1. The Blue Jays are by the best team to not make the playoffs in the Wild Card era, despite having some very good teams in the meantime (2008 especially). What is it going to take to vault past the Yankees, Red Sox, and now the Rays?
I was thinking sniper fire … no no, kidding. The Rays showed the way, good drafting and a good minor league system. We will never be able to spend with the Yankees and Red Sox but that doesn’t mean we can’t be smarter than them. There is good and bad about being in the best division in baseball, when the Yankees or Red Sox come to town we get good attendance.
The problem at the moment is a huge contract to Vernon Wells which makes it tough to maneuver. But Rogers Corporation, who own the Jays are do have money, they own the TV network that the Jays are on and the cell phone network many of us in Canada use, among other things.
I think if the Jays keep themselves in the running then any year that the Yankees suddenly play like their age or the Red Sox remember the curse we could sneak through. We are close again this year. Management keeps telling us that 2010 is our year. I wish they would sell folks on the team we have at the moment. They aren’t bad.
2. What's the long-term outlook on Roy Halladay? Are the injury problems going to linger? Do you foresee the Jays trading him in the next year or so?
He has a groin strain, he is to pitch Monday and he keeps himself in the best shape of any player in baseball. I don’t see it affecting him the rest of the season. The Jays won’t trade him this year and, I think, they will move heaven and earth to sign him beyond next year. Or I am hoping so; he’s the best in baseball.
3. Vernon Wells' contract is, to put it mildly, an albatross. Do you think the Jays will ever be able to unload the contract, or do they just have to bite the bullet and ride it out?
Oh Vernon, he has a new nickname around here, Boo. No, there is no way he can be moved.
Our hope is that he has some good baseball left in him. He was good last year, except for a couple of injuries and he came into camp in great shape but had hamstring troubles that set him back. He has been playing better ball the last couple of weeks, knock on wood, so maybe he is turning things around and he has been using his speed on the bases this year. But no he’ll never be worth his contract.
4. Any help on the farm in the next season or two?
Yeah I think we have a handful of good prospects. Travis Snider, of course, he’s got a back injury at the moment, but he’ll be a big part of the team in years to come. JP Arencibia is a good power hitting catching prospect, who should make the team next year. A little further back are Justin Jackson an athletic looking shortstop and David Cooper a left-handed first baseman in the Lyle Overbay vein. Both are a couple of years away. Scott Campbell, a New Zealander is a favorite of mind, he is an infielder with a terrific on base percentage.
Many of our pitching prospects have been up with the team this year, with the 54 injuries our starting staff has suffered through. Brett Cecil looks to be a good one. Brad Mills is up with the team now and it looks like he’ll start against you on the weekend, he has a great curve but, I think needs more time. Mack Rzpezynski (worth about a thousand scrabble points) and Robert Ray will be in the battle for the rotation next year.
5. What do you guys think of Scott Rolen?
We love him more every game we watch him. He makes at least one ‘we are not worthy’ defensive play every game and he is hitting nearly .400 this month. And the power that I figured was gone seems to coming back. Some of us have been calling him ‘The Greatest Jay Ever’, a bit of a overstatement but he’s great. He even smiled on the field a couple of times this season.
6. How does the gameplay environment in Rogers Centre affect the way the Blue Jays assemble their teams and play the game, if at all?
Well the turf is fast which puts a premium on infield defense. The Jays do have, likely, the best defensive infield in baseball. If you enjoy defense, watch these guys. The ball does travel well to the power alleys, generally a little better when the top is down on the dome. The park slightly favors the pitches.