Well... That Was Unexpected

John Buck hitting a trio of homers. Never would have guessed that. It's probably a bad thing in the long run, because Cito will likely ignore the rest of Buck's season and point directly to this game when Buck's hitting 6th and not getting pinch hit for in August. For right now, though, it was pretty cool.


That Was Fun

Jays lost. I don't really care. The game was entertaining, which is what's important. David Price flat out dominated. Brandon Morrow pitched like shit, but looked better than he was because the Rays were expending all their energy "keeping the Jays defense on its toes" (translation: running into outs).

Travis Snider sat against the lefty so that Cito could squeeze JMac's potent bat into the lineup. Retarded, but I fully expected it.

Frasor got lit up again. His velocity is down, and he was only an average reliever when he still threw hard. I thought the Jays should have traded him during the offseason because I thought his ERA last year was a fluke. If this decreased velocity is a permanent thing and he can't learn to throw his splitter within a foot of the strike zone, he might not be worth anything come the deadline.

P.S. The Phillies just extended Ryan Howard for 5 years at $25MM per. You are never ever complain about Vernon's contract or call Ricciardi the Worst GM Ever or whatever now. Ruben Amaro Jr. and Mike Rizzo (and Brian Sabean and Dayton Moore) still have jobs and are way, way worse.


I'm Excited

If you asked me, I'd probably say that I prefer slugfests to pitcher duels. Pitcher duels are often decided by some solo home run in the 3rd inning and end rather anticlimactically with a few quiet groundouts in the ninth. Slugfests at least keep the tension high throughout.

But the types of games I really like and the unpredictable ones. The ones where I have no idea what to expect coming into it, and a blowout is just as likely as a close game. A pitcher duel which can turn into a slugfest at any moment. That type of game is today.

Today, the Jays send Brandon Morrow against Tampa's David Price. Both pitchers are fully capable of dominating one moment, and being completely unable to find the strike zone or get anyone out the next. We could just as easily see a 2-1 duel as we could a 9-8 slugfest or a 10-0 blowout or anything in between. I honestly have no idea. I'm excited, and you should be too.

This should be a fun one.

All Good Things Must Come To An End

Well that was fast. The other day I said Cito did a good job of managing the game. Not yesterday. Yesterday Cito went back to managing like a stroke victim.

In the 7th inning, the Jays had the bases loaded with 2 out. Joe Madden brought in lefty specialist Randy Choate (career .224/.307/.322 line against lefties) in to face Fred Lewis (.250/.335/.340 against lefties). This is the exact right time to pinch hit with Randy Ruiz and try to build your lead. Of course, Cito hates rookies and doesn't pinch hit and is afraid to ruin a "young kid" like Lewis' confidence (I guarantee you that Cito thinks Lewis is like 23) and, let's be honest, Cito was probably napping at the time--8:30 is late for people his age to be up, after all--so, of course, Lewis hit for himself and, of course, Choate struck him out. If Cito ever decides to have a kid, I guarantee you he adopts because those kids have been around awhile, and Cito doesn't want to raise some inexperienced young punk baby.

Then in the 8th, Downs gave up a single to Evan Longoria, then followed that up by walking Carlos Pena. It was at this point that Cito should have immediately brought in Gregg for the 2-inning save. The tying and winning runs were on base and there was no one out. This is the highest leverage point in the game, so you should be going to your best reliever (i.e. the closer). Even if you don't think Gregg can go two full innings (there is no reason to think this, by the way, but let's say he can't), you should still bring him in to preserve the lead now, and then you can go to someone else to close it out in the 9th.

Of course, Downs stayed in, and then gave up the game tying single to Upton. Cito finally went to the bullpen, except he brought out Janssen. Janssen has pitched well so far, but he isn't the team's best reliever. He shouldn't be pitching in high leverage situations right now. By the time the inning was over, another pitcher had been used and the Rays were up by 6 runs. At no point was Gregg even warming up. And I don't for the life of me understand why. The game is on the line right then and there. Use your best pitcher. Don't save him for some theoretical situation which may never come. I think that's the most frustrating thing about the way Cito manages. He always makes moves with a theoretical future in mind, like how last year when Cito wouldn't bring in Overbay to hit for Millar against righties because then the other team might bring in a LOOGY to face him later on. Except that you have Millar hitting against a righty right now, which is just as bad, and you have no way of knowing if that LOOGY ever comes.

Of course, if Cito managed the team properly, then I'd never have anything to write about...

Good to have you back to normal, Cito.


In Case You Needed Any More Proof Spring Training Means Nothing

So one of the stories out of Spring Training this year was Aaron Hill's apparently newfound patience. Welp, only 3 games into the season, and Aaron is hacking up a storm worse than ever. Check out the pitches he's swung at so far.

A whole lot of junky offspeed pitches up and away that no one has any business swinging at. There's a cluster of about 6 fastballs in the middle of the strikezone that are good pitches to swing at, whereas everything else should really be taken unless there's 2 strikes. And check out some of those pitches outside the zone. Aaron's already swung at 8 pitches at least a foot and a half out of the strike zone, and in only 14 plate plate appearances. This is not a good model for success.

In a tragically ironic twist that hurts my very soul, see that fastball that's about two and a half feet high out of the zone? That's the pitch that Aaron homered on last night. Ugh.

By the way, last night Hill saw 15 pitches and swung at 11 of them. That's not counting his intentional walk in the 8th. Yikes.

Credit Where Credit Is Due

I'm critical of Cito a lot. Mostly because he always seems to do the exact opposite of the right move. Yesterday, however, he actually managed the game like an intelligent individual, as opposed to the senility-stricken octogenarian he usually resembles.

With 2 outs in the 8th inning and the bases loaded, Cito brought in Kevin Gregg for the 4-out save. This was the exact right move. Jason Frasor was in the midst of blowing up like Eyjafjallajokull (topical!) and it was the highest leverage situation of the game at that point. Despite only pitching 1.1 innings, Gregg's Winning Percentage Added was a huge .340. The rest of the team combined? .160. Props to Cito for going to the closer at the right time. I'll even ignore his other mistakes (not pinch hitting Ruiz for Lewis in the 8th, going to Downs instead of Frasor to face Bartlett in the 7th with L, S, R, L coming up after him for the 8th).

P.S. Where are all the people who were bitching about how "terrible" Gregg was when the Jays signed him? He's exactly the same guy as he always was: a good-not-great reliever who got cray unlucky on home run/fly ball rate last year. He's not as good as he's been, but he's still a good pitcher who will be worth something whenever the Jays decide to trade him, which is what they need to be worrying about right now.


Stuff From Days Past

- Jays acquire Fred Lewis. This is pretty awesome. Lewis is an excellent outfielder (career 10.2 UZR/150 in left, +/- feels similarly) with good on-base skills (.355 career OBP, .362 vs righties) who can steal , though he gets thrown out a tad often. I was quietly hoping the Jays could get him, though I really would have preferred (and still would prefer) Elijah Dukes or Wladimir Balentien. The Jays get Lewis for nothing (cash) and Anthopoulos continues to win me over.

- With Encarnacion day-to-day with a sore shoulder, Cito started Jeremy Reed over Randy Ruiz in his place. Cito, I'll be honest, when you had Ruiz ready in the on deck circle, ready to pinch hit last week against the Orioles, and then promptly pulled him back so that Jmac could bunt, I thought it was hilarious. You truly are the King of Assholes. But the joke is starting to get a little played out and at no point should Jeremy Reed ever start a game over anyone. Cut that shit out

- In a perfect example of process vs results, last night Overbay K'd 4times. Naturally the retards are up in arms, saying Overbay should be released blah blah blah. Of course, what none of these people will acknowledge is that Overbay got to a full count in each one of his at bats. When you consistently have 6-pitch AB's, you're going to draw a lot of walks and get on base. Last night the results were bad, but the process was excellent, which is what is important.

Overbay is nestled snugly in the top-right.

 - A.J. Pierzynski, in the ultimate dick move, faked his way on base in the middle of Ricky's Unmentionable on a pitch that missed him by about a foot. It was an incredibly bush league move and I'm blown away that the umpires just took his word for it, especially since Pierzunski is known for pulling this shit all the fucking time.

A lot of people are upset that Brandon Morrow didn't hit him in retaliation, but let's be honest: it's Brandon Morrow. Dude couldn't hit wheat in Nebraska. He was probably trying and just couldn't.

- The team evidently forced Aaron Hill on to the DL. This makes me very happy because when JP was in charge the team was more than happy to let guys play through injuries, to the detriment of the team; most notably Vernon.

- The Jays claimed 3B Shawn Bowman from the Mets. This is good since, as I mentioned when the Jays acquired Brett Wallace, after E5 and Bautista, you have to go allllllllllll the way down to Kevin Ahrens and his .215/.282/.302 line in High-A before you find another third baseman. He's supposed to be a very good defender--TotalZone has him at ~13/150--and he's supposed to have a lot of raw power. He also has a pretty even distribution in his spray chart, for whatever that's worth.

- John Buck continues to hit exactly like a somehow-less-hateable version of Rod Barajas. I bring this up only to let everyone know that, instead of taking 2 seconds to make a new one, I'm just going use the Barajas tag whenever I talk about Buck, because Buck isn't worth that kind of effort and what the fuck's the difference anyway.


Cito Says More Dumb Shit

"Let me tell you this right now," Gaston said, "Overbay is going to play against left-handers.

Why? Why do this? He had a .534 OPS against LHP last year. .540 the year before. Even in his "career" year in '06 it was only .694. Dude cannot hit lefties.

So why would I pinch-hit for him?

Because he's fucking awful at hitting lefties? You pinch hit for him last year, and he hit completely fine. And you did it with the ghost of what used the be the shell of Kevin Millar. You now have the superior-in-every-way Randy Ruiz and you won't use him? I know he's a rookie, and you have a seething hatred for those, but he's 31. He is a veteran, which you love so much, even if he's not a vet of the majors.

"We sat down and talked with Overbay," Gaston said. "[Suggesting I should pinch-hit for him] is like -- Why don't I pinch-hit for Vernon [Wells]?

Because he can hit lefties.

Why don't I pinch-hit for [Aaron] Hill?

Because he can hit lefties.

Why don't I pinch-hit for somebody like [Edwin] Encarnacion?

Because he can hit lefties.

That's what you're talking about right there

You have no idea what you're talking about.

"[Pinch -hitting] destroys guys. It's easy for you guys to say it or other people to think it, but to be with these guys every day, and every time they're looking over their shoulder, seeing if you're going to pinch hit for them, it just absolutely kills them -- unless it's understood, if it's understood from the start."

This is the stupidest fucking argument, and one Cito loves to go to. The old "baseball players have the self-confidence of a 12-year-old fat girl" argument. In Cito's mind, the psyche of the professional athlete is like Sam Jackson in Unbreakable, and getting pinch hit for or getting dropped in the order is a 30-pound cinder block to the face.

I shouldn't really need to explain why this is so dumb. If your sense of self-worth is that fragile, and you are so completely un-self aware that you don't understand when you are hurting your team by being in the game, then pick another fucking profession.

I bet a lot of you thought I was joking when I set Ruiz's over/under at 0.5. Nope.


A Bunch Of Stuff That I've Been Far Too Lazy To Post About, So I'm Going To Mash Them All Together Into One Post With No Obvious Rhyme Or Reason And Holy Shit This Title Is Getting Long

- Elijah Dukes got released. Dukes is exactly the type of guy the Jays should be attempting to acquire. He'll be entering his age 26 season, was a 5-tool top prospect not even 2 years ago, and posted 3 WAR in only half a season as recently as 2008. Sure, there was the whole spousal abuse thing a few years back, and if he ever got the urge he could probably overthrow the Canadian government with his army of illegitimate children while the Army could merely watch, powerless, but when God gifts you with the chance to acquire this kind of talent for nothing and you don't have a starting right fielder, you don't punch Him in the face (metaphorically); not that there have been any reports of him causing trouble since getting to Washington.

Plus, it could just give us a small taste of the fantastical clusterfuck that a Milton Bradley/Cito clubhouse connection could have brought.

- In the "God has a cruel sense of humour" file, Marc "The Name" Rzepczynski had his finger fractured on a comebacker the other day against the Yankees, while Brian Tallet looks like he will be healthy enough to get lit right the fuck up come the start of the season. This is, of course, leaving most Jays fans wanting to punch God right in His face (literally).

- The Jays released Joey Gathright. This is a terrible day in the short history of this baseballlog, as the "joey gathright once jumped a car (and hasn't done shit since)" label will now go horribly underused.

- Mike McCoy made the team as a utility player. Every Jays fan should be crossing their fingers and hoping that McCoy hits well enough that he's the starting shortstop by season's end.

- Cito announced that Overbay isn't going to be platooned. Overbay can't hit LHP. Randy Ruiz can hit LHP. Kevin Millar can't hit anything. He was still allowed to try 283 times last year. Cito continues to bumble around like a clueless old man while getting heaped with undeserved praise.

- Speaking of Cito, did you know he's the 14th best manager in the MLB? It's true! For reference, Manny Acta ranks 22nd.

- Speaking of Randy Ruiz, I'm officially setting the over/under for his plate appearances on the year at 0.5. I dare anyone to take the over.