Archive for the ‘Guest Post’ Category

goinspillar

Chad Jenkins. Todd Redmond. Neil Wagner. Josh Thole. Ryan Goins. Munenori Kawasaki. Anthony Gose. Kevin Pillar. Moises Sierra.

No matter what you think of the individual players, the fact that all of those names currently occupy the same Major League Baseball active roster is astonishing. This wasn’t how it was drawn up. Not even close.

The Toronto Blue Jays have had to reach very deep on their depth chart this season. It’s been ugly at times, and the Buffalo Bisons likely don’t appreciate it in the midst of a playoff push in the International League. But it is what it is, and the Jays have been hammered with injuries throughout the year.

If it all feels oddly familiar, it should, because it’s not really a one-year blip. In fact, you could go so far as to call it a systemic issue since 2011.

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Marcus Stroman: 80-grade genetics

Blue Jays minor league field coordinator Doug Davis traverses the treacherous terrain of the Virginia mountainside en route to Saturday’s Appalachian League contest between the Bluefield Blue Jays and the Princeton Rays.  It’s a journey fraught with lousy cell phone reception, a reality that assumes heightened levels of annoyance when there’s an overzealous Jays fan — unconvincingly posing as a journalist —  on the phone.

Then again, any man who endures 790 career minor-league games for 14 plate appearances in the majors is, presumably, far more adept at handling adversity than the average person.  And so, when I propose a fairly comprehensive prospect round-up, Davis is more than happy to oblige.

Jonah Birenbaum: Marcus Stroman was obviously very polished coming out of Duke, and he’s been dominant in Double-A this year, with a 3.22 ERA with 103 Ks in just over 89 innings.  But scouts are sort of torn on him, with his build and the lack of downward plane that he generates with his fastball, is home run susceptibility going to prevent him from making it as a starter in the big leagues?

Doug Davis: I think that’s a question everybody has.  I think if you just ask a number of people, half of them are going to say he can start and half of them will say he can’t.  And I don’t know whether we’re going to find out until we actually give him the opportunity.  I feel like he can start.  I think he’s got enough pitches.  I think he’ll learn how to pitch with his fastball, even though his stature — you know, he’s not a tall guy — and he doesn’t create a lot of plane.  I think there’s other ways to get around that and I think he’ll learn how to do it.  He’s a very smart kid, and the pitches themselves — you know, he’s got the potential to have, really, all plus pitches — and because of that, with velocity, I still think he’s going to be able to start and utilize four different pitches.  That’s kind of where I’m at.  You know, he’s done great in Double-A; I think everybody’s seen the positives, and I think the negatives have surfaced, too, a little bit, but again, the guy hasn’t been pitching very long professionally, and I think we’ve got to give him time, got to give him the opportunity to gain more experience against better hitters.  Again, I think because of his makeup and his intelligence, he’s going to learn how to make adjustments and become a better pitcher.

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Jose vs. The Umps

Kansas City Royals v Toronto Blue Jays

Jose Bautista: whiner or victim? Obviously it looks bad when he’s constantly complaining, especially when he gets one wrong and melts down on national TV. But he’s got a pretty good eye and doesn’t seem like a delusional egomaniac, so in the long run is he right more often than not, or has his rise to stardom blinded him to the fact that he gets good and bad calls just like everyone else?

An article was written in the Star a while back where they used some  umpire data and came to the conclusion that Bautista had gotten “20 more incorrect strike calls” since 2010, but there are some problems with such a surface analysis:

a) If you go by the rulebook strike zone, everyone gets a ton of “incorrect” strikes because the zone bulges out at the belt. As a power hitter, Bautista takes more pitches than the average hitter, and as a good one he is going to see a lot more pitches on the fringe of the strike zone. If you don’t adjust for how the zone is actually called, it will appear as if a quality power hitter is getting more bad calls than he actually is.

b) Extra strikes are only part of the picture. What if he also had 40 more incorrect ball calls over that time? It would be a sign of particularly erratic umpiring, not a bias against or in his favour.

c) The zone shrinks and expands by the count, so if a hitter is pitched carefully and winds up in a lot of 3-0, 3-1 counts, he will see a larger zone, but not any worse than other players when in those counts.

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DB1-new

I love this team, but I hate this ad campaign.

For the first time in two years, the Blue Jays marketing team has produced a set of Opening Day (Week) commercials that make you roll your eyes more than make you excited for the season to come.

It’s not hard to get Blue Jays fans excited for the season. Formula: show the Jays defrosting at Spring Training after the hellish Canadian winter, mix with player close ups on a soundstage and highlights from the past season. Overlay a song with the word “home” in it. Done and done. But this new team needed something better, didn’t it?

Embracing Twitter as part of a team’s marketing strategy is smart; making it the focus of an entire ad campaign is cheesy and narrow. Tweeting Tuesdays? Fine. Twitter Shirseys? Ugh. A hashtag as the team’s central slogan?  The Blue Jays social media consultant is either insanely persuasive or Nadir Mohamed’s niece.

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As you probably already know, on January 4th, the sideshow that is Toronto’s city hall as of late got an added dose of insanity via the twittersphere from none other than Jose Canseco. Canseco, who played on the Toronto Blue Jays’ 88-74 1998 team and contributed a respectable 46 home runs and 29 stolen bases, created some buzz last week when he mused publicly that he might want to contribute something to Toronto again; namely by running to be our mayor.

He seemed to enjoy a groundswell of support in the days that followed and even seems to have started banging out the framework of a platform via twitter (check out the hashtag #yeswecanseco). He has already offered such gems as “Leftwing and rightwing politicians fail because you need both wings to fly otherwise you are headed for a trainwreck.”

However–strained flying train metaphors aside–the question remains, could Canseco ever actually be mayor?

The obvious answer is (sorry) no way Jose.

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