Archive for the ‘Daily Duce’ Category

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If I wanted to be smothered to death, I’d go back to the Xcalibur and fess up. … If I go back to the Xcalibur and fess up, I’ll be smothered to death. That’s in our Charter.

I didn’t make a big deal of it at the time, despite a lot of people insisting it must be viewed as more evidence of Rogers’ nasty cheapness (hint: it isn’t), but it’s worth mentioning that in his Monday morning piece at Fox Sports, Ken Rosenthal included a tidbit about Jays reliever Neil Wagner. Rosenthal explains that last year, the major league portion of Wagner’s deal “was worth $525,000, and Wagner spent nearly four months last season with the Jays, getting paid at that rate,” and performing reasonably well. However, because “the Jays, like many clubs, use a pay scale for 0-to-3 players” that is based on service time, “Wagner merited an offer of $506,250″ for 2014, and had no leverage to do anything about it. Yep, that’s how the CBA works, and it sure as shit wasn’t a dictum from Rogers that insisted the Jays cut Wagner’s pay — Rosenthal tells us exactly why that happened. So why is he mentioning it at all? Is he assigning some kind of major importance to the story by putting it under his byline? Hardly. Minor Leaguer has it, tweeting that it simply “was a cool look into pre-arb players who were once minor league free agents, not often does their pay get written about.” That’s it. And if Wagner or his agent is upset… um… shouldn’t it be at themselves for not knowing when they signed in the first place that the Jays use a service time-based scale for pre-arb players?

Also from Monday was the Monday Morning Ten Pack at Baseball Prospectus, which featured a pair of Jays prospects: Aaron Sanchez and Dan Norris. Sanchez, as you may have heard, didn’t have his best stuff. “His delivery escaped him most of the day and he struggled to throw strikes consistently,” we were told, with the addition that “seeing the raw potential in Sanchez was easy, but it was also very apparent that he still needs considerable work to reach his ceiling.” Norris isn’t the same calibre of prospect, and also struggled with command, but Chris King, who saw him pitch over the weekend for Dunedin, was impressed with his curve, and added that “on a night where his velocity was down a tick or two and he lacked fastball command, it was very impressive to see a kid battle like he did and shut out a pretty talented Brevard County lineup over six innings.” I’ll take it.

The Jays are looking at having to make a roster move to accommodate Jose Reyes’s return on Friday, which almost certainly means demoting one of their other middle infielders, and I’d like to take this opportunity to point out that — while I didn’t even consider Jonathan Diaz — I sort of figured that Munenori Kawasaki was probably the best fit all along. If Goins keeps hitting like he did last night, though, I could live with that.

Great stuff from Blue Jays Plus, where Gideon Turk talks to Sal Fasano, and looks at some of the drills that the Jays’ roving catching instructor was having his charges do during the spring, to help their receiving and their defensive skills in general.

And more great stuff, as always, from Grant Brisbee of SB Nation, who writes a premature post-mortem for the 2014 Jays, as part of an ongoing series, and decides that things really could be a whole lot worse for the club. Well… yeah.

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Phil, given your strict forcemeats-and-cheese regimen, the only real surprise is you’re not dead already.

In the Toronto Star, Richard Griffin does a nice job countering my whining yesterday by highlighting the stability that being under Rogers’ thumb brings to the Jays, at least in relation to the mess the Astros are in. Doesn’t mean that the owners couldn’t be far more generous to the club — and to the brand — but at least, he suggests, it’s not all bad.

Elsewhere at the Star, Brendan Kennedy wonders — like the rest of us — why the Jays didn’t use their replay challenge last night when Ryan Goins was picked off in the sixth inning. The basic answer: while MLB confirms that every team has access to all the feeds, the Jays may not have seen quickly enough the particular slo-motion one necessary. Here’s a tip: turn on the fucking TV feed.

Steve Delabar makes light of the knock that sent him out of last night’s game, via tweet.

Per a team release, the Jays have created an award for the organization’s employee of the year, named after Howard Starkman, an employee from day one who officially retires tomorrow and is the first recipient of the honour.

Great stuff from Blue Jays Plus, as they get some public sector scouting on Aaron Sanchez, and come away impressed with the continued improvements from the Jays’ top prospect.

Blue Jays Plus also has a GIF of Astros reliever Josh Zeid spraying something (sunscreen) on his arms last night before entering the ballgame. From Drew today, who is at the park: “Astros pitchers talking about the Zeid sunscreen thing from last night. Happily as you might imagine.”

Something we may or may not follow all year is the progress of Yankees expensive Japanese import, Masahiro Tanaka. Jorge Arangure of the New York Times looks at his latest start — another up-and-down outing, which resulted in a no-decision, but showed a lot of promise.

More Yankee content? Sure — and one I’m pretty sure I linked to already — but I think you’ll enjoy Getting Blanked on Derek Jeter’s problematic defence a second time.

A trio of posts from Sportsnet, as we hear about Dioner Navarro’s puzzlement over the defensive shifts he’s seen, Erik Kratz’s family first ways, and Pete Walker’s opinions on Dustin McGowan. Or, at least, that’s what the titles say. Hey, and here are two more, both from Benny Fresh, who looks at Neil Wagner’s long day, and Brandon Morrow’s dominant start (or at least his dominant start to a start).

A pair from the Toronto Sun, as Bob Elliott looks at the praise being given Dioner Navarro so far, while Mike Rutsey gets quotes from John Gibbons on Brett Lawrie, after the third baseman finally drove a ball last night the way we all know he’s capable.

Charlie Caskey of Your Van C’s takes a look at this year’s loaded version of the Lansing Lugnuts.

In case you somehow missed it earlier in the week — and because there’s not a whole lot Jays-related to talk about today — Dan LeBatard on Yasiel Puig is money in the bank. It’s at ESPN.com.

More from around the league, this time by way of the outstanding Baseball Think Factory, as they send us to the Baltimore Sun to read about O’s outfielder Adam Jones and his hilariously awesomely hate-filled feelings for dopes who run onto the field.

Great stuff from Parkes for something called theScore.com, as he looks at how baseball treats children as commodities, and how we’re all along for the ride.

Podcast tomorrow. For reals. Plus I also had a good long Jays chat with the guys at East Coast Bias, which will hopefully be up tomorrow as well!

Lastly, via tweet, Tallboys announces their lineup for Pitch Talks #2, which will feature Dan Shulman — Dan Shulman! — along with Dave Bidini, Mike Wilner, and the internet’s own Meredith Rogers!

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Daily?

Bob Elliott had it earlier in his piece for the Canadian Baseball Network (and presumably the Sun, though I haven’t come across that version), but Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports also confirms that the union had signed off on the Jays’ payment deferral scheme, and stresses that “the participation of the union indicates just how close the Jays were to getting Santana. The union allows players to defer money only for a comparable benefit and entertains such tradeoffs only when contract negotiations are at an advanced stage.” He also adds that the Jays had — as they would have, in order to get union approval — restructured the contracts of players so as to give them additional money farther down the line. This is a team owned by Rogers. What a joke.

Over at the Toronto Star, Richard Griffin appropriately looks at the deferral scheme reports with as a grim sign from ownership — shit, during JaysTalk on Sunday, even Mike Wilner was full-on talking about the possibility of a massive mid-summer fire sale — and asks with exactly the kind of seriousness that’s warranted, “As for extending Colby Rasmus? Is it even possible?”

Jim Bowden of ESPN.com (Insider Only) irked some Jays fans by entertaining such thoughts last week, insisting — before the season even started — that Alex Anthopoulos ”needs to accept his current reality and make the kind of veteran-for-prospect deals he once benefited from.” Uh… I think giving some time to see how this all plays out is probably a good plan first, no?

Mark Anderson of Baseball Prospectus writes about how often he plans on seeing Aaron Sanchez this season, while his colleague CJ Whitmann talks about Sanchez and others on this week’s podcast at Blue Jays Plus. Meanwhile, Keith Law saw Sanchez (and the rest of the Fisher Cats) late last week, and continues to have reservations. Writing about it at ESPN.com (Insider only), he tells us that in the start he saw Sanchez “walked two, one on a questionable ball/strike call, but was more ‘around the plate’ than filling up the zone. I’d call it average command, average control, but I can’t project more on either unless he gets looser and smoother at release.” Part of that is due to the problems with his delivery — which KLaw has noted in the past, “and it’s not much different now” — though on the positive side he lauds the fastball and the plus curve (while calling the changeup “between average and fringe-average”).

Interesting stuff at FanGraphs, as Matt Klaassen looks — oddly — at the Rays’ extension of Yunel Escobar through the prism of team chemistry, while Mike Petriello examines Melky Cabrera and the wonder of clean health.

Great stuff that nobody actually wants to think about — especially as long as he keeps hitting the ball into the ground (still no line drives through 27 plate appearances this year) — but at Bluebird Banter, Nick Ashbourne looks at the concept of Brett Lawrie’s glove as fool’s gold. Ugh.

Elsewhere at Bluebird Banter, jays182 looks at the problems we’ve seen so far with replay. Kill it, I say, in a total 180 degree turn that’s taken me less than a week to make. Arguments with managers and tension between fans and umpires — that’s iconic baseball stuff simply disappeared and replaced with stall tactics and waiting for umpires to make a call that’s often already plain to see by anyone watching the replays in-stadium or at home on TV. I like correct calls as much as the next guy, but baseball was fine — better than that, even — for 150 years without replay, and so far the con outweighs the pro. To me, at least.

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Daily?? Been waaaaay too long.

Mark Buehrle was a fucking boss last night, as I’m sure you all saw. Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times tweets that the eleven strikeouts he recorded last night were one shy of his career high, and that in 430 career starts, he’s reached double digits only twice.

Baseball Tonight tweets out an outstanding heat map of Buehrle’s performance, which shows how he worked the edges of the plate juuuuuuuust a little. However, from the “not sayin’, just sayin’” file, according to Rays pitching coach Jim Hickey, last night’s home plate umpire, Jim Wolf, was also behind the plate for Buehrle’s perfect game. Hmmm…

With apologies to everyone else, for my money, John Lott writes the best gamers. So here’s his from the National Post following Buehrle’s gem, as well as another piece he filed, in which — among other things — he spoke to Rays skipper Joe Maddon about the league’s new insufferable replay setup, which apparently has eased tension between managers and umpires. Sounds like a fair trade off for killing one of the most iconic elements of the game while also somehow making it slower in one fell ill-conceived swoop, eh?

One more from Lott: he profiles Dioner Navarro in the wake of the praise — and subtle dig at catchers past? — heaped on him by Jose Bautista after last night’s win.

Alex Anthopoulos was on the Fan 590 with Brady and Walker this morning, and Ben Nicholson-Smith has some highlights at Sportsnet, including the GM’s admission that Jonathan Diaz may not necessarily be returned to the minor leagues when some of the club’s walking wounded return. Diaz offers better hope of taking a walk than Ryan Goins, and just might play better defence, too. If you wanted to bet he steals Goins’ job, I wouldn’t be betting against you.

Gregg Zaun’s “Zaun Cherry” pantomime should best be taken for exactly that, but sometimes he says something so fucking discouragingly off that you can’t not call him out for it. A few post-Sportsfeld beers don’t hurt, either. But seriously, do we really need to empower this kind of moronic thinking? I guess bashing my head up against it keeps me employed, but… for fuck sakes…

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So I may have been neglecting my RSS reader lately, meaning that there’s surely a tonne of good stuff out there that we haven’t been over since the last time I dropped a Daily Duce. However, I’ve put aside several recent gems the old fashioned way, and have some really great stuff to share today, along with the promise that these are going to be a little more regular. Probably just lacked fibre in my diet while on the road in the States. Poop. Also: Daily?

An update from Enrique Rojas of ESPNDeportes on the status of Ervin Santana came yesterday evening, as he tweeted (en Español) that the Braves are very interested but have no budget, that the Royals “called” (“Royals lo llamó”), and that standing offers remain from the Jays and Orioles. Rojas adds that he figures if a club ups their offer to $15-million for one year, that will be the end of this insufferable game. Just do it already, Jays!

Jon Heyman concurs that its coming down to the Jays and Orioles at CBS Sports, and adds this interesting tidbit: “Both have made reasonable one-year offers, with the Blue Jays believed to be in the neighborhood of the $14 million mark, and the Orioles thought to have initially offered a couple million dollars less than that. Baltimore hasn’t ruled out the possibility of adding an incentive package, which could allow the Orioles’ deal to be worth as much as Toronto’s or perhaps a little bit more.” Reading that has made me about as positive about this whole thing as I’ve been all week.

Back to speaking of the Braves, MLBTR has the latest on injured pitcher Kris Medlen, which is… inconclusive. So no Tommy John announcement yet, which is good for the Jays. Except… they should have just done this Santana thing already, though maybe now it’s he who is keeping the club waiting, with thoughts of a nice National League pillow deal on a good Atlanta team in his head. Because of the budget stuff, Heyman says “it isn’t known how involved Atlanta is to this point.”

Great stuff, if a bit dispiriting, from Jeff Blair at the Globe and Mail, who looks at the Santana situation, jumping straight to the rub: “What nobody wants to say is what everybody around the Toronto Blue Jays is saying privately: that if this was last winter, Ervin Santana’s signing would be done and dusted. There would be none of this nonsense of player-imposed deadlines allowing more teams to get in the hunt.” He adds that “more than one player has said he finds it odd that an organization that added players of pedigree and contract last winter is suddenly unable to close a deal with a pitcher such as Santana.” Right?

Staying on the pitching front, Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune writes about Jeff Samardzija, who pitched in front of a bunch of scouts this week. He adds that “the Blue Jays — who had former Cubs general manager Ed Lynch in attendance as a scout — continue to lurk, and Samardzija realizes multiple teams may be interested.” Hmmm…

Shifting gears, last week there was a public meeting regarding the expansion proposal at BMO Field, and TFC blog Walking The Red has images of what the updated stadium would look like — including retractable end seating to accommodate the Argos. The especially fascinating stuff is in the comments, as the writers for that site are saying this expansion will start after Labour Day (i.e. once the Ex is over) so that stage one can be completed in time for the Pan Am Games, that they’ve heard it confirmed that the Argos will be moving there (“a fait accompli that is well down the line”), and the big one: “Argos will be out of there before the Jays 2016 season at the latest.” Grass, please.

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Spring Training isn’t maybe in full swing just yet, but it’s pretty close. Many reporters have made the trip to Dunedin already, so it’s time for the annual tradition of every media outlet in town publishing a whole bunch pretty much the exact same story. And a bunch more that’s great, too! Baseball!

Mike Petriello of FanGraphs looks at the Jays’ second base problem, and offers all the solutions we’re aware of that almost certainly aren’t actually going to happen, unfortunately. Grim.

In the Toronto Star, Richard Griffin figures that the Orioles have ruined the Jays chances at Ervin Santana by setting the bar too high, and too close to the Matt Garza deal. Hard not to share the concern at this point.

Last week Griffin also penned an excellent tribute to former Jays manager, the late Jim Fregosi.

Regarding Santana, MLBTR looks at the latest on the last remaining big-ish name free agent pitcher, including the fact that several teams are now in on him, apparently. Shi Davidi of Sportsnet looks at the possibility of the Jays still landing him, while at Getting Blanked, Drew gives his skillset the benefit of the doubt… sort of.

At his North Of Border blog, Gregor Chisholm gives us some early impressions on camp, including the fact that the club really likes Erik Kratz — he’s worked with Dickey in the off-season and apparently the Jays are really looking for a reason to take him north, which sounds like a plan to me — and that J.A. Happ’s spot in the rotation seems pretty well set. Hmmm.

Speaking of Happ, he’s an easy case to spin if you don’t allow anybody to think too much about it, I think: great last spring, got hurt, fixed his arm angle, great in September. Lots of ways to think he could be alright, if you really want to. I dunno though. To that effect: Shi Davidi writes about his adjustments for Sportsnet. Ken Fidlin of the Sun looks at the adjustments as well, while John Lott of the Post talks about his knee (or at least that’s what his piece’s title does).

Jays Journal passes along word via the Houston Chronicle that the Astros are now talking with the Washington Nationals about finding a new spring facility in Florida. They were, of course, involved with the Jays until the deal with Palm Beach Gardens collapsed.

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He’s like a kid in a candy shop, and that candy is… success.

Sportsnet will broadcast a tonne of Jays Spring Training games on the radio this season, and also on TV. They gave us all the details in a release this morning.

Late addition: According to a tweet from Jon Morosi, the Jays are among the teams who’ve scouted Cuban 23-year-old second baseman Aledmys Diaz. That doesn’t mean they’re not just doing their due diligence, but if the interest is there, and the opportunity to play in the big leagues is something that may drive Diaz’s decision, uh… you’d have to think there might be a chance. I gathered some additional background on him here.

Bluebird Banter takes a fresh approach to looking at Jays prospects, with writer jays182 giving us the infield portion of their Organizational All-Upside Team.

So, about that pining for A.J. Burnett. According to John Perrotto of the Beaver County Times, there’s more to A.J.’s ending up in Philadelphia than just money. “Everything changed when the Pirates decided not to start Burnett in the decisive Game 5 against the Cardinals in the National League Division Series after he had been rocked for seven runs in two innings in Game 1,” he writes. “Burnett was enraged by the decision and threatened to not fly with the team to St. Louis despite being told he would likely start Game 1 or 2 if the Pirates advanced to the National League Championship Series to face the Dodgers.” Yikes.

Drew has a hot taco on the Burnett stuff over at Getting Blanked. And there’s Moore great stuff at Getting Blanked (see what I just did there?), as Jack Moore’s latest Primary Sources piece looks at Dick Allen, Race, And Repeated Failures in Sport.

Back to Sportsnet, where Ben Nicholson-Smith looks at the weak spots for each team in the AL East, and also catches up with Darren Oliver, who won’t be pitching at a big league camp this spring for the first time since the Jays’ World Series years.

Brett Lawrie tweets that he’ll be on the Canadian cover of a video game this year.

Jonah Keri looks at the worst contracts in baseball over at Grantland, with Jose Reyes getting an honourable mention, and Ricky Romero ending up on the full-on list.

The Jays will once again run their Tournament 12 showcase for Canadian amateur players this year. Gregor Chisholm has the details at BlueJays.com.

Keith Law chatted with readers at ESPN.com today, calling Kevin Pillar a fourth outfielder, and… that’s about it, as far as Jays stuff goes. But it’s always good stuff, regardless, of course.

Interesting stuff from the Canadian Baseball Network, as Alexis Brudnicki looks at the history of Baseball America, and its Canadian roots.

Um… skinny C.C. Sabathia? Skinny C.C. Sabathia.

Finally, former Jays manager Jim Fregosi is in a Miami hospital, recovering after a stroke suffered during an MLB alumni cruise in the Caribbean. MLB.com has the info. Here’s hoping for a speedy and full recovery.