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!
Toronto Blue Jays
Home Ballpark: Skydome… Does ANYONE seriously call it the Rogers Centre?
2014 Finish: 83 – 79 · 3rd AL East
Over/Under Wins in 2015: 83.5 · Over
What We Love:
- Offseason Additions: Hard not to be (real) excited about the trio of players that the Blue Jays brought in during the offseason. First, the Jays landed one of the biggest fish in the free agent market when they signed Russell Martin to a 5 year deal. Although 2014 backstop (Dioner Navarro) did a more than admirable job, in Martin, the Jays receive one of the game’s premier defenders, a proven winner and a clubhouse leader. As big of a signing as the Martin deal was, it (nearly) took a backseat to the move that followed. In late November, the Blue Jays and Athletics pulled off a blockbuster of a trade that saw the Athletics receive oft-injured, but highly athletic 3B, Brett Lawrie; along with a trio of minor league prospects (Sean Nolin, Kendall Graveman and Franklin Barretto). The Blue Jays, on the other hand, received one of the game’s premier players and elite 3B in Josh Donaldson. Even though Donaldson is only entering his third full MLB season, he has already finished in the top 10 in MVP voting in back to back years; as well as getting his first All Star nomination last season. Donaldson already draws rave reviews for his durability, leadership and defensive capabilities, but you have to figure that his offensive stats will also get a boost as he leaves the cavernous Oakland Coliseum, for the more HR friendly confines of the Rogers Centre. Not to be left out of the shuffle was the acquisition of OF Michael Saunders from the Mariners, in exchange for LHP J.A Happ. Saunders has already endeared himself to the Blue Jays and their fans, when he opted to have his meniscus removed, opposed to surgery, after tearing it early on in Spring Training. Although the decision will leave him more open to long term injury, it’s a move that will allow him to return by mid-April rather than after the All Star break.
- Youthful Starting Rotation: Losing Marcus Stroman was a HUGE blow, but thanks to a well stocked farm system, that blow should be softened. Stepping up in the place of the “Stro Show” will be a pair of the Blue Jays top prospects, Aaron Sanchez and Daniel Norris. Sanchez, who thrived out of the bullpen a year ago, was originally looked at as a candidate to reprise his role and help solidify a (weak) bullpen. Instead he will get the chance to take the mound every 5th day and show off his deadly arsenal of a high 90’s sinking fastball and a devastating, 12 to 6, curveball, that we refer to as; “the Dirty Sanchez.” He has also been working on a cutter and a slider in the offseason so he can become a more rounded starter. Daniel Norris, whom has been garnering more offseason attention for his living arrangements than for his pitching capability, was originally slated to open the year in Buffalo (AAA), but a combination of Stro’s injury and an impressive spring has made it near impossible to send him down. Norris also offers a lot more upside than the other pitcher in the running, Marco Estrada (who is more cut out for the ‘pen), and has more experience/polish than the duo of impressive youngsters; Miguel Castro and Roberto Osuna. Not to be outshone by Norris and Sanchez, Drew Hutchison will be leaned on (heavily) to help shoulder the workload. Record aside (8-11), Hutch had a solid, first season back from Tommy John surgery; making 32 starts and averaging a strikeout an inning over 184.1 innings. Not to count chickens before they hatch, but Blue Jays beat writer, Jeff Blair, believes that this particular crop of pitching prospects rivals the days when the Jays had Roy Halladay, Chris Carpenter and Kelvim Escobar as pitching prospects. It really is hard not to get excited about the prospects of these young arms.
- The 1 thru 5 in the batting order: Reyes, Martin, Joey Bats, Edwing and Donaldson.
- Daniel Norris’ claim to being the Most Interesting Man in Baseball.
- The Argos signing a lease with BMO field = One small step closer grass in the dome.
- Having TWO young, high ceiling, Latino, power arms: Roberto Osuna and Miguel Castro.
- Three Canadians on the 25 man roster (Martin, Saunders and Pompey).
What We Hate:
- Marcus Stroman’s ACL: I honestly still cannot bear to think or talk about this. Stro’s blown ACL was an absolute gut punch of an injury. Even though he was only about to enter his sophomore season, Stroman had the stuff and confidence of someone far beyond his years. In fact, there were some (myself included) who believed that Stro would end the season as the teams de facto ace. What makes the matter worse, if that was possible, was seeing such a severe, freak injury befall someone with so much charisma and “swag,” as the Stro Show exudes. Silver lining time:
- At least it wasn’t Tommy John (knocks on wood).
- Stro’s work ethic, tenacity and drive, will pay HUGE dividends while he rehabs.
- Stro is young enough that it shouldn’t impact his long term future (knocks on wood.)
- You know he will be the Jays biggest cheerleader all season; especially if/when the post season comes around.
I look forward to tuning into the Stro Show when it returns in 2016. Best of luck in rehab!
- Lack of Depth: Who is our Opening Day 2B? Are we really planning on a full season of Kevin Pillar in LF? What happens if Dalton Pompey falters? Who is our back up 1B? Are we really entertaining the thought of carrying Daric Barton on the 25 man roster? Will Brett Cecil be our closer all season? Are we looking at carrying three LHP in the bullpen? Is Todd Redmond and Chad Jenkins really set for a big workload? These are questions that you have to face/ask when you’re team lacks depth. Unfortunately all of these questions and scenarios could be ones that the Blue Jays face in 2015. You know what would have been really nice? Having Melky Cabrera to be our opening day LF. The Melkman would have allowed Pillar and Pompey to platoon in CF and would’ve been a perfect bat for the two-hole in the lineup. The Blue Jays would love for Justin Smoak to find his bat and be able to allow Edwing to focus more on DH, but he would have to hit consistently in order to do that. As for the 2B situation, as of right now it looks like its Devon Travis’ job to lose. Travis, who was acquired from the Tigers in exchange for Anthony “the Chain” Gose, has enjoyed a great Spring Training with both the bat and the glove, yet he has never played a Major League game. The other candidates to take that job are: “all glove-no bat,” Ryan Goins and the 35 year old Macier Izturis, who is coming off a blown out knee. The biggest head shaking decision was why no one was brought in to help fortify the bullpen. In fact, the closest they came was the deal with Ronald Belisario that fell apart at the last minute. How have they not called Rafael Soriano? Dude, has pitched in the AL East and would give the Jays a RHP out of the bullpen. Don’t you find it odd that GM Alex Anthopolous went out and made the big trades and big signings, but neglected to address his team’s depth? Seems like the guy who buys an expensive car, but neglects to splurge for power windows and locks.
- The rest of the lineup (2B, LF, CF and DH) will be comprised of some combo of: Dioner Navarro, Justin Smoak, Daric Barton, Macier Izturis, Devon Travis, Ryan Goins, Dayan Viciedo, Kevin Pillar and Dalton Pompey.
- Imagining what Melky Cabrera could have brought to this lineup: legit two hitter and starting LF/occasional DH.
- That whole Duquette saga: imagine we traded Hoffman, Pentecost AND Mitch Nay for an executive?!
- That ridiculous looking Ted Rogers statue.
Player to Watch: SP Drew Hutchison. Sure there are a lot of candidates for us to pay attention to on the Blue Jays this upcoming season, but none may be as important as Hutch. In Hutchison, the Blue Jays have a young, battle tested starter, whom put up impressive numbers in his first season back from Tommy John: 184 strikeouts in 184.1 innings and a 1.26 WHIP. The main knock against Hutch is that he can struggle with his location, which can leave him prone to getting hit and hit hard (23 HR in 2014). Despite having command issues, Hutch does not issue a whole lot of free passes (60 BB in 2014) but in failing to consistently hit his target, he leaves himself open for batters to put a good swing on his mistakes. Personally, I see Hutch pitching 200+ innings and maybe winning 13 or more games.
Top Pitching Prospect: Daniel Norris · LHP · MLB ETA: 2015
Top Positional Prospect: Dalton Pompey · OF · MLB ETA: 2015
Top 30 Prospects (MLB.com): http://m.mlb.com/prospects/2015?list=tor
Final Prediction: 2nd AL East