Archive for the ‘Daily Duce’ Category

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Daily?

Fascinating stuff from Chris Sherwin at Blue Jays Plus about biomechanics, Brandon Morrow, and the worryingly outdated ways that the Jays may be looking at their pitchers. I don’t know nearly enough about this subject to call bullshit on any of it, or to counter what seems, on the surface, like pretty well-reasoned expertise, which is all the more reason that this sort of stuff needs a bigger place in the conversation — especially, I fear, in the Jays’ front office, where, despite the progressive reputation, you get the sense that a lot of old school thought pervades.

Toronto FC’s “Bloody Big Deal” on Monday was a pretty spectacular thing for the team and the city (unless, perhaps, you’re one of those people who has an incomprehensible knee-jerk hatred of soccer that, more than anything, is about a sad fear of the unknown), and for Jays fans it brought thoughts of the possibilities of a committed ownership that doesn’t push the lie of needing to tie payroll inexorably to shady dreams of revenue we’re, of course, not ever allowed to see the full picture of. Money quote from Tim Leiweke: “Three DPs is financial suicide,” but “in the end they wanted to win and they would do whatever it took.” Isn’t this a company that’s part owned by Rogers???

At Fanatico, Parkes tells the most elaborate version of the DJF origin story published yet, but that’s just the hook for an outstanding piece on the state of sportswriting in the wake of the furores of the last couple weeks. Read it.

Jack Morris is going to return to the Jays booth this season, says Jays Journal, with an impressive exclusive. Apparently the favourite of revisionist historians everywhere was only considering leaving — as reports earlier in the off-season had suggested — if he’d been elected to the Hall Of Fame. Since he wasn’t — which, OK, OK, would have been fine too (who cares!) — he’s going to return. And you know what? I was not keen on the hire when it was first announced, based mostly on a few clips I’d listened too, some poor reviews from Twins fans, and reports that were quick to highlight the negative. But I found him a whole lot more enjoyable to listen to than I gave him credit for. Old school, yes. A little to quick to point to dispelled notions that only aid his legacy, sure. But pretty alright, on the whole.

Chris Crawford of MLB Draft Insider rolls out his top 14 Jays prospects for 2014. A bunch of great scouting reports– he’s really bullish on Osuna, despite the injury, and has Sanchez ahead of Stroman, but likes them both — and definitely worth a read.

Yahoo’s Jeff Passan tweets that the Jays are scrapping their plan to make Jeremy Jeffress a starter. So… there’s that.

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Because nothing in this pitching market could ever be simple, apparently, in his latest for ESPN.com (Insider Olney), Buster Olney says that it’s not Tanaka, and it’s not Santana that the Jays may be looking the hardest at. “In at least one corner of the organization, there is a lot of interest in Jimenez because of his power stuff,” he says. Sure, that works too. He suggests that the Jays are “in an excellent position to take a shot at” either Ubaldo or Ervin.

If you’re still dreaming big– or at least hoping that Alex Anthopoulos is– on Masahiro Tanaka, Ben Badler has an interesting free piece up at Baseball America today, comparing Tanaka to Yu Darvish. He says, as most do, that the latter is the better pitcher, but, one) that’s hardly a knock, and two) yes, just “most.” To wit: “Tanaka should be one of the best pitchers in the major leagues this season, and there are some scouts who do prefer Tanaka to Darvish,” he says. Yowza.

Outstanding, fascinating stuff from Maury Brown at Forbes on the economy of baseball, and specifically free agency, player salaries, and why deals being made aren’t nearly as crazy as they seem– including the fact that player salaries are just 47% the size of the revenue generated by the league.

Interesting stuff from Eno Sarris at FanGraphs, as he tries to understand Bronson Arroyo, a free agent as yet without a home, who has managed to rather consistently outperform his peripherals. It’s especially relevant for us today, as the same is true of Ervin Santana, who I profiled earlier. Over the last three seasons, only four qualified starters have outperformed their FIP by a higher degree.

Elsewhere at FanGraphs, Jeff Sullivan looks at the worst position on a (loosely defined) contending team. Naturally, one of the three spots he cites is the looming disaster the Jays have staring at them from second base. “He did play good defense, and he’s always been considered a good defender, but he’s presumably not an all-world defender, making his offensive limitations difficult to tolerate,” Sullivan says of Ryan Goins, underlining a key point in the case against him. I’ve noted this before, but it bears repeating: extrapolated over 150 games (by UZR, which, yes, is hardly perfect), what Goins did in 2013 would have made him the best defender at any position in baseball. It would have made him the best second baseman by more than twenty runs over Darwin Barney, and more than three times the runs of the next best. Nobody should actually expect that he’s actually so valuable. No, he didn’t fluke into the plays he made this year, but opportunities to accumulate all that value aren’t distributed evenly, either. In fact, ideally we’d be looking at a three year sample of data before trying to get a real read on him by way of UZR, and the small sample size blip that makes 2013 look so good would surely be long smoothed out– extrapolating from it simply doesn’t work. So… while I’m not saying anyone should expect him to be bad, his defence wouldn’t really be as valuable in 2014 as this year’s numbers made it potentially look. He passed the eye test, sure, but lots of guys can do that while not being terrible at the plate. Sullivan hits the nail on the head: “Goins is the kind of guy you use to challenge another guy in spring training. He’s not the kind of guy who’s supposed to be the favorite, not at this point, and one has to figure Alex Anthopoulos knows that.”

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Daily?

In Ben Nicholson-Smith’s weekend notebook at Sportsnet, he tells us that Yuniesky Betancourt has interest in the Jays, in part because the friendly hitting environment. Good luck with that, Yuni, but I’m sure the people running the Chiba Lotte Marines know a thing or two about park factors, and aren’t going to be fooled into upping the dollars on your next contract. (Also: just to be clear, outside of NPB, Korea, or the minors, signing Betancourt ought to be a fireable offence. Fortunately for concerned Jays fans, I’m confident if the Jays had the slightest hint of interest they’d have scooped ol’ Yuni up by now– pretty sure the current market for middle infielders with a 56 wRC+, bad defence, and worth about three wins below replacement over their last 630-odd plate appearances is a little soft at the moment.)

Elsewhere at Sportsnet, Ben looks at the opposite ways in which the Jays and Twins have tried to fix their rotational woes this off-season. At least so far…

Word broke over the weekend that Pat Hentgen will step aside as the Jays’ bullpen coach, with Bob Stanley — yes, the Bob Stanley (look him up, kids) — getting the promotion from Buffalo to take his place. Gregor Chisholm passes along the details at BlueJays.com, explaining that it’s a family issue that has caused Hentgen to step aside, as he “has been re-assigned within the organization to allow him the time needed to support his family and his father’s health issues.” You simply never hear a bad word about Hentgen, and his putting family first here speaks to that, I think. We wish him and his family the best in what must be a tough time.

Elsewhere at BlueJays.com, Gregor takes an up close look at the Jays’ rotation depth, which — as we’re all too aware of by now — looks pretty good, at least on the back end.

Elsewhere still, Gregor looks to the season ahead and gives us ten questions that will need to be answered in the affirmative if the Jays are to make anything of 2014– and, as always, it’s great stuff.

It will never stop being amazing to me to watch people freak out like Jose Bautista, now that he’s – scawwwy! – thirty-three years old, is going to roll out of bed one day very, very soon — maybe as soon as tomorrow! — and forget how to hit a baseball like a fucking boss. Drew has a piece up about this at Getting Blanked, where he notes the eerie similarities between the numbers produced by Bautista since his breakout in 2009, and Gary Sheffield at the same age. Granted, Bautista has been beset by injuries in the last couple of years, and the aging curve in Sheffield’s era may have been artificially lengthened, but over his age 33-35 seasons — which is the stretch of career Bautista is about to enter — Sheff produced a total of 16.2 WAR. Doesn’t mean Bautista will stay healthy, of course, but… fuck, just read Drew’s piece about it already.

Sticking with Getting Blanked, while I’ve been trying my best this year to give baseball’s Hall of Fame the respect it deserves by completely ignoring it, Drew has taken a different tack, amazingly laying down a whole bunch of damn sense on the subject.

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No, really, it’s an actual post! Or, at the very least it’s a half-assed link dump. Actually, though, there might be more posts by the end of this week than there were last week, which… isn’t really saying much, is it?

Shi Davidi writes about Marty Brown’s resignation from the Buffalo Bisons for Sportsnet. In short: he was a Farrell guy who didn’t really see a big league future with the organization after getting passed over for a spot on the club’s reconfigured coaching staff (the last spot of which went to Baseball Canada man, and former Ottawa Lynx manager, Tim Leiper).

Elsewhere at Sportsnet, Ben Nicholson-Smith worries about the Jays’ bench, which… it sure would be helped by the club running a smaller bullpen, but I don’t know. It’s a bench, it’s not going to be great. Plus, Erik Kratz is going to be a sneaky good pickup, I suspect. (No, you’re delirious.)

Brian McTaggart, who covers the Astros for MLB.com, looks at a snag that club has hit in their pursuit of a new Spring Training facility in Palm Beach Gardens– which they are, reportedly, to share with the Blue Jays. The project, he says, “is being reconsidered after the city agreed to allow Palm Beach County officials to investigate whether another location would better suit the city, county and teams.”

Ben Badler of Baseball America writes that it could be a merry Christmas for the MLB clubs salivating over Masahiro Tanaka– among whom I believe the Jays are one– as that may be the day when we learn whether or not he’s being posted. Of course, they could also find a lump of coal in their stockings.

I’ve never been to the Winter Meetings, and after reading Jeb Lund’s outstanding piece for SB Nation on what it’s like for the job seekers and those who don’t otherwise have a foot in the industry’s door, I don’t feel so bad about that. Not that I wouldn’t find action in the bar, I’m sure, but it doesn’t seem conducive to doing the kind of work I want to do anyway, even if for a “media” person it might not be quite so grim. Bottom line: it’s a great read, regardless of how I’ve tried to shoehorn my own feelings into it.

At BlueJays.com, Gregor Chisholm talks to California native Casey Janssen, who is about to experience his first white Christmas, spending the holiday with his girlfriend in Fort Erie.

Elsewhere at BlueJays.com, Gregor looks at the dwindling number of options the Jays have to supplant Ryan Goins at second base, which… they totally should be aiming to do. Lots of people are getting edgy that they actually won’t do anything at all, but I remain rather unconvinced. Alex Anthopoulos is saving all his bullets– be it money or trade chips– for a top pitcher, and waiting out the market in hopes that prices for those go down as clubs like the Rangers and Yankees take themselves out of the running by finalizing their 2014 payrolls, hitting up against their self-imposed budgets, or moving their most attractive pieces elsewhere. Once he knows where that’s going, he’ll have a chance to do other things. The off-season is far from over.

Ben Nicholson-Smith also looks at second base options in a piece at Sportsnet, and has another, similar, one on the pitching market.

Meanwhile, Brendan Kennedy of the Toronto Star gives us five moves that the Jays could conceivably still pull off this winter– most of which seem to have real low odds of actually happening, but still!

Lastly, a bunch of great stuff from Getting Blanked, as Drew gives an excellent rundown of the Shin-Soo Choo signing, Jack Moore continues his outstanding Primary Sources series, and I join Drew, along with Parkes and Scott Lewis, to give you the gift of holiday embarrassment by continuing the tradition of the year-end quiz on the latest edition of the Getting Blanked Podcast. Warning: holy piss we were bad. Jedd fucking Gyorko.

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Let’s see here… Roxanne, the Real Roxanne, Roxanne Shanté, and Salman Rushdie.

The Jays picked up minor league infielder Steve Tolleson, who you may remember as a bit player on the 2012 Orioles. MLBTR has the details.

Awesome stuff from the latest Getting Blanked Podcast, as Drew chats with Boston Red Sox advanced video scout and bullpen catcher– and former holder of the same duties with the Jays (and who threw to Jose Bautista in the 2012 Home Run Derby!).

Behind the Box Score tweets that one of their writers, Ben Horrow (aka @Summerpastime), has been hired by the Jays. Nice!

Matt English waxes poetic about Roy Halladay on that Kinja thing I don’t really understand. #old

So did Dirk Hayhurst– at his personal blog, which… that I totally get! This Kinja thing though.

According to this tweet, Baseball Reference’s Play Index doesn’t have the right algorithm to compute the fact that black is slimming.

I’m not going to shut down outside-the-box thinking, but in a Fanpost at Bluebird Banter, “MjwW” makes the case for the Jays going to a four-man rotation in 2014, and… well… not sure I’m crazy about the whole 100-125 innings to three of Jeffress, McGowan, Rogers, or Redmond aspect of it. Not that it’s a tenable plan anyway because of how open it would leave the club for severe criticism– both in terms of the media and, presumably, within the industry– at the first hint of any sort of trouble. Let’s maybe see about getting rid of the closer orthodoxy bullshit before we go down this road– walk before you run, eh?

Over at Sportsnet we have an audio clip of Bob Elliott and Dave Perkins filling out their Hall Of Fame ballots live on air, and… uh… I didn’t hate this segment. That, however, is probably more of an indictment of how useless the Hall has made itself than it is of anything else, because I’m sure there are things in there to get upset at, it’s just… meh. Good on them for being inclusive about PED guys, at least.

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Once again, but a little later this time, here’s a hastily put together collection of links to get you ready for day three of the Winter Meetings, as we get set to once again begin playing the waiting game Hungry Hungry Hippos in hopes of some actual Jays-related news…

Bob Elliott had another piece go up for the Toronto Sun last night, which was slightly less of a bombshell than the one where he told us Colby Rasmus was being shopped, but it did have a few interesting tidbits. For one, the Jays were in talks with the Diamondbacks about starting pitching, he says, before the Angels swooped in with their offer of Mark Trumbo’s .299 on-base and Arizona moved on to that. But he also tells us that “Kenta Yagi, who represents Munenori Kawasaki, is at the meetings and met with the Blue Jays officials on Tuesday.” Elliott says that Kawasaki is “trying to decide on either returning to the Jays as a free-agent or heading home to play in Japan.” As a minor league free agent, one hopes. Though he’d have a decent case to be the second base starter, at this point, I think.

Speaking of Japanese players, David Waldstein of the New York Times tweets that Bobby Valentine, who has a tonne of experience in NPB, says that Masahiro Tanaka will definitely be posted. Of course, Valentine also claims that he invented the wrap, so…

Ken Rosenthal tweets that, despite some conflicting reports over the last few days (and weeks, really), Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips is apparently genuinely in play at the moment. He’d be a good fit with the Jays, but as Rosenthal notes, the Reds are only considering a move “if it helps them in 2014.” Colby Rasmus could help them in that goal, but… I don’t know. Lots of Jays fans have been dreaming of extracting Phillips and a pitcher from the Reds, but… what’s in it for them, exactly?

Kenny Ken Ken adds that the Reds could also move Homer Bailey, with the same caveat, but he’s hearing that they’d prefer to move Phillips, and are looking to get Bailey signed to an extension.

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Here’s a hastily put together collection of links to get you ready for the Winter Meetings, as we get set to begin playing the waiting game Hungry Hungry Hippos in hopes of some actual Jays-related news…

Ken Rosenthal says at Fox Sports that the Royals may not fall short of the Yankees on just Carlos Beltran– who they pursued– but also Omar Infante. The second baseman, who the Jays also ought to have some interest in, “is a target of the Yankees — and perhaps a primary target.” He adds that “the Royals are talking to Mark Ellis, the next-best second baseman on the market. The Yankees are not.” Honestly, I have a really hard time believing Alex Anthopoulos when he says that he’s comfortable with what he’s got at second– look at what he did behind the plate, after all the talk of needing to go defence first, right?– so I wouldn’t be surprised happens in this regard, though it wouldn’t exactly fit the pattern to be a free agent.

Elsewhere in the Rosenthal piece he talks about Masahiro Tanaka, whose Japanese club– the Rakuten Golden Eagles– is reluctant to part with via the newly agreed-upon posting system. Rakuten isn’t in exactly a great spot, being left having to make the decision, “Accept the new $20 million posting fee for Tanaka now, accept it after next season or receive nothing for the pitcher once he becomes a free agent after the 2015 campaign.” Even if he doesn’t wind up with the Jays, you’d kind of like to see him posted, if only because that makes for one less very appealing candidate on the market, which will turn the attention of other clubs to players perhaps more realistic for Alex Anthopoulos.

Holy shit, Seattle Mariners. And no, I’m not talking about the Cano thing– I’m talking about the bomb dropped on that front office thanks to some outstanding digging around from former Toronto Star reporter Geoff Baker, in his latest for the Seattle Times. Read it. Fascinating stuff– and the talk of baseball over the weekend, apparently.

And it’s double Mariners-related intrigue, as George A. King III of the New York Post speaks to a friend of Robinson Cano who says that the newest Mariner didn’t want to play for Joe Girardi, and was upset that he wasn’t batting in the middle of the order, in order to increase his value. Uh… I think he did just fine. Did nobody seriously tell him that front offices– except the maybe the one that just gave him all the money– think about value in a different way these days. Hey, but those guys don’t know, they didn’t play the game, right J.P.?

Here’s a scary thought… for the National League, at least: according to Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times, the Dodgers are interested in David Price.

Switching to Jays stuff, Gregor Chisholm has an excellent Jays-focussed primer on the meetings at BlueJays.com, looking at needs, trade chips, available players, and explaining that “at this time last year, Anthopoulos already had pulled the trigger on the blockbuster trade with Miami. But it was at the Winter Meetings where the groundwork was laid for a deal that would bring Dickey to the Blue Jays. More groundwork will be put in place this time around as well, but Anthopoulos likely hopes at least a move or two immediately comes with it.”

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