In Ben Nicholson-Smith’s weekend notebook at Sportsnet, he tells us that Yuniesky Betancourt has interest in the Jays, in part because the friendly hitting environment. Good luck with that, Yuni, but I’m sure the people running the Chiba Lotte Marines know a thing or two about park factors, and aren’t going to be fooled into upping the dollars on your next contract. (Also: just to be clear, outside of NPB, Korea, or the minors, signing Betancourt ought to be a fireable offence. Fortunately for concerned Jays fans, I’m confident if the Jays had the slightest hint of interest they’d have scooped ol’ Yuni up by now– pretty sure the current market for middle infielders with a 56 wRC+, bad defence, and worth about three wins below replacement over their last 630-odd plate appearances is a little soft at the moment.)

Elsewhere at Sportsnet, Ben looks at the opposite ways in which the Jays and Twins have tried to fix their rotational woes this off-season. At least so far…

Word broke over the weekend that Pat Hentgen will step aside as the Jays’ bullpen coach, with Bob Stanley — yes, the Bob Stanley (look him up, kids) — getting the promotion from Buffalo to take his place. Gregor Chisholm passes along the details at BlueJays.com, explaining that it’s a family issue that has caused Hentgen to step aside, as he “has been re-assigned within the organization to allow him the time needed to support his family and his father’s health issues.” You simply never hear a bad word about Hentgen, and his putting family first here speaks to that, I think. We wish him and his family the best in what must be a tough time.

Elsewhere at BlueJays.com, Gregor takes an up close look at the Jays’ rotation depth, which — as we’re all too aware of by now — looks pretty good, at least on the back end.

Elsewhere still, Gregor looks to the season ahead and gives us ten questions that will need to be answered in the affirmative if the Jays are to make anything of 2014– and, as always, it’s great stuff.

It will never stop being amazing to me to watch people freak out like Jose Bautista, now that he’s – scawwwy! – thirty-three years old, is going to roll out of bed one day very, very soon — maybe as soon as tomorrow! — and forget how to hit a baseball like a fucking boss. Drew has a piece up about this at Getting Blanked, where he notes the eerie similarities between the numbers produced by Bautista since his breakout in 2009, and Gary Sheffield at the same age. Granted, Bautista has been beset by injuries in the last couple of years, and the aging curve in Sheffield’s era may have been artificially lengthened, but over his age 33-35 seasons — which is the stretch of career Bautista is about to enter — Sheff produced a total of 16.2 WAR. Doesn’t mean Bautista will stay healthy, of course, but… fuck, just read Drew’s piece about it already.

Sticking with Getting Blanked, while I’ve been trying my best this year to give baseball’s Hall of Fame the respect it deserves by completely ignoring it, Drew has taken a different tack, amazingly laying down a whole bunch of damn sense on the subject.

And while we’re talking about Bautista, the guys over at Mop Up Duty would like you to learn to stop worrying and love Jose’s low BABIP.

Since Masahiro Tanaka will pitch next year as just a 25-year-old, it seems close to fair enough to view him in relation to other prospects, which is exactly what Baseball America does in their latest Ask BA post, telling us that he would rank as the top prospect in 27 organizations. He’d rank behind Byron Buxton, Xander Bogaerts, “and you could go either way with him or Oscar Taveras,” they explain. I’ll take that, thanks.

Buried in some thing he does every year at the Toronto Sun, Bob Elliott suggests that Dirk Hayhurst is headed elsewhere next season (after a successful stint with TBS during the playoffs, don’t forget) and that Jack Morris may not return either. A few of you included me in tweets directed at Elliott suggesting I might have warranted a mention in the main part of his piece — still less influential than the San Diego Chicken! — which is nice and all, but believe me, I prefer it this way. It’s much more amusing.

Morgan Campbell of the Toronto Star speaks to Roberto Alomar about his foray into the baseball equipment business. “It’s up to the people to decide if they like it or not,” says Alomar of the bats made by his eponymous company.

More from the Star, as Richard Griffin gives five reasons for hope for Jays fans heading into 2014, while Brendan Kennedy gives five reasons to expect the worst, while hoping for the best.

Chris Sherwin of Blue Jays Plus gives Jays fans several good reasons to back away from the ledge, despite a pretty thoroughly dispiriting off-season.

Brian Crawford has a nifty piece up at Jays Prospects on slightly under-the-radar youngster — and Canadian! — Dalton Pompey, who is starting to turn more heads lately, and is coming off a nice season at Lansing (in which he won a Minor League Gold Glove).

And lastly: dat ass. Edwin Encarnacion posts an Instagram picture of him riding a donkey (or a burro– whatever!) which is as awesome as it is reminiscent of Jose Reyes’s own foray into… um… ass play last winter.

Comments (77)

  1. The more I think about it the better I feel about the Jays chances for 2014, pitcher or no pitcher – but definitely hopefully with a pitcher, ideally Matt Garza. There are only a few things that have to go right for the Jays to be no shit awesome.

    1. Health; every year, but specifically for Lawrie, Bautista and Reyes. I’m sure something random will happen to Morrow but think we have enough guys who can do a reasonable facsimile of a #5 starter to bridge the gap this year.

    2. Lawrie needs to get better. This is the year for everyone’s favorite Canadian (Beliebers excluded) to put it together. It sure as shit looked like he got it after coming back.

    3. Dickey and Buehrle need to not start the season looking like fucking incompetent BP pitchers again. Between their complete lack of ability and Reyes’ injury we were pretty much sunk by May last year.

    4. We need to win our first series. Not because it matters but because I can’t handle the commenters here if we lose it.

    Anyway, that’s my two cents. Now lets sign Garza and I can get even more excited. 2014, you guys!

    • You watched last year right?

      1. Most teams that stay healthy tend to win. Everyone wants this…

      2. He did, but his power did not return. Will need that when his elite level of defense starts to slip. Hopefully he is a late power bloomer, always had the bat speed.

      3. Buehrly and Dickey were our two most consistent pitchers, but whatever. Piss all over them…

      4. This is meaningless…I don’t care how they get to the playoffs, they just need to get there. I don’t think Dodgers fans cared how they got into the post season last eyar.

      • I don’t really care about most of your comment because you seem like you’re just here to be a negative fuckernaught, but there’s this super cool thing called split stats that totally exist! If only I’d consulted them before claiming that Dickey and Buehrle sucked to start the season.

        That’s right, I did because sometimes I like to not appear like an uninformed moron. I’ll let you look them up at your leisure but spoiler alert – Dickey and Buehrle fucking sucked in April & May.

        • It seemed to me that Dickey was more a victim of passed balls and the Jays inability to turn two early in the year than being completely terrible.
          That said, I would love to see a hot start from everybody this year.

      • Dickey and Buehrle contributed to the teams demise by sucking shit the first few months. So to have a good 1/3 of a season while nice on the stats is meaningless to a fan that had to watch the team be awful.

      • What kind of power are we talking about for Lawrie? I think at his absolute powerfulest, he might go yard 20 times. However, he’s got doubles-power and if he starts using the whole field, he might become the Jays best overall hitter.

        Buerhle always starts slow and then becomes awesome. Why? Because he knows it’s a marathon of a season. And, as the Dodgers can attest, you don’t make the playoffs in April. You make it much, much later.

        • I dont like this logic,
          a win in april has the exact same value as a win in September.

          • If the Jays rotation had a #3, #4, or even #5 SPs last season we maybe wouldn’t have noticed the slow starts from Dickey and Buehrle. As it turned out, Dickey had a nagging back injury and played through it (not to mention the WBC in ST) and they each put up 200 + innings.

          • Yes, numerically it has the same value.
            But for all intents and purposes, wins achieved after being mathematically eliminated are pointless. Being so far behind after the second month of the season as to realistically have no chance of the post-season is soul-crushing to say the least.

        • Lawrie has tons of power, he destroys the ball when he gets it. He has a more level swing then a traditional power hitter. If he changed the plane he’d probably hit more homers but his OBP and babip would suffer. He’s great the way he is, I think when he’s older he’ll eventually have a career year where he hit’s close to .300 avg, .350 OBP with 25-30 homers and 30 doubles.

          Of course I’m ridiculously high on him.

  2. If Edwin gets badly hurt this season then we have ourselves the Curse of the Burro.

  3. Interesting with Bautista and BABIP. The line drives he hits hard (assuming since he gets so many hits on liners) yet for flies he hits lots of infield popups. You would think he would hit high flies to the outfield while the guy hitting soft liners would be the one to hit the infield pop ups. Might be interesting to see how these things correlate to what pitch was thrown and if there is somehow a hole in his game that is making him hit the infield popus which are such an outlier from his other contact. Wonder how much teams try to break down these things to try to figure out how to pitch a guy and if anyone tries to track how hard the ball is hit and weight that into a BABIP type metric to give more insight into things?

    • I’d be interested in seeing how a new hitting coach/hitting philosophy will affect those types of pop-ups. I think a lot of those are the product of getting under pitches, and you tend to get under pitches when you’re trying to put lift on a ball, probably to hit home-runs. If the pull-happy homer-happy approach goes away, maybe that BABIP goes up without the power going down too much.

      • You think the hitting coach is going to come change much with the approach of guys like Bautista and Encarnacion? Maybe help keep mechanics inline if they go out of whack a bit. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.

    • It’s not that hard to understand: Dude swings all-out in almost every swing. He’s not looking for singles 95% of the time. So if he gets it he gets all of it, and if he’s off by a fraction, it goes sky-high.

      • Right it goes sky high not a crappy little infield popup rather a high one to the outfield. Not very many sky high infield popups since when you swing hard like that you likely miss it altogether or hit one higher and further. Seems like an anomaly to have a lot of infield popups with his type of approach.

      • I guess more so what I was wondering is how deep the teams / scouts dive into this type of analysis. How much they track and use to correlate pitch location, type, sequences etc to how batters hit it. Seems like analysis we see is the tip of the ice berg and some of these smart guys who also know baseball might really be able to figure some things out especially in terms of how to pitch to hitters.

        Catchers with a PHD in economics, kinesiology and statistics is the new market inefficiency.

  4. One thought I had is related to their poor defensive play at Rogers Centre, as De La Rosa mentioned and others alluded to all season…

    why not bring the team north earlier?

    That way players can get used to playing on the artificial turf at Rogers Centre? Even having intrasquad games would give players a chance to get used to the turf and make “home field advantage” something more than the illusion it was last year.

    In my mind when the Jays are playing Grapefruit League in Florida they aren’t getting the feel for artificial turf, the surface where they play half if their games. If home field is going to be an advantage for the Jays, then they should be here at least a week before opening day.

    • I don’t necessarily think that there’s NO merit to this idea, but can’t see how it could possible make one iota of difference. They come in and practice on the turf before the season anyway and any advantage would be moot within a week of actually, you know, playing.

      Our defensive problems last year stemmed mostly from having Bonerface and Melky show up visibly out of shape and eventually proving incapable of even pretending to play the positions they were supposed to (admittedly there are mitigating factors with Melky, but he was awfully doughy at the start of the season for a professional athlete). It should get better this year just from getting rid of Emilio’s fat ass. And maybe Maicer will wake up out of that coma and remember how to play baseball, but I doubt it.

  5. thanks for the link dumb………can you send us a link for online doctorate….need some patients.

  6. Drew’s piece (sounds weird) on the comparison between Sheffield and Bats was good.
    People can argue that the longevity of Sheff was chemically aided but peds don’t aid your timing, batting eye, or pitch recognition. I think Jose’s stats will be closer to the CAIRO projections then OLIVER’s.

    Remember Sheff’s Chefs?


    • Ped’s can definitely improve your hand eye coordination and reaction time., recovery time and power….I’ll give you pitch recognition but it sure helps the other things

      • “hand eye coordination and reaction time”

        • they dont just make you larger, they can improve your fast twitch muscles
          so it shortens the time between when your mind wants to react and when your body actually does it.
          the additional strength also allows you to have a faster bat speed, those two combine to make it much much easier to square up a ball.

          • not to mention they improve your recovery times… so you’d likely miss less games.

          • Bullshit. Show me some links on that. Roids can increase mass, peds can improve recovery but eye/hand is something you are born with and can only improve through practice. There’s no magical supplement that I can take today that will help me turn around a 95 mph fastball tomorrow.

            • David’s right. PEDs are a significant issue in baseball not just because they make you stronger, but more importantly because they speed up your reaction time just a little. In baseball just a little is huge. It’s the difference between crushing a 95mph fastball ball or weakly fouling it off.

            • …and bat speed has very little to do with strength. Bat speed is your ability to recognize and react using proper swing mechanics.

              Molitor had one of the quickest bats in the league and though he was listed at 185 pounds looked more like he was allergic to protein. Look at Fernandez, great bat speed, anorexic……

              • Research indicates that a baseball’s velocity coming off the bat is related to bat speed. Researchers have shown that muscle development increases bat speed, and thus “hit ball” velocity. Weight training will improve bat speed; anabolic drug use can add extra power.

                Other PEDs improve athletic performance, too. Stimulants improve concentration as well as motor coordination. HGH, in conjunction with steroids or insulin, appear to improve strength and recovery. For each aspect of human performance, a drug can be found to enhance that parameter.

              • Smasher so we’re clear I’m not one of those Ra Ra fuck steroids ban them all guys, but they definitely do help and change the game. Have you ever worked with a good batting coach? one of the first things they’ll tell you to do is strengthen your forearms, you’ll have more bat control and increase your bat speed. They want you to use weighted bats, and they want you to be stronger.

                • While Molitor was a relative small guy he did have bigger forearms compared to rest of him. What a great player he was, he looked half asleep at the plate yet would just smoke the ball using just his arms for the most part.

                  • going back a little further, do you remember ernie banks? they said he had wrists up to his elbows, small man, huge forearms, could handle a bat like it was a toothpick.

                  • Popeye has enormous forearms! I wonder if spinach is on the banned list of PED’s? If not maybe the Blue Jays trainers can encourage spinach in the players diets.

              • http://grg51.typepad.com/steroid_nation/2007/09/steroids-theore.html

                this is the last one i promise,
                but they definitely improve your hand eye and reaction time.

                Sprinters juice… i dont think its because they’re trying to get heavier.

                • David. Thanks for providing some references. I see where your link discusses reaction time, but I really don’t see any concrete argument for it improving hand-eye coordination.

                  it states: “One argument held that steroids do not improve hand-eye coordination, and thus do not import an advantage in the hitter. That argument appears simplistically naive. Obviously anabolic drugs will not benefit an nonathletic player and thus that argument is irrelevant to elite athletes. The effects of the drugs on the accomplished athlete should be the issue.”

                  But it doesn’t then give any further proof that hand-eye coordination is actually improved. It just goes on to talk about ball-speed…

                  • a huge part of hand eye coordination is your reaction time,
                    they can increase your reaction time.
                    it wont’ make a scrub able to crush a 95 mph fastball but it definitely can give someone an unfair edge.

                    • I think they are different things. You’re kind of double-counting.

                      Whatever. All good.

              • Smasher is right with eye hand Co ordination.

                But David is right with fast twitch, forearm strength.

                That comes with roids.

                Smasher strength can’t be judged in mass.

                But, I if you take Lou Ferrigno and through him epheus pitches he’ll blow a sphincter out his unitard.

            • http://www.nytimes.com/2004/06/14/sports/baseball-taking-a-swing-with-steroids.html?pagewanted=all&src=pm

              This article talks about it. It obviously hepls the athlete train longer and recover quicker. But for the hand eye coordination improvement, Scientists say it doesnt help.
              What it does do, the speculation says, is quicken the bat speed so a batter can afford to wait longer on a pitch. But even with that advantage, there are more strikeouts.

              • Woah woah Karl. You can’t just go providing SUPPORTING EVIDENCE for your statements all willy-nilly like that. This isn’t that kind of conversation apparently.

                You’re supposed to just state “facts” as if you know them for certain and provide no evidence whatsoever.

                • @ IMW..One of these times i’m going to post a link and it’ll
                  be a recipe for chocolate pudding.

                  • Any good batting coach will tell you that chocolate pudding will improve your hand eye coordination. If you have not been told this you must not have had a good batting coach.

                    Not all PEDs are steroids all about strength though right? Some help with concentration which may help with reaction time – Aderrol is the one that they used for that?

                  • Well now I feel silly because ppl have actually started supporting their arguments.

                    • lol IMW
                      think about this though,
                      you see something flying through the air and it is X distance away coming at X speed.
                      you know where it’s going to be and when, but your body just doesn’t move that fast.
                      Jose bautista’s does, you both see the same thing, but he is able to get it and you aren’t, so he has better hand eye than you do.

                    • No, he has better reaction times.
                      See you’re double counting again.

                    • Here’s how I see the difference:
                      Ichiro – exceptional hand-eye coordination. Can not only hit anything he sees he can (or could) hit it any way he liked.
                      Gary Sheffield – reaction time. Could wait and wait and wait and then crush a ball. Didn’t necessarily control it the way Ichiro did

                      … sorry my second example is not a “100% clean player”. He’s what came to mind.

                    • But I think I’m just arguing semantics at this point (which are important by the way!… but are not the core of your argument)

                    • I’ve changed some of how I view all this but I suppose without a masters in biochem and Canseco’s cadaver to dissect, I’ll never fully grasp what all these chems do.

                      Appreciate the conversation David, IMW, Karl.

                    • ….also boys, if they ever invent a PED to hit changeups let me know, I’ll buy a whole cabinet full.

                      Fuckin changeups should be outlawed.

                    • Amen Smasher.Or those fucking lefties with the duece that breaks 2′.

                    • HGH improves you eyesight, it;s basically the foutain of youth.


  7. FWIW, I sent a tweet to Hayhurst saying something along the lines of ‘Say it ain’t so that I’ve read you’re leaving Sportsnet, etc.’ and he replied saying, simply, ‘Can’t’.

    Sounds to me like he’s on the fence/waiting on job offers…?

  8. Smasher if you want to hit a change up, this is the best advice i’ve ever received. Attempt to wait as long as you can, and hit every ball in between the second baseman and the shortstop. If you’re a bit early you’ll probably still square it up and if you’re a bit late you’ll probably line one the other way. You just need a ridiculous amount of patience, and if a pitch starts at your knee’s… probably better to just let it go by.

    • Appreciate it. I’m a dead pull hitter, been like that forever so keeping the bat back has always been tough.
      I just about killed a teammate last year yanking a changeup through the ondeck circle. It was a yard sale, and a whole bunch of fuckyou’s and swallowed dip.

  9. Hayhurst leaving??? That’s the best news yet! Based on that the season can be declared a success.

    • Really? He turned a bit into a self parody with the over-the-top criticism towards the end of the season, but his saber inclinations were a good counter to Zaun’s Zaun-ness.

  10. Would much rather Wilner gone before any other.

  11. Nothing wrong with a little ass play

  12. I spoke to my sales rep at the Blue Jays today about the new Flexpack card.

    It is OK to email tickets to friends or family . They do not need the flexpack card to enter the stadium. This is a major relief for me. They can just print the tickets & show up.

    He said Flex pack renewals were steady but there was more of a wait & see approach this year.

  13. Should the Jays have any interest in say, a Justin Turner or Scott Sizemore to add a bit of insurance to the 2B situation?

  14. Anyone else read this?


    Would be nice if it was true, at least with regards to Tanaka. Sadly, the first thing it reminded me of when I read it was the Kevin Gray – Yu Darvish fiasco from a couple of years back.

    Again, would love for the Jays to snatch Tanaka away from a team like the Yankees but at this point I’d be seriously happy to finish the off-season with Jimenez, a legit 2nd baseman, and an extension for Colby.

  15. Looks like Stoeten is not alone on just how bad our 2nd base situation is. I was just stoked that we were considered a contending team.


  16. Jim your drilling down on this is colebndamme, the wine industry needs more police (way more). Hope your attorney has a reasonable retainer fee for you. ‘Cause I can’t imagine that Roberto will let up.Good luck with all that and keep up the good work.

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