Archive for the ‘Daily Duce’ Category

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When I get back from the bowl store, I want this apartment to be a crab-and-cancer-free zone.

Mike Wilner tweets that John Gibbons says Colby Rasmus feels better, and that he might play tomorrow, and “if not, hopefully Friday.” Since tonight’s Game Threat is probably just going to be a picture of some idiot Cleveland fan, consider this your scuttlebutt.

R.A. Dickey was frustrated with himself after last night’s outing — despite it being halfway decent (especially if it had been scored correctly *COUGH*), and him throwing the knuckler with as much velocity and as big a variation in speed as we’ve seen this season. Shi Davidi of Sportsnet gets post-game quotes from the Jays’ ostensible ace, and it turns out he still expects more from himself, especially in terms of going deeper into games.

Elsewhere at Sportsnet, Ben Nicholson-Smith explains that Dickey could help himself by issuing fewer walks. He only issued two free passes last night (though he also hit a batter in his near fall-apart appearance in the seventh).

Two more from Sportsnet, as on the eve of what could be J.A. Happ’s last turn in the Jays’ rotation (depending on how it goes, of course), we’ll look back to what Davidi wrote after his start on the weekend, after which the Jays stood by him, at least for the time being. Meanwhile, Shi also talks to Cleveland’s starting catcher, Yan Gomes, who is a different player now than when he left the Jays. Well… yeah, let’s fucking hope they didn’t know what they were giving up.

At FanGraphs, Mike Petriello awesomely looks at how awesomely Jose Bautista is awesomely doing more with less this year. “In retrospect,” he concludes, “it all seems so simple. Don’t help the pitcher by making outs on their pitches. Accept the walks when they’re given to you. Crush the balls that you can, especially now that you’re healthy. It’s simple, yet ever so complicated. Bautista is making it work, he’s doing it at a pace we haven’t seen in a few years. It’s been sinceChipper Jones and Manny Ramirez in 2008 that a player 33 or older had a wOBA higher than what Bautista is sporting. It’s still early, of course; it’s also not like we’ve never seen Bautista produce at a high level, either. With his injury concerns not a concern at present, and a plate discipline / power combination that should be envied by all, we’re seeing Bautista production like many — myself included — thought might have been gone forever.”

Elsewhere at FanGraphs, Tony Blengino looks at the Wild, Wooly — and Mediocre American League, and ultimately pans the Jays’ chances, despite their being bunched among many clubs currently with a shot. “At some point, the five-team AL East logjam will begin to break, and an upper and lower division will emerge,” he explains. “The guess here is that the Jays’ utter inability to keep the opposition off of the scoreboard — and their own starting pitcher in the ballgame — will be their undoing. Jays’ starters have averaged only 5.51 IP per start, better than only Tampa Bay among this group, and these guys don’t have Alex Cobb or Jeremy Hellickson coming back. Their greatest strength is obviously their offensive power, ranking first in the AL in home runs and second in SLG. The Adam Lind/Juan Francisco combo has overperformed to date. A continuing MVP-level offensive performance from Jose Bautista is a prerequisite for ongoing contention. Second base is an offensive sinkhole. Their pen has been bad, and heavily leaned upon, and their staff is second in the AL in walks. There are numerous leaks here that should eventually combine to take this team down.” Not unfair, but… ouch.

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Not as weird as I kinda wanna fuck New Fat Mike.

Comments are back up and running today. Apologies to those who dare enter that little cesspool for yesterday’s glitch.

Shi Davidi tweets that John Gibbons said this afternoon that Brett Lawrie is getting closer, and will play either tomorrow or Sunday. “He’s not going on the DL,” Gibbers said.

Awesomeness from GROF over at theScore, who looks at how Jose Bautista has single-handedly kept the Jays in contention, which… maybe not single handedly, but how fucked would they be without their superstar and his start at the plate, which has been overshadowed by Troy Tulowitzki’s, but is still thoroughly impressive. Jose sits second, behind Tulo, among MLB leaders in wRC+.

Elsewhere at Getting Blanked theScore, with Mother’s Day coming up this weekend, Drew celebrates baseball’s best moms.

Gregor Chisholm tweets that the main reason that Juan Francisco chose to come to the Jays was a recruiting job done by his friend, Edwin Encarnacion. Nice. Also: seriously, I know Kyle Kendrick is Kyle Kendrick, but holy awesome what these bats have done against Hamels, Lee, and Burnett this week. Holy awesome.

It’s back! Richard Griffin has a new mail bag up at the Toronto Star, and I’ll have a fresh hijacking for you Monday morning … most likely. (Podcast early next week, too, I swear!)

Elsewhere in the Star, Griff looks at Marcus Stroman from the ol’ “small stature” angle, which seems less and less of a concern the more people see him. Maybe different because he’s working out of the bullpen right now,

In this GIF from Dan Toman of Gamereax, we see that Marcus Stroman deals in filth. Even when he misses his spot. So good.

Measuring the Dick: It would be easy to say that it’s been a tale of two “seasons” so far for R.A. Dickey. The ol’ Dickster has pitched to a 3.65 ERA over his last four starts, holding opponents to a slash line of .240/.324/.365, compared to a 6.26 ERA in his first four and a slash line of .264/.375/.414. However, among those first four starts are the one where he was terrific against the Yankees, and ones against Minnesota and Houston, each of which he began by going four scoreless, before things started to unravel — especially since John Gibbons, in retrospect, probably left him in too long. In other words, he’s actually been pretty good. Not an ace — not the guy who tore the National League to bits two years ago — but not exactly the blow-up machine fans were worried about earlier. I tweeted last night that, according to Brooks Baseball, Dickey threw his hardest knuckleball of the year last night, and the velocity chart at FanGraphs bears that out as well. He’s about where he wants to be, apart from the walks, and it’s not unthinkable that he can go on a bit of a run. Aren’t nice thoughts nice?

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I know how not to let my son run off in robot pants with a fistful of knifes!

Remember when some Jays fans kinda didn’t like Mark Buehrle? Maybe it’s just that as I get older I have more of an affinity for the old guys and the soft-tossers, but holy shit… so good.

According to a tweet from Ben Nicholson-Smith, John Gibbons told the Fan 590 that Adam Lind will be activated from the DL tonight. No corresponding move has been made yet, but I think that rustling sound you hear is Chad Jenkins packing his bags.

MLB and Apple made waves yesterday – mistaken waves, apparently — after a bunch of fan podcasters found that their podcasts had been removed from the iTunes store. Awful Announcing has the details, including (at the bottom) MLB’s statement after the P.R. battle truly got away from them, blaming Apple for mistakenly removing entire podcasts, when all they wanted removed were copyright-infringing logos. Mmm hmm. Ah, but everything is fine as far as we’re concerned: DJF isn’t going anywhere — we missed last week because Drew was on vacation, yes, and have been recording intermittently so far this year because that’s how I roll, it turns out, but actually the aim is to get one done later today (or at the very least tomorrow). Just… y’know… don’t quote me on that.

Wendy Thurm of FanGraphs rather awesomely calls bullshit on MLB regarding this.

At ESPN.com (Insider Olney), Buster Olney wants to talk about whether to talk about Melky Cabrera and PEDs (i.e. is it OK to be a total asshole and openly wonder if he’s cheating again). I could imagine writing a post full of outrage about this if I could actually muster a single solitary fuck. Can’t, though. In fact, I’ll tell ya: I’ll probably be a whole lot more indignant at the Jays fans all whiny about some perceived bias against the club.

Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star gets reaction to Olney’s piece from the clubhouse, where Jose Bautista — who knows a thing or two about bogus PED accusations — defends his teammate and friend.  ”I think if you did something wrong and you were caught and you pay your dues, that should be it. (Failing once) doesn’t mean that you’re always going to be doing something that’s illegal or not allowed,” Jose said.

Baseball America has their first mock draft of the season up, and in it they speculate that the Jays will go for loud tools, as they often do, and might take a risk with one of their two early picks — like with Jeff Hoffman, who will miss the rest of this season with Tommy John surgery, but who wouldn’t have otherwise been available by the time the Jays were picking. Seems to have worked well for the Nationals and their pick of an injured Lucas Giolito in 2012.

At North of the Border, Gregor Chisholm transcribes the impromptu State of the Franchise session that Alex Anthopoulos had with the media on Tuesday.

Great stuff from the Blue Jay Hunter, as he looks at the ever-changing batting stance of Colby Rasmus.

Whoa! According to Ben Lindbergh’s latest look at pitch framing over at Baseball Prospectus (not paywall’d!), Dioner Navarro was responsible for the best framed pitch of the entire month of April. Could he have shored up a serious deficien– oh, wait. He also had the worst and the fourth-worst framed pitches. Ugh. Though, to be fair, Ben describes his skills thusly: “Navarro’s career framing runs total rests at -33.2, but most of the deficit came in his rookie season; since then, he’s been only a little below average.”

Elsewhere at BP, Jay Jaffe joins the Effectively Wild podcast to talk about “team entropy and the AL East.” I haven’t listened yet, so I’m not sure if those are two separate subjects or not.

Back to pitch framing, where at FanGraphs we look at the strange recent acknowledgement of the phenomenon from one of the people whose opinion on it truly matters most: an umpire. On Tuesday, Paul Nauert, home plate umpire in the Dodgers-Nationals game, told Washington catcher Jose Lobaton that he might get more strikes called on the heavy, sinking fastball of Blake Treinen if he held his glove better and didn’t let it get pulled down by the natural sink. An umpire said that!

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And I hope you know a good appraiser, because if that’s not paste, I’ll eat my hat.

Dustin McGowan was terrific yesterday, and more than earned himself a chance to continue this rotation experiment that’s 14 years in the making, going seven innings on 101 pitches, giving up three hits, three walks, just one run, and striking out five. John Lott of the National Post had one of many game stories, and explains that “Sunday’s start brought a new challenge. Although he wore the [insulin] pump and pitched deep into the game, his blood-glucose levels began to spike early – in part, he said, because of the adrenaline rush that competition brings – and he had to give himself a manual insulin injection. That, along with the pump, restored his blood sugar to its proper level by the end of his session, he said.”

When McGowan exited, it was time for Marcus Stroman to make his big league debut, and it wasn’t without blemish. Josh Harrison tripled over Colby Rasmus’s head and scored on an Andrew McCutchen sac fly. Stroman gave up just the one earned run in his two thirds of an inning, but seemed to be a little amped up, throwing 21 pitches and just 12 for strikes. In a second piece for the Post, John Lott has all the quotes you’ll need from him, as well.

Shi Davidi has more on Stroman for Sportsnet — including a video clip of Barry Davis talking to the former first round pick at the top of the piece, and the kids admission that he was “amped” during his outing.

At Blue Jays Plus, Joshua (aka @House4545) explains why it entirely makes sense that the Jays are having Stroman begin his career in the bullpen, despite the howling of many fans about how this is supposedly some kind of organizational cock-up. He notes, for example, that the Jays — for all their roster management blundering — certainly do seem to at least understand that a starter is much more valuable than a reliever. He also explains that, in addition to being a way to manage Stroman’s innings, this whole thing is “a no-lose proposition. Either both [Dustin McGowan and J.A. Happ] shove for the foreseeable future and Stroman becomes a much-needed bullpen weapon or, more likely, Stroman gets his feet wet in the pen for a week and then takes his rightful spot in the rotation.”

Stroman was the subject of the latest The Call-Up piece at Baseball Prospectus. In the section above the paywall, we’re given the lowdown, and while it’s mostly a healthy heaping of praise, we are given the usual words of caution: “Stroman’s biggest hurdle to reaching his front-end ceiling remains his size. He has little trouble maintaining his stuff and turning over a lineup, but the lack of downhill plane on his offerings leaves him susceptible to the long ball, and prone to fly balls in general. Through his first 25 pro starts he has been able to keep hitters honest by bolstering his change piece and improving his situational pitch selection, but it’s likely Stroman will always be a fly-ball pitcher, and as a result will see more than his share of balls leave the park. The hope, and expectation, is the young power arm should be able to minimize the overall damage through his ability to miss bats and limit free passes, with his above-average command serving as the lynchpin.”

That “above-average command,” of course, wasn’t on display from the “amped” and sleep-deprived Stroman during his debut, but that will certainly change over time.

At ESPN.com (Insider Only), Paul Swydan makes four suggestions that he thinks will turn the Jays’ season around, including upgrading at second base — with Emilio Bonifacio suggested as a possibility (no, really!) — and finding a platoon partner for Colby Rasmus. He’s maybe not quite in Adam Lind, “how fucking obvious does this need to get?” territory yet, but Rasmus has been fairly abysmal against left-handers for his entire big league career, save 131 plate appearances in his breakout 2010 in St. Louis. Darrin Mastroianni or Kevin Pillar seem like viable internal options that would have some use on the Jays’ bench — if not for the fact that, y’know, they’re evidently not interested in such things.

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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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