Tag:Blue Jays
Posted on: August 10, 2011 5:14 pm
 

Anthopoulous speaks on sign-stealing

By Evan Brunell

Toronto GM Alex Anthopoulous and outfielder Jose Bautista fired back at allegations of sign-stealing, with Bautista revealing that the four bullpen members quoted in the original story were members of the White Sox.

"The whole thing is stupid" Anthopoulous opened his comments with, as Blue Jays broadcaster Mike Wilner relayed.

Here are some more quotes from Anthopoulous:
  • "Spend the time, go through the footage. See if you can find a man in a white shirt." -- Speaking about the mysterious man in a white shirt that was allegedly stealing signs and relaying them to the Blue Jays hitters.
  • "Don't let the facts get in the way of a good story. ESPN is a good organization, but they needed to do their homework here."
  • "Because four players on another team said something, a story is written and we're all sitting here. This is nuts."
  • "This is nothing. No phone calls, no nothing. Haven't heard from anyone in MLB today. This is nothing."
  • "Been in this organization for years, never a phone call, e-mail, text, nothing. We have GM meetings, this would have come up."
Also, Anthopoulous added that he gave a quote to ESPN and asked they seek out a "former somebody" -- an ex-player, coach or executive -- to get their take on the issue. ESPN did not do so.

"Last year it was steroids, this year stealing signs," Bautista said, referencing how he had to contend with allegations of steroid use after he came out of nowhere to become one of the best players in the game. "I'm interested to see what they come up with next year."

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Posted on: August 10, 2011 12:55 pm
Edited on: August 10, 2011 5:18 pm
 

Blue Jays accused of stealing signs

Bautista

By Evan Brunell

The Toronto Blue Jays stand accused of stealing signs by utilizing a man dressed in a white shirt out in the bleachers, ESPN Magazine reports.

During a 2010 game early in the season, the White Sox's bullpen noticed a man dressed in white 25 yards to their right raising his hands every time there was an offspeed pitch. They examined his patterns and figured out he was trying to tip the batter off as to what pitch was coming, four sources from that bullpen revealed. While they couldn't figure out how the man was getting the information on the pitches, the correlation was too strong, which was backed up the next day when the players stood at home plate and on the mound to see how visible the man would have been to the batter. They found that without the batter even needing to move his head or change the direction of his eyesight, the man would clearly have been visible.

"It's premeditated," one of the AL players said, "as if the guy was a sniper trying to find the best position to make a shot."

When the bullpen noticed the man giving signs, they called into the dugout to warn the rest of the team. For the rest of the game, Chicago used multiple signs even with the bases empty and made their displeasure known to Jose Bautista the next inning.

"It's not too [f------] easy to hit home runs when you don't know what's coming!" the player yelled at Jose Bautista (pictured). The slugger, who hammered 54 home runs in 2010 after a previous career high of 16, confirmed the argument. "We know what you're doing," the anonymous player added. "If you do it again, I'm going to hit you in the [f------] head."

Bautista unsurprisingly denied any knowledge of stealing signs.

"First of all, I don't even know how you can do that," he said. "And second of all, it's obviously something that's not legal in the game. We do not cheat."

Catcher J.P. Arencibia also denied the reports, taking to Twitter to do so.

"Just read the dumbest article on ESPN about us getting signs?" he tweeted. "I'm hitting 200 and we get signs at home, that makes sense? #clowns." A followup tweet added, "Teams/pitchers need to accept when we kick their ass in the rogers centre n not give excuses... Looks like we had verlanders signs #nohitter."

More on Sign-stealing
However, the man in white departed his seat after the incident. That doesn't mean there's a link to stealing signs, but the evidence has been piling up against Toronto. Some players on that same team noticed the same man signaling during the last series of the season in Toronto back in 2009, so the team passed on doing anything about it. It's not the first, nor the last, time that teams have been suspicious of Toronto, though.

One of the players told Yankees' outfielder Curtis Granderson to be on the lookout for the man in white, but Granderson was unable to sight anything during a game where he served as DH and monitored the outfield while the Yankees were on the field. Still, New York started taking precautions by using multiple signs to signal for a pitch even when men are not on base. The Red Sox were also sighted using multiple signs during a June game earlier this season.

"Could be," manager Joe Girardi said when he was asked if the Blue Jays were stealing signs from outside the field. Obviously, if you feel like it's coming from somewhere else besides a player on the field, yeah, I do have issues with that."

Statistical information does bear out a possible unnatural advantage at Rogers Center, with Baseball Prospectus' Colin Wyers, showing statistical deviations that Wyers believes is too significant to be random chance.

Wyers compared performances by players in Toronto with that player's performance in all other parks, finding that Rogers Centre added .011 home runs to a player's production, making the stadium one of the top three percent of home-run parks since 1950. This is up from .002 from 2005 to 2009.

Oh, and only the Blue Jays benefited as their home run on contact rate was 5.4 percent at home, compared with four percent on the road and an AL average of 3.6. To be sure, some of these home runs were due to Bautista's breakout, a resurgent season from Vernon Wells, and more -- but another curious aspect is that many Toronto hitters in 2010 exhibited massive home/road splits -- including Bautista and Wells. Despite a poor on-base percentage of .312 (fifth-worst in baseball), Toronto was able to score the ninth-most runs in baseball with 755 on the backing of the highest isolated power (slugging percentage minus batting average) of a team since 1954. The flip side is that the Jays only batted .269 on balls in play, the lowest in baseball by far.

"Major League Baseball has never received a complaint from any club about sign stealing in Toronto, and this is first [we've been] made aware of it," a MLB spokesperson said.

The ESPN report by Amy Nelson and Peter Young is damning, but as is written:

By themselves, these numbers are circumstantial evidence. Unsupported by data, the four players' accounts might describe a scheme of uncertain impact. And without proper context, the Yankees' decision to mask their signs could be chalked up to paranoia. But together, the numbers, the stories and the actions indicate one certainty: Every pitch to a Blue Jay in Toronto is worth watching.
GM Alex Anthopoulous, who will speak about the topic in further detail at 3:45 p.m. on Wednesday, denied any sign-stealing to the magazine. "That never happened, will never happen, not even a possibility," he said . "If it did happen, we'd be winning a lot more games at home … I think it's a nonstory because no one ever has picked up the phone and called me about it. It's never been an issue, and I would expect them to do so if it was."

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: August 9, 2011 11:58 pm
Edited on: August 10, 2011 12:00 am
 

Blue Jays to go red?

Brett LawrieBy C. Trent Rosecrans

The Blue Jays are going red, or so it may seem.

The Star in Toronto reports the Blue Jays will change their uniform in 2012 and although the team isn't saying much about it, it's expected to be "more Canadian," the newspaper speculated. That can only mean more red and more maple leafs.

The Blue Jays already wear a red maple leaf on their right sleeve, but could feature more red in their uniform. The team's hat featured a large red maple leaf from 1997-2002.

In 2004, the team deemphasized the blue part of its name, wearing gray and black hats before phasing out the gray hats before the 2006 season.

With Canadian Brett Lawrie in the fold and the Expos out of the picture, the Jays are trying to brand themselves as Canada's team and market the team throughout the country. The team also affiliated itself with a minor league team in Vancouver.

"Part of it is … we've put a team in Vancouver and we're also trying to get as much TV exposure in Canada as we can," Jays president Paul Beeston told the Star. "But still, we have to perform on the field, that's our best marketing tool."

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Posted on: August 9, 2011 10:42 am
Edited on: August 9, 2011 4:19 pm
 

Pepper: ChiSox may move from six- to four-man

Buehrle

By Evan Brunell

WHAT ABOUT FIVE? The White Sox had a six-man rotation for much of the season, fitting in Phil Humber after his strong start into the rotation when Jake Peavy returned from the disabled list. Now that Edwin Jackson is a Cardinal, that means the White Sox can go back to five members in the rotation, right?

Not so fast. Rookie starter Zach Stewart has made a start in the still-continuing six-man rotation and will draw another one, but after that Chicago expects to end the six-man rotation. Except instead of going back to five, the ChiSox are entertaining the thought of a four-man rotation. It would allow Mark Buerhle, who has been hot as of late -- and with the White Sox having won four in a row and pulling to within five of the division, the team needs as much improvement as it can get.

"You're tempted to say, 'Let's run [Buerhle] out there,' " pitching coach Don Cooper said. "If we keep playing good ball, it's an option we have to look at it. Get the hottest guys out there.

"We have something down on paper but nothing official," Cooper added. "We have to see how it goes. If we have a good week, and we ain't had a good week …. if we get hot, you never know." (Chicago Tribune)

HYPNOTIZED
: Giants manager Bruce Bochy, along with several other members of the staff, have finally quit dipping. How did they do it? By seeing a hypnotist, who explained the dangers of continuing to dip and using relaxation techniques. Bochy says that the cravings vanished almost immediately. Others remain skeptical. "Follow my finger. Do not smoke," bench coach Ron Wotus said jokingly. "You're cured. Next! ... A hypnotist, come on. Good for them. The mind is a powerful thing." (San Jose Mercury News)

SPRAINED WRIST: Carlos Beltran sprained his wrist in Monday's game, but the good news is that he might be ready to play Tuesday night. There's a quick turnaround to Wednesday afternoon, though, so it would come as no surprise if the Giants decided to keep Beltran out of the lineup until Wednesday. (Fox Sports)

'ROADIE DAD': Todd Zeile, as he put it, has gone from baseball player to producer to roadie dad as 17-year-old son Garrett's band, Jetstream, is touring with the Stone Tempe Pilots. Pretty cool, but also interesting is that the producer part of Zeile's life involves helping Charlie Sheen's show, Anger Management, get off the ground. (ESPN New York)

WHERE DO OLD SHORTSTOPS GO? San Francisco. Think about it -- the Giants had Omar Vizquel, moved to Edgar Renteria, then tabbed Miguel Tejada this season. When that didn't work out, GM Brian Sabean turned to Orlando Cabrera. No Giants shortstop who leads the team in games started over the past decade has been in his 20s. (San Francisco Chronicle)

STAMPING: The United States Postal Service is unveiling stamps with four major-leaguers commemorated. The first is Joe DiMaggio, but who else will make the list? That's unknown, but Joe Posnanski runs through the rules involving who will and won't be on the stamp and settled on Ted Williams as the most obvious choice. His most likely candidates to round out the other two stamps? Larry Doby and Carl Hubbell. (JoeBlogs)

WELCOME TO THE SHOW: The Jays are calling up a 21-year-old to fill the vacant rotation spot. Henderson Alvarez has a 2.86 ERA and could skip Triple-A so Toronto can see what it might have in the promising left-hander. (National Post)

HIRED: Former Astros hitting coach Gary Gaetti will be named the first manager of the Sugar Land Skeeters, an independent club in the Atlantic League. (Houston Chronicle)

PHONE CALL: A nice story about Phillies skipper Charlie Manuel, who called a Navy seaman battling cancer after the 2008 World Series. " It wasn't one of those "sorry you're sick, hope you feel better" calls, it was two baseball fans talking to each other about a sport they both loved," brother Scott Andrews wrote in. (Big League Stew)

SABR: Interested in what the top 40 events in baseball are since the SABR era (1971-present)? You're in luck. (SABR.org)

BREAK IT DOWN: The NPB (Japan's version of MLB) is meeting with MLB to discuss the breakdown of revenue from the World Baseball Classic. (Yakyubaka.com)

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Posted on: August 6, 2011 1:12 am
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Major-league debuts are a blast

Giovatella

By Evan Brunell


upJohnny Giavotella, Royals: The rookie Giavotella, who hit .338/.390/.481 for Triple-A, is the newest wave of Royals youngsters. This one is poised to hold second base for a long time on the strength of his bat and he got things started Friday against the Tigers with a 2-for-3 effort with a walk and run scored, getting his first major-league hit off of Rick Porcello. The 24-year-old tacked on an RBI for good measure, singling home Eric Hosmer in the seventh during a three-run outburst to tie the game. Detroit pushed a run across in the top of the 10th to win the game.

Brett Lawrie, Blue Jays: Lawrie, like Giavotella, was making his major-league debut. This time it was over with Toronto, and he wasted no time showing why he's ticketed to be the Jays' third baseman for the next 10 years by collecting two hits in four trips to the plate, driving in a run with two out. He batted ninth, but that will quickly change. Lawrie could have been called up in early June but took a pitch off the hand a day before he was getting called up which cost him months of recuperation. He's finally up, though, and Toronto's pieces for a nice run starting in 2012 is clicking into place.

Carlos Quentin, White Sox: Another powerful day for Quentin, who rocketed two homers and totaled four RBI on the day to bump his overall line to .259/.346/.512. It's a resurgence for the oft-injured righty, who is on pace to post 34 home runs, just shy of his career high of 46 in 2008. Giving how good pitching is these days though, this could be Quentin's most impressive season.



KarstensJeff Karstens, Pirates: Karstens has been pitching way above his head this year and paid for it Friday with a regression to the mean. He coughed up nine earned runs in 3 1/3 innings, walking one and striking out two. His ERA spiked from 2.49 to 3.05. Still, Karstens has gotten this far pitching this well, so he must be doing something right. While he's simply not a 2.49 ERA kind of pitcher -- and not quite 3.05 either -- he has shown that he can be a very good pitcher.

J.A. Happ, Astros: Ugh. Happ's ERA is now a sky-high 6.26. That's in 22 starts, so it's a legit 6.26. Happ had a 18-8 record from 2009-10 between the Phillies and Houston, posting a 3.09 ERA. Those who looked at peripherals and/or advanced statistics knew this was all a fluke. Those who saw nothing but the win-loss record were delivered a blow this season, as Happ gave up six runs in four innings to the Brewers, walking three and striking out two. Oh, and his record? 4-14. The Houston Chronicle's Zachary Levine notes that Happ is the first pitcher in Astros history to allow at least five runs in eight consecutive starts. Oh, and he's the fourth pitcher since 1948 to allow five runs in eight straight starts.

Drew Stubbs, Reds: Stubbs has skidded this season with a .252/.327/.386 mark. This wasn't supposed to happen, not after Stubbs notched a 20-30 season last year with a .255/.329/.444 mark, but his power has all but vanished this year and leads baseball with 145 strikeouts, three of which came against the Cubs on Friday, going hitless in four at-bats. The loss was the second straight for the Reds, who have gone 4-6 in their last 10 and are now 8 1/2 games out of first with a 54-58 record. If they're going to get to the postseason, they need to at the very least stop losing ground.

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Posted on: August 5, 2011 1:16 am
 

3 Up, 3 Down: AL East, Central dominate and fail

Santana
By Evan Brunell

UpCarlos Santana, Indians: A day after wearing the golden sombrero, Santana ripped a 3-for-4 night with three runs batted in and adding a home run for extra measure. The outing brought his overall batting average up to .232, a far cry from where he can be. The catching phenom has been drawing walks and hitting for power just fine, but that average has been strange to see. His splits don't really point to a clear delineation, either, as his batting average since June 17 (excluding Thursday night) is .248, which is much closer to his 2010 line of .260. Given his career batting average in the minors was .290, there's more there we have yet to see in the majors.

Ivan Nova, Yankees: How are the Yankees supposed to decide between Phil Hughes and Ivan Nova now? The two are battling for a rotation spot as the Yankees take a brief turn through a six-man rotation. Hughes came through with a dazzling start and Nova has backed that up with an eye-popping outing in punching out 10 White Sox batters. That's easily a career high, as Nova's topped out at seven previously. He went 7 2/3 innings, giving up just one earned run and walk to drop his ERA to 3.81. Good luck figuring things out, skipper.

Alex Gordon, Royals: Gordon matched a career high with four hits in five trips to the plate, chipping in two runs and a double. Gordon has flourished -- years later than people thought, but he's flourished. The leadoff man is hitting .311/.382/.505 and thriving in left field. Maybe he needed to get away from third or maybe it's a happy coincidence, but having Gordon under the fold  means one less spot for the Royals to worry about in their rebuild. He's not a free agent until after 2013.



DownJon Rauch and Shawn Camp, Blue Jays: Rarely does a team throw away a victory like Toronto did on Thursday, losing 7-6 in 12 innings to the Rays. Toronto scored a run in the top eighth to even things up at 3-3 headed into extras. A Colby Rasmus double scored Yunel Escobar for a run in the top 10th, but Jon Rauch's first batter, Desmond Jennings, launched a home run to tie things up. But no worries, Jose Molina somehow ripped a triple (it would be unsurprising if it took him longer to reach third than it takes some to circle the bases on a homer) to score two. End ballgame, right? Nope. Rauch stayed in to try to close things out, but quickly gave up a double, single and RBI groundout. Enter Shawn Camp, who induced an out before coughing up the tying run in the form of a single by Robinson Chirinos. He got out of the inning, but Chirinos struck again in the bottom of the 12th with a bases-loaded single.

Zach Britton, Orioles: Britton didn't exactly excel in his second start since a brief demotion to the minor leagues sandwiched around the All-Star break to rest his arm and, no doubt, drop his service time down so he doesn't become a free agent until 2017. Britton gave up six earned runs to the Yankees in just 1/3 of an inning last time out. He gave up the same number of runs Thursday to the Royals, albeit in 5 1/3 innings. Four were earned, and no batters were fooled by his offerings, which were slapped around the diamond for 12 hits.

Carlos Guillen, Tigers: Guillen played in his 16th game after finally coming off the disabled list to make his season debut. The 35-year-old has been looked at to help save production at second base, but he hasn't quite done that with a .246/.274/.404 line after goign 0 for 4 with three strikeouts. That's not awful -- in fact, going into the game, he posted zero wins above replacement, so he's not harming Detroit, and no one expects him to live up to his $13 million deal; he's in "whatever we can get" territory. But he's still going to have plenty of 0-for-4 nights, like he did tonight.

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Posted on: August 4, 2011 4:38 pm
Edited on: August 4, 2011 4:43 pm
 

Blue Jays promote prospect Lawrie

By Matt Snyder

The next heavily-hyped prospect to hit the majors this season will be Brett Lawrie of the Blue Jays. They have selected Lawrie's contract from Triple-A Las Vegas, according to Major League Baseball's official Twitter feed.

Lawrie, 21, was a top 40 prospect in all of baseball prior to this season, according to most outlets that do rankings. He was a second baseman in the Brewers' system -- where he was blocked by All-Star Rickie Weeks -- but was traded to the Jays this past offseason for starting pitcher Shaun Marcum. The Blue Jays then shifted Lawrie to third base, where he's been adapting in Triple-A this season.

Lawrie is hitting .353 with 18 homers, 61 RBI, 64 runs, 13 stolen bases and a 1.076 OPS off Triple-A pitching -- in 69 games -- so it would seem the time is now to see if he's ready to handle big-league pitching yet. He was reportedly close to a promotion earlier this season but fell injured, delaying things a bit. But he's healthy now and likely to be joining the Blue Jays' everyday starting lineup immediately.

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Posted on: August 3, 2011 7:14 pm
 

Stairs to retire after 19 seasons, 13 teams

Matt Stairs

By C. Trent Rosecrans


After being released by the Nationals earlier this week, Matt Stairs will retire, he told CBC News on Wednesday.

"I'm not sad. I had a great career, a long career," Stairs said. "And it's one of those things where I can walk away today and not be sad about it."

Stairs, 43, played in parts of 19 seasons for a Major League-record 13 teams -- starting his career with the Expos in 1992 and ending it with the same franchise in a different location in 2011 with the Nationals. He also played for the Red Sox, Athletics, Cubs, Brewers, Pirates, Royals, Rangers, Tigers, Blue Jays, Phillies and Padres

Stairs mostly played first base, the outfield and DH, but was best as a pinch hitter, holding the record with 23 pinch-hit home runs. He finishes his careers with 265 home runs and a slash line of .262/.356/.477.

As a side note, a year ago in spring training, I went out to dinner with a couple of other baseball writers and Jeff Passan of Yahoo! challenged us to name all of Stairs' teams -- I think the group of six other writers managed to get 12 of the 13 before we gave up. It's a fun game to try with friends.

Anyway, Stairs hit just .154/.257/.169 in 74 plate appearances for Washington this season and was designated for assignment after the Nats acquired Jonny Gomes from the Reds.

A native of Canada, Stairs said he's ready to return to his homeland and spend time with his family. He's also a shoe-in for the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame when he is eligible in three years.

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