"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

The Toronto Blue Jays

The 2007 Toronto Blue Jays just can’t catch a break. Their starting third baseman and hottest hitter hit the DL in mid April. Three days before he came back, their starting catcher hit the DL. Their starting left fielder is out for several months due to back surgery. Their big money closer is out for the year due to Tommy John surgery. Forty percent of their starting rotation is on the DL right now, and that doesn’t even take into account John Thomson, who hasn’t thrown a pitch for them yet this year, or the three lesser relievers currently resiting on their disabled list.

If that weren’t enough, Frank Thomas is struggling, Vernon Wells is scuffling, and rookie slugger Adam Lind lost the replacement left field job to 39-year-old beer leaguer Matt Stairs (albeit the wildly underrated and currently hot as hellfire beer leaguer Matt Stairs).

What’s left is a team that that has five hitters who are actually hitting, two more who might reasonably be expected to, and an eighth on the DL. Beyond that it’s Royce Clayton, Jason Phillips, John McDonald, and Sal Fasano. Lind, if he ever finds his groove, can only play at the expense of one of the guys who’s already hitting, ditto Reed Johnson upon his eventual return.

On the mound, A. J. Burnett has been healthy and effective, but he’s also been lonely. Roy Halladay should return soon from an apendectomy, but will have to shake off not just the surgery, but his last two starts in which he allowed 17 runs in 10 1/3 innings. None of the other starters deserve mention. In the bullpen, Jeremy Accardo has excelled in relief of the injured B.J. Ryan, as have lefties Scott Downs and Brian Tallet and converted reliever Casey Janssen behind him, but Jason Frasor blew his shot at the closer’s job at the end of April by posting a 10.13 ERA in eight appearances, blowing two saves, and losing a third game.

There’s some hope here. Accardo’s solidified the closer spot. Thomas and Wells could heat up. Halladay and Gregg Zaun could come back soon and produce at their expected levels. But the Jays will still be stuck with an eight-man lineup, a two-man rotation, and a four-man bullpen. That’s a recipe for a .500 team if I ever heard one.

As for tonight’s starter, Dustin McGowan is a 25-year-old righty that the Jays once had high hopes for, though those have slowly faded since an injury-shortened 2004 season at double-A. The Yankees saw him four times last year, including once as a starter on the final day of the season, a game in which McGowan allowed eight baserunners and three stolen bases in 2 2/3 innings, but amazingly only one run.

The Yankees enter Toronto a half game behind the Jays, a full game behind the Orioles, and a whopping 12.5 games out of first place in the real world. Personally, I prefer the fantasy world of Pythagarus:

BOS 33-16 -
NYY 26-22 6.5
TOR 24-25 9
BAL 24-26 9.5
TBD 18-30 14.5

Toronto Blue Jays

2007 Record: 22-27 (.449)
2007 Pythagorean Record: 24-25 (.480)

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

Home Ballpark (2007 Park Factors): Rogers Centre (103/103)

Who’s Replacing Whom?

Troy Glaus (DL) replaces Jason Smith (DFAed)
Matt Stairs replaces Adam Lind in left field
Dustin McGowan (minors) replaces Roy Halladay (DL)
Jesse Litsch (minors) replaces Gustavo Chacin (DL)
Shawn Marcum replaces Josh Towers in the rotation
Jamie Vermilyea (minors) replaces Victor Zambranno (DL)
Jeremy Accardo has claimed the closer job which was briefly Jason Frasor’s

25-man Roster:

1B – Lyle Overbay (L)
2B – Aaron Hill (R)
SS – Royce Clayton (R)
3B – Troy Glaus (R)
C – Jason Phillips (R)
RF – Alexis Rios (R)
CF – Vernon Wells (R)
LF – Matt Stairs (L)
DH – Frank Thomas (R)

Bench:

L – Adam Lind (OF)
R – Ryan Roberts (IF)
R – John McDonald (IF)
R – Sal Fasano (C)

Rotation:

R – A. J. Burnett
R – Dustin McGowan
R – Shaun Marcum
R – Jesse Litsch
R – Tomokazu Ohka

Bullpen:

R – Jeremy Accardo
R – Jason Frasor
L – Scott Downs
R – Casey Janssen
R – Josh Towers
L – Brian Tallet
R – Jamie Vermilyea

15-day DL: S – Gregg Zaun (C), R – Roy Halladay, L – Gustavo Chacin, R – Victor Zambrano, R – John Thomson, R – Brandon League
60-day DL: R – Reed Johnson (OF), L – B. J. Ryan, L – Davis Romero

Typical Lineup:

R – Alexis Rios (RF)
L – Lyle Overbay (1B)
R – Vernon Wells (CF)
R – Troy Glaus (3B)
R – Frank Thomas (DH)
L – Matt Stairs (LF)
R – Aaron Hill (2B)
R – Royce Clayton (SS)
R – Jason Phillips (C)

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
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