Tag: Ricky Romero

Toronto Blue Jays 2011: Who Stays and Who Goes?

It has been a year of excitement and disappointment for the Toronto Blue Jays.

The fans witnessed history at the Rogers Centre when Jose Bautista became the 26th player in Major League history to hit 50 home runs in a season.  Bautista‘s incredible, feel good story has been one of the highlights of the Blue Jays this year, as well as the emergence of Brandon Morrow and the other young starters on the squad. 

It has been disappointing to once again fall to fourth in the American League East, and staying far out of reach of the playoffs.  But even that wasn’t unexpected, in fact the Jays performed much better than expected this year, especially with their surprising capacity for hitting home runs.

Now that the season is tailing down, thoughts towards the future come to the forefront.

Will the pitchers build upon their breakout year to become one of the best rotations in the American League?

Which of the free agents will leave and what kind of draft picks will the Jays receive because of it?

Will the team figure out other ways to score if they can’t repeat their success with the long ball?

First things first, there are certain players who are the core of this team and are therefore signed long term.  Their chances of being traded in the offseason are slim to none.  Players such as Vernon Wells, Adam Lind, Aaron Hill, and Ricky Romero are all signed long term, and form the core which this team is built around.

A good portion of the starting rotation is likely to be back. Shaun Marcum has excelled this year coming off an injury and the trade for Brandon Morrow looked better and better throughout the year.  Those two, along with Brett Cecil, who also had a breakout year, will likely be signed to new contracts if they can continue to progress.  Those three with Romero will form most of the Blue Jays rotation barring injury or a deep regression in form.

The question of the fifth starter is completely open on the other hand.  Various pitchers can fill that slot, but it is tough to say who will be the best fit.  Jesse Litsch is hampered by injury once again, but has the most experience of the candidates.  Marc Rzepczynski has had experience as well but has struggled at the Major League level.

The X-factor in the rotation is Kyle Drabek, who has had two starts so far with the Jays this year, and showed some good control and focus.  He was the Easter League pitcher of the year in Double-A and many have pronounced him ready for joining the Jays.

Jose Bautista will go through arbitration this summer and will stay under Jays control, so the GM Alex Anthopoulos will likely wait to see how he performs next year before deciding whether to offer him a big contract.  He will likely continue to play both right field and third unless a more permanent player can be filled in either slot. 

It is unlikely that the Jays will settle on having Edwin Encarnacion as their regular third baseman, so some infield moves could be a possibility.  There has been some talk about moving Hill to third on the chance that Adeiny Hechavarria is ready next year, in which case either him or Yunel Escobar would play second.

The other infield spot up in the air is first base, with Lyle Overbay becoming a free agent.  Adam Lind has played a few games at first, and catching prospect J.P Arencibia has the potential to play some games both behind the plate and on first.

Speculation has popped up the press lately that Lind and Arencibia aren’t ready yet to take over for Overbay and catcher John Buck, who is also a free agent.

It seems unlikely that they would be re-signed, since Buck has made it clear he wants to play full-time and Overbay is likely looking for a multi-year contract.  This doesn’t seem to create any progress or move the team forward, so those two leaving as free agents still seems the most likely.

Catcher Jose Molina could be kept on to mentor Arencibia on defense and game-calling and continue his work with the pitching staff.

Unless there are some big trades or free agent acquisitions, which seem unlikely, the roster could very well look like this:

Outfield:  Fred Lewis, Vernon Wells, Travis Snider.

Infield:  Jose Bautista, Yunel Escobar, Aaron Hill, Adam Lind.

Catcher: J.P. Arencibia.

On the Bench:  John McDonald, Jose Molina.

Encarnacion is too expensive to be a bench player, so he would either have to be dealt or given third base full-time.  Other bench roles could be filled by Jarret Hoffpauir, DeWayne Wise, and Mike McCoy unless someone from Triple-A or a free agent comes in.

Starting Rotation:  Shaun Marcum, Ricky Romero, Brandon Morrow, Brett Cecil, Kyle Drabek.

Kevin Gregg, Scott Downs, and Jason Frasor are all free agents this summer, but since the Jays favour veteran players in the bullpen, there is a chance that at least one of them will be retained.  Of course, the benefits of acquiring draft picks if they leave, as free agents might be too good to pass up.

Bullpen:  Kevin Gregg, Rommie Lewis, David Purcey, Brian Tallet, Jesse Carlson, Shawn Camp, Josh Roenicke.

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Fantasy Baseball Perspective: Breaking Down The Blue Jays Rotation

The Toronto Blue Jays play in the most competitive division in baseball, yet have assembled a five-man rotation, who all have potential fantasy upside. 

Let’s take a look at the candidates in order to determine the potential long-term success:


Brandon Morrow

The 17-strikeout game aside, Morrow has a ton of potential and might just now be scraping the surface of his ability. 

Maybe the Mariners continuous shifting of him between the bullpen and rotation stunted his development, but now as a full-time starting pitcher in Toronto, he’s excelling.

Overall this season he’s posted a 4.45 ERA and 1.37 WHIP, but he has struggled with some sub par luck (.341 BABIP, 69.1% strand rate). 

Those two numbers show great promise for improvement, especially with his humongous strikeout rate of 10.8 (165 Ks in 137.1 innings). 

He isn’t just a one-game phenomenon, but has been compiling Ks all year long.

Obviously, that number could fall some, especially when you consider that his minor league career mark was 8.1 over 101.2 innings (though, that includes just a 6.5 mark at Triple-A in 2009 when he was demoted to transition back to the rotation). 

The bottom line is that, at 26 years old, the numbers appear lined up to have great success. 

With his strikeout ability, all he needs is improved luck and he could post a huge year in 2011.

He’s a risk, but the reward is tremendous. He’s definitely worth keeping depending on your league rules.


Brett Cecil

There is upside in Cecil, who already has posted a 3.90 ERA and 1.24 WHIP this season.  He posted a minor-league walk rate of 2.9, matching what he has done through 131.2 innings in 2010.

In the Majors he hasn’t posted big strikeout numbers, with a K/9 of 6.5. In the minor leagues he had a 9.0 mark, however, so there certainly is big-time potential for him to improve there.

He also has the potential to significantly improve on his ground-ball rate, which currently stands at 44.1 percent. Over his minor-league career, he had a 59.7 percent mark.

I will certainly spend more time on him in the offseason, but Cecil has pitched well with realistic metrics (.281 BABIP, 71.8 percent strand rate) and has the potential to pair solid control with improved strikeouts and ground balls. 

Sounds like a pitcher who could really develop into a must own fantasy option, doesn’t it?

I wouldn’t call him a must keep, because it certainly depends on your format, but he’s certainly a pitcher to be on all fantasy radars.


Ricky Romero

I’ve had my doubts about Romero dating back to 2009, but he continues to get the job done. This season he’s improved his strikeout rate (7.8 K/9) and control (3.2 BB/9), while posting believable luck metrics (.304 BABIP and 72.2 percent strand rate).

There truly is nothing not to like in those numbers, but can we actually expect him to improve on the 3.50 ERA and 1.28 WHIP? 

He has maintained his ground-ball rate from last season (54.0 percent), but where is the upside potential? 

Even in the minor leagues, he was not a big strikeout artist (7.0 K/9 over 430 innings).  In fact, he posted a minor league ERA of 4.40 and struggled with his control (3.8 BB/9).

The numbers look nice, but this is probably the best we can expect from Romero.

He’s a solid pitcher, but is more likely to post an ERA in the 4.00 range without huge strikeouts numbers then he is to post a 3.25 ERA. 

He’s a nice player, but not one that I’d be looking to keep, especially playing in the AL East. There is nothing to “love” about him.

Marc Rzepczynski

He is someone that I was high on prior to the season, but injuries have severely limited his production. 

He’s appeared in just seven games (five starts), posting a 6.31 ERA and 1.64 WHIP.  While his rehab was in the Pacific Coast League, you also can’t be happy seeing his 6.04 ERA there.

The lefty has shown some strikeout ability in the minor leagues, including 60 Ks in his final 60.2 innings before being recalled. 

Couple that potential with some ground ball upside (53.2 percent this year at Triple-A, 50.6 percent in the Majors) and decent control, and you see he has some potential.

He is more likely to be a flier in the deepest of formats, or waiver wire fodder in 2011, but certainly not a keeper.


Shaun Marcum

There were legitimate concerns heading into 2010, considering he missed all of 2009.  Yet, he has returned to form immediately, with impeccable control (2.0 BB/9).

He is what he is right now, however, so there is no real upside. 

That means he’s going to be a good source of WHIP (1.13 this season and 1.24 for his career) and a good, but not great strikeout artist (7.5 K/9 and 7.2 for his career). 

He’s not among the elite, but depending on your keeper format he certainly is worth keeping.

What are your thoughts on the Blue Jays rotation?  Who would you target to keep?  Who would you keep your distance from?

Make sure to check out our extremely early 2011 rankings:


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Fantasy Baseball Player Prophet: Will Ricky Romero Become Elite?

With Ricky Romero recently signing a new 5-year, $30.1 million contract extension, there have been comparisons drawn to Jon Lester ($30 million) and Yovani Gallardo ($30.1 million), both of whom have signed similar contracts in recent years.  Those two have developed into the elite class of starting pitchers in Major League Baseball, so should we expect Romero to follow?

With Romero and Lester both being lefties and pitching in the highly competitive AL East, let’s take a look at how they both fared and if we can expect Romero to make a similar impact.

I’m going to compare Lester’s first three seasons (remember, he missed time during that span with non-Hodgkin lymphoma), which covers 60 starts to Romero’s first two seasons (53 starts):

Major Leagues:
Lester – 354.2 IP, 3.81 ERA, 1.39 WHIP, 6.7 K/9, 3.6 BB/9, .305 BABIP
Romero – 338.0 IP, 3.89 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 7.4 K/9, 3.7 BB/9, .313 BABIP

Those numbers are extremely similar.  When we dig a bit deeper, the groundball rate may actually point things into Romero’s favor:

  • Romero has posted GB% of 54.0% & 54.2%
  • Lester posted marks of 40.6%, 34.4% & 47.5%

Those numbers are a little skewed, however.  It’s possible the time missed played a huge role in the matter, but Lester’s velocity hovered around 90.0 mph in ‘06 and ‘07.  The past two seasons, he’s averaged over 93 mph on his fastball.

Looking at the minor league numbers, you get a little bit of a different picture:

Lester – 377.2 IP, 3.24 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 8.9 K/9, 3.8 BB/9, .306 BABIP
Romero – 430.0 IP, 4.42 ERA, 1.47 WHIP, 7.0 K/9, 3.8 BB/9, .321 BABIP

Yes, some of Romero’s problems were due to some poor luck, but his strikeout potential is clearly below that of Lester’s.  Don’t get me wrong, everything that Romero has done this season is extremely realistic, and I would expect him to continue his strong showing.

He has made vast improvements in his control, with a BB/9 of 3.3 this season.  If he can maintain that while consistently generating groundballs as he is (and always has, with a minor league groundball rate of 48.6%), then he generates more then enough Ks to be a strong option and a solid Major League pitcher.

However, I don’t see him generating enough strikeouts to forge his way into the class of a Lester—or Gallardo, for that matter.  While his numbers are similar to Lester’s over his first two seasons, there is something tangible to point to in order to explain Lester’s regression in strikeouts.  Romero has simply never shown the upside in the strikeout department, though he has averaged close to 91 mph on his fastball this season.  Maybe he’ll continue to develop in time, but there’s little chance of him becoming a strikeout per inning pitcher.

This year could be Romero’s upside.  How many more groundballs can he generate?  Can his control improve any more?  He’d need to improve there if he can’t become a more prevalent strikeout pitcher.  He’s a good option, just consider him a second tier pitcher, at best.

What are your thoughts on Romero?  Can he develop into a pitcher in the class of Lester?  Why or why not?

Make sure to check out yesterday’s Fantasy Baseball Player Prophet:


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Toronto Blue Jays Extend Ricky Romero

The Blue Jays signed 25-year-old former top-10 pick Ricky Romero to a five year, $30.1 million contract that will keep him signed with the team through 2015 on Saturday.

Romero, the team’s first round pick in 2005, has a 3.53 ERA and 3.40 FIP on the season. Not much of a strikeout pitcher in the minor leagues, he’s really refined his stuff in the majors, and thus far has a 7.76 strikeout rate on the season.

He’s also a groundball pitcher (54 percent GB-rate both this year and last) and while his control is still a bit shaky, it’s improved over the past year and is currently no worse than average.

Overall, he’s got a great skill set and at just 25 he still has room to grow by improving his command, and becoming the ace the Blue Jays hoped he could be when they selected him sixth overall.

Let’s break the deal down.

Right off the bat, the Jays will be giving Romero a $1.25 million signing bonus. In 2011, Romero will make $750K, a few thousand more than he would have had he not signed the deal, but nothing major. This is his final pre-arbitration year, and the Jays aren’t paying much for it.

Had Romero not signed this deal, he would have gone through arbitration in 2012, 2013, and 2014. Now, the Blue Jays have him under control and will pay him an average of $6.7 million over the three year stretch. Even if Romero simply continues to pitch at the level he has, he’ll be well worth the money.

The best part about this deal from the Jays perspective is that they now control one or two of Romero’s free agent years. In 2015, Romero will be right in the middle of his prime at 30 years old. The Jays have him locked up at $7.5 million for the 2015 season, and can exercise a $13.1 million option for 2016. Should Romero get hurt, or should his performance suffer, they can buy out the 2016 season for just $600K.

Romero gets a great deal of financial security out of this deal, and while it would be nice to hit the free agent market at 29 years old, he’s now guaranteed $30-plus million over the next five seasons. This is certainly a good deal from his perspective.

I also like this deal for the Blue Jays. Romero is a very talented pitcher, and he’s only getting better. If he develops into the front-line starter he seems capable of becoming, having his arbitration years control could be huge in the Blue Jays rebuilding efforts, and keeping him under contract for two prime-age free-agent years is also a major plus.

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Toronto Blue Jays Sign Ricky Romero To Five-Year, $30.1 Million Extension

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports has reported that Alex Anthopoulos has signed Ricky Romero to a five year $30.1 million contract extension. This is very odd for Anthopoulos, as he normally gives a bit less money in the early years of his contracts with options for big money later. In this case he gave Romero reasonable money, but this is the largest amount given to a player with less than two years of major league service.

I don’t like this signing at all. It only buys out the first year of his free agency, and I doubt he would get this kind of money in arbitration. My only guess is that there are option years added to the end of this deal that Rosenthal has not discovered.

This continues a trend for Alex Anthopoulos as he continues to lock up the young core of this team. Ricky Romero is definitely a solid pitcher. With a 3.53 ERA in the AL East, he can develop into an ace starter. Indeed earlier in the year his ERA was actually below 3, showing just how dominating he can be.

By locking up Romero to this kind of a contract it will have an effect on the rest of the team. After all, if Romero can get this kind of money why not Shaun Marcum? He is a solid young pitcher, and can develop into a top of the rotation starter. This will also affect the signing of Kyle Drabek once his rookie years end and his arbitration is about to start.

What is important to note here is that Anthopoulos values pitching more than hitting. The deals he gave Adam Lind and Aaron Hill were for less money even though they had outstanding seasons, whereas Romero has not had that great of a season yet.

I hope Anthopoulos has added option years. If he has then this deal can be very fair. If he has not, I sure hope he knows what he is doing. 

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Toronto Blue Jays Hit AJ Burnett Hard: Will They Play August Spoilers?


A.J. Burnett sure wasn’t happy to play his old team tonight. The Blue Jays bats ran rampant over the fireballer, knocking him out in the fifth inning after notching seven runs against him. The Blue Jays hit six doubles in the sixth, two of them by Travis Snider.  After the seven-run inning by the Jays that put them up 8-2, New York would come back to score runs in the bottom of the fifth, sixth and ninth. The Bluebirds would hang on though to win the heavy-hitting contest, 8-6.

The Blue Jays have a very tough schedule in August, facing several teams that are fighting for a playoff spot. Their familiar foes in the AL East, New York, Boston and Tampa, they will all face twice. Anaheim, Oakland and Detroit they will all face once, all of who can be tough competition. Another way of looking at this schedule is that the Blue Jays may play a large role in deciding who claims that Wild Card spot in the American League.

Perhaps the biggest concern for the Blue Jays is whether their young arms can keeping going late into summer. Shaun Marcum didn’t pitch at all last year, so hasn’t pitched a full season since 2007 and Jesse Litsch just returned recently from injury. Brandon Morrow was shuffled between starting and relief with the Mariners before becoming a full-time starter with the Jays this year.

This is Brett Cecil’s first full year in the majors, and while he has pitched fantastic, he could be on a limited innings count. Only Ricky Romero pitched a full season last year, and could likely hit the 200 innings mark this year. All of the Jays starters are yet to hit that 200 mark in their career though, which suggests that their may be more spot starts by Brad Mills or even Brian Tallet to help give these young pitchers some more rest.


Of course, the Blue Jays already know what kind of position they are in though, which means they have a lot to prove. They don’t want to roll over and die; they want to learn how to win against the best to prepare for next season. 

The easiest target is of course Boston, as they have been decimated by injuries this year (Kevin Youkilis might have been hurt as well tonight) and are behind Tampa by 6.5 games. New York will be difficult, but luckily the Jays will not have to face C.C. Sabathia in this series at least. Plus, the Yankees stadium suits the long ball style of the Toronto batters. Tampa will be difficult, as their diverse offense and strong pitching is always finding new ways to win. 

If the Blue Jays bats can stay potent, and their starters can stay healthy and find a way to pitch deep into ball games, the team certainly has a chance to play spoiler. If the Blue Jays want to be in this race next year, they are going to have to prove that they are capable of playing with the best.

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Previewing The Exciting Blue Jays Vs Cardinals Pitching Matchups

The Toronto Blue Jays will look to continue the roll they got on last week tonight against the St. Louis Cardinals. After taking two of three from both the Padres and Giants last week the Jays have another three game set with the Cards. While much of the attention is sure to be on Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday the pitching matchups are exceptional.

Both teams will send their top three starters to the mound over the next three days. The teams also come into the series with similar records, the Cards at 38-31 and the Jays at 38-32. St. Louis does have the better run differential at +56 to the Jays +26. The Jays are 19-15 at home, while the Cards are just the opposite, 15-19, on the road.

Offensively, the Jays and Cards are evenly matched with the Jays .329 wOBA just ahead of the Cardinals .327 wOBA. Where the Cards hit for a higher average and draw more walks, the Jays of course counter with superior power. Defensively, according to UZR the Cards are a +8.6, with the Jays checking in at -12.4. 

When matters get turned over to the bullpens the Jays and Cards sport similar FIPs of 4.03 and 4.06, respectively. However, the Cards have a bullpen ERA of 3.18 to the Jays 4.37. The big difference in ERA despite similar FIPs stems from the Cards bullpen stranding 78.2 percent of it’s baserunners and having a BABIP of .271. The Jays ‘pen has only managed to strand 71.3 percent of it’s baserunners and suffering from a .310 BABIP.

The key to any series is the pitching matchups, especially ones as good as these, and here they are:

Tuesday: Brett Cecil vs Jaime Garcia

It’s only fitting that these two should be matched up. Both are young, left handers in the midst of breakout seasons. Garcia, 23, has been a groundball machine with 58.4 percent of his balls in play staying on the ground. That coupled with a scant .23 HR per nine innings has kept his ERA way down at 1.59. His one weakness is his 3.97 BB per nine innings. He doesn’t counter it with an overwhelming number of Ks either leaving him with a FIP of 3.19.

Cecil continues to impress this season heading into tonight’s start with a 3.58 ERA and a 3.55 FIP. He’s found success thanks to his 2.30 BB per nine innings and keeping the homers in check allowing .77 HR/9 IN. Cecil has been able to get batters to chase 32.5 percent of his pitches out of the zone, bettering the league average by 5.2 percent. Hitters are also swinging and missing 9.4 percent of the time against Cecil (8.3% league average).

Wednesday: Ricky Romero vs Chris Carpenter

Carpenter has picked right up where he left off last season and is turning in another season worth Cy Young consideration. Both his 2.83 ERA and 3.78 FIP are impressive. Just like Garcia, Carpenter does an outstanding job keeping the ball on the ground with a 54.1 groundball rate. He mixes good control, 2.30 BB/9 IN, with a solid strikeout rate of 7.79 K/9 IN. The Jays should look to exploit his .97 HR/9 IN, which is just above the .94 HR/9 IN league average.

Quietly putting together a Cy Young worthy campaign of his own, Romero heads to the mound with a 3.16 FIP. Romero gets it done with a combination of strikeouts and groundballs. He sits down 8.97 batters per nine innings and has a 56.4 percent groundball rate. Romero doesn’t cough up the long ball much either yielding only .53 HR/9 IN. His ERA, at 3.08, is outstanding as well.

Thursday: Brandon Morrow vs Adam Wainwright

For the second year in a row Wainwright has teamed with Carpenter to form the NL’s most dangerous one-two punch on the mound. Wainwright has been the better of the two this season with a 2.23 ERA and a tidy 2.90 FIP. He’s tough to beat no matter how you look at it. Wainwright whiffs 8.34 batters per nine innings while walking only 2.39 per nine innings. Surprise, surprise, just like Carpenter and Garcia, Wainwright has an outstanding groundball rate at 52.3 percent. He’ll be tough for the Jays to solve with his .50 HR/9 IN.

Despite pitching better as of late as he continues to embrace being a full time starter, Morrow is the only starter in the series with an ERA over four at 4.97. He also isn’t a groundball machine getting a grounder on only 40.8 percent of his balls in play. He hands out a decent amount of walks too, walking 4.86 per nine innings.

But Morrow has used his outstanding 9.95 K/9 IN and well below league average .59 HR/9 IN to keep his FIP at 3.63. He’s been terrific three times out in June with a 1.89 ERA and a 2.65 FIP. Morrow’s been much better at home with a home ERA/FIP of 3.35/2.87 compared to his road ERA/FIP of 7.09/4.61.


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Breaking Up The Blue Jays and Why They Have a Chance To Contend

Many of the so called experts predicted the Toronto Blue Jays to end up in the cellar in the AL East.

So far, this hasn’t happened as the Blue Jays have stayed within striking distance in the AL east, and currently own the AL’s third best record.

How have they done this you may ask? Well, it is simple. They currently lead the league in home runs and the pitching staff has stepped up and pitched pretty consistently.

At the plate Vernon Wells is tearing it up. He is second on the team in homers with 11, leads the team with a .301 average, and has batted in 33 runs. This is what many Blue Jays fans have expected from Wells year to year.

Perhaps the surprises of the year have come in journeyman IF/OF Jose Bautista, who leads the team with 14 long balls and 38 ribbies.

Currently his 14 homers leads the AL, which is a surprise for a guy who hadn’t hit 75 in his career going into the season.

Along side Bautista is Alex Gonzalez, who has rocked 10 long balls and knocked in 30. Gonzalez hadn’t hit more than 10 homers all season long since the 2007 season with the Reds.

Edwin Encarnacion has also been a major part of the attack at third base. He has hit 7 long balls and driven in only 16, but is a dangerous addition to the lineup on a daily basis.

While these three have done it at the plate and carried the team, many of the guys thought to have been the main offensive threats heading into the season have struggled.

Adam Lind is only batting .237 and has struck out nearly 50 times. Former all star Aaron Hill is batting below the Mendoza line at .156, and Lyle Overbay has struggled to get going batting just over .200. Just imagine if these guys were hitting like they could?

Where the Jays have really capitalized is at the front and end of the game. Starters have combined to go 19-13 to this point, and several starters have carried no hitters into the late innings.

The Jays are lead by Ricky Romero, who leads the team in ERA, strike-outs, and is tied for the lead in wins.

Also making a splash is former third round pick Shaun Marcum, who is 4-1 with a 2.82 ERA and is showing signs of being a front of the rotation pitcher. Also youngsters such as Brett Cecil, Dana Eveland, Brandon Morrow, and Brian Tallet have been solid contributors.

In the bullpen it makes all the difference in the world when you have a closer.

Kevin Gregg has turned back to his All Star form of 2008 as he has nailed down 12 games in 20+ innings while keeping his ERA under 4.00. Scott Downs, Shawn Camp, Casey Janssen, and Jason Frasor have also been solid working out of the pen, combining for a 7-5 record with an ERA of just over 4.00.

At this point many readers who aren’t Jays fans may be saying,

“So what? They still play in the same division as the Yanks, Rays, and Sox!”

I say, not so fast my friend! Please don’t forget who the manager is on this team.

Cito Gaston has been there and done that. Cito has been to four post seasons in his career, all with the Blue Jays, and won back to back titles in 1992-93. He has a knack for getting the most out of players, and this group has been no exception.

If I were to hire any manager in the game, Cito would be at the top of mine, and most people who know baseball’s list.

The bottom line is do not turn your back on this team. Sure, they have lost two of three against the Rays this season, and five of six against the Sox, but they are still relatively young. This is a team that is learning how to win, and Cito Gaston is the man to teach these young men how to do so.

I am not saying they will win the division, or even make the wild card spot, but I assure you that they will stay in it. Romero and Marcum provide a solid 1-2 punch, while youngster Brett Cecil has showed the promise of a great young pitcher.

Add a lineup that can score at any moment with the long ball and you have something.

Again, I am just saying they will contend at this point. I am not completely on the bandwagon yet. If they can find ways to win series’ against the Yanks, Sox, and Rays on a consistent basis then you had better watch out.

Cito will have these guys playing well above their skill sets all year long, and all I say is if you are a fan of baseball, do not discard the Toronto Blue Jays as the pennant races heat up.

But as always, that’s just my opinion, I could be wrong…..

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The Wait Is Over forToronto Blue Jay Fans: The Other Shoe Has Dropped

Back in March this year, the feeling around Spring Training was one of cautious optimism. 

After coming off a humbling 75-87 season, the firing of J.P. Ricciardi and the trade of team icon Roy Halladay, the Blue Jays were clearly embarking to rebuild.

Fast forward to May 9, with a record of 19-14, the water cooler talk was all about our “great young arms”, our “potent offense” and dare I say it—Wild Card! 

And why not? We had just taken 3 of 4 against Chicago and previous to that we swept the Indians.

The Jays are the top power hitting team in baseball with 51 Home Runs and lead the AL in Total Bases with 535

John Buck, with a .237 career batting average, is all of a sudden a .270 hitting juggernaut who’s on pace to obliterate his career highs in every major statistical category. This includes almost tripling his previous bests in HR’s and RBI’s.

How about Alex Gonzalez? The light hitting baseball nomad has either been eating out of Victor Conte’s garbage or is on the hot streak to end all hot streaks. The most glaring stat? His SLG% (Slugging Percentage) is a ridiculous 185 points higher than his career number.

As for those “Great Young Arms”, Ricky Romero and Shawn Marcum are indeed pitching well. However, Romero has been the recipient of great defense and quite a bit of luck as his unusually low .288 BABIP (batting average for balls in play) would suggest. 

Once that number climbs to around .300, Romero’s stats should even themselves out.

Even still, 19-14 is nothing to scoff at. Until we went on the road to face the Red Sox.

After allowing seven walks last night (six in 1.2 innings from starter Brendon Morrow, one of our “great young arms”) we narrowly lost a sloppy game to Boston. However, that was just one game and there’s no way we walk seven again tonight.

Well we didn’t walk seven, we walked eight. Red Sox 6 – Blue Jays 1.

That loud THUD you just heard was the other shoe dropping.

This is to be expected from an elite hitting team like the Red Sox. They are third in the AL with a .353 team OBP and 4th in fewest strikeouts (from their hitters). 

On the other hand, the Jays are in the bottom three in the AL for OBP and have struck out at the plate more times then any other team in baseball.

Home runs are great but nothing kills a rally more than a strikeout or hitting into a double play. There’s a reason why Adam Dunn is playing in Washington and guys like Russell Branyon and Jack Cust can’t keep a job even though they are legit power hitters.

Apologies to my fellow Jay fans out there as I know I can come across as a bit a buzz kill . However, this is still a rebuilding season and when we beat up on some the leagues lesser lights we all need to take it with a grain of salt.

Having said that, there are still lots to be excited about! Lyle Overbay is making Mendoza look like Tony Gwynn so we can expect to see Brett Wallace manning First Base hopefully by July when we make our west coast road trip.

It’s all about perspective.


This is my first official article as the new Toronto Blue Jays Feature Columnist here on B/R. Quick thanks to the editorial staff for their assistance and to the men behind the curtain who saw fit to give me this opportunity. And a big thanks to my readers who never cease to keep me honest. I expect nothing less.




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Toronto Blue Jays and Twitter Look To Reverse Fortunes

It is no surprise that 2010 is a going to be a struggle for the Jays. It is also no surprise that attendance is at an all-time low.

Alex Anthopolous made changes during the offseason that ultimately set the tone for this year, and more than likely the next two as well; rebuilding.

When fans hear the word rebuild, success is years away, and in a city where attendance has struggled to climb the ranks as results of intermediate play, it gives you an idea about where the club’s focus is—rekindling the fan’s interest with a young, successful product.

With the witness of a cellar-dweller Tampa Bay Rays team that has seemingly figured out how to succeed in the ultra competitive American League East, enthusiastic Toronto fans, appear to be far and few between. As early as it is in the season, 2010 has been as bad to Jays as it has been good.

A veteran Jay is having a rebirth of sorts.

Vernon Wells has, for now, returned to his All-Star caliber-self, leading the Jays early on with 8 home runs, driving in 17 RBI,  slugging a staggering .688, while on pace to a career high in OBP at .388.

Yet the pitching staff, no doubt missing perennial Cy Young candidate Roy Halladay, is now being led by the 26-year-old “wily veteran,” Ricky Romero.

Romero, who has a career 3.95 ERA, in 34 career starts, has been plagued by issuing too many walks in his appearances.  More specifically, nearly four base on balls per game, limiting Romero to six innings or less.

Apparently, Romero has turned the page.

Reducing his walks by nearly one per game, inducing more than twice as many ground balls than fly balls, and limiting batters to a .168 batting average, spells nothing but success for the new ace of the Jays staff.

With all the positives, the Jays are still outgunned by at least three other members of the AL East, and with a recent 3-7 skid, the Jays have fallen four games out of the division lead and wild card race.

Again, attendance will be the measuring stick of their season; success equals results and results equal more fans through the turnstile.

In the meantime, how can the Jays peak the interest of the fans?

Take advantage of possibly the biggest media trendsetter in recent memory: Twitter.

On April 27 against the Boston Red Sox, the Jays introduced “Tweeting Tuesdays.”

According to the Jays website , Blue Jay Twitter followers had the opportunity to interact with the club and other followers during the game.

“We recognize that fans appreciate both the entertainment and social aspects of coming to a live Blue Jays game.” said Anthony Partipilo, VP of Blue Jays Marketing and Merchandising.

“We are constantly looking for new ways to embrace social technology, and to further enhance that experience. We are always looking for ways to make coming to a Jays game an even better place to connect with family, friends, and like minded Jays Fans.”

It may not be going the Blue Jays way on the field, however, this game is also a business, and when your product may not be the best it can, you must credit them for thinking outside of the box, attempting to gain interest in an unconventional, yet, in this day in age, very familiar way.

To become a part of “Twittering Tuesdays”, go to twitter.com/bluejays

This article can also be found on The GM’s Perspective

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