Archive for the ‘Daily Duce’ Category

dailyduce2-595

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…

Read the rest of this entry »

chart (18)

Woof.

dailyduce3-595

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”).

Read the rest of this entry »

dailyduce3-595

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

dailyduce1-595

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.)

Read the rest of this entry »

dailyduce3

Both presidential candidates lost in a…duck bog? They must be.

First, before the links, here are some awesome things you should do:

First up, on Thursday at 7 PM we’re having a little DJF shindig (read: getting drunk and watching baseball) at Opera Bob’s here in Toronto. Hit up the Facebook event page, if that’s your thing, for all the pertinents.

Secondly, our old friend Bergkamp makes awesome Dutch comfort food at The Ossington on Sundays, and he’ll be kicking that enterprise into high gear for all of the Netherlands’ matches during the World Cup. You know… all three of them. Ugh. But don’t get down just yet! He makes great stuff and the bar and everyone there is super cool, so if you’re into watching the Oranje’s World Cup dream begin to go up in flames, put on your finest orange shirt and head over there on Friday for the 3 PM rematch of the 2010 Final, as the Dutch take on Spain. In the meantime, check out Borrel at the Ossington for a taste (see what I just did there?) of what you can expect. Hup Holland!

Next, PITCH #4 is fast approaching — it takes place Thursday, June 19th — and for those of you who missed the announcement, I’ll be one of the panelists, along with a much more talented group, featuring Jonah Keri, Michael Grange, and Morgan Campbell. Tickets are still available, so grab yourself some here, and be sure to follow @PitchTalks for all the info you need.

And one more: another non-baseball item, but my good friend Davy’s new pub and curry house, The Bristol, just opened this week at Queen and Dovercourt, and if you were a fan of his old brunch place north of Christie Pits, The Bristol Yard – or even if you hadn’t been there – I’m definitely going to recommend checking out his new digs, expanded menu, and the many, many beers available. And if you know do know Davy, you won’t need me to assure you that the jukebox will be ridiculously good, too. Check out a brief Toronto Life piece on the place.

And now… baseball…

Keith Law wasn’t the only one who liked the Jays’ draft last week, as Jim Callis of MLB.com ranks their haul number one — an easy thing to do when they’ve got two high picks, granted — and suggests that they “stole” second-rounder Sean Reid-Foley, praising the club for being the only one to have taken three of the top 20 players that MLB.com had ranked heading into last Thursday.

And according to his Twitter feed, Reid-Foley appears to have already signed. He tweets: “Start my job tomorrow in Clearwater tomorrow. It’s exciting. Leaving a lot of family and friends in jax. Thanks for all the support. ✊⚾️” (Note: I might have preferred an emoji of a two-thumbed fist holding a peyote button, but this works too.)

Aaron Sanchez last night for New Hampshire: 6.2 innings, four hits, one walk, one earned run, seven strikeouts. So… that’s more like it. Speaking of, it’s paywalled, and now a week old, but here’s an excellent update on how Sanchez has fared this season from Baseball Prospectus.

Shi Davidi tweets that the newly-signed Kendrys Morales will be in the lineup tonight for the Twins. So there’s that.

Davidi also tweets that the tentative plan for Colby Rasmus is to have him go to Buffalo for a rehab assignment at some point this week. Meanwhile, Ken Fidlin of the Toronto Sun tells us that Sergio Santos has headed to New Hampshire to begin his own rehab assignment.

Read the rest of this entry »

pentecost

The draft continues on, and I’ve done a pretty poor job of following it since last night’s write-up about Jeff Hoffman. So… let’s rectify some of that, shall we? Starting with this awesome image awesomely from Crashburn Alley, which came from a post back in October, pivoting off Keith Law and Chris Crawford’s top 2014 draft prospect rankings for ESPN.com. The awesomely-named Jays’ eleventh overall pick was actually ranked eleventh at the time, and those of you with insider will also note where number nine pick Jeff Hoffman was: ranked second. The Crashburn stuff, though… so good.

Like Hoffman, Pentecost is a college player — though as I’m sure you know by now, he’s a catcher. A real catcher, that is. Unlike some of the other high picks who played the position last year, Pentecost is expected to be able to stick at the position. In his live draft analysis at ESPN.com, Crawford explains that “Pentecost was rumored to go as high as pick No. 4 to the Cubs, but at the end of the day he went where his value suggested he should. None of his tools are plus, but as a catcher who has average to above-average tools across the board, he could move through the Blue Jays system expeditiously, and Toronto fans are well aware that they are in need of a catcher for the future.”

Pentecost is called a “rare catcher who could have average or better tools across the board, has a chance to hit for solid average and power” by MLB.com, who also make the requisite pointing out of the fact that he is “coming off a summer in which he was MVP of the Cape Cod League and led the premier college summer circuit with a .962 OPS.”

In their pre-draft rankings, ESPN had Pentecost at 22nd, which may have made some think the pick is a bit of a reach. As above, the reports are good, though: “The draft’s best pure catcher, Pentecost can catch, throw, run and hit for average,” we’re told. “The biggest question facing him is how his unorthodox swing will handle wood bats and pro pitching.” Baseball America was a little higher on the possibility of him doing so, as they ranked him 10th overall, while MLB.com had him 19th.

Giving out grades on the first day of the draft is a little bit absurd, but there’s some analysis to be done with respect to the strategy on display, and the Jays ended up big winners according to Law and Crawford. Law lists Toronto among his day one winners, for the obvious reason on Hoffman, and especially how he relates to the club’s second round pick. The Jays, he explains, “could also save some money by signing Hoffman for under slot, as he has zero leverage, and put it toward signing later picks, including prep righty Sean Reid-Foley, their second-round selection. Reid-Foley has a rough delivery but repeats it well and now shows three average or better pitches.”

Crawford elaborates in his roundup of day two winners, which also includes the Jays. Broken down by division, he calls Reid-Foley the highest upside of any AL East second-rounder, and explains that this “was an arm I thought would go in the first 20 to 25 picks, but for whatever reason, his stock fell over the past few days. The Toronto Blue Jays should feel fortunate to pick up a right-hander with this kind of talent this late, though, as he has two plus pitches in his 90-94 mph fastball and quality slider. His change should be an average offering as well. ”

Jeff Hoffman actually spoke with the local media after he was selected, and Gregor Chisholm has the transcript up over at North of the Border. Meanwhile, at Sportsnet, Shi Davidi tries to answer several key draft-related questions, including whether the Jays will actually sign the players they picked (gotta say yes here), and just what the hell happened with Tyler Beede and Phil Bickford. Thing is, the unsigned pick business has actually worked out pretty well for the Jays: Noah Syndergaard was the comp pick for not signing James Paxton, Beede begat Marcus Stroman (and also allowed the Jays to find funds to add late-round signability guy Dan Norris), and now Bickford has become Hoffman. Not saying it’s something the Jays should want to do, but all the whining about it is a little overblown, no?

Anywho, moving on from the draft…

I’ll mention it again in the Game Threat, but this is certainly noteworthy: Edwin Encarnacion is back in the Jays’ lineup tonight, after missing yesterday’s game with a sore back. He’ll DH, but that’s still a pretty damn good sign.

Minor move alert! The Jays added a small piece of bullpen depth, signing veteran right-handed reliever, Luis Ayala. MLBTR has the details, explaining, “The 36-year-old Ayala has been a solid bullpen piece for the past three seasons after it looked like his career was beginning to fade. He’s pitched for the Yankees, Orioles and Braves from 2011-13, posting a strong 2.58 ERA with 6.1 K/9, 2.6 BB/9 and a ground-ball rate north of 50 percent.”

Elsewhere at Sportsnet, Shi Davidi talks to Bob Stanley about the late Don Zimmer. Stanley, the Jays’ bullpen coach, joined the Boston Red Sox in 1977 — the second of Zimmer’s five years as manager there.

And one more from the team owner: our old friend the Tao of Stieb says that it’s time to temper our expectations for Brett Lawrie, but there’s a twist! “It’s time we stopped waiting for Lawrie to become something greater,” he says, “and start to recognize the value in the player he already is.” I can live with that.

Steve Buffery of the Toronto Sun engages in some magical thinking as he explains that the Jays should deal Colby Rasmus, while pretending that they’re actually going to be able to get something pretty good in exchange for him. Better than the pick they’ll get when he walks, plus the value he’ll provide over the rest of the season (which, FYI, will be more than Anthony Gose does or can do)? I don’t think so.

Chris Mosch of Baseball Prospectus looks at the high-flying Jays, while at Sports On Earth, Dirk Hayhurst looks at Old Faithful: aka Mark Buehrle, a successful season from whom, he suggests, “may not answer all of baseball’s arm health questions, but could help baseball ask some desperately needed new ones.”

It’s not attendance shaming from Bob Levin of the Globe and Mail, but something quite the opposite. He recounts the summer when he was 12, as his hometown team, the 1964 Philadelphia Phillies, collapsed and scarred him as a baseball fan for life. And in doing so, he offers this advice: “So take your time, Toronto fans; you’re entitled to your skepticism, your caution, never mind an aversion to the soulless dome or break-the-bank beer and nachos. Go when you’re ready. But go eventually – because, on balance, as Lord Tennyson almost said, ’tis better to have loved a team that lost than never to have loved at all.’ ”

In his game story for the National Post, John Lott looks at Thursday afternoon’s win with an emphasis on the impact of the Jays’ new hitting coach, Kevin Seitzer.

The Blue Jay Hunter tells us the tale of the unfortunately-named Domer, the original SkyDome mascot, who’ll be making a return appearance tonight in celebration of the building’s 25th anniversary.

Lastly, the Toronto Star looks at the fact that the Jays are 5.5 games up in the AL East, examining just how rare an occurrence that has been.