Category: Travis Snider

The fortune of Brad Mills

Brad Mills makes the rotation, Brad Mills(er) time, starting rotation sweepstakes Jo Jo Reyes is out. Brad Mills is in, at least for today. Jesse Litsch, also called up, will work out of the bullpen, in the wake of the departure of Mark Rzepcynski, Jason Frasor and Octavio Dotel.

Welcome Colby Rasmus. Hopefully, he and Travis Snider will push each other to meet their ubiquitously spoken of potential.

As of Wednesday July 27, GM Alex Anthopolous, video seen at Getting Blanked, had only stated that Brad Mills was called up for temporary bullpen depth, until the Blue Jays new pitchers (P.J. Walters and Trevor Miller) arrived. A decision had not yet been made on who would start Saturday’s game. How quickly things change in these starting rotation sweepstakes. Brad Mills is our #5.

According to Mike Wilner on the Jays Talk, Mills is likely getting the start today as a way of showing him off as potential trade bait, before the deadline strikes Sunday. The following John Farrell quote from bluejays. com, provides some context:

“The fact that Brad has thrown the ball exceptionally well in Las Vegas, I think he’s earned the spot,” manager John Farrell said. “He’s got the opportunity to take this start and run with it.”

Whatever the case may be, Mills deserves at least a 10 game stint in some major league ball club’s starting rotation.

He’s dominated in Triple-A, unlike Brett Cecil, Jesse Litsch and Kyle Drabek. He’s got a lot to prove at the big league level, and I think he’s about ready to do it.

Zach Stewart is out, no longer part of the puzzle. Our depth of starting rotation makes losing Zach a moot point, (in the modern sense of the term).

I don’t think Luis Perez has earned his shot in the rotation, though look for him to rejoin the big club’s bullpen soon.

Carlos Villanueva will have to pitch better than he did Thursday over his next three starts, especially if Mills hangs around, Litsch pitches well in long relief and Kyle Drabek continues to bring his ERA back down to Earth.

Exciting times, indeed.

Chad Beck made the jump to Las Vegas this week. Deck McGuire is now a New Hampshire Fisher Cat, and Dustin McGowan is now up to pitching three innings per start with Dunedin. Joel Carreno and Henderson Alvarez are knocking on the Blue Jays door. It will be interesting to see if either gets the chance to show his stuff when the roster expands to 40 come September.

The race is always on. The climb is great – the fall is depth.

  1. Ricky Romero (26)
  2. Brandon Morrow (27)
  3. Brett Cecil (25)
  4. Carlos Villanueva (27)
  5. ↑Brad Mills (26)
  6. ↑Jesse Litsch (26) – Toronto bullpen
  7. ↑Kyle Drabek (23) – Las Vegas
  8. ↑Dustin McGowan (29) – Dunedin
  9. ↑Joel Carreno (24) -New Hampshire
  10. ↑Luis Perez (26) – Las Vegas
  11. ↑Henderson Alvarez (21) – New Hampshire
  12. Chad Jenkins (23) – New Hampshire
  13. ↑Deck McGuire (22) – New Hampshire
  14. ↑Chad Beck (26) – Las Vegas
  15. ↓Scott Richmond (31) – Las Vegas
  16. ↓Robert Ray (27) – Las Vegas
  17. ↑Nestor Molina (22) -Dunedin
  18. ↑B.J. LaMura  (30) – New Hampshire
  19. ↑Drew Hutchison (20) – Dunedin
  20. ↑Ryan Tepera (23) -Dunedin

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

Kyle Drabek experience and the racing

Ballpark Update

Travis Snider, Las Vegas 51s

News out of Area 51 (Las Vegas) reads bittersweet. First the bitter, then the sweet, then a bit more bitter.

Travis Snider, whose bat had ignited over the past week, was plunked in the head last night and is now out indefinitely with a concussion.

Brett Cecil eked out a quality start (3 ER , 7 H , 9 SO , 2 BB , 7 IP) in the same game against the Reno Aces. While his team still trailed by one run, Cecil finessed his way out of a jam in the 6th, after loading the bases with just one out, inducing a pop up and getting a key strikeout on a 3-2 count for the final out of the inning. His fastball, an area of concern through April, reached 93 mph on the radar gun. It was clocked consistently between 89 -90 mph.

In this battle of casino-cities, the Aces eventually folded in the 9th. Las Vegas beat Reno 5-4.

Drabek Experience, Rainy Day Dream Away

Rainy Day, Dream Away

The Kyle Drabek Experience, wrought with all the power, potential, and unpredictability of gods making love, was wild and hard hitting in a Las Vegas tour-stop this afternoon. Unfortunately, that makes the performance sound a lot better than it was.

In his Triple-A debut, Drabek might as well have fallen off the stage for all the control he summoned.

He lasted just four innings (4ER, 8 H, 7 BB, 3 SO), as the Aces trumped the Aliens 12-9 at Cashman field.

Still Raining, Still Dreaming

Let’s hope he stops showing off his best “Wild Thing”  impression and shifts gears into an “Ezy Ryder” soon enough. There’s a mob of fans waiting for another Toronto tour-date to be added.

Racetrack Update

English gentleman Alex Lloyd, 26, collided with rookie Sebastian Saavadra of Colombia on  lap 78 of the Milwaukee 225, which means extra work and a busy week ahead for my Dad and the Dale Coyne Racing Team, as they prepare for the Iowa Corn Indy 250, June 25.

Rookie James Jakes, 23, also from England, running in just his second oval contest, placed a respectable 15th.

I wish them both a safe and successful race next weekend.

My congratulations to Canadian rookie talent and fellow Camp Kawabi alumnus James Hinchcliffe, who placed 6th in the race, scoring another top 10 finish (4th at Long Beach, 9th at São Paulo) for Newman-Haas Racing.

Head on over to the virtual world of Hinchtown, where Mayor Hinchliffe, 24, regales his residents with colourful tales from road and track as the plot thickens in this IndyCar Series Adventure. Hinchcliffe hails from Oakville, Ontario.

Veteran Canadian driver and Indy 500 pole-winner Alex Tagliani, 38, placed in 18th position.

Tag, as he is affectionately known, sped to a season-best 4th place finish in Texas last Saturday for Sam Schmidt Motorsports.

Area 51 abductees

Las Vegas 51s, Toronto Blue Jays

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Area 51 is a paranoid fantasy we concocted to hide the true nature of this facility.”

In the flighty air of Cashman Field and Las Vegas, Nevada, several would-be Blue Jays have hit the lights out, so to speak.

To say Brett Lawrie (ranked #21 by MLB Prospect Watch) is a highly touted prospect would be an understatement. To say that he has had a good season in Vegas would be an understatement (.354 AVG, .415 OBP, 1.092 OPS). Mere days from a much-anticipated call-up, the 21-year-old suffered a minor hand injury. But if his recovery is quick and complete, watch for a pre-September look, especially if his walks to strikeout ratio continues to even out and his power numbers maintain.

The 24-year-old first baseman, David Cooper, is batting .406 through 42 games (69 H, 170 AB). Need more be said? He has also walked more times than struck out and sports a .461 OBP. Such stellar work earned him a 2-week pass to the big club in May.

Another 24-year-old in Eric Thames adds significant organizational depth to the outfield position. His .319 AVG through 41 games in Las Vegas and impressive sampling (.286 AVG, .362 OBP) through 13 games in Toronto make him a shoe-in for a 2011 return.

The ups and downs of Travis Snider are well known. As he slowly but surely raises his batting average, while working on plate discipline and working out the kinks in his swing, we get closer and closer to seeing him back where he belongs on a permanent basis.

At 30 years young, jack of all trades, Mike McCoy has been on the cusp of cracking the Jays line-up since 2010. Having hit highly efficiently (.311 AVG, .457 OBP) through 20 games in AAA , he may now be in Toronto to stay. Mr McCoy even pitched a perfect inning, analysed in amusing fashion, including tweets from Brett Cecil’s upset girlfriend, at Infield fly. Could McCoy also call a game in a pinch? Is he the second coming of Johnny Mac?

Dewayne Wise, an adequate fourth outfielder for the Jays last season, appears the unlucky man out in 2011. But his numbers in Vegas (.338 AVG, 17 extra-base hits), suggest the 33-year-old could, if healthy, step into that role again, if the Jays were to require his services.

Not insignificant are the 11 home runs, .321 batting average and current 10-game hitting streak of Canadian left fielder, and Robert Plant impersonator, Adam Loewen, whose 1000th  minor league at bat is documented in unusual and hilarious (almost) non fiction at Ghostrunner on First.

Sky-high batting averages and the overall production by these Area 51ers make them prime candidates for abduction to Toronto.

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   

Fall Classic


Fernando  Valenzuela, Campeche, mayan, Fall ClassicCAMPECHE, Mexico – Across the street from El Estadio Nelson Barrera, where Fernando Valenzuela was thought to be discovered, from my bedroom in the Mexican family home I stay, through my laptop and the MLB online stream, it was a thing of beauty to watch the final home game of Cito Gaston and all the bells and whistles that came with it.

A speech from his old roommate Hank Aaron, glowing words from champion Blue Jays Paul Molitor, Joe Carter and Roberto Alomar, along with a standing ovation from a packed “SkyDome” and a single tear from a grateful Gaston, conjured the collective joy last felt in 1993.

It was a thing of nostalgia to realize how his leadership of our dear ball club and his presence in our beloved city interconnected with so many great memories from childhood: like game 6 of the 1992 World Series when we leapt out of our seats and ran onto the field to celebrate via Jumbotron with our Jays in Atlanta. A friend had gotten overexcited as the gates opened earlier that night and disappeared in the crowd, charging up to the 500 level, never to be seen again.

It was a last call with Cito, the closing time on the last three seasons of ball games I attended or logged by TV in varying states of elation, frustration, and drunkeness . It was time for him to go, but as a hard man of steely nerve, he is a hard man not to respect, unless you get into the Bob McCowan v. Cito Gaston controversy of yesteryear.

In spite of the near incomprehensible fall from grace of both Adam Lind and Aaron Hill — see .305 and .286 BA. (2009) to .237 and .205 for Lind and Hill respectively, 2010 was the most exciting season of Blue Jays baseball since 1993. Motherload of slumps and all, Lind-Hill still managed to combine for49 dingers.

The team statistics speak for themselves in aesthetically pleasing fashion:

595 extra base hits (team record)

.454 slugging % (mlb leader)

257 team dingers (mlb leader)

54 Bautista dingers (mlb leader)

7 players with 20+ dingers

4 pitchers w/ 10+ wins

Had we maintained an above .500 W-L record through interleague play, as opposed to a dismal 9-17 mark, we would have fought for the wild in September. It was that close.

The bullpen often seemed shaky with a seeming inability to nail down saves i.e. preserving wins for our starters.

Consider:

0/2= 0%  Brian Tallet

0/2= 0% Scott Downs

2/4= 50% Sean Camp

4/8= 50% Jason Frasor

37/43= 86% Kevin Gregg

That’s 16 games the Jays led late in the game, almost all of which were lost. In an ideal baseball world, without an interleague meltdown, where our bullpen had been perfect, we would have amassed a dominant and best ever 100- 62 record, 1 win better than the 1985 squad with Tom Henke as closer. Not the most likely scenario since few teams have converted 100% of save opportunities.

What shocked me is that the Jays finished the season a respectable 5th place in MLB with 45 saves converted. But I would sooner tempt a 53-year-old Tom Henke out of retirement than endure the torture of another season of K-Gregg’s semi-calculated melodramatics: all those BB’s to go for the easiest possible outs.

Whoever next year’s closer, with three of our top four 2010 starters (Ricky Romero, Brandon Morrow, Brett Cecil) returning a year wiser, and Kyle Drabek, Mark Rzepczynski, Jesse Litsch and Brad Mills battling for spots, with Dustin McGowan just maybe on the mend, a full season of opportunity for T-Snyde, Arencibia, and Escobar, a return to form by Lind and Hill, and anything near a repeat season from Bautista; the future looks bright. Then again, the future always shines bright for the Toronto Blue Jays. Every year, we are one year closer to the next time we win another World Series.