More like the Weekly Duce, amiright? And I don’t even have the excuse of the fact that this was the All-Star Break, because the ol’ content monkeys kept on churning out words through the whole thing, leaving me with a hell of a pain-in-the-ass of a backlog I’ve been trying to avoid. So, I didn’t do myself any favours either, is what I’m trying to say, which… I’m sure you completely don’t care. No podcasts to link to here this week, but we’ll be back on Monday. Now on to the links…
MLBTR passes along the latest from Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports, who lumps the Jays in with a number of clubs supposedly interested in the services of Astros pitcher Bud Norris. It makes more sense than the Matt Garza stuff, as Norris has two years of team control left– and actually, Norris is having a career year so far, despite making the move with the Astros from the NL to the AL (which is positively shocking to me, because I thought all NL pitches completely fell apart the second they got to the AL, y’know, because I’M A FUCKING IDIOT). Still, though, not seeing how in two or three weeks you fit Norris, Rogers, Dickey, Buehrle, Johnson, Morrow and Happ into a five-man rotation. Sliding guys to the bullpen (which just moves the roster crunch elsewhere), or other deals, I guess. Not really seeing it, and not seeing the need to move the prospects necessary to do it, but what the hell do I know?
Fascinating stuff from Chris Toman of Gamereax, as he speaks to Brett Cecil, who credits Roger Clemens for helping him with his curveball.
A trio of gems today from Brendan Kennedy of the Toronto Star, as he looks at J.A. Happ, who had a strong start to his rehab assignment last night in Dunedin. Kennedy also examines the slow ride climb to the big leagues for Kyle Drabek, and talks to top prospect Aaron Sanchez, who sounds like he gets it. “Early on in the season I attacked, and if I was getting guys out with my heater then I was getting guys out with my heater. But from a development standpoint I needed to start making it a point to throw my off-speed more, which was hard because I was having so much success with my fastball — if I gave up five hits in a game, maybe three of them were on off-speed pitches,” Sanchez says. “So that was a tough adjustment to make, but I have to think of the big picture.”
More from the Star, as Richard Griffin has a new Griff Bag for me to avoid hijacking, and earlier in the week published his lengthy Bullpen post, where he talked about ditching the home run derby, among other things. Meanwhile, in Griffin’s stead, Mark Zwolinski took the reins on a mid-week chat with Star readers that turned out to be pretty interesting.
Over in the Sun we’ve got a mid-season chat with Ken Fidlin, Mike Rutsey rightly pointing out that Colby Ramus needs to avoid his typical second-half swoon– and also thinking wistfully at what could have been as he prepares himself for the continuation of the Jays’ Quixotic journey– aaaaand there’s also a too typical dose of maddening stupidity from Steve Simmons. (Seriously, sure, the Jays starters have been awful– almost as fucking awful as trying to pass off as “analysis” worth anybody’s time an insistence that those guys are terrible that glosses over the injury troubles of the first half and doesn’t for one second consider a player’s track record beyond April 1st, 2013. Which isn’t to say the awful first half doesn’t matter, but it’s just shoddy, half-thought, cherry-picked “analysis” to feed the worst of fans’ uncritical negativity.)
On a better note from the Sun, Bob Elliott is getting geared up for next weekend, when the late Tom Cheek will take his rightful place in Cooperstown as the winner of this year’s Ford C. Frick Award. Elliott passes along a great old story, written out by Tom himself on a yellow legal pad found by his wife Shirley shortly after his death, and speaks to former Jays broadcaster, and a Ford C. Frick Award-winner himself, Tony Kubek, who the piece’s title says is Cheek’s number one fan.
Plenty from Shi Davidi over at Sportsnet, as he looks at what the Jays need to do over the final months of the season (and what little time they have to waste in doing it), stands up for the All-Star Game (as does Drew at Getting Blanked!), talks to Mets manager Terry Collins about R.A. Dickey’s fatigue, and looks at the wide range of options when it comes to potential penalties for those caught up in the BioGenesis scandal (among whom, I should add, Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports says are more players yet to be revealed– none that are stars, though, apparently).
Speaking of BioGenesis, Frasor Blair has a great guest post up about the matter, also over at Getting Blanked.
And there’s also more Sportsnet stuff, as Michael Grange writes about Ricky Romero overcoming his mental demons, while Ben Nicholson-Smith passes on word from Forbes that the Buffalo Bisons are the 13th-most valuable minor league franchise.
In the National Post, John Lott looks at the roster logjam the Jays will face in the coming weeks– great stuff (uh… the piece, not the logjam)– and looks at the scant evidence suggesting the Jays can make a miracle run back to legitimate playoff contention. Meanwhile, Eric Koreen runs down ten key storylines from around the Majors during the season’s first half.
Gregor Chisholm of BlueJays.com gets us set for the season’s nominal second half. Jeff Blair of the Globe and Mail looks at the issues facing the league and the Jays the midway point, while the Tao of Stieb asks “Does this team suck?” and other unanswerable questions.
Jonah Keri of Grantland gives out his mid-season awards for the AL, and the Jays land one: Most Disappointing Team. Obviously.
“I didn’t have a spring training this year and then I went to Team Canada and injured my oblique. It’s hard to be ready without at-bats. I only had 10 to 15 AB’s before going back up to the top and the other guys are in mid-season form after spring training. I was there trying to find rhythm, but it’s tough without a spring training and not many AB’s,” said Brett Lawrie while at Lansing, pretty much hitting the nail on the head, in a piece at Jays Prospects. “The other guys were ready to rock and my first month was basically my spring training. That stuff is tough, but I’m not a big excuse guy. In the first half I was grinding and trying to help my teammates out the best I can so I feel it’s important for me to get in games get at-bats.”
Lastly, a trio from Bluebird Banter, where Nick Ashbourne looks at the way the Jays have built their bullpen, Minor Leaguer marvels at the fact that the Jays’ road grey uniform has the worst record of any uniform in the Majors this season, while Blake Murphy wonders why the hell Colby Rasmus doesn’t steal more bases.