The Mockingbird

Signs of Spring

with 9 comments


It’s not quite time for the traditional “at this rate, the Blue Jays will go 162-0 and Frank Thomas will hit 324 HR” projections after the first game, but spring training is always a time for reporters, fresh and dewy-eyed from a long hibernation to make ridiculous overstatements based on a player’s first few hacks:

With every monster home run that Alex Rios launched in batting practice yesterday, the impression grew that he has not only hit his professional stride, he is likely to shake up the Blue Jays, from their batting order to their payroll.

Rios didn’t play winter ball this year and worked once again with a personal trainer in Puerto Rico. He said he “didn’t do anything special,” but something obviously worked.

Rios, who turned 27 today and has been in training camp sporting a Mohawk haircut, seems to have reached another level of power and skill at the plate.

Jesus Christ. It’s batting practice. Spring Training batting practice. (And Rios always puts on a show in BP). Glad to hear he wasn’t grounding out to the pitcher, Mark, but if you can really tell jack about Rios’ development (of course him having a big year is a pretty safe bet anyway) after watching him pound a few floaters, then you’re in the wrong field. Because you are the best scout of all time.

In a couple of weeks the reports will no doubt be “troubling signs from Shaun Marcum as he seems to have ditched every pitch but his fastball this season” after his first 20-pitch outing. Oh well, I guess it’s better than nothing…Here’s some more Jays’ trivia:

  • Off the field, it has been a brutal year for the Jays’ #1 prospect Travis Snider. Therapeutic or not, dominating the Arizona Fall League right after losing his mother to a car accident is ridiculous. He had a twinge in his elbow the first day and did not hit but was back throwing today as it was “nothing serious“.
  • Ryan Ketchner is totally deaf. I guess the catcher will have to tell him what pitch to throw using sign language or something.
  • Chacin is all but out of the competition for the 5th spot before it has started (some reading between the lines required). I personally think his career is over. His first time around the league, a 100% healthy Chacin was a Jesse Litsch. Now he’s had one of the worst arm injuries a pitcher can have and has done squat for two years. If Gus wasn’t a lefty we wouldn’t even remember his name by now.
Name ERA H/9 HR/9 BB/9 K/9 GB% WHIP
24-year old Gustavo Chacin 3.72 9.44 0.89 3.10 5.36 38% 1.39
22-year old Jesse Litsch 3.81 9.41 1.14 2.92 4.05 57% 1.37

Also in that article the idea is floated that Rios could bat leadoff with Eck second. I don’t care if it’s just one of a bunch of possibilities J.P. and Gibbons were throwing around (hopefully over more than a few beers), I don’t want that mentioned it to the press- it’s embarrassing. What a terrible, terrible, concept. I’m not even going to go on about why I think it’s so terrible, I just can’t stand to think about it any longer. Ugh. UGH.

Written by halejon

February 19, 2008 at 3:50 am

Posted in Seriousness

9 Responses

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  1. Come on… tell us why it’s so terrible!

    On $$$ for Chacin vs. Tallet, rotoworld had an interesting nugget the other day:

    Blue Jays agreed to terms with LHP Gustavo Chacin on a one-year, $725,000 contract.
    Brian Tallet gets $640,000 after posting a 3.63 ERA in 116 2/3 innings the last two years. Chacin gets $725,000 for a 5.14 ERA in 114 2/3 innings over the same timespan. If that makes sense to you, you may have a future as J.P. Ricciardi’s replacement in Toronto.


    johnny was

    February 19, 2008 at 6:08 am

  2. Ok, fine…I finally stopped throwing up in my mouth. BECAUSE HE’S THE BEST HITTER ON THE @#$@#$ TEAM!!! (And just getting better, and just hitting his prime). It’s not even like last year when an argument could be made for having a SB guy at the top (which is still stupid in Rios’ case compared to how many solo shots, etc. it will lead to), the only possible motivation here is falling in love with having a contact hitter/bunter second, which is just a retarded thing to sabotage going from OBP->SLG for.


    I actually held back on saying something snarky about that Rotoworld comment. It looks weird, but those numbers are pretty much set in stone. Guys get raises based on service time in their arbitration years even if they’re on the DL. And middle relievers don’t get paid a lot of money after two seasons. They make it sound like J.P. just pulled those numbers out of his ass because he thought that was what they were worth. We may as well ask why last year Papelbon was paid 425,000 after one of the best closer seasons in history and Timlin was signed for 2.8 million after a terrible 2006. Epstein, you dumbass!


    February 19, 2008 at 6:49 am

  3. Haha, I think I’ll give you your goat back now…

    I don’t really know what rotoworld intended with the Gus vs. Tallet comments and maybe I read too much into it. But what I read between the lines is that *theoretically* Tallet would be a better 5th starter option than Gus (Tallet’s 2005 AAA #s as a SP before coming to TO are pretty Gus-esque and he does have the advantage of health), not that shitty apples should be compared to oranges.

    johnny was

    February 19, 2008 at 5:02 pm

  4. Hearing about Rios’ first hacks of the spring reminds us: Somewhere in Arizona, Gabe Gross is pricing rental properties in Nashville.

    Tao of Stieb

    February 19, 2008 at 6:51 pm

  5. I remember after one of his big days someone told me exactly the same thing I joked about Marcum- everyone on both teams, everyone in the stadium knew the guy on the mound was only throwing fastballs, and they were even joking about it. Also known as the “Chip Cannon AFL effect”…


    February 19, 2008 at 7:03 pm

  6. OhhhhhHHHHhhhhhhh…….I never even thought about the Tallet as starter thing. Probably true. I wonder if there’s really a reason for guys like Tallet never being considered starters and guys like Chacin out of the question for the bullpen despite what seems like similar endurance. Makeup? Does that mean anything? I remember that emergency start Tallet had and he was actually really good for a few innings and then exploded suddenly when he got tired. Kinda like Gus.


    February 19, 2008 at 7:12 pm

  7. In my experience, I think usually the focus on starting v. relieving, besides endurance and makeup and often even moreso, is arsenal. Pitchers usually have to show a third plus pitch and often a fourth show pitch before they will even be considered for the rotation, while guys with two solid pitches and a show pitch are always relegated to the bullpen. Those extra pitches are what allows you to survive the second and third times through the lineup. Most commonly this comes up when a pitcher has a good fastball and slider, but nothing special in terms of off-speed stuff. If he just uses the curve and change as show pitches and the change is easy enough to spot, the hitter can basically ignore those and sit on the fastball and track the slider’s movement. That can limit a pitcher’s effectiveness to one turn through the lineup. In contrast, a pitcher who relies a lot on several offspeed pitches can suffer in the bullpen, because it takes time to find the feel on each pitch, time you don’t have as a reliever, particularly if you’re coming in late in a close game or in any situation with runners on base. Consequently, relievers usually only use 2-3 pitches at most, and guys like Marcum don’t have their full effectiveness.

    What’s interesting about Chacin is that I think in the past he has been much better the first time through the lineup, and is sort of more of a trick pitcher with two good pitches (at least, they were prior to his arm troubles) and so he might actually do better as a reliever. The Jays like Downs and Tallet though and don’t really have room for another lefty, especially one with K numbers as poor as Gus’.


    February 19, 2008 at 9:02 pm

  8. Yah, Gus’ numbers against jump from .730 OPS to .800 after he goes through the lineup once…could definitely be because he relies so heavily on his cutter (though could also be him getting tired after 50 pitches or so). He’s also had better numbers with runners on, which is odd and might help a reliever.

    My favorite idea that will never, ever, happen is the Frankenstarter- Gus going 4 and Tallet going 2-3 after him. Like we ever use the 7th guy in the bullpen anyway…

    I wonder what kind of season Marcum would have had in the bullpen the whole year. No question him getting to throw his changeup was great and he’s wayyyy more valuable in the rotation, but I thought his stuff looked nasty early on, he was almost our closer for a bit, and then a couple of big hits by two great hitters and he was persona non grata.


    February 19, 2008 at 9:30 pm

  9. I agree, I think Marcum could’ve still had success in the bullpen, but the homers would’ve been a continuing problem, I think. It’s risky to bring in someone like Marcum when you’ve got runners on or late in a close game. I think Marcum could put up good numbers in the pen over a full season, but with a HR rate like he had last season, he wouldn’t be trusted in big enough spots to make him pitching in the bullpen a benefit to the team. That’s my take, anyway, although I look forward to Marcum reducing his HR rate this season, and I do think it’ll happen.


    February 19, 2008 at 10:18 pm

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