Archive for the ‘Jeff Blair’ Category


Well here’s something that probably should turn into a regular feature, but never quite seems to — but that I’ll make to look like one anyway in order to keep from having it seem too terribly out of place: a collection of Monday morning thoughts on what was going on over the weekend…

Noise Of Jays Being Out On Tanaka Just That

It’s a very long shot that the Jays will be able to sign Masahiro Tanaka. Notice, though, that I’m not saying it was always going to be a long shot for the Jays to acquire him, as though the club is already out. That was the prevailing thought on Saturday night, though, as MLBTR passed along a report from Nikkan Sports suggesting that a bunch of teams had made formal offers to Tanaka, with the Jays not among them. Bernie Pleskoff of passed what seemed like merely that along without attribution, simply listing the teams in the report, expressing surprise that the Jays wouldn’t have made an offer, and later half-heartedly walking it back, explaining, “Teams listed for Tanaka are those reported so far. Who knows, there could be even more. Doubt it though.”

Because this is the internet, that, apparently, was plenty to start sourpuss Jays fans tweeting at me about what an affront it was that the club wouldn’t even make a bid. Of course, as I said at the time, colour me not dumb enough to take it as gospel. The ultra cynical could suggest that I’m just twisting myself in knots to keep alive this silly fantasy for my own cynical, pageview-related reasons, and I guess I couldn’t blame them. But what I didn’t say at the time was that, once I started talking about what Pleskoff was saying half seriously on Twitter, I was approached by a person that I trust telling me not to bother even giving it that much attention.

That isn’t to say that I was being told that the Jays did make an offer, or anything like that, but it certainly affirmed my instinct, at least about Pleskoff’s tweets, if not Nikkan. So again: colour me not dumb enough to take it as gospel. (Or to post about it as such.)

This will all be cleared up by Friday’s 5 PM ET deadline, and it’s probably best not to believe any of it until then.


Argos To BMO Gathering Steam?

“Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment could expand BMO Field in time for the July 2015 Pan Am Games, its chief executive says — but only if MLSE and the government can come to a financial agreement ‘very’ soon,” begins a report this morning from Daniel Dale of the Toronto Star.

The soccers are up in arms about the spectre of such changes, and rightfully so. BMO is utilitarian, but also kind of perfect. Not only that, it’s theirs. Plus, ”unobtrusive” doesn’t seem to be a word in Tim Leiweke’s vocabulary, so obviously there is trepidation about the scope of the changes that sound more and more like they’re coming.

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Pretty good book, but lacked the quality GIFs necessary to make it a bestseller.

When it was revealed that Jeff Blair was set to publish a book on four decades of Blue Jays baseball, it was seen as the cherry on top of a perfect off-season for Blue Jays fans. The release of the book has been kind of a mess. There’s been been confusion over the release date, April 5th, and the lack of marketing hasn’t helped with that. Blair himself was under the impression a month ago the book wasn’t coming out until this week. My local Chapters had 56 copies of Full Count sitting in a box in their storage room and I had to fight (read: beg) someone to let me buy a copy. That can’t be good for book sales.

While it’s possible that the book was quickly pushed through to publication in order to capitalize on the excitement surrounding the 2013 Jays, it’s a tribute to the quality of Blair’s writing that the book never feels like it was rushed.

Four decades of Blue Jays baseball are indeed mentioned in Full Count but more accurately, Blair really starts up where Stephen Brunt left off in Diamond Dreams (the strike-shortened 1994 season). The first 15 years features some great stories from Paul Beeston, but mostly those years are used to not-so-subtly point to Alex Anthopoulos as the heir to Pat Gillick’s “Doing It The Right Way” crown, as the man who will eventually lead the Jays to the promised land– a major theme throughout Full Count.

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Noooooot a lot of good AA photos in our Getty archive.

Today we’ve got some interesting stuff from Jeff Blair, slightly buried in his latest for the Globe and Mail, which ostensibly serves mostly to look at the curious machinations from within the Jays’ infield of late. After running through the laundry list of issues the club has been faced with in the infield so far, and the experiments they’ve played around with, he drops this bomb on us:

Anthopoulos isn’t only talking to his peers about a temporary, defence-first replacement for Reyes during his three-month absence. He’s talking about a significant transaction that might require several moving pieces. What if, for example, his offensive concerns turn out to be best addressed by adding a particular right fielder? No way Bautista balks at a move to third base if it makes the team better able to achieve its ultimate goal; in fact, as he ages he might find third base less taxing on his legs than patrolling the outfield.


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“Free agency began at 8 a.m. Monday, with teams retaining exclusive negotiating rights until midnight Friday,” wrote Jeff Blair in a piece chalk full of goodies in this morning’s Globe and Mail. “Other teams are not precluded from talking to free agents during these five days, but only the players previous team can re-sign him during the period.”

In other words, the Jays need to get on their damn horse with this managerial search, in order to make sure they don’t have too many balls in the air as the most ridiculously crucial free agent period this team has faced in a long time gets set to begin. And, at least according to Blair, it’s not going to be an easy decision, explaining that “one veteran baseball man, who knows Anthopoulos and the Blue Jays, said last week that he believed Anthopoulos would lean toward hiring a candidate with a background in player development as well as coaching – much like Farrell – which could hint of Wakamatsu,” however, he also believes that “finding someone who has proven that he can manage a Major League team and has demonstrated tactical nous would seem to be an important consideration.”

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A Blairrell of Laughs

… and I’ll be headed straight fer that door so fucking fast it’ll make yer gad-damn head spin! 

Jeff Blair was at his absolute Blairsy-est in the pages of Wednesday’s Globe and Mail– assuming anybody actually goes to the trouble of printing those out anymore– ruminating on the still-unrelenting John Farrell saga, and the identity at the very core of the manager of the Toronto Blue Jays, in ways that make you really want to believe he’s got it spot on, but that often crumble given enough scrutiny.

Funnily, in one of his more prescient bits, that’s exactly the sort of trick Blair suggests Farrell has pulled. “He looks like he should be a good manager – he’s got good face – and you kind of, sort of, maybe want to see him be a success,” he writes, groping, perhaps, towards exploring what I figure is as good a guess as any as to how the Farrell experiment has possibly gone wrong so quickly. But insights like this– and his gorgeous excoriation of Omar Vizquel, “who in truth took a victory lap around the league on the Blue Jays’ dime without making much of an impact in the clubhouse, other than offering a ham-handed defence of Yunel Escobar’s homophobic eye-black slur”– are a little too few and far between in a piece that, for my taste, is built largely on some questionably assumptions, assuming it even wants to go anywhere new.

He digs himself a hole in paragraph two:

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Here’s a small morsel of food for thought to start your Tuesday, as Jeff Blair looks at the Jays’ stockpile of prospects in this morning’s Globe and Mail, among them Noah Syndergaard, pictured above.

“When the Oakland Athletics spoke to the Blue Jays about a trade for Gio Gonzalez,” he writes, “they had Syndergaard at the top of their list.”

Syndergaard, of course, wasn’t moved in the off-season. Nor would he alone have been enough to pry Gonzalez from Oakland, who eventually ended up flipping the innings-eater to the Nationals for four minor leaguers, including three of the their top ten prospects, per Baseball America (as relayed by MLBTR)– right-handers Brad Peacock (#3), AJ Cole (#4) and catcher Derek Norris (#9).

It speaks once again to the depth of the club’s system, therefore, that Syndergaard ranked eighth in the Jays system, according to BA, behind catcher Travis d’Arnaud, outfielders Anthony Gose and Jake Marisnick, and pitchers Dan Norris, Justin Nicolino and Aaron Sanchez. And that depth, according to Blair’s piece, is in good hands, as he writes about the “two years of compiling what assistant general manager Tony LaCava describes as being ‘bits and pieces’ of wisdom and analysis to finally put together the Toronto Blue Jays’ player development manual.”

The entire article is worth a read, especially if you want to get back into a warm safe place after yesterday’s descent into nitpicking madness over the McGowan extension– and believe me, I do– but I think it’s the nugget about Syndergaard and the A’s that really stands out as newsworthy. Assuming, y’know, that we didn’t already know this and I’d just forgot.

Here’s a small nugget of a tidbit that was buried in Jeff Blair’s Henderson Alvarez piece for the Globe and Mail this morning:

“Sources maintain the Blue Jays will not add another pitcher with a significant financial commitment at this time; that they are more likely to add a stop-gap, innings-eating starter if Drabek, Cecil or McGowan aren’t up to it.”

If the statement weren’t made far less concrete by his suggestion that the club would be “more likely” to add a stop-gap, I’d suggest that it pretty much rules out the notion that the Jays are still pushing hard for Gavin Floyd, while wonder if Joe Blanton– at $8.5-million, minus a couple million that the Phillies have reportedly indicated they’re willing to kick in– counts as a “significant financial commitment.”

As it is, it’s just… well, it’s kinda what we ought to have suspected, but still nebulous enough to make us wonder just what the Jays are up to on this front that we truly don’t know.

Of course, maybe all this speculation is entirely unnecessary, as Blair notes earlier in the piece that “Brett Cecil has done well this spring, both in terms of results and adhering to the mechanical principles being stressed by manager John Farrell and pitching coach Bruce Walton.” The velocity, or lack thereof, doesn’t seem to be a big concern for the club, at least outwardly.

And, contrary to my nudges toward conspiracy theory, Gregor Chisholm tweets that the reason Cecil’s velocity yesterday was so shrouded in mystery was that– as I kinda suspected– pretty much all of the Toronto media was at the Canada wank in Tampa, having passed on the two-plus hour bus ride (in normal traffic) to Fort Myers. Fair enough. Gregor says he’ll have a follow-up piece on Cecil’s start later today.