Tagged: Vernon Wells

The Need For Speed

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The departure of Vernon Wells to the Angels, for Mike Napoli and Juan Rivera, has ushered in a new era for the Blue Jays.  Vernon, along with Roy Halladay, were the face of the Blue Jay franchise for more than a decade, and now they are both gone.  It is saddening to an extent, but exciting to another.  Now, the team looks to move forward in an unfamilar direction.  Previous acquisitions of Rajai Davis, young minor-leaguers CF Anthony Gose, 3B/2B Brett Lawrie and to a lesser extent Corey Patterson show that the Jays are looking to burn teams on the basepaths in the near future. 

The speed element has been lacking from the Jays in recent years.  I am not saying we didn’t have any speed.  Wells, Rios and a few others were moderately good basestealers.  The Jays have just never had an explosive basestealer, and many believe that Rajai Davis can provide that function.

Alex Anthopolous is making the team faster, and changing the team faster than we could have ever imagined.  It is an exciting time in Blue Jay land, it needed to be done and I hope it can work.  I have good feeling about it.   

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Batmen

Na, Na, Na, Na, Na, Na … BLUE JAYS!!!

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36 Wambos!

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14 Buckos!

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18 Kaboombos!

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22 Vernoonos!

The story of the 2010 season has been that the Blue Jays lead the majors in team homeruns with 179.  Second place is not even close at 155.

Despite the ‘homerun happy’ numbers, the team sits 9 games out of a playoff spot.  I’m tuning in same ‘bat’ time (sometimes varies), same ‘bat’ channel (usually on Roger Sportsnet) to see if we can make up that 9 games from here on out.        

VORPin’ it up Blue Jay Style

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I don’t consider myself a ‘stat guy.’  I was never a strong math student.  But I do like
to analyze baseball stats from time to time.  The world of baseball
statistics has ‘blown up’ in the past 10 years with sabermetrics.  Don’t
ask me to demonstrate what these stats are?  I just find them interesting to look at and analyze.  Two of the more trendy stats out
today are VORP, and a UZR/150 score.

UZR/150
is concocted out of graphs, charts and ‘god knows what’ to get an overall
rating of how many runs a player saved, or lost, above any average
fielder.  The moniker stands for ‘ULTIMATE zone rate per 150 games
defensive games.’  First of all, I love the name. It compares some of my favorite
defensive baseball players to my favorite wrestlers, ‘The Ultimate
Warrior.’
  Follow the link above if you actually want to know
what it is about:  

For all those not familiar with VORP,
it means (Value Over Replacement Player).  VORP is a number generated
in terms of runs that are contributed offensively over a general replacement at
a certain position
.  For example, Derek Jeter had a 65.0 VORP
and Hanely Ramirez had 75.0 VORP in 2009.  This means that Jeter
contributed 65.0 more runs to his team over a general replacement shortstop in
2009, and Hanley contributed 75.0 over a general replacement.  Not that
big of a difference for Jeter when you consider the ‘fantasy phenomena’ that is
Marlins shortstop, Hanley Ramirez.  Jeter’s offensive production in 2009
(VORP doesn’t account for a player’s defense) was among the game’s
elite.   Jeter’s VORP was really a testement to the immense contribution
he had on the Yankees 2009 A.L. East pennet team last season.   
    

For me, it helps to visualize these so called ‘replacement players’ for each
position in order to assess VORP.

In the case of shortstop, the last two years Tigers shortstop, Adam Everett,
has had a 0.3 VORP.  Epitomizing the stagnate offense of the shortstop
replacement – respected only for his glove.  Another guy would be John
McDonald from the Blue Jays – with a -2.3 VORP.  McDonald is even a little
worse than the 0.0 mark of the average replacement at shortstop.  He is
still replacement worthy, but that is not saying a whole lot as the 0.0 number
value is made to characterize any ordinary player that can fill the role.

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Lets breakdown the Blue Jays 2009 season related their
VORP and judge each player’s offensive value based on their
salary:   

    

  1. Fred Lewis, LF, Blue
    Jays,  $455,000 – 2009 VORP 6.7

 

Anthopolous
acquired Fred Lewis this season taking a risk on a player that has
obvious athletic gifts.  2009 was a terrible season in San
Francisco for Lewis.  He lost his job mid-season
and was sent to the minors.  A 6.7 VORP in ’09 shows that Lewis very close
to replacement level in left field.  The Blue Jays hope their hitting
coaches can help Lewis reach his full potential.  At his current price, AA
should be commended because Lewis looks like a risk worth
taking.    

 

 

  1. Aaron Hill, 2B, Blue
    Jays, $4,000,000 – 2009 VORP 41.6

 

2009
was a ‘career season’ for Aaron Hill that saw him make the All-Star game
and win a Silver Slugger.  His VORP shows that 2009 put him well above
replacement level.  He is emblematic of the modern slugging 2nd
baseman.  Hill is a free swinger that is criticized for not getting on
base enough.  He is our player with the most value in a stage of rebuilding,
so trading Hill has been thrown out there.  Personally, I like Hill’s
swing and approach at the plate.  It is overly-aggressive but I don’t see
any indications of that hindering his ability.  At this point, I’d hold
onto Hill, as he fits right in with the current mold of offensive producing 2nd
basemen.       

 

  1. Adam Lind, DH, Blue
    Jays, $550,000 – VORP 44.7

 

Adam
Lind
also had a ‘career year’ in 2009.  The Jays locked him into a
long-term contract for the foreseeable future before 2009 began.  This was
an astute decision, in my opinion.  Lind performed on the level of some of
the best #3 and #4’s hitters in the game last year.  It was a good
decision to keep Lind in the Jays future.  We are getting great value out
him on a 4-year 18 million dollar contract with options for even more
years.   

 

  1. Vernon
    Wells, CF, Blue Jays, $15,687,000 – VORP 15.4

 

As
if having a VORP at 15.4 wasn’t bad enough, Vernon Wells posted a -15
UZR score ranking runs gained/or lost on defense.  Defensively, Wells was
scored among the worst centerfielders in the league last season.  When you
deduce the defensive scores from the VORP, you get a replacement level
player
making seven figures.  2009 was a horror story.  It got
down right ugly for Vernon Wells.  At times, I couldn’t watch.  It
would give me nightmares.  However, 2010 is beautiful!!!  Wells is
hitting at a very high level, and actually earning his contract!!!  The
nightmares are gone.  15MIL is a huge commitment to any player.  It
could be argued that no player deserves that amount.  Wells streakiness,
injury prone seasons and age will definitely make him a contract that the Jays
will part with or trade at some point.  Right now, Wells is looking much
more athletic in the field and very savvy at the plate.  What a difference
a year makes?          

 

 

  1. Lyle
    Overbay, 1B,
    Blue Jays, $7,950,000 – VORP 18.4

 

Lyle
Overbay is hard to gage
because he is a player that saves runs on defense, having a UZR/150 score of
plus 6.  His VORP is slightly above replacement level, but at a position
where the offensive output at the replacement level is the highest. 
Overbay is a contributor, but the raw stats like AVG., doubles and RBI’s have
declined.  Overbay will earn 8 million this season and the Jays will
likely look to Brett Wallace (a centerpiece in the Roy Halladay trade) to fill
1st base in the future.  I wouldn’t be too patient with
Wallace.  If the Jays get in contention in the next few seasons, I’d chase
after a guy with some proven production.      

 

  1. Edwin Encarnacion, 3B,
    Blue Jays, $5,175,000 – VORP 9.6

 

Edwin
Encarnacion
played his best year at the Great American Smallpark in Cincinnati. 
He had a couple years with great offensive production, amid horrible defensive
skills.  He was acquired with a number of prospects for Scott Rolen last
season.  The Jays picked up Encarnacion’s hefty contract.  A very low
VORP compounded by injuries and terrible defensive skills puts Encarnacion at
replacement level in the 2009 season.  Nobody is expecting much from
Encarnacion, so there is room for him to prove himself with the
organization.  If the Jays aren’t drafting, looking or thinking of
establishing 3rd base help now, they are not doing their job. 
      

 

  1. Alex Gonzalez, SS, Blue
    Jays, $2,750,000 – VORP 5.8

 

The
injury riddled 2009 season for Alex Gonzalez in Boston
was probably a legitimate gripe.  Gonzalez has burst on the scene in
2010.  He is proving himself much more than a replacement level SS,
hitting .277, with 7 HR’s and 19 RBI’s thus far.  The Jays only saw
Gonzalez as a stopgap option, so they signed him to only one year.  He may
for a larger, longer contract next season while the Jays wait on young top
Cuban prospect Adeiny Hechevarria to develop in the minors.  I’d give
Gonzalez another 2 years if he keeps playing like this? 

 

  1. John Buck, C, Blue Jays,
    $2,000,000 – VORP 7.4

 

Another
‘stopgap’ for the Jays was John Buck, although he is a player that is
not playing well above his head right now.  The Jays signed him for one
year while they develop some catcher talent in the minors (i.e. J.P. Arrencibia
and Travis D’Arnaud).  The depth of talent at the catcher position is not
that significant.  I wouldn’t be worried about this position.  Buck
provides some pop in his bat while playing near replacement level.  I
don’t think we will get much more out of him.  The best that the Jays
could do is draft, and try to develop their young catchers into a rare case of
Brian McCann or Joe Mauer.  If this takes longer than expected?  Buck
might get another one-year contract with the team? 

 

  1. Travis Snider, RF, Blue
    Jays, $405,800 – VORP 6.5

 

Travis
Snider
is a case of a guy that crushes the minor leagues, but has not
nearly translated that into the majors.  The near replacement level VORP
indicated a lack of playing time last season, and some relative struggles for
Snider.  The Jays should be patient with Snider, as he is still very young
and could be an emerging star that we could get very good value out of. 
It depends how well the Jays do, if Snider tests their patience level.  I
might upgrade this position if the Jays turn into buyers at some point, and let
Snider take more time in the minors.  Just being here at this age, 22,
Snider is well above the curve.

 

Jose
Bautista, Blue Jays, Utility

 

Last
season Jose Bautista mainly played a utility role with the Jays. 
This season he has moved around positions on a more permanant basis. 
Edwin Encarnacion’s recent injury has Bautista currently filling in as the Jays
starting third baseman.  Before the arrival of Fred Lewis, Bautista was
rotated around the corner outfield position.  Regardless of where Bautista
ends up playing, he has proven to be a very useful acquisition – providing some
extra base pop in the order, hitting 6 HR’s with 20 RBI’s this early in the
season.  Upon the return of Edwin Encarnacion, he may relegate both Edwin
and Fred Lewis to a utility role.          

 

Conclusion

 

Looking
back on last season, the Jays only had 2 players here that produced significant
VORP.  They need to raise the depth of production in different
ways to help a very young, inexperienced, but inexpensive pitching staff. 
That is the only way we could compete with likes of the Yankees, Red Sox and
Rays. 

 

2010
 

 

How
many guys have been stepping it up this year?

 

This
year has been very pleasing to those looking for improvement in the Blue Jay
lineup from last season.  The Blue Jays lead the entire league in
homeruns!  I would not have expected that.  Alex Gonzalez, Vernon
Wells and Jose Bautista look on pace to have breakthrough seasons and increase
their VORP.  If Snider, Overbay, Lewis and Buck can make solid
contributions to the lineup, then the overall output in VORP will be much, much
better than last season.  Nobody expected this kind of the production from
the Jays so far, it has me giddy, happy and definably over-joyed!  We are
VORPin it up, and slugging with the ‘big boys’ in the A.L. East.  
    

When Something is Broke … Put a Little Fixer on it.

If only all the Blue Jays decisions could work out like a Pearl Jam song?  I guess that we would still be ‘Alive’ in the playoffs, and this ‘Jeremy‘ would be writing a lot more on this blog today.

The Blue Jay’s fix, for the forseeable future, is 32-year-old former Montreal Expo scout and Blue Jay assistant GM Alex Anthopoulos.  Along with his scouting experience, Anthopoulossponsor3_science_mcmaster.jpg has an economics degree from McMaster University.  Coincidentally, I also went to this school.  Too bad I couldn’t catch his fall after doing a ‘keg stand,’ or something like that?  It would have been a good networking opporitunity for me. 

Anyway, Anthopoulos’ first priority came this week as he did a large revamping of the Jays scouting department.  He also told the media that the Jays would committing more money to scouting and player development.  Along with bringing in some new scouts, Anthopoulos hired an assistant named Dana Brown.  The 42-year-old Brown left his position as scouting director for the Washington Nationals to take up the job with his old friend whom he worked with in the Expo scouting deparment.

My Take

It does seem a little trendy in baseball right now to hire a young GM.  Anthopoulos is already being dubbed, ‘boy genius,’ but he is yet to prove anything.  I do like the stance andanthopoulos_alex_courtesy_381.jpg measures that Alex is taking by committing himself to scouting and player development, but then again, every team committs themselves to that.  Here is an old one, “the proof is in the pudding.’  Anthopoulos will inevitably be judged by the choices that he makes as GM.  Working close with J.P. all these years, he must have learned a lot.  J.P. did a lot of good things with the club, but he also made a large share of mistakes.  I wouldn’t say that Anthopoulos has to totally rebuild the club, but he has a lot of holes to fill. 

Here are a few: 

Marco Scutaro‘s career might be in jeopardy, let alone his ability to play a demanding position like shortstop.  Scutaro is a free agent, so the Jays will definately have to look into what they are going to do with him.

Jays catcher Rod Barajas is also a free agent.  He did do some nice things, hitting homers and producing RBI’s this season.  However, his .258 On Base Percentage is not exactly pleasing to Jay fans, or anyone for that matter. Barajas is definately NOT a long-term solution and it doesn’t see like some of our young catching prospects (i.e. J.P. Arrencibia) are making the necessary progression in the minors.  Barajas was a temporary solution last season!  Will he be that again?

The Jays pitching staff was in shambles last season.  Injury plus guys being penciled then quickly erased due to performance, the Jays seeming had what looked like a 10-man rotation last year.  We did have some young players progress into major leaguers, like Brett Cecil, Marc Rzepcynski and Ricky Romero but it also became apparent that the rotation could use some much needed depth.  The possible return of Shaun Marcum may help Alex a little in that respect.

DH and first base are somewhat interchangeable in the American league some might argue.  The Blue Jays are not getting the production they need from these two positions.  They are usually filled with middle-of-the-lineup guys, but this is not true in the Blue Jays case.  Kevin Millar did not have a comeback with the club, and Randy Ruiz, although incredibly impressive, might be too much of a risk to rely on for that position.  Using Adam Lind as the primary DH will vacate another hole in the outfield, where the Jays desparately need athletes to run down balls.  Lyle Overbay is nice player, he gives you a good On Base … yes.  However, his trademark doubles have decreased and you’d be hardpressed to go around the league to find a firstbaseman that is just ‘a good On Base’ guy.  We need a legitimate slugger at first!  I say move Lind to firstbase, get some athletes in the outfield and use Ruiz temporarily at DH till we can find a better hitter. 

More questions….

Are we going to live with Edwin Encarnacion at third base?  He showed some good things last year, but he does not look like a longterm solution.

When are we going to start benching Vernon Wells?  The 20 million-a-year man would have a hard time hitting in the bottom of the order for any team in MLB.  Sorry Vernon, but the Jays actually got more out of Jose Bautista last year in half the at-bats you had.

We don’t have a closer?  We just don’t.  Jason Frasor has proven ineffective in that role before?  Can we live with him there?

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

I don’t envy your job Alex Anthopoulos.  Wait, actually I do.  If someone told me that I could possibly be the future GM of the Jays with a McMaster degree, I’d go crazy for it.  I consider myself knowledgable in player evaluation.  All I do is order and read ‘Baseball Prospectus‘ and ‘Baseball America‘ every year.

For the team right now, I say be bold, and think ‘out of the box.’  Our scouting system should have a wide range internationally.  As the Jays have not made the splash into Japan yet.  I say we go after one of the big two:  either pitcher Yu Darvish, or outfielder Norichika AokiThe amount of money the Jays would have to put into acquiring one of these guys would be catatrophic (especially Mr. GQ Japan Yu Darvish), but I wonder if that money could made back in endorsements, merchandise etc… marketing ourselves internationally?  We all saw the Asian explosion in the World Baseball Classic, the Jays need to be bold and explore this a bit. 

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Halladay News … Maybe it is a Trick??

The past couple of weeks have been very humbling for me and the Toronto Blue Jay franchise.  I’ve been tied down with late hours at work, and the Jays have virtually given up on the season after being belittled in the majority of 10 crucial games against the Yankees and Rays.  I can’t really blame those losses on anything – it was just a good, old fashion beating we took from some very good clubs.  The players that impressed me those series were Jeff Niemann of the Rays, who looks like a very good young pitcher with a live fastball and great slow curve and Hideki Matsui of the Yankees, who started out rough, but looks to be turning it on now.  

For the Blue Jays it is the same old story – we show glimpses of competing, but end up falling out of contention.  Seen this before.  The solution, for many in this circumstance, is to trade our best player with the shortest contract status.  A solution that – to the dismay of most Jay fans – has not been taken advantage of in past years.  Two years ago the Jays elected re-sign Vernon Wells when they had sureshot deal in place for Ervin Santana of the Angels.  We also elected extend Alex Rios after a ‘flash in the pan’ 2007 season.  2007 saw Rios hit peak value, almost garnering a trade for 2008 NL Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum.   To make a long story short, Rios has not nearly lived up to his performance in ’06 and ’07.  He and Vernon Wells have combined to account for a ‘big waste’ in the Blue Jays payroll.  Not to mention B.J. ‘freakin 15 Million for nothing’ Ryan!!!!  But I disgress. 

Blue Jay fans I feel your frustration.  I feel the pain, and I know how in this situation, a trade of Roy Halladay might be a solution.  I can see that, but I do not agree with it.  

I strongly believe that this way of thinking is a ‘BIG MISTAKE’ for the club.  We are just going to have to eat this one!  Of the numberous wastes of payroll, mention previously, Halladay is not one of them.  He won’t be one of them for a very longtime now.  Halladay is a surefire Ace, and it is not like we can’t afford him?  Halladay is money well spent.  Trading Halladay would be punishment for the previous mistakes with Wells and Rios.  It would seriously pain me to be stuck with them, and gone with Halladay.  The pain would be overwhelming. 

Wells, Rios, Overbay and even Ryan (having to eat Ryan contract for next year) won’t come off our books for a while now.  Yes, I understand the frustration.  We are stuck with those guys for at least another 2 or 3 years.  We have to eat it!  Whatever pitcher we get in return for Halladay, will most certainly not be on Halladay’s level, and whatever hitter we aquire will probably take some time to pan out in the bigs.  Halladay is a fan favorite, an amazingly well respected player and a guy with the heart of a champion.  The Jays will lose fans over this, no doubt.  If Roy actually asks for a trade, then that is another thing, but I think it would be a mistake not at least to try and invest in a player of his caliber. 

Talk about irony!  A couple days before ‘the J.P. possibly shopping Halladay story’ broke, I personally made an investment in Halladay.  A pretty big investment considering these circumstances. 

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I bought a lifesized Fathead’ wall poster of Halladay for my room.  I know ladies, you love the room, lol.  I was all about to post on here about how cool my room looks now until the news broke.  Not so cool after this happened.  What am I going to do with this if Halladay gets traded?  It actually cost me over 100 bucks U.S. charged to my credit card.  If I can make that kind of investment in a Jays player, the club should do the same!

I’m a man torn between my love the Jays and my admiration for … who am I kidding?  Love for Halladay!  I’ve come to the conclusion that I will become a temporary fan of whatever team he gets traded to.  ‘Doc’ will always be my favorite player of all time, and I will resent the Jays for trading him.  How long?  I don’t know?  I can’t tell you all how upset I am over this whole situation.  If Halladay gets traded, that enormous Fathead in my room will no doubt haunt and torture me for the rest of my life.  Maybe I’m being a little too dramatic now, but I’m pretty upset!  And the fact that this whole thing broke a couple days after I placed this poster on my wall!!!  Really upsetting!  Everything I love leaves that wall anyway.  Are the Blue Jays purposefully trying hurt me as a fan?  That is my question!   

Maybe It Is Trick

If I can take one positive away from this situation – it is the way teams all across baseball are gushing over the opportunity to get Halladay.  They are all talking about how good he is, what they do to get him, and how if they did get him, they’d be propelled immediately to World Champion status.  Yes, Roy Halladay of the Toronto Blue Jays is awesome, better than any pitcher you have!  You need him.  You really do.  Thank you for validating that! … One thing though … ‘Ha, ha suckas you can’t have you him!‘   

We just tricked every contending team in MLB to annointing Halladay the best pitcher in baseball.  Thank you for all those kind words.  He is the greatest, we are glad we have him!

I hope J.P. is pulling that trick, because that is what I would do if I were him!  It would be a good consolation for the fans a struggling sub-.500 team.

On a Brighter Note

I got to go a game the other week and sit in the best seats I’ve ever sat in at a game.  I was directly above the Jays dugout – few feet away from the team.  My older brother Chris, where I get most of my baseball knowledge from, got a ball thrown to him from Blue Jay first base coach Dwanye Murphy.  There he is (below) admiring our seats. 

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 The Jays ended up losing a hard fought game to the Cinnicinati Reds.  Toronto native Joey Votto didn’t endear himself to Blue Jays fans going 4 for 5, with a homerun that night.  Anyway, amazing seats!  I felt like a king, and I ate great burrito after the game a place call Burrito Banditos on Blue Jay Way I believe. 

       

This is How We Chill! From 2003 Till ….

Too much school right now!  I’ve been writing essays about boring stuff, instead of blogging lately!  It is actually hard for me to determine what is more productive?  If I write this essay, I can get a degree?  If I post on this blog, I will be happy?  I wish baseball blogging, or writing, was a University program, lol!!  Here is a taste of what I’ve been doing.  CAUTION:  You might burst into a deep sleep upon reading!

This paper will examine the explanations put forth for the overall lack of unionism and lack of workplace human rights in East Asia.  The lack of unionism in the region, with regard to degradation of human rights in the workplace, draws on one distinct explanation.  This explanation focuses on the organized tactics of spatial labour control that seeks to manipulate organizing threats of migrant workers in East Asia.  The topics that will be studied, pertaining to this explanation, include migration, labour’s lack of political inclusion, the structural spatial control of labour, and the physical space that is manipulated by East Asian corporate elites.  The idea of organized spatial control presented by Philip Kelly includes the following to explain crucial labour topics that contribute to the overall manipulation of human security in the workforce: 

constructing the individual as an autonomous unit of negotiation; constructing the workplace as a container for dispute resolution; establishing the industrial estate as a denationalized and desocialized space; constructing spaces of national sovereignty and imagined national/ethnic community; and, the distancing of homeplace from workplace through the use of migrant workforces.[1]

Enough of that!!!!  Back to baseball!!

In this post, I wanted to dissect every MLB teams ‘staples,’ briefly since 2003.  A ‘staple’, as known by many who take global political economy, is a single product that defines the economic standing of a region/country of the world.  For instance, the ‘old south’ of the United States had ‘cotton’ as their staple, the Maritimes of Canada has ‘fish’, and Japan has ‘electronics’.  I compare this to players on current MLB teams.

Many teams have the same type of ‘staples,’ as players in their organzation.  Although in past years, these players might not be the best players on their teams.  In my opinion, many of them can be percieved to be accountable for a club’s success or failure.

So lets take it back, and look at the players that have stuck with their clubs since 2003 until recently!

Starting with … surprise! surprise!

Toronto Blue Jays 2003 – Roy Halladay, Alex Rios and Vernon Wells

Almost no other team is as relevant to the 2003 ‘staple’ theory than the Blue Jays.  The success of the Jays hinges on these players.  The BIG word regarding them however is …  INJURIES!!!  It is hard to argue that these three players are NOT a strong nucleus to build a team around.  Many will argee that these past years have seen the Jays go through a lot of bad luck with injuries, specifically regarding these staples!  In 2005, Halladay was anchoring the Jays to a serious wild card run when Kevin (flippin) Mench smacked a ball of Halladay’s ankle ruining that year.  Halladay has also had some arm trouble in past years.  As far as Vernon Wells, I ask what year hasn’t he cause instability in the Jays lineup because of injury?  He simply is our only legitimate threat in the lineup, and he is often either on the DL, or playing not because of injury.  The Alex Rios project has seen it’s share of inconsistancies.  The talent is there, but for some reason, you get the feeling we haven’t seen fully what he can do in a year.  He can look like he is going to hit 40 HR’s then not hit one for 2 months?  So case and point, the Jays have gone as these staples have gone.  Very inconsistant, because of injury and what have you.  Characteristics of a slightly better than mediocre team, which is what they have shown since 2003.  Too much rambling on the Jays, sorry I couldn’t help it they are my team. 

Boston Red Sox 2003 – Jason Varitek, Manny Ramirez and Tim Wakefield

Ortiz did not start the 2003 season with Boston, but he was definately an early turning point for the team that won in 2004.  Manny and Ortiz are what made Boston so strong!  They are staples in themselves, instilling fear in the middle of that order.  Without them, no 2 World Series would have been won.  I would argue that life without Manny will be different for Boston, however, they are in the process creating their own ‘staples’ now with Pedoria and Youkilus.  Varitek and Wakefield have been steady contributors.  They give the team an identity.  Varitek has arguably been the best catcher in baseball from a leadership perspective, and Wakefield might not get amazing numbers, but having him in the rotation is always something that teams and hitters have to prepare for.  These staples have made Boston achieve great success since 2003.  Tek and Wakefield will continue to do this, as Boston transitions out of the Manny/Ortiz (might be showing decline with injury) years.

Chicago White Sox 2003 – Paul Konerko, Joe Crede and Mark Buehrle

I’ll try to make this shorter.  CWS won the World Series in 2005.  They did it with great pitching that year (particularly from Buehrle).  They also did it with hitting the long ball!  Konerko and Crede definately exemplify that philosophy!  Those players produced a ‘staple’ of success for Chicago in that year, and also last year making the playoffs.  The AL Central is a tightly competitive division, so it is hard for any team to see constant prolonged success in that race.

Cleveland Indians 2003 – C.C. Sabathia, Travis Hafner and Cliff Lee

2003 was the year that these young players in Cleveland started to develop, and they did develop to guide the Indians into a 2007 playoff run (stopped by the Red Sox).  Hafner has been hurt and inconsistant replacing Ellis Burks (old name) as the cleanup hitter in 2003, and Lee wasn’t that great until this year.  These were strong and young ‘staples’ that helped Cleveland to a lot of success in 2007, and 2006 when they came close the playoffs.  Losing Sabathia will hurt, however!

Detroit Tigers 2003 – Fernando Rodney, Brandon Inge and Nate Robertson

All these players were backups, or in the bullpen in 2003.  Detroit had to reinvent themselves, and that led them to the World Series in 2006.  Like I said before, in many cases these ‘staples’ may not be a team’s ‘best players’.  These players all had ‘career years’ in 2006, and were great for Detroit in the playoffs.  Proving my point once again, as the ‘staples’ go, so does the success of the team.

New York Yankees 2003 – Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera, Hideki Matsui, Jason Giambi, Andy Pettitte, Mike Mussina

A lot of them, huh.  Arguably, what has made the Yankees so successful over these years is the fact that they have these steady guys (staples) on the club!  Before this season, 13 straight playoff appearances, but have fallen victim to other hot American League/National League clubs.  However they do it, in 2003 they did it with Robin Ventura, Raul Mondesi and Nick Johnson also in the lineup, they do it!  The look of the Yankees become quite different without the presence of many of these players. 

Oakland Athletics 2003 – Mark Ellis and Eric Chavez

Hard to have a staple on a team that reinvents itself that much!  In 2003, Mulder, Hudson and Zito were the strength of that team!  Mark Ellis is a steady player at second base, but Chavez has been a big dissappointment for the A’s.  They signed him, which is amazing for the A’s just in that fact, but it backfired as injuries have plagued him.  I thought Chavez was going to be a very promising player for years to come, it looked that way.  He fell off, the A’s fell off!  Maybe Beane will never sign anyone to a big deal ever again!

Seattle Mariners 2003 – Ichiro Suzuki

A great ‘staple’ to begin with, although he hasn’t been as amazing as he was in some years,  Ichiro is the face of the Mariners.  The point here is that it is only Ichiro!  He needs the support of other ‘staple’ players, to help.  Edgar Martinez was there in 2003, but he was far too old already.  Brett Boone looked promising, but that was all drug induced.  They haven’t had solid players that they could fill positions with and call ‘staples’ in years!  ‘Staples’ are what characterize the Mariners lack of success in this case.

Tampa Bay Devil Rays 2003 – Carl Crawford and Rocco Baldelli

They were the Devil Rays in 2003, so I can call them that.  Crawford is an absolutely electric player on the field!  Signing him to a big deal was definately the right call, and as soon as the Rays got a better supporting cast around him, they succeed.  Baldelli’s injury plagued career has set the Rays back in past years.  The Rays drafting with the 1st pick, has made them able to develop new ‘staples’ that they NEED to hold onto in order to succeed further.  Crawford was, by far, a standout player for years before 2009. 

Texas Rangers 2003 – Michael Young, Hank Blalock and Joaquin Benoit

Pretty difficult when the only solid staple on your pitching staff, is not solid or a staple at all.  The Rangers can always hit and score runs, Michael Young has definately been a big part of that, but the pitching is terrible.  Chan Ho Park was their ACE in 2003.  Blalock looked promising, but injuries have kept him from doing anything great.  The Rangers were very troubled in the years leading up to now, their ‘staples’ were not sufficent and lacking in talent, especially in the pitching staff. 

Minnesota Twins 2003 – Justin Morneau

2003 was Morneau’s first year, and while he, Tori Hunter and Johan Santana were the ‘staples’ of some Twins’ playoff teams, they find themselves in the situation of having to be more cost efficient.  Morneau will keep the Twins competitive in the AL Central, as they have been, but the Central is usually a toss up every year, as to who will win?  Can’t argue with the Twins, they usually play great baseball every year and are in the hunt, too bad the playoffs haven’t been kind to them!  “At least they make the playoffs,” says a disgruntled Blue Jay fan!

Kansas City Royals 2003 – Absolutely Nobody!

I really feel for the Royals, always having to reinvent themselves.  In 2003, the Royals had Carlos Beltran, key word HAD.  But even if they resigned him to be a staple, would they be any good?  Probably not, is the sad answer.   This is their rotation in 2003! 

1. Runelvys Hernandez 2. Darrell May 3. Miguel Ascencio 4. Shawn Sedlacek 5. Chris George

Haven’t even heard, or remember, the last two guys.  Sadly, those type of players have become their ‘staples’. 

Baltimore Orioles 2003 – Brian Roberts, Melvin Mora and Daniel Cabrera

All these players were not in the O’s starting lineup/rotation in 2003, they were just developing.  Roberts is a fine player, but the others are simply mediocre.  Again, their problem exist with the pitching staff, which is very inconsistant and does not have a significant ‘staple’.  They’ve been a very mediocre club and so have their ‘staples’.  You can’t tell too much looking into their ‘staples’. Sidenote:  ex-Blue Jays Cy Young Pat Hentgen was on the Orioles in 2003, along with other ex-Jays David Segui and Tony Batista. 

Anaheim Angels 2003 – Garret Anderson, Scott Shields, Francisco Rodriguez and John Lackey

After the year the Angels won the World Series, they only have four players remaining from that era today.  An excellent vetern hitter, two guys that have anchored what is arguably the best bullpen in baseball year in and year out and a very solid starting pitcher.  Since 2003, the Angels have done a lot of tinkering around these guys, like adding Vlad and getting rid of Eckstien, Glaus and Erstad.  However, the strength of the Angels has always been their bullpen, and you can’t think of a more solid hitter for the team, than Garret Anderson!  All these guys were staples of some very good Angel clubs, that often were featured in the playoffs.

 

Agree?  Disagree with the 2003 staple theory?  The NL next post!        

       

                     

 

        

  


[1] Phillip Kelly, “Spaces of Labour Control:  Comparative Perspectives from Southeast Asia,” Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 27 no. 4 (2002): 398.

What a Catch! Game 4 Jays/Tigers Detroit Trip.

One of top five Jays highlights of 2008 came in the game that I attended at Comerica Park on Thursday.  The catch that Vernon Wells made on a Curtis Granderson for sure triple, in the bottom of the 9th of the Tigers/Jays game on Thursday, was amazing.  Watching from the stands, I thought no way he was getting to that ball.  Vernon truly is a gold glove, in every sense of the word.  I only wish he could have a stronger body and stay injury free, because he can really be a force in our outfield and our lineup.  If you look at the numbers, we rely so Vernon Wells to carry this team. When he doesn’t play well we lose and when he plays great and we win.  It is a tough burden for Wells, but its a fact, ‘the Jays will go nowhere if you can’t stay healthy’ sorry. 

It was a great catch and it got me really excited at the ballpark, so much so, I stood up with my Vernon Wells jersey and pointed to the name/number on the back of it, to rub it into the Detroit fans.  To my shegrin, the rest of that 8th inning did not go so well.  The Jays gave up their 1-0 lead and ended up losing 5-1.

Despite the score, me and girlfriend had a great time at Comerica Park.  Lots to do there, it is like an amusment park, the food made me very happy.  Check out the picture package!  It is full of beer, nachos, burritos, daquiris and legendary Tigers.  While I was in near by, Windsor, Ontario, I also checked out the Underground Railroad momument.  A pretty neat piece of Canadian History.