Archive for the ‘Daily Duce’ Category

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Pride is a fool’s fortress. Now who’s for Denny’s?

Some rumour mongering (read: throwing shit at the wall and seeing what sticks) this week out of Philadelphia (mostly via the great MLBTR): Earlier in the week, Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com reported that the Jays might be considering a play for the Phillies’ Kyle Kendrick after a scout from the club watched him recently, even though that totally makes no sense. In a later piece, Salisbury also notes that the Jays (as well as the Yankees) scouted Cliff Lee’s first rehab start, which… yeah, I tend to be on the optimistic side, but I’ll believe Rogers is going to sign off on paying one player $52.5-million for 2015 and ’16 (or $37.5-million for just 2015, including a hefty 2016 buyout) when I fucking see it. Later still, he suggested that both the Yankees and Jays are cool to the idea of a reunion with A.J. Burnett.

Salisbury isn’t necessarily entirely making stuff up, though, as Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com tweeted that the Jays indeed were watching the Phillies this week.

It could be a reliever like Antonio Bastardo or Jonathan Papelbon, as Ken Rosenthal tweets that the Jays are one of many clubs that an executive with a reliever to shop told him had shown interest in that particular market (and Salisbury says they’re one of a number of teams on him in particular). Could be due diligence, of course. And maybe things have changed now that Aaron Sanchez is here (and, fingers crossed, that Steve Delabar might be showing something, too).

Another one via MLBTR is a look at the no-trade clause of John Danks, which — according to a tweet from my ‘Merkin friend MLB.com’s Scott Merkin — the Jays are on. Because of course they are.

Sticking in this realm, Jim Bowden of ESPN.com wrote on Tuesday about what it might take for a club to land Chase Headley, and he was kind of way off! For the Jays he figured something like a package of Sean Nolin and Dawel Lugo, which, with Nolin kind of just being a guy (for some reason I’m real soft on him) and Lugo struggling a bit and having some competition at his position in the system, would certainly be a palatable package to give up for something. Granted, maybe not a rental that hasn’t hit all year, but something.

Interesting thought by way of John Sickels’ report at Minor League Ball on the call-up of Aaron Sanchez, as he notes that “His strikeout rate is nothing special and he will give up some walks. However, he is one of the most extreme ground ball pitchers in the minor leagues, posting a 3.13 GO/AO ratio this year and a 2.34 GO/AO in 2013. His fastball has been clocked as high as 98 MPH, works consistently at 94-95, and has vicious sinking action.” Not something we necessarily didn’t know, but it sure made me think of how a guy like Ryan Goins would be useful behind a pitcher like that.

Speaking of Sanchez, over at FanGraphs, Blake Murphy looks at the Jays’ called-up top prospect and “the Trevor Rosenthal experiment,” looking at why the Jays have taken this path. “The most negative of Jays fans (and ghouls) would tell you that Sanchez is going to end up a reliever in the long run, anyway,” he explains, “given his declining strikeout rates and struggles with command. I don’t at all think that’s in play here, even if it’s not an outlandish suggestion. Sanchez is still just 22 years old. You let a top prospect like this fail as a starter before you think bullpen long-term; this is probably all about 2014.” Agreed.

At Baseball Prospectus this morning, Mark Anderson and Ben Carsley gave an in-depth look at Sanchez from a scouting perspective, profiling him thusly: “All told, Sanchez has two knockout pitches that will allow him to be successful in a major-league rotation, but he lacks the changeup and strike-throwing to profile as a front-line starter. Once established in the big leagues, he should provide very good mid-rotation performance and could have streaks where he dominates teams when his entire arsenal works at peak levels.” Anderson likes the move for the Jays, explaining that “Sanchez should be able to dominate burst outings on the back of his fastball and curve alone, and it should help him learn what it takes to put away big-league hitters as he looks toward a larger role in 2015.”

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Well, you see refrigerator boxes. I see an outreach centre that’s changing people’s lives every day and WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING SIMONE?

According to a tweet from Ken Rosenthal, the Jays have “checked on” Alfonso Soriano, who is now a free agent, following his release from the Yankees. I’ve maybe been a little harsh about Soriano of late. Sure, he’s been hot garbage, even against lefties, this season (wRC+ of 80 in the split), but OK, OK, he was pretty terrific against them last year (147 wRC+, and about league average against RHP, too), so if you were going to try to catch lightning in a bottle, seeing as you’ve got a few weeks before everyone starts getting healthy, you could do worse than seeing if he’s got anything left and then just discarding him if he doesn’t. Rosenthal says Soriano is “mulling over” his options, but if he wants to keep playing, it’s not like he’s going to get a better assurance — or opportunity — than that. Right?

Keith Law’s mid-season top 50 prospects list came out today at ESPN.com (Insider Only), and Aaron Sanchez has fallen entirely off it. Yikes. It’s not all bad news, though, as Dan Norris made the list, ranked 37th. “He’s a long way from having average command,” Law says, “but at this time last year it was unthinkable that he’d improve enough to get a Futures Game appearance and a quick promotion to Double-A.”

It’s the unofficial mid-season, with the second not-quite-half about to get underway tomorrow, so there’s a lot of taking stock going on…

Brendan Kennedy of the Toronto Star looks at what the Jays need to do to make the playoffs, listing several things from the obvious (get healthy, find an infielder, fix the bullpen), to the less obvious (lower the walk rate, get deeper into games), to the fanciful (hit better with RISP).

Shi Davidi of Sportsnet looks at some of the options the Jays can look to on the trade market, and they’re not all infielders. Alex Rios, Marlon Byrd, and Josh Willingham all present potential corner outfield solutions that would force Jose Bautista to move to third base and Brett Lawrie to second once he returns, which… actually that sounds doable, right?

Speaking of the bullpen stuff, John Lott of the National Post looks at how the once-strong bullpen has gone sideways for this club, and what some potential fixes could be *COUGH* Sanchez *COUGH*.

Gregor Chisholm reviews the first “half” of the season for BlueJays.com, and gives us five things to watch as the season comes to a conclusion, including how the young starters fare as they pitch more innings than they’ve ever been asked to, whether the offensive approach changes back to what made the club so successful in May, and whether the Jays can play well enough to justify the club keeping this team more-or-less together for another shot in 2015.

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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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Woof.

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Just get me one of everything that ever played video… and then the Hunter… and then format doesn’t matter.

GibbyTheBest. According to a Shi Davidi tweet, the Jays’ manager explained his Wednesday ejection thusly: “Maybe I got tired of looking at bunts not getting put down, so I said, ‘I’ll go have a beer.’ ”

Ken Rosenthal tweeted this week that he figures any pursuit by the Jays of Cole Hamels would be a long shot, as they are reportedly one of the teams on his no-trade list. Figures. Maybe the fact that they’re currently in first place and chasing a pennant changes that, but with many years left on his deal, coming to this pitching environment, in this division, and to a club with an owner that has never shown consistent seriousness about winning? Yeah… either ol’ Doc has one hell of a sell-job up his sleeve or we should probably just forget this.

Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun lists ten Jays employees who have seen Jeff Samardzija in person over the last year, as the trade talk heats up. His NL scouting buddies don’t think the club should part with the Sanchez-Norris-Pompey package — an AL scout says he’d do it without hesitation for David Price, though, but he wonders if that would even be enough. Then the next round came, presumably.

Speaking of Price, Jim Bowden suggests some potential offers for the Rays ace at ESPN.com, and assesses the viability of each. On the Jays he writes: “If the Rays can’t get the prospects they want from the Cardinals, Braves or Dodgers, then the Blue Jays have a real chance of getting Price compared to the rest of the American League because they have an elite young starter to offer — something the Los Angeles Angels, Chicago White Sox and New York Yankees do not.” Heyyyyy, great. Orioles have one of those too, though.

MLBTR reviews this morning’s news about the Jays signing their first round draft picks, noting that the Jays are $74K below their bonus pool allocation (though they haven’t signed their seventh rounder, college senior Zack Zehner (slot for his pick is $192K, but penalties for going less than 5% over aren’t so bad — simply a 75% tax on all dollars over, but none of the heavy-handed lose-a-draft-pick stuff that you’re hit with by exceeding it by even more).

MLBTR also notes that, according to a tweet from MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez, the Jays’ signing of international amateur prospect Juan Meza cost $1.6-million. Baseball America lists the Jays’ bonus pool on the international market is $2.853-million.

More from MLBTR from over the past… while. We’re pointed to a Nick Cafardo piece in which he says that the Jays are among the teams who have most aggressively scouted the Phillies, so… maybe there’s a chance? Or maybe it’s Chase Utley they want, as a Jon Heyman piece — in which he says there is zero chance the Jays move the Sanchez-Norris-Pompey package for Jeff Samardzija — suggests the Jays may have some interest there (“but it remains far from clear that he will be an achievable target”).

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Pneumatic tubes, eh? Can’t put coins in those.

Everybody’s seeing everybody at this point, I’m pretty sure, but Bob Elliott is on the scouting itinerary beat this time of year, and tonight in the Toronto Sun he tells us that the Jays had Russ Bove — one of their “most trusted scouts” — in Miami to watch Jason Hammel make a start for the Cubs. Not sure how much he will have liked what he saw: nine strikeouts, but eight hits, a walk, four earned runs in six innings, and an absolutely insane opposite field Giancarlo Stanton home run on a line drive that was about as low as you’ll ever see a homer hit on. Nine Ks though! And only one to the pitcher — and another to Jeff Mathis.

For those of you scoreboard watching, the Rays beat the Orioles on Monday, dropping them to five games back of the Jays, with the Yankees now in second place in the AL East at 4.5 games behind.

I can’t exactly revel in a player’s injury, but Matt Wieters needing Tommy John surgery and being out for the season is certainly a blow to the Orioles, which… I can live with that.

Lots of interesting trade chatter in the comments on the post below, even if some of it is plenty fanciful. And… well… here’s some more (of the less fanciful variety): Jon Morosi tweets that the Braves, who have Alex Wood in the minors and getting stretched back out again, are fielding inquiries on both Gavin Floyd and the Harangutan. I’m not sure why a playoff-bound team wouldn’t be trying to keep all the starting pitching that it could, but those are Jason Hammel-esque names. And while I think we’ve all seen pretty clearly now that this club definitely needs Colby Rasmus, and that it’s not worth giving up a draft pick next summer to go with Gose-Pillar and add a Gavin Floyd, but if you were making a rental-for-rental deal, and wanted to give Colby a good home… I dunno, you could probably make a more insane suggestion than that. Shit, eat a bunch of money and we’ll take back B.J. Upton in the process! (OK, so maybe not that much more insane).

Morosi also adds that the Cubs are not willing to listen on just Samardzija and Hammel, but Edwin Jackson and Jake Arrieta as well. Hmmm…

It’s minor league promotion season, and Aaron Sanchez wasn’t the only one finding himself on a new team. The Dunedin Blue Jays fill us in via their game notes for tonight, noting (it’s in there, I swear!) that number three prospect Dan Norris has been promoted to New Hampshire, along with 26-year-old catcher Derrick Chung, and 23-year-old first baseman K.C. Hobson. Meanwhile, a more intriguing pair at those positions, first baseman L.B. Dantzler and catcher Santiago Nessy, have moved up from Lansing to Dunedin, with 23-year-old third baseman Andy Fermin moving down from New Hampshire (despite a tidy .308/.348/.431 line in his first 68 plate appearances at the level). So… that’s something.

This too: the Bluefield Blue Jays have announced their 2014 roster, which will have some interesting names for you prospect watchers: Smoral, Tinoco, Tellez, Cenas, Alford, Urena, Anderson, and more.

Minor move stuff, just for the sake of completeness because we haven’t done this for a while: last week the Jays released Australian lefty Ryan Rowland-Smith (who I’m pretty sure had an opt out clause if he wasn’t in the Majors) and lost maple dick favourite Shawn Hill to the White Sox somehow (MLBTR). We know how Matt Tuiasosopo ended up with the White Sox: the Jays dealt him there last week for cash (MLBTR). Neil Wagner, who could still be a key bullpen piece for the Jays, if all goes well, went to see Dr. James Andrews and was prescribed three weeks of rest (Sportsnet). Aaron Sanchez didn’t have a great debut over the weekend in Buffalo (Toronto Star), but the Jays are still very excited about him… according to the Jays (MLB.com).

John Lott of the National Post tells the tale of Sunday’s game, and how J.A. Happ delivered a hell of a performance — to the surprise, I’m sure, of many.

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Yeah, that robot with the big tits!

It appears as though history’s greatest monster, Manny Machado, will be in the lineup against the Jays when they travel to Baltimore this weekend — a four game set that kicks of on Thursday, which is a game we’ll be watching at Opera Bob’s! —  as the Orioles’ third baseman has received a five game suspension for his weekend tantrums, and MASN’s Roch Kubatko tweets that he will definitely appeal. That means he can keep playing for now — and he is in fact in the O’s lineup, batting second — and will surely be in there as well over the weekend.

On the Machado front, GROF offers us a delicious hot take over at theScore. And — more importantly — elsewhere from Drew, he goes into full content mode, ranking baseball’s best Joses. Some of them play for the Toronto Blue Jays, believe it or not.

As mentioned in the previous post, the Jays’ draft haul was listed in Chris Crawford’s latest at ESPN.com, in which he listed the teams who improved themselves the most last week. The Jays rank second, which makes sense given the fact that they picked twice before most teams had picked once, but it’s not even just that. Hoffman, of course, is lauded — if he fully recovers, we’re told, “there’s a chance the Jays just acquired the best prospect in their system.” Max Pentecost gets praise too — or… well… he’s called “one of the safest prospects in the draft” — while Crawford adds that “they also picked up a potential steal in Sean Reid-Foley at No. 49, and both Nick Wells and Lane Thomas have the talent to be among the best bats in their system.”

Jim Callis had a whole lot of praise for the Jays’ draft class, too, as he joined Jonah Keri this week on his podcast for Grantland. Now all the Jays have to do is, y’know, sign everybody.

Mark Zwolinski of the Toronto Star tells us that the Jays are asking MLB to review their review system, with respect to the Oswaldo Arcia hit-by-pitch bullshit that happened last night. Arcia indisputably moved his arm into the path of an R.A. Dickey knuckler, yet was given a free base for it. The Jays got the umpires to review the play, but what’s reviewable the system as setup does not “does not include smaller ‘details’ like whether a batter intentionally puts himself in the way of a pitch to get on base.” As I’m sure you remember, the call, despite being obvious bullshit, stood. And… well… I get that the league would prefer they only look at clear cut yes or no questions, and not a player’s intent, but… come on!

“Hutchison frustrated with inconsistent outings,” is the headline from Shi Davidi of Sportsnet. From Jamie Ross of MLB.com it’s “Hutchison frustrated by inconsistency.” The headline writer for the excellent John Lott of the National Post gets into the game too, with the somewhat wordier “Toronto Blue Jays’ Drew Hutchison frustrated with inconsistency.” Hmmm. I wonder how Drew Hutchison feels about his inconsistency of late.

Elsewhere in the Post, John Lott looks at last night’s heroics and anti-heroics from Kevin Pillar, while Shi Davidi’s piece['s headline] at Sportsnet focuses on the chat Jose Bautista had with Pillar that supposedly helped the young outfielder. “I was down in the cage before the game and Bautista talked to me about my role on this team, and some at-bats I’m going to get, whether they’re off the bench or facing some left-handed pitching,” Pillar told him. “He told me to be aggressive. Even if you swing and miss sometimes, it sets a tone, showing the pitcher you’re aggressive, and they’re more likely to miss over the plate, rather than you being passive, and knowing they can maybe expand out of the zone and feel a little bit more in control on the mound.” LEEDARSHIPS!!!! (But also, truthfully, that sounds like reasonably fair advice.)

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