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Tag:Blue Jays
Posted on: September 1, 2011 1:18 am
Edited on: September 1, 2011 1:22 am
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Pitchers muscle up



By Matt Snyder

Derek Lowe, Braves/Jake Westbrook, Cardinals. Lowe worked six innings, allowing just three hits and one earned run while striking out six in the Braves' 3-1 win. He even helped set up rookie sensation Craig Kimbrel for his record-setting 41st save. But none of that is why Lowe is here. We don't put run-of-the-mill quality starts in the "up" section. Pitchers hitting bombs does get our attention, though, and Lowe hit his first career home run. Westbrook decided to outdo Lowe, however, as he also hit his first career homer -- it's just that Westbrook's was a grand slam, helping to propel his Cardinals to an 8-3 win over the division-leading Brewers.

Jack Hannahan, Indians. Hannahan hit two solo home runs to help get the Indians to extra innings knotted at 3-3 with the A's. He then came through with an RBI single to end the game in walk-off fashion in the bottom of the 16th inning. The win moved the Indians back into second place and kept them within 5 1/2 games of the Tigers -- who came through with a win after an eighth-inning rally.

Madison Bumgarner, Giants. The Giants badly needed someone to step up. They had lost four of six games to the two worst teams in the National League and had fallen to six games behind the upstart Diamondbacks in the NL West. Bumgarner stepped up. His performance shouldn't be all that surprising, because when he's good, he's as good as anyone in the game. Still, he's been inconsistent this season, so you never know. But Wednesday's effort was a beauty. He tied a career high with 11 strikeouts in eight shutout innings as the Giants won 4-0 to keep pace with the D-Backs -- who won their ninth straight.



Alexi Ogando, Rangers. In July, Ogando's first-half performance got him to the All-Star Game in Phoenix. Come September, he may be out of the Rangers' rotation. Ogando couldn't even get through the third inning during Texas' 4-1 loss to the Rays Wednesday. He allowed five hits, two walks and three earned runs in just 2 2/3 innings, pushing his August ERA to over 7.00. And Scott Feldman is waiting in the wings in case manager Ron Washington wants to bump Ogando.

Jake Peavy's 1st inning, White Sox. The White Sox are trying to chase down the Tigers in the AL Central and have a decent-sized gap, so every game is of vast importance at this point. Wednesday, Peavy coughed up six runs in the top of the first inning to the Twins and the White Sox lost 7-6. Meanwhile, the White Sox fell to third place and are six games out.

The Orioles. Maybe the "Man in White" traveled to Baltimore? The Blue Jays thoroughly dominated the Orioles in every facet of the game Wednesday in a 13-0 victory. The Jays pounded 20 hits -- 10 of which were of the extra-base variety -- including Jose Bautista's major-league leading 39th bomb. The Orioles didn't just limit their ineptitude to the mound, though, as they were equally futile in the batter's box. Henderson Alvarez threw eight shutout innings for the Blue Jays and Rommie Lewis closed the Orioles down in the ninth. They only managed five baserunners all game.

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Posted on: August 26, 2011 4:47 pm
 

On Deck: Rangers, Angels start big series

OD

By Matt Snyder

As long as the weather cooperates -- and it won't Saturday or Sunday -- we'll be blessed with a full 15-game slate Friday night. Keep track of every game by following along live on CBSSports.com's scoreboard.

Head-to-Head: The closest division race (where a team is actually in danger of missing the playoffs) is the AL West, now that the Rangers have lost three in a row and the Angels are red-hot with six consecutive victories (Check out Scott Miller's column on the Angels' recent ride). The Rangers lead has dwindled down to two and the Angels will visit Texas for a three-game series this weekend. Last time the two clubs squared off, the Rangers went into Anaheim, took three of four and left with a seven-game lead. This series represents a chance at redemption for the Angels. Dan Haren (13-6, 2.98) will start for the Angels, and he was torched last time he saw the Rangers, as he gave up nine hits and seven earned runs in 4 1/3 innings back on July 20. Interestingly, Derek Holland (11-5, 4.42) -- the Rangers starter Friday night -- also pitched that game and was equally torched (9 H, 7 ER). The Angels actually won 9-8. Holland has seen the Angels since, though, and fared very well. He went 8 2/3 innings while allowing three runs and striking out seven in the Rangers' 7-3 win on August 13. Angels at Rangers, 8:05 p.m. ET.

Shields returns to Toronto: Rays starting pitcher James Shields entered the 2011 season with zero All-Star appearances, five career complete games and two shutouts. He led the majors in hits and earned runs allowed in 2010, while also leading the AL in home runs given up. Back on April 24 of this season, he went into Toronto and shut the Jays out. It was his second straight complete game and his first shutout since 2008. That outing seemed to set the tone for a career year for Shields, as he's now been to an All-Star Game and leads the majors with nine complete games. He also has four shutouts, tying him for the AL lead. Friday night, Shields returns to the Rogers Centre to face those Blue Jays again. Henderson Alvarez (0-1, 4.32) is tasked with topping Shields for the Jays. Rays at Blue Jays, 7:07 p.m. ET.

Watch the Rox: Will history repeat itself? Remember 2007? The Rockies were six out in the middle of September but closed winning 14 of their last 15 to win the NL Wild Card. They actually got really hot for an extended stretch to make the 2009 playoffs as well. So even though you see the Rockies pretty far back -- nine games out with just over a month left -- it's hard to definitively say they're out of the race. Also consider the Giants and D-Backs have endured several rough patches each. Oh, and the Rockies have won five in a row. Friday night, they attempt to stay hot as they visit the Dodgers -- who have a three-game winning streak themselves. Esmil Rogers (6-2, 6.00) tries to keep the Rockies going while Ted Lilly (7-13, 4.58) looks to keep his club on track. Rockies at Dodgers, 10:10 p.m. ET.

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Posted on: August 26, 2011 9:48 am
Edited on: August 26, 2011 9:56 am
 

Pepper: Penny the language enforcer



By Matt Snyder


In Thursday's Pepper, we passed along the story of Tigers pitcher Brad Penny yelling at Rays' infielder Sean Rodriguez while he ran hard after an infield popup. Rays manager Joe Maddon -- the most popular manager there is -- was furious after the game, believing Penny took issue with Rodriguez's hustle. I thought it was pretty ridiculous myself.

But Penny wanted to clarify things, obviously having heard the story spread a bit. He actually says he took issue with Rodriguez "screaming and cussing" in anger after having popped up.

"To me, that's a sign of disrespect if you're screaming that loud," Penny said (TampaBay.com). "All these kids can hear you, it's not too loud in here. So to me, that's not really professional."

Penny also noted he was disappointed anyone thought he didn't like hustle, saying he loves hustle and would be mad if players did not hustle.

It's hard to take issue with Penny trying to keep the ears of youngsters in Tampa Bay clean, but it's a bit odd to start yelling at an opposing player for it. As far as I could find via Google, this has never happened with Penny before. He's faced 7,819 batters in his career, so it's hard to believe an opposing batter has never cussed in frustration before. What about teammates of Penny over the years? Also, Penny currently plays for Jim Leyland -- have you ever read his lips when he's getting tossed from a game?

Again, I don't find fault with Penny wanting to prevent kids from hearing what is, frankly, going on in every single baseball game of the season. It just seems a bit odd that "watch your mouth" would ever be part of a major-league baseball game. As a parent, I'd like to express that it's my job to teach my children about inappropriate language and be their role model, not Penny's.

Berkman wants to come back: Cardinals outfielder Lance Berkman is enjoying a resurgent season for the Cardinals and he told reporters this week he wants to remain in St. Louis, if they'll have him. He said staying was his "first choice." (MLB.com)

#4TRUTH: That hashtag is what jailed ex-MLB player Lenny Dykstra uses on Twitter after most of his tweets. It's seemingly to help promote that he's innocent in the multiple crimes for which he's been charged. Add another to the list, because he's now being charged with indecent exposure (Associated Press). He would allegedly place ads online for housekeepers or personal assistants and would expose himself to responders.

So long, Jim Hendry Way: It's been a rough six weeks for Jim Hendry. Not only did he lose his job and have to act like he still had it for nearly a month, but now he's losing his street in Park Ridge -- where he lives. A portion of Northwest Highway was renamed Honorary Jim Hendry Way back in 2009, but now it's being changed back. Apparently, former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich forced the name and the town never wanted it in the first place. Now that Blago is headed for the slammer, the sign is coming down. To rub salt in the wound, check out this quote: "Of course, if he had brought us a World Series, I would have built a monument to him at the intersection. But, alas, all he brought us was Alfonso Soriano and Carlos Zambrano," mayor Dave Schmidt joked in an email (ChicagoTribune.com). Zing!

Crafty lefties: In honor of the recently-deceased Mike Flanagan, Joe Posnanski came up with a Crafty Lefty Hall of Fame. Pretty cool stuff, as usual, from Joe.

25 things you didn't know: Yahoo's Jeff Passan compiled a really interesting list of 25 things we didn't know about baseball. For example, Michael Young and Howie Kendrick haven't popped out all season, Jonny Venters gets the highest percentage of grounders in a decade and Brett Gardner is the best defensive player in baseball.

Add another name to the list: Thursday, I presented several rumored names on the Cubs' wish list to be the next general manager. We can add Dan Evans to the list, as the Chicago Sun-Times makes a good case for him. Evans is a Chicago native who grew up near Wrigley Field. He was an assistant general manager for the White Sox and then the Dodgers GM before the McCourt family took over and got rid of him. Evans was at the helm when Matt Kemp, Russell Martin, Chad Billingsley and Jonathan Broxton were drafted.

Futility: Twins catcher Drew Butera has a chance to do something pretty remarkably bad. He's hitting .160 with 200 plate appearances. Since 1975, no player in the majors has hit .160 or worse with at least 250 plate appearances. (Hardball Talk)

88's the goal: Blue Jays manager John Farrell wants to reach 88 wins this season. The significance is that it would tie the 1998 mark for the most wins since the Jays won the World Series in 1993 (MLB.com). That won't get them anywhere near the playoffs, but would an 88-74 record be enough for the haters to stop saying Jose Bautista plays for a "loser?" (See comments)

Happy Day-versary: 10,000 days ago, Jack Morris threw a no-hitter and Dwight Gooden made his major-league debut. (Hardball Times)

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Posted on: August 26, 2011 1:05 am
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Gonzalez's power binge continues

Gonzalez

By Evan Brunell

3 UpAdrian Gonzalez, Red Sox: Including Wednesday night, Adrian Gonzalez homered on three consecutive pitches, with the latter two coming in the first two at-bats of Thursday's game, helping pace the Red Sox to a 6-0 victory. Gonzalez's second homer of the night was estimated at 448 feet, just one foot less than Jacoby Ellsbury's blast off of Felix Hernandez in July for the longest Sox homer of the season. A-Gon now has 23 homers on the year, five in the last three games. Before Tuesday, he hadn't homered since July 30. Gonzalez finished 2 for 4 with three RBI.

Jeremy Hellickson, Rays: Jeremy Hellickson twirled a beaut on Thursday, shutting down the Tigers 2-0 by going seven strong, giving up two earned runs, a walk and six hits. He struck out seven, but four of those came in the same inning. That was made possible by Austin Jackson opening the top of the third with a strikeout, reaching first on a wild pitch. Ramon Santiago, Delmon Young and Victor Martinez all then followed with whiffs, all four of them whiffing. The rookie's ERA was further shaved to 3.01, and it's difficult to imagine he doesn't walk away with the Rookie of the Year award.

Russell Martin, Yankees: Martin had a game to remember on Thursday, going 5 for 5 with two home runs. The backstop has been a zero on offense since the first several days of the season, but has heated up the past week, with another strong game coming last Friday. Between these two games, Martin's OPS has skyrocketed to .761 on the year, up from .689 on Aug. 16. That's a fast turnaround in OPS for someone who has played the entire season.



Phil Hughes, Yankees: The Yankees won 22-9, so there were plenty of lousy A's players who took the mound and blew up. In fact, all six Oakland pitchers in the game gave up at least one run, led by Bruce Billings' 1 1/3-inning relief effort, giving up seven earned runs. But we're profiling Hughes here, who took a major step back in his return from a mysterious drop in velocity that saw him knocked around in April. After four straight strong starts, Hughes gave up six runs in 2 2/3 innings to the punchless A's, who rapped out seven hits despite grabbing no walks and whiffing five times. Hughes failed to capitalize after a poor A.J. Burnett start that might have seen New York trim its rotation back to five men and boot Burnett. But now, who knows?

Adam Lind, Blue Jays: It was a golden sombrero day for Lind, who whiffed four times in five hitless trips to the plate. Lind also went 0-for-4 on Thursday and is mired in a slump over his past several games and in the month overall, with his OPS dropping from .807 to start August down to .749 by game's end, unable to solve the Royals, who started Jeff Francis. Lind had come back strong from a dispiriting 2010, but thanks to the slump, his bounceback year looks far less impressive than it did earlier in the season.

Tyler Clippard, Nationals: Fangraphs has two statistics for relief pitchers, called shutdowns and meltdowns, that is essentially saves and blown saves for relievers as a whole, allowing for better comparison. Coming into Thursday's game, Clippard had 34 shutdowns and six meltdowns, which is an excellent ratio. Well, you can add a meltdown to that statistic, as Clippard gave up three earned runs in just 2/3s of an inning against Arizona, allowing the Diamondbacks to pad their 2-1 lead to 5-1 in a game they would eventually win 8-1.

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Posted on: August 25, 2011 8:08 pm
 

Strikeouts why Johnson was traded?

JohnsonBy Evan Brunell

Kelly Johnson went from a team he enjoyed playing on that was in first place all the way to a fourth-place team with Toronto when he was dealt Tuesday.

“I think my first reaction,” Johnson told the Arizona Republic, “was pretty much shock and then being disappointed.”

Johnson also addressed his strikeouts, as GM Kevin Towers mentioned after the trade that he was pushing to become a more contact-oriented team after Arizona whiffed a teamwide 1,529 times, highest in the majors by a wide margin. It was a similar message he parroted in the offseason after taking over.

""Personally, I like contact hitters. I like guys that have good pitch recognition. Strikeouts are part of the game, but if you have four or five or six guys in your lineup, it's hard to sustain any sort of rally," he told reporters (hat tip: SB Nation) when agreeing to join the Diamondbacks as GM.

True to his word, Towers traded Mark Reynolds and let Adam LaRoche walk as a free agent, two of the biggest culprits as far as strikeouts go. Johnson has, over the course of his career, increased his strikeout proclivity, punching out 132 times in 481 plate appearances this season.

I think 'KT' would rather throw up three times a day after eating than have his team strike out a lot,” Johnson said. “I know there (in Toronto), they’re little more free-spirited about the idea of getting up there and getting the first pitch they see. I know it’s a different philosophy. You never know what works. Obviously, it’s worked in Toronto for some guys. They’ve struck out a lot and had some pretty good offenses in the past.”

It's hard to argue against Towers' philosophy given the turnaround Arizona has engineered this season. After finishing 65-97 in 2010, the Diamondbacks now lead the NL West by two games. Of course, a lot of credit goes to 'Zona's remade bullpen and resurgences from certain players. Still, Towers seems to be working his magic once more.

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Posted on: August 25, 2011 9:55 am
Edited on: August 25, 2011 10:06 am
 

Pepper: MVP arguments heat up



By Matt Snyder


It's that time of the baseball season. You know, we're nearing September, so in addition to watching the pennant races, it's the time when people start to pretty heavily argue about the MVP of each league. In addition to arguing which players have the best numbers, two fundamental criteria spark discussion as well.

1. Are pitchers eligible? They are. But many believe they shouldn't be (see Evan Brunell's post on this).

2. Are players on teams not in contention eligible? They are. But many believe they shouldn't be.

On No. 2, enter Jose Bautista of the Blue Jays.

He leads the majors in home runs, on-base percentage and slugging percentage. He's walked 21 more times than he's struck out. He has a cannon in right field, but can also play third if his team needs it. He's so scary to opposing ballclubs that he leads the AL with 18 intentional walks. And if you like this sort of thing, Bautista is dominating WAR (wins above replacement player), WPA (win probability added) and all other advanced value stats.

Basically, he's the most valuable player in baseball unless you discount him based upon his team.

Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopolous believes it shouldn't even be close.

“On and off the field you can’t find anybody more complete than him,” Anthopolous said (Slam Sports). “His work ethic, community work, character in the clubhouse, helping out teammates, they’re all first-rate. And his performance on the field has been as good as it gets ... defensively, offensively, changing positions in the middle of the season. I mean, check off all the boxes.”

It's going to be interesting to see how the votes fall, assuming things remain similar through the next five weeks of play. One thing that always makes me cringe is when people say something like "he plays for a losing team" or "how valuable can he be? They could finish fourth without him."

Look at the standings. The Blue Jays are three games over .500 and simply stuck in the wrong division. They'd only be four games out in the AL Central -- actually closer, though, because the schedule in the AL Central is worlds easier than the AL East. The Jays are most certainly not a "losing team."

And if you took Bautista off the Jays, they'd be far worse. It would be a much bigger hit to the team than if, say, the Red Sox lost Jacoby Ellsbury.

Hustle is bush league now? Evidently the Tigers were yelling at Rays' infielder Sean Rodriguez for ... hustling? Tuesday, Tigers starter -- and reportedly "possibly some others" -- took exception with Rodriguez for running hard on an infield pop out. Rays manager Joe Maddon took exception to that. "For anybody to bark at another player for … hustling is absolutely insane, ludicrous,'' Maddon said (TampaBay.com).

Canseco's life: I'd rather forget about Jose Canseco, but many aren't of that mindset -- witness his 400,000-plus Twitter followers. So if you want to read a lengthly feature on Canseco's "surreal" life, click on through to TheStar.com. It's well written and covers tons of material.

LoMo still in the dark: It was a bit odd when Marlins outfielder Logan Morrison was demoted to the minors a few weeks ago. His batting average is a bit low, but his OPS is above average (115 OPS-plus) and he has 18 home runs and 61 RBI. Many believed he was being punished for being such an outspoken person Twitter and in other circles, though it hasn't been explicitly said. But he's back now and not worried about why. "I haven't talked to anybody. I don't really care. I'm just looking to move forward," he said (Sun-Sentinel.com).

'Cry-babies:' The Mets don't win more games because they are "cry-babies," according to former big-leaguer and current Phillies broadcaster Gary Matthews. "Tell them Sarge said it - the Mets are crybabies," Matthews said (NYDailyNews.com). "That's why they lose."

Bell has more on mind than possible trades: Padres closer Heath Bell has heard his name in trade talk for quite a while now, but that's not the foremost thing on his mind. Specifically, his Dad has been battled cancer for a few years and just underwent open-heart surgery Wednesday. “It’s kinda helped me get through all the trade and waiver stuff,” said Bell (signonSanDiego.com). “Everybody’s talking about that and I’m thinking, “Man, I’m just glad my dad’s doing well.’ ”

No relief yet: White Sox starting pitcher Jake Peavy has been pretty good in short doses this season, but he doesn't believe that means he's in need of a switch to the bullpen, as he's still technically recovering from a rare surgical procedure. "I've had people tell me, 'Oh, you look good in short stints, Have you thought about going to the bullpen?'" Peavy said (ChicagoTribune.com). "To me, that's not a thought process of mind, simply because I haven't got to where the doctors told me you're as good as you're going to get. They told me from a year to 18 months, you are where you are."

It's opposite day: Did you ever think you'd hear a player talking about feeling less pressure playing for the Yankees than the A's? Yeah, me neither. But Eric Chavez has extenuating circumstances. He went from being one of the best third basemen in baseball to never being able to stay healthy on a consistent basis, thereby creating pressure for himself when he did get on the field. He was also being paid a pretty penny. Now, as a Yankee, he's feeling fine.

“All of that [pressure] is completely gone,” he said (NJ.com). “It was so refreshing going into spring training. I don’t want to say I had to change myself as a ballplayer, but I am, I’m different now. And I’m okay with that because I don’t have that big contract on my shoulders. There’s tons of hitters in here that will produce and you just have to be part of the team.”

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Posted on: August 24, 2011 2:53 am
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Burroughs hits 1st homer since '05

Sean Burroughs

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Sean Burroughs, Diamondbacks: Burroughs' first home run since April 30, 2005, accounted for the only two runs of Tuesday's 2-0 victory over the Nationals, snapping Arizona's six-game losing streak. Ian Kennedy pitched seven shutout innings, but it was Burroughs' shot with one on and one out in the seventh off of Jordan Zimmermann that was the story of the game. Burroughs, 30, hadn't been in the big leagues since 2006 before being called up earlier this year after a disappointing start to his career. Before signing with the Diamondbacks this past offseason, he was battling substance abuse.

Shin-Soo Choo, Indians: Choo celebrated the birth of his third child Monday and then had a big day Tuesday, going 4 for 8 in a doubleheader against the Mariners, including a walk-off three-run homer in the first game that delivered the Indians a 7-5 victory and snapped a four-game losing streak for Cleveland. The Indians lost the second game, but Choo added another homer, as well as a triple in the nightcap. Choo finished the day with five RBI and even hit a double during Tuesday's earthquake. Indians manager Manny Acta called Choo earlier on Tuesday to make sure his outfielder was available to play -- luckily for the Indians, he was available.

Yonder Alonso, Reds: Dusty Baker gave Joey Votto a rare day off Tuesday, letting the rookie Alonso get the start in South Florida, where he grew up and played college ball at Miami. Not only did Alonso homer on the first pitch he saw on the night, but he also broke a tie with a two-out, two-run double in the ninth inning in front of his friends and family for a 8-6 Reds victory


Brandon Morrow, Blue Jays: The Blue Jays' right-hander has some of the best stuff in the big leagues, but the 27-year-old has never found any kind of consistency. In his last start before Tuesday, Morrow struck out a dozen Mariners in six innings. Tuesday he gave up nearly that many hits in just 4 2/3 innings against the Royals. Kansas City had two doubles, a triple and two home runs among their 11 hits in the 25 batters Morrow faced in a 6-4 Toronto loss.

Kyle Lohse, Cardinals: Coming into the game, Lohse had allowed just three earned runs over his last 13 1/3 innings -- he gave up that many before he retired a batter on Tuesday on a three-run homer by Matt Kemp. Lohse allowed four more runs in the second inning and then a solo homer to Rod Barajas in the fourth inning. Lohse was lifted after three innings in St. Louis' 13-2 loss to the Dodgers.

White Sox: Sloppy play all around hurt Chicago in a 5-4 loss to the Angels, starting with two first-inning errors and then a mental mistake in the ninth. Peter Bourjos reached in the first inning on a throwing error by Alexei Ramirez and then scored on a fielding error by Juan Pierre in the same inning. In the seventh inning, catcher Tyler Flowers avoided a double play by taking off before Brent Morel's grounder, but got greedy by trying to advance to third where he was thrown out by first baseman Mark Trumbo to end the inning. Then in the ninth, second baseman Gordon Beckham failed to cover second on Alberto Callaspo's single, allowing Callaspo to advance to second base, taking away the double play. After an intentional walk to Maircer Izturis, Bourjos singled in the game-ending run.

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Posted on: August 23, 2011 4:02 pm
Edited on: August 23, 2011 7:22 pm
 

Jays swap Hill to Diamondbacks for Johnson

Hill

By Evan Brunell

Aaron Hill has been traded to the Diamondbacks in a surprising move. Hill and infielder John McDonald were sent to Arizona in exchange for second baseman Kelly Johnson in what appears to be a change-of-scenery deal.

The trade is primarily constructed around one struggling second baseman being moved for another, with Hill once hitting 36 homers in 2009, his career season to date. The 29-year-old also had a strong year in 2007, but since then has fallen off a cliff. In 2011, Hill is hitting just .225/.270/.313 and is one of the worst offensive hitters in the game, as I outlined last Monday, saying "[Hill] still has a good chance to return to being a league-average player, but anything above and beyond that at this point is just wishful thinking."

To GM Kevin Towers of Arizona, though, Hill isn't wishful thinking. He's a risk, sure, but one that Towers would prefer to take over than continuing to play Kelly Johnson, who began the year as starting second baseman but has seen his playing team decrease; hitting just .181/.246/.324 since the All-Star break will do that. In reality, Johnson has only had two good months, that being May and July. These months are why Johnson is hitting .209/.287/.412 overall. Still, it's better than Hill, and Johnson has a better shot at recapturing past glory, as he has strong seasons in 2007, 2008 and 2010 in his resume.

"He's struggled to put together a year like he had last year," Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson told the Associated Press. "It wasn't from a lack of work. To be honest with you, it was very tough to tell him he got traded today. He has high expectations of himself, he's very professional. He worked harder -- he probably worked too hard."

Johnson is an impending free agent, but currently qualifies as a Type-B free agent, which would net the Jays a compensatory pick. Anthopoulous greatly values acquiring picks and has made moves in the past to pick up players who can return draft-pick compensation. Of course, Johnson could always mess things up and accept arbitration, but his ensuing contract would be far from crippling. A hot streak to finish the season could also vault Johnson into Type-A territory, although it's difficult to imagine a team willingly giving up its first-round pick to sign Johnson to a deal in that case.

Hill is also slated to be a free agent assuming Arizona doesn't pick up $18 million in club options to pay Hill over the next two years, which it won't. That will allow Hill to walk, and he will likely qualify as a Type B free agent. The better chances of Johnson recapturing his value is where John McDonald comes in. McDonald is a backup infielder who can't hit, but does provide strong defense. That's in high demand for Arizona, who needs more bodies behind starting shortstop Willie Bloomquist with incumbent Stephen Drew out for the season with injury.

Given that both principal players in the deal will both be free agents and both likely to fetch similar compensation picks, this deal smacks of a change of scenery. Johnson wasn't working out anymore in Arizona, and with a division race to worry about, Towers grabbed a replacement second baseman with prior success that could break out in the desert, while adding a quality backup infielder. The Jays, meanwhile, get someone with a touch more upside and a better chance to stick long term, so one could argue that Toronto came out on top of the deal.

The Diamondbacks transferred starting pitcher Jason Marquis to the 60-day disabled list to clear out room for Hill and McDonald on the 40-man roster, while the Jays called up catcher Brian Jeroloman.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com