buehrlefenway

The Red Sox have been the talk of baseball today, but not in the good way like you want. Jon Lester may be on the move — John Lackey, too! — but nothing has happened yet, with the exception of the Sox ace being on the bench tonight in favour of Brandon Workman. He’ll face Mark Buehrle as the Jays look to sweep this series at Fenway, and maybe gain a little bit of ground in the AL East race on the day before the non-waiver trade deadline.

There should be the opportunity to do so sooner or later, but the damn Baltimores keep playing well. Can it possibly last as the get set to host the Angels for two and the Mariners for three, then head to Washington for one, a big three-game set here (playoff atmosphere, plz!), then home to face the Cardinals and Yankees. I mean… for fuck sakes, they can’t keep swimming so strongly through all that, can they? While we finish of the Red Sox, head to Houston, then host those O’s and the Tigers before heading to Seattle for some pseudo home games (playoff atmosphere, plz!)?

I don’t know, but it sounds fun. Especially if Buehrle buehrles and the Jays get done this weekend what we know they should be able to do.

Baseball!

Scuttlebutt

Nah. Check the previous post.

Next game(s): Tomorrow, 8:10 PM ET @ Houston

For those of you who’ll be out and about, be sure to follow all the action on your phone with theScore app.

And now, the lineups… 

Toronto Blue Jays

SS Jose Reyes (S)
LF Melky Cabrera (S)
1B Jose Bautista (R)
C Dioner Navarro (S)
DH Juan Francisco (L)
CF Colby Rasmus (L)
3B Munenori Kawasaki (L)
2B Ryan Goins (L)
RF Anthony Gose (L)

LHP Mark Buehrle

Boston Red Sox

CF Brock Holt (L)
2B Dustin Pedroia (R)
DH David Ortiz (L)
1B Mike Napoli (R)
LF Daniel Nava (S)
RF Shane Victorino (R)
SS Stephen Drew (L)
3B Xander Bogaerts (R)
C David Ross (R)

RHP Brandon Workman

asdrubalhits

Still getting mixed messages on the Jays’ ability to add payroll, it seems, as Jon Morosi of Fox Sports tweets that this week both the Jays and Giants were discussing Cleveland’s Asdrubal Cabrera. He adds, however, that it’s possible that the deals being talked about are no longer viable, perhaps because of the club’s acquisition of Danny Valencia, or the fact that, as we learned today (via tweets like this one from and this one from the man himself) Brett Lawrie seems to have leapfrogged Adam Lind and Edwin Encarnacion in terms of who’ll recover soonest.

Cabrera is owed $3.33-million for the final two months of the season, which in terms of a $137-million payroll isn’t huge, but is an amount we’ve certainly been led to believe would be pushing the limits of what Anthopoulos can do, at least without some cash heading back Cleveland’s way. That is, of course, a possibility, it’s just the Jays would have had to pay more in terms of prospects in order to get them to acquiesce, which… that sure kinda fucking sucks when you have Rogers as your owner, doesn’t it?

Whatever the case, I’m not sure how much of a fit Cabrera would have been anyway.

Also… uh… according to a tweet from Ken Rosenthal, the point may be moot, as we’re told that the Jays are “not expected to add any position players,” as they’re “focused on pitching.”

Makes sense — though it was Rosenthal himself who called Cabrera “an option” for the Jays, as I noted in a Today In MLBTR post on Monday. At that time I also gave a bit of background on the player:

He’s been worth nearly a win-and-a-half this year, but thanks mostly to the fact that he plays shortstop, which he’d be moved off of if he came over to the Jays, moving back to second base, where he played a bunch from 2007 to 2009. He doesn’t play great defence (according to the metrics) at short, and has a .303 on-base over his last 970 plate appearances. And his platoon splits aren’t terribly pronounced, either. Against right-handed pitching, where he’s hit best, over that span the switch hitter slashed .249/.315/.407. At this point I’d take Munenori Kawasaki and his .295/.351/.352 line against right-handers, thanks. And I’d certainly take Steve Tolleson and his 174 wRC+ against lefties. Second base hasn’t even really been that big a problem for this team, frankly.

Right?

This pitching thing sounds intriguing, though.

And if you want to get really optimistic about the payroll stuff, maybe Rogers is seeing the TV ratings and willing to have a late change of heart. A press release from Sportsnet this afternoon noted that last night’s game was the highest non-opener Blue Jays audience in the history of the network, with 1.09-million viewers tuning in. They add that it’s the third-highest rated game in the network’s history, that Sportsnet was the second most watched station in Canada in primetime, and that over 3.3-million people watched at least some part of the game.

So, there’s that…

mlbtrJPG

The non-waiver trade deadline hits Thursday, and there is all kinds of chatter, big and small, out there regarding the Blue Jays and everyone else, so let’s check out what’s going on over at the invaluable, fantastic, and comprehensive MLB Trade Rumors and see what we’re hearing as the hot stove gets close to its boiling point… 

Jon Lester fever is getting close to 106 degrees. The Red Sox look pretty certain to be moving their ace — a free-agent-to-be who may well already have designs on returning to Boston in the winter anyway — with all kinds of rumours a-flying, and the Jays catching a break on account of the Sox having scratched him from tonight’s start.

They may have caught an even bigger break than that, though, as reports earlier today had Baltimore making a swoop for him, but at the time of this writing it appears that those rumours have been quashed. Or, at least, according to tweets from several of the big rumour mongers — like this one from Joel Sherman of the New York Post — that nothing is close. That doesn’t mean it still can’t happen, though, and it would certainly be a blow to the Jays’ plans of catching the Orioles for the AL East crown. But at the moment any number of teams seem to be in, though the one that plays in this city doesn’t appear to be one of them.

It’s a shame, too. The price is certainly high — the rumours about Baltimore suggested the Sox were looking for Kevin Gausman or Dylan Bundy, while Nick Cafardo, the high prince of not making any fucking sense, tweeted that Ben Cherington is looking for a Major Leaguer plus prospects. I’m not sure how the Jays (or any other potential contender) could possibly give up a big leaguer of any sort of regard, given that they kinda need those for the stretch drive, but the high-level prospect thing seems doable.

I tweeted earlier that I’d deal Dan Norris for Lester without blinking. Last night I said I’d do Norris, Sean Nolin, and Dawel Lugo. That’s maybe a little steep — and I continue to maybe be a little too soft on Nolin — but shit, to get Lester and keep him away from a division rival? While keeping Hutchison, Stroman, Sanchez, Osuna, Hoffman, a number of other big low-minors arms, and other, better middle infield prospects (or ones at least there currently) like Franklin Barreto and Richard Urena?

It’s at least not something I’d dismiss right away. Ownership, on the other hand, very probably would — at least according to the continued rumours about the Jays’ ability to add salary. Bob Elliott was on this more than a week ago, and today in his column at ESPN.com, Jayson Stark wrote that “Toronto is one of several teams that are telling clubs they can’t take on any significant money in any deal.” Lester is owed $4.33-million for the remaining two months of his 2014 deal.

So… there’s that. Though Jon Heyman tweets that a mystery team may be in play! Can it be? Could it be? Will it be???

Actually it’s probably Oakland.

griffbag

Another week, another Griff Bag? Aka Richard Griffin’s latest mail bag from over at the Toronto Star? Well, yes and no. Actually I’ve fallen behind on my… er… bags, so this is the one I should have posted last week. As for the one that Griff posted on Friday… we’ll figure that out sooner or later.

If there’s a question you’d like me to answer, unless it’s about fucking Ricky Romero and J.P. Arencibia, submit it to Griffin here, and maybe he’ll select it for a future mail bag. Fingers crossed!

Q-Richard Stoeten,

With the trade deadline approaching, what would the trade value of Colby Rasmus be at this point? Reason I ask this is that he is a free agent at the end of the season and he might not net a single asset if he walks. If the Jays are not going to sign him why not net some assets? In saying that if they haven’t extended Melky Cabrera at this stage, who is the table setter and is a key piece in the top four of the lineup, wouldn’t you want to have your key pieces signed through your competitive years?

If the Jays are in a salary flux and can’t keep your key pieces why would they let them walk without maximizing their return?

Scott Cochrane, Niagara on the Lake

If he’s one of their “key pieces” in their “competitive years,” uh… in what fucking universe should they be trading him? He hasn’t played particularly well this season, but it’s not like they don’t need him. And it’s not like they should expect him to be as poor as he’s been so far from here out, either. In which case, he may still put himself into a position where he’ll net the club an asset if he ends up leaving.

That’s always going to be dicey, because lately you certainly get the sense that the Jays would be careful making him a qualifying offer if they were afraid he was going to take it and add $15-million to their 2015 payroll — and with the way he’s played this year he’s certainly a candidate to end up in QO limbo, if he somehow pulls it out of the fire enough to be given an offer — but the alternative is what? Trade him for peanuts at a low ebb of his value just to say you got something for him, and not even give him the chance to give your team a massive boost in the second half if he plays anywhere close to his potential?

If this was a go-nowhere year, sure, maybe that’s a reasonable angle — though I’d still think hard about holding on and hoping to squeeze a high pick next year out of the situation (or trying to bring him back on a discount if he declines the QO and finds the market soft) — but in a year where they’re expecting to be in the thick of it in late September and hopefully beyond? It’s crazy.

You keep Rasmus, without question.

Read the rest of this entry »

lestertrop

Here’s one that I guess actually makes sense, but still seems like a total long shot and quite possibly bullshit: according to Sean McAdam of CSN New England, of the many teams calling the Red Sox on Jon Lester, the Jays might be the one that’s most aggressive.

To wit:

St. Louis, Seattle, Baltimore and the Los Angeles Dodgers are widely thought to be in on Lester, but industry sources say the Red Sox also have received interest from another handful of clubs, led by Milwaukee, Atlanta, Oakland and Toronto.

Of those, a source indicated, Toronto has been the most aggressive in its interest.

With Lester a short-term rental — he’s eligible for free agency after the season — the Red Sox won’t be dissuaded from trading him within the division, although that willingness doesn’t extend to the rival New York Yankees.

Sometimes these things… I don’t know. I mean, how do you even judge who is being the most aggressive, right? Especially when the piece says that no specific proposals have been made yet. We know that the Jays aren’t going to acknowledge anything, but I have a hard time believing that anybody would need so badly to bluff interest in Lester in order to drive up the price. Maybe, though. Maybe one could even dream up some backwards logic that the Jays themselves have reason to make someone think they’re heavily interested. I don’t know.

If they’re serious, though, it’s interesting. Even if there is no obvious candidate to remove from the rotation, there is no team that couldn’t use an upgrade like Lester, so I’m sure our hypothetical Jays could make this work from an on-field standpoint.

But then there’s the money — Lester is owed $4.3-million for the rest of this season, at which point he becomes a free agent (and because he’s been (hypothetically) traded, doesn’t bring back a pick for his new club — and also the cost in terms of other “resources.”

McAdam writes that the Red Sox are looking to add at least one “elite” prospect in the package they receive for the rental, suggesting that they’re dreaming big on a guy like Oscar Tavares of the Cardinals or either Joc Pederson or Corey Seager of the Dodgers. The Jays would have a hard time competing with packages from those clubs headlined by names like that, but I can’t honestly imagine the cost being quite so steep. It will be steep, though, and you really have to wonder if the Jays will have the stomach to deal another blow to their farm system for a rental. Maybe that’s exactly why they’re supposedly being aggressive now? Knowing that once other teams get in they’re going to fade into the background?

I mean, a guy like this represents a great opportunity for the club, but intra-division trades remain tough. Especially when the Jays would, hypothetically, be exchanging several years of service on prospects for mere months of Lester. And it’s not a Jeff Kent/David Cone situation either, where they can soften the psychic blow with the knowledge the youngster they’re dealing is blocked by a Hall Of Famer anyway.

I really don’t know here. Did I mention that? I’ll believe this when I see it.

dailyduce1-595
Swab it out! Why do you think we have those expensive swabs?

When they’re not talking about how well the Jays are doing on the field, or the small but significant trade the Jays made yesterday — shedding catching depth, as Alex Anthopoulos seems to love to do so much — they’re talking about the money that’s available to the club, or the lack thereof. John Lott gets to the nut in a piece from the National Post on Monday. “Anthopoulos used to say: Ownership has given us every confidence that the cash is there if we need it. We have to sell the trade as an upgrade for the baseball club, of course, but Rogers has never said no to that kind of deal,” he explains. “When asked recently if he could add payroll, Anthopoulos said he could add players, and players make money, so there. (‘No one plays for free,’ he added, just to erase any ambiguity.) The GM said he is confident the Jays have the “resources” to acquire players at the deadline. In the absence of new money, ‘resources’ is code for players. Toronto can trade players for players.”

As always, it’s more complicated than just complaining about cheap Rogers. Their short-sightedness here is evident, but for once it doesn’t take a whole lot to understand their holding firm on the stance that the payroll is very healthy (10th in MLB), and if the front office has a problem it’s with the way they themselves have allocated that money. That, too, is complicated, as there were surely internal pressures on Alex Anthopoulos to do something major in the off-season between 2012 and 2013, rather than to coast again on false hope while shrewdly rebuilding as the best years of Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion went to waste. On the other hand, the front office needed to know better than to have put themselves in this kind of situation, bloating the payroll so badly with added backloaded deals that in the event that ownership somehow wanted to tighten the purse strings — even as they paid through the dickholes for fucking hockey rights — they’d be without the kind of wiggle room they could truly use right now. But let’s not be too soft on ownership here. After all, there’s only one group in this mess who gets what it wants, and it sure isn’t the fans, or the players, or the organization itself.

For all my pissing and moaning, though, we still don’t even know for sure that it’s true that the Jays are resigned to cash-neutral deals heading into Thursday’s deadline, and that they’ll be cut off at the balls when some expensive deals are moved in waiver trades through the month of August. It sure fucking feels like it, and I’m certainly not betting on Guy Laurence riding in on a white horse with a bag of money — a hat for the players to pass around, however, I wouldn’t put past him — but it’s also true that the Jays continue to be rumoured to be monitoring players whose contracts would definitely require more payroll to digest (and please, put away your crackpot Ricky Romero theories away). That at least makes plausible some of the ideas in the excellent guide to possible Jays additions from Ben Nicholson-Smith over at Sportsnet. (Or if it doesn’t, just for a minute pretend these Jays are a team that operates somewhat normally).

Elsewhere at Sportsnet, and speaking of those August deals the Jays aren’t likely to be too heavily involved in (unless it’s for guys at the league minimum — like for whoever they need to scramble to get to catch if one of Thole or Navarro goes down), last week Ben gave us a primer on the trade rules for once Thursday’s deadline passes, which is important, as a lot of executives seem to think there will be just many deals then as there will be this month — especially since it will allow teams more time to assess whether they’re really in a playoff race or not.

Similarly on this theme, over at the Toronto Star, Brendan Kennedy gives his two cents on why Anthopoulos may be through dealing for the week already, while making some suggestions at guys he could end up targeting anyway, and also looking at the tough roster decisions that will be coming once guys like Adam Lind (who is the closest to returning, according to a notebook post at BlueJays.com from Gregor Chisholm), Edwin Encarnacion, and Brett Lawrie return to health.

Speaking of guys getting healthy, also in Gregor’s notebook post is a mention of Brandon Morrow, who we’re told is likely to be a reliever when/if he returns to a big league mound this season, mostly because the club doesn’t think they’ll have time to get him stretched out enough to start anyway. Not that they need help in the rotation at the moment — though, of course, that can change quickly.

Back to the Star, Richard Griffin looks at Anthony Gose’s recent run of success, and how he’s giving the Jays a lot to think about as they head toward a roster crunch in the coming weeks, and as they try to clear up their outfield picture for 2015. Meanwhile, Josh Rubin tries to slow down the praise train when it comes to Aaron Sanchez, looking at a number of “can’t miss” Jays prospects who missed (as well as some who hit — either way, no Travis Snider, amazingly), while Zoe McKnight checks into the state of fandom at the Rogers Centre, and specifically hecklers, who have, uh… grown up a bit this year?

Over at the Toronto Sun, Mike Rutsey opines that the Jays missed an opportunity when they let Chase Headley go to the Yankees, because apparently we’re not too big on worrying about injuries likely to be exacerbated by the turf or the fact that Headley had been something on the order of hot garbage at the plate this year.

Meanwhile, last week Bob Elliott took an extended look at some of the Jays’ best prospects, with help from BA’s John Manuel.

Jeff Sullivan of FanGraphs looks at which teams have been victimized the most by good pitch framing from their opponents (as opposed to how they victimize themselves by not always seeming to value their own catchers’ framing skills — well, except when they traded for Erik Kratz and Travis d’Arnaud and Jeff Mathis before, y’know, they traded them away). Um… anyway, the Jays have suffered the fourth-most in baseball this with 97 extra strikes having not gone their way. I’m thinking that being in a division with excellent framers like McCann, Molina, David Ross, as well as the Yankee Stadium and Fenway Park Strike is probably going to make that a bit of a thing.

Elsewhere at FanGraphs, last week Marc Hulet included Taylor Cole among “The Fringe Five,” which is FG’s list of the most compelling fringe prospects. “Younger Blue Jays prospects Matt Boyd and Daniel Norris have both been promoted from High-A Dunedin to Toronto’s Double-A affiliate in New Hampshire, while Cole remains in the Florida State League — this, despite having recorded the best strikeout and walk figures among the triumvirate,” he explains. “In point of fact, Cole has produced the best strikeout rate and walk rates among any pitcher eligible for inclusion in this weekly column.”

Interesting stuff from the farm, as Charlie Caskey of Your Van C’s gives a breakdown of a recent shakeup in the Canadians’ rotation, and a look at a couple of Bluefield Blue Jays he’d like to see move up to the Northwestern League for a spell — including the still-intriguing Matt Smoral.

At ESPN.com (Insider Only), Jim Bowden looks at the trade deadline objectives for each AL East team, checking off the usual boxes for the Jays (pre-Valencia): a starter, a reliever, and a right-handed hitting second- or third-baseman. He doesn’t even seem to suggest that the club could be hampered by the money issue, so that’s encouraging. However, he suggests they flip Jairo Labourt and Alberto Tirado for effing Joaquin Benoit. Seems steep, but I do get it. Those guys are still some serious lottery tickets at this point. Might even be guys to move before the shine comes off them too much after they each had pretty forgettable seasons — at least statistically — that won’t lead to them jumping up on anybody’s top prospect board any time soon.

Lastly, just in case you wanted to know, MLBTR notes that Bruce Levine of Chicago’s WSCR-FM tweets that the Jays were interested in Darwin Barney before he was moved, and had kicked the tires on Gordon Beckham as well. He suggests that Beckham’s slump slowed the progress of any deal, which sort of makes one wonder… did they start working on this deal four years ago? Because Beckham has been “slumping” at the plate for about that long.

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A right fucking thumping. That’ll play.

Not sure I care much for how Jose Reyes seems to be feeling a hard swing in his back or his ailing shoulder more than usual, or how he ended up coming out of the game — though he wasn’t the only one of the club’s stars to hit the showers early, he was definitely the first one (however, he stayed in the game after what appeared to be the initial tweak, and ended up swinging the bat again as well, so hopefully this is much ado about nothing). Other than that? Not a whole lot to complain about. Shit, I’m even at the point where if Ryan Goins wants to keep hitting, sure, let him keep hitting (uh… maybe not on 3-0 though). Feels like a thing a lot easier to sign off on when the club has already demonstrated they’ll have a short leash, as opposed to back in the spring, when the plan appeared to be to blow on some magic beans and hope a big league quality bat would sprout somewhere.

#SignMelkyNow