Andrew Stoeten

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griffbag

Another week, another Griff Bag — aka Richard Griffin’s latest mail bag from over at the Toronto Star — except, that is, when I miss a week, so today we’re going to get two! And… I… uh… here it is? Or, here’s the first one, at least. Stay tuned for another dip into the ol’ Griff Bag after lunch!

If there’s a question you’d like me to answer, unless it’s about fucking Ricky Romero and J.P. Arencibia, submit it to Griffin here, and maybe he’ll select it for a future mail bag. Fingers crossed!

Q-Hi Richard Stoeten,

Munenori Kawasaki has been playing great baseball since he got called up. He’s playing great defence, his average is up, he’s had some key RBIs, he’s going deep into counts, and drawing walks. Has Kevin Seitzer been working with him to make some adjustments? Given that he’s also a great clubhouse presence and fan favourite, do you think he has a chance of holding on to the starting second base role for the rest of the season?

Isaac (from New York)

I think the chance of Kawasaki holding onto the second base spot for the entirety of the season is something close to zero. Or… actually, it’s literally zero, because he’s not even really the second baseman. He’s got a .596 OPS against left-handed pitching, so as soon as Brett Lawrie is back — provided that none of the infield improvements the Jays desperately need materialize — the club will go back to a platoon featuring someone like Juan Francisco at third against right-handers, and Lawrie at second, then Lawrie at third against left-handers, with Tolleson playing second. And that’s exactly the way it should be.

Whatever silly ideas we’re supposed to have about what a great clubhouse presence Kawasaki is, or whatever magic hand Kevin Seitzer has wielded (if anyone actually really thinks that after the last six weeks), mean about as much to whether he should play or not as the fact that he’s a fan favourite: i.e. not remotely at fucking all. Just as last year, he’s functioning exactly how you want him: as depth. He’s simply not good enough to be a big league regular on a team with playoff aspirations. Nice story and all that, but be serious.

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Podcast 85 – Breaking Bad

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Now a little something to kill time on a Monday afternoon: it’s an actual, shit-you-not real edition of the DJF podcast!

And today we’ve got just Drew and I, with @RyanEligh on the ones and twos, but no one filling in for the hopelessly disinterested Wally Pippp as our fourth Horseman of the Anthocalpyse while we discuss where the club is at as they head into the All-Star break, and how it maybe kind of isn’t quite as bad as it sorta feels… a little. Yay?

Or if you’re more inclined to download today’s podcast, hit up the mp3 link.

Soundcloud looks fancy and is awesome, but don’t forget that, if you prefer, the DJF iTunes page remains up and running too. Get on over there and subscribe– or update the subscription you already have to find the latest episode (once it’s up). You can also find it via our podcast RSS feed. Follow DJF on Facebook, too, while you’re at it. And the DJF Instagram!

And because I promised, here’s a link to where you can get your tickets for Drew’s PITCH: Talks event, which takes place this Thursday. You’ll have to listen to the podcast to get the promo code!

Many (most? some?) mintmusical interludes courtesy Toronto’s own Optical Sounds, who recently released Psych Pop 2, their second free-to-download compilation of outstanding tunes from local psych- and garage-influenced artists, plus friends of their great collective. Be sure to check them out online and buy every single fucking thing you hear at their site!

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Well, how do you expect me to prepare with you sloughing off fuzz like a new towel?

Shocking that a team that ran out a bottom of the order of Johnson-Kratz-Tolleson-Mastroianni-Francisco-Thole against David Price yesterday has had trouble scoring runs lately, innit?

There’s some good news, though: Buster Olney of ESPN.com (Insider Olney) ranked teams based on schedule strength for the remainder of the year, and the Orioles don’t look so hot — their first 26 games out of the break are against teams above .500 — while the Jays are doing pretty OK (ranked 13th of 17).

Ho-lee shit. Awesome stuff from Chris King (aka @StatsKing) of Baseball Prospectus this morning, as he tells us about the reappearance of Roberto Osuna after a year in the Tommy John wilderness. You might want to be sitting down. “He threw about 15 pitches, all fastballs, but it was a very encouraging step for him. When a player comes back from this type of surgery, the velocity isn’t always there right away and the same can be said for the control and command. This was not the case for Osuna. His mechanics were sound. He’s still sporting the low-effort, smooth delivery he’s always had, and showed no rust in this department. He was pumping an easy 95-97 with his fastball while locating to both sides of the plate. He was repeating his delivery and attacking hitters from the first pitch of the game. This type of aggressiveness is another positive in his return. He was neither reluctant nor hesitant when going after hitters. Having said all of this, the thing I came away most impressed with was his body. The hard-throwing Osuna has had some concerns about his thick frame in the past, but he looked very fit, strong and comfortable with his current build. It’s obvious he has taken his conditioning seriously during his time off, and to me that speaks volumes about where his head is.” Nails.

Let’s stick with prospect stuff here, because… y’know… who the hell wants to talk about what’s going on with the big league roster right now?

Dalton Pompey and Dan Norris (as well as A.J. Jimenez) were in yesterday’s MLB Futures Game at Target Field in Minnesota, and Ian Browne of MLB.com writes about how they excelled in their opportunity on the big stage. Pompey was 2-for-4 with a couple of singles, and Norris retired all three batters he faced, inducing a strikeout, two groundouts, and throwing seven of his eleven pitches for strikes — a ratio that probably seemed unfathomable when he debuted as a pro two years ago and couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn, despite a very strong amateur pedigree.

Shi Davidi has an excellent, lengthy feature up on the two key prospects at Sportsnet.

Aaron Sanchez isn’t forgotten in all the prospect love, though, as Dave Feschuk of the Toronto Star has a nice feature on the club’s top prospect.

And how about this: Marc Hulet of FanGraphs has his mid-season top 25 prospects list up, and not only does Norris make the grade (#22!), but how about this: he’s flip-flopped Aaron Sanchez and Noah Syndergaard, ranking Sanchez 13th, just behind Miguel Sano, and ahead of Syndergaard, Bundy, Glasnow, Stephenson, Joc Pederson, and… well… obviously a whole lot more.

Elsewhere from Hulet at FanGraphs, he looks at a somewhat forgotten Jays prospect, Anthony Alford, who he’s been impressed with despite losing a lot of baseball development to football. “Because he’s not a top-of-the-line NFL prospect, Toronto may still be able to sway him to turn his attentions to the diamond on a full-time basis but it will hopefully be sooner rather than later,” we’re told. “Could be sooner than later” is basically what I was told Alford himself tweeted (then deleted) in response to a Jays fan asking him to give up the football dream. Hmmm…

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Weekend Threat: Jays @ Rays

If for nothing else, just win this game so we never have to hear about the damn streak of series losses in Tampa again. I’ll gladly exchange a home loss for it. I mean, ideally, y’know, I wouldn’t have to, but I’d do it! I’d so do it. Fuck.

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The Jays looked like they were cruising, then Dustin “playing with fire” McGowan happened, and it looked like we were in for another Tropicana Field nightmare, but the bullpen held after McGowan allowed a game-tying two-out home run to Sean Rodriguez (of the three-run variety, after he came in with none on and two outs then issued two walks), and with Grant Balfour pitching for the Rays in the top of the ninth Dan Johnson worked his fourth walk of the night, Juan Francisco struck out for a third time, then Jose Reyes doubled, Steve Tolleson (in for the injured Munenori Kawasaki — day to day with a hamstring issue, but possible he could play tomorrow) doubled in two runs. A Melky walk later and Jose Bautista singled to bring in a third run of the inning, then Casey Janssen locked it down.

The Jays now have two shots at actually winning a series in Tampa, and after the game we learned it’s maybe not as harrowing a task as it originally seemed: David Price was scratched from tomorrow’s start for the Rays after leaving the ballpark early due to some kind of illness. Jake Odorizzi gets the call Saturday against Drew Hutchison, and while it’s possible Price could start on Sunday instead, this is obviously a break — kind of like the ones the Jays got when the soft singles that cashed the winning runs dropped, and ones they definitely weren’t getting earlier in this road trip.

Less good: Nolan Reimold, who has been hot to start his Jays career, also left the game, and will undergo an MRI on his calf tomorrow. Apparently with the 4 PM start they have enough time to get someone up from Buffalo if he hits the DL. Ugh.

buehrleOAK

Just keep it together and get to the break. Just keep it together and get to the break. Just keep it together and get to the break. Just keep it together and get to the break. Just keep it together and get to the break. Just keep it together and get to the break. Just keep it together and get to the break. Just keep it together and get to the break. Just keep it together and get to the break. Just keep it together and get to the break. Just keep it together and get to the break. Just keep it together and get to the break. Just keep it together and get to the break. Just keep it together and get to the break. Just keep it together and get to the break. Just keep it together and get to the break. Just keep it together and get to the break. Just keep it together and get to the break. Just keep it together and get to the break. Just keep it together and get to the break.  Just keep it together and get to the break. Just keep it together and get to the break. Just keep it together and get to the break. Just keep it together and get

Scuttlebutt

Brendan Kennedy tweets that the Jays have shuffled their rotation, moving R.A. Dickey up to Sunday at Tropicana Field, instead of J.A. Happ. Part of the reasoning, according to John Gibbons, is that “he’s been so good down here.” Makes sense.

More from Gibby, via Brendan, as we’re told that the manager says Jose Bautista is healthy enough to play right field right now, but that he’ll possibly still play first base this weekend, in order to keep him off the turf.

John Lott tweets that John Gibbons downplayed the story about Adam Lind’s mom suggesting he have the MRI that diagnosed his fractured foot, saying that it was scheduled by the club’s trainer after the pain got worse. Weird that the team wouldn’t want it to look like their staff was out-doctored by a player’s mom.

Barry Davis adds that “for those asking about the 6-8 week diagnosis on Lind, I’m hearing that was from the initial injury, not from Wednesday.”

Brendan tells us that no team in the Majors has used replay more often than the Jays this year. I can live with that.

Ben Nicholson-Smith tweets that A.J. Jimenez has been added to the World roster for the Futures Game, while Liam Hendriks will start the Triple-A All-Star game.

Lastly, today’s Schadenfreude Alert is from Marc Tompkin of the Tampa Bay Times, who reports that Yunel Escobar is back in the Rays lineup today, but wonders if that’s really such a a good thing.

Next game(s): Tomorrow, 4:10 PM ET @ Tampa; Sunday, 1:10 PM ET @ Tampa

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)
2B Munenori Kawasaki (L)
RF Melky Cabrera (S)
1B Jose Bautista (R)
C Dioner Navarro (S)
RF Nolan Reimold (R)
CF Colby Rasmus (L)
DH Dan Johnson (L)
3B Juan Francisco

LHP Mark Buehrle

Tampa Bay Rays

CF Desmond Jennings (R)
RF Ben Zobrist (S)
LF Brandon Guyer (R)
3B Evan Longoria (R)
1B James Loney (L)
DH Sean Rodriguez (R)
SS Yunel Escobar (R)
C Jose Molina (R)
2B Logan Forsythe (R)

RHP Chris Archer

Today In MLBTR: Friday, July 11th

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I can’t yet say that this will be a daily feature from here until July 31st, but with the Jays still doing swimmingly, trade season heating up, and the club still with plenty of use for many parts, big and small, it probably will serve us well to have a look at what the invaluable, fantastic, and comprehensive MLB Trade Rumors is telling us about today (and maybe yesterday, too)…

We’re still seeing the Jays’ name come up in whispers, but one wonders what they might really be thinking, and just how willing they’ll be to patch the ever-growing holes in their 2014 roster with pieces of their future. As if it wasn’t a difficult enough question already, the Jays could still add pieces hoping to help weather the storm and position themselves for a strong August and September with a (hopefully) healthy offence, but over the last couple of weeks the likelihood has certainly increased that whatever they do may be all for naught.

It would be easy to think that Alex Anthopoulos, given what’s at stake for him personally, in terms of his job and his ability to again ascend to the highest position within an MLB franchise, that the lean would be to do all that he can to win with this roster and to sort out the future later. But is that necessarily the case?

The latest from Jon Morosi and Ken Rosenthal doesn’t seem to indicate either way, as on one hand Morosi tweets that the Jays are one of three clubs looking at Rangers reliever Joakim Soria — the Angels and Tigers being the others — though Rosenthal counters by saying that the Jays are first weighing the possibility of bringing up Aaron Sanchez to help the club in the bullpen.

Rosenthal goes on to add that the Jays are looking at possibly moving Dan Norris to Buffalo, and that he could surface in the major league bullpen later — they’re hoping, he says, to limit their innings while repeating the Cardinals’ success last season with youngsters Trevor Rosenthal and Carlos Martinez working out of the ‘pen.

Interestingly, Rosenthal also says that the Jays have changed Sanchez’s arm slot, and that he’s been pitching better since. I don’t know how much stock we can put into that without seeing him succeed with it for an extended period, but it’s noticeable that in his last three starts for Buffalo have been better than his first three. Over the first three he pitched a total of 13.1 innings, allowing nine runs (seven earned) on 13 hits and 12 walks, with 13 strikeouts. Since then, over three starts, he’s pitched 19 innings, giving up nine runs (eight earned) on 19 hits and five walks, with 12 strikeouts. So… not wildly different, but the reduced walks and the increased innings sure look encouraging.

Not that they would have interest at this point, I don’t think, but if the Jays wanted to trade for the Phillies’ Marlon Byrd, they’d have a tough time doing so, as they’re one of just four teams on his no-trade list. The Jays, for a geographic reasons, and for reasons to do with the division they play in and the high-resource competition they face, are quite often on players’ no-trade lists. Oh, and for this reason, too: “Byrd adds that he included Toronto and Tampa on his list because of the artificial turf and the risk that poses to him as an aging player (especially one with a vesting option based on plate appearances).”

Moving on, and away briefly from MLBTR, a piece arrived today from former big league GM Jim Bowden over at ESPN.com about what it might take for the Jays or the Giants to get Martin Prado off the Diamondbacks, and… well… it’s a weird one. The Giants, he says, might offer Heath Hembree (“who has a big arm but hasn’t quite developed the control and command needed at the major league level”) and a minor league reliever. But for the Jays, it’s top 50 prospect territory. Or, at least by some standards, as he suggests the Jays give up Dalton Pompey (but not after being asked, and rejecting the overture, for Mitch Nay). We’re also told, somewhat inexplicably, that “the Blue Jays prefer Lawrie at second base rather than third, but what they like most about Prado is, like Lawrie, he can play both second and third. Unlike Lawrie, Prado is an above-average defender at both.” Huh?

One more non-MLBTR item, as Ben Badler of Baseball America reports that the Jays have signed Mexican pitching prospect Guadalupe Chavez. He wasn’t ranked among Badler’s top 30, but he calls him “one of the better young pitching prospects in Mexico. He’s a good athlete with a skinny 6-foot-2, 150-pound frame and already throws up to 93 mph while flashing an above-average changeup that’s ahead of his curveball, with good pitchability for his experience level.”

The injury to the Reds’ Brandon Phillips may have put a wrinkle in the Jays’ plans, as there is now another team looking to the trade market for second base help.

In a roundup of NL West notes, we’re told that the Giants and Rays have been doing some heavy scouting that may involve Jays fans pipe dream Ben Zobrist, while the Diamondbacks may be looking at a payroll crunch next year, which is why they could be extra inclined to move Prado and/or Aaron Hill. Beyond, y’know, the obvious.

Not that we should necessarily be thinking this way anymore — and not that we shouldn’t be scared off by the high cost and the results that don’t match the declining peripherals — but Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon says that he’d waive his no-trade clause to move to a contender. Does that mean the Jays at this point? It probably does, right? Right??

Speaking of Papelbon, in an NL East notes piece, we’re pointed to a piece in the Philadelphia Daily News, where his trade value is examined, and it’s figured that a Papelbon/Burnett package could have some appeal to a team like Baltimore. The Jays too, though, perhaps?

Jorge de la Rosa of the Rockies, a rental, could supposedly be obtained in exchange for a “young impact starter.” Yeah… good luck with that. Better news, though still about as unlikely to happen, is the fact that the same report adds that Troy Tulowitzki has given his subtle blessing to be traded to a contender. All the prospects for him. Right now. Do it.

Lastly, among other things (none of which are Jays-related) an AL East Notes post, we’re given a link to a piece from Rob Bradford of WEEI.com, who writes about the clubhouse discord in Boston surrounding A.J. Pierzynski, who apparently wasn’t liked by his teammates. “A microcosm of Pierzynski’s approach was mentioned by more than one of the backstop’s former teammates, who revealed his propensity to spend a significant amount of time looking at his phone while at his locker during games. In one instance, after a particularly rough outing in which the starting pitcher had been pulled early in the game, Pierzynski could be found staring at his phone while the pitcher gave off the appearance of being an emotional wreck just a few feet away. That incident paved the way for at least one complaint to management from a teammate.” Amazing.