Sep 26th 2008 1:38PM by Matt Watson (author feed)
Blue Jays president and CEO Paul Godfrey confirmed yesterday that J.P. Ricciardi would continue in his role as GM, news that Godfrey freely admits will make some fans have the same reaction as Vernon Wells in the picture on the right. From MLB.com:
“I know that this will be received with mixed emotions,” Godfrey said. “Not only in the media, but with the fans as well. But I believe that J.P. is still the one to do the job as the general manager of the Blue Jays.”
Talk about a backhanded compliment. “Hey guys, I know everybody at home and everybody in the media thinks I’m an idiot for saying so, but I think J.P. is fit for this job …” There’s reason they call these things the “dreaded” vote of confidence.
In addition to being held accountable to the Jays’ poor performance on the field, Ricciardi has been criticized for needlessly generating controversy. He once claimed B.J. Ryan had a back injury when in fact it was an elbow injury that required season-ending surgery, and he publicly called out Adam Dunn’s lack of passion, and, according to Dunn, lied about a subsequent apology. But even those transgressions don’t bother Godfey.Continue Reading
Sep 26th 2008 2:24PM by Tom Fornelli (author feed)
With the Yankees season ending on Sunday, it will also signify the end of the Jason Giambi era in the Bronx. He’ll be looking for a multi-year deal this offseason, and nobody expects the Yankees to be the team that offers him one. So with that in mind, it’s time for Jason to start figuring out where he’s going to play next season.
One destination that would seem to be a good fit is Toronto. Where will Giambi go from here? The Yankees hold a $23 million option for 2009, which they will certainly buy out for $5 million. Giambi hopes to play for several more years, so he’ll be looking for a multiyear deal this winter.
One potential suitor could be the Blue Jays, according to a source, as Giambi has a relationship with GM J.P. Ricciardi from their days together in Oakland and Toronto could use another big bat. When you think about it, it’s a perfect fit for both Giambi and the Blue Jays. Giambi can provide the power the team lacked this season, and Jason can finally get the hell out of the United States. I mean, I don’t see Canada’s government holding any hearings on steroids, do you? He’ll finally be free from the shackles of Congress!
Sep 20th 2008 2:25PM by Tom Fornelli (author feed)
With the 2008 season coming to an end, the future was starting to look bright for the Toronto Blue Jays. They have one of the best starting rotations in baseball, leading the Majors with a 3.54 team ERA, and if they can add a bat to their lineup to help score some runs, they can make a lot of noise in the AL East next season.
Of course, one of the big questions going into this offseason for the team is whether or not they were going to bring A.J. Burnett back. Burnett was rumored to be on the move at the trade deadline, but instead remained in Toronto, and he’s currently tied with Roy Halladay for the team lead in wins (18) and leads the AL with 220 strikeouts. All of which virtually guarantees he’s going to be opting out of his deal after the year ends.
Still, even if Burnett leaves Toronto for a bigger contract someplace else, the Jays were still comfortable with their rotation thanks to guys like Jesse Litsch and Shaun Marcum.
Well, they’re probably going to have to try harder to keep Burnett around for 2009, because they just found out they aren’t going to have Marcum. Shaun needs Tommy John surgery, and he won’t be pitching next season. If the Jays lose both Burnett and Marcum for next season, that will leave two large holes in their rotation, and they probably won’t have Dustin McGowan back until May as he recovers from shoulder surgery. In other words, next season could already be over before it even starts.
Sep 14th 2008 10:15PM by Andrew Johnson (author feed)
It looks like September will once again be a magical month for the Phillies. The reigning NL East champions ended August trailing the Mets in their division and with no real alternate path back to the postseason via the wild card. But since then, Philadelphia has kept pace with New York and erased the gap between it and the wild-card-leading Brewers.
With two weeks to go, Philadelphia has two avenues into the playoffs, and while there is still work to be done, things appear to be tilting its way because of a bullpen that is much stouter than what the Mets and Brewers have to offer.
The Phillies are built on star power. They have an ace in Cole Hamels, the best second baseman in the game in Chase Utley and the last two MVPs of the league in Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard. They depend on those stars to win. Rollins and Howard have struggled mightily at times this year, but they are at the heart of this surge just as they were in last year’s whirlwind climb to the top of the NL East.
Rollins is hitting .340 and getting on base more than 40 percent of the time in September. Just like last year, when he stole 14 bases in the final month, he seems to be ratcheting up his running game in the stretch drive. Howard has been even better. He struggled to stay above the Mendoza Line earlier in the year, but he’s hitting a scorching .386 in September and has seven home runs and 19 RBI.
Philadelphia’s superstars appear to be shining brightest when they’re needed the most.Continue Reading
Sep 13th 2008 10:00AM by Mullet (author feed)
Six games were postponed last night due to weather. The Cubs and the Astros, as you know, are postponed today and tomorrow due to Hurricane Ike. Another storm system, which stretched all the way from the east coast to Mid-America, caused the postponement of no less than five games. This sets up a scenario in which there are six doubleheaders that will be played today, and 20 games in total. Sunday doubleheaders used to be more commonplace in an era without win shares, maple bats, or Matt Stairs. But six in one day at this moment is enough to induce baseball coma. It’s like fastballs with trails of tryptophan, baby! So enjoy, and feel free to unbutton that top button.
Sep 10th 2008 7:00AM by Andrew Johnson (author feed)
With the playoff chase coming down to the wire, our MLB editor rounds up the five biggest pennant race stories in Eye Toward October.
It’s easy to get wrapped up in the daily drama of the pennant races this time of year without stopping to smell the roses. If you didn’t have playoff fever before last night, there’s a good chance you have it now. I’ll get to the gory details in a moment, but for now, let’s take a moment to bask in the glow of this time of year.
The Red Sox and Rays played one of the better games all season long — a see-saw affair that saw Boston darling Jason Bay give his new club a dramatic lead in the eighth, followed by the upstart Rays showing surprising fight and scoring twice on closer Jonathan Papelbon to win the game.
The White Sox dropped a pair of games to the red-hot Blue Jays, who are seven games back of the Red Sox with seven left to play against Boston, and saw their lead over the Twins shrink to just one game.
Carlos Delgado’s continued resurgence helped the Mets eke out a dramatic, late-inning win over the Nationals. The Cubs and Brewers continued to slump, in the case of the latter creating an intriguing wild-card race where there wasn’t one just a few weeks before.
Finally, out west, the Dodgers yet again got Herculean efforts out of Andre Ethier and Manny Ramirez to add another game to their division lead as the Diamondbacks wilted in the wake of ninth-inning rally.
It’s all too easy to buy into the mantra that the games in April count just the same as they do in September. Of course, it’s completely true. On the other hand, there’s nothing more fun than baseball this time of year. Any fan can appreciate that.Continue Reading
Sep 8th 2008 1:33PM by Tom Fornelli (author feed)
On Sunday afternoon the Yankees lost to the lowly Seattle Mariners, and it dropped them to fourth place in the AL East with only a few weeks left to go in the season. This basically assures the Yankees that they will not be playing any baseball come October.
Of course, the real reason the Yankees have fallen to fourth place is the surging Toronto Blue Jays. The Jays have won their last 8 games, but are still nine and a half games behind the Rays for first, and eight games behind the Red Sox for the wild card. In other words, it’s too little, too late. Still, that didn’t stop Alex Rodriguez from heaping praise upon them after the Yankees loss yesterday, and he accidentally proclaimed the Bombers dead in the process.”Toronto’s playing really well,” he said. “I’ll tell you what, a lot of people should be happy they’re not in the playoff race, because they’d be the scariest team, with the 1-2 punch they’ve got over there with [Roy] Halladay and [A.J.] Burnett.”Is that so? Well, Alex, if the Jays are out of the race, and they’re ahead of the Yankees in the standings, what does that say about you guys?When the question was repeated, pointing out that the Yankees can’t be in the playoff race if the Blue Jays — ahead of them in the standings — are not, A-Rod tried to backtrack. “What I’m saying is if Toronto was to get in the playoffs, they would be the scariest team to face, by far, with those two,” he said. “I’m not saying anything else.”No, Alex, you’re just saying what everybody’s already thinking.
Sep 8th 2008 6:30PM by Andrew Johnson (author feed)
The Rays have been the darlings of baseball all season long, a cuddly teddy bear of a baseball team for the mainstream media to fawn over. But September is here, and it’s time to start looking at Tampa Bay as just another serious World Series contender instead of some AL East sideshow. Like every other playoff team, the Rays aren’t without flaws.
Their offense is very middle of the road. They rank 12th in the AL in batting average and seventh in slugging, and they’re still without Evan Longoria — the only regular currently slugging over .500. Indeed, it seems 3/4 of the core of their offense (Longoria, Carlos Pena, Carl Crawford, B.J. Upton) is banged up in some fashion with the revelation that Upton has played with an injured shoulder for much of the season.
On the pitching side, most of Tampa Bay’s young starting staff is on track to pitch more innings than ever before, raising concerns about fatigue over the finals weeks of the regular season and in the playoffs. The bullpen is strong, but closer Troy Percival’s frequent trips to the disabled list raises questions about roles.
All this isn’t meant to take away from the Rays — after all, isn’t this what they’ve wanted all along, to be just another contending baseball club. They are going to make the playoffs and have the type of team that could make a deep run.
But they’re going to be tested like never before in the coming weeks — first by facing the Red Sox in six of their next nine games and then by whoever they draw in the first round of the playoffs. As great as the Rays have been all year, they woke up Monday morning with a worse run differential than the third-place Blue Jays.Continue Reading
Sep 2nd 2008 1:14PM by Tom Fornelli (author feed)
The Toronto Blue Jays Double-A affiliate New Hampshire River Cats may be in dead last in their division of the Eastern League at 58-75, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t winning any awards this season. No, while some teams focus on doing boring things like winning games, the River Cats are more focused on the health and well being of their fans.
Which is why the River Cats’ ball park, Merchantsauto.com Stadium (that kind of advertising no doubt brings in tens upon tens of people to the website), was just named the Most Vegetarian-Friendly Ballpark in Minor League Baseball by PETA.”This is a special honor for our organization and our concessionaire, Centerplate, to make the leap from the most vegetarian-friendly ballpark in Double-A baseball last year to all of Minor League Baseball this season,” said New Hampshire Fisher Cats President/General Manager Rick Brenner. “Different people have different tastes, so we pride ourselves on offering our fans a very diverse menu and want to thank PETA for recognizing our efforts.”
PETA raved about Merchantsauto.com Stadium’s fresh offering of grilled veggie burgers, vegetarian baked beans, veggie wraps, garden salad, grilled veggie sandwiches, grilled portobello burgers, veggie burgers, veggie sausages and veggie dogs.In other news, Prince Fielder’s girlfriend has just walked into Doug Melvin’s office and demanded he be traded to the Blue Jays.
Aug 31st 2008 10:00AM by Mullet (author feed)
If Alfonso Soriano can get booed, then why not the player he was traded for? There are probably still some people who want the merciless booing of Alex Rodriguez to stop. But they’re getting harder and harder to find after Rodriguez’s latest ninth inning gag job: a double play with the winning runs on base and nobody out against B.J. Ryan and the Blue Jays on Saturday. It’s gotten so bad, the “Get Rid of A-Rod” websites are starting to turn up. While the Soriano booing might be a little bit silly with the Cubs steaming towards the playoffs, the Rodriguez booing can be understood a bit more with the growing reality that the last season of Yankee Stadium is going to end in September. (P.S. Your inevitable argument that all the injuries are to blame more than Rodriguez is probably valid. But it’s harder to boo a player on the disabled list. Trust me, I’ve tried.)