Tagged: josh donaldson

Spare Change – Welcome to Meaningful September Baseball

edwin flex

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.

eeparot

  • 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.

Cleveland Indians v Toronto Blue Jays

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.

Cleveland Indians v Toronto Blue Jays

JFD = MVP

  • It’s just getting silly what Josh Donaldson is doing…

http://m.mlb.com/video/topic/29387502/v442577983/cletor-donaldson-scores-with-great-slide-on-sac-fly

  • 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. Dickey

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….

Marcus Stroman

Stro-tember

  • 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.

mark shapiro

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.

stir the pot

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….

Mount Crushmore

  • 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!

https://video-ord1-1.xx.fbcdn.net/hvideo-xfp1/v/t42.1790-2/11920263_10153245983958772_867365191_n.mp4?efg=eyJybHIiOjEwNjUsInJsYSI6NTEyfQ%3D%3D&rl=1065&vabr=592&oh=3065bf6813043e1b488285439a887cb5&oe=55E8EDD3

Enjoy the rest of the ride!

– $

Spare Change – David Price Delirium and Random Rumbling and Ranting

TBJ1

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?

AA

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…

DP

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 (W)

David Price Day #2 (August 8th, 2015 @ Yankees): 7 IP • 3 H • 0 ER • 3 BB • 7 K (W)

Next up… Oakland or the Yankees (round #2)… depends on what Gibby decides.

BJBW

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.

TBJ

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.

poopy hutch

  • 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?

http://www.sportsnet.ca/baseball/mlb/gotta-hear-it-espn-refers-to-blue-jays-as-beer-league-softball-team/

  • 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…

“Did really call us a “beer league softball team?!” I’m guessing cause we hit homers?? That’s all we do well right?!

Marcus Stroman

  • 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.

http://m.mlb.com/video/v352405283/houoak-valencia-hits-walkoff-single-in-the-9th/?query=danny+valencia

  • 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.

Futures Market:

Alford

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

CG

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

JAYS/PHILLIES

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. *

RIP Gramps….

David Mounsey • April 8th, 1942 – August 7th, 2015

– $

Spare Change – The Good, the Bad and the Dickey and Trade Deadline Grumblings

Toronto Blue Jays and Cleveland Indians stand on the base lines before the start of their opening day AL baseball game in Toronto on Tuesday, April 2, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

The Good

• 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).

donno

• 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.

Apr 14, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria (3) breaks up a double play attempt by Toronto Blue Jays second baseman Devon Travis (29) in the sixth inning at the Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

• 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…

KP

• 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.

SP-JAYDAY9MAY Toronto, Canada - May 9  -  Jays closer, Roberto Osuna (54) throws in the 9th. The Toronto Blue Jays beat the Boston Red Sox 7-1 at the Rogers Centre in Toronto. May 9, 2015 Richard Lautens/Toronto Star

• 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

The Bad

poopy hutch

• 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.

The Dickey

TORONTO, CANADA - MAY 29: Jose Reyes #7 of the Toronto Blue Jays reacts after making a throwing error in the ninth inning during MLB game action against the Kansas City Royals on May 29, 2014 at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

• 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.

Anthopolous1

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.

Additional Reading:

http://www.sportsnet.ca/baseball/mlb/morosi-blue-jays-not-close-to-making-a-trade/

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The Pulse on MLB – Prospects Abound, All Star Rant and Blue Jay Ramblings

Correa

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.

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 .

Hosmer Moose

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).

yordano sal

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.

2015 MLB ASG

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.”

Thor

 

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.

http://grantland.com/the-triangle/the-jonah-keri-podcast-scott-macarthur-on-the-blue-jays-and-justin-halpern-on-the-padres/

http://grantland.com/the-triangle/mlb-toronto-blue-jays-playoffs-historic-offense-starting-pitching/

  • 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

thor1

  • 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

Cecil

  • 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:

http://www.bluebirdbanter.com/2015/6/10/8755563/2015-draft-signing-table

– $

The Pulse on MLB: Blue Jay Blues

Hutch loss

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).

Delabar loss

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?

loup

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.

donaldson

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!

estrada

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

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2015 MLB Season Preview · AL East · Toronto Blue Jays

Skydome Panorama

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.

martin

  • 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.

Aaron-Sanchez-Daniel-Norris 

        Honourable Mention:

  • 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!

Stro

  • 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.

        Honourable Mention:

  • 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.

 

hutch1

Top Pitching Prospect: Daniel Norris · LHP · MLB ETA: 2015

daniel-norris 

Top Positional Prospect: Dalton Pompey · OF · MLB ETA: 2015

 

Dalton Pompey

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

 

Final Prediction: 2nd AL East

– $

The Good, the Bad and the Duquette: The Toronto Blue Jays Offseason

dome

Even with the snow (still) falling and the thermometer (still) regularly positioned well below the 0 degree mark, it is beginning to feel a little bit more like Spring. Okay well maybe not actually, but mentally it’s hard not to start dreaming of shorts, sandals, driving with the windows down and above all, baseball. That’s right folks, you did read that correctly.With the Super Bowl behind us, and the countdown to pitchers and catchers reporting now down to the two week mark, it’s pretty much time to round up (because that’s what we do in Canada) to baseball season.

As a Maple Leafs fan, I have been rounding up to the baseball season since Christmas

Sad Leafs Fans

We previously took a look at the big stories of the MLB offseason, or the Hot Stove Season as it’s known in the baseball world. We discussed the surprising signings and trades, which teams had “won” and “lost” the offseason, and what to expect heading into the 2015 season. Today, we will continue our review of the Hot Stove Season and take a more in-depth look at what the Toronto Blue Jays have done up to this point. Now because cliches are essential when discussing sports and I cant factor the suffix “gate” into it any way, let’s go ahead and discuss, the Good, the Bad and the Duquette of the Jays offseason.

The Good:

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Josh Donaldson is a member of the Toronto Blue Jays…

  • I feel like Lieutenant Dan in Forrest Gump when he finds out that Forrest has been awarded the Congressional Medal of Honour. He can’t fathom what has happened, so he keeps repeating the line, “They gave YOU a Congressional Medal of Honour.” That has been me since news of the Donaldson deal broke well over a month ago. I STILL cant comprehend that Josh Donaldson is a member of the Toronto Blue Jays. Just thinking about it causes me to grin like an idiot. Josh Donaldson is a Toronto Blue Jay! One of, if not the best 3B will be our Opening Day 3B! He should bat in the 5 spot behind Edwin, but you could make the argument to have him bat 3 and move Jose up to the 2. Either way, Gibby should have fun writing out that lineup card every game, at least 1 through 5 that is.

martin

Filling our Canadian Quota: the Russell Martin Signing…

  • As mind blowing as the Donaldson deal was, it wasn’t even one of the biggest offseason moves that the Jays made. The Jays were one of the first teams to dip into the free agent pool when they landed one of the most sought after prizes of the offseason in Russell Martin. Despite the catching position not being one of the (glaring) weaknesses of the Jays roster, the Martin signing offers an immediate upgrade at a position to which the Jays already have a fair amount of depth. Martin, who is a superb defender, should immediately help control the oppositions run game on the base paths; an area which Toronto often struggles. Even though he did struggle offensively in his last appearance in the AL, there is no reason to speculate that Martin should return to the offensive woes that befell him in New York and if anything, should offer the Jays another potent bat to pencil in in the 2 or 5 spot. The Martin signing also allows the Blue Jays to use Dioner Navarro as trade bait to perhaps upgrade another area of weakness, perhaps the bullpen or middle infield?

The Bad:

melkman

The Melk-Man Now Delivering in the Windy City…

  • I honestly think that this is a non move that the Jays will regret making. Melky was the Jays most professional hitter last year, the way that he worked counts and spoiled pitches was an art form. Adding him to a lineup that now features Donaldson and Martin would be downright scary. I can understand walking away from Melky if he demanded the moon or even Shin Soo Choo money (7 yrs/$130 mil), but to walk away from a guy who eventually settled on a 3 year/$42 million dollar deal just makes me scratch my head. Nothing against newly acquired Michael Saunders, whom I view more as a 4th OF or platoon guy, but Melky is a LEGITIMATE offensive threat and a pretty damn durable player too. I really hope the Jays don’t regret going to war with the likes of Kevin Pillar, Andy Dirks and Michael Saunders over the Melkman.

cecil

Bullpen? More like BS…

  • The Jays currently have THREE areas of weakness: 2B, CF and the bullpen. Of those three areas, reinforcing the bullpen should have been the easiest offseason task to accomplish given the amount of free agent relief pitchers there were; opposed to the amount of available 2B and OF. And yet here we sit with about two weeks to go before pitchers and catchers report and the Jays have added ZERO arms to their bullpen. In fact as it stands right now, the Jays have somehow managed to pull of a negative in the addition column when they failed to ACTUALLY sign Ronald Belisario, but more on that later. With no real additions made, the Blue Jays will head into Spring Training with a bullpen that consists of: Brett Cecil, Aaron Loup, Marco Estrada, Todd Redmond, Rob Rasmussen and (hopefully) Steve Delabar. Pretty grim to say the least. Personally, I believe still have options to rectify their lack of activity. They could still go out and sign one or two of the remaining bullpen arm (Rafael Soriano, Francisco Rodriguez and Burke Badenhop) left on the market. Or they could take it a step further and sign SP James Shields. Signing Shields would not only solidify their rotation but it would also allow Aaron Sanchez to stay in the bullpen, thus fortifying that area of weakness. This isn’t as ridiculous as it sounds, especially with the price on the self titled “Big Game” James having come down considerably.

and… the Duquette

duquette

Duquette-Gate: The Expensive Price For a Suit 

Looks like I did manage a way to sneak “gate” in there, because a scandal or saga isn’t official until it has “gate” attached to it.

Oh where to begin with the Dan Duquette saga?

Let’s start with the most absurd factor which was the fact that there was ANY consideration of giving up ACTUAL ON THE FIELD TALENT for someone who contributes an exact WAR of 0.0.  I have never understood the infatuation with trading actual talent for coaches, let alone a damn executive. What’s more shocking is that we aren’t even talking a utility infielder or relief pitcher (the pieces involved in the John Farrell trade) but top tier prospects; three to be exact! And you thought RA Dickey for d’Arnaud and Syndergaard was bad.

That’s correct. The Orioles wanted not one, but the trio of SP Jeff Hoffman, C Max Pentecost and 3B Mitch Nay; all three of whom are included on the Jays top ten list. Besides the asinine fact of depleting your own farm system to pick up a suit, you are also contributing to the direct improvement of an inter division rival. I shudder at the thought of having to face Jeff Hoffman for the next 10+ years. Now before you start saying that Hoffman is JUST a prospect, this is a kid who very well could have been the #1 pick last year if not for Tommy John surgery, not to mention the fact that he has the potential to be a big league ace. That last bit is not hearsay either as it comes from a very reputable source, his college pitching coach at Eastern Carolina, the same guy who coached Chris Sale at Florida Gulf Coast.

Chris Sale

Besides the fact that I wouldn’t trade three top prospects for Billy Beane or Theo Epstein let alone Dan bleeping Duquette, how is this any way to treat current President, Paul Beeston? Beeston was employee #1 of the Blue Jays, not to mention being one of the first guys to have his name put on the Level of Excellence. The fact that he has to hear his fate being played out through the media is unceremonious to say the least.

But why Duquette and why now? This can’t be JUST about Beeston’s pending retirement at the end of the season. Why the sudden love affair with a guy that NO ONE in baseball wanted as of 48 months ago? Not to mention the whole “tampering” issue that could have cost us a player or draft pick just out of stupidity. For now, the whole Duquette saga has been put on the back burner as Beeston has signed on for the 2015 season, after which he will retire. But you can all but guarantee that this WILL NOT be the last you hear of Duquette to Toronto.

Blue Jays - Dickey

More of a Dickhead than a Knucklehead

“I don’t think there’s any replacement for time spent, Josh has caught 75 to 80 percent of my starts since 2010 or 2012 and there’s nobody better … but it would be nice to have someone like Russell who can do it as well.”

The above quote was taken from the pitcher whom use to be Travis d’Arnaud and Noah Syndergaard, clearly I am speaking about one Robert Allen DIckey. The quote was in response to the news that (newly acquired) Russell Martin was preparing to catch the novelty pitch and was R.A’s not so subtle way of saying that he wants Josh Thole to once again be his personal catcher. The problem with having Thole play Tim McCarver to RA’s (apparent) Steve Carlton is one of three fold:

  1. Having Thole on the Opening Day roster would lead to the Blue Jays carrying THREE catchers (Martin, Navarro and Thole) on the 25 man roster. This wouldn’t be a problem if either one of them could legitimately play another defensive position. Even if we entertain Russell Martin’s grandiose delusions of being an infielder, this is a guy whom has played 18 games at 3B and 1 game at 2B and RF; Brett Lawrie he is not. So that leaves three players to share catching duties, but wait… this is the AL so we do have the DH to consider, which leads me to our next point.
  2. Josh Thole CANNOT hit! or at least he cannot hit in the AL. In the two years he has played in the AL, Thole has managed to hit .215/1/15 with a .289 OBP in 285 plate appearances. In fact he has been a negative WAR player during his tenure in Toronto. It’s a shame too that he can’t hit to stick in the lineup as his left handed bat would be a nice accompaniment to the Jays right handed heavy lineup.
  3. But above all, the Jays would be rewarding mediocrity. Dickey has not been good enough in a Toronto jersey to warrant a personal catcher. If anything he has been nothing more than a glorified innings eater. Why do we need to keep a below average player on our roster in order to appease a mediocre one?

My Dickey hate aside, I can understand and even empathize with his hesitancy about going to a new catcher after the whole JP Arencibia/Opening Day 2013 fiasco. But Martin is not Arencibia, in fact he is a good defender behind the plate and shouldn’t have (many) issues adapting to the flutter ball. He may not be AS good as Thole when it comes to handling the knuckleball but what he lacks for in experience he will make up for in offense, which will definitely be needed when R.A takes the mound.

belisario

Did we sign him or did we not?

News breaks that the Jays have agreed to a 1 year, minor league deal with free agent RP Ronald Belisario. Despite adding (much needed) depth to the bullpen – an area of weakness – Belisario was set to make upwards of $1.7 million this season, a fairly hefty price tag for a guy who posted a 5.56 ERA in 66 innings with the White Sox last season. Belisario would later go onto sign a minor league deal with Tampa Bay.

Sadly, this isn’t the first time that the Jays have failed to ACTUALLY sign a free agent that they have already been reported to have ALREADY SIGNED! (see Santana, Ervin). What we don’t know is WHY the deal fell through. If something came up in Belisario’s physical (he has been busted for coke use in the past) then perhaps it was a wise decision to walk away. But if the reason is merely because the Jays brass were hemming and hawing over dollars and cents, than this should be viewed as an embarrassing failure. Not because of losing the player but for what it stands for; that the Jays are run by incompetent individuals. If you were a free agent, would you want to come to a team that cannot even sign a mediocre reliever to a minor league deal? Seems like another amateur move by a team that cannot decide whether it’s a big market player or a mid level jobber.

Bad PR aside, what the Belisario fiasco also represents is that ANOTHER relief pitcher is off the market and it looks more and more that the Jays are heading into the season with the likes of Steve Delabar, Marco Estrada, Todd Redmond and Liam Hendriks being our right handed options out of the ‘pen. I still don’t understand how the Jays were willing splurge and most likely overpay for the services of Andrew Miller, but yet they are balking at the idea of signing one of the (few) remaining decent relievers available: Rafael Soriano, Francisco Rodriguez and Burke Badenhop. If you really want to prove that you are looking to contend in 2015, why not go out and sign two or even all three of those options? I bet it will look like money well spent when you’re bullpen isn’t blowing every lead given to them.

Now with all of the above being said, the most important thing to take away from the offseason, besides the fact that JOSH DONALDSON IS A TORONTO BLUE JAY, is that there have been WAY more positives than negatives. More importantly, if all we are seriously bitching and complaining about is maybe adding a 2B, some depth and bullpen help, than things are looking pretty damn good heading into 2015. Can’t wait to see more of this…

donaldson2

Two weeks and counting….

– $