Tagged: 2015 post-season

Did Final Week of Schedule End Jays Playoff Run Too?

As I sat and watched, fairly disinterestedly, the Royals prevail against the Mets in last night’s marathon Game 1 of the World Series, I couldn’t help but think “Toronto could have won this game, and probably in 9 innings!”. Ahh, what might have been!

There’s no shame in being the bronze medal and that’s essentially what the Blue Jays were this year- baseball’s bronze medal winners. That’s a lot better than we’d really hoped for six months back. Yet it still smarts a little, knowing how close they came to having a shot to go for the gold. A sting made worse by the way KC won the final game of the ALCS, what with a very questionable ninth inning strike call against Ben Revere topping off a fan-assisted Royals homer. Nevertheless, lose they did and there were ample chances for them to have turned around at least a couple of the KC wins. Ultimately we might have to just tip our caps and acknowledge Kansas City have it all together and might be the best team in baseball.

When looking back to what the Blue Jays could have done differently, all I can come up with was that they seemingly took their foot off the gas a little bit in the final week. That’s pretty understandable, given human nature but might have cost them the World Series they, and we fans, craved. In particular i think 2 miscues cost them badly.

First, the October 1 game against Baltimore. Having clinched the division the day before in Maryland in Game 1 of a double-header, they fielded a team of subs for the second game and lost. Understandable, even acceptable. The regulars were not only high on winning the division but tired. No harm in putting in the likes of Carrera and Pompey for the nightcap. The problem came the next day when they again sent out a team of minor-leaguers and fill-ins. Cliff Pennington hitting second and Jonathan Diaz in the starting lineup hardly inspires confidence. Not to mention the starting pitcher, Drew Hutchison, well-rested to the point of being rusty and (as well-noted) having an awful season pitching on the road. Not surprisingly, Hutch gave up four hits (one a home run) and three runs in the first and was chased from the game, requiring six relievers patched together to get through the game. Baltimore won 6-4.

To make matters worse, David Price had last pitched on the 26th, making the day his normal day to pitch. As we recall, he didn’t pitch again until the playoffs and seemed out of sorts doubtless due to having an unusual amount of time off. It’s quite conceivable that Price would have easily gone six or more innings, shut down the Orioles early and won the game.

Of course, that is 20/20 hindsight. John Gibbons addressed the issue and told ESPN “we want to win home field … we’ve been going at it hard all year. Going back and playing an early game (for the regulars) today would be like no day off. I’ve got to do what’s best for these guys.” He has a point. It was a cool rainy day, the game’s start was delayed for three hours and most of the regulars had been playing hard day in, day out for weeks. Some, like Edwin Encarnacion playing through injuries. So giving them an extra day off to rest and chill out has its merits. Besides which, Diaz and Kawasaki, two of the more questionable players in the lineup both responded with RBI singles. Had Encarnacion made his hernia worse, or David Price slipped off the muddy mound and torn a ligament, there would have been no end to the second guessing and criticizing of Gibby.

Perhaps even more questionable was the last day of the regular season. Readers here know I am a fan of Mark Buehrle but giving him the start on one day’s rest simply to allow him to try to hit a personal milestone (200 innings pitched for the 15th time in a row) was bizarre to say the least. Of course it backfired with the Rays jumping out to an early 8 run lead and as it turned out, chasing Buehrle from the game in the first, without even hitting his 200 innings. It would have been far better to send RA Dickey out to the mound to start and then, if the game seemed under control by the 6th or 7th inning, let Buehrle come in to finish it off if he felt up to it. Dickey would have been on short rest, but 3 days rest is better than one and he wasn’t slated to pitch until well into the ALDS, so he’d have plenty of time to recuperate. It was a regrettable game to give away. Granted, as it turned out KC would win that day and pick up the AL-best 95 wins but the Jays didn’t know that taking the field and still had a shot to win home field advantage throughout the playoffs. We saw how huge that would be this month.

The Royals lost their opening playoff game at home to Houston on Oct. 8 and haven’t lost in Missouri again since. The Jays won 2 of 3 against them in Toronto but were swept in KC. Had the fields been reversed, one has to feel that the Jays might have at least gotten to game 7…and could be the ones putting those Mets in their place right now.

The things that might have been. We could dwell on it, but instead, let’s look back and enjoy the memories of the most exciting and successful Jays team in a generation and look forward to another run for the gold next year!

I’ll look at some areas the team needs to address for the 2016 season next time here, but the first need is obvious- the General Manager. Rogers need to get someone in place and soon, with free agency only a week or so away and players having options that need picking up or declining. I’m as surprised as anyone to say it, but after the 2015 season, I now am fully behind the idea of bringing Alex Anthopoulos back to finish what he started. That should be Mark Shapiro’s Job 1.

UPDATE OCT.29: Well Mark Shapiro DID make it his Job 1, but in a rather unexpected way. The Blue jays now are looking for a new General Manager.

New York- Have You “Mets” Your WS Opponent?

Congratulations to the Mets! They overcame the odds and theoretically tougher opponents to win- nay, cruise to- the National League championship. Although a few did mention them in spring, most pundits assured us the Washington Nationals didn’t even need to show up for their games. Bryce Harper & Co. simply owned the division. Most nights it seemed the Nats didn’t show up. The Mets, on the other hand, despite my April prediction of 81-81 and third place for them, never broke stride and won the division easily and dispatched with the (on paper) much better Dodgers before sweeping the underdog Cubbies. And Toronto fans cheered. Or at least we should.

The Mets sweeping the NLCS is about as good an outcome as we could hope for, setting the Blue Jays up for what could be an easy World Series. the numbers like us.

Consider that as we know, the Jays are a good home team. Toronto has a definite home advantage with knowing the bounces of the artificial turf not to mention the remarkably loud, enthusiastic fans in the ‘dome. Toronto won 53 home games this regular season, the Mets were only 41-40 away from Citi Field. And, to remind you of the obvious, thanks to the AL win in the All Star Game, the American league has home advantage in the World Series.

Consider too, that although the two clubs “met” only four times this year, the home team won each game. Toronto, however, outscored the Mets 20-8 in the games. Overall, Toronto had a good year against NL opponents (one of several distinguishing marks that made this year more successful than the last few), going 12-8, and 7-3 at home. They outscored the nationalers by a full 50 runs in those games. NY by contrast, were 9-11 against the AL, including only 3 road wins.

More important than all those numbers though is the way the Mets won. Sweeping the Cubs no doubt excited Jerry Seinfeld and other Manhattan fans … but set the team up to lose. It’s counter-intuitive for sure, but put it down to momentum. Post-strike, post-back to back Jays titles, only five teams have done previously what New York just did- sweep the league championship series. The ’95 Braves did, as did the 2006 and 2012 Tigers, the ’07 Rockies and last year’s Royals. Of those five, only one – the Braves- went on to win the World Series. And they had home field advantage. The red-hot 2007 Colorado team, as well as the ’12 Detroit staff went on to be swept in the big show, actually. Each of the five teams started the World Series with a loss. Having a break of five full days (as the Mets will have) seems to kill any sort of momentum the team has going. Perhaps it also allows them to revel in fan adoration a bit too much and become over-confident. Either way, history shows teams that have had to grind and struggle to get to the finals end up doing better than teams that had an overly smooth, fast-track there. The Jays after a tough 7 game series against KC should be primed and in top shape.

Five days off should cool off the world’s hottest hitter right now, Daniel Murphy (who has been spectacular) so opponents might expect once again the type of infielder he normally is – good, by all means, a solid .280 hitter who this year had 14 long balls and hit just a bit above his career .424 slugging percentage. Not the guy with homers in six straight games and an insane 1.294 slugging in the championship series we’ve seen. Our side, Jose Bautista, front and center in the national spotlight should shine. In the four games against New York this year, he was 4 for 11 with two homers but also five bases on balls , equaling a .529 on base percentage. The Mets do have a dynamite young starting staff, but of the four prepped to go, only Steven Matz is the soft-tossing southpaw that supposedly gives Toronto trouble. And the Rangers might have a thing to say about that theory anyway, thanks to Martin Perez and Derek “I Hate Bautista” Holland.

Yes, the Blue Jays are set to do just fine winning their third World Series facing the New York Mets… oh, yeah. Just one problem with that. A certain team on the Missouri River might have something to say about it. David Price had better go against history tomorrow and win a post-season start if we want that scenario to take place.

***** *****

My daughter-in-law just finished her chemotherapy after a dodgy year battling Lymphoma. It makes me appreciate my health all the more and say I’m very happy for John Farrell of the Red sox , diagnosed now as cancer-free a few months after taking leave from his team due to the Big C. And to wish ex-Blue Jay Daniel Norris best wishes for a quick and hopefully pain-free recovery from the cancer he apparently is battling too.

Those who know me or read here frequently know I disliked Farrell on many levels such as his apparent lack of loyalty to the Blue Jays when he was manager but I still respect his career and more importantly, empathize with his suffering and would wish him nothing but the best when it comes to his personal life.

Keeping Game 5 From the Staff ‘Ace’- “Price-less”!

Well, like most edge-of-our-seats fans, I was a little surprised to see David Price out in the bullpen already throwing in earnest by the fourth inning. Even more surprised to see him brought into the game with RA Dickey seemingly cruising along, one out from getting his first post-season win and the Jays up by 6. RA looked understandably upset in the dugout as he saw Shin Shoo Choo lob a lazy flyball off Price to end the inning. And no matter how he phrased it in post-game scrums, one has to believe he’s a little upset that anyone in years to come will look at the boxscore and see that “W” beside Price’s name when it was he who put the Jays in a spot where they could relax a bit and necessitate a Game 5.

The move made little sense to me. Now, had they gone with Price on short-rest as the starter and had Dickey ready to go in the ‘pen, I might have understood. After all, Price is the “ace” and although he’d have been on short rest, he had 11 days off prior to the Thursday game so he could have soldiered through six innings or so. That move, although I’m not sure I would have agreed, would have made some sense since statistically Price is the man, ahead of Dickey and because it seems like Dickey usually gets in trouble early. How many times have we seen him cough up two or three easy runs in the first only to settle down and put up a string of zeroes later in the game? The obvious problem there is that if that had happened yesterday, by the time Texas put three across the plate they would have had the momentum, roaring crowd and a string of zeroes through subsequent innings might not have been enough for the Jays to get back in it. But none of those scenarios had occurred; Dickey seemed strong and effective.

Of course, I was really looking at it from the wrong angle. It wasn’t a move to embarrass Dickey or based on a lack of confidence in him. Quite the opposite. The pitching change was a move from a manager who could breathe a sigh of relief in having an excuse not to let Price take the mound on Game 5 and still be able to save face. No matter what they say, the Jays didn’t pull Dickey because they were worried about him tiring (78 pitches in) or about Choo hitting a homer and narrowing the lead to 7-3. They did it because they were nervous about the prospect of having Price pitch the most important game of the year, so far; nervous he’d blow it and equally nervous of a “spitstorm” of backlash should they have decided to go with Stroman ahead of a rested Price on Wednesday and the result not be a decisive win.

Looking at it that way,it was a clever move. Make no mistake about it- Price is the best pitcher on the Jays staff right now. Also be sure that the Blue Jays wouldn’t be playing now had they not made the trade for him. If in doubt of that, look at how effective Matt Boyd (who was in the rotation before he was traded for Price) or Randy Wolf (the next logical choice for Toronto to turn to had they given up on Boyd, based on Wolf’s performance in the minors) were in the final two months for Detroit. (To refresh your memory, Boyd was 1-4 with a 6.57 ERA in ten starts for the Tigers; Wolf was 0-5, 6.23 in 8 appearances there.) Price’s dominating 9-1 record as a Blue Jay, not to mention the benefit in giving the bullpen a bit of rest and adding confidence to the clubhouse, was the reason the team bolted ahead of the Yankees in the stretch and are where they are.

But… make no mistake either that he wasn’t the man to take Toronto to the ALCS this time. First, he’s always struggled against the Rangers. In 11 career regular season games with them, he’s 3-4 with a personal worst 5.15 ERA. His weak outing in game 1 suggests they still seem to have his number. Second, he’s always struggled as a starter in the post-season. Prior to yesterday, his record as a starting pitcher in the playoffs was just 1-6 with a lofty 4.79 ERA and an opponents’ average of .260. Compare that to a 3.09 ERA and .233 average during the regular season. So combine the two and you understand why the Jays would be nervous about handing him the ball in a game against Texas that could end their dream season. This wasn’t about Toronto not trusting RA Dickey to get Choo out or give a couple more innings yesterday, it was about having enough breathing room in the game to risk putting Price in it and having a good excuse to not use him tomorrow.

Gibbons might not admit that much, but he did point out he thought it was “pretty good strategy, it wasn’t a popular one…it’s all about winning.” that it is and in this unusual case, assuring their “best” pitcher can’t pitch in the decisive game is indeed pretty good strategy!

Wild cards could be wild… my picks to win

Pennant fever is spreading and we don’t want a cure! Tomorrow, time permitting, I’ll round up my picks for Blue Jays who should win awards this season (and players from other teams if somehow Toronto can’t sweep them! 😛 ) Today, just a quick post about the road to the Division series.

My picks: in tonight’s game, New York over Houston. Neither team has been on much of a roll of late, but I personally like Tanaka if he has his A-game over Keuchel. Particularly if Keuchel is having to pitch on short rest for the first time in his career. Many will disagree, but it’s the way I see it. Besides which, the Yankees have too many savvy veterans that know the routine by now and have a big home advantage. Bronx fans are pretty loud and demonstrative; Houston struggled at the best of times on the road, finishing with just 33 road wins. Toronto fans should be going against their instincts , by the way and pulling for a New York win, given how much better the Jays handled them than Houston this season (of course, that’s a moot point if KC win their series, or dare I even say it, the Jays lose in the first round.)

Tomorrow, I’ll go along with the crowd a bit more – Chicago win the National League wildcard over Pittsburgh. Pirates have home advantage, the better regular season record and I dare say a better all-around team. If it was a long series I’d back them. But the Cubs have the moxy and swagger of youth, and more importantly, the best pitcher in baseball of late, Jake Arrieta on the mound. Gerritt Cole is a solid pitcher; Arrieta’s been untouchable over the past couple of months (11-0, allowing all of 41 hits over a dozen starts with a microscopic, ridiculous 0.41 ERA since the beginning of August.) Cubs vs. Cards should be a fun series for midwestern fans!

The rest of the roster- Keeping Loup out of the Loop?

Yesterday I gave you my thoughts on Toronto’s post-season roster, or the position players at least. As explained, given Troy Tulowitzki’s precarious health status (last night’s return in Tampa was encouraging but it’s notable he’s not listed in the expected lineup today) that it would make sense to have an extra bench player, specifically an extra infielder in case he wasn’t upto speed and couldn’t return in a significant or regular basis. Which left us with a roster of 14 position players and therefore, 11 pitchers. This could be a problem for John Gibbons and Alex Anthopoulos who’ve been working a squad of 15 or so pitchers very effectively since Sep.1. Without further ado, here’s who I think deserve to be there…

Starters: with the more leisurely pace of the playoffs, there’ll be enough off days to allow the Jays (and, of course, other teams except for perhaps the Wild Cards burdened with another game this coming week) to manage quite alright with just 4. Which in the Blue Jays case should be-

David Price – obviously the Game 1 starter. Dallas Keuchel’s 20 wins will probably earn him the Cy Young but a valid argument could be made for David, given his slightly better ERA than Keuchel and clutch performance down the line.

Marco Estrada – last month I made the point Marco was one of the 4 key players that have made it possible for the team to be in the post-season with their unexpected over-achievement. Going into this evening’s game, Estrada is officially listed as 5th in the American League ERA leader board. Even if you loosen up the criteria for qualifying a little, he’s still a rather stellar 6th among AL pitchers with over 100 innings. What’s more he’s getting better as we go along being 7-3 with a 2.78 ERA (and sub-.200 opponents average) since the All Star Game. Who saw that coming in March?

Marcus Stroman – perhaps his knee injury was a blessing in disguise; while other pitchers in his locker room and around the league show signs of fatigue, Stroman is basically in start-of-season shape and showing last year was no fluke. With him getting better every start and sitting at 4-0, 1.67, his 92mph fastball gaining velocity by the week, he deserves to be pitching big games. Sort of the 21st Century version of Juan Guzman.

there’s the easy part. The more challenging part is determining the final starter, and I must admit I’ve rethought my position and flip-flopped … maybe.

RA Dickey* – I had tended to favor putting RA into the bullpen, and have Mark Buehrle be the fourth man. Something about Buehrle fills me with more confidence than Dickey not to mention that it might seem that the soft-tosser could probably pitch out of the bullpen on successive days with little problem if needed. That said, the stats all align to make Dickey the better bet to start. After a rocky start, he’s settled down into one of the league’s more consistent starters (8-1, 2.80 , averaging almost 7 innings an outing since the All Star game) whereas Buehrle’s numbers have gone the opposite way. Not to mention that Dickey hasn’t shown an aversion to pitching against New York, unlike Mark, which would be a factor should the Yankees be our opponent. The one exception here- if Houston ended up getting in and being our ALDS opponent, I’d stick with the original plan. The ‘stros have teed off on Dickey’s knuckleball this year, keeping him winless and hitting at a .318 clip in two games this year, whereas Buehrle , although he lost his one start in Houston, pitched 8 pretty strong innings, allowing only 6 hits.

So if Price, Estrada, Stroman and Dickey are the four starters, we have room to take along 7 relievers. Here’s where the hurt feelings mentioned yesterday come into play, since there’ve been 9 or 10 bullpenners used regularly and reasonably effectively of late. Nonetheless, the seven to go are

Mark Buehrle– granted, not a reliever by trade but you don’t leave a 15 game winner, 200-career game winner behind. If Houston end up facing us, he’s a starter, otherwise, he can sit in the ‘pen and be ready in the early innings should the starter get knocked out before the fifth.

Roberto Osuna – obviously, despite a few hiccups in September, has been a remarkable closer for the team, showing no fear even though he’s still only 20 years old. Or perhaps because he’s only 20. Regardless, 69 games, a 74:14 K to BB ratio, 2.35 ERA , 20 for 22 in saves are numbers of a serious closer, not just a good rookie.

Brett Cecil – maybe it was altering his leg kick a little, as Pete Walker suggests. Maybe it was reliever relief at not being put into 9th innings. Maybe it was voodoo. Whatever the reason, Cecil’s gone from regrettable to remarkable in the bullpen. He’s not allowed an earned run in 29 games since the All Star- that’s consistent!

Liam Hendriks– at times the forgotten man in the bullpen but he’s been reliable all year long and as a former starter, can log more pitches if need be than most of his contemporaries. A good go-to guy should help be needed in the 5th or 6th, or in extra innings.

Aaron Sanchez – fallen a little bit out of favor with John Gibbons lately, but that might not be all his fault since his role has been changed frequently during the year…starter, middle relief, 8th inning “set up”. Sanchez has real problems against lefties – a .282 average and 9 homers allowed this year – but can command right-handers with his 95 mph fastball. He should be there and used in late innings, but only against right-handers. Should a southpaw hitter come up, if Brett Cecil isn’t around, bring on

Ryan Tepera – another one of the nice surprises for Toronto this season, he’s been solid all year long. Up until Friday he’d allowed only one hit in his previous 6 outings and limited opponents to a .178 average on the year. What puts him head-and-shoulders above some other righties like Steve Delebar is his ability to control left-handed hitting- just a .122 average. This allows the Jays to go with only one “conventional” lefty in the pen , seeing as how Tepera has out-performed Aaron Loup even against LH hitting.

Mark Lowe- has been rather “lowe key” since his arrival but has quietly got the job done, with a stellar 13:1 K:BB ratio in his first 21 games wearing the blue and white. Has limited righties to a .506 OPS. And a veteran with over 300 career games and playoff experience (mind you, for him that’s not been so good- he was blown out of games for the ’10 and ’11 Rangers) is always a good bet.

So there we have the 11 pitchers to get the Blue Jays to the promised land- or at least the ALDS. A healthy Troy Tulowitzki in the first round might been one less backup player was justified and allow for a 12th pitcher later in the playoffs. But for now, apologies to Drew Hutchison, Steve Delebar, Bo Schulz, even the classy, aging LaTroy Hawkins- you’re just not quite upto the task this time.

UPDATE: as of tonight NBC is suggesting that Mark Buehrle will simply retire after tomorrow’s game and not be in the playoff mix. this seems a shame as he’s such a classy veteran and has been a significant part of the Jays success this year. Nonetheless, if correct obviously that changes my above. If Buehrle is out, I’d include Aaron Loup to give another lefty in bullpen

Work left to do on and off the field for division champs

With the euphoria of winning the AL East for the first time since before Roberto Osuna was born now fading to a happy glow, there’s still work to be done. On field and off. I assume tonight’s game in Tampa will see a return of the regular lineup needed to win after a couple of games showcasing more Buffalo Bisons than Blue Jays. Although at first glance it might seem wise to rest up the aching regulars we have to hope that the lure of home advantage throughout the playoffs will be enough to have them back in the lineup and fired up. I’d expect nothing less from John Gibbons and his crew.

The advantage is distinct. Make no mistake about it, edging out Kansas City (with whom they are tied as of this morning) for top spot overall would be large. For starters, top team will play the wildcard winner; the #2 team will play the #3. While the visitor in the wild card game is still up for grabs between the Angels and Astros, the Yankees will be hosting it. The Texas Rangers have all but ensured they will be the West champions and thus be the #3 team; while Toronto did OK with them this year (4-2, outscoring them 34-21) the R’s have been on a bit of a tear of their own of late,being some 34-16 since the trade deadline. Not to mention their starting rotation of late, with Colby Lewis having a career year and Cole Hamels rounding into post-season form, has been more solid than any of the wild card contenders. The likely four-man squad for Texas in the playoffs of Hamels, Lewis, Holland and Gallardo have collectively logged 201 playoff innings and won 15 games, eclipsing any of the other AL team pitching staffs in October depth. Much better to face a slightly more tired, and less-hot team. In particular, we can hope for a Yankees win in the wildcard, setting up as good a matchup for Toronto as possible , since the Jays all but owned New York this season, being 13-6 against them including 8 wins in the Bronx.

Moreover, the advantages of that top spot overall would carry on to the ALCS if Kansas City prevail in their opening series. Like Toronto, the Royals are a team that thrive on home cooking. Toronto finished with 53 home wins, KC 51. By contrast, the Jays enter the final weekend of the regular season a .500 team on the road. Head to head this year, Toronto won 3 of 4 at the Rogers Centre but just one of 3 in Kauffman Stadium.

The importance of this weekend’s series on field is obvious then; important too is the work going on upstairs. Like every playoff-bound team, Toronto will need to figure out how to cull the bloated September bench down to a 25 man October squad. Names will have to be erased and feelings hurt. Here’s my suggestions for the best 25 to take to the ALDS. Most are obvious, of course, but the last couple of spots are where it gets interesting. For example, there is the question of how many pitchers to take along. Given the increased days off during the post-season, it should be easy enough to get by with just 4 starters; although it’s great to have a huge bullpen, I’d opt for just 7 relievers to begin with, thus allowing a bit more flexibility on the regular bench, something of added worth with Troy Tulowitzki being questionable still.

Regular Lineup:

Catcher- Russell Martin

First BaseJustin Smoak . Recent power surge has helped his cause and having EE play too many games on the field seems a bit worrisome health-wise

Second Base- Ryan Goins. He’d be the pick even hitting like he did in the past, given his plus-factor defense but he’s been hitting pretty nicely lately (7 for 15 in last 5 games, upping his average to .252 compared to .213 in previous two seasons).

Shortstop- Troy Tulowitzki. Would be a no-brainer ordinarily but a bit of a question mark with his shoulder injury. However, he’s expected to get some game time this weekend and according to Gregor Chisholm, took 6 at bats in a simulated game yesterday with little problem. Tulowitzki at 80% is probably better than the alternative at 100%

Third BaseJosh Donaldson

Left Field- Ben Revere, the leadoff man AA hoped he was trading for has arrived

Center FieldKevin Pillar, last week’s AL Player of the Week

Right Field – Jose Bautista

Designated HitterEdwin Encarnacion

That’s the easy part. Tougher, the subs. As said, I’d go with five bench players, crossing fingers that 7 bullpen arms will be enough.

Backups – Dioner Navarro. A competent enough backstop and good bat to have on the bench, plus Estrada’s favored catcher lately.

Chris Collabello . An easy choice given how good his bat’s been all year and his versatility, if not grace, at different positions

Cliff Pennington . Not hitting much since arriving in Toronto, but has played 4 positions and has nearly 800 career games under his belt. The best bet to take over at short should Troy T. not be as healthy as thought

…which leaves two spots. There’s a need for a backup outfielder , and either Dalton Pompey or Ezquiel Carrera could qualify. Although the latter is a better all-around player, I’d have to defer to the Torontonian and bring along Pompey based on his speed. No wonder his last five appearances have all been pinch run situations; he’s 6 for 6 in steals in his brief tour with Toronto. Carrera’s a steadier bat but Pompey could be invaluable in a tie game, ninth inning should Navarro be the winning run…

for the fifth and final backup player, although it’s tempting to bring along Josh Thole in case R.A. is pitching and ’cause it’s never a bad thing to have a third catcher, Tulo’s health would make me lean towards another infielder. Since Darwin Barney is ineligible (arriving after Sep.1), that leaves the crowd-pleasing Munenori Kawasaki. Besides being able to play any infield spot, Kawasaki can lay down a bunt and you never know when that might come in handy if pinch hitting is called for.

There we have 14 position players to bring home the hardware for the fans. Next up, we’ll look to the 11 pitchers whose arms can get it done for the Jays…bl

Woo-hoo!! 21 years later… Success!

The drought is over!! After 21 years of futility, we know the Blue Jays have a shot at winning it all this season!! Today’s win over Tampa not only gives them the biggest win total since 1993 but also guarantees them their first post-season berth since that year!

In coming days there’ll be time to break down the possible match-ups, evaluate Toronto’s October roster. But today is all about saying “YES!” and congrats to the team, to John Gibbons, to Alex Anthopoulos who’s shown a newfound determination to winning this year, and to all the fans back up north who’ve supported through thick and thin… but cheered harder the last couple of months!

Bring on October!!