- As Alpheus pointed out in yesterday's game thread, the Blue Jays signed Edgardo Alfonzo to a minor league contract. Alfonzo is well past the productive phase of career - and it certainly was productive. In his prime, Alfonzo was one of the best infielders in the game, despite the fact he only made one All-Star appearance. I mean, look at the stats he posted during his two most memorable seasons:
Year Position XBH BA/OPB/SLG
1999 2B 69 .304/.385/.502
2000 2B 67 .324/.425/.542
That's absolutely incredible production from a second baseman. Hall of Fame worthy, even. However, in 2001 he had to accomodate the newly-acquired Roberto Alomar by permanently shifting to third base. Moreover, Alfonzo, who has never been known to possess an Adonis-like physique, was rumoured to have put on some weight. He was only entering his age-27 season, but his performance suddenly fell off a cliff. He posted a horrid line of .243/.322/.403 and his power never quite recovered. After a decent 2001 season he signed a four-year, $26 million contract with the Giants and continually declined to the point where he's become nothing more than a utility man. And that's what his role should be with the Blue Jays. At this point in his career, he's simply not worth the at-bats. For one, his OPS with the Angels this season was an unfathomably low .255. I respect him for what he's accomplished in his career, but he simply shouldn't have been signed by the Blue Jays.
- Recently, rumours persisted that Adam Kennedy would soon be acquired from the Angels, perhaps in exchange for Shea Hillenbrand. Those rumours have quelled as of late, but they may reappear as the trade deadline approaches. I've always been high on Kennedy, whose offensive and defensive production has been more than adequate for a second baseman. For one, he would fill a glaring need for the Blue Jays, though I'm not entirely comfortable with the idea of losing Hillenbrand in the process. To my surprise, and probably to the surprise of others, he's been great this season, though he's historically been a fast starter. Consider his performance prior to and following the All-Star break:
Pre-All-Star: .309/.357/.476, 92 XBH, 892 AB
Post-All-Star: .276/.310/.442, 74 XBH, 779 AB
Okay, so what does that mean? Well, it suggests that his performance will decline, but of course we can never be sure. I'd bank on the fact that it will, because I for one don't believe he can sustain his current pace. The problem, however, is that once Hillenbrand leaves town, the team's CI/DH depth will be somewhat compromised. Eric Hinske and one half of the Frank Catalanotto/Reed Johnson platoon will be granted much more playing time. However, I'd be ultimately in favour of that deal since the drop between Hillenbrand's production and theirs would be countered by the drastic increase in production from McDonald/Figueroa/Alfonzo to Kennedy. Of course, the one thing worth wondering is whether the Angels would make this trade in the first place. As of now, they're five games behind the division leading Rangers and they already have Kendry Morales, Tim Salmon and Casey Kotchman (when he returns from the DL) to fill Hillenbrand's position. He could play third base, I suppose, but:
a) He's only played 69 games there the past three seasons
b) He hasn't played the position very well, ranking near the bottom in zone rating.
c) Chone Figgins and Dallas McPherson already play that position.
Though that no longer seems like a likely trade avenue for the Blue Jays, I'm very excited by the fact that J.P. has already begun looking for middle infield help.
- Great win tonight against the Red Sox. Slowly but surely, the Blue Jays are distancing themselves from that .500 mark they became much too acquainted with last season. For starters, Vernon Wells and Troy Glaus were terrific, almost single-handedly winning the game with a combined five home runs. Wells, who'd been in a funk for most of May, raised his batting average by .009 thanks to his fine perfomance. Glaus, moreover, is on pace to hit and incredible 56 home runs and drive in 140 runs. His defense, too, has been fine, and he's cut down on the throwing errors that plagued him last season. In fact, manager John Gibbons had enough faith in Glaus' defensive skills that he used him at shortstop during last Friday's game against the White Sox. I really, really wish I caught that game on television, because it would've been a great visual experience. The very thought of someone of Glaus' size and stature playing shortstop fascinates me for some odd reason.
On a negative note, Bengie Molina left the game in the fifth inning after being struck on his right hand during tonight's game. As of now, nothing conclusive about his health has been reported, but my hope is that it's nothing too serious. I'm still haunted by the fact that Ken Huckaby, last season's primary backup catcher, was granted a substantial amount of playing time in starter Gregg Zaun's stead. Huckaby, for those who aren't aware, posted a nifty 34 OPS plus during that time.
Ricky Williams is coming to Canada! Williams, one of the most enigmatic, yet delightfully entertaining characters in all of sport, has signed a one-year contract with the Toronto Argonauts. Now, I'm not morally objected to his arrival, and instead I think it's a high reward, low risk transaction by the team. Not only will he likely improve the product on the field, but he should create a good amount of excitement among the sport's fanbase. In the past, players have been guilty of much worse, and have been reprieved much more often, as a result of their actions. To deny Williams' arrival, and therefore decrease the team's on-field and off-field production, on the basis of moral sentiment would be admirable, though entirely logically unfounded.
I haven't been an Argos fanatic since the bandwagon-jumping days of the mid-'90s, but I will keep my eyes peeled for any Ricky-related matter. For all his foibles, he's one of the most entertaining athletes around.
- Off topic: Thom Yorke, lead singer of Radiohead, is set to officially release a solo album entitled The Eraser. Like me, if you're too impatient to wait until its official release date, kindly click here. It's not quite on par with some of the band's work, but it's quite enjoyable, I must admit.
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