The Daily Duce– all the latest must-read Jays links, fully Rob Ducey-fied…
Is JP Ricciardi still running this club? Because it wasn’t a local guy– nor was it a guy in the team’s employ– who broke the news on Twitter late Sunday afternoon that Josh Thole has been optioned to Buffalo, meaning Henry Blanco has won the Jays’ backup catcher job. It was Andy Martino of the New York Daily News. Unless, that is, you want to give out credit for correct guesses, in which case the story was broken by… y’know… everyone all along.
Back before the weekend Ken Rosenthal tweeted that, despite the struggles of their supposed fifth starter, the Jays wouldn’t be rethinking their stance on not making a move to sign Kyle Lohse, as they like J.A. Happ and are also– and probably more importantly– at their payroll limit. For now, at least– Paul Beeston (unless it was Anthopoulos) said on Prime Time Sports last night that he was confident that Rogers would be willing to kick in more money, if needed, for a trade deadline move, if the circumstances were right. At least, I’m pretty sure he said that. He’s said it before, so… yeah, let’s just go ahead and assume that he did.
Speaking of AA’s PTS segment, MLB Trade Rumors checked it out and noted a couple of interesting statements, including the fact that the GM says that he’s currently active, trying to make some trades, and in particular is looking to add a Happ-like guy: someone who is of fringe-average MLB quality but can be stashed in the minors.
MLBTR also passed along news over the weekend that the Jays picked up right-hander Todd Redmond on waivers from the Orioles, moving Drew Hutchison to the 60-day DL in order to make room for him on the 40-man roster.
At Sportsnet, Mike Wilner cites numerous examples of great teams with awful fifth starters, which… is supposed to be comforting? Because, with the margin for error in the AL East (and fighting Wild Card opponents with considerably weaker schedules), it isn’t, but the bigger point rings true: running a poor pitcher out there every fifth day isn’t only not disastrous, it’s normal.
Elsewhere at Sportsnet, Shi Davidi looks at the question marks and the decisions on the horizon for the Jays as camp mercifully enters its final week. Meanwhile Wilner writes about speaking to Anthopoulos prior to the game, an “interview that can be found in the Audio On Demand section of sportsnet590.ca, and among the things the Blue Jays’ general manager mentioned was the fact that the club’s starting rotation is set and that Ricky Romero is a part of it. There is currently no consideration being given to starting Romero on the disabled list, and that won’t change unless he gets hurt in his Tuesday afternoon start.” He also says that the GM ”floated the possibility of beginning the season with eight men in the bullpen should Brett Lawrie have to start the season on the disabled list.”
Tom Maloney of the Globe and Mail also takes a look at the club’s upcoming roster crunch, as does Mike Rutsey of the Sun, in the middle section of piece that also discusses Mark Buehrle’s struggles against Pirates minor leaguers and (mostly) the wind on Sunday. Regarding the roster, he says that it largely comes down to the status of Brett Lawrie, and “the thinking is it would be prudent for the Jays to take the slow route — and on this Lawrie is in full agreement — and miss some time at the start of the season rather than have the ribs become a nagging issue throughout the season.”
At North of the Border, Gregor Chisholm transcribes the chat Alex Anthopoulos had with reporters late last week, in which he mostly addressed the performances of J.A. Happ and Ricky Romero, as well as the second base competition, which may have turned into a simple time share featuring Izturis and Bonifacio.
Mike Rutsey of the Toronto Sun has some transcriptions as well, published back on Thursday, in which Anthopoulos talks about Janssen, Santos, and some of the stuff also addressed in the link above.
Elsewhere in the Sun, Bob Elliott writes about a still outwardly confident Ricky Romero’s searching for his old “bulldog” style.
Chris Toman of gamereax writes about Brett Cecil’s attempt at reintroducing a changeup– which he ditched when he transitioned into the bullpen– to his repertoire.
Brendan Kennedy of the Toronto Star looks at some of the key, or at least interesting, home series the Jays will be hosting in 2013.
In a notebook post at BlueJays.com, Adam Berry writes that Brett Lawrie’s Opening Day status remains in doubt, as John Gibbons says that he’ll need to get into game action early this week to be ready in time– and the same goes for Casey Janssen, though Gibbons thought all was good on that front, and it was Janssen himself who was not so certain. Mike Rutsey of the Sun also writes at length on Janssen’s status, as does John Lott of the National Post.
Following Sunday’s tough outings for Dave Bush and Jeremy Jeffress, Evan Drellich of BlueJays.com looks at the combatants for the Jays’ final bullpen spot (assuming Janssen doesn’t start the year on the DL), which would now seem to be those two plus Brett Cecil and Dustin McGowan– who John Gibbons says has an outside shot. Drellich adds a notebook post in which John Gibbons says that Opening Day is not in doubt yet for either Brett Lawrie or Edwin Encarnacion– who jammed a finger in WBC final; an injury that’s been termed as minor. Gibbons also says that he believes Ricky Romero will “get it back.”
Elsewhere at the National Post: Lott gives his take on the Romero-Happ situation. He speaks to J.P. Arencibia about it, and the catcher says he still has faith that Romero will be the guy. He wrote back on Friday that John Gibbons was leaning towards Henry Blanco and Brett Cecil for the last spots on the roster, and that Jose Reyes wants the WBC’s Dominican magic to carry over onto the Jays.
More from the Toronto Sun: Mike Rutsey profiles Jose Bautista last week, as the World Baseball Classic ended and Jays camp got set to return to normal. Rutsey also looks extensively at Henry Blanco, who has won the Jays’ backup catcher battle. Bob Elliott informs us that Braves 1B Freddie Freeman, who has two Canadian parents, was ready to strap on the ol’ maple leaf if Joey Votto was unable to play in the WBC. Elliott also speaks with Casey Janssen, who gives a lengthy sizing-up of the Jays’ chances this season.
Elsewhere from the Globe and Mail: Tom Maloney profiles Josh Johnson– a question mark in November, but one of the best looking starters on the Jays based on his spring performance. Meanwhile, Jeff Blair figures baseball must be in pretty good shape if Bud Selig is willing to go hard after Ryan Braun for PEDs.
Mop Up Duty takes a quick and dirty look into some ESPN Stats & Info goodness on Ricky Romero (awful against leadoff hitters), Colby Rasmus (brutal when swinging at low stuff outside the zone) and Edwin Encarnacion (impressively increasing his pitch selectivity).
The Blue Jay Hunter reviews Steve Clarke’s 100 Things Blue Jays Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die.
Minor League Ball does an impossibly early mock draft, and has the Jays following form, taking toolsbag (and yet, somehow, not a basketball player) high school OF/LHP Trey Ball of Indiana.
Elsewhere at Minor League Ball, John Sickels does a prospect retrospective post on the just-traded Vernon Wells, while over at FanGraphs, Jeff Sullivan looks at the fact that the Yankees have acquired the former Blue Jay on purpose– like, for realious.
Buster Olney of ESPN.com (Insider Olney) writes about the ten hottest potential flashpoints for the upcoming MLB season, including right here in Toronto, where it’s certainly not business as usual, as the Happ-Romero situation somewhat suggests.
Sean Gordon looks at Warren Cromartie’s optimistic quest to get Montreal back on MLB’s map, citing reasons for the city’s viability that include “a new revenue-sharing scheme to help the financial weaklings, a strong Canadian dollar, new revenue opportunities online, rising broadcast revenues in the United States, a vibrant local corporate sector and considerable, if somewhat latent, fan interest.
Speaking of the Expos, that club’s former GM, Jim Beattie, hired Alex Anthopoulos years ago, and now is a scout working under him for the Jays. He tells the Canadian Baseball Network that “our situation at second place is a little unsettled. We have two guys there but they’re not an everyday guys.’”
Lastly, Parkes got deep into Romer-woe (or is it RomerLOL?) in last week’s Ten Stray Thoughts On A Friday at Getting Blanked.