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!

– $

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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 – Welcome to Toronto, Tulo

Tulo

Troy Tulowitzki is a Blue Jay… TROY TULOWITZKI IS A BLUE JAY!!!

The reports started trickling in after midnight, personally, I didn’t find out until I made the mistake of checking my phone at 3am. Needless to say I didn’t get back to sleep until 4:30am. How the hell could I?! This was the closest I have come to feeling like a kid on Christmas Day in a long time!

TROY TULOWITZKI IS A BLUE JAY!!!

I would be lying if I said that I didn’t consider waking up the Mrs. or calling one of my “long time friends/part time contributors” at an ungodly hour in order to discuss this bombshell of a trade! Thankfully, in the best interest of my marriage and friendships, I decided against it.

Holy S*** though!

TROY TULOWITZKI IS A BLUE JAY!!!

This is even more shocking/surprising than the Donaldson trade this past offseason. This one is by far the most surprising of any of the trades that Alex Anthopolous has pulled off during his tenure, and that is with taking into account the unloading of the contract formerly known as Vernon Wells.

vernon wells

Being way too emotionally exhausted and excited to try and coherently arrange all of my thoughts/reactions into any semblance of a real post, instead I will be relying on (laziness) and bullet points to pick up the slack…

For my initial reaction, I will let the two text messages I received from long time friend/part time contributor, the Bird, speak for me:

  • “JAYS LANDED TULO FOR REYES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
  • !!fmkedncfihehfjrfvijdrgjvporjgdffheefickjl

For those of you who aren’t fluent in Bird, he was a tad excited…

Knowing that the deal was DEFINITELY NOT Reyes for Tulo straight up, I made the mistake of going down the rabbit hole known as Twitter at 3am. Here were a few thoughts and reactions I had whilst feasting on any and all news available:

Anthopolous1

  • Alex Anthopolous is the baseball equivalent of a ninja.
  • Despite having a team that sports both a historically good offense and historically abysmal pitching staff and having been linked to nearly every single pitcher available on the market, AA and the Blue Jays came out of ABSOLUTELY NOWHERE to scoop up the most coveted bat available on the trade market in the Rockies SS Troy Tulowitzki.
  • My actual plea to the baseball gods… “Please don’t let Jeff Hoffman be part of the deal.”. I had a similar plea for Thor (Noah Syndergaard) not to be one of the “minor leaguers” included in the Dickey trade.
  • “UGH…. F*** ME! Hoffman is part of the deal… OF COURSE HE IS!”
  • As much as I love (LOVE) the trade and nothing against the 40+ year old LaTroy Hawkins, doesn’t it seem at least a little odd that we move two of our top 5 prospects without (really) addressing pitching?

Despite the hefty prospect price tag (Hoffman, Castro and Tinoco), the Jays were playing with house money. Both Castro and Tinoco were signed in 2011 as international free agents and Hoffman, selected 9th overall in 2014, was one of two first round selections we had. That being said, this move looks like a STEAL over the apparent Hoffman/Norris/Pompey for Carlos Carrasco trade that fell apart at the finish line on Sunday.

carrasco

This trade is about more than just offensive and defensive upgrades. It is also a trade that comes with the business side of the game in mind. If you remove the $48mil that remains from Reyes’ contract from the remaining $98mil that Tulo is owed through 2020, you are looking at getting the (arguable) best SS in the game for 5 years at $10mil per.

Look at it this way, how much would GM’s have to dole out on a 5yr contract if Tulo were to hit the open market?

What the acquisition of Tulo also does is cover the Blue Jays from the (potential) loss of Joey Bats ($14mil club option next season) and Edwing ($10 mil club option next season) following the 2016 season. Both will be due a (significantly) large raise when their contracts end, and it will be near impossible for the Blue Jays to keep both of, if not one of them.

joey and edwing

One interesting mindset, although most likely NOT to happen, would be for AA to potentially move one of them right now for pitching help (think Cespedes for Lester last season) or at some other point before their contracts end. This would be much easier said than done as both players have 5/10 status which gives them a virtual no trade clause.

Another aspect of this trade, and the Donaldson trade too, is it shows that the Blue Jays are more willing to add talent and upgrade their roster via the trade route rather than on the free agent market. The Russell Martin signing aside, Toronto is not necessarily the most attractive of free agent destinations and there was NO WAY that we were going to be able to sign the calibre of talent like Tulo and Donno as free agents, let alone trade say a Bautista or Encarnacion for them.

Emotions and excitement aside, realistically, this trade does come with some immense concerns for the Blue Jays.

Similar to Reyes, Tulo’s durability is also a cause for concern. He underwent surgery on his hip labrum last season and, for his career, has struggled to stay on the field. One has to assume that the switch to the (dreaded) Rogers Centre turf could and may add to those durability concerns. That being said, now playing in the AL, the Blue Jays do have the option of DH’ing him occasionally, not mention that Ryan Goins can fill in if and when needed.

I am sure a lot of people are going to hold all of his defensive miscues and shortcomings against him, but one area in which we will definitely miss Reyes is at the top of the batting order. The trade of Reyes now means that the Blue Jays have lost the table setter for their big bad offense. What it also does is takes away one of our (few) left handed batting threats, not to mention our only true base stealing threat. Another area where Jose will be missed will be in the clubhouse. Let’s hope that it doesn’t impact the morale too much.

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Additional Thoughts:

  • Many baseball insiders believe that this is merely the first shoe to drop. Rumours have the Blue Jays looking to potentially add a LF in addition to their hunt for pitching.
  • Have to figure that a package of Mike Fiers and Geraldo Parra from the Brewers would be interesting?
  • Personally, I still think the Padres are the best “fitting” trade partner. Padres possess numerous starting pitchers and bullpen arms that could be appealing. Not to mention the possibility of adding a Wil Venable, or dare I say, a Justin Upton?
  • Don’t roll your eyes… after recent events, anything is possible with this team.
  • Jon Morosi of the MLB network: “I’ve been covering the trade deadline for 10 years and this is the most surprised I have been in the final week of July.”
  • Jeff Francis on Tulo (teammates in Colorado): “best athlete I’ve ever played with.”

Additional Reading and Reactions to the Tulo/Reyes deal:

Ken Rosenthal: http://www.foxsports.com/mlb/story/troy-tulowitzki-trade-toronto-blue-jays-colorado-rockies-ken-rosenthal-072815?vid=492340291747

Shi Davidi: http://www.sportsnet.ca/baseball/mlb/thoughts-on-the-blue-jays-trade-for-tulowitzki/

Dave Cameron (fangraphs.com): http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/troy-tulowitzki-the-blue-jays-and-upgrading-strengths/

Matt Snyder (CBSsports.com): http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/eye-on-baseball/25251909/troy-tulowitzki-traded-to-blue-jays

  • $

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

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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.

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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:

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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.

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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

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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….

– $

Hot Stove Season Wrap Up – Vol. 1

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With the countdown to pitchers and catchers reporting now being under a month (February 18th) and one of the biggest free agents finally landing his record breaking deal (Max Scherzer), I would say that now is better than ever to take a look back at the always fun and exciting Hot Stove Season.

Most Surprising Free Agent Signing:

Chicago Cubs Introduce Jon Lester

It’s hard to imagine in an offseason that saw the Red Sox land not one but two marquee free agents (Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez) that we would be discussing a more surprising signing, but here we are. Although not made by the Red Sox per se, the biggest free agent splash did involve two of their former employees. The signing of Jon Lester by the Chicago Cubs has to be the most surprising move because of what it signifies for the game; the Cubs are ready to contend again.

Since Theo Epstein took over as President of the Cubs back in October 2011, he has done a great job of trading away everyday players for prospects, all while filling the Cubs minor leagues with high draft picks and international free agents. And now it looks like those moves are poised to pay off perhaps as soon as 2015. With top prospects Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, Addison Russell and Jorge Soler looking to crack the everyday lineup and join offensive threats like Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro, the Cubs could be a team on the rise this season.

The Lester signing shows that the Cubs know that they are close and are now willing to be spenders opposed to sellers. More so, the Cubs are not afraid to gamble and spend on the big name free agents, opposed to picking up place holders and temporary solutions to long term problems. Realistically, the Cubs are probably still at least one season away from truly challenging for a Wild Card berth, let alone the NL Central. But the Lester signing now offers the Cubs a legitimate ace to anchor their rotation and allow them to be competitive while they wait for the fruits of their farm system to pay off.

Let’s be honest here, baseball is ALWAYS more fun and interesting when the Cubbies are good.

Most Surprising Trade:

wil myers1

As fun as it is to see the big name free agents changing teams and landing their proverbial paydays, the real joy of the Hot Stove season are the trades. There are few things that amuse this guy more than imagining a bunch of MLB GM’s tossing around hypothetical trades at the Winter Meetings like it’s a rotisserie league. And that’s exactly what happened this offseason.

Since Maddy Bumgarner led the Giants to (another) World Series title, we have seen the likes of Shelby Miller, Jeff Samardzjia, Mat Latos, Rick Porcello, Jason Heyward, Justin Upton, Yoenis Cespedes, Evan Gattis, Howie Kendrick, Dee Gordon, Jimmy Rollins, Brandon Moss, Matt Kemp and Josh Donaldson all get moved to new cities. And yet none of those moves were as shocking as the three team deal that saw the Padres land Wil Myers from the Rays. The actual deal looked like this:

Padres: OF Wil Myers (Rays), C Ryan Hanigan (Rays), P Jose Castillo (Rays) and P Gerardo Reyes (Rays)

Rays: OF Steven Souza (Nationals), P Burch Smith (Padres), 1B Jake Bauers (Padres), P Travis Ott (Nationals) and C Rene Rivera (Padres)

Nationals: SS Trea Turner (Pardes) and P Joe Ross (Padres)

This trade is shocking for a few reasons. The biggest reason is the fact that the Rays were willing to move Wil Myers in the first place.

Sure the kid had a down year in 2014 (.222/6/35 in 325 AB compared to .293/13/53 in 335 AB in 2013) but for the Rays to give up on someone who wont be 25 until the end of the 2015 season just for one bad season is completely absurd. I would argue that 2014 was probably the first time in his entire playing career (amateur or pro) that Myers struggled as badly as he did, and rather than see how he would rebound in 2015, the Rays were more willing to give up on him.

What also makes this shocking is the fact that the Rays didn’t even get a good haul in return for Myers. When the Rays landed Myers and prospects from the Royals for James Shields and Wade Davis, the consensus from the MLB world was that the Rays had stolen Myers from the Royals. This year the Royals made it to the Game 7 of the World Series thanks to James Shields and Wade Davis, meanwhile the Rays flipped Wil Myers for essentially Steven Souza, Burch Smith and Rene Rivera. Nothing against those guys, but none of them have the ceiling that Wil Myers has.

wil myers

Even more astounding is the fact that the Nationals got a better return for losing Souza (Turner and Ross) than the Rays got for Myers. I have to assume that if Andrew Friedman was still in charge in Tampa, this is a move that does not get made.

Biggest Winner (Thus Far):

aj prolly

It’s hard not to like the moves made by Ben Cherington and the Red Sox. This offseason alone he has brought in free agents Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez and traded to bring in pitchers Wade Miley and Rick Porcello. The Marlins made a handful of additions (Mat Latos, Dee Gordon, Martin Prado and Mike Morse) in the hopes of capitalizing in a weak NL East. Even the lowly Astros made some nice moves in the hopes of just securing a winnind season (Luke Gregerson, Pat Neshek, Jed Lowrie, Evan Gattis and Dan Straily).

With that being said, the clear cut winner of the offseason has been the San Diego Padres and their new GM, AJ Preller. The Padres have not only been cellar dwellers for the better part of the past decade but they have also been unable to parlay any of their high draft picks into serviceable everyday players, let alone all stars. Because of this, the Padres have fielded one of the worst offensive lineups in recent history. This offseason, Preller looked to change all of that overnight.

Since the middle of December, the Padres have added the likes of Wil Myers, Matt Kemp, Justin Upton, Derek Norris and Will Middlebrooks, while only losing one everyday player (Yasmani Grandal), two high ceiling prospects (Trea Turner and Max Fried) and a handful of fringe prospects and depth players.

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What is truly amazing is the fact that the Padres were able to make the above additions without having to part with any of their big three starting pitchers (Andrew Cashner, Tyson Ross and Ian Kennedy) or their top prospect, C Austin Hedges. In addition to the above “big” moves, the Padres also added some nice pitching depth with the signings of Brandon Morrow and Josh Johnson, and the addition of Brandon Maurer from Seattle for Seth Smith.

There are no guarantees that the above moves will ensure an NL West crown or even a playoff berth, but it definitely gives the Padres a better chance at making a run for the post season. At worse, they will sure be entertaining to watch.

Biggest Loser (Thus Far):

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For a minute their it looked like Billy Beane and the A’s were going to be the ones to go home with this title. In the span of a few weeks, the A’s had traded away Josh Donaldson, Brandon Moss, Derek Norris and Jeff Samardzijia and only brought in Billy “Country Breakfast” Butler as a replacement; it seemed that the A’s were going into a rebuild. But then Billy Beane did Billy Beane things and flipped prospects and catching depth to the Rays for Ben Zobrist and Yunel Escobar, then subsequently flipped Escobar to the Nationals for Tyler Clippard. All of a sudden this rebuild went to a retooling and Beane and the A’s no longer were in running for loser of the offseason.

Instead that title has now been handed off to the Baltimore Orioles. It’s funny that in an offseason that saw the Rays lose their coach, GM and one of it’s best players, the Orioles still come out as a bigger loser. To date, the Orioles have lost 2/3 of their everyday outfield (Nelson Cruz and Nick Markakis), their everyday catcher (Matt Wieters) is coming off of Tommy John surgery, their promising 3B (Manny Machado) still looks to be suffering from the effects of the knee he tore up in 2013 and Crush Davis is coming off of a dismal season that was marred by an ugly 25 game suspension for PED’s.

What makes things worse is that the Orioles have done nothing to replace their departed outfielders, nor have they addressed issues with their bullpen, rotation and bench. Right now the best available free agent outfielder is Colby Rasmus and after that the list drops off considerably. The Orioles stalling has caused them to miss out on Melky Cabrera, Nori Aoki and Mike Morse; even Torii Hunter would be looking pretty good right about now.

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Another interesting Orioles storyline to follow in the coming weeks will be the future of GM Dan Duquette who has been rumoured to be attached to the Blue Jays Presidency. Duquette is under contract through 2018 and the Jays would have to give the Orioles compensation for hiring Duquette away. The big question though will be whether Orioles owner, Peter Angelos, allows Duquette to leave.

Stay tuned for more Hot Stove season rumblings and rants….

– $