GREAT SCOTT!! “PC”… stands for “Personal Computer”… I just this moment got that…
Apologies for the non-typical image on this post, but… come on. Our old friend Scott Johnson, as he always does, nailed it.
Hey, and since we’re being atypical today, before we get into the real good stuff, let’s begin the ol’ Duce with a friendly reminder that tomorrow the Jays and Red Sox play at 4:05 PM ET, which means that if you’re in Toronto you should totally cut work early and head to Opera Bob’s (Dundas St. W at Ossington) for our little shindig, co-presented by the folks behind the outstanding web series I’m involved in, Sports Bar Heroes. There will be $5 pints, $4 tall cans, $2 hot dogs, and hopefully a better performance from the Jays than when we last tried this on Opening Day. Here’s the Facebook invite, if you’re looking for a map or something.
Before we move on from Arencibia, and hopefully — though surely not — for the last damn time, NotGraphs deliciously tells us about his “brother,” J.Q. Arencibia, and his bitterness at being fired from his job as an accountant. Hilarious stuff.
OK, now to the real stuff: Rob Rasmussen! It sounds absurd, but that was a hell of a big league debut last night for the just-called-up lefty, facing one batter — David Ortiz — and inducing a crucial out. Shi Davidi of Sportsnet spoke to him after the game about reaching the majors, and his mindset after falling behind to Big Papi. In the same post we get a nifty video of that alright play Brett Lawrie made.
Before the game yesterday, Davidi also wrote about Rasmussen, who he says is hoping to make the most of his chance in the majors — and, given that J.A. Happ didn’t kill the bullpen yesterday, might now have more of a chance to, as it’s still possible Todd Redmond will be given Saturday’s start, which could give Rasmussen the chance to stick around.
Sticking with Sportsnet, Arden Zwelling was in Buffalo for Marcus Stroman’s start on Tuesday, and he writes about it and about the ideal role for the young right-hander — which is the one he’s currently in: starting.
Another Sportsnet piece sees Davidi suggesting that the Jays have a golden opportunity in front of them, as the mediocrity of the AL East sinks in. Or, at least, that’s what the clickbait-y headline says, though it’s mostly just a game story. Headlines. What a world.
Over at theScore, GROF also looks at baseball’s weirdest, wildest division. To wit: “Fangraphs projected standings tip Toronto as the eventual champ with just 84 wins – a grand total of five games ahead of the last place Orioles when their computations are complete. Baseball Prospectus uses PECOTA to construct their projected standings, producing a slightly different result. BP has the Yankees taking the division with 83 wins, the Blue Jays second with 82 and the Red Sox, Orioles, and Rays finishing right around 80 wins.”
Carson Cistulli of FanGraphs looks at the most improved pitchers this season, based on the preseason projections and the current ones. One of the top five is, unsurprisingly, Drew Hutchison. Atop the list is name we might remember from his surprisingly good outing at Rogers Centre a few weeks ago: Dallas Keuchel of the Astros.
Elsewhere at FanGraphs, Jeff Sullivan looks at a new trick being employed by Mark Buehrle: a two-strike sinker to right-handed batters. “Buehrle’s always been a little bit deceptive and a little bit finesse, and it’s not like you very often see a pitcher in his mid-30s make an approach adjustment. But if you dig beneath the 2014 Mark Buehrle surface, you notice something you can’t un-notice. Of his 31 strikeouts, 20 have been called. This is unusual, and this has an explanation,” we’re told.. And that is the sinker. “What used to be an almost forgotten pitch has become a favorite weapon. Previously, Buehrle’s sinker accounted for about 6% of his strikeouts of righties. This year, that’s up to 61%, as Buehrle has caught hitters unprepared for his sinker’s location and movement.”
A tweet from prospect Clinton Hollon earlier in the week informs us that he’s slated for Tommy John surgery. This isn’t exactly surprising, as injury issues were the reason that the Jays chose him in the first place. He was a first round talent by some accounts whose stock dropped because of what he now admits was a 59% UCL tear (it was determined he should try to avoid surgery at first, but a drop in velocity this year seems to have necessitated it), as did his leverage in terms of bonus demands. The Jays snapped him up understanding the risks, and used some of the money saved elsewhere. A nifty move, looking a little less nifty now, but hopefully it works out for all sides.
Speaking of that kind of manoeuvre, Bluebird Banter takes a look at draft prospect Jeff Hoffman. He’s a potential top five talent who just went under the knife himself, and who some folks — including Keith Law of ESPN.com in his latest mock — are hearing that the Jays might target with their second first round pick. It makes sense: with two picks so high the Jays can feel more comfortable assuming risk on one of them than other clubs, who would understandably be wary of taking a guy who just had his elbow reconstructed with their one shot at the top of the talent pool — and also wary of having to justify the selection to their fan base, most likely. Hoffman’s lack of leverage in terms of bonus demands (he’ll only barely be back on a mound by next spring, and in addition to being a senior with limited leverage to begin with, won’t have time to drive his stock up) could end up mitigating the risk by freeing additional bonus pool money to be spent on late-round fliers, much as the Jays did with Hollon. So, of course, some other shit-ass club will probably grab him first.
Elsewhere at Bluebird Banter, Nick Ashbourne looks at how Jays pitchers have struggled in the clutch.
And speaking of KLaw, at ESPN.com (Insider Only) he redrafts the 2004 draft’s first round, and has the Jays taking Lorenzo Cain instead of David Purcey. More interestingly, one pick later he has the Dodgers, with benefit of hindsight, taking Glen Perkins, and adds this note: “I hope Alex Anthopoulos won’t mind me sharing this story, but I distinctly remember that he was a big Perkins fan in that draft class, insisting that Perkins be in our discussion for the two picks we held at 16 and 32 — and Perkins has had a more productive career than either of the players we took, David Purcey and Zach Jackson.”
Blue Jays Plus goes under the hood for a look at Brett Lawrie’s swing mechanics, and finds what you might entirely expect: a mess.
On the other hand, Brendan Kennedy of the Toronto Star looks at Lawrie in terms of his power production, which is beginning to return.
Over at the National Post, John Lott looks at Liam Hendriks, who some might say is the favourite to get the spot start on Saturday against the A’s at Rogers Centre. In the same piece he notes the oddly-timed MRI given to Colby Rasmus, which apparently turned up nothing serious: “he’s healing,” says John Gibbons.
Elsewhere at the Post, Lott also talks to Rob Rasmussen, who is living the “absolute dream” as a big leaguer.
From over the weekend, Gregor Chisholm and Teddy Cahill of BlueJays.com tell us, in addition to other items in a notebook post, that the sudden retirement of Chris Getz came as no surprise to John Gibbons.
Jays Prospects tells us about the piggybacking program Alberto Tirado is on in Lansing.
Your Van C’s continues assessing the first round selections made in the Alex Anthopoulos era, this time looking back on the 2011 draft.
MLBTR tells us that the Jays have lent Ricardo Nanita to a team in the Mexican League. Specifically, Los Tigres de Quintana Roo.
At ESPN.com (Insider Only), Jim Bowden suggests a bunch of trades that he thinks should happen, including the Jays going after Jeff Samardzija, as has long been rumoured. “Perhaps an offer of left-handed pitcher Daniel Norris, right-handed pitcher Roberto Osuna and third baseman Mitch Nay could get it done,” he says. Perhaps the backwards-trending strikeout and walk rates of Aaron Sanchez (7.69 K/9, 5.59 BB/9) make Norris — who is killing it, at least statistically, at high-A, continuing where he left off after last year’s breakout campaign — the more valuable prospect.
Lastly, for the first time this season (I’m pretty sure), Jonah Keri’s MLB power rankings at Grantland have the Jays, along with the rest of the AL East, in the second highest tier. They’re twelfth!