The Mockingbird

No, I’m serious

with 8 comments

Two freaking innings into each pitcher’s respective Blue Jay careers and there are two full MLB articles on Ohka’s “slow start” and Thomson “excelling”. Oh, and another one about Burnett being solid- though he hasn’t thrown a single curveball. I was going to write a few paragraphs aping how the media reports whatever it can to feed the need for more and more news and thus distorts what’s actually important in the process (the “cat in tree” syndrome), but the tendency bugs me so much I’m just going to counter with what is actually important so far this spring training. And no, that’s not a lot.

1) Gillick is circling like a hawk

Pat doesn’t come by twice for his health, (nless he’s still mocking J.P. for not trading Ted Lilly for Ryan Howard when he had the chance). It seems a little late for Rios-Myers (which he declined) talk again, but the Phillies are looking for cheap young bullpen help, which somehow we are somehow extremely deep in. There might not be too many big names out of Romero/Rosario/Thorpe/Gonzalez/Banks/Houston/Taubenheim, but there are at least a couple of major leaguers, and some pretty decent NL bullpen filler. We are especially inclined to trade Rosario, who is out of options, and we already have Towers, Zambrano and Walker as experienced players to use as backups.

The real kicker is that aside from prospects, the only player we would really be looking at in return is Jon Lieber. Who isn’t incredible, but is a solid 175 innings, and would make the rotation competition go from crowded to ridiculous. I think Ohka would be pretty pissed after signing an incentive-laden contract to impress for next year if he started the season in AAA, but that would probably do it.

Monday morning the Jays have arranged a special “B” team game against the Phillies. Watch who pitches in that game- and check to see if they have their bags packed.

2) A.J. is working extensively on his changeup

Burnett is working more extensively with his changeup this spring than he has in the past. He threw five on Saturday and joked that he didn’t think he threw that many changeups all last season. It’s a pitch that Zaun feels could help Burnett avoid situations in which he’s forced to rely heavily on his fastball.

“[His] curveball is breaking top-to-bottom, and it tends to finish out of the zone,” Zaun explained. “So, if he gets a good feel for that changeup, that’d be a nice pitch for him to get going to get back into counts where he doesn’t have to throw his fastball all the time.

Burnett really only has two pitches- and his curve breaks too much to throw strikes consistently with. So batters can sit on his fastball (well, they pretty much have to anyway because it’s so fast) and if they get something else, try not to swing. Last year he was unhittable when his curve was catching the bottom inch of the strikezone- but more often than not it starts as a strike, bounces a foot outside and before it gets to the plate, and the batter thanks his lucky stars because he was gearing up so hard to try and catch the fastball, he wasn’t going to hit anything else in a million years anyway. Not only would a mediocre changeup look like a great one next to a 98 mph fastball, but even if he doesn’t throw it very well it greatly complicates a hitter’s approach.


Written by halejon

March 5, 2007 at 7:34 am

Posted in Seriousness

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8 Responses

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  1. Wow, that was the first thoughtful bit of baseball insight I’ve heard since spring training started.

    Though, there was two things I noted this morning:

    Even though Gibby’s soothing voice on the FAN 590 woke me up this morning with the words “don’t worry, he’s just taking it easy for a couple days, everything’s fine”.

    “On Saturday, Toronto left fielder Reed Johnson (stiff lower back) played catch for the first time in nearly a week. Manager John Gibbons said that Johnson received a cortisone shot in his back to help alleviate the problem. Johnson is expected to begin taking batting practice again soon.”

    A Cortisone shot is NEVER GOOD. However, his “wonder boy” (also a Gibbons quote) replacement is still a work-in-progress:

    “Zambrano gave up one run on three hits, one of them a bloop, and needed a nervy, twisting, turning catch by Adam Lind at the warning track to limit the damage in his one inning of work.”

    I’ve heard fly balls discribed many ways – but “nervy” is never a good thing.


    March 5, 2007 at 3:50 pm

  2. There’s a new Minnesota Twins commercial with Joe Nathan and Johann Santana in a car. Santana is driving erratically, continually “changing speeds” (i.e. brakes, then gas, brakes, then gas), while a nauseous Nathan tries to convince him that “one-notch” is the only way to drive.

    Santana then quips that the changeup wins you Cy Youngs, baby. Nathan ends up hurling.

    I have a feeling Burnett watched that commercial.

    Click here for the MLB Twins commercial writeup.


    March 5, 2007 at 4:14 pm

  3. Haha, here’s the commercial, good material:

    The only content that MLB will let you watch on Youtube.

    And just to add speculation to the impromtu game this morning (no media coverage):

    “Dustin McGowan and Casey Janssen are two of the pitchers slated to pitch for Toronto and outfielder Alex Rios will be the designated hitter. Pitchers Freddy Garcia, Ryan Madsen and Antonio Alfonseca are scheduled to throw for Philadelphia.”


    March 5, 2007 at 4:27 pm

  4. Oh lord- McGowan for Lieber and I’M going to throw up.

    There was a double hit in the first game that was described as “Adam Lind let the ball fade away from him”. Yeah, he’s still having troubles out there…

    Isn’t it amazing that a guy is 30 years old, has done nothing but pitch all his life- and last year he figured out you can throw to contact low in the zone, and now he’s figuring out changing speeds might be a good idea?!?


    March 5, 2007 at 5:46 pm

  5. The ‘Josh Towers sign of the apocolypse’, of the day:

    …he asked equipment manager Jeff Ross to give him a locker beside staff ace Roy Hallady.

    “He’s the best in the game as far as I’m concerned. It seems like he does everything right,” Towers said. “If you can’t learn from a guy like that, who can you learn from? Maybe he’ll drop something and I’ll pick it up.”

    Pick something up eh?!?

    Roy’s socks from his last start, check….Roy’s lucky jock strap…check….Roy Halliday Effigy to give offerings of spirits and blood before each game….Check!


    March 6, 2007 at 4:06 pm

  6. The ‘Manny Ramirez sign of the apocolypse’ of the day:

    If you haven’t seen it yet.


    March 6, 2007 at 5:04 pm

  7. God, he sounds like such a suck lately…

    “Looking back on it a little bit, I wanted to impress the new guys. I wanted to impress Troy [Glaus] and Lyle [Overbay]. I wanted to throw with Bengie [Molina],” Towers said. “Maybe [my contract] was in the back of my mind, but I didn’t think that. I wanted to look good for those guys I had played against — that’s so stupid.”

    “I was telling the other guys, ‘This is probably the best I’ve felt in a long time,'” Towers said.

    “I wanted to be a little closer so, during some dead times, when we’re sitting next to each other, maybe some conversations come out,” Towers explained. “You can always learn something. And if you can’t learn from guys like that, who can you learn from?”

    “I know that I’m fighting for a spot, but those guys aren’t going to be the reason I don’t make the team,” Towers said. “They’re not what’s in my way of making the team. I’m what’s in my way.”


    March 6, 2007 at 7:29 pm

  8. Ooooooh, that Blair starting rumours to get his blog hits!! Ummmm….Glaus for Willis! Yeah!!!

    Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi told reporters Friday that he is not looking to trade Rios, especially for Phillies starter Jon Lieber. “You can blame Jeff Blair for all those Rios-for-Lieber rumors. You can write that,” joked Ricciardi, giving the Globe and Mail writer a hard time. The Phillies covet Rios, but a deal might only be realistic if Philadelphia was willing to part with pitchers Cole Hamels or Brett Myers. Said Ricciardi: “They won’t trade those guys.” So, for now, you can put those rumors to bed


    March 9, 2007 at 7:50 pm

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