Is that the one about tariffs?
Sportsnet’s PR department tweets that last night’s game was the most-watched of the season, with 889,000 viewers. I can live with that.
You need to always take playoff odds stuff with giant grains of salt, but this latest piece from FanGraphs will at least provide some salty deliciousness, as they look at the biggest changes in playoff odds from the beginning of the season to the end. Of course, leading the way is the Jays, who FG determined to have a 27% shot at the start of the year, while they now sit on 77%, the fourth-best in baseball. That said, “everything here hinges on mathematical projections, so there’s a certain accuracy ceiling,” they warn. “If you like a team more or less than the projections, then that affects almost every single number. But you can consider this a starting point. It’s a good starting point, for Jays fans.” Uh-huh. Just gotta hang on for 103 more games!
At ESPN.com, Keith Law has his final draft rankings up, and while all of the guys rumoured to be in play for the Jays at picks nine and eleven make his top twenty five, none of them is within his top twelve. As I noted on the podcast, though, I can live with that. It might be simply that they don’t draft as many position players as highly as they do pitchers, but it at least doesn’t feel like they do as good a job in terms of their development as they do with the arms. So take the arms — and figure out how to better develop some hitters. If, y’know, that’s even really an issue (which, let’s be clear, is hardly cut and dried — the Jays have some good bats in the low minors, and have drafted some real projects who wouldn’t necessarily be expected to have borne fruit yet).
Speaking of the draft, I’ll be live blogging it tomorrow night, providing context for everything Jays-related that happens, and grabbing whatever information I can on the guys that the Jays pick at nine and eleven. Because that’s what you do.
Maybe the Jays will draft one of the ten most awesomely- or dumbly-named draft-eligible fellows highlighted in this piece by Alexis Brudnicki for the Canadian Baseball Network. In fact, it’s a decent enough bet that they will, given how often they’ve been linked with Touki Toussaint. But as you’ll see from the link, there are better names than even his!
Brendan Kennedy of the Toronto Star looks a bit at the Jays’ recent draft history, and specifically, their inability to sign their top picks in two of the last three drafts — something that Jim Callis of MLB.com, and formerly of Baseball America, tells Kennedy were due to “unforeseen circumstances” that “would have probably happened to anybody.” Not that anybody would have picked Bickford so high, but hey, when you’ve got baseball lifers telling you he’s got “the good face,” what else are you supposed to do?
In a companion piece, Kennedy looks at the names who have been most often linked to the Jays so far this spring.
Speaking of all this, Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet looks at the depth of pitching available in the draft, giving brief bios of a tonne of pitchers on the board, at least one of whom you’d have to think is going to end up being selected by the Jays.
Great stuff over at Blue Jays Plus, as they go pitch-by-pitch through Edwin Encarnacion’s second at-bat last Thursday against James Shields, which, of course, resulted in a home run. It’s a detailed breakdown full of GIFs, my favourite of which is this one, showing Encarnacion’s first and second home runs of the game, both on identical mistakes from Shields, side-by-side. And “identical” is the key word here. If you’ve never played at a high level, you hear about “mechanics” and “repeatability” on broadcasts, and can read about it online if you’re especially curious, but here you actually see just how detailed all the movements, and the timing of those movements, really are. It’s pretty remarkable granular stuff about how the game really works on an elite level that can’t be seen until it’s slowed down and given this sort of side-by-side treatment. I don’t know… just maybe something to think of before the next time you yell at your screen for a pitcher to just throw strikes.
John Lott writes awesome game stories, so here’s his game story on last night’s wild one in Detroit, over at the National Post. A second piece looks at the breaks the Jays got on their way to the victory, though one of them — #GibbyTheBest substituting Kevin Pillar for Adam Lind in order to face a lefty — was sort of by design. Though I’m sure the FYOR GOBBSON crowd would have killed him for it if it didn’t work out, so… maybe? Either way, I can live with that.
I didn’t really elaborate as much as I should have on a piece that Brendan Kennedy wrote for the Toronto Star earlier this week about Jose Bautista’s slightly awesome hitting against the shift. Definitely read it, and read some far better elaboration on it than I could have provided, which comes by the way of Jeff Sullivan at FanGraphs. “Jose Bautista didn’t need Kevin Seitzer to be good. Jose Bautista was already really good,” Sullivan concludes. “But with the help of Kevin Seitzer, Jose Bautista has started to do something he hadn’t done, and he’s returned to the uppermost tier of offensive nightmares. Not everyone is going to be able to defeat an extreme defensive shift. But then, not anyone is Jose Bautista.”
Elsewhere at FanGraphs, Jays prospect Taylor Cole once again makes their weekly list of the most compelling fringe prospects, though Carson Cistuli writes that “precious new information exists with regard to Cole’s arm speed and/or repertoire,” adding that “he remains old (24) relative to his level.” Hmmm…
Over at Baseball Prospectus, Ben Lindbergh looks at May in terms of pitch framing, and once again Dioner Navarro shows up as having one of the best-framed pitches of the month — and none of the worst this time! Which isn’t to say that means he’s great at it. Still, though!
Steve Buffery of the Toronto Sun looks back eons for a reminiscence on what the Jays-Tigers rivalry used to be — i.e. great — while Shi Davidi gets more recent for Sportsnet, looking at the miserable time the Jays had the last time they found themselves at Comerica, when the Jays got “roughed up over three frigid April afternoons in a series that exposed the first real fissures in a rotation that ultimately doomed the team to failure.” This trip sure started better, eh?
Elsewhere at Sportsnet, Davidi gives us a notebook post full of several items, including worries about the Jays’ bullpen depth (which may have a new piece to contemplate in Radhames Liz?), a mention of Sergio Santos hopefully starting a rehab assignment next week, a mention of Aaron Sanchez’s excellent outing on Tuesday night (no, really), and tales of running out of gas on the 401 on the way to Detroit. In the year 2014.
Another one for Sportsnet, continuing a series that I’d say seems to get bafflingly high numbers of social media shares, except it’s about hockey and this is Canada, Jays players make their Stanley Cup predictions.
Back to the Toronto Star, where Richard Griffin had a chat today with readers, while Mark Zwolinski tells the touching story of Jays’ alumni, such as Robbie Alomar, gathering together to support eight-year-old Ben Sheppard, who is battling cerebral palsy.
Another one of a similar ilk from Zwolinski tells us about Jose Bautista helping get a teen fan a prom date on Twitter. OK.
Sticking with the heartwarming stuff, Mike Warner of MLB.com looks at the Jays’ off-day golf tournament that raised $700K for Jays Care.
Elsewhere from MLB.com, Gregor Chisholm has a notebook post that looks at how the Jays’ rotation has exceeded expectations so far, and how the Buffalo Bisons will hold a Jays weekend featuring Kelly Gruber and Fred McGriff, apparently. (Also, still no timetable on Colby Rasmus, as I think several of the pieces linked here have noted.)
In the Toronto Sun, Mike Rutsey talks to J.A. Happ, who doesn’t think there’s much similar about him and fellow left-handed starter Mark Buehrle. But that’s no knock on Buehrle. “What I can learn from him is go out there, pound the strike zone and work quick,” Happ said. “But that’s easier said than done. As far as stuff and attacking hitters, how to set guys up, no I really can’t say there’s a comparison.”
Elsewhere in the Sun, Bob Elliott introduces us to Canadian draft prospect Gareth Morgan.
Via the Globe and Mail, Gregory Strong of the Canadian Press looks at the impact Kevin Seitzer has had on the Jays so far this season. Y’know, supposedly.
Baseball America tells us about the Florida State League all-star rosters, and give a nice, brief not about Dan Norris, who makes the squad along with his teammate Dalton Pompey.
Brian Crawford of Jays Prospects tells us about 2012 second-rounder and current Lansing pitcher, Chase De Jong.
At Deadspin, Dirk Hayhurst does us all a favour and provides “A Major League Pitcher’s Guide To Baseball’s Bullshit Unwritten Rules.”
Lastly, Neil Steinberg’s Every Goddamn Day looks at legendary brodcaster Harry Caray’s streak of 288 straight nights spent in a bar back in 1972. #Hero.