Andrew Stoeten

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dailyduce2-595

Two days in a row!!?!?!

It’s been a while since the Daily Duce has actually been, y’know, daily, but maybe that’s changing. Maybe it’s just temporary, though. Either way, I needed to do one today, because our pal Drew dropped some science over at Ghostrunner On First, so this officially counts as an occasion. In the piece, Drew looks at what it means that the Jays are “not technically dead,” the easy target placed on John Gibbons’ back, and how the manager is, in fact, probably fucking awesome. Or, at least, that’s how I read it. Try it yourself!

Moving on, Drew’s colleague at FanGROFs, Mike Petriello, weighed in this morning on perhaps the single most important issue the Jays will face in the upcoming off-season: what will happen with Melky Cabrera. The crux: “While there’s some real reasons to question about him going forward, he’s also about to enter a market that is almost totally devoid of outfield offensive talent. Cabrera’s going to get paid, and it’s going to make a lot of people unhappy.” Petriello notes that, unfortunately for the Jays, there are several teams potentially in line for a protected draft pick who could certainly use an upgrade like Melky — who is by far the youngest, best outfield free agent on a very thin market this year. The Phillies, Padres, Astros, White Sox, Mets, and Reds are the ones he came up with off the top of his head, along with the Jays. That’s troublesome, but ultimately Mike doesn’t suggest a deal for Cabrera is going to be any more outlandish than what we’ve heard — the four-year, $60-million deal that Curtis Granderson signed with the Mets last year still appears to be the high water mark. One hopes.

Speaking of people being unhappy about what Cabrera will make this winter, Buster Olney, everybody! If you follow a link in Petriello’s piece you’ll find some high grade nonsense over at ESPN.com (Insider Olney), wherein it’s suggested that it’s “a really, really great idea that the union should consider” to limit guys who test positive a second time to one-year contracts. Yes, more hysteria. That sounds like a plan.

Moving on, we have some good news! The Rays, according to the Tampa Tribune, have shut down pitcher Drew Smyly for the season, meaning that the Jays will not have to face him when the Rays come to town on Friday. Nate Karns will be recalled to make the start. “Karns was 9-9 with a 5.08 ERA in 27 starts at Durham. He had 153 strikeouts in 145 1/3 innings,” we’re told. He’s coming off a 12 strikeout game, though.

Less good news: According to the New York Post, Masahiro Tanaka is feeling good after pitching a simulated game, and the Yankees are hoping to get him into one or two games before the season ends. Not only that, we’re told that Yankees manager Joe Girardi “said it’s possible Tanaka could pitch for the Yankees five days after [his next simulated game, tentatively scheduled for Sunday], setting up a potential return from the disabled list during the September 19-21 series against the Blue Jays at the Stadium.” Of course, if the Jays are in it enough by then for the possibility of facing TANAK to matter, um… I’ll totally take that.

Greg Wisniewski continues his outstanding “One At-Bat” series at Blue Jays Plus, looking at Brett Cecil’s dramatic two-out punch-out of the Rays’ Sean Rodriguez to preserve a ninth-inning scoreless tie that would be broken in the next frame by a pinch hit home run from Colby Rasmus.

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stromandome

After he twirled an absolute gem on Monday night — and, y’know, managed to survive with his face intact — Marcus Stroman got himself in invitation to the big time: and eight minute chat session on cable TV with Kevin Millar.

Glamorous, no?

Chris Rose was there as well, because — as everyone who read the title of this post (read: everyone) already knows — the segment was for the MLB Network’s Intentional Talk. And actually, it was pretty entertaining, not the least of which had to do with Stroman, who is… how do you not fucking love this guy? I just want to put him in my shirt pocket and carry him around with me all day. He’s tiny! It would work!

Anywho, it was a pretty wide ranging conversation, going from his near decapitation, to Duke basketball, to his jacked-up dad, to the infamous clip of him surprising his mom by paying off her mortgage, to Jose Reyes’s off-field proclivities, to… well… just watch it. (After the jump.)

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chart (6)

The final score might suggest that this one was a laugher, but in reality it was anything but. Starters Mark Buehrle and Jake Arrieta both went deep into the game, allowing only two earned runs each, but things began to unravel for the Cubs in the bottom of the seventh. A one-out Kevin Pillar single was followed by a pinch hit single from Colby Rasmus, a Munenori Kawasaki walk, and then — after a Jose Reyes strikeout, and with the crowd rising to its feet (in the seventh inning!) — Jose Bautista laced a full count three-run double into the left field corner, and the Jays would never look back.

Or… well… they looked back a few times after that, but only to see just where in the hell the Cubs fielders had managed to launch the ball to in their subsequent, horrifically executed attempts at defence. A game fraught with tension when Bautista made it 4-2 came to a perfectly relaxed ended as the Jays scored five more runs in the bottom of the eighth. We had a Dalton Pompey sighting. We watched Daniel Norris close it out, after Aaron Sanchez wasn’t needed to come out to complete a two-inning save in the ninth. We had… this:

Good times! Especially with both the Clevelands and the Yankees losing tonight, too. The Jays have, at least for now, leapfrogged both of those teams, meaning only the Mariners (who the Jays host for four games later this month), and whichever of Kansas City or Detroit isn’t holding the AL Central lead, stand between the fucking Toronto Blue Jays and the second Wild Card spot. That doesn’t exactly make their task easy — the Jays are still 4.5 games back, and six back of the sinking A’s — but it makes it a whole lot easier than it would have been they hadn’t gotten back on the winning track in these first two games against the Cubs. And it didn’t always look like that was going to be the case tonight, as the graph above shows.

Maybe it’s not “meaningful” baseball in the traditional sense, maybe it’s “too little too late,” but try telling that to the 17,000 people who rose from their seats to cheer with two outs in the seventh inning of this one, or those of us who watched from home with the same rapt attention.

This is fun.

buehrleRCmound

The Cubs sure have brought a whole lot of hitting talent with them across the border, but holy lord, they’re bad.

Yes, yes, those sound precisely like the words of a fan whose team is about to be stymied by the far-from-bad former Oriole, Jake Arrieta, but with Anthony Rizzo still out of their lineup (Starlin Castro, too), and a bunch of big prospects — Kris Bryant, Addison Russell — still not yet big leaguers, their lineup… is… well… tonight’s cleanup hitter, Luis Valbuena, was very briefly a Blue Jay in the off-season between 2011 and 2012, before being lost on waviers at the end of Spring Training.

He’s not without value, either — though not nearly as famous as some of the other recent ones that got away. This year FanGraphs’ version of WAR has calculated Valbuena to have produced 2.5 wins, while Baseball Reference has him at 1.1. Certainly nothing to turn our noses up at — especially for a guy on a cheap deal, with an above-average walk rate, and showing surprising power here in his age-28 season (.197 ISO).

Still, though, he’s at 247/.328/.444, which doesn’t exactly scream “cleanup hitter,” especially against Mark Buehrle, when his wRC+ against lefties is just 86 on the year.

I’m just sayin’ is all… the Cubs will be scary one day very soon. Maybe not today, though.

Scuttlebutt

The Jays’ original lineup had Edwin Encarnacion at first base, and Adam Lind at DH. Shi Davidi appears to have been the first to tweet about the change.

MLBTR’s Zach Links tweeted earlier in the afternoon that the Jays are will soon put Matt Hague on waivers. To open a spot on the 40-man for what, one wonders?

Megan Robinson tweets that, with a home run tonight, Jose Bautista would become the first player since Willie Mays in 1965 to hit a home run in seven straight home games.

Lastly… lately Facebook changed its algorithm with respect to sharing, it’s really become a much more powerful social media tool, and so it’s probably in your best interest to just go right ahead and like DJF on Facebook. That way you can get everything that’s posted here injected straight into your feed-veins.

And while we’re at it, you might as well follow me on Twitter, follow @DrunkJaysFans, and follow the dusty ol’ DJF Instagram too!

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dailyduce3-595

Think of how many rags he had to pick!

It’s been a while since I did one of these, so there is a tonne of great stuff to get to, but how can I not start with last night’s gem? As usual, John Lott’s game story in the National Post provides us an excellent recap.

As I noted in this morning’s GIF post, Marcus Stroman’s performance truly made one feel good about the future. But as we all know, the Jays’ future doesn’t hinge solely on him. Last week Ben Lindbergh of Grantland looked in-depth at five September call-ups that fans need to know about, and two of them were Blue Jays: Dan Norris and Dalton Pompey. He was, as you’d expect, a little less high on Pompey than Norris, suggesting that his rapid ascent this season might oversell his potential, and killing some of his maple dick buzz by reminding us that “he handed in his Canadian card when he admitted he’d never attended a hockey game before March of this year.” Still, though, great stuff.

Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet gave an excellent rundown of all the Jays’ call-ups last week, as well.

Kiley McDaniel of FanGraphs looked at four of the same five call-ups as Lindbergh did, offering a scout’s take on both of the Jays’ prospects. On Norris he generally offers praise, explaining that “he still isn’t perfectly online, he can elevate at times when he locks his landing knee and these things lead to a flatter fastball and giving up more hard contact. That said, he’s athletic enough to make all of this work and, when it’s right, the stuff is electric. There’s 2/3 starter upside and Norris now has the command to get there much faster than many would’ve guessed before this season.” Pompey’s promtion, he thinks, is less of a good thing: “He has under 200 plate appearances above A-Ball, has a bigger stride/swing than most lead-off types and his dead hand load gives him some timing issues against advanced pitching. Pompey has hit his way to the big leagues, he offers speed and defense immediately and that could help prop up his batting average in the short-term, but this is a little premature.”

Elsewhere at FanGraphs, Carson Cistulli’s look at the week’s best fringe prospects includes Dwight Smith Jr., who got less hype than Pompey — and didn’t rise through the system the same way — but who exhibited a similar skill set to his former Dunedin outfield mate.

At FanGraphs’ sister site, RotoGraphs, Marc Hulet takes a fantasy focus and tells us about the top impact prospects in MLB among left-handed starters, and guess who heads the list? Yep. It’s Daniel Norris. (His piece on the top right-handed starting prospects has Aaron Sanchez coming in fourth — behind Taijuan Walker, Archie Bradley, and Lucas Giolito, but ahead of Noah Syndergaard and Dylan Bundy. Hmmm.)

Oh, and there’s still more: Jeff Moore and Ben Carsley of Baseball Prospectus offer some pretty nice praise for Pompey, from a fantasy perspective, explaining that, “depending on the Jays’ offseason moves and prospect graduations, Pompey could be a top-25 name when we start compiling prospect lists this offseason, and if for some reason he’s not owned in your dynasty league, you should rectify that immediately.” They also nail it with this one: “Anthony Gose could lose the most playing time to a Pompey since Pliny the Elder.” Wah wahhh!

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klawdredd

So here’s something that we haven’t done for a while: taking a look at all the Jays-related tidbits from a Keith Law chat with readers over at ESPN.com!

It has, in fact, been so long that it’s not just “a Keith Law chat” that we’ll be looking at, but three of them, dating back to August 21st, with the most recent one being back on Friday, September 5th. Nails much? OK, so let’s do it!

08/21

Joe (Toronto)
Thoughts on Daniel Norris’ promotion to Triple A?
Klaw
They’re rushing prospects to AAA for reasons I don’t fully understand (or that I do understand and with which I disagree). Letting a guy go around a league twice has real value. Neither Norris nor Pompey got that in New Hampshire.

Oh, I think we fully understand what they’re doing here. It’s partly the ol’ sell hope for the future ploy, and in Norris’s case it’s partly that he can actually help a struggling bullpen, while in Pompey’s it’s that he can offer speed off the bench down the stretch, that he was going to have to be placed on the 40-man regardless, and that he almost certainly will spend more than a month next year in the minors, mitigating any issues with service time. Which isn’t at all to say that those aren’t things somebody can disagree with — one absolutely can.

Mike (Philly)
What’s a reasonable return for Hamels? Don’t want this to be construed as me thinking this will happen, but would Hamels for Norris, Pompey, and say, Sean Nolin be a “fair” trade? Again, I’m not saying the Jays would ever do it – just if that would be about the right quality/quantity for a return.
Klaw
If the Phils are paying some of Hamels’ freight, then yes, that’s in the ballpark – or at least more so than the offer Ruben made to LAD.

If the Jays didn’t have a budget — or if they had one that they knew couldn’t be reined in at a moment’s notice on ownership’s cynical whim — I’d make that deal in a heartbeat. Hamels is signed for four years after this one (through his age 34 season) plus an option. It’s expensive as hell — $22.5-million per season — and may not be a great deal on the back end, but he’s a terrific pitcher, and as easy as it is to get enamored with prospects, I think you’re going to get more value out of Hamels over the final two years of the current contracts for Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion that you will Norris.

For a team that has to think as much about their budget as they do, though? And who may well be better off hedging their bets with respect to the present/future? I think holding a young, cheap piece like Norris for another six or seven years has a lot more value to them right now — and keeping the lottery ticket that is Pompey, and the potentially important depth piece that is Nolin, is just gravy.

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stro-reyes

Marcus Stroman was outstanding on Monday night, giving rise, perhaps, to more hope than ever that the Jays of the next few years can compete with a rotation not dissimilar to the one that Oakland took to last season’s playoffs.

The A’s had 39-year-old Bartolo Colon as its veteran stalwart, and didn’t give a single start to anyone else over the age of 26, with the rest going to A.J. Griffin (25), Jarrod Parker (24), Tommy Millone (26), Dan Straily (24), Brett Anderson (25), and Sonny Gray (23) — with the youngster, Gray, taking the ball twice in the playoffs, while Colon, Straily and Parker making the other starts.

Sure, those guys were then a touch older than the likes of Aaron Sanchez and Dan Norris, who will both be 21 next season. But still! You can’t say it’s not doable.

Last night’s game was about much more that notion, of course, as you can see in the two GIFs below — the bookends of the night: Stroman’s season nearly ending very badly, as he narrowly avoided being hit in the face by a line drive, and Ryan Goins ending the game in spectacular fashion by reaching back to barehand a ball that took a bad bounce off the turf, preserving Stroman’s Maddux — a complete game, three hit shutout, with eight strikeouts and no walks, which took him just 93 pitches.

These both come from tweets embedded by Ian at the Blue Jay Hunter, but they’re not the only outstanding GIFs he has. There are four more in his post — including the outstanding seventh inning stretch episode featuring Colby Rasmus — so click the link and check out the rest over there.

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