Andrew Stoeten

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Yep.

chart (1)

Yeah, yeah, Jays lose. Six in a row.

You’d rather not see this, but… whatever. We’ve reached the point in the season where it’s about more than overall results, and to that end the Jays are at least doing something right, it seems.

Here’s a crazy thought that came up on Twitter over the course of the game, which gets less crazy the more I think of it: why even go through the motions of having Anthony Gose and Kevin Pillar start, and likely fail, as platoon in centre in 2015? Why not just go with Dalton Pompey?

It seems like a rush, I know, but could he really be that much worse, offensively? Defensively maybe he isn’t Gose, but as a switch hitter he only takes up one roster spot, which is a huge bonus for a club that likely wants to carry someone like John Mayberry to platoon at DH with Adam Lind. Of course, according to the Jays’ outright and option status page at Bluebird Banter, both Gose and Pillar still have options left, so you could always have the three players battle for the job in spring training, assuming you don’t find a fix from outside the organization. But if a trade came about in the off-season involving Gose or Pillar that could address one of the club’s other needs, what this book presupposes is, why the hell not just do it?

It’s not a great idea, to be sure, but let’s be honest, neither is going with Gose or Pillar. And neither is taking valuable resources away from the club’s bigger areas of need — a true second baseman and additional help for the bullpen, for starters — to try to find a placeholder they hope will be supplanted by Pompey sooner than later anyway.

I don’t know. Maybe I’m just getting swept up in Pompey mania (if there was such a thing), but seriously, if there’s one silver lining we can take from another dismal September, it’s that there’s no way the Jays can use the month’s experimenting to justify things like Danny Valencia facing right-handed pitching, or Ryan Goins facing anybody as an everyday player. Gose and Pillar haven’t looked great for a long while against big league pitching either. And maybe that’s alright. Maybe that’s for the best, even. Maybe their struggles have been emphatic enough — obvious enough — that the club won’t let itself pretend it can get away with insanity like the Goins experiment again.

pompeyhits

Things truly have come undone for the Jays this week, but maybe that’s precisely the kind of thing that this season needed. The 2014 Blue Jays’ time is winding down, but it’s in these days that we get little moments of excitement — or… at least… y’know… semi-excitement — like the one we’re in for tonight, as Dalton Pompey makes his first major league start.

Granted, we’re maybe not quite seeing Brett Lawrie levels of maple excitement from the maple dick set. Shit, even I’m guilty — my lazy ass sure wasn’t going to whip up a clever photoshop for the occasion (not that I would have nailed it anywhere near as hard as I did on the occasion of Lawrie’s debut anyway). But I think there are some fairly reasonable reasons for that, even if Pompey really is someone we ought to be getting excited about.

The Jays’ previous beloved-prospect-with-the-right-birth-certificate was, by the time of his promotion, a regular at the high end of the various top prospect lists, after being one of the highest Canadians ever drafted, and acquired in a deal from Milwaukee for Shaun Marcum, who had been one of the Jays’ top drinkers pitchers at the time of the deal.

Pompey, on the other hand, has been into a couple games already, for one. More to the point, though, he was a 16th rounder in 2010 — and a young one at that — who didn’t play a full season as a pro until last year at Lansing, spending his previous three years with the GCL Jays, the Bluefield Blue Jays, and the Vancouver Canadians, before getting a five game taste of life as a Lugnut at the end of 2012.

He had never sniffed a Top 100 list, and — just to use a couple quick examples — wasn’t even among the top ten Blue Jays prospects for either Baseball America or Keith Law heading into any of the 2012, 2013, or 2014 seasons.

But this year was one for the ages. One where everything clicked — where all the raw tools finally, spectacularly, translated into actual on-field success.

At Dunedin, where he was a year-and-a-half younger than the average for position players, he slashed .319/.397/.471.

In New Hampshire, nearly four years younger than his position player peers, for 127 plate appearances, it was .295/.378/.473.

And in 56 PA for Buffalo it was .358/.393/.453.

Pompey, at 21, was six years younger than the average position player in the International League during his stint. He’s a fucking switch hitting, above average defensive centrefielder. And we’re worried about Anthony Gose and Kevin fucking Pillar?

This guy… this is the guy.

If it keeps working, that is. So damn right, let’s fucking see it.

Scuttlebutt

Apparently Edwin Encarnacion went for an MRI on his back this afternoon. He also has already hit a home run. So… that’s good, but can we please get some fucking real grass in the Rogers Centre already?

Jeff Blair’s got an interesting piece up at Sportsnet on the Jays’ roving pitching instructor, Rick Langford.

Next game(s): Tomorrow, 4:05 PM ET @ New York (AL); Sunday, 1:05 PM ET @ New York (AL)

For those of you who’ll be out and about, be sure to follow all the action on your phone with theScore app.

And now, the lineups… 

Toronto Blue Jays

SS Jose Reyes (S)
RF Jose Bautista (R)
DH Edwin Encarnacion (R)
1B Adam Lind (L)
C Dioner Navarro (S)
3B Danny Valencia (R)
2B Munenori Kawasaki (L)
LF Dalton Pompey (S)
CF Anthony Gose (L)

LHP Mark Buehrle

New York Yankees

CF Jacoby Ellsbury (L)
SS Derek Jeter (R)
C Brian McCann (L)
1B Mark Teixeira (S)
DH Carlos Beltran (S)
LF Brett Gardner (L)
2B Stephen Drew (L)
3B Chase Headley (S)
RF Ichiro Suzuki (L)

RHP Big Hirok

dailyduce1-595

Daily? Not even close! In fact, as you’ve surely noticed, I’ve been finding it tough to push through the apathy for this team and this season that finally settled in around me this week, with the Jays losing five straight, slipping again behind both the Yankees and Cleveland, even as the Wild Card holders in Oakland and Kansas City have stumbled. Of course, it’s pointless to get frustrated about five individual games. Baseball is about the big picture, and in the big picture, the Jays were pretty much right where we thought they’d be: mediocre. There are all kinds of reasons why and all kinds of things they can do to get better next year — don’t let anybody tell you they’re not close — and, oddly, it will be something of a relief in the coming days to start assessing the wreckage and looking towards the future. Sorry, but Mark Buehrle’s quest for 200 innings just doesn’t do it for me. And speaking of the future…

This piece should be marked NSFW, because holy shit. Jeff Long of Baseball Prospectus lectures us on “The Dangerous Business Of Comparing Stroman To Maddux” as he goes about comparing Marcus Stroman to Greg Maddux. Yowza! Conclusion? “Consistent release points to hide the ball. Late, hard break on all of his pitches, making it difficult for hitters to decipher one pitch from another. Excellent control of his pitches, minimizing the damage done by free passes. Those three characteristics describe Marcus Stroman. They also describe Hall of Famer Greg Maddux. Fine, we didn’t get so far as proving that Stroman’s got anything like Maddux’s future, and Stroman hasn’t gone so far as proving it himself. Until he does, he’ll have to settle for using many of the tenets that made Maddux great—and he’ll have to settle for being “merely” on the cusp of being an ace.”

Speaking of the future, J.J. Cooper chatted last week at Baseball America, in the wake of their naming Kris Bryant — one-time Jays draftee! — as their minor league player of the year. In the piece he laid this on us: “ If we picked a pitcher of the year, it probably would have been Norris edging Glasnow. Norris getting the edge because he pitched at four levels this year while Glasnow stayed in hiA. But as good as both of their years were, they didn’t compare in our eyes to the season Bryant had.” Fair enough. And also: nails much?

Elsewhere at BA, last week they named their all prospect team for August, which included a pair of Jays farmhands: Franklin Barreto and Jairo Labourt, the latter of whom “ led the Northwest League in ERA (1.77), opponent average (.188) and strikeout rate (10.4 per nine innings), indicating the extent of the 20-year-old’s ceiling.”

Blue Jays Plus points us to a BA piece letting us know that the Jays have extended their agreements with the Lansing Lugnuts and the Bluefield Blue Jays, meaning that all the Jays affiliates will return in 2015.

Back to BP, where this week’s Monday Morning Ten Pack listed prospects who exceeded their expectations in 2014, and first up is Dalton Pompey. Chris Mellen writes that Pompey has been a nice surprise “not so much in regards to identifying the raw tools and what they indicate for his overall potential, but in how quickly things have clicked for a player who was just finishing up his first full-season campaign a year ago.”

Speaking of Pompey, John Lott tweets out the Jays’ lineup for tonight, and Pompey is in it — his first MLB start. Nice!

Keith Law revealed his prospects of the year this week at ESPN.com, and unsurprisingly, Daniel Norris was one of the ten he short-listed. “He might be in Toronto’s rotation in 2015,” he says, “which is a remarkable leap for a pitcher who spent 2013 in the low-A Midwest League, walking a man every other inning. ” Indeed.

At FanGraphs, David Laurila talks to Dalton Pompey, who he says “ has catapulted himself from promising prospect to star-in-the-making.” The player himself gives a lot of the credit to Steve Springer, the Jays’ “performance coach,” who helps him with the mental side of the game. Interesting stuff.

More Pompey stuff from Melissa Couto of the Canadian Baseball Network, as the young outfielder reveals that he had a conversation with Vernon Wells back in 2010. ““I told him he would have to move over to left because I was going to play centre one day soon,” he says. Nails much?

A pair from Brian Crawford at Jays Prospects, as he talks to Mitch Nay about his successful first trip through full season ball, and tells us about the rise of Miguel Castro through the Jays’ system.

Heading to the local mainstream press, we have Scott Stinson of the National Post, who last week wrote about how the Jays’ slim playoff odds belied a lot of promise for the future. Meanwhile, Richard Griffin writes similarly in the Toronto Star, singling out the club’s young arms as reason to be optimistic.

Ben Nicholson-Smith write about Norris for Sportsnet, looking at a pitcher who is quickly losing his fear of the unknown in the big leagues. A week earlier, he wrote about Aaron Sanchez, and how the right-hander’s elite stuff is leading to great results.

Elsewhere at Sportsnet, Shi Davidi tells us that the Jays won’t deter their young pitchers from throwing inside, despite Marcus Stroman’s suspension, and the tensions of this week’s series in Baltimore.

More from Sportsnet: Arden Zwelling writes about the two different exits being taken by the Jays and Orioles as the 2014 regular season winds down; Shi Davidi recaps last night’s loss to the Yankees, suggesting that the Jays don’t have much to work with right now, and it’s showing.

Three more particularly interesting ones from Davidi this week: he writes that the Jays expect to be competitive for Melky Cabrera; that, despite a less-than-glowing endorsement from his GM, John Gibbons’ job isn’t in jeopardy; and he explains why Steve Pearce chose the Baltimore Orioles, who has been a key cog for them this season — and who at one point this season was claimed by the Blue Jays.

Speaking of Melky, MLBTR looks at the market for him, and comes down on the side of sanity, not mentioning the Shin-Soo Choo deal, or something of five years or more, but highlighting Shane Victorino, Jhonny Peralta, and Curtis Granderson as possible comps. I can live with that — and better still, I think the Jays can live with that. But the lack of other outfield options on the market maybe changes things — though, honestly, I wouldn’t despair a Michael Cuddyer or Josh Willingham on a cheaper, shorter deal, I suppose.

Great stuff from John Lott of the National Post, as he digs up the details on Aaron Loup’s text message conversation with Nick Markakis, following a hit-by-pitch in Tuesday night’s game in Baltimore.

Elsewhere in the Post, Lott relays the not-terribly-apologetic response from Alex Anthopoulos following criticism from PETA about the Jays having tiger and lion cubs from the Bowmanville Zoo in their locker room prior to a game last week.

Mark Zwolinski of the Toronto Star talks to Roberto Alomar and Devon White about sliding headfirst into home, which they don’t recommend.

Todd Redmond has had his good deeds recognized, as Gregor Chisholm tells us at BlueJays.com that he has been named the team’s nominee for the Roberto Clemente award, “which honours the Major League Baseball player who best represents the game through positive contributions on and off the field.”

A tweet from our old friend GROF points us to a FanGraphs leaderboard showing the 19 players over the last five years to put up a wRC+ below 30 while being handed over 150 plate appearances. Fans of the 2014 Toronto Blue Jays will recognize one of the names on the list.

Interesting stuff here from Harvey Araton of the New York Times, as he looks back at the Opening Day 2003 incident involving Derek Jeter and Ken Huckaby — pivoting off a recent Sportsnet piece that Huckaby reportedly now says he regrets — and comes to the conclusion that Jeter “might consider giving one thing back — or taking back — a rare misstep made across nearly two decades of brilliance. Call up the Lansing Lugnuts, get a contact for the old catcher who 11 years ago landed on him with his tools of ignorance. Tell Ken Huckaby that he gets it now, he respects the effort, and leave it at that.”

Speaking of the Lugnuts, their broadcaster, Jesse Goldberg-Strassler was one of the panelists at last week’s excellent Pitch Talks events, and has provided a great roundup of what was discussed at The 2-2 Pitch, his blog about the Lugnuts. Great! Now I don’t have to!

At the Wall Street Journal, Kelly Johnson, who has now played for all five teams in the AL East, gives a guide to the cities in the division, saying that Toronto has the best food and the worst traffic — at least as far as the area around the ballpark is concerned. Seems reasonable.

Lastly, Bluebird Banter has a poll up asking readers if they approve of the job that Buck Martinez and Pat Tabler are doing as the Jays’ TV broadcasters. I know how I’m gonna vote!

Game Threat: Jays @ Yankees

Meh.

The Final Countdown is maybe a bit… um… final for where the Jays’ 2014 season currently sits. It’s not currently smoldering wreckage, even! The teams that hold the AL’s Wild Card spots are both 4-6 over their last ten, and the Jays have four games remaining with the team that sits between them and those two. Things are still possible!

It’s just… yeah…

Scuttlebutt

No Dioner Navarro tonight, as John Lott tweets that John Gibbons says his catcher felt a little “fuzzy” after taking a foul tip off the mask last night. He passed his concussion tests, though.

I could probably just save this for tomorrow’s Daily Duce (which originally was going to be Monday’s Daily Duce!), but it’s worth a read and a listen now: Scott MacArthur has a lengthy interview with Colby Rasmus up at TSN.ca (with a transcript provided for those who’d rather read it). Over at Bluebird Banter, Minor Leaguer tries to make sense of the words of the eminently likable, but obviously frustrated outfielder. His ultimate advice: for his own good, maybe Colby should just go home.

Scuzzlebutt

And Patrick Duffy for a leg?

Next game(s): Tomorrow, 7:05 PM ET @ New York (AL)

For those of you who’ll be out and about, be sure to follow all the action on your phone with theScore app.

And now, the lineups… 

Toronto Blue Jays

SS Jose Reyes (S)
RF Jose Bautista (R)
1B Edwin Encarnacion (R)
DH Adam Lind (L)
LF John Mayberry Jr. (R)
3B Munenori Kawasaki (L)
C Josh Thole (R)
2B Ryan Goins (L)
CF Anthony Gose (L)

LHP J.A. Happ

Baltimore Orioles

3B Jimmy Paredes (S)
RF Steve Pearce (R)
CF Adam Jones (R)
DH Nelson Cruz (R)
LF Delmon Young (R)
SS J.J. Hardy (R)
1B Christian Walker (R)
C Caleb Joseph (R) C
2B Jonathan Schoop (R)

RHP Bud Norris

stromanyells

See, I knew I shouldn’t have bothered to write about the Marcus Stroman-Caleb Joseph incident in yesterday’s Hunt For Blue October post, as evidently the matter wasn’t quite closed. To wit:

Makes sense.

Well, except for the part about Stroman appealing. Because… why?

Gregor Chisholm adds that MLB, in their release, says that “Stroman also received an undisclosed fine for intentionally throwing a pitch in the head area of Caleb Joseph.”

Really says a lot about how the league values player safety and how serious they are about rooting out this garbage from the game, doesn’t it? And it’s even deeper insanity given the incident involving Giancarlo Stanton last week.

Deeper still when you consider that the NHL, which does literally everything wrong when it comes to striking a balance between player safety and dogshit macho stupidity, actually comes close to having an appropriate guiding principle on stuff like this — they just don’t apply it consistently. In hockey, when it comes to high sticking, the expectation is that you’re a professional, and you’re supposed to be in control of your stick at all times, so whether it is intentional or not, if you clip someone up high with your stick, it’s a penalty (and if you draw blood, the penalty is doubled).

Why they don’t do that when it comes to running the goalie, or head shots is beyond me, but I’m more than OK with that being the case with head hunting in baseball. Obviously there is a more subjective quality to such cases, but at least then “I didn’t mean to” — which is how Stroman will plead — wouldn’t be a route to appeal.

I’d also be all for bigger suspensions than the one handed down, and suspensions for pitches that appear to be intentionally thrown at players, regardless of whether it was at the person’s head or elsewhere.

On that level, I agree with the cavalcade of homers whining on Twitter about why Darren O’Day isn’t also being suspended for throwing at Jose Bautista last night, but that’s not because I think anybody’s being unfair to the Jays here. MLB is being entirely consistent in its belief that head hunting is wrong, but that intentionally throwing at other parts of the body isn’t — or, at the very least, it isn’t worth investigating intent on such incidents.

I call bullshit. For me, you don’t throw at people. Period. And, as I said in yesterday’s post, you don’t hide behind macho nonsense to condone it. “What bothers me more than him doing it — because I understand the dugout politics involved make it difficult for a rookie to make a stand against the culture he needs to exist in — is the people who condone it or, worse still, say ‘at least aim for the ribs,’ as though that’s fucking excusable,” I wrote. “All this bullshit gets presented under the rubric of the code, and ‘being a man,’ and not looking weak, but it’s bloody obvious what’s actually the ‘manly’ reaction here. To stand up and say, “This is fucking stupid you dumb meat head fucks.’ ”

Intention doesn’t matter. Your emotions don’t matter. Whatever slight prompted it doesn’t matter. That you can convincingly pretend you believe utter horseshit like the idea that if you don’t retaliate you’ll be subjecting yourself to more abuse doesn’t matter.

You let the league do its job and you don’t keep propping up a system that discourages anyone from asking hard questions about player safety in this regard until it’s too goddamn late. You don’t play fast and loose with the potential future of another man’s brain function.

You don’t throw a fucking baseball at people.

And if you’re Marcus Stroman, you be thankful the stewards of the league, and so many commentators on it, are so hopelessly unserious about this garbage, and so afraid appearing weak or incurring a backlash among the mouth-breathers, that they’ve decided to be as lenient as they have.