Tagged: Yankees

MATT HOLLIDAY!!!!! Man, Halladay is a different story

In case you were wondering about the over use of CAPS and the exclaimation marks, Matt Holliday was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals today for promising thrid base prospect Brett Wallace.  What relevance does this have to a Toronto Blue Jay fan?? 

None whatsoever, but it stop some ill informed people from calling in to a Toronto sports radio station and asking, “Who did we get for him?”  Obviously confusing Holliday with Halladay.

There you have the Toronto baseball fan.  Always great comedy.  

I’m suddenly growing a very bleak outlook on the Jays future.  With or without Halladay that is.  Recanting on what I posted earlier, trading Halladay is not as BIG MISTAKE of a mistake as I put it earlier considering Halladay will likely leave in 2010 if he Jays aren’t competing.  I personally don’t see them competing in 2010, so we pretty much have to pull the trigger on this deal.  Extremely sad to say, but true.  A bitter, bitter truth that is.  I would have liked them to hold onto the Doctor for that year, but now that all this has started in the media – there in no turning back.  It is obvious that these trade rumours will not stop until a deal is done.   

Oh well, I missed my chance to see the Jays in the playoffs when I was 12 years old.  What I didn’t know is that I’d still be waiting till I was 27 to see it happen!  With Halladay being traded, no doubt that I’ll be waiting past my 30th birthday to see October baseball again in Toronto.

Wasn’t it untill last year that the Yankees lost the A.L. East for the first time in 13 years???  Awwwww … poor babies!!!  

Should have played this whole thing cooler J.P.  That is all I have to say to him.  

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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. 

       

He Made it There

A.J. Burnett has just about made it anywhere, and importantly, he has always done it his

Thumbnail image for Burnett copy.jpgway.  Swish!  Two Sinatra references in one sentence.  So here I am spreading the news because he is leaving today.

It is difficult not to love Burnett, because of the type of pitcher he is:  fearsome attitude on the mound, cocky, throws heavy duty heat and is just flat out never scared on the mound.  He knows he has the stuff, and knows he can back it up.  The machismo, the hook, the heat, racking up the K’s and taking no prisoners, Burnett was awesome and he definately was one of my favourites on the team over last few years.

However, for all these admirable qualities, there were a number of glaring inconsistancies with A.J.  The Yankees will need to have a better have a catcher than the aging Jorge Posada now with Burnett on the mound.  Burnett was always terrible out of the stretch windup.  His ERA inflatates out of the stretch, opponent’s batting average goes up and he is generally just very slow to the plate.  It is not often he gives up two hits in an inning, but when does, not being able to hold baserunners is a problem and it drove me crazy when I watched him pitch.  With the Yankees now battling Tampa for the division, I can see this being a problem down the road.       

An obvious inconsistancy, is the injuries he has withstood in the past.  In 2008, he spent limited time on the DL for the Blue Jays.  Having him here in Toronto last season, pitching very well, almost made the last two years worth it.  Burnett was limited by injury in those years posting 10-8 records in both seasons.  Those are some mediocre numbers for a guy oozing that much machismo.  Actually, when you look at Burnett’s whole career, with the exception of last season, he has never had more than an average pitching record.  Maybe a bit better than average some years. 

A number of general inconsistancies.  That is what Yankee fans will probably find with A.J. Burnett.  He can be absolutely amazing one day, then another day, runners will reach base, they will steal and manufacture runs, and Burnett will be rattled.  Struggling as he pitches out of the stretch all day.

Some believe the Jays are now heading in a new direction.  Saving the high free agent contracts to mid-level players, and only keeping the money for a few ‘big-time’ stars (i.e. Roy Halladay worth every penny!, Alex Rios worth it, and Vernon Wells??? not worth the injuries that is for sure).  I don’t know if I see that for the future?  J.P. still has to dump fairly high contracts to B.J. Ryan, Lyle Overbay, and Scott Rolen for that to happen.  Cost cutting, and restructuring could be good for the Jays.  Only time will tell, but now more than ever, we will see if the farm system that J.P. has been compiling can achieve the great things that some people foresee.  Adam Lind, Aaron Hill, Travis Snider, David Purcey, Jesse Litsch, Casey Janssen, Brett Cecil, Ricky Romero, Scott Richmond, Brad Mills and Dustin McGowan in particular.  Boys, it is your time to shine. 

A.J. Burnett meet Frank Sinatra.  I know you are more in to heavy metal and alternative music.  Maybe, you’ll grow a taste for hearing Frank at the end of the game?  Its up to you Burnett, Burrrrrnett!  Dun, dunna, dunna, dun, dun, dunna, dunna, Dun!           

 

Favorite Yogi Stories

Thumbnail image for ber0-011.jpgOn a lighter note, I thought that I would tell my favorite Yogi Berra story.  If you were reading earlier, I went over some of the great Yogisms.  My favorite being “its like de ja veux all over again.”  But this is not to count out or discredit. 

“I didn’t say everthing I said,” Yogi once insisted. 

Or, on his beautiful new house:  “It’s nothing but rooms.” 

Or, on giving directions to his new house:  “It’s pretty far, but doesn’t seem like it.” 

On being told by the wife of New York Mayor John Lindsay that he looked very cool in his summer suit:  “Thanks.  You don’t look so hot yourself.” 

On top of these priceless sayings, Yogi provided some of the funniest stories that a character in baseball could ever have.  A few of these can be found in: 

Orkent, Daniel and Steve Wulf. Baseball Anecdotes. New York: Oxford University Press,
1989.

The nickname Yogi was aquired in his childhood.  One of his childhood friends growing up in St. Louis, said he got that name “simply because he walked like a Yogi.”  Now, I don’t know what ‘walking like a Yogi is,’ but I love it and wish I knew how to walk that.  Anyway, here is the story:

A radio interviewer once told Berra before a broadcast.  “We’re going to do free association.  I’m going to throw out a few names, and you just say the first thing that pops into your mind.”

“Okay,” said Berra.

On the air, the announcer said, “I’m here tonight with Yogi Berra, and we’re going to play free association.  I’m going to mention a name, and Yogi’s just going to say the first thing that comes to mind.  Okay, Yogi?”

“Okay,”

“All right, here we go then.  Mickey Mantle.”

“What about him?” said Berra.

Can you imagine how that announcer must have felt after he said that?  lol.  Everytime I read that, I laugh.  I would pay to have that moment on tape.

Yogi was a quick, and amazingly skilled defensive catcher in his playing days.  He was a formittable hitter, and is an even nicer man off the field.  This passage shows Berra’s sensitive side.

“Berra was a sensitive man, as this passage in Yogi, his 1961 autobiography (written by Ed Fitzgerald) shows:  “I worry about getting old.  I worry about not getting around on the fastball.  I worry about keeping Carm (his wife Carmen) happy so she won’t be sorry she married me, about the kids growing up good, and about keeping out of trouble with God.  I worry a lot.”

Yogi is a fun loving man, with a child like innocence.  Deep thinking sensitivity and conicidental wit, characterized this brillant ledgend.  My favorite player of baseball’s past, and catcher of 10 Yankee World Series Championships!  That also included 14 pennants!  Where would the Yankees be without this guy?  That is what I want to know.       

 

“We are Fighters” 6-5 Extra Inning loss versus the Sox

If there is one thing that you can say about the Jays over the past 4 years, is they are fighters.  You pretty much have to be, to maintain a .500 record in a division where two teams usually dominate.  Every year it seems like we play such heated battles with the Yankees or Red Sox, and every year we pretty much break even in these matchups, playing absolutely outstanding and exciting baseball.  The games show that we deserve to be in their company, they show we can play with the best, and not only that, we can beat the best. 

The Jays always put up a fight no matter how far back we are, and no question, the Yankees and Red Sox fear us.  For many reasons, the Jays haven’t been able to put together the kind of seasons ‘The Big Two’ have had over the past years, but we definately ‘bring it’ everytime we face them.  That shows that we have some pretty good things going on in Toronto, the pieces might not all be there, but there are a number of very solid pieces on this team (e.g. Halladay, Downs, Rios, Wells, McDonald) and the other regulars.

This past Sunday was an amazing pitchers duel between A.J. Burnett and Dice-K.  Burnett made his mistakes, but so Dice-K.  The bullpens fought ‘tooth and nail’, but the Red Sox ended up winning on two solo homeruns in the late innings.  One by Coco Crisp in the 8th and the other by Jed Lowrie, in extra innings clinched it for the Wild Card leaders.  Those guys are not likely homerun candidates but they came up HUGE for Boston that day. 

Seems like every year the Jays play well, but just not well enough to surpass these teams.  The Yankees and Red Sox are behind the door (metaphorically speaking) and they keep on slamming it on us.  That is our story (captured in this design, below).  Although this season, Tampa took a bat and smashed the door in.  And ‘good on them’ I say, GOOD ON THEM.  Would have liked it to be the Jays, but somebody had to do it.

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The Man Behind the Plate

ber0-011.jpgEstablishing a starting catcher has to be the most underrated position need in the game.  A solid catcher is integral to a team’s success, look at the Yankees with Posada and the Red Sox with Varitek.  Those guys have been with their respected clubs for a long time, they also know the ‘ins and outs’ of the system and the coach under which they play.

Probably one of the greatest catchers of our time, Yogi Berra (who helmed the plate for the Yankees from 1946 to 1965), is an excellent example of the importance of a catcher.  Yogi, when he first came up with the Yankees, was awkward, unsure of himself and didn’t know precisely how to command the position.  Pitchers constantly teased him and got outright violent with him sometimes, if he would ignore them and relay pitches from the manager in the dugout.  He didn’t know how to comprimise between the players and the managers, who both had their own agendas.  Yogi would eventually catch on and become more confident handling the position, but for a time, he demonstrated the crucial need for confidence and leadership in a starting catcher.  

A catcher has many responsibilities and many of them are imporant to being successful in any ballgame, here is an 11 point list of many important ones: 

1.  They are involved on every pitch and every at-bat.

2.  They prevent passed balls and wild pitches.

3.  Field bunts.

4.  Prevent stolen bases.

5.  Pick off runners.

6.  Must be able to accurately throw to all positions.

7.  They block to plate from runners.

8.  Takes hits and hold onto the ball.   

9.  Direct and lead defensive alignments.

10.  Call pitches and memorize signals.

11.  Have great awareness of pitcher’s strengths and batter’s weaknesses.

The position requires a great understanding of the game and all it’s strategic elements.  Jason Varitek wears a C on his jersey and understandably so.  The catcher is often looked upon for this kind of leadership. 

The backbone of a solid club, is a strong catcher that will stay with their team for many years.  Look what happened to Braves pitching after Javy Lopez or the Marlins after Pudge left.  

There are exceptions, but teams that have high turnover, at catcher, often fail.  The Jays, right now, are admist a catching dilemma between Gregg Zaun and Rod Barajas.  These guys are very similar, except Barajas packs more of a punch with his bat and Zaun will hit for a higher average.  Since Zaun came to the Jays in 2004, he has been an outstanding fill in; however, you never really got the feeling that he was our main guy.  Barajas needs more time with the team, but I really like his bat, considering the Jay’s recent power outage.  I think that he is due for some more playing time Gibby!  I’m still hoping that our ‘catcher of the future’ is in the minors Jeroloman, Arencibia, Diaz, Thigpen?????????

With that, I will end with my favorite Yogism.  “I didn’t say everything I said”.  Surprisingly, this can get you out of a lot bad comments you make to your girlfriend.  For that, I am forever greatful to you Yogi.  Got any other Yogism’s?  I would be delighted to hear more, if you want to share.