The Jays Are Turning Heads

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I don’t care if it’s spring training, or if the majority of the players are lackadaisical about their play, these guys are competitors and none of them like to get shown up at any time. However, this is exactly what the young Jays have done to the Phillies and Yankees, the last 2 championship teams, in the last 2 days. Yesterday’s game was especially impressive, since the Jays pitchers (Shaun Marcum, Zech Zinicola, Merkin Valdez, and Steven Register) 3 hit the tough Yankee lineup until the 6th inning, and only allowed 6 hits overall.  Shaun Marcum‘s outing is reassuring and he showed great poise on the mound. The lone harsh point for the Jays pitchers was when Zechry Zinicola beaned Francisco Cervelli in the head.

Cervelli left under his own power, but is definitely concussed for the second time in two years. He got a bat to the head in 2009. I heard a story on Home Plate XM Radio that had CC Sabathia offer to pay the entire bonus to Francisco Cervelli (over 365,000 each) because some of the players had issues with giving him a full world series bonus portion. For those who don’t know, the world series winning team gets to decide who gets a portion (players, managers, trainers, ect..) and Yanks Go Yard have the information about this year’s cut here. You have to be pretty greedy to want to leave a player’s name off the list when you’re making millions and you know how much this money can mean to younger and utility players. For some, it more than doubles your salary. I am now officially a much bigger CC fan than I already was. Good for him, and I hope it taught the younger NYY guys a lesson in ethics. Anyway, all that to say that I’m glad Cervelli got the money he did because he may need it if he keeps being concussed. Many great careers have been shattered by concussions, still, I hope he feels good by the end of the week and keeps playing (even if he does play for the evil empire, lol).

Jordan Bastien has the full reaction to Cervelli’s beaning by Zinicola here.  Quick fact added in that post by Bastien before game highlights: Molina was AJ Burnett’s favorite target and the only catcher he would through to in ’09.  Well, he certainly got Shaun Marcum‘s vote,  since he felt great about Jose Molina‘s catching skills and mentioned how great he will be with the young staff. Molina himself made a great stride towards staying on with the Jays (although you have to believe that if Marcum endorses you to stay, you’re pretty well staying), by adding:

“I can’t wait to catch all of them. I hope I can do that. The guys I’ve already caught, they’ve been awesome. They have good arms and they want to learn. They come up to me a lot and ask different questions and I’m really happy to answer them.”

What great and encouraging news on all fronts. Any time players communicate well and trust opinions as this indicates, it makes everything cohesive and gets the game flowing the right way. Great stuff. I was vocal about not needing another defensive catcher with Raul Chavez on board, but the more I read up on Molina, the more I like his presence on the Jays. I should have known there was a reason to the move made by Alex “The Great” Anthopoulos. lol. If J. P. Arencibia keeps swinging a hot bat this spring and gets off to a hot start in AAA, could Alex decide to deal John Buck who is on a 1 year deal and keep Molina instead? He’d surely make a great teacher for JP. Just a thought.

As for the hitters, well, they’re all fired. Why? Because they’re all using up their hits in spring training!! lol. They look outstanding top-to-bottom thus far. AJ Burnett was definitely not on his game, but even if this equals a hard batting practice, it definitely boosted the confidence of the Jays hitters who got a whopping 18 hits off Yankees pitchers. Here are the highlights:

  • Adam Lind smoked his first off Albaladejo;
  • J. P. Arencibia hit his 2nd HR in 2 days, this one off Brackman;
  • My man Mike McCoy got a hit and a walk in his 2 ABs, but did have an error as well;
  • Jose Bautista is proving he really wants the job at the top of the lineup. He got 2 more hits in his three ABs including a double (his 3rd of the spring) off of AJ Burnett;
  • Vernon Wells, who notoriously starts slowly, went 3 for 3 and is showing that his health may be the real issue behind his ’09 slump. Let’s hope so, because the Jays could be harder to beat with a strong VW;
  • Young Travis Snider got a double, which should help relieve his slow start, although he’s still not seeing any time above the #7 spot in the lineup….yet;
  • The entire lineup looked strong overall and no decisions have been made clearer for Cito Gaston and Jays management yet. Of course it’s too early to talk about that, but by this time next week the Jays should be sending some of the younger guys down to allow for more playing time for the veterans, so it shouldn’t be too long before we start to see what Cito has in mind for the lineup overall.

The highlight of the game, for me, was seeing Shaun Marcum pitch so strong through that Yankees lineup. Sure, Texeira was missing, but he went through Jeter, Granderson, Posada, ARod, Winn, and Gardner during this start and only allowed 1 walk while striking 2 out. That is extremely encouraging for a guy coming back from surgery and will go a long way to getting him confident on the mound.

So far we have: Ricky Romero strong start against the Tigers….check! Marc Rzepczynski strong start against the Tigers….check! Brandon Morrow strong start against the Phillies…..check! Shaun Marcum strong start…..check! If we can find the right #5 guy to support this front 4, someone like a healthy Dustin McGowan, Brian Tallet, or Dana Eveland, this staff could go a long way in 2010. We’ll have to see how they do as they stretch out, but for all of the analysts who call the doom and gloom of the Jays, I’d say – think again. This rotation is young, deep, and unquestionably hungry to show it has the skills to compete. I just feel sorry for the weaker teams of the AL and the NL teams in inter-league play, because the AL East is going to eat you all alive this season, mark my words! Add to that a very strong West and the top of the Central looking strong as well, and it’s a very interesting year indeed. Even if it is just Spring Training, the Jays are already turning heads and are showing their teeth to the big money clubs. It’s not going to be that easy to beat us boys, you’re going to have to earn it, and that’s the best the Jays fans can hope for this season: a gritty and fight-filled team that comes to play every day. I like it.

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Tags: Adam Lind Brandon Morrow Jose Molina JP Arencibia Mike McCoy Shaun Marcum Travis Snider Vernon Wells Zechry Zinicola

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