Diving into the depths: Toronto Blue Jays

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This is part of a 30-article series looking at each team’s depth chart headed into spring training.

Rotation
1. Ricky Romero
2. Brandon Morrow
3. Brett Cecil
4. Kyle Drabek
5. Mark Rzepczynski
6. Jesse Litsch
7. Dustin McGowan
8. Scott Richmond
9. Brad Mills
10. Zach Stewart
11. Robert Ray
12. Jo-Jo Reyes
13. Joel Carreno

The Blue Jays still have quite a bit of pitching depth, but it’s mostly fringe guys. Barring a miracle recovery from McGowan, the only pitcher outside their top five with any real chance of being an above average starter this year is Stewart. I’m skeptical that Morrow can throw 200 innings and I don’t expect big things from Drabek as a rookie, so I’m not very high on this group.

Bullpen
1. Octavio Dotel
2. Jon Rauch
3. Frank Francisco
4. Jason Frasor
5. Casey Janssen
6. Shawn Camp
7. Carlos Villanueva
8. David Purcey
9. Josh Roenicke
10. Jesse Carlson
11. Winston Abreu
12. Jo-Jo Reyes
13. Chad Cordero
14. Wilfredo Ledezma
15. Rommie Lewis
16. Brian Stokes
17. Alan Farina
18. Luis Perez

The Jays have restocked their pen, bringing in three right-handers with closing experience to help replace Kevin Gregg and Scott Downs. It will be interesting to see what the next move here is. With seven veteran right-handers all worthy of jobs, there doesn’t appear to be any room for Purcey or Carlson at the moment. The team may well trade Frasor to open up a spot for one of the lefties.

Catcher
1. J.P. Arencibia
2. Jose Molina
3. Brian Jeroloman
4. Ryan Budde

First base
1. Adam Lind
2. Edwin Encarnacion
3. David Cooper

Second base
1. Aaron Hill
2. John McDonald
3. Mike McCoy

Third base
1. Jose Bautista
2. Mike McCoy
3. John McDonald
4. Brett Lawrie
5. Edwin Encarnacion

Shortstop
1. Yunel Escobar
2. John McDonald
3. Mike McCoy
4. Adeiny Hechavarria

The Jays traded for both Miguel Olivo and Mike Napoli in their winter maneuverings, yet Arencibia still appears poised to become their regular catcher. He’ll be an out machine, but he could hit 15-20 homers. … There are no potential starting third basemen left in free agency, so barring a trade, it looks like Bautista will start at the hot corner. Maybe Lawrie will be ready in July, but it’s more likely that he’ll need a full season in the minors.

Left field
1. Juan Rivera
2. Travis Snider
3. Corey Patterson
4. Mike McCoy

Center field
1. Rajai Davis
2. Corey Patterson
3. Darin Mastroianni

Right field
1. Travis Snider
2. Jose Bautista
3. Eric Thames
4. Corey Patterson

Designated hitter
1. Edwin Encarnacion
2. Juan Rivera
3. Adam Lind
4. David Cooper

If they can’t grab a third baseman, the Jays do need to go get themselves another outfield option. Lastings Milledge would make a lot of sense, given that he still has some upside and he wasn’t that bad last season. Such a pickup would create competition in left field and at DH. If the Jays acquire a third baseman, then Bautista would play right, Snider would shift to left and Rivera and Encarnacion would battle for the DH job.

Joe DiMaggio’s hitting streak ended 78 years ago today

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There’s nothing special about a 78-year anniversary. It’s not a round number or anything and we tend to like round numbers. But (a) I was reminded of this today; and (b) we have no idea if the Martians will have invaded and taken over the planet come 2021, so I feel like it’s best to run this now than wait for the 80th anniversary. Cool? Cool.

Anyway: on this day in 1941, Joe DiMaggio’s still-unbroken and possibly unbreakable (see below) 56-game hitting streak came to end. The game took place in Cleveland in front of a staggering 67,468 fans. Not bad for a Thursday night. The way the streak ended, courtesy of an ESPN Classic post from Larry Scwartz back in 2003:

Third baseman Ken Keltner makes two outstanding plays, grabbing DiMaggio smashes down the line in the first and seventh innings and throwing him out at first base. In between these at-bats, left-hander Al Smith walks DiMaggio in the fourth.

The Yankee Clipper has one more chance to extend his streak when he bats in the eighth with the bases full against Jim Bagby, a young right-hander who just enters the game. DiMaggio hits the ball sharply, but shortstop Lou Boudreau plays a bad hop perfectly and turns the grounder into a double play.

Stuff happens.

To be clear: 56 may not be broken in my lifetime or yours. It’s obviously a SUPER difficult task to string together a hitting streak of considerable length. As we saw when guys like Pete Rose or Paul Molitor or whoever have come within spitting distance of DiMaggio’s record — long spitting distance — the pressure ramps up and it’s hard to do you job with a lot of pressure. Add in the fact that simple base hits are harder to come by in today’s game than they used to be due to prevalent hitting, pitching and defensive trends, and it’d be no shocker whatsoever if no one ever does it.

But I draw the line at “unbreakable,” simply because, as noted above, stuff does happen. And because there’s nothing structural preventing it from happening. It’s not like Cy Young’s 511 wins or something which fundamental changes in the game have made basically impossible. No one is going to win 26 games a year for 20 years straight or what have you. Heck, CC Sabathia is baseball’s current gray hair among pitchers and only has a few dozen more career starts than that. It’s just a different game.

Hitters do play in 150-160 games now, though, and the good ones do average more than one hit per game. Putting them in the right arrangement may never be likely, but doing so is only a matter of stars aligning, not breaking the fundamental rules of engagement. It could happen. Maybe. Because, unlike some other records, it did before under broadly similar circumstances.

OK, that aside, I’ll offer up my favorite and most maddening DiMaggio hitting streak fact.

During his streak, which lasted from May 15-July 17, DiMaggio went 91-of-223, which is a .408 average. Between April 15-September 28 (i.e. the whole dang season) Ted Williams hit .406. And when it was all said and done he was substantially better in virtually every other batting category as well.

Joe DiMaggio won the MVP Award.