Posted by: Peter Houston | April 28, 2010

Eight thoughts an eighth of the way through the season

After 21 games (technically 1/7.7th of the way through the season) the Blue Jays sit 10-11, tied for 3rd in the AL East. The sad thing is, that’s considered overachieving. Most baseball “experts” had the Jays finishing 4th or often 5th in the division, with anywhere from 64-72 wins. At 10-11, they’re on pace for 77 wins and will easily finish in front of the OriLOLes. It’s definitely still early, but this is the way I see it:

1. V-Dub is back

Not many people saw this one coming. It’s hard to say which one of his stats is the most impressive: his 7 home runs, his 10 doubles or his whopping .716 SLG %. Either way, Jays fans are starting to believe his down seasons were actually a result of injuries and he’s still got most of that talent we paid him $126 million for. Oh ya, one other thing. Come mid-July, I will be the one laughing after my bold pre-season All-Star prediction.

2. The bullpen sucks

Coming into the season, the Jays bullpen was supposed to be the best part of the team. To be honest, I thought it was one of the best all around bullpens in the league. Well, 21 games into the season we have the second worst bullpen ERA to the one and only Kansas City Royals. Hopefully that is the last time our bullpen and Kansas City’s are ever mentioned in the same sentence. The only bright spots have been Shawn Camp and Kevin “G’d up ready to die” Gregg (except for last night when he came in with the bases loaded and walked in the eventual winning run). Janssen, Downs, Frasor and Accardo have all been brutal. FREE TIM COLLINS.

3. Troy who?

Stud

As Ricky Romero spent 2007 and 2008 getting peppered at AA/AAA after being taken with the 6th overall pick in 2005, fans never let J.P. Ricciardi forget that he was drafted one spot ahead of Troy Tulowitzki. But once Pretty Ricky got called up to the bigs in 2009, he didn’t disappoint. He tailed off as the season wore on, but still put up a respectable 4.30 ERA. This year, he looks like an ace in the making. In 30 innings of work, he has only allowed 17 hits and 6 runs. But what’s most encouraging is that his BB/9 is down from 4.0 last year to 2.7. If I could venture a guess as to why, I’d say it’s because he’s got complete command of his curveball and throws it for strikes whenever he god damn feels like it.

4. Shortstop city

Why oh why do shortstops who are career utility players/washed up come to the Jays and find their stroke? Last year, Marco Scutaro had by far the best season of his career. This year, Alex Gonzalez is 4th in the AL in total bases (guess who’s first?*). The Jays may have historically had a hard time finding a long term solution at the position, but recently short term ones are working just fine. And as you all know by now, AA looks to have found the missing piece to the puzzle. For $10 million, it better fit.

5. Don’t free Randy Ruiz

You should not interpret this thought as support for Mr .176 (even though he’s starting to heat up, I’m still only referring to him by his average). It’s support for Brett Wallace. I love Randy as much as the next guy (although not as much as I love Raaaaaaaandy), but he just doesn’t fit into the Jays plans right now. Overbay needs to see pretty much everyday action so that he can pad his stats and gain some sort of trade value. Once he’s gone, it will be time for Big Baby Brett. Unfortunately once he’s up,  there will be no way I can justify giving Ruiz at bats.

6. What’s wrong with Travis Snider?

Not a bust...yet

Fucked if I know. Ghostrunner on First did some crazy pitch by pitch analysis and seems to have concluded that he’s not hitting off speed pitches and is getting pounded away. That seems to concur with my highly scientific analysis called watching his at bats. He doesn’t seem to be staying back on the ball and isn’t looking to drive it the other way. He looks fastball, and only fastball, and when he doesn’t get it he’s way out in front. But, it does seem like he’s been improving in the last couple of weeks because I’ve seen him hit a lot of balls hard but right at people. That would seem to make sense considering his astonishingly low .133 BABip.

7. Opportune injuries

Besides Aaron Hill, you could put together a convincing argument that the players the Jays have sent to the DL so far this season has led to addition by subtraction. Tallet just straight up is not a quality MLB starting pitcher, but his replacement, Brett Cecil, has got the potential to be a very good one. With Edwin Encarnacion out of the lineup, Jose Bautista has moved to third and allowed newly acquired token black guy Fred Lewis to assume the leadoff spot. To round out the stereotype, he’s got wheels, and he’s been using them. Of the 6 times he’s reached first base (4 singles, 2 walks) he’s stole 2 bases, and has also used his speed to turn a double into a triple. Unfortunately, when E5 comes back it sounds like Lewis will be lucky to platoon with Jo-Bau.

8. Attendance

This is a topic I didn’t really want to address, but I feel obliged to. The Blue Jays have already set a franchise record for lowest attendance (10,314) and after their first 10 home games were second last in average attendance. With the Red Sox in town from Monday-Wednesday, the Jays were expected to put up some semi-respectable figures. Didn’t happen. For the series opener, they only got 13,847. What’s really a kick in the face for the fans is that Rogers actually bumped up ticket prices this year when they pretty much admitted the Jays are going to be awful. What kind of a dick move is that? Either way, fans shouldn’t be too worried because we’re far from an Expos situation, and there will be no Bartolo Colon-esk trades. Fans that are too worried should check out this post at Eh Team Sports, which sheds some humour on the situation.

*Good guess, it is Vernon Wells.

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