Archive for the ‘Daily Duce’ Category

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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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Daily? Also, as the US begins its Thanksgiving ExcessFest today, things are likely going to be mighty quiet on the baseball front. Deadline to tender contracts to arbitration eligible players is Monday, though, so maybe things will heat up a little by the end of the weekend, but don’t hold your breath. Which…uh… is totally why I’ve been sitting on all these links here. Uh… yeah. That’s the ticket. 

Ben Nicholson-Smith explains what’s been holding up the process, suggesting that it looks like things will finally start to happen soon.

Benny Fresh’s colleague, Shi Davidi of Sportsnet, talks about the relief market, as Alex Anthopoulos tells him that he thinks the club’s bullpen surplus will only increase as the winter goes on. Anthopoulos, like everyone else, seems like he’s slow-playing this one. (Also from the piece: “While a fresh start somewhere else might do Romero some good, the Blue Jays right now have no incentive to give him one. They owe him $16.1 million through the next two seasons, and there’s no point in buying him out so he can try to rebuild himself with another club.” Ugh.)

Related, we have some great stuff from Blue Jays Plus, as they look at the entirety of the Jays’ bullpen option, with a view to each player’s trade value. The conclusion isn’t entirely surprising, but still an excellent breakdown.

Elsewhere at Blue Jays Plus, Chris Sherwin writes a paean to Marcus Stroman. (Also: title pun!)

Meanwhile, Jason Parks of Baseball Prospectus chats with readers, saying that he thinks trading Marcus Stroman or Aaron Sanchez for Jeff Samardzija would be a bit reckless, that trading both and D.J. Davis would be too much for David Price, let alone the Shark, and that he’s higher on Stroman than he is on Sanchez, mostly because of the latter’s “iffy” command. Four years as a pro without reaching Double-A will quite rightly make people start to wonder, though I think part of that has been the Jays’ babying of him, coupled with some injury issues this season that might have hastened his promotion had they been avoided.

Michael Grange writes that the Jays and Alex Anthopoulos must spend if they want to win, which… yeah, I’m down with that. Whoever wrote the headline on that one probably should add another name to that demand: Rogers.

Buster Olney of ESPN.com (Insider Olney) lists the Jays among a number of dark horse candidates to land Robinson Cano, but he’s not terribly confident that such a thing would ever really happen. “Cano would make them better,” he explains, “and they’re just enough of a wild card, in how they’re operated, to wonder … but still, can’t see it.”

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And the villabouts of the wherein Kelly!

Holy nails. Outstanding stuff on Marcus Stroman and his mechanics from Kyle Boddy of Driveline Baseball writing for the Hardball Times, as he tells us that the Jays’ 2012 first rounder, despite his lack of height, had comparable stuff and command on draft day than higher picks like Kevin Gausman and Michael Wacha, but “dropped because of myths he’s about to shatter.” The name Lincecum is evoked, and the suggestion is that Stroman probably starts at Buffalo for service time issues, but probably doesn’t need it. So… how many pitchers does Anthopoulos need to find this winter???

Sticking with Stroman, he finds himself twelfth on MLB.com’s top AFL prospects list, which is no small achievement– he’s ahead of Jorge Soler and Garin Cecchini– and which also sees him being touted as a starter in the big leagues this season. But it’s Aaron Sanchez who really shines, placing fourth (which is no slight– he’s behind only Byron Buxton, Kris Bryant, and Addison Russell), and being called the AFL’s top starter. “He has top-of-the-rotation stuff and is ready for a move to the upper levels of Toronto’s system,” Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo write.

It’s a good news day for another former Jays first round pick… sort of. Today is the deadline for clubs to protect players from the Rule 5 draft, and Gregor Chisholm of BlueJays.com tells us that Deck McGuire has been added to the club’s 40-man roster in order to do so. Players not placed on the 40-man who risk selection now include Ricky Romero (fat chance), Sean Ochinko, and Kenny Wilson.

Or… actually, Brendan Kennedy tweets that the New Hampshire Fisher Cats have said that Wilson has been protected as well, even though the Jays themselves haven’t made it official.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter Derrick Goold tweets (so you know it’s good as Goold) that Chris Carpenter has told the Cardinals he was retiring. Yeah… keeping a Carpenter and a Michael Young together with those mid-2000s Jays clubs might have been a thing. Taking that offer of David Wright for Jose Cruz Jr. (who they then let walk for nothing) would have helped too. Sigh. Great career for Big Carp nonetheless. Sad to see him go.

At Getting Blanked, Drew emerges from vacation jail to raise some giant red flags on Josh Johnson, as he suggests that San Diego is doubling down on risk, and questions belief in the peripherals because of factors demonstrating “an inherent hittability that doesn’t bode well for the future.” Great stuff.

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Oh. Now look who’s bossy with counting.

“All those losses are totally on the players. All that heat that’s on Alex and Gibby – they don’t deserve it. We should be getting a lot more heat as players, and that’s why the focus should be on each individual showing up ready to go and playing better than they did last year,” says Jose Bautista in an interesting piece from Shi Davidi of Sportsnet. “What I think is that at times everybody – not only on our team and in our city – tries to look for the one person to carry the team and be the leader and be the one appointed person that’s responsible for everything. When you’re talking about a team sport, that’s pretty unfair assessment to make. I embrace the role of being a leader, I embrace the fact that people look up at me to that way, that I could be that person for the team, but at the same time it’s within each individual player to do whatever it takes and what’s best for themselves as individuals to be the best players they can be, which in turn will make a better team as a whole. Those are just my thoughts.

“He was a truly great manager. How he handled his players to how he handles the game itself,” says Cody Decker, who played most of 2012 under John Gibbons with the San Antonio Missions, speaking to Blue Jays Plus. “He trusts his players to do their job. He was practically an artist when it came to keeping the clubhouse loose. He made the game easier.” Interesting stuff.

“The Jays cannot afford to take a step back in attendance,” writes Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star in an interesting piece explaining what he thinks the Jays need to do. “That means, simply, that another losing season is unacceptable. It suggests the GM can’t wait until the holiday season, or later, to make another impact. Jays fans are not in a forgiving mood. Attendance is the key. Thus the GM’s job hangs in the balance.” Honestly? I can’t say I agree. Not about whether the GM’s job is in peril– clearly it is– but about how important it is to do something splashy and quickly, and how vital it is to see zero drop in overall attendance. Maybe I’m wrong, but I think if the crowds are slow to return at first, but build over the course of the summer because the team is playing well, that’s going to be more than fine. Build a winner on the field first, Alex.

There are always nuggets to be found in Gregor Chisholm’s Inbox posts at BlueJays.com, and his most recent is no exception. For example, he talks about the club rethinking some aspects of their player development strategy, and the fact that Josh Johnson’s agent doesn’t appear to have had any dialogue with the Jays, as he continues to explore the free agent market (as I wrote about last night).

Another from BlueJays.com has Gregor taking a look at how the Jays can get creative about payroll, listing some of the guys that the club could move in order to save some dollars– which is something that I did about a week ago, because obviously this is one of the key questions this offseason. $150-million only gets you so far these days, apparently.

Benny Fresh (i.e. Ben Nicholson-Smith) does some non-Sportsnet work, forecasting the free agent market– which now appears to be in full swing– for USA Today. Nifty!

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Snip-snap, indeed!

Shi Davidi tweets that Alex Anthopoulos has called the Bautista-Brown rumour “fabricated,” ridiculous,” and “completely false.”

He adds that, contrary to another Howard Eskin suggestion, the GM says that he has made no offers to any free agent. OK then.

John Gibbons is apparently dismissive of the whole thing as well. Jim Bowden tweets that the Jays’ manager appeared on his SiriusXM show and said that the club is “looking to add pitchers not swapping outfielders.” It’s been a fun several hours, though, hasn’t it?

Bowden adds another item from the Gibbons chat, as the manager also confirmed that Brett Lawrie will play at third base this year. “He grew up a lot this year. Sky is the limit,” ol’ Gibbers said.

Uh… so… what does it say about your decision to fire your hitting coach when he’s almost immediately snapped up as a minor league hitting coordinator for one of the best-run organizations in the game? Because that’s kinda what just happened, as according to a tweet from Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, Chad Mottola has joined the Rays.

Dave Cameron of FanGraphs has a number of interesting thoughts on the Bautista-Brown rumour, which are less specific about the proposal itself, and more about general trends. Among them, he allays fears about Bautista’s supposedly diminishing skills, explaining that “extrapolating trends into the future is often completely incorrect, because the reality is that performance often regresses back towards the average of a larger sample performance rather than continuing to move further and further away from a peak. Or, put another way, players who are labeled as “trending downwards” often have a very good performance in their recent history which should continue to inform our opinion of what they will do in the future.”

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What do you mean this is basically all stuff I could have put into the MLBTR post?

Baseball Prospectus makes Aaron Sanchez their AFL Pitcher of the Day for Friday, after he gave up an unearned run, pitching five hitless innings with eight strikeouts. “When he throws strikes and has his command, Sanchez can make pitching look easy. Sanchez’s velocity was actually down a smidge on Friday, with his fastball sitting just below 95 mph, but reigning things in clearly worked for him,” Jeff Moore explains. Sanchez now sports an ERA of 0.98 in 18.1 AFL innings, with eighteen strikeouts, just five hits, and nine walks. Of course, with the extremely varied quality of competition, those numbers don’t mean a whole lot, but it’s certainly better that he’s dominating than if he weren’t.

Speaking of BP, their Jason Parks had a bit of a Twitter exchange with a fan about Marcus Stroman, saying that while the reports on his changeup are mixed, it’s improved– with some having it as high as “solid average”–  and he thinks he can start. Parks also likes the cutter that Stroman has started throwing– “hard as shit,” he says, hitting as high as 93 on the radar gun. That’ll keep ‘em honest.

The Atlanta Braves are moving to a new stadium, at some crossroads of Interstate highways in Cobb County, well northwest of the city centre, and the Marietta Daily Journal had the scoop! Turner Field, if you’re counting, was used during the 1996 Olympics and became home to the club starting in 1997, or eight years after SkyDome opened.

At Sportsnet, Ben Nicholson-Smith is live blogging/Storifying all the events of what has so far been a fairly slow first day of the GM Meetings.

I linked to it earlier, but it’s worth another look at Shi Davidi’s piece in which he speaks to Alex Anthopoulos about his off-season plans. “It seems like with all the different things we’re looking to do, half of the scenarios are in free agency, half of the scenarios are in trade,” he says.

Another one that I’ve linked to earlier but is still worth a look if you didn’t catch it is Davidi’s talk with Brandon Morrow, who says he isn’t quite over the nerve impingement that cut his season short, but he feels much better, and is making great progress. The money quote, though, is about his reputation: “To hear the questions that different people may bring up about your health, or ability to stay healthy without looking at all the numbers, it’s unfair to say those things when it’s been different reasons. Up until this year, I spent a total of (five) weeks on the disabled list for arm troubles and even before that I was labelled injury-prone because I had a sore arm in spring training a couple of times. It’s kind of funny. The fact I had the oblique injury last year and now this, all of a sudden I can’t stay healthy?”

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