Well, you see refrigerator boxes. I see an outreach centre that’s changing people’s lives every day and WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING SIMONE?
According to a tweet from Ken Rosenthal, the Jays have “checked on” Alfonso Soriano, who is now a free agent, following his release from the Yankees. I’ve maybe been a little harsh about Soriano of late. Sure, he’s been hot garbage, even against lefties, this season (wRC+ of 80 in the split), but OK, OK, he was pretty terrific against them last year (147 wRC+, and about league average against RHP, too), so if you were going to try to catch lightning in a bottle, seeing as you’ve got a few weeks before everyone starts getting healthy, you could do worse than seeing if he’s got anything left and then just discarding him if he doesn’t. Rosenthal says Soriano is “mulling over” his options, but if he wants to keep playing, it’s not like he’s going to get a better assurance — or opportunity — than that. Right?
Keith Law’s mid-season top 50 prospects list came out today at ESPN.com (Insider Only), and Aaron Sanchez has fallen entirely off it. Yikes. It’s not all bad news, though, as Dan Norris made the list, ranked 37th. “He’s a long way from having average command,” Law says, “but at this time last year it was unthinkable that he’d improve enough to get a Futures Game appearance and a quick promotion to Double-A.”
It’s the unofficial mid-season, with the second not-quite-half about to get underway tomorrow, so there’s a lot of taking stock going on…
Brendan Kennedy of the Toronto Star looks at what the Jays need to do to make the playoffs, listing several things from the obvious (get healthy, find an infielder, fix the bullpen), to the less obvious (lower the walk rate, get deeper into games), to the fanciful (hit better with RISP).
Shi Davidi of Sportsnet looks at some of the options the Jays can look to on the trade market, and they’re not all infielders. Alex Rios, Marlon Byrd, and Josh Willingham all present potential corner outfield solutions that would force Jose Bautista to move to third base and Brett Lawrie to second once he returns, which… actually that sounds doable, right?
Speaking of the bullpen stuff, John Lott of the National Post looks at how the once-strong bullpen has gone sideways for this club, and what some potential fixes could be *COUGH* Sanchez *COUGH*.
Gregor Chisholm reviews the first “half” of the season for BlueJays.com, and gives us five things to watch as the season comes to a conclusion, including how the young starters fare as they pitch more innings than they’ve ever been asked to, whether the offensive approach changes back to what made the club so successful in May, and whether the Jays can play well enough to justify the club keeping this team more-or-less together for another shot in 2015.
Over at Grantland, Jonah Keri offers some rather grim cup-half-empty words about where the Jays are at, saying that “the former first-place Blue Jays have fallen off a cliff, and the calls for GM Alex Anthopoulos to make a deal should probably subside now that Adam Lind, Edwin Encarnacion, and Brett Lawrie are hurt and the pitching lacks the depth of a true contender.” And then he says you could see the Rays climb back into the race! COME ON!
The Orioles, for the time being, don’t care about our expectations, or so says a piece from Mike Petriello of FanGraphs, as he looks at the prohibitive favourites to hold on in the AL East… at least for the time being. Why that might yet change? How about Baltimore coming out of the break with 26 games in 27 days, with a nighmare schedule that takes them through the AL West powerhouses — four in Oakland, then three each in Anaheim and Seattle — back home to face the Angels and Mariners again for three each, a quick trip to Washington for a makeup game that would have been an off-day before a three-game trip up here, before going home to host the Cardinals for three then the Yankees for three. If they’re still in first by the end of it, all the power to them (or alternately: OH FOR FUCK SAKES WHAT HAPPENED, JAYS??!?!?).
Elsewhere at FanGraphs we have a look at game scores from this week’s Future’s Game, in which Dan Norris and Dalton Pompey grade out quite well, while the 30-21 section of their latest trade value series features Jose Bautista at number 27.
Back to the bullpen stuff, as Dave Feschuk of the Toronto Star speaks to Steve Delabar, consigned to the minors and looking to rediscover the command and scratch his way back to the majors.
Meanwhile, Mike Rutsey of the Toronto Sun looks at the recent struggles of Sergio Santos, who he suggests is in denial, as the reliever doesn’t just not have any answers as to what’s been wrong of late — he suggests there really isn’t anything wrong. “It’s just the way it’s going now,” Santos says.
And at Bluebird Banter, Nick Ashbourne digs deep into the numbers on Casey Janssen, who has been excellent again so far in what Nick calls his most unusual season yet, despite declining velocity, a lack of strikeouts. “Somehow Janssen is getting hitters to make more contact with “bad” pitches, while getting them to whiff more when the pitches are in the zone.” I’ll take it for now, but man… if I was thinking about spending big free agent dollars on a guy this winter…
Back to the National Post, where Jason Rehel looks at where stadium design has come since the SkyDome opened 25 years ago — which, of course, means looking at a bunch of great pictures of beautiful stadiums that aren’t here.
At Sportsnet, Arden Zwelling looks at why Alfonso Soriano, newly a free agent, isn’t really a fit for the Jays. And elsewhere, Shi Davidi tells us about Bud Selig’s turnabout on the Montreal issue, suggesting to reporters in Minneapolis during this week’s All-Star festivities that the two sold out games at the Big O in March really opened the league’s eyes. That’s nice, but I’ll believe it when I see it.
One more from Sportsnet, as Shi Davidi talks to Gord Ash, who reflects on his time as GM of the Jays.
Prospect stuff, as Brian Crawford of Jays Prospects looks at Roberto Espinosa, who was selected in the Triple-A phase of last winter’s Rule 5 draft, and how he’s improved this year thanks to an uptick in his velocity.
Lastly, some very encouraging stuff from Baseball Prospectus, where the fantasy-focussed Dynasty Dynamics previews some dark horses who might jump up into their year-end top-fifty dynasty league prospects list, and includes the newest member of the Vancouver Canadians, Max Pentecost. “Pentecost is only in rookie ball at the moment, so this would be an extremely complicated scenario to imagine but I’m banking on the Blue Jays pushing their first round selection and the college product to High-A, if not higher, in the near future. Pentecost is a fairly polished product at the plate, and while catcher’s gloves often slow their ascent through the minor leagues, I think Pentecost can be something of an anomaly. It’s not that he’s a wunderkind behind the plate like Austin Hedges, but rather, the combination of organizational need and polished product could push him rather quickly,” Ben Carsley and Craig Goldstein explain. “He’s not an elite offensive presence, but the bar for production as a backstop is so low that something like a low-budget Jonathan Lucroy (good average, low power, solid speed) is worth something.”
I will so take the fuck out of a low-budget Jonathan Lucroy, thanks.