot in the Bucs future.
BLUE JAYS WEEK . . . July 30-August 5, 2012
GAMES: The Jays have been reaching crossroad after crossroad as the club’s injury toll has mounted day after day. Heading out onto the road for a 10-game, 11-day trip to the West Coast and Tampa, surrounding a Monday off-day, the Jays ran a figurative red light and were T-boned by the M’s and the A’s before salvaging the final two games at the Coliseum, the worst stadium in baseball.
The Jays were swept in Seattle, playing the M’s without their iconic RF Ichiro Suzuki for the first time since 2000. The Jays lost to the offensively challenged M’s 4-1, 7-2 and 5-3, to Hisashi Iwakuma, Justin Vargas and Blake Beavan. The unkindest cut of all came Wednesday when Eric Thames, who had arrived the night before, homered against Villanueva to centre field.
On the bright side, LH Ricky Romero had a decent start Monday, ending speculation that he might be bumped from the rotation, temporarily, in favour of Happ. On Tuesday, Laffey returned to face his former team and was clubbed in his shortest start. In the series finale, Villanueva had an early lead, but gave up the homer to Thames and was upset at himself, suggesting that if he had thrown a changeup, he would have fanned him. “Jeff (Mathis) should have body slammed me,” Villanueva said of his catcher and his stubborn decision to spin a slider instead.
The Jays moved on to Oakland, the city on the wrong side of the bay, and lost the first two games to extend the team’s losing streak to six games. In the Friday night loss, the Jays at least showed signs of life. Mathis slammed a three-run homer in the ninth to tie the game 4-4. The A’s won their 13th walkoff victory with a 15th inning triple by Jemile Weeks and a sacrifice fly by Coco Crisp.
The Jays once again on Saturday tied the game in the bottom of the ninth vs. CL Ryan Cook, this time on a solo home run by David Cooper. The Jays won it in the 11th inning on a double steal by Encarnacion and Rajai Davis aided by a throwing error by George Kottaras that sailed into left field allowing the run. Brandon Inge should have caught the ball. They added another.
The Jays were tremendously encouraged by Romero’s seven innings Saturday, allowing just one run on three hits, with no decision. It was his second straight quality start.
“It was very encouraging,” manager John Farrell said. “The one thing that stood out the last two times out is first-pitch strikes. The percentage of that has been much greater. And he’s given himself the chance to do some things inside a given count, rather than to fight back in. That’s a world of difference when you can go to other types of pitches or continue to stay aggressive with the fastball being ahead in the count. He’s doing himself a world of good by getting ahead.”
That was a big tying home run by Cooper, who grew up in the Bay Area in nearby Stockton and who attended Cal-Berkeley University. He had his family and friends in attendance.
On Sunday, the Jays won their second in a row, this time coming back from a 4-1 deficit to take a two-run lead then hanging on for the 6-5 win. The highlight offensive play came in the first inning as Anthony Gose laid down a sacrifice bunt with Davis scoring all the way from second base as Inge was forced to hurry his throw to first base without checking the runner.
The Jays’ refurbished bullpen on the trip allowed three runs in 26 2/3 innings.
“What we’re seeing is components in the bullpen that are emerging as a strength,” Farrell said. “Not only individuals, but as a unit. We’re in a tough stretch. I’m not denying the fact that we’ve lost a number of games, but the competitive spirit is alive.”
TRANSACTIONS: The Jays had a busy week moving personnel. On Monday, they placed Adam Lind on the DL with a mid-back strain and re-called Cooper from Las Vegas.
At the trade deadline, they made two trades, sending Snider to Pittsburgh for Lincoln and Thames to Seattle for Delabar.
In his first Tweet after the trade, Snider said how happy he was to go to Pittsburgh and spelled the city’s name without the “h”. He apologized immediately. When he arrived in Chicago, he talked about how happy he was to be with a “winning team.” Jays fans still love their LunchboxHero45.
Replacing Snider on the Jays roster was OF Moises Sierra, who had quietly been putting together a fine season at Vegas. Sierra made an immediate impact in Seattle, running through a Butterfield stop sign to score, being thrown out at the plate twice in Oakland and hesitating inexplicably at least twice on running the bases with two out and the ball put in play. He smiled his way back to the dugout with a sheepish shrug. The manager was not amused at the careless antics.
“There’s a lot of conversation that goes on with him,” Farrell said. “There’s a difference between style and awareness. The awareness has got to continually be stressed and there has to be greater attention to what is the game situation at hand. The days of laughing about something when something has not gone right is over. He’s in the big leagues and there’s a certain expectation.”
The Jays made more moves as the week went on. On Friday, after allowing four runs in five innings, the Jays optioned LH Brett Cecil to Vegas and designated Drew Carpenter for assignment, recalling Adeiny Hechavarria and Jesse Chavez. The move with Cecil set the stage for J.A. Happ to join the starting rotation in Tampa.
The recall of Hechavarria was prompted by a groin injury to CF Colby Rasmus and an aggravated ribcage strain for Brett Lawrie suffered originally at Yankee Stadium. On Saturday, the Jays boasted a batting order featuring five players that started the season at AAA-Las Vegas.
“The silver lining is we’re able to take a look at some guys, maybe before their timeline would otherwise have suggested,” Farrell said. “There’s no taking away from their belief in themselves.”
After being credited with the win in relief Saturday night, they designated Jesse Chavez for assignment and purchased RH Chad Jenkins from Double-A. Villanueva left the team and returned to the Dominican for family reasons from Oakland and will re-join the Jays on the off-day in Tampa. Happ draws the Tuesday start, with Villanueva on Wednesday and Henderson Alvarez on Thursday.
“Guys are getting thrust into some tight late-game situations that they might not otherwise have been — whether that’s Sierra, Gose and now Adeiny,” Farrell said.
“So we continue to go out and play the game and that’s all we can ask of them. Go play the game as it unfolds in front of us and lay it on the line, which we do every night.
INJURIES: On Sunday, Rasmus and Lawrie each missed a second straight day.
“Both Brett and Colby need another day,” Farrell explained. “(Monday’s) an off day and hopefully both will be back in the lineup on Tuesday.”
As for RH Jason Frasor, on Sunday, he picked up a baseball to throw in Dunedin. “He’s feeling good as far as the discomfort getting out of the forearm, so, that’s a positive,” Farrell said.
Lind had “started some dry swings, some baseball activities have been initiated, yet I don’t have a timeframe when he’ll be back,” Farrell added.
As for RF Jose Bautista and the left wrist inflammation, the concern mounts.
“He’s still in the treatment and rehab phase,” Farrell said. “When he started to ramp things up in Seattle he still felt some symptoms when he finished pulling his hands in, particularly on a ball that might have been on the inside part of the plate. With a high hand finish, the hand doesn’t rotate as drastically as it does with a low-hand finish. That’s where he feels it, so as recommended by the hand specialist, feeling some discomfort in there we didn’t want to push it and risk further setback.
Is there a chance that Joey Bats is done for the year, since he has three more seasons on his five year contract through 2015? Is discretion the better part of valour in this case?
“We don’t feel, and I don’t think Jose feels, that his season’s over,” the manager added. “But at the same time, we don’t want to rush something that ends up further damage and could potentially lead to something else being needed. Whether it’s Jose or someone else, regardless of the length of the contract, we want to be sure that he’s right before he gets back in the lineup.”
Morrow pitched three innings for A-Dunedin on Friday night and will start for AA-New Hampshire on Thursday, the first of two scheduled starts for the Fisher Cats at which time his status will be re-examined. Morrow has been on the DL since June 12.
MLB POWER RANKINGS (Last week’s ranking in parentheses)
1. Cincinnati Reds (2)
Chapman and Co. stay hot, diminish Votto from MVP consideration
2. New York Yankees (1)
A-Rod may not be done but his importance to winning is
3. Texas Rangers (3)
Hamilton points to tobacco for his personal dip
4. Washington Nationals (5)
The Strasburg innings cap will remain an issue
5. Atlanta Braves (8)
Most overlooked contender in baseball
6. Pittsburgh Pirates (6)
Should A.J. Burnett be fave for NL Cy consideration?
7. Los Angeles Angels (4)
Nobody’s talking about Pujols woes anymore
8. Oakland A’s (9)
Have arrived as contender when closer controversy erupts
9. San Francisco Giants (7)
Buster Posey is their comeback player of the year
10. Los Angeles Dodgers (11)
The NL crown already being conceded as theirs
11. Chicago White Sox (12)
Alex Rios is their most valuable player. I said it
12. Tampa Bay Rays (17)
Team built around starting pitching but not good enough
13. St. Louis Cardinals (10)
Never write this franchise off
14. Detroit Tigers (13)
In a post-season series starting pitching makes them dangerous
15. Baltimore Orioles (15)
O’s not finished adding parts as they battle for wild card
16. Arizona Diamondbacks (14)
Justin Upton was available but these guys are suddenly contending
17. Boston Red Sox (19)
Red Sox Nation is a mess
18. New York Mets (20)
These guys ran a fine 10,000 metre race but it’s a marathon
19. Seattle Mariners (25)
No names on offence sans Ichiro add up to wins.
20. Toronto Blue Jays (16)
Bullpen is nice and deep but wherefore the runs
21. Milwaukee Brewers (23)
Playing out the string without Greinke
22. Minnesota Twins (27)
Putting together a surge towards mediocrity
23. Cleveland Indians (18)
Entire team guilty of identity fraud
24. Miami Marlins (22)
Goal for rest of year is to get green grass in new stadium
25. Philadelphia Phillies (21)
No Victorino, no Pence, no Blanton — problem
26. San Diego Padres (24)
Comfortably at top of bottom five
27. Chicago Cubs (26)
Theo restocking farm system while his team struggles
28. Kansas City Royals (28)
All-Star game will remain this year’s highlight for fans.
29. Colorado Rockies (29)
Still have some decent pieces but don’t add up
30. Houston Astros (30)
Thank goodness there’s no relegation in baseball
The Rangers are no longer the big happy family they have seemed in the past as they won back-to-back AL crowns. On Sunday, RH Roy Oswalt who was banished to the bullpen and learned about it from a media member, pitched the seventh and eighth inning and then refused to go out and pitch the ninth, despite the Rangers being shy a couple of relievers. After the game he left the clubhouse without addressing the issue. As for OF Josh Hamilton, he finally blamed his dip on chewing tobacco and started to hit again, but on Saturday on one tour of the bases, Hamilton could be seen arguing with first base coach Gary Pettis, then as he reached third and failed to score on a ball that bounced away from an infielder, as the inning ended he was yelling at coach Dave Anderson.
“As long as we’re together during the course of the year in that locker room, there ain’t no kissing going on down there. If we can’t make it through that, we’re not the team I think we are,” manager Ron Washington told reporters.
DH Michael Young has not homered in 76 games, one game shy of his career high home run drought . . . CL Joe Nathan has missed some time with “dead arm” . . . the Angels bullpen, once the most feared in the league with RH Ernesto Frieri and LH Scott Downs, has blown 16 saves, leading the AL. The pen, which includes RH LaTroy Hawkins and RH Jason Isringhausen, has a 5.78 ERA since the all-star break. RH Jered Weaver is 9-0 in his last 11 starts, since losing his only game . . . O’s DH Jim Thome has neck inflammation, received a shot and is out indefinitely. OF Endy Chavez was designated for assignment and replaced by OF Nate McLouth who became the 11th left-fielder for the O’s this year . . . the soap opera continues in Boston. RH Josh Beckett has back spasms and may or may not be out longer than one start that manager Bobby Valentine suggests. Beckett has missed time with thumb, lat and shoulder woes. CL Andrew Bailey, out all year since being acquired as Jonathan Papelbon’s replacement, pitched his second rehab game in Florida. RH Dice-K Matsuzaka makes his second rehab start on Monday . . . Suzuki ran off a 10-game hitting streak after joining the Yankees, going 10-for-40-.250. That’s pitiful. The Bombers have nine players with 10+ homers, joined by 3B Eric Chavez on the weekend . . . M’s ace RH Felix Hernandez has nine starts among his 23 in which he has pitched 8+ innings with one or zero runs allowed. He has tossed two shutouts at Yankee Stadium this year.
After RH Roy Halladay tossed seven shutout innings vs. the D’backs on Saturday, he addressed the suggestion that the Phillies might shut him down for the year to protect his health. “I would do everything that I possibly can to not do that,” Halladay said. “I talked to Charlie (Manuel) about it. I don’t think (management) feels that way. But I want to pitch. I’m here to pitch. I don’t need rest. I need to get out and get reps and pitch and be a part of the team. If I have any say, it’s not going to happen.” Could it be that some pitchers feel the need for numbers to boost any future Hall-of-Fame legacy . . . the Braves have been getting MGR Fredi Gonzalez coveted 6+ innings from a couple of additions to the rotation, RH Ben Sheets and LH Pat Maholm. Braves’ CL Craig Kimbrel has struck out 65 batters in his 36 innings . . . Nats’ super rookie OF Bryce Harper continues to annoy the Marlins. On Sunday he struck out and splintered his bat on home plate in anger. His next time up, to his credit, he apologized to C John Buck for making him jump out of the way of splintered bat pieces . . . the Reds dropped the series finale against their closest pursuers in the NL Central, the Pirates. The Reds are 16-5 without 1B Joey Votto and have won 22 of the last 26 games . . . The Pirates received another great start of 8-2/3 innings from RH A.J. Burnett, who ran his record to 14-3 with a win over the Reds. “I’ve been to October,” Burnett said. “There is nothing like playing in October. This team is good enough to play in October” . . . RH Joe Blanton made his first Dodgers start with no decision in a walkoff win Sunday. He tied his career high with three walks and has issued just 1.36 BBs per 9 IP. Hey Joe, give Jays’ LH Ricky Romero a call please . . . The Astros placed RH Francisco Cordero on the DL (toe) after he blew his second save since the trade. MGR Brad Mills will go with a bullpen by committee which sounds like a pretty good idea, except the problem is you have to have some leads for it to matter.
What is it with certain teams that go out one winter and sign big-name free agents and sell tickets to fans and brag through deeds and words that “We’re going for it this year,” then when things don’t go exactly as planned, they look for other teams to take the albatross contract off their hands. Hey, you are obviously the only team that was willing to pay that player that much money for that many guaranteed years in free agency. So now you want someone else to take over your stupid contract. Oh, that’s right, you’re willing to pay some of his contract. Hey, why is baseball allowing that. What happened to the days when the commissioner frowned on deals that involved one team paying the majority of another team’s player salary. Recall commissioner Bowie Kuhn would not allow A’s owner Charlie Finley to sell his best players, Rollie Fingers, Vida Blue and Joe Rudi for cash because of the best interests of baseball. Why can teams do exactly that now? Besides, if teams weren’t allowed to deal partial contracts and negotiate to save some money while spending some money for a player that’s no longer playing for them, maybe only the teams that could really afford certain superstar players would actually bid on those players. That might even serve to keep the salaries down slightly, since there wouldn’t be wannabe teams in the off-season mix. Do you hear that, you Miami Marlins. Nice job putting a contender in your new ballpark to reward the taxpayers of Florida for building it for you.
THIS WEEK IN BASEBALL HISTORY:
8/6/52 The 47-year-old Satchel Paige becomes the oldest man to toss a complete game or a shutout, beating Virgil Trucks and the Pirates 1-0 . . . 8/6/53 The Splendid Splinter, Ted Williams of the Red Sox returns to the lineup from the service and his tour in Korea. In the final two months, Williams hits 13 homers and bats .407 . . . 8/7/56 Still able to pitch at age 51 and a tremendous minor-league draw, Satchel Paige fills the Orange Bowl in Miami, some 57,000 fans, pitching for Miami against Columbus. The Marlins Park is on the Orange Bowl site . . . 8/8/20 Forget Paul Simon asking “Where have you gone Joe DiMaggio?” Where have you gone Howard Ehmke and Rip Collins. The Tigers beat the Yankees 1-0 on the shortest game in major-league history, one hour and 13 minutes. That’s even with Lefty O’Doul being ejected by umpire Brick Owens. One guesses it was a brief argument . . . 8/8/88 The first night game ever at Wrigley Field in Chicago began but was rained out in the fourth inning, with the Cubs up 3-1 over the Phillies. They wasted a lot of pomp and played it again the next night . . . 8/9/81 After the strike was over and teams had a summer mini-camp, baseball played its all-star game in Cleveland. The NL, in front of 72,086 mixed feelings fans, won 5-4 with Expos’ catcher Gary Carter slamming two homer to be named MVP . . . 8/9/98 El Presidente, Dennis Martinez, ending his career with the Braves, recorded career win No. 244 tying Juan Marichal for the all-time lead for a Latin-American pitcher. He beat Marichal’s old team, the Giants . . . 8/10/04 No not this ’04. The New York Highlanders right-hander Jack Chesbro was shelled by the White Sox, snapping his consecutive streak at 30 complete games in a row. That’s right — Complete Games. Chesbro ended the year with 41 victories and 48 complete games . . . 8/10/44 A Braves’ pitcher named Red Barrett tossed a 58-pitch complete game against Bucky Walters and the Reds, where, clearly, Moneyball was a four-letter word. Barrett threw a 2-hitter with no walks and no strikeouts. Jocko Conlan was the home plate umpire which helps explain why he is in the Hall-of-Fame . . . 8/10/71 The Society of American Baseball Research (SABR) is formed at a meeting of 17 baseball historians in Cooperstown. No mention is made of WAR, WHIP or VORP . . . 8/12/94 Major-league players go on strike, becoming the eighth work stoppage since 1972. The Expos at a clubhouse meeting at Three Rivers Stadium are told by manager Felipe Alou to stay in shape and stay close to their phones because the strike will be short and the Expos, leading the Braves by six games in the NL East, are going to win the World Series. The World Series is cancelled.
Birthdays this week: 8/6 Don Larsen, 83; 8/8 Alvis Woods, 58, Jose Cruz, 65; 8/9 Deion Sanders, 45, Steve Swisher, 61; 8/10 Sal Fasano, 41, Chucky Carr, 44, Rocky Colavito, 71; 8/11 Francisco Cordero, 35 (candles he hasn’t blown yet), Mike Huff 49, Bryn Smith 57; 8/12 Christy Mathewson, 137.
JAYS MINOR LEAGUE ROUNDUP
AAA-Las Vegas (64-51) lost 4-2 to Round Rock on Sunday. SS Mike McCoy has taken over from Hechavarria. He was 1-for-1 with 3 walks and is hitting .258. 1B Mike McDade, called up to replace Cooper, was 1-for-5 with a RBI and is hitting .292. C Tuffy Gosewisch was purchased from the Phillies and has played 2 games. Canadian RH Shawn Hill is 6-1, with a 4.50 ERA. Apparently the Jays have signed 1B/OF/DH Jack Cust who used to be coveted for his patience by former Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi . . . AA-New Hampshire (44-70) beat Akron 6-5 on Sunday. RH Ryan Tepera was the winner and is 6-1, with a 4.24 ERA. RH Sam Dyson picked up his fifth save. SS Ryan Goins was 1-for-2 with a walk and is batting .296. OF Brad Glenn is batting .305 with 15 HR and 50 RBIs. Canadian RH Trys Magnuson has made 14 appearances with a 0.95 WHIP . . . A-Dunedin (22-22) won 4-2 on Sunday. RH Marcus Walden was the winner and is 7-1, with a 3.19 ERA. RH Danny Barnes recorded save #27. RH Sean Nolin is 9-0 with a 2.18 ERA. LF Kevin Pillar is was 1-for-4 with an RBI and is batting .338 with 8 stolen bases. CF Kenny Wilson is batting .370 . . . A-Lansing (25-17) lost to West Michigan 7-1 on Sunday. RH Noah Syndergaard was the loser and is 7-4, with a 2.89 ERA. OF Chris Peters is batting .327. LH Justin Nicolino is 7-3, with a 2.48 ERA and 94 Ks in 94-1/3 innings. LF Nick Baligood was 2-for-4 and is batting .294. RH Aaron Sanchez is 8-2, with a 2.36 ERA striking out 103 in 87-1/3 innings . . . A-Vancouver (31-19) beat Eugene 4-0 on Sunday. RH Taylor Cole tossed 5 shutout innings and has a 0.26 ERA. 3B Kellen Sweeney was 2-for-5 with a double, a triple and 2 RBIs and is batting .206 . . . A-Bluefield (19-22) was rained out on Sunday. LH Daniel Norris is 2-1, with a 6.28 ERA. 1B Art Charles is hitting .235 but has 32 walks in 30 games, with 6 2B, 3 3B and 5 RBI . . . Rk-Blue Jays did not play Sunday. CF D.J. Davis is batting .246 with 13 steals. C Brian Jeroloman who was on the Jays roster last year, started Saturday’s game.
ONE FOR THE ROAD:
West Coast trips are always a little different because of the three-hour time change and deadlines. I love Seattle and San Francisco (which is the obvious place to stay when you’re in Oakland), but there’s not that much time to enjoy the sights with Internet postings and games every day.
Tuesday was the trade deadline and, as fans are aware, the Jays dealt Snider to the Pirates and Thames to the M’s for Delabar, a nice short walk across the field for both men.
It brough to mind when I was in Montreal, there was a similar trade. Left-hander Zane Smith was obtained by the Expos on July 2, 1989 while the club was playing in Atlanta. The next year he was traded from the Expos to the Pirates on July 8, 1990, also coincidentally while the Expos were in Pittsburgh. As part of ensuring that this was indeed the shortest two trades for any one player in history, I personally paced off the distance between the home and visitors’ clubhouses at Three Rivers and then phoned Atlanta to ask the Braves PR director to also pace the distance between his two clubhouses. It turned out that Zane Smith travelled a total of 360 metres over the course of his two trades Braves-Expos-Pirates. Players are allowed 72 hours to report. Smith did it in 72 seconds.
Back to the present, there were two relative moments from hell on the trip. The first was on a travel day from Seattle to San Francisco. Left the Courtyard in Seattle at 6:15 a.m. for Sea-Tac Airport. The United flight boarded on time, then they told us there was a broken piece of navigation equipment and they might have to fly a replacement in from San Francisco. Either that or bring in a plane from “the north.” I thought that might be Alaska. Turned out it was the north end of the Seattle airport. That’ll work. They let us off the lost and stricken plane and three hours later re-boarded another plane, at another gate at about 11 a.m. Got to the Courtyard San Francisco at 2:15 p.m. dropped a bag, checked in and on to the dismal Oakland Coliseum. The Jays kept losing. Of course, Friday was the 15-inning night game. The decision came after midnight, with fireworks scheduled for no matter when it ended. The catch was that because of the fireworks they had closed the ramp to the BART subway station, which was actually okay because BART stopped running at midnight anyway.
Ah, life on the road. In any case, like the comfort of comfort food, Mike Rutsey of the Sun and I on Thursday night had found a little spot called Steff’s on the way up the hill to our hotel. It became a nightly stop. It’s owned by a Chinese woman who spoke little English but thought she recognized everyone who sat down from the night before. She insisted before every preliminary Olympic track and field race on asking us, “Are there any Asians in this race?” Well, no. On to Tampa.