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The Blue Jays

Toronto Blue Jays

2004 Record: 67-94 (.415)
2004 Pythagorean Record: 71-90 (.441)

Manager: John Gibbons
General Manager: J.P. Ricciardi

Ballpark (2004 park factors):

Who’s replacing whom?

Corey Koskie replaces Carlos Delgado
Shea Hillenbrand replaces Josh Phelps, Gabe Gross (minors) and Dave Berg
Russ Adams inherits playing time from Chris Gomez and Chris Woodward
John McDonald replaces Howie Clark
Ken Huckaby replaces Kevin Cash
Gustavo Chacin inherits Justin Miller’s starts and takes Miguel Batista’s place in the rotation as Batista becomes the full-time closer
David Bush inherits Pat Hentgen’s starts
Scott Schoeneweis replaces Kerry Lightenberg
Pete Walker replaces Terry Adams
Matt Whiteside and staff replace last year’s assortment of expendable relievers

Current Roster:

1B – Eric Hinske
2B – Orlando Hudson
SS – Russ Adams
3B – Corey Koskie
C – Gregg Zaun
RF – Alexis Rios
CF – Vernon Wells
LF – Frank Catalanotto
DH – Shea Hillenbrand


R – Reed Johnson (OF)
R – Frank Menechino (IF)
R – John McDonald (IF)
R – Ken Huckaby (C)


R – Roy Halladay
R – David Bush
L – Ted Lilly
L – Gustavo Chacin
R – Josh Towers


R – Miguel Batista
R – Justin Speier
L – Scott Schoeneweis
R – Jason Frasor
R – Vinnie Chulk
R – Pete Walker
R – Matt Whiteside

Typical Line-up

L – Frank Catalanotto (LF)
S – Olrando Hudson (2B)
R – Vernon Wells (CF)
L – Corey Koskie (3B)
R – Shea Hillenbrand (DH)
L – Eric Hinske (1B)
R – Alexis Rios (RF)
S – Gregg Zaun (C)
L – Russ Adams (SS)

The Blue Jays enter this weekend’s three game series with the Yankees one game above .500, a record their run differential (+3) supports, but one they are unlikely to maintain. After starting the season a blazing 6-2, the Jays are 6-9 in their last 15 games. Prior to their just-concluded three-game sweep of the Devil Rays, they were on a 3-9 run that included a five-game losing streak wich started when the Yanekes traveled to the newly renamed Rogers Centre last week.

Offensively they’ve been lead by 34-year-old journeyman back-up catcher Gregg Zaun. Zaun set a career high with 338 at-bats as the Blue Jay’s primary catcher last year, hitting .269/.367/.393 (.263), slighly above but not a huge distance from his career numbers (.249 GPA with similar distribution of skills). Thus far he’s hitting .317/.430/.571 (.336). Hot on his heals is Shea Hillenbrand, swinging to the tune of .402/.434/.543 (.331). Hillenbrand’s career GPA is .260. Both can be expected to cool off significantly. Then again, the team’s worst hitter–save rookie Russ Adams, who is making me look almost as stupid as the Orioles are–has been Vernon Wells (four homers, but a dreadful .258 OBP for a .217 GPA). He and Corey Koskie (20 hits, 27 Ks, .228 GPA) should heat up. Still, when Corey Koskie is the best hitter in your line-up (his career GPA is more than 10 points better than Wells’s), you’re in trouble.

On the mound there’s even less to get excited about. Vinnie Chulk has been their best releiver as both Pete Walker and closer Miguel Batista have low ERAs but terrible WHIPs and Batista has struck out just 3 men in 10 innings. In the rotation, Mr. Gustavo has become a minor sensation, pitching well in four of his five starts (the exception coming against the Yankees) for a 4-1 record and a 2.48 ERA. Josh Towers has a phenominal 23:1 K/BB ratio, but a dismal 5.27 ERA to go with it. Ted Lilly has been struggling mightily. That just leaves fifth starter David Bush and ace Roy Halladay, begging the question of why the Blue Jays decided they could afford to turn a usefull league-average-or-better starter such as Batista into their closer based on a whim at the end of last year.

For his part, Halladay has had two very good starts, one dominating one, and a pair of clunkers. He’ll face off with Randy Johnson tonight in one of the night’s three great pitching matchups (the others are in the NL: Clemens v. Maddux and Hudson v. Mulder). Chien-Ming Wang (rhymes with “wrong” and hopefully will prove to be the opposite of Wright) will make his major league debut against Bush tomorrow. Sunday I’ll be in attendance as Carl Pavano rematches with Ted Lilly.

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