A couple thoughts on the Jays, the weekend, and some news...
- If you tell me before the season that the only teams, up until this point of the season, to sweep Toronto in a series are the Colorado Rockies and Florida Marlins, I would probably laugh at you and bet my life savings on it not happening. Unfortunately for the Jays, they ran into some hot teams and hot pitching in these series. After sweeping the Jays, the Marlins have now win 8 games in a row, boosting them to fourth place ahead of the Atlanta Braves in the NL East and are opening a couple eyes around the majors. Marlins pitching successfully stymied the potent Blue Jays offence, limiting us to just 4 runs in 3 games. In fact, in the 6 games against the Rockies and the Marlins, the Jays scored a combined 11 runs. Yes, 11 runs in 6 games, that comes out to less than 2 game. I don't care if you have Roy Halladay and Johan Santana as your fourth and fifth starter, you are not going to win many games if you score 2 runs a game. Maybe it is just a case of facing unfamiliar pitchers, or facing pitchers on a hot streak, or hitting in National Parks with National League rules. But still, with the league leading offence, you would think that we could've scored more than 11 runs in 6 games.
- Coming off a series sweep, the Jays will be glad to get out of Miami and visit the Atlanta Braves in the upcoming series (didn't think I would ever say that this year). The Braves have been arguably the worst team in baseball in June, winning only 2 of 17 games. The Braves will eventually snap out of it and win 30 in a row (they do it every year), but let just hope they stink for a couple more games.
- In addition to the good news of playing the Braves in the upcoming series, the Jays will also get A.J. Burnett back in the upcoming series after two successful minor league rehab starts. In two starts, Burnett pitched 11 innings, gave up only 1 run, on 2 hits, 4 walks, while striking out 16. Although it is only against minorleaguers, it is a very good sign.
- Casey Janssen is in the midst of his first big league slump, pitching only 6 1/3 innings in his last 2 starts. How Janssen deals with the slump will be a good indication of his future with the Blue Jays and as a professional baseball player as a whole. From my observations, it seems like Janssen is a keeper; he doesn't seem to get too bogged down by bad outings and exudes confidence on mound even when he is getting hit. It just seems like Janssen's mechanics might be a little out of whack as he walked 4 hitters in his last start. If it is a mechanical issue, it can easily be fixed. His track record suggests that outing is more of an aberration than the norm, I fully expect Janssen to bounce back and be a solid starter for the rest of the year. I predict that Janssen will finish the season with 12 wins, with a ERA just a tad under 4.
- According to a report on mlb.com, Josh Towers was recalled from AAA Sunday and will make the start against Atlanta this Tuesday in place of Ted Lilly. Lilly reportedly complained about shoulder soreness and requested an extra day rest, who will now pitch Wednesday. The injury doesn't appear serious, but we should keep our fingers crossed that an extra day rest would be all it takes to get rid of it.
Josh Towers has pitched relatively well in AAA thus far in his demotion, posting a 2.48ERA. His command of his pitches appears to be back, walking only 3 hitters in 29IP. However, he is still giving up hits like it is his job, and that is in AAA. I don't think he will be as bad as he was the first time around (I didn't think anyone can be that bad), but his H/9 doesn't translate into confidence at the major league level. If Towers can reattain the servicable status, it will go a long way in stabilizing the Jays' rotation. I am a Towers' believer.
I am a little puzzled by the move on the other end of the Towers transaction. To create roster space for Towers, Vinnie Chulk was demoted to AAA Syracuse. But why Chulk? Why not Ty Taubenheim, who took Tower's spot in the first place; he does not appear to be completely ready for the majors and can use another half a season in AAA. Why not Brian Tallet, who with some more time in AAA to sharpen his secondary pitches, I believe could develop into a LOOGY because of his deceptive delivery (Despite what his splits say, his delivery reminds me of long time Blue Jays LOOGY Dan Plesac). Why not Francisco Rosario, who despite having the best fastball on the Jays' staff, can't throw it over the plate for strikes if his life depended on it; some more time in AAA can't definitely polish him off for a permanent role in the Jays' pen in '07. Chulk, since being recalled, has only give up 1-run in 5IP, that does not warrant a demotion in my books. With Burnett coming off the DL in a couple days, it will be interesting to see who will get sent down. My guess would be Taubenheim. Either way, I really want Chulk back with the big club as he was one of the few dependable relievers over the past couple weeks.
- The Seattle Times reported that the Jays' first round pick, Travis Snider, has signed with the Jays for a signing bonus of $1.7 million (I certainly love non-Scott Boras agents). Snider will report to the Jays' rookie league squad in Pulaski. Although we probably won't see him with the big club until the next decade, we should keep an eye on this kid, who immediately becomes the most projectable position player in the Jays' farm system.