Archive for the ‘Daily Duce’ Category

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Swab it out! Why do you think we have those expensive swabs?

When they’re not talking about how well the Jays are doing on the field, or the small but significant trade the Jays made yesterday — shedding catching depth, as Alex Anthopoulos seems to love to do so much — they’re talking about the money that’s available to the club, or the lack thereof. John Lott gets to the nut in a piece from the National Post on Monday. “Anthopoulos used to say: Ownership has given us every confidence that the cash is there if we need it. We have to sell the trade as an upgrade for the baseball club, of course, but Rogers has never said no to that kind of deal,” he explains. “When asked recently if he could add payroll, Anthopoulos said he could add players, and players make money, so there. (‘No one plays for free,’ he added, just to erase any ambiguity.) The GM said he is confident the Jays have the “resources” to acquire players at the deadline. In the absence of new money, ‘resources’ is code for players. Toronto can trade players for players.”

As always, it’s more complicated than just complaining about cheap Rogers. Their short-sightedness here is evident, but for once it doesn’t take a whole lot to understand their holding firm on the stance that the payroll is very healthy (10th in MLB), and if the front office has a problem it’s with the way they themselves have allocated that money. That, too, is complicated, as there were surely internal pressures on Alex Anthopoulos to do something major in the off-season between 2012 and 2013, rather than to coast again on false hope while shrewdly rebuilding as the best years of Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion went to waste. On the other hand, the front office needed to know better than to have put themselves in this kind of situation, bloating the payroll so badly with added backloaded deals that in the event that ownership somehow wanted to tighten the purse strings — even as they paid through the dickholes for fucking hockey rights — they’d be without the kind of wiggle room they could truly use right now. But let’s not be too soft on ownership here. After all, there’s only one group in this mess who gets what it wants, and it sure isn’t the fans, or the players, or the organization itself.

For all my pissing and moaning, though, we still don’t even know for sure that it’s true that the Jays are resigned to cash-neutral deals heading into Thursday’s deadline, and that they’ll be cut off at the balls when some expensive deals are moved in waiver trades through the month of August. It sure fucking feels like it, and I’m certainly not betting on Guy Laurence riding in on a white horse with a bag of money — a hat for the players to pass around, however, I wouldn’t put past him — but it’s also true that the Jays continue to be rumoured to be monitoring players whose contracts would definitely require more payroll to digest (and please, put away your crackpot Ricky Romero theories away). That at least makes plausible some of the ideas in the excellent guide to possible Jays additions from Ben Nicholson-Smith over at Sportsnet. (Or if it doesn’t, just for a minute pretend these Jays are a team that operates somewhat normally).

Elsewhere at Sportsnet, and speaking of those August deals the Jays aren’t likely to be too heavily involved in (unless it’s for guys at the league minimum — like for whoever they need to scramble to get to catch if one of Thole or Navarro goes down), last week Ben gave us a primer on the trade rules for once Thursday’s deadline passes, which is important, as a lot of executives seem to think there will be just many deals then as there will be this month — especially since it will allow teams more time to assess whether they’re really in a playoff race or not.

Similarly on this theme, over at the Toronto Star, Brendan Kennedy gives his two cents on why Anthopoulos may be through dealing for the week already, while making some suggestions at guys he could end up targeting anyway, and also looking at the tough roster decisions that will be coming once guys like Adam Lind (who is the closest to returning, according to a notebook post at BlueJays.com from Gregor Chisholm), Edwin Encarnacion, and Brett Lawrie return to health.

Speaking of guys getting healthy, also in Gregor’s notebook post is a mention of Brandon Morrow, who we’re told is likely to be a reliever when/if he returns to a big league mound this season, mostly because the club doesn’t think they’ll have time to get him stretched out enough to start anyway. Not that they need help in the rotation at the moment — though, of course, that can change quickly.

Back to the Star, Richard Griffin looks at Anthony Gose’s recent run of success, and how he’s giving the Jays a lot to think about as they head toward a roster crunch in the coming weeks, and as they try to clear up their outfield picture for 2015. Meanwhile, Josh Rubin tries to slow down the praise train when it comes to Aaron Sanchez, looking at a number of “can’t miss” Jays prospects who missed (as well as some who hit — either way, no Travis Snider, amazingly), while Zoe McKnight checks into the state of fandom at the Rogers Centre, and specifically hecklers, who have, uh… grown up a bit this year?

Over at the Toronto Sun, Mike Rutsey opines that the Jays missed an opportunity when they let Chase Headley go to the Yankees, because apparently we’re not too big on worrying about injuries likely to be exacerbated by the turf or the fact that Headley had been something on the order of hot garbage at the plate this year.

Meanwhile, last week Bob Elliott took an extended look at some of the Jays’ best prospects, with help from BA’s John Manuel.

Jeff Sullivan of FanGraphs looks at which teams have been victimized the most by good pitch framing from their opponents (as opposed to how they victimize themselves by not always seeming to value their own catchers’ framing skills — well, except when they traded for Erik Kratz and Travis d’Arnaud and Jeff Mathis before, y’know, they traded them away). Um… anyway, the Jays have suffered the fourth-most in baseball this with 97 extra strikes having not gone their way. I’m thinking that being in a division with excellent framers like McCann, Molina, David Ross, as well as the Yankee Stadium and Fenway Park Strike is probably going to make that a bit of a thing.

Elsewhere at FanGraphs, last week Marc Hulet included Taylor Cole among “The Fringe Five,” which is FG’s list of the most compelling fringe prospects. “Younger Blue Jays prospects Matt Boyd and Daniel Norris have both been promoted from High-A Dunedin to Toronto’s Double-A affiliate in New Hampshire, while Cole remains in the Florida State League — this, despite having recorded the best strikeout and walk figures among the triumvirate,” he explains. “In point of fact, Cole has produced the best strikeout rate and walk rates among any pitcher eligible for inclusion in this weekly column.”

Interesting stuff from the farm, as Charlie Caskey of Your Van C’s gives a breakdown of a recent shakeup in the Canadians’ rotation, and a look at a couple of Bluefield Blue Jays he’d like to see move up to the Northwestern League for a spell — including the still-intriguing Matt Smoral.

At ESPN.com (Insider Only), Jim Bowden looks at the trade deadline objectives for each AL East team, checking off the usual boxes for the Jays (pre-Valencia): a starter, a reliever, and a right-handed hitting second- or third-baseman. He doesn’t even seem to suggest that the club could be hampered by the money issue, so that’s encouraging. However, he suggests they flip Jairo Labourt and Alberto Tirado for effing Joaquin Benoit. Seems steep, but I do get it. Those guys are still some serious lottery tickets at this point. Might even be guys to move before the shine comes off them too much after they each had pretty forgettable seasons — at least statistically — that won’t lead to them jumping up on anybody’s top prospect board any time soon.

Lastly, just in case you wanted to know, MLBTR notes that Bruce Levine of Chicago’s WSCR-FM tweets that the Jays were interested in Darwin Barney before he was moved, and had kicked the tires on Gordon Beckham as well. He suggests that Beckham’s slump slowed the progress of any deal, which sort of makes one wonder… did they start working on this deal four years ago? Because Beckham has been “slumping” at the plate for about that long.

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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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