Archive for the ‘Game Threat’ Category

jackiestatue

The Jays are in Minnesota to take on the Twins here on Jackie Robinson Day– the 67th anniversary of Robinson’s first game in the major leagues with the Brooklyn Dodgers, following an astonishing (.349/.468/.462!) single season in this country with the Montreal Royals.

Sadly, I don’t have the time to write out all the thoughts I have on why this is such an important day, and something that baseball actually, somehow, manages to do right by continuing to celebrate. Sure, the league is sort of patting itself on the back for being the incubator for a powerful story of perseverance and humanity overcoming hate in the midst of an era where basic civil rights of the kind that it’s so easy for so many of us to simply take for granted needed to be fought for — the kind of story that both transcends sports and underscores the power that sport can have to effect change and impart powerful ideas to broader society — when the reality is that it was baseball’s own racist policies that were being broken down. But I suppose that they don’t hide from that is itself a signal of progress — not that they really ever had a choice.

But… well… this isn’t about the league itself anyway, nor is it about the long way that the world still has to go, despite 67 years of that progress. It’s about the triumph of what’s decent and right, and a celebration of a man who, to make the world a better place, faced more pressure and vitriol than any man should, as one of the faces of a struggle for a people that faced imposed disadvantages and hatred more than any people should, and simultaneously for the basic right to freedom for all people.

There’s no more important figure in the game, and like I say, MLB surprisingly actually gets this one right.

Scuttlebutt

It is cold in Minnesota in April. Think you might hear about this a couple more times before the game is over.

The Jays announced today that Jeremy Jeffress has cleared waivers and been assigned to Buffalo — meaning that the eight-man bullpen thing worked… the first time. Guess we’re doing it again, though. Marcus Walden was D’d FA in order to make room on the 40-man for Munenori Kawasaki, who we’d known since Sunday was on his way up — and he is indeed with the team tonight, bizarrely starting in the two-spot (though at least he’ll take some pitches and maybe get on base, right? Right???). (Note: Drew nailed it.)

Another lineup note: Colby Rasmus sits tonight with a tight hamstring — which he was removed from Sunday’s game for. Makes sense given the cold, and the fact that if he were to do something to make it worse, they couldn’t retroactively DL him. Best to just wait until it’s right. Especially since, even though they’re 6-6, judging by their lineup, I have no idea how these Twins have managed to win a game.

Scott MacArthur adds that he spoke to Colby, who says his hamstring is feeling much better, and that he hopes to play tomorrow. Brendan Kennedy tweets that John Gibbons also notes that Moises Sierra has hit Phil Hughes better in a small sample, as well, so… y’know… microsplits. (FYRE GOBBONS!!!!!!)

About that, though. Gregor Chisholm tweets that Gibbons says that with more cold forecast for tomorrow, don’t be surprised if Colby gets another day off.

Better news: Kennedy also tweets that Jose Reyes is now scheduled to play for Dunedin tonight and tomorrow, and the Blue Jays on Friday in Cleveland, barring setback. That’ll play.

One more from Kennedy, who adds that Casey Janssen doesn’t have as structured a rehab program as yet — he’ll throw 25 pitches today and they’ll take it from there.

Janssen is throwing, and @stivbators tells us that various guns have his fastball at 86-88. Yeesh.

J.A. Happ still thinks he’s a starter, and isn’t particularly thrilled with being in the bullpen. Fair enough, it’s just, y’know, pitch your way out of it, then.

“Fans of an outdoor stadium in Toronto should heed this week’s attendance in Minnesota,” tweets @mattomic. “From 5° to -1 with chance of flurries each game.” (See, I told you that you might hear about this.)

Shirtless Melky Cabrera? Shirtless Melky Cabrera. (Shirtless Melky).

Padres reporter Corey Brock tweets that Josh Johnson has an upcoming visit with Dr. James Andrews, while Mark Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reported last night that Rays pitcher Matt Moore will have Tommy John surgery and is out for the year.

TV: Sportsnet

Next game: Tomorrow, 8:10 PM ET, @ Minnesota

For those of you who’ll be out and about, be sure to follow all the action on your phone with theScore app.

And now, the lineups… 

Toronto Blue Jays

LF Melky Cabrera (S)
2B Munenori Kawasaki (L)
CF Jose Bautista (R)
1B Adam Lind (L)
DH Edwin Encarnacion (R)
C Dioner Navarro (S)
RF Moises Sierra (R)
3B Brett Lawrie (R)
SS Ryan Goins (L)

RHP Brandon Morrow

Minnesota Twins

2B Brian Dozier (R)
1B Joe Mauer (L)
3B Trevor Plouffe (R)
RF Chris Colabello (R)
LF Jason Kubel (L)
DH Josmil Pinto (R)
C Kurt Suzuki (R)
CF Aaron Hicks (S)
SS Pedro Florimon (S)

RHP Phil Hughes

Sunday Threat: Jays @ Orioles

Tough loss last night, no doubt, though the instant, drunk, Saturday night nitpicking of bullpen management, baserunning, outfield positioning, and the throwing up of arms and batshit posturing like this team can’t hit can pretty much fuck off and die. Other than that nonsense, though, it was a hell of an entertaining evening of baseball, and not too far unlike what you’d expect to see from a mid-April night game in Baltimore. OK? Relax a little. Act like you’ve done this before.

You might think that a 7 PM start on a Saturday might give me enough time to do up a proper Game Threat for this one, but you might think wrong. You also, more likely, might not care about whatever the hell the Game Threat says, as long as there’s a fresh place to comment without having to scroll back through pages of gibberish, in which case… everybody wins! (Maybe even the Jays!)

Maybe there will even be a fresh threat tomorrow, stay tuned!!!

Hey, and for good measure, here are two real pieces of scuttlebutt: John Lott tweets that Jose Reyes felt good running the bases today, and that both he and Casey Janssen are Dunedin-bound, as they’re set for rehab assignments. Lot also tells us that the Jays are not saying what their plans are for J.A. Happ, as he continues to rehab and gets closer to full “health” — *WINK* — after a strong showing in Buffalo yesterday. Ol’ Gibbers “won’t say what factors will determine whatever that decision will be,” he adds.

mcgowanopener

Dustin McGowan gets a do-over after a poor showing in his first game of the season — the home opener last Friday — and… well… it’s not like things get a whole lot easier. Sure, there won’t be 50,000 screaming down his neck, but there also won’t be Dean Anna, Yangervis Solarte, Derek Jeter, or whatever other quad-A scrubs the Yankees were running out there.

Though, actually — he said, about to type out words he will surely later eat — looking at their Machado-less lineup, and I’m not really sure what the big deal with Baltimore is, anyway. Delmon Young? Ryan Flaherty and Steve Lombardozzi? Shit, I’ll take my chances with Maicer Izturis, thanks. Should be a good one, though, either way. Shouldn’t it?

Scuttlebutt

Steve Delabar has a wrap on his leg still, tweets Barry Davis, but the pitcher claims he’s good to go tonight, if called upon.

Shi Davidi tweets this: “Jose Reyes felt ‘comfortable’ running today, will push hamstring further tomorrow. If all goes well rehab assignment to follow.”

In a tweet from Davis, he adds that Reyes says he wants to get to a point where he’s not even thinking about the hamstring before he returns. “When I return I want it to be for rest of season,” Jose says.

Richard Griffin wonders if natural grass will be a factor tonight, given that the Jays have played on turf in every game since March 28th.

Scott MacArthur tweets that Pete Walker says he thinks Dustin McGowan has got the whole pitch-tipping thing “nipped in the bud.”

TV: Sportsnet

Next games: Saturday, 7:05 PM ET, @ Baltimore; Sunday, 1:35 PM ET, @ Baltimore

For those of you who’ll be out and about, be sure to follow all the action on your phone with theScore app.

And now, the lineups… 

Toronto Blue Jays

LF Melky Cabrera (S)
2B Maicer Izturis (S)
RF Jose Bautista (R)
DH Edwin Encarnacion (R)
1B Adam Lind (L)
C Dioner Navarro (S)
CF Colby Rasmus (L)
3B Brett Lawrie (R)
SS Ryan Goins (L)

RHP Dustin McGowan

Baltimore Orioles

RF Nick Markakis (L)
DH Delmon Young (R)
1B Chris Davis (L)
CF Adam Jones (R)
C Matt Wieters (S)
LF Nelson Cruz (R)
3B Steve Lombardozzi (S)
SS Ryan Flaherty (L)
2B Jonathan Schoop (R)

RHP Chris Tillman

maicerruns

Nobody talked about Maicer Izturis this winter as anything but dead weight on the Blue Jays’ roster, after his disastrous 2013 campaign. Even that awful campaign, a disaster-within-a-disaster, was somewhat overlooked thanks to the screaming deficiencies of guys like Emilio Bonifacio and J.P. Arencibia, but rest assured, he was awful.

At the plate, having arrived looking like a bounce-back candidate following an 82 wRC+ season for the Angels, Izturis nosedived further, down to wRC+ of 62 — the worst mark of his career, save for his 32 game cameo as a rookie on the 2004 Expos — behind a slash line of .236/.288/.310.

In the field he was just as bad, both by the eye test, and by the metrics. According to UZR, only ten third basemen cost their teams more runs than he and Pablo Sandoval (-4.7 UZR), yet Izturis played about 850 fewer innings than the Panda, 600-950 innings fewer than six of the ten behind him on the list, and fewer innings that all but one of them (Minnesota’s Eduardo Escobar).

At shortstop, where Izturis logged his next-highest number of innings, the story isn’t much better. Only seventeen of 112 players to spend time at shortstop were worse than Maicer, per UZR, and Izturis’s -2.8 UZR in 174.1 innings was worse than the -2.7 that Jimmy Rollins accumulated over 1318.1.

He was awful, in other words. The worst position player in baseball, per FanGraphs’ WAR (-2.1), and tied for 24th-worst (-0.9) according to Baseball Reference, alongside such luminaries as Brent Lillibridge, Omar Quintanilla, and Darin “Pat” Mastroianni.

Tonight, Izturis hits second again, and will play at second base. And, amazingly, it actually makes sense.

No, it’s maybe not the ideal lineup for John Gibbons to trot out there, but Maicer so far has ten hits in 24 plate appearances, with a pair of walks. If he wants to ride the hot hand, especially with a left-hander on the mound, I can live with that.

That sort of hitting from Izturis obviously, obviously won’t continue — nor will the hot streak Bonifacio is on to start the season, which we will never speak of again — but just as important, Maicer has looked comfortable on the turf, as well. Or, at the very least, he appears to have more range than the Ted Rogers statue, which isn’t something I’d have been quite ready to concede last season.

Shit, per FanGraphs he’s already been worth +0.4 WAR this season — a 2.5 win swing over 2013 already! Which… obviously the numbers don’t work that way, but whatever, it’s just nice to see something resembling the guy that the Jays thought they were getting last year — a phrase that, at least for the time being, you could copy-and-paste into posts about Melky Cabrera, Brandon Morrow, their starting catcher, Brett Lawrie, R.A. Dic– shit, the Astros are a hell of an early-season tonic, aren’t they?

Scuttlebutt

Part of me doesn’t want to pick on R.A. Dickey too much, because he’s a fascinating character and can be a tremendous pitcher when he’s on, but he just makes it so fucking easy sometimes. This week, not only is the I must pitch indoors thing a little bit odd, but according to a piece from Shi Davidi of Sportsnet, we need not worry about why Dickey was bad on Opening Day way back in that shitty month of March, because Dickey had a dead arm! The fuck??? “Every pitcher goes through a little bit of a dead-arm period at some point. Hopefully it happens in spring when you’re getting ready,” he said. “Unfortunately for me it happened the week of opening day and the week before that when I pitched against the Yankees.” But… but… but he felt healthy all spring! He was just exercising his arm against the Yankees and the results didn’t matter! Just… stop… talking. Please.

Blue Jays Bat Boy nails the Josh Zeid/sunscreen issue in a tweet: “Astros bullpen pitchers spraying on sunscreen indoors because you can never be too careful from the bright blue seats.”

Great stuff from @bluejaysart, who are ready for a sweep — as is Adam Lind’s beard, apparently.

J.A. Happ starts tonight for Buffalo. Ben Wagner tweets that he says he wants to get up to 100 pitches, which totally sounds like great long-term news for the Bisons rotation. *COUGH*

TV: Sportsnet

Next game: Tomorrow, 7:05 PM ET, @ Baltimore

For those of you who’ll be out and about, be sure to follow all the action on your phone with theScore app.

And now, the lineups… 

Toronto Blue Jays

LF Melky Cabrera (S)
2B Maicer Izturis (S)
RF Jose Bautista (R)
1B Edwin Encarnacion (R)
DH Dioner Navarro (S)
3B Brett Lawrie (R)
CF Colby Rasmus (L)
C Josh Thole (L)
SS Jonathan Diaz (R)

RHP R.A. Dickey

Houston Astros

CF Dexter Fowler (S)
RF Alex Pressley (L)
C Jason Castro (L)
2B Jose Altuve (R)
DH Chris Carter (R)
1B Marc Krauss (L)
3B Matt Dominguez (R)
LF Robbie Grossman (S)
SS Jonathan Villar (S)

LHP Dallas Keuchel

morrowstrugglingTB

It’s another beautiful day for baseball… under a roof… with several hundred of your dearest friends.

Hey, it could be worse. The outstanding Alan Ashby is in the building, and Brandon Morrow gets a chance for another minor league tuneup game before rejoining the big leagues whenever the schedule has the Jays playing a team that isn’t Houston (he said in words that he will almost certainly immediately live to regret as Morrow gets torched by the likes of Marc effing Krauss).

Also: baseball!!

Scuttlebutt

Marcus Walden was optioned down by the Jays today, according to a team release, and Neil Wagner — who probably should have been here all along — was recalled. Bluebird Banter recalls the reasons Walden was selected — the club DFA’d Jeremy Jeffress sooner into the season than they were allowed to call up anyone who had been optioned (except in the case of injury) and were forced to add Walden to the 40-man after first announcing Chad Jenkins as the recall — and wonders whether it was more embarrassing to the organization than the whole deferral scheme business of last week. It’s a tough call.

According to a tweet from Brendan Kennedy, John Gibbons said that with Casey Janssen out they needed a right-hander to bring into games when they were trailing and close, hence Wagner’s recall. Not said: you’re out of the job, Esmil. Which, of course, makes total sense.

Speaking of Janssen, a tweet from Shi Davidi informs us that his latest side session went well, and that he’ll probably do one more bullpen before getting a rehab assignment.

More on the injury front, as Brendan Kennedy tweets that Jose Reyes ran on a treadmill yesterday, will run outside today, and will run the bases on the weekend. Barring setbacks, it sounds like he’s at least progressing.

Drew tweets that Jose Bautista got the club to put the Barcelona match on the jumbotron today during batting practice. Nails much?

I’m pretty sure ol’ Griff nails it at the Toronto Star, suggesting that the flipping of R.A. Dickey and Dustin McGowan — though not without its good and bad points — is mostly about Dickey wanting what’s best for Dickey. And that’s OK.

We really will do a podcast this week. For real. Sorry.

Lastly, if you want to get good and depressed (or good and angry at me for being wrongheaded), go back and check out the previous post here, where I touch on media rights value, TV ratings, and the history we’ve endured under Rogers’ stewardship of this club.

TV: Sportsnet

Next game: Tomorrow, 7:07 PM ET, vs. Houston.

For those of you who’ll be out and about, be sure to follow all the action on your phone with theScore app. And now, the lineups… 

Toronto Blue Jays

LF Melky Cabrera (S)
2B Maicer Izturis (S)
RF Jose Bautista (R)
1B Edwin Encarnacion (R)
DH Adam Lind (L)
C Dioner Navarro (S)
3B Brett Lawrie (R)
CF Colby Rasmus (L)
SS Ryan Goins (L)

RHP Brandon Morrow

Houston Astros

CF Dexter Fowler (S)
RF Alex Pressley (L)
2B Jose Altuve (R)
C Jason Castro (L)
DH Chris Carter (R)
1B Marc Krauss (L)
3B Matt Dominguez (R)
LF Robbie Grossman (S)
SS Jonathan Villar (S)

RHP Lucas Harrell

buehrlebuehrling

Here’s a recipe for massive attendance: the first beautiful day in this city in forever and the Astros in town playing under a steel dome still not tested and ready to be opened — not that the “legacy fans” (read: ancient season ticket holders) would be up for sitting outside in sweater weather anyway. But it’s still baseball, and it’s going to feel like it on the way to the park, at least. And it’s still a chance for the Jays to really get going, facing the worst team in the game — albeit improving — while their division rivals continue to spin their wheels, with no team in the AL East currently above .500.

That, of course, will change. But the Jays are in a good spot for a little feel-good run, with Mark Buehrle looking to continue his Cy Young campaign against Brett Oberholtzer, who is, in fact, an actual Major League pitcher. Or at least an Astros one.

Baseball!

Scuttlebutt

Yes, Adam Lind is facing a left-handed pitcher, which he should never, ever do. But it’s also a shitty left-handed pitcher who has reverse splits, and he’s only keeping Moises Sierra or Erik Kratz out of the lineup, so… it’s not that bad. See @SMcEwen_eh‘s timeline for the argument that he should be in there — which I actually don’t agree with (I mean, what’s it going to prove?), but… at least there is one! I won’t believe Gibbers has gone all Joe Maddon until I see the switch hitters batting lefty, too.

Shi Davidi was the first of many to tweet that John Gibbons announced today that R.A. Dickey badly wants to pitch indoors he wants to split up hard-throwers Brandon Morrow and Dustin McGowan, and to give McGowan an extra day of rest. He’ll go in Baltimore on Friday, while R.A. Dickey now gets the Thursday start against Houston. Not sure what happens when hard-throwers McGowan and Hutchison then end up back-to-back, but that was never really the point anyway.

Shi Davidi also tweets that Casey Janssen will throw a side session tomorrow, after which they’ll figure out his next steps — which at one point will include a rehab outing or two. He’ll probably need more than 15 days, Davidi says, but close.

Brendan Kennedy tweets that J.A. Happ will make his second rehab start for Buffalo on Thursday, and that John Gibbons won’t say what will happen once Happ is healthy.

Gregor Chisholm tells us that Jose Reyes will begin running today, and is still taking ground balls, but that there’s no timetable yet for his return to action.

Roy Halladay tweets that Phillies fans are the “best fans on earth!!” Make of that what you will. (What I will make of it is that, at least as far as Jays fans not being the best, he’s probably not wrong).

A hot taco from GROF on Deh-reck… Sand-ah-son… Jee-tah.

Tommy Rancel of ESPN tweets that Rays pitcher Matt Moore is going to see Dr. James Andrews because of an elbow issue. But don’t worry, if it’s bad news for the Rays, another one will surely emerge to take its place.

We’ll do a podcast this week. For real. Sorry.

TV: Sportsnet (Pacific/One/360)

Next game: Tomorrow, 7:07 PM ET, vs. Houston.

For those of you who’ll be out and about, be sure to follow all the action on your phone with theScore app. And now, the lineups… 

Toronto Blue Jays

LF Melky Cabrera (S)
DH Adam Lind (L)
RF Jose Bautista (R)
1B Edwin Encarnacion (R)
C Dioner Navarro (S)
3B Brett Lawrie (R)
CF Colby Rasmus (L)
2B Maicer Izturis (S)
SS Jonathan Diaz (L)

LHP Mark Buehrle

Houston Astros

LF Robbie Grossman (S)
2B Jose Altuve (R)
1B Jesus Guzman (R)
C Jason Castro (L)
DH Chris Carter (R)
RF L.J. Hoes (R)
3B Matt Dominguez (R)
CF Alex Pressley (L)
SS Jonathan Villar (S)

LHP Brett Oberholtzer