Spare Change – Week Two Reflections

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What We Loved

  • Wil Myers hitting for the cycle becoming only the 2nd Padre to ever do so. Nice to see the Padres giving their fans something to cheer for.
  • The Marlins players turning the late Jose Fernandez’s locker into a shrine  – http://thesco.re/2oGTAaY
  • Jharel Cotton’s filthy change-up that even amazed the great Pedro Martinez –  http://thesco.re/2oGVGaW – But in all seriousness, let’s get another view of that filth – http://bit.ly/2oj1kiq
  • The swing on Tulo’s 3yr old son, Taz, Can we say #parentinggoals? – http://thesco.re/2pM37gf
  • Yoenis Cespedes smashing three ding dangs in four AB’s
  • Bryce doing his best Enos Slaughter mad dash home to beat the Phillies in extras – http://thesco.re/2oGZdG0
  • Chris Sale 1149 strikeouts through 150 career starts – most in MLB history
  • Ender Inciarte opening SunTrust Park with it’s 1st hit, out, run and HR .
  • Players playing catch with kids. Even Mike Trout is getting in on the fad.
  • Speaking of Mike Trout, the great Trout will pass Joe Mauer, David Wright and likely Justin Verlander for career WAR before May 1st of this year. To put it into further perspective, Trout has already passed Jim Rice and will soon pass Kirby Puckett (both of whom are Hall of Fame outfielders). Mike Trout is 25 years old.
  • Zack Britton’s consecutive save streak. The Orioles closer passed Jeurys Famila for 3rd and is now tied with Tom Gordon with 54 saves.
  • In other Orioles news, Trey Mancini has had quite the start to his MLB career- 7 HR in 12 games.
  • For the first time in MLB history, their was an outfield entirely comprised of players with the last name Garcia – http://thesco.re/2pvYzLA
  • Rod Carew receiving a new heart and kidney. The Hall of Famer received the organs from former NFL TE, Konrad Reuland, who passed away at the age of 28 back in December. For further reading check out this link from SI.com – http://on.si.com/2oQNneJ
  • Aaron Judge’s light tower power. Judge, who looks like a create a player or Vince McMahon’s dream, already has three HR and eight RBI on the young season.
  • The Mariners unveiling a statue of the Kid. Arguably every kid in the 90’s favourite player growing up, the Mariners honoured their franchise icon by imortalizing him outside of Safeco Field – http://cbsprt.co/2pM1M9m
  • The Dodgers unveiling a statue of Jackie Robinson. But seriously, how was there not one already there? – http://thesco.re/2pccsSw
  • Plans for a Jose Fernandez statue. I know that this is a controversial decision because of the circumstances surrounding his death but it isn’t up to the court of pubic justice and outrage to determine if this should take place, it’s up to the Marlins franchise who lost one of their own and have every right to honour him. What happened was tragic all around. It was also very much avoidable and perhaps the Marlins could use this as a chance to acknowledge the very dumb and selfish decision(s) that Fernandez made as well.
  • Any and all of Vin Scully’s stories. Scully was on hand at Dodger Stadium on Jackie Robinson day and spun this yarn about him and Jackie skating – http://thesco.re/2pvVqvv
  • *In Jim Ross voice* GOOD GOD, THAT’S THE EASTER BUNNY’S MUSIC!! – http://atmlb.com/2p86kdQ
  • The absolute arrogance of this bat flip in Japan – http://bit.ly/2oj3lvf
  • The tribute to Tim Raines during the Blue Jays Home Opener. Not only was it classy because it honoured the recent Hall of Fame inductee but it (further) proved that the Blue Jays are Canada’s team, especially when they honour a great player from another team. Hell, not even the Nationals, who were once the Expos, have given any love to the man they call “Rock.”
  • The sweet sounds of Dan Shulman in the broadcasting booth. Nothing against Buck and Pat but Shulman’s voice adds 5% more to each game he covers.
  • The early returns on Kendrys Morales. Sure he’s not Edwin Encarnacion and sure he’s not exactly setting the world on fire, but who the hell cares? All Morales has done so far is create the only two (positive) highlights for the Jays during this dismal start. Last week it was a grand slam for his first HR in a Jays uniform. On Saturday he hit a walk off homer in the 9th inning to give the Blue Jays their 2nd win on the season

 

What Caused Us to Cringe

  • Robbie Alomar’s painted on skinny jeans. I mean come on Robbie, we can see your McCain’s frozen punch through them.
  • The three man booth of Buck, Pat and Dan Shulman. It’s nothing against the talent itself, it just comes across as being forced. I feel bad for Tabby in this scenerio because he really seems like the odd man out. I kind of picture him raising his hand like a child in class when he wants to add something to the conversation.
  • Edubray Ramos head hunting Asdrubal Cabrera. Last September, Cabrera hit an important homer off of the Phillies reliever. Fast forward to last week when Ramos decided to get even by whizzing a 94mph fastball over the head of the Mets player.
  • Buster Posey getting drilled in the head by a 94 mph fastball.
  • Gary Sanchez’s biceps strain – keeps young star out for next 4 weeks.
  • Jon Gray’s fractured foot keeping him out for the next month.
  • Sam Dyson closing games – blows 3rd straight save. Although as a Blue Jays fan I can’t help but smile a little bit.
  • Dale Scott being stretchered off the field. The home plate ump was forced to leave Friday’s contest after taking a foul tip off of the mask. Thankfully, it was only a minor concussion and he should be back soon.
  • Donno’s calf… again. This time it’s a trip to the DL. The kicker being that it could be 10 days or a month, that’s according to Blue Jays president, Mark Shapiro
  • The dismal Blue Jays offense. As if it were possible, these guys actually look worse than the guys who got carved up by the Indians in the 2016 ALCS
  • Aaron Sanchez’s pitching hand. A blister on the righty’s hand will keep him out for the next 1 to 2 starts.
  • JA Happ’s forearm strain. Hopefully this won’t lead to them cueing up Dr. James Andrews’ music. Although part of me believes that this is karma for all the “classy” Blue Jays fans cheering when David Price went down with an elbow injury in Spring Training.

 

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The Blue Jays Early Season Misery –  Where Do They Go From Here?

Sure we’re only twelve games in but at 2-10 how long can we keep making the “it’s still early” argument? It’s not like these have been “good” losses either as the Blue Jays sputtering offense looks completely lost at the dish. Furthermore, the injury bug, something that wasn’t a huge factor last year, has already started to rear it’s ugly head and we’re not even out of April.

This past week alone the Blue Jays have lost the trio of Josh Donaldson, Aaron Sanchez, and JA Happ, and let’s be honest here, we know the durability issues that this team has, how long until something else goes wrong? We’ve already seen the likes of Dominic Leone, Casey Lawrence, and now Chris Coghlan. Who is next? Mat Latos? TJ House? Brian Bolsinger? I mean it feels like this team is a Mike McCoy sighting away from flying the white flag.

So where do they go from here? What are the options? The way I see it, it’s one of two possible outcomes:

The Wait It Out Approach or the (eventual) Rebuild Route

Waiting it out is what is most likely to happen. This is a veteran team that (apparently) knows what it is capable of and knows how to turn it around; they’ve even gotten a vote of confidence from their President. For all you Gibby haters out there you can stop calling for his head now, he isn’t going anywhere, especially not after being just handed a new contract not even a month ago, and if they Shatkins regime won’t release Smoak after giving him an extension than they’re not getting rid of Gibby either. I would also bet that his two trips to the ALCS also get him a stay of execution for at least this year.

What you have to assume is that Hitting Coach, Brooks Jacoby, will be the first up to the chopping block. Despite being the hitting coach for the big bad Blue Jays bats of 2015, the lineups inability to change their approach at the plate could very well see Jacoby in the hunt for a new gig sooner rather than later.

But let’s say that this atrocious start carries on and turns into a disastrous season, would a potential “fire sale” take place? Despite making a statement about “trusting the players track record(s),” you have to think that Shapiro and Atkins are at least thinking about the possibility of selling some players off and building for the future.

It’s no secret that they want to rebuild the farm and put their stamp on the roster, not to mention get younger on the field. All three of these could factor into the decision to become a seller as the trade deadline nears. The brain trust could take a look at what the Yankees did last year – sell off valuable pieces for top prospects and remain competitive with prospects already in place- and hope to replicate it.

Now despite having some big names on the roster, the Blue Jays might find it hard to get the same return as the Yankees got last year mainly because the players they’ll be looking to offload are older and tied to long and expensive contracts. That doesn’t mean that they still won’t try to move them, even for a lesser return. As fans, let’s hope that this stays more hypothetical than a reality.

 

– $

Spare Change – Week One Reflections and More

opening day

 

 

What We Loved

  • Maddy Bumgarner’s Opening Day performance – 11k 2 HR
  • Kyle Schwarber in the leadoff position. The big LF is making Joe Maddon look like an even bigger genius with his torrid start out of the one hole.
  • Stephen Piscotty’s perilous trip around the bases. The Cardinals RF got hit by the ball 3x during the same journey. At least he was rewarded with a spot on Kimmel.
  • The absurd power throughout the Orioles lineup – Is JJ Hardy the weak spot? He did hit 30 in 2011
  • Unintentional comedy of the picture of 6’7 Aaron Judge and 5’8 Ronald Torryes
  • Bryce Harper on opening day… 5th HR in as many Opening Day’s
  • Not to be outdone, Mike Trout hit his 3rd HR on Opening Day
  • Albert Almora Jr. in CF – http://atmlb.com/2p4Hybi – http://atmlb.com/2owiSL1
  • Greg Holland closing out games. Former All Star has looked good upon his return from Tommy John.
  • Manny Machado’s glove work. Not only (arguably) the best 3B in the AL but also might be the best in the entire business.
  • The ludicrous power of Joey Gallo. The Rangers 1B caused a glitch in stat cast.
  • Fans turning Cueto into a horse via photoshop – http://www.thescore.com/news/1272381
  • The entire toolkit of Francisco Lindor. Add a late game grand slam to take the lead to his already impressive resume.
  • Eric Thames going yard in the show for the first time since 2012.
  • Jameson Taillon and Chris Sale lock horns at Fenway.
  • Bartolo’s return to Citi. Serious goosebumps – http://www.thescore.com/news/1272906
  • Josh Donaldson’s Barry Bonds earring. The Dangly cross just drips with swag from the late 80s and early 90s.
  • Manny Margot’s MLB debut. Padres top prospect hit back to back ding dongs in his first two MLB AB’s.
  • Yadier Molina’s chest protector. No way there isn’t something sprayed on that thing.
  • Jumbo Diaz jogging in from the pen. I’ll eat my hat if he is actually the 278 lbs that he is listed at.
  • Andrelton Simmons ridiculous tag – http://on.si.com/2pq8SQz.
  • The D-Backs red hot start. Last year’s bigger disappointments are already looking better than they did in 2016.

What Caused Us to Cringe

  • Masahiro Tanaka on opening day. The Yankees ace gave up a career high 7 earned in just 2.2 innings.
  • Tanaka’s UCL. The 28 year old is still pitching with a partially torn UCL which could possibly snap at any moment.
  • Waino pulling a 50 Cent but does it to allegedly protect Yadi. The Cardinals righty told reporters that he uncorked the egregiously wild pitch because he noticed that his catcher was set up for a curveball instead of the fastball that Wainwright was throwing. Commendable and all, but still ugly as hell.
  • Brett Cecil’s introduction to Cardinals fans. The former Blue Jay serves up a moonshot to Kyle Schwarber to give the Cubs the lead and the eventual game.
  • They aren’t who we thought they were. The Royals bullpen getting shelled for 12 runs through 2 games
  • Clayton Kershaw making more than the entire Padres roster. How is AJ Preller still employed?
  • Pretty much everything that the Blue Jays have done so far.
  • Jason Grilli at Camden Yards – The Grilled Cheese blows his 2nd consecutive save on the Orioles turf.
  • Josh Donaldson’s calves – why do I get the feeling that this could be a theme all season long?
  • Casey Lawrence’s introduction to Blue Jays fan (for further reading see below).
  • Walking in the winning run with the bases loaded and 2 outs. Seriously though, why not throw it right down the cock instead of trying to finesse it in there?

 

The (New) Golden Age of Shortstops 

As baseball fans, we are currently being treated to the best crop of talented, young SS since Jeter, ARod, Alex S Gonzalez, Edgar Renteria and Rey Ordonez were posing shirtless on the cover of Sports Illustrated.

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What makes that cover even more ridiculous is that future All Star and AL MVP Miguel Tejada wasn’t even invited; neither was Boston folk hero NOMAH! At the time of posting this, the likes of Carlos Correa, Francisco Lindor, Xander Bogaerts, Addy Russell, Dansby Swanson, Trevor Story, Tim Anderson, Trea Turner, Aldames Diaz, Corey Seager, Ketel Marte and Orlando Arcia are all 25 or younger. And that’s not even including the top SS prospects that are still in the minors like Gleybar Torres, Ahmed Rosario, Brendan Rogers, JP Crawford, Nick Gordon, Willy Adames, Kevin Maitan, Franklin Barretto, Jorge Mateo or Kevin Newman. This list also does not include Manny Machado who just turned himself into (arguably) the best 3B in the game. Nor does it include other SS who have changed positions to accommodate their teams needs a la Alex Bregman.

Besides the abundance of young and upcoming SS, we are also still witnessing the play of exceptional talent from those who are 30 and under such as Elvis Andrus, Jean Segura, Brandon Crawford, Jose Iglesias and Andrelton Simmons; Simmons alone being a treat himself and might just be the best defensive SS to ever play the game. I say that with full respect, love and admiration for the Wizard of Oz (Ozzie Smith). Furthermore, Troy Tulowitzki, who has just been the best SS for the past decade, is entering the latter half of his SS career, and although his bat doesn’t seem to be what it used to be, his glove alone is worth the price of admission.

Not only are we experiencing an increase in talent alone, but also one in the power department. In that shirtless shortstop year of 1997, only three shortstops hit 20 or more homers (Nomar, Arod, and Jay Bell), whereas last year ELEVEN different shortstops (not counting Machado) hit 20 or more, including Didi Gregorious and Freddy Galvis! Enjoy it while it lasts. It’s not everyday that you are treated to a renaissance like this.

 

Games Without G-Ma

I honestly thought that losing Eddy to the Indians would be the biggest loss that I suffered this off season. Little did I know that it would barely be a dent in comparison to losing my grandmother. My grandmother was, and still is, the biggest Blue Jays fan that I have ever known. And I am not saying that because she listened or watched each and every game. I am saying that because like myself, she lived and breathed everything Blue Jays. Even the teams that I could barely talk myself into (I’m looking at you Ty Taubenheim, Terry Adams, and Doug Creek) she would tune in as if it was the hey days of the 80’s or early 90’s. She knew all of the players, coaches, trainers and prospects. She loved the scrappy underdogs like Johnny Mac and Craig Grebeck, and hated showboats or selfish players. Not a phone call between us went by without at least a five minute breakdown of the weeks past games, impromptu scouting reports or prospect profiles. I can’t tell you how many times I tried to talk her into such and such prospect or insert recent addition only to have her rebuff me with a “Ill believe it when I see it” attitude.

Like her favourite coach (Cito Gaston) she was overly protective of her veteran players and would fight with me tooth and nail if I tried to side with any kind of youth movement; especially when it came to her favourite, Jose Bautista. Of all the players whom she claimed as “favourites” over the years (Stieb, Key, Borders, Gruber, Carter, Molitor Delgado, Wells, Halladay), I am certain that Joey Bats was her favourite; she was even cremated with his shersey.

Although she passed away after Christmas, I am starting to feel her loss more now than I did then and that’s because it was during the baseball season that we bonded the most. I can’t tell you how much I wish I had just one more conversation with her about the Blue Jays; even if it was just over the phone for five minutes like we used to. Despite my heart feeling like a million pounds from sadness, I take solace in two things:

  1. Knowing that she got to watch the Blue Jays make the playoffs not only once more, but twice.
  2. Remembering her calling our house after midnight in 1992 when they won their first World Series. I can still remember hearing her gravely voice choking back tears of joy and excitement because her boys had finally done it.

It’s moments like that that will never die and are what will get me through this difficult season ahead. Rest in peace G-Ma, I know you’re up there somewhere cursing this 1-5 start like the rest of us. Hope you enjoy the Home Opener tonight.

 

– $