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The Blue Jays showed some definite signs of life over the weekend, taking two out of three over Boston to cap a tough seven game road trip against the Bosox and Tampa Bay. However, six weeks into the season, the Jays still find themselves third from the bottom in the American League at 15-24 and with the 27th best record in the Majors. There is still time for a complete turnaround and a run to the playoffs. Consider that Oakland was 37-42 on July 1 and 13 games out in the West and still edged out Texas to win the AL West in the final series of the regular season. Still, I wondered how this current edition of the Blue Jays compared to the 2006 Jays. That was John Gibbons best season at the helm and in his first stint with the team. They finished the year at 87-75 - second in the East, a game up on Boston and 10 back of the Division winning Yankees. It was the Blue Jays first time finishing above third in the Division since their last World Series victory in 1993, and their second most victories to the 88 recorded by Tim Johnsons crew in 1998. Grant you, were still relatively early in the 2013 campaign but some basic numbers really stick out. The 06 team hit a collective .284 while the 13 team at this point is batting .237. The on base percentage was .348 in 2006 vs .301 now and the OPS was .811 then and .708 now. The two teams ability to hit homeruns are relatively equal, and by the end of this season the 2013 squad could very well hit more than the 199 - the 06 squad did. The 2006 Blue Jays had five regulars who hit over .300, in Lyle Overbay (1B), Frank Catalanotto (LF), Vernon Wells (CF), Alex Rios(RF) and Shea Hillenbrand (DH) and one more off the bench in utility outfielder Reed Johnson. The 2013 Jays only have one hitter over .300 in Jose Reyes and hes likely out until the All-Star break. He is their second best hitter at least in terms of average at the moment. Rajai Davis, .284, is also out with an oblique strain. The 2006 team also got incredible production from two of the key positions - catcher and centre field - and the two corner infield positions. Overbay hit 22 homers and drove in 92. At third, Troy Glaus blasted 38 homeruns and drove in 104 runs. Vernon Wells batted .303 with 32 homers and 106 runs batted in, and catching combination of Benji Molina and Gregg Zahn hit 31 homers and drove in 97 runs. Interesting that Glaus was the only one on the team to strike out over 100 times at 134. If you look at the 2013 edition, seven players are on pace to break the century mark in Ks, including Melky Cabrera, Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion Colby Rasmus, J.P Arencibia, Emilio Bonifacio and Brett Lawrie. Rajai Davis would be part of that club too, if he was a regular and was healthy. On paper, at least, if everyone was healthy (theres that word again), the 2013 Jays would probably have the better pitching staff. Yes, the 2006 squad had Roy Halladay and his 16-5 record, but he was the only one on that staff that included lefty Ted Lilly and A.J Burnett to pitch over 200 innings. Closer B.J Ryan had his best season with the Jays in 2006 saving 38 games, but this years Jays have Casey Janssen who already has 10 saves and a 0.69 ERA. If the current system had been in place, the 2006 Blue Jays would not have made the postseason. In fact, they would have finished fourth behind the team that got it. Detroit finished second in the Central that year with 95 victories – eight more than the Blue Jays. The White Sox missed the playoffs with 90 wins and so did the Angels with 89. In todays world, the White Sox would have been in as the second wild card and the Angels would have missed by a game. Jays pitching coach Pete Walker and hitting coach Chad Mottola were both active players on that 2006 team and Casey Janssen made 19 starts for that squad. The fact the 2006 team won 87 games and still didnt come close to the wild card speaks volumes about how well the Blue Jays are going to have to play over the final four and a half months just to get close to the postseason. The Cleveland Indians are the hottest team in the majors right now. Yes, Terry Franconas Cleveland Indians. Theyve won 12 of their last 14 and pulled into a first place tie in the Central with Detroit. Theyre hitting .305 over that span with 24 homeruns. The Indians also lead the majors in homers with 49 - three more than the Blue Jays. The Blue Jays kick off Interleague play on Tuesday night with a quickie two-game home stand against the World Series Champs, the San Francisco Giants. Over the years the Blue Jays have not done well in these games against the National League which came into play in 1997. The Jays are 132-151 over 16 seasons. Only Baltimore, KC and Houston have a worse winning percentage amongst American League clubs and remember; the Astros only came into the American League just this year. The Yankees have the best Interleague mark all-time at 170-112. St. Louis is tops of the National League clubs at 125-110. The American League has won the series the last nine years running. cheapraybanaviatorssunglasses. Howard was ejected with 5:02 left in the third quarter in the Lakers 126-114 loss to the Nuggets on Wednesday night. He was called for a flagrant foul 2 when he jammed his hand in Farieds face as the Denver forward drove the lane. Ray Ban Outlet. Pacquiaos loss to Bradley on June 9, 2012, broke a 15-fight winning streak during which he was recognized as one of the best pound-for-pound boxers in the world along with Floyd Mayweather. -- Alfredo Simon has spent most of his major league career as a reliever. ray ban aviators outlet. Arron Afflalo was pleased that everyone did as they were told. "We got some fast-break layups and made some shots, but defence was the key," Afflalo said. Ray Ban Cheap. -- Forward Jeff Green had successful surgery Monday at the Cleveland Clinic to repair an aeortic aneurysm, discovered by the Celtics medical staff during a routine entrance physical in December.DEPENDABLE DANIEL Daniel Sturridge is only 23-years-old but has already belonged to three of the biggest football clubs in England, Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool. With over 100 Premier League appearances to his name, that is a startling fact for someone so young. Five-and-a-half years since his senior debut, the Englishman, only now, has found a quality all top players seek from their clubs, dependability. At Manchester City, young Sturridge saw a club transform themselves and suddenly players from around the globe wanted to go there. The more he watched players come through the front door, the more he knew he had to leave out the back one. At age 19 he was surrounded by people telling him he would be a star and the moment fellow rich club Chelsea came calling, he left. It proved to be a sideways step and he was never going to be given the amount of time in the team an inexperienced professional needed to excel. A brief loan spell at Bolton showcased his scoring abilities in the Premier League, but a return to Chelsea soon after simply showcased his ability to wear a tracksuit next to whichever manager the Blues had that year. By January, under his fourth manager in as many years, Rafa Benitez, Sturridge was ready to move on and Liverpool, desperate to add some depth scoring to a squad heavily reliant on Luis Suarez, stepped in with a £12 million offer. At the time the bid was seen as expensive by many, but Liverpool were thrilled to get a player of Sturridges quality for such a price. You will recall they spent over £70 million on Englishmen Andy Carroll, Stewart Downing and Jordan Henderson, before Brendan Rodgers came to the club. His first appearance for his new club came at Old Trafford from the bench. Liverpool were down 2-0 at the half after a timid tactical approach, but Rodgers brought the forward on at half-time and within 12 minutes he had scored. Liverpool lost 2-1 but a message had been sent to Rodgers, Sturridge had clearly brought a great deal to their attack that had been missing in the opening half. (photo: - Click For Larger Image) The Reds would go on to score 24 goals in their next nine Premier League matches, six of which Sturridge started alongside Suarez. The Uruguayan is a sensational centre forward but is not always easy to play with because of his all-around movement but Sturridges game fitted in well with the clubs talisman. Rodgers decided to play Suarez a little deeper but, with the flexible Sturridge playing in front of him, had a centre-forward who wouldnt get in his way and had a desire to show tremendous workrate with his movement. Inside a 4-2-3-1, the pair worked very well, helped by the intelligent Philippe Coutinho, who was able to play wide but also had the brain to move inside and make up the numbers in midfieldd when the team didnt have the ball, a trait that the often maligned Henderson also has.dddddddddddd The signing of Sturridge in January, along with Coutinho, was exactly what Rodgers needed in transitioning from the old direct style under former manager Kenny Dalglish, where wingers were told to get as many crosses in as possible, to a much more technical and cohesive attack based around movement and the key ability to find space. All of this was on show after Suarez missed the last four matches through suspension as Liverpool dismantled Newcastle 6-0 and Fulham 3-1, both away from home, with Sturridge claiming five goals in the two games. (photo: - Click For Larger Image) Liverpools season opener last weekend against Stoke City was much the same. The game ended 1-0, after Sturridge became the leagues first goal scorer of the new campaign, but the home side created a number of goal scoring opportunities thanks to Sturridges ability to come deep and get other players involved around him. This causes opponents problems as either central defenders come out of their comfort zone and track Sturridge, leaving space in behind, or defensive midfielders come deeper and eventually ensure the team is far too deep to create much of an attacking threat. Both these things happened to Stoke and it was not a surprise to see the two players Sturridge passed most to against Stoke were the two central midfielders whose ball retention allows the forward to run into space following the layoff and/or vision can mean a pass is played in to a crucial area created by Sturridges movement. (photo: - Click For Larger Image) On Saturday at Villa Park, Sturridge scored his 12th goal in his 13th league start for Liverpool and it was a moment that showed all of his qualities. In the buildup he moved over to the left wing with Coutinho going central, before gliding inside with the ball and laying it off to Jose Enrique. At that point, Sturridge went on an excellent run centrally and, because he couldnt be tracked, was in a perfect position, following a great dummy by Coutinho, to receive the ball in the box. He then showed tremendous ball control, dancing around the defenders before looping the ball over Brad Guzan in the Villa goal. It was an outstanding goal helped by team-mates who didnt touch the ball and one that rightfully got his manager off his seat to applaud.Rodgers was full of praise this week for his young English striker and didnt stop short at a bold prediction: "I think he can be one of the top scorers in the league this year." The season is still very young but it is pretty clear Liverpool will not be labeled a one man team when Suarez returns and the Uruguayans return could do a lot more for the continued development of Sturridge. Stay tuned. ' ' '

April 23, 2014 at 4:09 AM Flag Quote & Reply

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