Dustin Parkes

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#OperationWhiteWash

There’s a movement afoot. Well, at least sixteen tweets and a couple of message board posts, but anything that’s anything has to start somewhere, and #OperationWhiteWash might as well start here:

Normally, the idea of joining together in unity over any issue induces more eye rolls from me than a trailer for a movie starring Kate Hudson, but this seems to be rooted in a spirit of fun and shows that we’re all capable of having a laugh at a ridiculous accusation, which is almost always better than the alternative: spiking one’s batting helmet at the feet of your accuser.

So, if you’re heading to the game on Sunday against the Boston Red Sox, be sure to dress in all of your pre-Labour Day glory to cheer on the Blue Jays and prove that for all the vitriol we might spew forth online, deep down, we do have a sense of humour about it all.

For background to #OperationWhiteWash, check out this and more recently, this.

What Jason Hammel Said

The Toronto Blue Jays beat the Baltimore Orioles 4-1 tonight thanks to four solo home runs hit by Edwin Encarnacion, Rajai Davis, Brett Lawrie and Colby Rasmus off of opposing starter Jason Hammel.

Following the game, Hammel had this to say:

I don’t think you can take swings like that, not knowing they’re coming. There’s rumours and things like that, I don’t know. I can’t speak on that but they were taking very, very strong hacks on breaking stuff. It’s something I’ve never seen before.

Hmm. Is Hammel referring to the mysterious man in white story that ESPN: The Magazine reported on last year? You remember. The story that accused the Jays of going to elaborately laughable lengths to steal signs.

Well, his not quite accusations might have a bit more bite if, you know, it was actually his breaking pitches that the Blue Jays were bashing over the fence at Rogers Centre. All four of the solo home runs tonight were hit off of Hammel’s fastballs.

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According to multiple sources, including his .403 wOBA and .949 OPS for the Las Vegas 51s, Toronto Blue Jays 23 year-old catching prospect Travis D’Arnaud has conquered Triple A. According to Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus, he’s “awfully close” to being ready for promotion.

With Kyle Drabek’s disappointing development and the bullet dodging transactions that eventually turned Michael Taylor into Anthony Gose, D’Arnaud’s status as the top catching prospect in baseball (again according to Goldstein) is the only good news to directly come out of the infamous trade that sent Roy Halladay to the Philadelphia Phillies and a new team dynamic to the Blue Jays.

The only problem with bringing D’Arnaud up is that there happens to be a young slugging catcher already in place at the Major League level in J.P. Arencibia, or Aaron Cibia if you prefer. The most likely scenario will see D’Arnaud eventually usurp the fan favourite as the starting catcher, offering the Blue Jays a prized trading chip in Arencibia, who could be described as a young, and hopefully more consistently powerful, John Buck.

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Thames Is Demoted

According to the team’s official Twitter account, the Toronto Blue Jays have optioned left fielder Eric Thames to Triple A Las Vegas and called up utility player extraordinaire Mike McCoy.

One has to imagine that if he was healthy, eternal prospect of the Blue Jays fans’ mind, Travis Snider, would be the player receiving a promotion, but alas, our lunch box hero is still attempting to get himself right after injuring his wrist earlier this season.

As for Thames, the demotion is overdue. In addition to collecting outs in more than 71% of his plate appearances, the personality plus regular was terrible in the outfield, taking paths to fly balls that would be too extensive for a shitty Family Circus cartoon to document. This, combined with power numbers that suggested Thames bat of choice was a flaccid pool noodle, put the writing on the wall for the left fielder’s immediate future.

I say immediate, because I firmly believe that Thames can be a useful contributor on a Major League roster. With a little more patience at the plate, he can certainly be a useful fourth outfielder or bench bat against right handed pitching. I just can’t see him as a regular on any roster, but the very worst.

I’m not sure that Mike McCoy offers an immediate offensive upgrade, but with Rajai Davis slowly taking playing time away from Thames and the day to day injuries with the current set of middle infielders (plus a winded bench coach who can’t play every day), McCoy will certainly be useful, even though he’s unlikely to be replacing Thames directly.

Oops!

I’m pretty sure that the Toronto Blue Jays official Twitter feed retweeting the above message was more of a mistake, rather than an attempt at mimicking L.A Kings style irreverent social media practices.

And in that sense, it’s kind of nice of the account runner to show solidarity with a team that was absolutely dominated this weekend by the Texas Rangers. Form and function for the win.

However, wouldn’t it be refreshing if this wasn’t a rarity, and the social media experts in the Blue Jays front office adopted the #JerkBall approach of the actual team? I mean, it worked didn’t it? Did anyone else have any idea before this tweet that the June 17th game against the Philadelphia Phillies would include replica batting helmets being given away?

Thanks to @SeanShaughnessy for the tip.

The Toronto Blue Jays have promoted right handed relievers Chad Beck and Jesse Chavez from Triple A Las Vegas, and optioned utility player Yan Gomes and right handed reliever Ryota Igarashi after the team used six members of the bullpen in yesterday’s extra innings loss to the Texas Rangers, and three to cover six plus innings the night before.

Because Chavez isn’t a current member of the 40 man roster, it’s expected that Igarashi will be designated for assignment to make room for him.

Beck, who had a brief audition with the big league club last year, has put up mediocre numbers in more than 20 innings at Triple A this year, outside of his low ERA. He throws a mid nineties fastball, a low nineties cutter, a mid eighties slider and an occasional mid eighties change up.

Chavez, who has bounced around several organizations since coming up through the Rangers system, has started ten games in Las Vegas, putting up a very impressive K:BB ratio of five, thanks to a 23.8% strike out rate and a 4.8% walk rate. Despite starting in the Minors, it’s expected that he’ll have a relief role during his stint in the Majors. He throws a low nineties fastball, a high eighties slider and a change up that’s only four miles per hour slower than his fastball.

It wouldn’t be the least bit surprising to see both lambs used today against the Texas Rangers. Best of luck with that, fellas.

A Battle Of Perspectives

In the top of the eighth inning of tonight’s 8-5 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays, Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Brett Lawrie was called out on a controversial base running play.

MLB’s official rule 7.02 states the following:

In advancing, a runner shall touch first, second, third and home base in order. If forced to return, he shall retouch all bases in reverse order.

A runner is “forced to return” when a fly ball that is in the air is caught by a fielder on an opposing team. Such was the case tonight when Lawrie, already on first base, advanced to second on Yan Gomes fly ball while it was still in the air. Once it was caught by B.J. Upton in center field, Lawrie went back to first base.

He didn’t touch second base on his way back because he claims he didn’t leave the base in the direction of third base:

But as umpire Rob Drake saw things, he most certainly did advance to third before heading back to first base without touching the bag at second:

Lawrie failed to make friends once again with the umpiring crew, two days after returning from a suspension for the last time he aggressively questioned a decision. Things were moderate by comparison this time as his helmet stayed on his head after the energetic player jogged a dozen or so feet in the umpire’s direction to ask why he was called out.

According to Lawrie in the post game scrum, “Don’t argue,” was the only response that Drake would offer. Perhaps, in addition to not invading an umpire’s space, Lawrie would also be better served by not knocking them out of the game with foul balls either.

Although, watching that second GIF again, I don’t know what possible defense he could’ve offered to justify what was ultimately his base running error.