National League East
2015 Record: 67-95 (4th NL East)
O/U Wins in 2016: 66.5 Wins • Under
X-Factor: Freddie Freeman • 1B
Potential Breakout Player: Ender Inciarte • OF
Futures Report: Dansby Swanson • SS
2016 Final Standing: 5th NL East
2015 Record: 71-91 (3rd NL East)
O/U Wins in 2016: 80 Wins • Over
X-Factor: Jose Fernandez • SP
Potential Breakout Player: Adam Conley.• SP
Futures Report: Tyler Kolek • RHP
2016 Final Standing: 3rd NL East
New York Mets
2015 Record: 90-72 • (1st NL East)
O/U Wins in 2016: Wins 90.5 • Over
X-Factor: David Wright • 3B
Potential Breakout Player: Steven Matz • SP
Futures Report: Steven Matz • LHP
2016 Final Standing: 1st NL East
2015 Record: 63-99 • (5th NL East)
O/U Wins in 2016: 67 Wins • Under
X-Factor: Maikel Franco • 3B
Potential Breakout Player: Vincent Velasquez • SP
Futures Report: JP Crawford • SS
2016 Final Standing: 4th NL East
2015 Record: 83-79 • (2nd NL East)
O/U Wins in 2016: 89.5 Wins • Under
X-Factor: Stephen Strasburg • SP
Potential Breakout Player: Joe Ross • SP
Futures Report: Lucas Giolito • RHP
2016 Final Standing: 2nd NL East
National League Central
2015 Record: 97-65 • (3rd NL Central)
O/U Wins in 2016: 93.5 Wins • Over
X-Factor: Kyle Schwarber • C/OF
Potential Breakout Player: Addison Russell • SS
Futures Report: Greyber Torres • SS
2016 Final Standing: 1st NL Central
2015 Record: 64-98 • (5th NL Central)
O/U Wins in 2016: 68.5 Wins • Under
X-Factor: Devin Mesoroco • C
Potential Breakout Player: Raisel Iglesias • SP
Futures Report: Jesse Winkler • OF
2016 Final Standing: 4th NL Central
2015 Record: 68-94 • (4th NL Central)
O/U Wins in 2016: 69.5 Wins • Under
X-Factor: Ryan Braun • OF
Potential Breakout Player: Domingo Santana • OF
Futures Report: Orlando Arcia • SS
2016 Final Standing: 5th NL Central
2015 Record: 98-64 • (2nd NL Central)
O/U Wins in 2016: 85.5 Wins • Over
X-Factor: Andrew McCutchen • OF
Potential Breakout Player: Gregory Polanco • OF
Futures Report: Tyler Glasnow • RHP
2016 Final Standing: 2nd NL Central
St. Louis Cardinals
2015 Record: 100-62 • (1st NL Central)
O/U Wins in 2016: 86 Wins • Under
X-Factor: Michael Wacha • SP
Potential Breakout Player: Stephen Piscotty • OF
Futures Report: Alex Reyes • RHP
2016 Final Standing: 3rd NL Central
National League West
2015 Record: 79-83 • (3rd NL West)
O/U Wins in 2016: 82.5 Wins • Over
X-Factor: Paul Goldschmidt • 1B
Potential Breakout Player: Socrates Brito • OF
Futures Report: Braeden Shipley • RHP
2016 Final Standing: 2nd NL West
2015 Record: 74-88 • (5th NL West)
O/U Wins in 2016: 70.5 Wins • Under
X-Factor: Carlos Gonzalez • OF
Potential Breakout Player: Trevor Story • SS
Futures Report: Brendan Rogers • SS
2016 Final Standing: 5th NL West
Los Angeles Dodgers
2015 Record: 92-70 • (1st NL West)
O/U Wins in 2016: 90 Wins • Over
X-Factor: Yasiel Puig • OF
Potential Breakout Player: Corey Seager • SS
Futures Report: Julio Urias • SP
2016 Final Standing: 1st NL West
San Diego Padres
2015 Record: 74-88 • (4th NL West)
O/U Wins in 2016: 72 Wins • Over
X-Factor: Andrew Cashner • SP
Potential Breakout Player: Drew Pomeranz • SP
Futures Report: Manny Margot • OF
2016 Final Standing: 4th NL West
San Francisco Giants
2015 Record: 84-78 • (2nd NL West)
O/U Wins in 2016: 88.5 Wins • Under
X-Factor: Buster Posey • C
Potential Breakout Player: Joe Panik • 2B
Futures Report: Christian Arroyo • SS
2016 Final Standing: 3rd NL West
National League MVP
- Andrew McCutchen • OF • Pittsburgh Pirates
- Paul Goldschmidt • 1B • Arizona Diamondbacks
- Nolan Arenado • 3B • Colorado Rockies
National League Cy Young
- Jose Fernandez • RHP • Miami Marlins
- Clayton Kershaw • LHP • Los Angeles Dodgers
- Gerrit Cole • RHP • Pittsburgh Pirates
National League Rookie of the Year
- Corey Seager • SS • Los Angeles Dodgers
- Steven Matz • LHP • New York Mets
- Trea Turner • SS • Washington Nationals
Happy Opening Day to all of the baseball fans out there! I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t still emotionally hungover from last years Blue Jays playoff run. Every baseball moment from the “Bat Flip Heard Around the World” has been a complete blur, as was the subsequent offseason. Yet all of that is past us. Every team has a clean slate, and anything can happen.
American League East
2015 Record: 81-81 (3rd AL East)
O/U Wins in 2016: 78 Wins • Push
X-Factor: Chris Tillman • SP
Potential Breakout Player: Dylan Bundy • RHP
Futures Report: Hunter Harvey • RHP
2016 Final Standing: 4th AL East
Boston Red Sox
2015 Record: 78-84 (5th AL East)
O/U Wins in 2016: 87 Wins • Over
X-Factor: Clay Buchholz • SP
Potential Breakout Player: Jackie Bradley Jr. • OF
Futures Report: Yoan Moancada • 2B
2016 Final Standing: 2nd AL East
New York Yankees
2015 Record: 87-75 • (2nd AL East)
O/U Wins in 2016: 85 Wins • Under
X-Factor: Nathan Eovaldi • SP
Potential Breakout Player: Luis Severino • SP
Futures Report: Jorge Mateo • SS
2016 Final Standing: 3rd AL East
Tampa Bay Rays
2015 Record: 80-82 • (4th AL East)
O/U Wins in 2016: 82 Wins • Under
X-Factor: Corey Dickerson • OF
Potential Breakout Player: Jake Odorizzi • SP
Futures Report: Blake Snell • LHP
2016 Final Standing: 4th AL East
Toronto Blue Jays
2015 Record: 93-69 • (1st AL East)
O/U Wins in 2016: 87 Wins • Over
X-Factor: Troy Tulowitzki • SS
Potential Breakout Player: Aaron Sanchez • SP
Futures Report: Anthony Alford • OF
2016 Final Standing: 1st AL East
American League Central
Chicago White Sox
2015 Record: 76-86 • (4th AL Central)
O/U Wins in 2016: 82 Wins • Under
X-Factor: Todd Frazier • 3B
Potential Breakout Player: Carlos Rodon • SP
Futures Report: Carson Fullmer • RHP
2016 Final Standing: 4th AL Central
2015 Record: 81-80 • (3rd AL Central)
O/U Wins in 2016: 87 Wins • Under
X-Factor: Michael Brantley • OF
Potential Breakout Player: Tyler Naquin • OF
Futures Report: Bradley Zimmer • OF
2016 Final Standing: 2nd AL Central
2015 Record: 74-87 • (5th AL Central)
O/U Wins in 2016: 82.5 Wins • Under
X-Factor: Justin Verlander • SP
Potential Breakout Player: Daniel Norris • SP
Futures Report: Michael Fulmer • RHP
2016 Final Standing: 5th AL Central
Kansas City Royals
2015 Record: 95-67 • (1st AL Central)
O/U Wins in 2016: 84.5 Wins • Over
X-Factor: Lorenzo Cain • OF
Potential Breakout Player: Danny Duffy • SP
Futures Report: Raul Adalberto Mondesi • 2B/SS
2016 Final Standing: 1st AL Central
2015 Record: 83-79 • (3rd AL Central)
O/U Wins in 2016: 80 Wins • Over
X-Factor: Miguel Sano • 3B
Potential Breakout Player: Byron Buxton • OF
Futures Report: Jose Berrios • RHP
2016 Final Standing: 3rd AL Central
American League West
2015 Record: 86-76 • (2nd AL West)
O/U Wins in 2016: 87.5 Wins • Over
X-Factor: Carlos Correa • SS
Potential Breakout Player: Ken Giles • RP
Futures Report: Alex Bergman • SS
2016 Final Standing: 1st AL West
Los Angeles Angels
2015 Record: 85-77 • (3rd AL West)
O/U Wins in 2016: 79.5 Wins • Under
X-Factor: Albert Pujols • 1B/DH
Potential Breakout Player: Andrew Heaney • SP
Futures Report: Taylor Ward • C
2016 Final Standing: 4th AL West
2015 Record: 68-94 • (5th AL West)
O/U Wins in 2016: 76 Wins • Under
X-Factor: Sonny Gray • SP
Potential Breakout Player: Kendall Graveman • SP
Futures Report: Franklin Barreto • SS
2016 Final Standing: 5th AL West
2015 Record: 76-86 • (4th AL West)
O/U Wins in 2016: 82.5 Wins • Under
X-Factor: Kyle Seager • 3B
Potential Breakout Player: Taijuan Walker • SP
Futures Report: Alex Jackson • OF
2016 Final Standing: 3rd AL West
2015 Record: 88-74 • (1st AL West)
O/U Wins in 2016: 82.5 Wins • Over
X-Factor: Yu Darvish • SP
Potential Breakout Player: Roughned Odor • 2B
Futures Report: Joey Gallo • 3B
2016 Final Standing: 2nd AL West
American League MVP
- Troy Tulowitzki • SS • Toronto Blue Jays
- Carlos Correa • SS • Houston Astros
- Mookie Betts • OF • Boston Red Sox
American League Cy Young
- Chris Sale • LHP • Chicago White Sox
- Cole Hamels • LHP • Texas Rangers
- Chris Archer • RHP • Tampa Bay Rays
American League Rookie of the Year
- Byron Buxton • OF • Minnesota Twins
- Joey Gallo • 3B • Texas Rangers
- Blake Snell • SP • Tampa Bay Rays
With a handful of players having (finally) accepted a qualifying offer and another few having already signed contracts, it’s easy to say that the Hot Stove season is finally upon us.
In the next couple of days we will take a look at the top free agent pitchers and positional players available, as well as some bold predictions and hypothetical trade offers.
Even though a few names have already signed, you can bet that the hot stove will sure be heating up with the Winter GM meetings just over two weeks away.
Top 5 Available Free Agent Starting Pitchers
1. David Price – LHP
Teams Interested: LAD, SFG, CHC, STL, BOS, TOR, HOU.
Who Should Sign Him: Toronto. This is only about a 20% home fan prediction, but the Blue Jays gave up three prospects in order to get him, and will receive no draft pick compensation if/when he signs elsewhere. Toronto NEEDS a front of the rotation stud to go along with young ace in making, Marcus Stroman, and know all about the type of impact Price can have. Imagine Price in a Blue Jays lineup for an entire season?
Who Will Sign Him: Despite rumours stating otherwise, it makes little to no sense that the Cubs would not still be considered a “front runner” to sign the highly sought after southpaw. Even with a rotation featuring a solid 1-2 punch of 2015 Cy winner, Jake Arrieta, and Jon Lester, the Cubs still need to add at least one starter to their rotation. The addition of Price would make the Cubs an even bigger threat in 2016, not to mention that it would reunite Price with his former Tampa manager, Joe Maddon.
2. Zack Greinke – RHP
Teams Interested: LAD, SFG, CHC, STL, BOS, TOR, HOU, BAL
Who Should Sign Him: San Francisco. Tim Hudson has retired and both Tim Lincecum and Ryan Vogelsong are off the books. Imagine the impact of a potential 1-2 punch of Maddy Bumgarner and Greinke? Plus they end up stealing a big piece away from the rival Dodgers. It’s also worth mentioning that it is an even numbered season approaching.
Who Will Sign Him: Dodgers. In what should be considered a “no brainer,” the Dodgers need/want a front of the rotation arm and they know EXACTLY what they are getting in Greinke. Besides, it’s not like the Dodgers are just going to suddenly shy away from opening up the cheque book.
3. Jordan Zimmermann – RHP
Teams Interested: LAD, SFG, WSH, CHC, ARI, BOS, BAL, KC, HOU
Who Should Sign Him: Arizona. D-Backs have the makings of a dynamic offensive lineup but still lack the impact front of the rotation arm to help them compete with the Dodgers and the Giants for the NL West crown.
Who Will Sign Him: Boston. The Red Sox still need a “ace” and struck out in their free agent attempts to sign one last offseason. Sure, they have more than enough prospects on the farm to go out and acquire their arm through the trade route (Shelby Miller or Julio Teheran anyone?), but why opt to sell off some prospects when there are so many tier one and tier two starters available this off season?
4. Johnny Cueto – RHP
Teams Interested: LAD, SFG, ARI, MIL, CHC, KC, BOS, BAL, CWS
Who Should Sign Him: Kansas City. Same argument as with the Blue Jays and Price. The Royals need an ace. They went out and traded three prospects for Cueto at the deadline last season to acquire him and are set to get no compensation back if he does leave. Am I wrong in thinking that this makes too much sense?
Who Will Sign Him: Personally, I feel that Cueto will be the guy who gets immediately signed by the team who misses out on their first option. I can definitely see Cueto winding up with one of either the Red Sox, Cubs or Dodgers.
5. Scott Kazmir – LHP
Teams Interested: StL, MIL, PIT, SFG, LAD, ARI, CHC, HOU, BAL, DET, TOR, NYY
Who Should Sign Him: Baltimore. With the Orioles set to lose Wei-Yin Chen to the highest bidder, it makes sense that the Orioles target a player like Kazmir. Not only would he fill the vacant spot atop the O’s rotation, but it also wouldn’t cost them a draft pick in compensation.
Who Will Sign Him: Pittsburgh. The Pirates are looking at (potentially) needing to fill two spots in their rotation with JA Happ testing the FA market, and AJ Burnett contemplating retirement. Sure, signing Kazmir would be a bit of a stretch for the notoriously cash conscious Pirates, but the addition of Kazmir would give the Pirates a legit #2 to slot behind the Cole Train, and it wouldn’t cost them a draft pick in compensation.
Best of the Rest
6. Jeff Samardzjia – RHP
7. Wei-Yin Chen – LHP
8. Mike Leake – RHP
9. Yovanni Gallardo – RHP
10. John Lackey – RHP
Next Up: Top Free Agent Positional Players
Eight straight sellouts, the EXACT same record after 130 games (75-57) as it was in 1992 and 1993 and the bandwagon is as packed as it has ever been. All that is missing is a BJ Birdy appearance and a Robbie Alomar McCain Punch commercial and we would be right back in the heyday of the early 90’s. So sit back and enjoy because this is what it’s like to watch meaningful baseball in September…
Red Hot August
- 170 runs scored (6.30 per game) now at 720 on the season, a run difference of 90 over 2nd place.
- Outscored their opponents by 87 runs, they are now +191 on the season.
- Donaldson and Encarnacion became the first teammates to hit 10+ HR/35+ RBI since Ruth/Gehrig in June 1930 and July 1931.
- As lights out and locked in as Donno was in August, Edwin was out of this world. EE hit .407/11 HR/35 RBI to go along with a .919 slugging%… that’s just stupid. The highlight of Edwing’s destruction in August was his 26 game hitting streak, the best in the majors thus far. From July 26th to September 1st, the man formerly known as E5 went .412/11 HR/35 RBI with an OPS of 1.35 in 97 ABs… that’s just absurd. A tweet said it best, “the parrot is exhausted from all of the work!” No surprise who took home Player of the Month in the AL for August.
- Couldn’t have happened at a better time. Edwin had been having a ho hum/lackluster season from what we have come to expect, but it went mainly unnoticed because of the amount of production from guys like Donaldson and surprises like Colabello.
Goins Goins GONE
- What happened to the banjo hitting/slick fielding middle infielder that I had to continually talk myself into seeing 60+ games a season? Wherever he is, he can stay the hell there because I am ALL IN on the new and (apparently) improved version.
- Hit for .226 pre All Star break, has been hitting at a .289 rate since the All Star break ended bringing batting average up to a respectable .246 on the season. Change in batting approach has led to his recent success including a 12 game hitting streak and a walk off 2 run home run the other night. Goins has been hitting .421 (16 for 38) during his hitting streak.
- Still playing exceptional defense (.996 fielding%) and making the difficult play look routine. Not sure if he qualifies for Gold Glove consideration, but if he keeps up this type of play, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him get votes in the future.
JFD = MVP
- It’s just getting silly what Josh Donaldson is doing…
- Dude is just the definition of a ballplayer. His aggressive and all out nature invokes visions of Pete Rose and Chase Utley, while his IQ of the game is completely off of the charts.
- On Baseball Central today, Jeff Blair and Kevin Barker were discussing the tag up from 3rd on the pop fly to Kipnis last night and were comparing Donaldson to Lawrie in an aggressive v. reckless manner. The consensus being that if Brett Lawrie had have done something similar to that he would have received a talking to from the manager for it being a “reckless” sort of play, but it’s completely acceptable for Josh Donaldson to do it because that’s the type of player he is. I couldn’t agree more.
- Even though both Donno and the Rabid Red Bull both play with a similar all-out, hustle mentality, it’s more acceptable for Donno to make those plays because he knows when to do it and when to lay off, something Lawrie is still learning. It also helps that Donaldson has a better track record than Lawrie when it comes to durability.
- The one knock on Donaldson during his days in Oakland was his tendency to sometimes try too hard to get an out and end up throwing the ball away. Blair and Barker alluded to this as well saying that as Blue Jays fans we haven’t really seen that facet of his game but that it also helps that we have above average defenders (Smoak) manning 1B.
- Personally, I would rather have a guy who is willing to take the risk and make the difficult plays even if it costs us. I say this now, but will die a little if it happens in a meaningful situation.
R.A the Knuckleman
- Pre-All Star Break: 3-10/4.87 ERA/1.36 WHIP • Post All Star Break: 7-0/2.78 ERA/1.07 WHIP
- First Blue Jays pitcher since Roger Clemens to go 7-0 after the break.
- The reunion with his longtime battery mate/personal catcher, Josh Thole, has really seen Dickey take his performance(s) to another level of excellence. As admirable of a job as Coltrane did catching and calling the flutter ball it can’t compare to the level of comfort and confidence that Dickey has in Thole.
- Has been using his “fastball” earlier in the count and more often in general. This is something that has been effective for Dickey in the past and something he did often in his starts during his Cy Young year in 2012. In last nights game, Dickey struck out Abraham Almonte looking with a two seam fastball on the inner half (shades of Greg Maddux) to end an inning. In complete honesty, this was the first time in my life that I had witnessed Dickey striking out a batter looking with his “heater.”
- Should be interesting to see what happens with Thole if/when the Blue Jays make the playoffs. It seems uber redundant to carry three catchers, but the level of success that Dickey and Thole have had together recently may force Gibbons to include Thole on the Post Season roster.
Speaking of a (potential) Post Season roster….
- Wednesday night marked Marcus Stroman’s highly anticipated debut/return from a torn ACL that he suffered a mere 6 months ago. Pitching for the Single A Lansing Lugnuts, Stroman cruised through 4.1 innings in which he threw 69 pitches, allowed 0 hits, walked 1 and punched out 7.
- Stat line aside, the more positive aspect of this start was the fact that Stroman was pulled from the game after covering 1B to record an out; walking off of the field to a standing ovation, tipping his cap on the way out.
- Reports from Pat Hentgen (Pitching Advisor) and Ken Huckaby (Lansing’s manager) were that Stroman looked extremely comfortable on the mound and wasn’t favouring his knee (plant leg) at all, it was also noted that he didn’t experience any discomfort from his knee brace.
- Stroman already believes that he is ready to return to the Blue Jays instead of making his next rehab start in AAA Buffalo, but in all honesty, it may be more beneficial for Stro to face a higher level of talent and perhaps be forced into more defensive action.
Let’s talk hypothetically for a second…
What if Stroman dominates in his return to the Blue Jays? Let’s say he makes 3 starts in September and is lights out, does this warrant his inclusion in the playoff rotation? and if so, whom does he replace?
- Gibby has shown his loyalty towards veterans and could opt to go with the “dance with the one who brought there” approach and pitch Stro as a swing man out of the bullpen. If he does put Stro in the rotation come October, who gets removed?
- Even with Uncle Mark’s struggles of late there is almost a 100% guarantee that he will be part of the four man rotation; that leaves Dickey and Estrada.
- Of the two of them, you have to assume that Estrada is the more likely candidate to shift to the bullpen. Not only is this because he has experience pitching as a reliever, but also the fact that Dickey was acquired for this exact reason and there is no way that Gibby, or AA for that matter, will allow the man that was traded for Noah Syndergaard come out of the bullpen in a relief role.
Shapiro for President
- Looks like the Dan Duquette rumours are dead once and for all. The Blue Jays announced that current Cleveland President, Mark Shapiro, will take over the Blue Jays President position wit Paul Beeston’s retirement at season end.
- First order of business for Shapiro will be signing current Blue Jays GM/Ninja, Alex Anthopolous, to a new contract. AA is set to be a “free agent” at seasons end and you can bet that there are more than a few teams that would be interested in acquiring his services.
- Aside from resigning Anthopolous, it should be interesting to see how the new President handles resigning David Price. We all know that the Blue Jays had a strict 5 year policy when it comes to offering contracts. With Beeston retiring it could be beneficial for the Blue Jays’ chances in resigning the highly coveted southpaw.
- Price will easily command $30 million a season and I would offer that to him without a hesitation. However he will most likely be looking for something in the 7 to 10 year range, you have to assume that he will easily get Max Scherzer money (7yrs/$210mil).
- The Blue Jays look to be a long shot at best in retaining Price’s services, but a new president with a new approach could help give us a bit more of a chance.
Hit and Run: Rapid Fire Wrap-up
- Cannot tell you how much I love the nickname “Mt. Crushmore!” I also cannot say how jealous I am for having not thought of it myself….
- In the past, we have heaped praise upon Bello’s bat, while scoffing at his “defensive skills” in the outfield. Now it’s time that we doff our cap at his (apparent) Gold Glove at 1B. Who would have thought that the same guy who turned routine line drives into an adventure is the same guy who has been doing his best Justin Smoak at 1B lately…
- Can we just give Pillar a Gold Glove already? KP is currently the leader in innings, Total Chances, Putouts and Range Factor. He has also committed only 2 errors on the season, is tied for 8th in Assists (10) and possesses a .995 Fielding%. Another aspect that is helping his quest for a Gold Glove is that he is starting to get more and more highlight time on websites like MLB.com, SI.com, ESPN and CBSsports…
- Sure it’s just a small sample size, but it’s looking like the decision to slide Tulo to the #5 spot and move Revere up to bat leadoff was a good one.
- Welcome back Dalton Pompey! Pompey celebrated his September call up and return to the bigs in style, by swiping 2nd, 3rd and than scoring on a sac fly. Pompey’s speed both on the bases and in the field could prove to be a big asset during the September stretch drive.
- Congrats to Matt Hague of the Buffalo Bisons on being named International League MVP! Hague played in 127 games for the Bisons, hit .347 (172 for 495) with 32 Doubles, 8 HR and drove in 88 RBI, he also had a .425 OBP and a .483 SLG%.
- The Blue Jays also announced that they would be sending six minor league players to the Arizona Fall League. Those five players include three positional players (Rowdy Tellez, Matt Dean and Roemon Fields) and three pitchers (Justin Shafer, Chad Girodo and Brady Dragmire). Rowdy Tellez, a 20 yr old 1B with some pop, is the highest ranking (#8) Blue Jays prospect heading to the Salt River Rafters.
- Cannot get enough of these promo videos!
Enjoy the rest of the ride!
With 11 wins in 12 games since the acquisition of Troy Tulowitzki, a 1 game lead on the Angels for the top Wild Card spot and currently sitting 1.5 games back of the Yankees for the division lead in the AL East, it is a DAMN good time to be a Blue Jays fan!
It is hard to believe that this is the same team that only a few weeks ago we were discussing if they were a contender or pretender. Needless to say that in the span of those few weeks things have DRASTICALLY changed in the land called the “6” and the city has been abuzz in a way that has been absent since the days that WAMCO wreaked havoc on opposing pitching.
But how did we wind up here?
Well aside from the aforementioned trade for Tulowitzki, Blue Jays GM and resident Ninja, Alex Anthopolous, has been working the phones harder than a sex phone operator (“Tonight I’m staying in and calling QUEST”). Since the end of July, the Blue Jays roster has seen six new players be added, while thirteen players and prospects have been shipped out of town in the subsequent trades.
In: SS Troy Tulowitzki • LHP David Price • RP LaTroy Hawkins • RP Mark Lowe • OF Ben Revere • IF Cliff Pennington
Out: SS Jose Reyes • RHP Jeff Hoffman • LHP Daniel Norris • RHP Miguel Castro • LHP Jairo Labourt • LHP Matt Boyd • RHP Jesus Tinoco • RHP Alberto Tirado • SS Dawel Lugo • LHP Rob Rasmussen • LHP Jacob Brentz • LHP Nick Wells • RHP Jimmy Cordero
As you can see, the cost to make those upgrades and bring those players in was a high one to say the least. In the Tulowitzki deal we lost two top 5 pitching prospects in Hoffman and Castro, and another top 30 prospect in Jesus Tinoco.
The Price trade was almost as costly from a prospect point with the Jays giving up their #1 prospect (Norris) and two top 15 prospects (Boyd and Labourt). But what could make this trade all the more costly is the fact that Price is a free agent at seasons end and there are no guarantees that he resigns. In fact, I would put it at below a 15% chance that we even have a chance. It also hurts that the Blue Jays will not receive a compensation draft pick if Price chooses to sign with another team in the offseason. None of that will matter of course if Price helps the Blue Jays break their 22 year old playoff drought.
Speaking of Price…
David Price Delirium:
First Donaldson, then Tulo, and now, DAVID F****** PRICE!!!
The Blue Jays went from having Felix Doubront (gas can in hand) taking the mound every 5th day to having one of the best pitchers in the game taking it! I was still breathing into a bag over the trade for Tulo when news of an apparent Price deal broke. Being WAY too emotionally invested in this team to begin with, the latest news forced me into the realm of a preteen girl, I just couldn’t even deal.
Even with him already making two (INCREDIBLE) starts for the Blue Jays so far, I still can barely fathom that DAVID PRICE is a member of the Toronto Blue Jays. As mentioned above, the cost to get Price was a steep one to pay, but it is one that had to be done in order to give the Jays a legit shot at the playoffs this season. I am sure that some “fans” will point out that three top prospects, including your #1 prospect, for 10 to 12 starts is asinine at best and, to be honest, they’re not (entirely) wrong.
Where they are wrong is believing that those three prospects, if held onto, will turn into the same calibre pitcher(s) as Price and give us the same shot in 2 to 3 years to contend as we have now. There are no guarantees that any of those guys stay in the big leagues, let alone blossom into a 5x all star and Cy Young award winner. Sure they offer more “control” from a payroll point of view, but from a winning or playoff point of view, all they offer is a big question mark. Price offers us a chance for now.
Sure the cost was high and his Blue Jays future unknown, but I would rather have those 10+ starts from Price and a shot for it today, than waiting on the Norris’, Boyd’s and Labourt’s to come up and make an impact, if any. Hey, it could be worse, we could have given up a top prospect for Mike Leake (currently on the DL with the Giants) or traded Norris-esque pitcher to the A’s for Ben Zobrist like the Royals did with Sean Manaea.
David Price Day #1 (August 3rd, 2015 vs. Twins): 8 IP • 3 H • 1 ER • 2 BB • 11 K
David Price Day #2 (August 8th, 2015 @ Yankees): 7 IP • 3 H • 0 ER • 3 BB • 7 K
Next up… Oakland or the Yankees (round #2)… depends on what Gibby decides.
Blue Jays Bandwagon Filling Up:
With back to back sell outs looming for the upcoming weekend series vs. the Yankees and the following one vs. the Tigers, it looks like the Bandwagon fans have finally woken up from their 1993 hibernation. These are the same fans that make it a point to be at every Blue Jays home opener, followed by being the first ones to put away their Jays gear following a 5 game losing streak or the annual June swoon. A message I received from long time friend/part time contributor, GW, said it best:
“Yeah, it’s definitely trendy to like the Jays all of a sudden. I feel like one of those hipster music fans who shout at people that they liked Band X before it was cool.I’d shout: I was there for Jacob Brumfield! David Segui! Brad Fullmer! Brad Wilkerson! Kevin Mench! and Simon F****** Pond!!!! Where were you?!!?!?”
I guess it must be all of those “Leaf fans” who have nothing better to do since all the sports channels started to talk about the Blue Jays, opposed to their usual Leafs ball washing.
Random Rumbling and Ranting:
- Still in absolute awe that we held the Yankees to 1 EARNED RUN over an entire weekend series in the Bronx nonetheless! In fact, that 1 ER came on an absolute wall scraper of home run off of the bat of Mark Teixeira and could have been ruled a double due to fan interference.
- Remember when our pitching staff was a MAJOR cause for concern? Apparently, that is not the case anymore. The Blue Jays pitching stats for the second half in comparison to their first half is practically night and day. The ERA currently sits at 2.48, down from 4.18, and their WHIP is 0.96, down from 1.30.
- Resident whipping boy, R.A Dickey, has been absolutely en fuego lately. The much maligned knuckleballer has only allowed 8 earned runs over his last 49.2 innings pitched and has posted a 2.59 ERA and 1.17 WHIP in his last 13 starts, compared to a 5.77 ERA and 1.33 WHIP in his first 10 starts.
- As much love as AA gets for his trades for Donno, Tulo and Price, it was the trade with the Brewers for Marco Estrada that should start getting more love. Originally thought to be a long relief/spot start candidate, Estrada has been an absolute revelation in the Blue Jays rotation this season. Aside from Pit-Buehrl, Estrada has been the Blue Jays most reliable starter for the majority of the season.
- You know who hasn’t been reliable for any of the season? Drew Hutchison. Hutch has been the poster child for why you shouldn’t pay attention to a pitchers win/loss record. The man known as “Poopy” Hutch in these parts, has 10 wins to go along with a 5.42 ERA and a ghastly 1.52 WHIP. Those 10 wins should be credited to the Blue Jays batting order who has given Hutch an average of 8+ runs per start.
- If it wasn’t for Stro’s torn knee or the fact that we traded all of our potential call ups to other teams, you would have to bet that Hutch would have been a prime candidate for a demotion to AAA Buffalo. As it is now, it looks like AA is still working the phones in the hopes of landing another starter.
- First it was the Royals, more specifically Edinson Volquez, who were giving the Blue Jays bulletin board material. Now it appears that the Royals broadcasters want to further fan the flames. During Monday nights coverage of the Royals and Tigers, Bill O’Brien starts to drone on about how you would have to think that the Royals are tired of hearing about the Blue Jays offence. His partner, Eduardo Perez, then chimes in and says that the Royals can beat you in a multitude of ways and they can also hit it out of the park when they need too, but they’re not that “Beer League Softball team they have up there in Canada”… Are you serious? Do these clowns not remember that we just took 3 games out of 4 from those same Royals that he is verbally sucking off?
- Bulletin board material aside, what all this chirping does for the Blue Jays is to help fuel an “us against the world” mentality and force this team to further #ComeTogether. This team already plays with one of the biggest chips on it’s shoulder, you have to bet that this recent batch of hate is only going to continue to add to that chip. Judging by David Price’s tweet today, they’ve already taken notice…
- With Marcus Stroman being cleared to begin throwing off of a mound today and Dr. James Andrews being “stunned” by his recovery, it is looking like #Strotember is looking more and more like a reality.
- Good news: #Strotember is a possibility. Bad news: 2B Devon Travis is out until at least September with a shoulder strain/inflammation. It’s a shame that DT has to miss another month this season as the dude just rakes and plays solid D when he is healthy and in the lineup. Silver lining here is that we have been winning in lieu of having him in the everyday lineup.
- It wouldn’t be a shock to see AA further upgrade his depth at 2B especially with DT out and Ryan Goins barely hitting the weight of my leg. A few writers have speculated that Chase Utley would be a good fit for the Blue Jays, but it seems more likely for him to end up with the Giants, who have been rumoured to be heavily interested in his services.
- Remember Michael Saunders? Remember how that ligament removal surgery was suppose to have him back on the field in April? Wait a minute, are you telling me that he is still having complications from said surgery? Sounds like, in hindsight, he should have just opted to have the ligament repaired. Most recent update has Saunders back by September, at the earliest.
- Still a bit saddened/shocked about the loss of Danny Valencia on waivers to the Oakland A’s. Also still confused why we opted to DFA him for Muni instead of optioning one of our 7 men bullpen down. But hey, in AA we trust. Glad to see that he is continuing to hit well for his new team, although I hope that bat cools with the A’s in town for a 3 game set.
- Look forward to a whole lot of Dave Dombrowski to the Blue Jays rumours for the next few months. With the Tigers relieving Dombrowski of his duties as GM it looks like the next (logical) step for him, career wise, would be to take on the President position of an MLB team.
- With the Blue Jays almost willing to trade Jeff Hoffman to the Orioles for Dan Duquette in the offseason and Paul Beeston’s looming retirement at seasons end, you can bet that the Blue Jays will be one of the more aggressive pursuers for Dombrowski’s services; as will both the Mariners and Red Sox.
- Both Dombrowski and current Blue Jays GM, Alex Anthopolous, have a shared past as they both cut their MLB front office teeth with the Montreal Expos franchise. This tie could make it a bit easier for Dombrowski to step in as Anthopolous’ boss. It also wouldn’t be out of the question to see AA get promoted either.
Anthony Alford • OF • 21 • 6’1/205 • Single A Dunedin
91 G • 350 AB • 75 R • 22/5 2B/3B • 2 HR • 29 RBI • 21 SB • 92/56 SO/BB • .294 BA • .798 OPS
Connor Greene • RHP • 20 • 6’3/165 • Single A Dunedin
9-6 • 3.27 ERA • 21 GS • 107.1 IP • 100/27 SO/BB • .268 BA • 1.29 WHIP
Obscure Blue Jay from Yesteryear:
Craig Grebeck • IF • 1998-2000
202 G • 655 AB • 89 R • 5 HR • 60 RBI • .289 BA • .745 OPS
* Before signing off, I would like to add something on a more personal note. My paternal grandfather passed away this past Friday morning. Even though we hadn’t been close or communicated in the past couple years, it is a loss that has been weighing on me for the last couple of days. While I was growing up, my grandfather was one of my idols. He was my protector, my confidant and my biggest fan. He was also one of the people who helped ignite my love and passion for sports, especially baseball.
One of my favourite memories that I will always cherish was the time that Pat Borders flipped him off. My grandfather was a loud and obnoxious man who loved nothing better than to chirp (something I have indeed inherited). Anyway, following a strikeout with a runner on in a close game, Borders headed back to the dugout where he was subjected to my grandfathers verbal torment. Instead of turning the cheek like most players do, Borders looked right at him and gave him the finger. The crowd around us applauded Borders’ non verbal reply and even my grandfather had to tip his cap to the Blue Jays catcher.
Memories like that are what have helped me get through this and are what I will always remember. Whether it watching me at the SkyDome while my dad and uncle sat in the smoking section, getting lost on the Subway following a night game or just taking his grandson to McDonalds at 11pm to get the Smokey Joe (Carter) promotional burger because he had just won Proline and knew that Carter was his grandson’s favourite player. Sure there were memories, more recent ones, that weren’t as pleasant, but it’s the good ones that I will always look fondly back upon. *
David Mounsey • April 8th, 1942 – August 7th, 2015
Troy Tulowitzki is a Blue Jay… TROY TULOWITZKI IS A BLUE JAY!!!
The reports started trickling in after midnight, personally, I didn’t find out until I made the mistake of checking my phone at 3am. Needless to say I didn’t get back to sleep until 4:30am. How the hell could I?! This was the closest I have come to feeling like a kid on Christmas Day in a long time!
TROY TULOWITZKI IS A BLUE JAY!!!
I would be lying if I said that I didn’t consider waking up the Mrs. or calling one of my “long time friends/part time contributors” at an ungodly hour in order to discuss this bombshell of a trade! Thankfully, in the best interest of my marriage and friendships, I decided against it.
Holy S*** though!
TROY TULOWITZKI IS A BLUE JAY!!!
This is even more shocking/surprising than the Donaldson trade this past offseason. This one is by far the most surprising of any of the trades that Alex Anthopolous has pulled off during his tenure, and that is with taking into account the unloading of the contract formerly known as Vernon Wells.
Being way too emotionally exhausted and excited to try and coherently arrange all of my thoughts/reactions into any semblance of a real post, instead I will be relying on (laziness) and bullet points to pick up the slack…
For my initial reaction, I will let the two text messages I received from long time friend/part time contributor, the Bird, speak for me:
- “JAYS LANDED TULO FOR REYES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
For those of you who aren’t fluent in Bird, he was a tad excited…
Knowing that the deal was DEFINITELY NOT Reyes for Tulo straight up, I made the mistake of going down the rabbit hole known as Twitter at 3am. Here were a few thoughts and reactions I had whilst feasting on any and all news available:
- Alex Anthopolous is the baseball equivalent of a ninja.
- Despite having a team that sports both a historically good offense and historically abysmal pitching staff and having been linked to nearly every single pitcher available on the market, AA and the Blue Jays came out of ABSOLUTELY NOWHERE to scoop up the most coveted bat available on the trade market in the Rockies SS Troy Tulowitzki.
- My actual plea to the baseball gods… “Please don’t let Jeff Hoffman be part of the deal.”. I had a similar plea for Thor (Noah Syndergaard) not to be one of the “minor leaguers” included in the Dickey trade.
- “UGH…. F*** ME! Hoffman is part of the deal… OF COURSE HE IS!”
- As much as I love (LOVE) the trade and nothing against the 40+ year old LaTroy Hawkins, doesn’t it seem at least a little odd that we move two of our top 5 prospects without (really) addressing pitching?
Despite the hefty prospect price tag (Hoffman, Castro and Tinoco), the Jays were playing with house money. Both Castro and Tinoco were signed in 2011 as international free agents and Hoffman, selected 9th overall in 2014, was one of two first round selections we had. That being said, this move looks like a STEAL over the apparent Hoffman/Norris/Pompey for Carlos Carrasco trade that fell apart at the finish line on Sunday.
This trade is about more than just offensive and defensive upgrades. It is also a trade that comes with the business side of the game in mind. If you remove the $48mil that remains from Reyes’ contract from the remaining $98mil that Tulo is owed through 2020, you are looking at getting the (arguable) best SS in the game for 5 years at $10mil per.
Look at it this way, how much would GM’s have to dole out on a 5yr contract if Tulo were to hit the open market?
What the acquisition of Tulo also does is cover the Blue Jays from the (potential) loss of Joey Bats ($14mil club option next season) and Edwing ($10 mil club option next season) following the 2016 season. Both will be due a (significantly) large raise when their contracts end, and it will be near impossible for the Blue Jays to keep both of, if not one of them.
One interesting mindset, although most likely NOT to happen, would be for AA to potentially move one of them right now for pitching help (think Cespedes for Lester last season) or at some other point before their contracts end. This would be much easier said than done as both players have 5/10 status which gives them a virtual no trade clause.
Another aspect of this trade, and the Donaldson trade too, is it shows that the Blue Jays are more willing to add talent and upgrade their roster via the trade route rather than on the free agent market. The Russell Martin signing aside, Toronto is not necessarily the most attractive of free agent destinations and there was NO WAY that we were going to be able to sign the calibre of talent like Tulo and Donno as free agents, let alone trade say a Bautista or Encarnacion for them.
Emotions and excitement aside, realistically, this trade does come with some immense concerns for the Blue Jays.
Similar to Reyes, Tulo’s durability is also a cause for concern. He underwent surgery on his hip labrum last season and, for his career, has struggled to stay on the field. One has to assume that the switch to the (dreaded) Rogers Centre turf could and may add to those durability concerns. That being said, now playing in the AL, the Blue Jays do have the option of DH’ing him occasionally, not mention that Ryan Goins can fill in if and when needed.
I am sure a lot of people are going to hold all of his defensive miscues and shortcomings against him, but one area in which we will definitely miss Reyes is at the top of the batting order. The trade of Reyes now means that the Blue Jays have lost the table setter for their big bad offense. What it also does is takes away one of our (few) left handed batting threats, not to mention our only true base stealing threat. Another area where Jose will be missed will be in the clubhouse. Let’s hope that it doesn’t impact the morale too much.
- Many baseball insiders believe that this is merely the first shoe to drop. Rumours have the Blue Jays looking to potentially add a LF in addition to their hunt for pitching.
- Have to figure that a package of Mike Fiers and Geraldo Parra from the Brewers would be interesting?
- Personally, I still think the Padres are the best “fitting” trade partner. Padres possess numerous starting pitchers and bullpen arms that could be appealing. Not to mention the possibility of adding a Wil Venable, or dare I say, a Justin Upton?
- Don’t roll your eyes… after recent events, anything is possible with this team.
- Jon Morosi of the MLB network: “I’ve been covering the trade deadline for 10 years and this is the most surprised I have been in the final week of July.”
- Jeff Francis on Tulo (teammates in Colorado): “best athlete I’ve ever played with.”
Additional Reading and Reactions to the Tulo/Reyes deal:
Dave Cameron (fangraphs.com): http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/troy-tulowitzki-the-blue-jays-and-upgrading-strengths/
Matt Snyder (CBSsports.com): http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/eye-on-baseball/25251909/troy-tulowitzki-traded-to-blue-jays
Distinguishing the Pretenders from the Contenders:
Heading into today, the Yankees, Royals and Angels all sit atop their respective decisions. Meanwhile, the two AL Wild Card spots are being held by the Houston Astros and the Minnesota Twins. The two (surprise) teams have a 3 game lead over their closest threat (Toronto Blue Jays) and both are in dire need of reinforcements.
In the National League (to no one’s real surprise), the Nationals, Cardinals and Dodgers lead their respective divisions, with the Pirates and Cubs holding the two Wild Card positions. As it stands right now, the Pirates have a 3.5 game cushion on the Cubs, with the Giants (1 GB) and the Mets (2 GB) being the only real threat to the Cubs.
Despite all of, if not most of these teams currently sitting in, or near a playoff position, many of them still have glaring holes to fill and needs to address before it can be determined which teams are legit contenders, and which teams are just pretending.
Pretenders with NO CHANCE:
Current Record: 46-47 (4 GB in Wild Card and 10.5 GB in the AL Central)
Biggest Need(s): Starting pitching and bullpen help.
Reason(s) They’re a Pretender:
• Justin Verlander looks completely lost on the mound.
• Outside of David Price, the entire starting pitching staff has been woeful and far from consistent.
• The Tigers pitching staff currently ranks in or near the bottom 5 in most major pitching statistics.
• Seem to be more in a position to sell off assets than to add them.
• Soon to be free agent players like David Price and Yoenis Cespedes could fetch a sizeable reward and help the Tigers in the near future.
• Depleted farm system might not be deep enough to make any trades of importance.
New York Mets
Current Record: 49-46 (2 GB in Wild Card and 3 GB in the NL East)
Biggest Need(s): Offense.
Reason(s) They’re a Pretender:
• Sure they have a solid pitching rotation, but the Mets have one of the more inconsistent offenses in all of MLB. They currently rank in the bottom 10 in almost all of the major offensive categories.
• Injuries and durability concerns to key contributors like David Wright, Michael Cuddyer, David Murphy and Travis d`Arnaud.
• Despite being loaded with young pitching talent, the Mets management seems to be unwilling to move key pieces of the future for offensive help today.
• Could be more tempted to spend money on offense in the offseason than to move prospects at the trade deadline.
San Francisco Giants
Current Record: 50-44 (1 GB in Wild Card and 2.5 GB in the NL West)
Biggest Need(s): Outfield offense and pitching help.
Reason(s) They’re a Pretender:
• Matt Cain hasn’t been Matt Cain for a while
• Tim Lincecum has become even more of a shell of himself and was recently diagnosed with a degenerative hip disorder
• The veteran trio of Jake Peavy, Tim Hudson and Ryan Vogelsong, have performed more like washed up vets than crafty one.
• In the outfield, Nori Aoki and Angel Pagan have been pedestrian at best and have struggled to contribute consistent run production.
• It’s not an even numbered year…
• Not possessing the deepest of farm systems, the Giants may be hesitant to further deplete a system that is in the middle of a rebuild.
• More likely to attempt to add a big named starter in the offseason. Recent rumours have them linked to pursue Zack Greinke if and when he hits the open market.
Honourable Mention: Tampa Bay Rays.
Pretenders with SOME chance:
Toronto Blue Jays
Current Record: 48-47 (3 GB in AL Wild Card and 4.5 GB in the AL East)
Biggest Need(s): Pitching, pitching, pitching and even MORE pitching.
Reason(s) They Still Have a Chance:
• Their ridiculous offense. The big bad bats of the Blue Jays currently sit atop or in the top 5 in nearly every MLB offensive category.
• No seriously… the offense, nothing else.
Reason They Will Remain A Pretender:
• Despite having one of the deeper farm systems in the majors, one that could (easily) be dipped into it in order to make a move or two, and an apparent $10 million in payroll flexibility, the Blue Jays front office seems unwilling to mortgage the future for a chance today.
• Even though he hasn’t been shy to make a move in the past, GM Alex Anthopolous seems to be a bit hesitant when it comes to moving top prospects, especially after being burned in the Dickey trade.
• If they don’t make a trade to help their poor pitching staff, the Blue Jays will definitely be adding another year to their playoff drought; 22 and counting.
Current Record: 50-43 (Leader in AL Wild Card and 6.5 GB in the AL Central)
Biggest Need(s): Offensive and pitching depth.
Reason(s) They Still Have a Chance:
• Received fairly consistent production from a somewhat unheralded or “no name” offense.
• Pitching staff has been above average to good and the return of Ervin Santana from suspension gives the Twins some pitching depth without having to make a big move.
• Similar to the Royals in 2014, the inexperience of the Twins helps them to shrug off stressful situations. It has been a big factor in their “never give up” attitude.
Reason They Will Remain A Pretender:
• They don’t have the payroll flexibility of big market teams to take on additional payroll.
• May be unwilling to dip into their deep farm system in order to make a run at it this season.
• Inexperience could work against them as the season progresses.
Current Record: 51-43 (Leader in NL Wild Card and 9 GB in the NL Central)
Biggest Need(s): Starting pitching and bullpen help.
Reason(s) They Still Have a Chance:
• Joe Maddon’s supply of fairy dust that he brought with him from his tenure in Tampa Bay.
• Currently possess one of the best statistical pitching staffs in MLB.
• Depth of farm system and a management team that is hungry to win and willing to spend to do so, could see the Cubs be one of the more active teams at the trade deadline; and not as a seller for once.
• Similar to the Royals in 2014, the inexperience of the Cubs could be a blessing in disguise for the Cubs and could help them shrug off stressful situations down the stretch.
Reason They Will Remain A Pretender:
• Asking price on trade targets could be more than Theo Epstein and crew are willing to spend. Sure the Cubs are looking good this season, but don’t think that they will mortgage their very bright future for a chance this season.
• Could be more willing to take on payroll and spend money in the offseason, especially with a deep pool of free agent pitching help.
• Youthful Cubs could succumb to the grind of a 162 game season and start to break down as the season goes on.
Honurable Mention: Baltimore Orioles
Contenders with BIG Needs:
New York Yankees
Record: 51-41 (1st AL East) • 4.5 game lead.
• Regression of C.C Sabathia and the durability concerns of Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda and Ivan Nova, could see the Bronx Bombers pursue a starting pitcher or two.
• Could also look to add infield and outfield depth to take load off of aging roster.
Most Likely Outcome:
• GM Brian Cashman was quoted as saying that he predicts that the Yankees were “more likely not doing anything than something significant.” He then followed that up by saying that they were “still making their calls” though.
• My take away from this is that the Yankees aren’t necessarily looking for the big name addition, but could look to add depth to the back end of their rotation like they did last season when they added Brandon McCarthy.
• Even with their respectable division lead, the Yankees will need to make a move in order to firmly solidify their grasp on the AL East.
Kansas City Royals
Record: 56-36 (1st AL Central) • 6.5 game lead.
• The season long struggles of Yordano Ventura and the recent news that Jason Vargas needs Tommy John surgery will have the Royals tied to every big name pitcher available leading up to the trade deadline.
• With the injury to Alex Gordon and the durability concerns that are Alex Rios and Kendrys Morales, don’t be surprised to see the Royals also look to add some outfield depth or some bench help.
Most Likely Outcome:
• I would honestly be shocked to see the Royals not make a move of significance to bolster their starting rotation. They have enough top prospects and a deep enough farm system to add one, if not two, starting pitchers.
Record: 52-43 (AL Wild Card leader and 2nd AL West)
• With rookie phenom, Lance McCullers Jr., facing an innings limit and the back end of the rotation being suspect at best, the Astros could and will be in the market to add an impactful starter.
• George Springer’s injury could mean that the Astros will also be on the hunt for some outfield help or depth. This isn’t a top priority, but it could be something that is addressed nonetheless.
• It wouldn’t be surprising for them to look for some 1B help, especially with Chris Carter currently hitting under .200.
Most Likely Outcome:
• Rumours have already started to swirl in regards to the Astros being tied to the big names available on the trade market. This week alone they have been linked to the trio of Johnny Cueto, Cole Hamels and David Price.
• No guarantees that the Astros land one of the big name pitchers available, but they may look to add an arm or two of lesser status.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Record: 54-42 (1st NL West) • 2.5 game lead.
• The injury to Brett Anderson earlier in the week was just the latest blow to an already paper thin Dodgers rotation. Outside of the dynamic duo of Kershaw and Greinke, the Dodgers had also been leaning heavily on Anderson and Mike Bolsinger to fill the void left by Hyun Jin Ryu and Brandon McCarthy, who both suffered season ending injuries.
Most Likely Outcome:
• The severity of Anderson’s injury will really dictate just how active the Dodgers are leading up to the deadline. That being said, even if the injury isn’t severe, you can bet that the Dodgers will be looking to add some starting pitching depth. This week alone the have been linked to actively pursuing Cole Hamels.
Honourable Mention: Pittsburgh Pirates
Contenders with Minimal Needs:
• Los Angeles Angels
• Washington Nationals
• St. Louis Cardinals
Reflections on the Dinger Derby and Mid Summer Classic:
• Introduction of the new format helped revitalize the Home Run Derby, not only from a timing standpoint, but also helped add some much needed life into something that had become stagnant in the past couple seasons.
• A combination of seasoned veterans (Pujols and Fielder), up and coming stars (Rizzo and Donaldson), the 23 and under stud club (Pederson, Bryant and Machado) and the home town favourite (Todd Frazier), easily made fans forget about the “big” names (Trout, Harper and Stanton) not in attendance.
• Even if you’re not a Reds fan, hearing the Cincinnati crowd basically will Frazier to the finals and the Derby title, was one of the best moments in recent All Star game memory.
• This interaction between Albert Pujols and Joc Pederson’s brother, Champ. Moments like this are really what the game is all about.
• The “Franchise Four” announcements prior to the All Star game fun to hear, especially with teams like the Rays naming 4 players who are not only still playing, but also 2 that are no longer with the team.
• On the whole, there weren’t too many snubs or surprises in the balloting, although Marlins fans selecting Gio over Josh Beckett and DBacks fans naming Goldy over Steve Finley could be considered a bit of a shock. I’m also a tad surprised that Mets fans went with Piazza over the Kid, Gary Carter.
• No matter what your thoughts or opinions are about him, you have to admit that it was hard not to get goose bumps when Pete Rose was announced to the Cincinnati crowd.
• The naming of the four “Greatest Living Players” (Sandy Koufax, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Johnny Bench) was an emotional moment that is up there with Ted Williams being carted out for the 1999 All Star Game at Fenway.
• Sandy Koufax showing us, and 50 cent, how to properly throw out a first pitch:
• Mike Trout doing Mike Trout things. With the leadoff home run, Trout became the first batter since the legendary Bo Jackson to lead the game off with a ding dong. Not to mention that it helped to complete his career All Star Game cycle. Keep in mind that this was only his 4th All Star appearance.
• Very fitting that Trout would become the first player since Bo to leadoff the game with a home run, especially with his AL All Star teammate, Adam Jones, referring to him as the “white” Bo Jackson.
• It would be amusing to see what Trout could do on the gridiron seeing as he could play either offense (fullback) or defense (safety).
• Jacob deGrom needed just 10 pitches and his 98 mph fastball to strike out the AL side in the 6th inning. In doing so, deGrom joined 19yr old Doc Gooden as the only Mets pitcher to strike out the side in the All Star game.
Over Looked Season of Yesteryear:
1996: Ellis Burks • Colorado Rockies • 3rd NL MVP
156 G • 613 AB • 142 R • 211 H • 40 HR • 128 RBI • 32 SB • .344 BA • 1.047 OPS
• This (near historic) offense. In 91 games this season, the Blue Jays have scored 77 more runs and driven in 79 more batters (468) than the 2nd ranked Yankees. They are also ranked 4th in hits (814), 1st in Doubles (178), 3rd in Home Runs (115), 1st in Total Bases (1357), 5th in team Batting Average (.264), and 1st in team OPS (.772).
• Josh Donaldson and ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING that he brings to the table.
• Josh Donaldson not only making me swoon on a nightly basis, but also making Grapes (Don Cherry) damp in the pants. No, seriously. Grapes is legit boys with Bobby Orr and it’s Josh Donaldson that makes him all giddy.
• Cherry’s championing of Donaldson during the All Star fan voting not only singlehandedly earned him the starting nod, but also set a new ASG voting record with 14,090,188 votes. Proving once and for all that Canada listens to Don Cherry.
• For what it’s worth, through 89 games this season, Donaldson’s 2015 season has now entered the Blue Jays top 10 for WAR (4.8). To put that in better perspective, Donaldson’s 4.8 WAR is the same as Ed Sprague’s career WAR as a Blue Jay, and that was in 888 games.
• Oh Devon Travis, you would be my new Blue Jays man crush if it wasn’t for the man known as Donno in these parts.
• DT would be the hands down favourite for the AL Rookie of the Year if not for missing 6 weeks due to a nagging shoulder contusion, and even with missing those 6 weeks he still has a legit shot of becoming the first Blue Jay since Eric Hinske (remember him?) to bring the award North of the border.
• Before the injury, Travis was hitting a .325 average and an absurd 1.018 OPS. Since returning to the everyday lineup he has gone 22 for 58, scored 10 runs and driven in another 6. It is also worth noting that DT has been predominantly batting 9th since returning. DT’s stat line for the season now looks like this: 52 G • 191 AB • .304 AVG • 7 HR • 32 RBI • .845 OPS.
• Remember that time that Kevin Pillar got demoted to AAA for having a bad attitude? Apparently, the only thing he has done since that demotion has been to feast on Gold Gloves and have his glove become known as the place where hits go to die…
• Speaking of the Pillar of D… Did you know that Kevin Pillar is currently a top 20 position player in baseball in WAR, and the second best defensive player in all of baseball? 2nd only behind Andrelton Simmons of the Braves.
• Chris Collabello becoming the latest player that the Blue Jays have transitioned from scrap heap castoff to serviceable major leaguer.
• In 55 games this season, the man we call “Bello” has been an absolute marvel at the dish. He is currently hitting for a .325 average, with 8 HR, 32 RBI and an .871 OPS. Not too shabby for a guy who had to beat out Daric Barton in order to get a AAA roster spot and then wait for Saunders injury and Pompey’s struggles to get promoted.
• Mark Buehrle being the one consistent in our woeful pitching staff. Buehrls, who notched his 10th win of the season over the Royals prior to the All Star break, has now won 10 or more games in 15 straight seasons; the longest current streak in MLB. He is also 5-1 with a 1.88 ERA in his last 9 starts.
• Roberto Osuna being our only trustworthy reliever. At 20 years old, Osuna has already been handed the keys to the closers role, which says more about our bullet riddled bullpen than it does of Osuna’s ability.
• That being said, Osuna has been a stud for the Jays this season and hands down our most reliable reliever. Even with Gibby doing his best Dusty Baker impression, in regards to his willingness to turn to the 20 year old on a near nightly basis, Osuna has thrived. Through 38 games this season, Osuna has compiled a 2.25 ERA • 0.93 WHIP • 44/10 K/BB and only surrendered 2 HR (one being of walk off fashion) in 40 innings of work; he has also earned 4 saves.
• Jose Reyes as an offensive threat. The 32 year old Reyes has not only been setting the table for this ridiculous offense, but he has also been a big contributor to it as well. Reyes is hitting for a .283 BA/4 HR /32 RBI/14 SB in 60 games.
• Russell “Coltrane” Martin’s offensive line thus far. We all knew the guy was a solid defender, but his .251 BA/12 HR/41 RBI/.796 OPS in 78 games was a BIG reason why he was an All Star.
• Edwin and Joey Bats power and on base numbers: 18 HR/54 RBI/ 41 BB and 17 HR/60 RBI/66 BB respectively.
• Dickey’s strong outing on the heels of his father’s passing. I never give this guy credit of any kind, but with a heavy heart he went out there and gave one of, if not the best, outing of Blue Jays tenure.
• Justin Smoak and Ryan Goins’ defense.
• The rest of the bench. Goins and Smoak aside, the rest of the Jays bench have played key roles in helping the Jays stay in the playoff race. Where would we be without guys like Danny Valencia, Dioner Navarro, Bello, Ezequiel Carrera and the aforementioned Smoak and Goins?
• Watching Edwin and Dioner casing out over Smoak’s Canada Day bomb from the right side.
• Marco Estrada doing his best Johnny Vandermeer impression – back to back perfect game bids through 6 innings, including one broken up in the 8th inning in Tampa.
• “Double G” Gregg Zaun as an analyst. Although I am not a fan of his attempt to be the baseball equivalent of “Double N” Glenn Healy, nor a fan of his wannabe “rock star” persona, I have to give the Zaunbie credit for being an above average analyst. #ZaunbieNation #Zauntourage
• Almost every single thing to do with the pitching. Outside of Buehrls and Osuna, every single pitcher deserves to be here. Despite having the best offense in recent memory, the Blue Jays are one game under .500 and the pitching staff is DIRECTLY to blame. To date, the Blue Jays pitching rank in, or near, the bottom 10 in: ERA (4.18), Quality Starts (41), Hits (792), Earned Runs (373), Runs (404), Strikeouts (632), OPS (.733), Blown Saves (14 out of 28), Total Bases (1277) and WHIP (1.30).
• This starting rotation makes me long for the days of Jesse Litsch, Gustavo Chacin and Josh Towers. While our grease fire of a ‘pen makes me pine for the likes of Brandon League, Kevin Gregg, Jon Rauch, Frank Francisco and Francisco Cordero. The fact that there is 25% truth to that statement should give you some indication how shitty things are.
• Matt Devlin in the booth. I have nothing against the guy and he is pretty decent at calling Raptors games, but how about we keep him out of the Blue Jays broadcast booth. Devlin was anti climatic and 90 % of the time it sounded like he was reading from a script. It was so bad that I actually longed for the days of Jamie Campbell calling games. Nope, that’s a lie. Anyway, kudos to Pat Tabler for carrying the broadcast, something I never thought I would say.
• In addition to his “Double N” Glenn Healy impression and his wannabe “rock star” persona, I also loathe “Double G” Gregg Zaun’s blatant attempt to become the baseball version of Don Cherry. It looks like Zaun has been buying from the Don Cherry rack at the Moores suit drive. Seriously, enough of raiding Grapes’ hand me down pile.
• Who has been the bigger disappointment: Loup or Hutch? Trick question… they both have been absolutely atrocious.
• Jose Reyes’ days as a major league shortstop. Broadcaster Jerry Howarth was the first to point it out and immediately drew fire because of it, but he is not wrong. Joey Bats was quick to defend Reyes via Twitter after his abysmal outing in KC, and sure, Reyes is far from being the worst statistical shortstop in the majors, but it is the type and timing of his errors and miscues that are sinking the Jays. Personally, I am all up for Ryan Goins taking over in late innings with a lead.
• Russell Martin’s handling of Dickey. Not nearly as bad as JP, but also not nearly as good as Thole. That being said, I’d still rather have Coltrane and his passed balls back there than having to deal with Thole’s bat or lack thereof. Speaking of defense…
• Bello’s defense in the outfield. The dude should NEVER see the outfield grass. Unfortunately for us, there are not a whole lot of options behind him.
• The amount of errors and misplays Ezequiel Carrera has for someone who is suppose to be a “defensive specialist.”
• Rookie Matt Boyd’s 2nd career start. Boyd became the first Blue Jay pitcher in club history to surrender 7 runs without getting an out.
• Edwin and Joey’s batting average: .233 and .239 respectively.
• Edwin and Joeys nagging shoulder injuries. Just feels like a time bomb waiting to go off.
• The amount of times a broadcast that Pat and Buck allude to Smoak’s ability to “pick it” at first base.
• Watching our starting pitchers (Hutch, I am looking at you!) best attempt to immediately hand back any type of lead they are given.
• Watching Brett Cecil trot out to the mound with any type of lead.
• Watching Aaron Loup trot out to the mound with any type of lead.
• The amount of “pumpkins” the Blue Jays have trotted out to the mound; Felix Doubront being the latest. Also see: Copeland, Scott.
Trade Deadline Grumblings…
With the non-waiver trade deadline less than two weeks away and teams still contemplating whether they will be buying or selling, the biggest question surrounding the Blue Jays will be whether they will be a buyer or whether they will stand pat.
Currently sitting one game under .500 and 4.5 back in a crowded AL East and wielding an offense of historic proportion, you can bet that there will be an increase in trade rumours surrounding the Blue Jays as July 31st nears. To date, the Blue Jays have been linked to names like Papelbon, Cueto, K ROD and Chapman to name a few, but Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports says that they “are not close to making a trade.”
So what will happen? What route will the Blue Jays go?
Long time friend and part time contributor, GW, (adamantly) believes that a trade is the way to go. Below is a small sample size of our conversation(s):
“I am currently focused on trade deadline. I’m thoroughly convinced the Padres are the perfect trade partner. They could conceivably trade for a Justin Upton rental in left field, a bullpen arm that (Benoit or Kimbrel) and James Shields, and pay likely similarly (or less) than Cueto/Chapman. This feels more like an AA type move. I think Shields is still good. Three years $62mm starting next year (team option for 16 in 2019), but only making $10 million this year, prorated to $3 million if you get him this year on July 31. His cash flow profile lines up perfectly with the rest of this team. His salary disappears as soon as you have to pay Donaldson big money. That is a total of $11 million prorated salary for 2015 if San Diego doesn’t eat any of it. And, you have Kimbrel and Shields for three more years, when you’ve shed the Beuhrle and (poo) Dickey money.”
Meanwhile, another friend and contributor, the Bird, believes that standing pat and not mortgaging the farm is the best route,
“I have a lot of thoughts though regarding the jays but in a nutshell I’d rather them stand PAT instead of mortgaging our future AGAIN just the CHANCE of making the playoffs in a very crowded division that probably won’t even have a wild card team either. I totally get why people want to, because they’re sick of losing, but I just don’t want to see it…. unless of course we fleece somebody by not having to give up much but that seems too optimistic.”
Personally, the way I look at standing pat and not making a move is that you will waste this offense. In two years when the pitching prospects are ready there are no guarantees that you will have this type of offense. It also should be noted that aside from small handful of names, the Blue Jays have very little in regards to impactful positional prospects coming up in the system. With the international free agents and supplemental draft picks, farm systems can be restocked in a two to three year cycle. Why not mortgage a bit of that future for a chance today? Not to mention that the jays have an immense amount of pitching prospect depth.
Although they boast one of the best offenses in club history, this is a team that will be defined by its pitching staff. As it stands right now, there is ABSOLUTELY NO WAY that this team will make the playoffs, let alone play ANY TYPE of meaningful baseball down the stretch. The only way that that will change is if GM Alex Anthopolous makes a move to acquire some (MUCH NEEDED) pitching help and there is absolutely no guarantees that that will happen.
Even with the Blue Jays having one of the deeper farm systems in MLB, especially when it comes to pitching prospects, and a GM who is far from shy when it comes to making a deal, it still looks like the Blue Jays are destined to NOT make a move. In doing so, they will be doomed to spend (yet) another year floundering in mediocrity and tack on (yet) another year to the playoff drought… 22 and counting.
Chris Sale’s Pedro Martinez impression
- By achieving double digit strikeouts for an eighth straight game, Sale becomes the first pitcher since the 1999 edition of Pedro to perform this feat.
- Unfortunately for Sale he plays for the 2015 Chicago White Sox and not the 1999 Boston Red Sox. During Pedro’s eight game double digit strikeout streak, his team went 7-1; the White Sox have managed to go 3-4 during Sale’s run.
- Wins and losses aside, what Sale has managed to do in the month of June is astounding to say the least. For June, Sale has thrown 41.1 innings, struck out 72, walked 8 and surrendered 25 hits. Imagine if he played for a half decent team?
How Do You Replace Gio?
- Not only does Giancarlo Stanton’s wrist injury prevent baseball fans from seeing him smack a pitch on a nightly basis, but it also robs fans of a potential historic power display at the Home Run Derby in Cincinnati later this month. I am sure I am not the only one who was hoping that Gio knocked a ball out of the park and into another state, a la Adam Dunn.
- Don’t worry though Marlins fans, although you will have to do without the services of Gio Stanton for the next 4 to 6 weeks, at least you will be able to get the services of 2013 Rookie of the Year award winner, Jose Fernandez, back this week.
- For baseball fans looking for someone to fill the void created by Stanton’s wrist injury, look no further than the Rockies 24 year old 3B, Nolan Arenado. The 3x Gold Glove winner, who is known more for his glove than his bat, has already set new career highs in both Home Runs and RBI’s. In fact, his 2015 stat line of .292 AVG/24 HR/68 RBI and a .945 OPS in 70 games, has put him in the conversation for NL MVP, along with Paul Goldschmidt and Bryce Harper.
So Long, Farewell…
- In the past week there have been two more casualties on the managerial and front office front. The Angels GM, Jerry Dipoto, and (former) Phillies manager, Ryne Sandberg, will join Ron Roenicke and Mike Redmond as they leaf through the MLB classifieds.
- Sandberg’s resignation is nothing really surprising seeing as how poorly the Phillies have played to date. What is surprising is that long time embattled Phillies GM, Reuben Amaro Jr., is somehow still employed. Seriously though, how does this guy still have a job?! His refusal to trade his aging core has only hampered a Phillies organization that is in desperate need of a fire sale and rebuild.
- Jerry Dipoto’s resignation is just the latest front office blunder to come out of the Angels organization this season. First there was the Josh Hamilton relapse in the offseason, then there was the subsequent messy divorce between the Angels and Hamilton that played out publicly, and now it looks like Dipoto’s resignation comes on the heels of a falling out between him, and Angels manager, Mike Scioscia.
- It is a little surprising that the organization would take Scioscia’s side, and basically force Dipoto into resignation, especially with Scioscia having the ability to opt out of his contract at the end of this season. If he does choose to do so, not only will he leave a remaining $18 million on the table, but he will also be one of the most highly sought after managers to hit the market in a long time.
The Curious Case of the Diamondbacks
- Two weeks has come and gone since the Diamondbacks packaged 2014 1st round pick, Toukki Toussaint, along with Bronson Arroyo’s contract, to the Braves for a utility infielder named, Phil Gosselin. Diamondbacks General Manager, Dave Stewart, said that Toussaint had been bypassed on the prospect depth chart by their 2015 draft class, one that was heavy on college pitchers.
- Personally, it sounds like another situation of the Diamondbacks mishandling a young pitcher and giving up on them far too early. Remember when they traded Trevor Bauer for a relief pitcher (Tony Sipp) and an all glove/no bat shortstop (Didi Gregorious)? This Toussaint deal has that same stench all over it.
- Furthermore, saying that they traded Toussaint because he has more or less become expendable is a pretty weak excuse. How do you include a top 10 prospect as a throw-in for a minor league utility infielder? Even saying that Toussaint was a throw-in in order to move Arroyo’s contract is bad asset management to say the least.
- Even if Toussaint had been “passed” on the depth chart by this year’s draft class, is having too many young pitchers a bad thing? Especially for a team that seems to be in a constant rebuild like the Diamondbacks appear to be.
Braves Doing Braves Things
- How long did it take the Braves to accept the Toussaint/Arroyo for Gosselin trade? Was it instantaneous or did they drag it out for dramatic effect?
- In the past 6 months, the Braves have managed to add Mike Foltynewicz, Matt Wisler, Manny Banuelos and now, Toukki Toussaint from their original teams of origin. Not bad at all, especially considering that the only REAL players of worth that they lost were Justin Upton and Evan Gattis. No one is shedding tears over losing David Carpenter or the other Upton; the one formerly known as B.J.
- Now factor in MLB starters Julio Teheran, Shelby Miller and Alex Wood, plus their own homegrown starting pitching prospect, Lucas Sims, and the Braves have a pretty formidable depth of pitching to say the least.
Best of the Rest
- After missing out on a no hitter in his previous start, Max Scherzer came a Starling Marte hit by pitch away from throwing a perfect game; instead he had to settle for a no hitter. Despite the criticism for apparently “leaning in” to the pitch, I believe that Marte was just “staying in” to see the break on the slider and didn’t go out of his way to move out of the Scherzer offering. I am sure that anybody else in that situation would have done the same thing.
- First “Mad” Max Scherzer, then Marco “Polo” Estrada and now Mike Montgomery. The Mariner’s southpaw has become the latest starter to post back to back dominant outings. With his back to back shutouts, Montgomery became only the eighth pitcher since 2010 to perform the feat, and the second one this season; Scherzer being the first.
- Looks like the Astros were on to something when they passed over Kris Bryant and Byron Buxton in order to draft a 17 year old shortstop named Carlos Correa. The 20 yr old is currently hitting .287 with 3 HR and 15 RBI in 22 games, and that isn’t including the little league home run he hit against the Yankees.
- Miguel Sano’s arrival in the Twin Cities should help soften the blow for Twins fans currently mourning Byron Buxton’s thumb injury and subsequent DL stint. Both Twins and baseball fans alike have been awaiting Sano’s arrival since he was signed as a 16 year old back in 2009. Now 22 and back from Tommy John surgery, Sano is poised to make his MLB debut later this week.
- Does anyone else find themselves picturing Mookie Betts in a pullover V-neck jersey? Seriously, dude’s skill set screams for him to be playing in the 1980’s NL East.