08 June 2007

Blue Jays Preview

by Joshua Worley

Screw last night's game. That's all that needs to be said. On to business.

The Blue Jays come into Dodger Stadium with a 28-31 record and 269 runs scored to 276 runs allowed. They are exactly what they appear to be: a slightly below average team.

The pitching matchups are McGowan v Penny, Marcum v Lowe, and Halladay v Schmidt.

Aaron Walter Hill -- 2B

age: 25
bats: right

0.284 -- 0.351 -- 0.482

Hill has played in every game for the Blue Jays. He's a fine young player, currently with the third highest OPS among second basemen in the American League. His OPS is 39 points ahead of Jeff Kent's.

Hill has really made a leap in power this year. Currently with 26 extra base hits he's only 11 behind last year's total, so it's possible that he could come close to doubling his total of last year. He usually bats around the six spot, and the big danger is he could be in the middle of at least one run scoring rally against the Dodgers with an extra base hit if multiple hitters ahead of him are walked or otherwise let on base.

Troy Edward Glaus -- 3B

age: 30
bats: right

0.277 -- 0.387 -- 0.508

Not bad. I can see why the Dodgers might be interested in acquiring him. I don't endorse such a move, though. Glaus would be expensive in money and prospects, he's injury-prone, and the Dodgers seem to have a pretty good thing at third going right now with probably an even better option in AAA right now.

Glaus isn't as old as I thought. He strikes out too much to sustain a high batting average, maybe even one as high as what he carries now. He's only hit for an average above 0.260 once in his career, back in 2000. He might strike out 5 times in the Dodger series. He might also hit a home run or two, though Lowe and Penny should be able to keep him in the park.

Royce Spencer Clayton -- SS

age: 37
bats: right

0.240 -- 0.291 -- 0.341

I had no idea he was still in the majors! Not that he's really hitting well enough to belong. He strikes out as much as Glaus, but without the power. The bottom of the Jays lineup is not scary at all.

Alexis Israel Rios -- RF

age: 26
bats: right

0.294 -- 0.347 -- 0.536

His first name is a girl's name, while his middle name is the name of a country. Interesting.

The problem I see with the Jays lineup is that they don't have any true high OPB guys. Glaus has a high OBP, but that's likely to come down if his batting average goes back to career norms. Rios is typical of the Jays good hitters: good power, average on base skills. There is some good power up and down the line up, but how often will they score without a home run? The Blue Jays have hit 70 home runs to just 37 for the Dodgers, but the Jays have only scored 8 more runs than the Dodgers. If the Dodgers pitchers can keep the Jays in the park, they'll have a tough time scoring runs.

Vernon Wells III -- CF

age: 28
bats: right

0.259 -- 0.318 -- 0.414

What a disappointing season he's having so far. But he's never been much of a OBP guy, only two going above 0.350. The home runs are down this year. Hill, Glaus and Rios seem to be the real threats in the Jay lineup; not Wells.

The 120 million 7-year extension the Jays gave to Wells last off-season seems pretty unwise right now. At least they didn't give an expensive multi-year deal to a slap hitting mediocrity, I guess.

Adam Alan Lind -- LF

age: 23
bats: left

0.242 -- 0.287 -- 0.412

Lind was called up after Reed Johnson went down with an injured back. Johnson had a breakout year in 2006 with a 0.869 OPS, so that injury had really hurt the Jays offense. Lind just hasn't gotten it done yet. He does appear to be a pretty good prospect, having hit 24 home runs between AA and AAA last year with a decent OBP. But he's also probably a year away from really being ready for AL pitching. Or Dodger pitching.

Matthew Wade Stairs -- LF/1B

age: 39
bats: left

0.288 -- 0.368 -- 0.529

Stairs has seen limited playing time so far, mostly as a backup outfielder. But with Lyle Overbay out with a broken hand, Stairs is for the moment the regular first baseman. His stats are very nice, though they'll likely come down as he gets more playing time. He's not been this good for several years now. Now, will Stairs play at first base with the DH spot unavailable to Frank Thomas? The only way to get Thomas into the lineup will be to start him at first base instead.

Frank Edward Thomas -- DH

age: 39
bats: right

0.226 -- 0.367 -- 0.390

I've listed Thomas as a DH only for a reason. He's been a DH only this season. He's started 56 out of 59 team games this season. The three he didn't start? The three games in Philadelphia with no DH spot in the lineup. The Blue Jays just don't want to play him in the field, probably with good reason. Now back when the Philadelphia series was played, Overbay was at first base. The Jays might be more inclined to bench Stairs to get the Big Hurt into the lineup, but I doubt it. For one thing, Stairs actually has better stats than Thomas at the moment.

I'm not one of those who thinks it would be a good idea to swap the rules for interleague play, to have the DH in NL parks and pitchers hit in AL parks. No way. I don't ever want to see the abominable DH at Dodger stadium. However, I will grant that it's rather sad that the Dodger Stadium fans won't get to see Frank Thomas hit outside of a few pinch hitting opportunities. I predict Thomas will pinch hit twice in the series, with a walk and a strike out.

One sad note from looking at Frank Thomas's career stats: his career OPS has dipped below 1.000. You know there are people out there who consider Thomas a borderline hall-of-famer, or even not deserving at all?

John Joseph McDonald -- SS/3B

age: 32
bats: right

0.272 -- 0.287 -- 0.380

The man can't buy a walk. He has only two on the season; so why do I have this fear Lowe will walk him Saturday?

He may start one game of the series at short. He might even start a game at third base. That would be nice.

Jason Lloyd Phillips -- C

age: 30
bats: right

0.241 -- 0.311 -- 0.324

Phillips has logged 4 games at first base this year, but I don't think these are starts but rather late inning shifts. Nevertheless, I still find the idea of Phillips playing even an inning at first base to be horrifying.

He's been the everyday catcher while Greg Zaun is out with a thumb injury. But Zaun has already made some rehab starts in the minor leagues and may be back in the lineup sometime this weekend. We shall see. I won't mind not seeing Phillips play at all, even though he sucks. It's not as if Zaun is doing any better than him.

Gregory Owen Zaun -- C

age: 36
bats: switch

0.186 -- 0.279 -- 0.339

I remember when Zaun used to write movie reviews for the old ESPNet Sportszone site, back when he was the backup Marlins catcher to Charles Johnson ( another past Dodger catcher I'd rather forget ). It's amazing how much the ESPN website has changed since then. Back then I never thought Zaun would last this long in the league, much less become a starter as he was last year.

Dustin Michael McGowan -- P

age: 25
throws: right

ERA -- IP -- SO -- BB -- HR
5.50 -- 36.0 -- 30 -- 16 -- 3

His weakness in a 2006 season split between AAA and the AL was walks, especially after his call-up that year. He started this year in the minors, but after his call-up at the start of May he seems to have made progress with limiting his walks this year, though the ERA is still rather high. His Fielding Independent Pitching is just 3.88 ( according to HardballTimes ), which for comparison's sake is about what Johan Santana's FIP is right now.

I suspect the Dodgers will hit him, though. He's not really as good as Santana.

Shaun Michael Marcum -- P

age: 25
throws: right

ERA -- IP -- SO -- BB -- HR
4.06 -- 44.1 -- 47 -- 18 -- 9

He spent the first month in the 'pen, then went to the rotation. His numbers haven't been as good since he went to the rotation, and his home runs allowed are a bit alarming. He came out of his last start after 3 innings with a stiff back. We'll see if that has any effect on Saturday.

Harry Leroy Halladay -- P

age: 30
throws: right

ERA -- IP -- SO -- BB -- HR
4.63 -- 68.0 -- 46 -- 10 -- 6

Halladay easily wins the coolest name contest on the Jays.

He was bombed, absolutely Tomko-ed in two starts at the beginning of May, giving up 9 and 8 runs to Texas and Boston. Then he went on the DL. Ah, so it was arm trouble that caused his blow-ups in those starts. But no, he went on the DL with appendicitis. So I don't know. His first start back he blanked the hapless White Sox, but his last start he was shelled by Tampa Bay for 8 runs. In his 7 non-awful starts he's only given up 13 runs. Halladay is either really good or he just gets obliterated. I vote for the second.


I predict the Dodgers will sweep. My wife Griffster won't like this one bit, as every time I make a ( usually too optimistic ) prediction the Dodgers do poorly. But I just think the Dodger pitching is better than the Jays pitching in this series, and that the team will be crackling good after being thoroughly embarrassed in San Diego. I don't say I expect the Dodgers to sweep; expectations are for Yankees fans. I'm just saying I think they can and will. There's no reason to mope after the last heartbreaking loss, either: moping is for Cubs fans. There's plenty of room for optimism with this team: there are no bad pitchers slated to start for the Dodgers as far as the eye can see. No Dodger fan need ever worry about drawing the Tomko-dud as a starter to a game they attend. They're all good! I'm happy just thinking about it. Every Dodger series is a tough pitching slate for the opposition.

Now, the Dodgers have a choice after that tough loss. Show, or roll over. I don't think they're going to roll over. I'm going to be at tonight's game. The Dodgers may not win, but they certainly will show. That's all we can ask.

No comments: