Monday, August 18, 2008

Do The Jays Really Suck?

Oh yah, baseball talk!

And yes, there's still plenty of hockey talk going on in Toronto, mostly involving the words "Mats" and "Sundin".

Oh, and Canada now sucks less at the Olympics, with 9 medals! Eat it Kazakhstan!

Anyway, Jays.

At the beginning of the year, I said that if they could hit and pitch up to their potential, they were one of the best teams in the league. They only got half of it right. They've proven to have one of the best pitching staffs in the league, and possibly THE best top-to-bottom. Tied for best ERA in the majors, 1st in complete games (almost ALL of them belong to Halladay), 1st in the AL for strikeouts, 6th least walks given up in the majors, 4th least hits given up, least runs given up, least earned runs given up, and 6th least HR given up (3rd in AL). So once again, I say Brad Arnsberg should get a huge raise and whatever he wants.

But the hitting... woe to the hitting. Middle-of-the-road for most of the stats... 3rd in triples though! 2nd last in HR, 23rd in RBIs, not a lot of strikeouts, so at least they're making contact. If I'd looked a month ago, those stats would be even more dismal.

They've had a solid August though. Why? I think a lot can be placed at the feet of Gene Tenace - the first legitimate hitting coach they've had in years. Cito Gaston on the bench has probably helped keep the waters calm too. Cito's a manager who lets the players play without micromanaging. He has a plan and system he wants to see (usually aggression), and lets the coaches and players do their jobs. But I fear the managerial and coaching changes came too late to help this season.

As for the roster - Frank Thomas and Shannon Stewart are gone from the lineup (about time for Stewart... why they dumped Johnson I still don't know), with Adam Lind up from the minors. Yah, there's Mensch and Wilkerson too, but they're not exactly tearing it up. McGowan is injured, and Marcum was down for a bit. BJ Ryan is back, but not quite his old self, and Brandon League keeps getting spot work in non-dangerous situations. Want to know what I really like though? Seeing John McDonald playing every day. Yah, it has to do with Aaron Hill and Scott Rolen being on the DL, but I still think getting Eckstein was a huge mistake on the Jays part. The problem was never McDonald, it was the rest of the team's hitting.

So now what? 6 game homestand against the Yankees and BoSox, after the good guys laid a beating on Boston yesterday (22 hits! 15-4!). Followed by 3 in Tampa and 3 in New York. 12 games that will determine the final fate for this season. Do I think they have a chance? Not really. They're 7 back from the wild card, 11.5 from 1st. 12-0 would put them in 3rd for sure, and likely within striking distance of the wild card, but that's a pipe dream. No, this is standard Jays - strong August followed by an average September to dash any false hopes they create. I'll be happy if I'm wrong.

Their 64-60 record stacks up similarly elsewhere:

64-60 or .516. Good for:

4th in the AL East (their division)
3rd in the AL Central (with 1st and 2nd tied @ 70-53)
2nd in the AL West

3rd in the NL East
4th in the NL Central
Tied for 1st in the NL West (what a shitty division that is!)

But only a half game better position in the NL for the wild card race (6.5 back instead of 7 in the AL)

In the end, if you have the best pitching, and middle-of-the-road hitting, you have an average team, which is exactly what they Jays have been this year.

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