Happy Holidays to everyone from your friendly neighborhood Jays bloggers! It was an interesting Christmas with the family this year, we started cooking the traditional Italian Christmas Eve festa di mare (featuring about every ocean creature you can think of prepared in sundry and delicious ways) on the morning of the 24th as always, only to learn that my mom's oven was broken. So all 13 of us had to pack up our cars with presents, food, decorations, and the tree and move the entire operation to my cousin's place in Staten Island. We were set back temporally but not emotionally as everyone had a great time, and the food all turned out delicious. It was my daughter Anna's first Christmas, so that was very cool as well. She was showered with gifts.
I got a Halladay Jersey from Mrs. Hugo, a throwback Jays cap (the white/blue one with the old logo) and the Hardball Times annual. I also got the Stephen Colbert book, but so far it hasn't mentioned Tek Janssen, which is a little disappointing.
Anyway, things have been quiet on the Jays' front, so I just wanted to wish everyone happy holidays on this lovely Boxing Day, and send a few links y'all's way.
First, this MLB.com article discusses the Jays' lineup situation for next season. Right now, it looks like the lineup is very much in flux, except that Eckstein is pencilled in as the leadoff man and Thomas and Glaus appear to be the 4th and 5th hitters. Lineup construction doesn't appear to have too much of an effect on run generation, except that it is better to, generally speaking, give your better hitters more at-bats. So as long as we don't see Sparky batting 1st or 2nd against righties, I will be okay with the lineup. But it is an interesting thing that people love talking about.
The most hilarious part of the article is where Gibbons is quoted as hating to tinker with the lineup from game to game, preferring to settle on a lineup and stick to it. Took me a while to stop laughing after reading that following his antics last season. Post your suggested lineups in the comments!
Next, our friend Richard Griffin discusses John MacDonald's situation in what is an interesting read for fans of the light-hitting SS. Since I count myself amoung them, I enjoyed most of the article, although Griffin isn't my favorite writer. The article breaks down at the end when Griffin says one of Mac or Scutaro, or Mac or Eckstein (it's not clear), is "obsolete." Besides Griffin clearly demonstrating his ignorance as to the definition of the word obsolete, I think he's wrong if he's talking about Eckstein and Mac. Eckstein and Mac bring different skills to the table and both are past their prime in a very physically demanding position. It's not a bad thing to have both, as the Jays found out last season when the Royce Clayton experiment proved a resounding failure. In fact, if used properly, the Jays may be able to coax above-average SS production out of the two.
Third, new Jays' bench coach Brian Butterfield fields questions from mlb.com here. The interview will likely only interest you if you are a New England Patriots fan (disclaimer: American football isn't my thing) or have some interest in the Butterfield family. I like hearing about different Christmas family traditions, but one or two questions about baseball would've been nice.
Finally, MLB.com's year in review discusses how injuries dogged, dominated, and derailed the Jays' season. The article suggests that with improved health next season and all the key players back, the Jays are all-but-guaranteed to improve, and that the fact that they hung tough last season despite all the injuries is a good sign that they have what it takes.