Archive for the ‘Marcus Stroman’ Category

happ-clearwater

The case of J.A. Happ and his tenure with the Blue Jays certainly is a curious one.

He was acquired in a maligned trade for what is still deemed too many “prospects” in some corners, even as the players the Astros received continue to prove the Jays right in their evaluation.

He then was the saviour that all Jays fans were pining for this time a year ago, as he put in a great Spring Training while seemingly being destined for Buffalo, as Ricky Romero — the incumbent, the club insisted, until the bitter end — imploded.

Now he’s the man everybody wants out. Alex Anthopoulos has talked up the organization’s youngsters, partly out of self-preservation after doing fuck all to improve the rotation in the off-season, and that’s who fans want to see. Not J.A. Happ and his too many pitches, too few strikeouts, and supposed general mediocrity, especially now that he has begun this spring with two miserable outings (hurt though he may have been).

Even the team itself is wavering. Arden Zwelling of Sportsnet notes a tone change from Alex Anthopoulos, who now says two rotation spots may be up for grabs, admitting Happ’s early performance and sore back have caused concerns. Happ’s next start has been pushed back, according to a tweet from Mike Wilner, and the Jays aren’t saying when he’ll be on the mound next– perhaps he’s this year’s Brett Cecil or Ricky Romero, whisked away from prying eyes and getting his work in at unannounced times to keep the media from making his possible failure to make the team a bigger story than they want it to be (as if that ever works).

I don’t know, though. If he ends up returning to health and to the rotation competition in short order, frankly, I’m not sure the kids are necessarily as much better than a lot of fans think they’re going to be. But the bigger question is: better than what? Just who is J.A. Happ, and how do we get a handle on what we think he might bring to the Jays, given the ebbs and flows of his career since he was brought here in the most boring ten-player deal in history?

It’s an interesting question…

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stromanscreencap

In a new piece at ESPN.com (Insider only), Jim Bowden posits some trade scenarios that might land Jeff Samardzija from the Cubs, and surely thanks to all the rumours surrounding the Jays’ potential interest, he’s been certain to dream one up for us. He also concedes that “the Cubs won’t get top pitching prospects Aaron Sanchez or Marcus Stroman in a Samardzija deal,” and yet still makes it almost seem unpalatable by the prospects that he does suggest the Jays could give up: Sean Nolin, Dan Norris, and Alberto Tirado.

Note: I said almost.

Of course, maybe that’s only seeming unpalatable in the wake of the Doug Fister trade– though it appears as though the world has come around, at least a little bit, on the notion that the Tigers must have really liked something about Robbie Ray (who Jason Parks– more on him later– says would rank as his number two prospect for Detroit), or… something.

Hey, but at least we can take a bit of consolation that the Jays maybe had a little coup themselves in the acquisition of Dioner Navarro, who looks maybe more today like a bargain than he did yesterday, now that word has broken of A.J. Pierzynski somehow making the Red Sox more hatable by signing there for just one year at the same $8-million price tag as we got Navarro for two, right?

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stromanscreencap

Where were you during the most exciting, palpably thrilling moment of the Jays’ 2013 season?

No! Not Munenori Kawasaki’s home run [wank-off motion], or John Farrell tipping his cap at the frothing masses on that April Friday when we were all still so sure (mostly) that he’d fall on his fat fucking jaw as we romped in triumph through the 2013 season. I’m talking about Marcus Stroman ripping up the Arizona Fall League last night!

OK, so maybe that’s a stretch, but I don’t even know! There were great non-Jays moments in the postseason, and the winning streak lo those many months ago was pretty cool, I guess, but it has been a long, long time since I’ve been as giddy for baseball as I was last night, watching as Stroman worked a perfect two innings for the Salt River Rafters, striking out five.

Yeah, it was just the AFL. And yeah, his victims were “merely” Giants Double-A outfielder Jarrett Parker, Mets possible Rule 5 candidate Cory Vaughn, Pirates Double-A outfielder Alex Dickerson, one-time legit Giants prospect Angel Villalona, and Yankee A-ball prospect Peter O’Brian. But that’s kinda what 2013 has come to. Yet, while the competition may not have been terribly impressive, it was more about the way he did it, showing the mid-90s fastball and wipeout slider we’ve all heard about, while also getting rave reviews for a changeup he relied heavily on– which he explained was his plan in the video I posted in yesterday’s Daily Duce, as it’s the main pitch he’s been working on all year– and flashing a cutter as well. All of the pitches he commanded decently, though the impressive 19 strikes to six balls ratio is maybe a bit flattering, seeing as some of the swinging strikes were on pitches that more advanced hitters wouldn’t have chased.

Still, watching him was fun. It didn’t hurt, either, that Baseball America’s John Manuel was gushing over him on the MLB Network broadcast– and continued to do so into the half-inning following Stroman’s first three outs.

The chatter on Twitter– even before the game started, with Keith Law tweeting out that Stroman’s appearance was must-see stuff– certainly served to enhance the experience as well:

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syndergaardfutures

Back in December, as the Jays were about to “pry” R.A. Dickey away from the Mets, I wrote this, in an attempt to allay the fears of those fans who had swallowed so wholly on the Jays’ prospect-hoarding philosophy that had been officially placed in the dustbin a few weeks earlier when Alex Anthopoulos orchestrated his roster-reshaping deal with the Miami Marlins:

Cy Young-calibre talent becomes available to this franchise so incredibly rarely, and it can be such a difference-maker right now, given the career arcs of the Jays’ core players, that as much as it hurts to see them seemingly about to  part with d’Arnaud– as much as we’d much prefer it if JP Arencibia could be “the cost of doing business” instead (again: he can’t, which is precisely why we’re here)– and as much as Dickey maybe isn’t quite a “Cy Young pitcher” in the Justin Verlander sense, this would be a tremendous, tremendous pick-up for the Jays, especially outside of the sometimes-too-cute vacuum of cost control, prospect fawning, and dollars-per-WAR.

Something about flags? Something about how they fly forever?

Ugh.

And, of course, the deal didn’t just include d’Arnaud– who I focused on in the piece– but Noah Syndergaard as well.

Though I suspect our feelings might be different about it if the fireballing Texan who started this year’s Futures Game at Citi Field had been included in the Marlins trade, with Justin Nicolino or Henderson Alvarez going instead to the Mets, the fact is, Syndergaard really feels like the one who got away. And in an utterly fucking futile pursuit of a forever-flying flag, no less.

Ugh again.

All of that, I suspect, is what got so many– granted, mostly mouth-breathing– Jays fans’ underthings in some sort of a knot when last week Zach Mortimer of Baseball Prospectus made this bold statement on Twitter:

Bundy, is, of course the Orioles’ über prospect who was one of the biggest name September call-ups a year ago, though he has been slightly out of the public mind since mid-summer, when he underwent Tommy John surgery.

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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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webermccann

So, with last night’s D’ing FA of Chien-Ming Wang (who, his agent tells Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet, will accept an assignment to Buffalo, FYI), the Jays are potentially looking at lucky number thirteen when it comes to members of their 2013 starting rotation when Sunday rolls around. Today we’ve already taken a look at how the first twelve starters have fared (hint: not fucking well), and I suppose that would make it fitting if we also took a look at the guys who may be tabbed to make their first start of the season for the Jays (i.e. I won’t include guys who have already made starts this year, not that Ricky Romero ought to get consideration here anyway).

And… shit, I might as well rank them by my personal preference, too!

Here are the candidates…

Marcus Stroman

Yeah, so I’m probably jumping the gun on this one– I can’t exactly argue that, with other viable candidates around, there’s really a need to bring up Stroman and expose him to the big leagues as a starter just yet, but it sure would be fun, wouldn’t it? Or, at least, the anticipation would be fun. The start itself could devolve into a Sean Nolin-like disasterpiece, but I think Stroman stands a better chance– and shit, he’s got at least twelve more innings of experience above A-ball than Nolin did, so that’s got to count for something, right?

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No, really, the one in the middle.

 

Well, fuck.

According to, well… everybody, Blue Jays first round pick Marcus Stroman has been suspended 50 games for PED use, specifically the drug Methylhexaneamine, which is a stimulant.

More on this as it develops / Stoeten comes back from the washroom.

UPDATE:

Stoeten here. Shit, this is some news huh? At least Jose Bautista is OK though, right? (Nope: having wrist surgery, will be ready for Spring Training, making those days when Greg Brady was worth listening to seem like long memories deep in the mists of time. But… those wrist surgeries, they always work out OK, right? RIGHT????)

Parkes has more on Jose at Getting Blanked.

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