Oh, Canada: Former NL Doormat Now 1st Place Contender, Play Blue Jays Tonight In Return To Maple Leaf Nation
A visit to the website of the Toronto Globe and Mail reveals an interesting headline: "Nationals Vist Reopens Old Wounds." I would reflect on that article, but it is a "pay to read" piece, and I just don't keep Canadian money around. Besides that, with that country's decidedly anti-American stance, the only thing I'd send over the border is a couple of armored divisions [sorry Democrats, you know I love ya, but Canada is no longer on my Christmas card list -- of course, considering their anti-Christian stance, the card likely wouldn't make it across the border anyway].
I did read through their sports section, however difficult that was. The exchange rate reduced the size of the font by 28%, and I am getting too old to read that small type. However, one article does talk about the Expos/Nationals perspective of the game tonight:
Team officials say there haven't been any special ticket requests made by Expos
fans, only one former club employee has asked for credentials and just one
Montreal media member has been issued a pass. It seems few care for another
encounter with their former flame, not even a weekend at Rogers Centre for old
This is about as I had figured it would be. When the Senators sauntered into the night to follow Bob Short to the land of the Cowboys, they became the enemy. Although I wished Dick Bosman and Frank Howard well, I couldn't have cared less about the rest of the team. 1] THEY MOVED 2]THEY MOVED TO THE HOME OF THE DALLAS COWBOYS. Ouch and double ouch.
I am sure that Expos fans feel much the same way. 1]They moved. 2]They moved to the capitol of the country that so many Canadians dislike these days. Makes sense. The article mentions the hard feelings held against major league baseball by the "die hard" Expos fans. Really? All seven are upset? C'mon. Even in the good days, the Expos drew only average crowds.
So, who are these Blue Jays? Are they as good as their 21-20 record indicate? Let's take a look at the team:
Young lefty Gustavo Chacin is off to blistering start in his rookie year. Chacin, who lost his last start, 4-3 to the Yankees, has pitched well against good teams this season. In three starts against teams that won at least 89 games last season (New York, Texas and Oakland), Chacin has allowed just six earned runs in 20 innings for an ERA of 2.70. Chacin isn't an overpowering pitcher, as his fastball tops out at about 91 mph. Last season he developed a cut fastball which allowed him deceive batters and have success. Chacin, along with Roy Halladay, may be the cornerstone of the Blue Jays' rebuilding process.
Guess who's stepped in to fill the massive offensive void left by the departure of Carlos Delgado.......Give up? Catcher Gregg Zaun has helped fill in, hitting .333 with two homers and 13 RBI with an on-base percentage of .437 and a slugging percentage of .561. This is the same guy who has hit .253 with an OPS of .723 in 1,882 at-bats in his career.
Shea Hillenbrand has also gotten off to a great start, hitting .370 with an OBP .407 and slugging percentage of .519.
Vernon Wells, Toronto's lone All-Star last season, has gotten off to a rough start this year, batting .234 with four homers and an OBP of just .256.
Let's take a look at the position players:
267 - 4 - 21
He's got decent power at the plate, along with the patience to hang in for a walk. He's even got surprising speed for a corner infielder and has grown into a strong fielder.
However, he'll pile up a lot of strikeouts and tends to lapse into mechanical difficulties with his swing. Far from growing, his power has actually regressed.
270 - 2 - 17
Lines the ball to all fields and has the speed and base-running smarts to turn doubles into triples. His tremendous instincts and energy put him above players with equal talent. He's turning into an excellent fielder. The young switch-hitter struggles miserably from the right side of the plate. Though he has that speed, he hasn't mastered the art of stealing bases.
SS] Russ Adams
.237 - 3 - 14
A 2002 draftee of the Blue Jays, Adams is in his second year with the Blue Jays. Considering low home run totals, he's had a good slugging average, .461, to go with a very low on base percentage, .305, which is a deadly combination for a middle infielder.
.352 - 4 - 20
A fill in for Corey Koskie, he's been doing well this season. At the plate, Hillenbrand is the prototypical third baseman, with great strike zone awareness, good gap power and a consistent bat that can keep him close to .300. He sucks, however, in the field. He has an erratic arm, which provides many a souvenir for fans behind first base. And he just refuses to take a free pass.
He was a DH until Koskie got hurt, and the Blue Jays are hoping he "survives" the experience at the hot corner.
.271 - 1 - 11
With a smooth left-handed swing and the ability to drive mistakes into the gaps. Catalanotto is an underrated hitter. He is disciplined, and has a great work ethic.
Defensively, he doesn't have a great arm in the outfield, though he can play second base if pressed. Shows good hustle and speed but needs to learn how to pick his spots when stealing.
A good but not great player.
.217 - 6 - 18
You could almost save the money on two other outfielders with the kind of range Wells has. He has a very strong arm as well. He's an aggressive line-drive hitter with power and RBI skills.
Not nearly aggressive enough on the bases considering his speed. He's a little too prone to the strikeout and not prone enough to taking a walk.
.312 - 2 - 21
Huge guy, 6'5" and 200 pounds. A power hitter, right? In his first full season in the bigs, 2004, he hit .284 with ONE home run and 28 RBIs in 426 at bats. He had a .383 SLG and .338 OBP. Yuck.
.167 - 0 - 4
Because Shay Hillebrand and Corie Kosie were listed as revolving DHs, Koskie's injury leaves this position open, and I have no idea who the Blue Jays play to put here for this weekend's games.
Head - to - head position comparison:
1B] Nick Johnson is an easy choice
2b] Although Orlando Hudson has nice numbers, Jamie Carroll is playing lights out right now
SS]Tie - both players are doing poorly this year
3B]Vinny Castilla gets the nod because his defense is great, and Hillebrand is a DH playing 3rd. Offensive numbers favor Vinny by just a tad
LF]BradWilkerson over Catalanotto in a big, big way
CF]I'd normally take Vernon Wells over Ryan Church in a heartbeat, but Well's numbers are so-so this year. Still, he's the guy
RF]Ha ha ha ha ha. Jose Guillen
C]Ha ha ha ha. Brian Schneider
DH]No clue who his playing this position for either team
Final results: Nationals: 6 positions ... Blue Jays 1 position, with 2 ties. Based on this, I predict that the Nats will win 2 out of 3 in Toronto this weekend.