Archive for the ‘Daily Duce’ Category

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I want to meet this hobbit of yours–Bobo T. Baggins. [gasp] Oh my God, I just got that! I think I’m gonna throw up! I think I’m gonna throw up!

The Jays have moved away from the eight-man bullpen, at least for now, calling up Erik Kratz and demoting Chad Jenkins in time for tonight’s game in Pittsburgh. Dioner Navarro is day-to-day with a tight left quad that caused an early exit to last night’s game in Kansas City. Since J.A. Happ, for the last damn time, is just a spot starter and there is no six-man rotation to speak of, it makes sense, apart from not brining Neil Wagner back up (if they even can at this point), especially if they like Juan Francisco enough to want to keep his bat on the bench for a while, even after Adam Lind gets back, which…

Brett Lawrie starts at second base tonight for the Jays. Juan Francisco starts at third. And… well… as long as Francisco keeps taking walks and dropping bombs, that’s terrific. Just as long as we all recognize that he’s not going to do either at the rates we’ve grown accustomed to over the first eleven games of his Jays career, we should be able to keep this in perspective.

Continue fucking off, Toronto Sun. I barely know where to begin here, but… first we have Bob Elliott likening the Jays to the 2006 Royals, for some reason, ostensibly because, as he says, “the 2014 Jays seem certain of their 21st consecutive season of failing to make the playoffs” as those Royals were. Does he know what “certain” means?

Secondly from the Sun we have Steve Buffery, who has pointed questions for the Jays’ brass, some of which are entirely legitimate, some of which are just hopelessly off-base — “Contenders in the AL East don’t have huge holes like an unproven rookie playing second” – while others still — “Why aren’t the players the Jays bring up from the minors more schooled in the fundamentals? Why hasn’t the fact that the Jays need an everyday player who can hit for average not been addressed?” — are an exercise in idiot-empowering insanity. (Need proof? See the fucking winners in the comments who think this is the most incisive thing about baseball they’ve ever read — but don’t linger there for too long or you’ll end up wanting to shoot yourself in the face.)

Here’s one from the Sun that’s a bit better: Bob Elliott gives us a farm report and some praise for — shock! — maple-boner prospect Dalton Pompey.

More on Pompey, as Kyle Franzoni of Jays Journal talks to him.

Pompey didn’t make John Sickels’ list of the top 150 prospects in baseball over at Minor League Ball, though. However, five Jays’ prospects did: Sanchez (29), Stroman (45), Mitch Nay (92), Dan Norris (98), and Sean Nolin (127).

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Surely this town has a Y, Philip?

Per a team release, the Jays have made the Goins/Getz swap official, releasing Mickey Storey in order to make room on the 40-man roster. Still more moves on the horizon, one suspects…

Dustin McGowan starts tonight for the Jays in Kansas City, and for the first time he’ll be doing so with an insulin pump, after he noticed some extreme blood sugar levels due to what he has said he suspects is the stress — both mental and physical — of being a big league starter, and he’ll have to do well if he’s going to keep his job. J.A. Happ, though thoroughly unimpressive in the spring, and not much better in a very brief sample so far in the majors, is certainly waiting for a crack at the spot he believes he deserves. However, as Shi Davidi of Sportsnet noted back on Saturday, the Jays organization decided to aligned prospect Marcus Stroman’s latest outing to be the same day as McGowan’s — he’ll pitch in Buffalo tonight against Louisville.

I’m actually not in the camp that is desperate to see Stroman as soon as possible — I still think there was good reason why McGowan was a starter to dream on when the club chose to give him the fifth spot when they came north, and I’m not sure I like what some of the expectations for Stroman have become, as more development time certainly won’t hurt, and it’s hard to envision any prospect making the jump to the majors flawlessly right out of the chute. Of course, nobody’s saying Stroman has to be flawless to still be a key part of this club, and obviously expectations are going to be high no matter when he makes the jump, so maybe I’m overreacting. The club’s assistant GM, Tony LaCava, sure seems comfortable with the possibility, as he spoke to Ben Nicholson-Smith for a farm report piece at Sportsnet, telling him that “Stroman has continued to impress,” and that “It’s just a matter of the opportunity and the right time for him. We think his time is coming soon.”

Elsewhere at Sportsnet, Shi Davidi looks at Drew Hutchison, who has suddenly become something of a strikeout pitcher (his K/9 and K% both sit sixth among all qualified MLB starters right now).

Speaking of Hutchison, Chris Toman of Gamereax looks at how Hutchison’s new weapon: his changeup.

John Lott of the National Post takes a look at Brett Lawrie’s odd start to the season, and talks with the player, who looks like he might finally be warming up.

The Blue Jay Hunter also talks about Lawrie, and in doing so shows us what his current spray chart looks like. Yeesh.

Also noted in that piece from the Blue Jay Hunter is this tweet from @OrganistAlert telling us that Buffalo Sabres organist Ken Kaufman, who the Jays used on Sunday, “passed his audition” and has been hired on for the rest of the season. I doubt it will be for every game, but the more the better. Good stuff.

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Way to ruin it, “Neil Peart.”

Reporters are down at the ballpark this hour, and Shi Davidi tweets that John Gibbons confirms that Dustin McGowan will make his next start. I still think they should skip him. Crazier still, though, is that Gibbons, according to a Gregor Chisholm tweet, floated the idea of going with six starters in May, when the club has 20 games in a row. Brendan Kennedy adds that the plan may bleed into June, too. This, of course, is madness, but… let’s maybe not go ahead and believe they’ll do such a thing just yet. Maybe I’m trying too hard to be easy on them, but saying a thing like that makes McGowan feel good, makes Happ feel good, and avoids any sticky issues with the whole manipulation of Marcus Stroman’s service time, which may entirely be the ultimate plan, which they’re not quite ready to concede. Who knows? John Lott notes that it wouldn’t be a straight-up six man rotation, but that Happ would be used occasionally, to give guys an extra day of rest. That is, at least, slightly less egregious, I’d say.

In his game story on last night for the National Post, Lott notes that John Gibbons told reporters he would like to see Dustin McGowan use his curveball more — as he did back when he last was taking regular turns as a member of the Jays’ rotation. In 2008, “McGowan threw his curveball 10.3% of the time, according to Brooksbaseball.net. This year the curveball has accounted for 1.2% of his pitches. He has said that so far, he simply has been unable to resurrect it,” Lott explains. “He relies principally on his fastball and slider. That worked in relief, but not so well in his new role, where he must face batters multiple times.”

McGowan’s current repertoire, in other words, is a problem nearly as big as the fatigue issue I wrote about earlier today. You may remember, however, that Alex Anthopoulos acknowledged this one on a recent Jonah Keri podcast, essentially labelling McGowan-as-starter to be a work in progress still. ““He’s just starting to use his changeup again,” Anthopoulos explained, “which is an out pitch as well — he just fell in love with the fastball-slider combination out of the bullpen — and he’s slowly going to start incorporating his curveball, which can be pretty good pitch as well.”

In a piece that probably deserves its own post, Brendan Kennedy of the Toronto Star goes over all the reasons why the Jays’ planned installation of grass is going to actually take as long as the club is saying it is. Sadly, the company line — like the fact that sod needed for 2018 needs to be planted by 2015, and that the club is still trying to work out the best strain of grass to hold up in the dome’s unique conditions — kind of makes sense.

Somewhat lost in the McGowan mess was another big night at the plate from Brett Lawrie, as he hit a giant blast for the second day in a row, and picked up two more hits in the process. From the start of Tuesday’s game to the end of Wednesday’s, Lawrie’s OPS went up by 140 points… to .575. Of course, the fact that it can move so much so fast is a very strong indicator that, y’know, it’s early. In another on over at the Toronto Star, Mark Zwolinski takes a somewhat Lawrie-focused look in his gamer.

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Really. And is it me, or is it 1987? A winged collar. Are you…doing this?

Shi Davidi of Sportsnet looks at the patience Jose Bautista has shown thus far this year — patience he’s had to show, as the player with the highest percentage of balls seen in all of baseball (though part of that is due to his approach, his tremendous eye, and the fact that so far he’s swung at fewer pitches than anyone).

Elsewhere at Sportsnet, Shi recaps the game, with a focus on — what else? — Lawrie’s moustache. Gotta get them clicks, son.

In another one from Sportsnet, Arden Zwelling looks at the troubling trend of R.A. Dickey’s late game fades — and though the Jays’ nominal ace had one of his least disastrous games of the season yesterday, his numbers on the third time through the order somehow got worse. Hitters seeing him for a third time in a game in 2014 are now hitting an ungodly .433/.564/.733. Sure, numbers on every pitcher tend to worsen the longer they’re left in, and the more chances hitters get to time them, but that’s a hell of a jump from the wholly reasonable .237/.333/.368 batters have hit off Dickey the second time through the order, and the sparkling .150/.244/.250 the first time through.

Dickey, for his part, doesn’t sound terribly concerned, telling reporters like Robert MacLeod of the Globe and Mail that the issue in late innings is simply that he’s not as sharp. “Because the pitch does something different in all their at-bats leading up to that third-fourth time through the lineup it’s much more of a stuff thing for me rather than a lack of what the pitch is capable of doing multiple times through the lineup,” he explains.

Meanwhile, Josh Thole tells Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star that the way Dickey’s knuckler looks a whole lot like the way it did in 2012.

Chris Toman tweets a link to Brooks Baseball, and tells us that Dickey threw nine fastballs last night (after throwing 25 to the Orioles — likely because his knuckler was working better in the dome than in the cold), and that he induced a season-high 15 swinging strikes. So… that’s at least somewhat encouraging.

John Lott of the National Post, with a lede that will send you running to YouTube for some L.L. Cool J videos (preferably ones with scenes from The Hard Way cut in), tells us about Casey Janssen, who tells him he’s simply slowed down his rehab process, but hasn’t had a setback. “We realized it wasn’t going to heal doing what I was doing. And so instead of putting our foot on the gas we had to take it off a little bit and listen to my body a little bit more,” Janssen explains, also noting that he’s not in pain.

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Yes, let’s go to my house. Take naps. Where’s my food?

Before we get to what’s interesting out there, let’s get to what you surely already know: the Jays made some roster moves over the weekend, optioning Munenori Kawasaki back to Buffalo to make room for the return of Jose Reyes, and bringing up Juan Francisco to add some thump (and strikeouts) to the lineup as Adam Lind and his wonky back move to the DL. Gregor Chisholm has the details on these moves, plus Casey Janssen’s latest setback, which will keep him out another two weeks, over at BlueJays.com.

Oh, and Jeremy Jeffress elected free agency rather than being assigned to Buffalo, and ended up coming to a deal with the Milwaukee Brewers. MLB Daily Dish has the details (because MLBTR isn’t working for me right now, for some reason).

Outstanding stuff from Brendan Kennedy of the Toronto Star, as he talks to each of the Jays’ hitters about how they prepare for a plate appearance. Read it.

“Remember when Stroman struggled badly this spring and everyone worried about whether a short pitcher would be able to generate enough downward plane to miss bats?” asked Jeff Moore of Baseball Prospectus in a piece last week. “Well, he’s still short. When Stroman keeps the ball down, he’s lights out, thanks to a plus change-up. He can get hurt when he misses up, but who doesn’t?”

Interesting test for Stroman tonight, tweets Ben Wagner, as he faces Red Sox prospect Brandon Workman, and a pair of rehabbing big leaguers in Will Middlebrooks and Shane Victorino.

More prospect stuff, and Stroman stuff, in particular, from Charlie Caskey at Your Van C’s. And also there’s some great “public sector scouting” stuff on his latest at Blue Jays Plus. Plus, David Laurila of FanGraphs talks to Mitch Nay about his grandfather’s influence.

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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!