Oh, piss on the swear jar!
Barry Davis tweets that the Jays, who begin today with a three game lead in the AL East (thanks, in part, to pitcher Yovani Gallardo’s pinch hit walk-off double for the Brewers over the Orioles last night), have not led the division by four or more since 1993. Do it!
Hey, so you know all that talk about the Jays having interest in Jeff Samardzija? Yeah, well, those Orioles could entirely blow them out of the water on an offer, if they really wanted to. And according to chief Chicagoland rumour monger Bruce Levine of CBS Chicago, they might be willing to. He says that the O’s “appear to be the leading team of interest” in the pursuit of Samardzija, and that Baltimore’s pitching-rich farm system (at least on the top end) is why. Some combination of Dylan Bundy, Kevin Gausman, and Hunter Harvey scoffs at your offer of Aaron Sanchez and Marcus Stroman.
As here, not all of Baltimore is necessarily behind this possibility. High ranking official among the O’s Twitterati, Jon Bernhardt, tweets a sarcastic plea: “Please, Orioles, continue to gut the farm for another Cubs pitcher off to a hot start who you have no intention of paying long term.”
Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun tries to unpack this whole Samardzija-Orioles business, and in doing so pretty much provides you with all you need to know about it.
Another prospect to throw into trade discussions, of course, is Dan Norris. He continues to look like he’s too good for the Florida State League — or at least his stat line does — and today Baseball Prospectus noted him for having one of the best outings in the minors last night. “The stuff has never been the question for Norris, but control issues threatened to keep him from reaching his ceiling. Unlike fellow Blue Jays prospect Aaron Sanchez, however, Norris has made great strides this year in that regard, lowering his walk rate to a very acceptable 2.6 BB/9,” they explain.
On the other hand, Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago notes that Keith Law and Buster Olney spoke on a recent podcast about what a good fit Samardzija would be for the San Francisco Giants. This, my friends, is why the Cubs aren’t about to budge on dealing him just because the Jays want him. There’s going to be a serious market for his services.
Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe tells us that the Jays aren’t interested in giving up Drew Hutchison for the Shark. Gee, thanks Nick. Non-sarcastic thanks for this one, though: regarding the Jays’ belief in their ability to take the AL East, and their pursuit of starting pitching, “whether it be Samardzija or someone else, the Jays have all hands on deck, including special adviser Fred McGriff.” Hmmm. I wonder if the Crime Dog has a desk somewhere near the analytics plant.
Did you hear that the Jays are playing well? So did a lot of people, it turns out. To wit:
- Dave Cameron of Fox Sports looks at “positive regression.” He says that staying the course seems to have worked well for the club, but zeroes in on second base as an area requiring improvement — the top priority, he thinks, rather than on the mound. Interesting. Also interesting: the 2013 Jays gave 31% of their plate appearances to players who were below replacement level. Yeah… that’s not going to end well. Which, of course, it didn’t.
- Jonah Keri of ESPN.com doesn’t quite put the Jays among the elite clubs in his power rankings just yet (they’re 8th he says), but they’re moving up, and he details why: power. Notable for an Edwin’s Parrot GIF appearance and a plug for some mighty fine work by GROF.
- Elsewhere at ESPN.com, Tommy Rancel says that the Jays are showing they have staying power, while Christina Kahrl excellently shows how the Jays have had to adapt to overcome various roster challenges so far this season, and how well they’ve done so.
- Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com looks at the Jays’ success, and suggests that they’re going to have to find themselves more pitching to sustain it.
On that note, we move to Blue Jays Plus, where Gideon Turk wonders about how the trade market for starting pitching will shape up, and comes up with two lower cost names that would still prove to be upgrades for the Jays’ rotation: Jason Hammel and Colby Lewis.
Elsewhere at BJP, Greg Wisniewski excellently breaks down an at-bat that saw Brett Cecil face off with Derek Norris over the weekend, and we’re re-treated to the scene last night from the Jays’ dugout, as Jose Bautista fanned an ultra-hot Edwin Encarnacion after yet another home run.
Speaking of Edwin, Shi Davidi of Sportsnet writes about how Encarnacion is outsmarting pitchers this year, as he wonders why the hell anybody is actually giving him anything to throw — unlike the approach Jose Bautista saw in April, when his hot bat was somewhat neutralized by 30 walks.
More from Shi: we’re told that Dioner Navarro is fine, despite getting hit on the index finger by the backswing of Jose Molina last night. Davidi also looks at how crucial the manager has been in the Jays’ success of late, noting that “lost amid the spate of wins, suddenly solid pitching and ongoing awesomeness of Edwin Encarnacion, the Toronto Blue Jays have quietly cobbled together a strong and very productive bottom of the lineup by exploiting a series of platoon split advantages.” Last week, he took a similar look at the Jays’ newly meritocratic roster, and how that’s been crucial to the success of the club as well.
Elsewhere at Sportsnet, Arden Zwelling tells us of the long road to the majors for tonight’s Jays starter, Australian right-hander Liam Hendriks.
Not everyone is buying the Jays quite as much as some national US writers and Jays fans are, it turns out. Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star wisely points out that this whole thing could still go either way, though two of his four reasons why it might go sideways — some sort of issue with Brett Lawrie playing at second (which is kinda working out great for now), and some thing about a lack of experience — don’t exactly pass the smell test over here. The stuff about the pitching, though, is entirely a legitimate concern.
Updating an item from yesterday: FanGraphs has added the velocity data for Drew Hutchison’s last outing to his game log page, and while it definitely dipped compared to previous starts, it didn’t show the stuff that the numbers at Brooks did. According to the FanGraphs numbers it was his second-lowest outing of the season in terms of velocity, as he averaged 90.7. The idea that he might have taken something off in order to pitch to a small strike zone continues to seem reasonable.
Sticking with FanGraphs, they rolled out some fancy new heatmaps today. Check out Edwin Encarnacion’s, then try to pick the outside corner on him low, or else you’re doomed.
Elsewhere still at FanGraphs, Jeff Sullivan examines the changes in approach that seem to be helping Jeff Samardzija (and, as a consequence, the Cubs’ ability to get a boatload for him), while David Laurila posts a very Jays-heavy Sunday Notes column, chatting with R.A. Dickey, Buck Martinez, John Gibbons, and Steve Delabar.
Cathal Kelly of the Globe and Mail wades into the whole Jays honouring America’s Memorial Day debate that raged earlier in the week, and comes to a pretty damn rational conclusion, if you ask me (which you totally didn’t), explaining that he prefers “we treat the solemnity of that idea with the respect it deserves, which is to say, leave it outside the playground.” Uh-huh.
Elsewhere in the Globe, Kelly looks at John Gibbons’ “gutsy chemistry experiment,” while Robert MacLeod looks at the Buehrle-Navarro battery — a partnership that has been working extremely well so far.
Similarly, John Lott of the National Post looks at how J.A. Happ also seems to have a personal catcher, Erik Kratz, who has helped him get back on track — at least in his last couple of starts. (Speaking of Happ, Nick Ashbourne of Bluebird Banter looks at the left-hander’s new fastball velocity, which… actually isn’t really doing much to help him this year. At least not yet.)
Elsewhere in the Post, Lott looks at how the Jays’ call-ups have factored in to their run of success, and gives us an update (albeit a couple days old now) about where the injured Colby Rasmus and Sergio Santos are at — neither of whom looks like he’ll force a roster move until at least next week. If it ain’t broke…
Charlie Caskey has a big look at some potential Canadians (of the Vancouver variety), as well as a bunch of other notes from extended spring training (including word of a setback for Tom Robson, who is dealing with arm trouble) over at Your Van C’s.
Jays Journal has a new interview with Daniel Norris, apparently, but they put it in a fucking slideshow, so no.
“The premier of British Brolumbia wastes the goddamn time of a superhero,” tweets GROF, linking to a picture from John Lott’s Flickr in which Brett Lawrie mimes taking a batting practice selfie with Edwin Encarnacion, because… um… because Brett Lawrie.
Lastly, according to Twitterer @Angelo_riot, Jose Bautista was on Grandes en los Deportes radio today (the audio will come out later today or tomorrow, I’m told), and had some very good things to say about Kevin Seitzer (in Spanish, though Angelo has translated). “Seitzer’s philosophy has helped us a lot,” Bautista reportedly said. “Each plate appearance deserves a different approach; depends inning, runners, score.” He added, “Mottola was good but Seitzer is great. We’re a unit.”