Now look, I’m counting on all of you. There’s no yesterday. There’s no tomorrow. Forget ant farm keyboard. That’s… forget that. I want you to go out there, and take this moment, and make it yours.

Jon Hale of the Mockingbird goes deep into the Pitch F/X to work through various hypotheses about why R.A. Dickey might prefer to pitch with the Rogers Centre roof closed. You’ve got to read how he gets there, but I’ll give you the money quote from his conclusion: “The results are significant enough that if Dickey was starting for the Jays in a critical game there is a strong argument to be made in favour of closing the dome.”

And there’s a second post at the Mockingbird, which looks specifically at the impact of wind on the knuckleball– as he did in the previous piece as well. As always, outstanding stuff.

At ESPN.com (Insider Only), Keith Law talks about who has looked best so far in the Arizona Fall League, including Marcus Stroman among those singled out for praise. He’s still worried about the fastball being a little flat, but he does add this little slice of awesome: “This year’s success of Sonny Gray, another diminutive right-hander, may give the Blue Jays more confidence that Stroman can remain a starter, although Gray has been better at generating ground balls in pro ball than Stroman has so far.” Nails much?

Sticking with the AFL, MLB.com’s Bernie Pleskoff saw Drew Hutchison throw a 45 pitch outing on Monday, and tweets that he “threw nice and easy. Can locate well under hitter’s hands. Very effective inside.”

Elsewhere still, Shi Davidi of Sportsnet writes about Aaron Sanchez, who is also at the AFL, and honing his curveball– and, according to the report, trying to “set himself up to open the 2014 season in New Hampshire, with the big-leagues in sight.” He wasn’t able to get past Dunedin this year, but that’s largely because the Jays were extremely cautious when he had some mid-season tightness in his shoulder. Interesting stuff– and especially so since Davidi also tells us that the Jays “are split internally between those who want to be conservative with the club’s prospects and those who want to push them more aggressively.”

More interesting stuff from the minor league system, as Brian Crawford of Jays Prospects reviews the season that was for Daniel Norris, who made very good strides over the course of the 2013 season.

Switching to big league off-season stuff, MLB Trade Rumors profiles Josh Johnson, predicting an $8-million deal (plus incentives) for the pitcher and running down the depressingly long list of injuries he’s faced in his career– a career that, it should be noted, has been excellent when he’s been healthy, apart from last year. The piece also points out that from 2006 until last year, among pitchers with at least 800 innings, his ERA ranked sixth in all of baseball. Yeah, he’s a different pitcher now than at the start of that sample– his velocity has lost a few ticks– but that was true when he posted a 3.81 mark with a 3.40 FIP, too.

Speaking of depressing, MLBTR also features the Jays in their Offseason Outlook feature. Yep…

Mike Petriello of FanGraphs doesn’t mention the Jays by name, but looks at how the remaining playoff rotations were built, and dispels the silly notion that the only way to do it is through the draft. Sure is the most efficient, though!

Meanwhile, Gregor Chisholm of BlueJays.com looks at the free agent case of Rajai Davis, speaking to him about hitting the market for the first time, and looking at how it’s not likely– with a glut of MLB-ready outfielders knocking at the door– he’ll return to Toronto for 2014. It’s too bad, too– would be a great platoon partner for Adam Lind.

Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star looks back on last year’s John Farrell saga, and pretty much nails it in his assertion that it’s the Red Sox organization that needs the most credit for the club’s turnaround– as well as the fact that crisis at the end of Bobby Valentine’s tenure was overblown.

Speaking of former Jays staffers, David Laurila of FanGraphs talks to Torey Lovullo, who appears on track to be a full fledged big league manager sooner or later. Money quote on bunting: “At times, it can work to advance a guy into scoring position, but by and large, I’ve learned over the years that the sacrifice bunt can be a rally stopper. Every out is precious. You’re playing with 27, so if you give up two or three a game, you’re playing with 24 or 25. You’re giving up an inning’s worth of outs to sacrifice guys into scoring position, and the law of averages shows that just because you’re at second base doesn’t mean you’re going to score. If you’re at first base with no outs, you have a better chance of scoring runs. The numbers show that. That’s what we’re all about. We’re about putting up big innings and scoring a lot of runs, especially in [Fenway Park].” Hire him!

Aaaaand speaking of Jays coaches, Minor Leaguer of Bluebird Banter has a nifty chart with the Jays’ entire history of coaches on it.

Sad news last night, as longtime MLB umpire Wally Bell died of a heart attack at just 48-years-old. Austintown, Ohio’s Vindy.com broke the story. Judging by the many reactions on Twitter, he was very well liked and respected.

Lastly, don’t let the fact that it’s from before the weekend scare you off– Drew hosted episode 183 of the Getting Blanked Podcast last week, and spoke to both Eric Nusbaum and Jeff Sullivan in the process. Shit, we might even find ourselves doing a DJF Podcast this week at some point… though… uh… yeah, don’t count on it. Maybe, though! Stay tuned!

Comments (34)

  1. The Stroman news lately has been great! I know the fastball plane is still lacking but I think we are going to see him as a starter longer than we originally thought.

    • I really hope you’re right, but I just don’t know. Scouts seem to be split down the middle with him.

      • In 2011 Mike Trout went from # 85 in 2010 to # 2 in 2011 and # 3 in 2012 according to baseball america…. and Matt Bush Matt Bush Matt Bush drafted #1 and yeah.

        • Well, PSmith, that’s all the evidence I need. ~~rolls eyes~~

          • How about this tithead. you are judging a player based upon the reviews analyst give on a prospect who base their judgement based on other teams scouts?

            • First of all, “tithead”?

              Second of all, I am not judging him on anything, I just think it’s beyond absurd to point towards Mike Trout’s (arguably the best player in the game) accelerated development as a reason to be optimistic on Stroman. I am not even being pessimistic, I just think your logic – which I guess was meant to have people say, “well, Trout did it so Stroman is likely to do it as well” – has all the weight of a “I know you are but what am I” argument. That’s all.

            • P smith,
              this is exactly why i dont give a fuck about prospect rankings sliding up and down.

  2. he’d have a better chance at sticking as a starter in a place like Oakland… I worry that he will be awfully prone to the gopher ball in this park and in this division.

    • My worries are the same, though I try to remain optimistic about him.

      It may simply be a case where he’s more valuable to a team like the Angels, Giants, Padres, etc. and gives the Jays the most value as a trade candidate.

  3. I am hopeful about Stroman. I think the height thing is overblown. Talent is more important than height for pitching. a few inches of height won’t make a huge difference on plane. control/command, movement and velocity are all more important. think Pedro Martinez. He was a bit undersized but was a god-like pitcher nonetheless.

    • pedro? dude…

      by the time pedro was stroman’s age he had already been traded to montreal and was pitching in his 3rd season in the big leagues.

      • did I say Stroman = Pedro? no, of course not. I only said that height is not as important as command, movement and velocity and that Pedro is a prime example.

        • of course… pedro is a fine example to being exceptional in virtually every way… it is just that stroman gives up a shitload of home runs for a good pitching prospect and that doesn’t bode well for success in the AL east where the lineups are deep and the ball parks are small.

    • I’m also really hopeful on him. I mean, if he has a plus slider and an above average cutter right now, he just needs to develop the changeup a little bit and he’ll have 4 quality pitches in addition to plus command. That’s going to play anywhere.

    • Obviously you can cherry-pick examples on any subject and find someone who was relatively successful doing it, but the height thing – as a whole – is fairly important, and I would think a shorter stature statistically portends doom rather than success. Sure, he could be an exception, but I don’t think the Pedro thing makes it any more or less feasible. He’s just the absolute best case scenario of what could happen when you’re a pitcher on the short side.

    • Not a very good comparison. Pedro has gigantic hands allowing him to throw those wicked 2-seamers and changeups. Stroman’s fastball has nowhere near the movement, and height is an issue. Martinez was able to mitigate his impediments with his hands. Stroman doesn’t have that.

      • no one says Pedro is a good comparison.

      • I don’t care much about height, hand size or plane or whatever… I care a lot about limiting home runs… pedro was exceptional for a guy who didn’t generate alot of groundballs.

        stroman didn’t do a good job for a pitching prospect at limiting the home runs by AA hitters…

        for comparison sonny gray allowed 5 home runs in 118.1 innings in the AAA PCL… stroman allowed 11 homeruns in 111.2 innings in the AA eastern league. the PCL on average is the much tougher environment for giving up gopher balls…

  4. That off season primer is depressing indeed. Lays out the roster problems and limited choices to address them.

  5. great work by Jon Hale of the Mockingbird. Hopefully the Jays read it….

  6. I don’t think the outlook is that bad. Last year was horrible but this team has now played together in the toughest division in mlb for a year which would have been a season-long education for the NL-types. Buehrle improved after a bad beginning. So did Dickey. There are a bunch of previously injured pitchers coming back as well. Goins played 2nd base just fine and could stick around. Reyes is back and I hope he stays healthy. Lawrie was much better down the back half and gives us excellent defence at 3rd. We’ll see about Melky, but Rasmus is solid now and I hope he stays that way. Gose could be an excellent 4th outfielder. Yeah, we need a catcher in the worst way and we need another starter. But if this team collapses around injuries the way it did the last two seasons then it’s not the players we need to get rid of, it’s the coaches and the training staff. If they stay healthy I quite like their chances.

    • Agreed. I read the article as pretty much the same thing. They’re not nearly as far off from contending as their record suggests.

    • Even at catcher I want to say “JP can’t get any worse”.

      But then again I just read an article where he said he intends to walk even less next year. So maybe it can get worse.

  7. Like Gray, Stroman needs to be able to develop a bit of a sinker.

    Gray also has 2′ inches on Stroman. I don’t think you can point to Gray and say “This is why Stroman will succeed”. They are different pitchers.

  8. The anti-bunting narrative is getting tiresome and the example Lovullo used in his argument is terrible. Of course it’s rarely a good idea to bun over a leadoff single, but how often does this happen? Asking a weak hitter to bunt to get a runner to third with less than two outs can be a great idea, especially late in a close game.

    • if you need ONE run its not the worst idea… you will score at least one run very, very slightly more often with a runner and 3rd one out vs. runner on 2nd and nobody out.

      overall you score more with a runner on 2nd and nobody out than a runner on 3rd and one out.

      • what about runner on 1st and 2nd with none out and weak hitter up to bat?

      • Do those statistics take into consideration the bottom of the order? I would never ask Bautista to bunt, but if it’s Kawasaki, Gose, Goins and Reyes due up and Kawasaki hits a leadoff double…..

        • what am I google? how about you guys look it up? lol

          the data is available for all ‘runner on’ and outs situations and all positions in the lineup due up for both the AL and NL.

  9. I so can’t wait for a DJF podcast. It’s been *too* long :)

  10. Sierra has to be the 4th outfielder next year considering he’s out of options and Gose still has one. Barring a trade he’s your 4th outfielder and spell lind against lefties.

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