Category: John McDonald

Blue Jay puzzle pieces

1977 redux, Ricky Romero

Ricky Romero – leadership shown, all-star calibre, struggles with Red Sox

Kyle Drabek – demotion to Las Vegas, return to rotation a challenge

Brett Cecil – fastball up to 93 mph again, rotation mainstay rest of way

Jo Jo Reyes – unfocused, #5 spot in starting rotation, on the bubble

Jesse Litsch – rehab stint in Las Vegas, rotation spot in doubt

Brandon Morrow – shades of 2010, momentum, on verge of breakthrough

Carlos Villaneuva – exceeding expectations, #4 starter, trade bait

Sean Camp – Zen master of eliciting ground balls, hittable, 1 blown save

Jason Frasor – sure hand, candidate for closer role, 2 blown saves

John Rauch – hothead, very hittable, 7 saves in 9 tries

Mark Rzepczynski – reliable middle-relief, 3 blown saves, 3 extra base hits allowed

Casey Jannssen – placed on 15-day DL, retroactive to June 15

Octavio Dotel – improved effectiveness, innings eater

Frank Francisco – below average closer, 4 blown saves, unprofessional tendency

Luis Perez – helpful middle relief, unestablished rookie, 2 blown saves

Blue Jays offensive production

Aaron Hill – too cautious, shell of 2009 self, Blue Jay end near

Adam Lind – dialed in, future batting champion, all-star production

Travis Snider – 3 doubles in MLB return, deserving outfield starter

Jason Nix – below Mendoza line, designated for assignment July 2

Jose Molina – above-average backup catcher, effective place holder

Corey Patterson – horrendous decision-making on base paths + outfield, liability

Jose Bautista – constant development, all-star, MVP candidate

J.P. Arencibia – good rookie production, sunken BA

Rajai Davis – lightning speed, awful slump, too many SO, second half producer

Edwin Encarnacion – natural DH, streaky, on the bubble

Yunel Escobar – all-star calibre statistics, improved power + work ethic

Juan Rivera – place holder role over, DFA July 3

John McDonald – above Mendoza line again, unsung Toronto hero

Mike McCoy – down + up again, good OBP, useful professional

Eric Thames – spark plug, confident, room for improvement in SO/BB ratio

Out of the “Wilnerness”

Out of the Wilnerness, Indiana, Mike Wilner, Adam Lind,

From the native land of Adam Lind, it’s Chris from Indiana,  a first-time caller. That’s me. Or at least it was tonight on Jays Talk with sports personality Mike Wilner. 

I gotta say, I can’t wait to get back to Toronto, see some great friends, pay my respects to the Island, and make that 500-level season pass pay.

One week and counting, down.

Visiting with Roy Halladay, before an “engaging” party with some of those great friends will be just what the Doc ordered for this Canada Day weekend. 

Baseball North, here I come.

Despite how fast I spoke and stuttered, I managed to articulate my confusion (or confuse my articulation) about the Sisyphean comeback of Blue Jays pitcher Dustin McGowan.

On Mike Wilner’s Tim Freaking Hudson post, drag the little grey bar of the audio to 56 minutes 15 seconds for a listen.

Mike Wilner: Chris is in Indiana, Chris.

Chris: Yes, I was…..I love the show. I was hoping you might help me better understand the Dustin McGowan situation. I read in one of the major papers that there’s 30 days from the end of extended spring training June 8 for the Jays to decide whether to put him on the 25-man roster or put him through waivers. And I also heard Anthopoulos talking today on the radio about…he was musing cautiously about putting him in the rotation for September and the timeline’s for September. I’m just wondering how the contract and the situation works out in terms of the roster moves the Jays would have to make. Assuming he….

MW: If you bring him up in September, you don’t have to make any move. Rosters are expanded in September, but they would have to make room for him on the 40-man roster, which is full right now. He’s on the 60-day disabled list, so he doesn’t take up a space on the 40-man roster. What you heard about 30 days from the end of extended spring-training is not really true. We had been led to believe that, but we now understand that you can still keep a guy…..even though extended spring training is over, and it’s over now. You don’t have to send a guy out on a rehab assignment until he’s ready to rehab. So Dustin McGowan’s not ready to rehab yet. Once he goes out on an official rehab assignment, it can be no more than 30 days. And at the end of those 30 days, if he’s healthy, he has to come to the major leagues or…..McGowan, in McGowan’s case because he’s out of options, he would have to be put on waivers, if they want to keep him down in the minor leagues.

Chris: Okay, I think I got it. Thanks a lot.

MW: Alright, you’re welcome, and since the Blue Jays are saying early September -that’s what Alex Anthopoulos said today- that means he’s not going to go out on the rehab assignment until early August. And they’re being very very careful with him. At the end of June, he’s going to go three innings every five days. He’s going to do that twice. Then, he’s going to do four innings every five days twice, then five innings every five days twice, and they’re going to hopefully get him up to seven. And if he’s capable of doing that, it’s a minor miracle for one thing, and it’s fantastic news for another. And then Dustin McGowan will come back, if all goes well, be in the rotation next year, and he’s a free agent after next year (laughs). So we’ll see how that works.

Most days, I’m here without a phone, but Skype got the job done, mostly. 

Here’s the text from my follow-up question and answer in the comments section from Miked Up:

Hi Mike,

Thanks for clearing up some of the confusion around Dustin McGowan scenarios. I meant to ask, if all goes well, and he begins his rehab assignment say August 1, how will the Jays have been preparing him up to that point? How will he be incrementally “gaming up” to August 1, without the benefit of pitching to batters like in extended spring training? The IBL Leafs could always use another reliever! I jest, but am curious whether rules exist that would preclude him from pitching a little semi-professional or amateur ball.

MW: Yes, those rules exist. But he can pitch simulated games to real batters, and that’s what he’s going to be doing up until it’s time to send him out on the official assignment.

Right after my call is an amusing affirmation of the truly acrobatic nature of John McDonald’s game.

Johnny Mac, Wizard, Genius

MW: Dave is in Guelph. Hey Dave.

Dave: I’m just a huge fan of Johnny Mac.

MW: Well, who isn’t?

Dave: Well, he’s a wizard in the infield, acrobat in the outfield.

MW: What?

Dave: Johnny Mac?

MW: He’s played maybe two innings in the outfield in his life.

Dave: Well…

MW: I wouldn’t go so far as…..

Dave: Well, he’s an acrobat.

MW: Okay.

Dave: Anyways, he’s good on defense.

MW: Yes, he is.

Father’s Day at the ballpark and racetrack

Reds 2, Blues 1

Well, another winnable game lost. That’s baseball. Ahhh, that’s Blue Jays baseball…..and part of being a fan.

The game hinged on a moment in the top of the 5th. The Jays led 1-0 and were threatening, with runners on the corners, no outs, and at the plate Mr. Johnny Mac, who had provided a wonderful moment as a Father’s Day homerun-hitter last year, but who this time popped up a bunt attempt to Joey Votto. The Toronto-native threw quickly to 3rd base, doubling up a lazy Juan Rivera. That effectively neutralized the threat.

Despite my Blue Jay-bias, and the absolute fact that I would have preferred he not make that play, I say thank you to Joey Votto, nonetheless. In a seven-minute interview, you managed to remove stigma and start a conversation in  Major League Baseball about an often silent injury:

In light of the difficulties Votto faced in 2008 and 2009, in the wake of his Father’s passing, and the sincerity and generosity of spirit with which he handled the depression he suffered, it seemed appropriate that he would play the role of catalyst on this day.

Carlos Villanueva, once again, pitched like a bonafide starter, allowing two earned runs on seven hits over seven innings with three strikeouts and no walks. This Father’s day loss rounds out a series with the Reds that saw Blue Jays starters give up just one walk, the silver lining on this overcast Sunday, and a refreshing trend to be sure.

Over the years, in large part a result of the travel associated with his work, I have enjoyed time and baseball games with my Father at various stadiums, including County, Shea and Dodger, Victory Field, and Skydome. I’m a fortunate son. Thanks Dad.

In recent weeks, We talked about a baseball road trip to Cincinnati, from nearby Indianapolis, where I’m helping tame the wildness of his property. But since work commitments to the Indy Car World Series take him out of state this weekend, I instead turn the channel from Jays v. Reds on Fox Sports Ohio to the Milwaukee Mile on abc. Good luck to Dad, Alex Lloyd, James Jakes, and the Dale Coyne Racing Team this afternoon. No matter the results, I am always a fan.

Happy Father’s Day.

Blue Jay puzzle pieces

Toronto Blue Jays, workhorse, #1 starter
Ricky Romero – workhorse, solid, if not timely, settling into role as staff ace

Kyle Drabek – heart on sleeve, raging bull of emotion on the mound, wild

Brett Cecil – fastball down to 90 mph, 8 HRs allowed in 4 starts before demotion

Jo Jo Reyes – 26-game winless streak snapped, emotions in check, weak pick-off move

Jesse Litsch – fastball + compete-level return, rotation spot deserved when healthy

Brandon Morrow – slow start, potent arsenal, control a work in progress

Carlos Villaneuva – good stuff, reliable from bullpen, exceeding expectations as starter

Sean Camp – ground ball out master, outstanding April/ May, rocky June

Jason Frasor – painstakingly deliberate approach, sure hand, best season pace

John Rauch – shades of K-Gregg, less careful, Jays best closer not saying much

Mark Rzepczynski – odd man out, smooth transition to pen, control issues lately

Casey Jannssen – bullpen stud, return to 2007 form, confident presence

Octavio Dotel – ineffective, innings eater during big losses, oldest man in pen

Frank Francisco – power + unreliability, below average closer

Luis Perez – helpful middle relief, verdict still out, given small sample-size

Adam Lind, Jose Bautista,

Aaron Hill – stats split difference between 2009 and 2010 season, too cautious

Adam Lind – back in the saddle again, Indiana boy in perfect spot behind Bautista

Travis Snider – lack of confidence, swing kinks, walk to strikeout ratio improved

Jason Nix – clutch hitting in April, non-existent May, battling Mendoza line

Jose Molina –calm in eye of storm, excellent back-up catcher, hitting well

Corey Patterson – less than smart base running, seeing good pitches

Jose Bautista – BA + OBP + OPS off the charts, home run mastery

J.P. Arencibia – great rookie production, ability + rapport with pitchers improving

Rajai Davis – speed, nice addition, injury riddled, wait and see

Edwin Encarnacion – defensive liability, disappeared home run production

Yunel Escobar – great start overall, occasional odd no-throw decisions

Juan Rivera – horrendous start, rebounded offensively, first base fill-in admirable

John McDonald – decreased production, no fearful demeanour, usual infield brilliance

Mike McCoy – future John McDonald, reliable + energetic uber-utility man