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.

 

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2017 MLB Season Preview- American League East

MLB: MAR 14 Spring Training - Phillies at Orioles

Baltimore Orioles

2016 Record: 89-73 • 3rd AL East

O/U on Wins: 84.5 • Under

Moving In: C Wellington Castillo • P Vidal Nuno • OF Seth Smith

Moving Out: C Matt Wieters • DH Pedro Alvarez • UT Steve Pearce • P Vance Worley • P Yovanni Gallardo • P Tommy Hunter

Key Player(s) in 2017: P Kevin Gausman and P Dylan Bundy. The pitching starved O’s will need both former first round picks to be both healthy and consistent in order to compete for a playoff spot. If both can give solid contributions than the O’s could definitely challenge for top spot in the East. Gausman set career highs in 2016 by making 30 starts, throwing 179.2 innings and punching out 174 batters, all despite beginning the season on the DL with tendinitis in his shoulder. Entering his fifth season, the O’s will look for Gausman to pick up where he left off in the second half of 2016 (8-6/3.10 ERA) and continue to strive toward unlocking his true potential.

Potential Breakout: P Dylan Bundy. The former 3rd overall pick has battled injuries throughout his short career but if he can stay healthy, Bundy could finally reach the potential that the O’s and baseball fans have been waiting for. Early indications show that Bundy will not have an innings limit imposed on him this season which could either mean a new career high in starts and innings pitched or a possible breakdown.

Top Prospect: C Chance Sisco • Age: 22 • MLB ETA: 2017

First Round Draft Miss: 3B Billy Rowell over Pitchers Tim Lincecum and Max Scherzer.

Fantasy Stud: 3B Manny Machado. 2016 Stats: .294/.876/37/96/6.7 WAR in 640 AB

Money’s Man Crush: Machado’s skill set. A perennial MVP candidate with Gold Glove defense.

2017 Prediction: 3rd AL East

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Boston Red Sox

2016 Record: 93-69 • 1st AL East

O/U on Wins: 90.5 • Over

Moving In: P Chris Sale • P Tyler Thornburg • 1B Mitch Moreland • OF Junior Lake • 2B Josh Rutledge

Moving Out: DH David Ortiz • 2B Yoan Moncada • 1B/3B Travis Shaw • P Clay Buchholz • P Junichi Tazawa • P Koji Uehara • C Ryan Hanigan • IF Aaron Hill • P Michael Kopech

Key Player(s) in 2017: 3B Pablo Sandoval and P Tyler Thornburg. A slimmer and healthier Panda will look to make good on his 5yrs/$95 mil contract after a dismal 2015 and injury derailed 2016. If Sandoval regains his approach at the plate, he could give the Red Sox another weapon in an already loaded lineup. As for Thornburg, the Red Sox traded for him to (hopefully) be their 8th inning set up man. Last year, the Red Sox used Junichi Tazawa, Brad Ziegler, Robbie Ross, Matt Barnes and Joe Kelly in that role, all to mixed or negative reviews.

Potential Breakout: OF Andrew Benitendi. The newest member of the Killer B outfield has rocketed up the depth chart since being drafted 7th overall in 2015. Benitendi got his feet wet in 2016 and showed some glimpses of what he’s capable of. It wouldn’t be surprising at all to see him become a 20/20 player at the MLB level. Benitendi is currently considered one of, if not the favourite to win Rookie of the Year in the American League.

Top Prospect: 3B Rafael Devers • Age: 20 • MLB ETA: 2018

First Round Draft Miss: Kolbrin Vitek (20) over Christian Yelich (23) in 2010

Fantasy Stud: Mookie Betts • 2016 Stats: .318/.897/31/113/9.6 WAR in 672AB

Money’s Man Crush: The Killer B’s (Betts, Benitendi, Bradley Jr) in the OF. Although as a Blue Jays fan, just saying that kills me.

2017 Prediction: 1st AL East

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New York Yankees

2016 Record: 84-78 • 4th AL East

O/U on Wins: 83.5 • Under

Moving In: P Aroldis Chapman • 1B/0F Matt Holliday • 1B Chris Carter • UT Reuben Tejada • P Jon Niese

Moving Out: C Brian McCann • 1B Mark Teixera • P Nathan Eovaldi • DH Billy Butler • 0F Dustin Ackley

Key Player(s) in 2017: P Luis Severino. The Yankees will need Severino to pitch like his 2015 self, where he showed glimpses of dominance over the 2016 version that didn’t earn a W as a starter, if they have any hope of making the playoffs for the first time in 5 seasons. Severino will also need to impress in the rotation in order to stay a starter long term. Despite being committed to him for a whole season as a starter, the Yanks may eventually move him to the pen if he continues to struggle with consistency.

Potential Breakout: OF Aaron Judge. the 6’7 Judge is equipped with both a cannon for an arm, and light tower power, but he’ll need to change his approach at the plate and cut down on the strikeouts in order to make an impact in 2017. If he can do that, there is a good chance he could challenge for the Rookie of the Year.

Top Prospect: OF Clint Frazier • Age: 22 • MLB ETA: 2018

First Round Draft Miss: SS Cito Culver (32) over Pitchers Aaron Sanchez (34) and Noah Syndergaard (38) in 2010.

Fantasy Stud: C Gary Sanchez. 2016 Stats: .299/1.032/20/42/3.0 WAR in 201 AB

Money’s Man Crush: The bright future of the Baby Bombers (Gary Sanchez, Aaron Judge, Clint Frazier and Gleybar Torres). See above comment in regards to the anguish it causes me to write that.

2017 Prediction: 4th AL East

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Tampa Bay Rays

2016 Record: 68-94 • 5th AL East

O/U on Wins: 75.5 • Over

Moving In: C Wilson Ramos • 0F Colby Rasmus • P Cory Rasmus • P Nathan Eovaldi • OF Mallex Smith • P Jose De Leon

Moving Out: 2B Logan Forsythe • SS Alexi Ramirez • P Kevin Jepsen • 1B/0F Richie Shaffer

Key Player(s) in 2017: P Chris Archer. Archer posted his worst season in his career in 2015 when he went 9-19, with the only bright spot being that he punched-out 233 batters. It’s really a no brainer here to say that any Rays success will hinge on Archer’s performance. He the de facto ace, as well as being a veteran and leader in the locker room. The Rays obviously still believe in him as they were reluctant to part with him via trade in the offseason despite having more than one offer on the table.

Potential Breakout: P Blake Snell. The 2015 Rays minor leaguer of the year had some decent success in his debut. Snell made 19 starts and went 6-8 with a 3.54 ERA and 1.61 WHIP while adding 98 strikeouts in 89 innings in 2016.Snell will need to cut down on both the walks and hits if he is to continue get success in the MLB. It should be interesting to see how he adapts now that teams have had more exposure and tape on him.

Top Prospect: SS Willy Adames • Age: 21 • MLB ETA: 2018

First Round Draft Miss: SS Tim Beckham (1) over 1B Pedro Alvarez (2), 1B Eric Hosmer (3) and C Buster Posey (5) in 2008.

Fantasy Stud: 3B Evan Longoria. 2016 Stats: .273/.840/36/98/3.8 WAR in 633 AB

Money’s Man Crush: Kevin Kiermaier. Not sure what to love more, his glove in CF, his wheels on the base path or those eyes.

2017 Prediction: 5th AL East

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Toronto Blue Jays:

2016 Record: 89-73 • 2nd AL East

O/U on Wins: 86.5 • Over

Moving In: DH Kendrys Morales • UT Steve Pearce • P JP Howell • P Joe Smith • C Jared Saltalamacchia • P Mat Latos • P Brett Oberholtzer • P TJ House • P Lucas Farrell • C Juan Graterol

Moving Out: 1B Edwin Encarnacion • OF Michael Saunders • P Brett Cecil • P Joaquin Benoit • P RA Dickey • P Scott Feldman • C Dioner Navarro

Key Player(s) in 2017: 2B Devon Travis. Snake bitten or injury prone, these are the two terms that have been floating around Devon Travis since he saw his (impressive) 2015 debut ended after a month with a shoulder injury. Despite returning to play in 101 games in 2016, Travis was still nagged by his shoulder injury as well as having his post season cut short with an injury to his knee. When healthy, Travis has proven to be one of the better, young 2B in the game. He plays average to above average defense at 2B and has excelled at the plate. The Blue Jays will need Travis to play in as many games as possible in order to keep all glove, no bat, Ryan Goins out of the lineup.

Potential Breakout: P Marcus Stroman. The Stro show entered 2016 with ace intentions following a remarkable September and post season run in 2015 after returning from ACL surgery. Unfortunately for Stroman, his 2016 was marred by an inconsistent first half that saw him routinely get pounded once the opposing lineup saw him for a 3rd time. Even though he did look to turn a corner post all star break, Stroman will need to cut down on the amount of solid contact that he surrenders. This might be difficult considering that he is a groundball inducing machine. Stroman definitely has the drive and stuff to have a big breakout but he’ll need to keep control of his emotions and remain composed when he does struggle in order to limit the damage.

Top Prospect: 3B Vladmir Guerrero Jr. • Age: 17 • MLB ETA: 2019

First Round Draft Miss: Deck McGuire (10) over C Yasmani Grandal (11) and P Chris Sale (12) in 2010

Fantasy Stud: Josh Donaldson. • 2016 Stats: .284/.953/37/99/7.4 WAR in 577 AB.

Money’s Man Crush: Defense on the left side of the infield featuring perennial Gold Glove threats 3B Josh Donaldson and SS Troy Tulowitzki

2017 Prediction: 2nd AL East

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