Andrew Stoeten

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pentecost

Well here’s something you never like to hear:

He… what?

And Alexis clarifies that the surgery was to correct a partial labrum tear in his shoulder — though it’s as yet unknown whether it was his throwing or non-throwing one.

That’s… not good.

I’d say something here like “at least he’s not a pitcher,” but it’s not exactly like catchers don’t need to throw, too. Let’s not go too totally nuts, though. I’m pretty sure the level of career peril involved here is not quite the same — especially since we don’t even know yet if it’s his throwing shoulder.

In fact, according to an AP story via Fox News, Brian McCann had arthroscopic surgery for a partial labrum tear of his throwing shoulder following the 2012 season — and was given the same recovery period, four months, as Alexis tells us is the case for Pentecost — and was good as new the following year.

McCann’s shoulder problem “hampered his hitting” that season, according to the piece, as he slumped to a career low wRC+ of just 87, with a slash line of .230/.300/.399. The following year he bounced back to the tune of a 121 wRC+ and a .256/.336/.461, and his ability to control the running game appeared to actually get better (though, of course, this is dependent on other factors than just stolen base/caught stealing numbers): he was behind the plate for 104 stolen bases in 2011 (29 CS, 1083.0 innings), 76 in 2012 (24 CS, 994.2 innings), and post-surgery, just 47 in 2013 (15 CS, 806.1 innings). A more advanced metric available at FanGraphs, rSB (i.e. stolen base runs saved above average) had him as essentially stable throughout the process.

That obviously doesn’t mean that we should have no worries for Pentecost. Every shoulder is different — and you only have to do a quick Google search about labrum tears to see how disparate various players’ recovery processes have been (McCann and Curt Schilling went great, Casey Janssen and Michael Pineda took a while but eventually returned to where they left off, others haven’t been so fortunate) — and all of Pentecost’s value is tied to his being able to stay behind the plate. Anything that might hamper him in that regard could completely throw a wrench into both his career, and the Jays’ long-term plans behind the plate. Again.

And shit, while it would have been more than a little bit fanciful to hope that he could have forced his way onto the roster by the time Dioner Navarro’s contract is up at the end of this season — sure, Vancouver is the highest level he’s played at so far (and only for 19 games), but it’s still something entirely worth hoping for given the dumpster fires that appear to occupy every other spot on the Jays’ catching depth chart — this certainly is a setback in that regard, as well.

So… it’s not good news. But it’s not full-on panic kind of news either. Only time will tell.

Of course, I’m sure that won’t stop the howling about why the club drafted a guy who may have already been hurt (y’know, apart from the other guy mentioned in Alexis’s original tweet, Jeff Hoffman, who they drafted knowing full well he was hurt). But let’s maybe all just hope the recovery goes smoothly, eh?

 

Image still awesomely via Crashburn Alley.

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If you’re like me you won’t necessarily find it easy to get through all the stuff about the fabulously opulent lives of entitled, drape-wearing heirs to astronomical wealth that fuels so much of the first part of Kelly Pullen’s current Toronto Life cover story, The Man Who Would Be King, nor will you avoid a bit of nausea at the glowing terms given to Ted Rogers’ efforts to build his empire “one precarious piece at a time,” with its less-than-humble beginnings as he borrowed against the wealth of his father’s estate and was supported further by a father-in-law, a British lord. But as Jays fans it is very much worth pushing through such feelings, if you have them, because what lies inside the piece is a pretty tremendous work of journalism.

While ostensibly a piece on Uncle Ted’s son, Edward S. Rogers III, by the end of it Pullen has lifted the veil on not only Edward’s aspirations within his father’s company, but the power struggle that’s taken place within it during the years since Ted’s death, and how the company currently sees itself and where it is headed.

Even though the Jays barely rate a mention — Edward likes going to baseball games, we’re told, and the club is named as tenants of the Rogers Centre in a simple list of places and things in Toronto that bear the company’s name — it offers some important background on trying to understand the relationship between ownership and the club, and what we can potentially expect now that the days of conflicts between Edward Rogers, his sister Melinda, and former CEO Nadir Mohamed are over, with former Vodafone U.K. head Guy Laurence firmly in charge.

The results of all this digging are… actually maybe somewhat hopeful.

Here are my Coles Notes on the parts of the piece to do with the power struggle, with a slant towards all that seemed pertinent to the Jays:

- Edward was in charge of Rogers Cable in the early 2000s, and didn’t like how Mohamed came in to run mobile just as it was becoming a tremendous growth industry. At the time cable’s growth was good, but not exploding the way mobile’s was, especially after Rogers became, for a time when it first launched, the exclusive carrier of the iPhone in Canada.

- Partly due to the successes of mobile, Uncle Ted made it clear that he wanted Mohamed to run the company after his death. When that time came, Edward put his name forward as a candidate to the CEO search committee anyway. Wary of having the company founder’s son — and a member of the board of directors, and one of its biggest shareholders — looking over his shoulder, Mohamed negotiated a multimillion dollar golden parachute for himself when he was given the job. If there was ever an impasse between him and the board, and it determined that he needed to go, he’d be paid very handsomely. And, in fact, though his exit a year ago was billed publicly as a retirement, it was more the result of a failed power play — “and neither side could say for certain whether he’d quit or been let go.”

- The background to Mohamed’s departure is this: Both members of the Rogers family who are involved in the business (Ed and Melinda) bristled at the new hierarchies Mohamed imported when he arrived. The Rogers siblings lost power, and people from Mohamed’s mobile division got better jobs than those from Edward’s cable division when the two were merged. In response to this, we’re told that Edward and Melinda intentionally created confusion among other employees (especially because of their status as primary shareholders) by disagreeing with Nadir, snubbing mandatory meetings, etc.

- That wasn’t his only difficulty. From Pullen’s piece: “Mohamed’s role became more challenging as the competitive advantages Rogers had enjoyed began to disappear. Bell, for years the most lumbering, bureaucratic organization in the country, now had a new CEO, George Cope, who was on a mission to make the company more nimble. In 2008, Bell and Telus teamed up to build a new national wireless network that would give their customers the same roaming capabilities as Rogers (as well as access to the iPhone). And the effects of the federal government’s 2008 decision to open the market to other wireless carriers were now becoming clear: the new entrants, whose operations were mainly centred in Toronto, had taken a bite out of Rogers’ business. The years of unbridled growth at Rogers had led to a kind of complacency within the company and a lack of investment in itself. Its internal software systems (for customer or tech support, for example) were in need of upgrading. Even the company’s branding seemed stuck in the ’90s.”

- In 2011, the Ontario Teacher’s Pension Plan put their stake in MLSE for sale, which ended up being “ the only major acquisition Rogers made during Mohamed’s tenure,” despite the fact that, to his mind, ”buying a sports team wasn’t on strategy. Rogers was in the ­connectivity business, not the ego-driven, high-risk sports ownership business. His solution: mitigate the risk. He and George Cope agreed to a joint bid of $1.32 billion and split MLSE 50-50.”

- The split with Bell on MLSE happened “much to the chagrin of the family, who were growing tired of sitting on the sidelines. Edward and Melinda were especially disappointed: they had wanted all of OTPP’s stake.”

- Not long after that deal was secured, Mohamed proposed a five year plan to the board of directors that would have cut both Edward and Melinda Rogers out of the company hierarchy. It’s painted in the piece as Mohamed trying to force the board’s hand: to either give him the company or the golden parachute. They chose the latter.

- Given the timing of everything that has happened between the club and ownership — the Jays’ late 2012 expenditures came before Mohamed’s retirement was announced, and the money seemed to dry up as soon as he left– his departure is sometimes viewed as a pivotal, and negative moment for the club, but considering Mohamed’s supposed aversion to his company’s heavy involvement in sports world, despite the opposite public face, I’m not sure that’s necessarily the right reading.

- Rogers’ massive NHL rights deal was announced almost a year ago, as Mohamed’s tenure was winding down. According to the piece, the company was essentially between CEO’s, though this was a time when Edward had “the new locus of power, and people began buzzing around his office more.” Despite Ed perhaps feeling that the time was right for him to take his rightful place atop the company his father had built — something the piece suggests he still wants now, as he “stands offstage, waiting in the wings, eager to restore the family name” — it’s at this point that Guy Laurence enters the picture and takes over as CEO.

- Laurence was a compelling figure, made it clear that he badly wanted the job, was liked by a Rogers family he was keen to ingratiate himself to, and it was thought that “his radical management ideas sounded like just what was needed to rejuvenate the Rogers brand.” He began his tenure in December of last year, precisely around the time the picture seemed to change for the Blue Jays, whose talk of needing to add multiple players shifted into revenue-neutral deals and the sound of crickets. Laurence’s first order of business was to get to know the company as best he could, so he went on a listening tour.

- From Pullen: “While he was conducting interviews and town hall meetings, Laurence kept his own counsel. He was sphinx-like—­listening to everybody but confiding in no one. In late April, he compiled his report, a 20,000-word document he presented to the board. The findings weren’t entirely surprising, but they put the internal issues like poor customer service into high relief. Everyone was worried the company had lost its way, that it had become slow and risk-averse. Dispirited employees were envious of Telus, with its slick branding and high customer retention rates. They were tired of working for the most loathed company in Canada.”

-  The fact alone that they hired Laurence in part on the basis of upper management’s concern for the brand — unlike the complacent preceding years — would seem good news for Jays fans given what should be obvious about how a well-funded and successful club would reflect on ownership, as opposed to the perception that currently persists. Something else to be hopeful for, if one can allow oneself to read it that way: the company may have been in a minor state of paralysis while Laurence did his listening tour and compiled his strategy report. That may not mean anything for a piece of the puzzle as small as the baseball team — perhaps not as much as the sinking Canadian dollar — but if it didn’t impact their operating budget directly last winter, it may have impacted their willingness to ask for more.

- Two things that have characterized Rogers’ ownership of the club as much as anything have been their aversion to risk — especially financially, and especially when it comes to fears of throwing good money after bad the way that seems necessary as long as they’re not going to have the patience for a sustained, lengthy, brutal rebuild — and the way the team’s fortunes and actions — the lack of spending, the lying company men at the top if the organization, the failure to move faster on the turf issue that has been painfully obvious at least since free agent Carlos Beltran spurned them following the 2011 season (though, really, since Troy Glaus forced his way out of town in 2007), the astonishingly tone deaf placement of the Ted Rogers statue outside the park, etc. — have made the parent company appear utterly loathsome. If Laurence wants to be less risk averse and is more brand conscious, even if they’re a minor blip on his radar, this could turn out to be a good thing for the Jays.

- There is another possibility, though, and not a particularly good one: interestingly, despite the good relations and quick ingratiation, once Laurence came in he made the same sort of power play that Mohamed did, trying to remove the Rogers family from the day-today operation of the business. And this time the board complied. Along with outside-the-box thinking, Laurence is known best for cost-cutting, which doesn’t necessarily bode well for the company’s baseball club — or anyone but its shareholders, really. It doesn’t help either that moving Edward farther away from the centre of power removes someone who actually likes baseball, and who presumably wants to see the brand and the team do well — after all, he was, it has been reported, the one who promised Jays players at a team event in the spring that money would be available at the trade deadline if the club was still in contention.

- There is still reason to hope, though. Laurence’s “strategy, dubbed Rogers 3.0, includes fixing customer service and accelerating growth. Laurence believes that the NHL broadcasting rights are a project the entire company can rally behind, and one that can be leveraged to help resuscitate the Rogers brand. The rights may not substantially raise ad revenues, but Laurence is hoping they’ll translate into increased revenue in cable and mobile.”

- In theory those same ideas should apply to the Jays, though the parallels are not perfect. They take in money in CDN for example, but by far their biggest expenditures (payroll) are in USD, making them especially vulnerable to fluctuations on the currency market. Plus, MLBAM already has domain over much of digital rights aspects of the game, limiting the way the company could exploit that revenue stream — though obviously a better product ought to lead to more demand to watch on cable and through whatever means Rogers can devise to get digital viewers through their proprietary services.

- The baseball club seems poised to remain the red headed step child of the Rogers family, at least where sports are concerned. It’s perhaps even a bit unsettling to read of just how big their hockey play is to the company — for example, just about all Rogers-owned publications, “even decidedly un-sporty ones,” are being required to produce hockey content — while baseball is entirely an afterthought, both in the piece, and presumably in the top floor hallways at Bloor and Jarvis. However, if “critics of the NHL deal [who] say it has quickly transformed Rogers from a communications company into a sports marketing company” are right, in addition to the company’s greater willingness to take risks, and the keenness on un-poisoning their brand, fans can at least feel a little hopeful for their teams that sports and the marketing is such a central focus of the behemoth, I think. Even those who are fans of the “wrong” sport. I hope.

bobstanleyt

We have our scapegoat!

Or, at least, we have what looks like it might be our scapegoat, even though there may well be perfectly good reasons for a change. That’s because, according to a report from Shi Davidi of Sportsnet, Bob Stanley is out as the Jays’ bullpen coach.

Stanley, you may recall, was promoted late in the process last winter, when in mid-January Pat Hentgen stepped aside from the position in order to deal with a family matter. Stanley – yes, the Bob Stanley (look him up, kids) — was slated to be the pitching coach at Buffalo, but got the call to be the Jays’ bullpen coach instead.

He certainly “oversaw” a bad year in what was supposed to be a good ‘pen — or at the very least he sat nearby as guys like Sergio Santos and Steve Delabar imploded, as Marcus Stroman struggled during his initial promotion, as Casey Janssen sagged down the stretch after an illness at the All-Star break, as Dustin McGowan underperformed (especially by FIP and xFIP), and as Esmil Rogers went on to be somewhat useful, and Jeremy Jeffress to be pretty terrific, once they both moved on to other organizations.

How much of that is really on Stanley? It’s impossible to say, but my best guess is not much. Still, the lack of success makes it somewhat justifiable, and probably even makes for good optics in the minds of some. Plus, he was never a guy who the club intended on being there anyway, and as Davidi explains, the leading candidates to replace him “all have relationships and experience with many of the young Blue Jays pitchers making their way up the system.” Hentgen isn’t among them, though he remains with the organization. According to Davidi, pitching coordinator Dane Johnson, roving instructor Rick Langford, and Bisons pitching coach Randy St. Claire are all in the running for the big league post.

Makes sense.

Davidi also tells us that Demarlo Hale interviewed with the Minnesota Twins as a potential candidate to be their next field manager, so he might need a replacement, but otherwise the Jays’ coaches will all be back next season.

So… there’s that.

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The 2015 season was supposed to be the gravy of the five years remaining on the Jose Reyes contract that the Jays traded for before 2013.

We always knew that the back end of the deal was going to be tough to swallow, with $44-million owed for his age-33 and 34 seasons (2016 and ’17), plus a $4-million buyout of his final year club option. But that all was going to be made palatable by the first two years of glory — *COUGH* — of a peak form All-Star shortstop at the top of a stacked lineup on a team boasting a Cy Young winner heading a deep and experienced rotation.

Reyes made just $26-million in total for those second and third years of the six-year pact he originally signed with the Marlins. By the time 2015 rolled around — his first season with a $22-million salary — playoff trips were supposed to have begotten revenue increases that kept the deal from strangling the club’s payroll. Other stars were supposed to be kept or added. Reyes was supposed to be entrenched as the club’s dazzling, fan favourite shortstop. Perhaps seeing the first significant signs of age-related decline, and likely being paid more than he was worth, his warts were supposed to be masked by the wild and successful baseball adventure he had led this club on over the previous two years.

Or that was the theory, at least. It was the dream. But obviously in practice things haven’t exactly worked out that way, and that’s making the Blue Jays’ Jose Reyes situation especially problematic.

It’s not that he’s bad, though his defence in 2014 certainly was.

There’s maybe a chance his shoulder problems and hamstring problems and the wear and tear of playing every day on turf made it look worse than it really is. But it’s not like those things are merely 2014 issues. The shoulder issue may clear up, and the club says it wants to limit his starts in order to keep him healthier, but the turf isn’t going anywhere, and it’s impossible from this vantage to see his legs suddenly getting better either.

That said, I generally believe wins above replacement has it right, even if our confidence in the small-sample defensive metrics used isn’t tremendously high. By both versions of WAR he was a three win player this season. Additionally, according to the team rankings of shortstops by wins above average at Baseball Reference, the Jays were 13th of the 30 MLB teams this season, and just one tenth of a win out of 11th. And by FanGraphs’ version of WAR, he ranked 9th among the 29 shortstops with at least 350 plate appearances, and was seventh among that group (fifth among those who qualified for the batting title) by wRC+.

In other words, Reyes isn’t at all unplayable at his preferred position, because his bat makes up for a whole lot of his deficiencies with the glove. It’s not a position you normally get a lot of offence from, and being able to keep a decent bat in your lineup by playing a guy like Reyes there truly is a valuable thing… um… unless, in order to make up for your shortstop’s defensive issues you stick an amazing defender who couldn’t hit his way out of a paper bag, like Ryan Goins, at second base. Then the good bat of your almost-passable shortstop isn’t sweet, delicious, valuable gravy, it’s necessary to help carry the second baseman. And then the value of your second baseman’s otherworldly defence is mitigated significantly because his great glove is at the less valuable position.

It’s a bit of a mess. Especially when one of them is the unmovable, $22-million payroll anchor who didn’t foster nearly as much goodwill over his first two seasons as expected.

So what do you do?

Some fans have very strong ideas, and have rushed to point me in the direction of something like Brandon Kuty’s slideshow piece on the Yankees’ off-season priorities at NJ.com, in which (on the second slide) he says of that club’s shortstop issue, that “ex-Mets star Jose Reyes could be a trade candidate.” A site called Yankees 101 speculates on why Reyes may be a fit, and suggests that “if Toronto is looking to unload Reyes’ contract at $22 million, the Yankees may want Toronto to help pay for some of Reyes’ deal in return.”

That sort of talk from the New York blogosphere certainly will get folks here salivating to ditch Reyes as quickly as possible. It’s not the craziest idea, either. He’s clearly a liability defensively, and as much as I’m quick to point out his 2014 WAR totals, he accumulated those in a season in which he missed just 19 games. Even if you make the assumption that he doesn’t decline much performance-wise (which isn’t too outlandish, depending on how much better you think he could be with his shoulder issue resolved and his hamstring problems less pronounced), he still needs to stay on the field to provide that kind of value, which is questionable, to put it politely. In fact, the Jays say they are going to deliberately sit him, or DH him, which will make accumulating wins above replacement all the more difficult. And the additional, horrifically expensive years of the deal don’t exactly make the situation any better.

There is, however, another way to look at it — a necessary way, given the fact that the Jays want to be competitive in 2015 and beyond.

The Jays need to get better, and jettisoning a three-win player in what is essentially a salary dump simply isn’t a great way to go about doing so — especially if they’re required to pick up some of his salary. Getting three wins on the free agent market, by most calculations, will likely cost somewhere in the $15- to $20-million range. With Reyes making $22-million, that’s basically a wash.

Of course, it’s possible that the Jays can identify a player who they think can produce more for less money (Jed Lowrie is perhaps an intriguing name on the free agent market, if you’re into oft-injured shortstops — which you apparently are not), or who will do things that better help them specifically than Reyes does (i.e. a greater emphasis on playing defence, and staying healthy, on the pool table that is the Rogers Centre surface). On the other hand, there’s a lot of uncertainty that comes with playing the market, and it’s not like the Jays haven’t been burned before — or haven’t burned themselves by being far too conservative with their dollars. Meanwhile, Reyes is obviously already here.

No, offloading all the money left owing to Reyes isn’t entirely about 2015, but that’s actually the year in which it seems most dire to do so. That’s because, including what he’ll make, the Jays have just $27.6-million committed for the season after next. Add in the $32-million the club will need to pay in order to pick up the options of Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, and R.A. Dickey, and that’s still just $59.6-million, albeit with arbitration raises still not factored in for the other 21 guys on the roster. And the following year only Reyes’s final $22-million payment is on the books.

If they’re allowed to spend anywhere close to the $137-million they did last year, that’s more than enough to work with and to keep Reyes, and I think they will. They’ll just need to find a way to mitigate his liabilities defensively.

To do so last year the Blue Jays tried to bring in Ian Kinsler, who is a good defender at second base, and swings the bat about as well as Reyes does. Having those two up the middle defensively isn’t great, but because of the offence they certainly would have looked astronomically better than what we saw. In fact, unless the deal on the table for Kinsler included a Jose Bautista or Edwin Encarnacion (or Marcus Stroman), if it had gone through, we’re very possibly having a very, very different conversation right now.

Next year they could certainly try something similar, and given how badly it’s presumed he wants to stay at short — think Troy Tulowitzki telling WEEI.com that shortstops view a move to third “as a punch in the gut,” and the Denver Post, “No, I won’t move. I’ll retire before I move.” — they might have no other choice. (Also: yes, please, get a great second baseman).

Beyond that, they’re certainly thinking about what to do with him — at least according to comments from the Toronto Sun’s Bob Elliott on a recent episode of Prime Time Sports on the Fan 590.

“They don’t have a replacement, and here’s the thing about the guy: I don’t think he’ll move,” he said. “They want to put him in the outfield — that’s what they want to do. Internally, they’ve discussed it. But I don’t think he’ll go there, and I think if you go to second base, he’s going to have the same problems with the lack of range.”

I think Elliott is right about the range issues, mitigated though they’d be, but there are other problems with having Reyes at second base. Not only did he look somewhat tentative at times this year on plays at the bag, as though he was overly conscious of keeping his hurt-riddled legs out of harms way — an issue that would likely only get worse were he being asked to turn double plays as a second baseman — but a move to the right side of the diamond would also take away what seems to be his best defensive asset: his arm.

I don’t know if he has the arm to be a great third baseman, but to me it should be more than passable, and playing there would limit the need for him to have the kind of range that shortstop requires, and would lessen the number of potential collisions he’d be involved in (assuming that’s even a real concern). And with Brett Lawrie’s ability to play second, an eventual move there seems obvious to me, even if it needs to be done with him kicking and screaming.

Moving him to the outfield is quite a bit more problematic, and frankly I’m not quite sure what the hell the Jays are thinking on this front. Not only does his bat not play remotely as well at a corner outfield spot (his wRC+ this year would have ranked him 40th among 55 qualified outfielders), I’m just not seeing how asking a guy with leg and hamstring problems to go running down long fly balls on concrete is going to be ideal for his health.

Maybe he could do it a little bit, though. With Adam Lind off the books in 2016, maybe Reyes is a guy that you look to DH in the future, or to be a Ben Zobrist who can split his time between DH, the infield, and the outfield.

I don’t know!

Whatever the case, it’s going to be interesting, to put it politely, to see where this all goes. At least there appear to be something resembling options for the club. And fortunately, much of it all is a problem for another day. Unfortunately, today’s problem is that, despite the howls from many of the denizens of the peanut gallery, Jose Reyes will almost certainly still be the Jays’ starting shortstop in 2015. I hope I’ve made clear that there are far worse problems to have. However, if the Jays again try to offset his poor defence by employing someone like Ryan Goins at second base, or end up forced to turn to any of the various types of replacement level fodder we saw out there to the right of Reyes this season, it’s a problem that could again undoubtedly be fatal to their chances.

Playoff Open Threat: 10/15/14

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The Royals are off to the World Series. Good on them and good for their fans. Weird how the genius manager wasn’t able to beat the inept one when his players happened to not be playing as well as the other guy’s, eh?

Anywho… the Giants and Cardinals are also playing this evening, so discuss it amongst yourselves. Or don’t. Whatever.

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Daily?

Shi Davidi of Sportsnet is quick to make clear exactly what I figured about the rumours of the Jays talking to ex-Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long, saying that Kevin Seitzer is expected to return as the club’s hitting coach. “The Blue Jays as a matter of process speak with many available coaches to see if there’s a fit anywhere in the organization,” he explains.

Whoa. WTF?? According to a tweet from Ken Rosenthal, Rays GM Andrew Friedman is leaving the AL East and will take over for Ned Colletti as GM of the Dodgers. That’s big. (Colletti will stay on as an advisor or some such thing).

Over the weekend, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reported that the Seattle Mariners front office — as well as their new, expensive signing, Robinson Cano — wanted to sign Nelson Cruz last winter, but their plans were scuppered by ownership, who refused to touch anyone with P.E.D. issues. Does this remove what could have been a very strong suitor for Melky Cabrera this winter? Let’s hope! (Since we’re still pipe-dreamin’ that the Jays get him back, right?)

Speaking of pending free agents, MLBTR’s latest is a continuation of their Free Agent Profile series, which today looks at Melky Cabrera. “A number of teams will be looking for offense in a thin market for bats, and Cabrera’s will be one of the best out there. The Orioles, Tigers, Royals, White Sox, Twins, Mariners, Rangers, Giants, Padres, Reds, Phillies and Mets could all be in the market for an outfield upgrade, so Cabrera’s representatives at the Legacy Agency will have no shortage of teams with which to converse,” writes Steve Adam, noting also that the White Sox, Twins, Rangers, and Phillies  Among those clubs, the White Sox, Twins, Rangers and Phillies would have a protected first-round pick. “I feel the $36-45MM figure floated past the Toronto Star’s Brendan Kennedy in a survey of rival agents was low. Cabrera can rightly claim that he’s one of the best bats on the market at a relatively young age, and that’s enough for me to predict a perhaps unnecessarily specific five-year, $66.25MM contract (Peralta’s contract with an extra year at the same AAV).” Yeesh.

At MLBTR last week they did a Free Agent Profile on Colby Rasmus, which… was less glowing. “I believe Rasmus will prioritize finding the right fit over maxing his earnings, whether on a one-year or multi-year deal,” writes Jeff Todd. “I do find a make-good contract to be the likelier outcome, and think that Rasmus will be able to reach $12MM on a one-year deal. But I would not be surprised if he ultimately scores a three-year pact.” I’d say that if it wouldn’t take away from whatever else the Jays might want to do — which it wouldn’t, so it’s a moot point — making Colby the qualifying offer might not be entirely crazy. Except that with the draft pick tied around his neck his market changes significantly and he totally accepts it. I’d really like to see what Dalton Pompey can do, myself.

Rasmus won’t be offered a qualifying offer, nor will Casey Janssen, of course, as Mike Wilner reported at Sportsnet last week. No shocks there.

Moving along, Steve Simmons vomits into our mouths at the Toronto Sun, dumbing down the discourse by using the examples of this year’s playoff teams to tell us that the Jays don’t have to spend to make the playoffs. We all know that’s true, of course, but the implication of this sort of nonsense, and the goofy attempt to implore his readers to see what’s supposedly in front of their noses — “It isn’t about payroll with the Blue Jays. It’s about spending the money wisely. It’s about player development. It’s about team. It’s about trust. It’s about performance. The money is there. The results are not.” — reduces a complex matter to a bunch of platitudes. Oh… I’m sorry… is it obvious that I can’t stand this sort of empowerment of mouth-breather mantras that overlook things like the division the Jays play in, the unbalanced schedule, and the specific reality of their current predicament? Sure, all that stuff in the abstract is totally true. But if the Jays want to be better in 2015, they need to spend more. If the Jays want to be good and maintain a player development pipeline and spend future money wisely (by keeping as many quality homegrown players possible and not destroying their pipeline through trades), they need to spend more now in order to fill in their current gaps. Hey, but let’s pretend this is all uncomplicated and WAHHHHHHH!

Elsewhere in the Sun, Mike Rutsey reports that Marcus Stroman contacted Caleb Joseph of the Orioles about the incident that got him suspended in September. “He got my number and we spoke and as far as things are concerned with me it’s a fresh, clean slate, start over. We’ll move on. I don’t have any desire to drag it out, hold grudges. This game is much bigger than a grudge that Caleb Joseph may want to have or not, it doesn’t matter. We spoke and I think things are good between us and hopefully we’ll have good competition the rest of the way out,” Joseph explained. “Honestly, right now I’m just so excited to be here in the post-season. I kind of forgot about it to be honest with you. It’s not my place to judge intent and honestly I could care less.”

More from the Sun, as Bob Elliott looks at the Kansas City Royals’ Canadian connection, the rave reviews given Buck Showalter by too-valued Jays advisor Mel Didier, and the resignation (cue garbage clowns) of the Jays southeastern cross checker, scout Rob St. Julien.

Roberto Osuna debuted last week in the Arizona Fall League, and… uh… if you haven’t heard, it didn’t go so well. Charlie Caskey writes about the outing for the Vancouver Sun, and offers some hope: “Grasping at straws, but as Clutchlings reminded me, Aaron Sanchez had a pretty rocky AFL debut. He only got better from there.”

Speaking of Osuna, last week Carson Cistulli of FanGraphs looked at the top ten 2015 prospects by projected WAR, and while no Jays made the list, no pitchers made the list either. If there was a list for pitchers, though, Osuna would find himself third, behind Lucas Giolito of the Nationals and the Marlins’ Andrew Heaney.

Interesting stuff, as always, from Nick Ashbourne of Bluebird Banter, as he takes a look at Edwin Encarnacion’s trouble with breaking pitches.

And from Blue Jays Plus, Greg Wisniewski follows up on the question of what to do with Aaron Sanchez, while Austin Gooder examines what went wrong with Colby Rasmus during his tenure with the Jays.

Great stuff from Harry Pavlidis of Baseball Prospectus on Fox’s alternative, stats-oriented broadcast of game two of the NLCS over the weekend.

Marcus Stroman made Baseball America’s All-Rookie team, because… of course he did.

The Jays added pitcher Bo Schultz last week. Unless his nickname is “Dutch,” meh.

At BlueJays.com, Gregor Chisholm has an excellent mail bag up, which should totally help those of you who, like myself, are feeling Griff Bag withdrawal.

Lastly, I was on a very special baseball-themed edition of local movie podcast The Dew Over, as lent my inner ghoul to a talk about the top baseball movies of all time. Have a listen!

And speaking of podcast, up shortly at Your Van C’s will be the latest edition of theirs, which features Anthony Alford and Tom Robson. Check it out!

ralph3

Sad news to precede today’s Daily Duce, as yesterday we learned that a recognizable character from the Rogers Centre, and all manner of Toronto sports venues has passed away: Ralphael Platner, aka “Ralph the Program Guy.”

According to Random Jays Stuff, the bespectacled program seller who would also walk the stadium aisles in his familiar shorts, selling flags, foam fingers, and pennants, “missed most of the 2014 Blue Jays season due to a prolonged illness. I found out today that he recently succumbed to the illness at the age of 67.”

Mark Hebscher has some terrific remembrances of the man he knew as “Ralph the Party Crasher” — a moniker that date back to Hebscher’s bar mitzvah, one of many, apparently, that Ralph crashed “for the food” — and who he calls “Toronto’s witness to sports history,” for the fact that Ralph attended thousands upon thousands of games in the city, in addition to many, many concerts, dating back to the Beatles at Maple Leaf Gardens in 1964. “I used to see him at Mosport,” he remarks, illustrating the breadth of what Ralph had seen. “He probably attended/worked 10 thousand events over the years, and made money at every one of them.”

Random Jays Stuff points us to a small 2011 Globe and Mail profile of him that paints him as one of the city’s legendary characters. “His encyclopedic recall of facts and ability to remember certain fans from decades ago have gained him notoriety among those who attend sports events in the city,” they explain. And they give examples:

“Did you know a plane crashed a week after Kennedy was killed? Nobody remembers that,” he says.

On Nov. 29, 1963, Trans-Canada Air Lines flight 831 crashed, flying from Montreal to Toronto, killing all 118 people on board.

“Three days before Kennedy was killed, Donald Summerville, the mayor of Toronto, died of a heart attack. He was playing in a charity hockey game, I think.”

On Nov. 19, 1963, the newly elected mayor did, indeed, die during such a game at George Bell arena.

Mr. Platner also has the great party trick of being able to tell you the day of the week on which your birth fell. He pronounces that May 2, 1969, was a Friday. How did he do that?

“Well, because of Kent State,” he begins modestly. “That was May 4, 1970, so I just worked it out from there.”

Amazing stuff. Must have been a real unique guy to talk to, for those who took the trouble to get to know him.

I must admit that I was not one of those people — not that it would have necessarily been easy, since, as Hebscher puts it, “Ralph was always in a hurry. … I never saw him in a seated position. He was always standing, or walking, or running.” — but he was certainly a familiar part of the ballpark experience. It’s going to be strange to think of him not being there when the Jays return to Rogers Centre next April, and I hope we all take a moment to do just that.

R.I.P. Ralph.

 

Image via Random Jays Stuff.