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
• 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.
What We Loved:
- Near No Hitters. Sonny Gray, Drew Hutchison and Max Scherzer all had no hit bids broken up on Opening Day. A few days later, Trevor Bauer and a combo of Cleveland relievers had a collective no-no broke up by a Jed Lowrie bomb with one out in the 9th
- Adrian Gonzalez. Gonzalez set a MLB record by becoming the first player in MLB history to hit 5 HR in his first three games, when he launched three solo bombs on the third day of the year.
- Mike Trout doing Mike Trout things. Trout has hit HR’s in back to back Opening Days and both have been off of the Mariners (King) Felix Hernandez.
- Craig Kimbrel’s Padres debut. After being acquired hours before Opening Day, Kimbrel came in vs. the Dodgers in a non save situation and promptly struck out the side in Padres debut.
- Tigers set AL record with 24 scoreless innings to start season. It should be noted that this was against the hapless Twins, so an asterisk may be needed.
- Albert Pujols hitting career HR #522. The Angels slugger has now moved past Ted Williams, Frank Thomas and Willie McCovey and taken sole possession of 18th place on the all time HR list.
- Matt Harvey’s Return. After missing all of 2014 following Tommy John surgery, Harvey made his return to the Mets rotation and did not disappoint. The Mets right hander threw six dominant, shutout innings, struck out nine and only walked one. His fastball velocity was also sitting in the 95-97mph range.
- Locking up the Tribe. Indians signed starters Corey Kluber (5yrs/$38.5mil) and Carlos Carrasco (4yrs/$22mil) to very team favourable deals.
- Royals lock up Yordano Ventura. The 23 year old Ventura signed a 5yrs/$23mil contract the same day that the Indians signed their duo of starters.
- Eric Hosmer’s combo of batting stance and bat tape. Makes him look like he will smash every pitch thrown his way.
What We Hated:
- Stanozolol suspensions. Within 16 days of each other, MLB had issued 80 game suspensions to four players. The two most notable names were SP Ervin Santana of the Twins and RP Jenrry Mejia of the Mets. The other two were minor league pitchers Arodys Vizcaino of the Braves abd David Rollins of the Mariners. It should be interesting to see how MLB and new commissioner, Rob Manfred, handle baseballs latest drug/PED related scandal.
- The ongoing Josh Hamilton/Angels situation. I don’t understand how you can suddenly abandon and throw a guy under the bus because he relapsed. Hamilton’s struggles with drugs and alcohol have been well documented and the Angels knew this LONG before they signed him to 5yr/$125mil deal in the 2012 offseason. The way that this has publicly played out has been ugly and will only get uglier the longer it goes on.
- Brett Lawrie’s four strikeouts on twelve pitches. Hard to see a guy who’s jersey and shersey you once proudly wore have a night like this. The sequence went like this: Fastball, Slider, Slider… Slider, Slider, Slider… Curveball, Curveball, Curveball… Slider, Slider, Slider.
- Mat Latos Marlins debut. The Florida native was acquired by the Marlins in the offseason and they’re sure hoping that his Opening Day performance won’t become a habit. Latos didn’t even make it out of the 1st inning and was charged with 7ER on 6 H in 2/3 of an inning… yeesh.
- Rick Porcello cashes in. Sure the RHP has won 10 or more games every year since entering the league, but Porcello’s stuff has always projected him more as a middle of the rotation arm. He is now getting paid to be an ace.
- C’s first start since last May. The big lefthander looked average at best and gave up 4 earned over 5 1/3. It was Sabathia’s first start since undergoing knee surgery last season.
- The rain delay at Marlins Park. Despite being equipped with a $50 million dollar retractable roof to prevent this exact thing, the Marlins experienced a 16 minute rain delay. The culprit behind this delay was a weather app that failed to notify them of the pending rain shower approaching. Because they’re the Marlins of course…
- Yordano Ventura exiting early in back to back starts.
Irrelevant Major Leaguer of the Week:
1B/DH Erubiel Durazo · 7 yrs · 624 G · 1948 AB · 94 HR · 330 RBI · .281 AVG · .868 OPS
Blue Jays · Love it or Hate it
What We Loved:
- Devon Travis’ fearlessness while turning the double play.
- Devon Travis getting his first career hit and HR at Yankee Stadium.
- The amount of combined f***s given by 20 year old rookies, Roberto Osuna and Miguel Castro. Osuna made his MLB debut vs. the Yankees, with the bases loaded and the current career grand slam leader(A-Rod) standing in the batter’s box at the dish. He promptly struck him out with a filthy change-up. Castro on the other hand, has already assumed the closers role after Brett Cecil struggled.
- Hutch carving up the Yanks Opening Day in the Bronx. After struggling against left-handed hitters a year ago, Hutch easily handled the left handed heavy lineup that the Yankees threw out against him.
- Aaron Sanchez wearing Stro’s glove as a tribute.
- Every single thing Kevin Pillar has done thus far. Has been (arguably) the Blue Jays best player through the first two series. Pillar has easily submitted three candidates for Highlight of the Night, and that was just in the series against the Orioles.
- The latest chapter in the Joey Bats/Darren O’Day feud. Bautista deposited a 3-2 slider into the LF stands at Camden on Sunday afternoon. This came on the heels of having a pitch thrown behind his back. Bautista now has 4 HR off of the Orioles RHP since the two exchanged words at the Rogers Centre back in 2013.
What We Hated:
- Hutch getting pounded by the O’s. The offense provided him with an 8 run cushion and he seemed almost eager to give it right back. The right hander struggled with his location and was tagged for a pair of HR’s. Very surprising result given that Hutch has had success versus the Orioles in his career.
- Aaron Sanchez’s lack of fastball command in Baltimore drubbing. The highly touted Sanchez, who was making his first MLB start, struggled to locate his fastball and it showed, especially when he gave up two bombs in the first inning. Sanchez said he struggled with his delivery as he was more worried trying to conserve energy, rather than just throw normally like he did when he pitched out of the bullpen last season. It should be interesting to see if he adjusts and how it affects his next start.
- Bullpen woes in the 8th inning of the second game at Yankee. I get that it’s only the second game and that they were pitching in a virtual monsoon, but that is still a game you need to win. Especially when it won’t be any easier to take these games the next time the Jays travel to the Bronx, in August.
- Amount of strikeouts by Joey Bats in Opening Series. Eight strikeouts, no hits, one walk in twelve at bats in the Bronx.
Irrelevant Blue Jay of the Week:
RP Kerry Ligtenberg (2004) · 57 G · 55 IP · 1-6 W/L · 49/25 SO/BB · 6.38 ERA · 1.78 WHIP