Updated: June 21, 2008, 3:38 PM ET

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Tom Szczerbowsk/US PRESSWIRE

Come on Toronto! Give Adam Lind a chance!

Can't take the Blue out of the Jays

Perhaps J.P. Ricciardi had finally had enough, or perhaps he simply wanted to give reporters something to write about other than his comments regarding Adam Dunn. Whatever the motivation for pulling the trigger, John Gibbons is out as Blue Jays manager, and Cito Gaston is back in.

If you're a Blue Jays fan, you have to hope that the change in leadership will lead to a change in attitude. After all, if Gibbons still had been manager last night, when a line drive deflected off Roy Halladay's head and forced him from the game after seven innings, people would likely have blamed Gibbons for the incident for not having the foresight to pull the league leader in complete games before it happened. (Precautionary X-rays were negative and Halladay is expected to make his next start.) That's the kind of scapegoat Gibbons had become.

But for a fantasy owner, this managerial switcheroo changes absolutely nothing. You still want to have Toronto pitchers. You still don't want to have Toronto batters. Gaston's return to the helm on Friday was merely a microcosm of Toronto's season so far. The pitching staff shined and the offense couldn't score, making Zach Duke (and his 4.24 ERA entering the game) look like a Cy Young candidate. Pittsburgh beat the Blue Jays 1-0 on an unearned run in the 12th inning. No matter who is putting the names on the lineup card, and regardless of the order, it's the same bunch of hitters, and there's no reason to think they'll do anything more than what they've already done.

Toronto is 28th in the majors in home runs. The team's leader in that category is 40-year-old Matt Stairs, with eight. By comparison, Baltimore, the team closest in the standings to the Blue Jays, has five different players with double-digit home runs. Toronto's team batting average is only .258 and last night was the fifth time this season it has been shutout. On 33 other occasions, the Jays have scored three runs or fewer. The team is now 11-19 in one-run games. It's not for lack of trying something different. Five players have been auditioned in the leadoff spot and the team has used 60 different starting lineups this season. Nothing has worked. Meanwhile, despite the appalling lack of run support, the pitching continues to excel. The starting rotation has an ERA of 3.85, ranking fifth in the majors, and a .250 batting average against, which ranks fourth. The bullpen has survived injuries and has an ERA of 3.14, also fifth in the majors.

Sure, maybe a change can come in the form of Adam Lind, currently languishing at Triple-A despite a .929 OPS. It's certainly worth a try, isn't it? But the fact is, this team didn't go through its recent 4-13 stretch out of spite, or because it wasn't trying. The Jays simply aren't that good. And you can dress the team up in whatever hat you want; it's still going to be just as ugly underneath.

Past editions: 6/20: Sad Seattle | 6/19: Another Braves closer | 6/18: Giambi's rise

Box Score Bits
Unlike their Canadian counterparts, the Mariners did respond to the change in leadership, matching their season-high output in hits with 15, including eight doubles. Jose Lopez drove in four runs with three hits, but we won't be impressed unless they repeat the performance against Jair Jurrjens on Saturday. … Edinson Volquez was completely unfazed by pitching in Yankee Stadium. He allowed only two runs and seven hits to improve to 10-2 on the year. He currently leads the majors with a 1.71 ERA and 110 strikeouts, and may well get another start in Yankee Stadium in the midsummer classic. … Sorry, Nigel Tufnel, none of these go to 11! Mike Mussina, Aaron Cook and Cliff Lee all failed in their attempts to get their 11th win of the season, although Lee came the closest. The Indians ace allowed only one run and six hits over 7 1/3 innings, but got a no-decision when Joe Borowski blew his third save of the season, though the Indians (and Borowski) did eventually end up earning the victory in 10 innings. … Looking for offense? Several players continued hot streaks last night, including Jermaine Dye, who hit his third home run in two games and fifth in his past five, and Aubrey Huff, also with five blasts in his past five games. And what about Elijah Dukes? The Washington outfielder went 5-for-6, hit a game-tying home run in the eighth and drove home the winning run in the 14th to bring his June batting average to .347. He also stole two bases, yet is owned in only 2.5 percent of ESPN standard leagues? People? What more do you want? It's not like you have to worry about clubhouse chemistry either. Sheesh! … Trot Nixon hit his first home run as a New York Met and could be a short-term source of offense while Moises Alou and Ryan Church are out with injuries. … If you have Vladimir Guerrero, please tell me you are starting him this weekend. He homered off Adam Eaton on Friday night, which was his 29th career shot against Philadelphia, most of any opponent. He is now hitting .370 with 82 RBIs in his career against the Phillies. Act now! Time is running out! … If you play in a league in which you lose points for a caught stealing, then you might want to sit your speedsters against the Royals' Miguel Olivo. The catcher threw out two more runners on Friday, making it 9-for-16 in his favor for the season. … Speaking of catchers, why aren't more fantasy owners driving a Suzuki? Kurt Suzuki, that is. Owned in only 5.5 percent of ESPN leagues, Suzuki drove in five runs on Friday and raised his batting average to .279. With the dearth of talent at the backstop position, it amazes me how he remains a free agent. … The rest of the St. Louis lineup seems to be picking up the slack for the absence of Albert Pujols. Jason LaRue, Skip Schumacher and Yadier Molina all hit home runs to help Kyle Lohse improve to 9-2 and beat the Red Sox for the first time in his career. … Is the cup three-quarters empty, or one-quarter full? Randy Johnson's career is certainly winding down, but perhaps the 0-4 record in June with a 7.77 ERA isn't something to be scared of. Yes, on Friday he gave up 11 hits and struck out only one batter, losing to the Twins 7-2. However, he had only one bad inning, allowing six runs in the third, and did manage to pitch a complete game. Considering the game was essentially out of reach, and given the Diamondbacks' desire to play it safe with Randy, I'd say the fact they let him throw 112 pitches and finish out the game speaks volumes about his health. Don't stick a fork in the Big Unit just yet.



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Standing Out

Ervin Santana, Angels
Wasn't there a time when he struggled on the road? You would have been especially scared of a matchup at Philly. Seven IP, nine K's and TWO hits. Impressive.

Fernando Rodney, Tigers
It's been a rough road back for Rodney, once a possible future closer. His ERA is 135 after allowing five runs, including four last night, in one-third of an inning.
News and Notes
Erik Bedard threw three scoreless innings on Friday, but had to leave the Mariners' game with back spasms in his right side. Bedard, who couldn't even walk without help, said it was too early to know if he'll miss a start. Back injuries aren't contagious, but Brandon Morrow did not travel with the team to Atlanta due to back issues of his own. He might rejoin the club over the weekend. … Chipper Jones is hurt again. No longer hitting .400, the third baseman once again strained his right quadriceps on Friday and is expected to miss at least two games. … It could have been a lot worse, but Carlos Zambrano's MRI showed only a mild shoulder sprain. He is still expected to miss his scheduled start on Tuesday, however, and quite possibly the following one as well. … Chris Young of the Padres is expected to undergo surgery on June 30 to repair injuries he suffered when he was hit by an Albert Pujols line drive. He is scheduled to throw a bullpen session on Saturday, but there's still a long way to go before he can even think about a return to the Padres' rotation. … An MRI revealed an irritated disc in Kevin Kouzmanoff's back. The third baseman has missed four games, but with Chase Headley off to a hot start (two home runs and a .375 average), we're not surprised to hear that Kouzmanoff is trying to get back as soon as possible, planning to take some batting practice as early as Saturday, lest he not have a job to come back to. … Ray Durham sprained his right ankle as he hit a bases-clearing double against Kansas City on Friday. According to the Giants' second baseman, he isn't day-to-day, but rather "hour-to-hour," though I have no idea if that's better or worse. I'd sit him on Saturday just to be safe. … Cesar Izturis strained his right hamstring in Friday's game and could be out for a week or more, according to manager Tony La Russa. Brendan Ryan owners rejoice in the expected increase in playing time. … There must be some sort of voodoo curse on Reds shortstops. Jolbert Cabrera dislocated his finger while sliding in an attempt to advance on a wild pitch and will become the fourth Cincinnati shortstop to go on the disabled list this season. Paul Janish had best not walk under any ladders and should load up on the four-leaf clovers, because he's pretty much all the team has left. … Milton Bradley missed his third straight start with a strained left quadriceps, but did manage to ground out in a pinch-hitting appearance for the Rangers. … Nothing's wrong with Gary Matthews Jr. He just became the odd man out with the Angels unable to use a designated hitter in Philadelphia. … Jim Thome might be forced to pick up a glove and patrol the outfield this week. It's the only way to get his bat in the lineup with the White Sox playing the Cubs at Wrigley Field and then facing three more DH-less games at the Dodgers.
Troy Tulowitzki has returned from the disabled list, after missing 46 games with a torn left quadriceps muscle. The shortstop went 0-for-4 against the Mets, but hit the ball hard twice, and should be able to get that sagging batting average back over the Mendoza line quickly. The Rockies optioned Doug Bernier to Triple-A Colorado Springs to make room.

Nyjer Morgan was recalled from Triple-A Indianapolis and should see plenty of action in right field while the Pirates try to figure out what to do with the injured Xavier Nady. Nady hasn't played since June 14, but the team is still resisting placing him on the disabled list. Ryan Doumit is also being rested after suffering a concussion and may not play again until Tuesday, so the Pirates sent down pitcher Marino Salas, rather than lose yet another bat with such a thin bench.

• The Rangers' Gerald Laird injured his right hamstring while beating out a bunt single in the fourth inning and was placed on the 15-day disabled list. Catcher Max Ramirez, who was batting .363 with 17 home runs, was recalled from Double-A Frisco, but Jarrod Saltalamacchia should be the one manning the tools of ignorance more often than not in Laird's absence.

On The Farm

• If the Cubs are going to be without Carlos Zambrano for any length of time, don't expect Rich Hill to get a call from Lou Piniella to fill the void. Hill pitched last night for the first time in more than a week, and it was the same old story: six runs and four walks allowed in only two-thirds of an inning for Triple-A Iowa. Looks like this is one Rich who is getting poorer by the outing.

• Things aren't looking too pretty for the Twins' Francisco Liriano either. Although he is certainly pitching far better than the 11.32 ERA he racked up in three starts while with Minnesota, there's still a lot of room for improvement. Liriano allowed five runs in five innings for Triple-A Rochester on Friday, although he did strike out seven hitters. With the Twins in no rush, it may take several solid outings before they even consider bringing him back to the bigs. This one doesn't qualify.

• Looking for a deep sleeper to get you September saves? It might just be Zech Zinicola. The Washington prospect was on the fast track to the majors, but had an awful 2007 season, which earned him a demotion back to Class A. However, he has evidently fixed whatever was wrong and has already climbed his way up to Triple-A, pitching a scoreless inning in relief for Columbus in his Friday debut. With the Nationals out of the race already, it wouldn't be a surprise to see him get a taste of the majors this season.