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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2015 MLB Season Preview · NL East

Turner Field

Atlanta Braves

Home Field: Turner Field

2014: 79 – 83 · 2nd NL East

O/U in 2015: 73.5 Wins · Over

What We Love:

  • Depth of Starting Rotation. Braves start the season with a rotation consisting of: RHP Julio Teheran, LHP Alex Wood, RHP Shelby Miller, LHP Eric Stults and RHP Trevor Cahill. The Braves also have LHP Manny Banuelos and RHP Mike Foltynewicz in AAA, LHP Mike Minor on the DL, and a trio of top pitching prospects on the farm (Max Fried, Matt Wisler and Lucas Sims).
  • Andrelton Simmons making glove in the field. Simmons has won the NL Gold Glove at SS in both of his two full seasons in MLB. Here are a “few” of his web gems from last season: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m38fxtOA6Tk
  • Freddie Freeman at 1B. One of the few bright spots to look forward to in Atlanta this season.
  • John Smoltz getting the call to join Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and manager, Bobby Cox, in Cooperstown.

What We Hate:

  • Lackluster offense. Offseason house cleaning may have turned Atlanta into a contender for worst offense in baseball.
  • Being Nick Markakis. I wonder if Markakis was aware of the Braves plans to rebuild when he inked his 4yr/$44mil contract in the offseason. Speaking of…
  • Nick Markakis contract. Why make a point of shedding payroll and getting out from under “bad contracts,” just to dole out (potentially) another bad contract? Doesn’t make sense during (apparent) rebuild phase.
  • No more Craig Kimbrel closing games. Latest name to be shipped out of town. Takes his 90.7 SV% with him to San Diego.

Impact Player: 1B Freddie Freeman

Potential Breakout Candidate: LHP Alex Wood

Potential Bust Candidate: OF Nick Markakis

Top Prospect: Jose Peraza · 2B · MLB ETA: 2015

MLB.com Top 30 Prospects: http://m.mlb.com/prospects/2015?list=atl

Damian Moss

Irrelevant Throwback Player: LHP Damian Moss (2001-02)

Six Degrees of (Octavio) Dotel: The Braves were one of two teams that Dotel pitched for in 2007; the Royals being the other.

Final Prediction: 4th NL East.

Marlins Park

Miami Marlins

Home Field: Marlins Park

2014: 77 – 85 · 4th NL East

O/U in 2015: 81.5 · Over

What We Love:

  • Gio Stanton. Current Monster of Mash will be a fixture in Miami for the foreseeable future after inking the biggest contract in MLB history this past offseason. The Marlins slugger will make $325 million over the next 13 seasons to punish pitchers mistakes. If you like to see a ball get smashed, than Stanton at bats should be considered MUST WATCH TV.
  • Offseason acquisitions. The Marlins used their depth of pitching to bring in SP Mat Latos, SP Dan Haren, 2B Dee Gordon and 3B Martin Prado via trade. They also added the big bat of Mike Morse through free agency.
  • Christian Yelich’s toolbox. In 2015, the 23yr old Yelich hit .284/9/53 and added 21 SB in 144 games, it was his first full season with the Marlins; he also added a Gold Glove.
  • The return of Jose Fernandez. The 2013 NL Rookie of the Year missed the majority of 2014 following Tommy John surgery. The 22 year old, and his FILTHY pitching arsenal, should be back around the All Star Break.
  • Adeiny Hechavarria’s Glove. Not AS GOOD as Andrelton Simmons’ but also not that far off.

What We Hate:

  • Bullpen behind Cishek. Not a whole lot of depth here. Former All Star reliever, Aaron Crow, was brought in via trade from the Royals in exchange for another reliever, Brian Flynn. Unfortunately for the Fish, the newly acquired Crow will miss the entire 2015 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery.
  • Jarred Cosart’s (apparent) betting. The Marlins pitcher was investigated by MLB officials and fined by the Marlins in relation to gambling on sports other than baseball. Not only does it look bad on Cosart, but it also comes in the same year that Pete Rose is seeking reinstatement to MLB from new commissioner, Rob Manfred.
  • Jeffrey Loria. No reason needed.

Impact Player: RF Giancarlo Stanton

Potential Breakout Candidate: LF Christian Yelich

Potential Bust Candidate: SP Mat Latos

Top Prospect: Tyler Kolek · RHP · MLB ETA: 2018

MLB.com Top 30 Prospects: http://m.mlb.com/prospects/2015?list=mia

Luis Castillo

Irrelevant Throwback Player: 2B Luis Castillo (1997-2005)

Six Degrees of (Octavio) Dotel: The veteran Dotel was a member of the Blue Jays bullpen during Henderson Alvarez’s rookie season in 2011.

Final Prediction: 2nd NL East

Atlanta Braves v New York Mets

New York Mets

Home Field: Citi Field

2014: 79 – 83 · 3rd NL East

O/U in 2015: 81 Wins · Over

What We Love:

  • Matt Harvey’s return. The Mets ace missed all of 2014 after undergoing Tommy John at the end of the 2013 season. Harvey was one of the breakout stars of 2013 and, barring any setbacks, he should return back to his 2013 form. May be on a Strasburg-esque innings limit this season.
  • Future of starting rotation. Mets fans have already seen the trio of Harvey, Zack Wheeler and Jacob deGrom graduate to the bigs. Up next, RHP Noah Syndergaard, LHP Steven Matz and RHP Rafael Montero.
  • David Wright and Michael Cuddyer’s bromance. The two played baseball in the same town as kids. The older Cuddyer, was drafted in the 1st round (9th overall) out of high school in 1997.Wright, who is four years younger than Cuddyer, modelled his game after Cuddyer’s style of play.
  • Any Bartolo Colon start. Not because of his pitching, but because you know Colon will get a chance to bat and (maybe) run the bases.

What We Hate:

  • Zack Wheeler’s torn UCL. Just as the Mets get Matt Harvey back from Tommy John, they lose the 24yr old Wheeler to the same injury.
  • Josh Edgin’s torn UCL. An already weak looking bullpen lost their top LH option before the start of the season.
  • Travis d’Arnaud’s durability. Offensive minded catcher has struggled with injuries throughout his professional career.
  • David Wright’s durability. The face of the franchise as missed (large) parts out of 3 of the last 4 seasons. Mets will need him on the field and in the lineup if they want to finish above .500 in 2015.

Impact Player: SP Matt Harvey

Potential Breakout Candidate: C Travis d’Arnaud

Potential Bust Candidate: OF Michael Cuddyer

Top Prospect: Noah Syndergaard · RHP · MLB: 2015

benny agbayani

Irrelevant Throwback Player: OF Benny Agbayani (1998-2001)

Six Degrees of (Octavio) Dotel: The Mets were the first, of thirteen teams, that Dotel played for. They signed him as a 20yr old international free agent in 1993 and he made his MLB debut for them in 1999.

Final Prediction: 3rd NL East

Citizens Bank Park

Philadelphia Phillies

Home Field: Citizens Bank Park

2014: 73 – 89 · 5th NL East

O/U in 2015: 67 Wins · Over

What We Love:

  • Cole Hamels. Still one of the top pitchers, and southpaws, in the game today. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Hamels get traded as some point throughout the season (Boston anyone?) but until that day comes, he will remain one of the few bright spots on the Phillies roster.
  • Backend of Bullpen. If the Phillies manage to get a lead early on, the trio of Jonathan Papelbon, RHP Ken Giles and LHP Jake Diekman could slam the door shut from the 7th inning on. But that is a big IF.
  • Ben Revere’s wheels. Revere had a breakout year in 2014, hitting for a .306 average and stealing 49 bags in 151 games; he also accounted for 71 runs.
  • Chase Utley playing 155 games last season. A very bright spot for the oft-injured All Star.
  • The Mike Schmidt era throwback jerseys.

What We Hate:

  • Reuben Amaro Jr’s. Phillies GM unwillingness to commit to a rebuild has left them with more untradeable contracts (Cliff Lee, Ryan Howard, Utley, and Papelbon) than valuable trade pieces. Let’s hope that he doesn’t make the same mistake when it comes to Cole Hamels’ long term future.
  • Cliff Lee’s future. Former Cy Young winner faces an uncertain future as he attempts to comeback from a torn flexor tendon in his elbow.
  • Ryan Howard’s remaining contract. Making $25mil through 2016. Club has a $23mil option in 2017 or will face a $10mil buyout. That $10mil buyout looks like a steal to get out from under this contract.

Impact Player: SP Cole Hamels

Potential Breakout Candidate: RP Ken Giles

Potential Bust Candidate: 2B Chase Utley

Top Prospect: J.P Crawford · SS · MLB: 2016

rheal cormier

Irrelevant Throwback Player: P Rheal Cormier (2001-06)

Six Degrees of (Octavio) Dotel: Was teammates with Phillies OF Jeff Francoeur when the two were members of the Braves back in 2007.

Final Prediction: 5th NL East

Nationals Park

Washington Nationals

Home Field: Nationals Park

2014: 96 – 66 · 1st NL East

O/U in 2015: 93 Wins · Over

What We Love:

  • That Pitching Rotation. RHP Max Scherzer, RHP Stephen Strasburg, RHP Jordan Zimmerman, LHP Gio Gonzalez and RHP Doug Fister. When Doug Fister is your 5th starter, you know your team has a loaded starting rotation. Nationals also have 15 game winner, Tanner Roark, working as the long man in the bullpen.
  • Bryce Harper’s ridiculous combo of bat speed and power. If he can stay healthy, Harper could be one of the big breakouts of 2015.
  • Anthony Rendon’s continuing emergence as an elite 3B. Although fans will have to wait for his 2015 debut as he is currently on the DL.
  • Ryan Zimmerman no longer being a defensive liability at 3B.
  • Betting on Honest Abe in the Presidents race. His 264 wins, since the race begin in 2006, have him miles ahead of George Washington (188) in 2nd

What We Hate:

  • Durability Concerns. Ryan Zimmerman, Anthony Rendon, Bryce Harper, Denard Span, Jayson Werth, Stephen Strasburg, Casey Janssen and Wilson Ramos have all spent time on the Disabled List during their career. In fact, Rendon, Werth, Span and Janssen will (all) open the season on the DL.
  • Weak bullpen. Trading Tyler Clippard to the A’s didn’t help either.
  • Poor post season performers. Unceremoniously bounced in two NLDS appearances.
  • Imagining this team playing in Montreal

Impact Player: RHP Max Scherzer

Potential Breakout Candidate: OF Bryce Harper

Potential Bust Candidate: 1B Ryan Zimmerman

Top Prospect: RHP Lucas Giolito · RHP · MLB ETA: 2016

MLB.com Top 30 Prospects: http://m.mlb.com/prospects/2015?list=was

Elijah Dukes

Irrelevant Throwback Player: OF Elijah Dukes (2008-10)

Six Degrees of (Octavio) Dotel: Free agent acquisition, Casey Janssen, pitched in the Toronto Blue Jays bullpen with the well travelled Dotel back in 2011.

Final Prediction: 1st NL East

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