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
• 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.
Prospect Pipe Line
It is very difficult to think of another season that rivals this one in terms of top prospects making their MLB debuts. The only year that really comes to mind would be the 1995 season which marked the first appearance of the Yankees “Core Four” (Jeter, Posada, Pettite and Rivera) and Jason Giambi, Johnny Damon, Hideo Nomo, Billy Wagner, Troy Percival, Jason Isringhausen, Mike Cameron, Phil Nevin, Brian Giles, Matt Lawton, Esteban Loaiza, Brad Radke and (current Rockies pitcher) LaTroy Hawkins.
Through 64 games this season, not only have we seen the arrivals of MLB.com’s Top 5 prospects (Kris Bryant, Byron Buxton, Carlos Correa, Addison Russell and Francisco Lindor), but we have also had the privilege of witnessing the MLB introductions of: Joey Gallo, Noah Syndergaard, Kevin Plawecki, Carlos Rodon, Archie Bradley, Blake Swihart, Eduardo Rodriguez, Austin Hedges, Lance McCullers, Vincent Velasquez, AJ Cole, Chi Chi Gonzalez, Yasmany Tomas, as well as a trio of Blue Jays (Roberto Osuna, Miguel Castro and Devin Travis). And that is not even including the highly talked about debut of ambidextrous relief pitcher, Pat Venditte.
This year’s “bumper crop” of prospects is just the latest in a five year boom of young talent arriving at the MLB level. Since 2010 baseball fans have had the privilege of witnessing the arrivals of: Mike Trout, Giancarlo Stanton, Bryce Harper, Buster Posey, Paul Goldschmidt, Manny Machado, Josh Donaldson, Kyle Seager, Freddie Freeman, Andrelton Simmons, Dee Gordon, Billy Hamilton, George Springer, Anthony Rendon, Madison Bumgarner, Chris Sale, Stephen Strasburg, Michael Wacha, Matt Harvey, Jose Fernandez, Sonny Gray, Zach Wheeler, Matt Moore, Corey Kluber, Shelby Miller, Trevor Rosenthal, Craig Kimbrel and half of the foundation of the Kansas City Royals roster (Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Greg Holland, Lorenzo Cain) to name a few .
And those are just players who were drafted through the MLB Draft; we’re not including players who were signed as International Free Agents like: Yasiel Puig, Aroldis Chapman, Jose Abreu, Yu Darvish, Masahiro Tanaka, Alex Guerrero and the rest of the Royals roster foundation (Yordano Ventura, Salvador Perez and Kelvin Herrera).
The funny thing is that this recent prospect yield is far from over. Obviously in the coming years we will be privy to see the arrivals of numerous prospects, but with this year not even half way over, we may be in line to witness more (young) talent embark upon their career. Depending on how the division and wild card races play out down the stretch, not to mention the rosters expanding in September, we could see the likes of Corey Seager (LAD), Mark Appel (HOU), Steven Matz (NYM), Alex Meyer (MIN), Miguel Sano (MIN), Carl Edwards (CHC), Aaron Nola (PHI) and J.P Crawford (PHI) before all is said and done.
Thoughts on the Mid Summer Classic
With EIGHT Royals set to start for the AL in Cincinnati in just under a month’s time, a lot of bitching and moaning has been cast toward the fan’s ability to vote and decide the starters for the All Star team. Even the players have been sharing their two cents. Detroit Tigers starting pitcher and an All Star himself, David Price, tweeted that the voting system “is not funny but it’s kind of a joke,” and further chided “I wanna know how many votes Jeter has right now… I know people have written him in and voted… my guess is 1.5 million.”
Despite the American League All Star roster starting to look more like a regular season affair, some of the Royals own players weighed in on the voting process. Outfielder Alex Gordon, who is currently sitting as one of the starting OF in the game, had this to say when interviewed by USA Today Sports:
“To be honest with you, I’ve never agreed with the All-Star voting, I always thought that guys most deserving, and having the best years, should go, especially now that the All-Star Game decides who wins home-field advantage. But it’s a popularity thing now, and after getting to the World Series, we got popular.”
It is hard not to agree with Price, Gordon and the side who vehemently oppose fans having the final say on who starts the All Star game. In fact, I am one of those people who believe that the system needs to be changed.
Having the fate of All Star starters rest in a fan held vote robs players who DESERVE to be there! With a fan vote, a player who is having a career year or one who is a “feel good story” might not get the chance to be named an All Star because one fan base is larger than another and voted more often for their hometown players; regardless of the season they’re having.
With that in mind, I do believe that fans should still play a role in selecting players, just not the starters. Why can they not vote on who will take place in the Home Run Derby? I understand that not everybody is an option to take part, but why can they not vote out of those who are willing to participate? I also like the idea of fans selecting the last player to be named to the All Star game. It really tends to be a selection made more for depth in case of extra innings, so why can we not limit them to voting for that, or even expand it so they can vote for the last three roster positions?
All that being said, until the system is changed, I (unfortunately) have to side with Kansas City Royals manager, Ned Yost, on the fan voting and All Star selection… “If you don’t like it, go out there and vote.”
The Return of Thor and Bitching About the Blue Jays in Bullet Points
- Grantland’s Jonah Keri put out an incredible Blue Jays article and an accompanying podcast. The Blue Jays are discussed in the first twenty minutes of the podcast and Jonah is joined by Scott MacArthur from TSN 1050 for the segment.
- Move over Mike Trout, there is a new man crush in town. Josh Donaldson seriously makes me swoon like a high school student getting noticed by their crush. I just get butterflies looking at the dude…
- Apparently I am not the only one either… The Don (Don Cherry) made a televised plea to baseball fans to vote for the “Bringer of Rain”
- I am still reeling after that 11th inning loss to the Mets on Monday night that ended the 11 game win streak. Regardless of how many runs we put up on a nightly basis, it is losses like that that will define, and subsequently doom, a season
- That Noah Syndergaard kid looked pretty damn good (6 IP · 2 H · 1 ER · 2 BB · 11 SO), but hey who needs him when you got good ol’ Runs Allowed Dickey
- More impressive than his stat line was Syndergaard’s ability to throw his secondary pitches for strikes in fastball counts, following the Bautista home run in the 1st.
- Gregg (Two G) Zaun made a decent point about our whipping boy Dickey during the pregame broadcast. He said that Dickey is effectively the same guy he was when he was pitching for the Mets, the main difference being that when he was with the Mets, he was pitching in a bigger ballpark, in a weaker division and against weaker lineups. I hate giving RA any benefit of doubt, but I do agree with Zaun’s analysis on this one.
- What I don’t agree with is anytime Zaun, or any Jays other analyst (I’m looking at you Wilner) for that matter, tries to defend trading Syndergaard and d’Arnaud for Dickey. Trading Syndergaard straight up for Dickey would have been egregious enough, let alone throwing d’Arnaud into the package. I am sure if you ask AA, he’ll agree this is one he wants a mulligan on
- I have said it before and I will say it again, but I have as much faith in Brett Cecil closing out a win, as I do in bargain bin folding chairs supporting my rotund frame
- Can we please (FINALLY) address our lack of pitching!? I fully understand that everybody fears making another R.A Dickey/Syndergaard type of trade, but you know what we really should fear?!?!? Not making the playoffs… AGAIN!!!
- I am totally on board with dealing some of our tomorrow for today! You have to be willing to take a chance in order to make it to the playoffs. It might work, it might not, but it is worth trying especially when the opportunity presents itself.
- The Giants for instance traded Zach Wheeler to the Mets for three months of Carlos Beltran in an attempt to win. Sure it didn’t work for them that season, but those are chances contenders and winning franchises make. Why can’t we?
- As much as I love prospects like Norris, Castro and Pompey, I wouldn’t hesitate to package them for a closer and a starter. You have to figure that those three (at least) get the conversation started on a Cueto/Chapman or Clippard/Kazmir deal? Hell, just one of them should be enough to land Papelbon from Philadelphia.
- If the prospects can’t contribute this season in helping us win, then why not use them via trade to help improve the roster and give us a chance this season? I completely agree with Scott MacArthur when he says that it is time to “bleep or get of the pot.”
- On a positive note, the Blue Jays have signed almost all of their draft class to contracts. This includes the top three picks, all of whom signed for or under slot value. For more info, check out the link from BlueBirdBanter:
Believe it or not, but despite the Blue Jays opening the 2015 season with six rookies – Devin Travis, Dalton Pompey, Daniel Norris, Miguel Castro, Roberto Osuna and Aaron Sanchez – on their 25 man roster, it hardly made a dent in the depth of their farm system.
Even with their less than stellar track record in ACTUALLY signing their first round picks (Tyler Beede and Phil Beckford, anyone?) and recent history of mortgaging the future in trades (Noah Syndergaard, Justin Nicolino, Anthony DeSclafani, Jake Marisnick etc…), the Blue Jays front office has done a near spectacular job in restocking the farm system year in and year out.
It doesn’t matter how they go about it, whether it be in the MLB Amateur Draft or signing international free agents, General Manager Alex Anthopolous and the Blue Jays brain trust have been able to acquire an abundant amount of prospects that will be able to help the organization in the future. Only time will tell whether that impact will be felt on the actual field or via the trade market, but it is good knowing that you have that deep of a farm system at your disposal.
With the MLB Amateur draft right around the corner, we will be taking a look at the Blue Jays Top 5 pitching and positional prospects. With apologies to current Buffalo Bison teammates, Miguel Castro, Dalton Pompey and Daniel Norris, these “future reports” are only focusing on those Blue Jays prospects who HAVE NOT made their MLB debut.
Up first, we will look at the Top 5 Pitching Prospects currently in the Blue Jays organization.
Jeff Hoffman · RHP · 22 years old · 6’4 · 185lbs
Acquired: 1st round (9th overall) 2014 MLB Amateur Draft
Current Affiliation: Dunedin Blue Jays (Single A)
Blue Jays Prospect Rank (MLB.com): #3
What You Need to Know:
- Report from ESPN prior to the draft: “While Hoffman doesn’t have the track record of [White Sox No. 3 overall pick Carlos] Rodon, the stuff is very comparable, and if he can pitch for East Carolina like he pitched over the summer, he is a legit contender to be the first player taken in June.”
- His college pitching coach at East Carolina, who also coached Chris Sale while he was at Florida Gulf Coast, said that Hoffman has the stuff to be an MLB ace: “Big leaguers are easy to spot at that level, and Hoffman’s unbelievable work ethic, discipline, and 99 mph fastball give him ace potential.”
- Baseball America: “At his best, Hoffman’s athletic body, electric fastball and ability to maintain his velocity evoke Justin Verlander.”
- Hoffman on his strike zone approach: “I’m going to pound the fastball in there until the other team proves they can hit it.”
- Even with having to recover from TJ, Hoffman should be considered an advanced pitcher and could climb through the minors quickly.
Scouting Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9a5cGLTvn9w
- Fastball: Throws two fastballs (four seam and two seam). Four seam is a heavy fastball that sits in the mid to high 90’s and regularly touches 97-98. His two seam sits in the low to mid 90’s and features above average sink and runs inside to right handed hitters.
- Curveball: Viewed as a plus to plus-plus pitch and as dominant as his fastball. The curve has good depth and biting action and sits in the 78 to 81 mph range.
- Changeup: Not as good as his curveball, but he has shown to have a more consistent feel for it. The changeup is viewed as above average to plus and could continue to develop into another filthy weapon at his disposal. It sits in the mid to upper 80’s and has good, late movement down and in to right handed hitters.
- Hoffman has also shown the ability to throw an average slider, but has seemed to put it in his back pocket for the time being.
MLB ETA: 2017
Sean Reid-Foley · RHP · 19 · 6’3” · 220lbs
Acquired: Supplemental First Round (49th) 2014 MLB Amateur Draft
Current Affiliation: Lansing Lugnuts (Single A)
Blue Jays Prospect Rank (MLB.com): #6
What You Need To Know:
- Considered to be one of the best prep school pitchers available in the draft, the jays landed him in the supplemental draft and signed him at slot value.
- Could be considered a steal as he shad potential to be among first 30 names called, not to mention having signed a college commitment letter.
- Tall and athletic frame which could allow for more velocity as he ages. His athleticism also allows him to repeat his delivery with relative ease; even if it isn’t the most fluid of deliveries.
- One cause for concern is in his pitching mechanics. Tends to throw across his body with a high arm slot and pitching elbow. The Blue Jays have been rumoured to potentially tweak his delivery as it could result in an elbow or shoulder injury.
- If everything clicks, he projects as a mid rotation pitcher at MLB level.
Scouting Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_uNZSBRahBY
- Fastball: Sits between the 92 and 95 mph range and can hit 97 on the radar gun. His fastball also has above average movement inside to right handed hitters due to him throwing it with his two fingers held in close proximity to one another.
- Slider: Viewed as his second best pitch, the slider sits in the mid 80’s and has lots of spin with late biting action. ESPN wrote that: “his breaking ball is inconsistent and there’s some noticeable arm angle changes, but at its best it offers plus spin and late bite, and he has a good feel for the pitch.”
- Changeup: Viewed as a work in progress and would currently rank as an average pitch at its best. Biggest issue with the changeup is his inability to throw it from the same arm slot as his fastball. This “tipping” of the pitch allow hitters to know that it’s coming and adjust accordingly. Until he gets a better feel for the changeup, he will be viewed as a predominant two pitch pitcher.
MLB ETA: 2018
Jairo Labourt · LHP · 21 · 6’4 · 205lbs
Acquired: Signed as an International Free Agent in 2011
Current Affiliation: Dunedin Blue Jays (Single A)
Blue Jays Prospect Rank (MLB.com): #10
What You Need to Know:
- The Blue Jays have found great success on the international free agent scene and Labourt is one of many big arm high ceiling arms that they have managed to stockpile.
- The big Dominican southpaw has an effortless delivery with clean arm action. Should bode well for his durability in the long run.
- Struggled with his control in his first few seasons but a change to his pitching mechanics has resulted in better control and an elevated groundball %.
- The biggest knock against the big lefty has been his inconsistent command of his pitches. He will need to continue to improve his control and hit the strike zone in order to continue advancing through the minor leagues.
- Development of change-up could be the difference between him starting or relieving. Has projected as a “workhorse” starter due to his large frame.
Scouting Video: https://youtu.be/rMAWCMrNQ8U
- Fastball: Heavy with good sinking motion – aided further by Labourt’s downhill pitching delivery – that routinely sits in the 89 to 93 mph range and has hit 95 mph on the radar gun.
- Slider: Considered the better offering of his two secondary pitches. He will throw his slider between 83 to 86 mph and it is prone to diving out of the strike zone and into the dirt as it approaches home. Definitely has the potential develop into a “wipeout” slider.
- Changeup: Currently a work in progress and forces him to rely more on his slider as an off speed offering. Labourt’s changeup will sit between 77 and 79 mph but is rarely used in comparison to his other pitches. He will need to further develop this in order to stay as a starting pitcher at the major league level.
MLB ETA: 2017
Matt Smoral · LHP · 21 · 6’8 · 220lbs
Acquired: Supplemental First Round (50th overall) 2012 MLB Amateur Draft
Current Affiliation: Dunedin Blue Jays (Single A)
Blue Jays Prospect Rank (MLB.com): #11
What You Need to Know:
- Due to his enormous height, similar pitch arsenal and deceptive left-handed delivery, Smoral has (unfairly) been compared to both Randy Johnson and Madison Bumgarner.
- Originally projected to be a first round draft selection but fell to the Supplemental 1st round due to a broken foot he suffered in High School. The injury could be a blessing in disguise as if he even remotely reaches his potential he could be a big time steal.
- After dealing with an assortment of injuries in his first two seasons, Smoral made big strides in 2014 by appearing in 52.1 innings.
- Despite this minor success, Smoral is still considered to be a work in progress. The main reason for this, aside from the injuries, has been his struggle to repeat his delivery and throw his pitches for strike.
- Unfortunately for the 6’8 lefty, the primary culprit for his command and delivery issues is his enormous stature. Since their size forces them to be releasing the ball practically on top of the batter, young pitchers with immense height tend to have more problems learning to hone their mechanics than their shorter peers.
Scouting Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RjL2H_W2uTA
- Fastball: Sits in the low 90’s but has been known to hit as high as 95 mph on occasion. His fastball is graded as an above average pitch that could eventually develop into a plus pitch as he continues to progress. Smoral’s low ¾ arm slot and smooth delivery of the pitch also helps it to appear even faster to opposing batters.
- Slider: When he has a good feel for it, the slider will appear more as a plus pitch than an average to above average one. Throws it in the mid 80’s, but does tend to struggle with his control and command which causes it to flatten out and appear more hittable. When it is on though, it has the makings of a true “wipeout” slider.
- Changeup: Still a work in progress compared to his slider. Will sit in the high 70’s to low 80’s range and has good late sinking and fading action as it nears the plate. His changeup comes from a similar arm slot as his fastball which allows it to be more deceiving to batters. Despite it still being a pitch in development, he has shown to have a good feel for the changeup.
MLB ETA: 2018
Ryan Borucki · LHP · 21 · 6’4 · 175lbs
Acquired: Selectied in the 15th round (475th overall) in the 2012 MLB Amateur Draft
Current Affiliation: Vancouver Canadians (Single A)
Blue Jays Prospect Rank (MLB.com): #12
What You Need to Know:
- Slipped to the 15th round due to an elbow injury which would eventually require Tommy John surgery. Missed the entire 2013 season, but came back to pitch 57 innings between two levels of Single A in 2014
- Since being drafted and undergoing surgery, has worked to “smooth out” any mechanical issues with his delivery which has allowed for better control and command of his pitches
- Even with his career being delayed due to injury and rehabilitation, Borucki has shown an advance level of polish and a high baseball IQ. This should only continue to advance and develop as he moves throughout the minor leagues
- His tall and athletic frame could allow for more size to be added, which in turn would result in an added boost in velocity
- Has drawn comparisons to former Blue Jays and current Miami Marlins pitching prospect, Justin Nicolino, due to their similar build
Scouting Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C9utr39N8Z4
- Fastball: Mainly sits in the low 90’s but has hit as high as 94 mph on the radar gun. His fastball has shown to have good life to it and tends to run inside to left handed hitters. As mentioned above, he could add more velocity if he adds some more size to his frame.
- Curveball: Not as polished as his changeup but has a pretty decent feel for the pitch. Curveball will sit in the mid 70’s and may have more of a “slurve” movement depending on how he grips it.
- Changeup: The better offering of his two secondary pitches, Borucki’s change, like his curveball, will sit in the mid 70’s range. He has shown a better feel for the pitch and seems more comfortable throwing it in high leverage situations than his breaking ball.
MLB ETA: 2018
Honourable Mention: RHP Alberto Tirado
Coming up next… the Top 5 Toronto Blue Jay positional prospects.
John Schuerholz, who was the architect behind the Atlanta Braves dynasty of the 1990’s and 2000’s, believed that it took 60 games to fully determine what kind of team you were working with. The Toronto Blue Jays, to date, have played 42 games and are looking like a team with two contrasting identities.
On one hand you have an offensive juggernaut, a team that has already had 8 games in which they have scored 10 or more runs. This same team currently leads MLB in Runs Scored (215), Runs Batted In (204) and doubles (87).
Unfortunately, for this offensive powerhouse, this is the same team whose alter ego takes its form in a woeful pitching staff. If this pitching staff had a superpower it would be the ability to blow a lead faster than a speeding locomotive.
As of last nights 4-3 loss to the Angels, a game which featured another blown lead, the Blue Jays have an abysmal 2-18 record when the offense DOES NOT score 5 or more runs. Furthermore, this is a team whose bullet ridden bullpen has 40.6% of their inherited runners score (worst in MLB).
So… Where do you go from here?
The popular and typical Torontonian opinion is to fire the coach. It’s no surprise that the hashtag #FireGibby is usually one of the trending tags on Twitter following (another) Blue Jays loss.
But how much can we really blame Gibbons for this poor start?
Is it his fault that the pitchers he has been given to work with are a motley group of past their prime veterans, rookies, retreads and cast offs? Is it his fault that he has to work with a bullpen that has trotted out stiffs like Todd Redmond, Liam Hendriks, Colt Hynes, Jeff Francis, Chad Jenkins and Ryan Tepera? Is it his fault that “trusted” bullpen arms like Aaron Loup are under performing?
What I will (eventually) blame him for will be Roberto Osuna’s (eventual) injury, stemming from Gibby doing his best Dusty Baker impression and pitching him until his arm falls off. But until that happens… I am not holding Gibbons responsible for how the pitchers have performed.
If anything, the main area of his control (the offense) has been the lone bright spot this season. We should be applauding Gibby for getting consistent production out of this lineup despite it featuring Ryan Goins, Chris Collabello, Steve Tolleson, Ezequiel Carrera and Kevin Pillar on a near-nightly basis. He has also done an admirable job of handling an injury to his leadoff hitter (Jose Reyes) by moving the likes of Devin Travis and Josh Donaldson into the leadoff slot.
Speaking of Donaldson, it’s hard not to feel for him. Dude is absolutely everything you want in a ballplayer and just a straight up winner. Sadly he is starting to realize that he is going to miss out on the playoffs for the first time in four years.
Personally, I am putting the blame more on GM Alex Anthopolous than I am on Gibbons. A few days ago, AA was on a Toronto radio show and said “that the Blue Jays need to find ways to improve.” This was said during a segment in which the Jays GM was discussing, among other things, the future of John Gibbons.
I find it funny that AA would throw Gibby under the bus like that when it is he, as General Manager, who is solely responsible for improving the on the field product and giving the Manager (Gibbons) the pieces he needs in order to win. It is great that AA went out and hit home runs with the Russell Martin signing, Donaldson trade, and what is looking like the Travis/Gose trade, but why did he stop there? Why did he not continue adding pieces and address the biggest and most obvious need, PITCHING!
The season is still (relatively) early and a lot could happen before all is said and done. I try and stay positive/optimistic by remembering that the Orioles were in last place at the end of May last season and went on to win the division. Perhaps AA has something up his sleeve. Maybe he is starting to finally realize that BETTER pitching is needed and will go out and do something about that. Then again, maybe he won’t. We are as likely to see that happen as we are to hear the old, tried, tested and true excuse(s) of “there wasn’t a move that made sense” or “we didn’t have the budget”… Either way, the 2015 season is just another one in a long line of high hopes and disappointments.
Before I sign off, I would like to share a text conversation that I had last night with my longtime friend and part time contributor, GW. This is what he had to say following last nights loss:
“I’m not gonna lie. I’m already starting to think about how close the jays could be to a strong rebuild- Buehrle and Dickey are expiring, you could trade one or both of Bautista or Edwin before next year…and then Reyes is the only leftover from this 3 year abortion. The 2017 jays already look better than the 2015 jays with no further tweaks. Donaldson, Travis, Pompey, Stroman, Norris, Sanchez, hutch, Hoffman, Osuna, Castro….then fliers on guys like Dwight Smith and Anthony Alford….there’s a team in there, and they would combine for a payroll about 60 or 70 million less than their current one. Lots of flexibility.”
What really hits home is that, as a lifelong Jays and Toronto sports fan, I am more expecting this to happen than any attempt to really win this year. #ComeTogether