Daily? Not even close! In fact, as you’ve surely noticed, I’ve been finding it tough to push through the apathy for this team and this season that finally settled in around me this week, with the Jays losing five straight, slipping again behind both the Yankees and Cleveland, even as the Wild Card holders in Oakland and Kansas City have stumbled. Of course, it’s pointless to get frustrated about five individual games. Baseball is about the big picture, and in the big picture, the Jays were pretty much right where we thought they’d be: mediocre. There are all kinds of reasons why and all kinds of things they can do to get better next year — don’t let anybody tell you they’re not close — and, oddly, it will be something of a relief in the coming days to start assessing the wreckage and looking towards the future. Sorry, but Mark Buehrle’s quest for 200 innings just doesn’t do it for me. And speaking of the future…
This piece should be marked NSFW, because holy shit. Jeff Long of Baseball Prospectus lectures us on “The Dangerous Business Of Comparing Stroman To Maddux” as he goes about comparing Marcus Stroman to Greg Maddux. Yowza! Conclusion? “Consistent release points to hide the ball. Late, hard break on all of his pitches, making it difficult for hitters to decipher one pitch from another. Excellent control of his pitches, minimizing the damage done by free passes. Those three characteristics describe Marcus Stroman. They also describe Hall of Famer Greg Maddux. Fine, we didn’t get so far as proving that Stroman’s got anything like Maddux’s future, and Stroman hasn’t gone so far as proving it himself. Until he does, he’ll have to settle for using many of the tenets that made Maddux great—and he’ll have to settle for being “merely” on the cusp of being an ace.”
Speaking of the future, J.J. Cooper chatted last week at Baseball America, in the wake of their naming Kris Bryant — one-time Jays draftee! — as their minor league player of the year. In the piece he laid this on us: “ If we picked a pitcher of the year, it probably would have been Norris edging Glasnow. Norris getting the edge because he pitched at four levels this year while Glasnow stayed in hiA. But as good as both of their years were, they didn’t compare in our eyes to the season Bryant had.” Fair enough. And also: nails much?
Elsewhere at BA, last week they named their all prospect team for August, which included a pair of Jays farmhands: Franklin Barreto and Jairo Labourt, the latter of whom “ led the Northwest League in ERA (1.77), opponent average (.188) and strikeout rate (10.4 per nine innings), indicating the extent of the 20-year-old’s ceiling.”
Blue Jays Plus points us to a BA piece letting us know that the Jays have extended their agreements with the Lansing Lugnuts and the Bluefield Blue Jays, meaning that all the Jays affiliates will return in 2015.
Back to BP, where this week’s Monday Morning Ten Pack listed prospects who exceeded their expectations in 2014, and first up is Dalton Pompey. Chris Mellen writes that Pompey has been a nice surprise “not so much in regards to identifying the raw tools and what they indicate for his overall potential, but in how quickly things have clicked for a player who was just finishing up his first full-season campaign a year ago.”
Speaking of Pompey, John Lott tweets out the Jays’ lineup for tonight, and Pompey is in it — his first MLB start. Nice!
Keith Law revealed his prospects of the year this week at ESPN.com, and unsurprisingly, Daniel Norris was one of the ten he short-listed. “He might be in Toronto’s rotation in 2015,” he says, “which is a remarkable leap for a pitcher who spent 2013 in the low-A Midwest League, walking a man every other inning. ” Indeed.
At FanGraphs, David Laurila talks to Dalton Pompey, who he says “ has catapulted himself from promising prospect to star-in-the-making.” The player himself gives a lot of the credit to Steve Springer, the Jays’ “performance coach,” who helps him with the mental side of the game. Interesting stuff.
More Pompey stuff from Melissa Couto of the Canadian Baseball Network, as the young outfielder reveals that he had a conversation with Vernon Wells back in 2010. ““I told him he would have to move over to left because I was going to play centre one day soon,” he says. Nails much?
Heading to the local mainstream press, we have Scott Stinson of the National Post, who last week wrote about how the Jays’ slim playoff odds belied a lot of promise for the future. Meanwhile, Richard Griffin writes similarly in the Toronto Star, singling out the club’s young arms as reason to be optimistic.
Ben Nicholson-Smith write about Norris for Sportsnet, looking at a pitcher who is quickly losing his fear of the unknown in the big leagues. A week earlier, he wrote about Aaron Sanchez, and how the right-hander’s elite stuff is leading to great results.
Elsewhere at Sportsnet, Shi Davidi tells us that the Jays won’t deter their young pitchers from throwing inside, despite Marcus Stroman’s suspension, and the tensions of this week’s series in Baltimore.
More from Sportsnet: Arden Zwelling writes about the two different exits being taken by the Jays and Orioles as the 2014 regular season winds down; Shi Davidi recaps last night’s loss to the Yankees, suggesting that the Jays don’t have much to work with right now, and it’s showing.
Three more particularly interesting ones from Davidi this week: he writes that the Jays expect to be competitive for Melky Cabrera; that, despite a less-than-glowing endorsement from his GM, John Gibbons’ job isn’t in jeopardy; and he explains why Steve Pearce chose the Baltimore Orioles, who has been a key cog for them this season — and who at one point this season was claimed by the Blue Jays.
Speaking of Melky, MLBTR looks at the market for him, and comes down on the side of sanity, not mentioning the Shin-Soo Choo deal, or something of five years or more, but highlighting Shane Victorino, Jhonny Peralta, and Curtis Granderson as possible comps. I can live with that — and better still, I think the Jays can live with that. But the lack of other outfield options on the market maybe changes things — though, honestly, I wouldn’t despair a Michael Cuddyer or Josh Willingham on a cheaper, shorter deal, I suppose.
Great stuff from John Lott of the National Post, as he digs up the details on Aaron Loup’s text message conversation with Nick Markakis, following a hit-by-pitch in Tuesday night’s game in Baltimore.
Elsewhere in the Post, Lott relays the not-terribly-apologetic response from Alex Anthopoulos following criticism from PETA about the Jays having tiger and lion cubs from the Bowmanville Zoo in their locker room prior to a game last week.
Mark Zwolinski of the Toronto Star talks to Roberto Alomar and Devon White about sliding headfirst into home, which they don’t recommend.
Todd Redmond has had his good deeds recognized, as Gregor Chisholm tells us at BlueJays.com that he has been named the team’s nominee for the Roberto Clemente award, “which honours the Major League Baseball player who best represents the game through positive contributions on and off the field.”
A tweet from our old friend GROF points us to a FanGraphs leaderboard showing the 19 players over the last five years to put up a wRC+ below 30 while being handed over 150 plate appearances. Fans of the 2014 Toronto Blue Jays will recognize one of the names on the list.
Interesting stuff here from Harvey Araton of the New York Times, as he looks back at the Opening Day 2003 incident involving Derek Jeter and Ken Huckaby — pivoting off a recent Sportsnet piece that Huckaby reportedly now says he regrets — and comes to the conclusion that Jeter “might consider giving one thing back — or taking back — a rare misstep made across nearly two decades of brilliance. Call up the Lansing Lugnuts, get a contact for the old catcher who 11 years ago landed on him with his tools of ignorance. Tell Ken Huckaby that he gets it now, he respects the effort, and leave it at that.”
Speaking of the Lugnuts, their broadcaster, Jesse Goldberg-Strassler was one of the panelists at last week’s excellent Pitch Talks events, and has provided a great roundup of what was discussed at The 2-2 Pitch, his blog about the Lugnuts. Great! Now I don’t have to!
At the Wall Street Journal, Kelly Johnson, who has now played for all five teams in the AL East, gives a guide to the cities in the division, saying that Toronto has the best food and the worst traffic — at least as far as the area around the ballpark is concerned. Seems reasonable.
Lastly, Bluebird Banter has a poll up asking readers if they approve of the job that Buck Martinez and Pat Tabler are doing as the Jays’ TV broadcasters. I know how I’m gonna vote!