Outstanding stuff here from Arden Zwelling of Sportsnet, as he looks at the remarkable rise of Dalton Pompey — who I still say is a better option to start on Opening Day 2015 than anything else the Jays have got, crazy as that sounds, and unseasoned as he might be. And with jobs even more on the line than they were this year, and a full spring training to prove it (not to mention the rest of this end-of-season cameo, and a trip to the Arizona Fall League — assuming he still goes), I really think it’s possible the club ends up agreeing. They like him enough, or at least ol’ Gibbers does, that he was leading off this afternoon against the Mariners. What do you think the odds are that Gose or Pillar ever get that kind of an assignment?
Elsewhere at Sportsnet, “Gibbons loves what Pompey offers,” says the headline of a piece from Ben Nicholson-Smith. See?
Meanwhile, you probably heard about this, but earlier in the week Shi Davidi wrote about the possible end of the road as Blue Jays for Casey Janssen and Adam Lind, both of whom have been here a very long time, and one of whom (Janssen) is heading towards free agency, while the other (uh… Lind?) goes once again to club option limbo. Or, at least, he theoretically does, though the Jays picking up the $7.5-million option for a player who, against right-handed pitching, has the same wRC+ over the last two seasons as Yasiel Puig and Andrew McCutchen (who themselves are just one and two points behind Robinson Cano, Freddie Freeman, and David Ortiz, with only Miguel Cabrera and Mike Trout being better) is as giant a fucking no-brainer as it gets. But Lind said some nonsense about expecting to be told one way or the other — even though it’s not remotely in the team’s interest to tell him –and it became a bit of a thing. Except… it’s not. Lind can dumbly gripe all he wants, the Jays are going to do what they’re going to do. And what they’re going to do is, they’re going to pick up that option. Obviously.
Over at the Toronto Star, Richard Griffin makes the case that last night should have been Mark Buehrle’s final appearance as a member of the Blue Jays. Yeah, they should probably trade him.
Amazing stuff on the end of the Mariners season from Matt Ellis of Lookout Landing, many of which will ring absolutely true for Blue Jays fans, as well.
Scott MacArthur of TSN continues his series of excellent season-ending chats with members of the Jays, as he speaks to Drew Hutchison and Mark Buehrle about their seasons and their futures — and does so on a pretty spiffy looking new TSN.ca, I might add.
Speaking of the club’s starters, at Blue Jays Plus, Gideon Turk looks at J.A. Happ and the importance of pitching depth.
Sticking with the season retrospective theme, Robert MacLeod of the Globe and Mail talks to R.A. Dickey, as the pitcher reflects on a season that was actually pretty decent for him, individually, once you get past all the high expectations.
The Tao Of Stieb gives his always-interesting reflections on the season.
In the Toronto Sun, Bob Elliott asks whether each of Paul Beeston, Alex Anthopoulos, and John Gibbons will be back — answering in the affirmative for all of them, at least according to his educated guesses. But there isn’t full certainty yet. “Some of Beeston’s friends say he isn’t coming back,” Elliott writes. “Others say he is.”
In the National Post, Scott Stinson has an interesting, thoughtful look at how the Jays ended up the about-to-be holders of MLB’s longest playoff futility streak, which he almost upends entirely with one silly, splashy attempt at provocation: suggesting that they’re becoming baseball’s version of the Buffalo Bills.
An update on something I was writing about in this week’s Griff Bag — Jesse Goldberg-Strassler, broadcaster for the Lansing Lugnuts, clarified something for me having to do with my response about Kendall Graveman. I wrote that Graveman’s velocity was considered fringy (though “fringe-average” is more like the term I’d read), and suggested that the fact he’s been sitting at 93 in the majors is “surely” based on the fact that he’s pitching out of the bullpen. Not so fast! Jesse tweets that “a fatigued Graveman threw 85-88 in 2013; he has thrown consistently 93 mph in 2014.” Well that’s kind of awesome — and probably has had a hand in his looking better than almost everybody expected, too.
I’m always quick to point out when folks from places like Baseball Prospectus are high on Jays prospects, so I guess I’d better do it when they’re not. With that in mind, in this week’s Dynasty Dynamics piece, Ben Carsley and Craig Goldstein look at several players they feel it’s time for dynasty league players to get away from, including the Jays’ own D.J. Davis. “Davis has spent three years in the Blue Jays system and finally spent his first year in full-season ball, posting an OPS of .583. While power was never a part of his game, Davis was/is supposed to profile atop the lineup, and a .268 OBP isn’t going to cut it,” they explain. “His best asset is his game-changing speed; unfortunately, he changed things for the worse for Lansing this year, getting caught 20 times en route to swiping 19 bags.” Yeesh.
Elsewhere at BP, and on that same sort of note, this week’s Monday Morning Ten Pack looked at ten of the most disappointing prospects of 2014, and two more Jays made the list: Alberto Tirado and Aaron Sanchez. Yes, Aaron Sanchez. “I knew what I was getting into when I saw Aaron Sanchez on the Double-A New Hampshire roster to start the 2014 season. I had seen him plenty in the Midwest League in 2012, and I had heard about all the wonderful strides he made throughout 2013 in High-A. Maybe that was part of the problem; my expectations for Sanchez may have been too high. I expected to bear witness to a budding front-of-the-rotation horse who would spend the majority of the season dominating the competition. Instead, I spent the summer watching seven games from one of the most enigmatic starters I have seen at Double-A in the last few years. Sanchez battled his delivery from game to game, inning to inning, and even pitch to pitch. As he struggled with consistency in advance of release, his results were all over the map,” Mark Anderson explains. “It is obvious Sanchez can get big-league hitters out, and he will be able to accomplish that over the long haul, but after scouting nearly 50 innings from him this summer, I remain far from convinced that the former first-round pick can be an impact starting pitcher, a conclusion I could not envision when the season began.” You can’t exactly say it’s unfair.
Interesting stuff, as always, from Nick Ashbourne of Bluebird Banter, as he tells us that the Blue Jays’ pitching isn’t all that different from what it was in 2013. Sounds crazy until you realize, the good parts and the bad parts of the staff have simply flipped — the starters have been better, but the staff as a whole was evened out by the fact that the relievers were so much worse.
Elsewhere at Bluebird Banter, Tom Dakers begins a “should he stay or should he go” series by looking at hitting coach Kevin Seitzer.
Back to prospect stuff, as John Sickels of Minor League Ball reviews his pre-season top Jays prospects list (which includes his pre-season grades, not current ones, just so we’re clear), giving us tidbits and his thoughts on the seasons put in by the best guys in the system.
At BlueJays.com, Gregor Chisholm tells us about the winners of this year’s Howard R. Webster Awards, which go to the team MVPs at each level of the Jays’ system, which include Kevin Pillar, Mitch Nay, Dwight Smith Jr., and Franklin Barreto. Had they stayed at one level, of course, you might see names like Dan Norris, Dalton Pompey, Kendall Graveman, and Aaron Sanchez here.
Charlie Caskey of Your Van C’s takes a look at the Canadians’ season in review, while Brian Crawford of Jays Prospects looks at Jimmy Cordero, who has been exploding radar guns at Lansing, with a fastball that’s touched 101.
MLBTR passes along a report that says Josh Willingham is going to retire after this season, which is maybe a blessing in disguise. I thought he might be a guy the Jays would consider turning to this winter if they were unable to keep Melky Cabrera, but… that probably wouldn’t have been a great idea if they did.
Great stuff at Grantland, as Ben Lindbergh writes about Sabermetrics and the Pirates, while this week’s Jonah Keri Podcast features legendary Jays scout Mel Didier.
Speaking of podcasts, Brendan Kennedy of the Toronto Star chatted with Buster Olney on today’s edition of the Baseball Tonight podcast at ESPN.com.
Elsewhere at ESPN, Keith Law lists a number of players who have exceeded his expectations this year, and naturally one of them is Yan Gomes. Good for Gomes! And as much as it hurts that he’s doing it in Cleveland, KLaw reminds that when he was traded, “Gomes was a fringy bat without a clear position. He had very little minor league experience overall, with just 172 games behind the plate before the trade. He was only a part-time catcher with some arm strength, but none of the refined skills that would point to him excelling at the position.” Now, it’s not great that the Jays missed so badly all the potential that was sitting in their organization, but it’s a little more understandable that they got so little for him. And, of course, he was playing at the same level as Travis d’Arnaud during each of his three years in full season ball in the Jays organization — and he was still behind d’Arnaud and Arencibia on the depth chart when he left. Doesn’t make it feel much better, does it?
At FanGraphs this week, Dave Cameron handed in his hypothetical AL MVP ballot, and Jose Bautista ended up fifth. I can live with that! And though “Michael Brantley without the baserunning” may sound like a back-handed compliment, he has Brantley way up at number two.
Tom Scocca’s Derek Jeter Was OK piece at Deadspin is pretty damn delicious.
Lastly, something heartbreaking. I’m not sure how much time anyone here spends at Batter’s Box, but over there this week, Gerry McDonald informed their readers that their contributor, John Northey, has recently lost his wife due to complications from childbirth. “We don’t know if any of you have had to go through something like this,” Gerry writes. “We don’t know if any of you are single parents. But John is looking for any advice you might have. The old saying is a problem shared is a problem halved so we hope some of you might be able to help.”